Elevate Difference

Reviews by Taylor Rhodes

The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust and the Beautiful Killers Who Inspired Chicago

During the 1920s, a rash of killings rocked Chicago. The murderers were young women who drank, and most killed their lovers. Most were white and all-male juries that refused to believe women were capable of cold-blooded murder released most of them. During this time, the crimes were reported in the newspapers by “sob sisters,” female reporters who were able to interview female inmates and victim’s family members.


How do I review Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning? Do I caution readers about the fact that it is book five in a five book series? That previous events are not described and characters come into play with little explanation? Or do I discuss how enthralled I was by the story?

Give Me Liberty

Give Me Liberty, by Valerie Joan Connors, is terrible. The book reads like someone narrating a Lifetime movie: one-dimensional, wooden, and worst of all, boring. You can guess what is going to happen well before it does, no characters are anything but exactly what you expect them to be, and the writing is pedestrian.

The Autobiography of Jenny X

The Autobiography of Jenny X is amazing. Every time you think you know what is going to happen, author Lisa Dierbeck takes the story in a different, exciting direction.

Jealousy: The Other Life of Catherine M.

I am at a loss as to how to review Jealousy: The Other Life of Catherine M. I suppose that’s not a very good way to write a review, but it’s the truth. After reading this memoir, I feel as though I know nothing about the author Catherine, her partner Jacques, or any of the nameless lovers that passed through both of their lives. Catherine Millet is an art critic, and, in her words, a libertine.

Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems

All too often, words are put together solely to get from one plot point to another. It can be easy to forget that when put together well, they can be transcendent. Luckily, Alice Walker is here to remind us of that fact. With her new book of poems, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing, Walker creates images that stick with you for their simplicity and strength.

Queen of the Night

There is only one word to describe J.A. Jance’s Queen of the Night: lazy. Reading it makes you feel like you’ve turned on a bad soap opera. Plot lines pick up in the middle, then disappear. Certain twists appear out of nowhere, and connect to nothing else. Some characters come in with no introduction, relationships are assumed between others.

A Season of Seduction

When critiquing a work, being meh is the worst feeling. If a book or a movie is bad, there is plenty to say. The same thing applies when it is wonderful. But when it is neither, it gets hard. What do you say? It was adequately plotted? The characters were pleasant? A Season of Seduction by Jennifer Haymore falls into this category. Some parts of the novel were good, others bad, but overall, it just was. A romance novel set in 1827, the story follows Lady Rebecca Fisk, a young widow with a dark history, as she falls in and out of love with Jack Fulton, sailor rogue extraordinaire who also has a dark history. The novel opens with the two of them getting caught in bed together by her family, which is used to set up an entirely plausible plot. Events happen around Christmas, thus the name.

Murder Under the Bridge: A Palestine Mystery

Political intrigue is a great backdrop for a mystery. Look at The Manchurian Candidate, The Third Man or any of Henning Mankell’s wonderful Wallander mysteries. A murder can highlight the struggles for power, the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, and the ways people hurt each other at both the micro and macro levels. If they are written well. If they aren’t, the work feels something like Murder Under the Bridge by Kate Raphael.

No One Dies in Lily Dale

Spiritualism as a religion began in the 1840s in the "Burned-Over District" of Upstate New York. Taking elements of Christianity and shamanism, the religion is focused around mediums speaking to spirits that spiritualists believe continue to exist after one's physical death. The religion became a trend in the United States and Europe after thousands of young soldiers died in World War I. Looking for closure, families turned to mediums.

The Red Riding Trilogy

Movies about rape, murder, and child abuse should not be photographed this beautifully. Channel Four Film’s Red Riding Trilogy, shown as a miniseries in the UK but as three movies in the U.S., is one larger story connected by characters, place and the unrepentant horror of Yorkshire, in the northern England. In the north, as the characters say, they do what they want. The three films are set in three years, 1974, 1980, and 1983, respectively.

