THE BARREN GROUNDS – Book One of THE MISEWA SAGA by Award-winning Canadian Indigenous author DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Title: THE BARREN GROUNDS  

Series: THE MISEWA SAGA – BOOK 1

Author: DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Genre:  MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: PUFFIN CANADA – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

ISBN: 9780735266100

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

MY REVIEW:

THE BARREN GROUNDS is the first in a series of Middle-Grade Indigenous/Fantasy novels. The series is titled THE MISEWA SAGA and has a Narnia-esque theme.

The story begins with Morgan, an angry preteen Indigenous girl who was placed into the foster care system as a toddler. That system is all she knows, and, as is often the case in real life, her experiences in foster care have not been pleasant.

Placed with a young couple who are new to foster parenting, Morgan resists all attempts at bonding because she is extremely cognizant of the fact that she can be sent back to an orphanage or on to another foster home at any time. “You’ll see. The world will harden you.” This seems to be Morgan’s issue. She has been thrown away all her life – even her biological mother didn’t want her. 

Her foster parents bring a boy into their home who is a year younger than Morgan, named Eli. Eli is Indigenous, as is Morgan, but because she was placed into the system as a toddler, she knows nothing about her rich cultural background. But, Eli does.

When Eli draws a detailed scene, it somehow opens a portal to another reality. When Eli goes into the portal, Morgan goes after him to bring him back.

What they discover is a land out of Indigenous lore. With talking animals who walk on two legs, and a land stuck in perpetual winter, Morgan and Eli learn about their heritage.

Eli and Morgan set out on an epic quest to save the “two-leggeds” and their world from perpetual winter.

The adventures they have teach them that it isn’t always blood that creates a family.

They also learn that whether they are aware of their Indigenaity or not, it does not matter. That does not make them any less Indigenous than those who are aware of their heritage.

This story brings attention to the fact that too many Indigenous children are being removed from their parents and placed into foster care, often with non-Indigenous foster parents who are more interested in the money provided to them by government than in having the child become a true member of their family. There are definitely some amazing foster parents, but, unfortunately, the majority of foster kids tend to have multiple negative experiences before finding an acceptable placement. Many foster kids learn almost nothing about their heritage and culture and there is a vast difference between growing up in a white culture and growing up in an Indigenous culture.

All in all, this book has everything a Middle-Grade reader can possibly want and I think the MISEWA SAGA will be a hit.

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book. **


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

Strangers, the first book in his Reckoner trilogy, a young adult supernatural mystery, won the 2018 Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (Manitoba Book Awards).

David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues.

A sought-after speaker and educator, Dave is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.darobertson.ca

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

YOUTUBE

AMAZON  

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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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DAVID A. ROBERTSON is also the author of several important Indigenous Peoples books and now has a podcast about his life.

SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD by Canadian Literary Phenom SALEEMA NAWAZ is available now as an Ebook – Coming Soon to bookstores. THIS BOOK IS BEING CALLED “EERILY PRESCIENT” in the wake of the Covid19 Pandemic

Title: SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

Author: SALEEMA NAWAZ

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY, SPECULATIVE FICTION

Length: 438 PAGES

Publisher: McCLELLAND & STEWART – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 25, 2020EBOOK AVAILABLE NOW

ISBN: 9780771072574

Price: $24.95 CDN

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the award-winning, Canada Reads-shortlisted author of Bone and Bread comes an immersive and eerily prescient novel about the power of human connection in a time of crisis, as the bonds of love, family, and duty are tested by an impending pandemic.

How quickly he’d forgotten a fundamental truth: the closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.

This is the story of a handful of people who find themselves living through an unfolding catastrophe.

Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing.

Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of the outbreak–all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into.

Owen is the author of a bestselling plague novel with eerie similarities to the real-life pandemic. As fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.

As the novel moves back and forth in time, we discover these characters’ ties to one another and to those whose lives intersect with theirs, in an extraordinary web of connection and community that reveals none of us is ever truly alone.

Linking them all is the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl, a woman at the first infection site whose unknown identity and whereabouts cause a furor.

Written and revised between 2013 and 2019, and brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz’s glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other.

It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people–and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.

MY REVIEW:

I was surprised to learn that the writing of this book took place before the Covid19 Pandemic. In fact, this book was begun six years ago.

SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD centers around a coronavirus disease called ARAMIS which is eerily similar to COVID19. There are other things in this story that are extremely similar to what is happening in the world today.

In fact, one of the main characters is an author who had written  fictional account of a plague similar to ARAMIS. Little did Saleema Nawaz know that she was going to experience firsthand what her character went through.

The main difference between this book and other sci-fi / post apocalyptic /dystopian / speculative fiction novels is the outlook of the characters. What I mean by this is that in most of the books of this genre, the actions of the populace devolve into violence over the course of the story. In fact, in most post-apocalyptic books, the plague ends up being less dangerous than  the people.

In SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD, the majority of the characters act for the good of society rather than simply taking care of themselves and their families. Of course, they do not take reckless risks, but they are somehow able to hang onto their humanity. This is a refreshingly optimistic view of how people act during a catastrophe.

Although I said this book is optimistic, don’t think that every character is perfect; they are far from it. There are also characters that act like self righteous jerks, as well as a few characters you will want to smack upside of their head for how they behave. In short, just as in real life, there are good people, bad people, and people who fall somewhere in the middle.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a unique science fiction novel with characters that are so relatable that you will feel like they are friends of yours by the end of the book.

I rate SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

A READER’S GUIDE CAN BE FOUND HERE

QUOTES:

“It was the first time in his life he had encountered thinking – the deliberate thinking of difficult thoughts – as a thing to be encouraged, rather than staved off or endured.” 

The way she leaned into him, Stu realized that marriage had strength embedded in its very architecture, a resilience that beat back the usual threats. Given his parents’ union, he’d always thought of marriage as something more like resignation, a contractual obligation of last resort. But he now saw the hope of it, the faith in the promise itself.”
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“‘But was it me in there?’ Jericho asked. ‘Or the person I used to be?'”
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“Thinking is a sacred disease. And there’s no cure.”
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“Everything is a song in one way or another.”
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“As time went on, he began to think of his declarations of love as an ill-conceived engineering project, like digging graves along a shoreline; they could neither withstand nor contain her sorrow, nor his growing sense that he was no longer enough for her.”

Photo credit: Thomas Blanchard

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Saleema Nawaz’s first novel, Bone and Bread, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the 2016 Canada Reads competition.

She is also the author of the short story collection Mother Superior, and a winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize.

Born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, she currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.saleemanawaz.com/

GOODREADS

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

WIKIPEDIA

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

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https://www.theloop.ca/watch/entertainment/fun/this-fictional-story-about-a-pandemic-is-eerily-similar-to-covid-19/6153152480001/1665407062388927200/your-morning
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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Penguin Random House Canada is a full service Canadian publisher and distributor of books in hardcover, trade paperback, mass market and digital formats.

Imprints of Penguin Random House Canada include Anchor Canada, Bond Street Books, Doubleday Canada, Knopf Canada, Penguin Canada, Puffin Canada, Random House Canada, Razorbill Canada, Vintage Canada, McClelland & Stewart, Tundra Books and Appetite by Random House.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://penguinrandomhouse.ca

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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THE HIDING GIRL by Award-winning Author DORIAN BOX is available for Pre-Order now. This book is truly unique, it is a MUST READ.

