Charlie Donlea’s The Girl Who Was Taken [Book Review]

“The country was transfixed, not by the girl who was gone, but by the one who made it home.” The Girl Who Was Taken

ABDUCTION, MEDICAL EXAMINER AND A DEAD BODY

Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald (both seniors in high school) were kidnapped the same night but only Megan was able to escape her captor two weeks after. We meet up with Megan 14 months later as she has written a book about her ordeal and how she escaped. But we are left wondering what happened to Nicole and is there a connection between the two abductions.

Livia Cutty is Nicole’s sister and a medical examiner. When she receives what seems to be a body of a possible suicide jumper to examine she learns more than she expected. Not only that, this body will lead Livia on the hunt to find her sister with the help of a Megan. Soon, both Livia and Megan will come face to face with the truth neither expected.

THE BIRTH OF THE CHARACTERS

The book was written in a manner that it kept you engaged. No fancy words were used or ambiguity used to where you have to read the sentence or paragraph a few times to understand what’s being said.

The characters were well written to where they didn’t come over done or confusing. I’ve read books in which writers try to give birth to a character and over do it or give too much information about the character that could have been done within the story. Donlea does this perfectly with Nicole, Megan and Livia. Each chapter gives a bit more information about each character while continuing on with the story.

BUILDING A STORY

Donlea knows how to tell a story, that’s for sure. He writes in a manner as if he’s right there telling you the facts of the case. When it comes to crime suspense stories I like them to be smooth yet captivating and Donlea does that, with what seems as no effort. I’ve read books in which it seems the author was putting too much effort into their books that I grew tired of reading their work. A good example of this is Patricia Cornwell. I used to be fan of hers when I read her first three books, but after that, her books seemed forced and not genuine.

MY BIGGEST CONCERN WHICH IS ACTUAL SMALL

When Donlea would speak of the past the chapters were written in italics. I found this quite unnecessary for he’s already told us at the start the chapter was going to be set one month before the abduction or two weeks before the abduction. I hope he leaves the italics out of his next book unless he’s mentioning a title of something or a quote. As mentioned, this was a minor issue I had with the book. And this is mostly a personal preference. This will definitely not stop me from reading his other books and I hope he stays consistent throughout his career.

MY THOUGHTS

I absolutely loved this book. It had me on the edge of my seat from the first page until the very end. Some nights I couldn’t put the book down but sleep won the battle

Courtesy of Nicholas Nash

many a nights. As I was reading I thought of Nicolas Nash’s The Girl At The Bar for it kept you guessing. The only difference between Donlea’s The Girl Who Was Taken and Nash’s book is you had no ideas who was behind the abductions and the further you got into the book the harder the guesses became. With Nash’s book, you had many suspects and the further into the book you got, more and more suspects appeared. In both the reveal had me in shock. Never saw either one coming.

Please get a copy of both books and enjoy the ride.

Summer Lake is the next Donlea book I will be reading in a few weeks. I have two to read and review ahead of Summit Lake.

The Girl Who Was Taken
Author: Charlie Donlea
Pages: 320
Publisher: Kensington (25 Spril 2017
Where to purchase: AmazonBarnes and NobleiBooks
Other books by DonleaSummit Lake 

Charlie is currently working on his next book. Once I get a copy of it I will definitely be doing a review of it and I’m so looking forward to it.

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Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories by Chris Crutcher [Book Review]

THE HIGH SCHOOL YEARS

Now that I’m older, I look back on school years gone by and growing up/coming of age. As with all adults, or most, we think “If only I knew then what I know now.” As youngsters we worried about who liked us and who didn’t like us. I’m not referring to the romantic like. The simplest things in life made us think it will either ruin us for life or make us heroes.

TIME WILL TELL OR HEAL

I wish I could redo a lot of things, one of them being school. Mostly high school. I wasn’t a good student for I hated school. However, it was the best year of my life and the worst. Its funny to think that my only job back then was to go to school and yet I complained, as most kids do. My job today is going to work, paying bills, getting the car fixed, keeping the house up and on and on and on.

YOUNG ADULT BOOKS

This is what draws me to young adult books, especially those by Judy Blume. It allows me to escape from the real world and relive those days of junior high and high school. This is also why I enjoyed reading Robert Cormier books. Of all the Judy Blume books my favorite is Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret (1970). I read the book around 2010 or 2011. Yes, I was well into my adult years by then. But it took me back to Margaret’s school age years.

And this why I enjoyed Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher. High school is the them in these collective short stories and what we deemed important during that time. You don’t have to be a jock to be able to relate to the stories or the people. You just have to have gone to high school.

FROM ANGUS TO JOHNNY TO PETEY TO LIONEL AND OTHERS

Angus is the fat kid in school who has to unconventional families (for that time – 1984) and has been voted Home Coming King. He knows it was done as a joke, but soon the joke is on everyone else. However, the journey Angus and us take to get that point hits home.

Johnny has a father who is very controlling and extremely hard on Johnny. Johnny is waiting for the day he can seek revenge on his father and that day arrives, but will revenge be as sweet as he thinks?

