RED RIVER GIRL: The Life And Death of Tina Fontaine BY Award Winning Journalist and Author JOANNA JOLLY – A 5 STAR LOOK AT ONE MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS TEEN

Title: RED RIVER GIRL
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Subtitle: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine
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Author: JOANNA JOLLY
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Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, INDIGENOUS NON-FICTION

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Length: 320 PAGES

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Publisher: VIKING – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: AUGUST 27, 2019

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ISBN: 9780735233935

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Price: $16.95 USD (Paperback)

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Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

On August 17, 2014, the body of fifteen-year old runaway Tina Fontaine was found in Winnipeg’s Red River. It was wrapped in material and weighted down with rocks. Red River Girl is a gripping account of that murder investigation and the unusual police detective who pursued the killer with every legal means at his disposal. The book, like the movie Spotlight, will chronicle the behind-the-scenes stages of a lengthy and meticulously planned investigation. It reveals characters and social tensions that bring vivid life to a story that made national headlines.

Award-winning BBC reporter and documentary maker Joanna Jolly delves into the troubled life of Tina Fontaine, the half-Ojibway, half-Cree murder victim, starting with her childhood on the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve. Tina’s journey to the capital city is a harrowing one, culminating in drug abuse, sexual exploitation, and death.

Aware of the reality of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, Jolly has chronicled Tina Fontaine’s life as a reminder that she was more than a statistic. Raised by her father, and then by her great-aunt, Tina was a good student. But the violent death of her father hit Tina hard. She ran away, was found and put into the care of Child and Family Services, which she also sought to escape from. That choice left her in danger.

Red River Girl focuses not on the grisly event itself, but on the efforts to seek justice. In December 2015, the police charged Raymond Cormier, a drifter, with second-degree murder. Jolly’s book will cover the trial, which resulted in an acquittal. The verdict caused dismay across the country.

The book is not only a true crime story, but a portrait of a community where Indigenous women are disproportionately more likely to be hurt or killed. Jolly asks questions about how Indigenous women, sex workers, community leaders, and activists are fighting back to protect themselves and change perceptions. Most importantly, the book will chronicle whether Tina’s family will find justice.

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THIS BOOK IS ON THE TORONTO STAR’S TOP TEN BESTSELLER LIST
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MY REVIEW:

As proud as I am to be Canadian, there are many things I wish I could change. There are even things that make me ashamed of my country and one of those things is how Indigenous people have historically been treated. Even more horrifying is that although it is finally improving, at least in some areas, Indigenous people still face an unconsciounable amount of racial discrimination to this very day. This racism and discrimination is not limited to Canada, and is a Continent-Wide issue.

The reason I bring up racism is because it is definitely a factor of Tina Fontaine’s disappearance and murder as chronicled in RED RIVER GIRL.

Police map of missing limbs in the Red River – Photo obtained from the BBC

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Author Joanna Jolly has researched Tina Fontaine’s life from childhood up to, and even after her death. I believe that Joanna Jolly’s experience as not only a journalist and author, but also as a documentary film maker has culminated in a book that must be read. She does not shy away from disclosing the horror that Tina experienced in her short fifteen years of life. Not does she gloss over the cultural stigma Tina lived with every day of her life.

This book not only highlights the life and death of Tina Fontaine, it also highlights the excellent investigative skills shown by the dogged police detective who pulled out all the stops to find Tina’s killer and to bring him to justice. However, that was not to be.

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When killer Raymond Cormier’s trial ended up with him being acquitted, people across Canada (myself included) were both outraged and dismayed. The only positive that came from that trial was the spotlight that was shone on the horrific epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

If you care about the truth, if you care about our Indigenous population, if you want to be more informed regarding Indigenous homelessness, as well as other related topics, you need to buy a copy of this book.

I rate RED RIVER GIRL as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*** Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

Thelma Favel – Tina’s Great Aunt

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JOANNA JOLLY

Joanna Jolly is a multi-award winning former BBC South Asia Editor and documentary film maker. Over the past decade, she has reported from Jerusalem, Brussels, Kathmandu, Washington DC and Delhi. Red River Girl is her debut novel. In 2016, she was a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Represented by Susanna Lea Associates on behalf of Toby Mundy Associates

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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:

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

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ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY by Emmy Award Winning Canadian Actor and Author JOANNE VANNICOLA – If you only read one book this year, make sure it is this one. 5+ Stars – Compelling, Heart-rending, and Emotional. This is a MUST READ.