Title: THE HIDING GIRL

Series: EMILY CALBY SERIES: BOOK ONE

Author: DORIAN BOX

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 314 PAGES

Publisher: FRICTION PRESS 

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JUNE 15, 2020

ISBN: 9781734639902 (Paperback)

Price: $12.99 USD (Paperback)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Twelve-year-old Emily Calby was a good girl from a religious family in rural Georgia. She loved softball, her little sister and looking up words to get her allowance. Then two men came and murdered her family. Somehow Emily escaped. Only the killers know she survived.

On the run in a fugue, she makes an unlikely ally in a ruthless former gang member who takes her in. Overwhelmed by guilt, she persuades him to train her to kill before setting out alone on a terrifying search for justice.

Nothing will stop her—not cops or creeps, not even her own splintering mind. Through it all, Emily fights to hold onto hope and the girl she once knew, kept buried deep inside.

A testament to the boundless limits of love, sacrifice and will to survive, The Hiding Girl is the first book in the Emily Calby Series.

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MY REVIEW:

Twelve year old Emily Calby is desperate, scared, and all alone. She’s on the run from the men who tortured and killed her entire family; men from  whom she just barely escaped.

Emily is a white girl, with blonde hair who grew up in a middle class family and who has never had to experience racism or classism. Even though she has never thought of herself as privileged, she starts to realize just how good she had it when she meets Lucas.

Lucas is an adult, black male who lives in a poverty stricken neighborhood that experiences way too much gang violence. A previous gang member himself, Lucas knows exactly how dangerous it can be for a young, white girl to be homeless in the city. Despite his reservations, Lucas takes Emily under his wing. (This relationship is a huge part of the plot, but the way the two met and his decision to befriend Emily is extremely far-fetched. I reduced the number of stars I gave THE HIDING GIRL because of this.)

Emily is terrified that the two men from whom she had barely escaped will track her down and finish what they started. Because of this, she convinces Lucas to teach her how to kill.

Readers learn about Lucas and his past, including the fact that he used to be in a gang, and he also talks about the death of someone close to him. It is this death that is used to explain why Emily keeps seeing teddy bears attached to hydro poles in his neighborhood. The inclusion of this tidbit is based on fact. Author Dorian Box has seen these Memorial Teddy Bears in real life.

This book is a testament to the resiliency of youth, as well as the power of fear, grief, and a hunger for justice. I enjoyed the inclusion of the conversations between characters in regard to exactly what is justice, and who has the right to extract that justice. Emily must decide whether she is willing to kill the monsters who had obliterated her entire family.

There are a multitude of social themes in this book and the plot has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. It is an enjoyable story with characters you will come to love.

THE HIDING GIRL is the first book in a brand new EMILY CALBY SERIES. The second book is due for release within the year.

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

I feel that I have to mention and give kudos to @Herabooks

Hera is a FEMALE-LED Publisher.

It is about time that women were not only in positions of power, but are also the owners and CEOs. I have bookmarked and am following Hera Books.

It is important to me to celebrate and support women-led Indie businesses, especially in this unprecedented time in history when everyone on the planet is trying to #flattenthecurve and to #eradicate #Covid19

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

“Dorian Box” is a professor and author of eight nonfiction books, one an Amazon Editors’ Favorite Book of the Year.

Psycho-Tropics, his first novel, received a Writer’s Digest Award in Genre Fiction.

Kirkus called it “[a]n engaging thriller with plenty of humor, good characterization, and a memorable villain ….”

The Writer’s Digest judge said, “Marrying humor with suspense is not easy, but it comes across masterfully. … A truly enjoyable read.”

His second novel, The Hiding Girl–scheduled for release on June 15, 2020–is the first entry in the Emily Calby Series, which follows twelve-year-old Emily’s perilous, traumatized life forward from the day two men invade her rural Georgia home and kill her family. The unpublished manuscript was named a semifinalist for the Publishers Weekly Booklife Prize out of more than 700 entries.

The Critic’s Report described it as: “Dark and gritty … an exceptional, heart-pounding story full of raw emotion, deep-seated fear, and an undercurrent of hope and innocence. Deeply atmospheric … without peer in contemporary mysteries/thrillers.”

Book 2 in The Emily Calby Series is also complete and Book 3 is underway.

In his regular life, Box has received numerous awards for teaching and research, written thousands, possibly millions, of scholarly footnotes, and been interviewed by sources such as National Public Radio, the PBS Newshour, and the New York Times.

Box lives out his childhood fantasies singing and playing guitar in rock cover bands that earn tens of dollars sweating it out until two a.m. in smoky dive bars.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://dorianbox.com

GOODREADS

AMAZON  

MS-13 The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang By STEVEN DUDLEY is a fascinating read and was a complete eye-opener to me Check it out here

Information obtained from INSIGHT CRIME

Title: MS-13

Subtitle: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang

Author: STEVEN DUDLEY

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME

Length:  352 PAGES

Publisher: HARLEQUIN – Trade Publishing (U.S. & Canada) – HANOVER SQUARE PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MAY 12, 2020

ISBN: 9781788703147

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

The definitive account of the most notorious street gang in America—the MS-13—as seen through the lives of gang members and their families caught in its malicious web.

The MS-13 was born from war. In the 1980s, El Salvador was enmeshed in a bloody civil conflict. To escape the guerrilla assaults and death squads, many fled to the US and settled in Los Angeles. Among them were Alex and his brother.

There, as a survival instinct, Alex and a small number of Salvadoran immigrants formed a group called the Mara Salvatrucha Stoners, a relatively harmless social network bound by heavy metal music and their Salvadoran identity. But later, as they brushed against established local gangs, the group took on a harder edge, selling drugs, stealing cars and killing rivals who threatened their territories. As authorities cracked down, gang members like Alex were incarcerated and deported. But in the prison system, the group only grew stronger, and in Central America, the gang multiplied, eventually spreading to a half-dozen nations in two continents.

Today, MS-13 is one of the most infamous street gangs on earth, with an estimated ten thousand members operating in dozens of states and linked to thousands of grisly murders each year in the US and abroad. But it is also misunderstood—less a drug cartel and more a hand-to-mouth organization whose criminal economy is based mostly on small-time extortion schemes and petty drug dealing. Journalist and longtime organized crime investigator Steven Dudley brings readers inside the nefarious group to tell a larger story of how a flawed US and Central American policy, and the exploitative and unequal economic systems helped foster the gang and sustain it. Ultimately, MS-13 is the story of the modern immigrant and the perennial battle to escape a vortex of poverty and crime, as well as the repressive, unequal systems that feed these problems.

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AWARDS SO FAR:

Winner of  the 2019 J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project Award from The Columbia School of Journalism Winners MARA: The Making of the MS13

Judges’ citation: This timely and incisive work, speaking directly to the mission and purpose of the Lukas Work-in-Progress Awards, centers on one immigrant Salvadoran family that represents the complexities of the story of Mara Salvatrucha (MS13), the notorious gang that is the U.S. government’s number one target in its efforts to rid the country of “criminal aliens.”

Without ever minimizing the brutality of this gang, the book dispels many of the myths surrounding its history and power. More important, MARA is the story of flawed U.S. and Central American policies over many years and the exploitative and unequal systems they create.


MY REVIEW:

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TRIGGER WARNING:
This book contains violent scenes, both physical and sexual, and should not be read by individuals who might find themselves triggered by vivid descriptions of violence and murder.


This book is NOT for the Faint of Heart. Please exercise caution when reading and if at any time you feel you need to stop reading, I encourage you to put this book down and walk away.
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MS-13 IS A CRIMINAL GANG. They are well known for their violence and brutality. 

