THE POPE AT WAR by DAVID I. KERTZER

Pulitzer Prize-winner David I. Kertzer brings us this magnificent work of the history of Pope Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler.

Based on newly opened Vatican archives, a groundbreaking, explosive, and riveting book about Pope Pius XII and his actions during World War II, including how he responded to the Holocaust, by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Pope and Mussolini

Pope Pius XII, who died in 1958 and immediately had his archives sealed, probably didn’t think they would come to light in 2020. For a long period of time, we have wondered about his stance on the war and the people who surrounded the papacy. As a Roman Catholic myself, I can say he was very controversial.

Kertzer, who is one of the world’s leading scholars on the Vatican has been digging around in those archives for a while now. And he reveals how this pope traded moral leadership of the church to save its power.

It was difficult to read the atrocities and the deals that were made with fascists. But really haven’t we always known the church always acts in its own best interest? Not only is the research impeccable, but the facts are also explosive.

The amount of research that had to take place is monumental. I thought it read like historical fiction, but unfortunately, it was not fiction.

Outstanding work!

NetGalley/ June 7th, 2022 by Random House






DAMN LUCKY BY KEVIN MAURER

Damn Lucky: One Man's Courage During the Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History

One Man’s Courage During The Bloodiest Military Campaign in Aviation History

The incredible true story of John “Lucky” Luckadoo, who survived 25 missions as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot in WWII.

John “Lucky” Luckadoo truly was damn lucky. He and his best friend enlisted together. With John having a college degree, he was put into a bomber.

This guy flew 25 missions in combat. This was a pretty amazing stat considering what the odds were of him coming home alive.

The story is written from his firsthand accounts by Maurer. The actions scenes were incredible and the bravery of this generation is inspiring.

There was a lot of nail biting going on in this read. Comparing the planes we have now to what they had then, I’m surprised anyone signed up for that job and came home.

Heartbreaking, inspirational and a darn good read!

NetGalley/ April 19th, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

AMERICAN KLEPTOCRACY by CASEY MICHEL

American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World's Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History

How the U.S. Created the WORLD’S GREATEST MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME in HISTORY

Casey Michel shows us the world of illicit offshore money schemes.

American Kleptocracy looks at how the United States morphed into the center of global money offshoring.

Our country has been at the center of this illicit game for far too long. While our leaders decry corrupt regimes around the world, we are happy to take their money.

If you want to start your own shell company go to Delaware. Or Nevada. Delaware will let literally anyone set up a virtual shop. Having managed property for a long time, most of my owner’s companies are LLCs in Delaware. A state they don’t live in. Soviet Oligarchs, African despots, the worst of the worst store their money here while their own people starve. And when Trump came along it was a marriage made in greed. Restrictions were released. Laws made it easier to launder and hide money.

Do we really know how much of our own country is owned by outsiders? Shocking.

This was an excellent book that taught me a few new things. The author has a way of breaking down a rather large topic and just saying, “Hey, this is what is going on!”. He also talks about how our new President could proceed.

Very well researched and written, this was a great read.

NetGalley/November 16th, 2021, St. Martin’s Press







A Dress the Color of the Moon by JENNIFER IRWIN

A Dress the Color of the Moon (Dress #2)

The follow-up to A Dress the Color of the Sky is finally here. And yes, it was worth the wait.

Prudence Aldrich is a sex addict fresh out of 5 weeks of rehab. She learned a lot at Serenity Hills. She faced quite a few demons and struggled to maintain her control over that addiction.

Five weeks isn’t going to magically cure her. She knows this in her head. But a lifetime of building walls, and being out of control, acting impulsively, and expecting to be hurt will not be easy to overcome.

When Prudence comes home to a new house that Lily has obtained for her and Christian, Prue is annoyed and grateful. Lily plays a big part in this book and her story goes a long way in explaining her own need for control and the firm friendship she has with Prue.

While Prudence settles in with Christian and goes back to work at the design firm, every day is a test. Every day she must decide to make good decisions, to go to meetings, and to stay away from men. That one is hard since a lot of how she sees herself is caught up in sex.

You don’t just wake up one day and become an addict. Of anything. That behavior comes much earlier in life. Whatever trauma you go through as a child, you carry with you forever. You find tools that help you cope and they are not usually the healthy kind. Prudence falls and lets herself down a lot. But she gets back up and keeps trying. When you grow up feeling less than, you grow up thinking everyone has their life together except you.

Everything is more complicated when Alistair shows up. Yes, he is a hottie with a British accent that makes Prue drop her pants around him. But he has way more problems than either of them understand yet. And while her emotional growth really comes through with this guy, she is still vulnerable.

In the meantime, Mike is having his own troubles after the death of Gloria. He is questioning his path as well. Can all of these beautiful but flawed people ever be free of the past?

Abuse comes in many forms. But it’s all abuse. And as a child that shapes our view of ourselves and the men and women in our world. You can put on a facade of perfection but inside you still feel unworthy and broken. We judge ourselves so harshly.

This book is raw, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and it resonated with me so much so that I read it three times and made copious notes! I sobbed over this sentence. “All of this stemmed from feeling less than as a child”. That was an arrow to my heart.

