Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes


*Do Nonfiction Books Have Spoilers?*

Trigger Warning for Murder, Death, Divorce, and Grieving

When I look back at my long career, there is a lot I am proud of. I have caught some of the most notorious killers of the twenty-first century and brought justice and closure for their victims and families. I want to tell you about a lifetime solving these cold cases, from Laci Peterson to Jaycee Dugard to the Pittsburg homicides to, yes, my twenty-year-long hunt for the Golden State Killer.

But a deeper question eats at me as I ask myself, at what cost? I have sacrificed relationships, joy—even fatherhood—because the pursuit of evil always came first. Did I make the right choice? It’s something I grapple with every day. Yet as I stand in the spot where a young girl took her last breath, as I look into the eyes of her family, I know that, for me, there has never been a choice. “I don’t know if I can solve your case,” I whisper. “But I promise I will do my best.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I’m not listening to audiobooks, or reading on my Kindle, I’m listening to podcasts. I discovered this podcast called “Jenson and Holes: The Murder Squad”, it features investigative journalist Billy Jenson and retired cold case investigator Paul Holes. They would discuss cold cases, and explain police procedure to their audience who might not know how a murder investigation works in real life.

So when I saw Unmasked on the pre-order on Books-a-Million, I was so excited. I am a fan of true crime. I try to read more of it, but sometimes fiction is just what the doctor ordered. So now let’s dive into Unmasked.

Most of this autobiography talks about the Golden State Killer case. It was a lot of detectives’ Moby Dick, their elusive white whale. However, it was breakthrough in forensic technology that uncovered the truth in the end. I think this technology will go a long way and possibly clear up more cold cases.

You can’t finish a puzzle without all of the pieces.

Paul Holes; Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases

Seeing how Mr. Holes’ career morphed and grew over time is interesting. You see him want to be more of a lab rat, and less of a politics-driven supervisor of the labs. He wants to process evidence, and leave the politics to those who can handle that.

The discussions of divorce, love fading, and regrets for how things turned out brought back memories of my parents’ divorce. It was difficult for me to listen to however, it was nice hearing him reflect on it and realize what went wrong. A lot of ex-couples seem to be too prideful to realize what went wrong in their failed relationships.

Overall, I really enjoyed this true crime audiobook. It was informative as well as personal and relatable.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels, Non-Fiction

UPDATED REVIEW: Pirate Queen: The Legend of Grace O’Malley By Tony Lee and Sam Hart

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*Historical Spoilers*

A true daughter of the fearsome O’Malley clan, Grace spent her life wishing to join the fight to keep Henry VIII’s armies from invading her homeland of Ireland — only to be told again and again that the battlefield is no place for a woman. But after English conspirators brutally murder her husband, Grace can no longer stand idly by. Leading men into battle on the high seas, Grace O’Malley quickly gains a formidable reputation as the Pirate Queen of Ireland with her prowess as a sailor and skill with a sword. But her newfound notoriety puts the lives of Grace and her entire family in danger and eventually leads to a confrontation with the most powerful woman in England: Queen Elizabeth I. With a gripping narrative and vivid, action-packed illustrations, the fourth entry in Tony Lee and Sam Hart’s Heroes and Heroines series captures the intensity and passion of one of history’s fiercest female warriors.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I have been waiting for a long time to find a good pirate story. Sure it’s nonfiction, however, Pirate Queen takes the high-stakes adventures of pirating up to 11. I love how this is not just a story about pirates and how they were degenerates and on the lowest caste of society. This is a story about how a woman saw that her country needed her, and not only stepped up to the plate, but made a name for herself as the Queen of the Pirates.

I am not familiar with the time period or Grace O’Malley and I think this graphic novel does an excellent job at telling a complicated story. A story that I imagine has been lost to time to a certain extent due to the “colonization” of Ireland. I never felt lost or confused as the story progressed and seeing how not only Grace’s worldview changed over time, but the world as a whole was changing.

My favorite part was how the O’Malley clan was deep in a battle and Grace was below decks giving birth to a baby boy. As soon as the birth was complete, she wrapped her baby up and went to confront the British soldiers. So awesome to see how progressive she was for her time.

Overall, I enjoyed Pirate Queen. There was plenty of swashbuckling action as well as plenty of heart and emotion. I think if you liked the movie Brave or are itching for a good pirate story then I would highly recommend checking this graphic novel out.

Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: No Encore!: Musicians Reveal Their Weirdest, Wildest, Most Embarrassing Gigs by Drew Fortune

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*This Book Includes Discussions of Drug Use*

This hilarious, sometimes horrifying, collection spans four decades and chronicles the craziest, druggiest, and most embarrassing concert moments in music history—direct from the artists who survived them.

From wardrobe malfunctions to equipment failures, from bad decisions to even worse choices, this is a riveting look into what happens when things go wrong onstage and off.

No Encore! is an unflinchingly honest account of the shows that tested the dedication to a dream—from Alice Cooper’s python having a violent, gastric malfunction on stage to Lou Barlow’s disastrous attempt to sober up at Glastonbury, from Shirley Manson’s desperate search for a bathroom to the extraordinary effort made to awaken Al Jourgenson as Ministry was taking the stage. As Hunter S. Thompson famously wrote, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”


Rating: 3 out of 5.

I think music holds a special place in everyone’s life, no matter whether you listen to whatever is on the radio or if you are an aspiring musician yourself. Sometimes we fall in love with a singer or a band and can forget that they are people too. I know I have talked a couple of times about my favorite band Rascal Flatts and I have had to remind myself that even these people you look up to make mistakes too. They may be big mistakes or small mistakes, but at the end of the day, they’re human as well.

I found No Encore! to be an entertaining read. I am not familiar with the world of rock n roll as I think the target audience is. There’s only a small handful of names I recognized.

Even knowing that, I think No Encore! is a must-read for any music fan. There’s plenty of stories that will make you bust out laughing. If your local library also has this book, then you can just read the tales you want and still get a good feel for the collection as a whole. 

I would highly recommend this collection for music lovers and fans of any of the musicians or bands in this anthology. These stories are worth the read and are a love-letter to the fans.

Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: The Last Book on the Left: Stories of Murder and Mayhem from History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers by Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski

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Since its first show in 2010, The Last Podcast on the Left has barreled headlong into all things horror, as hosts Henry Zebrowski, Ben Kissel, and Marcus Parks cover subjects spanning Jeffrey Dahmer, werewolves, Jonestown, and supernatural phenomena. Deeply researched but with a morbidly humorous bent, the podcast has earned a dedicated and aptly cult-like following for its unique take on all things macabre.

In their first book, the guys take a deep dive into history’s most infamous serial killers, from Ted Bundy to John Wayne Gacy, exploring their origin stories, haunting habits, and perverse predilections. Featuring newly developed content alongside updated fan favorites, each profile is an exhaustive examination of the darker side of human existence. With appropriately creepy four-color illustrations throughout and a gift-worthy paper overboard format, The Last Book on the Left will satisfy the bloodlust of readers everywhere.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I have been listening to The Last Podcast on the Left for a couple of years now. I love how they talk about these serial killers and rips the curtain mainstream media has placed around them and expose them for who they indeed are.

Years of researching serial killers has revealed that most of these criminals are not the monsters of nightmares they are so often portrayed to be by “true crime entertainment” but are more often huge dorks who couldn’t get anything right in their lives so they turned to murder and mayhem.

Henry Zebrowski of Last Podcast on the Left

However, on their podcast, they talk about more than just serial killers and true crime. They also discuss various paranormal and occult topics. They recently finished up a series about the history of lobotomy, and I found the subject to be fascinating as well as a bit gross.

This collection of serial killer histories is worth the read for any true crime fan, and I feel it’s a great introduction to the podcast itself. Marcus tells the story, and Henry and Ben interject with jokes and humorous comments. Although, when the subject revolves around UFOs and aliens, Henry tends to take over the story and adds pieces of his research.

Overall, if you are looking for a true-crime read that’s not afraid to have a sense of humor, then I would recommend Last Book on the Left. This collection is perfect for fans of the podcast or looking for an introduction to true crime. This story will leave you laughing while double-checking the locks on your doors and windows.

Posted in Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Novels

REVIEW: Beyond the Fray: Bigfoot by Shannon LeGro and G. Michael Hopf

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It’s argued that the recent search for Bigfoot officially began on September 21, 1958, when journalist, Andrew Genzoli of the Humboldt Times, featured a letter from a reader about loggers in Northern California concerning large footprints they’d found at a worksite. What began as a fun article turned into an almost instant national sensation, and since stories of the elusive creature have poured in, not just from California and the Pacific Northwest, but from around the world.

BEYOND THE FRAY: BIGFOOT features some of these personal eyewitness accounts and terrifying encounters, most taken from the transcripts of the popular podcast, “iNTO THE FRAY.”  These stories are unique and scary. They will leave you wondering what this creature is and will no doubt give you pause before you cross the wood line and enter the woods.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This novel is an anthology of people who have had encounters with the legendary Bigfoot. I have a casual interest in Cryptozoology, and I’ve been looking for a good Bigfoot book to read for a while. I am also a bit embarrassed by my casual interest in things like Cryptozoology, UFOs, and other supernatural experiences.

This anthology is an excellent quick read. Each chapter starts with the host’s thoughts about the upcoming encounter, just like I was listening to a podcast in the same niche. I always enjoy hearing thoughts from a third party. I feel the most credible witnesses to these creatures, in my opinion, are those who aren’t going into the deep woods looking for Bigfoot.

However, this novel isn’t full of stories about Sasquash. There’s Dogmen, Dire Wolves, and other creepy crawlies that go bump in the night. I find the idea of Dogmen and other creatures to be more interesting than Bigfoot. I might go into more detail on my thoughts on Cryptozoology and other paranormal things in a later blog post.

Overall, I would highly recommend Beyond the Fray: Bigfoot if you’re itching to dip your toes into the weird world of what goes on deep in the woods in the middle of the night.