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review 2018-03-06 16:57
A book that will enthrall fans of Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, and people interested in XIX century true crime.
The Face of a Monster: America's Frankenstein - Patricia Earnest Suter

I was provided an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Most of us have wondered more than once about the nature of fiction and the, sometimes, thin line separating reality from fiction. Although we assume that, on most occasions, fiction imitates reality, sometimes fiction can inspire reality (for better or for worse) and sometimes reality seems to imitate fiction (even if it is just a matter of perception). And although Slavoj Žižek and postmodernism might come to mind, none of those matters are new.

Suter’s non-fiction book combines three topics that are worthy of entire books (and some have been written about at length): Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Mary’s own life, and Anton Probst’s life and the murders he committed. Each chapter of the book alternates between the chronological (up to a point) stories of Shelley and Probst, and comparisons of the developments and events in the “life” (fictional, but nonetheless important) of Frankenstein’s creature. The author uses quotes and close- text-analysis of Frankenstein, and also interprets the text based on the biography of Shelley, to explain how the creature ended up becoming a monster. Although the novel is an early example of science-fiction/horror, many of the subjects it touched belong in literature at large. Nature versus nurture (is the creature bad because of the parts used to make him, or because nobody shows him care and affection?), science versus morality and religion (can knowledge be its own justification, or should there be something of a higher order limiting experiments), prejudice, mob mentality, revenge, loneliness and isolation…

Shelley’s life, marked by tragedy from the very beginning (her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, died when Mary was only eleven days old) was dominated by men who never returned her affection and who were happy to blame her for any disasters that happened. She was part of a fascinating group, but, being a woman, she was never acknowledged and did not truly belong in the same circle, and it seems an example of poetic justice that her book has survived, and even overtaken in fame, the works of those men that seemed so important at the time (Lord Byron, Percy B. Shelley…).

I was familiar with Frankenstein and with the life of Mary Shelley and her mother (although I am not an expert) but had not heard about Probst. The author has done extensive research on the subject and provides detailed information about the life of the murderer, and, perhaps more interesting still, his trial and what happened after. That part of the book is invaluable to anybody interested in the development of crime detection in late XIX century America (his crimes took place in Philadelphia, although he was born in Germany), the nature of trials at the time, the history of the prison service, executions, the role of the press and the nature of true crime publications, and also in the state of medical science in that era and the popular experiments and demonstrations that abounded (anatomical dissections, phrenology, galvanism were all the rage, and using the bodies of those who had been punished with the death penalty for experiments was quite common). Human curiosity has always been spurred by the macabre, and then, as much as now, the spectacle of a being that seemed to have gone beyond the bounds of normal behaviour enthralled the public. People stole mementos from the scene of the crime, queued to see the bodies of the victims, and later to see parts of the murderer that were being exhibited. Some things seem to change little.

Each part of the book is well researched and well written (some of the events are mentioned more than once to elaborate a point but justifiably so) and its overall argument is a compelling one, although perhaps not one that will attract all readers. There are indeed parallels and curious similarities in the cases, although for some this might be due to the skill of the writer and might not be evident to somebody looking at Probst’s case in isolation. Even then, this does not diminish from the expertise of the author or from the engrossing topics she has chosen. This is a book that makes its readers think about fame, literature, creativity, family, imaginary and true monsters, crime, victims, and the way we talk and write about crime and criminals. Then and now.

I’d recommend this book to readers interested in Frankenstein and Mary Shelley’s work and life, also to people interested in true crime, in particular, XIX century crime in the US. As a writer, I thought this book would be of great interest to writers researching crime enforcement and serial killers in XIX century America, emigration, and also the social history of the time. And if we feel complacent when we read about the behaviour of the experts and the common people when confronted with Probst and his murders, remember to look around you and you’ll see things haven’t changed that much.

The author also provides extensive notes at the end of the book, where she cites all her sources.


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review 2018-02-26 20:44
Interview & Review – Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff @AlexSokoloff
Hunger Moon - Alexandra Sokoloff


Alexandra Sokoloff is in a class of her own. Her MOON series reads as if it is taken from the pages of reality and leaves me so fired up I have to remind myself it is a novel. She is on my MUST READ list and if you love nitty gritty suspense thrillers you will want her on your list too.


