Thursday, January 17, 2019

Book Review: The Devil in the White City

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
by Erik Larson

My book club read this book. It is a slow starter, but that was my experience reading Dead Wake by Erik Larson as well. It simply takes some time to set up the stories and the characters, so I think this is inevitable. But sticking with it and reading through to the end was certainly worth the initial effort. Setting the stories of the architects of the world's fair along side the stories of a serial killer and his victims was chilling but incredibly effective. And the tail-end of the book talks some about the investigation and legal case against the serial killer. This is truly a wonderful book.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Book Review: The Whistler

The Whistler
By John Grisham

After reading a couple of Grisham novels lately that weren't to my taste, I was very happy to find another that I loved. This book follows Lacy, an attorney working in the Florida Board of Judicial Conduct. She receives a tip about a judge who is completely corrupt and involved with a mafia in the panhandle of Florida. Murder, bribes, and legal thrills abound. This book is page turner, and I finished it in just a few days.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book Review: Rogue Lawyer

Rogue Lawyer
by John Grisham

I read this book to fulfill a reading challenge category of a book where the protagonist has your occupation. Fulfilling this particular challenge wasn't difficult, as there are plenty of books about lawyers. As I've mentioned before I'm a fan of Grisham, and have read nearly everything that he's published. It starts out very gritty and dark, with a criminal defense attorney who takes on extremely difficult cases that no one else will touch. It later turns a bit, as the character becomes more likeable and human. Ultimately, this wasn't my favorite Grisham novel, as some of the critiques of prosecutors felt over the top (I work with a lot of prosecutors who are reasonable and good people), but as a defense attorney I could also relate to some of what he dealt with. So overall, a good book like his others, but not my favorite of everything he's written.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Review: The Rooster Bar

The Rooster Bar
by John Grisham

I really didn't like this book at all, which is surprising because I'm a big fan of Grisham. It is the story of law students who were not qualified to attend law school, and paid way too much money to get into the only school that would take them. They then decide to rip off a company to try to 'make it right' after practicing law without law licenses or even law degrees. But the characters struck me as naive and whiny. I borrowed money to go to law school, and finished at the height of the downturn in the legal economy. This meant essentially no jobs for my husband or for me. But we were practical and chose to go to law schools that didn't require borrowing six-figures. And we worked hard after law school to get our careers where we wanted them to be. And we both practice criminal law, so the story just struck me as self-centered, false, and immature. I didn't like it.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Book Review: Stiff

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
by Mary Roach

I read this book to fulfill a Satire category in a reading challenge. Satire is the use of humor to expose folly of vice for the purpose of bettering the situation. I think this book fits that category, because when you really think about death, we often have silly or unrealistic views of what it looks like. This book is informative and funny, which is unexpected for a book about cremation, the funeral business, autopsies, medical dissections, and scientific cadaver donations. I learned quite a lot from reading this book, and had to ask a friend of mine (who is a mortician) whether the gruesome things that I'd read were really correct (spoiler: they were).

I am counting this as a legal-ish book, as County Attorneys in Nebraska are also County Coroners. Did you know this? County Attorneys have training on death investigation at their twice yearly continuing education seminars. Many also attend specific training out of state on the topic. In some counties, the County Attorneys go out on the scene, while in other counties this is deferred to Sheriffs or the State Patrol.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Book Review: G-Dog and the Homeboys

G-Dog and the Homeboys: Father Greg Boyle and the Gangs of East Los Angeles
by Celeste Fremont

This book is the story of Father Gregory Boyle and his work with the gangs. It is mostly a journalistic account, but the author does also discuss how her account cannot be wholly impartial, as after following Father Greg and some of the gang members for four years, she grew to care about what happened to them, as well as to want to alter the course of events in their lives for the better.
After reading Tattoos on the Heart, I wanted to know more. This book filled that role. I recommend it to others, but if you were only going to choose one, Tattoos on the Heart would be it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Book Review: Tattoos On the Heart

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion
by Gregory Boyle

This book was written by Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who began working, and continues to work, in East L.A. with gang members. He created Homeboy Industries which endeavors to give jobs and tattoo removal to gang members, in hopes of pulling them out of the cycle of crime, poverty, abuse, and gang-banging that they are in. It has proved to be a very effective model.

I put this book in my Kindle wish list after hearing Father Greg and a couple of homies speak at a conference on children's law. The presentation was powerful. I finally got around to reading this book, and am glad that I did. I'm not sure what took me so long, really. It made me laugh, and it made me cry. I very much recommend it.