Journalist and author Steven Dudley has spent years reporting on gangs, government and violence in Central America. In writing MS-13: The Making of America’s Most Notorious Gang, he has written a comprehensive account as to how MS-13 was formed and how that gang spread from Central America to the United States.

What this book achieved for me was that it dispelled the notion that MS-13 is a strictly structured unit and that there is one singular person at the top and that all other members were co-ordinated  and part of a whole. This is simply not true. Each clique of MS-13 essentially acts on its own and sometimes cliques will war with other MS-13 cliques.

What does seem true of almost every MS-13 gang member, who spoke to the Author, is that that person grew up surrounded by violence and chaos, and had joined the gang (at least initially) as a way to protect themselves from outside forces.

President Donald Trump seems woefully misinformed about this gang and in fact gives them more credit than they deserve. By labelling MS-13 as Public Enemy Number One, all the President has done is that he has given potential gang recruits an additional reason for joining the gang. Many (even most) of the current MS-13 gang members living in the United States have fled their war-torn homelands to seek a better way of life. The problem is that when they arrive in the States, they realize that their lives are not much better than the lives they had fled.

MS:13 has been added to the list of Most Dangerous Gang Organizations in the United States.

I believe that anyone who wants to work with gang members on finding a new way of life should view this book as required reading. It is impossible to effect change if the history and dynamics of life as part of an MS-13 mara are not understood. 

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It is a fascinating read, but I also need to warn potential readers that the violence and brutality detailed in this book may be triggering for some people.

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Steven Dudley is the co-director of InSight, a joint initiative of American University and the Fundación Ideas para la Paz in Colombia, South America, aimed at monitoring, analyzing and investigating organized crime in the Americas. Based in Washington D.C., Dudley works with a team of five investigators and various contributors throughout the region to give the public a more complete view of how organized crime works in the Americas, as well as its impact on public policy and communities from the Rio Grande to Patagonia.

Before launching InSight, he worked as the Bureau Chief for The Miami Herald in the Andean Region and wrote a book: Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia (Routledge 2004). Dudley has also reported from Haiti, Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Miami for National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and the BBC’s The World; and written feature articles for The Washington Post Magazine, The Economist, Columbia Journalism Review, The Progressive, and The Nation. His current projects include a documentary film, which aired on Colombia’s RCN Television in September 2010.

Dudley has a BA in Latin American History from Cornell University and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese fluently. He has taught high school as well as worked in Human Rights.

His range of experience, languages and reporting skills give him the tools to perform in any environment.

Honors and Awards:

Knight Fellowship: Stanford University : In 2007, Dudley was awarded the prestigious Knight Fellowship for professional journalists.

Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Award : Dudley was part of a team that won second place for international reporting in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists at its Sunshine State Awards for a series on land mines in Latin America.

Overseas Press Club Malcolm Forbes Award for Best Business Reporting from Abroad

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

WILSON CENTER

CONVERSATION.COM

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

LINKEDIN 

TWITTER

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

GOOGLE BOOKS

SOME INFORMATION ABOUT MS-13 FROM INSIGHT CRIME:

An MS13 linked gang in El Salvador known as the Black Widows has been convicted of forcing women to marry men and then killing their new husbands as part of a complex life insurance scheme — a case which helps shed light on women in organized crime in Central America. – Photograph and Information Obtained from INSIGHT CRIME.
The Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13, is perhaps the most notorious street gang in the Western Hemisphere. While it has its origins in the poor, refugee-laden neighborhoods of 1980s Los Angeles, the gang’s reach now spans from Central America to Europe.
While they are largely a predatory criminal organization, living mostly from extortion, the gang’s resilience owes to its strong social bonds, which are created and strengthened via acts of violence against mostly their rivals and one another.
Their activities have helped make the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras — the most violent place in the world that is not at war. In October 2012, the US Department of the Treasury labeled the group a “transnational criminal organization,” the first such designation for a US street gang, but their criminal proceeds do not even approach those of their counterparts on that list. Photograph and Information Obtained from INSIGHT CRIME.
Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images – National Post June 2018
Marvin RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images – National Post June 2018 Toronto man’s boast of being in notorious MS-13 gang leads to deportation order

SAVAGE APPETITES: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Author and Journalist Rachel Monroe will enthrall readers!

Title: SAVAGE APPETITES

Subtitle: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession

Author: RACHEL MONROE

Genre: TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA – SCRIBNER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 20, 2019

ISBN: 9781501188909

Price: $11.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A provocative and original investigation of our cultural fascination with crime, linking four archetypes—Detective, Victim, Defender, Killer—to four true stories about women driven by obsession.

In this illuminating exploration of women, violence, and obsession, Rachel Monroe interrogates the appeal of true crime through four narratives of fixation. In the 1940s, a frustrated heiress began creating dollhouse crime scenes depicting murders, suicides, and accidental deaths. Known as the “Mother of Forensic Science,” she revolutionized the field of what was then called legal medicine. In the aftermath of the Manson Family murders, a young woman moved into Sharon Tate’s guesthouse and, over the next two decades, entwined herself with the Tate family. In the mid-nineties, a landscape architect in Brooklyn fell in love with a convicted murderer, the supposed ringleader of the West Memphis Three, through an intense series of letters. After they married, she devoted her life to getting him freed from death row. And in 2015, a teenager deeply involved in the online fandom for the Columbine killers planned a mass shooting of her own.

Each woman, Monroe argues, represents and identifies with a particular archetype that provides an entryway into true crime. Through these four cases, she traces the history of American crime through the growth of forensic science, the evolving role of victims, the Satanic Panic, the rise of online detectives, and the long shadow of the Columbine shooting. In a combination of personal narrative, reportage, and a sociological examination of violence and media in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Savage Appetites scrupulously explores empathy, justice, and the persistent appeal of violence.

MY REVIEW:

Rachel Monroe is a woman after my own heart. As she described her visit to the premiere True Crime Conference called CrimeCon in 2018, I was green with envy. Living outside the city of Toronto, Ontario in Canada, there was just no feasible way for me to attend such an event, especially since it takes place quite a distance from my home.

Rachel Monroe has taken it upon herself to dig into the “why” of the appeal of True Crime to women and to explore the possible reasons.

Any female of my generation (I am 47) who are interested in this subject probably grew up reading Nancy Drew and maybe even The Hardy Boys. Rachel states that: “This detective impulse first burbled up in [her] early, say around age eight.” Reading these words, I wanted to shout out loud, “Me too!”

The book focuses on four very different women, from different times, but, who all had an interest in crime and murder. Their reasons are as varied as possible, yet they are all tied together by the singular theme of True Crime.

I couldn’t believe I had never heard of France’s Glessner Lee. Sure, she was a child of the 1890s, and grew up “… Living in a mansion on Chicago’s ‘Millionaire’s Row.” But still, she was a role model for other women in adulthood and smashed through gender barriers that would have seemed impenetrable to other women of her time. I am impressed and glad that I now know about her. Thank you Rachel Monroe!

The author talks about the Manson murders which have been excessively covered, and yet the way she presents this crime is less about Manson, and more about how the crime changed so many things and so many people.

She speaks about the murder of Taylor Behl in 2005 which happened in her town. Rachel says “Part of what I was looking for, I realized, was overlap, all the ways she and I were similar. There was a troubling pleasure in thinking about how I could have been her, or she could have been me… It felt good, in a bad way, to think about my own proximity to violence. To imagine my life as a near miss.”

Rachel also addresses a phenomenon that has always perplexed me – that of women who “date” and/or marry men serving life sentences in prison. This section is a must read.

I even learned a new word:

HYBRISTOPHOLIA – the attraction to someone who has committed murder.

