BOOK REVIEW: A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deadly Molecules and the Killers Who Used Them by Neil Bradbury, Ph.D.

The second book I finished this year is A Taste for Poison: Eleven Deadly Molecules and the Killers Who Used them by Neil Bradbury, Ph.D.

I am an avid true crime fan so when this book crossed my desk at the library I work at, I immediately checked it out eager to learn about the chemicals and minerals that have been used to poisons in both fiction and real life. Bradbury breaks the book into two sections.

The first section focuses on biomolecules including: insulin, atropine, strychnine, aconite, ricin, digoxin, and cyanide. The second section discusses molecules from the earth such as: potassium, polonium, arsenic, and chlorine. Many of these will be familiar to those that read murder mysteries, are interested in true crime, or have an interest in history. While most readers likely have some knowledge of some of these poisons, especially arsenic and cyanide, I found it especially interesting that Bradbury was able to find some stories of how these have killed that I, and other readers, haven’t necessarily heard about, and then going into detail about how the molecule goes about bringing and end to its victims.

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the positioning of an historical story of how a poison was used, and partnering that with a much more recent story of the poison. I think a lot of people might be surprised about people trying to get away with murders in the 2010s using the same methods as those in the 1800s, with much less success.

Poison as therapy was another section of many of the chapters that I enjoyed. I was fascinated to learn about how many of the poisons being discussed also can serve as medicine. One may think, sure it was used as a medicine before we knew better in modern times, but I was surprised to learn that several are still used today even.

Honestly, I could keep gushing about little things about this book that I enjoyed, but it would probably be easier for you to just go out and find yourself a copy to read.

What do you think about the molecules in this book? Are you surprised people still try to get away with murder with these poisons?

Happy Reading!

BOOK REVIEW: One Last Wish: a MM Holiday Romance by Alex J. Adams

Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy for free, and am leaving this review voluntarily.

Just before Christmas I read the short book One Last Wish by Alex J. Adams. The book is only 133 pages but is full of all the feels and readers will likely want to have some tissues on hand.

The story focuses on Blair Campbell who is returning to the countryside to visit his ailing grandfather, William Campbell for the holidays. While Blair has become a city liver, it’s clear he does enjoy the simplicity of country life, and is at home while caring for his grandfather.

William has a caretaker that cares for him daily, and they have also become close friends. Angus has been William’s caretaker over the last year and is quite protective of him.

It is quite wholesome to see how both Blair and Angus care for William, and while they are determined to dislike each other at the onset, despite their mutual attraction, they begin to realize that the other isn’t as bad as they originally assumed.

William is a sassy old man, and has a wish list of activities he wants to complete before he dies with the help of his grandson and Angus. I truly enjoyed the old man as a character. He knows his life is coming to an end but he celebrates the life he has left. I imagine him with a sparkle in his eye as he gets into mischief wanting to accomplish some of the items on his list that the reader likely wouldn’t imagine older people wanting to do.

The coming together of Blair and Angus is heartwarming, and even with the book being short, it’s not an easy coupling which makes them all the more real. There is hope, and disappointment, love, and hurt, and life and death in this book that had me feeling all the feels and wanting more. It wasn’t a fairy tale read, and I think the realness of the story made it all the more enjoyable.

I hope you readers out there pick up this title, as I know I want to pick up another by this author.

Happy Reading!

BOOK REVIEW: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones.

I originally had my wish granted by NetGalley and received this book as an eARC. I finally read it this October for the Spooktober read-a-thon and it has taken me some time to collect my thoughts on this book. It was released in July 2020 so please find yourself a copy because while I will give my review here, I think this is a book that will resonate quite differently with each reader and I encourage you to read it and see what you think about it.

The Only Good Indians is the first book that I’ve read by Stephen Graham Jones, but it definitely won’t be my last. He did a remarkable job of bringing the reader into the world of four Native American men struggling. For each of them it is different, and yet the same. They are each reminded of a disturbing event from their past that they never quite processed.

