Confirmation Bias: Inside Washington’s War Over the Supreme Court, from Scalia’s Dearth to Justice Kavanaugh, by Carl Hulse

Nine stars

While the circus known as the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination process has passed, the memory of this dramatic event lingers for many. A wrestling match between a determined US president and segment of the Senate created the conflict, but Carl Hulse seeks to delve a little deeper. Exploring a history of recent Senate-POTUS clashes over judicial nominations, Hulse examines how partisan politics brought many nominations to a halting stop while others became a bloodbath between the Democrats and Republicans. With the primary focus on events from the death of Justice Antonio Scalia through to the Kavanaugh nomination of 2018, Hulse explores how a cunning move by the Republican Senate Majority Leader paralyses the process for President Obama and turned the constitutional requirement of the Chief Executive to nominate members to the Court into a farce. Offering a detailed explanation of all the players, their moves, and the history of Senate Judicial Committee hearings, Hulse provides all the tools for the reader to ‘judge’ for themselves if the politics surrounding federal nominations has been completely bastardized. With poignant analysis and well-documented narratives, including little-known facts about nomination approvals by the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hulse provides the reader just what the title suggests, the likely ever-developing power-play over some of the most important choices during a president’s tenure. Recommended to those who love all things political in the United States, as well as the reader with a curiosity about the nomination process of judges.

I have done some reading about the recent goings-on with the Kavanaugh nomination and thought that I would have a more panoramic exploration of events in recent history on the topic. Carl Hulse does a masterful job offering the reader a detailed look at political stage play and the emerging view that the two main political parties in the US Senate are out to gouge one another in the eye. Offering supported arguments and events in history, the narrative is full of tidbits that the reader can use to explore more of these numerous events. From the stalling and refusing to vote on an Obama nominee, to the quick selection by President Trump once he was sworn-in, through to the circus that was Brett Kavanaugh and his purported innocence, the book delivers while embedded references to past events of a similar nature. All power truly rests with US Supreme Court Justices, making their selection not only paramount to a president, but also help to push an agenda for decades. Perhaps this is why there is blood whenever the nominee is controversial or the Senate split so closely that a vote cannot be assured. Whatever it might be, Hulse is the perfect author to pen such a tome, as he appears to have all his facts in a row.

Kudos, Mr. Hulse, for a riveting book that kept me wondering until the very end. I will have to find more of your writing to see what else you have to say!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Destiny of Canada: Macdonald, Laurier, and the Election of 1891, by Christopher Pennington

Eight stars

As I pen this review, Canadians are gathering to elect their next Parliament, in an election many are calling the the closest in a long time. Christopher Pennington’s book may not be about the current electoral campaign, but he argues that the topic of his tome is one of the most overlooked elections in Canadian history. Weaving together a strong narrative of the lead-up to the 1891 election, as well as Canada’s 7th federal campaign, Pennington provides the reader with a well-rounded exploration of the candidates, the issues, and the end result. To provide the reader with a decent understanding of what transpired in 1891, Pennington takes the reader back to some of the earlier campaigns, in which Conservative Prime Minister John A. Macdonald could do no wrong. While the prime minister was a known alcoholic, he does not seek to hide it, but made light of the fact and used it to his advantage. The Liberals were not as cohesive or tight-knit group, with a leader whose emotional and physical energy were simmering on empty. In a brash move, Quebecer Wilfred Laurier became the new Leader of The Opposition, ready to lead the country on a new path. As the campaign came together, its key issue solidified into unrestricted reciprocity versus protectionism. The 19th century way of saying ‘Free Trade’, the Liberals and Conservatives fought over where Canada would find itself with open-border trading with the United States. The Conservatives held firm that their Canada was one free of US influence, while Laurier and the Liberals sought to open up the markets and allow the neighbours to the South to partake freely. Brilliant rhetoric emerged on both sides, as Pennington explores the full campaign and the days before the ballots would be cast. Laurier sought to build on a fresh approach and keep Canada strongly represented by both official languages, while some of the key Conservative pamphlets turn to an ‘old way we know’ as they sought to abolish the French language altogether. The end result may not have been the one that opened Canada up before the turn of the century, but the entire electoral process in 1891 kept things gritty and yet free of too much mudslinging. Well-written and thoroughly educational, Pennington provides a strong collection of arguments throughout. Recommended to those who enjoy Canadian politics, particularly those readers with a penchant for elections.

