REVIEW: I’d Know You Anywhere by, Laura Lippman

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~ Synopsis ~

Eliza Benedict cherishes her peaceful, ordinary suburban life with her successful husband and children, thirteen-year-old Iso and eight-year-old Albie. But her tranquility is shattered when she receives a letter from the last person she ever expects – or wants – to hear from: Walter Bowman. “There was your photo, in a magazine. Of course, you are old now. Still, i’d know you anywhere.”

In the summer of 1985, when she was fifteen, Eliza was kidnapped by Walter and held hostage for almost six weeks. He had killed at least one girl and Eliza always suspected he had other victims as well. Now on death row in Virginia for the rape and murder of his final victim, Walter seems to be making a heartfelt act of contrition as his execution nears.

Though Eliza wants nothing to do with him, she’s never forgotten that Walter was most unpredictable when ignored. Desperate to shelter her children from this undisclosed trauma in her past, she cautiously makes contact with Walter. She’s always wondered why Walter let her live, and perhaps now he’ll tell her – and share the truth about his other victims.

Yet as Walter presses her for more and deeper contact, it becomes clear that he is after something greater than forgiveness. He wants Eliza to remember what really happened that long-ago summer. He wants her to save his life. And Eliza, who has worked hard for her comfortable, cocooned life, will do anything to protect it — even if it means finally facing the events of that horrifying summer and the terrible truth she’s kept buried inside.

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REVIEW

I’ve been holding onto this book – in hardback no less, for probably 2 1/5 years. I grabbed it one day browsing around Powell’s bookstore in downtown Portland. I was intrigued from the synopsis, but just never got around to reading it. Until now.

I blame The Girl on the Train – I was in the mood for something similar, something with a little suspense, something with a dark plot that will leave me riveted. And I was not disappointed.

This book – though not overly complicated, weaves us through a number of stories. Eliza’s present, Elizabeth’s past – and the relationship she’s cultivated with Walter Bowman in both. Now – an adult, wife and mother she’s obviously leery of anything to do with Walter, after all she spent over a month with him when she was just fifteen years old, she knows what’s he’s capable of, but mostly she’s worried what will happen if she ignores him – even though Walter himself, and everyone involved won’t allow her to.

Eliza has managed to put everything behind her – she’s found a man who loves her, she’s built a beautiful family, the last thing she needs is any reminders of those weeks she was held captive with Walter. But even so, questions from the past come lingering – complicated questions no one should ever have to think of…. the why’s, the how-comes, and something that’s haunted Eliza this entire time…. why didn’t you kill me?

Walter – though written as a fairly simple character is anything but – and it’s frightening how unassuming his characterizations are illustrated. As if the horrible things he’s done is just something anyone would do given the situation. His rationalizations were incredibly telling – and now Eliza is forced to confront all of her past – and perhaps everyone else’s that suffered.

As the story moves between past and present Laura Lippman gives us a detailed view of how just five weeks can change the lives of people – the people you meet, the experiences you share and how those affect everyone involved. It was interesting and at times disturbing. She is brutal in her honest narration. I’d Know You Anywhere left me satisfied, yet disturbed, but only in the best possible way a book can.

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About the Author, Laura Lippman

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Laura Lippman was a reporter for twenty years, including twelve years at The (Baltimore) Sun. She began writing novels while working fulltime and published seven books about “accidental PI” Tess Monaghan before leaving daily journalism in 2001. Her work has been awarded the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the crime fiction field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. She was the first-ever recipient of the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and the first genre writer recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

Ms. Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended city schools through ninth grade. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Md., Ms. Lippman attended Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her other newspaper jobs included the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light.

Ms. Lippman returned to Baltimore in 1989 and has lived there since. She is the daughter of Theo Lippman Jr., a Sun editorial writer who retired in 1995 but continues to freelance for several newspapers, and Madeline Mabry Lippman, a former Baltimore City school librarian. Her sister, Susan, is a local bookseller. (via the author’s website)

REVIEW: The Girl on the Train by, Paula Hawkins

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~ Synopsis ~

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than god?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

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REVIEW

I have been carrying this book around on my Kindle for over a year – I remember grabbing it sometime in 2015 when it hit $1.99 on Amazon …. I just never got around to reading it. But, of course, the second I watch the trailer? I couldn’t stop thinking about it until I got home and nearly devoured this story in one sitting.

Now this book has been compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn so much, and honestly that’s probably one of the reasons I never got around to reading it. Gone Girl was not one of my favorites – I liked it, it was an interesting story – but it just didn’t wow me. The Girl on the Train? I wouldn’t say it was a WOW but definitely a Whoa… (does that even make sense?)

The story hooked me in pretty much from the beginning – and I could not put it down. I was up until nearly 2 am trying to finish it, before I just passed out – dreamt about it and immediately picked it back up when I woke up.