Petey is either you or someone you knew in school. He wants to do what’s right, but has a tug of war with himself on what that is. If he pleases this person, then this might happen. If he please someone else, then that might happen. Petey learns you can’t please everyone and that’s OK. He’s willing to take one for the team…Team Petey.

Lionel lost his parents in a boating accident at age 14. He’s been on his own since then as well. Lionel is struggling with the anger he’s held inside for the one person who caused his parents death. Anger with a mixture of high school and the future ahead of you is bad cocktail. Or is it?

These are some of the stories in the book that will take you back to your younger days and school.

Before each story, Crutcher gives a background on where the stories came from which gives even more life to them.

BUT TELEPHONE MAN..

I was going to complain about the use of the N word in the story titled Telephone Man but realized I would be a big hypocrite if I did so. Why? Well because I’ve written a historical fiction novel (still in the works ) about the concentration camps and my book is filled with degrading words the Nazis (and some Germans) would call Jews. Just be forewarned, the story is filled with the N word and not so nice things regarding Asians and anyone else Telephone Man has been taught to hate.

GROWING OLD BUT STAYING YOUNG

This is why I read YA books, to stay young, relive the old days and laugh at myself on how I thought things back then were so serious. Now-a-days, they are trivial. Hind sight is 20/20 but growing old gives you x-ray vision into the past.

_________________________________

Athletic Shorts: Six Short Stories
Author: Chris Crutcher
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (1990); reprinted November 5, 2002
Pages: 208
Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

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Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women [Book Review]

courtesy of Amazon

HOLOCAUST STUDIES

I’ve been studying the Holocaust and learning about concentration camps for quiet a number of years. It started when the news showed ovens at a concentration camp. I believe it was Auschwitz, but I can’t be sure. I also can’t remember why the news was speaking of the ovens. It could have been an anniversary of the Holocaust. What I do remember is since seeing that I began to learn everything I could about, what I feel, is the most tragic thing to happen in history.

SO MUCH TO LEARN SO MANY BOOKS TO READ AND ONE TO WRITE

After reading so much about the Holocaust and realizing that those who lived through it are reaching the age in which death will soon be upon them, I decided to write a book on the subject. It is a historical fiction book and it’s still in the works. I started it in 2003 or thereabouts and I’m still working on it. Not working on it continually. I’ve missed placed it a few times, life happened, miss placed it again when I did find it and life happened even more. I finally decided to put it in a safe place. Now I just need to head back to it and finish the editing.

For my book I had to read a lot of books on the Holocaust. I preferred those written by those who survived or told their story to another than those who did research and wrote their version of events. Of the 50 or so of books I’ve read, I had my three favorites and one film:

Books:
Because of Romek by David Faber
Five Chimmeys by Olga Lengyel
Night By Elie Wiesel

Movie:
Auschwitz: Inside The Nazi State

There have been other movies which made an impact on me such as Schindler’s List (1993) and Holocaust (1978) to name a few. I could make a grocery list of Holocaust movies I’ve seen, but want to focus this post on the book about Ravensbrück.

RAVENSBRÜCK – HISTORY, MYSTERY AND THE WILL TO LIVE

Of all the books I’ve read, this one has become my all time favorite. It not only gives the history of the camp as in whose idea it was (Heinrich Himmler’s), how it was built (by men prisoner’s from other camps) and it’s intentions. It also gives the history of the war, to an extent. The book touched on the treaty Hitler signed with Stalin not to invade Russia and then invaded Russia. It spoke of the ties and promise Hitler made to Hungry not to invade it and do away with the Jews there and then, as with Stalin and Russia, went back on his promise.

The book spoke greatly about the rabbits in the camp. Rabbits were women selected for medical experiments. They had their legs cut open and shared glass inserted to see how long the leg and the prisoner would last. Gas gangrene was also injected for the same reason. Many became deformed or unable to walk after these experiments. They also became the first on the list to be killed once the news of Russians arriving became known because the rabbits knew too much. But a lot of rabbits survived the experiments and the camp and lived to tell their story in this book.

Dorthea Binz

FEMALE GUARDS

The books talks about the evilness of Dorthea Binz, a supervisor at Ravensbrück who took pleasure in beating women to inches of their life or just plain killing them. She would kiss her married boyfriend in front of women who were being beaten by other guards. Her pleasure in life was seeing others suffer…physically.

Johanna Langefeld

Then there was Johanna Langefeld, the first head guard who also took pleasure in punishing women. However, later in the book it speaks of how she tried to help the women, especially the rabbits. She was very much against the medical experiments going on and the systematic killings. When she went against the orders of the camp Commandant she was quickly shipped off to another camp, never to hear from again.

I was on the fence about Langefeld as I was reading about her and still am. However, there’s no denying Binz was just plain evil. The war only allowed her to act on her inner desires of inflicting physical pain on to others.

 

 

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING —- TO RAPE!

I knew the Russians were the first to liberate the camps, but I wasn’t aware of what they had done themselves. I saw the Russians as heroes, along with the Americans and British until I learned how the Russians raped not only German women, but also raped quite a few of the prisoners they had liberated. They raped prisoners they found hiding in woods or fields as well.

