BOOK REVIEW ~ Alice & Gerald

Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story

 


 

This is a rather creepy case in Wyoming that goes cold, brought to us by author Ron Franscell. I’ve read and really liked his true crime in the past, and decided to buy this 2019 paperback to read at leisure. Some of the main players are really twisted in this one, and the game playing between exes gets nauseating at times, but that’s how it is for some folks in the real world when kids are pawns.  A good true crime story by a very good true crime writer, worth a read.


 

 

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Written by Ron Franscell
Publisher: Prometheus Books – 336 pages
Published: April 9, 2019
My rating: 5/5 Stars


 

The Author- “Alice & Gerald: A Homicidal Love Story” (Prometheus Books) explores a grisly, real-life case of murder and perverse devotion. “Alice & Gerald” features a femme fatale whose manipulative, cold-blooded character rivals Lady Macbeth, this page-turner by bestselling true-crime author Ron Franscell revisits a shocking cold case that was finally solved just when the murderers thought they’d never be caught.

Ron Franscell’s writing has been compared to Truman Capote, Charles Frazier and Robert Olen Butler–diverse, poetic, evocative and muscular. His widely acclaimed 2016 true crime, MORGUE: A LIFE IN DEATH (co-authored with renowned medical examiner Dr. Vincent Di Maio) was nominated for an Edgar in 2017.

This lifelong newspaperman burst onto the literary scene in 1998 with his first novel ANGEL FIRE, a poignant, mythic tale of two brothers wrestling with personal ghosts in the small town where they grew up. ANGEL FIRE was subsequently named among the San Francisco Chronicle’s 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century West.

After his 1999 mystery, THE DEADLINE, Ron became a senior writer for the Denver Post, writing about the entangled past, present and future of the American West. THE DEADLINE and its sequel, THE OBITUARY, have been re-published in print and digital editions by WildBlue Press, one of the most innovative new publishing ventures in America.

In 2008, his first nonfiction, THE DARKEST NIGHT, won rave reviews from true-crime legends Ann Rule, Vincent Bugliosi and Gerry Spence. The book explored a monstrous crime against two of Ron’s childhood friends in the small town where they grew up, and how that crime has echoed across almost four decades. It is now a national bestseller.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Borderline Shine

Borderline Shine: A Memoir of Complex Trauma and Recovery


 

This book was a fascinating read on the subject of trauma and family issues. It follows the life of author Connie Greshner after her family goes through extreme trauma in early days, and how it affected her as she went along with her life afterward. It seemed to affect every part of her life, from friendships, relationships with family and men, and even her education and sobriety. I found it very readable, as she kept struggling along, trying to find her way through. There would be periods of great progress and then a relationship breakup might throw her into a tailspin and a total reversal for a time.

This memoir is quite an amazing road to recovery for those who like that type of memoir, you might want to check it out. I found the last quarter particularly well done. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Connie Greshner, and the publisher.

 


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The publisher: Dundurn Press – 240 pages
Publication: Feb 15th, 2020 for Kindle edition and Mar 10 for paperback.
My rating: 5/5 Stars


The Author- Connie Greshner is a mental health therapist who works with people who often have complex trauma. She has always been a writer, an artist, and a lover of nature. She lives with her family on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

BOOK REVIEW ~ Jet Girl by Caroline Johnson

Jet Girl: My Life in War, Peace, and the Cockpit of the Navy’s Most Lethal Aircraft, the F/A-18 Super Hornet


 

I found this to be fully engrossing and entertaining. It delivered Caroline Johnson’s story in wonderful style that was fun to read. Her story made me forget about everything else and I loved that it was so informative about the world of the Navy and the steps it took to become a pilot on the F/A-18 Super Hornet. I enjoyed reading all the details about the jets, procedures for flying, and everything to do with it, and the way this book was written it never got boring. I just kept wanting to read it long past my bedtime. Anyone with an interest in the Navy and/ or flying memoirs should check this out, it’s so good. One of my favorites this year. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Caroline Johnson, and the publisher.