Rachel is unbelievably vulnerable, and it was that vulnerability – regardless of the reasons why…. she hooked me. That character… she is so damaged, confused and still trying to deal with the after affects of her divorce…. and everything that entails. During her daily commute she’s almost haunted by her old life as the train passes her old neighborhood…. her old house…. a house that is now filled with a life she is no longer a part of. She becomes pre-occupied with a couple she see’s from the train. Their house, on the same street as her previous home. She even names them… she recreates what their day to day lives are like. She tries to imagine the passion they share – the love that the feel for one another. Perhaps imagining the love she and her husband once shared. It’s sad… it’s utterly depressing. But it was very real. The emotions that Rachel goes through, though her actions may not be the brightest… they’re still very real. She’s fragile in the most honest way.

But when the woman she’s been watching from the train disappears – the fantasy she’s been building in her mind of this woman, and her husband? Comes crashing down…. all around her and the fantasy doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

Rachel dives in head first into this story – into these lives. At times you may even wonder if any of it was real or if it’s all in her head? There is nothing more curious than an unreliable narrator; and that is the purest definition of Rachel.

I went into this story with a very open mind – knowing it was a psychological thriller. What I wasn’t prepared for was the mind-fuck it would lead me through and now I can’t even explain it properly without ruining the entire story. Arg! Even my husband wouldn’t let me spoil it for him because he liked the looks of the trailer!

The Girl on the Train is a great suspenseful read – the perspectives it gives are eye opening and at times jaw dropping.

Check it out!

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About the Author, Paula Hawkins

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller. (via the author’s website)

5+ REVIEW: F*ck Love by, Tarryn Fisher

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~ Synopsis ~

Helena Conway has fallen in love.
Unwillingly.
Unwittingly.

But not unprovoked. Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered, and not even a little bit careful.
It could all be so beautiful…if he wasn’t dating her best friend. Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others.
Until she doesn’t.
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REVIEW
F*ck Love was my first full read of 2016 and what a way to start the new year. This story is very different from Fisher’s other stories, if you’re familiar with her work? Than you know the woman loves a good mind f*ck. And just a few pages in, I was snuggled in and awaiting the inevitable WTF to come…. it did….. and then it didn’t. This story isn’t cut and dry, that’s not her style, but it’s definitely different.
The mood of the story was very fitting for a NYE read, because it’s all about what if’s and what now’s which is the exact thing you’re thinking about as the new year is ringing in and the idea of a fresh start is upon everyone. New hopes of losing weight, finding the one, and saving more money – these aren’t the goals of Helena, but the feeling is there. The feeling you get when you graduate college and are simply meant to adult now – which is udder bullshit. Coming to terms with feelings for someone you probably shouldn’t – like your best friends boyfriend. And this is where Kit comes into the picture.
Helena is in a relationship, but after an experience she can’t quite wrap her head around, she is obsessed with the idea that her life should take another direction – a direction that may or may not involve Kit, depending on how good of a friend she wants to be to Della, her best friends, and Kit’s girlfriend. Not to mention she’s in a relationship herself – with Neil. This could get a little confusing, but the general feeling throughout the book was Helena is lost – not just in her relationships, but simply just lost. Not knowing what to do with herself, having a hard time realizing she should use the accounting degree she worked so hard for, yet she’s secretly cultivating her artistic side.
Tarryn Fisher has this amazing ability of creating characters you’re not sure if you’re suppose to love or hate. Helena, Della, Kit and Neil all fell into this category – and your feelings about them will evolve throughout the story.
I adored this book – read it in nearly one sitting. It maybe different from Fisher’s other stories, but her sense of humor is there – her complex characters are there, and that feeling you get when you read a really amazing book so fast because you’re desperate to find out what happens next? It’s all there – and then some.
***
About the Author, Tarryn Fisher
Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of five novels, and is currently working on two more (Marrow and the second installment of Never Never). She is the co-founder of Clothed Caption, a fashion blog she runs with her friend, Madison Seidler. Tarryn resides in the Seattle area with her family. She loves rainy days, Coke, and thinks Instagram is the new Facebook.  Tarryn is represented by Amy Tannenbaum of the Jane Rotrosen Agency. (via the author’s website)

REVIEW: Dawn (Cutler Saga #1) by, VC Andrews

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(Daddy & Momma Longchamp, Dawn, Phillip Cutler, Jimmy Longchamp & Baby Fern)

~ Synopsis ~

In her fine new Virginia school, Dawn Longchamp feels happy and safe. But nothing is what it seems… Now Dawn and her older brother Jimmy have a chance for a decent, respectable life, and Dawn’s secret, precious hope to study singing can come true. Philip Cutler, the handsomest boy in school, sets Dawn’s heart on fire. She is deeply devoted to her brooding brother; but with Philip, she imagines a lovely dream of romance…

Then Dawn’s mother suddenly dies, and her entire world begins to crumble. After a terrible new shock, she is thrust into a different family and an evil web of unspoken sins. Her sweet innocence lost, humiliated and scorned, Dawn is desperate to find Jimmy again and… strip away the wicked lies that will change all their lives forever!

