Review of D.J. Donaldson’s Sleeping with the Crawfish

sleeping I love the title of the D.J. Donaldson book, Sleeping with the Crawfish. It was the first thing that drew me to the crime fiction novel. This third installment of the series about Kit Franklyn and Andy Broussard is just as exciting and entertaining as its two predecessors.

In this book, Kit is “taking a break” from her stressful job as a psychologist but Andy at the medical examiner’s office needs her help. Little did she know that her life would be put in danger by becoming involved.

The numerous plot twists and turns draw in the reader and keep him hooked to the end. This detailed forensic piece with the New Orleans almost mystical setting cannot help but keep the guesses flowing as to who dunnit.

Sleeping with the Crawfish is a great book. I recommend it to mystery-lovers and Louisiana-lovers alike. I give it 4 stars.

If you are interested in purchasing the book, you can buy it here.



Book Review: Bad Karma in the Big Easy by D. J. Donaldson

bad karmaI was intrigued by the prospect of reading Bad Karma in the Big Easy by D.J. Donaldson since it deals with post-Katrina New Orleans. My family also survived Katrina, although from about 200 miles away.

The setting of the story is the time immediately following Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005. Chief Medical Examiner Andy Broussard is tired and overworked in the temporary morgue. He is perplexed by the bodies of three women who were found naked in the lower Ninth Ward, the scene of much of Katrina’s destruction. There are unusual similarities – the primary one being that these women were murdered.

Kit Franklin, forensic psychologist, is drawn into the case. There are many unusual twists and turns in this mystery. People are not who they seem to be and the killer surprises everyone.

Although part of a series, Bad Karma in the Big Easy reads just as well as a stand-alone novel. Connections to prior books only bear a brief mention and are not crucial to this story. The book is an enjoyable read, although some of the situations are quite horrifying and reluctantly believable. The characters all have depth and I was sympathetic to both Kit and Andy.

I give Bad Karma 4 stars. It’s a good mystery with a satisfying ending. I highly recommend it.


Book Review – The Cuckoos of Batch Magna by Peter Maughan

The Cuckoos of Batch Magna by Peter Maughan is an amusing “comedy of errors.” The cuckoos are actually the characters in the book!

Batch Magna is a small, close-knit village on the border between England and Wales. Much of the property is owned by the General who dies and leaves it all to a distant American nephew, Sir Humphrey Strange. Some of the residents of Batch Magna are given eviction notices by Sir Humphrey and the community is in an uproar. When Humph comes to visit to further his plans for a vacation village, hilarity ensues.

For this American book reviewer, the unusual dialect was sometimes difficult to read and decipher but I enjoyed the story. I look forward to the sequels. The Cuckoos of Batch Magna gets an A.

Books Read in 2012


The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King – A Nonfiction Thriller (A) ~ James Patterson and Martin Dugard


The Art of Non-Conformity (A++) ~ Chris Guillebeau


Gone Girl: A Novel (A++) ~ Gillian Flynn


If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home (A) ~ Lucy Worsley


Water’s Edge (A) ~ Robert Whitlow


The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future (A+++) ~ Chris Guillebeau


Blood of the Prodigal: An Amish-Country Mystery (B) ~ P. L. Gaus


The Breach (A) ~ Patrick Lee


E-learning 101 (A) ~ Dr. Liz Hardy


Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake (A) ~ Anna Quindlen


13 Steps Down (C) ~ Ruth Rendell


Paris in Love: A Memoir (A) ~ Eloisa James


Black Friday (B) ~ James Patterson (Note: The Kindle version has an extreme number of typos and a severe lack of punctuation)


Calico Joe (A) ~ John Grisham


Private (A) ~ James Patterson & Maxine Paetro


Haunting Rachel (A) ~ Kay Hooper


I Still Dream About You: A Novel (A) ~ Fannie Flagg


Miracle on the 17th Green (B) ~ James Patterson & Peter de Jonge


The Fire – Witch and Wizard Book 3 (A) ~ James Patterson


The Gift – Witch and Wizard Book 2 (A) ~ James Patterson


Witch and Wizard Book 1 (A) ~ James Patterson


Sarah Smiles (B) ~ Seanpaul Thomas


The Broke Ass Brigade (B+) ~ Don Romonov


Powder Burn ~ Carl Hiassen and Bill Montalbano


Dead Ringer ~ Allen Wyler


Cloak ~ James Gough


77 Shadow Street ~ Dean Koontz


The Accident: A Thriller ~ Linwood Barclay


The Coppersmith ~ Michael J. Scott


Dark of the Eye ~ Douglas Clegg


Chomp ~ Carl Hiassen


Contrails ~ Robert Anderson


The True Detective ~ Theodore Weesner


The Power of Happiness ~ Timothy McKinney


My Name is Joe ~ Stefan Bourque


The Hour of Predators ~ Lane Stark


The Blooding ~ Joseph Wambaugh


Handling Sin ~ Michael Malone


The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid ~ Bill Bryson


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close ~ Jonathan Safran Foer


