Mastermind. Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal.
March 9th, 2019 by diane92345

Mastermind. Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. The title really tells the entire story in a nutshell.

Paul Le Roux started out small with online prescription drug sales in the United States. Marijuana dispensaries still use his “doctors prescribe without seeing the patient” methods. Like most legitimate CEOs, Paul expanded his product line; in his case to weapons, cocaine, and meth. Who knew a nerdy programmer could be so business-oriented? His programming skills allowed him to develop an “unbreakable” encryption to keep his identity and location hidden.

Mastermind. Drugs. Empire. Murder. Betrayal. is true crime that reads like a thriller. Kudos to the author’s investigative journalism abilities for uncovering the entire complex story. However, the complexity made it a difficult read. There are so many characters that the author provides a list of the main ones in the beginning of the book. For true crime fans, this book is highly recommended. However, for thriller fans, be warned it is much more complicated than the typical thriller. 3.5 stars.

Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

March 2nd, 2019 by diane92345

Married Superior Court Judge Juliana fails to use good Judgment and has an one-night stand at an out-of-town conference.

Juliana decides to never repeat her mistake and returns to her courtroom. Unfortunately, she then sees the man sit down as a member of the defense counsel. The man blackmails her to rule in favor of the defense. He threatens to tell her family of their tryst if she doesn’t throw the case. The case, regarding a hostile workplace environment, is high profile so Juliana uses her connections to fight back.

The feeling of dread and the fast pacing really works in Judgment. However, some of the plot strains belief. Russian mobsters, really? Juliana begins as a lower level judge who obviously doesn’t think through some of her actions. She ends up as someone who really should be in a superhero movie.

I have never read this author’s work before and I can’t see myself reading it again. It is as if he took all the trendy tropes (Russian mafia, #metoo movement, advanced military technology, non-subtle digs at President Trump) and developed a plot around them with a strong female heroine (also trendy) without thinking whether any of it could realistically happen. Judgment didn’t work for me so I’m giving it 2 stars.

Thanks to Dutton and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with:

Death by Committee
February 27th, 2019 by diane92345

Death by Committee is a cozy mystery that emphasizes romance and quilting more than sleuthing.

Abby’s recently deceased elderly Aunt Sybil left her a house. Abby hires several goats to eat some overgrown foliage in the backyard. One goat uncovers Dolly, Sybil’s rival, who is buried in the backyard in Sybil’s quilt. When the town, including the police chief, rush to assume Sybil is a murderer, Abby vows to clear her Aunt’s name. Luckily, she will have the help of her boarder, the hunky Tripp.

I enjoyed the relationship between Abby and Tripp. They both seemed genuine. The mystery within Death by Committee was a bit too easy to solve making this book a better choice for romance fans. 3 stars.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

The Plotters
February 21st, 2019 by diane92345

Reseng is a paid assassin in South Korea. Unfortunately, The Plotters tell him exactly how to carry out each murder. Reseng feels like a paint-by-number killer with no creative outlet.

When Reseng’s childhood friend Chu disobeys a plotter, Chu is targeted for murder with a hefty bounty on his head. Reseng realizes that early death is an assassin’s retirement plan and vows to do something about it.

The writing style is the star here. It reads like barely remembered childhood fables told within the greater myth of David and Goliath. I usually read books in a day or two but The Plotters requires a reader to pause and reflect on each fable to fully enjoy the book.

While not as out there as Murakami, Kim’s book is a journey that you will be glad you made. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

February 20th, 2019 by diane92345

It is tempting to quote large swaths of Shameless as the quotes are so perfect. However, just take my word for it that reading this book is transformative.

Is the Christian Church interpreting the Bible correctly to determine God’s thinking on sex and gender? This book sees parallels to when Martin Luther broke from the Catholic Church due to its interpretation of the requirements made to “true Christians” to pay for indulgences. If church teaching are hurting people, would that be how God would truly treat his children?

The book also takes society to task. Instead of fixating on consent, shouldn’t people be using concern as the benchmark for whether sex is a good or bad thing. If you are having an extramarital affair, you and your mistress may be consenting adults but is your wife also accepting of your affair? Shouldn’t you have concern for your wife’s feelings?

Shameless includes many issues that will make the reader think long and hard about how the church and, perhaps even he or she themselves, may not be thinking as God would want. If you have ever wondered about the reasonableness of some church doctrines, this book is highly recommended reading. 4 stars!

Thanks to Convergent Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Christian Tagged with:

Downhill from Here
February 19th, 2019 by diane92345

The prospect of a comfortable retirement has, unfortunately, become an increasingly elusive dream and it is Downhill from Here.

In 2017, less than half of US employers provided a company-sponsored retirement plan. Even employees who thought they were covered have lost their retirement to bankruptcy and recent changes in the law allowing companies to renege on their agreements. Employees must increasing rely on their own 401(k) investments and the uncertain future of social security.

While Downhill from Here does look at how other countries deal with retirement, there are no non-socialist solutions presented in the book. Also, the book only skims over how much worse the retirement prospects are for generation Y, millenials and older Generation X employees. Between no pensions and ballooning student debt, the author could write an entire book focusing on them.

Working for county government, many of the takeaways described in the book have already been done to us. We have a two-tier retirement system. We were forced to pay more of the employer’s share for the same benefit about ten years ago. However, I’m just grateful we have a pension at all.

Downhill from Here explores an important subject. It is recommended reading for those within 5-15 years from retirement. 4 stars.

Thanks to Metropolitan Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: ,