BOOK REVIEW: A Haunted History of Invisible Women by Leanna Renee Hieber and Andrea Janes

60098288._SY475_Title: A Haunted History of Invisible Women: True Stories of America’s Ghosts

Author: Leanna Renee Hieber and Andrea Janes

Audiobook Length: 10 hours and 44 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, History, Paranormal, Horror, True Crime

Read Start Date: September 25, 2022

Read Finish Date: September 27, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: From the notorious Lizzie Bordento the innumerable, haunted rooms ofSarah Winchester‘s mysterious mansionthis offbeat, insightful, first-ever book of its kind explores the history behind America’s female ghosts, the stereotypes, myths, and paranormal tales that swirl around them, what their stories reveal about us–and why they haunt us…

Sorrowful widows, vengeful jezebels, innocent maidens, wronged lovers, former slaves, even the occasional axe-murderess–America’s female ghosts differ widely in background, class, and circumstance. Yet one thing unites them: their ability to instill fascination and fear, long after their deaths. Here are the full stories behind some of the best-known among them, as well as the lesser-known–though no less powerful.

Tales whispered in darkness often divulge more about the teller than the subject. America’s most famous female ghosts, like New Orleans voodoo priestess Marie Laveau, and Bridget Bishop, the first person executed during the Salem witchcraft trials, mirror each era’s fears and prejudices. Yet through urban legends and campfire stories, even ghosts like the nameless hard-working women lost in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire –achieve a measure of power and agency in death, in ways unavailable to them as living women.

Riveting for skeptics and believers alike, with humor, curiosity, and expertise, A Haunted History of Invisible Women offers a unique lens on the significant role these ghostly legends play both within the spook-seeking corners of our minds and in the consciousness of a nation.

My Review: I received this audiobook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I thought this book was well done, but I found it to be more informational than scary. Despite the “horror” classification on Goodreads, I personally do not think that this book fits into that genre. The authors told the tales of female ghosts, but in the context of how women were / are societally perceived, and how this perception spawned such ghost stories. So, for me, it was more a book about the history of ghosts and the societal reasons why ghost stories are created, rather than a compilation of ghost stories.

I hadn’t ever thought to much into how ghost stories came about. It was very interesting to get the authors’ take based upon the historical evidence.

As of the writing of this review this book has about a 3.8 average rating on Goodreads, with about 111 ratings overall. Honestly, this is surprising to me and seems a bit unfair. Most of the lower ratings are from people who say the book is to “feminist” for them, or rag on the authors for not collecting interviews from people who have seen these ghosts, or for not sharing their own personal ghost stories. But I don’t think this was the point of the book. This book wasn’t about the stories themselves per se, but how these ghost stories were formed and how said stories have shaped society in the retelling. It is an interesting and unique perspective to these ghost stories, one which I had never read before.

Therefore, I would recommend this book, especially for those people who like history and ghosts.

10 Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris

58989873Title: Happy-Go-Lucky

Author: David Sedaris

Audiobook Length: 7 hours and 30 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Humor, Essays, Memoir, Short Stories, LGBT

Read Start Date: August 27, 2022

Read Finish Date: August 30, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Back when restaurant menus were still printed on paper, and wearing a mask—or not—was a decision made mostly on Halloween, David Sedaris spent his time doing normal things. As Happy-Go-Lucky opens, he is learning to shoot guns with his sister, visiting muddy flea markets in Serbia, buying gummy worms to feed to ants, and telling his nonagenarian father wheelchair jokes.

But then the pandemic hits, and like so many others, he’s stuck in lockdown, unable to tour and read for audiences, the part of his work he loves most. To cope, he walks for miles through a nearly deserted city, smelling only his own breath. He vacuums his apartment twice a day, fails to hoard anything, and contemplates how sex workers and acupuncturists might be getting by during quarantine.

