• Audiobooks,  Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Feminism,  Writing

    True Crime Addict Part One : A double book review and commentary on sensationalized violence against women

    This post has been rolling around in my mind for weeks. I have a lot of thoughts to share and plan to break this into three parts.

    • Part One – background and review of True Crime Addict.
    • Part Two – review of Dead Girls.
    • Part Three – contrast the two books and discuss the positives and negatives of the genre.

    Background: Several years ago I became a fan of true crime podcasts. It’s a terribly sad subject matter and I dropped most of them for my mental health in favor of politics podcasts. That worked out well.

    My Favorite Murder was the very first one I listened to and still listen to on occasion. Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the podcasters and somehow strike a balance with a very difficult subject matter. They aren’t perfect in their presentation every time but they are far more respectful of the victims than most.

    Then I stumbled on another one, Sword & Scale, that many seemed to enjoy. I made it through exactly 1.5 episodes and realized that something wasn’t sitting right with me. It was so sensational and the podcaster, Mike Boudet, took special pride in graphic details, terrifying 911 calls, and taking a very dramatic and over-produced tone when presenting his research and timeline of events. I moved on after listening to half of an episode with graphic descriptions of harming children. No thanks.

    Other than the obvious, I couldn’t put my finger exactly on why I enjoyed one podcast but not the other. Beyond the graphic sensationalism, there was something more.

    IMG_9239

    So after practically having a nervous breakdown over politics, I revisited the true crime genre with this book by James Renner. The title of the book was intriguing and I hoped it would answer some of my reasons for pause about this genre.

    It did not disappoint from the very beginning. Let’s start with the title:

    True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray

    Look at the tagline: “How I Lost Myself…”. Put that with the title:

    True Crime Addict, I, Myself

    All descriptors for the author. The disappearance of Maura Murray is almost an afterthought. There was my first issue with the handling of this genre.

    Was the disappearance of Maura Murray investigated in this book? Yes. And with a large bias against the family because they didn’t want to talk to Renner. With much sarcasm… I can’t imagine why.

    I listened to the audiobook read by the author and hearing it straight from his own mouth was interesting to say the least. Within the first few chapters he revealed that a test he took with his therapist scored him with a personality and characteristics similar to Ted Bundy.

    He didn’t speak of this with fear or reserve but almost a bravado. It was unsettling to say the least to include such personal psychological references in a true crime book about a missing woman.

    He also spoke of falling in love with a missing girl after seeing her “missing” poster when he was a young boy and was formerly obsessed with her case. Missing girls and women consume this author and his life over and over and he spends a fair amount of time writing about such.

    Enter a quick preview of the second book, Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession by Alice Bolin.

    IMG_9246

    Investigating these murders essentially ruins [detectives] Cohle’s and Hart’s  lives. When we see them in 2012, Cohle is gaunt and bedraggled, now a bartender who starts drinking at noon on his day off. Hart is off the force, too, and divorced, drinking again and working as a private eye. How sad these murders had to happen to them. 

    -Dead Girls, Alice Bolin

     

    Interwoven into Renner’s book were the author’s own life experiences, mental health, family issues, trauma, and descent into alcohol abuse. Sound familiar?

    There were also plenty of self-congratulatory passages on his research methods and “transparency”. He created a network of internet sleuths who spent their time chasing theories, some being straight up conspiracy, and freely shared this information on his blog.

    On the surface it seemed to be an interesting methodology. But in the end there were elements of harassment of the victim’s family. For example, Renner gave out the father’s address in the book. There was also harassment of Renner’s family that stemmed from his blog and research.

    The harassment of the Murray family was barely discussed and mostly under the guise of investigative journalism. But the harassment of the author’s family had at least a chapter devoted to it and much was made of the rage he felt and the reminder of his Ted Bundy-esque characteristics.

    Again, it was more about what the investigation of the crime did to him; how the disappearance of Maura Murray had and was happening to him.

    This is a common theme in true crime be it from the investigative journalists, the authors, or even law enforcement. Dead Girls explores this phenomenon and that is where I’ll pick up with Part Two.

    My rating of True Crime Addict: ✂️✂️✂️/5 but not for writing or content. Rather, this book brought to the forefront my issues with the genre and helped me organize my thoughts around the sensationalism of females being harmed.

    Who would I recommend this book to? Not many; even the true crime fans. It’s a disjointed investigation that leads nowhere. And to complicate matters, it’s an odd thing to witness as Renner inserts himself and his own issues into the disappearance of a young woman.

    Multiple young women.