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REVIEW

Ok – so I’m wandering around a second hand book store that’s so jammed packed from floor to ceiling that I can barely breathe through the dust/musty goodness. Because this is my favorite thing about old bookstores – getting lost in the stacks. But then, I come across a book shelf COVERED in nothing but VC Andrews books – which sends me back so fast to my adolescence I nearly had whip-lash. I use to have them all – littered EVERYWHERE in my bedroom. From the Dollanganger Saga to The Casteel Series, My Sweet Audrina – and then yes, The Cutlers. Because The Cutler Saga has always been my favorite.

From the age of 11 I had my nose stuck in one if not two or three of her books at a time. (If my mother only knew what I was reading – good lord!)

Seriously though – so serious I made this meme:

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So as I’m digging through the stacks I’m happily surprised they have the ENTIRE Cutler Series – and I gave all of them for $.50 a piece. Because god knows where my paperbacks have disappeared too – over the last 20+ years. (Jesus that hurt.) I dove right into Dawn, and I completely forgot the simplicity of VC Andrew’s writing – even though The Cutler Series is written by a ghost writer, it’s still very much in her style; annoyingly simple, overly descriptive and at times? Just plain strange.

Because there’s something very odd about these characters. Somewhere – some how – siblings always end up in bed together. Why? I have no idea – but that always seemed to be her thing. Whether it was a brother/sister thrown together – making eyes at one another, finding out their truly not blood related then falling in love? It’s still really fucking weird – I’m adopted ok? Neither of my brother’s and I are blood related – I wouldn’t all of a sudden look at either of them and think hey, I’m single, he’s single ….

Yeah no –

But I digress – getting off subject here. The Cutler Series starts with Dawn. Dawn and her brother Jimmy – living a vagabond lifestyle with two very poor parents – a father that works and when depressed drinks most of his earnings away leaving them starving and living off of grits and peas – a mother who is sickly through the majority of the story – and Dawn & Jimmy – two adolescence kids that have been moved around so much in their short lives – they could pack their bags at the drop of a hat – in the middle of the night, half asleep. They’re so poor in fact, Dawn and Jimmy share the bed on the pull out sofa, leaving the sole bedroom to their parents. But when Daddy Longchamp gets a job at a private school as a maintenance supervisor, things are looking up as Dawn and Jimmy enroll and have the chance at an education they could never have received before. This is where Dawn meets Phillip Cutler – a blonde god who all the girls in the school fawn over, one of the richest and most popular boys there. His family owns a large hotel on the coast – Phillip and Dawn get to know one another – date if you will, Dawn is growing up now, noticing boys, wanting to date and yet her parents don’t want her hanging around with Phillip. It’s not until something tragic happens that Dawn’s life is thrust into chaos….. more so than she’s known to this point. She’s ripped from the only family she’s ever known and thrust into an entirely knew life – one she’s not at all comfortable with – one that’s practically forced upon her.

There are so many secrets surrounding Dawn – her entire existence up to this point has been a lie and she doesn’t know who she can trust – or who she even is. Her father’s in jail – Jimmy and Fern are sent to foster care and Dawn is stuck in a situation she doesn’t know how to get out of – Leaving one brother whom she’s known her entire life – loved and cared for, to be thrust into the arms of another brother who can’t look at her as a sister – his desires running too deep to see her as anything other than the girl he’s wanted since they day she arrived at their school.

Just when Dawn thinks things can’t get any worse – more of the story unfolds sending her into a frenzy of emotions and giving her the strength to stand up for herself and set the truth free. Even if it hurts everyone around her.

This is just the beginning of a complicated and very dramatic story for Dawn – and as I read through this book again after 20+ years, I remembered why I loved them so much. They may be cheesy – and honestly sometimes just plain creepy – maybe it’s the nostalgia of reading them I love – who knows, but I’m still keeping on with the rest of the series until I find out what’s going to happen next, because I can’t for the life of me remember half of what happened in this series.

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About the Author, VC Andrews

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Website * Goodreads

Virginia Cleo Andrews (born Cleo Virginia Andrews) was born June 6, 1923 in Portsmouth, Virginia. The youngest child and the only daughter of William Henry Andrews, a career navy man who opened a tool-and-die business after retirement, and Lillian Lilnora Parker Andrews, a telephone operator. She spent her happy childhood years in Portsmouth, Virginia, living briefly in Rochester, New York. The Andrews family returned to Portsmouth while Virginia was in high school.

While a teenager, Virginia suffered a tragic accident, falling down the stairs at her school and incurred severe back injuries. Arthritis and a failed spinal surgical procedure forced her to spend most of her life on crutches or in a wheelchair.