As the world gradually settles into a new reality, Sedaris too finds himself changed. His offer to fix a stranger’s teeth rebuffed, he straightens his own, and ventures into the world with new confidence. Newly orphaned, he considers what it means, in his seventh decade, no longer to be someone’s son. And back on the road, he discovers a battle-scarred America: people weary, storefronts empty or festooned with Help Wanted signs, walls painted with graffiti reflecting the contradictory messages of our time: Eat the Rich. Trump 2024. Black Lives Matter.

In Happy-Go-Lucky, David Sedaris once again captures what is most unexpected, hilarious, and poignant about these recent upheavals, personal and public, and expresses in precise language both the misanthropy and desire for connection that drive us all. If we must live in interesting times, there is no one better to chronicle them than the incomparable David Sedaris.

My Review: This book is so hilarious I actually laughed out loud. The synopsis on Goodreads makes it sound like a lot of this book is surrounding the events of COVID, but that’s not actually the case. It’s really only a small part toward the end of the book.

I listened to this as an audiobook and it was read by David Sedaris himself. Some of the parts were “narrated” and some of the parts were recordings of Sedaris at a book reading event — you can hear the laughter of the audience in the background.

Although most of the book is funny, Sedaris includes some dark tales surrounding the abuse suffered by Sedaris and his siblings at the hands of their father. Once, when Sedaris was about 10 years old, he complained of a stomach ache in order to get out of going to school the next day. Later that night, when Sedaris was playing with his guinea pig, his father had Sedaris go to the bathroom for a visual “anal exam”. His father, who Sedaris described as some guy who always walked around in his underwear, would also do weird and creepy things to Sedaris’ sisters. For example: “He said of my sister, who was tottering on platform shoes, a straw hat on her head, looking, I’d later realize, a lot like Jody Foster in Taxi Driver: ‘God she’s got a great set of pins!’ I didn’t know what pins were and when I later learned that they were legs, I thought ‘well that’s a…nice…thing…to say about someone, in general, I mean, if that person isn’t, you know, your daughter.'”

A lot of the stories in the book were about Sedaris’ father, now deceased, but who at the time was old and infirm in a nursing home. The creepy man that Sedaris used to know was long gone and Sedaris had to reconcile the horrible man he used to know and dislike, with the affable, rather pleasant person he had become in his old age.

I think it takes a lot of courage to write such private things into a book that will be read by millions.

I highly recommend this book to anyone in need of a good laugh.

BOOK REVIEW: The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

57648017Title: The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music

Author: Dave Grohl

Audiobook Length: 10 hours and 35 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Autobiography, Pop Culture, Music

Read Start Date: July 17, 2022

Read Finish Date: July 25, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: 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.

My Review: Dave Grohl is a musician (drummer) who has been in some pretty big named bands e.g. Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. To be honest, although I have listened to both bands before, I had no clue what the name of the drummer was until now. I checked this audiobook out from the library as it was in the “popular global” category. Having no expectations whatsoever about the book, I was pleasantly surprised. I found that the stories were interesting / entertaining, and Grohl was even funny at times.

Describing his heartbreak over the breakup from his first girlfriend (after 1 week): “Forlorn, I returned home to my volumes of nauseatingly romantic scribblings, gathered them all and burned them in a ceremonious ritual at the alter that I had of course built for Sandi in the carport. Okay, maybe I just threw ’em in the fucking trashcan outside, but I did purge my pages of puppy love poetry so as to cut the proverbial cord and try to get on with my boring preteen life.” I laughed out loud at this one.

This was a fast and easy read and was really good to listen to in the background of doing chores around the house.

BOOK REVIEW: No Lawyers in Heaven by Henry Milner

56033836._SY475_Title: No Lawyers in Heaven: A Life Defending Serious Crime

Author: Henry Milner

Audiobook Length:  6 hours and 43 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime, Autobiography, Memoir

Read Start Date: August 13, 2022

Read Finish Date: August 17, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Netgally (link to Goodreads): The life of a criminal defence lawyer is shrouded in mystery. Outsiders might wonder about how to deal with potentially dangerous clients; what happens behind the scenes when building a defence; and, that age-old moral dilemma, how a lawyer can defend someone they think is guilty. But what is life really like for those tasked with representing the shadowy underbelly of society?

