Welcome

A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on some of the books I read. To read about all the books I read and comment on, visit me at LibraryThing or Goodreads.

I've been blogging since 2007 and at this point (July 2015) am trying my hand at turning the theme of this blog towards mystery, thriller, and crime, fiction and nonfiction. I have some special interest topics and categories within this broad genre which include (but are not limited to) serial killers, scandi-crime, Victorian history and historicals, history of the criminally insane and asylums, psychopathology, death, funerary practices and burial, corpses, true crime and anything dealing with the real life macabre, or that portrayed in fiction.

I also read a short story a day from various collections, sometimes anthologies othertimes collections of a single author's work. These reviews are also posted here and while they are of mixed genre the mystery, thriller, horror, gothic and macabre often appear within their pages as well.


I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Big Stone Gap (1)

I love southern fiction and this series has been on my tbr for quite some time. Unfortunately, it fell flat for me and did not live up to my expectations. The setting in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains was delightful but missing were the quirky, lovable characters. The characters were here but were a mere shadow of anything you would find in say a Fanny Flagg. The main character was Italian and basically the plot surrounded her finding out about her heritage. When all was said and done though, the book's main focus is that of a romance. There is a slightly unusual love triangle going on and "boy gets girl" is the main theme. I'm not big on romances, but that being said, this did make for an easy read and did keep my attention enough that I kept reading the whole book. It was well written and though they fell short of my expectations I did enjoy it mildly enough.



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Gold Without Alloy: A Brief Account of the Life of Saint Mary Mazzarello by Paul Aronica

Gold Without Alloy: A Brief Account of the Life of Saint Mary Mazzarello by Paul Aronica

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Entirely readable brief booklet detailing the life of Mary Mazzarello, founder of the Salesian Sisters, appointed by Saint Don Bosco as first Mother Superior and later canonized a saint herself. The priestly author missed out on another calling as this is a finely entertaining biography written in a narrative story-telling voice making it a pleasure to read. Being only a small booklet, the focus is on the good parts of Saint Mozzarello's life and pushes forward from her childhood until her death at 44 years old from "pleurisy". She had visions of herself working with young needy girls in a school/training environment and later on Don Bosco had the same, realizing his famed boys' schools needed a female counterpart, came to hear of and then call upon Mary to do just this. As I said this is just a little booklet, yet entirely readable and brought to life a new-to-me saint. Reading a saint story always sends me on a google trip to find out just a little more. Her feast day is May 13. She is an incorruptible with her incorrupt body lying in Turin, Italy. She is the patron saint of sick people and against illnesses.



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Monday, September 22, 2014

The Eighth Circle of Hell by Gary Dolman

The Eighth Circle of Hell by Gary Dolman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lucie & Atticus Fox (1)


Written with an authentic Victorian voice this little mystery can be quite difficult to read at times due to its subject matter. Dealing not only with pedophilia but the trade of and solicitation of children for sex this is a very delicate and heartbreaking mystery to read. Describing events which really occurred in Victorian times (as, sadly, they still do today) the mystery sends Atticus and Lucie Fox off on their first case as private investigators by a nephew to bring home an old maiden aunt who has been tucked away in a poor house for decades. The night of her arrival she violently kills the old man of the house, her own uncle. I have to say this wasn't much of a mystery to me as it was quite obvious what really happened only pages afterwards that to have characters ruminate upon it for a whole book seems pointless. However, the book does succeed as an historical fiction of the time, the seedy life for the poor, "fallen" women, pedophilia, rape, poorhouse conditions, abortuary practices and the general abuse by the societal sadists who brandish their power over those in lesser circumstances.



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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dear Canada: Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1948 by Carol Matas

Pieces of the Past: The Holocaust Diary of Rose Rabinowitz, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1948 by Carol Matas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dear Canada

I knew this would be good when I noted that Carol Matas was the author. One always has to look to the title page to find the author on these books, so it's like a hidden treasure when you see a favourite author there. This is an outstanding book in the series and really adds to the collection and children's Holocaust stories in general by its topic and the way it's presented. From a Canadian pov the book concerns a fictional Polish Jewish orphan who has emigrated to Manitoba, Canada and her diary entries always start with a little bit about what life is like for her now in the new country. The majority of the book, though, is about her writing down her memories, with the help of other Polish orphans at a monthly meeting place, as she remembers what happened to her during the war. Being only five at the start of Poland's Nazi invasion her story becomes clearer the older she becomes in her retelling. At one point a cousin finds her through a letter, who has settled in the new state of Israel and through this and the local news Matas also brings to the table the beginning of the settling of Israel and the immediate fighting between Israel and Palestine from day one that continues to this very day. This book is most suitable for the upper ages of the Dear Canada's age range of 8-12 as Matas does not pull any punches in her writing; she never does. While keeping the information age appropriate she does impart the horrors and terrors that occurred during this bloody, hateful period in world history. Rose's diary in the end becomes a record of the death of each member of her immediate family and also contains a strong religious flavour. As usual I greatly enjoy the end matter in this series which starts with an epilogue that briefly wraps up the lives of the fictional characters. This is followed by an in depth historical note about the events surrounding the time period in which the story takes place and finally ends with photographs from the era. There are some stunning pictures of the Polish Ghetto and Resistance Fighters here. The book also mentions several times a fact that is not publicized enough in my opinion, in fact I only learned of it some years ago myself, that Canada and the other Allied countries refused Jewish immigration during the war years and even after the war it took much too long, in my opinion, for Canada to open up it's Immigration to the Jews. This story concerns the 1947 immigration policy which allowed 1,000 European Jewish children into Canada on the assumption the Canadian Jewish Congress took full responsibility for them. A must read.