Title: ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY
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Author: JOANNE VANNICOLA
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Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, MENTAL HEALTH, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, LGBTQIA

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Length: 232 PAGES

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Publisher: DUNDURN PRESS
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Received From: NETGALLEY
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Release Date: JUNE 25, 2019

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ISBN: 9781459744226

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Price: $19.99 USD

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Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

Joanne Vannicola grew up in a violent home with a physically abusive father and a mother who had no sexual boundaries.

After Joanne is pressured to leave home at fourteen, encouraged by her mother to seek out an acting career, she finds herself in a strange city, struggling to cope with her memories and fears. She makes the decision to cut her mother out of her life, and over the next several years goes on to create a body of work as a successful television and film actor. Then, after fifteen years of estrangement, Joanne learns that her mother is dying. Compelled to reconnect, she visits with her, unearthing a trove of devastating secrets.

Joanne relates her journey from child performer to Emmy Award–winning actor, from hiding in the closet to embracing her own sexuality, from conflicted daughter and sibling to independent woman. All We Knew But Couldn’t Say is a testament to survival, love, and Joanne’s fundamental belief that it is possible to love the broken, and to love fully, even with a broken heart.

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MY REVIEW:

*** WARNING – TRIGGER WARNING***

This book contains scenes of child sexual abuse and physical abuse of children. If any of these topics cause emotional triggers for you, I strongly suggest you do not read this book.
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There are many memoirs that contain disturbing subject matter and ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is no exception. However, the difference between other memoirs and that of Canadian Joanne Vannicola is that Joanne somehow managed to live through her horrific childhood and yet still emerge into adulthood full of compassion for others. Rather than allow her abusers to keep her ‘small,’ she has gone on to have a phenomenal career. To my way of thinking, Joanne being happy and successful is the best revenge. Her strength and determination are a big “F” you to her abusers. She didn’t let them win.

Not only that, but she has also become an advocate for LGBTQ youth. According to Joanne, “[Her] role meant [Joanne] could impact their lives, provide a little hope for others even though [she] still hadn’t learned to hold on to it [herself]…and it provided a deeper purpose…”

Joanne says in the book:
“I could not erase my own pain, but if I could help other kids, it meant healing was possible.”

This memoir is powerful. It is horrific in parts, especially when readers learn how Joanne was treated as a child, but it also includes some wonderful and touching moments and shows the power of friendship.

I do not want to give away too much with my review because I am hoping that everyone who reads this review runs out to buy/pre-order a copy of ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY.

YES, this book will make you shake in anger at the people who were supposed to love Joanne the most, but who turned out to be the perpetrators of her abuse, BUT I BELIEVE THIS IS A BOOK THAT NEEDS TO BE READ.

There are children suffering at this very moment, and people who see these things happening are often afraid to call Children’s Aid in case they are wrong. BUT … What if a child dies or suffers irreparable harm because you did not make that simple phone call? How would you feel? Could you ever forgive yourself?

PLEASE MAKE THE CALL. If it is determined that there was no abuse, then you can rest easy knowing you did the right thing. A bit of embarrassment is nothing when a child’s life and/or his/her mental health is on the line.

This book is not only about abuse. It is also about growing up and trying to come to terms with your sexuality. Joanne came of age not too long ago, but it was long ago enough that being gay, bisexual, trans, or queer was not acceptable to society at large. In fact, the phrase “non-binary” did not even exist. People kept their sexual orientations quiet and this fact made Joanne question what exactly was “wrong” with her. This memoir follows her journey from questioning her sexuality to accepting it and to become an advocate and role model for other LGBTQ youth.

Joanne’s life has been full of pain and agony, but it has also been a life filled with many triumphs, including her winning the her battle with anorexia.

I could go on and on about how amazing Joanne Vannicola is (all based on her book as I have not met her yet.) Instead, I will encourage everyone reading this review to pre-order her book immediately. Don’t wait to do it. Order it immediately. You will not be disappointed. ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is a 5+ Star Book and you will continue to think about Joanne and her life long after the final page has been read. It is impossible not to. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joanne Vannicola is an Emmy award-winning Canadian actor and writer, who has been working in film, television, and theatre since she was eight years old. She has also been nominated for a Genie, a Gemini, and an ACTRA award.

