Book Review: Once Upon a Bad Boy

41150456Title: Once Upon a Bad Boy
Author: Melonie Johnson
Genre: Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Pages: 384
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: Book 3 of Sometimes in Love series
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: June 24, 2019

Goodreads Description: NEVER SAY NEVER
Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend—the one who took her heart and ran away.

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE
Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them—Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet—is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

My Review: The Sometimes in Love series follows five close friends – Cassie, Bonnie, Sadie, Ana and Delaney – and their romantic escapades. I recently read Bonnie’s story, which was Book 2 and enjoyed it. Once Upon a Bad Boy is Book 3 in the series, and I enjoyed it even more than the one before. This story focuses on Sadie and what happens when her childhood boyfriend reenters her life. Can they move beyond the past and the secrets to have a second chance at love?

This story was entertaining, humorous, touching and quite steamy at times. I enjoyed the relationship Sadie has with her grandmother, as that is something I can relate to in my own life. I also laughed pretty hard when Sadie’s co-star, Ryan, talks about being afraid of bananas. The supporting characters, such as Sadie’s girlfriends, Bo’s family, and the cast/crew of the movie Sadie is starring in, may not have added much to the romantic story of Sadie and Bo, but those characters added some more excitement to the story and helped you get to know Sadie and Bo a bit better.

It was a very enjoyable read! I will definitely read the next book in the series when it comes out!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Summer Reading – 2019

Summer is almost here! I will be continuing to read for my Reading the Classics Challenge and my 2019 Focus on Authors Challenge. Titles are mostly based on giveaways, book club picks, and books set in Ireland, as I get ready to travel there in August. What are y’all reading this summer? Any read you are most looking forward to? Here is my list:

Book Club Reads

  • The Plague by Albert Camus
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
  • Recollections of Things to Come by Elena Garro

NetGalley Reads

  • Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson
  • A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell
  • The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins
  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
  • How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul; Maria Russo

Readalongs

  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

2019 Focus on Authors

  • Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  • Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  • Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson

Other

  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand- audiobook
  • The Children by David Halberstam – audiobook
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama – audiobook/book
  • Made for This by Jennie Allen – audiobook
  • The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy – audiobook/ebook
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt – audiobook
  • The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – audiobook
  • The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein – audiobook
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – book
  • 1916: The Easter Rising by Tim Pat Coogan – ebook

Book Review: The Seduction Expert

34020885Title: The Seduction Expert
Author: Saya Lopez Ortega
Genre: Romance
Publisher: VSP Publishing
Publication Date: June 26, 2019
Pages: 174
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Series (Book One of The Seduction Expert)
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: June 2, 2019

Goodreads Description: She’s the seduction expert.

Women contact her to take over their love lives. She steps in when they’re lost, she’s supposed to succeed where they failed. She handles their single status, their relationship, their breakup, and very often their partner’s affairs. Her job is a life priority, she spends most of her time at the office or between two flights in business class and the fact of having a sports car that can reach one hundred kilometers in less than six seconds often make her feel like a super-heroine in service to women.

Anyway, take her card.

You’ll see, it’s much better than spending holidays in St Barts.

My Review: I was really excited to get this book from NetGalley. It looked like it could be a fun, short read to enjoy as we head into the summer months. Short it was. Fun? Not for me.

One of the things that intrigued me about this book was the fact that the main character was a powerful, successful and ambitious woman, called the Baroness. By the description, I thought she was really helping a lot of women have successful relationships. However, I was immediately turned off by her cold demeanor. The Baroness was harsh to her clients (who often are going through difficult marital problems and possibly divorces), her employees (who work very hard) and her fiancé (whom she appears to only be marrying for money and status). She seemed incapable of sympathy and/or love. I disliked her future mother-in-law a lot, and yet I almost cheered her on for trying to destroy the Baroness’ business and relationship with her son. I almost always have to like at least one of the main characters to really like the book, and I just didn’t with this one. I don’t understand why a female character has to be cruel and manipulative enable to have her success and power.

Also, how is this classified as a romance? Is it a romance just because the main character got engaged? I felt no love or passion in this book unless the love and passion was for obtaining money and power.

This book should be out at the end of the month. While some of the early readers gave it some love on Goodreads, this one fell flat for me. The author did have an intriguing transition to the next book in the series, but I just don’t think I want to continue with these characters

My Rating: ♦ ♦ 

WWW Wednesdays – May 29, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

If you are located in the USA, I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I had a great weekend with family and friends and was even able to catch up on some housework and get in some quality reading time by the pool.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen – audiobook =♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
NetGalley ARC: Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
Focus on Authors Reading Challenge: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦

*Click on the title of the book to read my full review. All Kurt Vonnegut reads will be covered in a full Vonnegut review sometime next week.*

Reading Next

How was your week of reading? Post your WWW link in the comments section below if I haven’t already visited.

