Anything for You
November 18th, 2019 by diane92345

Valerie is a detective in the San Francisco Police Department in the new thriller, Anything for You. She and her partner are investigating an attempted robbery when a call comes in from the house next door. A robber has broken into the house and stabbed the husband and wife leaving the husband dead.

 The victim is a former Assistant District Attorney, Adam Grant, who once had a tryst with Valerie that was stopped only by his love for his wife. Despite this conflict of interest, Valerie continues to investigate his death. The police quickly find a suspect named Dwight who apparently forgot to wear gloves during the home invasion. Dwight had just been released from San Quentin after serving six years due to his conviction by Adam. However, Dwight has not been seen since the night of the crime. As the search for Dwight continues, Valerie continues to investigate the victim. In the meantime, a femme fatale serial killer is first seducing and then killing her victims.

Anything for You has some very crude sex scenes, sexual language, and self-loathing about sex. There is also child sexual abuse. Even though the main characters are women, the book reads like those old Mike Hammer books where the only useful part of a woman is located in her crotch. I really didn’t enjoy it and had to force myself to read the whole thing. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this book. 1 star.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

A Marvelous Life
November 12th, 2019 by diane92345

Comic book and Marvel movie fans rejoice! A definitive biography of Stan Lee, particularly his Marvel years, is here! Stan Lee, creator of iconic superheroes like Spider-Man and Iron Man truly led A Marvelous Life.

Beginning with his poverty-stricken childhood and ending with the lawsuits for elder abuse still waiting to be heard in the courts after his November 2018 death, this book tells the full tale of Stan’s life. And what a life! Stan began his career in comics as a person getting coffee for his cousin’s staff at Timely Imprint, the publisher of Marvel Comics #1 and Captain America Comics #1. Eventually, he would be the face of Marvel Comics and even Marvel movies through his cameos within each of them.

If you love comics or the Marvel Universe of movies and television, A Marvelous Life is a marvelous book for you to read. Many details are mentioned that were not in Stan’s previous autobiography, Excelsior! 4 stars!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

The Great Pretender
November 11th, 2019 by diane92345

The author was initially misdiagnosed as schizophrenic. Instead, she had autoimmune encephalitis, an organic brain disorder often called The Great Pretender for its ability to mimic the signs of psychiatric disease. Even though she was labeled as a mental patient for only a week, wondering what would have happened if the initial diagnosis wasn’t overturned compels her to investigate the US mental health care system. In fact, she finds someone who spent years in the mental health system before being correctly diagnosed with the author’s disease with unfortunate consequences.

“The brain is a physical organ and physical disease occurs within the brain. Why does that make it a ‘ psychiatric condition’ instead of a physical ‘ disease’?”—from a father of a son diagnosed with psychosis quoted in the book

The Great Pretender makes an excellent case that psychiatry is the study of neurological disease for which we have no cause or cure…yet. Both autoimmune encephalitis and syphilis were originally diagnosed as mental disorders. Once a cause and cure were found, they were moved to neurology.

Originally all mental diseases were thought to be caused by the devil. Next, medical science thought it was a weakness in the person’s character, which could be solved by drastic measures like lobotomy and shock therapy. Now, a person’s history is blamed with talk therapy and strong drugs as cures. Who is to say that that is the final solution to psychiatric disease.

The heart of the book concerns the landmark study in 1973 by Stanford professor David Rosenhan, On Being Sane in Insane Places. He and seven of his students and colleagues self-reported symptoms of psychosis to get placed in one of the facilities. Once there, they acted normally until someone released them. The average time to get out was fifteen days. The study’s conclusion was that psychiatry had no clear way to diagnose or cure mental illness. It was unable to separate the sane from the insane. The author finds additional notes from the study’s now-deceased author. She finds one of the living pseudopatients and interviews him. The author also finds a ninth pseudopatient who is mentioned only in a footnote within the study. His story is told in the book.