Virginia excelled in school and, at fifteen, won a scholarship for writing a parody of Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. She proudly earned her diploma from Woodrow Wilson High School in Portsmouth. After graduation, she nurtured her artistic talent by completing a four-year correspondence art course while living at home with her family.

After William Andrews died in the late 1960’s, Virginia helped to support herself and her mother through her extremely successful career as a commercial artist, portrait painter, and fashion illustrator.

Frustrated with the lack of creative satisfaction that her work provided, Virginia sought creative release through writing, which she did in secret. In 1972, she completed her first novel, The Gods of the Green Mountain [sic], a science-fantasy story. It was never published. Between 1972 and 1979, she wrote nine novels and twenty short stories, of which only one was published. “I Slept with My Uncle on My Wedding Night”, a short fiction piece, was published in a pulp confession magazine.

Promise gleamed over the horizon for Virginia when she submitted a 290,000-word novel, The Obsessed, to a publishing company. She was told that the story had potential, but needed to be trimmed and spiced up a bit. She drafted a new outline in a single night and added “unspeakable things my mother didn’t want me to write about.” The ninety-eight-page revision was re-titled Flowers in the Attic and she was paid a $7,500 advance. Her new-generation Gothic novel reached the best-seller lists a mere two weeks after its 1979 paperback publication by Pocket Books.

Petals on the Wind, her sequel to Flowers, was published the next year, earning Virginia a $35,000 advance. The second book remained on the New York Times best-seller list for an unbelievable nineteen weeks (Flowers also returned to the list). These first two novels alone sold over seven million copies in only two years. The third novel of the Dollanganger series, If There Be Thorns, was released in 1981, bringing Virginia a $75,000 advance. It reached No. 2 on many best-seller lists within its first two weeks.

Taking a break from the chronicles of Chris and Cathy Dollanganger, Virginia published her one, and only, stand-alone novel, My Sweet Audrina, in 1982. The book welcomed an immediate success, topping the sales figures of her previous novels. Two years later, a fourth Dollanganger novel was released, Seeds of Yesterday. According to the New York Times, Seeds was the best-selling fiction paperback novel of 1984. Also in 1984, V.C. Andrews was named “Professional Woman of the Year” by the city of Norfolk, Virginia.

Upon Andrews’s death in 1986, two final novels–Garden of Shadows and Fallen Hearts–were published. These two novels are considered the last to bear the “V.C. Andrews” name and to be almost completely written by Andrews herself. Her novels were so successful that after her death her estate hired a ghost writer. 

(via the author’s website)

REVIEW: Dark Places by, Gillian Flynn

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~ Synopsis~

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars. Since then she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is it Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back? She begins to realize that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find. Who did massacre the Day family?

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MOVIE TRAILER

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REVIEW

I’ve had this book in my Kindle for over a year, I bought it in a two-pack with Sharp Objects. I had a hard time stomaching Sharp Objects, and never got around to reading this until a few weeks ago. Like most, I saw the movie trailer and thought it didn’t look half bad. It’s a murder mystery and after the death of Ann Rule, I was on a kick for some macabre and gruesome reading. Well, I definitely wasn’t disappointed in that area – or any really. This book surprisingly sucked me in – I have a hard time with Gillian Flynn’s novels at times, they can be really long winded (in my opinion) and often times I get lost in the descriptions of places, loosing my feel for the characters. But Dark Places was very different – focusing mostly on the few days leading up to the murders of the Day family.

The narration not only switching in time – going back to the days leading up to the murders – than into the present, some 20+ years later, the only surviving family member Libby, still dealing with the horrible murder of her mother and two sisters, her only living sibling sitting in prison for the crime. Flynn writes Libby not as a victim of circumstances, but someone who’s also fallen into the pits because of it. Living off money that’s been collected for her since the murders – she’s never had to work and really never has. She hasn’t had a real committed relationship, she’s very much still that little girl that escaped that night – still escaping just 20 years later from anything and everything that tries to get close to her.

But when she realizes she’s finally running out of money – she has to figure out what to do next. When she’s approached by a group called the Kill Club – scores of people who enjoy discussing and trying to solve murders. They aren’t all crazy – some are retired police officers, others are just fascinated by the unsolved crimes, but in this case they’re also convinced that Libby’s brother Ben isn’t the killer he’s been convicted as. Libby hasn’t talked to Ben the entire time he’s been in prison, but as the group pushes her to confront him, speak to him and hopefully see the innocent man they all see – she’s forced to ask herself questions she’s been avoiding since the night her mother and sisters were murdered.

It’s a psychological – suspenseful story about a woman/little girl that lost everything – when she didn’t have much to begin with. But a mother who loved her children, but wasn’t necessarily a very good mother. Libby is unapologetic about who she’s become and I really rather enjoyed that – she’s a hot mess and knows it, doesn’t necessarily like it, but admits it none-the-less. But as she keeps tracking down people from her past the questions are slowly answered – jumping from past/present – Libby and even to her mother’s narration of the events leading up to the night the Day’s were murdered.

Like with all Gillian Flynn novels – you have to pay attention, there are teeny tiny details littered throughout this book – most of which I completely over-read and ignored. The last 1/4 of the book I couldn’t put down, having to know RIGHT NOW what the hell  happened next.

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About the Author, Gillian Flynn

Website * Goodreads * Facebook

Gillian Flynn was born in Kansas City, Missouri to two community-college professors – her mother taught reading; her father, film. Thus she spent an inordinate amount of her youth nosing through books and watching movies. She has happy memories of having A Wrinkle inTime pried form her hands at hte dinner table, and also of seeing Alien, Psycho and Bonnie and Clyde at a questionable age (like, seven). It was a good childhood.

In high-school, she worked strange jobs that required her to do things like wrap and unwrap hams, or dress up as a giant yogurt cone. A yogurt cone who wore a tuxedo. Why the tuxedo? It was a question that would haunt her for years.

For college, she headed to the University of Kansas (go Jayhawks!), where she received her undergraduate degree in English and journalism.

After a two-year stint writing about human resources for a trade magazine in California, Flynn moved to Chicago. There she earned her master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and discovered that she was way too wimpy to make it as a crime reporter.

On the other hand, she was a movie geek with a journalism degree – so she moved to New York City and joined Entertainment Weekly magazine, where she wrote happily for ten years, visiting film sets around the world (to New Zealand for The Lord of the Rings, to Prague for The Brothers Grimm, to somewhere off the highway in Florida for Jackass: The Movie). During her last four years at EW, Flynn was the TV critic (all-time best TV show: The Wire).

Flynn’s 2006 debut novel, the literary mystery Sharp Objects, was an Edgar Award finalist and winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards – the first book ever to win multiple Daggers in one year. Movie rights have been sold.

Flynn’s work has been published in twenty-eight countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Brett Nolan, their son, and a giant black cat named Roy. In theory she is working on her next novel. In reality, she is possibly playing Ms. Pack-Man in her basement lair. (via the author’s website)

Yesterday was a sad day for True Crime readers around the world – Ann Rule, dies at 83

CANADA - APRIL 09:  Crime pays: Author Ann Rule; top; is cashing in on public's interest in true-crime and Conspiracy Of Silence miniseries; above; was a big TV hit.   (Photo by Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

CANADA – APRIL 09: Crime pays: Author Ann Rule; top; is cashing in on public’s interest in true-crime and Conspiracy Of Silence miniseries; above; was a big TV hit. (Photo by Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

I’ve grown up and lived my entire life in the Pacific North West and growing up I had a rather mild obsession with serial killers. Blame it on geography, but when you’re growing up and woman are disappearing left and right in an area just four hours north of you? Even at 7 and 8 years old you pay attention. I was no longer scared of the boogieman, or the monsters in my closet – not even the creak in the floor at night outside my bedroom door. I was afraid of real monsters – Ted Bundy, Westly Allen Dodd, The Green River Killer – you name one PNW Serial Killer and I knew his name, victim count and when he was arrested by the time I was 13 – all thanks to this woman. Because, growing up in Oregon there wasn’t a camp out – or family BBQ that wasn’t full of chatter about the latest body found – or the trial and later conviction of Ted Bundy.

I’d always been a ferocious reader growing up, but around 11 years old Westley Allen Dodd – a child killer was apprehended in Washington after attempting to kidnap a young boy from a Camas Washington movie theater – the same movie theater I had been in the a few weeks before watching Look Who’s Talking with my cousins. I was completely fascinated by this, and perhaps in a way to cope with the fear I obsessed about it and sought out every book I could find on serial killers from Oregon and Washington – and this is where Ann Rule became a VERY large part of my life.

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This was the first book I picked up at the local Goodwill around the corner from my house. I devoured this book in 2 days and hid it in between my mattress and box spring, knowing full well if my mom caught me reading it – she’d take it away. For no other reason than it’s graphic content and the fact that I’d end up in her bed in the middle of the night. Because that’s the Catch 22 here – I both loved and feared these creatures that I couldn’t understand. I craved more and more information and stories and needed to know every single little detail, all the while trying to wrap my mind and imagination around what made them tick. Now a days, (god I’m showing my age) if a child of 10 or 11 did that? Their parents would probably throw them into therapy. Not to mention all the news paper articles I’d cut out about Bundy’s trial – and the weekly stories that would follow. When he was finally convicted in Florida and sentenced to death I remember the front page of the Oregonian and the sheer terror across his face as he screamed at the injustice of it all. But he no longer haunted me. He was incarcerated – on death row and would one day be put to death by the state of Florida – I was only two years old when Bundy was arrested, but it wouldn’t be until a month before my 11th birthday that he’d finally meet his maker.

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Elizabeth Diane Downs was a US Postal Service worker – a single mother of three children in SW Oregon – a small community outside of Eugene Oregon. Diane was convinced her children were the cause of her failed relationship with her “soulmate” a married man who had rejected her, explaining that he didn’t want to play “daddy” to her children – Diane decided to get rid of them. On May 19th 1983 Diane loaded up all three kids into the car and went for a drive – outside of Springfield Oregon she pulled over and shot all three of them, and herself in the arm. Rushing them to the hospital she tells hospital staff that a man attempted to steal her car – shooting her and all three of her children. Fortunately for two of her children Christie & Danny, the shots were not life threatening. But for her youngest daughter Cheryl Lynn, they were. Diane was arrested and convicted – with the help of her eldest daughter Christie who testified against her at just nine years old – having suffered through the most heinous of crimes at the hand of her mother, only to have a stroke in this hospital afterwards, she showed great strength and Diane was convicted of murder for Cheryl, Attempted murder of Christie & Danny and Criminal Assault of all three. Diane while on trial gave birth to a fourth child, a daughter Becky – the State of Oregon took custody of – she is now a grown woman with a son of her own – after 20/20 interviewed Becky Babcock back in 2010 it was revealed that Ann Rule was kicking around the idea of writing a sequel to Small Sacrifices and writing about Becky’s life with her adoptive family – and the affects finding out Diane Downs was her biological mother had on her growing up.

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Randall Woodfield was born in Salem Oregon in 1950 – he was your typical all American boy next door. He did well in school – excelled in sports and was even picked for the 1974 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. But he started showing signs of dissociative behavior even in high school – exposing himself to woman, though his coaches helped to cover the incidents to keep him on the field. In his twenties he was arrested for vandalizing his ex-girlfriends apartment, and again exposing himself. These “flashing” incidents were what cost him his ticket to the NFL – and shortly after that in the winter of 1975 in Portland Oregon – several woman were attacked by a man with a knife – forced to perform oral sex and robbed of their handbags. Portland Police officers staked out decoy’s and Woodfield was arrested – sentenced to ten years in prison, yet he was out in four. From October 1979 to February 1981 Randall Woodfield would rape and murder 18 + woman throughout Washington, Oregon and California – all states linked by the I-5 corridor. Woodfield was arrested in connection with the shooting death of a Beaverton Oregon woman – a suburb of Portland Oregon. While in custody he was also arrested for the double murder of wife and her daughter in Redding California. Woodfield was set tried for the murder of Shari Hull and was convicted of murder – sentenced to life in prison and an additional 90 years for various other crimes. He still remains to this day at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem Oregon. Randall Woodfield actually tried to sue Ann Rule in 1987 for 12 million dollars regarding her book the I-5 Killer which illustrated his life and crimes.

In 1990 he was suspected of at east 44 homicides, and in 2001 and 2006 DNA evidence linked him to an additional two murders in Oregon during 1980 and 1981.

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Every Breath You Take was about the murder of Sheila Bellush – a mother of six who was murdered in 1997. Sheila’s ex-husband, Allen Blackthorne hired a man by the name of Joey Del Toro to track his ex-wife down and kill her in a murder-for-hire plot. It’s something out of the movies for sure – but the interesting parts of this book where the stories of Blackthorne’s childhood and that he grew up in the area that I did in a large family. Blackthorne rose above his families poverty and eventually became a millionaire after developing a medical device that stimulated muscles. Allen & Sheila were married in 1982 – they had two daughters together. Five years later Sheila filed for divorce, exposing the domestic violence within their home – the divorce was volatile at best – each of them accusing one another of abusing their daughters.  In 1993 Sheila met and married Jamie Bellush – the two had quadruplets naturally and moved to Sarasota Florida after Jamie had received a promotion at work.

Allen Blackthorne was still harassing her after the divorce – and when Sheila won custody of their daughters it got worse. Blackthorn tracked Sheila and her new family to Florida and slowly put his plan into action – hiring a man named Jose Luis Del Toro to help him. November 7th 1997, Del Toro traveled to Sarasota Florida, broke into Sheila’s home – finding her there with her four youngest children where were only two years old at the time. Del Toro shot Sheila Bellush in the face with a .45 caliber gun and slit her throat right in front of all four of her children – her body was not discovered until a few hours later when her thirteen year old daughter returned home from school to find the quadruplets crawling around in their mother’s blood.

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Jerry Brudos was raised in many different homes throughout the Pacific NW before his family settled in Salem Oregon – his mother, wanting a daughter at the time of his birth treated him abhorrently because of his – belittling him constantly and abusing him. From the of five years old Brudos had a fetish for women’s shoes and underwear. He spent a large portion of his adolescence in and out of therapy and mental hospitals. In his mid teens his fetish turned to violence and he was now stalking woman in his town, knocking them unconscious or strangling them and running away with their shoes. In 1956, when Brudos was 17 he kidnapped and beat a young woman, threatening to kill her if she didn’t follow his sexual demands. He was arrested and taken to the a psychiatric ward at the Oregon State Hospital for nine months.

Through therapy Brudos realized his sexual fetishes and his hate of woman were revolving around his mother and women in general. While incarcerated he was diagnosed schizophrenic – after his release he graduated from high school and went on to become an electronics technician. In 1961 he married a teenage girl and fathered two children with her – he would ask her to do housework in the nude except for a pair of high heels while he photographed her. Brudos started complaining about migraine headaches and blackouts around this time. Between 1968 and 1969 Brudos murdered four young woman, most he kept hanging in a garage on his property – she was never allowed to enter it without announcing through an intercom that she was outside. Brudos liked to keep trophies of his victims – underwear, shoes and body parts that he would use as paperweights.

Probably one of the most bizarre cases I read of Ann Rule’s and a strong question whether serial killers fall into the category of nature vs nurture – can these people be made into monsters?

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And now, probably the most significant serial killer that haunted me most of my childhood is Gary Leon Ridgway – The Green River Killer. From 1982 through 1998 Gary Ridgway murdered 49 known victims, but law enforcement and psychologists have both admitted that the number is more likely in the multiple hundreds. Ridgway himself has confessed to over 80. The amount and length of time he was able to get away with it is staggering, and what’s made him the most prolific serial killer on this list.

Born February 18th, 1949 – he was raised by his mother and father – with two brothers in the Sea-Tac area of Washington State. His home life was not the best – his parents often fighting, their fights often turning violent. Ridgway had a habit of wetting the bed, after his mother would find the mess she would immediately bathe him – while cleaning him she would belittle him and embarrass him about it, even in front of the rest of their family. During interviews later after his arrest Ridgway would even admit that his mother would wear a robe often when she was bathing him after his “accidents” and occasionally the robe would come loose and she would be completely nude under it – he said this is when his sexual attraction towards her started – also his anger. Ridgway was a poor student, with an IQ of 82 he was found to have significant low intelligence – even having to repeat several years of high school in order to pass his classes.

Through his teenage years his anger started to manifest and at 16 he stabbed a 6 year old boy – luckily the boy survived. But even at 16 his urges were developing. He led the young boy into the woods and stabbed him through his ribs, puncturing his liver. The little boy told authorities that Ridgway walked away after the attack laughing and said “I always wondered what it would be like to kill.”

Ridgeway married and joined the Navy at 18 – even doing a tour in Vietnam. While away his first wife Claudia, only 19 at the time started dating again and their marriage failed. Ridgway married again, but that marriage also ended in divorce – his second ex-wife claimed that he had abused her, even choking her during an altercation. Ridgway would marry again – and was still married to his third wife at the time of his arrest in 2001.

All three of Ridgway’s ex-wives and previous girlfriends admitted that he had an insatiable appetite for sex – wanting it several times a day, in public areas, out in the woods and of course he still sought out prostitutes even while he was in all three marriages. He had a love/hate relationship with prostitutes, they served to satisfy his sexual needs, but he also contracted gonorrhea more than once. During the 1980’s and 1990’s Rigeway would murder at least 71 women near Seattle and Tacoma Washington, but he’s also admitted he killed so many that he’s lost count.

In 1984 as Washington was inundated with the victims of the Green River Killer, Detective David Reichert – head of the Green River Task Force met with Robert Keppel; lead investigator during the Bundy murder’s – met with Ted Bundy in a Florida State Penitentiary where he sat on death row. Bundy thought he could help shed some light on the investigation – giving tips to Reichert & Keppel about how a serial killer things – maneuvers through society undetected. Bundy told the investigators he wouldn’t be surprised if the “Riverman” wasn’t going back and revisiting his “dumping grounds.” As Ted himself had gone back to where he buried his victims – even sometimes months later and would have sex with what was left of their decomposing corpses. Years later after Ridgway’s arrest Reichert realized all the tips Bundy had given them – were spot on.

The shock I felt when I saw the headline on the front page of The Oregonian news paper in 2001 – Green River Suspect under arrest – and what was his last name? But the same name as the street I’d grown up on. OooooEeeeeOooooo Yes, this is how my warped mind thinks. Not only the street I grew up on, but our birthday’s were very…. very close. Once he was arrested and accept a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty, Ridgway took police back into the woods and uncovered the bodies more of his victims. He was officially charged and convicted of 48 murders – receiving 48 life sentences. Then, in 2010 hikers in Auburn Washington found a human skull – the remains were identified and Ridgway was formally charged with the murder in 2011 – he plead guilty and was convicted, receiving his 49th life sentence.

