Archive, Blogtober 19, Books, Fiction

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

IMG_20191004_104638_828

Synopsis:

SOMETIMES, A DOOR IS CLOSED FOR A VERY GOOD REASON…

There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves.

It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Corlaine to join them there. And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back…

Step into the wonderfully creepy world of Coraline, the thrilling and sinister modern classic from New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman.


What a fantastic book to kick of my October reading list with! Coraline is a beautifully written and very eerie tale about a young girl who finds herself fighting for her family’s and her own survival.

My first experience with Coraline was through the Tim Burton film released in 2009, and I was not aware that it was loosely based on a book written by Neil Gaiman for his daughters meaning I was a bit wary about purchasing this as I assumed having seen the film there wasn’t a lot I could get from this book that I didn’t already know. How wrong I was!

The original tale of Coraline is nothing like the film adaption at all, and it is weirdly more creepier making the film look like a Disney fairy tale in comparison. The story telling by Gaiman is superb and he builds suspense quickly and effortlessly as you ride the wave of this tale and urge the hero of the story to overcome and win the battle with her other mother.

Also, the descriptive language that Gaiman uses paints such a vivid image in your head when reading this book that you would think you were there alongside Coraline on her adventure which makes it difficult to put down this short story and before you know it you are at the end of the tale. In fact, even though this book is only 13 chapters long, I think it is the quickest I have consumed a book since I was a teenager!

So yes! I 100% recommend you pick up a copy of this book for yourself and become engrossed by the tale of Coraline Jones in the same way that I have this Halloween.

 

 

 

Archive, Books, September 2019, True Crime

Hell’s Princess – Harold Schechter

IMG_20190920_223454_844

Synopsis:

In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm”. Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t merely been poisoned, like victims of other female killers. They’d been butchered.

Hell’s princess is a riveting account of one of the most sensational killing sprees in the annals of American crime: the shocking series of murders committed by the woman who came to be known as Lady Bluebeard. The only definitive book on this notorious case and the first to reveal previously unknown information about its subject, Harold Schechter’s gripping, suspenseful narrative has all the elements of a classic mystery – and all the gruesome twists of a nightmare.


 

That’s it. No need for a review. The Synopsis says it all really.

This spine chilling book leaves you shocked, bewildered and quite honestly wanting more, in fact I could go as far as saying I am obsessed with the tale of Belle Gunness.

I originally heard about this book via The Last Podcast on the Lefts mini series about Belle, where they used Schechter’s book as their reference material. I was shocked by the outcome of this tale which you won’t truly understand until you read the book for yourself or listen to the podcast and utter ‘what the very fuck’ (no spoilers here). The boy’s mentioned that they had only covered the details of Belle’s crimes but the book Hell’s Princess also included details about the court case, so being curious and looking for more answers I decided to purchase the book for myself to see if it would answer any of the many questions I had about this case.

In fact this book included more details then just that, it included how the public reacted once the news of the “murder farm” came to light, how the papers at the time reported the investigation and trial, how evidence was gathered, handled and presented in court and the effects this grizzly tale had on the town of La Porte.

I honestly can’t review Schechter’s work in too much detail here without giving away too much about the case, all I can do is urge you to pick up or find your own copy of Hell’s Princess and give it a read, if you love a good murder mystery or are a fan of true crime then this book is for you!

 

Archive, August 2019, Books, Non-Fiction, True Crime

Talking with Serial Killers: World’s most Evil

IMG_20190731_220817_777

Synopsis:

Christopher Berry-Dee is back. In Talking With Serial Killers: World’s Most Evil, the bestselling author delves deeper still into the gloomy underworld of killers and their crimes. He examines, with shocking detail and clarity, the lies and lies of people who have killed, and shines a light on the motives behind their horrific crimes.

Through interviews with the killers, the police and key members of the prosecution, alongside careful analysis of the cases themselves, the reader is given unprecedented insight into the most diabolical minds that humanity has to offer.

Extending its sweep from lonesome outsiders to upstanding members of the community, Talking With Serial Killers: World’s Most Evil shows that the world’s most monstrous killers may be far closer than you think…


Kicking off the start of the true crime section this week with the book Talking with Serial Killers by Christopher Berry-Dee and my god, this one was a tough one to get through I must admit.

This book says it focuses on five serial murders that have shocked the world over the last few decades starting with John Wayne Gacy before moving onto Kenneth Bianchi, William Heirens, John Cannan and lastly Patricia Wright.

Berry-Dee has interviewed all five of these convicted murders and presents the cases from the evidence from those interviews as well as evidence from the case files. He even delves into the childhood trauma suffered by Gacy and Bianchi and argues the nature / nurture debate but never sways to either side of the line and instead lets the reader make up their own mind on whether environmental factors played a part on how these criminals turned out or if they were just born plan evil.

Berry-Dee also provides us with two case files where not everything seems to be black and white and he sort of allows the reader to make up their own minds on whether the convicted criminals are guilty or if it is a case of mistaken identity. These cases are William Heriens and Patricia Wright. I personally question the conviction of Heriens, but believe Wright is guilty of murdering her ex husband from the case evidence that is provided within the book.

I will admit though that in some places I found this an incredibly difficult read, especially during a chapter discussing the hillside strangler (Bianchi). I actually ended up having to put the book down for a good 24 hours as it all became a bit too much and left me feeling nauseous and quite frankly a little distraught, I even debated if I should continue reading on but decided just to skip that section and move onto the next.

I would probably give this book three stars out of five. I wavered a bit between three and four stars, but I think three is the right amount from my personal point of view due to the fact that there are other books available if you wanted further knowledge into the criminology and forensic psychology side of the crimes. However if you are not easily shocked and are just looking for something quick to read that briefly covers the cases then this would probably be a good book for you.

Archive, August 2019, Books, Fiction

The Bear and the Nightingale

IMG_20190804_225520_419.jpg

 

Synopsis:

Beware the evil in the woods…

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold at night and the snow falls many months of the year, and elderly servant tells stories of sorcery, folklore and the Winter King to the children of the family, tales of old magic frowned upon by the church.

But for the young, wild Vasya these are more than just stories. She alone can see the house spirits that guard her home and sense the growing forces of dark magic in the woods…


Oh my, where do I start with this book? I originally purchased this book on my kindle with the audio book attached to it as something I could listen to on the way to and from work but like most of my kindle books I ended up a few chapters in and forgot it was there. Roll on a few months later and I was standing in my local Waterstones where I was drawn towards this book due to the wonderful artwork on the cover, I flipped it over and read the blurb. Confused, I felt as if I knew part of this tale already but I couldn’t work out how, I opened to the first chapter, read the very first page of this book and instantly recognised where I had come across this tale before and off I ran, book in hand, to the till to purchase this magical book.

And that is what this book is, Magical.

This beautiful, unique, dark fairy tale is set in the wintery world of Russia where grand princes rule and young maidens must be quiet, presentable and well behaved. Everything that Vasya is not.

Vasya’s rebellious spirit is definitely what drew me into this book, which is a good considering she is the main protagonist of the story. The secret world she is able to see and how she behaves towards it is incredibly endearing and resonated with me personally as I believe in the old ways more than any other faith.

Also if truth be told I have a soft spot for young adult fantasy fiction books, especially if the theme of magic or fairytales arise (Hello J.K Rowling, Darren Shan, April Genevieve Tucholke) and The Bear and the Nightingale ticks all of these boxes for me and has definitely flew into one of my top 10 favourite fiction books.

Katherine Arden seems to have the ability to bring her words to life and has created a book that you can lose yourself in for hours at a time. I am incredibly glad I have found the second instalment to this, ‘The Girl in the Tower’ so that I can continue reading Vasyas story and hopefully find the answers to the many questions I have left from ‘The Bear and the Nightingale’.

So yes, I fully recommend this book! In fact I would actually go as far as recommending you to read this book on the build up to Yule where the dark nights set in quickly and there is a certain magic in the air as I imagine it to (somehow) be an even better read when you are snuggled up under a comfy blanket with your favorite hot beverage in hand.

Books, June 2019, Non-Fiction

Midnight in Chernobyl – The untold story of the world’s greatest nuclear disaster

IMG_20190621_104009_883.jpg

Synopsis:

The dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, based on original reporting and new archival research.

Early in the morning of 26 April 1986, Reactor Number Four at Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering the history’s worst nuclear disaster. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of radiation poisoning, for a dangerous technology slipping its leash, for ecological fragility, and for what can happen when a dishonest and careless state endangers not only its own citizens, but all of humanity. But the real story of the accident, clouded from the beginning by secrecy, propaganda and misinformation, has long remained in dispute.

Drawing on hundreds or hours of interviews conducted over the course of more than ten years, as well as letters, unpublished memoirs, and documents from recently declassified archives, Adam Higginbotham has written a harrowing and compelling narrative that brings the disaster to life through the eyes of the men and women who witnessed it,

Midnight in Chernobyl is the definitive  account of an event that changed history: a story that is more complex, more human, and more terrifying than the Soviet myth, and provides an indelible portrait of one of the great catastrophes of the twentieth century.

 


 

Midnight in Chernobyl is a brilliantly constructed book of facts from the events leading up to the nuclear explosion to how the Soviet union handled the situation after the terrible event that occured in April 1986 and I will admit whilst reading this book I mumbled the words ‘what the very fuck’ at pretty much every page.

Why you may ask? Well, if you think you know the events of Chernobyl think again. This book will shock you and leave you speechless at every turn, from how the reactors were constructed to how the state tried to cover up any wrongdoing, even going as far as denying an explosion had happened within their borders when governments in Europe began to notice something wasn’t right. Even after these terrible events, they still sent their people into the forbidden zone ill prepared for what hazards awaited them for months if not years!

One of the things I found interesting about this book was that quite frankly prior to picking this up I didn’t actually know how nuclear power or a nuclear reactor worked, yet Higginbotham explained it all so simply without dumbing it down too much for the reader so that you end up fully understanding how the events of that dreadful night unfolded.

Furthermore, rather then this being a book that paints nuclear reactors to be the work of the devil, Higginbotham doesn’t create a bias and briefly explains how nuclear reactors have evolved through the decades to become more ‘safe’ / how scientists are modifying them to help with our current climate situation.

Yet his main aim of this book seems to be to tell the stories of the men and women who were at the heart of this emergency, be it the people living in pripyat at the time, the reactor workers, the firemen or the soldiers (who were deployed to clear the debris away once the robots failed) to the hospital workers and the victims families. In fact Higginbotham tells the stories so well I was urging them in my mind not to go to work that evening, or to please be okay after being exposed to such high levels of radiation and gamar as if I could somehow rewrite the history of their lives.

So if the recent HBO series has left you wanting to know more, or if you’ve ever been curious about Chernobyl I would urge you on to pick up a copy of Midnight in Chernobyl as I honestly thought I knew everything I needed to know from various websites, but boy was I wrong!

Books, May 2019, Non-Fiction

Accused – The unsolved murder of Elizabeth Andes

IMG_20190520_191613_970

Synopsis:

It’s always the boyfriend. isn’t it?

When Elizabeth Andes was found bound, stabbed, and strangled in her Ohio apartment in 1978, police and prosecutors decided within hours it was an open-and-shut case. Within days, Bob Young, a 23-year-old football player who’d found his college sweetheart’s lifeless body on their bedroom floor, was charged with her murder. To this day, police and prosecutors still say they had the right guy — even though two juries, one criminal and one civil, disagreed, and Young walked away a free man.

Beth’s case went cold. Nearly four decades later, two Cincinnati reporteres re-examined the murder and discovered that law enforcement ignored leads that might have uncovered who really killed Beth Andes.

It wasn’t that there weren’t other people to look at. There were plenty. But no one bothered.. until now.


Okay, so here we go. I’m an avid reader but not one who tends to reviews books in great detail, I tend to just text my friends and inform them that ‘It’s mint, I’ll send you my copy to read’. However, Accused was such an eye opener I came to the conclusion that I would have to write something more in depth about it as I have never a) devoured a book so quickly in a long time and b) felt the emotions of sorrow, shock and horror like I did with these transcripts.

Yes you read that right, transcripts. Accused was originally a podcast series by Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossmann where they tried to shine a light on a cold case that seems to have been buried by local law enforcement and the book pictured above is the complete transcripts from that podcast.

I was originally worried when my book arrived and I realised it was transcripts rather then a novel, however the text flowed beautifully and I don’t think any of the emotion was lost at all by reading the words of the friends and family of Beth Andes rather then listening to them.

Every ‘Episode’ (or chapter) shocked me to my core as more and more evidence was presented and although there is no ‘happy’ ending to this book so far as in Beth’s murderer has not been caught and brought to justice, I strongly feel that the guy the police went after should not have been Beth’s sweetheart Bob but somebody else entirely!

Without giving too much away I strongly suggest you grab your own copy of this book or alternatively listen to the podcast series and let me know the conclusion you come to.