Alexandra includes, in the back of the book, why she included the political issues in her novel. She also shares that the series has been bought for TV. MAN ON MAN, where do I sign up? Criminal Minds, I would like you to meet Cara Lindstrom and Special Agent Matthew Roarke along with his elite team of investigators.




I also have a fabulous interview to share. Be sure and scroll through the post so you don’t miss anything!


Cover:  Ray Lundgren


Hunger Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers, #5)

Amazon  /  Audible  /  Goodreads




Hunger Moon is raw, powerful, blood pumping, and in your face.


I will start this review for Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff by saying that I took way to many notes and would spoil the book if I shared them all. I loved it so much, and I got so carried away because my emotions were running riot, that I feel like ranting and railing.


I love that we have action from the opening pages and I would recommend passing by the girl with the dark hair and backpack, if your intentions are evil.


Cara Lindstrom is the only survivor of her family’s brutal massacre. That is when she met IT, EVIL. Her stints in foster homes and group homes, brought her to where she is today, a vigilante serial killer, defender of women and children unable to defend themselves.


She is a force to be reckoned with. She is deadly. But right now, she is quiet, listening, waiting to be told what to do next. She will need to lay low, but where. Her face is everywhere and it is not just the law that is after her. Every pervert within internet range will have heard of the reward by now. Indian reservations have been a haven to her before and a belief there is more out there than meets the eye is a big part in her life.


It is February, the month of the Hunger Moon, and Special Agent Matthew Roarke is still haunted by Cara. They have a special connection, and whether he admits it or not, he is in love with this vigilante serial killer. Since the Bitter Moon, he has found his mission, combating the sexual abuse and trafficking of women and children. One of Roarke’s agents, Epps is black, so he can relate when it comes to being a target of hatred. Another agent, Singh, handles their internet searches and she will find a target on her back too. She is a citizen of the US, but will that make a difference now that she has been brought to IT’s attention?


Alexandra Sokoloff’s MOON series is not for the faint of heart. I love vigilantes and serial killers, especially female ones, with a righteous cause. She makes me eat up the pages, hoping that Cara doesn’t get caught or hurt, but I am afraid of what the future holds in store for her. How can there be a happy ending?


All over the country, universities are being targeted for Title IX violations. The people are fed up with the lily white one percenters protecting their own and covering up the brutal gang rapes of innocent young women. Who will stand up and speak for those who can’t?


Alexandra Sokoloff has incorporated today’s political climate of hate. In Hunger Moon, she shows how easily it is for those protecting their own to proclaim protesters as domestic terrorists. The book is so frightening, because I, too, feel a change in the United States that I never thought would happen. How can we possibly ignore it, even in a novel?


I rarely talk politics and I know most authors avoid it, but Alexandra Sokoloff makes her books so real because she does not avoid the ugliness and I revel in it. I love when my blood boils and I want to punch someone. So much of her writing strikes home for me and I feel the characters anger, frustration, fear and terror, making it impossible for them to move on. Damaged…oh yeah! I rage for revenge for them and we all know what happens when people are backed into a corner with nothing left to lose.


Alexandra brings the internet and Dark net up front and center. I don’t think there is one of us out there who hasn’t heard how dangerous it can be in the cyber world and care must be taken.


As everything comes together for the finale, the forces of good and evil and those walk the line, I feel like puking at the depravity of these ?men? and how far they will go for their own pleasure.


I was shocked that I was able to pick up Hunger Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff as an Amazon freebie. I never would have thought that was possible because her books are off the charts. Five stars is not nearly enough, but that’s all I have! And the TV series, I am on pins and needles just thinking about it. Criminal Minds you will have some competition. She is currently working on Book 6, which she has planned to be the end of the series, but with the TV show in the works, I am hoping we have more.




I recommend beginning at the start of the series with Huntress Moon.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  5+++++ Stars






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review 2018-02-20 16:54
I Love The Villain – Vow of Silence by Chris Patchell @chris_patchell
Vow of Silence (The Jill Shannon Murder Series Book 2) - Chris Patchell,Monica Haynes


Vow of Silence (The Jill Shannon Murder Series Book 2)

Amazon  /  Goodreads




I love that Vow of Silence by Chris Patchell gets right to the action. We have multiple storylines, threats, and danger. Drug cartels, politics, domestic abuse, kidnapping, lies, secrets, and the past…All have their place in the complex mysteries of the characters lives, filling them with danger and betrayal.