I’ll probably never understand this fascination I’ve had all these years – but obviously I’m not the only one, as Ann Rule was a best selling author. But having worked in an avenue of law enforcement for a number of years now – I’ll admit – The Green River Running Red was one of the last True Crime novels I read. Maybe having it part of my reality turned me onto smut? Who knows.

But if you haven’t read any of Ann Rule’s books – and have a curiosity about these types of stories, she was the ultimate encyclopedia of true crime.

RIP Ann…

HAPPY RELEASE DAY – 5+++REVIEW: Do Not Disturb (Deanna Madden #2) by, A.R. Torre

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Title: Do Not Disturb (Deanna Madden, #2)
Author: A. R. Torre (Alessandra Torre)
Genre: Erotic Suspense
Releasing: April 21st
 
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18712934Equal parts Dexter and 50 Shades, this is the eagerly awaited follow-up to the daring erotic thriller, The Girl in 6E, by A.R. Torre.

My rules:

1. Don’t leave the apartment.
2. Never let anyone in.
3. Don’t kill anyone.
The rules were simple and I broke them.
Now I must face the consequences.
Everyone else must face me.

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AmazonUS | AmazonUK | AmazonCA | AmazonAU | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

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5++++ Fantastic Gruesomely suspenseful sequel stars!

 What.A.Ride.

A.R. Torre aka Alessandra Torre has done it again. The sequel to The Girl in 6E, Do Not Disturb is everything I hoped for in a sequel. When we left Deanna, things didn’t seem as bleak as they once did. She did break the rules, but we were almost rooting for her to – weren’t we?

And she allowed herself to get close to Jeremy – very….very close. I had high hopes for this girl, and when Alessandra Torre announced there would be a sequel I was stoked!

She did not disappoint, but now Deanna is trying to juggle her new ‘idea’ of freedom. Sure, she did break the rules, left the apartment and killed – but as far as I’m concerned she did it for the right reasons and the life she saved was far more important than the one she took. But, it still leaves her with the familiar blood-thirst, maybe even worse now? Not only did she get that taste of freedom, out of the apartment she’d been locked in for three years – she wants a little bit of that back.

She wants to go outside and feel the fresh air – see the stars, and try not to kill anyone that pisses her off along the way. She has well thought out goals – and she owes Jeremy a date.

She leaves the apartment – they have a date, things are looking surprisingly good. He gets her home on time, keeping her curfew in mind. Jeremy understand Deanna has issues, he just doesn’t understand the depths in which her urges linger….

But with this new taste of freedom, Deanna chances it more and more – stopping off at the corner store for ice cream and cold Dr. Pepper’s, indulging in the lottery. She’s proud of herself every time she makes it back to her apartment without killing someone. I’m proud of her – but I get the sense that something bad might happen.

As we delve deeper into the story, a few characters popping up and getting a switch in narrators was a lot of fun. We get a taste of what Jeremy is thinking….feeling as things progress between he and Deanna, and our new villain appears – getting a first POV from him was …. disturbingly entertaining.

Because in the line of work Deanna does – being a cam girl – all of her admires are a little in love/hate with her. She’s charging them seven dollars a minute for whatever they like…. but when a particular customer crosses the line – and continues to cross it …..things start to get interesting.

Everything you loved about The Girl in 6E continues on in Do Not Disturb.

You will root for Deanna, even if she’s kinda the bad guy – and have hope she’ll get a little piece of Happily Ever After.

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A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Alessandra Torre has written nine novels, four of which became #1 Erotic Bestsellers.

Her first book, Blindfolded Innocence, became a breakout hit, rising to the top of the charts on Kindle and Amazon where it attracted the interest of major publishing houses and garnered Torre her first print deal with Harlequin HQN. Less than twelve months later, Torre signed a second print deal, this time with Redhook (Hachette) for her erotic thriller The Girl in 6E.

From her home near the warm waters of the Emerald Coast in Florida, she devotes several hours each day to various writing projects and interacting with her fans on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Happily married and with one son, she loves watching SEC football games, horseback riding, reading and watching movies.

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Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon Page

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◘ Are you part of Alessandra’s fan group on Goodreads? Here is the link to JOIN TODAY…

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/143204-shh-smut-heroes-heas-with-alessandra

 

◘ Goodreads Buddy Read for Do Not Disturb : Here is the link to JOIN THE BUDDY READ…

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2288618-toppicks-with-alessandra-april-19-do-not-disturb-buddy-read

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PLEASE ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE ——> a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Tuesday April 21st 9:30PM – 11:00PM EST – Facebook Party (www.facebook.com/AlessandraTorre0/)
Wednesday April 22nd 11:00 PM – Midnight EST – Twitter party –
Make sure to use #DoNotDisturb to participate (@ReadAlessandra)
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