After looking at some of my earlier posts when I didn’t have a lot of followers, I’ve decided to do some reposts during this time I’m struggling with my reading. This was my first review, posted May 22nd, 2017.
Forgiving My Daughter’s Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace
This was tough to read yet at the same time a very well-written and timely book. It was just so gut-wrenching reading what it was like for Kate and Andy Grosmaire. I thank goodness for their wonderful faith, friends, and church family getting them through such a time. What a moving story, I learned a lot from it on many levels. I also cried until I ended up with a migraine, which is why I have to limit this kind of book at times in my reading pile. It’s a very worthwhile read that I highly recommend…
Dominatrix on Trial: How a Canadian Dominatrix Fought the Law and Won
by Terri-jean Bedford
SYNOPSIS – Terri-Jean Bedford was one of Canada’s most notorious citizens–but few know her under that name. As Madame deSade, however, she was Canada’s most famous leather-clad dominatrix, a well-known public figure appearing on the evening news as she took on the Canadian legal establishment to ultimately change sex worker law throughout the country.
Born into abject poverty, this bi-racial girl was placed into a foster home at six, where she was abused. She was later moved into various children’s homes and lived there until she was 16, when she left to make it on her own. She survived by working numerous unskilled jobs, until she entered the world of prostitution.
Her talents and interests helped her move into the elite world of the professional dominatrix, after which life was never the same. Located just outside of Toronto, her elaborate Bondage Bungalow became the target of a spectacular raid. Six highly publicized years of trials and appeals later, she was convicted under bawdy-house laws and paid a small fine. In 1999, she opened a similar facility in downtown Toronto, one that closed without police interference in 2002.
A few years later she was at the center of Bedford vs. Canada, a five-year constitutional challenge to Canada’s sex trade laws. The Supreme Court vindicated her struggles. A mother and grandmother, she still advocates and writes for sex worker rights. Despite her at times heart-breaking story and declining health, she says she is going out a winner.
She remains a vocal advocate for civil rights and the disenfranchised. She has been a plaintiff in a major constitutional challenge, and, as a result, Canada’s prostitution laws were struck down in 2010.
A play based on her life story is currently in production in Windsor, Canada in 2022.
MY THOUGHTS – I found this to be a super interesting look into this woman’s life. Her choosing to be a dominatrix is all good, and she became a very good one. The problems begin when her place is raided, and she and the other workers are charged with providing sex acts for money. But sex acts were not involved in what they did at her place, they were in fact something that would get a person banned. With some great supporters, Bedford was eventually able to change the landscape of how sex workers are treated. It was a long battle, but she finally set things straight. I received a review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
We Carry Their Bones: The Search for Justice at the Dozier School for Boys
by Erin R. Kimmerle
SYNOPSIS – Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle investigates of the notorious Dozier Boys School–the true story behind the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Nickel Boys–and the contentious process to exhume the graves of the boys buried there in order to reunite them with their families.
The Arthur G. Dozier Boys School was a well-guarded secret in Florida for over a century, until reports of cruelty, abuse, and “mysterious” deaths shut the institution down in 2011. Established in 1900, the juvenile reform school accepted children as young as six years of age for crimes as harmless as truancy or trespassing. The boys sent there, many of whom were Black, were subject to brutal abuse, routinely hired out to local farmers by the school’s management as indentured labor, and died either at the school or attempting to escape its brutal conditions.
In the wake of the school’s shutdown, Erin Kimmerle, a leading forensic anthropologist, stepped in to locate the school’s graveyard to determine the number of graves and who was buried there, thus beginning the process of reuniting the boys with their families through forensic and DNA testing. The school’s poorly kept accounting suggested some thirty-one boys were buried in unmarked graves in a remote field on the school’s property. The real number was at least twice that. Kimmerle’s work did not go unnoticed; residents and local law enforcement threatened and harassed her team in their eagerness to control the truth she was uncovering–one she continues to investigate to this day.
We Carry Their Bones is a detailed account of Jim Crow America and an indictment of the reform school system as we know it. It’s also a fascinating dive into the science of forensic anthropology and an important retelling of the extraordinary efforts taken to bring these lost children home to their families–an endeavor that created a political firestorm and a dramatic reckoning with racism and shame in the legacy of America.
MY THOUGHTS – I found this author is just amazing at what she does for a living and how she fought to the end to get answers. She helped many family members who had lost their boys at this awful facility in northern Florida. The book has lots of background and history of the area and the school. The things that went on there were more than cringe-worthy. I liked learning about how they do a dig and later process what they find. Excellent read for the times. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Carmine and the 13th Ave Boys: Surviving Brooklyn’s Colombo Gang
by Craig McGuire
SYNOPSIS – This is the true story of Carmine Imbriale – a gambler, a brawler, a bandit, a bookie, an enforcer. For two decades, Imbriale was a street-level operative in one of the most violent crews in the Colombo Family, and he endeared himself to some of the major figures of organized crime while developing deadly disputes with others.
