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review 2018-03-08 14:42
Brief biographies of fascinating women, ideal to dip in and be inspired to learn more.
Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood? - Dee Gordon

Thanks to Alex and the whole team at Pen & Sword for providing me a paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Although totally unplanned, I find myself writing this review on the International Women’s Day 2018. One can’t help but wonder about the title of the book, not so much the wicked or misunderstood part (some definitely seem to fall into one of the two categories, while many share characteristics of both, although that depends on the point of view), but the Bad Girls. In my opinion, it makes perfect sense for the argument of the book, as the expression bad woman has a certain meaning and connotations attached to it (very moralistic and misogynistic), while perhaps bad girl allows for a more playful and varied reading. And it has nothing to do with age (the catalogue of historical figures examined by the author includes a large number of women who died quite young, but there are others who lived to ripe old ages as well). It is, ultimately, a matter of self-definition. But I digress.

This book shares a collection of brief biographies (the vast majority are under a couple of pages long), of women, organised in a number of chapters that group women in several categories (although some overlap and the author has to make a choice as to which group a particular figure belongs to). These chapters are: 1) Courtesans and Mistresses; 2) Madams, Prostitutes, and Adulterers; 3) Serial Killers; 4) ‘One-Off’ Killers; 5) Gangsters, Thieves and Con-Artists; 6) The Rebel Collection – Pirates, Witches, Megalomaniacs, Exhibitionists. The book also contains a brief bibliography (I guess otherwise a second volume would have been necessary just to include all the sources), and there are pictures of the women (portraits, photographs, illustrations), and also documents, newspaper cuttings, letters…

Although I was familiar with quite a few of the women featured (in the case of Mata Hari, for example, I had read a book about her not long ago, although in many others I still discovered things I didn’t know) there were also quite a number that I had heard the names of but didn’t know much about, and others that were completely new to me. I have no doubt that most people reading this book will think about other women they would have added to the collection, but I would say all of the women included deserve to be there. This is not a judgment of character though, as that is not what this book is about. The author’s style is engaging and, despite the briefness of the vignettes, she manages to make these women compelling (and horrifying in some cases), and she is at pains to try and paint as balanced a picture as possible, rather than just present them according to the prevalent morality of their time. Reality and legend are sometimes difficult to tell apart, but the author, tries (and at times acknowledges defeat and provides the most interesting versions of a woman’s story available).  

Among the many women in the book, I was particularly intrigued by Jane Digby (1807-1881), a lover of travel and an adventurer who also had a talent for choosing interesting men, Enriqueta Martí (1868-1913), who lived in Barcelona and who, according to recent research might not have been guilty of the horrific crimes she was accused of (I won’t talk about it in detail, but let’s say that, if it was true, she was not called The Vampire of Barcelona for nothing), Princess Caraboo (aka Mary Baker: 1791-1864), who knew how to come up with a good story, or Georgia Tann (1891-1950), that I felt intrigued by when I read that Joan Crawford (who has featured in one of my recent reads) had been one of her clients. But there are many others, and of course, this is a book that will inspire readers to do further research and look into the lives of some of these women (or even write about them).

The women in each chapter are organised in alphabetical order, and that means we jump from historical period to historical period, backward and forward, but there is enough information to allow us to get a sense of how society saw these women and how class, patronage, social status, money… influenced the way they were treated. There are personal comments by the author, but she is non-judgemental and it is impossible to read this book, especially some of the chapters, without thinking about the lot of women, about how times have changed (but not as much as we would like to think, as evidenced by recent developments and campaigns), and about how behaviours that from a modern perspective might show strength of character, intelligence, and independence, at the time could condemn a woman in the eyes of society, ruining her reputation and/or destroying her life.

A book to dip in to learn about social history and the role of women, and also one that will inspire readers to read more about some of these women (and others) that, for better or worse, have left a mark. A great starting point for further research into the topic, and a book that will make us reflect about the role of women then and now.


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review 2018-02-28 19:23
Jeffrey Dahmer: The Early Years
My Friend Dahmer - Derf Backderf

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf is a graphic novel which was used as the basis for the documentary film of the same name which came out in 2017. This is the account of Jeffrey "Jeff" Dahmer during his adolescence in Ohio from the point-of-view of his friend, Derf. [A/N: I would say "friend" is pushing it as it was frequently noted throughout the book that while a group of boys dubbed themselves The Dahmer Fan Club and imitated him/quoted him on multiple occasions Jeff was rarely (if ever) asked to hang out with them.] Derf talks about Jeff's home life which was as you'd expect: turbulent and troubling. His parents had an argumentative, unhealthy relationship and his mother in particular monopolized much of the attention in the home making it possible for Jeff's habits to remain under the radar. Jeff was an alcoholic from a very early age and somehow this went  unnoticed by the adults in his life including his teachers. However, Derf says that it was common knowledge among the kids at school that he was often drunk in class and looking back it was most likely a coping mechanism against his darker impulses. Besides his unhappy home life, he was struggling with his sexuality as a gay man and his sexual fantasies which revolved around having total (i.e. sexual) control over male corpses. He managed to keep this urge in check by murdering animals, skinning them, and keeping their bones in a shed behind his house. And yet no one had any idea this was happening. Hindsight is 20/20 and Derf seems to employ this readily when explaining that he and the other boys in the Dahmer Fan Club "knew" something wasn't right with Jeff which is why they often didn't invite him to be a part of their group activities. His parents were too caught up in their imploding marriage and his teachers seemed to have turned a blind eye even when he imitated people having epileptic fits to comic effect in their classrooms. (This bothered me a lot by the way.) 


