BOOK REVIEW ~LEGION RISING

Legion Rising: Surviving Combat And The Scars It Left Behind

 

This is an incredible read if you want to learn about the journey Jeff Morris took in serving his country. Not all of it is an easy read, as he was deployed to Iraq more than once as an officer and there were losses that were difficult. But it’s well written and I was interested in his time over there, along with the after effects on a person, and learned quite a lot from reading this. I recommend it for anyone who likes military biographies. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Jeff Morris with LC Mickler, and the publisher.


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Publisher: WildBlue Press – 243 pages
Publication: July 23rd, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author-  Jeff Morris is a former Infantry Officer in the United States Army, serving two deployments to Baghdad, Iraq as a Platoon Leader and Company Commander. He has been featured in numerous magazine articles, television profiles, and speaks to a wide array of audiences. He lives in Texas with his wife and four children.


 

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BOOK REVIEW ~ Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

This is just an awesome story of a lawyer who made it his life’s work to fight for the underdog and do all he can to get them justice. He started a non-profit legal office in Alabama to help people in need of serious legal help like those facing execution, the wrongly convicted, teens sentenced to die in prison and others. He spends long hours working, searching for funding, visiting prisoners, and working on cases. After you get so far in the book, you can see why it’s won several awards, and they are making a movie about this man’s story with top actors, due out in January.

The book is well-written and flows easily. I had a hard time putting it down and forcing myself to go to sleep, even after staying up past dawn reading it. He shares different cases he worked on and some things that went on during some that were pretty crazy. I couldn’t help but be moved by it, amazed by it, and impressed by it. It’s a great biogragraphy with a lot of legal discussion.  This was a Goodreads win.

 

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Publisher: Spiegel & Grau – 368 pages
Publication: Aug 18th, 2015
RATED: 5/5 Stars

 

The Author – Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

BOOK REVIEW ~ They Must be Monsters

This was simply an amazing book about the McMartin Preschool abuse case back in the 1980s that was all over the news. I remember seeing it, but was busy starting a family, so I didn’t really follow the details then. So this gave me a chance to really dig in and see what it was all about, and wow what a story! What started with one child sexual abuse allegation, eventually snowballed into over 100 at 7 different businesses. It went from molestation to killing animals and devil worship, pictures taken for porn purposes, all kinds of allegations. People never knew who could be next to have the police beating on their door early in the morning with a warrant to search their home or business, and/or taking their kids away to be medically examined for signs of being molested, regardless of your wishes. It really got out of hand and is a good lesson.

This is a very eye-opening case, and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read a thorough run down of the full story. This one is written by two college student who took time off to cover this and spent three years doing so. This book is what they came up with and put together nearly 30 years later, but it’s worth the wait. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Matthew LeRoy & Deric Haddad, and the publisher.

 

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BooksGoSocial – 381 pages
Publication: Aug 12th, 2018
RATING: 5/5 Stars

Book Review ~ Hippie Cult Leader

Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson

 

This is an engaging book by James Day, who manages to get Charles Manson to call him, then they begin a dialogue where James explains to Manson that he wants to tell his true story, whatever that may be, that Manson still claims has never been told. This begins a year-long discourse between them about everything under the sun, while Day interviewed Manson for a documentary. Which also happened to be the final year of Manson’s life. He also further researched his background, and interviewed many other major figures who were involved in the story back in the day, or who knew Manson some other way.

After learning about Manson’s many “friends” who did favors for him, constantly jockeying for position as his “best friend” but mostly just being used to get Manson’s needs fulfilled out of necessity, Day met some and interviewed them, and spoke to others. They were very loyal, and several sold items like artwork for Charlie online, splitting the proceeds with him. Others had different functions to keep Manson happy, including visits.

There was the usual information in there, but plenty new interviews to keep it interesting. There are lots of topics they discussed and lots of unusual statements by Charlie all through. Many things that have long been staples of the story in books were disputed and reasons given. It is left for you to decide which is correct. A fascinating send off for Manson that leaves us with plenty to think about. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author James Buddy Day, and the publisher.

 

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Optimum Publishing International – 288 pages
Publication: Aug 8th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars

 

The Author- James Buddy Day is a producer and director, known for Sex, Lies & Murder (2018), The Salvation of Todd Bentley (2015) and The Shocking Truth (2017).

