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video 2018-11-06 14:21
The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black
Insanity - Cameron Jace
Figment (Insanity Book 2) - Cameron Jace
The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
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review 2018-01-08 19:47
Great Horror elements. Plot could use more polish.
Forsaken: A Novel of Art, Evil and Insanity - Andrew Van Wey

The horror aspects of this book was really good. It was creepy enough to give you the heebie jeebies and anything to do with strange looking paintings and children always make things more creepier than they should be. (The Shining, anyone?)

 

I can’t really say I like Daniel as a character. He had it coming to him. It was an awful cruel thing he did and he deserved every last bit of it. None of the characters really stood out here since Daniel was really the center of the plot, but wow Karina. You’re just some kind of special aren’t you? She played on Daniel’s sympathy until he realized she’s completely bat crazy and well, you walked into that one didn’t you? This is what happens when you want the cake and the cherry on top. Just don’t do it. However tempting that is.

 

Plot wise, it’s pretty entertaining and good stuff for a horror book. It does come off as reading a horror movie in print which is pretty good and frankly, if this ever was a movie, I’d probably watch it and enjoy it better. The ending was great and is everything  you would expect in a horror movie or book. There’s mystery elements into the book which does not affect the story that much and adds more intrigue.

 

Although the horror elements were good, the execution of the story could be better. I thought certain aspects of the plot were just there for convenience. There could have been more to the Mabel plot arc. It was just planted there with no real explanation except it was given about 2-3 pages but no real contribution. I wish there was more to it. It would have helped, and could have made the story much better.

 

Despite some of the shortcomings of the book, it was an enjoyable read. It was creepy enough to give you the chills and the ending was what you would expect in this genre. Recommended to horror lovers!

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review 2017-03-24 21:00
A good book to gain an overview on a particularly complex and fascinating topic for those working in law and/or psychiatry.
Mad or Bad: Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain - David J. Vaughan

Thanks to Pen and Sword History for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book that I voluntarily review.

As a psychiatrist, and having worked in forensic psychiatry in the UK for a number of years, mad or bad is indeed one of the questions that we’re asked very often. (Of course, the two categories are not mutually exclusive, but in the eyes of the law there are certain prerequisites that need to be complied with to be able to apportion guilt). Therefore, I was very curious to read this book that dealt with the issue of insanity and criminal justice in the Victorian era.

The book is divided into five parts, discussing the main players in the debate, the conditions that were listed under the insanity label, the history of the debate, a part discussing ‘mad women, bad women’, and the last and longest part that discusses in more detail the case studies that caused the debates and the legal changes discussed in the book.

Personally, I was fascinated by reading details about the cases behind some of the defences and legal terms still in use today. Having an overall view of the period and what was behind the discussions illuminates and helps explain the legal changes, placing them at a historical and social moment in time. As a psychiatrist, I was particularly interested in the issues of diagnosis and the discussions as to the different categories used to classify disturbed mental states, including some that sound difficult to believe now (like the many ‘women’s conditions’ that justified all kinds of crimes). Although the details of some of the cases and the discussions might sound bizarre, the truth is that matters are not that clear even now, and even if the debates are framed differently, a decision is not always easy to reach.

The case stories are fascinating to read in their own right and cover the most famous and relevant cases of the era. They provide a great overview without going into excessive detail and would be a good starting point for people who want to delve deeper into the subject, whilst providing a general background to others who might be looking for orientation and general reading on the topic. The book is well organised, written clearly, and provides a good summary of the main issues whilst illustrating them well without excess detail or the use of unnecessarily complicated terms.

A good read for anybody interested in issues of criminal justice, insanity and law in Victorian England, particularly those that pertain to the treatment of women by the legal system of the time. A word of warning: the passing of time hasn’t made these cases less upsetting or shocking, so although the book doesn’t dwell unnecessarily on the gore details, you might find some of them hard to read.

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text 2016-09-09 07:43
Can you do the same thing and expect a different result? Maybe.

