Book Review #67: “Small Town”

I found this book at a thrift store in Florida in May of this year, for $1.50. Why it took me so long to read it, and finish it, I don’t know. But, overall, I enjoyed this book. Lawrence Block was a new name to me, but what captured my attention was the setting – New York City. I’m a sucker for books set in the Big Apple!

Originally, it took me a while to read more than two chapters per night. Block’s writing is so incredibly detailed, and the cast of characters is extensive. His chapters are meaty, but mighty. I told a group on Facebook that this is a good thriller, but if you’re not a fan of sex, violence, and profanity, I would avoid this book. Those three things are very prevalent in this one!

I liked this book, for the most part. It’s not my favorite thriller in the whole world, but I liked the structure of the story, and how the title is so fitting. Despite several heavy subject matters – It’s set in 2002, so that gives you an idea of the circumstances in New York City – the characters were constantly engaging. Each character was unique. Also, one of the main focuses is on a published author, and seeing the process of a book deal in a fictional story was really cool to see. I enjoyed following the author’s story, and the saga he’s involved with.

I could have seen less graphic sex, and the violence was definitely unsettling. But, it’s a thriller. And Block accomplished that with his writing.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #156: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter M)

The ABC Book Challenge - L

Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “M”:

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  • We studied Shakespeare in high school. This one was significant to me.

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Madame Bovary

  • I believe this was assigned reading when I was a senior in high school.


The Man in the High Castle

  • I’d wanted to read this one for quite a while, and finally did in the summer of 2017. It sparked my interest in not only the author, but in alternate reality, as well.

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Mansfield Park

  • I need to re-read this, but I’ve read most everything that Jane Austen wrote.

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Misty of Chincoteague

  • I read this one several times as a kid. I live about three hours from Chincoteague!

Books I’d Love to Read Starting with the Letter “M”:

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M. C. Higgins, the Great

  • I remember seeing this book in the school library, but I’ve never read it.


The Minority Report

  • I knew this short story was adapted into a movie (2002) and a TV series (2015), but I didn’t know until much later that it was written by Philip K. Dick.

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Les Miserables

  •  Despite having seen the most recent movie adaptation (2012), I’ve never read the novel.

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  • I vaguely remember parts of this book, so I think it deserves a re-read.


The Mosquito Coast

  • I’ve been interested in this novel since I heard about the movie adaptation (1986). I haven’t seen the movie yet, and I don’t plan to until I read the book.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter M? Let me know!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #155: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter L)

The ABC Book Challenge - L

Here’s the link to Tiana’s post:

Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “L”:


A Light in the Attic

  • Shel Silverstein is a household staple.


Little House in the Big Woods (Little House #1)

  • I absolutely loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books when I was younger.


Little Women

  • I had to read this for a project during my freshman year of high school, and ended up falling in love with it.


Lock and Key

  • Each one of Sarah Dessen’s books has made an impact on me.

Looking for Alaska

  • I was introduced to John Green by way of this book, in my Young Adult Literature class in the spring of 2011. It’s one of my all-time favorite books.


The Lorax

Books I’d Love to Read Starting with the Letter “L”:


Life As We Knew It

  • I’ve read other books by Susan Beth Pfeffer, but not this one.


Little Children

  • I want to read everything that Tom Perrotta has written.

Little & Lion

  • This book’s cover looks beautiful. Plus, I’m always interested in books that have mental health representation.

Little White Lies

  • Like Tiana, I don’t know much about debutantes, but I really want to read this book!



  • I’ve always wanted to read this!


What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter L? Let me know!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #154: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter K)

Here’s the link to Tiana’s post:

Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “K”:


Keeping The Moon

  • Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors!


Kristy and The Snobs (The Baby-Sitters Club #11)

  • I loved everything Baby-Sitters Club (BSC) when I was younger!

Books I Wish to Read that Start with the Letter “K”:


Kids We Were

  • I want to see if my library has this!


The Kitchen House

  • This looks so interesting!


The Kite Runner

  • I’ve heard really good things about this one, for years!

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter K? Let me know!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #66: “WHO KNEW? …Reflections on Vietnam”

I received this book as a gift! My dear friend, Lydia, sent a sweet card with the book, explaining that she knows the author, and wanted to send it to me after reading a blog post regarding my interest in Vietnam. Thank you, Lydia!

The best way I can describe this book is a mix of a memoir, photo album, and poetry collection, all wrapped up into a nice book. It gave me a sense of what Watts went through during her year of service.

While preparing to receive her undergraduate degree at Villanova, she knew wanted to travel. She wanted to join the Peace Corps, but they wanted her to start before graduation. Then, she found a brochure for the Supplemental Recreation Activities Overseas (SRAO) program of the American Red Cross.

What she ended up with was a year of service, and a lifetime of memories.

Watts blends photos, poems, soldiers’ artwork, and her memories into a powerful book. It made me feel like I was there with her.

I also learned about the SRAO program of the Red Cross, and how instrumental these women have been since World War II. I gained a new perspective, and a sense of gratitude. I know Watts and her crew were appreciated by the men in the jungles of Vietnam, during a very trying time there, and here at home.

Although I wasn’t alive during her service, I appreciate Watts for writing this book. It provides a unique perspective on a unique type of service during the war, and I’m grateful for her to show me, and others, this insight. Reading accounts like this makes me want to learn even more about the Vietnam War and the people who were involved, both soldiers and civilians.

Thank you again, Lydia, for this gift!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #65: “Fallible Justice” (ARC Review)

Over the summer, I received an email from Louise Walters, who owns and operated Louise Walters Books, asking if I was still interested in receiving an advance reading copy of Fallible Justice. I couldn’t remember how or why this happened, but I said yes. I’m so glad I did.

Although it’s taken me a full four months to finish, I’m thrilled to publish this review right before the book is scheduled to publish on November 8th.

Fallible Justice is the first in the Wilde Investigations series. I can’t wait to read more!

Like Louise wrote in her lovely letter to me that accompanied the book, the characters are one of the great strengths. I loved their interactions, and to discover how many characters worked together to achieve the same goal – Working to save a man’s life before his scheduled execution.

I also loved Laakso’s world-building. I’ve always been fascinated with the U.K. and London, but she puts an awesome spin on it with her Old London, the wilderness, and the different classes of characters. I hesitate to compare Laakso to other writers, but I felt distinct hints of J.K. Rowling throughout.

In addition, whomever created the cover should be given an award. It’s one of the most beautiful and intriguing book covers that I’ve seen!

When I first read the synopsis to my husband, Al, he immediately thought of Martin’s Game of Thrones series. While different in its own right, Laakso is definitely on to something with this first book. I was delighted to read the first chapter of book #2 at the end of the ARC, and I truly can’t wait for it to be published.

The only significant complaint I have was the book was a bit wordy and/or lengthy. It dragged in a few places, but I also recognize this to be a part of Laakso’s world-building and integrating characters. Despite a few slow areas, the book captivated my imagination and the characters kept me engaged.

I particularly loved the way Yannia and Karrion work together as they try out Karrion being a potential apprentice during this investigation. They both have different strengths, and weaknesses, but together they are a great team, and I can’t wait to see what they are assigned next.

I felt very sad when I came to the end of the book. That’s how much these characters made an impression on me. However, I’m thrilled that Laakso is creating a series. I eagerly await the publication of book two!

5 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #153: The ABC Book Challenge (The Letter J)

ABC Book Challenge - J 2

Here’s the link to Tiana’s post:

Memorable Books that Start with the Letter “J”:

Jacob Have I Loved

  • Written by Katherine Paterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia, this is a great historical fiction novel.

James and the Giant Peach

  • Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t seen the movie adaptation (1996), I highly recommend it.

Jane Eyre

  • It took me a long time to be able to digest and appreciate Jane Austen, but Jane Eyre is one of her books that hold a permanent place on my shelves.

The Joy Luck Club

  • I resented reading this in high school as assigned reading. I actually want to re-read it at some point.


  • Chris Van Allsburg is another one of my favorite authors. The movie adaptation (1995) is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the recent sequel (2017) was also, surprisingly, well-made.

Just Listen

  • Sarah Dessen was a defining author throughout my high school and college years. I’m pretty sure this book is one of the first of hers that I read.

Books I Wish to Read that Start with the Letter “J”:

Jamaica Inn

  • I want to read more from Daphne du Maurier!


  • I’ve seen the movie (1975), but I want to satisfy my curiosity by reading the book.

Jellicoe Road

  • I was very intrigued by the synopsis of this one!

The Journal of James Edmond Pease, A Civil War Union Soldier, Virginia, 1863

  • I love collecting the Dear America and My Name is America series!

Jurassic Park

  • Same story. I’ve seen the movie (1993) and sequels (1997, 2001, 2015, 2018), but I’ve never read any of Crichton’s work.

Just Between Us

  • I’ve read quite a few books by Susan Beth Pfeffer, but I don’t remember reading this one. Hopefully my library will have it.

What books have you read, or want to read, that start with the letter J? Let me know!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