I never knew there was a word for it, but, in this day and age, I should not have been surprised.

All in all, Author Rachel Monroe has gone deep down many rabbit holes in her research for this book. She extensively studied so many factors that it is amazing she was able to whittle them down into a cohesive and compelling whole.

I rate SAVAGE APPETITES as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and because of it’s subject matter, I forsee it becoming a book that is widely read. Perhaps she will have her own following at CrimeCon 2020.
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*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by Emma Rogers

Rachel Monroe is a writer and volunteer firefighter living in Marfa, Texas.

Her work has appeared in The Best American Travel Writing 2018, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

AUDIBLE

FACEBOOK – PUBLISHER

INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR

INSTAGRAM – PUBLISHER

TWITTER – AUTHOR

TWITTER – PUBLISHER

YOUTUBE – PUBLISHER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

WARNINGSPOILERS AHEADSTOP READING THIS POST NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT ANY EXTRA INFORMATION ABOUT THIS BOOK!!!

SUBJECT # 1 OF SAVAGE APPETITES is FRANCIS GLESSNER LEE.

The following is copied from a 2017 Washington Post article written by Sadie Dingfelder

Frances Glessner Lee trained homicide detectives with her miniature murder scenes. Scroll down to try your hand at one.

At first glance, the grisly dioramas made by Frances Glessner Lee look like the creations of a disturbed child.

A doll hangs from a noose, one shoe dangling off of her
stockinged foot.
Precise down to the smallest detail.

Another doll rests in a bathtub, apparently drowned.

A third lies in bed peacefully … except for her blood-splattered head.

There’s no need to call a psychiatrist, though — Lee created these works in the 1940s and ’50s as training tools for homicide investigators. 19 of the dollhouse-size crime scenes are on display in the Renwick Gallery exhibit “Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.”

Lee, who died in 1962, called her miniatures “nutshell studies” because the job of homicide investigators, according to a phrase she had picked up from detectives, is to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent and find the truth in a nutshell.”

“She became the first female police captain in the country, and she was regarded as an expert in the field of homicide investigation,” exhibit curator Nora Atkinson says.

When Lee was building her macabre miniatures, she was a wealthy heiress and grandmother in New Hampshire who had spent decades reading medical textbooks and attending autopsies. Police departments brought her in to consult on difficult cases, and she also taught forensic science seminars at Harvard Medical School, Atkinson says. Lee painstakingly constructed the dioramas for her seminars, basing them on real-life cases but altering details to protect the victims’ privacy.

“She was very particular about exactly how dolls ought to appear to express social status and the way [the victims] died,” Atkinson says.

“If a doll has a specific discoloration, it’s scientifically accurate — she’s reproducing the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and positioning them based on when rigor mortis took effect.”

Tiny details in the scenes matter too. For example, fibers on one doll’s wounds match those on a nearby door frame.

At the Renwick exhibit, visitors will be given magnifying glasses and flashlights to conduct their own homicide investigations, but don’t ask museum staff for help — the scenes are still used in annual training seminars, so their secrets are closely guarded.

TRY TO DEDUCE WHAT HAPPENED IN THE 11 ITEMS POINTED OUT BELOW …

Frances Glessner Lee built the miniature rooms pictured here, which together make up her piece “Three-Room Dwelling,” around 1944-46. This is a puzzling case – – – – A beautiful woman lays shot to death in her bed, her clean-cut, pajama-clad husband lies next to the bed, also fatally shot.
– Their baby was shot as she slept in her crib.
– Blood is spattered everywhere. -All the doors are locked from the inside, meaning the case is likely a double homicide/suicide.
– But something isn’t right. The murder weapon is nowhere near the doll corpses – instead the gun is in another room???

1. Lee used red nail polish to make pools and splatters of blood.

What details can you discover?

2. Lee crocheted this tiny teddy bear herself, so that future investigators might wonder how it landed in the middle of the floor.

3. The pattern on the floor of this room has faded over time, making the spent shotgun shell easier to find.

4. Lee knit this runner and sewed the toy chairs on it in this exact state of disarray.

5. The bedroom window is open. Could it be a sign of forced entry?

6. Lee would paint charms from bracelets to create some prop items. Others she bought from dollhouse manufacturers.

7. The table settings are sewn into place to indicate an orderly, prosperous family.

8. There’s one big clue in clear view in this room

9. Lee sewed the clothes worn by her figurines, selecting fabrics that signified their social status and state of mind. In some cases, she even tailor-made underwear for them.

10. The doll heads and arms were antique German porcelain doll parts that were commercially available. Lee would create the bodies herself, often with lead shot in them.

11. How did blood end up all the way over here?

Renwick Gallery, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE SOLUTION IS?

Leave your guess in the comments and I will come back and discuss it with you. In your comments post any clues or abnormalities in the scenes that you find.

A FEW MORE PICTURES OF THE “NUTSHELL” MINIATURE CRIME SCENES:

Every element of the dioramas—from the angle of miniscule bullet holes, the placement of latches on widows, the patterns of blood splatters, and the discoloration of painstakingly painted miniature corpses—challenges trainees’ powers of observation and deduction. The Nutshells are so effective that they are still used in training seminars today at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

Showcasing the Nutshells at the Renwick allows visitors to appreciate them as works of art and material culture in addition to understanding their importance as forensic tools, and to see Lee’s genius for telling complex stories through the expressive potential of simple materials. While the Nutshells represent composites of real and extremely challenging cases featuring homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, Lee imagined and designed each setting herself. She was both exacting and highly creative in her pursuit of detail—knitting tiny stocking by hand with straight pins, hand-rolling tiny tobacco-filled cigarettes and burning the ends, writing tiny letters with a single-hair paintbrush, and creating working locks for windows and doors.

The exhibition also highlights the subtly subversive quality of Lee’s work, especially the way her dioramas challenge the association of femininity with domestic bliss and upend the expected uses for miniature making, sewing, an other crafts considered to be “women’s work.” Also evident is her purposeful focus on society’s “invisible victims,” whose cases she championed. Lee was devoted to the search for truth and justice for everyone, and she often featured victims such as women, the poor, and and people living on the fringes of society, whose cases might be overlooked or tainted with prejudice on the part of the investigator. She wanted trainees to recognize and overcome any unconscious biases and to treat each case with rigor, regardless of the victim.

As the Nutshells are still active training tools, the solutions to each remain secret. However, the crime scene “reports” (written by Lee to accompany each case) given to forensic trainees are presented alongside each diorama to encourage visitors to approach the Nutshells the way an investigator would.

Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 1
Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 2 Even the curtains perfectly match the original crime scene
Nutshell “Kitchen” Picture # 3 The tiny rolling pin, the clock on the window sill and even miniature tea towels hang in this precise representation of the original scene

Dioramas or “Nutshells” as the creator of them referred to them, photographs were obtained from the website of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Want to learn more about Frances Glessner Lee?

Here is a preview of the original documentary

Watch this documentary “OF DOLLS AND MURDER” when you have a spare hour

This documentary was followed by another with newly discovered material called MURDER IN A NUTSHELL

THE MURDER OF TAYLOR BEHL

Taylor Behl was a 17-year-old freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, left her dormitory room Sept. 5, 2005 to give her roommate some privacy with her boyfriend. She took with her a cell phone, some cash, a student ID and her car keys. She was never seen alive again.


To learn more about the murder of Taylor Behl, click HERE.

