Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Agency 2: The Body At The Tower by Y.S. Lee

The Body at the Tower (The Agency, #2)

This is the second installment of The Agency series about a young lady in Victorian England who is doing undercover work for a secret agency consisting of only women. I love these books and everytime I read them I taken back to my Nancy Drew obsession days...

The young lady is Mary Quinn. The case is of course, a dead body. The setting is the clock tower at houses of parliament aka Big Ben aka St. Stephen's tower.

The tower is under construction and mysterious goings on are occurring around and on it. A bricklayer falls to his death in the middle of the night from the top. Why? Is it foul play? An accident? Why was he there at that time?

It is up to Mary Quinn to find out and to do this, she dons male attire and calls herself Mark and heads out to the construction site to work. She doesn't count on running into James Easton again tho.. Those who read book one (A Spy In The House), will remember this handsome fellow who appeared at all places and times, even in closets. He could very well foil her plans in this one.. or help Mary make her case.

There's drinking on the job, love affairs gone wrong, petty theft, annoying reporters, and men on the "take." Mary must get to the bottom of it all without falling or being thrown from the clock tower herself. While attempting to solve the case, Mary also has her own private issues. She longs to know more about her Chinese heritage, but will she ever come to terms with it well enough to find out what she wants to know?

This is a mystery so I'm leaving it at that. This was a fun, light read and just what I needed.

Laugh out loud moment: Mary has discovered beer (inevitable when working with all men) and thinks to herself while sitting in the Pig & Whistle.... "On a diet that meant she was eating less than ever before, in a job that required more physical labor than she was used to, she recognized in her daily pints an important form of nutriment. Harkness was off his rocker, trying to ban his workers from beer. How else could they find the energy to work?"

I bought this book from Amazon. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Goodbye Glamour Gals by R.J. Dailey

This is a historical novel about a real life cat fight...

Cat number one being Jacqueline Cochran, famous record breaking aviatrix...

Cat number two being Nancy Harkness Love, wife of an Army Major and a reknowned pilot herself.

During world war II, both women approached the U.S. government about the pressing need to permit women to fly military aircraft. The government was producing five thousand planes a month. All those planes needed to get from point A (the factory) to point B (the soldiers) and STAT. Every woman ferrying these planes freed a man up to go do the dirty work: fight. Both women had plans and both women wanted to be in charge. Promises were made from different higher ups to both women..

It ends up being a cat fight. I wanted to jump in this book and say, "Ladies, there is a war going on!! Instead of worrying about getting the glory, just get the job done!" But alas, that's not how women work...

Jacqueline forms the Women's Flying Training Department or WFTD. She demands a mere 200 (and later, less) flying time and trains women to be ferry pilots. Her base begins in Houston and ends up becoming the WASP located at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. What begins as a group of women staying in miscellaneous houses and using a hotel bus as transportation, becomes a complete base and barracks complete with top notch aircraft trainers.

Nancy Love, meanwhile begins the Women's Auxiliary Ferry Squadron and because she caves to the higher ups demands, her requirement of 500 flying hours limits the number of women she can have. After all, there is a war going on and recreational flying is banned so how are women going to obtain the required flight hours? Added to that complication, Nancy prefers to fly in the air rather than from behind a desk...

Another factor of note: Cochran believed in protecting the women, forming a union of women only pilots because she knew firsthand the difficulties the women would face at every base, the animosity from men. The first part of this book really shows how women were treated back then. (Love this quote: "If they'd just let me do this job and stop acting like children..." )

Hm.. May the best woman win.. or can they learn to work together to save the WASP? I really enjoyed this book, but I have a strong interest in the subject. My only complaints: 1. The last quarter went on too much about the Costello law, an attempt to militarize the WASP. (The WASP tho part of the Army Air Corps did not receive death benefits or health care.) 2. The novel did at times feel like a biography and didn't go much into the women's personal lives. If you want a romance, this is not for you. If you want to learn the story of the most ground breaking accomplishment in women's aviation, this is it. Both women opened what until their time, was pretty much a barred and locked door, women flying military craft. As Jackie says in this book, "We won't just be typists and secretaries and stenographers and housewives and nurses anymore. Women can do anything. And one day we will do everything."

These ladies proved it.

