UNSILENCED: A Teacher’s Year of Battles, Breakthroughs and Life-Changing Lessons at Belchertown State School by HOWARD C. SHANE is an unforgettable and compelling story of finding hope and inspiration in the most unlikely of places – THE MOST IMPORTANT MEMOIR YOU WILL READ IN 2021 – 5+ STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Title: UNSILENCED

Subtitle: A Teacher’s Year of Battles, Breakthroughs, and Life-Changing Lessons at Belchertown State School 

Author: HOWARD C. SHANE   

Genre: NON-FICTION, DISABILITIES, HISTORY, MEMOIRS, DISCRIMINATION

Length: 254 PAGES

Publisher: BROOKES PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: NOVEMBER 1, 2021

ISBN: 9781681255156

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

https://m.facebook.com/watch/?v=898640163601782&_rdr

DESCRIPTION:

The year is 1969, and fresh-out-of-college smart-aleck Howard Shane has just landed his first teaching job—at Belchertown State School, a bleak institution where people with disabilities endure endless days of silence, tedium, and neglect.

Howard is stunned by the conditions at Belchertown and the challenges of his new job, but as he gets to know his diverse, endearing, and intelligent students, he becomes consumed with a mission: to unlock their communication skills and help them reach their full potential. Pitting his youthful idealism and passion against the rigidity of a rule-bound administrator, Howard battles his way to small joys and victories with his students—and, along the way, learns just as much as he teaches.

A stirring and spellbinding memoir from internationally renowned AAC expert Howard Shane (Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School), Unsilenced is a candid look at a pivotal era in disability history and a deeply personal account of how all human beings can flourish when we care for each other and fight for change.

***************************

MY REVIEW:

“It began in 1969, at a school with a name that’s repellent to modern ears: ‘Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded.’ Located in the sleepy town of Belchertown, Massachusetts, it was a grim institution where children with a wide range of disabilities were warehoused for nearly a century. At that time, parents of children with disabilities had few alternatives when it came to raising and educating their children.”

This fantastic memoir is an important addition to the history of people with disabilities. This is a story that MUST be told.

A scan of a 35mm slide taken of one of the dorms at BSS likely in the late 1970s.

Howard Shane was only 22 when he took a teaching position at the Belchertown State School. Much has been written about the institutions where “disabled” people were warehoused in the past. However, this book is completely unlike any other.

Ruth Sienkewicz-Mercer – Born in Northampton, MA, Ruth suffered a severe bout of encephalitis at five weeks old and at 13 months was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Ruth was admitted to Belchertown as a teen and spent the next 8 years in a bed on a ward for schizophrenics. In 1969, Ruth was introduced to a new teacher, Howard Shane, who, with the help of the physical therapist, created the first alternative communication device that allowed Ruth to communicate more widely. By then, the nurses on the ward had already figured out that Ruth communicated using eye movements and facial expressions.

Institutions such as the Belchertown State School were not places of learning as one would expect from the name. It’s full name says much about the commonly held attitudes of the time: The Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded. These were NOT places where hope or inspiration could be found. Instead, the residents were taught either only the basics of self-care, or were taught nothing at all.

Residents (patients) were often left with little or no access to external stimuli and had little access to educational materials.

When Howard Shane arrived to begin his teaching position, he had no idea that it would shape his entire future.

With A and K Building demolished, the worst conditions could be found in the other two large scale residential buildings: G Building and the Infirmary shown here where residents far outnumbered staff and there was little day to day activity on the wards to enrich the residents’ time there. The residents of the infirmary rarely left their beds unless it was to spend time on mats that were spread out on the floor. From Instagram.

Determined to actually educate his students, who were the most severely physically disabled residents of the “school,” Howard devised a way for the non-verbal students to actually communicate. This invention changed the lives of his students in untold ways.

In the early 1940s the residents attended the Belchertown fair and enjoyed riding the carousel so much that the administration decided to purchase one for the school. In 1948 they purchased a c. 1912 Stein & Goldstein Carousel from Forest Lake Park in Palmer. Obtained from the Belchertown State School Friends on Instagram

His dedication to actually educating his students caused him to butt heads with the administration continuously. His views were seen as radical and his goals for his students were seen as unrealistic and a waste of time.

This book will grab your attention and is 100% unputdownable. Readers will find themselves rooting, not only for Howard Shane, but also for the students in his unconventional classroom.

This book is important. We need to remember the past and how people with disabilities were viewed and treated. This knowledge is essential so that society is never allowed to slip back into believing the uneducated views of the past.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who believes that every person, despite their physical and mental disabilities, are important and deserve the chance to be happy and to live a fulfilling life.

I am very much hoping that Dr. Howard Shane decides to write a follow up to this memoir. I would be extremely interested in hearing more about his career and the devices he helped to create. In my view, Howard C. Shane is an exceptional human being and his life and work need to be celebrated.

I rate this book as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be eagerly awaiting the next volume of his memoirs.
.
*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***

* Hear an Excerpt Read by Howard Shane, Ph.D. here: 

https://products.brookespublishing.com/Unsilenced-P1285.aspx

*

From: AsylumProjects.org

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Howard Shane, Ph.D.,is an associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Center for Communication Enhancement and the Autism Language Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

He has designed more than a dozen computer applications used widely by persons with disabilities and holds two U.S. patents.

Dr. Shane has received Honors of the Association Distinction and is a fellow of the American Speech and Hearing Association.

He is the recipient of the Goldenson Award for Innovations in Technology from the United Cerebral Palsy Association and has authored numerous papers and chapters on severe speech impairment, lectured throughout the world on the topic, and produced numerous computer innovations enjoyed by persons with complex communication disorders.

https://images.app.goo.gl/WfN2yAadxXCmtzgi8

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

WIKIPEDIA

BOSTON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

***************************

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

BROOKES is the premier publisher of practical, research-based resources that support children’s healthy development and boost the learning and success of all people, with and without disabilities. We partner with pioneers and fresh voices to inspire readers and provide them with the tools needed to help all learners achieve academic success and work toward a bright future.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

***************************

PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL:

Photograph obtained from http://www.asylumprojects.org
This photo shows dinner being served in one of the women’s buildings at the Belchertown State School in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Food was prepared for residents at a central kitchen and delivered to the various dormitories.
Note the Buster Brown haircuts on most of the women–the preferred style because it was said to be easier for the staff to do than anything else. (Photo courtesy of the Clapp Memorial Library)
In this 1972 photo, empty beds at the Belchertown State School are pictured. James Shanks reported in his 1970 expose on the conditions at Belchertown State School where men slept in large barracks, beds touching head to foot, with only a narrow twelve-inch aisle separating rows. Sometimes residents had to climb over one another to get to and from their beds. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Albertson/CORBIS)

The Following Photos and Links have nothing to do with Dr. Howard Shane’s memoir. They are included here as additional content I found interesting:

INFORMATION ON THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL

From: The ATLAS OBSCURA WEBSITE

THE BELCHERTOWN STATE SCHOOL FOR THE FEEBLE-MINDED was founded in 1922.