The beginning of the book is quite slow, but the more I think about it, I think that is what draws you in. You get a clear picture of how these men are treated off the reservation and how inter-cultural relationships challenge traditional ways.

How will their past come back to haunt them? Can the violence be brought to an end? It’s a clear story about vengeance and will make you reflect on your own thoughts and beliefs.

While I eventually have decided that I actually did enjoy this book, I encourage readers to not come to a snap decision and really mull over your thoughts at the end. Also, if you have problems reading about animal violence this book will not be for you. And that is perfectly ok. Not every book is meant for every reader.

If you’ve already read this book I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Thoughtful Reading πŸ™‚

Book Review: The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon.

Hi folks! Sorry for the intermittent posting. I’ve been in quite the reading funk as of late and it’s been difficult getting into reading. With that being said today’s post is looking at Farrah Rochon’s The Boyfriend Project which was released June 9, 2020. I originally received an eARC from NetGalley for this title, but have been a bit slow in reading and reviewing it.

This book was more than just your typical contemporary romance. More so than the title might lead you to believe. It centers on Samiah Brooks, an intelligent African American woman working in the tech industry. At the onset of the book she discovers that the man she has been seeing was also seeing two other women. The three women, Samiah, London, and Taylor, brilliantly humiliate the cheater for all of Twitter to see and then promptly become the best of friends.

The three friends decide they need to put themselves first and decide to focus on a project important to their individual goals instead of finding a man. Of course, just as they make the no-dating pact, Samiah meets Daniel Collins at work. Sparks fly, but what is Daniel hiding? Can they get over the hurdles and admit what is most important? Read the book for the ride on the relationship train.

While I initially had a difficult time getting into the book, I’m going to blame the pandemic for that. Once I could really devote myself to sitting down with the book it was an entertaining book to enjoy. While you get some fun bed romp scenes, there is genuine character development, and all of the characters seem like fun people I wish were real (minus the creep that started it all of course!).

If you enjoy friendship, comedy, and a bit of romance this book is likely up your alley. And since I was slow to the game this book is obviously already out so you can enjoy it! While you’re at it Rochon’s sequel is also out!

Happy Reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning (Highlander #1)

This post is going to take a look at the steamy romance novel Beyond the Highland Mist written by Karen Marie Moning. It was published in 1999 and has been reissued a few times since.

I knew nothing about this series going into it, and was only expecting a steamy romance in a Scotland setting. And obviously…kilts.

I did not expect fairies and time travel. More so the time travel.

In this book Adrienne de Simone was sucked out of 1999 Seattle and spit out in 16th century Scotland. And of course she immediately has a run in with Hawk, the legendary fighter who also was quite the playboy. And he has his sights set on conquering Adrienne.

Unlike every other woman faced with Hawk’s desires Adrienne wants none of that. Held captive in a castle in a confusing time that she is unfamiliar with, she is unlike the women of that time. She is bold, and loud about her beliefs, and Hawk is determined to win her.

Will he win her over or will she return to the future and forget all about the passionate laird?

I definitely enjoyed this book and quickly read the next three books in the series.

I hope you enjoy this book if you pick it up!

Happy Reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: Wine and Punishment by Sarah Fox

This post is going to take a look at Wine and Punishment written by Sarah Fox. I checked this book out from the academic library I work at. It was released November 2019 so those of you looking for a light mystery can enjoy it right now! This is the first book in a new series by Fox called A Literary Pub Mystery.

Sadie Coleman has relocated to Shady Creek, Vermont, after a break up with her long term boyfriend Eric in Boston. Shady Creek is a small town that lives for seasonal festivals–and the Autumn festival is very important to the town. It highlights local businesses to leaf-peeping tourists, pumpkin pie baking contests, and more. Sadie bought a local mill building, and has built her business as a literary themed pub, serving drinks like Huckleberry Gin–and yes the book includes recipes!!

