Review: Body Count by Burl Barer #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

He Seemed So Normal . . .

By day, Robert Lee Yates, Jr., was a respected father of five, a skilled helicopter pilot who served in Desert Storm and the National Guard, and a man no one suspected of a deadly hidden life. By night he prowled the streets where prostitutes gathered, gaining their trust before betraying them with a bullet to the head.

On August 26, 1997, the decomposed bodies of two young women were discovered in Spokane, Washington. Within months four more women were added to the mounting death toll.

In 2000, Yates pleaded guilty to thirteen murders to avoid the death penalty. But in 2001 he was convicted of two more murders and is now on death row in Washington State, waiting for the day when he will die by lethal injection.

Updated with the latest disturbing developments, award winning author Burl Barer’s real life thriller is a shocking portrait of one man’s depravity.

My Thoughts

True crime is one of my favourite genre’s to read. Maybe even my 1st preference.  I’ve always been fascinated by crimes and criminals, and I guess that’s what lead me to my career/profession.  For me, the main point I like to get from a true crime book is that the victims were people. Human beings. Capable and worthy of love, and who had people in their lives who made and impact and feel their loss. And from this book I got that. Which was respectful and oh so sad.  It’s awful that women with addiction and who prostitute are treated or are thought of an throwaways. That breaks my heart.  Everyone has a story, some aren’t as ‘rosy’ as others, but at the end of the day, we’ve all got beating hearts, we all deserve love, respect, and compassion. Yet these, poor women, 11 in total, were unlikely to get any of that because of what they did to survive.

This was the first book about Robert Lee Yates Jnr, that I’ve read. Although, I loved and appreciated the way the author treated the victims, that was almost all I liked about this book.  It was pretty wordy throughout, which interrupted the flow.  I did, at times, have trouble getting through each chapter especially when quotes from forensic or behavioural science professionals were added to the book. I can appreciate that the author perhaps wanted to show his research, but it really made the book drag and felt quite out of place.

But again, I really appreciate that this telling of Yates crimes was focused on showing us that the victims were people telling us about their lives and interviewing those who loved of knew them.  The reporting of their horrible murders were done so respectfully, and I didn’t feel like the murderer was given the spotlight, which was excellent.

So although it was a bit of a struggle for me, there was the respect and compassion for the victims that I really admired.

I rated Body Count: 3/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

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Review: Love Always, Mum xxoo by Mae West and Neil McKay #bookreview #bookblog @SevenDialBooks

Blurb

The true story of an abused childhood, of shocking brutality and life as the daughter of notorious serial killer, and master manipulator, Rose West.
You’re 21-years-old. Police arrive on the doorstep of your house, 25 Cromwell Street, with a warrant to search the garden for the remains of your older sister you didn’t know was dead. Bones are found and they are from more than one body. And so the nightmare begins. You are the daughter of Fred and Rose West.
‘Mae, I mean this … I’m not a good person and I let all you children down …’ Rose West, HM PRISON DURHAM
It has taken over 20 years for Mae West to find the perspective and strength to tell her remarkable story: one of an abusive, violent childhood, of her serial killer parents and how she has rebuilt her life in the shadow of their terrible crimes.
Through her own memories, research and the letters her mother wrote to her from prison, Mae shares her emotionally powerful account of her life as a West. From a toddler locked in the deathly basement to a teen fighting off the sexual advances of her father, Mae’s story is one of survival. It also answers the questions: how do you come to terms with knowing your childhood bedroom was a graveyard? How do you accept the fact your parents sexually tortured, murdered and dismembered young women? How do you become a mother yourself when you’re haunted by the knowledge that your own mother was a monster? Why were you spared and how do you escape the nightmare?

My Thoughts

You know, I find true crime that’s do do with serial killers intriguing and I ‘enjoy’ (for lack of a better word) reading them. Have since I was 13.  This is the second biography of a serial killers child that I’ve read in the past month, and it’s been a fantastic read. Yes, we all know who Fred and Rose West are and what they were accussed and convicted of, but I find knowing about their family just as intriguing.  This story was just as heartbreaking as Kerrie Rawson’s, although where Kerri had a relatively ‘normal’ childhood, Mae (formerly May June West, I know how could a mother do that to her daughter) was far different. Subjected to horrific physical, sexual, and mental abuse; although it was heartbreaking to read, I found it fascinating to learn just how wicked Fred and Rose were.

But you also learned about Fred and Rose’s childhood, and it was an equally horrific.  How do you expect to severely traumatised children to grow up and not repeat what they grew up in? I loath what those two grew up and did, but I can understand how that may of come to place given their awful upbringing.

I liked the way this book was set out, with little snippets from Rose, who seemed to be in extreme denial. At times I almost believed that she was innocent, just like Mae did.  I have to admit I’m surprised at the support that she gave her mother after finding out what she did. But then I’m not surprised. She’s suffered years of trauma at the hands of her own parents.  It’s not as simple as just not loving them, when you’ve grown up praying or wishing that they were different. Everyday you think it will be different, but everyday it’s the same. But that just doesn’t go away when you’re a child. Sadly enough, it lasts into adulthood as well. Although you may come to the realisation that you won’t ever get the love and affection that you’ve craved for your entire life, that yearning doesn’t every truly go away, you just learn to deal with it. So to the lay person, you might find you’re annoyed at Mae for half of the book. But just bare in mind, we could never possibly understand what it’s like to be in her situation. It’s uncomprehendable. Despite my work as a psychologist, stories like this never get old.  It’s always like reading something for the first time, because every experience is different. No human and their feelings/emotions/behaviours are the same. I guess that’s why I love what I do.

This story doesn’t focus on the murdered victims. It’s a focus on a personal experience of a living victim, who’s life has forever changed. Someone who had no part in any of what happened to her, but lives with the guilt and shame for as long as she lives. Often, family members of serial killers are forgotten, or equally blamed. When really, they’re just another victim.  Much strength and love to Mae and her siblings. I hope that they’re seeking the proper psychological help, and have the supports that they need and deserve. May they live the life they’ve deserved all along.

I rated Love alway, Mum: 5/5 stars

Happy reading

Nat

Review: The Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker #bookreview #blogger #bookblog

Goodreads Blurb

Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island and presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of online escorts, where making a living is easier than ever, and the dangers remain all too real. A triumph of reporting, a riveting narrative, and “a lashing critique of how society and the police let five young women down” (Dwight Garner, The New York Times), Lost Girls is a portrait of unsolved murders in an idyllic part of America, of the underside of the Internet, and of the secrets we keep without admitting to ourselves that we keep them.

My Review

First things first, I think it’s important to congratulate the author on making this book about the victims. It’s a horrific, tragic, undignified, and heartbreaking way to have died not only for the victims, but for their friends and family who are left behind.  This non-fiction true crime book is different to others I’ve read. The first section is dedicated solely to four of the 10 victims.  Getting to know them for the human beings that they were, how they lived, who they loved, and who loved them.  There’s not a lot more important than remembering them.

It’s certainly an interesting case, that will have most of use wondering if the murderer will ever be caught. I’d like to think that it’ll happen in my lifetime, especially seeing as 35 year old murders are being solved these days thanks to DNA.  I enjoyed the authors writing style; it was thoughtful, read smoothly,  was respectful.

I rated Lost Girls: 4/5 stars.

Happy reading

Nat

Review: Parkland by Dave Cullen @hachetteAus @davecullen #bookreview #bookblog #nonfictionbook

Amazon Blurb

On the first anniversary of the events at Parkland, the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of Columbine offers an intimate, deeply moving account of the extraordinary teenage survivors who became activists and pushed back against the NRA and feckless Congressional leaders—inspiring millions of Americans to join their grassroots #neveragain movement.

My Review

It was one of those events that shocked and moved us when multiple news broadcasts showed us the horrors that hundreds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL endured, with 17 losing their lives on Valentine’s Day in 2018.  I know I’ve heard people say things like “It’s just another shooting in a gun crazy country, nothing will change.”, fortunately for me I don’t live in the US (I’m Australian), and I also still feel absolutely devastated every time I hear of one of these gun-related mass murders.  The author of this book, Dave Cullen, takes a different approach with this book compared to his other, Columbine (which I absolutely loved), and I believe it most certainly paid off.  The reader is not only given information about the terrible shooting, but we get to know some of those young victims who’ve fortunately escaped with their lives, to fight for the right to be heard given that they – the school kids – are the ones who so often find themselves the victims of this type of crime.

I found getting to know these victims incredibly inspiring.  It warms my heart to read the words of these young teens who seem to have more insight, compassion, and gumpsion than many so-called adults I know.  It’s difficult not to get emotionally sucked into this book, to shed tears for the victims who died and their family’s, for your heart and sould not to ache for those incredibly brave souls who lived and are shouting their rights to feel safe in their learning environments.  I think this book has been one that forces you to question your stance on gun-laws, on your morals and empathy, and makes you figuratively sit down, shut up, and listen.

I’d also like to thank the author for volunteering to divulge his struggle with PTSD over the last decade almost, since investigating and writing about Columbine.  I understand that in a world where mental health and associated labels are still so sadly stigmatised, volunteering your struggle has the potential to show others that it shouldn’t be a taboo topic.  We should be able to feel comfortable disclosing our thoughts and feelings without fear.  The only way to do that is to model that ourselves.  Nobody is immune to mental health, no one should be made to feel at fault.  Thank you Dave for sharing your struggle, I know that you’ll have helped at least one reader.

A special thank you to Hachette Aus for my copy, eternally grateful.

I rated Parkland: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

What Did I Read In 2018? #bookblog #2018reads #goodreads #booknerd #books

So last year I was super busy writing a textbook, writing a thesis, and the rest. But I did manage to exceed my Goodreads challenge or 10 books.  I ended up reading 39.

Two of my favourite books was by Stephen King and Diane Chamberlain. Two books that I didn’t think I’d continue reading simply because I got the first plot twist and thought uh oh, this isn’t really something I’d read… However, I pushed on and was pretty much BLOWN AWAY.

The Outsider has had mixed reviews by others, and really that’s no surprise because we’ve all got our own likes and dislikes. If we didn’t the world would be a pretty boring place.  My opinion of it was that I loved how it started. Smack bang into some action, and I have to admit given my areas of research and interest academically, I wasn’t at all turned off by the brutality of the first few chapter.  I love when a story starts off with 36124936action, it’s a great way to draw readers and keep them interested.  Other authors have lost me sometimes because after that great action, they enter too much info on the characters and the settings and it drags things down. Obviously King is a master at the written word, and achieved this effortly.  I got lost in the world of this story, I didn’t want to put it down and go back to real life, LOL.  I found myself really enjoying each and every character, and they were all so different from one another.  I really had no idea, how King was planning to explain Terry’s supposed part in the crime, because it was really looking like it was him for a while, but he was pretty convincing that it wasn’t. The amount of times I said “WFT” out aloud was quite funny. My husband would be sitting mext to me and say, “What?” He’d listened to it on Audible and agreed that is was a pretty compelling read.

My other book of the year for 2018 was Diane Chamberlain’s The Dream Daughter.  I ugly cried in this one.  I was pretty invested in it thanks to the author’s use of an unborn baby 37638145with a series health issue in the womb, I mean who can flag a book when that’s at the heart of it? But when I got to Hunter’s plot twist, I was saying “WTF” but not in a good way.  I put the book down and had a serious think.  Normally, I would NEVER read a book with this in it, I know that some people have a real hard time accepting a story when it’s too unbelievable or strays too far away from fact which I’ve always found quite humorous considering that they’re reading fiction, however when I got to Hunter’s plot twist I thought I’d stop reading because it was too unbelievable. BUT I kept going and boy am I glad I did. It was a truly wonderful read.  I don’t want to give anything away, but at two points I slammed the book shut in disbelief, gasping “OMG, no way”, plenty of tears, and I laughed once.  Like King’s book, I found my self lost in the words of this book. I was reading this while away on a campy holiday with the family, so was able to finish it pretty quick, and I was truly devastated that it had to end. Although to my husband, who had to listen to me recap almost every chapter after I’d finished them, it couldn’t end soon enough!

Other books I read in 2018

2018 books

The Misbegotten Son by Jack Olsen was fantastic, probably my true crime pick of 2018. I absolutely loved Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult, the very last page, had be gasping “WTH” and then i was thinking about it, trying to go through everything I’d read whist I was trying to go to sleep trying to figure out how I should have picked that ending! Talk about plot twist. I wanted to really love A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult because I’d waited so long for it’s release, but the format just ruined it for me, and I wasn’t a fan of the constant heading hoping throughout chapters. It made it hard to get to know characters because you couldn’t sit with them long enough and it felt like you were ripped from them to get into another characters head.

But, it was a great selection of books. A whilst I didn’t mark them all 5 stars, it certainly didn’t mean I didn’t appreciate the hard work that every single one of those authors put into them.  They way I rate books is that they all start out with 5 stars, and then as I’m reading I subtract for various reasons i.e. too slow, information dump, cliche’, predictable etc. They can get those stars back though if I’m made to feel an emotion physically (say if I laugh or cry), surprising plot twist, awesome character development etc.  And obviously like I’ve mentioned we all score differently and have different opinions.  I’ll always look forward to trying another book by that author because it could always me the next “One”.

Did you read any of these books? What did you think of them and which was your favourite?

Bring on 2019 reads,

Nat

1st Review of 2019 – The Innocent Man by John Grisham #theinnocentman #johngrisham #bookblogger #truecrime #booknerd

So, if you have Netflix then you know about the new docoseries – The Innocent Man which is actually based on the book of the same title by the one and only John Grisham.  Now I’ve actually never read anything of Mr Grisham’s although I know that he’s a big seller, and that a number of his books have been made into movies. However, this book of his is particularly special because it is the one and only non-fiction story that he has published to date.

The Innocent Man centers around two murders of two young women in the early 1980’s

debra-carter-4

Victim Debra Carter

in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma.  The first murder was horrific, with the rape and murder of Debra Carter in 1982.  The two men charged with her murder were Ron Williamson, who was once a big time baseball player, and Dennis Fritz.  Despite the railroading that both men received, the polygraph tests the took didn’t help them (but let’s face it,

ron

Ron Williamson

they’re junk science really and give out so many false positives that they’re inadmissible in court), Williamson had serious mental health conditions, and the police had pressure to find a culprit (or two) as well as tunnel vision. Which ultimately ended up in the life sentence of Fritz, and a cell on death row for Williamson.

 

The second case in the book was that of Denice Haraway who was found shot once in the

denice haraway

Victim Denice Haraway

head on April 28, 1984.  The police believed that Tommy Ward and Karl Fontenot walked into the convenience store that Miss Haraway worked at, abducted her and shot her.

tommy ward and karl fontenot

Karl Fontenot and Tommy Ward

Despite the fact that they both denied doing so multiple times, however like the first case the police had tunnel vision and no doubt added extra pressure of another murder in their small town.  They used the polygraph tests again, and Ward is a skittish/anxious person so it was no surprise when Wards came back as failed a number of times.  The police also frustrated that Ward wasn’t admitting to a crime that they suspected he had committed, and instead used a dream that he had about the crime as a confession.  Unfortunately Ward and Fontenot are still incarcerated. However that did receive a retrial. In the first sentencing they both had received death. In the retrial, Fontenot was again sentenced to death and Ward is currently serving a life sentence.

In the case of Debra, they arrested, charged, and sentenced Glen Gore with her murder after DNA evidence cleared Williamson and Fritz.  What for this, Gore was questioned after Debra’s murder however no DNA evidence was collected from him, and he testified against Williamson and Fritz. Further, DNA evidence connected Gore to the crime scene, along with witness accounts of him being with Debra the night of her murder.  Unbelievable, I know.

My Review

I didn’t really expect anything less than a brilliant read, and that’s what I got.  I was a tad worried that Mr Grisham may embellish or right the story as a fiction piece, however it read smoothly and matter-of-factly.  The depth of information was excellent, and being someone who hadn’t heard of these two cases before, I felt as though I got just the right amount of information without feeling as though there was an overload.  Generally, when too much information is given, it reads sluggish and boring. Not for me.  It’s outrageous quite frankly, that four innocent men (five when you add Greg Wilhoit who is also added in the story and shared the same death row as the men) in the same county are sentenced for horrific crimes they didn’t commit. You can only imagine what that would be like. Especially for Williamson who was already suffering from mental health issues that were magnified being in a place where prisoner welfare is at the bottom of the list of importance.  It’s truly heartbreaking, and even though two of those men were released, it’s forever changed their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Not to mention the anguish for the victims families.

If you enjoy true crime, and stories of innocence then I highly recommend this one for you.  I think I also recommend myself to try some of Grisham’s fiction work, because if it’s as half as good as his non-fiction I’m in for awesomeness!

 

Have you read it? What did you think? Let me know.

Currently Reading – The Sunset Murders 

I’m a lover of true crime and have just started:

  • The Sunset Murders by Louise Farr 

  
I actually don’t know a lot about this pair so I’m enjoying learning about them. A review wil be up once I’m finished it, though I still have four weeks of the semester left with exams during two of those weeks. 

Happy reading!

Nat 📚

REVIEW: On the Farm by Stevie Cameron

It’s taken me a while to get through this one, not because it has over 700 pages, but because there aren’t enough hours in the day! And most certainly not because I wanted to put it down!!!  This would have to be one of the best true crime books I’ve read yet.

On the Farm — Stevie Cameron (Click link to buy kindle version)

IMG_5904If you’re like me and not too familiar with the serial killers in Canada, then I suggest that you make this book your first. Robert William Pickton is one of three sibling born in western canada.  He admitted to killing 49 prostitutes, saying he was trying to get to 50.

What I really loved about this book is it’s thoroughness of in her investigation of all of those who were involved in the case. Right from the start of the missing woman, the start of the investigation task force, the trial, and the verdict.

I’ve seen other reviews that complained about the detail the author goes into with the victims. Also of those such as the police and other criminal justice professionals. But I loved it. Too often are we told all the details of the offender and sometimes that can be seen as disrespectful to victims. This book almost focuses on the victims a fair bit more than the offender I believe, and there are many. We learn who they are as people; where they grew up, their struggles, and their families. It’s heartbreaking because only some of the victims didn’t have families that noticed their disappearnace and report them missing. There’s only a few sentences about those ones.

It’s more heartbreaking when you read the heartbreak of their families, who remind us that these women, whether you agree with their lifestyle or not, were human. They were loved and missed, and in many instances they had children who continue to love and miss them.  What’s equally sad is that when they were reported, the police didn’t acknowledge them, and as a result this went on for 30 odd years.  That’s a long time, and as a result a lot of woman went missing and murdered.

It was great to read about the police, detectives, and lawyers who were also involved. Read about the politics and hardships that they face. Even though there were mistake made by them, you can’t imagine the incredible difficulties that the criminal justice system have, and how single officers or detectives don’t have the luxuries of taking things upon themselves, they have to follow the system. It doesn’t make this story any less tragic, but I see the difficulties they face. Admittedly, there were people in the book I didn’t take to. And if you choose to read this, you might agree.

Overall, this book was wonderful. It didn’t drag for me, I really appreciated and enjoyed the thorough description of those people this tragedy touched, as well as a look at the offender, his life, and his family. I was disappointed with the trial in that it wasn’t the outcome I wanted for the families, some of them haven’t received their justice and it’s really very heartbreaking, some of those women weren’t even found, or only DNA or tiny parts of them found. You can’t begin to imagine what they went through or their families. Stevie does an excellent job of making us notice the victims. Feel for the victims. It’s the victims that deserve to have their story told and she doesn’t this wonderfully.

I give this book: large_cute-bookworm 1large_cute-bookworm 1large_cute-bookworm 1large_cute-bookworm 1large_cute-bookworm 1/ out of 5

Happy reading

Nat large_cute-bookworm 1

What am I reading at the moment?

I’ve got two weeks until start of semester and I’m enjoying the break. Currently, I’m reading On the Farm by Stevie Cameron which is about Canadian serial killer Willie Pickton. It’s a big book, but I’m really enjoying it. Look forward to seeing my thoughts on it soon. 

  
Happy reAding

Nat 📚