Christopher Pennington has written this book as part of a larger History of Canada project, in which a number of historians tell of key events in the country’s history. Pennington’s job may have seemed daunting, though he does so with style and provides the reader with all they need to effectively understand Canada’s early electoral landscape and how Canadian political parties held views one would not recognize today. The detailed narrative provides the reader with the necessary context to comprehend the issues and those players who made their mark during this election. With discussions about how Canada would be shaped by electing either main political party during this campaign, the reader can feel enriched with a better understanding of the cogs in the wheel. With some great campaign posters within the text, the reader can see just how personal things got—including a Conservative drawing depicting a Liberal cabinet member in blackface to prove a point—and what might sway voters from this era. Pennington uses thorough chapters to explore the issues and events during the campaign, while keeping the story as light as he can. Full of educational moments, those readers with an interest in the topic will surely want to explore this book to better understand the country in which we live.

Kudos, Mr. Pennington, for a great book. I will have to find more of your writing, as I am quite curious about this time in Canadian history.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Death on Two Fronts: National Tragedies and the Fate of Democracy in Newfoundland 1914-34, by Sean Cadigan

Eight stars

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s newest province in the Confederation Family, has long held an ‘oft-forgotten’ sentiment. Sean Cadigan offers up some telling discussions while this geographic area was still a part of Britain. Isolated from the Mother Country and with an economy that teetered on the brink at times, Newfoundland and Labrador saw itself as being the lost child and left to perish. The time period on which Cadigan chooses to focus is quite poignant, exploring a two- decade timeframe when the territory came of age, yet was still stumbling to assert independent thought. Cadigan uses the introduction to discuss the parallel celebratory/memorialising nature of July 1st (Canada Day for most of the country, while the anniversary of a large loss of life in Newfoundland). Cadigan explores seal hunting, which was a major form of employment and economic stimulator, as well as the disaster that befell a ship of hunters back in 1914. The treatment of those who perished as well as the larger disaster proved to be a thorn in the side of the locals who saw Britain as cold-hearted. From there, the Great War sought many soldiers from Newfoundland, most of whom were sent to Italy to fight for King and Country. Cadigan explores this sentiment, as Newfoundanders were fighting to defend a country with whom they had little ties, though many did so willingly and saw notoriety for their victories. The years after the War sobered the local government into wondering about how to handle their political future. Might it be better to adopt a foreign style of leadership—there were many on display, from the Bolsheviks communists, the Kaiser military style, or something all together different. Something wold have to be done, as Newfoundlanders felt a death in their connection to Mother England, as well as a death of their independence in the larger political sphere. What was to come could not have been expected at the time, but Joey Smallwood was surely beginning to work his magic, trying to lay the groundwork for entry into Canada’s Confederation Family. A well-balanced piece that explores Newfoundland at a key time in its history. Cadigan knows how to tell a tale that keeps the reader interested throughout. Recommended to those who love Canadian and regional political history.

I chose this book because it was part of the larger History of Canada series, a collection exploring key events and time periods in the country’s history. Sean Cadigan takes the reader outside what might be expected from a book about Newfoundland (the battle to enter Confederation in 1949) and explores some of the animosity that might have pushed the region away from Britain and into the hands of the waiting Canadians. The narrative proves not only to be intriguing, but thoroughly exciting, filled with historical goings-on and stories that will help the reader better understand this oft-forgotten area. I can only suspect that there is even more to discover, though Cadigan has delivered an impressive collection of arguments to keep the reader informed. With detailed chapters and personal stories, the narrative flows freely and the reader is able to follow the slow decline of British support over the two decades in question. As mentioned before, this surely opened the discussions for Confederation (again!) and kept Canada’s newest province on the radar of being a part of a more understanding family. However, those with knowledge of recent Canadian political history will know that the move to Canada in 1949 did little to assuage the resentments, but only brought the Central Government closer when it came to venting one’s concerns. Oh, what a fun game politics can be!

