When not writing, I'm reading. Here are some of my recent book reviews.

Midnight Climax (A Kats Takemoto Novel Book 2)

Kats Takemoto is back in San Francisco, where a dark mystery is brewing in "Midnight Climax", the sequel to Peter Kageyama's captivating "Hunters Point." The story revolves around a factual and chilling CIA initiative that used unsuspecting citizens to develop methods for weaponizing psychedelic drugs for mind control. As readers join Kats and his delightful companions, they'll uncover San Francisco's history, landmarks and secrets, just as they did in "Hunter's Point." "Midnight Climax"

South of Sepharad: The 1492 Jewish Expulsion from Spain

I love books that immerse me in another time and place, tell a riveting story about characters with deep souls, and challenge me to look at current-day events more expansively. South of Sephard by Eric Z. Weintraub. Check. Check. And Check. This historical novel is set in Spain in 1492, the year that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella ordered Jews to convert to Catholicism or leave the country. The story follows Vidal ha-Rofeh, a Jewish physician who chooses to flee with his family rather than

Hunters Point

Hunters Point: A Novel of San Francisco is a private detective story that entertains and educates the reader about global and local politics, the environment, economics, and societal forces in the Bay Area after World War II. The protagonist, Katsuhiro (Kats) Takemoto’s, formative years were spent in an internment camp, and after signing a loyalty oath to the United States, he became a war hero who returned from battle and became a private investigator. The opening chapter is fun and reminis

The Strange Courtship of Kathleen O'Dwyer

The Strange Courtship of Kathleen O'Dwyer by Robert Temple sends readers on a thrilling journey across the Great Plains, into New Mexico, and across the Rocky Mountains. As a woman in 1828, Ms. O'Dwyer knows her mind, but she has trouble understanding what her heart tells her. She is fiercely independent, quick to think and act, and takes the advice "Plain speaking is the rule on the frontier" seriously. By preparing herself for whatever brutality she might encounter, she demonstrated incredible

Bad City

Bad City is a fascinating non-fictional account of unimaginable corruption and hubris at the intersection of academia, government, and media. The author did a masterful job of weaving storytelling elements among the facts, players, descriptions, and events. I enjoyed reading more about contemporary but also the deep dive into journalistic practices and discipline. I had no idea of the time and effort that goes into breaking "big stories," and now will forever hold a greater appreciation for the

The Latecomer

What a premise! As a latch ditch effort at IVF, the wealthy Salo and Johanna Oppenheimer are blessed with triplets. Despite three healthy children and a wife devoted to healing his emotional scars and raising three thick-as-thieves children, Salo drifts from his family and the children simply don't click on any level. Fast-forward 17 years, and Salo has become completely consumed by his passions, the triplets cannot wait to get away from their parents and each other, and Johanna reaches for a li

Exposed: Nevertheless She Persisted

Alicia C. Curry’s Exposed: Nevertheless She Persisted is a non-fictional account of blatant sexual harassment and an educational and legal system that continually pushed down the victim and kept an abuser in a position of power, access, and influence. In vivid detail, the author describes what occurred, the retaliation she endured, how her life and career were affected, and what she could have done differently. The more I learned about her spiritual journey and relationship with her mother and d

A Noble Cunning

In a novel based on true events, A Noble Cunning tells the story of, a noble Catholic woman who stops at nothing to save her husband amid a time of anti-Catholic rule in England. Readers are taken on adventures through the Scottish Lowlands and Hanoverian London as they travel through the richly painted backdrops of the 18th century. I enjoyed learning new (old) words, phrases, Shakespearean sonnets, and Bible passages. One of my favorite lines, for example, was when a character was described as

The Education of Delhomme

I love a novel that mashes up many of my literary interests, and The Education of Delhomme by Nancy Burkhalter checks several boxes. With its historical fiction foundation, Burkhalter weaves a tale that is part espionage, has a pinch of romance, a healthy dose of coming of age, a loveable bumbling bloke, and a petty rivalry worthy of a Real Housewives franchise. It’s a delicious and educational read. After a miserable but hilarious go at medical school, Beaulieu Delhomme finds his future as t