I once had a friend (yes, I did) who was just recovering from his second divorce. Given the emotional (two kids with each wife) and financial (dividing of community assets) devastation I asked him what he would do differently in a new relationship?

 

My understanding is if we do everything the same how can we expect a different result?

 

I ask myself this question as I'm in the process of launching my seventh novel.

 

You could say, start by writing a better book (ouch) and you'd be right. But that's kind of like my friend saying he'd find a better partner, which he actually said and did - though I'm not sure if she's better.

 

My novels are far from being perfect, but - and I hope I don't sound too delusional, egotistical or like everyone else who has written back-to-back-to-back flops - they're at least as good as some books that have had way, way more success (sales) than mine.

 

And my books aren't alone. In my reviewing the books of new self-published authors (Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Book Reviews https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ) I find about twenty percent have written remarkable books and yet they have zero success.

 

So enough talk about failure (and justifying it), the question is what to do different with the launch of The Local Rag, so it has more success than the others have achieved so far?

 

At the time of writing this I have 394 followers on BookLikes, 39 on Twitter, 13 on Goodreads and 61 subscribers to my blog. Some are actually people. I've been told by the experts if I want your support I need to interact with you, build a relationship, give if I want to get.

 

Okay. This is tough for someone as misanthropic as I am, but here's what I'll do. If you comment on something I've posted I'll respond. Will I "like", "friend" or "follow" you? Let's go slow, one step at a time, this is, after all, is a new relationship.

 

I've listened in on some webinar's on marketing and have tweaked my social media sites adding my Amazon Author Page link to my profile and a list of my books and plays on my Twitter header photo (like this will make a difference).

 

The most interesting thing I learned was from Chris Syme of Smart Marketing for Authors https://cksyme.com/ when she presented a graph showing the Funnel Influence By Network broken down into which social media sites performed best when it came to Introduction, Awareness, Purchase Point Conversion and One Touch Purchase.

 

Of course, she could have just told the listeners which sites sell more books but apparently obfuscation is the key when it comes to good marketing or at least the presentation of if.

 

Anyhow, according to this graph you're just not happening unless you have a Facebook presence.

 

I stopped using Facebook about seven years ago when my wife asked me if I was interested in any of the people I had "friended". I said no. She said, "Then why do you think they're interested in you?"

 

Most recently a young acquaintance with over five hundred "Facebook friends" invited them all to her birthday party. The only people who came were a few of her immediate family.

 

Despite my moral misgivings and uncertainty about the effectiveness and authenticity of this social media site, I revisited it.

 

What I found is that I can link my Twitter feed to my Facebook page so I won't have to double post (probably I'm the only one who didn't know this). That was encouraging.

 

So here's what I've resolved. I now have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013287676486 where you can view all my tweets and some more stuff on writing, community development and the environment. I'm not "friending" anyone because I think it's dishonest to pretend to be interested in someone when you're not. However, you can still "follow" me and get some good information from my timeline.

 

My problem is I have this integrity thing - it's a proving to be a real liability

Writing is my one true thing and I won't sully it with chicanery and deceit.

 

So all this time (and words) you've been wondering about my twice divorced friend, did he do anything different?

 

No, but here's the thing - even though his third wife (unbelievable, I know) is very similar to his previous two, his circumstances have changed and so their relationship appears successful (so far).

 

Does that just negate everything I said?

 

What do you think?

 

Stay clam, be brave, watch for the signs

 

 

Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013287676486

 

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Books Reviews link

 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Amazon Author Page link http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

30

 

 

 

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review 2016-07-11 19:59
Insanity Tales II, an anthology
Insanity Tales II: The Sense of Fear - David Daniel,Stacey Longo,Vlad V.,Rob Smales,Ursula Wong,Dale T. Phillips

Six writers have come together with 11 tales in this anthology. Foreword is by Joe McKinney. Contributing authors are: David Daniel, Ursula Wong, Dale T. Phillips, Stacy Longo,Rob Smales, and Vlad V.