For over forty years, criminal defence solicitor Henry Milner has been the go-to lawyer for some of Britain’s most notorious criminals including Kenneth Noye and the Brink’s-Mat robbers, Freddie Foreman, John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer and the gang behind the Millennium Dome raid.

Here, the lawyer referred to in the Sunday Times as ‘The Mr Big of Criminal Briefs’ offers a fascinating insight into life at the top of the profession, lifting the lid on the psychology of those who end up on the wrong side of the law and those who defend them. By turns shocking and hilarious, this remarkable memoir takes us deep into the enigmatic criminal underworld, delivering a wry personal commentary on the most extraordinary aspects of a life spent amongst the accused.

My Review: I received this audiobook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I have to say, from the very beginning of this book I just loved it.

In 1967 the author, Henry Milner is in the College of Estate Management when he is essentially told by the school that he is not very good (as he had come at the bottom of his building construction class twice because he “can’t draw”), and that he should think instead of becoming a lawyer, as he had excelled in legal classes such as property law. And so he did.

Milner eventually becomes a defense attorney and he tells the stories of when he was practicing in the 70s and 80s. The stories are told with wit and humor and at times had me laughing out loud. His clients, some guilty, some acquitted are characters unto themselves. Even though they are criminals, many of their antics were funny (maybe not haha funny, but at least shake your head in astonishment funny).

I had never heard of these cases because they were before my time, and also this takes place in England and not America.

I also really liked the narrator. He told the stories in an animated way, like you were at a party, engaged in a conversation with him and he was regaling you of that one time when he represented this guy…

The crimes that are discussed are not heinous in nature, mostly robberies, and so I didn’t feel drained by reading this book like with some true crime books about murder.

All in all, I highly recommend this book.

10 Book Reviews

Professional Reader

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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: When the Bough Breaks by Judith R. Bernstein, Ph.D.

1189662Title: When the Bough Breaks

Author: Judith R. Bernstein, Ph.D.

Audiobook Length: 8 hours and 15 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Parenting & Families

Read Start Date: June 14, 2022

Read Finish Date: June 16, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Explaining that parents can never get over the loss of a child, a psychologist and bereaved parent offers strategies by which parents can accept and integrate the effects of trauma into their lives.

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

“We don’t get over a trauma, we adapt our way of thinking and feeling about the world as a consequence.” This quote is so true!

My brother died 8 years ago in June. The pain and trauma that such an event brings to a family is just staggering. You go through a lot of emotions…and not every family member grieves the same, which at times can be trying.

I wish that I had had this book back then. I know it is written for parents who have lost a child, but I think that losing a brother is also hard — especially when they are younger than you. Through this book, I learned a lot more about the grieving process and I related to the many stories shared by the parents in this book.

I would also recommend this book to people who have not lost a child or close loved one, but who know someone who did. At times the behavior of those grieving may seem “strange”, but in reality, it is perfectly normal. This book will help others understand and support people who are grieving.

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: 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: Rental Property Investing Quick Start Guide by Symon He

58168972._SX318_Title: Rental Property Investing Quick Start Guide

Author: Symon He

Audiobook Length: 7 hours and 5 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Business & Investing, Reference

Read Start Date: April 29, 2022

Read Finish Date: May 5, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: THE ULTIMATE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO RENTAL PROPERTY INVESTING IN THE POST-PANDEMIC MARKET

INCLUDES 8 HOURS OF ONLINE REAL ESTATE COURSES FROM THE AUTHOR + MULTIPLE FREE REAL ESTATE INVESTING TOOLS – FREE!

Do you want to learn how to leverage rental property investment to produce lasting passive income, achieve financial freedom, create freedom of time, and build true wealth?

