December 2, 2016

First Lines Friday


First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"This is part of why I want to reiterate and reinforce my previous point, that this author is, frankly, full of shit."

~ Getting Schooled by Christina C. Jones 

November 30, 2016

Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial


"If there is one takeaway from Adnan's story, it should be this—the criminal justice system is not just deeply flawed, it is broken." ~ pg. 394

If you don't recognize the name "Adnan Syed" then just stop reading this review now. I don't know where you have been or why, but clearly you are out of the loop. The loop of a true crime told via the popular phenomenal podcasts called Serial, Undisclosed, and Truth & Justice with Bob Ruff. Additionally, if you are not familiar with podcasts #periodt, then I really encourage you to stop reading this review and get your life together.

Bear with me while I give the gist of this true crime story gone viral. On January 13, 1999, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland, named Hae Min Lee went missing. She was later found dead in Leakin Park. In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years in prison for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. By 2013, almost all appeals had been exhausted. But family friend, Rabia Chaudry, believed in Adnan's innocence. She contacted a producer of This American Life, Sarah Koenig, in hopes of finding a journalist to shed light on Adnan's story. Maybe media will help. In 2014, Sarah Koenig's investigation into the murder of Hae Min Lee turned into Serial podcast with more than 500 million international listeners.

"The stress didn't just come from dealing with Muslims, Muslim leaders, Reddit and trolls, though; it also came from the content of the podcast itself, and most importantly, from Sarah." ~ pg. 270

But the story did not end after twelve episodes of Serial. A new podcast titled Undisclosed started featuring Rabia Chaudry. Another podcast popped up titled Truth & Justice with Bob Ruff continuing the investigation. And now we have a new book written by Rabia that presents new key evidence to dismantle the State's (already sloppy) case against Adnan Syed. Told in a hard-to-put-down narrative, the story and crowd-sourced investigation continues.

So is Adnan's Story worth reading? OH EM GEE YES! There are details within these pages that none of the three (3) previously mentioned podcasts revealed. It is page-turning. Beyond gripping. Attention f'in grabbing. Compelling narrative. Mind-blowing documentation and analysis of new key evidence. Never-before-seen letters from Adnan himself and his one theory of what really happened. Need I say more?!

"Maybe I could not prove I did not kill Hae, and maybe I would spend the rest of my life in prison." ~ pg. 219

I rate Adnan's Story 4/5 hearts because I don't believe the author's intention to create doubt in my mind was purposeful. Before reading this 400+ page book, I was firm in my belief that Adnan Syed was innocent. But after finishing this very good detailed book, I am not sure. Rabia, I know your intentions are purest of the pure, but it is my strong opinion that you should have waited to publish this book. If I have doubts now, I am sure other readers do too. But one fact remains: we still need the truth and justice for Hae Min Lee.

Bookhearts, Adnan's Story is a must read if you are still obsessed with Adnan Syed's case like I still am. Feel free to contact me to discuss as you read along. I am bursting at the seams to talk about this book in detail!

Title: Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial
Author: Rabia Chaudry
Published: August 2016
Pages: 410
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: ♥♥♥♥

 

November 29, 2016

Year of Yes Journal



"Anyone who tells you they are doing it all perfectly is a liar." ~ pg. 205

The Year of Yes Journal will get you all the way together for the new year. The prompts will encourage you to chronicle your own Year of Yes. Its format is organized with monthly themes, daily tracking, notes and encouraging passages from Shonda Rhimes. Although the galley edition is only a sample of the full 400+ page journal, I got a glimpse of the inspirational quotes and writing prompts. Say yes to beautiful and learn why "no" is a powerful word.

We saw how the Year of Yes changed the TGIT creator's life in my review of her bestselling memoir. Now let this journal bring more Yes to your life, bookhearts!

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Author: Shonda Rhimes
Published: December 2016
Pages: 464
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥♥

 

November 25, 2016

First Lines Friday



First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"Today's errand had become routine for the woman who was currently calling herself Chris Taylor. She'd gotten up much earlier than she liked, then dismantled and stowed her usual night-time precautions. It was a real pain to set everything up in the evening only to take it down first thing in the morning, but it wasn't worth her life to indulge in a moment of laziness."

~ The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer 


 

November 23, 2016

A Murder Among Friends


"Now, why don't you tell me from the beginning." ~ pg. 170

Marcus Agaston is a radio station reporter. During the summer of 2005, his friend Catherine, a pregnant surrogate for a gay couple, goes missing. When her body is found, Marcus searches for her killer to bring her justice. Meanwhile, Marcus' childhood friend's persistent demands for money (borderline blackmail) cause Marcus's husband, Sam, to get involved. Betrayal of friendship becomes this story's theme as clues are uncovered. Marcus is beyond shocked when he eventually comes face-to-face with the killer.