Kudos, Mr. Cadigan, for a great introduction for the interested reader. I am eager to see if you have penned some other pieces I could use to better my understanding of the region.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Ten Seconds, by Lucian Lupescu

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Lucian Lupescu for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
I was recently asked if I would read and review a collection of flash fiction stories by Lucian Lupescu. This collection proved to be unique, not only for the length of the short pieces, but also for the collected thread that runs through the writing, while keeping each independent in their own right. Lupescu tells a collection ten short stories that span the ever-evolving life of a protagonist, one who usually differs from piece to piece. From the opening story about life <i>in utero</i> through to the coming to terms with failed relationships or empty sexual experiences, the pieces end in the twilight of someone’s life. The pieces, which can be read together or independently show a passion for the written word, though some are so short that the reader has little time to get acclimated before the final period appears.A decent collection that should only take the length of consumption of a beverage, but will linger long after the final page turn. Recommended for those who love short stories as well as the progression of life through a series of short writings.

I struggle to write this review, not because the stories in this collection are sub-par, but due to their brevity. Perhaps intended to be so, Lucian Lupescu certainly uses the title of his collection to denote the length a quick reader will take between pieces. Literally a set of literary snapshots, Lupescu shows that he has a way with words, while also showing that he can leave the reader wondering as each piece ends abruptly. There is no way to fixate or become attached to any of the characters herein, but Lupescu writes in such a way that he invites extrapolation by the reader as to what might come next, or how things got to this point. Unique does not seem the right word, though it surely fits in this situation. I can only hope others will take this brief journey and find themselves composing their own personal sequels or series to those they encounter within the pages of this brief collection.
Kudos, Mr. Lupescu, for giving me the opportunity to enjoy this collection over a quick cup of tea!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

House of War (Ben Hope #20), by Scott Mariani

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Scott Mariani, and Avon Books UK for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

A long-time fan of Scott Mariani and his work, I eagerly read this latest Ben Hope thriller when I could get my hands on it. Full of poignant themes and a quick narrative, Mariani does not disappoint his readers. After returning to France from his most recent mission, Ben Hope only wants to enjoy the sights and sounds of home. However, he has a chance encounter when he literally bumps into a young woman. In the scuffle, she forgets her phone and Hope is able to track down her home address. Trying to be helpful in this age of digital technology, Hope arrives to deliver it, only to find that she has been slain in her apartment. He thinks back to the man he crossed in the stairwell and it clicks. It was a man he thought long dead from his days in the SAS. However, it would seem that Nazim al-Kassar is anything but dead. A ruthless fighter for ISIS/ISIL, al-Kassar brings back many a bloody memory for Hope. Trying to find out how to handle locating and instilling his own form of justice, Hope reaches out to some of his former SAS compatriots. In doing so, Hope also discovers that this woman has ties to one Julien Segal, who may be working with al-Kassar. The hunt is on for both men, which reveals an even more complex situation. As the narrative heightens, there is reference to a passage in the Koran, which can be interpreted as seeking a ‘House of War’, whereby the world should be converted to Islam or subjugated by those who follow Allah. Might Nazim al-Kassan have this in mind? When Hope discovers his plan, it’s a no-holds barred attempt to wrestle control away from his madman, which might mean ending his reign of terror once and for all. An energetic new addition to the Hope series, which seems not to wane as the number of books mount. Recommended to those who enjoy something with an action-filled terror theme, as well as the reader who enjoys the Ben Hope series.