I bought this book on Amazon.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Secret Eleanor by Cecelia Holland

I think most everyone knows of Eleanor of Acquitaine and probably has read a book or two about her. She was Queen of France when married to Louis VII (in this version, he is a terrible pansy who makes no decisions for himself) and later, queen of England when married to Henry d'Anjou, son of Empress Mathilda. This novel begins during her marriage to the pansy and chronicles her love at first sight and supposed extramarital affair with Henry. After having done the horizontal mambo with Henry, Eleanor swears she will be with him and help him take the English throne, but Louis is in her way. Can she obtain an annullment. Better yet, can she hide her growing pregnancy? If not, all her plans will go down the chamber pot mighty fast.

Basically, it's a historical love triangle involving a very horny, lusty queen...

And two men, one the weak king of France...

And one the future king of England with thighs like columns (I will explain)...

This is my first Eleanor of Acquitaine novel. I am grateful to my friend Daphne (do visit her blog: for posting a giveaway for this book on her blog and as a result, allowing me a chance to read it. I actually feel bad for not enjoying it as much as she did but here is why I didn't like it:

"Drawn to that lust in his voice, she reached out to him and they joined again, fierce as leopards, scratching and clawing and roaring at the peak, as if they crushed worlds betwen them. Afterward, his weight still pressing her down, his lance still deep inside her".. yadda yadda... and later.. "His manhood slid slowly from her crevice." and even later.. "she used her shift to wipe his jism from her thighs."

EW. I wanted to read about her leading an army of women.. not wiping jism from her thighs!

And ladies, have you ever thought of your men in the following manner?

"When she thought of him her body grew warm and taut, and she remembered his passionate mouth, his muscular chest with its mat of thick curly, red hair, his thighs like columns, the sword between them that fit her scabbard so well."

Well... (clearing throat..) I do have something good to say about the novel believe it or not tho. I actually enjoyed the twists and deceits involving Eleanor's sister, Petronilla. I found myself applauding them for the cloak and horse switching and little ways they out foxed the court spies and religious men. Claire and the lute player tho... as Eleanor would say, "Bah!" I could have done without that little side story.

And priceless, laugh out loud moment, a quote from Eleanor: "Damn their souls to some deep, hot hell where only men can be - a hole dug with penises!"

Say what?? LOL

Since I won this from my friend's blog, but didn't like it well enough to keep, I will be passing it on to someone who I hope will enjoy it more. Be watching for it on my September Pick-A-Book giveaway.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis

Mare's War

This is a fictional novel with fictional characters based on a real group of women, the 6888th African American Battalion of the Women's Army Corps. During world II, women gained their own army and because segregation was in effect in those days, African American women had their own battalion.

The story of these women is told from the viewpoint of Mare, who relates this tale while taking a road trip with her grandchildren one summer. In between rest stops, hotels, restaurants, teaching fifteen year old Octavia to drive, and arguing about music with seventeen year old Tali, Mare tells about leaving an unhappy home in 1940s Alabama to join the Women's Army Corps and enable a man to go off and fight. (It should be noted that during this time, women joining the Army was frowned upon by mainstream society. They were perceived as "mannish girls with unnatural desires" so our heroine dealt with prejudice of all kinds.) The first half of the story is boot camp. There is marching, beds tight enough to bounce quarters off of, more marching, and gas mask training.

From training, the 6888th goes to England where they have 6 airplane hangars full of mail to sort and get to its destination. These ladies were in charge of "soldier's morale." If troops didn't get their mail, their morale went down. What these women did was very important. Mare does not limit her narrative to military stuff tho. She also talks about the way English people treat the African Americans compared to the way Americans treat them. She talks about learning to dance and having her first drink. She also remembers taking cover during air raids. After England, the Battalion goes to France and they participate in a parade honoring Joan of Arc. This really did happen in real life.

I really enjoyed this. I highly recommend it to all ages and all races. It is very important that these women receive recognition and that their contribution never be forgot. I could have done without the modern day parts of this book, but they didn't detract from my enjoyment.

Favorite quote: My nails might not be nice enough for polite folk, and my face might not be clean, but I earned my place in this man's army."

I got this book from the library.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Den Of Wolves by Luke Devenish

I'm fond of saying..."If you are going to entertain me for 4 days (aka 600 pages), you better grab me from the get go." I do have a very short attention span and I hate extremely lengthy paragraphs describing dresses and trees and clouds. (YAWN) I will say one thing in this book's favor. It did grab me from the get go even tho I thought it was kind of weird.

Why weird? The narrator is 100 years old. (He also narrates book 2 so I guess he is about 115 or 120 at that point.) That's strange itself, but the man/woman and the little oracle boy that kills birds and reads their entails... VERY WEIRD. Nevertheless, I was hooked because the book was different and the heroine, Livia Drusilla, tho unlikeable, is strong.

