BOOK REVIEW: Toxic Rage: A Tale of Murder in Tucson by A.J. Flick

41562444Title: Toxic Rage: A Tale of Murder in Tucson

Author: A.J. Flick

Book Length: 303 pages

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime

Read Start Date: April 29, 2022

Read Finish Date: June 11, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Brian Stidham fell in love with Tucson, Ariz., the minute he came to town. A young and talented eye surgeon, he accepted a job with an established eye surgeon to take over his pediatric patients.

“It’s a beautiful place,” Stidham told a friend. “I can live right there by the mountains and go hiking. It’s a great deal for me there. The partner I’ll be working with is ultracool. He’s giving me the keys to the kingdom.”

Brad Schwartz, the doctor who hired Brian, was ambitious and possessed surgical skills few others had. But he was a troubled man.

Within a year of Stidham’s arrival in Tucson, the medical relationship would be severed by Schwartz’s personal troubles. Stidham broke away to start his own practice. Rumors abounded within the medical community that Schwartz was incensed and considered the departure a betrayal. His rage grew, even driving a wedge between him and his fiancée, Lourdes Lopez, a former prosecutor.

Three years after Stidham moved to Tucson, his life ended in an empty, darkened parking lot. But who would murder such a nice man in such a violent manner? Lourdes, who had witnessed Schwartz’s toxic rage toward his former partner, feared she knew. But would her suspicions be enough to catch the killer? Find out in TOXIC RAGE.

My Review: I received this book several years ago from Netgalley as an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I stopped reviewing books when the pandemic started for some reason, and am just going back now to read what I didn’t before. I’m a true crime junky, so I was excited to read this book about a case I had never heard about.

Brian Stidham was hired by Brad Schwartz to be another doctor is Schwartz’s ever growing practice. Although a successful doctor, Schwartz was plagued with troubles, eventually leading him to become an addict. While in rehab, Stidham leaves Schwartz’s practice to start one of his own, igniting a fury in Schwartz which eventually leads to Stidham’s murder.

The Goodreads synopsis of this book is a little misleading. The hook of the synopsis: “Lourdes, who had witnessed Schwartz’s toxic rage toward his former partner, feared she knew. But would her suspicions be enough to catch the killer? Find out in TOXIC RAGE,” makes it sound like Lourdes is the focus of the book and we follow her story as she tries to uncover the killer. This isn’t what happens at all. Lourdes is actually a very small part of the story. And actually, it was pretty obvious that Schwartz was the killer from the beginning.

While I liked this book, I felt that there was a lot of repetition. For example, Schwartz went around telling anyone he spoke to that he wanted Stidham dead. He even asked several people if they could kill him, or if not, knew anyone that could. We heard from each of these people. This got a little mundane and at points I found it hard to get through. It would have been more powerful if we had heard the details about one or two of the most shocking stories, and then the author could have lumped the rest into a brief paragraph or two.

Despite the above, I did find the book to be very interesting. Even though the book makes it very obvious from the beginning that Schwartz was the killer, the book still explores the other possibilities the police looked into. I thought it was good that the author wrote what actually happened rather than have an opinion as to what happened. The book seemed well researched and included information about interviews and court proceedings.

While I would recommend this book, it wasn’t my favorite true crime story.

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

Reviews Published

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW: Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Title: Living Dead in Dallas

Author: Charlaine Harris

Book Length: 291 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Horror

Read Start Date: May 16, 2022

Read Finish Date: June 3, 2022

Number in Book Series: 2

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face to-face with a beastly creature that gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn’t enjoy it).

The point is: they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favor, she obliges – and soon Sookie’s in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She’s supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave and let the humans go unharmed. But that’s easier said than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly….

My Review: Sookie is back for another tale of vampires and shape shifters. The book opens with a murder mystery–Lafayette the cook at Merlotte’s is found dead in the parking lot. It was rumored around town that Lafayette was into sex parties. Could someone from this scene have done it?

We are also introduced to even more supernatural creatures — a maenad, werewolves, even other shape shifters! The surprises keep coming!

Although the opening of the book was about Lafayette (and we come back to this by the end of the book), the middle of the book takes place in Dallas. Sookie is loaned to the Dallas vampires for an assignment — read the minds of humans to find out where a kidnapped Dallas vampire was taken. Through this adventure we meet a fresh set of characters, learn about an anti-vampire organization hell bent on destroying vampires, and watch Sookie get further ensconced in vampire politics.

Another hit from Charlaine Harris!

Other Books in this Series

Dead Until Dark is the first book in the series.