Photograph Obtained from Taylor Behl’s Memorial Page

YOU CAN ONLY YELL AT ME FOR ONE THING AT A TIME – RULES FOR COUPLES by New Yorker Magazine Alumni Patricia Marx and Roz Chast RELEASED THIS WEEK

Title: YOU CAN ONLY YELL AT ME FOR ONE THING AT A TIME  

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Subtitle: RULES FOR COUPLES
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Author: PATRICIA MARX
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Illustrator: ROZ CHAST

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Genre: HUMOR, RELATIONSHIPS, MARRIAGE, GRAPHIC NOVELS AND COMICS

Length: 139 PAGES
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Publisher: CELADON BOOKS

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Received From: EDELWEISS

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Release Date: JANUARY 14, 2020
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ISBN: 978-1-250-22513-9

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Price: $20.00 USD / $26.99 CDN
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Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

The perfect Valentine’s Day or anniversary gift: An illustrated collection of love and relationship advice from New Yorker writer Patricia Marx, with illustrations from New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.


Everyone’s heard the old advice for a healthy relationship: Never go to bed angry. Play hard to get. Sexual favors in exchange for cleaning up the cat vomit is a good and fair trade.

Okay, not that last one. It’s one of the tips in You Can Only Yell at Me for One Thing at a Time: Rules for Couples by the authors of Why Don’t You Write My Eulogy Now So I Can Correct It: A Mother’s Suggestions. This guide will make you laugh, remind you why your relationship is better than everyone else’s, and solve all your problems.

Nuggets of advice include:

If you must breathe, don’t breathe so loudly.

It is easier to stay inside and wait for the snow to melt than to fight about who should shovel.

Queen-sized beds, king-sized blankets.

Why not give this book to your significant or insignificant other, your anti-Valentine’s Day crusader pal, or anyone who can’t live with or without love?

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MY REVIEW:

100% Hilarious, as well as being 100% Terrific Marriage/Relationship Advice.

My husband wholeheartedly agrees with the following:

“If you keep buying things from Amazon ten times a day even though there’s no more room in the house, you must buy a storage unit. And live in it.”

For me, I love this quote:

“Do not walk ten feet in front of me unless you are checking for land mines.”

However, the advice that rings most true to anyone in a long-term relationship is the following:

“When you do something wrong and there’s no fixing it, apologize twenty times a day for being such a dick and soon I will become so sick and tired of hearing you babble, you will be forgiven.”

This book is the perfect gift for friends and loved ones for Valentine’s Day and should be given to every couple upon the occasion of moving in together.

I know it is intended to be humorous, and it very much is, but it also contains situations that anyone who is in a long-term relationship will recognize and perhaps upon reading this, they will laugh off the irritation rather than let it escalate into an argument. The illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to each humorous quote. Readers of the New Yorker magazine will most definitely recognize the style.

Another thing I am very pleased with is the fact that not all illustrations portray couples as only Cisgender. There are illustrations that depict all sexes. I believe this is important.

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

**** Thank you to Edelweiss and Celadon Books for providing me with a free copy of this book. Receipt of this book for no cost has in no way influenced my review. ****

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To preview more of this book’s illustrations, visit the following article on the website of The New Yorker.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/rules-for-couples?verso=true
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photographed by Robert Adam Mayer at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

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Patricia Marx has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1989.

She is a former writer for Saturday Night Live and Rugrats, and is the author of several books, including Let’s Be Less Stupid, Him Her Him Again The End of Him, and Starting from Happy.

Marx was the first woman elected to the Harvard Lampoon.

She has taught at Princeton, New York University, and Stonybrook University.

She is recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

THE NEW YORKER
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iMDB
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GODDARD COLLEGE
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GOODREADS
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GOOGLE BOOKS
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AMAZON
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CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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Photograph by David Miller for the New York Times

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Roz Chast was born in Brooklyn, New York. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design, graduating with a B.F.A. in painting in 1977. Her cartoons and covers have appeared continuously in The New Yorker since 1978.

She has published several cartoon collections and has written and illustrated several children’s books.

Her graphic memoir chronicling her parents’ final years, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the inaugural Kirkus Prize, and was short-listed for a National Book Award in 2014.

Her most recent book, “Going into Town,” an illustrated guide to New York City, won the New York City Book Award in 2017.

The editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, has called her “the magazine’s only certifiable genius.”

To learn more about this amazing illustrator visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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THE NEW YORKER
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GOODREADS
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FACEBOOK
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INSTAGRAM
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TWITTER
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GOOGLE BOOKS
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AMAZON
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CHAPTERS
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU by David Kirby is Available NOW – Have You Ever Wondered About Your Rights, YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK

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Title: WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU

Subtitle: How Police and Government Are Trampling Our Liberties – and How to Take Them Back

Author: DAVID KIRBY

Publisher: ST. MARTINS PRESS

Release Date: OCTOBER 29, 2019

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

A revealing book about how government, law enforcement, and bureaucratic interests are seizing our property, our children, our savings, and our fundamental American rights—and how to fight back.

Liberty and justice for all is the bedrock of American democracy, but has America betrayed our founders’ vision for the nation? In When They Come For You, New York Times bestselling author David Kirby exposes federal, state, and local violations of basic constitutional rights that should trouble every American, whether liberal, conservative, or libertarian. Free speech, privacy, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, due process, and equal protection under the law are rights that belong to every American citizen, but are being shredded at an alarming rate all across the country.

Police and prosecutorial misconduct, overzealous bureaucrats with virtually unchecked power, unwarranted searches, SWAT-style raids on the homes of innocent Americans, crackdowns on a free press and the right to protest, removing children from their parents without cause, “debtors prisons,” restricting freedom of health choice, seizing private assets for government profit, and much more demonstrate how deeply our rights and our national values are eroding. When They Come For You uses true stories of everyday citizens to reveal how our federal, state, and municipal governments, police, lawmakers, judges, revenue agents, unelected power brokers, and even government social workers are eviscerating our most fundamental liberties. And, it shows how people are fighting back—and winning.

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MY REVIEW:

WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU is a terrifying, yet hopeful look at what is going on currently in the United States.

Initially, readers may think the author is a Conspiracy Theorist, but will quickly discover that author David Kirby has definitely done his homework for this book.

WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU is incredibly well researched and every American needs to read it. If you thought you knew what the government and other large corporations are up to, you would be Dead-Wrong.

Although the discoveries he made are very scary, David Kirby does not just point out the issues/problems, he also offers up hope in the form of suggestions on how to live an informed and proactive life.

I have no idea who it was that originally said, “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem,” but he/she/they were very much correct. However, it is very difficult to help fix an issue if you aren’t aware that the problem exists. Read this book and begin to be proactive rather than reactive.

I rate this book as
4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.***

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kirby has written for many national magazines, including Glamour, Redbook, Self and Mademoiselle. From 1986 to 1990, Kirby was a foreign correspondent for UPI, and Newsday (among others) in Latin America, covering wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and he covered politics, corruption and natural disasters in Mexico. It was during this time that he was also a reporter for OutWeek.

From 1990 to 1993, Kirby was director of public information at the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), worked for New York City Council President Carol Bellamy, and was a senior staff adviser to David Dinkins’ successful 1989 run for mayor of New York City.

In 1998, Kirby wrote a cover story for The Advocate, “Does coming out matter?”.[1] From 1998 to 2001, he wrote many articles for The Advocate, including one on the courage of young gay and lesbian scouts and service members.[2]

From 2000 to 2004, Kirby contributed several articles on travel to The New York Times, including “Rainbow Beach Towels on Mexican Sand”, an article on the gay tourism industry in Puerto Vallarta.[3] He has also written on topics other than travel and leisure, including on a new phenomenon, known as “dirty driving”, the playing pornography on DVD screens inside vehicles while they drive through traffic.[4] The article expressed concern for what children have been exposed to by these “dirty drivers”.

In 2005, Kirby’s book Evidence of Harm – Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy was published.

Since May 2005, Kirby has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://davidkirbyauthor.com

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AMAZON
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GOODREADS
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WIKIPEDIA
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HUFFINGTON POST
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FACEBOOK

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TWITTER

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

How much do you really know about the Bill of Rights? Learn more about the most important amendments to the Constitution — and what they actually mean for ordinary US citizens.

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READ AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK BELOW:

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WHEN COPS BURST THROUGH YOUR DOOR: WARRANTLESS HOME RAIDS

You are relaxing with your family at home one evening when a band of armed thugs crashes through the door and invades your house. Their shouting is terrifying. Glass breaks, walls are smashed, and your children scream. When the men grab you, you resist, so they beat you and use a stun gun—or maybe even a real gun—against you. You are now battered and bloody, frightened and confused. The home invaders wrench you and your loved ones from your sanctuary and, in the dark of night, whisk you away in a car.

Now imagine these hooligans are wearing uniforms and badges.

Your home is your castle, impervious to entry by any agent of the state unless you grant them permission, or if they show up with a warrant signed by a judge—with the exception of certain emergency situations.

But some cops don’t see it that way. They all but ignore the Fourth Amendment and its protections against “unreasonable search and seizure.”

You may think you are safe in the security and privacy of your four walls. So did the people profiled here. As with so many issues concerning abridgment of civil liberties, you never know it can happen until it happens to you.

The nation’s founders wisely created the Fourth Amendment to act as a personal firewall against overzealous policing:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The amendment protects us against warrantless searches and raids of places where we have a “legitimate expectation of privacy”—legally defined as an expectation that is generally accepted by society as being “reasonable.”

But what is reasonable and what is not? That question has been rigorously litigated in U.S. courts for decades. In making a determination, courts must strike a balance between protecting privacy rights and maintaining the legitimate interests of the state, such as upholding public safety. Unfortunately, in recent decades marked by violent crime and the growing threat of terrorism, the needle seems to be gradually shifting away from privacy concerns and toward government interests.

In certain cases, police can search “persons, houses, papers, and effects” without a warrant. Chief among them is an “exigent circumstance”—an emergency situation where delaying action in order to obtain a warrant is not feasible, including when someone’s life or safety is at stake, when a suspect is about to escape, or when evidence is about to be removed or destroyed. Police also don’t need a warrant to search a person or property when the search is related to a lawful arrest or if the suspected illegal items to be seized are in plain sight.

But citizens still have the ability to demand that their Fourth Amendment rights be upheld when their expectation of privacy is being violated—and to seek redress from the courts when in fact it has been.

Consider the Magas family. When the police showed up at their Maryland home one night during a birthday party to investigate allegations of underage drinking, the family had every right to refuse the cops’ demand for entry. The officers, who had no warrant, had already entered onto their property, peered into the backyard area, and spotted young people drinking from plastic cups. In that rear space, protected from street view, the family had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

But the cops didn’t see it that way.

The Magases’ hometown of Damascus, Maryland, rests in a bucolic corner of Montgomery County, about forty miles northwest of Washington. On the outskirts rise some large custom-built houses, well spaced across towering trees and clipped lawns, including the Magas family home, a three-story, 5,900-square-foot residence with three acres, a pool, and a five-car garage, set far back from Damascus Road.

George Magas, a long-established member of the community with a successful at-home CPA practice, moved there in 2002 with his wife, Cathy, and their four sons, star football players at high school in the mostly white, mostly upper-middle-class town of eleven thousand.

The close-knit family spent a lot of time together, and George and Cathy were active in the community, supporting several youth groups with time and money. George had coached the high school football, baseball, and basketball teams, and Cathy kept busy with the football team’s booster club and served as team mother.

Life was good. But that all changed on one Saturday evening, January 4, 2014.

It was a punishing winter night, with plummeting temperatures and snow on the ground from a recent storm. But that didn’t deter about forty-five people from attending their son Nicholas’s twenty-first birthday party. The younger guests gathered downstairs in the large finished basement, where cold beer in cases and a half keg awaited them, even though some were under twenty-one.

Upstairs, George, Cathy, and about five friends—including Tom Stack, a seasoned detective for the Montgomery County Police Department—were watching football and enjoying pizza delivered from the local Papa John’s. This being a small town, they knew the delivery guy; he’d gone to school with their kids, and his father was an acquaintance. Just before midnight, they brought a cake downstairs, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday.”

George and Cathy had no idea that, as they headed down to the basement, a text was being delivered to the Montgomery County Police Department’s Alcohol Initiatives Section:

Hey man, not sure if your working but if your not busy there I just delivered a pizza to a party at [xxxx] Damascus rd and saw some young looking people with beer.

Yes, the pizza guy turned in his own customers.

The police department forwarded the tip to Officer Jeremy Smalley and Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy John Durham, who were both working on the Alcohol Initiatives Section’s Holiday Task Force.

No one saw Smalley and Durham as they pulled up in an unmarked black van and parked next door at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church. They quietly crossed onto the Magases’ property and moved toward the rear of the house, where an outdoor stairwell leads to the basement. The police could hear the sounds of a party. Through binoculars, Durham spotted young people laughing and drinking from red plastic cups. One young man was urinating in the bushes. Based solely on those observations, Smalley and Durham determined there was probable cause to suspect underage drinking.

The persistent lawmen made their way past the detached garage to the rear corner of the house. There they saw another young man urinating who, to them, appeared to be under twenty-one.

Durham walked to the top of the stairwell and peered down, spotting three individuals at the bottom, “appearing to be underage with half a keg and all holding solo cups with Amber beverage,” his partner Smalley wrote in the police report.1 “And they’re taking a selfie.” Durham demanded ID and determined all three were under twenty-one. He seized their smartphone as evidence.

They called in backup from the Alcohol Initiatives Section to cordon off the property, lest anyone tried to flee.

What happened after that is deeply disputed.

The Magases’ version of events differs wildly from the police report. George said that he and his wife, Cathy, had gone back upstairs when they saw a flashlight streaming through the windows. George walked into the kitchen and spotted two uniformed officers peering through the window. He opened the door, stepped outside, and asked what they were doing.

“They said they had a suspicion of an underage drinking party here and were very adamant about smelling marijuana,” George recalled.2 “And I said, ‘Well, there’s no marijuana, I can’t smell any here. And I don’t think any underage drinking’s going on, either.’”

To George, the men seemed to be itching for a confrontation. “I felt like I was in a boxing ring, and I started getting a little scared because they were rocking back and forth and trying to egg me on,” he said.

George had no stomach for a fight with the cops. Instead, he offered to fetch his driver’s license to identify himself. Walking back into the kitchen, he saw Nicholas and told him to lock the door. “I really don’t trust them. I’m scared,” he said. He got the license and rejoined the cops waiting out front.

Copyright © 2019 by David Kirby

“Evidence of Harm,” (2005) about the potential link between mercury in vaccines and autism, which was a New York Times bestseller, winner of the 2005 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for Best Book, and one of five finalists for the 2005 Helen Bernstein New York Public Library Award for Outstanding Nonfiction. The New York Times noted that, “Kirby does an admirable job of clarifying most of the scientific background [and] makes the unassailable point that American health agencies lagged in calculating the amount of mercury being injected into babies.” Publishers Weekly, in a Starred Review, called it “one of the most thoroughly researched accounts of the thimerosal controversy thus far. It’s accessible in its handling of medical topics and compelling in its recounting of the parents’ fight,” while Kirkus Reviews wrote that, “Kirby does a good job of explaining the scientific issues in an unresolved controversy.” Newsday, meanwhile, called it “A gripping investigation. Much like the 9/11 commission’s report, it is an alarming page-turner.”

“Animal Factory” (2010) about the hazardous impact of industrial animal production on human health, the environment, food safety, animal welfare, rural communities and more. NPR named it one of the “Books We Like,” saying that, “Kirby combines the narrative urgency of The Jungle with the investigative reporting of Fast Food Nation. He has the potential to change the collective American mind about contemporary food issues.” Publishers Weekly called it “An eye-opening account of an escalating problem…Kirby delves deep to uncover the abysmal conditions of America’s food and produce industry.” Booklist said in a starred review that, “Thanks to Kirby’s extraordinary journalism, we have the most relatable, irrefutable, and unforgettable testimony yet to the hazards of industrial animal farming,” while the San Francisco Book Review commented that, “The writing is brilliant, the people profiled are inspirational in their activism, and the topic is one that so many people remain blissfully ignorant of.”

Death At SeaWorld, (2012) about the history of keeping killer whales in captivity, and why this archaic form of entertainment is not only devastating for these magnificent animals, but also poses a deadly threat to trainers who work with them at marine amusement parks like SeaWorld. The Wall Street Journal said, “Kirby makes a passionate case for captivity [and] tells the story like a thriller. His argument is, for the most part, fair and persuasive,” while The New York Times asked, “Should some of the most social, intelligent and charismatic animals on the planet be kept in captivity?” adding that, “The issue has been raised with new intensity in Death at SeaWorld.” Booklist, in a Starred Review, deemed the work “A gripping inspection… Hard to put down,” and New Scientist called it “A chilling depiction… Kirby lays out a compelling scientific argument against killer whale captivity.” Meanwhile, the San Francisco Book Review, in a Five Star review, said the book was, “Brilliantly and intensively researched and conveyed with clarity and thoughtfulness, Kirby’s work of high-quality non-fiction busts the whale debate wide open… Reads like a thriller and horrifies like Hannibal Lector.”

PAIN-LESS : LIVING WITH PAIN, FINDING JOY by Anne Welsh BOOK REVIEW and MORE AVAILABLE NOW

Title: PAIN-LESS

Subtitle: LIVING WITH PAIN, FINDING JOY

Author: ANNE WELSH

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, CHRONIC PAIN, MEDICAL, MENTAL HEALTH

Length: 194 PAGES

Publisher: CAMERON PUBLICITY

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JUNE 19, 2019

ISBN: 9781781328750

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Both a personal story of living with chronic pain and a positive guide for anyone who suffers regular physical pain and related stress.

Anne Welsh has lived with chronic pain all her life. As a sufferer of sickle cell disease, she is no stranger to the everyday struggles and mental anguish that can come from living with an invisible illness.

Like so many who suffer from painful and life-changing conditions, Anne has battled with depression: times when she believed that she could never lead a normal and happy life. But thanks to the support of many people along the way, she has discovered that life can still be wonderful, no matter your challenges.

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Go to AFRICAN GLITZ website to read about the PAIN-LESS Book Launch.
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Click HERE to read about Anne Welsh’s press junket on AFRICAN GLITZ.

Photos By: @danielsync

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MY REVIEW:

Do you know anyone who suffers with Chronic Pain?

If your answer is no, then you are extremely lucky.

I have been living with debilitating and demoralizing pain since 2009. It has affected and still affects all aspects of my life.

“I am often asked what sickle cell pain feels like and for me there are no words to describe it, but if I must try, all I can say is that it is like someone using a hammer to knock on your bones over and over again.”

Anne’s pain is caused by Sickle Cell Disease and she has been dealing with it’s effects her entire life. I admit to having heard of this disease before reading this book, but I knew next to nothing about it’s symptoms.

After reading Anne Welsh’s memoir, I feel that I am much better informed about Sickle Cell Disease and it’s details.

This book contains terrific tips and ideas of how to live with a chronic illness, as well as wonderful ideas for the families and friends of those of us who have an invisible illness as to how they can assist and support us. These ideas can be applied to any chronic illness, and are not specific to Sickle Cell Disease.

Anne’s upbeat attitude and her determination to live life as fully as possible despite her terrible and debilitating condition is inspiring and offers hope to the rest of us. The following quote really spoke to me.

“Finally I had come to understand that to become a better me, I had to accept help as well as not be afraid to ask for it. This is a realisation that all of us who live with a chronic illness need to come to. We cannot do it on our own, so accept the help offered, and it will make an enormous difference to your life.”

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I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

***Thank you to #NetGalley and the #publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.***
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Watch “Anne Welsh – Living with Sickle Cell (Part One)” on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/EdLOlEUeVq4
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anne Welsh is an author, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She was born in Nigeria and emigrated to the United Kingdom when she was very young. She was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia at the age of four, and, after returning to live in her homeland while still a child, faced many of the problems that come with living with a life-threatening disease in a developing country.

Since returning to the UK in her late teens, and with the support of her family, Anne has created her own path to happiness through her academic studies and her career. After completing a degree in Accounting and Finance, Anne went on to achieve an MA in International Banking before starting her career in investment banking. She now runs her own consultancy firm, specialising in business development in Africa and beyond.

Anne is a tireless advocate for sickle cell disease and her memoir, Pain-less, was borne of her determination to raise awareness about the impact invisible diseases such as sickle cell can have on individuals, and also to give support and advice to other sufferers and their families. Having frequently battled with depression, Anne is all too aware of the difficulties faced by sufferers of life-threatening illnesses. By writing this book, she hopes to help others improve their mental and physical wellbeing and enable them to achieve a joyful and fulfilling life.

Anne is married with two children – something she once thought may never be possible – and two stepchildren and lives in London.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOKANNE WELSH
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FACEBOOK – CAMERON PUBLICITY
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FACEBOOK – SILVERWOOD BOOKS
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INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR
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INSTAGRAM – CAMERON PUBLICITY
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INSTAGRAM – SILVERWOOD BOOKS
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INSTAGRAM – PAINLESS OFFICIAL BOOK ACCOUNT
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TWITTER
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TWITTER – SILVERWOOD BOOKS
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YOUTUBE
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AMAZON
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CHAPTERS
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KOBO

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Talking about this book? Be sure to tag it using #PainLess #NetGalley
#ChronicPain #Fibromyalgia #CFS #ChronicFatigue #constantpain #pain #sicklecell #sicklecelldisease

SOME EARLY REVIEWS/ADVANCE PRAISE

“A powerful account of Anne Welsh’s own journey with her ‘invisible illness’.”

– Dr Tedros AdhanomGhebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization

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“An honest and insightful account into a world unknown to so many.”

– The Most Revd and Rt Hon. Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York

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“Any help for people to learn how to avoid pain triggers and handle their pain better is to be welcomed, as in this book based on the life and experience of Anne Welsh.”

– Professor Dame Sally C Davies, Chief Medical Officer UK

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ABOUT SICKLE CELL DISEASE:

– In 2008, the UN established WORLD SICKLE CELL DAY. It falls on June 19th each year and is marked with various events worldwide.

– In 2018, the National Institute of Health launched it’s CURE SICKLE CELL INITIATIVE.

– Listen to THE SICKLE CELL PODCAST

– For more information about this disease visit the website The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

Download a free eBook about Sickle Cell Pain in the Emergency Department: A Guide to Improving Care.