Book Blitz ~ #RIP JOHN by Sian B Claven @sianbclaven @Shalini_G26

My thanks to Shalini for inviting me to be part of this again! 

 

 

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Trigger Warning: This book contains scenes of graphic bullying and suicide.

Everyone wants a chance to fit in, and that’s all John King wants when he starts at his new school. A relentless bully, a blogger, and a pretty girl all have a different plan for him, though and after he endures all he can, John takes his own life.

The only problem left for Devan, Melinda and Jenny?

He doesn’t stay dead.
Buy Link: https://amzn.to/2EueKlG

 

 

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Excerpt:
How disgusting that the little nerd freak had bumped into her in the cafeteria. She had made everyone laugh when she insulted him, and for once in her life she felt noticed.
Melinda had spent the better part of her schooling career being invisible. Too plain to be popular, too normal to be teased, the only power she found she had was the words she wrote for the school’s blog and newspaper. There she discovered she had the power to either make or break the politics within the student body. Everyone read what she wrote and feared to cross her, but it wasn’t enough. She still felt invisible.
Then John bumped into her and she realised he was the latest victim of Devan’s bullying regime. She saw an opportunity and took it, calling him out for the disgusting little freak he was. He was so embarrassed and then the teacher confiscated the soggy comic book to add insult to injury.
With that taste of power, Melinda felt in her bones that she needed more. Much more. So she put together a little plan that was sure to get her to the top of the school’s food chain, and let others know who she was and, more importantly, that she wasn’t someone to be messed with.
Melinda needed the perfect plan to play her part in putting John in his place and came up with it not too long after the incident in the cafeteria. She needed just one thing to seal the deal and then she would be ready for her victim.
It took a few days before she managed to find someone willing to buy her the necessary tools, since she wasn’t of an age to purchase it herself, but once she had it she was ready.

_____

It was a beautiful day when John woke up. The sun was shining and he could hear birds in the trees outside his window. Still, his heart filled with dread at the prospect of going to school and putting up with Devan and his goons. With a dark sigh, he got out of bed and got dressed, going downstairs to have breakfast quietly so he didn’t wake his mother and father.
Once finished eating and having washed his dishes, he shouldered his backpack and left the house, wanting to get to school as early as possible to avoid his bullies.
He got to his locker without incident and retrieved his books, stuffing them into his bag. He went to the library and sat there, reading his comic book until the first bell signaled and he had to rush to class. Getting there just before his teacher closed the door, he apologized and quickly went to his seat, amid snickers from his peers. He blushed and hid as much as he could in his seat.
“Since John is late I think he can graciously offer to fetch the television for our lesson today from the AV Room,” Mr. Willsmith said, holding out a key.
John nodded and got up, took the key from Mr. Willsmith and left the room.
“In the meantime, you can talk quietly amongst yourselves until he is back,” Mr Willsmith said, before sitting at his desk and picking up a book.

THE AUTHOR IS WILLING TO SEND REVIEW COPIES TO ALL BLOGGERS WHO WOULD REVIEW IT ON AMAZON/ GOODREADS IN 6-8WEEKS TIME. EITHER SIAN OR SHALINI CAN BE CONTACTED ON BLOG OR TWITTER

 

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Author Bio:
Hailing from Johannesburg South Africa, Sian B. Claven has enjoyed stories for all her life, whether she was reading them or making them. She has written for as long as she can remember, but Ensnared is the first book she decided to publish. Moving towards writing more for the horror / paranormal thriller genre, Sian has subsequently published the first two books in The Butcher Books series, Tatum and Kallista. When Sian isn’t thinking of ways to terrify people, she enjoys writing science fiction stories, poetry and rather long and gushy birthday wishes. When she isn’t working on her writing you can find her knitting, scrapbooking, reading, or playing Xbox. Sian previously reviewed for The Blithering Bibliomaniacs and still reviews in her private capacity. She clearly doesn’t know what the words rest and relaxation mean, at least not in the traditional sense.

 

Sian Headshots
Leanne Knuist – Picturesque Photography – leanne@picturesquep.co.za – 073 399 4076

 

 

Social Media Links:
Website: http://www.sianbclaven.com
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Book Review ~ GABACHO

Gabacho: Drugs Landed Me In Mexican Prison, Theatre Saved Me


This is a story about two guys who decide to go on an adventure during Christmas break at college, and take their rent and tuition money down to Mexico and try to turn it into some cocaine that they can take back to the dorms and sell to make a profit, or maybe trade the Bronco they are driving with stolen plates for drugs. Richard bought it just for that purpose on a low payment plan, then reported it stolen just before leaving. They planned for months and think they have it all covered. They have second thoughts just before they go, but decide this is the perfect time to do it. They will be ok and come back with some good drugs that they can sell and make some good money to pay for their rent and tuition for the rest of the whole year, and be set good.