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Sookie Stackhouse is just a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. Until the vampire of her dreams walks into her life-and one of her coworkers checks out….Maybe having a vampire for a boyfriend isn’t such a bright idea.

See my review of Dead Until Dark here.

Podcast Saturdays, August 6, 2022: Haileywood

Photo: iHeart Originals

Summary from Apple Podcasts: Onscreen, Bruce Willis dodged bullets and explosions in Die Hard and countless action films, making him the biggest movie star of the ‘90s. Offscreen, he dodged the tabloid press and became so determined to live a private life he moved to one of the smallest towns in Idaho. But he didn’t just want to live in Hailey — he wanted to transform it. Soon, this sleepy old mining town was home to a culture clash between Hollywood spectacle and small-town values, with real-life secret rooms, car chases, and betrayal worthy of a Willis thriller. Welcome to Haileywood. Host Dana Schwartz will be your guide.

Link to the Show on Apple Podcasts:

No. of Seasons: 1

No. of Episodes: 8

My Review: In 2022, Bruce Willis is basically a household name. From the Die Hard series to Pulp Fiction, the Sixth Sense and the Fifth Element, Bruce Willis has become that superstar that many aspiring actors hope to one day become. Back in the 1990s, however, Bruce Willis was just gaining his fame and popularity. The only issue: Bruce Willis wanted to be recognized, but treated liked the average Joe. How can he accomplish this? By moving to the sleepy town of Hailey, Idaho, of course. But Willis isn’t happy with just living in Hailey (soon dubbed Haileywood by follow townies), but Willis also has to bring life back into the town. He begins by buying most of downtown, opening several commercial endeavors including 2 restaurants, a movie theater, and an office complex. He even buys a mansion to house Demi Moore’s collection of 2,000+ dolls (creepy right?).

This was a side to Bruce Willis that I had never known about (because he’s just an actor and not like my friend or anything), so I was really intrigued by this Podcast. It’s a look into the life of a famous person that makes him seem like a real person rather than just a fictional character.

We get to see that maybe he is an egotistical maniac who wants to have a “private” life, but at the same time contradicts this by being a public figure, sticking his nose in places where a lot of people didn’t care for it to be.

This was a really interesting podcast and a light break from my normal true crime addiction. I would highly recommend it.

Friday 56, August 5, 2022

Welcome to Friday 56! Hosted by Freda’s Voice, you turn to page 56 or 56% in any book or reading device and pick a sentence that grabs you.

I place the book back on the shelf. ‘Which is your favorite?’

‘I haven’t read any of them, either. Not since her first book.’

I spin and look at him. ‘Really?’

‘I didn’t like being inside her head.’

I hold back my smile, but he sounds a little bit like Corey right now. Unable to separate the world his wife creates from the one she lives in. At least Jeremy seems to be a little more self-aware than Corey ever was.”

Verity by Colleen Hoover

At this point in the book, Lowen has been hired to complete the famous series written by Verity, who is unable to complete them herself owing to the fact that she is in a catatonic state following a car accident. Lowen is at the home of Verity, and her husband Jeremy, where she is going through Verity’s office to find outlines or other items which may help her complete the series.

Lowen is in a strange place in her life — her mother just died, she broke up with her boyfriend (? lover?) Corey, who is also her literary agent. Corey wanted to be with Lowen because he initially fell in love with the character of her book and thought that the character was based on Lowen. Lowen and her character were very different, which ultimately led to the break up.

In the quote above, Lowen is seeing some similarities between Corey and Jeremy, in that they both seem to compare the characters of a fictional book to their significant other. There is also some tension between Lowen and Jeremy, it could be one sided, but we don’t know yet.

I have to say this book has gripped me from the first page and I am looking forward to reading more.

BOOK REVIEW: Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

59120294Title: Black Mouth

Author: Ronald Malfi

Audiobook Length: 12 hours and 12 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Thriller, Paranormal

Read Start Date: July 25, 2022

Read Finish Date: August 1, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Perfect for fans of Stephen King’s IT, a group of friends return to their hometown to confront a nightmare they first stumbled on as teenagers in this mesmerizing odyssey of terror.

For nearly two decades, Jamie Warren has been running from darkness. He’s haunted by a traumatic childhood and the guilt at having disappeared from his disabled brother’s life. But then a series of unusual events reunites him with his estranged brother and their childhood friends, and none of them can deny the sense of fate that has seemingly drawn them back together.