Have you purchased rental property investment ‘training’ with so-called ‘gurus’ and come away with a lighter bank account and no clear path to rental property investing success?

If so, look no further than Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide, the most comprehensive, practical, beginner-friendly rental property investing book ever written.

Owning rental property is the best way to generate a passive income stream, period.

While other investment vehicles may come and go, rental property investing has stood the test of time. Direct real estate investments—and the income generated by rental properties—play a major part in minting millionaires on a regular basis.

Not only do rental property owners enjoy positive cash flow in the form of rents paid, but each of the properties they own appreciates in value. With tax-advantaged profits and a high degree of control over your investments, rental property investing is an attractive and streamlined approach to wealth creation.

In Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide, bestselling author, course instructor, real estate investor, and veteran consultant Symon He breaks down everything that aspiring real estate investors need to know to build a thriving rental property portfolio.

With over 300,000 students in nearly 180 countries and a bestselling real estate investing book under his belt, Symon knows exactly what new investors need to get right, what they should avoid, and how they can protect themselves from risk on their rental property investing journey.

Successful rental property investors enjoy lasting financial freedom.

Whether you are a complete beginner or want to grow an existing rental property portfolio, with Symon’s expertise at your disposal you can accelerate your rental property investing journey and live the life you deserve!

Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide Is Perfect For:

– Complete newcomers to the world of rental property investing or anyone looking to generate passive income streams through rental property investing
– Existing rental property investors looking to expand their portfolios and maximize their rental revenue
– Anyone who has struggled to find success in the past with complicated books or expensive rental investment training

Rental Property Investing QuickStart Guide Will Teach You:

– How to Find and Finance Lucrative Rental Properties Into a Self-Sustaining Passive Income Stream
– How the Real Estate Market Works, How to Anticipate Market Cycle Changes, and – How to Find the Perfect Investment Entry Points
– How to Maintain Properties with Minimal Effort, Upgrade and Grow Your Investments, and Cash In Your Equity
– How to Maximize Your Rental Income, Develop a Productive Portfolio of Rental Properties, and Generate a Thriving Rental Income
– How to Analyze and Compare Rental Investment Properties,How to Spot and Act on Hot Deals, How to Maintain a Positive Cash Flow, and More!

*LIFETIME ACCESS TO FREE REAL ESTATE INVESTING DIGITAL ASSETS*
– Valuation, terminal value, and rental comparison worksheets
– Advanced Rental Income Analyzer, Wholesaling Deal Analyzer, Symon’s Exclusive Fix & Flip Property Analyzer, and more!

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

I found this book to be really interesting and informative! Some of the principles are a little complicated, and the author refers to various charts and tables. I would have liked to have had these references available visually (I only had the audiobook). I think therefore that this book is probably better as a text book (paperback or ebook).

Nevertheless, as I was reading, I was excited to use the many tips that the author gave in my own fledgling rental investment.

I would recommend this book to anyone who was thinking about investing in rental properties, or to those who are at the start of their journey.

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: The Ghost Marriage by Kirsten Mickelwait

54810309Title: The Ghost Marriage

Author: Kirsten Mickelwait

Audiobook Length: 10 hours and 10 minutes

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Read Start Date: April 23, 2022

Read Finish Date: April 26, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: At thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned to San Francisco from a bohemian year in Rome, ready to pursue a serious career as a writer and eventually, she hopes, marriage and family. When she meets Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney, she begins to see that future materialize more quickly than she’d dared to expect.

Twenty-two years later, Steve has turned into someone quite different. Unemployed and addicted to opioids, he uses money and their two children to emotionally blackmail Kirsten. What’s more, he’s been having an affair with their real estate agent, who is also her close friend. So she divorces him–but after their divorce is finalized, Steve is diagnosed with colon cancer and dies within a year, leaving Kirsten with $1.5 million in debts she knew nothing about. It’s then that she finally understands: The man she’d married was a needy, addictive person who came wrapped in a shiny package.

