eARC Mini-Review: My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams

My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress by Rachel DeLoache Williams

Categories: Non-Fiction, True Crime

First Publication Date: July 23rd 2019


Synopsis:

Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams’s new friend Anna Delvey, a self-proclaimed German heiress, was worldly and ambitious. She was also generous. When Anna proposed an all-expenses-paid trip to Marrakech, Rachel jumped at the chance. But when Anna’s credit cards mysteriously stopped working, the dream vacation quickly took a dark turn. Anna asked Rachel to begin fronting costs—first for flights, then meals and shopping, and, finally, for their $7,500-per-night private villa. Before Rachel knew it, more than $62,000 had been charged to her credit cards. Anna swore she would reimburse Rachel the moment they returned to New York.

Back in Manhattan, the repayment never materialized, and a shocking pattern of deception emerged. Rachel learned that Anna had left a trail of deceit—and unpaid bills—wherever she’d been. Mortified, Rachel contacted the district attorney, and in a stunning turn of events, found herself helping to bring down one of the city’s most notorious con artists. 


My Friend Anna was such a juicy story about Rachel and her friendship with Anna Delvey, and how she ended up getting scammed by her. I really wanted to enjoy this book, which was very entertaining at times, and I love a good gossip-y book, but at the same time, the narrator was so incredibly insufferable, I actually resented being in her head for such a long time. This read like such an indulgent, biased recounting with absolutely no introspection. Any “mistake” the author made is because she was “raised right” and is full of “trust and compassion” unlike of course Anna, who is pure evil. I guess this is because she must have gotten so much sh*t when the story blew up with people blaming her for getting scammed, and obviously that was not her fault at ALL, but this book tried way too hard to hammer this point into the reader’s head. And it was so, so indulgent. This was, seriously at least 30% only about Rachel’s work at Vanity Fair which I did NOT care for at all. Tell me only the relevant stuff! I don’t care who her boss was photographing or who was at that glamorous event, I really don’t. This could have been easily 100 pages shorter and that would have been a better read. I had initially given it 3 stars but every time I think about this book I can only remember how annoyed at the narrator I was, so I bumped it down to 2. 

I would still recommend if you’re really into the story, I think it’s worth it for the juicy bits!

Rating: 2 out of 5.

eARC Review: We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper

We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence by Becky Cooper

Categories: True Crime

First Publication Date: November 10th 2020


I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis: 1969: the height of counterculture and the year universities would seek to curb the unruly spectacle of student protest; the winter that Harvard University would begin the tumultuous process of merging with Radcliffe, its all-female sister school; and the year that Jane Britton, an ambitious 23-year-old graduate student in Harvard’s Anthropology Department and daughter of Radcliffe Vice President J. Boyd Britton, would be found bludgeoned to death in her Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment.

Forty years later, Becky Cooper, a curious undergrad, will hear the first whispers of the story. In the first telling the body was nameless. The story was this: a Harvard student had had an affair with her professor, and the professor had murdered her in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology because she’d threatened to talk about the affair. Though the rumor proves false, the story that unfolds, one that Cooper will follow for ten years, is even more complex: a tale of gender inequality in academia, a “cowboy culture” among empowered male elites, the silencing effect of institutions, and our compulsion to rewrite the stories of female victims.

Continue reading

Review: In the Dream House: A Memoir, by Carmen Maria Machado

in the dream house carmen maria machado

Rating: ★★★★★

Categories: Memoir, LGBTQ+ (lesbian and bisexual)

Goodreads

In the Dream House is the true story of the author’s experience with violence in a queer relationship. The beautiful prose and the choose-your-own-adventure style of the book sets this apart and describes a story that has happened for as long as people have been in relationships, but is hardly ever acknowledged.

This is the first book by Carmen Maria Machado that I’ve read, and it immediately made me add Her Body and Other Parties to my to-be-read list. In the Dream House is one of the most difficult books I’ve read this year, a painful look into domestic violence in a queer couple, as experienced by Carmen herself. The author divides this story into several chapters, most of which are one page long, and told in different styles, and always in second person. Continue reading

Review: In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote

in cold blood truman capote

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Non-fiction, True Crime

Goodreads

In Cold Blood tells the true story of the gruesome murder of the Clutter family, and the subsequent hunt for the killers.

