For readers around the globe. :)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Other Voices, Other Rooms

I've never felt so captivated by a book as I did with this one.

Joel Knox is going to live with his absentee father after his mother falls ill and passes. Moving all the way from New Orleans to rural Alabama takes some getting used to, but everyone acts so different. For many days, Joel doesn't even get to meet his father because he "isn't well" but no one will tell him much else. Living alongside Joel and his father is his wife, Miss Amy, Cousin Randolph, and out in the cabin are Jesus Fever and Missouri (Zoo for short). Zoo and Joel strike up an unlikely friendship that Miss Amy and Randolph don't quite understand. They see Jesus Fever and Missouri as "the help." Keep in mind it is 1948 in Alabama...
 Along the way, Joel meets red-headed twins Idabel and Florabel Thompkins. Idabel was hot-headed and had no issues speaking her mind and standing up for what she believed in. She didn't need a dress to catch Joel's eye, just her sharp tongue and a will for adventure. 

Truman Capote tackles a wide variety of societal norms in Other Voice, Other Rooms. Death, alienation, slavery, sexuality, and friendship. This could definitely be considered a coming of age story given that Joel is a mere 13 years.

Since it's initial release, Truman Capote has come out and said this is a semi-autobiographical story, though he didn't realize it at the time of writing. Many characters are based on friends and family. Most famously, Idabel Thompkins is based on his good friend, Harper Lee.

Truman Capote is an icon to me.

I grew up in Alabama just a few hours from Monroeville. So Truman Capote and Harper Lee are a huge part of our literary scene and I absolutely love it.

Looking for other books by Truman Capote?
In Cold Blood

Looking for other books about Truman Capote and Harper Lee?
Tru & Nelle
Tru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale
No Saints in Kansas

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Hero Dogs

Wow.
 Just wow.

Hero Dogs: How a Pack of Rescues, Rejects, and Strays Became America's Greatest Disaster-Search Partners.

I mean the title tells you exactly what the book is going to be about but I am amazed by the work these dogs and their handlers put in. I feel it necessary to put in a disclaimer here; this book covers a wide variety of traumatic events including: the Oklahoma City Bombing, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. 

Wilma Melville was freshly retired, in her 60's, and walking the aftermath of the Oklahoma City Bombing with her search dog, Murphy. The events that took place shocked her to her very core. That was when she had the idea to start the Search Dog Foundation (SDF). Her goal was to find shelter dogs and give them another chance at life, a life as a working dog. The idea was to find, train, certify, and eventually deploy at least 168 search dog teams; one team for each of the people killed in the bombing.

But Wilma didn't want this story to be about her.
She wanted it to be about Murphy, Ana, Dusty, Harley (her original dogs), along with the many other success stories who soon followed. These dogs worked their asses off. They were finally living up to their full potential and living the life they were meant to have. They would never spend another day in a shelter, abusive home, or wondering the streets. They instead would be recognized as heroes throughout the world. These dogs were trained to find living victims who were trapped in the rubbish of disasters. They spent countless hours learning hand signals and whistle blows from their handlers. They learned to bark alert when they found someone. They learned how to save people the way SDF saved them.

I love reading dog books, especially working dog books.
It's amazing what these animals are capable of and the amount of trust we put into them. In these tragic events, the dogs provided a service that would not have been possible for a human to do. But beyond that, they were a bright spot in these firefighters lives. They gave their all right there with men and women doing everything in their power to save a life.

Highly recommend this book to all dog lovers!!

Huge thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a review copy!