Livia marries Tiberius Nero. He is not the one she really sees herself being with tho. She aspires much higher. She aspires to marry Octavian, Julius Caesar's nephew, the first emperor. Thanks to a very sinister slave, Livia attains her goal and seduces Octavian.
She becomes Empress. I gotta mention at this point, the sexual depravity was there but no real details. You KNOW they are doing the nasty, but the author doesn't go for paragraphs about it. However, Martina, the sinister slave seems to bring up the subject of breasts every time she appears in the story. Cleopatra, upon saying goodbye to her literally takes a book out and starts squeezing it. Livia is seduced by Martina's tattooed breasts and falls on her knees to um.. err.. play with them. Very werid, this Martina and breasts.

I said, up until this point, the sexual depravity was minimal.. However, upon reaching page 166, it went to new heights. Livia announces to Tiberius that she is carrying Octavian's child and all that.. While he is on the floor begging her not to leave him, she throws hot coals on his body and does the following: "She raised her long, white stola from the coals and stood astride him, giving him his final view of her privates. Then she let go a hot stream of urine, dousing his face and hair with it until she had put out the last of the embers."

And... well.. at that point, I became rather frightened of what may yet be coming. (Copulating dwarves or something?) I also realized that 170 pages into the novel, I didn't like or care about a single character. I bailed.

I bought this book from Amazon and if anyone else has the guts to try it, I will be posting it as one of the choices on my Pick A Book giveaway for September. Be watching for it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Soldier's Secret: The Story of Deborah Sampson by Sheila Solomon Klass

Soldier's Secret: The Story of Deborah Sampson

Deborah Sampson really existed. She was a Massachusetts gal who donned a pair of britches and fought in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary war. This is a fictional account of her life, parts of it anyway.

The story tells a bit about Deborah's childhood. Her dad abandons her, her mother and siblings (or he got lost at sea... who knows for sure?) and Deborah's mother cannot afford to feed all the mouths left to her so off Deborah goes to be an identured servant for TEN years. This does somewhat parallel the Annie Oakley novel by this same author. However, Deborah doesn't find her way back home. Instead, she dons male attire and joins the Continental Army posing as a young man.

In the Army, Deborah (now known as Robert Shurtliff) developes a crush on Roger. They become quite close but when Roger finds out her secret, he may not react the way she hopes. They both find themselves imprisoned in Tory loyal farmhouse and at death's door. The ending finds Deborah exacting revenge on the Tory loving farmer and suffering a severe injury and fever herself. Plus, her secret is out...

Deborah Sampson really did join the Army and really did receive an honorable discharge in 1783. She really did receive two musket balls in the leg also. She later became the first woman lecturer in the United States. The book doesn't go that far tho. I liked it, but I must say it is def aimed at the much younger crowd, not necessarily young adult, but pre teen. There were some religious moments as well. Four stars because I HATED Roger. He being a fictional character, why was he made to be such a wimp????

Statue of Sampson outside the Sharon, Massachusetts public library

Great quote: "I never wanted to be a boy or a man. I was content in my femininity. What I always wanted was to be the equal of any boy."

I bought this book on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The More I Owe You by Michael Sledge

First of all, right off the bat, I gotta say, for two women that obviously made enough impact on the world in the 1950s to go down in history and even have a novel written about their romance, they sure did live very dull lives. (That's if this book is anything to go by.)

Elizabeth Bishop, the heroine of this tale, was a real American poet. This novel is about her love affair with Lota de Macedo Soares, a Brazilian architect. During a bad time in her life, Elizabeth travels to Brazil. She is an alcoholic, has various ailments, suffers from bad memories regarding her mentally ill mother, and really, just fades into the background of this story.

If you are looking for a story about Elizabeth Bishop, this may not be for you. Lota de Macedo Soares def steals the show. Her character is so strong where Elizabeth is so weak.. Lota controls everything. What she commands, Elizabeth does. Lota is obsessed with architecture and is building her house.. Much... TOO MUCH of this book is about that bloody house.

And the story goes somewhat like this: (AFTER Lota dumps her live in partner and demands Elizabeth moves in with her) The women talk about poetry, they talk about the house, they get a flat tire, they talk about poetry, they talk about the house, Elizabeth gets sick, they talk about the house.. and between all this talk of the house, the book goes on and on and on about Brazilian flora and fawna and roads and other people's houses.

I made it to 40% and after falling asleep twice, I called it quits.

There's one thing keeping this from being a mere one star book tho. I laughed my butt off for half an hour upon reading this bit here:

Elizabeth: "If you watch any Brazilian man for five minutes, you'll see him scratching and adjusting himself. It's as if they're constantly arranging flowers in a vase."

Lota: "Those aren't flowers. Those are the jewells of Brazil! If they didn't keep grabbing their balls, they'd forget they were men. That's the problem with this country: The men have to keep reminding themselves they are men, and the women are even worse. They have no balls, either!"

I bought this book from Amazon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wretched (this is my sorry) by Katherine Marple

As a woman who has my own disability, I could relate to the heroine of this book. She suffers type 1 diabetes. She is young and tired of fighting her disease. This is a disease that can take over your life. It's not a simple matter of changing your diet. (Note, there are different kinds of diabetes. The kind the heroine has is not talked about in infocommericals. The more common diabetes is type 2.)

The heroine has been dating Shane for three years when he breaks up with her. He is tired of wondering if he is going to wake up next to a dead girlfriend in the morning. Here is an excerpt of what this disease is like from Shane's POV:

"You were kicking really hard, so when I turned over to wake you up, you were ice cold. You felt like you were dead. All of your muscles tightened up, your arms pressed hard against your chest. I tried to move your legs, because they looked so distorted, but I couldn't fight against the strength of your strained muscles. You were biting your tongue hard and your eyes rolled back into your head."

No wonder Shane freaks out. On one hand, what Shane does make sense. He wants the heroine to start taking care of herself. He can't do it for her. She must care for herself before anyone else will care for her. The problem is she has grown resigned to her fate, aware that she won't live a long and full life and as a result, isn't really living it. As Shane begins to step out of the picture, she begins to grow close to Drew, a man at work.

The book is a short but sad read and meaningful. The heroine not only deals with man problems but also tries to quit smoking, write a book, struggles with new medications, has issues with her estranged mother, and even gets a pump. She is afraid to go to sleep for fear she won't wake up. And top all that off with kidney disease.

Can she get it together and live her life despite her illness? Can she keep her illness in check? Can she live life without Shane? Is Drew going to be a part of the long term picture or is she going to learn to live life for HERSELF, not for any man?

The first person narrative is very real and honest. I almost gave this a four star tho because the heroine (no name is another minor irritant) is irritating at times with her indecisiveness. One minute she will push Shane away and say, "I'm not ready," three hours later, they are having sex. However, the ending blew me away. I wasn't expecting it and I had to struggle not to cry. The ending brought the book back up to a 5 star rating.

Funny quote: "...who ever can read a man should get some kind of trophy. They're more difficult to understand than a PMSing woman."

I received this book from the author who was brave enough to send it in exchange for an honest review. I'm very glad I read it.

Before reading this book, I knew very little about type 1 diabetes. I do have an online friend who suffers from this disease but until now, I never understood exactly what she goes thru. Thus, I want to use this post to make others aware.

Type 1 diabetes affects more than 2 million people in the United States. There is no cure and sufferers must take multiple injections per day in order to sustain life.

About Type 1 diabetes:

Definition: a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.

Symptoms: Extreme thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, fatigue, blurred vision, weight loss.

Complications: Heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, food damage, skin and mouth conditions, Osteoporosis, pregnancy complications and hearing problems.

Treatment for type 1 diabetes is a lifelong commitment to:
Taking insulin
Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight
Eating healthy foods
Monitoring blood sugar

Signs symptoms of low blood sugar:
Sweating Shakiness Hunger Weakness Anxiety Dizziness or lightheadedness Pale skin Rapid or irregular heart rate Fatigue Headaches Blurred vision Irritability

Also, if more advanced:
Behavior changes, sometimes dramatic
Poor coordination
For more information and how YOU can help friends and loved ones or others with type 1 diabetes, check out this website:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Virtuous Women by Margaret Karlin

Virtuous Women

Think Chick Lit... 1950s style.

The 1950s were a time of diners and poodle skirts...

horned rimmed glasses and fabulous cars...

and an era in which women were facing a new and tough choice: be a housewife or have a career?

This is about a group of four nurses fresh out of graduate school. They each want to find love and some are so desperate to find it, they look for it in the wrong places.

Picture caption: Washington University School of Nursing students in the early 1950s. This new style of student uniform, a jade green dress with a one-piece, button-on apron-bib combination, was introduced in June marries right out of nursing school. She deals with a meddling mother in law, converting to Judaism, and hiding her troubled past from her husband and friends. Tho her past is not her fault, she feels ashamed of it and worries what others will think. She must come to terms with it herself before anyone else can. It may be best that she do that before her baby is born as well.

Rebecca is very self absorbed. She takes up with a professional baseball player and fancies herself living a life of wealth at his side. The problem is the man is married already. Even if he leaves his wife, how does she know he is limiting his playing to the baseball field? Is he playing her?

Sue Ann is a very passive submissive character at first and I couldn't stand her until the last half of the book. A drive in movie leads to a shotgun wedding and an abusive marriage for her. I thought her TSTL for a while there but she surprised me in the end. In her case, marriage was not what she expected. Perhaps she should have stuck with a nursing career.

Kate is the star of the story. She is focused on a career. She works in the psych ward with violent patients. From the man with a whole in his throat to a food throwing woman who insists she is either Marie Antoinette or Mary Queen of Scots, there is much entertainment in the psych ward. Kate begins to wonder if she is having psych problems herself and starts seeing a psychiatrist herself which leads to a surprise turn of events and her finding herself.

Each woman has secrets. Each woman experiences terror in some way, either from their past or in their present. There are stalkers, abusive men, and potential rapists. But each woman must realize in their own time... that they don't need men. They can do it on their own.

A great look at Chicago in the 1950s and the nursing profession. It doesn't hit the 5 star mark because of my irritations with Sue Ann and it was just enjoyable entertainment. I can't say I learned anything amazing or cried or laughed. But a good read. 4 stars. I bought this on Amazon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Countdown: Latina Fiction

Ok... I'm starting something new. The first of every month, I'm choosing a genre, a country, or a topic and picking 5 different books related to that subject to discuss. What does countdown mean? It means there's a 5 star, a 4 star, a 3 star, a 2 star.. and one that really stinks, a one star.

This month's Countdown is Latina fiction.

FIVE star read:
In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. First published in 1994. The setting is the Domincan Republic during the dictator Trujillo's reign. It is a fictionalized acount of the four Mirabal sisters, three of whom were murdered for being involved in the underground revolution. Lots of plotting, heartache, feelings running high, and Latina anger and pride. A superb read.

FOUR star read:
Beautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos. First published in 2010. The setting takes place in both Cuba and Florida. It is fictional account of the woman, Maria, that inspired the hit song by the Mambo Kings, Beautiful Maria of My Soul. Thoroughly engrossing story, but too much about Nestor's pinga size. The sex was also a bit much.

THREE star read:

Last Train From Cuernavaca by Lucia Robson. First published in 2010. The setting is Mexico during the days of Zapato and revolution. Loosely based a real woman bandit, but a good 3/4 of the story is about a hotel owner and her romance with a soldier. More Angel, less Grace, I say. Also, the revolution stuff grew very confusing at times, leaving me wondering just who was killing who.

TWO star read:

Bitter Grounds by Sandra Benitez. First published in 1997. The setting is El Salvador. It is about another revolution. What I was expecting: A historical fiction novel following three decades of women and showing the world of coffee plantations, the workers struggles, and the history of El Salvador. What I got: A telenovela following three decades of "desperate housewives" and showing the world of extramarital affairs and who is having whose baby.

ONE star read:

Our Lady of the Night by Mayra Santos-Febres. First published in 2007. The setting is Puerto Rico. It is a fictional account of the life of Puerto Rico's most famous madam. Why it stank: switching narratives and time jumping. It begins with a grown Isabel then an entire chapter devoted to a prayer, then some nutty old lady that is obsessed with her crotch and praying in between thoughts of her crotch. Ugh.

The Girls of Murder City by Douglas Perry

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

In Chicago, 1924, illegal booze was all the rave, jazz music played into the wee hours of the night, and the number of killings committed by women had jumped 400 percent in the last forty years... And no, I'm not saying there is a connection. I can drink some wine and listen to some jazz tunes and I don't shoot my husband dead..

These women did tho. And the press was on them like white on rice. Back then, woman killers were glamorous. They would look thru the cell bars with their big innocent eyes and when appearing in court, the proper hats and furs usually got them acquitted in no time. This book tells their tales in a fascinating and surprisingly, non biographical way. It wasn't boring as you would expect most nonfiction books to be. Douglas Perry has told these women's stories in such a way that I could literally picture the things happening in and out of Merry Murderess' Row.

First up: The one woman in this book who is NOT a killer, but a reporter. Maurine Watkins.

She waltzed into the Chicago Tribune (and this is a time in which women reporters were deemed inadequate and editors claimed they couldn't depend on the "variable feminine mechanism" with no reporter or crime writing experience whatsoever and asked for a job. She got it and with it, the women's murder trials of the century. Maurine wasn't fooled by these women either. She told it like she seen it and with a sense of humor as well.

Dr Springer, she wrote, "identified the gin bottle which was found lying on the floor of the car. Belva's jury, selected for their lack of prejudice in favor of the Volstead act, pepped up a bit at sight of this, and Belva herself leaned forward. But it was empty."

An interesting woman tho she didn't fascinate me as much as the killers themselves. (Wonder what that says about me?) She wasn't as traditional a Catholic girl as she was supposed to be. Despite the fact she wore her skirts and hair in a traditional way, her thoughts were not traditional. She had a love of gangsters and how they put their women on pedestals and was quoted as saying, "Gunmen are just divine. My idea of something pleasant is to be surrounded by gunmen." She was also deemed so beautiful that her male co workers were distracted to the point that the editor claimed he would hire no more women.

After following the Chicago lady killers and interviewing them incessantly, Maurine turned to screenwriting and wrote the famous play turned musical, "Chicago", based on the following real life murderess'.

Now, our first lady killer: Beulah Annan. (AKA Roxie Hart) This role was most recently played by Renee Zellweger.

Looks innocent, huh? Not so! Beulah didn't shoot her husband. She cuckholded her husband. She shot her lover dead and danced around his body for an hour. Upon going to jail, her story changed numerous times, ending with a claim of pregnancy and "we both reached for the gun." Her beauty and her big eyes got her an acquittal. She even had some say so in the jury selection for her trial. She would nod her head at her attorney if she liked a potential juror or pout a "no." After all, in Chicago 1924 no beautiful white woman had been convicted of murder yet. Maurine is quoted as saying that for women, "Chicago is the ideal locale for getting away with murder."

Upon her acquittal, Beulah immediately divorced her husband for being "too slow" for her.

Our second lady killer and my personal favorite partly because she has cojones and partly for her fabulous quotes, Belva Gaertner. (AKA Velma Kelly) This role was recently played by Catherine Zeta Jones.

In "Chicago," Velma shot her husband and her twin sister. In real life, twice divorced cabaret dancer, Belva shot her car salesman boyfriend in her Nash. This was a woman who fondled her gun at her vanity in the morning and said, "Gin and guns - either one is bad enough, but together they get you in a dickens of a mess, don't they?"

In Belva's case, her rich ex husband, her furs, and her regal bearing got her an acquittal so her "dickens of a mess" only last a few months. She did provide some great quotes during her jail time tho.

"I hope they won't put me to work. I hate to work." LMAO!!!

"No woman can love a man enough to kill him. They aren't worth it, because there are always plenty more." (She claims to have killed her lover not because of love, but a coin toss game.)

Another woman killer with a role in this book that interested me is Sabella Nitti. She didn't make it into the musical version, (at least it wasn't a memorable role if she did) but her story needs to be heard all the same.

In a time when no woman had yet been convicted of murder, Sabella Nitti was the first. Why? She was branded "grotesque foreigner," spoke no English, was an Italian immigrant and poor farmer. She did not even realize that her own son betrayed her, did not understand she was convicted even. The crime: having her boyfriend kill her husband and disposing of his body. Due to her poor appearance and her broken English, she got poor representation and was awaiting hanging when Beulah and Belva joined her in Cook County Jail. Their frienship (Belva offered fashion tips and gave comportment lessons) and a young Italian woman lawyer, Helen Cirese are credited with finally getting Sabella "off the hook."

Not to be outdone, other female inmates of the Cook County Jail have stories brought to light in this as well. Perry briefly touches on both Wanda Stopa, a Polish lawyer turned bohemian murderess and Katherine Malm. Stopa had some issues and the night before attempting to shoot her lover's wife (but hitting a household employee instead), threw all her jewelry at people into a crowded party, ranting and raving all the while. At her funeral, a mother and child got slapped repeatedly by Stopa's family members. Katherine Malm was a ganster's girlfriend taking the rap for her man. Or did she commit the crime?

I loved this book. Of course, I'm a huge fan of non traditional women and I have watched the movie probably 15 times. My love of the latest musical is what led me to request and receive this from Viking Press. I also have the soundtrack. In conclusion, I must say, read the book and form your own opinions.

Did the fellows have it coming?

Did they have only themselves to blame?

If you'd have been there...

If you'd have seen it...

Would YOU have done the same?

Perhaps he would have ran into your knife ten times? (evil laugh)