As she fights toward recovery, Kirsten begins to receive communications from Steve in the afterlife–which lead her on an unexpected path to forgiveness. The Ghost Marriage is her story of discovery — that life isn’t limited to the tangible reality we experience on this earth, and that our worst adversaries can become our greatest teachers.

My Review: I received this audiobook as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I definitely connected with this woman, as I too was married to someone who, at the end of our marriage, I could barely recognize. Steve, the author’s husband, was a real jerk, who seemed to delight in antagonizing her. This book must have been cathartic to write for the author, as there were many stories of how Steve screwed the author over. By the end of the book I hated this guy’s guts. How the author could stand this man for decades is beyond me! Nevertheless, the book is thankfully not written in a whiny woe is me style — it is eloquent and narrative and kept me engaged and interested.

I was all set to give this book 5 stars, until I got to the last portion of the book. It really made me angry that the author (after seeing a psychic) came to believe that the ill treatment she endured at the hands of her husband was a “gift” from him because it taught her valuable life lessons which will help her in her next life after reincarnation. She believes now that they had a “soul contract” where the author agreed to be treated like a doormat. Give me a freaking break. Barf. I just don’t get it. It’s as though the act of dying makes this guy a saint all of a sudden.

I’m all for forgiving someone their transgressions in order to move on or whatever, but it just felt like she went beyond that to actually excusing and/or even JUSTIFYING his bad behavior. This was a real turnoff to me and is why I gave only 4 stars instead of 5. Emotional abuse is absolutely not ok, and never should be excused. But since this was only the very last portion of the book, I would say the book is worth the read anyway…just feel free to skip the ending!

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: King of the World by Matt Waters

59088468Title: King of the World

Author: Matt Waters

Audiobook Length: 7 hours and 12 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, History

Read Start Date: July 3, 2022

Read Finish Date: July 10, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: The Persian Empire was the world’s first hyperpower, with territory stretching from Central Asia to Northeastern Africa and from Southeastern Europe to the Indus Valley. It was the dominant geopolitical force from the later sixth century to its conquest by Alexander in the 330s BCE. Much of the empire’s territory was conquered by its founder, Cyrus the Great, who reigned from 559-530 BCE. Cyrus became a legend in his own lifetime, and his career inspired keen interest from Persia’s unruly neighbors to the west, the ancient Greeks. The idealized portrait of Cyrus by the Greek Xenophon had a profound impact on ancient, medieval, and early modern debates about rulership.

King of the World provides an authoritative and accessible account of Cyrus the Great’s life, career, and legacy. While Greek sources remain central to any narrative about Cyrus, a wealth of primary evidence is found in the ancient Near East, including documentary, archaeological, art historical,
and biblical material. Matt Waters draws from all of these sources while consistently contextualizing them in order to provide a cohesive understanding of Cyrus the Great. This overview addresses issues of interpretation and reconciles limited material, while the narrative keeps Cyrus the Great’s
compelling career at the forefront. Cyrus’ legacy is enormous and not fully appreciated– King of the World takes readers on a journey that reveals his powerful impact and preserves his story for future generations.

My Review: I received this audiobook as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. When I read the description about the book, it sounded really interesting to me, as I generally like reading about the history of the Middle East region. I had never heard of Cyrus the Great before, so I was interested to read about his life and legacy. The first part of the book was a little tedious, with a lot of references to dates and people, which I found to be overwhelming. I couldn’t keep straight who everyone was, how they related to Cyrus, etc. I think that part of the problem was that I was listening to an audiobook rather than print version. It might have been easier to follow in black and white, especially because in print version you can go back and look at it again, take notes, etc.

When the book shifted into actual stories about Cyrus, it got better. If I remember correctly, the book mentions that the author has spent a lot of time compiling and researching the subject matter of this book, and it really shows. I think that the author was enthusiastic to put all his knowledge down on the page, but that in some aspects this came off less like storytelling and more like a university class history lesson. Not that there is anything wrong with a history lesson per se, but when reading books, I like to have a feel more of being told a story. This is why I couldn’t give more than 3 stars, as this book dragged for me in some places.

