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.

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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.

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Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

REVIEW: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

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*History Spoilers*

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines brightly in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

I first came across this nonfiction novel by listening to a podcast called Stuff You Missed in History Class. The way the narrators of the podcast discussed this story shocked me. It is a heart-wrenching story of young women who were just trying to support their country, in the end, to be poisoned and wasted away is difficult to hear.

This was a “Goodreads Choice Winner” in 2017. I can see why this historic story won. A tale of 1920s America and the mistreatment of the female workers is what makes this interesting to read. The coming age of nuclear energy is clear in this memoir.

The Ramifications from this outbreak of what’s proclaimed to be “not harmful” and “a miracle medicine” caused laws and legislation to be put in place so that workers have rights if their workplace caused them harm. As well as regulations and laws about protecting a worker from radiation poisoning and keeping the Earth safe from fallout debris.

I would highly recommend this novel if you’re interested in true stories about the 1920s America and scandals involving large corporations. This memoir will have you reaching for the tissues and make you feel for those workers and their families.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Novels

REVIEW: The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Injustice in the American South by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington

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*No Major Spoilers*

The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist chronicles how the courts and Mississippi’s death investigation system–a relic of the Jim Crow era–failed to deliver justice for its citizens and recounts the horrifying story of the two men who built successful careers on the back of this system. For nearly two decades, medical examiner Dr. Steven Hayne performed the vast majority of Mississippi’s autopsies, while his friend Dr. Michael West, a local dentist, pitched himself as a forensic jack-of-all-trades. Together they became the go-to experts for prosecutors and helped put countless Mississippians in prison. But then some of those convictions began to fall apart.

Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington argue that bad forensics, structural racism, and institutional failures are at fault, and raise sobering questions about our criminal justice system’s ability to address them.

When I first read the description for this nonfiction novel, I assumed it was going to be discussing how a doctor and a dentist conned the justice system. This goes way deeper than just a couple of crooked medical professionals being paid to lie about results and give false testimony. It goes as far as proving that all forensic sciences may not be exactly as though they seem.

With my initial intrigue of this novel as I read, it became much, much more interesting. It gave me quite the insight into some of the past history of forensics and how easily it can be botched, mishandled and or abused.  This novel has piqued my interest and has made me even more curious about forensics and it has also inspired me to look into going to school for Criminal Justice.

This book is an excellent read for anyone into criminal justice, forensics or the sciences of anything related to criminal justice.  I really did enjoy it and was surprised by the information in this book, I wasn’t expecting it to go as deep as it did.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Novels

REVIEW: Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as the Jeff Davis 8? by Ethan Brown

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*No Spoilers*

An explosive, true-life southern gothic story, Murder in the Bayou chronicles the twists and turns of a high-stakes investigation into the murders of eight women in a troubled Louisiana parish.

Between 2005 and 2009, the bodies of eight women were discovered around the murky canals and crawfish ponds of Jennings, Louisiana, a bayou town of 10,000 in the heart of the Jefferson Davis parish. Local law enforcement officials were quick to pursue a serial killer theory, opening a floodgate of media coverage—from CNN to The New York Times. Collectively the victims became known as the “Jeff Davis 8,” and their lives, their deaths, and the ongoing investigation reveal a small southern community’s most closely guarded secrets.

This True Crime novel interested me because I have never heard of the Jeff Davis 8 before. I also thought it’d be an interesting read because it’s a case not discussed very often.

This book investigates the murder of eight women who were involved in drug and prostitution world of Lousiana. As Mr. Brown is delving into this mystery, you begin to realize it goes much deeper than just a drug deal gone horribly wrong.

The discussion on corruption by the police force as well as the racial tensions makes this mystery much more enticing. You never find out who the real culprit is or whether it was a group of people involved or if it was a serial killer.

I would highly recommend this novel if you are a true crime buff and if unsolved cases peak your interests.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Novels

REVIEW: I Will Find You: Solving Killer Cases from My Life Fighting Crime by Lt. Joe Kenda

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*No Major Spoilers*

Detective Lt. Joe Kenda, star of Homicide Hunter, shares his deepest, darkest, and never before revealed case files from his 19 years as a homicide detective. 

Are you horrified yet fascinated by abhorrent murders? Do you crave to know the gory details of these crimes, and do you seek comfort in the solving of the most gruesome? In I WILL FIND YOU, the star of Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda shares his deepest, darkest, and never-before-revealed case files from his two decades as a homicide detective and reminds us that crimes like these are very real and can happen even in our own backyards.

Gruesome, macabre, and complex cases. Joe Kenda investigated 387 murder cases during his 23 years with the Colorado Springs Police Department and solved almost all of them. And he is ready to detail the cases that are too gruesome to air on television, cases that still haunt him, and the few cases where the killer got away. These cases are horrifyingly real, and the detail is so mesmerizing you won’t be able to look away. The tales in I WILL FIND YOU will shock you like the best horror stories-divulging insights into the actions, motivations, and proclivities of nature’s most dangerous species. Don’t mind the blood.

Let me start off by saying, Homicide Hunter is one of my favorite shows on Investigation Discovery. Lt. Kenda’s dry and morbid sense of humor makes me chuckle. His catchphrase: “Oh, my my” is how you know he found the bad guy!

This autobiography is Lt. Kenda’s retelling of some of his stories and cases that aren’t TV friendly. True Crime has never bothered me since I’ve been interested in the subject. I always joke that in a different life I could have been an F.B.I. agent.

If you are able to listen to the audiobook of this memoir, I would highly recommend the audiobook. Lt. Kenda narrates his memoir just as if he was talking on the TV. It’s an easy listening and just as enjoyable as reading the book itself.

Some of my favorite stories involved bar brawls that quickly got out of hand. Alcohol and pure rage can turn any man into an unstoppable monster. Just imagining bar patrons and the police fighting in one big mess humors me for some reason.

I would recommend this memoir for those that love true crime and the show Homicide Hunter. Also if you love a good policeman’s stories, this memoir is perfect for you!