BOOK REVIEW ~ The Forest City Killer

London, Ontario, aka Forest City and the setting of this particular book, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s as it follows a string of tantalizing unsolved murders there which left some believing that there was a serial killer plying his trade. It gives a good account of the murders it goes into, giving background detail and a good amount of local color. Some happen in small towns very nearby, but seem to be obviously linked. There are good debates about different suspects that Detective Alsop is mulling over as they bring themselves to his attention, all for different reasons.

I think most true crime readers would enjoy this one, as well as those who like reading about crime in other countries like Canada. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Vanessa Brown, and the publisher.


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Publisher: ECW Press – 328 pages
Publication: Oct 4th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Vanessa Brown has lived her entire life in London, Ontario. Her previous books include The Grand Old Lady: A History of Hotel London and London: 150 Cultural Moments, which was honored by the Ontario Heritage Trust. She is married to Canadian poet Jason Dickson, and together they own Brown & Dickson Booksellers.


 

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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 ~ Dead Reckoning

First published in 2011, I remember reading this story about Skylar Deleon, former supposed child star and the three murders he was found responsible for and sentenced to death for. But I sure needed this refresher, and the new and updated edition has lots of new information about what’s happened since then, to keep readers in the know. It seems Skylar, a married father of two, is having issues around his gender identity now that he is in prison. This story with the update included has become a bit long, at nearly 450 pages, but is still fascinating to read about what he did, the excuses he gives for why he claims to have done it, and how strangely some criminal minds work.

For true crime fans who like updated stories with a real twist, especially those who like Caitlin Rother, check it out. I was already a fan of Rother’s writing when I read this book, after reading Poisoned Love, and Twisted Triangle by her. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Caitlin Rother, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: WildBlue Press – 445 pages
Publication: Sept 27th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Caitlin Rother, a daily newspaper reporter for almost twenty years, now writes both fiction and nonfiction books full-time. She was a Pulitzer Prize-nominated staff writer for the SanDiego Union-Tribune, and has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe, among other publications.

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Hidden Lives of Jack the Ripper’s Victims

Finally, a book that looks more into the lives of the Ripper’s victims rather than giving all of the attention to the killer himself. From what it shows, the victims have often been misrepresented up to this point. It discusses the false belief at the time that the women chose to be prostitutes rather than be respectable housewives, like they had a choice. Also, how they were often portrayed as dirty, drunken women, stumbling around looking for their next hookup. I found this honest look into the victim’s lives much more interesting than yet another ho-hum attempt at guessing who the Ripper is again. A fresh look at the story with a bit more realistic look at how things really were for poor women back then in many cases, instead of the hogwash that’s been carried down through the years.

It shares information on each of the victims, making them more real people rather than characters in a story. The advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Dr. Robert Hume, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: Pen & Sword – 168 pages
Published: Jan 2nd, 2020
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Now an author and freelance feature writer, Dr Robert Hume was former head of history at Hillview School, Tonbridge, and Clarendon House Grammar School, Ramsgate, Kent. He writes regularly for magazines such as BBC History, History Today and the Irish Examiner. This is his first book for Pen and Sword.

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Kray’s London

The Kray’s London: A History and Guide


This is a guide to all places Kray involved when it comes to London for anyone who is a fan or interested in them. It covers everything from where they went to school, the places they lived and the gym they boxed in growing up, to all of their favorite haunts, whether for pie and eel, or other delicacies and where they liked to go on a night out. They opened their first club at age 20, The Regal in 1954. Other clubs would follow. They used them as a place to hang out with their cronies and discuss their criminal dealings.

I found it quite interesting, the background and the anecdotes on the twins themselves that are weaved throughout. If you have an interest in the Krays or East End crime in this period, you might want to check this out then. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Caroline Allen, and the publisher.

 

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Publisher: Pen & Sword – 176 pages
Publication:  Dec 19, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author– Caroline Elvin is an author and journalist. Her grandfather cut the hair of the Kray twins for ten years and was even picked up and taken to ‘secret locations’ whilst they were on the run. Caroline has spent her life researching and hearing stories about them and would like to share her knowledge to help people build a picture of the real Kray twins.

BOOK REVIEW ~ Kidnapped by a Client

Kidnapped by a Client: An Attorney’s Fight for Justice at Any Cost


 

This was one of the most exciting, scary, and tension filled true crime books I’ve read. You really feel for Sharon Muse as the beginning of the story unfolds and you follow along with her. Things just get more intense and frightening as it continues and she finds herself kidnapped by someone she once represented who was convicted. And he wants revenge his own way now that he’s made her drive out to this creepy abandoned farm. This part of the book is riveting, but there is much more to this story, so check it out. I highly recommend this one.  Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Sharon R. Muse, JD & Holly Lorincz, and the publisher.

 

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Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing  – 312 pages
Publication: Sep 17th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars


The Author- Sharon Muse, JD is the commonwealth attorney for Kentucky’s 14th Judicial District. She has a BA in Psychology from the University of Kentucky, a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Louisville, specialized training in the legal field, and extensive training in effects of trauma on the brain. She works with experts in self-protection, trauma, and grief counseling. Muse teaches classes and speaks to groups about self-protection and assists victims as they navigate the legal system.

Holly Lorincz is a professional collaborative writer and the owner of Lorincz Literary Services, an editing and publishing company. She regular works with New York Times bestselling authors and is award-winning novelist herself. She is also a nationally recognized speaking coach and a longtime speaking instructor.

BOOK REVIEW ~ Britain’s Unsolved Murders

This book is about 13 murders in Britain that went unsolved between the mid 1857 and 1957, each laid out in separate chapters. These murders were all ones I hadn’t already read about, so that was even more interesting to me. I dived right in and found them enjoyable reading, starting with Chapter 1. The Poisoning of Emile L’Angelier – The Madeline Smith mystery, 1857. Chapter 2. Bradford’s Jack the Ripper – The murder of John Gill 1888. Chapter 3. The Country House Shooting – The murder of Windsor Dudley Cecil Hambrough, 1893. Chapter 4. The Baby Killer- The murder of Rees Thomas Yells Brandish, 1897. Chapter 5. The Peasenhall Mystery – The murder of Rose Harsent; Chapter 6. The Camden Town Murder- The murder of Emily Dimmock. Chapter 7. The Summer House Shooting – The murder of Caroline Mary Luard 1908. Chapter 8. The Kidwelly Poisoning- The murder of Mabel Greenwood 1919. Chapter 9. The Railway Murder -The murder of Florence Nightingale Shore, 1920. Chapter 10. The Burning Car Mystery – The murder of Evelyn Foster, 1931. Chapter 11. A Case of Ballistics – The murder of Doctor Angelos Zemenides, 1933. Chapter 12. The Country Estate Murders – The murder of George and Lillian Peach, 1952. Chapter 13. The Freezer Murder – The murder of Anne Noblett, 1957.

This is a good read for true crime lovers who enjoy a mystery and like cold cases. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Kevin Turton, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: Pen & Sword
Publication: Dec 19th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Born at Bradgate in Rotherham, Kevin Turton has been writing books on true crime and local history for over twenty years. Now based in Northamptonshire, where he has lived for twenty-five years, he has also written about the counties involvement in both World Wars and its murderous past and is currently researching his own family history.

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.


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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.


 

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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

BOOK REVIEW ~ DRY

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.

 

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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, http://www.augusten.com. He lives in New York City.