That being said, I think that anyone who is interested in the ancient history of the region will enjoy this book for the wealth of knowledge that it imparts. It was definitely very educational.

Lastly, with respect to the audiobook version I have two comments to make. While I enjoyed the lyrical voice of the narrator, there was a lot of references to illustrations, maps, pictures, etc. which obviously cannot be seen while listening to the audiobook. Therefore, it might be nice to read the paper or ebook version in order to get the benefit of this aspect of the book as well.

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: Murder in the Neighborhood by Ellen J. Green

60152986Title: Murder in the Neighborhood

Author: Ellen J. Green

Audiobook Length: 9 hours 38 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime

Read Start Date: April 7, 2022

Read Finish Date: April 10, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: On September 6, 1949, twenty-eight-year-old Howard Barton Unruh shot thirteen people in less than twelve minutes on his block in East Camden, New Jersey.

The shocking true story of the first recorded mass shooting in America has never been told, until now.

The sky was cloudless that morning when twelve-year-old Raymond Havens left his home on River Road.

His grandmother had sent him to get a haircut at the barbershop across the street – where he was about to witness his neighbor and friend Howard open fire on the customers inside. Told through the eyes of the young boy who visited Howard regularly to listen to his war stories, and the mother trying to piece together the disturbing inner workings of her son’s mind, Ellen Green uncovers the chilling true story of Howard Unruh – the quiet oddball who meticulously plotted his revenge on the neighbors who shunned him and became one of America’s first mass killers. With access to Howard’s diaries, newly released police reports and psychiatric records alongside interviews with surviving family members and residents of the neighborhood, A Murder in the Neighborhood will have readers of In Cold Blood, If You Tell and American Predator absolutely gripped.

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

Murder in the Neighborhood tells the story of the first recorded mass shooting in the US (which took place in 1949), from the perspective of 12-year-old Raymond Havens who witnessed the shootings and Freda Unruh, the killer’s mother.

Sitting here in 2022, with dozens of mass shootings have occurred in recent decades, the facts surrounding the first mass shooting in 1949, alarmingly, doesn’t seem shocking to me. What is clear, is that nothing has changed since 1949. Through a gripping narrative, the author explores not only the crime, but the events leading up to the crime. We get to see not only the aftermath, but Howard Unruh’s evolution from veteran to mass murderer.

I am not sure if the author intended it, but as I read this book, I could really see the parallels with the mass shootings taking place today, and it is honestly maddening that nothing has changed in 70+ years. This book is not only a story about an event in history, but also gives us a lens into our future.

I read a book recently that posited that people who commit suicide do so only when their chosen method of suicide is at hand. In other words, the method of suicide is intrinsically linked to the suicide itself. E.g. if Person X wants to shoot himself, but can’t find a gun, he will not just use another method, he will, in fact, not commit suicide at all.

This made me wonder whether mass killings are similar. What would have happened if Howard Unruh did not have access to guns? Would he have been able to shoot as many people? Would he have stopped at just the Cohens — the original intended victims? Unruh had planned to murder the Cohens for their ceaseless bullying, but Unruh describes that as he started shooting, he couldn’t stop. He just kept going. Shooting people, whether they had “wronged” him or not. He even killed 3 children for no reason. Now, if he had a knife, say, would he have been able to keep killing before someone stopped him? I guess we will never know.

The book seemed to be well researched, and I liked how this book not only discussed the hard facts surrounding the killings, but also went into the psychology of Unruh. As readers, we got to see the “why” (as ridiculous as his reasons were), not only the how. I also really liked the writing style of the author. It was written like a fiction book i.e. the telling of a story rather than a recitation of facts, which made it very easy to read.

If you are a true crime fan who otherwise reads mostly fiction (like me) I think this book is right up your alley.

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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.