A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on some of the books I read. To read about all the books I read and comment on, visit me at LibraryThing or Goodreads.

I've been blogging since 2007 and at this point (July 2015) am trying my hand at turning the theme of this blog towards mystery, thriller and crime, fiction and non-fiction. I have some special interest topics and categories within this broad genre which include (but are not limited to) serial killers, scandi-crime, Victorian history and historicals, history of the criminally insane and asylums, psychopathology, death, funerary practices and burial, corpses, true crime and anything dealing with the real life macabre, or that portrayed in fiction.

I also read a short story a day from various collections, sometimes anthologies othertimes collections of a single author's work. These reviews are also posted here and while they are of mixed genre the mystery, thriller, horror, gothic and macabre often appear within their pages as well.

I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Watching: Murder: No Apparent Motive (1984 TV Documentary)

Murder: No Apparent Motive (1984) (Youtube)

An original HBO TV documentary which is outdated from an information and scientific aspect but is invaluable from an historical view.  At the time of this documentary "serial killer" was not a common phrase and they don't ever use it. The Green River Killer is active but unknown, Ted Bundy is in prison, appealing his conviction and maintains his innocence.  The meat comes from interviews with Ed Kemper, a vicious killer, who in personable and gives much insight into the sociopathic mind. On screen personalities include original FBI profiler Bob Ressler.  Amazing resource for those studying the field!

Watch it on Youtube. (full documentary)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze In America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger

Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze In America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by TwoMorrows Publishing

Fantastic social history of the pop culture of monsters during the sixties covering every form of media from TV and films to print and music to merchandise. A wealth of information on any topic imaginable, jam-packed with photographs and illustrations. The book's graphic layout is in a magazine style with a high focus on images yet the text is very meaty and there are many interviews with all sorts of people from actors to editors. Presented in a chronological format starting with the first TV showings of old 30s/40s monster films in 1957 but also topically such as sections on monster music, Addams Family, TV movie hosts, Aurora and other model kits, comics, etc. I found the book absolutely fascinating both for the text and the trip down memory lane looking at the pictures. I didn't actually grow up in this era but experienced it during the mid-seventies onwards via re-runs and afterschool monster movies. Picking up all sorts of toys, books, comics, etc at garage sales and flea markets. An extremely well put together volume and like any book from TwoMorrows also high quality deserving a place on a collector's bookshelf.

Elephant Man by Mariangela Di Fiore

Elephant Man by Mariangela Di Fiore. Illustrated by Hilde Hodnefjeld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

53 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Annick Press Ltd.
first published in Norwegian 2013

Beautiful heart-wrenching story of John Merrick's life from birth to his legacy after death. The book doesn't dwell on his abuse but certainly tells the sorry tale of his young life and presents the ultimate story of being bullied for today's reader. Merrick is shown for the strong person he was inside, overcoming obstacles and hardships until the great change when he came to live in the hospital with his doctor friend. Then we see the tender, sophisticated man who wrote poetry, read books and discussed the arts with his visitors including a Princess. The writing is wonderful and compassionate concentrating on Merrick's character and the illustration captures his deformities while giving him dignity. A had a lump in my throat reading this and found it extremely well-done.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 321 pages
Published April 27th 2015 by Viking
Source: Random House Canada

A book like this is tough to write about; one doesn't really review another person's personal tragedy. That said, this was a page-turner for me. A gut-wrenching read of how two young girls survived approx. 10 years being held captive as slaves to a perverted monster. The book is written in a firsthand journal account with a couple of inserts by the co-authors to bring the story of the perpetrator and the investigation. Amanda and Gina are different people with their own stories to tell and it is very interesting to see their stories side by side while their distrust for each other is apparent as their kidnapper kept the upper hand by keeping the girls from ever being sure of each other and playing psychological games with them. There is a third girl present, Michelle, who wrote her own book, and is included here without infringing upon telling her story. It is obvious the girls came out of this with a bond that ties them together but also in different groupings. Amanda and Gina are close now because of the similarities in their age and ethnic background plus their shared bond with Amanda's daughter, a product of the kidnapping. Gina appears to have a relationship with Michelle and this would seem to be because they were forced to share a room and were chained together for approx. six years. Things go much deeper than that, and I'm very interested in reading Michelle's book now (which I already own). All I can do is give kudos to how strong these girls are to have survived this torment, come out the other side and be able to tell about it. They had plenty of opportunities to kill themselves, but they had some sort of strength from their faith and commitment to life that can only be a testament to all who read their story. Powerful story of survival along with the twisted depravity one man is capable of.

Winemaker Detective Mystery (7) Flambé in Armagnac by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Flambé in Armagnac by Jean-Pierre Alaux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 140 pages
Published June 11th 2015 by Le French Book
first published in French 2004
Source: Netgalley

Winemaker Detective Mystery (7)

Benjamin and Virgile are back at it, but this time Benjamin has been asked to estimate the damage done at an estate which had a devastating fire in their cellars along with an accidental death. Being an expert in the field, this is the type of routine work Benjamin is often asked to do by insurance companies. This was a fine, engaging cozy just as I had anticipated it would be. Perhaps not as exciting or fun as the last two, but that happens with long series. I still thoroughly enjoyed this seventh entry with its banter between Benjamin and Virgile, the atmosphere of cigars and (this time) down home country French food. Virgile is ahead of his boss on the mystery this time, which was fun to read and several twists to the story kept me on my feet figuring this one out. I really enjoyed all the wine talk this time around especially as I'd never heard of Armagnac and am eager to give my tastebuds a swirl!

The Night Children by Sarah Tsiang. Illustrated by Delphine Bodet

The Night Children by Sarah Tsiang. Illustrated by Delphine Bodet
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 32 pages, Annick Press
Published August 18th 2015
Source: Netgalley egalley

I love the illustration! Gorgeous whimsical night creatures with a touch of Maurice Sendak about them but more playful while being slightly dark and otherworldly. The text didn't do anything for me though and I'm not sure I'd read it well to a child when it doesn't appeal to me. I like creepy, love reading Neil Gaiman's picture books, but this text's creepiness left me feeling like the night children are real and the child reader is only imagination. Just left me unsatisfied.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle, 384 pages
orig. 1995 by Pocket Books

Fantastic! Criminal profiling is one of my main interests or hobbies if you want to call it that and this is like the classic primer. John Douglas is the man who coined the term "profiling"; he didn't invent it, but he basically started the modern science we know today. I didn't learn anything new about the psychology, but this was fascinating from an historical point of view as a memoir and a history of the BSU and the FBI itself. Douglas joined the FBI when Hoover was still the Chief and if you know anything about those times you'll know J. Edgar thought the "soft" sciences were a bunch of b.s. and a small clandestine group was working behind his back quietly using psychology on an inquiry-based only system and this is where Douglas first found himself. However, the book starts with Douglas' birth, childhood, college drop-out, military service, etc. before it even gets to his enrollment in the Bureau. I enjoy memoirs and found his writing style highly readable, relishing the book from the get-go. Then, of course, I became fascinated when Douglas turns to his work in the FBI, relates how profiling worked its way into being a legitimate technique, his famous study of interviewing living serial killers to find out how they thought and his work on famous cases including everything from The Trailside Killer, The Atlanta Child Murders and The Tylenol Murders.

Douglas has earned himself some controversy over the years; some people find his writing style arrogant. This is the only book I've read by him but I've got its sequel on hold at the library already! so it won't be my last. Obviously I didn't find him arrogant in the least and his serial killer interviews (conducted with two others) are admittedly a giant breakthrough that even his detractors cannot dismiss.