Of course, things don’t work out quite as they’ve planned, as they are total greenhorns with no experience and they get arrested. They end up in a Mexican prison with little money, no Bronco and no drugs to sell. They are in a lot of trouble. They need to come up with money for a lawyer to either try to get them a lighter sentence, or bribe their way out, or get them transferred to serve the remainder of their sentence in the US. The friends, Jeff and Richard, are becoming more at odds the longer this goes on, and by the time they are locked up in prison for a few weeks, they are barely talking. They can’t agree on how to handle the situation. Richard knows that they have done wrong, and that they have to take responsibility and do their time. Jeff however, feels that since they were only able to end up with marijuana, which is hardly worse than alcohol and should be legal, they shouldn’t be locked up at all, in his mind. So he is going to try to find a way to escape and not even bother trying to find a lawyer or contacting anyone back home. He seems very jittery and stares out the window a lot.

Richard decides to try and get a theatre group started, for something to pass the time, as he figures he’ll be there at least a couple of years, and he was planning on starting one that was independent back at college after the holiday break was over. He had talked to the others involved in it, to see if there was any interest and they seemed skeptical but interested. So he put out feelers in the prison to see if he could get any actors and helpers, and also set out to learn Spanish in a hurry.

I recommend this book for those that enjoy this type of memoir. I’ve read other books by the co-writer and he does a good job. This turned out to be a decent story to check out and I’m glad I read it. A bit of true crime, prison insider things and trying to make something positive out of the situation. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Richard Jewkes with Brian Whitney, and the publisher.


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WildBlue Press – 267 pages
Publication: July 16th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Author– Brian Whitney has been a prisoner advocate, a landscaper, and a homeless outreach worker. His interests include ruminating and perseverating. He has written or coauthored numerous books, and has been featured or appeared on Inside Edition, Fox News, People.com, Cracked.com, True Murder, and True Crime Garage. He has written for Alternet, Pacific Standard Magazine, Paste Magazine, and many other places. He is appearing at CrimeCon in 2019.

 

 

Book Review ~ Out of the Fire and Into the Pan

This is the sequel to ‘Blood on My Hands’ and I found it to be just as good. It picks up where the first book leaves off, sharing how Shannon and her family do after leaving her toxic father. This book covers the period of her adulthood and how she copes with what happened in her childhood. Despite the trauma they all went through, and his continued stalking of the family, despite their repeated moves, they keep striving to better their lives. Shannon’s mother encourages education as the way out and many of them attend further schooling, especially Shannon. She becomes active in teaching, acting and directing on the stage and Australian National TV. She found that writing and music helped when she was stressed at night, and spent times indulging in it. There always seemed to be the threat of her father around outside at times, scratching at the window, the smell of his cigarette smoke seeping in, or his creepy phone calls when they later had a phone.

Read how she starts to learn how to move beyond those awful years, to try and heal herself and learn who she is in this world. How she looks for answers to some of the awful things that happened back in her early years, but finds that no one really wants to help, including the police still. My thanks for a copy from the author and publisher for review.

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Paperback
Thinking Cat Productions – 368 pages
Publication: March 12th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars

Author- Shannon O’Leary (a pseudonym) is a prolific writer and performer. Her first book, The Blood on My Hands, told the story of her traumatic and violent childhood in the 1960s and ’70s Australia. This sequel, Out of the Fire and into the Pan, explains to the reader how she progressed into the adult world while coming to terms with her terrifying past. It is a story of personal growth and of how O’Leary navigates her transition into adulthood, while seeking out the social norms and finding her place in the world. O’Leary has acted and directed on the stage and on Australian national TV, and she runs her own production company and music schools. She has numerous graduate and post-graduate degrees in education, music, and science. Shannon is a teacher and academic, had five children with her deceased former husband, and lives with her longtime partner in the Central Western Plains in Australia.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/out-of-the-fire-and-into-the-pan-shannon-oleary/1130958174?ean=9780648445609