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday

    Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

    TTT-NEW

    Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

    I was really excited to find Top Ten Tuesday and this is my first go at blogging about a list of all things bookish. This week’s topic is a perfect way to jump in because I love long books. I read plenty of shorter books but 400 + pages is my comfort zone because it that gives me plenty of time to enjoy the book and the characters. Here’s my top 10:

    1. I Know This Much is True – 897 pages – This was my first long book, not for a grade, and I read it shortly after graduating from college. It was a celebration of sorts because I no longer had to read pages and pages of textbooks. Wally Lamb is still one of my favorite authors.
    2. Insomnia – 890 pages – Fun fact: I have had insomnia for years and Stephen King managed to turn it into a wide awake nightmare for me.
    3. The Hour I First Believed – 740 – Another Wally Lamb book that I really enjoyed. I never saw the direction this book was headed until I got there.
    4. A Little Life – 720 pages – This book is in my top 3 of 2018. It’s heartbreaking and real. I still think about the characters in the book to this day. One in particular: Jude.
    5. The Iliad – 683 pages – I read this in college and wish I had paid more attention. This is one on my list that I would like to go back and re-read for fun instead of a grade.
    6. The Time Traveler’s Wife – 528 pages – One of the most creative books I’ve read. This is also one of the longer books I have re-read a few times.
    7. The Pact – 512 pages – I went through a Jodi Picoult phase but I’m only going to include this book in the list.
    8. The Alice Network – 503 pages – Another favorite that I have read this year. I wasn’t a huge fan of historical fiction until this book.
    9. Twilight – 498 pages – I read this entire series but I’m only going to include this one. I recently purged and donated a lot of books and this series was one of them. They only need to be read once, IMO.
    10. Beartown – 418 pages – On the shorter side but one of the most relevant books I have read this year. I read this one in a little over 24 hours.

    I have plenty of other long books that I could list but these were the ones that first came to mind. This was a fun trip down Goodreads memory lane!

    I’m currently reading The Pillars of the Earth and at 973 pages, it will take the top spot for longest book when I’m finished. So far, I’m really enjoying the writing and the character development.

    I read a lot of my longer books during the fall and winter. There’s nothing better than curling up with a quilt, coffee in the morning or bourbon in the evening and reading a good book.

    Do you like reading longer books during the fall and winter months?

  • Bookish,  Personal,  Writing

    About last month…

    6F40C6DD-39B3-463A-9D10-CD6D67634C98

    I have never been a big, “It’s [whatever month] and I’m thrilled!” type of person.

    By writing that, I realize I have an automatic elimination from the PSL (pumpkin spice latte) club and the sweater weather crowd. Not that there’s anything wrong with either because I wear sweaters every chance I get and drink exactly one PSL per year.

    But October 1st, on a Monday, the day before a vacation, after a ridiculous September, and I’m all about a big cheer for October.

    September was a month for de-cluttering our home after reading this book. The book talks about the “magic” that happens beyond having a tidy home. Pounds are lost, money is found, new paths are revealed, relationships change, etc. I was skeptical of it being one of those pseudo-spiritual things but the author was right.

    It’s not an automatic state of enlightenment but what happened for Steve and me, as we let go of our past belongings, we were freed up to turn a page and consider the future.

    1. New boundaries were set that were long overdue.
    2. Relationships changed. And for the better, no matter how you look at it.
    3. Things we thought we needed; turns out we didn’t.
    4. We found ways to save over $1000.00 per month.
    5. I started writing again.

    I’m amazed at what we were able to accomplish in September, even with high stress levels because of situations outside of our control.

    And about the control; I know I’ve written that in large part the past four years have felt completely out of my control. I lost myself. But I feel like I found myself again in the simple acts of throwing away papers, donating clothes, and finding what brought me joy in my surroundings.

    Who knew that I was buried under a stack of papers and in a sock drawer of mismatched misfits? That’s not where I imagined I would find myself because let’s face it, that’s not as adventurous or exciting as going on a solo kayak trip or climbing a mountain eating berries and drinking water from a filtered straw.

    But I’ll take it. Along with the $1000 in gift cards that we found tucked away in cards and drawers.

    So bring on October! The month where we will turn the page, travel, and finish creating a home full of what brings us joy.

  • Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Personal

    Every Note Played book review

    E54C1575-0AB7-4DF0-8E1F-19E0ABB1DC69

    ✂️✂️✂️✂️/5

    This book grabbed my attention within the first few pages and I finished it in one day. I have seen the cruelty of ALS and I am currently watching a friend deal with it and it is heartbreaking. 

    Richard is a world-famous concert pianist who is divorced from Karina and has a barely existent relationship with his college aged daughter Grace. He comes off slightly narcissistic and in an early interaction with his ex he essentially calls her a farm animal due to her tastes for wine. Not impressed. 