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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Goofballs #1: The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder by Tony Abbott

The Crazy Case of Missing Thunder by Tony Abbott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goofballs #1


Tony Abbott has written a lot of beginning chapter books for the Gr. 1-3 age range but this is the first time I have got around to reading any of his work. The first book in the Goofballs mystery series is just what one expects from a well-written piece in this genre. I enjoyed the characters, story and humour. This is a fun group of kids who have a unique detective agency, different from the usual. The first book in a series like this usually is about how everyone meets and how they got started detecting. I really like how Abbott dumps us right into the middle of these kids' lives. They've already solved a case, are famous in their town, are wanting another case to work on and get that call when we first meet them, an established group with a past. The only thing that bothered me was a bit of behaviour which was rather risky: going to meet a strange man way out in the boondocks. Now mom does come along but I'm thinking this is not a good idea even if mom should happen to have a taser in her pocket. But she doesn't and she then decides to stay in the car and let the kids go in the huge mansion in the middle of nowhere all by themselves. Not exactly a swift move for mom, but otherwise an entertaining mystery for this age group.



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Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is Slaughter's first stand-alone novel and I have read all of her other books from the series. This is a difficult book for me to rate and review. It was a good story but so very different from her others and just not what I would expect from a "Karin Slaughter" thriller. In her "Acknowledgements" at the back of the book I think the author herself sums up what is different and unexpected to her fans about this book when she calls out to "Mo Hayder: I am sorry so few people die horribly in this one. Next time." Really that call out should have been to her entire fan-base. Slaughter is a good writer and this is a good cop story, technically a serial killer case, though with an execution-style M.O.; it's an entertaining case and wowed me with the reveal of the killer. I liked the characters and enjoyed the look back at the 1970s world of policing with the rampant sexism and racism. However, if Slaughter's name hadn't been on the book I doubt I would have read it; I'm not usually into police crime novels. I like the dark, gritty serial killer cases where "people die horribly" and that's what I expect from Slaughter. So I'm certainly acknowledging that this is a good, well-written story that I did enjoy and I won't deny the book its due but as a Slaughter fan I must say I am disappointed that she presented us with a book that is less stellar than her serial killer genre thrillers (namely all her other novels).



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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What I was Watching in August

I keep a running list of what I watch but don't do full reviews, just short notes with my opinion.  I'm not a big TV watcher and watch most of my stuff on Netflix.  But we did go to the movies a few times last month.  Here's what I've been watching in August:

6. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) (in the theatre) - We just watched the regular non-3D version.  None of us knew anything about this as I am not a Marvel reader (I'm a DC girl), and the guys are superhero movie fans, not comic readers.  So we all went, including Uncle Jeff, so that made 4 of us and we all really enjoyed it but no one thought it was extra-special or anything.  Of course, we all loved Groot, even though he is waaaaay too soppy for a superhero in my opinion. Then Rocket Raccoon was hilarious, the rest were just 'meh'.  Good movie, better than ok, but not great.  I'd definitely buy a Groot Funko POP!

ETA: It is now the end of Aug. and I have in my possession a Groot POP Bobble-Head!!

7.  Final 24: Season 2 (2007) (Netflix) - I really enjoyed this show.  Season 2 had more episodes than the first season and I found it quite a quality production.  There was no tabloidism to it at all, which was very refreshing and made episodes such as the one on Anna Nicole Smith (which I rolled my eyes at before watching thinking how could anything new be told about that circus?) truly interesting and brought the celebrity down to human level and we saw what a sorry, sad ending she really had.  I ended up feeling for a lot of these people.  My only complaint was too many of the episodes were about stars who OD'd, but there was a bit of variety on other types of famous people who died of other strange circumstances such as fashion designer Versace and cult leader David Koresh.

8. Dredd (2012) (Netflix) - I am a huge Judge Dredd fan and read a lot of the comics.  I didn't watch this when it came out and had no intention of watching it because how could they portray Dredd realistically.  No one would like him!  But I was taking too long to pick a movie and went ahead and am sorry I watched it. Dredd was not the Dredd of the comics.  He let sooo many people go that he would have sent to the cubes that is was unreal.  Dredd follows the rules, he doesn't care if they have an excuse!  And he soo would not have passed Anderson in that situation, she broke too many commandments.  Plus, as far as I've got in my reading Dredd has been credited with passing only one recruit ... ever ... and it wasn't PSI Division, Judge Anderson.  If I was rating i'd give this a 4/10.

9. Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics (2013) (own) - This was interesting and tells you all about the history and personalities of DC's Rogues Gallery.  It's a documentary with loads and loads of commentary from DC writers and illustrators, with Christopher Lee narrating the whole thing.  I thought it was pretty cool getting to see what some of my favourite writers and illustrators looked like.  Scott Snyder looks like a cross between Quentin Tarantino and Neil Patrick Harris.  LOL and Geoff Johns is cute!  Anyway very interesting but it was too long (99 min) and started to drag.  I lost interest way before it was over and think I might have napped at some point.

10. Saints and Soldiers (2003) (Netflix) - I randomly picked this to watch; had never heard of it but was interested in watching a war movie.  It was very, very good.  An independent movie so not full of Hollywood action/adventure, long battle scenes and tons of blood.  There is some action but this is a very talky movie and starts off with the Malmedy Massacre and then has four American and 1 Brit soldier making their way through enemy lines to bring vital information to HQ.  One character belongs to a very strict Christian sect which does not allow smoking, drinking or even coffee and his character is wonderful, not preachy at all, but he brings to the table discussions about what war/the enemy is.  Are they not the same as us with different uniforms?  The medic of the group vehemently disagrees and while not being anti-war in anyway the movie does bring much provoking thought.  The actors were unknown to me but I thought the acting and production was overall excellent for a low budget independent movie.  There is a sequel I'm going to watch next, though I don't believe it has any of the same characters.

11. Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed (2012) (Netflix) - This is made by the same people and has the same star as the first S&S movie but not the same characters; it's a sequel in a sense that the theme is the same.  This again had a religious character and this time was about three US Airborne paratroopers who are trying to get to their rendezvous but they meet up with a female French Resistance who asks for their help in rescuing her comrades.  This was a bit more violent than the first movie but again as an independent film was more talky and thought provoking than an action movie.  Once again it visits the same theme of bringing a German and US soldier together realizing they are both human beings first.  I liked the characters in this one, but we didn't get to know them as well as those in the first.  Both movies are excellent though and I can't make up my mind on which I liked best.  There is a third movie in the series but it is more recent and not on Netflix yet.

12. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) (theatre) - Again we watched the regular version, not the 3D.  I thought this was pretty lame but my husband and son quite enjoyed it.  I found a few funny moments and the action at the end good but especially liked Shredder; that was one awesome villain costume he had.  Otherwise it wasn't much.  Was surprised to see Will Arnett, I haven't seen him in anything besides Arrested Development and here he seemed to play the exact same character as Jobe Bluth.

13. The Red Baron (2008) (Netflix) - I really enjoyed this, even though a) everyone started out with awful German accents then went back to their natural British ones and b) Baron von Richthofen was made out to be some wholesome, wonderful humanitarian.  Yeah. right... So, I don't really know much about him but I'm guessing he wasn't as nice and charming a person as he was presented here.  Otherwise, as fiction, this was an enjoyable WWI movie from the German perspective for a change.  They were the good guys, from their point of view and that was the only point of view this movie shows.  This*is* a German/UK made movie, btw.  One thing I didn't know, and found interesting, was that during WWI the Germans had a lot of Jewish pilots, many of them heavily decorated.  The actor who played the Baron is dashingly good looking and played the role wonderfully.  A lot of good aerial scenes of WWI planes too. Unbelievable they had so little protection up there!

14. Solved: Season 2 (2008) (Netflix) - Season 1 is not on Netflix so I had to start with Season 2.  This is a documentary show from Investigation Discovery (one of my favourite channels, but we no longer get TV beyond basic cable).  This is a really well-done show in the same vein as the classic A&E crime documentaries.  The cases featured here are all ones that have been solved, most followed the usual timeline of justice but a few went cold and were solved many years, if not decades later.  The show started off with husband did-its or wife did-its but then moved on to quite a wide variety of cases.  All involved a murder, usually just one and none of these are serial killings.  13 episodes, each an hour long (43 mins without commercials) and as an avid crime watcher/reader I was pleased to have not heard of any of these cases before.  Excellent!

15. Sherlock: Season 2 (2012) (Netflix) - (semi-spoiler) I watched the first two episodes quite some time ago and just finished up the last one last night and wowza!  Is it a doozy!  I just absolutely love this show to pieces!  The last episode of this season is "Reichenbach Fall" which every Holmes reader will associate with  the story "Reichenbach Falls", (waterfalls in Germany) where Sherlock and Moriarty have their infamous fight and Sherlock supposedly falls to his death here.  Well this show always puts new and unique spins on the original stories but it still ends the same way.  With Sherlock's death.  But wow!! How are they going to explain this?  I'm presuming here they will follow the original and have Holmes fake his death, but it was a very real public death this time.  How will it be pulled off?  I haven't a clue how they are going to do this, except I think they will turn back on Holmes' ability to be the master of disguise somehow.  Can't wait to start watching the next season!!!