Joanne is a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community and has an essay in the anthology Cuarenta y Nueve, a book by 49 artists for the 49 victims of the Orlando Pulse club massacre. She is the Chair of the first LGBTQ+ committee for the actors union, ACTRA, and sits on the sexual assault ad-hoc committee at ACTRA for women in film and television.

Joanne’s forthcoming memoir, All We Knew but Couldn’t Say (Dundurn Press) will be available 1 June 2019.

She is a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Grant in 2016—Writer’s Works in Progress for her memoir. Joanne was selected for the Diaspora Dialogues Program in 2013 and worked with author David Layton for six months. Her short screenplay His Name Was Steven, was selected for the Queer Ideas Screenplay competition.

Joanne founded the non-profit organization, Youth Out Loud, between 2004-2009, to raise awareness about child abuse and sexual violence.

Equity issues have always been at the forefront of Joanne’s work both in her artistic world and in her personal/political life and she is very passionate about youth, women, and LGBTQ equity and rights.

To learn more about Joanne Vannicola visit the following links:

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WANT TO ATTEND THE OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH???

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WANT TO HAVE YOUR BOOK SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR?

SIGN UP FOR FREE TO ATTEND HER OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH HERE

****This book is my “A” entry in the GingerMom’s 2019 A to Z Reading Challenge****


2018 Reading / Reviewing Challenge

One of my fellow Book Bloggers has decided to run a great challenge for 2018 and I have decided to join her. For more information, check out Gingermom’s Blog.

THE CHALLENGE:

To read a book whose title starts with each letter of the alphabet.

I even have a few books ready to be read:

A – AIRWOMAN by Zara Quentin

B –

C –

D – DEGREES OF LOVE by Lisa Slabach

E –

F –

G –

H –

I –

J –

K –

L –

M –

N –

O –

P –

Q –

R –

S –

T –

U –

V –

W –

X –

Y –

Z –

Want to join in?

Are you an author who would like to have your book included in the challenge?

Send your book by mail to:

Amie’s Book Reviews

17 Gordon Drive

Alliston, Ontario

L9R 0J1

Canada

I can’t wait for 2018 and all the amazing new books that are being released.

4 Stars for the extraordinary tale of a man who spent 27 years alone in the woods – A new book by MICHAEL FINKEL called THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS 🌟🌟🌟🌟  

Title: THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS      

Subtitle: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF THE LAST TRUE HERMIT

Author: MICHAEL FINKEL      
Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY

Length: 203 PAGES  

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE

Type of Book: HARDCOVER

Release Date: MARCH 7, 2017   

ISBN: 978-1-101-87568-1  

Price: $25.95 USD / $32.95 CDN

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Photograph of Knight’s camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

DESCRIPTION:  “In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries.”

Photograph of Knight’s camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

“Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.”    

MY REVIEW:  

This book is a New York Times Bestseller, and after reading it, I can understand why. The subject matter will draw you in and you will find yourself developing an opinion on the “hermit.” 

Mugshot of Christopher Knight Photo Credit: Maine State Police

I find it fascinating that anyone could just one day decide to walk into the forest with minimal supplies and not come out again for decades.

I am sure that most of us have had the thought that it would be great to get away from it all, but even so, our idea of that “retreat from the world” almost always has a limited time frame. Humans are just not wired to be completely solitary … at least, most of us aren’t. As proof of this, think about jail. When an inmate severely misbehaves, the punishment is solitary confinement, and even the toughest, meanest, most hardened criminals attempt to avoid it. In fact, in 2015, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, Austria adopted revised rules banning solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment. The changes are referred to as the “Mandela Rules.”     

Christopher Knight is “the hermit” who this book is about. He is an anomaly to the belief that people need contact with others to survive. 

Christopher stole food and other essential items to help him survive, and created a hidden camp that wasn’t far from civilization and yet, somehow he was able to stay hidden and alone for over twenty years. Author Michael Finkel has done a terrific job of trying to understand the nonunderstandable and readers will be unable to put this book down. 

Photograph of Knight at his camp in the Maine woods. Photo Credit: Maine State Police

This book is very much worth reading, and even though it includes a sketch of Christopher Knight’s camp as well as a sketch of the geographic area of Maine where his camp was located, I was extremely disappointed that the actual photographs taken by police were not included in this book. I would also have liked to have a photograph of Christopher Knight included as well. It is due to the lack of photographs that I am rating THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS as only 4 out of 5 Stars. 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

*** Even though the pictures are not in the physical edition of this book, there are multiple photographs available on Michael Finkel’s website; perhaps they will make it into future editions of this book.***   

Because I was curious as to what Christopher Knight looked like, I searched on YouTube and found this video:    

 

     

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

MICHAEL FINKEL is the author of “The Stranger in the Woods” and “True Story,” which was adapted into a 2015 major motion picture, starring James Franco and Jonah Hill.