HAPPY READING!!!

Book Review: Smitten by the Brit

41150496
Title: 
Smitten by the Brit
Author: Melonie Johnson
Genre: Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Pages: 384
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: May 26, 2019

Goodreads Description: English professor Bonnie Blythe expects her life to play out like her favorite novels, especially now that her long-term boyfriend has finally proposed. So when a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, she decides to close the book on love. But the plot thickens when a brand-new character enters the scene—and quickens Bonnie’s heart.

With his brilliant blue eyes, sexy accent, and irresistible charm, Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel. When fate places Bonnie in England for a summer—conveniently close to Theo—she realizes a hot friends-with-benefits fling is exactly what she needs to start a fresh chapter. Just as Bonnie begins to believe she’s falling in love, an eye-opening revelation into Theo’s life makes Bonnie feel like she’s wandered into one of her favorite books. Will Bonnie have the courage to risk her heart and turn the page with the dashing Brit to find her true happy ending after all?

My Review: Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a feel good romance and this definitely fit the bill. You are rooting for the main character, Bonnie, right from the start. You want her to have her happy ending after her she catches her fiancé cheating on her. I love the cast of girlfriends. Their interactions are so amusing. The perfect thing for a romantic comedy. The reader feels the ongoing steamy attraction between Bonnie and Theo with an added bonus of an English countryside setting and quotes from Shakespeare, Austen and other English authors. Unfortunately, even when I just want a good romance story, I can’t just turn off my realistic sensibility. Is it really a good idea to have a main character go immediately from one long term relationship to jumping so quickly into spending the rest of her life with someone else? Seems too soon, even though Bonnie appears to be very mature and confident in herself. Maybe I could have overlooked that if the end was a bit stronger. Theo had his own family obligations and responsibilities that prevented a long term commitment to Bonnie, and yet in couple pages those obligations and responsibilities just disappeared and all was good. I would have liked further development in Theo’s family dynamics, especially since his family was full of interesting characters. Overall this was a quick and enjoyable read.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

book woman of troublesome creek by kim michele richardsonTitle: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author: Kim Michele Richardson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Pages: 320
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: May 8, 2019

Goodreads Description: “Richardson’s latest work is a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and – just as importantly – a compassionate human connection. Richardson’s rendering of stark poverty against the ferocity of the human spirit is irresistible. Add to this the history of the unique and oppressed blue-skinned people of Kentucky, and you’ve got an un-put-downable work that holds real cultural significance.” – Sara Gruen, #1 NYT bestselling author 

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people–a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman’s chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home. 

My Review: I received an ARC copy of this book via NetGalley. I found this story both fascinating and heartwrenching. I had never heard of the blue people of Kentucky or methemoglobinemia, which I found interesting. However, these people with such a unique medical condition just fueled an already prejudicial and racist society in Kentucky. This story focuses on one such person, named Cussy Mary or Bluet, who won the hearts of many of the hill folk in Troublesome Creek by delivering reading materials as her job as a Pack Horse Librarian. She shared her love of literature, but also tried to teach the people how different reading material could be useful in their homes, that these reading materials could be methods of educating people how to hunt, garden, cook, sew, etc. Cussy Mary put her heart and soul into trying to enrich these people’s lives and also save them from starvation and other ailments that were common in those parts.

Impoverishment and starvation were not the only hardships. If the men had jobs, it was most likely in the mines. Cussy Mary would worry about her father’s safety in the mines, a job that contained long, grueling work hours and life-risking tasks.

(Trigger Warnings for violence and sexual assault.) Cussy Mary’s every day life was a terrifying one. She was mistreated both physically and verbally by many townsfolk because of the color of her skin. I feared for her safety through the whole book as she traveled the path delivering the library materials all alone. I absolutely adored her mule (the one blessing she got out of her miserable marriage), who did try to protect her on multiple occasions.

Without giving too much away, after an incident happened at the home of Cussy Mary and her father, her father made a deal with the town’s doctor that the doctor could run medical tests on Cussy Mary to try to understand why she was blue. This led to him diagnosing her condition. After experiencing so much pain and hurt, the doctor didn’t have to spend too much time convinced Cussy Mary to take some medication that would turn her skin white even though this medication would make her sick. She thought she could have a normal life if she was white, that the townspeople would accept her as one of their own, but they didn’t.