Now in hiding, Imbriale teams up with true-crime veteran writer Craig McGuire to take you inside the 13th Avenue rackets at the height of their violence. This is the jarring account of his lawless lifestyle culminating in a gang war in South Brooklyn, from which he emerges a survivor.
From his first arrest at 15 for robbing a Coney Island pimp to surviving multiple assassination attempts, Imbriale offers up dozens of too-good-to-be-true tales featuring some of the most notorious gangsters, including Joe Colombo, Christie Tick, Jimmy Ida, Joe Waverly, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, Johnny Rizzo, as well as other lions and lackeys of La Cosa Nostra, and details a beef with none other than Greg “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa Sr.
A young streetwise hustler, Imbriale thought he found loyalty, a brotherhood. Instead, he descended into a world of treachery and deceit, where your best friend is your executioner, and no one gets out alive. But no one expected him to become the domino that helped bring it all down.
MY THOUGHTS – This is a good book about Carmine Imbriale’s incredible, crazy, mob career in South Brooklyn. It’s filled with people, places and events that many will find notorious. It’s amazing the number of mob guys that he knew and interacted with. He survived an era that most didn’t. They were either killed, or went off to a long prison term. Told in a stubborn, tough guy fashion. But it also shows his generous side to those who were struggling. A super mob book if you can keep all of the players straight.
PUBLISHER – WildBlue Press – 376pages
PUBLICATION DATE – April 24th, 2022
MY RATING – 4/5 STARS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Published author (most recently, “Brooklyn’s Most Wanted – The Top 100 Criminals, Crooks & Creeps from the County of the Kings“), Craig has been a successful writer, editor, designer, photographer, community reporter, new media journalist and consultant for the last 25 years.
Craig has overseen content development for all different types of media, from web portals to newsletters to social media programs. Partial list of titles include: Institutional Investor magazine, InternetNews.com, Irish America, The Real Deal, Digital Media Buzz, Wall Street & Technology, PR Week, @Night Media, and more..
True Crime Stories You Won’t Believe: A Cavalcade of Chaotic Justice
by Romeo Vitelli
SYNOPSIS – Here is a collection of true crime stories from different countries and time periods that defy simple description. They include:
The strange tale of a psychotic geisha who severed her lover’s genitals to carry as a token of her love and who inspired a cult following
How a small-town murderer helped inspire the movie Psycho and left his hometown with a reputation they never lived down
A father who sacrificed his daughter to prove his faith in God and his followers who fully expected her to be raised on the third day (she wasn’t)
A Sorbonne graduate student who killed and cannibalized the woman he loved and went on to become a bizarre media celebrity
A 19th century serial killer who earned the title of “the worst women in the world” by killing a series of husbands for profit
The assassination attempt on John F. Kennedy you never heard about but which very nearly succeeded.
George Stinney, the fourteen-year-old child who died in the electric chair for a crime he didn’t commit.
Joseph Vacher, the “French Ripper” whose crimes shocked France but tried to blame it all on the rabid dog that bit him.
How mob boss Vincent Gigante earned himself the nickname of “the Oddfather”
Leonarda Cianciulli, the Corregio “Soapmaker” who killed three women as a sacrifice to protect her own children.
These stories, and more, are all featured here making this book a must for any connoisseur of true crime and bizarre justice.
MY THOUGHTS – Well written, interesting look at some true crime stories. Most are a bit obscure and less well known. A few are more common to true crime fans. I read quite a few stories here that I saw for the first time. But a couple of the more ‘rare’ ones I had already read about as well. Worth a read if the subject interests you. I received a review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
PUBLISHER – Providentia Books – 185 pages
PUBLICATION DATE – April 4th, 2022
MY RATING – 4/5 STARS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Romeo Vitelli received his doctorate in Psychology from York University in Toronto, Ontario in 1987. He spent 15 years as a staff psychologist in Millbrook Correctional Centre, a maximum-security prison run by the Ontario government. In 2003, he went into full-time private practice and has been an avid blogger since 2007.
I haven’t been around for the past week reading and liking and enjoying the blogs. I was in the hospital again with more kidney stone drama with complications, so I will be taking it slow but getting back in the groove. I did lots of reading though at times, and reviews will follow. Thanks!
All Signs Point to Paris: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Destiny
by Natasha Sizlo
SYNOPSIS – Propulsive, touching, and darkly funny, All Signs Point to Paris is the story of one woman’s search for a second chance at love. A surprising astrology reading sends Natasha Sizlo—divorced, broke, freshly heartbroken, and reeling from her father’s death—on an unexpected but magical journey to France, in pursuit of a man born on a particular date in a particular place: November 2, 1968 in Paris.
Divorced, broke, and heartsick, it seems like things can’t get worse for Natasha Sizlo—then she learns her beloved father is dying.
So when she’s gifted a session with LA’s most sought-after astrologist, Natasha has nothing to lose. She doesn’t believe in astrology, but the reading is eerily, impossibly accurate. As her misgivings give way, Natasha asks about her emotionally unavailable, yet terribly handsome ex-boyfriend, the one she can’t seem to get over.
To Natasha’s surprise, the astrologist tells her he is The One. His birthdate and birthplace—November 2, 1968 in Paris, France—line up with Natasha’s astrological point of destiny. The word husband comes up in the reading.
Natasha feels faint. Was her ex really the big soul love she was destined for?
Then, she has a lightning bolt of an idea: he couldn’t possibly be the only available man born on November 2, 1968 in Paris. Her soulmate is still out there—she just has to find him.
MY RATING – This was an enchanting change from my usual true crime books. Natasha Sizlo writes about her crazy path to love, looking for men born on a certain date in Paris, just like her ex-boyfriend Phillipe. But this one will be her soulmate if she can find him. Her astrologer says so. Sad at points, also a funny and romantic memoir. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
PUBLISHER – Mariner Books – 304 pages
PUBLICATION DATE – Aug 16th, 2022
MY RATING – 5/5 STARS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – NATASHA SIZLO has written for Variety, Cosmopolitan, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar, and Shape, among others. By day, she sells high-end real estate for The Agency. She lives in Los Angeles with her two children.
The Castleton Massacre: Survivors’ Stories of the Killins Femicide
by Sharon Anne Cook & Margaret Carson
Synopsis – A former United Church minister massacres his family. What led to this act of femicide, and why were his victims forgotten?
On May 2, 1963, Robert Killins, a former United Church minister, slaughtered every woman in his family but one. She (and her brother) lived to tell the story of what motivated a talented man who had been widely admired, a scholar and graduate from Queen’s University, to stalk and terrorize the women in his family for almost twenty years and then murder them.
Through extensive oral histories, Cook and Carson painstakingly trace the causes of a femicide in which four women and two unborn babies were murdered over the course of one bloody evening. While they situate this murderous rampage in the literature on domestic abuse and mass murders, they also explore how the two traumatized child survivors found their way back to health and happiness. Told through vivid first-person accounts, this family memoir explains how a murderer was created.
My thoughts – What are the odds of a family murderer being named Killins? This is a well written look at the story of a rural Canadian mass murderer. A chilling true crime read. He tormented and murdered his long-estranged wife Florence and his daughter Pearl, who were both pregnant at the time. Pearl was his only child, now grown and expecting her first baby. Florence had been trying to get a divorce for twenty plus years, but Killins refused to give her one. She went on to have more children with her next life partner, A.D. Hall, they were Brian, 10, Margaret, 12 and Patsy, 6. Killins’ hatred filled rampage included murdering his only sister, Gladys. He also managed to kill his wife’s youngest child by A.D. Hall, Patsy. The other two children by Hall managed to survive.
There were several others who were injured while trying to intervene, among them were Florence’s current beau, Tom Major; and Killins’ son-in-law Fred Campbell. The most badly injured man was Peter Miller, a twenty year old teacher. This happened in the early 1960s when men were not held accountable for many cases of domestic violence. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Publisher – Dundurn Press – 280 pages
Publication date – July 26th, 2022
My rating – 4/5 STARS
About the author –
Sharon Anne Cook is distinguished university professor emerita at the University of Ottawa. She is the author and editor of twelve books in Canadian women’s history. The recipient of many teaching awards, she teaches graduate courses in the history of education. She lives in Ottawa.
Margaret Carson is the eldest of two children who survived the Castleton massacre. A retired college instructor, she is accomplished in creating and adapting workplace programs as well as classroom delivery. She lives in Mississippi Mills, Ontario.
How to Survive a Carjacking & Get Your Car Back Quickly
by Charles Talley
Synopsis – As the global pandemic took a strangle hold of global economies, the prevalence of crime soared. Everything from petty theft to home invasions and occurrences of violent carjacking was climbing at frightening rates. While these crimes have always been present in our society, it is quite apparent that the financial fallout that has been sparked by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic has only added fuel to the fire. In the grand scheme of things its important to understand why and how some of these violent crimes occur. While we can go to great lengths to secure our homes and safeguard ourselves in public spaces, not as many people are actually talking about what to do when you’re in the quiet confines of your own vehicle, and worse – you’re alone.
My thoughts – Written by a rehabilitated car thief, Charles Talley. This was worth the quick read for the tips on keeping yourself and loved one safer from being carjacked. Good advice in today’s higher crime, and a reminder to stay aware. There are also a few tips on getting your car back if you do lose it. A helpful book. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.