He has reported from more than 50 countries and written for National Geographic, GQ, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine.

His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting, The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best American Non-Required Reading.  

Michael lives with his wife and three children in western Montana and southern France.

To learn more about this author visit the following links:

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Watch the following video for an author interview:

COMING EVENT – Attend the Toronto Book Launch of THE TORONTO BOOK OF THE DEAD on Friday, September 15th at 7.30pm – FREE ADMISSION 

Friday, September 15, 2017 – 7:30 PM

Book Launch: Toronto Lit Up

Spacing Store

401 Richmond Street West
Toronto M5V 3A8

Cost: FREE

IFOA and Dundurn Press invite you to the release of The Toronto Book of The Dead by Adam Bunch as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.

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“Toronto has witnessed countless lives lived and lost as it grew from a muddy little frontier town into a booming metropolis of concrete and glass. The Toronto Book of the Dead tells the tale of the ever-changing city through the lives and deaths of those who made it their final resting place.”

15-dundurn

 

 


Toronto Lit Up is a three year initiative, spearheaded by the Toronto Arts Council and IFOA, designed to spotlight Toronto’s writers and empower local artists with career-building opportunities.

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Participants

  • Adam Bunch

    Adam Bunch

    Adam Bunch is the creator of The Toronto Dreams Project, and has written about the history of the city for Spacing Magazine, Torontoist and the Huffington Post. In 2012, he earned an honourable mention for a Governor General’s History Award. Adam lives in Toronto.

THIS IS NOT MY LIFE: 

Title: THIS IS NOT MY LIFE

Subtitle: A MEMOIR OF LOVE, PRISON, AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS    

Author: DIANE SCHOEMPERLEN

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY, MEMOIR, CANADIAN NON-FICTION

Length: 351 PAGES   

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS 

Release Date: FEBRUARY 7, 2017

ISBN:  978-1-44343-420-1  

Price:  $24.99 CDN

How I Received This Book: This book was one I purchased for myself at CHAPTERS

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟   

Any memoir that begins with the words this one does is bound to be both interesting and shocking. Author Diane Schoemperlen is NOT the type of woman who I pictured as one that would fall in love with a man in prison – especially one who had been convicted of murder. I’m not sure who I thought of as the type to fall for a prisoner, I just know that a well-known author and journalist would be the furthest choice from my mind.

Diane’s memoir begins in 2006 with the following sentence:


“It is safe to say that never once in my life had I dreamed of being in bed with a convicted killer, let alone one with his teeth in a margarine container in the kitchen, his mother in the next room, and the word HI! tattooed in tiny blue letters on his penis.”

Now, if that sentence does not make you want to read more, then, this review is probably not for you either.

I was intrigued.

What would an educated and highly intelligent woman find attractive about a convicted killer? What the heck was wrong in her life that she would see prison as a viable dating venue? How could she ever feel safe around him?

Diane met Shane at a soup kitchen where they both volunteered. He was still incarcerated, but he was allowed out while escorted by a nun to work at the soup kitchen. No one, Diane least of all, had any idea what his crime had been or how long he had been in jail. In fact, at first, she thought he was just another volunteer.

Eventually Diane and the rest of the volunteers learned the reason he was in prison. Diane describes the moment like this:


“This was when we finally learned why he’d ended up in prison in the first place and that he’d been there for almost thirty years. Now we understood that in the language of tattoos, the tear-drop below his left eye meant he had killed someone. Now we knew he was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder. Whatever initial alarm we might have felt about this was tempered by the fact that it had happened so long ago and that he had become an essential and popular part of the kitchen crew. We saw him as a person who had paid his debt to society and deserved a second chance.”

This blows me away. I cannot say for sure what my reaction would have been, but I doubt that learning Shane had killed someone is something that I would have been able to overlook. But, that is the exact reason why I wanted to read this book. Well, that and the fact that author Diane Schoemperlen is not only Canadian, but she and I live in the same province (Ontario) and our homes are only a three hour drive apart.