    He cancels his tour as the early symptoms of ALS manifest in the paralysis of his right hand. He privately continues to play with his left hand but cruelly, that is the next to go.

    Putting piano in front of everything, he has ostracized himself from nearly everyone in his life. He is left to count on home health aides as with his rapid deterioration. One day he mistakenly calls his ex, Karina for help and she arrives without hesitation to help him and clean him up.

    It’s at that point that they both realize he needs more help than he can afford and cannot live in his 4th story walkup condo.

    So he moves back into their family home with his ex-wife. Um, no thank you. 😳

    The rest of the book is the descent into ALS hell and while it’s an important topic to give awareness to, the characters get lost on the shuffle a bit. But for the cause, I was fine with the shift in focus.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was excellent and you can tell that it’s well researched as the author is a neuroscientist.

    I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a book with a medical plot and a dose of forgiveness and redemption.

    Book review over…

    The backstory of Richard and Karina’s divorce is a common one. He was unfaithful, abuse was alluded to, he was absent, she grew resentful, and their daughter chose her mother’s side.

    I have been happily remarried for 12 years but there are a lot of similarities between the marriage/divorce in the book and my own life. The biggest difference is that I left when I was pregnant.  I honestly don’t know what I would do if I was presented with the situation in the book and tasked with caring for my ex-husband in any way. But what struck me was when one of the home healthcare workers pulled Karina aside and told her that she needed to get to forgiveness, not for Richard’s benefit, but for own benefit.

    I’m nearly 14 years on the other side of divorce but I clearly remember being given similar advice. It was one of the hardest walks I have ever been on. But it was necessary and made me better for it. My second marriage is better for it as well. Forgiveness is essential in any relationship and even a great marriage is still two flawed individuals who build a life together and without forgiveness, it would be a tougher road.

    Parts of my first marriage were absolute hell and leaving him while pregnant was one of the scariest things I have ever done. But to this day, I still tell people that I would do it ALL over again. It made me who I am today, it gave me my daughter, and I learned how to forgive. I didn’t understand the part about the forgiveness being for me when the advice was given but now I do as forgiveness is a vital part of any good relationship.

  • Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Personal

    Tidying up

    2FA488AC-D696-4EB4-83C9-6264F9541E16

    I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up earlier this month and the book lived up to the title. There is a system to follow that I’ll let the book lay out for you if you are interested. But the basic concept is to purge by category instead of by room i.e. closets.

    You literally ask yourself if the item you are holding brings you joy. If so, keep it. If not, toss it into the donate pile. It sounds a little silly at first to ask such a simple question but it works so well.

    We started with clothes. The book suggests putting every piece of clothing you own on the floor. As in pull every shirt off it’s hanger, every pair of socks out of the drawer, and even coats from hall closets. We opted to pile everything on the bed because if we didn’t get through the clothes we weren’t going to be sleeping there. Two hours later and we were done and had immaculate and organized closets and drawers.

    Next up were the books. I’m the reader in the house so this task was on me. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to be able to part with books because I love books and having them in the house; or all over the house if we are really being honest.

    FE1E2BB3-4443-4CFF-B02A-DA9F4BCEE123

    I dumped my bookshelves, collected the books on nightstands, end tables, and even the ones in Amazon boxes. Those books are ones I typically slowly introduce into the house because my husband pays attention to silly things like new books piling up.

    I posted a before picture on Instagram showing all the books on my bed. The comments ranged from shock, mild outrage, volunteering to take books off my hands, and even a few encouraging comments. I started slow following the same process of asking myself if the book brought me joy. It was surprisingly easy.

    I attach memories to objects and books are no different. The first book I picked up was one I read when I was going through a really awful time.

    6AD561FD-295B-4971-8E08-096057CC278B

    Joy at the sight of this book? No way. Donate pile! Within an hour I had my books sorted and looking at the donate pile made me happy.

    D186DDF0-5101-4A41-B49C-DCBC22ED00A1

    But what actually brought joy was to see clear shelves full of my favorite books to read again, loan to friends, or to look at the cover artwork because book covers have really become miniature works of art in the past few years.

    5FC5A910-83FC-4FCC-B5F2-4A91C9AB80EC

    I also found books that I could not believe I ever bought and read. What was I thinking? Thank God for therapy! And I’m sure I also bought and read a self help book to counteract this poison. I should find it and bundle them together before I donate this one.

    I also found some real gems I had forgotten about.

    03E605C8-2A26-4ADB-9742-6885771CEC0F

    Don’t worry though, I still have lots of books to do fun things with. I love this cart!

%d bloggers like this: