BOOK REVIEW ~ Hippie Chick

Hippie Chick: Coming of Age in the ‘60s

This was pretty different as you follow Ilene, who is the youngest of six kids and the last to leave home in New Jersey. Her mother died when she was sixteen, and while she loves her father, she wants out of the house as he is difficult and temperamental. When her sister Carole provides her with a plane ticket to California she finally has her way out and joins her and her lawyer husband there. She starts growing up rather quickly from this point though she is still naive to the ways of men. Her life will become quite bohemian in short order without even trying. Things get even crazier as it goes along, and Ilene seems to land in one jam after another with Carole and/or her hubby coming to her rescue in her younger years. Not only is she a hippie chick with a love for marijuana and the occasional LSD trip; but she seems to become a vagabond too, moving more than anyone I’ve ever heard of that wasn’t military.

This is certainly a read from the times, a memoir of Ilene’s different circumstances back during the 1960s as she traveled the US and Hawaii trying to figure out where she belonged. I’d recommend for more adventurous memoir readers, and those who like coming of age stories in the 60s & 70s. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Ilene English, and the publisher.


Publisher: She Writes Press – 334 pages
Publication: Sep 24th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author-  Born in New Jersey as the youngest of six to a mother who was seriously ill, Ilene English became something of a lost child. In spite of this, she was a free spirit, her life fueled by an innate sense of optimism and determination. As a young woman, she became an early psychedelic pioneer, experimenting with LSD during a time when it was still legal and its effects were not yet fully comprehended. During the sixties, she, along with an entire community of fellow trippers, innocently thought that they could change the world into one that valued love over materialism through psychedelics. Today, years later, English is a licensed psychotherapist. Her life experience informs her work as a healer and a teacher. Hippie Chick is her first book.


BOOK REVIEW ~ Janis: Her Life and Music

Welcome to the late 1960s, the time of Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Jim Morrison and others. As a nervous Janis Joplin is trying to make a go of it with the band called Big Brother and the Holding Company. They start playing gigs all over and learning to mesh together and get better as they do. Janis really starts to come into her own with her singing and stage presence and the audiences go wild for her. Word spreads and she begins to get some good reviews. They finally get a great manager who will get them going places; and find a way to get their old contract squashed that’s been holding them back. Follow her career as she finally finds the fame she’s wanted. If only she could have the rest of what she dreams of, her own home and family.

This is an excellent book about Janis Joplin and that era of music. I love the cover picture. It’s well researched and well written and if you have an interest in Joplin or the music of that era you shouldn’t miss it, for sure. I found it very enjoyable to learn so much about this wonderful, yet troubled artist who passed so young as several did. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Holly George-Warren, and the publisher.




Publisher: Simon and Schuster – 400 pages
Publication date: Oct. 22nd, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars

The Author- Holly George-Warren is a two-time Grammy nominee and the award-winning author of sixteen books, including the New York Times bestseller The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang) and the biographies Janis: Her Life and Music, A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, and Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry. She has written for a variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Entertainment Weekly. George-Warren teaches at the State University of New York in New Paltz.



Pictures are from Internet, not from book


Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

Being a fan of Burroughs after reading Running With Scissors, I picked up a copy of this book and was not disappointed. In it he shares how he became a copywriter in advertising, and how his drinking eventually became very out of control. Eventually his work gave him the option of going to rehab or leaving, and he chose rehab for 30 days. The book is written in his usual funny/sarcastic way, and there is much to think upon between the covers here. It gets quite gritty and real in its look into alcoholism, drug use and other hard subjects and I feel it was well written.




Publisher: Picador – 293 pages
Published: April 1st, 2004
RATING: 4/5 Stars

The Author- Augusten Burroughs is the author of the autobiographical works “Running with Scissors,” “Dry,” “Magical Thinking,” “Possible Side Effects” and “A Wolf at the Table,” all of which were New York Times bestsellers. “Running with Scissors” remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over two consecutive years and was made into a Golden Globe-nominated film starring Annette Bening. His only novel, “Sellevision,” is currently in development as a series for NBC. “Dry,” Augusten’s memoir of his alcoholism and recovery, is being developed by Showtime. In addition, Burroughs is currently creating an original prime-time series for CBS. Augusten’s latest book is called “You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas.”

Twice named to Entertainment Weekly’s list of the funniest people in America, Augusten has also been the subject of a Vanity Fair cover story and a Jeopardy! answer. His books have made guest appearances in two James Patterson novels, one Linkin Park music video, numerous television shows and a porn movie.

Augusten has been a photographer since childhood and many of his images can be seen on his website, He lives in New York City.