The Prospect of Magic

The Prospect of Magic, a collection of ten stories, sets up a wonderful world where the real and magical live side by side. It’s enchanting. Some of the stories are hopeful, some are tragic, and some are sad, just like real life. All of them feature flights of fancy, just like the best magic trick. The story centers around Fluker, Louisiana, where the World Famous Ploofop Travelling Circus decides to stay after its owner, Abidail Ploofop, dies.

Don’t Act Like You Know Me

When I was a teenager, rock radio had its fair share of female voices. Shirley Manson, Gwen Stefani, and Courtney Love all wrote songs and fronted bands full of men, and gave us songs like “I’m Just a Girl” and “Celebrity Skin.” D’Arcy Wrentz played a mean bass for Smashing Pumpkins. On the indie front, Tori Amos, Liz Phair, and to some extent, Alanis Morrisette, all gave voice to the issues women face through guitar-heavy songs.

A Scandal of Choice

The president is pregnant. What a provocative idea. How would the country, still so new to the idea of a female president, feel about her pregnancy? How would Congress react? What would the media say? How would the rest of the world react, especially in countries where female oppression is common? How would the president do her job while pregnant? She would have to fly for work, have meetings during prime morning sickness hours, and be on her feet all day long. What if the baby’s father, who is not her husband, wanted nothing to do with the child?

Freudian Mythologies: Greek Tragedies and Modern Identities

In college, I heard a joke that summed up Freudian theory to a tee: A Freudian slip is when you say one thing and mean your mother. This joke, referencing a Freudian theory that an unconscious thought may reveal itself as a verbal manifestation, sums up the popular idea of psychoanalysis, the branch of psychology Freud created. Popular culture often ceases at what Freud wrote in the nineteenth century, ignoring all of psychology before and after. Freud’s theories captured the popular imagination and have not given up their grip for 100 years. After all, how familiar are you with B.F.

Tall, Dark, and Fangsome (Immortality Bites)

Vampires are a dime a dozen these days. Everywhere you turn, there’s a new one ready to take your blood to prolong his un-life. Soon, there are going to be more vamps than humans, and then where will we be?

One Scream Away

One Scream Away is the book equivalent of a CBS crime drama: barely dangerous, slightly obscene, with an expected level of crazy for the villain and a suitable amount of romance to balance the ugliness. The book is edgy only to the level that is appropriate, which, of course, is the point. It skirts the line of being nice. The plot is simple: after surviving an attack seven years earlier, Beth Denison is stalked by her attacker, now a serial killer.

Dark Hunger

Where do I begin? I guess I should start with an admission. I’m a horror geek. I love horror movies, both the good and the bad; horror novels, ghost stories, midnight walks, supernatural based TV shows, and even a good Scooby Doo episode. I also love romance. Give me a good love story, and I’m hooked in spite of myself. So when I saw Dark Hunger, the second book in Rita Herron’s Demonborn series, I was looking forward to it. I learned my mistake quickly.

Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck

To paraphrase Sartre, heck is other people. For Marlo and Milton Fauster, it’s each other. The Fauster siblings are polar opposites; Milton is bookish and bullied while Marlo is tough and angsty. Both are intelligent, and after their deaths, become trapped in Heck, the underworld school run by Bea “Elsa” Bubb, the demon principal.

The New Weird

The New Weird takes its name from the literary movement of the same name that includes speculative fiction and horror stories popularized in pulp magazines by authors such as [H.P.

Seducing a Scottish Bride

Divorced from reality, romance novels are fantasy novels by definition. Gorgeous, strong women with quirks instead of flaws and hunky, sensitive yet manly men hiding six-packs under nerdy glasses and three piece suits attract, repel, and then attract again in a frenzy of beautiful and expensive things and very detailed sex scenes.

Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming

A valid scientific theory is a conclusion supported by data. An answer must be viewed through the prism of skepticism, the data must be questioned, and proof must be spelled out. Most importantly, all possibilities must be considered. In his book, Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth of Global Warming, Mark Bowen presents quite a conclusion, but never takes the time to cite his sources.

Jane Addams and the Practice of Democracy

Jane Addams and the Practice of Democracy is not light, bedtime reading. The book is a compilation of ten academic essays discussing the influence Jane Addams had on democracy, the definition of socialism, and on the concept of cooperation.