The German women they raped were not prisoners but civilians of the state. The horror the Russian soldiers placed on the women was horrific, especially the prisoners. After all they had gone through, the beatings, tortures, experiments, being held in dark rooms that were cold and wet for weeks, even months without food or bedding, they had to endure the rapes by those they saw as saviors. No longer were the Russian soldiers the face of friendliness but of more acts of horror these women would go through. When they encountered Polish soldiers they too became questionable characters. However, they were nothing like a majority of the Russian soldiers. The Polish soldiers did what the Russians should have, and that’s help the women by giving them food, clothing and ensuring them they are save.

WHAT ABOUT THE SWEDISH?

I would have included the Swedish in the mix of those who helped rescue the prisoners, but reading how they wouldn’t intervene when they knew what was going on in Ravensbrück makes me want to NOT give them any glory. And don’t get me started on the Swedish Red Cross. Those in high power in the Swedish office were in bed with a lot of members of the high Nazi command. Enough said.

AFTER THE FALL COMES THE PAIN AND THOSE WHO DENY IT HAPPENED

What these women went through and still survived the camps (I say camps to include all concentration camps) is amazing to me. I always said some had to survive to tell their story, otherwise, no one would believe it. Even with eye witness accounts there are those who do not believe the Holocaust happened. No one seems to doubt slavery happened or the Japanese were in internment camps, but many can’t believe us human beings can be so vile and evil as the Nazis were. Perhaps, if those who deny the Holocaust accept it really happened will have to accept or acknowledge the possibility, they too, are capable of such atrocities.

TELL ME YOUR STORY

It’s hard to get those who survived to tell their story. There were those in the book who hadn’t told their story in over 40 or 50 years because telling it will admit it really happened. Some believe not talking will make it go away. Not for them, but for the world. Some held on to momentoes of their stay at the camp that belonged to other prisoners that didn’t survive.

I’ve met a camp survivor (Gloria Lyon in 2004) and had a nice afternoon speaking to her and her husband (also a camp survivor). She was in the process of writing her story so she wouldn’t reveal a lot to me. But we spoke about the Holocaust as well as other things that wasn’t Holocaust related.

I found this YouTube interview Gloria Lyon did in 1997 you all might want to see.

FINALLY THOUGHTS

I highly recommend this book to the world, regardless if you are interested or not. Its a hard read for the information comes from those that were there not the author who did research and decided to write a book based on research. The author of Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler’s Concentration Camp for Women, Sarah Helm, also gave her thoughts on testimonies from other testimonies she received. Some contradicted each other, but most were in lined with one another. One thing they all had in common is the suffering they went through. Regardless of how they suffered, they suffered.

This book is also a one stop shop, in my opinion, on the history of the war, the treaties signed and broken and how much Himmler played a role in the extermination not only of the Jews, but of everyone Hitler and Himmler felt needed to go. There was no rhyme or reason to the Nazis logic, which is what I was hoping to find while reading. But the more I read the more the reason the Nazis thought they had, there weren’t any. Sometimes you have to see things through enemy eyes to try to understand…NOT condone, just understand. And yes I know, trying understand what the Nazis did is beyond understanding but I was hoping to see something. Yet, how can you see something that isn’t there and will never be there.

IN HONOR OF THOSE WHO SURVIVED AND THOSE WHO DIDN’T

Hebrew word Zohar, means Remembrance

In honor of those that survived and those that didn’t I got this tattoo. The writing is the Hebrew word Zohar which means Remembrance. I added a red tear drop for those that died in the camps.

____________________________________________________________________

RAVENSBRÜCK: LIFE AND DEATH IN HITLER’S CONCENTRATION CAMP

Author: Sarah Helm
Released: 22 March 2016
Edition: Reprint
Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pages: 784
Where To Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

 

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Book Reviewer Seeking Books

BOOK REVIEWER SEEKING BOOKS

I’ve always enjoyed reading but now I want to share my thoughts on the books I read. I am looking for true crime and crime suspense books to read and review. I also enjoy #psychological thriller books.

You can email me via the Contact page.
Twitter: @bloggernikki
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/theopinionatedmuse

Thank you for your time.

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OVER MY SHOULDER [Book Review]

COURTESY OF PATRICIA DIXON

FREYA MEETS KANE

Freya, an early 20 something female, has a good job with a good company. She also is in a relationship with Ronnie of about two years. Then she meets dashing Kane at her job when he is there to deliver her boss’s car to him.

Not only is Kane dashing, but he’s polite, well spoken and a once in a lifetime catch. And he has eyes of Freya.

THE START OF SOMETHING HORRIBLE

Kane knows how to play the game of manipulation and he plays it well. When the relationship starts, Kane takes Freya to the best restaurants to eat. Drives her in an expensive cars and showers her with gifts. He takes her to his apartment and treats her like she’s never been treated before.

Freya is taken in by Kane. So much so she breaks it off with her boyfriend, Ronnie.

It’s not long before Kane’s true colors start come out but Freya refuses to listen to his rages and her friend Lydia’s instincts about Kane. But it’s not only Lydia that has some concerns, Freya’s mother has some big concerns of her own. However, neither Lydia’s warnings nor Freya’s mother’s warnings has an impact on Freya. All she sees is dashing Kane who has money and can give her the life she always wanted.

TOO LATE TO TURN BACK

It’s not until Freya is so deep into the relationship and has provided herself with countless excuses on why Kane behaves the way he does, that she realizes she’s being held captive by an invisible wall called domestic abuse.

Kane not only becomes verbally and emotionally abusive towards Freya by disliking how she dresses or the things she eats (she was a conscious eater before meeting Kane), but it soon turns to physical abuse. Seemingly innocent evenings of watching a movie on TV and a slight comment from Freya can turn Kane into a raging maniac who sees Freya as a punching bag instead of his girlfriend.

IGNORING THE SIGNS

Freya had seen signs early on but choose to ignore them. Was it out of desperation because she found the man of her dreams and was she afraid to let him go? Was it because she was enjoying the life he could provide her? Or was she, as mentioned earlier, too far in to leave?

INVISIBLE WALLS

Invisible walls are hard to break down. You know it is there but you can’t see it. When Freya has to choose between her life (the spoils of being with Kane as well as the fear of leaving Kane) and her life (sanity, family and friends), which will she choose? Or is she too far in she can’t get out?

MY THOUGHTS

I had trouble reading this book for two reasons: 1. The abuse was all to real. No, not to me on a personal level, just on a level that this really happens. And 2. Freya is an intelligent woman and her staying with Kane had me calling her an idiot through out the book. Freya was even calling her self an idiot for staying with Kane.

I have the pleasure of calling Patricia Dixon my friend and have had the pleasure of speaking with her. From out conversations I learned why the story seemed so real; because it is real. What Freya is going through is loosely based on the author’s experience and the ordeal didn’t end not so long ago for the author. Everything is still fresh with Ms. Dixon. I know time heals all, but some time it will always been like a fresh wound no matter how much time has passed.

OVER MY SHOULDER
AUTHOR:
Patricia Dixon
RELEASE DATE:
19 May 2017
LENGTH: 
454 pages
PUBLISHER:
Highfield Press
AVAILABLE: AMAZONBARNES AND NOBLE

Author’s Facebook page: Patricia Dixon

 

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The Girl At The Bar [Book Review]

Courtesy of Nicholas Nash

CREATURE OF HABIT

I’m very much a creature of habit when it comes to most things in life. This applies to the books I read as well. Not so much the genre, but the author. I usually like to read from authors I already know such as Ann Rule, Patricia Cornwell, M William Phelps and Margaret Atwood. Getting used to another’s form of writing is something I avoid. This is causing me to miss out on a lot of good books. But this time, I decided to veer off the beaten path and hit the road less traveled, by me at least.

TRUE CRIME IS MY TIME

I mostly flock to true crime books by Ann Rule or M. William Phelps (see my review of Obsessed here). I also enjoy fiction crime books such as those by Patricia Cornwell (All That Remains, Postmortem, Body of Evidence – these are her best works).  This is all before I met (via Facebook) and read Nicholas Nash’s The Girl At The Bar.

LOCATION, PLOT AND TURNING PAGES

The Girl At The Bar is a mystery thriller set in modern day New York in which “Rebecca, a brilliant cancer researcher, disappears after a one-night stand with a neurotic man with a questionable past” (Amazon). As mentioned, I met Nicholas Nash on Facebook after friend requested me. I could resist accepting realizing he’s an author. It became more appealing when I learned this is his first book and it’s a mystery thriller. After obtaining a hard copy of the book (I normally prefer e-readers to adjust the font size – old eyes here) I began reading it straight away. I have to say, it’s been a long while since a book had me rapidly turning pages as this one did.

BACKSTORY

Rebecca Chase is a brilliant researcher who worked with Dr. Gupta on finding a cure for cancer. One night while in New York for a conference she meets a man at a bar and the next morning she disappears. Here’s an except from Chapter 6:

Day 5, Monday

East Village, New York City

Ragnar heard a loud knock on the door. It was a Monday morning and he wasn’t expecting anyone today. He had stopped the deliveries from FreshDirect, a popular online food delivery service in New York City, last month. As he started to cut back on his expenses, the grocery bills were now on the chopping block. Ragnar would walk several blocks to a neighborhood grocery store that stocked cheaper unbranded versions of the basic stuff, cornflakes, bread and the like.

“Mr. Johnson?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“I am detective Timothy Burns and this is detective Roberta Lopez. We’d like to ask you a few questions about Rebecca Chase. She was last seen with you on Thursday night leaving the King & Duke bar. The bartender gave us your address. Said you were a regular there and left with her. Can we come in and ask you a few questions?”

Timothy Burns was a tough and built middle-aged man with red hair and a faint Irish accent. Roberta, on the other hand, was a delicate looking woman with a petite frame but a very determined face. Her hair was tied back in a no nonsense style and she looked ready to engage in hand-to-hand combat at a moment’s notice.

“Sure, come on in. Did you say last seen? Is she, like, uh, go… missing?”

My mind began racing about Ragnar, until more characters were brought into the picture.

THESE CHARACTERS ARE CHARACTERS

Ragnar Johnson – last person seen with Rebecca
Julia Fizpatrick (used to be James Fitzpatrick = founder of Atticus Biopharma – another research company seeking the cure for cancer
Nancy Mulligan – fellow researcher of Julia’s and a former flame of Julia’s when she was James. Nancy still has a thing for Julia/James
Gustev Henrikson – fellow researcher who worked with Rebecca’s and former boyfriend
Chrissy Cassidy – fellow researcher who worked with Rebecca
Iain Thorne – former fiance of Rebecca’s
Dr. Steven Gupta – researcher who Rebecca, Chrissy and Gustev worked for
Dr. Matheus Faust – founder of Faust Biopharma (named after his favorite book Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) – a major competitor of Atticus Biopharma

Nash does a great job of bringing out the personalities and thought processes if each character.

Nancy is still in love with James, now Julia and will do anything to for her. Gustev is a researcher just trying to make a name for himself by any means necessary. Chrissy just enjoys what she does and was very close to Rebecca and has become heart broken of her disappearance. Iain is a cocky bastard who has cheated on Rebecca numerous times. The two doctors are determined to find a cure for cancer and make a name for themselves. All these characters become suspects, either by the detectives or by the reader.

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGH YOU KNOW, THEN COMES THE TWIST

There were a few times I thought I had it figured out. But once I figured who did it, another twist arrived and changed my thought process. This was the great thing about this book; just when you think you have it figured out, you don’t. Just when you though all the characters have been introduced, Nash introduces more. Some are connected to Rebecca and some aren’t, but each makes you wonder if they are behind her disappearance.

THE DETECTIVES

Timothy Burns and Roberta Lopez – both hard hitting detectives who pull no punches and hold nothing back. With Burns’s in-your-face attitude and Lopez’s instincts you’d think they would have this case sewn up lickity-split. But just when they think they have found their perpetrator, they get thrown a curve ball and start chasing new leads.

END RESULTS

STUTTER ISLAND

I had a few issues with the book, but I had to remember I had an edition of the book which was not the final copy. Once I kept that in mind when reading, I was able to ignore the idiosyncrasies in the book. For instance, Ragnar has a stuttering problems when he’s nervous. Constantly displaying this every time he talked was unnecessary. Mentioning he has a stuttering problem while introducing the character and giving examples of that is fine in the beginning. However, reading it throughout the book drove me nuts. I asked Nash if he kept this in the final copy and he said no. He toned it down. Thank you Nicholas. Whew!

SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE

In the unpublished edition there was a lot of science talk in the book. I don’t care for science. I had the same issue while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoot:

The book is about Henrietta Lacks and the immortal cell line, known as HeLa, that came from Lacks’s cervical cancer cells in 1951. The book is notable for its science writing and dealing with ethical issues of race and class in medical research. (Wikipedia)

Again, I had to remember this is an unpublished edition I’m reading and hopefully a lot of science has been removed from the final version.

WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAYS

I might be getting picky here, but there were times I didn’t know who was talking. Dialogues between people was not made clear as to who was saying what; and sometimes to whom. As mentioned, I might getting picky here. Also, the edition I have is not the final copy. I keep saying this because the copy someone might be reading may possibly not have all the idiosyncrasies I ran into. OR the person reading the book may not be as picky as I am when reading.

FINAL RESULT

I loved the book! Nichalas Nash has a new fan and I am so looking forwarding to reading his next book.

I also have had the honor of forming a friendship with Nicholas via emails we exchange and via Facebook. Nicholas Nash has begun working on his next book in which he has two chapters written.

I highly recommend the book; you won’t be disappointed.

THE GIRL AT THE BAR

  • Print Length: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Fireflies Publishing, LLC
  • Publication Date: February 3, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a hard copy and ebook

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M. William Phelps’s Obsessed: [Book Review]

TRUE CRIME ANY TIME

As an avid reader of anything true crime related, I am also a avid viewer of true crime shows. If told right, the show can keep you guessing even if you know who did it.

I became, and still am, a fan of Ann Rule. This lady could write a true crime novel like nobody else. I also enjoyed ficitonal work of Patricia Cornwell (All That RemainsPostmortemBody of Evidence). Rule’s books included The Stranger Beside Me (the story of Ted Bundy), Green River Running Red (about the Green River Killer), Too Late To Say Goodbye (about Bart Corbin who killed both his wives), and my favorite Everything She Every Wanted (the story of Pat Allison).

INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY CHANNEL

I am a huge fan of the Investigation Discovery channel which is dedicated to nothing but true crimes. Some of the shows on this channel are; Web of Lies, Deadly Women, Deadly Sins, Fatal Vows, Evil Kin, Deadly Devotion, Fear Thy Neighbor and A Stranger In My Home to name a few of their original on-going programs. I’m partial to Deadly WomanDeadly Sins, and Evil Kin. They also have a slew of new shows such as Murder Calls, Murder Choose Me, Vanity Fair Confidential, Your Worst Nightmare and my absolutely favorite A Crime To Remember. I recommend doing research on these shows, download the ID GO app from iTunes of Google Play, and watch these shows as well as other shows they have.

It’s from a number of these shows that I learned of true crime writer M. William Phelps. I think the first time I saw was on an episode of Deadly Women. After seeing him on a few episodes I did research on some his books and looked up reviews, some of which weren’t that good, to see if his books would be of interest to me. Because of the bad reviews I read,  I decided not to give his books a chance. We are now a few years past and he’s on more Investigation Discovery shows, or ID for short, and I’m becoming more and more interested in reading his books, despite some of the bad reviews I read.

REVIEW BEFORE I BUY, BUT STILL BUY

I began doing research on his books and ready synopsis to find out what grabs me as my first dive into he M. William Phelps arena of true crime novels and came across Obsessed and boy am I glad I ignored the 3.82 rating given to the book on Goodreads. I felt that if I based on what I was going to read of watch on other’s opinions, I wouldn’t be reading nor watching anything. Yes, I do take the bad reviews in account along with the good reviews and then form my own opinion after reading the book or watching the show.

I purchased the book on my Kindle and started reading straight away and became hooked immediately.

Synopsis of the book Obsessed: “Sheila Davalloo was young, attractive, and successful. When she started a new job at a cutting-edge research lab in Stamford, Connecticut, she met the man of her dreams. Nelson Sessler had no idea how violently Sheila would react when he began seeing a co-worker, Anna Lisa Raymundo. Sheila eliminated her rival in a bloody knife attack–and then turned her rage on another victim she saw as an obstacle to her passions. M. Williams Phelps recounts the riveting story of a white-collar love triangle gone horribly wrong. . .and the terrifying infatuation that drove one woman to kill”. (Source: Amazon)

JUST LIKE ANN 

As with Ann Rule, Phelps has a way of making you feel like you are there. You know who did it, or you think you do, but you wonder why they committed the crime. My thoughts on murderers is when did logic and self control leave their minds?

We all have made the remark of wanting to kill someone, but how many of us mean it. How many of us would be so obsessed over someone or something that it would cause us to think that taking a life is OK because, well in the end, we are going to get what we want, which is either that person we killed for or that thing we thought was worth killing for.

The book starts out with bang by explaining the scene in the victim’s apartment (Anna Lisa Raymundo).  The last thing I see or read will always creep into my dreams, I had to stop reading the book at night. I would only read the book during the day. But this stopped after a while, and reading at night no long was an issue. That didn’t last long. Once I got past the description of the bloody scene and started in on the story this became my go-to book before turning out the lights for the night.

DESCRIPTION, DECEPTIONS, REVELATIONS

Phelps gives enough description of the characters as he does with a place or a particular scene. Phelps also does a great job going from the present to the past back to present. He gets your attention and then keeps you wanting more.

I KNOW WHO DID IT, BUT KEEP ME GUESSING

Even though I had my strong suspicion on who killed Anna Lisa, there were times I wasn’t sure. Phelps kept you guessing while revealing who the killer is or giving strong indications of who it is. How could Paul fall for the lies on quite a few occasions, each one getting more and more outlandish. In one instance she told Paul he had take any thing that showed signs of a man being in the house to his hotel. While reading this I’m wondering why isn’t Paul questioning Sheila. Why is Paul allowing Shelia to dictate what he does without fighting back or at best question her? Side note, the brother Shelia was having over was really Nelson Sessler.

If it wasn’t for Shelia’s attempted murder on Paul, they would have never found out who killed Anna Lisa. But it took another 10 years for the trial to take place.

I highly recommend this book to any true crime reader. If you’re missing the days of Ann Rule, you now have M. William Phelps to lean on.

Title: Obsessed
Author: M. William Phelps
Published: 4 March 2014
Publisher: Pinnacle
Pages: 512
Available formats: Paperback, ebook, audible
Available sites: AmazonBarnes and NobeliBooks

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Paula Hawkins Girl On The Train: A Psychological Thriller [Book Review]

PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER BOOKS

If you’re looking for a good psychological thriller with a twist, that’s also an easy read, then Paula Hawkins Girl on the Train  is the book for you. The last good mystery book or psychological thriller I’ve read that I absolutely enjoyed was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Another good one is The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler Olsen, which is part of a series of the Department Q series. Lost is the first in the series and I’m starting to digress like I normally do.

I believe I heard about Girl on the Train from Goodreads due to me seeking a good mystery book to read that was also an easy read, and this came highly recommended. The book was so intriguing and well written, that I was able to read it in three days, and I’m a slow reader as it is.

Written from the view point of three different women, Rachel, Anna and Megan, the books centers on the disappearance of a woman. 

BASIC PLOT OF GIRL ON THE TRAIN

The store begins with Rachel, who takes a commuter train each morning in which one of it’s stops lands her in front of house #23. House #23 belongs to Jess and Jason who have their morning tea on the terrace every morning. She witnesses this for a number of mornings until she see’s something that shatters her world. But that’s not the end of Rachel’s adventure…it’s just the beginning.

Rachel is a train wreck that has happened, is going to happen and does happen. I kept thinking, how in the world would they portray Rachel in a film (this is before I knew a film of the book were to take place) without making people, specifically me, uncomfortable. Rachel had me nervous throughout the book because of the idiotic things she does that gets her deeper into trouble with everyone around her. You find yourself wanting to help her and being frustrated with her at the same time. This is how deeply involved into Rachel the book gets you. You want to help her and yell at her at the same time.