This collection ranges from the humorous to the vengeful to the brutal to the calculated deadly. There’s vomiting demons, cheating spouses, serial killings, back-room justice, despair and sadness, innocent madness, and a post-apocalyptic deadly obstacle course. I really enjoyed the first Insanity Tales anthology but I think this one is a bit more diverse. My three favorites from this collection were Hooks,Spirit in the Stone, and The Devil’s in the Details, though Rape Kitdeserves a worthy mention.

Snow Day by David Daniel

Ed’s at a bar on a Thursday night about to head home. Normally he stays overnight in the city on Thursdays so he can get an early start at work on Friday and be home early for a long weekend. But it looks like snow is in the air and folks are hoping for a snow day. Liam, the bar tender, brings up the age-old question of whether size matters or not. Ed tells Liam a story about his grade school days: Susan liked to collect baseball cards –the more the better. Each individual one doesn’t matter. The size of her collection was what mattered to her. This story started off pretty innocently, letting me get all cozy within the telling, leading me by the hand down some dark alley of infidelity, handguns, and fancy lingerie. This was a good start to the anthology, getting the audience warmed up. And, yes, I did indeed like the running cliche of ‘size matters…. or not’ throughout the story. 5/5

The Book of Shadows by Rob Smales

James had his eyes operated on in his teen years, returning his sight. Now he lives out in the wilderness. A reporter, Carl, has tracked him down and wants a story about the serial killings. At first, James refuses to chat with him but Carl makes a strong argument for how he’ll get his story one way or the other. So James tells him his tale of how it all started, how he learned to interpret the shadows, and how it all went horribly wrong. Since the tale is told from the standpoint of the main character, I never questioned whether or not he was telling the truth about the shadows and his level of involvement in the deaths. Then we get to the ending and I have to wonder. James’s disturbed emotions over the foreshadowing shadows was quite clear and his horror, even terror at times, and eventual despair comes through clearly. 4/5

Voices by Dale T. Phillips

The story starts off with Chase Davis and his friend Marty at Rebecca’s graveside. Marty’s wife, Rebecca, was having an affair with Chase, who had wanted to call it off due to boredom but Rebecca was clingy. Marty misses her terribly and Chase is determined to keep his little secret so as not to devastate his best friend further. Yet Marty is certain he can find a way to communicate with the dead. All through this story I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Perhaps Marty knew about the affair all along or found out shortly after the funeral and now he wants to pull an elaborate, demented joke on Chase. However, there never is another shoe to drop. The story had a strong set up and then a whirlwind ending. In fact, I felt the ending was rather abrupt. 3/5

Nobody Ever Listens to Eddie by Stacey Longo

Eddie believes he has been psychic since he was a kid – his sister’s bike accident, his dad’s car, vomiting on the priest, that toad. So today is a big festive day and he has the worst feeling ever about the day. However, he’s reluctant to tell anyone about it. His sister Bev always finds a logical way to explain away his bad feeling. His wife Norma left him because of it as well. Will Eddie listen to his feelings today or finally set aside that side of him and try to have a normal day at the festivities? This was a fun, short piece. 4/5

Spirit in the Stone by Ursula Wong

This story flashes back and forth between the present (she’s spreading Joe’s ashes in the desert) and their past few years together. She’s always been a bit sad, but one day she meets Joe in a diner and they hit it off. He likes having someone to take care of and she likes being taken care of. Unfortunately, Joe gets sick. During the last days of his life he goes a little nuts and accuses her of poisoning him, of killing his 3rd grade teacher, etc. As she’s spreading his ashes, she finds some petroglyphs. She vaguely recalls a story that said spirits return to the rocks once their body passes. I really enjoyed this one. A bit mystical and yet everything can be explained by human nature. 5/5

