Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Watching: Murder: No Apparent Motive (1984 TV Documentary)

Murder: No Apparent Motive (1984) (Youtube)

An original HBO TV documentary which is outdated from an information and scientific aspect but is invaluable from an historical view.  At the time of this documentary "serial killer" was not a common phrase and they don't ever use it. The Green River Killer is active but unknown, Ted Bundy is in prison, appealing his conviction and maintains his innocence.  The meat comes from interviews with Ed Kemper, a vicious killer, who in personable and gives much insight into the sociopathic mind. On screen personalities include original FBI profiler Bob Ressler.  Amazing resource for those studying the field!

Watch it on Youtube. (full documentary)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze In America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger

Monster Mash: The Creepy, Kooky Monster Craze In America 1957-1972 by Mark Voger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 192 pages
Published July 7th 2015 by TwoMorrows Publishing

Fantastic social history of the pop culture of monsters during the sixties covering every form of media from TV and films to print and music to merchandise. A wealth of information on any topic imaginable, jam-packed with photographs and illustrations. The book's graphic layout is in a magazine style with a high focus on images yet the text is very meaty and there are many interviews with all sorts of people from actors to editors. Presented in a chronological format starting with the first TV showings of old 30s/40s monster films in 1957 but also topically such as sections on monster music, Addams Family, TV movie hosts, Aurora and other model kits, comics, etc. I found the book absolutely fascinating both for the text and the trip down memory lane looking at the pictures. I didn't actually grow up in this era but experienced it during the mid-seventies onwards via re-runs and afterschool monster movies. Picking up all sorts of toys, books, comics, etc at garage sales and flea markets. An extremely well put together volume and like any book from TwoMorrows also high quality deserving a place on a collector's bookshelf.

Elephant Man by Mariangela Di Fiore

Elephant Man by Mariangela Di Fiore. Illustrated by Hilde Hodnefjeld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

53 pages
Published August 18th 2015 by Annick Press Ltd.
first published in Norwegian 2013

Beautiful heart-wrenching story of John Merrick's life from birth to his legacy after death. The book doesn't dwell on his abuse but certainly tells the sorry tale of his young life and presents the ultimate story of being bullied for today's reader. Merrick is shown for the strong person he was inside, overcoming obstacles and hardships until the great change when he came to live in the hospital with his doctor friend. Then we see the tender, sophisticated man who wrote poetry, read books and discussed the arts with his visitors including a Princess. The writing is wonderful and compassionate concentrating on Merrick's character and the illustration captures his deformities while giving him dignity. A had a lump in my throat reading this and found it extremely well-done.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus

Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland by Amanda Berry, Gina Dejesus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 321 pages
Published April 27th 2015 by Viking
Source: Random House Canada

A book like this is tough to write about; one doesn't really review another person's personal tragedy. That said, this was a page-turner for me. A gut-wrenching read of how two young girls survived approx. 10 years being held captive as slaves to a perverted monster. The book is written in a firsthand journal account with a couple of inserts by the co-authors to bring the story of the perpetrator and the investigation. Amanda and Gina are different people with their own stories to tell and it is very interesting to see their stories side by side while their distrust for each other is apparent as their kidnapper kept the upper hand by keeping the girls from ever being sure of each other and playing psychological games with them. There is a third girl present, Michelle, who wrote her own book, and is included here without infringing upon telling her story. It is obvious the girls came out of this with a bond that ties them together but also in different groupings. Amanda and Gina are close now because of the similarities in their age and ethnic background plus their shared bond with Amanda's daughter, a product of the kidnapping. Gina appears to have a relationship with Michelle and this would seem to be because they were forced to share a room and were chained together for approx. six years. Things go much deeper than that, and I'm very interested in reading Michelle's book now (which I already own). All I can do is give kudos to how strong these girls are to have survived this torment, come out the other side and be able to tell about it. They had plenty of opportunities to kill themselves, but they had some sort of strength from their faith and commitment to life that can only be a testament to all who read their story. Powerful story of survival along with the twisted depravity one man is capable of.

Winemaker Detective Mystery (7) Flambé in Armagnac by Jean-Pierre Alaux

Flambé in Armagnac by Jean-Pierre Alaux
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 140 pages
Published June 11th 2015 by Le French Book
first published in French 2004
Source: Netgalley

Winemaker Detective Mystery (7)

Benjamin and Virgile are back at it, but this time Benjamin has been asked to estimate the damage done at an estate which had a devastating fire in their cellars along with an accidental death. Being an expert in the field, this is the type of routine work Benjamin is often asked to do by insurance companies. This was a fine, engaging cozy just as I had anticipated it would be. Perhaps not as exciting or fun as the last two, but that happens with long series. I still thoroughly enjoyed this seventh entry with its banter between Benjamin and Virgile, the atmosphere of cigars and (this time) down home country French food. Virgile is ahead of his boss on the mystery this time, which was fun to read and several twists to the story kept me on my feet figuring this one out. I really enjoyed all the wine talk this time around especially as I'd never heard of Armagnac and am eager to give my tastebuds a swirl!