BOOK REVIEW ~ ‘Tis Herself

Tis Herself: A Memoir by Maureen O’Hara


I inhaled this memoir in pretty short order as I really enjoy ones about old Hollywood. This one was especially good, as I really love John Wayne and read a super book about the relationship between Wayne and director John Ford. Turns out Maureen had her own difficult relationship with Ford over 40 years. They were all friends, so there was plenty of good stuff included about all of them and times spent together, both on and off the set. I was really looking forward to reading about the filming of The Quiet Man as well, my late father’s favorite movie of all time. O’Hara really didn’t have an easy personal life at all. I liked the whole book and may do something I only do with rare favorites, which is read it over again. If you like these types of memoirs, it won’t disappoint.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster – 323 pages (Large print took more pages)
Publication: 2004


BOOK REVIEW ~ Playing Dead

Playing Dead: A Memoir of Terror and Survival

Playing Dead is a book that speaks out for staying single, and never getting married. Monique and Chris don’t seem to have really done their homework before getting hitched. It’s like they suddenly woke up that way one morning and find they really don’t like it and need someone to blame. Chris is a perfectionist and loves to point out what his wife isn’t doing right, and that is just about everything and all the time to him. He enjoys doing it too, in a very nasty way when the mood strikes,

They fight all the time because of it, and soon Monique fights back by bringing up his string of low paying jobs that contribute little to the family’s income problems and continue to keep them on the precipice of losing their apartment.

This book follows their deteriorating marriage, as Monique debates leaving. But she’s now got three children and they are still broke. Chris has already threatened to take off with the children if he gets even a whiff of her planning to leave. He’s become unstable and violent at times, which frightens her. Chris is a ticking time bomb that no one is taking seriously enough. Until it’s too late.

True crime lovers might want to check this one out. It’s super creepy how extreme this guy spirals out of control over his marriage ending. It’s enough to give you nightmares. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Monique Faison Ross with Gary Krebs, and the publisher.


Publisher: WildBlue Press – 248 pages
Publication: July 30th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars

The Author- Monique Faison Ross was born in San Francisco and grew up as an only child in San Diego, California. She considers herself an accidental author. Her writings have appeared in Lilith Magazine and other publications. Monique is married and lives in Connecticut. She has four children and one grandchild.

BOOK REVIEW ~ Some Kind of Crazy

Some Kind of Crazy: An Unforgettable Story of Profound Brokenness and Breathtaking Grace


All through his writing, his feeling of brokenness does come through, as he relates coming up in his family feeling like he never quite measured up in his father’s eyes. As Terry Wardle finally got invited to join the men and learn how to cut up his first deer, earning the privilege of thereafter going out hunting with all of them, his dad decides to give up hunting at that time. Terry just never felt he fit in, even with his own family. As he grew up and went out into the work world, his anxiety only grew, until one day it overtook and just froze him.

I found this to be a decent read, grimly humorous at times, very up and down and religion-filled. There are some really good points, but it’s also repetitive at times too. It’s compared to ‘Educated’ but I found it not as good. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Terry Wardle, and the publisher.




Publisher: Waterbrook – 256 pages
Publication: Oct 8th, 2019
RATING: 3/5 Stars

The Author- TERRY WARDLE is a dynamic speaker who leads seminars and retreats designed to equip pastors, counselors, clinicians, spiritual directors, and many others in formational prayer, spiritual formation, and spiritual direction. The author of numerous books and teaching series, he is the founder of Healing Care and HCM International. Professor Emeritus at Ashland Theological Seminary, he also served as executive director of Alliance Theological Seminary. Former vice president of Nyack College, he was founding pastor of Risen King Community Church in Redding, California. He and his wife, Cheryl, currently reside in Ashland, Ohio.

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Horrors of Fox Hollow Farm

The Horrors of Fox Hollow Farm: Unraveling the History & Hauntings of a Serial Killer’s Home


I found that this was fascinating even if you are familiar with the story of Fox Hollow Farm and Herb Baumeister’s serial killings that took place there. Since much of it deals with things that have happened since then, it’s still of interest. It is of a paranormal bent, so if that is not your thing, you may want to pass on this one. I found it very interesting, even though I’d seen several shows covering similar things, such as Ghost Adventures, etc. The first part is written by written by Richard Estep, then Robert Graves, the current owner of Fox Hollow, takes up the story. Estep goes over the investigation of the property during times spent there.

Rob Graves tells of his experience from first learning of the place, deciding to buy it and the extended time it took to finally agree on an amount, and finally getting a call from the seller agreeing on a price much later. Then what it had been like from that point on living on such an estate, and the huge amount of time and money it takes to maintain it. Also how his wife and a tenant had begun having experiences with ghosts, unexplainable sounds, knocking when no one was there, ect. This led to the family eventually allowing paranormal investigators in.