Even bigger thanks to Wilma Melville for founding SDF and to Paul Lobo for writing her story!!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

I Don't Know What You Know Me From

Judy Greer is Hollywood's best friend.
She has such a recognizable face but no one can ever quite place her.
She's been cast in countless movies and tv shows but where do you know her from?
I first met Judy in 13 Going on 30 (my fav rom-com besides Devil Wears Prada), went on to catch her in Californication (you and Hank are too cute together, ugh), found her in Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and heard her voice in Archer.
All of these shows and movies had one thing in common....
Judy Greer was always the best friend.
There's nothing wrong with that either! She makes a great point in I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star; sometimes the friendships she's a part of are more important than the rest of the plot! Friendship is what everyone is looking for and Judy is more than happy to be that friend.
I picked this up because I knew exactly where I knew her from and wanted to learn more about how she ended up in Hollywood being cast in countless co-star roles. I learned all of that and then some. Once you have heard Judy Greer's recognizable voice, it's so easy to hear her in your ear reading her book to you. It was such a quick and easy read and exactly what I needed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

No Saints in Kansas

This was like Riverdale meets In Cold Blood.

Soooooo many reviews criticized No Saints in Kansas for a number of reasons.
Obviously it's not In Cold Blood, it's just LOOSELY BASED on the same story, the Clutter Family Murders.

Fifteen year old main character, Carly Fleming wanted nothing more than to be Nancy Clutter's best friend. She wanted to stop being the outsider from the "wrong Manhattan" and just be an average teen in Holcomb, Kansas. But that's not what she got.... instead she got tangled up in the KBI investigation trying to clear Nancy's boyfriend of the murders. It was a little more than that too, because whoever murdered the Clutter family also ruined her chances of fitting in with the other small town kids. This investigation presented a chance to prove her worth.

Yes, Carly was petty.
Yes, she trampled all through the crime scene.
Yes, she "borrowed" official documents from the courthouse.

BUT.

It was 1959 in Holcomb, Kansas.  
There was no forensic evidence for her to destroy.
There was no security cameras to catch her.
There was no reason for the police to be worried about a 15 years old girl.

While other reviews were criticizing these details, I was embracing them.
It made for a compelling story that I'm damn sure glad I read.
I mean Amy Brashear even wrote Truman Capote AND Harper Lee into the plot!!

I loved it.

Looking for other books on the Clutter Family Murders?

Looking for other books on Truman Capote and Harper Lee?

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Serial Killer's Daughter

Kerri Rawson's life was forever changed on February 25, 2005.

FBI.... Your dad.....B.T.K....

That's how Kerri found out her father was the notorious Wichita serial killer known as B.T.K. Dennis Rader chose that name for himself when he began writing letters to the police to claim his murders. He called himself B.T.K. because it stands for how he killed his victims. 
"Bind. Torture. Kill"  

He hid this side of his life from his family for 31 years.

He was married.
He had two kids.
He was the President of their Church.
He worked down the hall from law enforcement for Y E A R S and no one knew.
No one knew he had created a shed with a false back so he could hide his "kill kit." No one knew the hallway and closets in their house had false bottoms. No one could have ever expected this to happen in their tiny neighborhood and Kerri definitely didn't think her dad could be behind it.

In Kerri's book, "A Serial Killer's Daughter" she doesn't really focus on the crimes B.T.K. committed. She decides instead to focus on her father, the man she knew and loved; not the monster she was just introduced to. In a way, she humanizes him. She remembers the man who hiked the Grand Canyon with her. The man she worshiped as a child. The man who held her tightly when she was sick and looked over her family. The man that taught her how to live. 

Looking back it seem as though she was slowly realizing everything that he taught her was to protect her from people like him. He taught her to always ask for a badge when officers introduced himself/herself. He taught her to place a broom handle in the track of her sliding glass doors to prevent it from opening. Little did she know that was because he killed a woman by coming into her house through a sliding glass door.

Dennis Rader was just an average guy, raising his family, and hiding a dark secret.
But after years of therapy, separation, forgiveness , and quite literally the Grace of God, Kerri found a way to forgive her father for everything. She believes that God will forgive him when the time comes, so it only seems fair that she forgive him too.

Huge thanks to NetGalley, Nelson Books, and Kerri Rawson for finding the courage to tell her story!