I didn’t realize this was Book II of the series, but I don’t feel it harmed my reading in any way, though I do recommend beginning at the beginning. It just made me work harder to try and solve the mystery myself. I read a lot of books like that. Funny thing, I was able to pick up the first book, Deadly Sins, for free from Amazon. YAY!


Joe Gaines, a reporter for the Arizona Republic, was ready to party without the pregnant wife he left at home. He had some blow, which he did a couple lines while waiting for the hot woman he expected to knock on his casino room door any minute. BUT….she was there for more than a private party.


Phoenix Police Detective, David Shaw, was excited to be working such a high profile case. It would be good for his career advancement.


Jill Shannon, our main character, has money and connections, soon to be married to a prosecutor and the only son of the former governor. She had left behind a dead husband in Seattle, a police officer shot right in front of her in their own home. I feel there is so much more to her story and I aim to learn about it. Jill is super smart, a whiz with technology.


I don’t know why I am so drawn to villains. I love when the villain is so likeable I want to root for them and do, but I am still waiting to ‘hear’ the full story.


The characters have many personal, as well as, professional problems. The sad thing is, the kids seem to pay a heavy price, even as their parents struggle to protect them. How many lives will be lost as the the mysteries are solved? I keep trying to anticipate who will live and who will end up dead or locked up as the time to pay the piper comes due. Will ANYONE be happy in the end?


I love complex, multiple plots, and characters that sometimes make it hard to distinguish good from bad. After all, let he who is without sin cast the first stone and I don’t see any of these characters able to do so, except the children and we won’t ask that of them.


Chris Patchell has a way of piling stories on top of stories, intermingling them in such a way that by adding the bits and pieces  the complete the picture is exposed in a spellbinding way. The mystery compounds, the suspense keeps building and I am so happy to know this is not the end of Jill Shannon’s story.


I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Vows of Silence by Chris Patchell.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos 4 Stars






Dark Harvest


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Source: www.fundinmental.com/i-love-the-villain-vow-of-silence-by-chris-patchell-chris_patchell
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-04 10:43
Some Secrets just can't stay buried
You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes
Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes

Have now read  You twice now  and have to say it is just as good and fun the second time around as it was the first.Have only read Hidden Bodies once so far but will be honest though and say  I am glad she changed to the third person point of view in the sequel.  I was both a fan and not a fan of the second person perspective in You.Though maybe she changed it because well the "You" is now dead  in the sequel so can't really use that "You" again now can she? Now don't get me wrong when done correctly, especially in You, is jarring and just makes you feel slightly weird reading it . Think the jarring nature of it was what made reading You so much fun. Thing is the jarring nature of it also takes you out of the story at times. That and well second person usually for me only works really well in choose your own adventure sort of novels . It works in those sort of novels because the YOU they are referring to there is actually you. Descriptions of the you in them is none existent because  well the point is  that the reader is supposed to be so lost in the story they actual feel they are along for the adventure and the second the writer adds any descriptions the more people that will not match that description and thus not be able to see the themselves in the story any longer. The thing that makes You different is that the You Joe describes is not you the reader but a character in the story and you are more or less sort of living in her body for the story I guess is the best way to put it. I think You works and is way creepier , least to me, when he does mention the character he is stalking by name. Course get why he does because well she is a character in the story so unless the you was actual the reader be strange if not mentioning her name but again the effect is way better when the character's name is not mentioned.

Then came to the sequel , which if anything I think is even better than the first one.I am a bit sad she changed the title from love to Hidden Bodies since I think Love is a far better title and just  feel would have been better if all the books in this series had one word titles. Just like the first  novel, the sequel makes you root for Joe even though he is a horrible person who does some really horrible things.Will mention if books have to have likeable characters that you can relate to in order for you to like them will say to stay far away from You and Hidden Bodies. I personally like unlikeable characters and have no issues liking characters even if certain things about their personalities or things they do are really messed up. Just found myself  tons of times while reading it found myself not wanting him to get caught even though by now he should clearly be in prison or if not on death row.