The 845 acre campus comprising some 57 buildings must be called scenic, if nothing else—the Holyoke Range is visible from the campus, and many of the original structures were old farmhouse cottages (five farms were purchased to build the school).

After its establishment, the school became the only institution for developmentally disabled children in Western Massachusetts. Conditions deteriorated over the next few decades. Wards were overcrowded and attendants overworked. As a result, patients were often left to soak for hours in their own excrement. Sometimes, handicapped patients had their teeth removed to facilitate feeding.

In 1992, the school was finally closed after decades of reported human rights violations. In 1994, the campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the buildings are all boarded up. Graffiti and vandalism are rampant. Many of the ward rooms have been destroyed. Weather has also done its fair share of damage. The buildings have asbestos and, while possible to walk in, aren’t structurally sound.

However relics remain of the old school. One room in a large dormitory building still has plastic mats nailed to the walls—a padded cell. Large recreational rooms on either side of the dormitory halls get the most sun. The light is fractured by old-fashioned wheelchairs. In the basement of one building, a piano is lying on its back like a sleeping horse.

And, while the town of Belchertown may have forgotten this nasty piece of its history in the few decades since the state school was closed, it is possible the former residents still remember. In an upper floor, a note was scrawled on the floor, on top of which were human feces. “We were here. Now we’re gone,” it read. “Clean this place up. It’s a mess!”

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

The grounds are conveniently located right behind the Belchertown Police Department. There are No Trespassing signs, and the local paper reports trespassers being arrested on a weekly basis.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you might find the following links interesting:

ARTICLE: Abandoned New England: Photos from inside the old Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded by Matt Hester, Freelance Photographer on MASSLIVE website

Book: Crimes Against Humanity: A Historical Perspective. It was written by Benjamin Ricci, who sent his six-year-old son Bobby to live there not knowing what the conditions were like, and who was involved in the initial 1972 lawsuit.

Another book with vivid descriptions of Belchertown is Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer’s I Raise My Eyes to Say Yes. She was a resident of the school in the 1960s and 1970s. Ruth was one of Howard Shane’s students.

BOOK: THE BOYS AND GIRLS OF BELCHERTOWN by Robert Hornick

HORSEPLAY – True Crime Memoir – Heroin in the 80s in Vancouver written by the undercover operator who lived it every day. A Fantastic Read and a Must Read for True Crime fans

Title: HORSEPLAY
www.horseplaythebook.com

Subtitle: MY TIME UNDERCOVER ON THE GRANVILLE STRIP

Author: NORM BOUCHER

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, MEMOIR, ADDICTION, HEROIN, UNDERCOVER POLICE WORK   

Length: 272 PAGES

Publisher: NEWEST PRESS

Received From: THE AUTHOR

Release Date: NOVEMBER 2020

ISBN: 978-1-988732-98-5

Price: $21.95 CDN / $17.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

In his first True Crime memoir, undercover operator Norm Boucher recounts eight months spent infiltrating Vancouver’s heroin scene, a world of paranoia, ripoffs, and violence.

It is 1983 and the War on Drugs is intensifying. From his barroom observer’s seat, Boucher candidly reveals the lives of heroin addicts who spend each day looking for their next hit. Their dangerous subculture, centred around three gritty hotels on the Granville Strip, becomes Boucher’s domain as he attempts both to gain acceptance in a world far removed from his own and to keep himself safe.

With Horseplay, decorated RCMP officer Norm Boucher takes readers back to the assignment that shaped his outlook on the role of criminal law enforcement and the human side of addiction as it collides with the ruthlessness of the drug business.

MY REVIEW:

True Crime has become a topic of mainstream interest. What was once only followed by law enforcement and dedicated ‘web sleuths,’ has now become a topic discussed by “regular” people all over the world.

This newfound audience has led to the publishing of myriad numbers of books, and also to the creation of thousands of podcasts, ensuring that every subset crime is being covered. I readily admit that I am a ‘True Crime Junkie’ and have been since I was a young adult (which was a thousand years ago if you ask my kids.)

What is underrepresented in this genre is Canadian stories. Yes, there are some, but most seem to focus on serial killers and/or other sensational and well-known murder cases. That is one of the reasons why I was so interested in reading HORSEPLAY.

In HORSEPLAY we get a glimpse behind the curtain of undercover work in Canada. And, lucky for readers, we get the information straight from the undercover operator himself.

Now retired, Norm Boucher has written about one of the undercover operations he worked on in Vancouver in the early 1980s. He was tasked with befriending the heroin junkies and especially their dealers with the goal of making arrests and trying to determine where the bulk of the heroin was coming from.

In the pages of HORSEPLAY readers will be shown the truth of undercover work — that most of it is not the glamorous lifestyle shown in movies or fiction books.

Spending eight months — day after day and night after night on Vancouver’s Granville Strip with addicts whose entire lives centered around shooting heroin. As soon as they used up their supply, they spent their time hustling to find their next hit. All while trying to avoid being ripped-off, robbed or beaten.

What Author Norm Boucher witnessed during that time profoundly changed how he viewed those he interacted with.

Norm pulls no punches when he writes, but I don’t want to give away too many spoilers from the book. Because of that, I humbly suggest that if you have any interest in True Crime, in Addiction, or in the real operations of Canada’s undercover officers that you pick up a copy of this fascinating memoir. This should be required reading for all up and coming law enforcement personnel and for anyone working with people who have addictions.

I feel that this book is so important and so fascinating, I have no choice but to rate it as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Norm Boucher left Montreal at the age of nineteen to begin a long and rewarding career as an RCMP officer mostly dedicated to drugs and organized crime. An active member of the RCMP undercover program for over ten years, his assignments included drug trafficking, money laundering, and homicide. He eventually represented the RCMP as a member of the Canadian delegation to several Regular Sessions of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Commission of the Organization of American States, held in Washington D.C. and Mexico City, where he helped develop a community policing program aimed at drug harm reduction. His varied career included postings on the national anti-terrorist Special Emergency Response Team, as Marine drug enforcement coordinator on Canada’s West Coast, and as liaison officer in Madrid, Spain, and Santo-Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In 1983, Staff-Sergeant Boucher spent eight months infiltrating the heart of Vancouver’s heroin scene. This experience became the subject of his memoir Horseplay: My Time Undercover on the Granville Strip, which he wrote over a period of several years, while continuing to fulfill his RCMP responsibilities in Canada and abroad. In 2012, Norm Boucher retired from the RCMP as a Staff-Sergeant, dedicating his time to writing and his work as a consultant.