While I have long bemoaned that authors have overdone the ‘Muslim terrorist’ theme in thriller books, I found that Mariani took a slightly different approach to breathe a little new life into things. He works along the parameter and keeps the reader enthralled without feeling as though this was yet another copied plot from countless other books. While Ben Hope is well past his character development stage, it is nice to see the slightest backstory related to his SAS days. Hope remains his gritty self, seeking to help those in need, while also pushing his own agenda. Others help complement this throughout, including the hapless victims who seek Hope to release them from the grips of evil. There are some great contrasts in this book between protagonist and antagonist, even if it pushes things into the clichéd Westerner versus Islamic terrorist. The story remained interesting and can keep the reader’s attention as they push through this thriller. There are some intriguing perceptions about Koranic passages, which one can only hope bear some truthfulness, so as not to fan the flames. As the series continues to pile-up, one can only hope that Mariani will keep the novels on-point and ensures they do not go stale. To date, he has completely lived up to expectations.

Kudos, Mr. Mariani, for a solid addition to the series. I am eager to see where Ben Hope takes us next!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Justice on Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation an the Future of the Supreme Court, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino

Nine stars

In this highly detailed piece about the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino take the reader not only through the lead-up and full-on circus of the event, but also provide some poignant history to place the entire experience in context. When Justice Anthony Kennedy secretly met with President Trump at the end of the 2017-18 term of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), the president knew he had a major coup on his hands. Able to not only to place another legal mind of his choosing to the Court, but also tip the balance in the oft-cited ideological split, Trump hurried to choose a nominee. He was sure the strong legal mind of Brett Kvanaugh would be an easy pick that both Senate Democrats and Republicans could support. Little did he realise the fight that the Dems were ready to put to Kavanaugh in the hopes of stalling a SCOTUS nomination only months ahead of the mid-term elections, slated for November 2018. Thus began the war that Hemingway and Severino depict in this well-crafted piece. From the early barbs about his past working in the Starr Special Prosecutor’s Office and in the Bush White House, Kavanaugh was forced to defend himself in private meetings with senators, as well as in the Judicial Committee. It was only when things were running smoothly that some Democrats urged the release of a damning letter that turned the hearings from a simple partisan division of views into something that caught the attention of the world. The discovery that Christine Blasey Ford remembered being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh when they attended a high school party in the 1980s opened a can of worms few expected. As the narrative moves from legal and judicial questions to those of the allegations, the authors make an interesting parallel to the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas skirmish the Judiciary Committee faced in the early 1990s. Both sides held firm that the truth was on their side, with a few Republican senators serves as fence-sitters throughout. Smears and mud throwing came, as the nominee sought to distance himself from the allegations, relying on political barbs of his own and a president willing to Tweet the truth into oblivion with his own smears. When the dust settled, a truth the majority of the Judiciary Committee and Senate as a whole could stomach emerged, allowing Trump his second nominee. A wonderfully written piece that Hemingway and Severino use to push their own perspective. Recommended to those who want an insightful look into the process of Supreme Court nominations, as well as the nitty-gritty of what took place in the summer of 2018.

I had no idea what to expect when I opened this book, having lived through and thoroughly enjoyed the drama that was the Kavanaugh nomination process. Never one to hide my dislike of the current POTUS, I was eager to see how the authors would handle his involvement, as well as the spin taken on how a man accused of assault would spin it and seek to shine his halo. The authors painstakingly offered not only a strong narrative of events, but also injected poignant backstory to put the current events into context, which serves to strengthening the process as a whole. With inside information that fills in many of the gaps that media reports at the time likely did not know, the authors give a full view of events, even if they choose to use some of their own smear tactics. The subtlety of their attacks is to be applauded, though it does not take away rom the overall reading experience, as many attentive readers will sift through this and see truths as they emerge. It is not for me to stand atop a soapbox and explore the two sides of a sexual assault, which includes knee-jerk reactions to a victims statements and the accuser’s replies. Hemingway and Severino do that, both in their own words and through the voices of the senators on the committee. That being said, there is much to be attributed to the narratives offered by both sides, as well as the reaction of the public. As mentioned before, the parallels drawn between this and the Hill/Thomas clash are quite strong and I applaud the authors for doing so. Whatever the truth might be, when one removes all the lies and spun truths, the reader will be able to decide for themselves, irregardless of the authors’ repeated himpathy—recently discovered word that fits perfectly here—which drips from each page. Politics at its most entertaining and to be expected when King of the Misogynists sits in the Oval Office. Is everyone ready for 2020 and the next big battle? One can hope RBG is and can hold onto her SCOTUS seat until then!

