Book Binge

Over the holiday weekend, I caught a bug and spent nearly a week inside, avoiding the cold snap of weather and partaking in an epic book binge. The days passed quickly as I blazed through five books in as many days. And with the holidays upon us and winter bearing down, I thought it would be timely to share with you all some of the books I’ve recently enjoyed and a couple I didn’t.

My Five-Book Binge

Book BingeMissy’s Murder by Karen Kingsbury

This is a true crime story of a teenage girl murdered by someone she trusted. It’s 1985 in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles County, a place and time where crime was on the rise and communities were changing.

Missy, a beautiful, vivacious girl, disappears one afternoon and is later found partially submerged in a shallow mountain creek. The story is both tragic and riveting, and it’s a must-read for fans of true crime.

My only criticisms are the numerous typos and misspellings and the author’s confusing and incorrect descriptions of various law enforcement elements. In my opinion, that is unacceptable, especially from a former Los Angeles Times “crime beat” reporter. But it’s still a great book.

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

You’ll see a pattern here: I read a true crime, and then I need a break, something entertaining that requires no contemplation. Leonard, as most of you know, is my all-time favorite author, and I always enjoy rereading his novels.

Though I have every paperback that Elmore Leonard has written, I am slowly adding each of them to my Kindle library when BookBub announces a sale, usually for a buck or two.

(Follow me and all your favorite authors on BookBub so you don’t miss out on any sales!)

Dead Ends by Joseph Michael Reynolds

This is the fascinating tale of a woman serial killer who preyed on lone male motorists along the I-95 corridor in Florida.

The book is well-written, and the story is told in an intriguing fashion. Again, a nod to fans of true crime, you don’t want to miss this one.

Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard

You see the pattern, right? True crime, novel, true crime, novel. I have to mix them up.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite Leonard novels, but I recommend first reading Out of Sight as the unforgettable characters, Jack Foley and Karen Sisco, are first introduced there. Although this book is a standalone novel, knowing the characters adds to this story.

Madman in the Woods by Jamie Gehring

An interesting perspective on the Unabomber story told by a woman who, as a child, lived on the property adjacent to the infamous serial killer’s Montana shack.

As a baby, Kaczynski held the author in his arms. As a small child, he brought her gifts and broke bread with her family. All the while, this murderer was building bombs a quarter mile from her home, sabotaging her father’s timber mill business, and killing family pets.

Truly a fascinating story, another that I’d highly recommend for fans of true crime.

Other Book Recommendations

On another note, here are some other books I read in the weeks leading up to my near-fatal bout with the Man-Flu, and believe they are worth mentioning to my fellow book enthusiasts:

The Green Mile by Stephen King

I wasn’t always a fan of King, mostly because I thought his novels were all horror, like Carrie, and I’m not a fan of the genre.

The first book of his I read was On Writing, which my editor recommended to me, and I really enjoyed it (and learned from it!). Eventually, I read some others: Mr. Mercedes, The Dead Zone, and 11/22/63 (a time-travel story centered around the Kennedy assassination).

But The Green Mile is in a league of its own, in my opinion; it’s truly a literary masterpiece.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

I picked this book up because I wanted to read some of the so-called classics that I neglected to read during my childhood.

To be honest with you, I never read during my adolescent years—I couldn’t stand reading. For one, you had to sit still to read, and that was a huge challenge for me. Also, I had the attention span of a tree squirrel. When I tried to read, I’d get a paragraph in before drifting off in my thoughts of sports or music or fast cars and girls.

But back to the book, I trudged through it hoping to recognize a plot at some point, but I never did. How it became a classic, I’ll never understand. Hard pass for me on this one.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Another attempt at a classic, and this one I couldn’t even finish.

Maybe if I had read this when I was a kid, I may have appreciated it (though I doubt it). This story just didn’t work for me.

Also, I found the writing to be annoying, replete with fragmented sentences, unattributed dialogue (while five characters speak at once), and continuous head hopping, which by today’s literary standards is a major no-no. So another pass for me.

Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg

Let’s end on a good note!

Gangsterland is a unique mafia/mobster tale with a fresh and original storyline, very different from some of the classic mafia novels.

A mob hitman takes out an informant and some FBI undercover agents in an unsanctioned, spontaneous action, making him a high-value target of law enforcement and the mafia alike. The aftermath is the story, and it’s a wild ride with terrific characters and plot twists.

Really good stuff! The writing is superb, and the best part is, this is book 1 of a series!


“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” – Lemony Snicket

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Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you will share it with your family and friends.



4 thoughts on “Book Binge

    1. Thank you, Simon.

      Most books I read now are on my Kindle, and I buy them on Amazon. However, as stated in the blog, I follow my favorite authors and genres on BookBub, and that is how I buy most of my books. It’s free and a great value for readers.

  1. It sounds like you were reading up a storm, Danny. I agree with you about Dutch Leonard. He was one of the great ones, and his work ethic puts us modern writers to shame. When he was teaching in the public schools, he would get up at 4 a.m. and put a sheet of paper in the typewriter. He then would not even let himself turn on the coffeemaker until he had typed that first line. and imagine having to type an entire page over if you needed a rewrite or found a typo… Re Lord of the Flies and Catcher in the Rye, the former was required reading for everyone who went to a Catholic school. (I went to public school, but my buddy sent me a copy of the book when I was in the army. We disagreed on what the ending meant. He was taught that it was meant to be depressing, whereas I saw it as optimistic. Salinger originally wrote Catcher in the 3rd person and it was published in Look magazine I believe. He then realized it needed to be in the first person and rewrote it. I think its success hinges on his ability to establish the voice of the protagonist. It’s basically a coming of age story and now is a bit dated, but I did enjoy the beginning about the lecture in the auditorium and the “tremendous fart.” Read on, brother, but don’t neglect your writing..

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