Norm Boucher studied literature at the University of Waterloo. He is the recipient of the Governor General’s Medal of Bravery, the Carnegie Medal, and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

He is the proud father of four children and now lives in Manotick, Ontario with his wife Sally and their dog Cooper.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
www.horseplaythebook.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM – AUTHOR

INSTAGRAM – PUBLISHER

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

iBOOKS 

AMAZON 

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

**************************

Click on the image to sign up for the newsletter for Newest Press

THE BABYSITTER: My Summers With A Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan – A True Crime Memoir Unlike Any Other

Title: THE BABYSITTER

Subtitle: MY SUMMERS WITH A SERIAL KILLER

Authors: LIZA RODMAN and JENNIFER JORDAN

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME

Length: 352 PAGES

Publisher: ATRIA BOOKS – A DIVISION OF SIMON AND SCHUSTER CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: MARCH 2, 2021

ISBN: 9781982129491 (eBook)

Price: $17.99 CDN (eBook)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A chilling true story—part memoir, part crime investigation—reminiscent of Ann Rule’s classic The Stranger Beside Me, about a little girl longing for love and how she found friendship with her charismatic babysitter—who was also a vicious serial killer.

Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1960s, Liza Rodman was a lonely little girl. During the summers, while her mother worked days in a local motel and danced most nights in the Provincetown bars, her babysitter—the kind, handsome handyman at the motel where her mother worked—took her and her sister on adventures in his truck. He bought them popsicles and together, they visited his “secret garden” in the Truro woods. To Liza, he was one of the few kind and understanding adults in her life. Everyone thought he was just a “great guy.”

But there was one thing she didn’t know; their babysitter was a serial killer.

Some of his victims were buried—in pieces—right there, in his garden in the woods. Though Tony Costa’s gruesome case made screaming headlines in 1969 and beyond, Liza never made the connection between her friendly babysitter and the infamous killer of numerous women, including four in Massachusetts, until decades later.

Haunted by nightmares and horrified by what she learned, Liza became obsessed with the case. Now, she and cowriter Jennifer Jordan reveal the chilling and unforgettable true story of a charming but brutal psychopath through the eyes of a young girl who once called him her friend.

TONY COSTA – Picture Obtained from Wikipedia

MY REVIEW:

Chilling. Horrifying. Almost Unbelievable. Terrifying.

I cannot imagine how the author must have felt when she learned that the man who babysat her and her sister when they were young was actually a notorious serial killer. YIKES!!!

Now, as an adult, Liza is obsessed with learning all the details she was unaware of as a child. It is little wonder she was plagued by nightmares for years.

The point of view makes this true crime tale unlike any other and readers will be unable to put the book down.

Not only does this book delve into the crimes and Liza’s tie to them – including a trip to what turned out later to be his personal secret graveyard, it also explores how a child neglected by her family needed someone to pay attention to her. It also highlights just how different life was in the 1960s and how innocent people were back then.

A five out of five star rating is well deserved. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Releasing on March 2nd, 2021 THE BABYSITTER can be pre-ordered now.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph by Joel Benjamin

ARTICLE ABOUT SERIAL KILLER TONY COSTA – Written by Kurt Vonnegut

CLARKSTON’S CURSE – One Child’s Quest to Make Sense of the Tragedies in Her Hometown by Ann Margaret Johns is now available. You will be shocked by how many tragedies happened in this small town. This true story will shock and amaze

Title: CLARKSTON’S CURSE

Subtitle: ONE CHILD’S QUEST TO EXPLAIN THE SERIES OF TRAGEDIES IN HER HOMETOWN

Author: ANN MARGARET JOHNS

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS

Length: 236 PAGES

Publisher: BOOKS GO SOCIAL

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: 2017

ISBN: 9780999345702

Price: $14.99 USD (Paperback)

Rating: 3 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Based on actual events, Clarkston’s Curse is the compelling true story of a child growing up in a small town plagued by tragedy.

Fleeing the violence and uncertainty of Detroit and big city living, Ann Margaret’s family moved to Clarkston, Michigan, population 1,024. But this sleepy town has a dark side.

Between 1969 and 1982, more than forty unexplained accidents and incomprehensible murders struck residents of this rural community.

A true story of mystery, murder, family, and friendship, Clarkston’s Curse is a first-hand account of what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 70s in a small town where tragedy struck with unsettling frequency. More than forty families are forever changed, and thirty people – young and old – didn’t survive to tell their tale. Ann did.

MY REVIEW:

Memoir author Ann Margaret Johns grew up in the small community of Clarkston, Michigan. This quaint town, had just over one-thousand residents at the time.  

This idyllic setting should have been the epitome of the perfect place to experience an all-American country childhood. However, although her childhood was filled with such activities as tobogganing and skating on the local pond, it was also the setting in which she began to believe that her town was cursed due to the almost unbelievable number of tragedies and deaths that took place.

The town of Clarkston certainly had a dark side…

People kept dying in strange ways and in large numbers.  What do I mean by this? Well, here is one example:

The Standring’s were hosting a party in their home that spring. Eric Standring, a sophomore at Clarkston High School, accompanied family friend Paul Lammonds from the party to Paul’s home to fetch a guitar. Two hours later, Eric returned covered in blood and incoherent. Deputies found Paul Lammonds’ body in his home. He’d been beaten to death. Eric had never been in trouble before that night, at least that’s what I heard. No one knew what came over the boy to make him do what he did. Paul’s early, tragic, and unexplained death was the first of many to come in our idyllic small town.”

Other deaths were determined to be accidental, but even these were strange and unusual. There were a couple separate deaths of men working on their cars and ending up crushed beneath them. There were even instances of children being dropped off on doorsteps and raised by the family inside, despite not knowing where the child had come from. There were multiple drownings and an incredible number of car accidents – many of which were almost too weird to be believable.

The author does list all her sources in the back of the book. I also looked up some of the cases online and was able to find newspaper reports that validated her claims.