Kudos, Madams Hemingway and Severino, on this book I could not stop reading. It goes to show that even with an agenda, you two can pen a wonderfully insightful book on a contentious subject.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Two Firsts: Bertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada, by Constance Backhouse

Seven stars

While Canada can be said to have some progressive views, women in positions of legal authority remained stagnant throughout the first century since Confederation. Constance Backhouse uses this book as a primer to provide readers a little more biographical understanding of the first two women appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Bertha Wilson and Claire L’Heureux-Dubé had some similar hurdles, but their backstories could not have been more different. Backhouse parachutes the reader into a parallel biography of both women, interspersing their upbringings. Wilson grew up in rural Scotland to hard-working parents who thought she was best to hone her skills at homemaking, while L’Heureux-Dubé lived in a staunchly Quebecois household and was told to find work to support herself. Both women took the plunge and entered the law, though Wilson waited until after she married and moved to Canada. Both women faced many hurdles in law school, with professors and dean who demeaned them publicly and in private conversations, though Wilson and L’Heureux-Dubé were happy to excel and make names for themselves. In the 1970s, both women rose through the ranks of law firms and were eventually recognised for their service by being called to the bench. Again, there were sexist and discriminatory claims made by male judges, but neither woman paid any of them much heed. Backhouse tells the interesting story of how Bertha Wilson earned her nomination to the Supreme Court of Canada after Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was bullied in a cabinet meeting to make the move and appoint a women to fill a needed vacancy. His agreeing to do so opened the door and helped Canada become a more progressive—though far from equal—country when it came to women in the judiciary. L’Heureux-Dubé followed five years later under the subsequent prime minister, beginning a new approach to Canada’s highest court. An ‘old boys’ club’ remained even more problematic for Wilson than she had seen before, with prominent justices all but dismissing her arrival in Ottawa. Backhouse tells a few stories of Wilson’s early years, but does effectively show how she paved the way for L’Heureux-Dubé to come and make her own mark. In the latter portion of the book, Backhouse examines some of the key ‘feminist’ rulings both women made, including on abortion in Canada, rights of minorities, and the role of women in the larger legal arena. Those looking for a decent introduction to the first two women on the Supreme Court of Canada need look no further than this tome, as the shards of glass ceilings come raining down throughout. Recommended to readers with an interest in women’s rights through the lens of legal and judicial evolution in Canada, particularly those who want the feminist flavour.

I stumbled upon this book and felt that it would be a great way to learn a little more about two justices from the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as the struggles of women in the law. Constance Backhouse pulls no punches that this was written with a feminist bent and seeks to elucidate the struggles Wilson and L’Heureux-Dubé faced in the male-dominated legal world that was Canada. Her biographical narrative is easy to comprehend, full of tidbits that will leave the reader wanting to know more, while also stressing the slow evolution of acceptance of women in the legal world. While this was a definite positive, I would have liked to see a separation of these two women, allowing Backhouse to focus more attention on each and keep from filling the pages with jilted biographical vignettes of one before turning to the others. While there is no doubt that Wilson and L’Heureux-Dubé came from different backgrounds—the contrast works well for the attentive reader—the stop-start nature hinders the argument. One could also say the constant need for photos and press clippings slow the narrative’s flow and while many readers like the documentation, it could effectively be done in a photo section. While I have never espoused a strong love of the feminist argument, I did enjoy the themes and approach that Backhouse used in this piece, which acts as a springboard for me to learn more. Short chapters, full of information, will have me wanting to do some more research, as well as tackle the recently released memoirs of one of their female Supreme Court contemporaries. An enjoyable quick read, to say the least, and Backhouse should be praised.