Book Review ~ The Blood on My Hands

The Blood on My Hands: An Autobiography

This is quite a heart rending story, yet engrossing at the same time. I was drawn in right away with Shannon’s (a pseudonym) account, basically staying up and reading it cover to cover. It’s just so different and so shocking all at once, and you worry about what happens to her and her family. I read a book not long ago about BTK’s daughter, who also grew up as a serial killer’s daughter, but this is just so much worse than her story even. This man was abusing and mentally torturing his own family when his children were growing up in Australia. There was also domestic abuse, and that’s just for starters. There is much worse he does, but I won’t go into all of that. You can read the book and learn that on your own. It’s unlike any other true crime story I’ve read to say the least, and traumatizing to all involved.

I would more suggest this for the experienced true crime biography reader, as it is a serious story. It could be more challenging for those who are newer to the genre, being quite a heavy subject matter, but it’s up to your discretion. I liked the way the story was related, some parts are rather subtle, and you may not pick up on the true meaning until a bit later, then it becomes clear. My thanks for a copy from the author and publisher for review.

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Paperback
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication: Feb 3rd, 2016
RATING: 5/5 Stars

 
The Author–  The child of a serial killer, Shannon O’Leary revisits her traumatic past in her memoir, The Blood on My Hands.

“I used pseudonyms in the book order to protect my family. He was never charged despite the police knowing about his activity. The police investigations were case files and are not available to the public. People outside Australia would not be aware that many of the missing person files in NSW in the 1960s and 70s disappeared under one of the governments of the time (there are only about 6 files for the 1960s),” says O’Leary.

 

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-blood-on-my-hands-colin-mackenzie/1131483647?ean=9781519695871

 

 

Book Review ~ Savage Appetites

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime and Obsession


Rachel Monroe’s book delves into the issue of women and their obsession with true crime. As if that’s always a bad thing. This is basically divided into four sections relating four different cases the author examines as separate cases to consider as studies. I was already familiar with the one of the heiress in the 1940’s who came up with and then crafted a dozen miniaturized crime scenes called nutshells that were used for teaching what later became known as forensics. The second chapter is on a woman who years later, moved into the house where Sharon Tate and others were murdered. She has a thing for the murders and the Tate family in particular and spends her time trying to get to know everything there is to know about both. I remember reading the book she wrote after she eventually managed to get close to remaining family members after mother Doris Tate passed away. The third chapter is about a New York woman who becomes enmeshed with one of the West Memphis Three after seeing a video on it. After falling for one of them by mail, she devotes her life to trying to get him released from death row. And finally, the fourth chapter is about a young female who becomes infatuated with the Columbine school killers after reading all about their exploits online, and begins planning a shooting of her own.

This isn’t a typical true crime book, there is some discussion of the large number of women who are hooked on true crime vs. the small number of men. Then these four different kinds of examples and what they might mean. But it’s still all very interesting if you like the subject. I certainly had no complaints with it and was interested very much. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Rachel Monroe, and the publisher.

 

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Publisher: Scribner – 256 pages
Published: Aug 20th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Rachel Monroe is currently a writer and volunteer firefighter living in Marfa, Texas. She’s written about #vanlife for The New Yorker; a romantic con man for The Atlantic, pick-up artists for New York magazine; child abductions on the Navajo Nation for Esquire; and a small-town quilting scandal for Texas Monthly. Her work has appeared in The Best American Travel Writing 2018, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, the Believer, and elsewhere. She is the author of Savage Appetites.

Book Review ~ The Black Widow

The Black Widow: My web of secrets and the truth about my murder

 

What an exciting cast of characters this turned out to have! And what a wild ride of a life Linda Calvey lived. This is quite a true life crime story, and an amazing one at that from England. If I hadn’t had an important appointment, I probably would have tried to read it from start to finish. As it was, I was sniffling at the big, sad part during the few moments I got to peek at it again just before my appointment! Why do they have to interrupt my reading time? I love the Cockney language in it, the highs and lows, and highs again and Linda’s can-do attitude and ability to stand up for herself.

If you know anything about true crime, you’ll recognize plenty of names in this book as it goes along. I recommend it highly for memoir readers who are familiar with names like the Krays, East Enders, etc. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Linda Calvey, and the publisher

 

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Publisher: Mirror Books ~ 336
Publication: July 11th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars


Images are not from book, they are from the Internet.