I found this memoir to be compelling reading. Diane does not shy away from difficult topics. She opens the readers eyes to what life is like for those incarcerated in Canada’s prisons and how these prisoners become institutionalized. What I had never considered before was how the loved ones of these inmates end up institutionalized as well.

Yes, this book contains details about the often ridiculous world that is Canada Corrections, but it is ultimately a story about the desire for love and acceptance and to the lengths people will go in their quest to achieve those feelings and the seemingly bizarre choices they make that they normally would not. 

Diane Schoemperlen’s memoir is beautifully written and well thought out. Since it is written after the relationship ended I do however believe that she has glossed over many of the events. But I also believe that she did not do so with the intention of deceiving readers, rather because, in her own mind, she didn’t want to sensationalize her fear. It is human nature to downplay fear-filled moments after the fact – I believe this is an unconscience psychological defense mechanism. 

Clipping from THE TORONTO STAR



MORE THOUGHTS ON THIS BOOK


*** Caution – This section may contain spoilers ***

I have done some research and I believe I know exactly who “Shane” is and if I am right, he committed multiple murders, multiple prison escapes and multiple robberies. However, whether he killed one person or three people, he is still a murderer who was sentenced to life in prison. I also do not believe the bit about his “teardrop tattoo.” I think this was included to throw off those who might be curious as to “Shane’s” actual identity. 

Despite the sentence of life in prison, somehow “Shane” is now allowed to live and work amongst the rest of us. WHY?

Personally, I used to naively believe that when someone was sentenced to life in prison, that they would actually remain in prison until they died. SILLY ME!!! I guess I should have known better. I could probably rant for many, many more paragraphs about why I think it is wrong to allow murderers to be free to walk the streets of my home  province, but I will refrain from doing so here in my review of THIS IS NOT MY LIFE by reknowned author Diane Schoemperlen.

Suffice it to say that Diane’s book/memoir is a MUST READ. This is true not only for those who love a good read, but also for everyone who has even a passing interest in Canada’s jail system and what I perceive to be its fallibility (which should be every Canadian of voting age.)


I rate this book as 5 out of 5 Stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Diane Schoemperlen is the Governor General’s Award winning author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction, most recently By the Book: Stories and Pictures, a collection illustrated with her own full-colour collages, which was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada.


ACCOLADES, MEDIA AND PRIZES won by “THIS IS NOT MY LIFE” 



– One of five finalists for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize 

  
 – Mar 02, 2017 – 41 minute video

About this Video: 

Three memoirs and two biographies are nominated for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize. Max Eisen writes about surviving Auschwitz; Matti Friedman recounts his combat experience in Lebanon in the mid-1990s; Ross King examines Claude Monet’s fascination with painting water lilies; Marc Raboy reveals Guglielmo Marconi as a global communications pioneer; and Diane Schoemperlen remembers her six-year relationship with a convicted murderer. The Agenda welcomes the five non-fiction finalists to discuss what impelled them to write their books.

Dianne Schoemperlen’s book has been nominated as part of the #ygkChallenge    


MACLEAN’S MAGAZINE ARTICLE with video interview        

TERROR’S END describes the life, crimes and trial of Canadian Serial Killer – Alan Legere

Title: TERROR’S END

Subtitle: ALLAN LEGERE ON TRIAL

Authors: RICK MacLEAN, ANDRÉ VENOIT and SHAUN WATERS

Type of Book: PAPERBACK

Genre: TRUE CRIME, NON-FICTION, CANADIAN CRIME 

Length: 358 PAGES

Publisher: MCCLELLAND & STEWART INC.  

Release Date: 1992

ISBN: 0-7710-5595-1

Price: $6.99 CDN (IN 1992) 

Rating: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS 🌟🌟🌟

Serial killer Allan Legere, who was already in prison for one murder, escaped from custody in May 1989 and killed four more people during a 201-day manhunt. (CBC)


When we think of serial killers, we generally think of them as being a United States problem. ( I apologize to my US based readets, but it is true).

Most people (especially Canadians) would  NOT think of Canada, which is famous all over the world for its friendliness and peaceful nature, as a hotbed of criminal depravity  – a fact that I am immensely proud of being a born and bred Canadian.

Until reading this book, I would have said that there were only two Canadian Serial Killers that I could think of; those being Robert Pickton from British Columbia who murdered prostitutes that he picked up on the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia and the disgusting piece of filth that is Paul Bernardo who definitely deserved the death penalty (if it had been available in Canada.) So, when I began reading this book and learned of Alan Legere I was very surprised.

When I think of New Brunswick and the people who live there, I think of gorgeous scenery, lakes, the ocean, and amazingly courteous and helpful people. I have visited New Brunswick many times and I love it. Even in the cities, people are friendly and accommodating. It is difficult to fathom that a serial killer was born and bred in such a wonderful province. However, that is exactly what happened.

MIRAMICHI REGION, NEW BRUNSWICK – Photo Credit = Don Richard – Obtained from http://www.mightymiramichi.com

Allan Joseph Legere was born and raised in the Miramichi area of New Brunswick. His reign of terror over the people of that area took place in and around 1986. 

One of the mugshots taken of Serial Killer Alan Legere

 This book contains so many spelling and grammatical errors that I feel like the publisher of this book should be ashamed of themselves. I assume that the reason for these errors was that they rushed the book through the publication process in order to get it onto newsstands and into bookstores as quickly as possible so as to take advantage of the public’s intense interest in the case at the time. However, in my opinion, there is simply no excuse for the sheer number of typos and spelling errors. It is RIDICULOUS.

Aside from the errors, the book seems to encompass the complete details of the crimes themselves, as well as what took place in the courtroom.

Official courtroom sketch made during Legere’s trial

Official Jury Sketch from the trial

The authors also managed to adequately convey the feelings of fear that the residents of the Miramichi area felt at the time the crimes were occurring as well as the anger and outrage citizens felt once the horrific details were released.

I also want to mention my disdain for Alan Legere on a personal note. Yes, he killed multiple people, but in my opinion he was / is a cowardly piece of scum. He chose elderly people as easy targets (probably because he knew he might be overpowered by younger, stronger opponents. He even murdered a elderly priest who had never wronged anyone in the ultimate act of cowardice. 

All in all, the book did hold my interest most of the time, but the details were so tediously described in some passages that I felt my attention wandering and set the book down for days on end.


It is for the reasons outlined above that I have chosen to give this book only 3 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟

To view the YouTube video of Alan Legere – THE MONSTER OF THE MIRAMICHI click on the link below:

  http://youtu.be/mxogJzNr3dM     

LIFE WITH BILLY by Brian Vallée is the true story of the horrific abuse suffered by Jane Stafford at the hands of her spouse – 5 Stars 

Title: LIFE WITH BILLY

Author: BRIAN VALLÉE

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, CANADIAN BOOKS

Length: 238 PAGES

PUBLISHER: A SEAL BOOK – FROM MCCLELLAND-BANTAM INC.

RELEASE DATE: JULY 1986

ISBN: 0-7704-2239-X

PRICE: $6.99 CDN

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 

This book is one I picked up many years ago and has been sitting on a shelf for years. My husband picked it up and read it which prompted me to do the same.

This book was published in 1986 and the version I have is that 1986 book. It reflects the attitudes of that time period and even some of the desvriptive words that are included would NEVER appear in books written nowadays. For example, when describing one of the people who knew Billy Stafford, it says: “Warrington, a black, channels his energies into improving race relations in his province.” No modern author would ever describe a person as “a black” since it sounds derogatory, but in 1986 there was nothing wrong with using those words as descriptors.

In LIFE WITH BILLY, the reader learns early on in the book that Billy Stafford was killed by a shotgun blast and that the “murderer” was his wife, Jane.

As you continue to read, you realize that Jane Stafford was more of a victim than the person she killed.

This is the true story of an abused wife who just could not take another beating and who in desperation and fear did the only thing she could think of to stop the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse once and for all.

The location of the isolated hamlet of Bang’s Falls, Nova Scotia where Jane and Billy lived.

This story is NOT for the faint-of-heart. The descriptions of the abuse Jane suffered are truly horrific and her husband, Billy was a true sadist and in my opinion, was as evil as it is possible to be.

Billy Stafford was a man who was basically a bully and a sadist. He forced Jane to commit many acts of sexual depravity and who abused not only her but their son as well.

One of the police officers who arrested Jane was overheard saying that she deserved a medal. It is my belief that Billy damaged her psyche so severely that she became a shell of a person who was not living – she and her son were merely existing.

This book was published at a time when spousal abuse was treated as a matter between husband and wife and was not a problem that law enforcement wanted any part of. The killing of Billy Stafford shone a spotlight on this issue in Canada and the United States. The media coverage was extensive and battered wives who thought they were alone finally realized that they were not alone at all.