Nor can they deny the memories of that summer, so long ago – the strange magic taught to them by an even stranger man, and the terrible act that has followed them all into adulthood. In the light of new danger, they must confront their past by facing their futures, and hunting down a man who may very well be a monster.

My Review: I received this audiobook as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Okay so this book was touted as a book for lovers of Stephen King’s It. I thought it also had elements of King’s The Outsider as well.

Jamie, his special needs brother Dennis, and friends Mia and Clay grew up in Suttons Quay, West Virginia. A once vibrant town, Suttons Quay is now desolate in the wake of a mine collapse. The location of the collapse has been dubbed Black Mouth by the towns people, and living nearby the site is a black stain of sorts on the kids. For this reason they become very close to one another.

While strolling through the woods they come across a homeless man living amongst the trees (the Magician). He offers to make them his apprentices by teaching them various magic tricks and they are so elated that they overlook how strange and bedraggled he is. For his last and final trick he wants them to murder Dennis, but in the end, the kids refuse. Instead they start a fire in the woods, which unintentionally kills a woman and her newborn. The kids are sent away for the crime.

Moving on a decade later, Jamie was so traumatized by the past events that he has become an alcoholic, abandoning his brother in Black Mouth with their horrible mother.

Clay is a social worker who takes on the case of a woman accused of murdering her friend. She claims that the murderer was a man who resembles the Magician, and Clay begins to wonder whether the Magician is back at it again all these years later.

Mia now a famous horror movie director living in LA, spots who she believes is the Magician. She gets in touch with the rest of the crew, and getting the band back together, they attempt to piece together the mystery of the Magician so that they can get rid of him once and for all.

What I liked about the book: SPOILER ALERT, I do give away some things.

The characters were well developed and interesting. The pacing was good — I never got bored and I did NOT have to increase the listening speed to 1.25x. While having similarities to It and The Outsider, it was a work apart. Yes the kids went back to their hometown to defeat a monster they met in their childhood, but it wasn’t all supernatural — the monster turned out to just be a man and his copy cat. I kind of liked that because while It was all fiction, this story had more real elements to it.

What I didn’t like about the book:

The animal abuse. I know that writers use this to show how truly evil a person is, but really…I don’t need to read that shit. I don’t like. I don’t appreciate it. I think most of the time its superfluous. It gives me fucking nightmares. I HATE graphic animal abuse. If you are like me, do yourself a favor and skip this part.

Other than that, I liked the book and would recommend it.

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

Reviews Published

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

34066798._SY475_Title: A Gentleman in Moscow

Author: Amor Towles

Audiobook Length: 17 hours and 52 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, 

Read Start Date: May 23, 2022

Read Finish Date: May 31, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

With his breakout debut novel, Rules of Civility, Amor Towles established himself as a master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction, bringing late 1930s Manhattan to life with splendid atmosphere and a flawless command of style. Readers and critics were enchanted; as NPR commented, “Towles writes with grace and verve about the mores and manners of a society on the cusp of radical change.”

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

My Review: As an aristocrat and general thorn in the side of the Bolsheviks, Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to spend the rest of his days in a hotel. “Thus, it is the opinion of this committee that you should be returned to that hotel of which you are so fond. But make no mistake: should you ever set foot outside of the Metropol again, you will be shot. Next matter.”

This book was good, but I didn’t love it. It is essentially the story of a man who is sentenced to live in a hotel for the rest of his life — that’s it. It is written well, but there wasn’t really all that much happening. It seemed like an interesting premise, but at points it got a little boring, and I found myself having to listen to it at 1.25x the normal speed just to stay attentive. The voice of the narrator of the audiobook version drags a little, and sometimes I found myself drifting away to other thoughts.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a good book, or that if you like this type of book you won’t enjoy it. I just usually like a bit more plot motion / action in the books that I read.

First Chapter, First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros July 26, 2022

It’s First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday! Hosted by Socrates Book Reviews this is where you share the first paragraph of one (or in my case sometimes several) of the books that you are currently reading.

Kneeling in the fragrant moist grass of the village green Clara Morrow carefully hid the Easter egg and thought about raising the dead, which she planned to do right after supper. Wiping a strand of hair from her face, she smeared bits of grass, mud and some other brown stuff that might not be mud into her tangled hair. All around, villagers wandered with their baskets of brightly colored eggs, looking for the perfect hiding places. Ruth Zardo sat on the bench in the middle of the green tossing the eggs at random, though occasionally she’d haul off and peg someone in the back of the head or on the bottom. She had disconcertingly good aim for someone so old and so nuts, thought Clara.”

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny

BOOK REVIEW: A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

352921Title: A Fatal Grace

Author: Louise Penny

Book Length: 311 pages

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Crime,

Read Start Date: May 13, 2022

Read Finish Date: May 30, 2022

Number in Book Series: 2

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Welcome to winter in Three Pines, a picturesque village in Quebec, where the villagers are preparing for a traditional country Christmas, and someone is preparing for murder.

No one liked CC de Poitiers. Not her quiet husband, not her spineless lover, not her pathetic daughter—and certainly none of the residents of Three Pines. CC de Poitiers managed to alienate everyone, right up until the moment of her death.

When Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Sûreté du Québec, is called to investigate, he quickly realizes he’s dealing with someone quite extraordinary. CC de Poitiers was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake, in front of the entire village, as she watched the annual curling tournament. And yet no one saw anything. Who could have been insane enough to try such a macabre method of murder—or brilliant enough to succeed?

With his trademark compassion and courage, Gamache digs beneath the idyllic surface of village life to find the dangerous secrets long buried there. For a Quebec winter is not only staggeringly beautiful but deadly, and the people of Three Pines know better than to reveal too much of themselves. But other dangers are becoming clear to Gamache. As a bitter wind blows into the village, something even more chilling is coming for Gamache himself. 

My Review: This is the second book in the Armand Gamache novel series, and Gamache is back again in Three Pines investigating a murder. CC de Poitiers is an awful woman, hated by everyone, even her lover and family. The first 8-10% of the book is setting the scene for the murder, so Gamache doesn’t really enter the story until afterward.

The murder is imaginative — electrocution by metal chair, outside in the snow during a curling event. Several things had to fall into place, which on its face seemed rather impossible. CC had to have bare hands, in the freezing cold. CC had to be standing in water. CC had to be wearing shoes without rubber soles. And most of all, the chair had to be connected to electricity. How was this accomplished, and by whom? Was it more than just one person?

This series is fast becoming one of my favorites. Not only are the murder plots interesting, but the clues unfold in a natural way — and the author doesn’t make you feel like Gamache is some super smart super hero who figured it out when no one else would. He is just a good cop, with personal flaws, like everyone else.

I really recommend this series.

Other Books in this Series:

A Still Life is the first book in the series where we are introduced to Armand Gamache and the village of Three Pines.

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The discovery of a dead body in the woods on Thanksgiving Weekend brings Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and his colleagues from the Surete du Quebec to a small village in the Eastern Townships. Gamache cannot understand why anyone would want to deliberately kill well-loved artist Jane Neal, especially any of the residents of Three Pines – a place so free from crime it doesn’t even have its own police force.

But Gamache knows that evil is lurking somewhere behind the white picket fences and that, if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will start to give up its dark secrets…

You can find my review of Still Life here.

Goodreads Monday July 25, 2022

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Budget Tales Book Blog. “Goodreads Monday allows you to post about what books are on your “to read” lists, the progress you have made on your current books and reading challenge, and any other Goodreads news!”

Books I Finished Last Week:

Title: The Reaper’s Quota

Author: Sarah McKnight

Published: 2021

Number of Pages: 190

Date Finished: July 24, 2022

Goodreads’ Summary:

Meet Grim Reaper #2497. Behind on his work, he must complete his quota of thirty Random Deaths or face termination in the worst way. Faced with an insurmountable task and very little time to complete it, Reaper #2497 struggles to hang on to the one thing he’s not supposed to have – his humanity.

See my review of this book here.

Books I am Currently Reading:

Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris:

Small-town cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has had more than her share of experience with the supernatural—but now it’s really hitting close to home. When Sookie sees her brother Jason’s eyes start to change, she knows he’s about to turn into a were-panther for the first time—a transformation he embraces more readily than most shapeshifters she knows. But her concern becomes cold fear when a sniper sets his deadly sights on the local changeling population, and Jason’s new panther brethren suspect he may be the shooter. Now, Sookie has until the next full moon to find out who’s behind the attacks—unless the killer decides to find her first…

Progress: 10 out of 295 pages

In the last week I haven’t made any progress. I usually read this book right before writing my own book to get into the first person storytelling groove. Since I have been on vacation this week, I haven’t done any writing.

The Storyteller by Dave Grohl:

So, I’ve written a book.

Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (“It’s a piece of cake! Just do 4 hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!”) I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child.

This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement.

Progress: Audio file Part 9 out of 10

I haven’t made as much progress as I would like on this book (only 7 audio files in the last week). Usually, I’d be finished by now but I haven’t had much time for listening since I’ve been on vacation. I will have to finish this book by today at the latest though since my library loan will automatically expire soon.