The books displays so many harsh realities of poverty, starvation, vanity, racism and hate, but it also shares a story of the power of literature, which brings hope to the suffering, and the loving bond that connects the librarian to her patrons and friends, who don’t see the color of her skin but see her simply as the Book Woman.  I loved this story so much. It was sweet and powerful. I would give it a full 5 stars, but it made me cry so much and had hoped for a happier ending. Despite this, I highly recommend this book.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

ARC Book Review: The Last Stone

61DmO-G5h5L._AC_UL160_SR109,160_Title: The Last Stone
Author: Mark Bowden
Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
Pages: 304
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: March 27, 2019

Goodreads Description: On March 29, 1975, sisters Katherine and Sheila Lyons, age 10 and 12, vanished from a shopping mall in suburban Washington, D.C. As shock spread, then grief, a massive police effort found nothing. The investigation was shelved, and mystery endured. Then, in 2013, a cold case squad detective found something he and a generation of detectives had missed. It pointed them toward a man named Lloyd Welch, then serving time for child molestation in Delaware.

As a cub reporter for a Baltimore newspaper, Mark Bowden covered the frantic first weeks of the story. In The Last Stone, he returns to write its ending. Over months of intense questioning and extensive investigation of Welch’s sprawling, sinister Appalachian clan, five skilled detectives learned to sift truth from determined lies. How do you get a compulsive liar with every reason in the world to lie to tell the truth? The Last Stone recounts a masterpiece of criminal interrogation, and delivers a chilling and unprecedented look inside a disturbing criminal mind.

My Review: {This review may contain spoilers} Much thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC of The Last Stone. I love true crime and am normally far removed from the crimes that I read about. However, this one hit close to home….literally. I lived off of Route 1 (Baltimore Avenue) for a few years and then moved just north of Wheaton, MD, where I frequently shopped at Wheaton Plaza which is now Westfield Wheaton mall. One of my roommates grew up just a couple of blocks from the Welch home in Hyattsville. I can’t imagine some of the sick and twisted incidents happening so close.

If you are a true-crimer like me, you get excited when you find a book that discusses a cold case, because it is always a bit of a miracle when a cold case is solved. However, this does not have as much of a satisfying ending. I didn’t love this book, but I don’t think it is the author’s fault as much as it is just that the man investigated, Lloyd Welch, really irritated me, and frankly so did his entire family.

I liked how the author focused solely on the re-investigation more than 30 years after the disappearance of the Lyons sisters. I don’t always like when an author focuses on the victims’ families. I prefer to learn about the investigation process. The author displays the many interrogations the police had with Lloyd Welch, and after the third one, you can’t help but feel that you get the point: he is going to lie and change his story every time. However, the author still discussed more interrogations, because every one of them revealed something new and different in the case. The patience of those detectives in search for justice was remarkable. It must have been so frustrating to have so many people lying to them on a regular basis and not be able to find solid proof (like DNA).

However, I will reiterate that this does not really have a satisfying ending, which is why I could not give this a 5-star rating. It was a frustrating read. Frankly, I feel that many members of the Welch family probably deserve to be in jail for either direct crimes against the Lyons sisters, other crimes that they seem to have committed based on interviews with them, or for obstruction of justice.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Spring Reading – 2019

Spring is almost here! I will be continuing to read for my Reading the Classics Challenge and my 2019 Focus on Authors Challenge. Titles may be added based on giveaways, book club picks, etc.

Book Club Reads

  • The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett 

NetGalley Reads

  • The Last Stone by Mark Bowden
  • The Castle on Sunset by Shawn Levy
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
  • Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell
  • Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson
  • The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White
  • Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan

Readalongs

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

2019 Focus on Authors

  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
  • Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie
  • The Greater Journey by David McCullough

Reading the Classics

  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Other

  • Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam – audiobook 
  • The Children by David Halberstam – audiobook
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – audiobook
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama – audiobook/book
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain – audiobook
  • Made to Stick by Chip Heath – audiobook
  • Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin – book 
  • The Nannie Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus – book
  • The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy – ebook

What is on your Spring TBR? Any recommendations?

Book Review: The Trial of Lizzie Borden

40538605

Title: The Trial of Lizzie Borden
Author: Cara Robertson
Genre: Nonfiction True Crime
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Pages: 400
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading:  March 12, 2019

Goodreads Description: The remarkable new account of an essential piece of American mythology—the trial of Lizzie Borden—based on twenty years of research and recently unearthed evidence.

The Trial of Lizzie Borden tells the true story of one of the most sensational murder trials in American history. When Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally hacked to death in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 1892, the arrest of the couple’s younger daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news and her trial into a spectacle unparalleled in American history. Reporters flocked to the scene. Well-known columnists took up conspicuous seats in the courtroom. The defendant was relentlessly scrutinized for signs of guilt or innocence. Everyone—rich and poor, suffragists and social conservatives, legal scholars and laypeople—had an opinion about Lizzie Borden’s guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or an unjustly persecuted lady? Did she or didn’t she?

The popular fascination with the Borden murders and its central enigmatic character has endured for more than one hundred years. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre, the murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror, but one typically wrenched from its historical moment. In contrast, Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom. Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, The Trial of Lizzie Borden offers a window onto America in the Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.

My Review: I received an ARC copy of The Trial of Lizzie Borden through NetGalley. It becomes publicly available today! Lizzie Borden is an infamous character in history, and yet somehow I never knew the true story, or as much of it as one can possibly know, of the murders and her trial until now. All I knew was the children’s poem about her taking and ax and giving 40 wacks, etc. Also, I have never seen any of movies or television series about Lizzie Borden (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, Lizzie, The Legend of Lizzie Borden, etc.).

Cara Robertson decides to focus a majority of this Lizzie Borden story on the trial itself. Lizzie Borden is being tried for the murders of her father and stepmother, Andrew and Abby Borden. Trigger warning: graphic details are given of the vicious crime. First of all, Robertson draws such a clear picture of the atmosphere of the courtroom and the interactions between the prosecutor and defense council that you feel like you are experiencing all of it in real time. She utilizes passages from journalists who were present, primarily Elizabeth Jordan (New York World) and Joe Howard (Boston Globe). On a side note, I am now officially obsessed with Elizabeth Jordan, whom I had never heard of before reading this book. On another side note, I had no idea that the Boston Globe was around in the 1800s, but it was in fact founded in 1872.

Second, this trial gained such a following of intrigued spectators. They could not fathom that a woman could commit such a violent crime. The blows that killed Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother were numerous and excessive. Those in the courtroom could not reconcile the image of this hideous crime (the Andrew & Abby’s skulls were literally on display) with the gentle image of Lizzie Borden. Also, she was criticized for her demeanor, which seemed unsuitable for a woman, because she didn’t show emotion (cry) after the murders and very little in the courtroom. She was simply still and composed and that, to many spectators, meant guilty.

Last of all, Robertson did a fantastic job reliving both the case against Lizzie Borden and her defense. Since Lizzie Borden’s testimony and the interviews from pharmacists, stating that she tried to buy prussic acid (a poison) just a few days prior to the murder of Andrew & Abby Borden, were not permissible in court, there was not much evidence that Lizzie Borden committed the murders. There were no witnesses and not much if any evidence that tied her to the murders. There was just suspicion and a whole lot of it.

Because I didn’t know much about Lizzie Borden, the trial was a rollercoaster ride of emotions that all led up to a final climatic verdict. However, the story does not conclude with the verdict, so maybe that is the author’s way of saying she too is unsettle by the conclusion. We may never know what truly happened the day that Andrew and Abby Borden were hacked to death, but there will always be theories.

This is a well-written piece of true crime!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: Say Nothing

40163119Title: Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Author: Patrick Radden Keefe
Genre: Nonfiction – True Crime
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Pages: 464
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: February 27, 2019

Goodreads Description: In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, McConville always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists–or volunteers, depending on which side one was on–such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace and denied his I.R.A. past, betraying his hardcore comrades–Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.

My Review: This was not what I thought it would be, but it was great in a whole different way. It was an intensely dramatic way to tell the story of true crime, war and conflict in Northern Ireland.

When the book starts it introduces Jean McConville, a 38-year-old single mother of 10, who was abducted from her home in December of 1972. She disappears and is never heard from again. Then the book randomly switches to introduce another character, Dolours Price. I kept thinking, “why am I reading about Dolours? What does she have to do with the Jean McConville’s abduction?” However, as the story continues and Price’s story continues, I found myself being pulled in. The author goes into the details of Price’s activism and her need to fight for rights in Northern Ireland, which led to her involvement in the peaceful protest march from Belfast to Derry. This peaceful march did not have a peaceful conclusion as the marchers were beaten and brutalized by loyalists as they reached Derry. This event really changed Dolours Price’s life forever and led her to become one of the most infamous IRA (Irish Republican Army) members in its history. The incident at Burntollet Bridge was so incredibly moving that I had to know how her story ends.

It turns out that to understand Jean McConville’s disappearance, you really have to understand the Troubles between England and Northern Ireland. You really get to experience the result of when peaceful marches are not enough and how violence changes people. This story lets you see inside the lives of multiple IRA members, including Gerry Adams, Brendan Hughes, Dolours Price, Marian Price and others.  You also get to experience what life was life in Northern Ireland – “routine bombings could make life impossible.” The author, Patrick Radden Keefe, sums up this story very eloquently:

“I saw an opportunity to tell a story about how people become radicalized in their uncompromising devotion to a cause, and about how individuals – and a whole society – make sense of political violence once they have passed through the crucible and finally have time to reflect.”

This book was so horrifying, and yet I could not put it down. I needed to know what happened to each and every one of the characters involved, including Jean McConville, and without giving any spoilers, there was indeed a connection between her and the IRA. I just hope Jean McConville’s children can find some peace, and that there will be peace in Northern Ireland.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