 

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Publisher: St. Martin’s Press – 336 pages
Publication: Nov 5th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars


The Author- CAROLINE JOHNSON was an F/A-18 Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) in the US Navy. During her deployment aboard the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier, she flew missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and was one of the first women to neutralize ISIS. Later during her Navy career, Caroline became a Senior Leadership instructor at the United States Naval Academy. She is now a professional speaker in the private sector.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ An Outlaw and a Lady

An Outlaw and a Lady: A Memoir of Music, Life with Waylon, and the Faith that Brought Me Home

 

When I ran across this biography of Jessi Colter awhile back I decided to grab it. I had seen both Jessi and her husband Waylon Jennings in concert in Gainesville, Florida with Jerry Reed at a small venue many years ago (‘82, ‘83ish) when I lived in Central Florida briefly the first time. I’ve always been curious to know more about all of them. This was an engaging memoir written by Jessi Colter, who was born Mirriam Johnson to an evangelist mother and a race car driver father. I found it to be a good account and a pleasing length. She shares her early years growing up singing and writing songs, and how she happened to come to be in the music business with her first husband Duane Eddy. Then how she met Waylon Jennings and their many years together, making music and being on the road and off. There is also a good bit in it about her faith at times, losing it while she was with her first husband, and eventually regaining it again later. This book would appeal to those who enjoy country music biographies and who don’t mind some faith talk and drugs talk thrown in also.


 

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Publisher: Thomas Nelson – 299 pages
Publication: April 11th, 2017
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars


The Authors- Jessi Colter is one of America’s most beloved singer-songwriters. Her storied career began in the sixties when, encouraged by her first husband, guitar legend Duane Eddy, she composed hit songs for Dottie West, Nancy Sinatra, and Hank Locklin. Best known for her collaboration with her husband, Waylon Jennings, and for her 1975 country-pop crossover hit “I’m Not Lisa,” she was the only woman featured on the landmark album Wanted: The Outlaws that forever changed American music. She has fifteen major-label albums to her credit, and her songs and records have sold in the tens of millions. She lives near Scottsdale, Arizona.


DAVID RITZ has coauthored books with Don Rickles, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and Natalie Cole, among many others. He has a won a Grammy, an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award, and the Ralph J. Gleason Book of the Year Award four times.

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

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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.

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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.

There Are Worse Things I Could Do

There Are Worse Things I Could Do by Adrienne Barbeau

Written by young Adrienne Barbeau January 5, 1960: Excerpt from ninth grade term paper entitled To Be or Not to Be: Acting as a Vocation. “Corny as this may sound, I’ve wanted to act ever since as far back as I can remember. I’ve had to act to get attention, and I’ve never thought of myself as anything else. For that matter, neither has anyone else.

I also realize that there is very little chance of my ever making the big time. But for my own personal reasons I wish to continue down the path to stardom for, if nothing else, just the experience.”

I spent quite a bit of time on a good review of this book and I’ve got a few people already awaiting it. So of course when it was nearly ready, our new kitten dodged across my keyboard and deleted all but the opening quote somehow. I’m still not sure how she managed that. It took a few minutes for the horror to sink in. Finally, I gave up and started rewriting the whole thing. So, here it is, once again.

The only thing I remember this actress from is the TV series Maude, which ran from 1972-1978, in which she played the part of Maude’s (Beatrice Arthur) divorced daughter, Carol. I was curious to know more about her, so I picked up this memoir to satisfy that curiosity. She started writing journals from fifth grade on, so she had lots to draw from, and there is plenty of humor.

I learned that she went to college and started out the hard way doing theater and taking singing and acting classes while trying to support herself in New York. I know she got rather popular after she started getting recognized on the street once she was appearing on Maude for a while, but not in anything that caught my teenage attention. She had previously acted in stage plays, TV shows, and films, but it was things like the original play Grease in the part of Rizzo, and Fiddler on the Roof playing a couple of different parts through the years. She played in the movie Swamp Thing and developed a reputation as a scream queen. She was married to director John Carpenter for a time, with whom she had a son and he directed her in The Fog and later on in Escape From New York. I’m now tempted to check out some of her movies, I know I’ve seen Escape before, so it certainly needs a rewatch. 