I found the informative background knowledge on a serial killer that I knew little about quite interesting but the artwork (remember this is a graphic novel) was not my cup of tea. It was the faces which I really didn't like. Perhaps that was artistic license since Dahmer tended to dehumanize his victims. I just know that it brought me out of the narrative more often than not. I'll give it a 7/10 overall because it was almost too unbelievable to be true. If you enjoy true crime and find the evolution of serial killers to be fascinating then you'd be remiss not to check this one out.


The fits. [Source: American Book Center]


What's Up Next: Mine Own Executioner by Nigel Balchin


What I'm Currently Reading: From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-28 04:07
good book and characters
Pretty Little Killers - Rita Herron Pretty Little Killers - Rita Herron

Five year old Korine wrapped her arms around her daddy’s neck. Korine got to dance on her daddy’s feet. She got a music box and a porcelain doll who Korine decided to name Ruby.  Korine was daddy’s special girl. Then daddy was shot and Korine watched him die. Before joining the FBI Korine worked as a cop in the sex crimes unit. Korine related to the to the victim and understood their desire to have justice. Korine has several family issues as her mother is severely depressed and her brother has drug problems.  Korine is now an rookie agent for the FBI. and had been teamed with FBI special agent Hatcher McGee. Korine had waited her life for the killer to return. Korine and Hatcher had a one night stand and then she never heard from him. Korine and Hatcher are still attracted to each other.   Now Hatcher and Korine are to solve a murder of a corrupt judge. It seems it might be a vigilante killer on the loose. Hatch had spent the last couple of months getting over his wife’s murder and him killing the man who had done it.  After Hatcher’s wife was murdered -even though he was asking for a divorce she was still his wife- Hatch took some time off and used alcohol to try to forget his guilt that he couldn’t get to his wife in time to save her. Hatcher is seeing her ghost everywhere. Hatcher and Korine are trying to ignore their attraction.

I really enjoyed this book. I also liked the pace and the plot. I loved that I didn’t know who the killer was until the end and it was a surprise. I choked up at times I liked how the killer tied the predators death to their crimes. I think there were too many POV’s in this book one of the few things I didn’t like in this book. There really wasn’t romance but lust in this but that was ok. I loved the twists and turns of this book. This book has: serial killers, rape, child molesters, corrupt officials, FBI, and sp much more. This was pretty dark at times but with this type of story it fit. I liked the characters and the twists and turns of this story and I recommend.

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review 2018-02-25 14:12
2.5 Out Of 5 STARS for Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land
Good Me Bad Me - Ali Land







Good Me Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.


How far does the apple really fall from the tree? 


Milly's mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her into the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school. 


But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother's trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all. 


When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother's daughter.






Lately, I've been reading genres of books that are out of my comfort zone.  This may have been too far out, though. Because ultimately, I was disturbed and saddened by this story, and I wish I'd never listened to this one at all. 


If you like to be inside the head of someone who has been abused mentally and psychically and see all their dark twistiness that comes from that, then the inside of Annie/Millie's head might be a welcome place for you.  It's just not for me, though.




2.5/5 STARS - GRADE=D+







Plot~ 3/5

Main Characters~ 2.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 2.5/5

The Feels~ 3/5

Pacing~ 3/5

Addictiveness~ 2.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 2/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 3.8/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 3/5

Ending~ 2/5  Cliffhanger~  Not really.


Book Cover~ It's kind of compelling, I wished that it had warned me away, though…

Narration~ by Imogen Church was fairly well done.  She definitely had the creep factor going…

Setting~ London, England

Source~ Audiobook (Library)



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review 2018-02-11 02:45
5 Out Of 5 "Mercury Infused" Stars.
UNSUB: A Novel - Meg Gardiner






UNSUB is a brilliantly written novel, with a wickedly intense plot and perfectly executed pacing. It kept me on the edge the entire time I listened.  While driving and listening to this my commute to work was over entirely too quickly, and so was the drive home.  I was completely absorbed by this story.  I got cranky with my husband when he wouldn't just go outside and let me listen to it. 


I highly recommend, whether you listen on audio or read the book yourself it doesn't really matter because the story is that good.  Sometimes the story itself supersedes the abilities of the narrator and makes whether they are good or bad a mute point.  Hopefully, that last part makes sense to more than just me…






Plot~ 5/5

Main Characters~ 5/5

Secondary Characters~ 5/5

The Feels~ 5/5

Pacing~ 5/5

Addictiveness~ 5/5

Theme or Tone~ 4.8/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 5/5

Ending~ 5/5  Cliffhanger~... Sort of


Book Cover~ It goes with the story perfectly

Narration~ Hilary Huber, she was good, actually, despite her penchant for mispronouncing some words.

Series~ UNSUB #1

Setting~ San Francisco, California

Source~ Audiobook (Library)



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