NOT HOLDING ANY PUNCHES

This book does not hold back any punches, and that’s another thing I loved about it. It takes you on a rollercoaster ride with each character while engrossing you in a mystery that provides so many twist and turns, your head starts to spin. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, Hawkins throws another curve ball to which you have to stop for a second, shake your head, to make sure you read what you JUST read. After you have said, “Ohhhhh” with the excitement of the thought you should have known, here comes another curve ball.

I like books that keep you guessing, especially psychological thrillers such as Gone Girl did, and this book, Girl on the Train, along with The Keeper of Lost Causes, will keep you guessing until the end.

If you’re looking for an easy read, psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat, Girl On the Train (Hawkins), Gone Girl (Flynn), and The Keeper of Lost Causes (Olsen) are the books for you.

Girl On A Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Release Date: 13 January 2015
Publisher: Riverheads Books
Pages: 326
Where to buyamazon.com or Barnes and Noble (hard-copy or e-book available from both sites) or iBooks

My Goodreads Profile

Trailer courtesy of KinoCheckInternational

Here is the line up for the cast for the movie version of Girl on a Train RELEASED DATE 7 OCTOBER 2016

Rachel – Emily Blunt (Devil Wears Prada, Charlie Wilson’s War)
Anna – Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Red Tent)
Megan – Haley Bennett (The Hole, The Equalizer)
Directed by Tate Taylor, directed The Help so I can see this movie being good already.
Written by: Paul Hawkins (novel) and adapted to screen play by Erin Cressida Wilson

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Judy Blume’s In An Unlikely Event [Book Review]

JUDY BLUME AND CHILDHOOD

Judy Blume’s books are usually read by those in their younger years, like sixth, seventh and eighth grade and even into high schools for her most of her books are based during those times in a girl’s life. But they are also read by adults who wish to relive those days (by re-reading the books), or those, like me, who wish to relive those younger years and forget about adulthood for a bit. I started with Summer Sisters and fell in love with the book and, to this day, outside of Cater in The Rye (J.D Salinger) is one of my favorite books that I could read again. After I read Summer Sisters I decided to visit her other books such Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, Here’s To You Rachel Robinson, and Just As Long As We’re Together.

When I found out that Blume was coming out with a new book via @goodreads, I was ecstatic for I missed reliving the childhood I wish I had; I went so far as to pre-order the book via Barnes and Noble (Nook e-reader). And the day finally came when I received an email stating my book was ready for download, and a-downloading I went and a-reading I began.

THE PLOT

Elizabeth, New Jersey is hit with not one, not two plane crashes, but three plane crashes within months of each other. Granted, I didn’t know what the book was about save for it’s about a tragedy that this town has to live through, but I wasn’t expecting plane crashes to be the tragedy.

We are introduced to the characters in the book before the first plane crash: Miri, 15, Natalie, a few years old and a wanna-be dancer, Daisey, assistant in Dr. Osner’s dental office, Steve, senior in high school, Mason, Miri’s boyfriend (senior high school), Catherine, high school age, etc., etc., There are a gang of characters in this book that it’s hard to keep up at times; both kids and adults and those entering adulthood.

WHEN TRAGEDY STRIKES

As I’m reading the book I’m wondering what the tragedy could have been during that time from of 1952 (the Korean war was going on and it wasn’t log after WW II ended in 1945). Then the first plane crash happened and it put a bit of twist in the book because now you have to see how everyone is going to handle/react to the plane crash, and this is what I love about Blume…she draws you into her characters that you want to call them and make sure they are OK. Just when you have lived through the first plane crash with them another one takes places place about a month or so after the first one. Blume incorporates actually news articles written about the crash into the book and it’s interesting to read how people wrote back then. This is another aspect of Blume’s books I like, she has a way of transporting you to the time period she is writing about.

TIME PERIODS

I’m going to divert for a bit regarding the time period. As mentioned, this is during the early 1950’s and I didn’t think much about the time period until one of the characters (I believe it’s Catherine) decides she wants to become a stewardess for TWA and two things the jobs requires besides having that Hollywood look is to be between 5’2 and 5’6 and…get this one…you have to be white. This took me aback a bit, but then I had to remember the time frame of the story. I believe Blume was pointing this out as showing how ridiculous things were back then when it came to race without being over the top about it. I like her subtle mention of it, but it didn’t make me angry at all, I just forgot the time frame, for the quick second, how things were back then.

I was OK with the first plane crash, started getting annoyed with the second plane crash, but was through with the book when the third plane crash took place. I was starting to find the book a bit hard to believe for I couldn’t see how a small town as Elizabeth, NJ could have three plane crashes in less than year of each other. The third plane crash had me stop reading the book and giving it one star on Goodreads. Yeah, I rated it before I finished it, that’s how bad this book was irritating me and I felt, taking me for a fool. Who the frack would believe that three plane crashes would take place in that short amount of time? Well, the book wasn’t taking me for a fool, I was taking myself for a fool, but wouldn’t learn that until later after I finished the book.

KEEP COMING BACK

I tried reading other books, but something kept nagging at me to finish Blume’s and I would go back to it, leave it for a few days, go back and so forth for about two weeks. Finally, I decided to stick with it and am I glad I did. This is another one of my favorite Blume books I could read again and again. I had to let the number of plane crashes go and just concentrate on the characters and things going on their lives and man, is there plenty going on or what? I’m not going to say what’s going on for I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but let’s just say my jaw dropped a few times during the course of the book.

