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review 2020-06-10 15:13
Chase Darkness With Me
Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders - Billy Jensen

I dithered about the rating. This wasn't a bad book, but it definitely starts to drag around the 60 percent mark. I think if Jensen had followed the conclusion to the cases he introduces readers to through and moved on to another case it would have worked better. Instead the book starts off trying to do that, and then it goes into how he meets Michelle McNamara and her quest to find the Golden State Killer. And from there the book focuses on her death and it jumps around a lot to Jensen talking about a case and then Michelle or a case and the Golden State Killer. Then the last portion is focused on Citizen Detectives and I hard cringed about it. I don't know. Jensen seems adamant that he does not expect to be praised by law enforcement and he does the things he is doing to help the families of murder victims, but then at other times in the book you can "see" his frustration with law enforcement not looping him in on things or not giving credit to Michelle McNamara. I think I would compare this book more to a journal where he is getting all of his feelings out about a whole host of subjects.


"Chase Darkness With Me" is a memoir written by Billy Jensen that shows how he became invested in true crime cases and why he started to report and then help investigate them. I think some True Crime readers and podcast followers recognize his name. I only became aware of him when I read Michelle McNamara's book and I knew he was one of the people who helped finish her book after her death. I have tried to get into podcasts here and there on True Crime, but honestly the only one that I like these days is "Murder Minute." I don't like to listen to Stay Sexy Don't Get Murdered because it definitely got too big for me to stay into it anymore. Most of the show seems to be the hosts trying out their comedy routine with each other and the victims in the story don't feel important. I love Murder Minute since they walk you through current murders in the U.S. and then into their topic of the day. I tried to listen to Mr. Jensen and Mr. Paul Holes's podcast but I could not get into it. 


So first off Jensen seems like a nice guy, but his writing I found to be all over the place. I think the first part of the book with him showing us how his father got him into true crime was really good. And then we get to see his first case he got involved with that I even know about (Howard B. Elkins murdered a woman he was having an affair with, Reyna Angélica Marroquín who was pregnant at the time). From there Jensen just jumps around in his narrative and tries to provide us information about cases that have stayed with him.


I honestly think the book could have cut out how he used social media to track down suspected murderers. He explained it once to readers and we didn't need to read it every time. And then at times he seems to want praise for spending his own money on this and then frustrated when he doesn't hear back from the police right away. I don't know, this memoir was weird for me. I get his frustrations. When he explains the number of unsolved murders in the United States and how many more get added on every year i shook my head. I mean I knew just on talking to my friends in law enforcement how many murders are not solved without a confession or a killer whose DNA is already in the system. I don't know if Citizen Detectives are the answer though. I joke about "Black Twitter" tracking down people, but I caution people doing that on a day to day basis. Especially after Twitter people wrongly identified a man as the one who assaulted two children this past weekend. The wrongly identified man ended up getting death threats over it. Social media is very powerful as we have seen over the past few weeks, but I think everyone has to be careful how they use it. 


And when Jensen tries to go into the Golden State Killer case I just got totally lost. I already read McNamara's book so it didn't really need to be included here as well, except I guess to show how it affected him and others involved in the True Crime business. 


The book ends on tips to be a citizen detective and I had a flashback to when at the end of G.I. Joe cartoons they always did a PSA to the kids watching and ended on Go Joe. It just didn't add much to the book for me and I really don't know about a bunch of untrained people running around trying to solve crimes. Jensen tries to show positive and negative outcomes to these detectives, but I was left baffled in the end. 

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text 2020-06-08 17:47
Reading progress update: I've read 50%.
Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders - Billy Jensen

Hmm good book for True Crime readers. I think Jensen does peg a lot of True Crime readers correctly that most of the readers want things solved and don't like mysteries. I am not one of those though.


And I love love love that he calls out the issues with unsolved murders in the United States and how often people skip over cases involving POC, sex workers, and others. Most True Crime readers seem to only want to read about the "famous" murders. I personally love reading everything because don't all victims stories deserve to be told? 

He also gets into how he met Michelle McNamara and how her death affected him. I do like the photos included too. Okay back to the book!



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review 2020-05-13 20:39
So here's the thing...
To See the Sun - Kelly Jensen,TJ Clark

I absolutely loved this book and while I have to admit there are a lot of books that I can say this about for many reasons. I mean let's face it, I'm probably not the hardest sell around when it comes to books. So chances are...if you give me characters that I can truly love or even hate with a passion, good dialogue, settings that are richly described, a story that holds my interest...well, chances are your books are going to be in the 'I loved it' category and if it's an audio book add in a well delivered narration and that makes you golden in my world. 


Before I begin I'd also just like to ask that you please forgive any spelling mistakes I may make as this is the one downside of audio books you can't check your spelling on words specific to a story.


Much to my surprise and delight "To See the Sun" has fallen very solidly into the 'I love it' category for me. Kelly Jensen has given us a complex and interesting world first in the planet Zimosen, a planet where much of the population lives below the surface never able to see the sun, just to dream of it as they struggle to survive. We first meet Gael as he in caught in a situation that no matter how it ends...won't end well for him and could possibly be even more disastrous than he's able to anticipate and when things go sideways Gael does what any reasonably intelligent person would do...he runs and he runs for his life.


It's as these events transpire and we are following Gael on his flight through the lower levels of Zimosen that the author also creates the world Gael survives in. Things are frantic and terrifying for Gael as he struggles to stay ahead of the law and find a way out. It's during this struggle to survive that Gael is offered the chance to escape to another planet via what is essentially a mail-order-bride program and with little to no hesitation he takes the opportunity and this is how he meets Abraham (Bram) Bauer and finds himself on an journey to an outer colony on the planet Alkirak to become Bram's companion.


I loved Gael and Bram together. They so easily filled the spaces in each other that had been empty, although this was not done without some hesitation, effort and a bit of miscommunication on the part of both men and I honestly would have been surprised if there'd been none considering they started out literally thousands and then some miles apart. These men weren't different worlds, they were from worlds that were vastly different. 


While there were a number of secondary characters that we saw glimpses of. There were really only 4 other characters who played prominent roles in this story and they were Price who turned out to be a better friend than Gael had realized, Aavi a sweet and precocious young girl with secrets that could be dangerous for everyone, Maia who a close friend of Bram's and ultimately Gael's as well and Maia's brother Orfeo, mayor of Alkirak and Bram's use to be friend with benefits. While I really enjoyed the depth and extra that other characters added to this story it was these four who helped to support the foundation of events that transpired and to keep things flowing at an enjoyable pace.


As for the steam and sex in this one it was  slow burn that felt right and worked well with both the character of these two men and the circumstances of their meeting and coming together. 


TJ Clark was the narrator for this story and while he's not quite a new to me author this was only my second audio book narrated by him and so far TJ's a definite win for me. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him as he took me on this amazing adventure with Gael, Bram and their friends. 


Putting this one off like I did was definitely not one of my better ideas but finally getting down to it has proven to be a decision that I'm really glad I made. I'm planning a return trip to Zimosen and Alkirak in the near future because as with any good story...this one's worth enjoying again and possibly again.  Definitely recommended.



An audio book of "To See the Sun" was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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text 2020-04-03 22:46
#Fridayreads 2020-04-03 - not going so well
The Paper Eater - Liz Jensen
The Little Drummer Girl - John le Carré
The Holiday - T.M. Logan,Laura Kirman

I seem to have books I'm a bit stuck with at the moment. I have hopes for all of them but they're a test of faith at the moment.


"The Paper Eater" is an out-there piece of SF which I think is meant to be a satire but it has unsympathetic characters and innovative punctuation that I find distracting.


"The Little Drummer Girl" is fine, if slow, while I'm listening to it but it's not something I find myself rushing to get back to. I've been using it as the soundtrack to my daily one hour walks.


My wife really enjoyed "The Holiday". I found the first chapter a bit thin but I'm told great things are to come.


I hope you all have a great reading weekend.



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text 2020-04-03 11:01
Reading progress update: I've read 7%. - what is wrong with quotation marks?
The Paper Eater - Liz Jensen

From the first paragraph, this is a startlingly original novel. The content slaps you across the face immediately and demands that you wake up and pay attention because this is not a derivative story and you're going to have to concentrate to understand what's going on.








Great, if it makes itself worth the effort, which, so far, it is.


So why gild the lily by messing about with punctuation?


What is wrong with normal quotation marks?


I find that they do useful things like telling me when someone is talking and helping me separate that out from the authorial voice or the narrator's interior voice. True, the grammar rules can be a little complicated but that's because they're situationally specific and some of those situations are quite complicated.


Liz Jensen has chosen to dump quotation marks. Unlike some authors, she hasn't simply left them out and decided that to adopt an interactive modality that requires the reader to figure out what the writer would have written if they'd bothered to write. She's come up with an alternative set of punctuation. Here's a sample:



Finally, John groans through the music.

– You know what that means, for me, he says.

– Not necessarily, I go.

I’m feeling jittery, ragged, claustrophobic, a bit sick. For once, I’m grateful for the musical racket dinning through the sound system.

– You’d have been notified, I say. As firmly as I can. Has Fishook called you to the bridge yet? I can’t see John’s face from here, but I guess he’s just staring moochily out of the porthole at this point. – Well, has he? I say. No.

– No, John echoes.

– Well then, I tell him. Hang on to that, is my advice.


I've read it over several times and it seems to me that notation being used adds nothing but unnecessary effort for the reader.



Why do writers do this?


Perhaps I'm just getting old and set in my ways. I'll stop muttering now and go back to the novel.


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