I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

PURCHASE “LIFE WITH BILLY” ONLINE 

UNOFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE TO DISCUSS THE BOOK & THE MOVIE   

MORE INFORMATION


WHAT HAPPENED TO JANE AFTER HER TRIAL AND PROBATION ENDED  

1991 – Jane with her new husband on their honeymoon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Sections

  1. News
  2. GTA

Brian Vallée, 70: ‘Terrific journalist’ was everyone’s best friend

Award-winning journalist and passionate campaigner against domestic violence, Brian Vallée, dies at 70.

Combatting domestic violence was a consuming passion for Brian Vallée. He is seen here at a 2008 book signing for The War on Women, which chronicled cases of women murdered by their male partners, and the failure of the justice system to protect them.

Combatting domestic violence was a consuming passion for Brian Vallée. He is seen here at a 2008 book signing for The War on Women, which chronicled cases of women murdered by their male partners, and the failure of the justice system to protect them.  (COURTESY OF NANCY RAHTZ)  

A tireless voice against domestic violence.

A master of the tourtière meat pie.

But above all else Brian Vallée “was a terrific journalist,” said Ron Base, Vallée’s best friend of 40 years and former colleague at the Star.

“He strongly believed in accuracy. He would go after a story with a doggedness I always found quite remarkable.”

The former Toronto Star reporter died from cancer in St. Michael’s Hospital on Friday morning.

4 Stars for THE TEN WORST PSYCHOPATHS by Victor McQueen – BOOK REVIEW

10 worst psychopaths cover pic

 

Title: THE 10 WORST PSYCHOPATHS

Subtitle: The Most Depraved Killers in History

Author: Victor McQueen

Type of Book: EBook

Length: 100 pages

Genre: Non-Fiction, True Crime, Mental Illness

Release Date:  October 30, 2015

Publisher: Arcturus Digital

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

~ I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“This book looks at some of history’s most notorious and infamous psychopaths … [it] will look not only at serial killers but also at others who have brought mayhem, betrayal, death and destruction in a world that failed to recognize them for the dangerous individuals they were.”

I was curious as to who, in the entire history of the world, that the author would choose to profile as  the ten worst psychopaths of all time. Sadly, there are many to choose from.

A few of his choices were obvious and expected such as the inclusion of Ted Bundy in the book. Other choices were less obvious but still made sense. But the inclusion of one individual in this book actually shocked me.

Initially I disagreed with the author about the inclusion of one individual, but upon further reading and after noting what exact characteristics are exhibited by genuine psychopaths, I have to admit that I now agree with author Victor McQueen that the person in question is indeed a true psychopath.

Deviant behaviour has always fascinated the general public. Regular people often express disbelief when someone they know  is found to be responsible for acts of depravity that most people could never imagine, let alone actually commit.

Through the reading of this book you will come to realize that the world is actually full of psychopaths and you will come to know how to identify them.

DID YOU KNOW:

“Studies suggest that ‘high-Flyers’ in the business world tend to score more highly on the psychopath scale…Politics is another field in which psychopaths tend to flourish.”

This book is divided into eleven sections; one for each psychopath and a foreword. Each section contains the history and background of the individual, including their formative childhood years. Then it goes on to detail the psychopath’s crimes and actions. If relevant, it includes how and when they were arrested and details of their sentencing. However, some of these psychopaths eluded justice and if that is the case, that information is included as well. Basically, this book tells you everything you would want to know about each individual.

What makes this book different from the multitude of other serial killer books out there?

That is easy to answer. The difference is that the people highlighted in this book are not all serial killers, and not all serial killers are psychopaths. After you read this book you will know exactly what I mean by that statement.

I loved the fact that this book not only gave details of individuals psychopaths, but it also highlights facts that will both shock and surprise readers.

You will come away from this book with a better understanding of the identifiable behaviours and character traits that are exhibited by true psychopaths. Armed with this new knowledge, you might even be able to identify a psychopath near you!

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The only complaint I have regarding this book is the abrupt ending. The final chapter is all about Ted Bundy and after that the book just ends. I would have really liked there to be an “In Conclusion” chapter. Even though the similarities between each psychopath are apparent after reading about each person individually, it would have been nice to have it all wrapped up in a conclusion chapter. If I was the author, I would have included a chart with all the names on one side and a list of traits and commonalities across the top. I would then have filled out the chart by indicating which characteristics applied to each person. This would have made a stunning visual for the reader.

11aPsychopath

 

 

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