“Over a 12-year period from 1970 to 1982, this village of 1,300 witnessed 11 different murders – NOT including the notorious serial killer who visited their small town as well.”

“In addition to the murders, Clarkston experienced another 30 unexplained and accidental deaths, from car wrecks to drownings, from freak accidents to plane crashes.”

Fascinating, unusual, unlikely, improbable, yet all true. If you enjoy real life mysteries and true crime, you will not want to miss this book.

As for the rating of this book, I have to admit that I am conflicted. The subject matter is compelling and my interest was piqued early and the level never waned, but, it is exceedingly obvious that this was written by an amateur author and is in need of a professional editor. I found several typos throughout the book. It is for this reason that I am rating CLARKSTON’S CURSE as 3 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐ 

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ann Margaret Johns is a fourth generation Irish immigrant, passionate writer, and CPA by trade who, in spite of the tragedies she witnessed, still lives in Clarkston, Michigan. These days, you can often find Ann and other characters from Clarkston’s Curse sharing stories and a bottle of wine in one of Clarkston’s quaint restaurants.

Ann is currently working on a series of children’s books and memory care books for seniors.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.annmargaretjohns.com

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

AMAZON  

NON-FICTION WRITERS ASSOC. 

IN THE GARDEN OF SPITE – A Novel of THE BLACK WIDOW OF LA PORTE by Norwegian Author CAMILLA BRUCE sheds light on one of the most prolific female serial killers … Are you up for the task of finding out about this macabre and sinister woman? If so, read on…

Title: IN THE GARDEN OF SPITE

Subtitle: A NOVEL OF THE BLACK WIDOW OF La PORTE

Author: CAMILLA BRUCE 
https://camillabruce.com

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS, BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Length: 480 PAGES

Publisher: BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JANUARY 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-5931-0256-5

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

MY REVIEW:

This book will grab you and although the tension builds slowly, you will be unable to put this book down.

Currently, true crime is big business. Serial killers have fascinated people before there was even a term to describe this type of heinous multiple murderer/murderess.

Based on a terrifying true story, Camilla Bruce has crafted a superb tale of one woman who set her sites on potential suitors (and others) and methodically slaughtered them.

With quotes such as the following one, readers cannot help but be hooked by the antics of the “Black Widow of LaPorte.”

“Halfway through the meal, Moira had to excuse herself, as she was feeling ill. I wished her a speedy recovery as she made her way upstairs. Soon after, I cut her throat and let her bleed out in a bucket.”

IN THE GARDEN OF SPITE is not for the faint of heart. This is however the perfect book for anyone who likes a bit of history alongside their true crime fix.

Belle proves that women can be just as deadly as men. The saying ‘the fairer sex’ does not apply to Belle Gunness. She had a heart as black as night and took what she wanted.

I am a fan of the true crime genre, yet until reading this book, I was unaware of the existence of this serial killer. Author Camilla Bruce grew up hearing the story. I am glad that she chose to bring Belle’s story to the attention of readers everywhere.

I enjoyed this book and at a length of 480 pages, readers get their money’s worth. This is well worth buying and would be a fabulous selection for your local book club. There is much to discuss and debate.

I rate IN THE GARDEN OF SPITE as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐ and highly recommend purchasing a copy or two.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Camilla Bruce is a Norwegian writer of dark speculative and historical fiction.

Her debut novel, You Let Me In, is out now from Bantam Press (UK) and Tor (US).

Her dark historical, In the Garden of Spite, will be published by Berkley (US) and Michael Joseph (UK) in January 2021.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://camillabruce.com

GOODREADS   

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AUDIBLE  

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

***************************

To learn more about real-life serial killer visit the following links:

BIOGRAPHY.COM

MURDERPEDIA


Belle Gunness lured lonely men to her murder farm
Female serial killer Belle Gunness placed newspaper ads in Midwestern newspapers seeking male suitors.

Some say there were as many as 40 victims of her crimes.

https://uw-media.barnstablepatriot.com/embed/video/81108372?placement=snow-embed

ACADIAN DRIFTWOOD by Debut Acadian Author Tyler LeBlanc details one family’s experience during the Acadian Expulsion. This is a book not to be missed. 10 out of 10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 🇨🇦

Title: ACADIAN DRIFTWOOD

Subtitle: ONE FAMILY AND THE GREAT EXPULSION

Author: TYLER LeBLANC

Genre: NON-FICTION, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, HISTORY, ACADIAN NON-FICTION

Length: 240 PAGES

Publisher: GOOSE LANE PUBLISHING  

Release Date: JUNE 2, 2020

ISBN: 9781773101187

Price: $19.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 🇨🇦 🇨🇦

What a fabulous accomplishment!!!

DESCRIPTION:

– A Hill Times’ 100 Best Books in 2020 Selection

– On Canada’s History Bestseller List

Growing up on the south shore of Nova Scotia, Tyler LeBlanc wasn’t fully aware of his family’s Acadian roots — until a chance encounter with an Acadian historian prompted him to delve into his family history.

LeBlanc’s discovery that he could trace his family all the way to the time of the Acadian Expulsion and beyond forms the basis of this compelling account of Le Grand Dérangement.

Piecing together his family history through archival documents, Tyler LeBlanc tells the story of Joseph LeBlanc (his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather), Joseph’s ten siblings, and their families.

With descendants scattered across modern-day Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the LeBlancs provide a window into the diverse fates that awaited the Acadians when they were expelled from their homeland.

Some escaped the deportation and were able to retreat into the wilderness.

Others found their way back to Acadie. But many were exiled to Britain, France, or the future United States, where they faced suspicion and prejudice and struggled to settle into new lives.

A unique biographical approach to the history of the Expulsion, Acadian Driftwood is a vivid insight into one family’s experience of this traumatic event.

Review from Atlantic Books Today

MY REVIEW:

In the introduction of Acadian Driftwood, author Tyler LeBlanc writes:

“As a longtime fan of reconstructed historical non-fiction and its ability to take readers to the time and place in question and bring history alive, I have tried in these pages to give the [Acadian] Expulsion a similar treatment. This book looks at the event from the point of view of those who experienced it. It is not a grand history of the Acadian experience. I’m not a historian, and I have no thesis to advance. This is a personal book about ten siblings, all ancestors of mine, who found themselves tossed from their quiet pastoral lives into the turbulent world of eighteenth-century geopolitics… The Expulsion of the Acadians from their homeland had a direct effect on over fifteen thousand people, yet we know very few of their personal stories.”

