Furious hours – Staff Review – Maddie

Furrious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Years after writing to Kill a Mockingbird, Lee Harper researched and was working on a project pertaining to a string of murders in her home state of Alabama but never finished. These murders were committed by one man who went by the nickname ‘the Reverend’ and he appeared to have murdered a number of people close to him so that he could collect the money from the life insurance policies he had taken out on them. At the time of these murders- the first half the 20th century- anyone could and did fill out life insurance policies via mail. ‘The Reverend’ filled out numerous policies from a number of states on each of his victims before meeting his own untimely end.
The author split Furious Hours split the book into two sections on the case and its history and then Harper Lee’s career and how she came to cover the case. These two sections felt a little disjointed but offered readers an interesting story.

3 stars

Nobody’s Normal- Staff Review – Terry

Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness by Roy Richard Grinker

An honest look at the history of psychiatry while also going over mental illness, the causes of stigma in both the past and present.

A raw and honest look into the history of mental illness and how it is classified both today and in the past. The author compares both modern and historical means of determining and classifying what makes up mental illness and also compares methods and attitudes of various cultures, making the distinction that society decides who is considered “Normal” and who is not. The author does have a background in the mental health field and in many ways this helps lend credence to his writing on the subject. Fair warning, the book itself is very raw and honest and gives some fairly graphic and visceral descriptions of procedures and practices that were used on those judged “mentally unfit” and makes no effort to sanitize or summarize such acts.

4 out of 5 Stars

The Inheritance Games – Staff Reviews – Maddie

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Avery Grambs was just trying to survive high school and get a scholarship to college when her world was turned upside down. Tobias Hawthorne, a billionaire philanthropist has died and left his entire fortune to her, not his family. She didn’t know Tobias and has no idea why he would leave everything to her, disinheriting his family. There is a catch: she has to move into Tobias’ sprawling mansion with hidden passages, rooms, and riddles around every corner. The same mansion the newly disinherited Hawthorne family lives in, including Tobias’ brilliant and dangerous four grandsons: Nash, Grayson, Jameson and Alexander. Will Avery be able to beat the game or will the danger and puzzles do her in?

Something about this book drew me in – I don’t know if it was the characters or the allure of the elaborate riddles and puzzles that always lead to more clues- but I loved and read the entire book in a weekend. It had good elements of a mystery and I liked the competitive nature of the characters. I am definitely looking forward to the sequel coming out in September, so I recommend anyone interested check it out this Summer.

4 stars

White Tears/Brown Scars – Staff Review – Terry

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad (Request)(CloudLibrary)

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad is a frank and honest account of the perils and oppression of women of color, both historically and in modernity from a worldwide perspective. Ruby Hamad uses a mix of her own experiences as well as those of both famous individuals as well as everyday persons to illustrate just how pervasive this issue is. An excellent read with an extensive bibliography of additional reading on the subject of social commentary.

5 out of 5 Stars

Girl A – Staff Review – Cherise

Girl A by Abigail Dean

I went into Girl A not fully remembering what the book was about. All I knew that I wanted to read it. And I’m so happy I did. This book really kept me guessing. I wasn’t expecting the twist, despite having thought more books should have that sort of twist to it.

Lex is one of seven children. She is Girl A, the one that escaped her father and the house of horrors where she and her siblings were being held captive, tied down, and starved. We see current Lex and past Lex, living through her memories of that life with the death of her mother and her mother’s final wishes for Lex to carry out her will. Within it, we meet Lex’s siblings and the lives they are now trying to live despite the horrors they experienced, some worse than others. There’s Ethan who has profited off his past, who is about to be happily married. There’s Delilah, who has seemingly moved forward with her life, she’s married and has found her faith once again. There’s Gabriel who has been dealing with his trauma and the fact he wasn’t set up to succeed due to the family that took him in after. There’s Noah who was a baby when it all happened and has no memory of it. He’s a happy teenager completely unaware of what had happened. And then there’s Evie, the younger sister that Lex loved the most. They had shared a room together during all of this and they forged a bond. It’s Evie who convinces Lex that they should turn the house of their pain into something good, a community center. She just has to get her siblings to sign off on it.

This book is full of twists and horrifying details including a lot of abuse, trauma, PTSD, alcoholism, drug use, and so much more. Despite that, I somehow ate up this book. It went by so quickly, and as I mentioned, I didn’t see the twist coming, which I normally try to keep an eye out for in books like this. I think I enjoyed it because Lex is morally gray. You can’t say she’s fully a good person, but that she does try to be for the most part. She isn’t trying to be anyone’s friend. But she does slowly come back to her family, to look past the horrors and how her siblings had managed to survive after it all. She finds her own happiness in the fact she has amazing foster parents and a good job and slowly, her family, even if she has to face a hard truth that she’d been avoiding since the day she got free.

3 stars.

Robert E. Lee and Me – Staff Review – Maddie

Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the myth of the lost cause, it’s origin dates to the 1890-1920s and claims the Southern states seceded for states rights, when, in fact, they left over slavery.
Ty Seidule is a retired soldier and former head of West Point Military Academy’s history department who grew up in Virginia looking up to and almost worshipping General Robert E. Lee and the Lost Cause myth. It wasn’t until he was an adult that he learned the truth about the Civil War and why Lee, among other confederate soldiers, left the union. This left him with more questions than answers and he would spend years researching the history and why so many confederate soldiers are commemorated across the country with monuments. Many readers may be surprised to hear that many of these statues weren’t erected until the 1890s-1930s or later. I highly recommend this book to those who have been interested in the controversial subject of the removal of confederate statues in recent years or that want to learn more about the Myth of the Lost Cause.

4 stars.

Bunker – Staff Review – Terry

Bunker by Bradley Garrett

Bunker by Bradley Garrett is a cultural exploration into the world of “preppers”, people who do everything from build backyard bunkers to creating off-grid homes and communities. The author delved right into the people he reported and studied, taking part in their day to day lives as well as asking sometimes difficult questions about why they “prep” and why they feel a need to prepare for what they see as coming danger. The author even went as far as to look into communities like this in other countries, where the mindset for creating fortification and disaster preparation is different than their North American counterparts.

4 Stars

One by One – Staff Review – Haley

One by One by Ruth Ware

The employees of music app Snoop set off for a week-long corporate retreat in a gorgeous ski chalet located on a remote French mountain top. Plans for the team to discuss the future of their company while also hitting the slopes goes wrong when an avalanche hits and one person goes missing. As the remaining employees and the two chalet staff members hunker down to wait for help, their numbers start to dwindle, one by one.

I am a fan of Ruth Ware’s whodunit style storytelling and her newest book did not disappoint. The entire premise was fun. Trapped in a ski chalet with no power, not knowing when help will come, and stuck with your co-workers who you thought you knew, but do you really? This novel kept me guessing until the very end and it was one I didn’t see coming.

4 Stars

A Study in Charlotte – Staff Review – Maddie

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Jamie Watson didn’t want a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school an hour away from his estranged father, but finds himself attending anyway. As he adjusts to living back in the United States and at Sherringford, he runs into Charlotte Holmes. Yes, the couple times great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. Despite childhood dreams about the two of them one day becoming best friends and solving mysteries, Jamie and Charlotte don’t get along. But repeat run-ins and then a fellow student’s murder being pinned on them have the pair working together to solve the case and clear their names before the killer strikes again.

A Study in Charlotte is a fun, quick-paced modern take on the famous Holmes & Watson duo. Though some original Sherlock Holmes stories are briefly referenced, the characters are new and taking on their own adventure (with more to come in the series).

tw: mention of sexual assault and some drug use

4 Stars

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