I’ve been looking forward to read this for a while! In Cold Blood is Truman Capote’s most famous work, the last book he ever finished, and has been on my list for many years now. I decided to pick it up as an audiobook, and I’m a bit disappointed to say that it’s not a book that worked for me in audio. I’m sure this influenced in some capacity my enjoyment of the book in general. It’s not that the narrator isn’t good, he is, but the writing style sounds pretentious and a bit repetitive when read out loud. Continue reading

Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou

bad blood john carreyrouRating: ★★★★★

Genres: Non-Fiction, True Crime

Goodreads

I saw Rachel’s glowing review of this book on Goodreads and my interest was immediately picked. I wasn’t originally going to read this book because the words “Silicon Valley Startup” kind of threw me off and I wasn’t too keen on reading a “business book”. Boy, was I wrong.

Bad Blood tells the true story of John Carreyrou’s investigation on Silicon Valley’s Theranos, an obscure company led by the brilliant Elizabeth Holmes into overnight success worth 9 billion dollars. Theranos’ product, however, a device that uses a person’s blood to quickly and efficiently perform 200 blood tests with just the prick of a finger – was a fraud, and could be putting people in danger.  Continue reading

Review: Savage Appetites, by Rachel Monroe

savage appetites rachel monroe

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Non-Fiction, True Crime

Goodreads / Amazon

Savage Appetites tells the true story of four women in the four archetypes of every true crime story: the detective, the victim, the attorney, the killer. It explores the morbid fascination of people (especially women) with the true crime genre and the obsession of violence towards women.

When I saw the words “true crime” and “stories of women” and realized Rachel Monroe was going to tell stories of women in true crime where they aren’t only the white, thin and pretty dead girl, I was immediately drawn to it. This was a quick read – I read it in two sittings and only because I had to put it down the first time. Continue reading

Review: The Fact of a Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

The Fact of a Body Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Nonfiction, Biography, True Crime

Goodreads / Amazon

The Fact of a Body is the true story of the murder of little Jeremy by Ricky Langley, a strange young man who’s a convicted pedophile. It merges with the story of the author, who was an intern in the law firm working on Langley’s defense after the first trial, which sentenced him to death. Alex is strongly against the death penalty her whole life, but finds herself struggling with her own history. For the first time, she wants a man dead.

This was a difficult book to get through at times, in the sense that the theme of child abuse (especially molestation) is so very recurrent and graphic. This made me wince and felt quite heavy to read about. I considered putting it down several times, but in the end I was entranced by the story and wanted to see where it was going. If you hate open endings, maybe skip this one – it’s not that it leaves you in a frustrating note, but it leaves margin for interpretation and I didn’t really know what to make of Ricky Langley in the end. Not a good person, that is for SURE. But how much of what he did or said was true, we might never know. Continue reading

Review: The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century, by Kirk W. Johnson

the feather thief kirk w johnsonRating: ★★★☆☆

Genres: Non-Fiction, True Crime, History

GoodreadsAmazon

Okay, this was absolutely a cover-buy. Although I didn’t read this as a physical book, but rather as an audiobook, it’s still so pretty to look at. Also, it said “The Natural History Heist of the Century”, so I was drawn to it. A real-life case of heist? Rare birds? Sign me in.

While the book is meant to be about the heist itself, and the first chapter is really interesting, describing the heist itself, it takes until 40% of the book to go back to the heist itself. In between, the history of those birds is told, which goes from being interesting because of the parallels between Alfred Russel Wallace and his contemporary Charles Darwin, to really boring indeed, because I cannot care less about the misfortunes and successes of Europeans stealing birds from Brazil and other parts of South America. Continue reading

Review: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara

ill be gone in the dark michelle mcnamara

Rating: ★★★★☆

Genres: Nonfiction, Biography, True Crime

Goodreads / Amazon

I heard amazing things about this book, written by the author of the blog http://truecrimediary.com/, which deals with never-solved cold cases. Michelle died in 2016, and this book was published after being put together from what she’d written plus her notes. The author has a matter-of-factly but tactful voice. She makes the point to make the victims the center of the story, and doesn’t deal with the crimes with morbid curiosity. She aims not to glamorize the murderer, and I think she did that very well. Continue reading