Kudos, Madam Backhouse, for an insightful piece. I did learn a great deal and hope others can say the same.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Operation Vanished, by Helen C. Escott

Nine stars

After loving Helen C. Escott’s debut novel about policing in Newfoundland and Labrador, I could not wait to get my hands on this second piece. Set again on The Rock, Escott takes readers into a darker and oft-forgotten side of missing person inquiries from yesteryear. After spending a decade working for the RCMP elsewhere, Constable Gail McNaughton has returned home to work in St. John’s. Trying to fill her father’s shoes, Gail is assigned the daunting task of looking into a number of missing persons cases fro mother 1950s, all having long gone cold. While trying to speak to some of the few remaining witnesses, Gail is told of a local lore than might explain at least those women who went missing and never returned. Some feel that it is likely the faeries that took them, sometimes keeping them and returning changelings, other times killing them for some misdeed. Whatever the case, Constable McNaughton is trying to use her policing skills and keep the tales to a minimum. As she works with one victim’s son to unearth truths over six decades in the past, she finds a loose link to a number of the events, something that might prove to be a solid lead. With many who were adults at the time either dead or decrepit, it will be up to Constable McNaughton to find justice for these women, who were all but forgotten at a time when the missing had their names drift off along the ocean winds. A powerful novel that digs to the core of Canadian history and lore, Escott delivers brilliantly in this second novel. Recommended to those who love a good cold case mystery, as well as the reader who enjoys a little Canadiana with their reading experience.

I could not say enough when I read Helen C. Escott’s opening novel and I am sure the same will be said again here. I was pulled into the middle of an explosive theme of crime thriller and am so pleased to see that this came out for readers to discover. Constable Gail McNaughton proves to be a wonderfully complex protagonist whose past and present mix together nicely as she seeks to reveal hard truths about Newfoundland. Raised in the RCMP tradition, McNaughton could almost say that policing is in her blood, which becomes apparent as she investigates these crimes. The reader learns much about her in a personal and professional manner throughout, which permits a closer connection as the story progresses. While trying to understand the lore many older Newfoundlanders hold dear, McNaughton is forced to face her own issues and grow from the experiences. Others that surround her prove equally interesting as they help shape the story in a variety of ways, some of which could not be expected from the outset. The story itself was not only entertaining, but also highly educations and deeply moving. Missing and murdered women is an issue currently being addressed in a small way in Canada, though the Newfoundland angle and the explanation that comes from the narrative is highly sobering and will likely touch on the heartstrings of many readers. Escott knows how to weave a tale that is both eye-opening and will resonate for a long time, which might actually bring more than lip service to the issue at hand. I can only hope that others will be as compelled as I have to learn more. I was pleased to hear that Helen Escott has many more ideas that come to mind during her walks with that blessed family pet.

Kudos, Madam Escott, for a stunning novel. I am so pleased to have come across your work and hope to read more in the coming years.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Shape of Night, by Tess Gerritsen

Seven stars

After reading a number of Rizzoli & Isles novels by Tess Gerritsen, I was drawn to her latest piece, a standalone, to see if it held as much excitement for me. Definitely full of mystery, this book will leave those who have loved the aforementioned series with many questions and potential concerns if this is the new path Gerritsen is set to take. Ava Collette has decided to leave the busy life she led in Boston, settling in a small Maine town. With many secrets in the rear view mirror, Ava has a deadline to complete her latest cook book, which she will fill with sea-themed New England classics. After renting a property, Ava discovers some disturbing things that have her wondering about her choice of accommodation. She learns that the house was built by Captain Jeremiah Brodie, who is a local seafaring celebrity. When she is visited by an apparition late one night, the haunting takes on a new level of concern, though things are also a lot more intense for Ava on other levels too. As she digs into the background of the previous owners and renters of the house, Ava discovers something highly disturbing, leaving her little choice but to take immediate action. Question is, will it be enough? A very unique piece by Tess Gerritsen that will surely get people talking, but perhaps not for the right reason.