But somebody in town doesn’t like Sadie. Her tires were slashed, her building egged, her shed lit on fire, oh and did I mention her ex was murdered!? Shady Creek isn’t used to so much scandal occurring and the town is a buzz between the Autumn Festival and all of the crimes taking place. Sadie can’t stand aside and let the police investigate on their own, so she takes it into her hands to do her own side investigation to identify Eric’s killer.

Could it be handsome Grayson Blake, the local brewery owner? Everybody in town loves him, but he’s always been hostile toward Sadie. Eric’s body was also found at the edge of his property. As the book goes on the suspect list grows to include other people in town with varying degrees of motive and opportunity to commit the various crimes.

Will Sadie figure out who is committing these crimes before she too ends up dead? Will she come around to liking Grayson Blake like everyone else in town? Will her pub, the Inkwell, survive as a business?

Wine and Punishment was an easy read, and an enjoyable cozy mystery. I enjoyed the different characters that Fox introduced throughout town, and Shady Creek definitely has the feel of a small New England town. I didn’t figure out the killer until very shortly before it was revealed. I am looking forward to picking up the second book in the series: An Ale of Two Cities.

BOOK REVIEW: Perfectly Famous by Emily Liebert.

Today I’m going to look at Perfectly Famous written by Emily Liebert. I received an eARC of the title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Its release date is July 8th 2020, so please enjoy it once it’s out. If you like reading about writers, and big plot twists this one is for you.

Perfectly Famous opens with the reader meeting Ward DeFleur, a famous author who has anxiety about being in front of people, like at a book signing. As she’s about to wrap up the first signing on her most recent book tour, she notices her assistant isn’t around, and then finds out she’s been on the phone because people are trying to reach Ward to notify her that her daughter was abducted and murdered. The tour is over, and Ward will never write again.

One of the fans that attended the book signing, is Bree Bennett. At the time of the book signing she and her then husband had recently decided to divorce, and Ward consoled her. As we move further into the story they have separated, and are beginning to figure out how to co-parent from two households, and Bree is trying to re-enter the workforce as a journalist at a local paper.

Bree pitches the idea that she is going to find Ward and bring her out of hiding as her big break through story. It’s a bit of a hard sell, but her editor goes for it and Bree begins heavily researching Ward’s past. Finding Ward’s brother, and maybe falling for him a bit a long the way. As she goes deeper into the story it becomes apparent that Stevie’s murderer is still out there, and searching for Ward is not the safest idea.

All the while Bree is trying to deal with the life changes her divorce is bringing to her life, including dating, raising her daughter, and psychologically adjusting. While I haven’t experienced these life stages, I thought Liebert handled them well. However, I found Bree a bit too self-centered for my liking, and I often found myself annoyed with her. Ward is a whole other story, but I don’t want to divulge too much leading into one of the many plot twists of the book. It was still an enjoyable read even though I couldn’t relate to the characters.

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: The Swap by Robyn Harding

Today’s post is going to take a look at Robyn Harding’s The Swap. This book was released June 23, 2020 so it’s out there for those of you interested in thrillers to pick up! I received an eARC of The Swap from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Swap takes place on an isolated island in the Pacific Northwest and focuses on a few quite toxic relationships between main character, and sullen teenager, Swallow (Low for short) Morrison, the pottery teacher she idolizes, Freya Light, and her boss, Jamie. The book also follows, to a somewhat lesser extent, Freya and Jamie’s husbands.

Low is the daughter of a polyamorous couple. While this makes her a bit of an outsider, the lifestyle is accepted on the island. As well as regular partner swapping among couples on the island. One day at school, Low sees this beautiful woman pinning an advertisement to the bulletin board–an ad offering pottery classes at Freya’s home.

Freya had been an Instagram influencer, until her professional hockey player husband accidentally paralyzed another player on the ice. They moved to the island for a bit more privacy to get away from the limelight. In her loneliness, Freya becomes quick friends with Low, and shares some of her secrets with her. Low sees herself as the center of Freya’s world–until Jamie enters the picture.

Jamie and her husband desperately want to have a baby, but cannot conceive. They moved to the island in hopes of getting over losing out on an adoption. Being of a similar age, Freya and Jamie become the closest of friends going to lunches, getting drinks, and Low is left out.

After a couples’ night drinking some special mushroom tea, Freya and Jamie swap husbands for the evening, without the other knowing. But what happens when Freya becomes pregnant? She hates children, doesn’t read parenting books, and in general doesn’t prepare for the coming child. Both Freya and Low are concerned, though for their own selfish reasons, for the safety of the baby, and everyone manipulates each other to reach their own desires.

The Swap was an interesting book to pick up. It went places I never thought it would go. I thought I had it figured out several times but I didn’t! I’d recommend this to anyone that likes a story with twists and turns.

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: Cabin 1 by Amanda McKinney.

This post is going to take a look at Cabin 1 written by Amanda McKinney. It is the first book in a 3 book spin-off series (Steele Shadows Security) to McKinney’s Berry Springs series. It was originally published in September 2019, and the Kindle edition came out December 2019. I received an eARC copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cabin 1 introduces the reader to Niki Avery, a local, young prosecutor who is attacked while driving home from a yoga retreat. Two men run her Jeep off the road and attempt to sexually assault her, but in self-defense Niki is able to fight back, and kills one of her attackers. While the other one runs to his truck to grab a gun to kill Niki, she is able to escape and a chase through the dense woods of Berry Springs.

Niki runs and runs until she can’t anymore, but what she doesn’t realize, is that she’s run onto the Steele family’s property. The family of 4 former marine brothers head out onto the mountain in search of whatever, or whoever set off the security alarm.

Gage Steele finds her. Although at the beginning of the night he had only wanted to drink whiskey all night, and find a woman to take his mind off the fact that it is the one year anniversary of his father’s death, he also wants to treat this woman right. He helps her get cleaned up, and becomes overwhelmingly protective of her.

Niki is assigned to Cabin 1, and Gage is assigned to be her security detail until they can end the threat to her life. Through their time together they become increasingly attracted to each other, and they build an intense relationship with lots of steamy scenes.

I really enjoyed this action packed romance novel and I will definitely be taking up the rest of this spin-off series, as well as keeping an eye out for the Berry Springs series by McKinney. I hope you’ll pick up a copy yourself!

Happy reading πŸ™‚

BOOK REVIEW: The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another by Ainissa Ramirez.

This post is going to take a look at The Alchemy of Us written by Ainissa Ramirez. I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book was released in April 2020, and I highly encourage you to get a copy and learn about everyday items we often take for granted in a new way!

It was really nice reading a nonfiction book for a change. I normally like to alternate between reading fiction and nonfiction to keep a decent balance between the two, but a majority of the eARCs I receive are fiction so sometimes I get off balance.

The Alchemy of Us discusses the importance of eight different inventions and how they changed the way humans interact with the world. Ramirez looks at clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips. Ramirez’s goal was not only to be informative, but to write in an entertaining way so that the material in the book is accessible to the readers, and doesn’t scare them away like science classes often do.

The author did an excellent job of finding stories behind inventions that many might not have heard before. When I was in school I learned about how clocks helped with the Industrial Revolution, but I had never heard of the woman who sold time, or about how clocks affected our sleep patterns.

Not only does Ramirez do a good job teaching the reader about the invention in question in each chapter, but she also excels at bringing to light the unknown inventors behind these technologies. This includes highlighting the women and people of color that history often doesn’t talk about. To be honest, I found these stories of the little known people behind these inventions even more interesting than the stories of the inventors that everyone knows the names of.

Happy reading πŸ™‚