The Cruelest Month by Louis Penny:

Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.

It’s spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life. . .

When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil—until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?

Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.

Progress: Edoc approximately 60%

I was focused on reading The Reaper’s Quota last week so I didn’t get so far in this book (only 10%).

The Last Storm by Tim Lebbon:

A gripping road trip through post-apocalyptic America from Tim Lebbon, New York Times bestseller and author of Netflix’s The Silence.

Struck by famine and drought, large swathes of North America are now known as the Desert. Set against this mythic and vast backdrop, The Last Storm is a timely story of a family of Rainmakers whose rare and arcane gift has become a curse.

Jesse stopped rainmaking the moment his abilities became deadly, bringing down not just rain but scorpions, strange snakes and spiders. He thought he could help a land suffering from climate catastrophe, but he was wrong. When his daughter Ash inherited the tainted gift carried down the family bloodline, Jesse did his best to stop her. His attempt went tragically wrong, and ever since then he has believed himself responsible for his daughter’s death.

But now his wife Karina––who never gave up looking for their daughter—brings news that Ash is still alive. And she’s rainmaking again. Terrified of what she might bring down upon the desperate communities of the Desert, the estranged couple set out across the desolate landscape to find her. But Jesse and Karina are not the only ones looking for Ash. As the storms she conjures become more violent and deadly, some follow her seeking hope. And one is hungry for revenge.

Progress: Edoc approximately 21%

I was reading The Reaper’s Quota and The Cruelest Month, so have basically set this book aside for the moment.

To Read List:

Title: Chasing the Reaper

Author: Sarah McKnight

Published: 2022

Number of Pages: 113

Goodreads’ Summary:

The Reaper Chronicles Book 2

Steven Kelton awakens with a vase in his hands, a sniveling man at his feet, and no idea how he got there. He struggles to remember the details of his life as something sinister lurks just around the corner. Death seems to be following Steve at every turn. Stalked by a hooded figure in black, Steve spirals into self-doubt and false memories until only one thing is certain – he must protect those he loves, even if it means staring Death in the face.

BOOK REVIEW: The Reaper’s Quota by Sarah McKnight

59595361._sy475_Title: The Reaper’s Quota

Author: Sarah McKnight

Book Length: 190 pages

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Horror, Paranormal

Read Start Date: July 17, 2022

Read Finish Date: July 24, 2022

Number in Book Series: 1

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Meet Grim Reaper #2497. Behind on his work, he must complete his quota of thirty Random Deaths or face termination in the worst way. Faced with an insurmountable task and very little time to complete it, Reaper #2497 struggles to hang on to the one thing he’s not supposed to have – his humanity.

My Review: I received this kindle book as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Grim Reaper #2497 (a.k.a. Steve) doesn’t like being a reaper very much. He only got the gig because he killed his business partner and then died decades later in Prison — see, if you kill someone, whether accidentally or otherwise, you spend your eternal afterlife reaping the souls of other people, until your bones get so old they literally turn to dust.

Steve fulfills his assignments (terminally ill people or other people slated to die) reluctantly, but he hates having to meet his “random death” quota a.k.a the 30 random people that he has to kill, some of whom, without Steve’s intervention, would have had long lives ahead of them. Since he hasn’t been fulfilling his quota lately, he is called in front of the Big Boss and told that he has to randomly kill 30 people in 3 days, otherwise Steve will be executed. The book is basically about Steve going about this grim tasks.

I really loved “The Office” or “Office Space” feel of this book — but instead of TP Reports, there are Random Death quotas. The reapers stand around the office water cooler “drinking” their Elixir (which they can’t really drink because the reapers are literally just walking skeletons) and talking shop. Some reapers are sadistic, some are over achievers, and some, like Steve, do the bare minimum with a modicum of effort. Sitting above the minions, making sure the work is carried out, is the nasty boss with a bad attitude ready to drop the hammer at any moment.

How Steve orchestrates his random kills is borderline ridiculous, which brings some levity into what otherwise would be a somber set of circumstances. Despite the humor, however, it does get rather tedious after a while and I would have liked to have more substance to the story, which is why I’m only giving the book 4 stars instead of 5. The book is 90% focused on the background story of the people that Steve kills and the description of how they die and 10% focused on bringing Steve’s story forward. The book ended with a cliffhanger, which I presume will pick up in a sequel — though I think that the book was short enough that it could have been continued as a Part 2 to the same book.

If you’re in the mood for something short and light, then this book is for you!

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

Reviews Published

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.