While I have always enjoyed the Tess Gerritsen books I’ve read, this one was surely out in left field for me. I cannot be sure if this ties in to some of her other standalone novels, but other reviewers seem to be on the same page as I am. Paranormal soft-core pornography is not a genre I want to read about, especially from someone like Tess Gerritsen, so I will have to be very careful about what I read of hers in the future. Ava Collette began as quite the interesting protagonist. Fleeing issues in her life, she settles in a rural community to lose herself, or perhaps find her writing groove. Her backstory emerges throughout the book, which tells an interesting narrative all its own. The development that occurs, particularly in relation to the haunting/paranormal activity. I felt this really lessened the impact of the story, adding to that the sexual encounters that occur throughout. Other characters helped try to make this a strong story, but it was as though Gerritsen could not help returning to this silly theme that really sullied the story for those who have enjoyed her thrillers in the past. The story could have been great, as it had all the needed ingredients, but it flopped on a few occasions and left me wondering why she might want to go in these directions. All the power to those who want to read ‘his pulsing member’ novels, but when you add ‘his pulsing apparition member’, you lose even more level-headed readers. Not all is lost, but some readers like me may not be able to simply ignore it.

Kudos, Madam Gerritsen, for the attempt, but let’s stick to Boston’s crime scene and more Rizzoli & Isles, if you please.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Gino’s Law: For Every Action There’s an Overreaction, by Candace Williams

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Candace Williams for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Returning for another Candace WIlliams novel, I came to understand that this piece is much different a a great deal more lighthearted. Williams pushes a loose legal matter through the narrative, surrounding it with some excellent humour and character banter. Gino Gibaldi is a sculptor who enjoys his life in Texas. While he is trying to deal with his variously annoying neighbours, Gino is approached by a lawyer who wishes to make him an offer to turn the area into commercial development, willing to let Gino in on the possibility of investing. Relaying his disinterest, Gino goes about his business, only to learn that the lawyer has turned up murdered in his on garage. The feuds with Gino come to light and soon two homicide detectives are on site for a chat, as well as to mention that one of Gino’s tools was found at the crime scene. When Gino is taken down to the station on an unrelated charge , his agoraphobia kicks in and he’s in a full medical emergency, as his insulin levels plummet. One things leads to another and Gino evades the police, which begins a chase down to the Texas-Mexico border, where Gino finds more trouble for himself. Still spouting that he is innocent, someone is willing to post his bond before the murder trial commences. It is then that the truth slowly seeps out and Gino is able to see why he is fingered as the number one suspect, and how the wheels of justice turn. An interesting tale that is easily read in short order, Williams entertains her reader throughout. Recommended to those who like lighter legal thrillers, as well as the reader looking for something quick to pass the time.

I enjoyed the first novel Candace Williams sent my way and was able to devour this one in short order as well. She has some wonderful ideas and presents things in such a way that the reader cannot help but want to know a little more. Gino Gibaldi is by now means the most glamorous character out there, but the situations in which he finds himself surely prove to be entertaining to those on the outside. Gino could have en tire series dedicated to the oddball situations in which he finds himself, as well as his ill-conceived decisions that are mentioned throughout this book. Other characters prove to be as exciting, while pushing the narrative along. The story was decently put together, thought one should not expect a high level mystery. It was more the humour that pushed things along to the end, as one can surmise this was Williams’ intention. I was able to push through the quick chapters, each of which left me wanting to know a little more. I’d return for more, should Williams have other Gino Gibaldi ideas to share with the general public, as it is a nice contrast to some of the other books I am reading of late.

Kudos, Madam Williams, for this interesting story that I would never have expected from the outset.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons