• Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Feminism,  Writing

    Dead Girls Don’t Need True Crime Addicts to Rescue Them: Part Three

    Part one – my book review of True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray by James Renner

    Part two – my book review of Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession

    Welcome to part three of my discussion of the true crime genre and the sensationalism of missing and murdered women. “Dead girls” as they are referred to in Alice Bolin’s book.

    In Renner’s book, he took a personal approach to the case of missing woman, Maura Murray. Woven into his “investigation” were intimate revelations, such as him scoring a like a psychopath on a psychological exam given to him by his therapist. Then there was his own family secrets revealed and his “falling in love” with a picture of a missing girl when he was a boy. Besides the psychopath thing, Renner has issues for sure. Rage, alcohol, and stalking tendencies all come to mind.

    He claimed he lost himself in the investigation but what we really lost was a young woman full of life and potential. Renner made little to no progress (I’m being gracious here) in his investigation so he turned his book into his personal pedestal of redemption and the recovery of the (never) missing James Renner.

    He worked out some of issues through the Maura Murray investigation and in that process he harassed her family, made some terrible insinuations, and created a lot of questions around Maura’s character that had little to do with his investigation. The book went no where and I’m honestly surprised it was published. It was pure sensationalism.

    Alice Bolin wrote her book of essays to combat people like James Renner and the “websleuths” who do his bidding. The true crime junkies who can’t get enough and go as far a finding ways to insert themselves into the investigations. There is a fine line here because there are obvious benefits to extra attention given to a case.

    But that line is crossed when the attention is focused on the perpetrator, the gritty details, or the true crime addicts like Renner who make it about themselves. And then the absolute worst outcome: they distract law enforcement with far reaching theories that directly harm the progress of the investigation.

    A criticism of Bolin’s book was that it wasn’t only about the obsession with dead girls. She addresses the use and abuse of living women as well and that bothered some people just there for the “dead girls”. However, I think Bolin subtlety and brilliantly proved her point which brings me to my own opinion of this genre.

    If we weren’t so obsessed with the “dead girls” would there be as many of them? What if we focused on the treatment of the living women and the behavior of the others, turned true crime junkies?

    Now, there is certainly a place and time for the appropriate attention to the missing and the murdered but even that we have to get right. Just look at the news, it’s the pretty, young, white girls who captivate the nation. But what about women of color, women on the fringes of society, the sex workers, the addicts, the economically disadvantaged, etc.?

    There are good people doing good work, I wholeheartedly believe this. But the obsession with hurting women has to stop. It’s not entertainment to watch or read women being raped, tortured, murdered, abducted, etc. It just perpetuates the dead girl obsession and desensitizes the viewers/readers.

    And these dead girls don’t need to be saved in a 47 minute TV episode. The missing girls don’t need to be rescued by the true crime addict who wants to run a podcast or write a book. They needed to be treated better while they were living and because it’s too late, their memory needs to be honored.

    How do we honor them? By treating each other better. By speaking up for the marginalized. By not partaking in sensationalized accounts of murder, torture, and abduction. And when we do come across a tragic story, asking ourselves if it is told in a respectful, truthful, and necessary manner. Both books certainly caused me to examine my own approach to these kinds of stories and I hope other do the same.

    And finally, James Renner and people like you, leave these poor families alone and let the professionals do the real work. You know, the investigators who aren’t writing books for profit.

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Recommendations

    Feel Good Books : Recommendations

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    What do you read after a book that wrecks you? A Little Life – I’m looking at you. And this type of book doesn’t have to be rainbows and sunshine; just a different range of emotions or a unique quality to the book.

    My criteria:

    • Rich characters that aren’t always up to something sinister or awful.
    • Originality. Have you ever read a book and wondered how an author even came up with the idea for the book?
    • Mystery without the gore and with great twists of the plot.
    • A story of an ordinary family that overcomes ordinary family issues.
    • A story of redemption. The ending may not be fairytale perfect but you feel good about where the characters ended up.

    Here are five of my favorite feel good books… in no particular order:

    1. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – Set in the late 1930’s, this is a coming of age story set in New York City. The characters are so diverse, interesting, and each have their struggles which make each interesting to follow. The writing in this book is excellent and the constant descriptions of martinis inspired me to try my first dirty martini. Now, that’s good descriptive writing!
    2. Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough – This book falls into the mystery category. The twists are unbelievable and I’m usually pretty good at figuring them out ahead of time. Adele, one of the main characters, made my Top 10 Villain list.
    3. Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood – Atwood creates a story of redemption through the arts with a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in a prison. There’s also a touch of sweet revenge.
    4. The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg – I read this book once a year. It’s about a family that appears functional on the surface but is anything but. As the plot develops, it’s so enjoyable to watch distant siblings come together.
    5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – This is one of the most original books I have read. A 15-year-old boy on the autism spectrum investigates the death of his neighbor’s dog Sherlock Holmes-style while navigating life, school, and the world that he sees very different at times.

    What are some of your feel good book recommendations?


  • ARC's,  Book Reviews,  Bookish,  Recommendations

    ARC’s: Advanced Reader Copies and how to get them

    What is an ARC? It’s essentially a book release 3-6 months ahead of publication to librarians, booksellers, professional readers, reviewers, contest winners, etc. The cover and contents may differ because it may not be in it’s final published form.

    I stumbled upon my first ARC purely by luck. It was Baby Teeth by Zoe Stage… which, BTW is a great creepy book for this time of year.

    I honestly don’t remember how I found the request link for Baby Teeth but one day a book showed up in my mailbox with a few instructions about the publication date, hashtags to use on social media, posting pictures, and the timing of the review. I remember thinking, “how cool is this? A free book to read and review!”.

    Then I just had to convince my husband that the book was indeed free and, no I did not order yet another book. I also may or may have not let him also think that with other books that have since arrived on our doorstep.

    Over the course of this year, I have discovered that I really enjoy not just reading new books but writing and sharing book reviews. What a great combination!

    This week I started looking at NetGalley, a site for “readers of influence”, to request ARC’s from hundreds of publishers listed on their site.

    I registered, filled out my profile, and found a few of my favorite publishers. Now, I had read on other blogs that it’s fairly common for your request to get turned down so I requested 15 books just to increase my chances.

    I was sent 14 of the 15 and they now live on my new Kindle.

    So here are a few things that I’ve learned from this process:

    1. Fill out your profile as completely as possible. Some publishers have very specific things that they are looking for, I.E. an active blog, a Goodreads account, an Instagram following, a history of solid reviews, etc.
    2. Request books that fit with the preferred genres listed in your profile.
    3. Be mindful of the publication dates – I’m so glad I did this because I will still be able to handle 14 books to read and review.
    4. Make a schedule of your books and what needs to be read first and then the dates the publisher requests you to abide by as well.
    5. Be OK with e-reader copies. We just de-cluttered our entire home so I’m really happy with electronic copies. It’s also more environmentally friendly.

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    This also gave me an excuse to buy the Kindle Oasis which I am super happy with. It is waterproof, super light, glare-free, has page turn buttons, the screen adjusts based on the light in the room, and probably my favorite feature: it has built-in Audible with Bluetooth capability.

    Happy reading!

    Do you read ARC’s? What has been your favorite book you have received?

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Top Ten Tuesday,  Wit

    Top 10 Tuesday: Villains

    TTT-NEWTop 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.

    Today’s list is all about villains. And not just the awful ones but also my favorites, best, worst, lovable, creepiest, most evil, etc. This took some thought because I tend not to dwell on the bad guys but here goes!

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    Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com
    1. Hanna from Baby Teeth (Zoje Stage) – My pick for the creepiest because a psychopathic 1st grader who is sweet while plotting to kill her mom is definitely creepy.
    2. Mary B. Addison from Allegedly (Tiffany D. Jackson) – Mary is in foster care after going to jail for killing a baby her mother was babysitting. Did she do it? Did she not? Either way her story was sad and made you love her for her resiliency.
    3. Adele from Behind Her Eyes (Sarah Pinborough) – Adele is a favorite because my goodness, she pulled off the plot twists of the year for me.
    4. Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre – Any man who has a crazy attic wife is going to be the brooding, sullen type. But offers to take Jane to the moon made him odd but endearing.
    5. Cathy Ames from East of Eden (John Steinbeck) – Any woman who destroys people for fun ranks up there as most evil.
    6. David Melrose from Never Mind (Edward St. Aubyn) – A father like this guy who does unspeakable things to his son ties with Cathy Ames for most evil. By the way, the Showtime series Patrick Melrose based on this book series was fantastic.
    7. Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – This one seems obvious. Who hasn’t had a Nurse Ratched at some point in their school career? Ok, maybe not that bad but you know what I mean.
    8. Serena Joy from A Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) – I am hesitant to call her a favorite but the balance she struck between heartless and cruel and trapped like the other women certainly made her a fascinating and complex villain.
    9. The White Witch from Narnia (C.S. Lewis) was one of the first villains I remember reading about when I was a kid. I have fond memories of this series and see her as one of the more harmless villains.
    10. Caillou from My Great Adventures – This one was a toss-up between the kid from The Giving Tree and Caillou but in the end, Caillou won out. What parent doesn’t see this kid as a villain? I know he was banned in our house a long time ago and I will still ban this book all day long.

    Who are some of your favorite villains?

  • Bookish,  Lists,  Recommendations,  Writing

    5 Star Recommendations

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    What makes a book a 5 star book for you?

    My criteria includes:

    • Characters that are interesting, endearing, or so good at being so evil.
    • Writing that is sound and has a clear voice.
    • Imagery. This is a big one for me. If I can hear it, taste it, see it, smell it, or touch it, I’m probably going to be your biggest fan.
    • Relatable. Even if I’m not a Crazy Rich Asian; if there are elements I can relate to, I will find this kind of book enjoyable.
    • Powerful and compelling. Do the characters and story stick with me days/weeks after finishing the book?

    Here are five of my favorite 5 star books from 2018… in no particular order:

        1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – One character: Jude. Remember those books and characters that stick with you? I still think about Jude almost six months later.
        1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – Imagery set this book a part from other coming of age novels. I could hear, smell, see, and taste the marsh air when I listened to this audiobook.
        1. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman- I found myself so interested in each character; their likes, dislike, quirks, and faults. You know it’s a good character when even their faults are appealing.
        1. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty – Alice, the main character, had such a strong voice and inner dialogue. And that is despite losing her memory in the book.
        1. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal – I am not a Punjabi widow but I found this book to be so relatable. Reading a book about a community of women gaining their collective voice despite old beliefs and opposition reminds me very much of where we are in 2018 with #metoo and #believesurvivors. There is power in community; especially a community of women supporting other women

    I’m curious, because all readers are different, what are some of your favorite five-star books?

     

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