The Night Children by Sarah Tsiang. Illustrated by Delphine Bodet

The Night Children by Sarah Tsiang. Illustrated by Delphine Bodet
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 32 pages, Annick Press
Published August 18th 2015
Source: Netgalley egalley

I love the illustration! Gorgeous whimsical night creatures with a touch of Maurice Sendak about them but more playful while being slightly dark and otherworldly. The text didn't do anything for me though and I'm not sure I'd read it well to a child when it doesn't appeal to me. I like creepy, love reading Neil Gaiman's picture books, but this text's creepiness left me feeling like the night children are real and the child reader is only imagination. Just left me unsatisfied.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle, 384 pages
orig. 1995 by Pocket Books

Fantastic! Criminal profiling is one of my main interests or hobbies if you want to call it that and this is like the classic primer. John Douglas is the man who coined the term "profiling"; he didn't invent it, but he basically started the modern science we know today. I didn't learn anything new about the psychology, but this was fascinating from an historical point of view as a memoir and a history of the BSU and the FBI itself. Douglas joined the FBI when Hoover was still the Chief and if you know anything about those times you'll know J. Edgar thought the "soft" sciences were a bunch of b.s. and a small clandestine group was working behind his back quietly using psychology on an inquiry-based only system and this is where Douglas first found himself. However, the book starts with Douglas' birth, childhood, college drop-out, military service, etc. before it even gets to his enrollment in the Bureau. I enjoy memoirs and found his writing style highly readable, relishing the book from the get-go. Then, of course, I became fascinated when Douglas turns to his work in the FBI, relates how profiling worked its way into being a legitimate technique, his famous study of interviewing living serial killers to find out how they thought and his work on famous cases including everything from The Trailside Killer, The Atlanta Child Murders and The Tylenol Murders.

Douglas has earned himself some controversy over the years; some people find his writing style arrogant. This is the only book I've read by him but I've got its sequel on hold at the library already! so it won't be my last. Obviously I didn't find him arrogant in the least and his serial killer interviews (conducted with two others) are admittedly a giant breakthrough that even his detractors cannot dismiss.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay

Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Doubleday Canada
Source: Publisher

Barclay does it again! Double whammy at the end left me speechless. Truth be told this was a slow starter. I enjoyed the story but was wondering when the "thriller' part would start and pick up the pace, then things got going and I was along for the ride but really only felt Barclay was dishing out a reasonable three star story here. Loved the characters and he told of a very empathetic caring family with one grown son having serious but manageable mental issues. These were characters I truly liked. The mystery/thriller plot was good, but I felt one step ahead of things, nodding my head, knowing where this was going ... until the end. When Wham! it's not who I thought it was or even who I thought it might be! And again, Wham! Last page, get ready for the uneasy final answer just when you thought it had all been solved. I just love it when he does that!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dark Screams: Volume Four edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar

Dark Screams: Volume Four edited by  Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ebook, 160 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Hydra

Dark Screams (4)

This series not only maintains its quality it manages to keep getting better! I loved this collection of stories which contains two reprints and three original entries for this volume. The biggest name here is Clive Barker and his story is fantastic. That said, I couldn't pick a favourite this time around as they were all equally fantastic one way or the other.

1. The Departed by Clive Barker (1992) [orig. "Hermione and the Moon"] - I expected Barker's entry to be a centrepiece but this is a very short previously published piece. It's not a feature story, but I absolutely adored it! Different from what I've read of Barker previously this is actually a happy story; if you find redemptive death pleasant as I do. Really a beautiful story of the dead, and an imagined afterlife. (5/5)

2. The New War by Lisa Morton (2015) - Creepy! An elderly man comes to a nursing home after breaking his hip. We don't actually know how elderly he is in fact we don't actually know much because he is suffering from delirium. But he does know that his night nurse is trying to kill him or is it the black dark thing that accompanies her everywhere. Great ending! (5/5)

3. Sammy Comes Home by Ray Garton (2015) - Classic-style horror story. Think "Body-Snatchers", only with dogs. Loved it. (5/5)

4. The Brasher Girl by Ed Gorman (1995) - This story is dedicated to Stephen King and has an afterward noting that it is inspired by King's "Nona" from Skeleton Crew. I haven't read that recently so can't compare. This is the longest entry in the book and a fine horror story involving a mysterious entity, telekinetic communication and mind controlled killing sprees. Even though this is the longest story it was a very quick, engrossing read and does have a King flavour to it. Another excellent entry in the collection (5/5)

5. Creature Feature by Heather Graham (2015) - A Jack the Ripper display seems disturbingly real in this tale that has a bit of everything: horror, paranormal, mystery. (4.5/5)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crossfades: A Dystopian Novella by William Todd Rose

Crossfades: A Dystopian Novella by William Todd Rose
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ebook, 129 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Hydra/Random House
Source: Netgalley

Crossfades (#1)

This is the second book I've read by the author and I can only think of one phrase to describe it; "OMG!" I read a lot of books about serial killers, thrillers, true crime, books about death and the dead, and the occasional horror and I really couldn't name the last book that scared me. "Crossfades" scared the living daylights out of me!! It totally creeped me out!! This novella had me hooked, but I couldn't read it all at once because it freaked me out so bad I had to take a breather. Excellent! Excellent! I loved "Apocalyptic Organ Grinder" too.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I Know Sasquatch by Jess Bradley

I Know Sasquatch by Jess Bradley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 34 pages
Published August 1st 2015 by Picture Window Books/Capstone Publishing
Source: Netgalley

This is wonderful! An easy reader picture book with the cutest pictures ever and a sense of humour that reminds me a bit of Mo Willems Pigeon series. It is adorable how the author has drawn her cartoon illustrations on photographic backgrounds which are printed on elementary lined notebook paper, realizing the little girl narrator's presentation of writing a story book for us, the reader. She has heard of a scary "Bigfoot" monster but when out in the woods one day actually meets him and learns all about him. She tells us of his likes and dislikes, his real name is Sasquatch (he has his ID to prove it) and introduces her to his whole family even 2nd cousin Murray who most of the newspaper reports are actually about not him. Sasquatch is an adorable, average height, blue furry creature friends with Ogopogo, Mothman and Jackalope. I know both my sons would have loved this when they were little and I'd love to share it with a little person now because I adore it as a grown-up person myself. The author has illustrated other works, but I'd love to see more from her as both author/illustrator. Delightful pure fun book!