The Litigators ~ John Grisham


Bittersweet ~ Nevada Barr


If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name ~ Heather Lende


The Shop ~J. Carson Black


Sandman ~ Morgan Hannah MacDonald


The Sex Lives of Cannibals ~ J. Maarten Troost


Scat ~ Carl Hiassen


Love Works ~ Joel Manby


Under the Tuscan Sun ~ Frances Mayes


13 1/2 ~ Nevada Barr


Basket Case ~ Carl Hiassen


The Puppet Master ~ Jan Coffey


In a Heartbeat: Sharing the Power of Cheerful Giving ~ Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy with Sally Jenkins


Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back ~ Todd, Sonja and Colton Burpo


Riversong ~ Tess Hardwick


Betrayals ~ Carla Neggers


The Constant Gardener ~ John Le Carre


Skin Tight ~ Carl Hiassen


Cold Fire ~ Dean Koontz


While I’m Still Myself ~ Jeremy Mark Lane


Roadwork ~ Stephen King


The Wicked Wives ~ Gus Pelagatti


The Night Circus ~ Erin Morgenstern


The Earthquake Machine ~ Mary Pauline Lowry


At Home – A Short History of Private Life ~ Bill Bryson


Drift ~ Andrew Hudson


Reel Life Crime ~ Cary Pepper


re-reading Thinner ~ Stephen King


In a Sunburned Country ~ Bill Bryson


Five Weeks in a Balloon ~ Jules Verne


StreetCreds ~ Zach Fortier


The Lovely Bones ~ Alice Sebold


Roderick Blackwood and the Demon Stone ~ Ralph Rathbone


Hostile Witness ~ Rebecca Forster


Frankenstein ~ Mary Shelley


Explosive Eighteen ~ Janet Evanovich


The One You Love ~ Paul Pilkington


CurbChek ~ Zach Fortier


Smokin’ Seventeen ~ Janet Evanovich


Dracula ~ Bram Stoker


The Truth About Us ~ Dalene Flannigan

Self-Publishing – Thoughts by a Book Reviewer

I self-published my own book, Alphamania: An Alphabet Resource for Teachers and Parents, in January 2012. I did a lot of reading on the subject and learned a great deal. After strictly following the Smashwords style guide, my book showed up on the web and was ready for buyers.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

When I launched this site as a book reviewer more than a year and a half ago, I really had no idea what to expect. What I imagined was that I would read lots of books (already doing that anyway) and then review them here so potential readers could get an idea what the books were about and whether or not they would appeal to them. This also benefitted the author, as someone (me) gave an honest opinion (usually favorable) about their hard work.

Slowly, authors began to contact me for reviews. That was (and still is) so exciting for me. I take great pride in being selected as a reviewer of someone’s hard work. What I also discovered during this time are a tremendous amount of errors in people’s writing. Someone who reviewed my own book pointed out an error that I had made (I left something out of the text that should have been there).

In the self-publishing world, you have to rely on yourself for a great deal. Often, writers self publish because (1) it’s so easy these days, (2) it doesn’t cost anything, and (3) your book gets “out there” right away.  The problem with that is that writers often don’t get a professional to proofread or copy-edit their writing. After all, that’s a service that costs money.

The phrase that pays.

The phrase that pays. (Photo credit: pirateyjoe)

I think that a proofreader or copy editor provides a very valuable service. After all, your writing and your message are important. They should be presented in the best possible way. That doesn’t happen when there are misspelled words, typographical errors and subjects and verbs that don’t agree.

Sometime in 2013 I will launch this site  under its own domain ( and I will begin providing professional proofreading and copy-editing services for a fee in addition to my always free book reviews.

I am heavily researching proofreading and copy editing services so that I will be able to provide the best and most cost-effective service possible.

Let me know what you think!