Download this free children’s book about Sickle Cell Disease, then go Download the free game app

TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW by Author/Artist EDANUR KUNTMAN is a feast for the eyes and the Soul – AVAILABLE NOW!!!

Title: TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW

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Author/Illustrator: EDANUR KUNTMAN
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Genre: BASED ON A TRUE STORY, GRAPHIC NOVEL, FICTION, WOMEN’S ISSUES, HISTORY

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Length: 168 PAGES

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Publisher: EUROPE COMICS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: AUGUST 14, 2019

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ISBN: 9791032809136

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Price: $10.99 USD (eBook)

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Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Tales from behind the Window” is based on memories of an Anatolian grandmother and women she knew who suffered from male dominance over their lives. Writer and illustrator Edanur Kuntman seeks a unique way to express and give voice to women in her grandmother’s memories and in our reality who were not able to reconcile their inner emotional depth with their rural worlds in Northern Turkey. One long and two short stories included in this book revolve around terrifying emotional burdens such as forced marriages, being betrayed by patriarchs, and lost love, which have haunted and still haunt many in rural Anatolia.

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MY REVIEW:

This graphic novel tells the true stories of three women from the author’s family. Although this book is categorized as fiction, it is based on interviews have the author’s grandmother.

This type of book is important because if we remember the past and the many injustices faced by women, we give them a voice. Those voices remind us of how far society has come and how far we still have to go.

Using the medium of a graphic novel, the author is able to convey emotions much more powerfully than if she had only described them in words.

The use of darker colors and austere illustrations, readers easily see the difference between the vibrant colors of the female illustrations and the grim male based illustrations. This is brilliantly rendered.

I rate TALES FROM BEHIND THE WINDOW as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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*Thank you to #NetGalley and #EuropeComics for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

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***** THE AUTHOR ALSO CREATED an Animated TV Spot created for Down Turkey together with Koff Animation. The goal was to remind people that Down Syndrome is not a disease and people diagnosed with Down Syndrome are capable of working just like the rest of the society. In this project she worked as a character artist and animator.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Edanur Kuntman is an up-and-coming Turkish artist who has been working in animation, illustration, and game design, as well as taking on publishing projects, and has a degree in political science.

She is currently based in Brooklyn, New York, as a visual and game designer.

She is the author of the graphic novel Tales From Behind The Window (Akan Ajans/Marmara Cizgi; Europe Comics in English).

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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LINKEDIN
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BĒHANCE
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GOODREADS
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INSTAGRAM
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TWITTER
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COMIXOLOGY
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AMAZON
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GOOGLE BOOKS
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CHAPTERS
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
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ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Europe Comics is a joint digital initiative run by 13 European comics industry players from 8 European countries. Its main purpose is the creation of a pan-European catalog of award-winning graphic novels from across the continent, published digitally in English and available through major retailers and library networks. Europe Comics also works towards the promotion of European authors and the creation of a European comics online directory, meant for both comics readers and professionals.

To find out more about Europe Comics, Visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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GOODREADS
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TWITTER
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FACEBOOK
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PINTEREST

More Illustrations By The Super-Talented Edanur Kuntman

THE FOREST CITY KILLER by Vanessa Brown a tale of murder and mayhem that gripped the city of London, Ontario in the late 1960s – A MUST READ for all true-crime buffs

Title: THE FOREST CITY KILLER
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Subtitle: A SERIAL MURDERER, A COLD-CASE SLEUTH, AND A SEARCH FOR JUSTICE
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Author: VANESSA BROWN
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Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, CANADIAN NON-FICTION

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Length: 360 PAGES

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Publisher: ECW PRESS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: OCTOBER 4, 2019

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ISBN: 9781770415034

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Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Dig deep into the unsolved murder of Jackie English and join the hunt for a serial killer

Fifty years ago, a serial killer prowled the quiet city of London, Ontario, marking it as his hunting grounds. As young women and boys were abducted, raped, and murdered, residents of the area held their loved ones closer and closer, terrified of the monster — or monsters — stalking the streets. Homicide detective Dennis Alsop began hunting the killer in the 1960s, and he didn’t stop searching until his death 40 years later. For decades, detectives, actual and armchair, and the victims’ families and friends continued to ask questions: Who was the Forest City Killer? Was there more than one person, or did a depraved individual commit all of these crimes on his own?

Combing through the files Detective Alsop left behind, researcher Vanessa Brown reopens the cases, revealing previously unpublished witness statements, details of evidence, and astonishing revelations. And through her investigation, Vanessa posits the unthinkable: is it possible that the Forest City Killer is still alive and, like the notorious Golden State Killer, a simple DNA test could bring him to justice?
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MY REVIEW:

Researcher Vanessa Brown grew up in London, Ontario, Canada and resides there to this day. It is in her beloved city where she owns and operates a used book store and as an avid local historian, she has authored and/or edited several local history books. London, Ontario is also known as “The Forest City” hence the title of this book.

I have a keen interest in True Crime, biographies and historical non-fiction. It is because of this that I was drawn to THE FOREST CITY KILLER.

Also, since I live in Ontario, Canada and have visited all the locations mentioned in this story, and in fact, I attended the same high school (Sir Frederick Banting High School in Alliston Ontario) as convicted murderer, David Bodemer, I knew I just had to find out the details of the murders which took place only a few years before I was born.

Author VANESSA BROWN has taken the story of murder most foul and crafted a true tale of intrigue with so many twists and turns that it is almost unbelievable. It is said that “Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction,” and in the case of the FOREST CITY KILLER this statement proves to be true.

Untangling the web of murders as well as entertaining multiple theories, the writing of this book must have been a monumental task and yet Vanessa Brown proves herself as adept in not only untangling the many strands of the web, but also in providing readers with a chohesive and coherent timeline and a theory that comes across as convincing. In fact, maybe Vanessa Brown has missed her calling – she would make a phenomenal cold-case investigator.

My only negative feedback about THE FOREST CITY KILLER is the overabundance of footnotes. In my opinion, if the note is worthy of being included in the book, then it can easily be added to the main narrative. I found the footnotes interesting and was glad the information they contained was included, however I found them overly distracting. Hopefully, since the copy I received was an ARC (Advance Review Copy) that these footnotes will be worked into the body of the book.

Included in the book are many photographs including pictures of the eleven victims and photos taken at the time the bodies were found. This allows readers to feel an extra connection to the cases.

I rate THE FOREST CITY KILLER as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A freelance writer, editor and local historian, Vanessa Brown is the author of The Grand Old Lady: A History of Hotel London and London: 150 Cultural Moments which was published by Biblioasis in 2017.

Vanessa Brown is an antiquarian bookseller who consults on early and rare editions and ephemera for the L. M. Montgomery Research Group. She is the author of The Grand Old Lady: A History of Hotel London.

Vanessa is also a murderino, and wants to remind you to stay sexy and don’t get murdered! (Don’t know what this means? Check out the amazing True Crime podcast MY FAVORITE MURDER)

Her latest book, The Forest City Killer, will be published with ECW in 2019.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
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GOODREADS
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GOODREADS – ECW PRESS

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FACEBOOK
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FACEBOOK – ECW PRESS

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INSTAGRAM
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INSTAGRAM – ECW PRESS

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TWITTER
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TWITTER – ECW PRESS

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PINTEREST
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AMAZON
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CHAPTERS
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PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

TO PURCHASE A SIGNED COPY OF THE FOREST CITY KILLER Click HERE

#TheForestCityKiller #NetGalley #SSDGM #murderino #TrueCrime #london #ontario #murders #coldcase