As a person born in Ontario, Canada, I am embarrassed to admit I knew almost nothing about the expulsion of the Acadian people from Canada’s East Coast during the mid 1700s. This is a reprehensible failing of the Canadian educational curriculum. I remember taking classes in American history, but the history of our own country was skimmed over. And (of course) any shameful or negative history was ignored or “whitewashed.”

When I met my husband (an Acadian from Prince Edward Island) and in the years since, I have been fascinated by the plight of the Acadian people as well as their grit and tenacity which has allowed their community to grow and thrive to this day. My husband’s last name is Gaudet and what initially drew me to this particular book was the fact that one of the author’s ancestors was “Françoise Gaudet” who was born way back in 1623 and was married to “Daniel LeBlanc.” Further research on my part will have to take place before I can confirm whether or not this is a common ancestor.

ACADIAN DRIFTWOOD is a remarkable work of creative nonfiction. Author Tyler LeBlanc has researched his genealogy and through extensive investigation into historic documents, he has been able to write a narrative of what real people went through during the time period of the Acadian Expulsion in the 1700s.

I have read several books about the Expulsion and have even visited the Acadian Museum in Miscouche, on Prince Edward Island, and ACADIAN DRIFTWOOD is unique in the very best way.

Most books and historic documents concentrate exclusively on the lives and actions of the people in power and their lives. What has been missing, until now, is an account of the lives of ordinary people and the hardships they endured.

Tyler LeBlanc brings his ancestors to life and allows readers a look into what happened to them and how ordinary people were affected by the decisions made by politicians and military leaders. Most of these decisionmakers were people who were never seen by the Acadians whose peaceful lives were shattered and whose families were scattered over thousands of miles.

“Though this narrative is full of pain and suffering, it is a story of survival.” I am in awe of the grit and the tenacity of the Acadian people. It would have been easy to allow themselves to be assimilated into the English culture.  Despite the attempted genocide of their people, the Acadians held fast to their beliefs and their culture and are still practicing those same values today. Their belief in the power of family and faith has created a group of people who are some of the best, most honest, honorable and  hardworking people I have ever met. Although I only married into this culture, I am proud to be a part of the Acadian community.

The Acadian Flag
Photo obtained from: The Canadian Encyclopedia

Whether you already have a firm grasp on the history of the Acadian people, or know absolutely nothing about them, this book will inform and inspire you. By mixing together personal stories with the actions of historic figures, and events, the author has written a compelling narrative that is not to be missed.

I rate ACADIAN DRIFTWOOD by Acadian-Canadian, Tyler LeBlanc as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tyler LeBlanc was born and raised in a tiny fishing village on Nova Scotia’s south shore. He studied history and journalism as an undergraduate and holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction.

His writing has appeared in This Magazine, Modern Farmer, Explore, Dal Magazine, and the Coast.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.tylerleblanc.ca

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

lNSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON 

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

******************

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

GOOSE LANE PUBLISHING

Based in Fredericton, New Brunswick’s capital, Goose Lane Editions is a vital part of Canada’s ever-morphing publishing landscape.

Whether it’s homegrown Canadian fiction, singular collections of poetry, books on contemporary art, or courageous stances on environmental issues and global politics, we provide book lovers with great reads that inspire, spur conversation, and stimulate minds.

We seek to represent a balance of voices and proudly embrace Queer Lit as well as First Nations and Inuit authors and artists who are shaping & transforming our perspectives.

Goose Lane’s backlist includes:

Douglas Glover’s novel Elle, Winner of the 2003 Governor General’s Award

Reading by Lightning by 2019 Governor General Award winner Joan Thomas

Strange Heaven by 2013 Giller Prize winner Lynn Coady

Riel Nason’s The Town That Drowned, winner of the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize (Canada and Europe)

and

Marcello Di Cintio’s Walls: Travels Along the Barricades, the recipient of the 2013 Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing.

And oh yes, there are also a few image-laden CMA Award winners, including Catherine Coles’s GWG: Piece by Piece

Sarah Milroy and Ian Dejardin’s From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia

Heather Igloliorte’s SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut

and Anthropocene: Baichwal, de Pencier, Burtynsky.

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, Goose Lane Editions will continue to embrace diversity, fresh voices and novel perspectives. We will keep on sharing stories that challenge, startle, and enlighten — and enhance our ability to be surprised and to be inspired.

To learn more about this Publisher visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

GOODREADS

Acadian Lighthouse
Photo by Pierre Forgues

BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN – The Montreal Massacre by journalist Josée Boileau is being released TODAY in advance of the Anniversary of the massacre – December 6th. This is the only book ever written to detail what happened on that horrific day in Montreal in 1989

Title: BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN

Subtitle: THE MONTREAL MASSACRE

Author: JOSÉE BOILEAU

Genre: NON-FICTION, HISTORY, TRUE CRIME, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, FEMINIST NON-FICTION, WOMEN’S ISSUES

Length: 308 PAGES

Publisher: SECOND STORY PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: NOVEMBER 10, 2020

ISBN: 9781772601428

Price: $24.95 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=1595624454

Exterior of École Polytechnique de Montréal.
The third floor classroom in the École Polytechnique in which the attack ended.

DESCRIPTION:

Fourteen young university students, murdered because they were women, are memorialized in this definitive account of a tragic day that forced a reckoning with violence against women in our culture.

Each of the victims of what became known as the Montreal Massacre are remembered, their lives cut short on December 6, 1989 when a man entered their school and systematically shot every young woman he encountered, motivated by a misogyny who’s roots go far beyond one man and one day.


//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=2624163844

MY REVIEW:

Canada’s first mass femicide took place on December 6th, 1989 when an Anti-Feminist gunman named Marc Lépine rampaged through the halls and classrooms of École Polytechnique de Montréal.

This cowardly “man” separated the men from the women and opened fire, killing fourteen and wounding several others. He was not “man enough” nor “woman enough” to face up to the consequences of his actions and took his own life.

Journalist and author, JOSÉE BOILEAU has written the only book to ever examine this crime and it’s aftermath.

Not only does this book discuss the day of the Massacre, it also details the political and societal norms of the times and the specific challenges facing women in 1989.

By outlining the massacre and the changes that came about as a result, the author gives this important event the respect it is due.

The murdered women, many of whom did not specifically self-identify as “feminists,” have been honored with a Day of Remembrance that is still celebrated today – over three decades later.

In my opinion, it is about time that an accurate historical accounting of this hate crime has been written. This book needs to be incorporated into every high-school History and Civics curriculum Canada-wide. This MUST be required reading.