The Women of Chateau Lafayette

Stephanie Dray has done it again. The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping story of three courageous women, making the world a better place amid three wars. The women’s stories intersect at Everyone’s Favorite Founding Frenchman’s castle in Auvergne’s remote hills. Dray quite literally imagines if Lafayette’s walls could talk and boldly tells the untold stories of incredible courage, sacrifice, hopes, and dreams of the women who helped both create and perpetuate Lafayette’s legacy. The b

Her Last Flight

Inspired by the legend of Amelia Earhart, Beatriz Williams imagines the lives of two pioneering aviators, Irene Foster and Sam Mallory. Their stories are uncovered by a young photojournalist, Janey Everrett, who purports to be writing a book on Sam, an MIA Spanish war pilot. Janey is a live wire of a character with an interesting story of her own, which is revealed as she gets closer to Irene and others who knew and loved Sam. Set in Hawaii, the book has dual timelines, 1929 when Sam and Iren

The Orphan Collector

Set amid the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, The Orphan Collector tells a heartbreaking story of young Pia, a German immigrant whose father left to prove his loyalty to the United States by enlisting to fight in the War. Despite surface-level concerns about the Spanish Flu, Pia’s mother takes her and her brothers to a Victory Parade. Seemingly overnight, pandemonium grips as the Spanish Flu wreaks havoc on the streets of Philadelphia. Pia’s mother falls ill, leaving 13-year-old Pia to care for her fo

Hollywood Park

Hollywood Park is beautifully written and touching memoir. Before reading this memoir, I knew nothing of Jollett, front man for Airborne Toxic Event; now I will never forget him. Mikel and his brother were born in the Synanon cult, removed from their parents at six months old, and raised essentially in an orphanage. He had no real connection with his mom except for the occasional visit, until she fled the cult taking the boys with her. Mikel’s ability to relate events as he perceived them

The Book of Lost Friends

The Book of Lost Friends is Lisa Wingate’s slow-burn and heart-wrenching dual storyline follow up to Before We Were Yours. I was a huge fan of Before We Were Yours and could not wait to read Wingate’s latest. I had a difficult time getting into this book. Usually, with dual-storyline books, the story of the past is the one that draws me in quickest. In this case, however, I slogged through Hannie’s story eager to get to find out Bennie’s dilemmas. I was also drawn in by the inclusion of the

Members Only

Sameer Pandya’s Members Only is a multi-layered, entertaining, and thought-provoking story of one disastrous week in the life of Raj Bhatt. The opening scene reveals Raj’s inner monologue as he participates on a panel interviewing prospective new members at the exclusive tennis club he joined with his wife, who is a legacy member and their two children. From the outset, his self-talk and description of fellow-panelists and interviewees put me squarely on “Team Raj.” The difficulties he encounter

Writers & Lovers

I was drawn to Lily King’s Writers & Lovers because I love to read about an author’s inspiration and process, and the writing life in general. I got much more than I bargained for in this story. Besides the run of the mill struggling author conflicts, Casey is also grieving her mother’s death, navigating a roller coaster of a love-life, living in a precarious rental situation, and working at an upscale restaurant on Harvard’s campus called Iris. Casey’s life is messy. Casey is a mess. Sh

Father of Lions

Abu-Laith is a man of many dimensions. He’s a successful businessman who has built a place of worship for his community in Mosul that he rarely visits. His wife is a firecracker and he has many, many children. He is also the self-proclaimed zookeeper of the Mosul zoo who’s only “formal” training in zookeeping comes for the National Geographic. Amid the danger, cruelty and chaos of the ISIS occupation of Mosul, Abu Laith becomes fixated on saving the battered and starving zoo animals, including a

The Words I Never Wrote

The Words I Never Wrote by Jane Thynne is a fascinating and unforgettable story by Janey Thynne. It follows two sisters, Irene and Cordelia, as they find themselves in dramatically different circumstances before, during, and after WWII. Born and raised in England, Irene and Cordelia vow to remain close as Irene is whisked away to Germany with her new husband, a handsome businessman, and rising Nazi officials. As a parting gift, Irene gives Cordelia a typewriter, which inspires her to pursue a ca

The German House

This book gutted me … As a historical fiction enthusiast, I have read many books about concentration camps, survivors, and living with the aftermath. The German House is the book I’ve been waiting for because it attempts to address the burning questions in the recesses of my mind: how did the Nazi officers and their families walk the earth among humankind when the war ended? Set in 1963/1964 in Germany, the story centers around the young professional Eva, who’s family operated and lived
Load More Articles