Rape Kit by David Daniel

On a small campus in Pennsylvania, a 65 year old campus cop coordinates with his newest recruit, Roland, in dealing with the accusation of rape. They’ve taken care of all the immediate stuff and are waiting for the state police to show up. The old cop starts telling Roland stories of how such things were handled in the past prior to rape kits and forensic evidence. Plenty of food for thought in this one while dealing with a tough subject. 5/5

The Perfect Game by Rob Smales

Jimmy has been eagerly waiting for Joe and Charlie to return from their adventures in England. Joe shows up but he doesn’t look too good. Charlie still at Logan airport, waiting to be claimed by a family member. Joe tells Jimmy the lengthy story about a game of darts while they were in England and how it all went wrong. The dart game part took up the bulk of the story and I found it a bit boring. The surprise ending was a nice twist. 3.5/5

Hooks by Dale T. Phillips

Mr. Burrows lost his hands to an IED and now he has hooks. He feels they set him apart from society and he hates it. Even when people are kind, like giving him a free breakfast or such, he hates that too. One day he meets a nice lady and they spend hours talking before he reveals his hooks. She still likes him but is busy with school for a few weeks. He thinks she’s just letting him down easy. The story takes a much darker turn, showing how important (and perhaps deadly) it can be to self-identify as a predator instead of prey. I loved this one. It shined an eerie light on how disabled veterans are treated, even by well meaning folks, and a light on what those veterans might think of such pity. 5/5

The Devil’s in the Details by Stacey Longo

Tiffany is having a sleep-over at her house for her birthday. She’s invited the twins (Gretchen and Gerda), Allison (grammatical queen), and Julie. Tiffany received a Ouija board for her birthday and of course the girls have to try it out. Unfortunately, one of them makes the mistake of jokingly inviting a spirit to possess her body. Things change for her after that; some good, some bad. This one was quite fun and a bit light-hearted compared to the rest of the collection. It was cute and fun. I can see it as a start to a YA urban fantasy series. 5/5

Fly Away by Ursula Wong

Danny does his best to explain to his girlfriend Alice about his older sister Vega. She’s different and has spent the last several years at the Hampstead Home. Vega’s old room is full of ceramic birds, most in crazy colors. Now Vega is due to return home and Danny wants to meet her alone and introduce Alice a little later. But is reconnecting with Vega on the isolated farm really the best choice for Danny? This story started off strong. I like all the creepy bird imagery. The ending is a little abrupt and I could see it coming from the beginning. 4/5

Float by Vlad V.

This is a nitty, gritty, grimy, and sometimes slimy story. Set in the post-apocalyptic ruins of a large city (New Carthage), there’s still crime lords. Al Brunichelli wants his sister Adelina to at least marry an equal if not a little higher, perhaps allying his own crime organization with rival gang. Alas, Adelina has her eyes (and other body parts) set on Hector. He’s a low-level runner, and his skin isn’t white enough for Al. But they strike a deal. The biggest holiday of the year is coming up and that means the deadly float race is nearly upon them as well. Hector wants a float, and if he wins, then he gets Adelina. The float race is kind of like the thunderdome on big rubber water floats. There’s dirty tricks right, left, and center, and Hector has to figure a way through or under or over all of them. The competition is fierce and Al just might have added some extra dangers for Hector. I started off really liking this and it ended OK. I like the gritty feel to it and the dangerous float ride. However, there is only 1 woman and she is a prize to be won and she’s OK with that (a rather tired cliche). 4/5

I received a copy of this book at no cost (from the narrator) in exchange for an honest review.

Narration:  Fred Wolinsky did a really good job with this collection. InSpirit in the Stone, Wolinsky does a great job narrating the entire thing in a feminine voice. In Snow Day, Wolinsky had a little trouble with Liam’s Irish accent, but that’s my only negative comment on the narration. In The Devil’s in the Details, Wolinsky using special demon voice (gravelly) when the demon speaks and then he gave the voice a hollow echo for when the demon was speaking to his host in her own head.

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