It is fitting that BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN is being released the day before November 11th, which is Remembrance Day here in Canada. Even though Remembrance Day is a day to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice during their military service, the fourteen mass murder victims were unwitting pawns in a war they were unaware they were involved in. WE MUST REMEMBER THESE WOMEN.

In 1905, George Santayana, a philosopher, essayist, poet and novelist said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We CANNOT allow these women to be forgotten. With the writing of this book, Josée Boileau has ensured that their memories will live on.

I rate BECAUSE THEY WERE WOMEN as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I highly recommend this book to every single Canadian, male and female. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know.

With the 31st Anniversary of the shooting rapidly approaching, I will definitely be giving copies of this book to all of my local women’s shelters for their libraries.

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

THE VICTIMS:

Lépine killed fourteen women (twelve engineering students, one nursing student, and one employee of the university) and injured fourteen others, ten women and four men.

Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student

Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student

Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student

Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department

Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student

Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student

Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student

Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student

Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student

Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

The Quebec and Montreal governments declared three days of mourning. A joint funeral for nine of the women was held at Notre-Dame Basilica on December 11, 1989, and was attended by Governor General Jeanne Sauvé, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Quebec premier Robert Bourassa, and Montreal mayor Jean Doré, along with thousands of other mourners.

THE SURVIVORS:

Brought together by tragedy: From left, Jocelyne Dallaire Légaré, Heidi Rathjen, Nathalie Provost and Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire have developed a close bond since the 1989 massacre. The four of them are shown above at the École Polytechnique in 2014. 
PHOTO BY DARIO AYALA /Montreal Gazette CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH OF THESE OUTSTANDING WOMEN AND HOW SURVIVING THE MONTREAL MASSACRE CHANGED THE TRAJECTORY OF THEIR LIVES.

Who was that gutsy young woman who stood up to a cold-eyed killer?

Twenty-five years after surviving the Polytechnique massacre, Nathalie Provost mused about her younger self.

On Dec. 6, 1989, moments before Marc Lépine began a shooting rampage that killed 14 women at Quebec’s largest engineering school, Provost, then a 23-year-old mechanical engineering student, tried to reason with the gunman.

Lépine’s response was a hail of bullets that killed six of her classmates and wounded Provost in the head and leg.

“There’s a lot of tenderness for the young woman I was then, for her naïveté,” said Provost, now a 48-year-old mother of four who works as a senior manager for the provincial government.

“The wounds to your body, you see right away. For the wounds to your soul, it takes longer. You don’t understand them right away. It took me years to grasp what I had lived through.”Nathalie Provost

Marker of Change, memorial consisting of 14 coffin-like benches in Vancouver by artist Beth Alber.
On the 25th anniversary, fourteen light beams representing the 14 victims shine from Mount Royal.

//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=1110153283614

//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=1595623835

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Josée Boileau has been a journalist for more than thirty years, many of those for Quebec’s Le Devoir newspaper, where she became Editor in Chief.

Today, she is a current affairs commentator for CBC/Radio Canada and Chatelaine, and a book columnist for Journal de Montréal.

She has received a number of honors, including the Hélène-Pednault prize in recognition of her feminist activism.

She lives in Montreal.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

MUCKRACK

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

//www.cbc.ca/i/caffeine/syndicate/?mediaId=1110153283614

THE MURDERER:

Marc Lépine – the Mass Murderer in a 1989 photograph.


CBC Archives of the Massacre
https://www.cbc.ca/archives/categories/society/crime-justice/the-montreal-massacre/topic-the-montreal-massacre.html
…………………


A play about the shootings by Adam Kelly called “The Anorak” was named as one of the best plays of 2004 by the Montreal Gazette.

Colleen Murphy’s play “December Man” was first staged in Calgary in 2007.

The movie Polytechnique, directed by Denis Villeneuve was released in 2009, and sparked controversy over the desirability of reliving the tragedy in a commercial film.

Several songs have been written about the events, including “This Memory” by the folk duo the Wyrd Sisters, and “6 December 1989” by the Australian singer Judy Small.

VIDEOS ABOUT THE MONTREAL MASSACRE:

FIND THE HELPERS:What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope is AVAILABLE NOW!!! Fred Guttenberg lost his daughter Jaime to a school shooter – this is his story.

Title: FIND THE HELPERS  

Subtitle: What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope

Author: FRED GUTTENBERG

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, SELF-HELP

Length: 198 PAGES

Publisher: MANGO PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

ISBN: 9781642505351 (Hardcover)

Price: $19.95 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

FIND THE HELPERS tells the story of Fred Guttenberg’s journey since his daughter Jaime’s death and how he has been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the kindness and compassion of others. Good things happen to good people at the hands of other good people─and the world is filled with them.

They include everyone from amazing gun violence survivors Fred has met around the country to former VP Joe Biden, who spent time talking to him about finding mission and purpose in learning to grieve.

https://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=53148682

https://abcnews.go.com/video/embed?id=61068732

MY REVIEW:

FIND THE HELPERS is a book that never should have had to be written. What I mean is that Fred Guttenberg should never have had to lose his daughter in a “school shooting.” His daughter, Jaime, should be at home right now thinking about her life goals, competing in dance competitions, and giggling with her friends over boys. Instead, she has been dead for the past two years and her family is grieving the loss of a vibrant, intelligent, and caring young woman.

Gun violence and mass shootings have become commonplace in the United States and that is the horrific truth.

After losing his daughter in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, grief-stricken father Fred Guttenberg dedicated himself to fighting against gun violence in America. He did not want any other family to have to lose a loved one to gun violence.

This book does talk about the shooting and it’s aftermath, and does talk about the epidemic of gun violence in America today. However, FIND THE HELPERS is more about the people he has met and who have appeared in his life at the exact moment he needed someone.

“This book is not about gun safety or what happened at Parkland. Instead, [the Author] share[s] the story of the journey [he has] been on since Jaime’s death and how [he’s] been able to get through the worst of times thanks to the love and kindness of others.” Fred Guttenberg states that his book: “…focuses on when good things happen to good people at the hands of other good people.” He states that “To fight, you have to have hope. And this book is about nourishing the soul so that you have the stamina to fight. This book is meant to be a beacon of love and hope and compassion.”

The stories he relates in FINDING THE HELPERS all speak of the people he has met since his daughter’s death and how each of those people have been “helpers” to him and to his fight against gun violence.

“Guns don’t discriminate; bullets don’t discriminate. When they hit you, they do not know if you are a Republican or a Democrat. They do not know if you are for or against gun safety. They don’t know if you are black or white. When they hit you, all that you know is that they are likely to kill you.”

“We do have a real crisis in this country, a real emergency. In the United States of America, over 40,000 people now die every year from gun violence. That is a higher rate of death than from traffic accidents.”

The two quotes I included above are, to my mind, very telling. Now, just to make it clear, I am a Canadian, not an American. Being Canadian means I grew up in a country where gun violence happens, but nowhere near as often as it does in the United States. Fred Guttenberg asks a question in his book that I, and millions of others, would love to have answered. Fred asks: “Why doesn’t President Trump consider 40,000 people dying a national emergency?” The author also writes: “It is sad to realize that if all gun violence were only committed by illegal aliens, this President would be working overtime to do something about it.” I believe that to be true.

Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, invited Fred to the 2019 State of the Union address, and once again invited Fred Guttenberg to be her guest at the 2020 State of the Union address. He was hopeful, but knew it was unlikely, that the President might address the gun violence issue during his speech. Fred Guttenberg was right to be skeptical. During the speech, Fred’s emotions got the better of him when Trump’s only reference to violence against American citizens was once again blamed on illegal immigrants. “He was blaming violence on them, and that was inaccurate.” When Trump announced that he would protect the second amendment, and Republicans in the audience jumped up and cheered, “… [Fred] lost it. [He] had been quiet all night, but at that, [he] stood up and yelled back, saying only nine words: ‘What about victims of gun violence like my daughter?’ Within seconds, [he] was confronted by security… [His] outburst got [him] handcuffed and detained by the Capitol Police.” He was detained and questioned, but was ultimately released (but not until Trump’s speech had concluded) when Speaker Pelosi intervened on his behalf. These events made national and international news. I say, GOOD FOR HIM. Someone needed to say something to the current President who seems to care only about violence caused by illegal immigrants and ignores the epidemic of gun violence that is prevalent in U.S. society.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Fred Guttenberg, his family, and his mission to stop other parents from having to bury their children due to some 郎 with a gun.

I am rating FIND THE HELPERS as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

My only semi-negative comment is that the title can be misconstrued and I hope that people will look past that and will run out and buy this book. In fact, Christmas is coming soon and this book (along with a t-shirt and orange enamel pin from the ORANGE RIBBONS FOR JAIME charity) would make a fabulous gift for every parent, first responder, and educator on your shopping list.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photographer: Julia Brownley

Fred Guttenberg began his public life after the murder of his beautiful 14-year-old daughter Jaime in the Parkland school shooting on Feb 14th.  The day after the murder, Fred decided to attend a public vigil in Parkland. While there, the Mayor asked him to speak. His words shook a nation and he has not stopped since.

Only four months prior to the murder of his daughter, Fred’s brother Michael passed away in October 2017 from cancer related to his service in 9/11. He was one of the original first responders at the WTC with a team of doctors who got trapped in the WTC as it collapsed. Amazingly, the room that they hid out in did not collapse and Michael and his team of physicians spent 16 days at ground zero taking care of others.

Following his involvement in these two distinctly American Tragedies, Fred has traveled the country talking about both events but also talking about perspective, perseverance, and resilience. He discusses pivotal moments in our life and how we respond to those moments. Fred uses his speech to inspire others.

Prior to these vents, Fred Guttenberg’s professional life included over a decade of experience in sales and management with Johnson and Johnson, followed by almost 15 years as an entrepreneur, having built a business that consisted of 19 Dunkin Donuts, which he sold in November 2016.

Fred and his wife Jennifer now spend time challenging our elected officials to do more. They began a nonprofit organization dedicated to Jaime’s life called “Orange Ribbons for Jaime.” He has been a regular on TV news programs and myriad of online and print media. Through the formation of the non-profit, this is now his full-time mission.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE  

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

WIKIPEDIA

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT ORANGE RIBBONS FOR JAIME:

On February 14th, 2018 our 14-year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg, along with 16 other victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were tragically murdered by a troubled former student.

Orange Ribbons For Jaime will honor our daughter by supporting programs that were important to her, as well as those dedicated to pursuing common sense gun safety reforms.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

LETTERS FROM CHRISTOPHER by Cheryln Cadle is not worth wasting your time or money on. I give it 2 Stars out of 5 ⭐⭐

Title: LETTERS FROM CHRISTOPHER

Subtitle: THE TRAGIC CONFESSIONS OF THE WATTS FAMILY MURDERS

Author: CHERYLN CADLE

Genre: NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME

Publisher: SELF PUBLISHED THROUGH AMAZON

Rating: 2 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐

Chris Watts – A Family Annihilater
This piece of human garbage killed his pregnant wife and two babies

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION:

Letters from Christopher is a true crime story with important information to put the pieces of the puzzle together for inquiring minds. Read herein the completely truthful account of what happened to Shanann, Bella, Celeste, and Nico Watts.

MY REVIEW:

I have a keen interest in True Crime, and as such when I discovered the existence of this book while browsing the Amazon website, I decided to give LETTERS FROM CHRISTOPHER a chance.

The way the book is described, readers will be deceived into thinking that the author has a long-standing and prolific letter-writing relationship with Chris Watts. THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

I expected that the book would contain the actual letters written both to and from the author. In other words, I expected to be privy to the actual letters. AGAIN, THIS IS NOT THE CASE. (There are a few letters at the end of the book, but not many.)

It only took a few pages before I realized this book was written by an amateur author. Anyone who has followed my Book Review Blog will know that I am an avid supporter of new authors. However, being written by a first-time author does not guarantee I will give the book a high rating. What it does mean, is that I am a bit more willing to overlook SMALL editing and/or proofreading errors.

I am 100% honest when I write my reviews. This is what I believe people want when they read book reviews. No one wants to spend their hard earned money on a disappointing read. There are so many fabulous books on the market today and it would be a shame to miss out on one of them because you wasted your money buying a book that did not live up to your expectations.

So, why am I disappointed in this book? Well, besides being full of typos and terrible grammar, it does NOT offer much in the way of new information. Basically, the author just took the information that has previously been reported and wrote it out in her own words. Words that are written with more grammatical errors than a grade one book report.

In addition to that, the author seems to be incredibly naive. I believe she has lost touch with reality when it comes to the topic of Chris Watts and the beautiful family he slaughtered in cold blood. Cheryln is a religious person. I am not sure what brand of Christianity she subscribes to, but it involves the belief that Chris Watts only murdered his family because of a demon.

It never ceases to amaze me just how fast criminals, and murderers in particular, once caught, profess that they have found God and that God has forgiven them. What a crock of crap!!! This is just one more manipulative ploy by a psychopath who feels nothing and who knows exactly what buttons to push to obtain sympathy from women.

Even if I believed the crap that Chris has clearly manipulated Cheryln Candle into believing, I cannot give this book a rating higher than 2 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐ This is for the reasons listed above as well as the fact that there are very few actual letters included in the book. This is supposed to be a book called LETTERS FROM CHRISTOPHER, but where are the letters.

Please do not waste your money on this book. There are other books about the Watts family murders that are more worthy of your time and your hard earned money.

I am including links to some videos about the case that are more informative than the book.


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=duu2NePfEo0

Documentary:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MbGl8r5MzUI
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JZPt3uvJZAU

2 minute long video – A tear rolls down his cheek at sentencing – The only time this monster showed any emotion was at his sentencing – the year was for himself, not for the wife or babies he so callously slaughtered…


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=syQwvoZZvGI

THIS IS CHERYLN CADLE:

MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE by Investigative Reporter JUSTIN LING is available for pre-order NOW. This 5 STAR Read is destined for the National Bestseller list.

Title: MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE

Subtitle: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community

Author: JUSTIN LING

Genre: NON-FICTION, LGBTQIA2+, LGBTQQ, QUEER NON-FICTION, TRUE CRIME, DIVERSITY, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, SERIAL KILLERS, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA,  CANADIAN AUTHOR

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: MCCLELLAND AND STEWART – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 29, 2020

ISBN: 9780771048647

Price: $32.95 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bruce McArthur pleaded guilty to killing these eight men.
Top row, from left to right: Skandaraj Navaratnam, Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen and Abdulbasir Faizi.
Bottom row, from left to right: Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi and Majeed Kayhan.
(John Fraser/CBC)

DESCRIPTION:

The tragic and resonant story of the disappearance of eight men — the victims of serial killer Bruce McArthur — from Toronto’s queer community.

In 2013, the Toronto Police Service announced that the disappearances of three men–Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi, and Majeed Kayhan — from Toronto’s gay village were, perhaps, linked. When the leads ran dry, the investigation was shut down, on paper classified as “open but suspended.”

By 2015, investigative journalist Justin Ling had begun to retrace investigators’ steps, convinced there was evidence of a serial killer.

Meanwhile, more men would go missing, and police would continue to deny that there was a threat to the community. On January 18, 2018, Bruce McArthur, a landscaper, would be arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. In February 2019, he was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of eight men.

Canadian Serial Killer
Bruce McArthur
Ho / THE CANADIAN PRESS

This extraordinary book tells the complete story of the McArthur murders. Based on more than five years of in-depth reporting, this is also a story of police failure, of how the queer community responded, and the story of the eight men who went missing and the lives they left behind. In telling that story, Justin Ling uncovers the latent homophobia and racism that kept this case unsolved and unseen. This gripping book reveals how police agencies across the country fail to treat missing persons cases seriously, and how policies and laws, written at every level of government, pushed McArthur’s victims out of the light and into the shadows.

MY REVIEW:

MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is destined to become a National Bestseller.

Investigative Reporter Justin Ling, himself a member of Toronto’s LGBTQ community – the very same community from which McArthur chose his victims – is uniquely qualified to author this book.

I say this, NOT based on his sexuality, I say this because he seems to have been the only person, and definitely the only reporter, who was interested in finding out what was happening in Toronto’s Gay Village YEARS before the police even considered the men’s disappearances to be connected. Not only that, but because Justin knows the area, and is a reporter with a heart who cares (sometimes too much) about each victim as a person, not as just another face in the lineup of victims. Justin is the only person who could tell this story without sensationalism getting in the way.

I have read numerous true crime books over the span of many years, but MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is unique. It is superbly told so that the focus is not on the gruesome crimes themselves, but is on the story as a whole. I love that the author was so wrapped up in the story that, at times, he had to fight back tears.

Canada has its fair share of crimes, including murder, but Canadian serial killers are rare. These killers seem to focus on marginalized populations, seeing those victims as disposable. The problem is that they seem to be right. It took way too long for the police to catch this POS.

Sex, murder and secrets are the basis for this horrific true crime story that, if I didn’t know better, I would never have believed to be true, especially not here in Ontario, Canada.

MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE is a MUST READ if you want to know the entire story, not just of Bruce McArthur and his victims, but also the history of Toronto’s gay village and the fight for LGBTQIA2S rights, and why Bruce McArthur was able to go on killing over the span of several years and remain undetected.

McArthur’s victims were real people who had loved ones and friends who still miss them.

In this era of the #metoo movement and the calls to #defundthepolice and, of course, #blacklivesmatter we all need to remember that many people are still seen as unimportant. THIS NEEDS TO STOP.

For decades people who are queer, who are sex workers, who are black, who are brown, who are Indigenous, who are homeless, and many more, have been treated as if their lives do not matter. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure we see, REALLY SEE, every life as equal and as precious. This book will open people’s eyes, it is up to us to ensure our eyes stay open.

If we can do this, maybe, just maybe, we can stop the next Bruce McArthur from being able to choose victims at will.

I rate MISSING FROM THE VILLAGE as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be watching for Justin Ling’s byline, and hopefully another book.

I just discovered that you can Pre-order the hardcover version of this book on the Chapters/Indigo website for a reduced price. It is currently 25% off, but I am not privy to when this offer ends, so I suggest you pre-order your copy ASAP.

Pre-Order NOW and Save 25%

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

QUOTES:

“The bar changed colour like a drag queen trying on new shades of lipstick.”

“The contrast between the bright paint and the rest of the dour building gave Zipperz the particular quality of being a portal into another world, a secret passageway.”

“The campaign to find a missing loved one sits exactly between hope and dread.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JUSTIN LING is an investigative journalist whose reporting has focused on stories and issues undercovered and misunderstood.

His writing has appeared in Vice News, BuzzFeed, Foreign Policy, Motherboard, the Globe and Mail, the National Post, and the Guardian.

In 2019 he hosted “The Village,” the third season of the CBC podcast Uncover, which examined cold cases from the 1970s that were reopened as a result of the McArthur investigation.

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

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

LINKEDIN

CBC

UNCOVER – THE PODCAST

MUCKRACK

TWITTER

VICE

TALENT BUREAU

GOOGLE BOOKS

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

https://insight.randomhouse.com/widget/v4/?width=600&isbn=9780771048647&author=Justin%20Ling&title=Missing%20from%20the%20Village