I have been in therapy for years. All of my sisters have. And it did nothing. I shared the first book with my sister and it changed our lives. We don’t have to be perfect for someone to love us. We can mess up as many times as it takes and someone will still love us unconditionally. We can break the chain with our own families. We are enough. That and so much more touched me deeply.

I am hoping we hear more about Prudence and the imperfect and yet perfect cast of characters in her world.

Jennifer Irwin bleeds her story onto the pages for all of us to see and know that we are not alone and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Glass Spider Publishing October 30, 2021.

In the Shadow of the Empress by Nancy Goldstone

In the Shadow of the Empress: The Defiant Lives of Maria Theresa, Mother of Marie Antoinette, and Her Daughters

The vibrant, sprawling saga of Empress Maria Theresa—one of the most renowned women rulers in history—and three of her extraordinary daughters, including Marie Antoinette, the doomed queen of France.

That is the blurb on this very interesting look at this Empress and her daughters. And with Nancy Goldstone as the author I knew this would be good. She has such a way of making Non-Fiction read like the best story you can imagine. Never dull or dry. I adored this book.

This is the story of eighteenth century Maria Theresa, a strong woman who ruled the entire Habsburg Empire. We also learn about her daughters, who were also strong rulers in their own right. The Governor-General of the Austrian Netherlands, Maria Christina. Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and of course, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France and the one you have probably heard the most about.

But all of them were extraordinary. The imagery of the royal courts is well done. The research put into this book is astounding. Reading this was a history lesson inside a story. A story of hope, desire, betrayal and every hardship one could imagine.

This is one I shall keep and share for a long time.

NetGalley/ September 21st, 2021 by Little, Brown and Company

from the corner of the oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

From the Corner of the Oval: A Memoir by [Dorey-Stein, Beck]

The compulsively readable, behind-the-scenes memoir that takes readers inside the Obama White House, through the eyes of a young staffer learning the ropes, falling in love, and finding her place in the world. (Blurb)

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein is working five part-time jobs and just scraping by when a posting on Craigslist lands her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate D.C. outsider, she joins the elite team who accompany the president wherever he goes, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forges friendships with a dynamic group of fellow travelers—young men and women who, like her, leave their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president.

As she learns to navigate White House protocols and more than once runs afoul of the hierarchy, Beck becomes romantically entangled with a consummate D.C. insider, and suddenly the political becomes all too personal.

Against the backdrop of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart-broken, learning what truly matters, and, in the process, discovering her voice.

I wanted to read this book because of the behind the scenes look at Obama and what goes on during all of that travel.

While it began strongly, Beck gets caught up in the trap of drinking with and sleeping with her co-workers. I’m not sure how she got anything done as drunk as she always is and not really picky about who she is sleeping with.

We got a few interesting glimpses of Obama and other staff members, but it was all overshadowed by her almost teen-aged angst and sleeping with men already in relationships. It could have been something with some heavy editing.

So no, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

Netgalley/Spiegal and Grau  July 10, 2018

The Man Who Caught The Storm by Brantley Hargrove

The Man Who Caught the Storm: The Life of Legendary Tornado Chaser Tim Samaras

A tale of obsession and daring. A contest between humankind and nature’s fiercest phenomenon. The saga of the greatest storm chaser who ever lived.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the tornado was one of the last true mysteries of the modern world. It was a monster that ravaged the American heartland a thousand times each year, yet science’s every effort to divine its inner workings had ended in failure. Researchers all but gave up, until the arrival of an outsider.

In a field of PhDs, Tim Samaras didn’t attend a day of college in his life. He chased storms with brilliant tools of his own invention and pushed closer to the tornado than anyone else ever dared. When he achieved what meteorologists had deemed impossible, it was as if he had snatched the fire of the gods. Yet even as he transformed the field, Samaras kept on pushing. As his ambitions grew, so did the risks. And when he finally met his match—in a faceoff against the largest tornado ever recorded—it upended everything he thought he knew.

Brantley Hargrove delivers a masterful tale, chronicling the life of Tim Samaras in all its triumph and tragedy. He takes readers inside the thrill of the chase, the captivating science of tornadoes, and the remarkable character of a man who walked the line between life and death in pursuit of knowledge. Following the tradition of Into Thin Air and The Perfect Storm, Hargrove’s debut offers an unforgettable exploration of obsession and the extremes of the natural world.

Storm Chasers are some of my favorite people. Living in Oklahoma City area we see the cars and trucks with all of the equipment on the roof every day. I live with one and I remember the day that Tim died.

We were worried sick as our family home is in El Reno/Union City took shelter and there was nothing we could do but wait. Over the scanners we heard they had found Tim’s car and at first we thought he was the only one killed, but no.

Tornadoes are one of Mother Nature’s most mysterious creations. The power, the unpredictability, there seems to be no pattern to them at all. Why they demolish the town of Moore almost every few years and then there will be one untouched home in the middle. It isn’t logical and yet we are mesmerized by them. We want to know how they work.

Great strides have been made in early warning systems, but it’s still not enough.

This was a hard book to read and yet it was a beautiful testament to a man who lived life on his own terms. We will forever miss them all.

NetGalley/Simon and Schuster April 03, 2018