Will admit I took my ratings down a bit for both mostly for the fact I thought he fell into the just too damn lucky camp . Now I realize there are tons of real life serial killers who get away with horrible things , go uncaught even though when they are caught everyone is just confused how they were not caught earlier since when caught it seemed so obvious it was them or how could anyone believe the lies and shit they feed to them.  Realize too there are real life causes where strange luck or whatever you want to call it factors in and people go uncaught far longer then they should(Cops miss clues because they are human, witness don't want to come forward, etc).  Even with that in mind though I still thing there were a few cases especially in Hidden bodies where just he surpassed luck in my opinion. The most notable example is when he admits everything to Love, his now new obsession and love interest. Now we as the reader don't know if he actually told her everything thing that happened as it happened. We sort of have to take his word for it that he did.I for one think he told her his version of events , leaving out details and such. Then again he is also our eyes so who is to say we know all of the truth either.  Now Love is again not a completely likeable character and even if she was say one of the many women that fall in love with serial killers , who I think if faced with someone like that for real and not just in a fantasy would head for the hills since the fantasy of being in love and helping a killer is not as scary as the reality, I just don't think she would be able to process that as fast as she did and even go so far as being totally down to just go help him gather evidence that he left behind Not saying that she wouldn't help at some point since there are tons of examples of serial killer couples or least lovers that help out a spouse that kills I  just  still think she would have a bit more time to fully process all she told her and have more a reaction to what he had than she did. Now after saying that even if was sort of forced to further the plot still happy she did just so he stayed free for longer in the novel.

Can sadly also  see the way she helped him working in real life since so many people even now would be like Peach's parents and rather bury a gay child in secret(After Joe kills Peach on a beach and throws her body out to sea her parents now in this one believe it was not suicide . It is shown in the first book that most likely Peach is a lesbian in love with her best friend . In this book her parents have a feeling it was not suicide and  decide to reopen the case but when love burst in acting like her lesbian lover they tell the cops to close the case again to hide the fact that their daughter was a lesbian and avoid family scandal.) than admit to the public that their child was gay and start some sort of a family scandal, which as someone who lgbt myself I find fucked up to all hell but just like in real life it is still a sad reality for so many families. So again Joe is not the only messed up character since the people he kills, encounters , etc include a Psychologist who cheats on his wife with patients , well least the main character of You, Peach , a lesbian who comes on to her best when she is more or a bit passed out , Love's brother who is more or less a walking flesh suit pumped full every drug he can get his hands on, and course Love who has her own issues.Will say too if you dislike semigraphic sex scenes in your mystery/suspense novels would avoid these books as well.  I think though if you can get over the unlikable characters, if that is usually not your thing, the books are full with enough twists and turns to keep you reading.

For that fact alone would recommend them since they are probably some of the fastest reads. You keep wanting to flip the pages want to find out if Joe will get caught or what other messed up crap is going to happen. Then with much frustration, there is one hell of a cliff hanger for Hidden Bodies, which makes me want a third book like now even though have seen the author saying several times will be awhile til ten.Will admit was surprised when Joe walks out of the restaurant with the place surrounded by the cops  and Love is gone that she was not part of a set up to catch him. Was sure one of the cops got to her, fed her lies to give to Joe and that she lead him on til they could strike. Even Joe was certain of this for a bit. Now maybe she still is and it will be brought to light in the next  book of the series.Am still also on the fence whether her being pregnant is true on not so guess will have to see about that too. Think though it seems like so far she is not involved in helping him get caught and again it was just one of those terrible mistakes that got people questioning and digging too much. Course with the way Joe is able to pretty much talk himself out of anything and not sure he will face any jail time as of yet. Besides that is no fun for the killer , least to me, to get caught too early and have a feeling this is going to be more than a three book series. Had the same feeling when reading the first few Dexter books along with the Showtime show of the same name, a book series I would highly recommend if you at all enjoyed these books since those have very similar vibe to those .

So in short if you like high paced, readable books in which characters and most importantly a narrator are very very unlikeable , don't mind quite a bit of in semidetail sexual content in your mysteries , and books that have enough twists and turns to keep you guessing   would highly recommend both of these books. 

(spoiler show)


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review 2018-02-03 20:25
Weird murders, a London setting, a ticking clock, and a morally ambiguous hero.
Ragdoll: A Novel - Daniel Cole

Thanks to NetGalley and to Trapeze for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

This novel had passed me by (my to be read list is getting longer and longer) when it was first published, but I have been reading quite a number of thrillers recently, saw this book mentioned, and remembered I had yet to read it.