Currently, four percent of the US have serious mental illnesses. Many will have their lives shortened by ten to twenty years because of their condition. If you, or someone in your life, have one of these issues, you must read this book for a different perspective. Even if you are just interested in psychology, like me, The Great Pretender is highly recommended. 5 stars!

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

The Family Upstairs
November 11th, 2019 by diane92345

“Socialite and husband dead in suicide pact. Teenage children missing; baby found alive.”

The Family Upstairs is the story of that baby’s journey to discover her roots and what really happened that night.

The baby, Libby, is now twenty-five years old and set to inherit the Chelsea mansion where the event occurred. Lucy is a homeless English woman with two children in France. Henry is a rich, but odd, man who is one of the missing teenagers twenty-five years later.

“It all happened so slowly, yet so extraordinarily quickly, the change to our parents, to our home, to our lives after they arrived.”

All three tell their tales of what happened both before and after the event.

The Family Upstairs is a compelling thriller that builds an impressive atmosphere of dread. Everyone but the people involved know something horrible is going to happen. It is truly a can’t-put-it-down book. The characters are so human and realistic that you are forced to read one more chapter until the story is done regardless of what time your alarm will ring.

I love the author’s books for their originality in a crowded genre. But most of all, I love that she thanked the “two double vodkas and tonics that saw me through the last three chapters of this book late on a Friday night…Cheers!” in the Acknowledgements. Can you imagine what Hemingway or Poe would write if they thanked their alcoholic muses? Cheers, indeed.

The Family Upstairs should appeal to most thriller and women’s fiction fans especially if they like their tales dark. It would not be a good choice for those readers triggered by child abuse. Otherwise, pick up this spellbinding family thriller. 4 stars!

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Here are my reviews of two other family thrillers by this author:

Watching You

Here She Was Gone

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

36 Righteous Men
November 9th, 2019 by diane92345

In New York City circa 2034, the city has been devastated by climate change. Coastal areas have been nearly leveled by massive storms. Refugees from low-lying areas have congregated in slums sporting their own money. On the morning of April 19, it is 114 in the shade. Down these mean streets, old-school detective Manning and his junior, and our narrator, female detective Dewey are looking for a massively strong and invisible killer of the 36 Righteous Men.

With two victims in NYC and two in Russia, the killer’s MO is the same. Hold the victim up with one hand by the neck strangling the victim. Toss the victim aside. Somehow cause a branding from the inside on the victim’s forehead. Not appear on any surveillance cameras while doing so. The branding mark is an LV, which is Hebrew for the 36 Righteous Men.

Part science fiction, part hard-boiled detective story, part Christian fiction and part paranormal tale, this book is a near-perfect example of the blending of multiple genres into a coherent and compelling tale. However, I enjoy all these genres on their own. If you only like one or two, the world-building details may just slow down the pace rather than be fascinating in their own right—or vice versa. The Christian paranormal aspects may feel unbelievable. Therefore, I would only recommend this book to people who enjoy all four genres. 4 stars!

What a fine movie this would make! The world could be shown rather than described speeding up the mystery’s pace. Someone, with more money than I have, should scoop up the movie rights quickly. I, for one, can’t wait!

Thanks to W.W. Norton & Company and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Christian, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Paranormal, Science Fiction Tagged with:

Galway Girl
November 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Someone is targeting the Irish Guard (police) in the unusual and twisty thriller, Galway Girl.

Jack Taylor, is a former Guard and currently alcoholic private detective who is trying to get over his daughter’s recent murder when he witnesses a Guard shot point-blank in front of his apartment. In addition, he has several concurrent cases. An ambitious priest asks Jack to run off his famous actress sister’s leeching girlfriend. A woman wants Jack to make her daughter’s killer confess to his crime. When the killer is beaten to death, Jack is arrested for the crime.

What seems like a random drunken tumble into Jack’s life does come together in a clever whodunit by the end. The twists and turns of the plot almost gave this reader whiplash so unexpectedly and quickly they were coming by the end.

