Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

What’s it about? 

A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.




My thoughts

Disclaimer: This has been my favourite book since I was forced to read it aged 15 in my English class.  It is only 1 of 2 books that I’ve ever re-read and will only ever be perfect to me!

Having said that, it’s been quite a few years since I last read it, probably at least ten, and I was a little apprehensive that now, at 44, my experience of the book would be different and I wouldn’t enjoy it as much or I’d have to demote it from favourite book status, but phew, I still loved it and it just goes to show it’s a book for all ages and still, unfortunately, just as relevant now.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” 

For those of you that don’t know the book, it’s told from the point of view of Scout, a nine-year-old girl, and covers many subjects including racism, injustice, rape, social class and abuse so expect the language to be of its time and not necessarily an easy read – to be fair it probably reads like a social commentary of the time.  On a much smaller scale it reminds me of bygone innocent childhood summers, going out after breakfast, home for tea – different times.

Atticus is one of the best, fairest and most generous characters ever written and my admiration for him is probably what piqued my interest in law.  Legal dramas and thrillers have always been my go to book, tv and movie choice ever since.

“We’re paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.”

It surprises me after all this time, and so many reads, that I still took something new from this book and that was the end.  I’d not noticed before how ambiguous I found the ending – what really did happen between Jem and Bob Ewell in the woods!

Love it – a modern classic that everyone should read at least once.

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” 

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Small print for info
Source: Purchased…years & years ago 🙂
No of pages: 320
Publisher: Arrow

Book Review: The Whistler by John Grisham

What’s it about?

We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.

But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens….

Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption. 

But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history.

What’s the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month’s cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It’s a sweet deal: Everyone is making money.

But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous.

Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else.

My thoughts

After recently struggling to get through a couple of books of short stories, I was looking on the shelf for a book I knew I could read in a weekend and this was the lucky pick.  Grisham’s legal thrillers are my go-to read as they always hit the spot and are my favourites.

I’m four behind in Grisham’s latest legal offerings and although this one is not a court room based thriller, there is still of course, the legal plot line albeit in a different sense.  I was instantly drawn to Lacy and her partner Hugo characters; you know the type, underpaid overworked Government workers trying to put the world to rights in the face of adversity (shady dealings, bribery, money laundering and witness tampering to name but a few) so you’ll be rooting for them every step of the way.

I found it interesting reading regarding the Indian reservation and casino plot lines which had me thinking if there is any truth in the roots of this book (not all the wrongdoing but to do with the laws, and way of the land etc).

As per the Grisham norm it’s cleverly thought out, there’s plenty of action where every chapter feels like a cliffhanger and plenty of bad guys to loathe but then how do you find them when you don’t know who they are….therein is much of the story!  However, much as I enjoyed this book and raced through it, it’s not in the same league as A Time to Kill or The Firm.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 416
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks

Book Review: Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

What’s it about?

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it. 

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.




My thoughts

I do love a good courtroom drama with all its tension, suspense and anticipation so really looked forward to this book.  I’ve seen so many reviews, snippets and high praise just lately which prompted me to get on with the ARC I received some time ago.

From the outset I found the majority of the book to be highly addictive.  Told in turn by Holly, Sophie, James and Kate we see how a sexual assault affects those involved and is in effect a breakdown of the repercussions – herein the anatomy of such a scandal.  Given the subject matter it’s not an enjoyable read; in particular the evidence given by the victim is quite brutal and is exactly what you hear of in real trials and the victim and their actions being put on trial themselves.

The book flips back and forward between the early 90s and 2017.  I quite like a dual timeline but this one did confuse me now and again as it’s date specific.  Reading it an ARC on a Kindle is not so easy if you can’t easily flip back and compare the dates.

I liked all the build up, the courtroom scenes and the pomp and ceremony that comes with the British judicial system, this is good stuff.  However, for me, once the verdict had been given, it all went downhill and lost pace and I kind of lost interest.  All the culmination of the trial and the evidence and the did or he didn’t he and then….anticlimax!

That said, I did have a conversation with my daughter and she pointed out to me that had the book ended with the trial and the verdict, I probably would have been unhappy with that and wanted more, to find out what happened next etc.  This is exactly what the author has done, but it left me flat.  Probably because I didn’t like Sophie’s character, or James’ obviously, so wasn’t empathetic at all towards them.  As I’m writing this I’m having difficulty putting my feelings into words, but let me just say it’s no Apple Tree Yard but still a decent enough legal drama!

p.s I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Advanced Reading Copy – many thanks!
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Book Review: The Ex by Alafair Burke

the-exWhat’s it about?

Olivia Randall is one of New York City s best criminal defence lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

My thoughts

This book was recommended by a well trusted book blogger and as I love a good legal thriller I reserved a copy straight away from the library.

When someone comes back into your life after twenty years, that in itself can be awkward enough, but when that person is accused of a triple murder, well…are you gonna believe them or the evidence laid out in front of you?  Would you be able to know for sure they didn’t do it based on your relationship from such a long time ago? Would you stake your reputation on it? These are the situations Olivia finds herself in when she agrees to represent her ex-boyfriend.

Whilst a good premise and well paced, for me it just lacked something to grip me and I just wasn’t feeling the wow factor.  I didn’t really engage with Olivia, she comes across as stand-offish and cold and there was something off about Jack that I couldn’t feel much for him.  The only character I felt had some genuineness to them was Jack’s best friend Charlotte; prepared to pull out all the stops to help and protect her friend.

I didn’t guess the identity of the real killer so that’s a positive but once revealed I began to pull apart the plausibility of it all given the level of security already mentioned in the book earlier and what evidence the prosecution had.

Overall, this book took me nearly a week to read which is unusual for me for this genre.  It’s a decent enough mystery but I have read more thrilling thrillers!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Library
No of pages:

Book Review: The Racketeer by John Grisham

The RacketeerWhat’s it about?

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of the USA only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett just became number five.

His body was found in the small basement of a lakeside cabin he had built himself and frequently used on weekends. When he did not show up for a trial on Monday morning, his law clerks panicked, called the FBI, and in due course the agents found the crime scene. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies – Judge Fawcett and his young secretary.

I did not know Judge Fawcett, but I know who killed him, and why.

I am a lawyer, and I am in prison.

It’s a long story.

My thoughts

Just a quickie review for this Grisham novel as I’m a bit short on time this week but should be sufficient to get my feelings across….

Grisham is my go to comfort read which may sound strange given most of the books subject matter but hey that’s my book thing….some pick up Potter, I’ll go for a Grisham as his novels never disappoint me. This one was no different. It’s been a while since I read a Grisham novel and I was glad to be back in that legal thriller environment; particularly with the little guy vs the big bad US government.

Grisham novels aren’t difficult reading and I enjoyed the pace, the plot and the fact that it never goes where you think it’s going to go.  With plenty of beach scenes and shady off-shore banking reminiscent of The Firm I was totally engrossed and rooting for the guy in prison and hoping that his plan worked and even feeling sorry for the bad guy.

Read if you’re a Grisham fan or enjoy legal thrillers, although if you fancy trying Grisham for the first time I’d recommend A Time to Kill every time.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Facebook

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