The ARC copy I read includes a funny introduction by the author, which sets the tone for what is to come quite well, although I did not see it in the look inside feature at the front of the published e-book version. The novel is a hard thriller but with a considerable amount of dark humour thrown in (a very British version of it as well). The initial premise is gripping. We have a brief prologue that introduces us to a past case and a deranged detective, and then we discover that four years later he’s back at work, and he has to investigate a very bizarre case. The ragdoll of the title is the name given to the macabre discovery of a body composed of the parts of six different victims. Not happy with that, the killer also releases a list of names of people and the dates when he intends to kill them. And the said detective (Wolf) is the last one on the list. The methods the killer employs are also very imaginative, and there is plenty of violence (and pretty extreme at that).

This thriller, set in London, follows the format of a police procedural novel, but as some reviewers have noted, it does require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. The fact that somebody who was as disturbed as Wolf, and who very seriously assaulted a suspect in front of a whole courtroom, is allowed to go back to work, stretches the imagination. The way the team works, that seems confused and disorganised, also will surprise those who appreciate the attention to detail and authenticity. As a psychiatrist who has worked in the UK, I didn’t find the portrayal of the mental health secure unit where Wolf had spent time very realistic either (although one could query the fact that he was not well at the time, and other than a brief visit by one of the members of the team, we don’t have any objective accounts of it), and one hopes that news agencies will not be like the one depicted in the novel either (Wolf’s ex-wife works for a TV news station and becomes involved in the case also). But, if we accept the premises of the novel, and forget about how likely it is that this could happen in the real world, it is difficult to fault the book for its imagination, pace, energy, and for the way it grabs and keeps the reader’s attention.

This novel keeps taking us back to the past, and at some points it felt as if it should have been the second novel in the series, as it is evident that what happened four years earlier has a lot to do with the current events, and the way the narration is structured, around the previous case, is one of the strong points, in my opinion. It is as if the whole department had been affected by what happened to Wolf and it has become something of a dysfunctional family. Although there are things that seem far-fetched, on the other hand, the general feeling of pressure, desperation, media attention, cover-ups… felt very real. I have mentioned dark humour, and there is a very cynical undercurrent permeating the whole book, which suits it well and, perhaps, will be easier to appreciate by those who live in or are familiar with the UK, its politics, and its current social situation. I felt as if it was almost a caricature of the truth. Exaggerated and taken to the extreme but easily recognisable nonetheless.

Although it is not a psychologically complex story (and many of the characters play to stereotype: the older detective who is about to be retired, the young rookie who’s just been transferred from a different section and is a stickler for details and rules, the young attractive female detective who looks up to the lead investigator but whose feelings are unclear…), there is plenty of action and many twists and turns, characters, locations, and the ticking clock makes it a rather tense and intense read that will keep most readers guessing. There are a large number of characters, and although we get to know the members of the New Scotland Yard team fairly well over the novel (although quite a few of them keep secrets and are contradictory at best), victims, witnesses, characters from the personal lives of the detectives… all are given a bit of space, and it is important to pay attention not to get lost, especially because of the way the story is narrated.  The story is told in the third person but from quite a number of characters’ points of view, not always the main characters either, and although I did not find it difficult to follow and it is a good way to keep the intrigue (by switching points of view and giving us snippets of information only some characters have access to), it means readers should not miss a beat.

Notwithstanding the dark and sharp sense of humour, there are some introspective moments, guilty feelings, and characters wrestle with the morality of the situation, although I do not think it breaks new ground or is the most successful attempt at delving into such issues. At some point, the novel seems about to enter into paranormal territory, and it did remind me of Jekyll and Hyde, as there comes a moment when you have to wonder what it takes to make somebody step over the fine line between fighting a monster and becoming the monster. I don’t want to go into too much detail to avoid any spoilers, but let’s say that good and bad are not ultimately such clear-cut concepts as we would like to believe.

This is a very enjoyable page-turner, especially recommended for those who like a tense and gripping read and are not put off by some over-the-top characterisations and some stretching of the truth, and who don’t mind graphic violence and dark humour. And if you enjoy a London setting, even better.  



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