I like the way book ended with you feeling like you know these people personally and want to call them up to see how they are doing. Some lives ended good and some didn’t. I changed my one star on Goodreads to four stars (not sure why I didn’t give it five stars when I’m basically giving it five stars here..hmmm).

I highly recommend this book to any and everyone. I don’t think anyone can call themselves a reader without reading a Judy Blume book (and age does not matter AT ALL!), I don’t care which one it is……yeah I do..start with Summer Sisters, but make sure to read In An Unlikely Event. Oh yeah, I forgot to add, you’ll find out later in the book why the book titled that.

I am so looking forward to Blume’s next book.

You can read more about the plane crashes that took place in Elizabeth, NJ (Blume’s hometown) HERE

You can purchase In An Unlikely Event from Amazon or Barnes and Noble (hard copy or download)

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Pages: 416
Release Date: 2 June 2016

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Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Possible Spoiler)

GOODREADS FOR GOOD BOOKS

I belong to a reading challenge group on @goodreads (not sure if I mentioned this in my last book review of Judy Blume’s In An Unlikely Event already already) and September’s book is The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I usually read my books via my iPhone or the Fire HD 6 (getting rid of that and getting an iPad mini soon), but I find a lot of distractions with reading from those devices, mostly with Candy Crush Soda (yeah, I’m hooked liked a fool), so I decided to head to Barnes and Noble and get a hard copy of the book so I could spend Labor Day weekend reading without being distracted.

CHARLIE AND THE LETTERS

The protagonist tells the story via letter he (Charlie) is writing to someone but we don’t know who. He starts his letter off with the date and Dear Friend. He explains in his first letter why he’s writing the letters but doesn’t give a clue as to who the person is. Even at the end of the book we don’t know how the person is he’s writing to, but it doesn’t matter. By the mere fact that he starts each letter with Dear Friend we become that person he is confiding in, and that’s what he’s doing in each of these letters, confiding in us.

We follow Charlie through a year of school (freshman year when we meet Charlie). He introduces us to his friends Patrick, Sam (Patrick’s sister), Bill (Charlie’s English teacher who thinks the world of Charlie), Charlie’s sister, brother and parents and those he comes in contact with. We learn secrets of these people, things that happen to them that only Charlie can share with us and things that happen to Charlie that he can only share with us. There are somethings he won’t tell us, which is fine.

THINGS WE LEARN ABOUT CHARLIE

-Patrick (high school senior) is gay and having a secret affair with Brad, the star quarterback of the school
-Charlie’s sister (high school senior) gets pregnant and has an abortionCharlie has a crush on Sam (but you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens with those two)
-Charlie takes LSD, has taken up smoking cigarettes and weed and drinks at times
-Charlie gets a girlfriend and loses that girlfriend and his friends in the process (you have to read the book to understand it more)

We learn how dysfunctional Charlie’s family is but not in a disturbing way. More in a normal dysfunctional way, where the sister hates the brother at times. Father ignores the son at times. No likes Charlie at times. But mostly, we grow to like Charlie right away and hope for the best for him.

ONCE A WALLFLOWER ALWAYS A WALLFLOWER

Although Charlie is a wallflower by nature, he still remains a wallflower in his own way throughout the book when he’s with his friends at parties or at Big Boy. He becomes part of the party while still sitting on the sidelines. He is apart of the many conversations while still sitting on the sidelines. Not physically of course. His letters are detailed that it’s like he was watching everything go down as well be apart of everything.

Charlie has a way of staying positive throughout the letters even when things are going really wrong for him, because he has us to talk to. These letters are a way for him to remain sane through it all the best he can.

Perks reminds me of my high school days and how simple things really were then. Charlie begins realizes this too through the book.

CONFUSION FOR ME TO BE HAD

There were some things I didn’t understand since the book is written between 1991 and 1992. For instance, the time Charlie comes home to find his sister watching Gomer Pyle. Gomer Pyle was in the 70’s. The author fails to tell us if the sister is watching via TVLand or another station that plays old shows. Doesn’t it matter? Yeah, it does to me, but then again, I’m probably being too particular. Charlies bring up VHS tapes, but I had remember this was the early 90’s and that’s what we had then. He talks about writing letters; again, the 90’s and email was not known or used widely then.

I don’t find the 90’s as being that long ago and reading this book really made me realize how primitive (compared to today’s standards) we were. In essence, pen and paper were the tools of the day. Not Facebook, not emails, not Twitter, but pen and paper. There is a point in the book that Charlie is given a typewriter by Sam..a typewriter. Again, it’s the time period. I still think typewriters are great.

Some have Said that Charlie is this generation’s Holden Caulfield from Catcher In The Rye and I strongly disagree. Holden was a rebel from the beginning; Charlie was a loaner and never did become a rebel in my opinion.

This book will resonate with anyone of any age and I feel it will become a favorite among those that are teenagers now when they get older, like Judy Blume books are with us adults now.

You can purchase the book via Amazon or Barnes and Noble in both e-reader format or hardcopy
224 pages broken up into four sections.
Publisher: MTV Books
Release date: 14 August 2012

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