Month: August 2013

Book Review: Top of the Morning by Brian Stelter


Rating: 4 / 5

NBC’s Today Show has been the morning television darling for well over 800 weeks.  Arguably the strongest time in Today Show history was when Katie Couric and Matt Lauer anchored the show. In Top of the Morning, Stelter goes behind the scenes, with the histories of Today Show, GMA, and This Morning, but also delves into the downfall of the Today Show, which was helped generously with the public axing of Ann Curry, and the ascension of GMA as the number one morning television show.

I found Top of the Morning fascinating on many fronts.  Turning on the television in the morning, viewers are met with pleasant and generally mild mannered anchors reporting on the latest news with a healthy dose of pop culture news or cooking segments.  Behind the scenes, though, it is a whole different ballgame.  I never knew a morning show could be so politically charged, with backstabbing and mild bullying taking place.  Stelter details the firing of Ann Curry in great detail, and the backlash and criticism Lauer faced as co-host of the Today Show.

I didn’t realize how important ratings are to morning shows.  Stelter provided great inside information on the machination of ratings, and how they translate to advertising dollars, which is why the weekly ratings numbers are so important in broadcasting.  It is shocking how cutthroat the morning show industry is, just to move up in ratings.

Growing up, I used to have Today Show on every morning. Last year though, I unconsciously switched over to GMA.  As the book documents, the GMA hosts (Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, Josh Elliott, Laura Spencer, and Sam Champion) have better chemistry and overall seem more genuine than their counterparts at Today Show.  I thought Top of the Morning was interesting, but only if you know the players.  If you don’t watch either the Today Show or GMA, then this book will be irrelevant.

Book Review: He’s Gone by Deb Caletti


Rating: 4 / 5

One weekend morning, Dani wakes up on her houseboat and her husband, Ian, isn’t there.  There is nothing surprising about this, after all, he could have grabbed coffee at the local cafe or went to run a quick errand.  By nighttime, however, he hasn’t returned, and Dani has no idea where he could have gone.  The previous night they attended Ian’s company party, a swanky affair, where Dani had one drink too many and had taken medication beforehand.   (more…)

Book Review: The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian


Rating: 4.5 / 5

It is the mid 1950s in Italy, and Francesca Rosati has been found murdered in her apartment by her sister-in-law Cristina.  What makes this even more gruesome is that Francesca’s heart has been cut out and placed nearby.  Serrafina Benetti, Florence’s first homicide detective, is tasked with solving this case.  Before World War II, the Rosati family was held in high esteem.  Antonio Rosati, Francesca’s father-in-law, was a marchese, and the family lived at the beautiful Tuscan estate, Villa Chimera.  The war ravaged Tuscany, and the Rosati’s were hit hard; (more…)

Book Review: The Husband’s Secret


Rating: 3.5 / 5

Cecilia Fitzpatrick is looking for an item in the attic when she stumbles across an envelope with the words “For my wife Cecilia Fitzpatrick, To be opened only in the event of my death.”  By the looks of it, Cecilia’s husband, John-Paul, wrote it years ago, and now Cecilia’s interest is piqued.  She wants to know what John-Paul has written in the letter, and why she can only found out about it (more…)

Book Review: The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber


Rating: 4.5 / 5

Charlie Cullen is most likely the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history.  It is estimated that he killed over 400 people in the span of 16 years working at various hospitals in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area.  The reason an exact number is not known is because this occurred before the advent of electronic record-keeping.  Also, in many cases, by the time authorities figured out what Cullen was up to, the victims were long dead and there was no hard evidence, and, in the 16 years Cullen was murdering hospital patients, there was no records retention mandate in place.  Furthermore, Cullen is the only one who knows who he killed, but his memory is fleeting and his story constantly changing.   (more…)

Book Review: The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Round House

Rating: 3.5 / 5

The Round House opens in 1988 with the violent rape and attempted murder of 13-year-old Joe Coutt’s mom, Geraldine Coutts. Although it is thought that Geraldine knows who attacked her, she has essentially folded inward, barricading herself in her bed for weeks and barely eating.  Joe’s father, Bazil, is a tribal judge, and understands the complexities of this case, for the location of Geraldine’s attack is a grey area in terms of which law will apply, tribal or state.  (more…)