Book Review: The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living . . . by Chris Guillebeau

51lgzbLHy5L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-65,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_This post will be different from my usual book review. I do want to let you know what I think of the book but I’ll also share a personal revelation.

 The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future in my public library’s ebook section intrigued me so I checked it out. WOW. This is a book that takes many of us well beyond our comfort zones. Chris’ idea is to find a way to support yourself doing what you love to do. After much research and exploration, Chris discovered that he loved to write and is a successful writer today. He gives tips on what is working for him while clarifying that these things may not be right for just anyone. The $100 Startup is divided into three sections:  “Part 1: Unexpected Entrepreneurs, Part 2: Taking it to the Streets and Part 3: Leverage and Next Steps.” He gives case studies of others who have left “traditional”  jobs and sought out what they enjoy doing. This is an excellent resource for those disillusioned and/or are unhappy in their 9 to 5 jobs. I just liked the title. It has already made a huge impact on my life and I give it an A++.

One of my favorite quotes in the text is “Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish, and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity.” from Karl Marx.

As both of my own “traditional” jobs will be ending in the next few weeks, this book has come at an opportune time for me. It may be time to reinvent what I do for a living. I am exploring the idea of a proofreading and editing service, under the ReaderJots name, to supplement my book review blog. I would love to get your opinion so feel free to leave a comment.

Book Review: Sarah Smiles by Seanpaul Thomas

Sarah Smiles by Seanpaul Thomas is an engaging story of a young boy named Paul who moves to the island of Cyprus from England and falls for Sarah, a girl in his class. Paul’s trials and tribulations with bullying, being the new kid and the curious life of his friend Sarah are detailed. A crisis at the end of the book brings changes for all.

Sarah Smiles is an entertaining story of tween angst. I enjoyed the book, particularly the suspense at the end. It’s a good read. I give it a B.

Book Review: The Broke Ass Brigade by Don Romonov

The Broke Ass Brigade by Don Romonov is an autobiographical journal or diary of sorts of a young man who is forced to scrimp and save  just to make it in the day-t0-day world. He has to scrimp and save because he works at “The Company Store.” The specific name of the store is never mentioned but it’s easy enough to figure out.

Don relays his daily struggles with Asberger’s Syndrome (a form of autism), making ends meet, his friends and their activities and the horrors of working at “The Company Store.” This book is both terribly sad and hilarious. The stream-of-consciousness (and loaded with sarcasm) entries about the people he sees in the store and the real-life things that they do are as mystifying as they are unbelievable. I laughed out loud a number of times at things he mentioned. When I tried to read them aloud to my family, I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face!

Now, a word of warning, the language in the book is crass, graphic and may be offensive to some. The f- word sprinkles most of the pages. If you can get past that, this is a very entertaining read. I give it a B+.

New Book Rating System

I would like to announce a new book rating system that I will implement here on ReaderJots beginning today. I read so many fantastic books but don’t have nearly the time I would like to review them all. So, after reading a book, I will rate it on the following scale, whether I am able to review it or not:

  •         A – Great read, highly recommend, don’t miss it
  •         B – Good read, recommend 
  •         C – OK read, can take it or leave it
  •         D – Not very good, not recommended
  •         F – Eewww! Don’t waste your time on this one.

Note that these ratings are my personal opinion, just as my reviews are. Others may disagree – and that’s ok. Books that I read but am unable to review will be given a rating and will be posted to my 2012 Currently Reading page. This way, at least readers will get an idea of whether or not they might want to read a particular book.

Happy reading!

Book Review: The Hour of Predators by Lane Stark

All I can say is, “WOW!” I could not put down The Hour of Predators by Lane Stark. It is well-written, engaging and nail-biting. Grab your copy now!

The Hour of Predators is a fascinating murder mystery that takes place in a tiny, isolated Canadian community with some Native American residents and some “white” ones. There is constant conflict between the two races. Things really get stirred up when gruesomely murdered men are discovered. Even creepier, the causes of death are not what they appear and circumstances scream of Native American sorcery.

The only family practicing sorcery, the townspeople and Natives say, are the Lesters. Ancient, house-bound Mary Grace Lester is the only one who knows about the death rituals performed on each victim. Her breathtakingly beautiful granddaughter, Claire, is the one tie that connects the three men and the teen accused. Or is she?

A delightful blend of mysticism, old-fashioned detective work, love and mayhem wend their way through this exciting story. Lane Stark has created  a world both intriguing and repulsive. A great read!