She shared about her family and friends, and also about her love relationships along the way. There was quite an interesting little fling with Burt Reynolds, who recently passed away. She was always busy, always working hard towards her goals and had a very eclectic career, doing everything from nude theater, acting with rats, to dancing with a snake. Later on, she was known for having twin boys at age 51, which was pretty amazing at the time especially. She did quite a bit of singing too, releasing an album and is now the author 3 novels in addition to this work. This memoir was a really decent read that many would enjoy if they are into memoirs or the entertainment business.

Originally published in 2006 and updated in 2017, I purchased this ebook on Kindle. Published by BooksBnimble

Rating:  Somewhere between a 3.75 and 4/5 Stars

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Room to Dream

Room To Dream 

This is a very enjoyable biography told with a dual perspective that I found very readable and descriptive. I’m not quite sure how it got lost in my TBR pile, as I should have read it much sooner and wish I had now, as much as I’ve liked it. Filled with quirky stories about David Lynch as he grows up discovers what he’s about, moving from different places and the effects they had on him. When and how he got interested in art, and his near-obsession with art and painting that was such a part of his life for quite a while. Then the all-important point when David’s focus shifted from painting to making films. It also shares about his personal life too, his family and friends and many girlfriends until he marries and starts a family of his own. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, authors David Lynch & Kristine McKenna, and the publisher for my fair review.

The Authors:

David Lynch advanced to the front ranks of international cinema in 1977 with the release of his first film, the startlingly original Eraserhead. Since then, Lynch has been nominated for two Best Director Academy Awards for The Elephant Man and Blue Velvet, was awarded the Palme d’Or for Wild at Heart, swept the country with Twin Peaks mania in 1990 when his groundbreaking television series premiered on ABC, and has established himself as an artist of tremendous range and wit. He is the author of a previous book, Catching the Big Fish, on Transcendental Meditation.


Kristine McKenna is a widely published critic and journalist who wrote for the Los Angeles Times from 1976 through 1998 and has been a close friend and interviewer of David Lynch since 1979. Her profiles and criticism have appeared in Artforum, The New York Times, ARTnews, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, and Rolling Stone. Her books include The Ferus Gallery: A Place to Begin and two collections of interviews.

Random House 534 pages
Pub: June 19th, 2018

RATED: 4/5 Stars

South Toward Home: Adventures and Misadventures in My Native Land

Being a fifty-something Michigander who moved to central Florida, and then North Georgia nearly 30 years ago, I very much enjoyed reading this book of essays by Julia Reed. I found its humor finely tuned and more high brow than corn pone and I plan to read more by this author. If you subscribe to GARDEN and GUN you may have heard of her. I loved reading her stories about Mississippi and making their own fun, and all the Southern culture, food and the different people. There are even a few recipes included, which reminds me I planned to copy a couple. If you like this type of book, you may want to give this one a look for sure.

There was a neat story about a woman who planned, arranged and even attended her own funeral soiree, before her passing so that she could enjoy it too, that was quite interesting. I’ve heard of that being done before, but never quite so tastefully, I must say. Or probably as enjoyably as this person who planned it. An advance electronic copy was provided by NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for my fair review.

St. Martin’s Press
Publication: July 31, 2018

Lush: A Memoir

A different way of dealing with addiction by Kerry Cohen. She shares her issues with love, sex, smoking, and alcohol addictions and how they affected her life. What she did after two marriages and divorces to make lasting changes to keep problems from being such a negative impact on her career and personal life.

Mentions (MM) or Moderation Management, a different option that I’d never heard of before the book and found rather interesting, being an adult child and grandchild of alcoholics and having many others among the relatives. I’ve grown up knowing and learning about different types of ‘cures’, things in that category that the drinker and those around them use to seek relief, like AA, Alanon, rehab, therapy, Antabuse medications, cold turkey, etc.

It was interesting to learn about this different method that the author used, and hear about her particular path, especially as she herself counsels others and has been in counseling too. I’m kind of curious now to check out some of her other books she’s written, like “Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity”, and “Seeing Ezra: A Mother’s Story of Autism…”. For those with an interest in addiction, alcoholism and recovery. An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley and author Kerry Cohen for my fair review.

Sourcebooks
Pub date: July 17, 2018

RATING: 4/5 stars