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.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Book Review: In Cold Storage

In Cold Storage: Sex and Murder on the Plains
by James W. Hewitt

One of the judges that I regularly practice in front of recommended this book. It is set in the McCook area of Nebraska, an area that I am familiar with through my work. And several of the names of the attorneys and judges in the book are familiar to me as well. This book is a true story of the homicide and dismemberment of a married couple by another married couple. The story is sensational, and includes details of the flawed investigation. So fascinating that I'd recommend it to those even not from Nebraska, or even non-lawyers.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Book Review: The Racketeer

The Racketeer
by John Grisham

I really, really liked this book! It kept me guessing from the start to the finish. The main character is a lawyer who was wrongfully convicted in a financial scam, and is sent to federal prison. While there he gets information about a murder, and the story takes off from there. If you're a Grisham fan, you'll enjoy this one.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Book Review: The Anatomy of Motive

The Anatomy of Motive
By John Douglas and Mark Olshaker

I picked this book out from my husband's collection of Audible books, as I am a big fan of John Douglas and hadn't previously read this one. The book is about the FBI's behavioral analysis unit and their understanding of the various types of criminals and what motivates them. As a criminal defense and juvenile law attorney, I felt like this helped me to understand some of the folks that I come into contact with, as well as helped me to understand the training that law enforcement receives on the topic of motive. Really interesting stuff!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book Review: Raising a Secure Child

Raising a Secure Child: How Circle of Security Parenting Can Help You Nurture Your Child's Attachment, Emotional Resilience, and Freedom to Explore
By Kent Hoffman, Glen Cooper, and Bert Powell

This was recommended to be by some therapists that I work with regularly on my cases, as it is the background for the Circle of Security Parenting curriculum that we often have parents go through as part of their case plans to reunify with their children. I've often heard these same therapists, as well as foster parents, say that the method helped them with their own parenting as well. I wanted to read the book and learn more about the curriculum that I advocate for parents to learn from. And I can say that this stuff makes good, common sense, but isn't a series of steps that you have to learn or do. It simply requires that you look at parenting in a framework of children needing to explore as well as be comforted, and parents needing to help children in this circle by being bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind. This book is fantastic, and I recommend that ALL parents read it, truly.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Book Review: Inside the Mind of BTK

Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer
By John Douglas and Johnny Dodd

I listened to this in audio, as my husband is a huge fan of true crime and had already purchased it from Audible. I've read John Douglas previously, and do enjoy his books, as he writes about his time in the behavioral analysis unit of the FBI and some of the cases that he investigated. This is about the BTK (Bind Torture Kill) serial killer who kept Wichita in fear for decades.

This book was very, very good. But the narrator is not good. He mispronounces words, and doesn't have an engaging voice. So I recommend the book, but not on Audible.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Book Review: Heinous, Atrocious & Cruel

Heinous, Atrocious & Cruel: The Casebook of a Death Penalty Attorney
By Terrence M. Lenamon with Brooke Terpening

I found out about this book at a seminar that I attended for trial lawyers in the fall of 2017. Terence Lenamon was one of our speakers, and had such powerful stories to tell about his work that I knew that I needed to buy his book. I picked this up on Kindle, and made a point to read only one chapter in a sitting so that I could really think about each of the stories. Each chapter is a story of Terence's interactions with former clients who were charged with murder and facing the death penalty. It was equal parts heartbreaking (for the victims of the crimes and for the defendants), and inspiring (in reminding me that clients are real people with real life stories and circumstances that have to be considered). I recommend this for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.