MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ Killing Mother

Killing Mother: A Son’s Memoir


 

I recently picked up this Kindle book to read. My, my! This is quite a book in the vicious figure of mother Sandy. It hits like a freight train as you realize its from a real childhood. It becomes sickening but you can’t stop reading to see what’s going to happen next. The mother is so hateful and cruel towards her kids and foster kids, it will make you ill. It should be read despite this and a heavy dose of preachyness in the latter third of the book.  If you like true crime, check it out if you dare. It’s very well researched and written and will leave you mind-blown.


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Written by Robert Wallace

Independently published – 404 pages
Publication date: Oct 8, 2017
My rating: 4/5 Stars


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Nothing Can Hurt You

 

This started out sounding like it was going to be a good story. Maybe I should stick to strictly non-fiction, because I got lost in all of the characters and never quite got back to knowing what was what from that point on. I understood the basic story about the college student who was killed by her boyfriend. Then there’s the newspaper reporter who felt it might have something to do with the serial killer of several women. But the melange of characters rotate so much that I couldn’t keep up, until I’d wasted a lot of time, and then it was time to switch to another character again. I read this mostly in one day, so it’s not like I dragged it out over weeks and lost the thread of the story or the characters. It just felt like too many balls juggling in the air at one time to me. I’m staying away from fiction with my crime. Just the facts, Ma’am, from now on. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Nicola Maye Goldberg, and the publisher.


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Bloomsbury Publishing – 240 pages
Published date: June 23rd, 2020
My rating: 2/5


 

The Author- Nicole Maye Goldberg is a graduate of Bard College and Columbia University. She is the author of the novella Other Women (Sad Spell Press, 2016) and the poetry collection The Doll Factory (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in CrimeReads, The Quietus, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Winter Tangerine, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.


 

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.


 

MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ The Phantom Prince

The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall



 

This updated book I felt was very well done, given the wisdom of several decades to reflect, and to help improve Liz’s harsh feelings about herself at the time. I was shocked at how much I’d forgotten of the original story. I’m still absorbing it, I suppose. The part written by the daughter, Molly, was enlightening and heartbreaking all at once. But she seems to have made peace with the past fairly well.

I would recommend for any true crime fan, especially for any that are interested in Ted Bundy, one of the better known serial killers with many books written about him, even long after his execution. There are also many never seen before pictures in the book of Bundy and the author and others.



 

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Purchased:   Jan 15th, 2020
Published:   Jan 7th, 2020
Publisher:   Henry N. Abrams Updated, Expanded Edition, 224 pages
My Rating:   5/5 Stars



 

The Author-  Elizabeth Kendall’s memoir, The Phantom Prince, was originally published in 1981.

Molly Kendall, her daughter, considered Bundy a father figure between the ages of three and ten.



 

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Encyclopedia of the Ted Bundy Murders

The Encyclopedia of the Ted Bundy Murders



 

This 5th book by Kevin Sullivan on the subject of Ted Bundy really is the icing on the cake, as far as I’m concerned. It has everything a serious Bundyphile could want, to look things up on him, with names, dates, and places, all having to do with him and his cases. What a wonderful reference guide on Bundy that will be useful for years to come. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and it has become one of my favorite Ted books already for checking things. I think of it as my “Bundy Bible” of all things Bundy. I’d recommend it for any serious true crime student or anyone doing research about Ted Bundy, it’s just so comprehensive. Review copy provided by WildBlue Press and author Kevin Sullivan in exchange for a fair review.



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Publisher: WildBlue Press – 235 pages
Publication: Jan 7th, 2020
My Rating: 5/5 Stars



 

The Author- A writer of history and true crime, Kevin M. Sullivan is the author of 15 books, including what has now become with the publication of this book, a 5-volume set covering the life and murders of Ted Bundy. Indeed, because of his almost 14-year immersion into this many-faceted case, Sullivan has been a guest on documentaries pertaining to the killer on REELZ, HLN (CNN’s Headline News), the Oxygen Network, and ABC’s 20/20 program, as well as many radio shows and podcasts.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Krays: The Final Word

Krays: The Final Word: The definitive account of the Krays’ life and crimes

 

Here is another book in the more than a handful now that I have read on the Krays and their cohorts as I learn more about that period of time in Britain and some of the major and minor criminals that were operating. The Krays were some of the major operators during their time, and held a bit of power for a while. Reggie and Ronnie Kray were twins, and also had an older brother Charles and they were all busy in the life of crime.

This book is a good overview of their criminal lives, detailing the places they lived, the clubs they frequented, and the ones they either fixed up and ran, or muscled into and took over, either in part or totally. It’s set in the 1950s and 1960s in East London. It also goes over the men they killed or ordered killed. I found it enjoyable as a good true crime read, and I think most who like that genre would also. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author James Morton, and the publisher.


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Publisher: Mirror Books – 364 pages
Publication: Nov 14th, 2019
MY RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Author- James Morton was a criminal lawyer and has published many books including Nipper Read, Mad Frank’s Britain, and The Gangland series.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ The Third Rainbow Girl

The Third Rainbow Girl: The Long Life of a Double Murder in Appalachia

 

This unusual blend of true crime and memoir is rather quirky and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. There are places it felt a bit sideswiped to me, then I’d go back to enjoying it once again. The true crime parts were good, as was the history of the state and the research. The two women, Vicki Durian, 26, and Nancy Santomero, 19, were headed to a Rainbow Gathering festival in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, near the Virginia border. They never made it, having been murdered in a clearing that was mostly known just to locals, as it was not that easy to find. So suspicion fell on it being a local person. There was also a third girl traveling with them named Liz who survived but seemed to have disappeared.

Despite investigation and much speculation, the case went cold for a long time. It stayed fresh in many people’s minds though. Tips and breaks do happen at times later though, so some keep hope. Someone must know something. A good true crime book/memoir for those who like them, with some mystery and history. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Emma Copley Eisenberg, and the publisher.


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Publisher: Hachette Books – 336 pages
Published: Jan 21st, 2020
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Emma Copley Eisenberg is a writer whose work has appeared in Granta, VQR, McSweeney’s, Tin House, The Paris Review online, The New Republic, Salon, Slate, and elsewhere. Her work has been supported by the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Elizabeth George Foundation, Lambda Literary, and the New Economy Coalition. Her reporting has been recognized by GLAAD, the New York Association of Black Journalists, the Deadline Club and Longreads’ Best Crime Reporting 2017. Eisenberg lives in Philadelphia, where she co-directs Blue Stoop, a community hub for the literary arts.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Mothers & Murderers

Mothers & Murderers: A True Story of Love, Lies, Obsession and Second Chances

 

This was an unusual true crime case written about by Katherine Ellison, beginning when she was starting out as a reporter covering the crime beat for her paper. An error in one story later got her sued by one of the people, who was married to the victim and the whole mess dragged on for many years as she followed the case. The reporter kept trying to put it behind her and move on, even taking jobs as a freelancer in foreign countries, but this same case kept pulling her back at times. It’s an interesting read as Ellison tries to face up to things in herself that she wants to change that she feels she may share with the woman who sued her. While at the same time, doing some really great work in her writing. A fascinating story with many twists, and I had the added interest of it going to places in Michigan in the area I grew up, which made it fun. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Katherine Ellison, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: WildBlue Press – 318 pages
Publication: Sep 24th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars


 

The Author- Katherine Ellison is a Pulitzer-prize-winning former foreign correspondent and the author of ten non-fiction books, on topics ranging from Imelda Marcos to environmental conservation to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. From 1984-99, she reported from Asia, Africa, and Latin America for Knight Ridder Newspapers, covering attempted coups, earthquakes, samba parades, civil wars, drug-trafficking, dictators, Avon ladies in the Amazon and more. Her numerous for journalism awards include The George Polk Award, the Investigative Reporters and Editors Award, and the Overseas Press Club of America’s award for human rights reporting. Returning to the United States in 1999, Ellison worked as an author, ghostwriter, communications strategist, and speechwriter for clients including major Silicon Valley investors, the Ford, Packard, and Irvine foundations and Cater Communications. Her feature stories and op-eds have appeared in media including The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Time, Fortune, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. She has been interviewed about her books by “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “CBS This Morning,” “Time Magazine,” “Talk of the Nation” and others. Almost every Monday night, she leads a writing workshop at Marin County juvenile hall.


 

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 ~ 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.

 

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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 maureencallahan.net.