There was plenty of information that was new to me, despite all I’d already seen and read about the subject to keep my interest, so others who are new to it, or only know some of the story should have no problem finding lots of interest in this story. I’d suggest this for those who like true crime and paranormal on one of the only crime scenes of its kind that is still standing, let alone being lived in as a residence by a family. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Richard Estep & Robert Graves, and the publisher.




Llewellyn Publications – 240 pages
Publication date: Sep 8th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Authors- Richard Estep (Colorado) cofounded Boulder County Paranormal Research Society (BCPRS) with his wife, Laura, in 1999. He’s the author of more than a dozen books detailing his most harrowing investigations, including Trail of Terror.

Robert Graves (Indianapolis, IN) is the owner of Fox Hollow Farm. Since learning of the farm’s past, Robert has devoted himself to understanding the tragic events that took place there.

BOOK REVIEW ~ Five Days Gone

Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother’s Disappearance as a Child


She started out her life as Grace until she was adopted before age 3, then she was Betty. A name she never liked. Later she called herself Elizabeth.  An older couple adopted her at age 3, George and Veda Elston. She grew to dislike George, who was controlling and didn’t want her mingling with others in the tiny village. She wasn’t allowed to go out and play with any of the local kids. This story is about the discovery of her strange disappearance that happened when she was about 3, but she wasn’t aware of until she was in her 50’s, that’s shared with and written about by her daughter. Who took her and why? And for what reason was she returned days later…?  Read to find out.  Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Laura Cumming, and the publisher.




Publisher: Scribner – 288 pages
Publication: Aug 27th, 2019
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars


The Author- Laura Cumming has been the art critic of the Observer since 1999. Previously, she was arts editor of the New Statesman magazine, literary editor of the Listener, and deputy editor of Literary Review. She is a former columnist for the Herald and has contributed to the London Evening Standard, the Guardian, L’Express and Vogue. Her book The Vanishing Velazquez was longlisted for the Bailie Gifford Prize and a New York Times bestseller.

BOOK REVIEW ~ American Predator

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century


This book could really give you nightmares thinking about this man randomly traveling the US, with his buried ‘kill kits’ all over ready for him when the mood struck. Maureen Callahan does a great job introducing us to a frightening killer whose true scope will never be known. There was apparently some attempts to cover up his story by the government for a while when they caught up to him. This was during a period that they were trying to negotiate for information from him. He did give up bodies, but due to time passing, they were not recoverable. This case is really one for the books, and he was just an anomaly, and that there aren’t others like him wandering around out there. But I think that would be naive wishful thinking now. A must-read for for true crime lovers.




Publisher: Viking – 304 pages
Publication: July 2nd, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Maureen Callahan is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning investigative journalist, columnist, and commentator. She has covered everything from pop culture to politics. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, New York, Spin, and the New York Post, where she is Critic-at-Large. She lives in New York. Visit her at

BOOK REVIEW ~Red River Girl

Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine


This is author Joanna Jolly’s debut book on the death of Tina Fontaine. Tina was a Canadian girl, one of a number of aboriginal females who had gone missing and later turned up dead in the Red River. It’s written about as part of a larger problem of sexual exploitation with so many aboriginal young females. But the focus is on this girl for the purposes of this book. There is a lot of pressure for the police to make some progress in the case, and it continues to grow. There are several suspects, and they are careful to take the time to rule them out correctly before focusing on the final one. All of that takes time. The final suspect turns out to be very slippery, and they have to go above and beyond to convince themselves and the Crown that it’s the correct person.

I found this to be an engaging true story of Tina Fontaine’s life and tragic killing. She was just beginning to test her wings in a larger city, and when allowed a bit of freedom took too much and got in over her head. I’d recommend it for true crime readers. It held my interest quite well, and I’d recommend it. A good first effort for Ms. Jolly. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Joanna Jolly, and the publisher.




Publisher: Viking – 320 pages
Published: Aug 27th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- JOANNA JOLLY is an award-winning BBC reporter based in London. She began her journalism career at the Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun, moving on from there to freelance in India and Australia before covering the fight for independence in East Timor. During the past decade, she’s worked as a BBC producer and reporter in Jerusalem, South Africa, Brussels, Washington, and India as well as spending two years as the BBC correspondent in Kathmandu, Nepal. During that time Jolly specialised in stories of sexual violence against women. Jolly has won several awards, including the 2007 BBC Onassis Bursary. In 2015, she won the Association of International Broadcaster’s best current affairs documentary award for her in-depth look at the prosecution of rape in India. Red River Girl is her first book.