"Yes, yes, such a tragic, tragic end...such a horrible situation." ~ pg. 221

Mystery/Crime Fiction is my favorite genre. I love when books keep me guessing, skipping my daily naps to continue reading, turning the pages until I am finished. Criteria of a good mystery novel, to me, is a good enough crime with realistic characters that leads me to doubt whodunnit. I don't need unnecessary details to throw me off the trail. I don't mind characters I love to hate. And I especially love when characters get caught up in some unpredictable shit. Most importantly, I cannot be distracted by tons of grammatical errors (this book has a few typos but not so many that the normal reader's eye will catch). Finally, the mystery has to be damn good! Such is the case in A Murder Among Friends.

"Think it's a serial?" ~ pg. 84

The chapters have catchy yet revealing titles such as, Friendly DisclosureFriendly Questions & Lies, and Unfriendly Confrontation. Although I suspected one of the characters early on, I could not figure out the motive so dismissed my thoughts. Peppered with colorful language and dialogue, the author wrote the characters in fully-fleshed out details making it even more suspenseful to figure out the mystery. As I read along, I wondered could one of the likable characters actually be guilty of this cold heartless murder? Well, I recommend you pick a weekend where you can relax and get all the way into this story to find out.

A Murder Among Friends is a great debut novel that put author Jennifer Lewis Williams on my to-read radar. Bookhearts, you should check her self-published novels out too!

Title: A Murder Among Friends
Author: Jennifer Lewis Williams
Published: April 2013
Pages: 265
Edition: Paperback
Rating: ♥♥♥♥

November 22, 2016

Beach Thing


"Carpe dickem." ~ 29%

Ameenah is owner and proprietor of Tikis & Cream, a beachfront smoothie shop located in Black Diamond Isles. On her first official day, she literally runs into Wade, a famous music producer. While he is visiting town for the summer, Wade gets hooked on an orange-flavored Tikis & Cream specialty drink, the homemade orange cranberry muffins and the young lady who makes them. The attraction is mutual so like the mature adults they are, Wade and Ameenah agree to have some fun; just a little beach thing.

"When the summer is up, so are we." ~ 23%

Starting a new business demands all of Ameenah's focus. Meanwhile, Wade is using the time away from busy Brooklyn to concentrate on doing what he does best: make beats. Neither need the distraction but cannot resist the sexual fling. I like how both characters make an agreement to spend their summer together without strings attached. Of course, we know feelings happen but the author writes about Ameenah and Wade's relationship so naturally that I don't even want their summer fling to end. I enjoyed reading of their dates, witty banter and sensual kisses. But a climax kicks into the story because Wade plans to move back to Brooklyn and Ameenah will stay in Black Diamond Isles running her gourmet smoothie shop. So does that mean the beach thing is over?

Despite the title, this book is more than a beach read. In fact, I read it one Sunday morning while cozy in a snuggie on my futon. It is a light-hearted romance with characters of color. Thanks to the author for creating a character like most of us women with "glorious hips" and black men that know their way around the kitchen. I loved the realistic dialogue and descriptive scenery. If only I could be a resident of Black Diamond Bay (and catch the attention of a clichéd tall, dark and handsome baé)!

Beach Thing is recommended for my bookhearts looking for a quick good read. Do yourself a favor; put down the television remote and pick up this book sometime soon!

Title: Beach Thing
Author: D.L. White
Published: September 2016
Pages: 147
Edition: eBook
Rating: ♥♥♥♡

 

November 20, 2016

Series Sunday: Moral Defense


(Samantha Brinkman #2) 

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Revision. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

"...my name's gonna pop out like a piece of toast." ~ 3%

My Series Sunday pick is Moral Defense, the second book in the Samantha Brinkman series by Marcia Clark. (Yes, that Marcia Clark from the O.J. Simpson trial.) Like most defense attorneys, Samantha Brinkman is not concerned about guilt or innocence; it is making sure her clients walk. Sometimes a crime is committed for personal reasons, business reasons, pleasure or justice. Whatever the reason, Samantha's duty is to keep her clients free. But a personal chord is struck when she meets Cassie Sonnenberg, an adopted teenager accused of fatally stabbing her brother and father and responsible for her mother clinging to life in the hospital. As Sam investigates the case and sets out to exonerate Cassie, dark memories of sexual abuse take the case and Samantha's personal life for a spin.

"But there had to be something wicked gnarly going for a whole family to be targeted." ~ 6%

At over 400 pages, Moral Defense is unnecessarily long. About 100 pages could've been removed about side cases not related to the main mystery. In this regard, it reminded me of the famous Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Side stories were thrown in, wasting pages and readers' time. Fine if the author was aiming for 400+ pages in her new novel; however, I would have rather appreciated more detail on the main case instead. That would have earned Moral Defense five hearts.

I recommend this second book of the series to be read if only you read the first book. It will be easier to follow the relationship among Samantha Brinkman and her partners/friends. I still remain impressed with Marcia Clark's writing. I wish she would have quit her day job and turned to fiction sooner.

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Author: Marcia Clark
Published: November 2016
Pages: 426
Edition: Galley
Rating: ♥♥♥♥