Review: The Innocent Man by John Grisham

The Innocent Man by John Grisham

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Originally published: 2006
Format: Print book

Goodreads summary:
In the major league draft of 1971, the first player chosen from the State of Oklahoma was Ron Williamson. When he signed with the Oakland A’s, he said goodbye to his hometown of Ada and left to pursue his dreams of big league glory.
In 1982, a 21-year-old cocktail waitress in Ada named Debra Sue Carter was raped and murdered, and for five years the police could not solve the crime. For reasons that were never clear, they suspected Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz. The two were finally arrested in 1987 and charged with capital murder.
With no physical evidence, the prosecution’s case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts. Dennis Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence. Ron Williamson was sent to death row.

This true crime story is incredible, unbelievable, and shocking. I wanted to toss this book across the room several times out of pure frustration.
The story is not just about a flaws justice system in general, but also addresses the American prison complex and their inability to properly handle mentally ill inmates. The way Ron Williamson was treated in prison is appalling in any case, but especially due to his disability.
Grisham isn’t my favorite writer and it took me some time to get into his style, but the story was interesting enough for me to see past it. While the writing might not have been superb, the research is meticulous and thorough.
I also enjoyed the occasional quip Grisham would throw in expressing his disgust regarding the entire case.
I enjoyed this book and it’s in depth look at the justice system in Oklahoma. The conclusion gave me what I was hoping for, but it was still too little too late and I’m sad for everything involved in these cases.

Overall rating: B+


Review: Lion by Saroo Brierley

Lion by Saroo Brierley

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Originally published: 2015
Format: Audiobook

Amazon summary: This is the miraculous and triumphant story of Saroo Brierley, a young man who used Google Earth to rediscover his childhood life and home in an incredible journey from India to Australia and back again…

This was such a great story. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it at first because I was worried it might be a little dry, but it is anything but.
Saroo’s story kept me captivated from his beginnings in India to his adopted, adult life at the end. His story of how he found his birth family, as well as how he came to Australia is both equally interesting. More than anything, it made me grateful for the life I’ve always had in the Western world.
I would recommend this audiobook to absolutely everyone. Not only is it an amazing story, I thought the narration by Vikas Adam was also wonderful.

Overall rating: A+

Anticipated Summer Releases 2019

This post of exactly what the title says it is: a list of some books I’m looking forward to that are being released this summer. Since I’m currently on my self-imposed “book buying ban” they’ve just been added to my TBR for now. (But I can’t guarantee I won’t break down and pick one or two of these up!

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1. Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok (June 4)
Goodreads summary:
A poignant and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties binding three women—two sisters and their mother—in one Chinese immigrant family and explores what happens when the eldest daughter disappears, and a series of family secrets emerge

Why I’m interested: I’m not always big on “family dramas,” but this one caught my eye. Hopefully it can stay suspenseful and not get too sappy on me.

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Review: The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

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The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

Originally published: 1980
Format: Print book

Goodreads summary: Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, her close friend, was the savage slayer she was hunting.

I had to reflect on this book for a while after I finished it and even now I’m not sure what to say.
I don’t think discussing anything about Ted Bundy’s case is a “spoiler” at this point, even if you haven’t read this book, but if you disagree, now is probably a good time to stop reading.
I found Ann Rule’s take on this case fascinating. I think it perfectly illustrated how you can never know what anyone is really capable of. I think reading about her struggle to come to terms with who Ted Bundy really was is fascinating.
My only complaint is that it gets a little too long. I had the most recent version that include the preface and all the updates and after a while they all become a bit tedious. The “Bundy worshippers” were also very frustrating, but that’s less a reflection of the book and more a sad fact about humanity.
The details of Bundy’s life and killing spree make this book hard to read and hard to put down at the same time. His crimes are obviously horrific so this is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. But for someone who can’t get enough true crime like myself, I think this is required reading.

Overall rating: A

Review: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Originally published: 1898
Format: Audiobook

Goodreads summary: When a governess is hired to care for two children at a British country estate, she begins to sense an otherworldly presence around the grounds. Are they really ghosts she’s seeing? Or is something far more sinister at work?

I’ve always heard mixed reviews about this book. I finally got around to giving it a go myself. I really enjoyed it! I thought it was a great “classic horror” tale that gave me the creeps more than once! I can see why it has stood the test of time over all these years.
The version I listened to was the Audible exclusive narrated by Emma Thompson. Her narration is incredible and I could listen to her voice for days! Maybe it’s just the American in me, but British narrators are the best!
My only tiny complaint is the same complaint I usually have about all classics: Sometimes the author tends to get a little “wordy” and it can be distracting. There is such a thing as too many adjectives! But besides that, I really enjoyed this short, spooky tale.
This is definitely a story I will revisit again sometime.

Overall rating: B+