S Street Rising: Review

 

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This book provided interesting insight into the crack trade of Washington D.C., and the young news reporter who was caught up in it all.

Ruben, a young reporter for the Post, is not only investigating the violence in relation to crack but is also a crack addict himself. He provides fascinating views from both sides of the spectrum, giving the reader a clear and balanced picture of what was really going on in D.C. in the 80′s and 90′s. S Street Rising not only deals with crack, but also deals with sketchy politicians, fantastic police work, and a church in a war zone.

The story itself was fascinating. Hearing about the crack issues in D.C. from both the side of a reporter and the side of a crack addict was fascinating; truly adding a new perspective on a traditional story. S Street Rising is also a fascinating story because it doesn’t focus entirely on crack. While crack is a major component of this book, there is more to the story than that. This book also focuses on the political issues in D.C. around this time period and a church that took root directly in the middle of a notorious crack area. There is definitely more to be found in this book than just a story about crack and why crack is bad for society.

The writing in this book is really pleasant to read. It’s obvious that the author is a professional journalist and really understands what it takes to write a good story. Though the author is a journalist, this book doesn’t read like a newspaper article or simple journalism, it reads like a proper nonfiction book. There are a few jumps in setting/topic throughout a chapter, yet each section managed to flow smoothly into the next.

There isn’t much else to say about this book; it’s a fascinating story with polished writing. I would definitely recommend this one to those interested in stories about drugs and drug histories or for anyone out looking for a fascinating, and informative, glimpse into someones life and a nationwide drug problem.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

In The Dark: Review

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In The Dark by James Key is a modern whodunit mystery with intriguing characters, shocking plot twist, and engaging writing.

The plot of this book is really interesting. In The Dark follows Jimmy, a young private detective, as he works to solve the case of the Parkhurst family and their mysterious murder/stalker issues. As he works the case, Jimmy discovers many secrets about the Parkhurst company, as well as the Parkhurst family- exposing a wealthy family clad in sinister secrets.

I thought that the film noir references were a fascinating aspect of this book. I wish that the author had referenced specific things about film noir, or specific examples of film noir, rather than just a basic mentioning of film noir itself. But I did think that mentioning film noir set the mood of the story in a way that was easy for the reader to grasp and understand.

The characters in this novel were interesting. Dora Parkhurst had some interesting characteristics about her and was a fascinating character to read about. Although her actions, along with the actions of other characters, seemed fake or forced at times, for Dora, it was understandable why she would be socially awkward and why her actions would seem forced. I did not have as easy of a time excusing the other awkward characters. There were numerous times when the characters were talking or interacting with each other that I thought to myself, “real people don’t behave or speak in that manner”.

Another problem that I encountered in regards to the characters speaking with each other was the format of the conversation. At times I found myself confused as to who was speaking at what time. That might have just been a flaw in the formatting of the book I received, but when reading this book you’ll have to pay close attention as to who is speaking when as the author doesn’t make it extremely clear.

Despite the awkward characters and script of the characters, the writing in this story was surprisingly polished. Key writes in a manner that flows smoothly and consistently. His sentences circulate nicely within each other, no sentence seems too long or too short. The writing avoids becoming choppy, even when characters are speaking short sentences to each other. The author also does a nice job of describing places and events in a manner that is easy for the reader to visualize and follow. It was easy to visualize the places, the cars, or the events that were occurring while reading this novel.

In the end I would have to say, give this novel a shot. In The Darkis a fascinating read, with a disturbing ending. Although this book isn’t the best that I have ever read, due to the lacking characters, it was still a quick and enjoyable read for a Monday night. Definitely a book I would recommend for lovers of whodunit mysteries.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Wolf: Review

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This book took me a few chapters to get engrossed in, and I honestly wasn’t holding out much hope for the story. I’m glad that I decided to stick with the story because by the fourth or fifth chapter I was truly sucked into a fascinating read.

The story follows “The Wolf” or Vincent, a young man/criminal mastermind, who recently lost his wife and two daughters to a terrorist attack. Reeling from the aftermath of the killing, Vincent sets out for revenge, starting a war between all of the professional criminal organizations and all of the terrorist organizations.

This story thrilling, but also causes the reader to think a little bit about professional criminals and terrorists. I never really thought about the difference in criminal forms before reading this book, but while reading this story it really got me thinking. While I was thinking about the difference in criminal forms, though, I was still completely engrossed in the action of this book.

The action in this book is subtle and diabolical. The author takes the reader on a step-by-step journey of the war between the organizations. While the majority of the book, especially the beginning, takes place in “the boardroom” it’s easy to feel the tension as the action escalates to stopping bombs before they go off. The author did a breathtaking job of building up the conflict and leading the reader through the process, instead of just jumping right into the action.

The characters in this book were all unusually interesting. Vincent, as a mob boss yet still a loving father, was a very dynamic and engaging character. His pain over the loss of his wife and daughters was evident, yet he kept his head in the game in order to exact his revenge on the terrorists who destroyed his family. Jimmy, Vincent’s handicapped brother, was also another dynamic character. I did not expect Vincent to have a handicapped brother, especially one he routinely goes to for advice. Jimmy definitely added a new and refreshing dimension to the stereotypical criminal storyline.

The narrative shifts between first and third person do take a little bit of getting used to, but luckily there is a clear pattern. When the story is from Vincent’s perspective, the author uses first person to describe conversations and events that take place within that section. If the point of view is from any other character’s perspective, the author uses third person to describe the action. While normally not a fan of shifting narratives, I found that this style was very effective for this book. It allowed the reader to truly feel as if they were right there with Vincent, or that he was describing the details to them after the fact.

Regardless of the narrative shifts (even though I didn’t find them problematic), I was rather fond of this authors writing style. The author did a fantastic job of making me feel, while reading, that I was right there in the midst of the action. It’s a rare book that can truly make me <i>feel</i> the events, but this author put me right there.

Although this book does take a few chapters to get immersed into, it is definitely worth the read. The unique story, dynamic characters, and refreshing writing style make this book a joy to read. Definitely a book that I would recommend for any reader who is a fan of criminal thrillers. I will definitely be looking for more books written by this author in the future.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

Joy, Guilt, Anger, Love: Review

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This book offers a fascinating glimpse into the neuroscience behind emotions; something not normally thought about when dealing with emotions on an everyday basis.

Before reading this book I hadn’t really thought much about emotion. Emotion was just something that one experiences many times throughout the day, whether it’s anger, joy, or some other emotion. This book really caused me to think about the role that emotions play in our lives and the neurological reasoning behind those emotions. It really was an informative read.

The author, a neuroscientist himself, does a really good job of introducing the reader to a generally foreign topic in a non-intimidating way. There are many mentions to different parts of the brain throughout this book and the author does a fantastic job of explaining what we know those parts of the brain are used for in a way that is easy for even the most basic reader to understand.

The one thing that I didn’t really like about this book, or the authors writing style, was the fact that he talked about himself a lot. The author begins each chapter with a personal experience or story about himself. At the beginning of the book I wasn’t as distracted by the authors constant preoccupation with his personal experiences but the end of the book the constant personal stories began to wear on me. I wish the author had kept the information impersonal and not try to relate all of the information to his experiences in the hopes that the reader was able to read too.

In the end I would have to say that this book is definitely an interesting read, if you can get past the authors constant personal stories. I found that by about 60% of the way through the book I was too frustrated with the personal stories to even want to finish, even though I found the information interesting.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

The Frangipani Hotel: Review

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I found myself very disappointed with this book. While I can’t say that I didn’t like the book, because I did, it just fell way below my expectations.

The story is based on the tales that a young girl was told by her grandmother. They are traditional Vietnamese tales but have modernized to relate to events of cultural and world significance, such as the Vietnam war. All of the tales are fascinating and relate somewhat to each other.

I found myself really struggling to get into this book because of the writing style. The writing style just seemed choppy and mediocre. The author writes herself and her grandmother into the story, just as a young girl interviewing her grandmother to get the stories, but I didn’t really like how it was woven into the story. The interruptions of the girl did just that, interrupt the story, making the flow awkward and choppy. I also felt that the authors descriptions of the stories were very simple, she didn’t include all that much extra description or storytelling.

I also found the stories themselves rather bland. I understand that they are culturally significant stories but they just didn’t pique my interest. I found myself rather bored throughout most of the stories and not able to get myself interested in them.

All that being said, I’m still glad that I read this book. It was an interesting read and if you’re really interested in traditional Vietnamese stories with a modern spin, then you will love this book, it just wasn’t enough to catch and hold my interest.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.

Always Going: Review

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This is a cute little memoir, reminiscing about a childhood in Texas, Oklahoma, and California. It’s a quick and feel-good read, reminding me faintly of [book: A Girl Named Zippy], a book that also takes place in a dusty landscape.

The story is decent. I’m not a huge fan of books that reminisce about childhood and times past, but this book was still a decent read. The author faced a disjointed childhood and did the best that she knew to make the most out of it. There is some humor within this book, but mostly it is just a relatively sorrowful tale of a young girl and her childhood. It’s amazing how much detail the author was able to recall of times when she was so incredibly young (4 years old), but I guess there are just some things that stick with you.

The writing in this book was pleasant to read. The words used were incredibly simple, which makes this book perfect for readers of almost any level, and the style was simple as well. The story was easy to follow without much that got distracting. I wish there had been a little more depth to the writing, but I understand that the author is not a professional and the writing style is perfectly suited for the book.

In the end there isn’t much I can say about this book. It’s a story of a young girl’s childhood years in the southwest/midwest. The story is an easy read, something that is a pleasant read but doesn’t stand out, and the writing is incredibly simplistic. I enjoyed the book but am glad that it only took me a day to read as I don’t think I would have wanted to spend any more time reading it.

I was asked to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

I Freed Myself: Review

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This was a fascinating read; analyzing the impact that African Americans had on their own emancipation. This book is a technical, yet understandable read, allowing it to be comprehended by readers of variable skill levels.

This book gives a comprehensive analysis on the roles African Americans, enslaved or otherwise, played in obtaining their emancipation. It’s not an oft talked about fact that African Americans played a pivotal role in freeing themselves. Without the rebellion of slaves and opposition to slavery or inequality of free blacks in the north, emancipation would never have occurred.

This book does a really good job of presenting the reader with a lot of important information. This book talks about everything from maroons to political parties and the impact everything had on the end of slavery. This book presents a lot of information in an easily understandable manner, allowing the reader to get a complete grasp on everything that built up to emancipation.

The writing in this book was pleasant to read. While the author does present the reader with a lot of information (some presented in a technical manner), this book is generally easy to read and understand. This author definitely understands how to write a good non-fiction, history book in a way that is pleasant and still gets the information completely across to the reader.

The only problem that I had with this book was with the formatting. There are a lot of footnotes in this book, at the bottom of each page. I would have been happier having the footnotes at the end of the chapter, or at the end of the book entirely, as having the footnotes at the bottom of each page got distracting and detracted from the reading experience.

I would definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in slavery and emancipation, especially the role of African Americans in emancipation. I would also recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about the role African Americans played in their own freedom. This is definitely an interesting and eye-opening read about the civil war era.

I received this book for review purposes via NetGalley.