There is also an extraordinary amount of Irish atmosphere. Hopefully, you have a love for Irish poetry, soccer, Irish literature, and/or 1980s and 1990s rock bands like Snow Patrol and Oasis. It may take a while to get used to the writing style but once you do, it really adds to the immersion in Galway.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Galway Girl. It has a lot of everything: Irish atmosphere, great characters, a twisty plot, and best of all, a slam-bam final act. 5 stars!

Thanks to Mysterious Press, Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , , ,

No Gluten, No Problem Pizza
November 6th, 2019 by diane92345

Frozen and fast casual gluten-free pizza is always thin as a cracker and rather flavorless. But in the No Gluten, No Problem Pizza cookbook, the authors provide a plethora of pizza options including Chicago Deep Dish and New York-style pizzas.

Variety is no problem. For you thin crust fans, there are four variations on roman cracker dough and four more on tavern dough, which is less crunchy but still thin. There are grilled, filled, flatbread, focaccia, breakfast, buckwheat, cauliflower, zucchini, dessert, and California-style pizzas too. For several of the doughs, there is a long (50-hour) rise version and a fast one too.

All the recipes have full-color photographs. There is no nutritional information but if you are eating pizza you probably don’t want it anyway. The recipes sound and look delicious. The authors took many of the recipes directly home from Italy so you know they are authentic.

My only issue with the book was the difficulty in sourcing the flours and other ingredients for the doughs. They weren’t in either of my two local markets. Surprisingly, they weren’t even available through Thrive Market. They did have them in Amazon—but they were pricey. However, as long as you make the recipes a few times, it would be about the cost of three or four delivered pizzas (and sure to taste much better).

One of the foods I miss the most are my delicious gluten-full and cheese stuffed calzones. With No Gluten, No Problem Pizza in hand, I can have that experience again. Highly recommended for gluten-free people looking to expand their pizza choices. 4 stars!

Thanks to The Experiment and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Dangerous Charisma
November 5th, 2019 by diane92345

The author of Dangerous Charisma is an expert of political personality profiling. He ran a pilot CIA program to profile world leaders including Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat at the height of President Carter’s search for peace in the Middle East.

However, since Dangerous Charisma is about the most controversial President ever, Donald Trump, I can tell how you will rate it based on your party affiliation. Democrats will love it. Republicans will hate it. So if you are Republican move on and read Piety and Power about Mike Pence or Witch Hunt about Trump himself. There are books on each side of the aisle and actually the Pence book is very good.

Now, back to the Democrats. I don’t think calling Trump narcissistic or “mirror hungry” is particularly new. You hear it multiple times per day on MSNBC. That being said, it is new to wrap these issues in the official psychological jargon from the DSM, the manual to diagnose behavioral disease. Plus there are some great talking points for cocktail parties like that Citizen Kane is Donald’s favorite movie, which is about an unhappy wealthy narcissist much like Trump himself.

I enjoyed the look at the psychological underpinnings of Trump’s diehard supporters. It states that in times of stress, like being unemployed and seeing all their nearby factories close, leaves people looking for a voice in the wilderness stating follow me to the promised land where America is great again. Obviously, if you are a Trump supporter, you are not going to like hearing yourself characterized in this manner. You could be comfortably reading the Art of the Deal again and now you are so upset that you are planning on trolling me on social media. I’m just repeating what the author is saying. Please troll someone closer to the source material.

Speaking of the book, despite being a lifelong Democrat that held her nose while voting for Hillary in 2016, I don’t think Dangerous Charisma Is very good. It won’t change anyone’s mind and instead will just drive our fractured political system further apart. It also reads like an undergrad textbook. However, the cogent summary of the Trump presidency’s effects on the public’s mental health, strategies of the Democratic Party, and the United States’ ongoing foreign policy pulls my rating up to 3 stars.

Thanks to Pegasus Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,