Reign’s Rape Problem

Very interesting article by The Belle Jar on the TV show Reign.

The Belle Jar

TW for rape

When I first heard about the CW show Reign, I knew that it was going to be my next guilty pleasure. A young Mary Stuart and her ladies-in-waiting living with Catherine de’Medici in Renaissance France? Yes please. Court intrigue and awkward teenage romance? Yes please. Weird pagans in the woods and flower crowns and a murderous queen and a (very anachronistically hot and young) Nostradamus? DOUBLE YES PLEASE. PASS THE FLOWER CROWNS, SON, I’M IN.

I talked my friend into watching it with me, and by the end of the first episode we were both hooked. We would make a ritual out of it – order a pizza, get a bottle of wine, and then sit down to make fun of plot holes and not-very-historically-accurate clothing and overblown teenage FEELINGS for an hour. But as much as we giggled over the poor life choices of the characters, and as…

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John Wayne: The Life and Legend

John Wayne: The Life and LegendJohn Wayne: The Life and Legend by Scott Eyman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I won  John Wayne:The life and Legend, published by Simon and Schuster, written by Scott Eyman, after entering a giveaway on Goodreads. I was raised on John Wayne movies and was excited to get the chance to read and review this book.

This is a lovely hardcover book, with a black and white photo of a young, strong, John Wayne on the cover. The cover is inviting. It is a wonderful, well designed cover. Kudos to Simon and Schuster for a great outside product.

The book starts with a prologue in which the author tells the reader the ‘best’ Wayne movies. This comes across more of an opinion of the author, than as fact and is insulting to the reader. Anyone who is a fan of John Wayne, has a favorite movie. By having the author say that out of the over 169 movies, only 15 movies are the “best”, was irritating. I muttered “who says?” while I was reading this.

The first few chapters held my attention with detailed information covering John Wayne’s childhood and school years. Including, his stint in College. After that, with each chapter, I found less and less of the information interesting.

Each chapter has a black and white photo of Wayne, along with a quote from someone at the bottom before the text on the following page. I enjoyed viewing the photographs and reading the quotes.

Most of the time,through-out the book, the writing is muddled with opinions, by the author, on just about every subject, from movies, to Wayne’s thoughts and deeds. There are a ton of long-winded, detailed reviews of the movies by the author, that I rushed over just to get them over with. I, for one, did not want to read an opinion or critic review of a movie, in a book about John Wayne. I wanted to read more about his life and less about what the author thought about his movies. The constant reviewing caused me to start and stop the novel several times. I found myself sifting through the text to find the facts about his life and leaving the rest.

This book had the potential to be so much more.

Scott Eyman, appears to have done his research. He has included letters and interviews with several famous directors, actors and family. There are snippets of information about John Wayne’s life that are amazing to read. It is because of these and the wonderful cover, I give it two stars. If only the author had left his personal opinion out of it, I believe this would have been a great read.

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Brutal Youth. A must read for anyone with children!

Brutal YouthBrutal Youth by Anthony Breznican
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“It was nothing.” he said. “Just kids stuff.” ~Davidek, Brutal Youth.

Brutal youth is filled with the harsh realities of “just kid stuff”. It is also filled with the even harsher reality that this “just kid stuff” molds and forms into “Just adult stuff.” What we learn as children becomes who we are as adults.

I received Anthony Breznican’s new novel Brutal Youth, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, after winning an Advance Reading Copy from a Giveaway on Goodreads in May 2014. The back cover caught my eye and I have been hooked ever since. The focus of the story surrounds a Catholic School, three freshman and the hazing they endure at the hands of their upperclassmen and teachers.

The reader is drawn into the novel with a violent opening story that could have happened in any school, in any hometown, in any state. The reader follows the three freshman as they try to navigate through the twisted and hate filled halls of St. Michael the Archangel High School.

The novel is an easy read. The language is simple and inviting. The novel is not filled with fluff. Anthony Breznican will tear your heart out one minute and have you eating it for breakfast the next. During which time, you will be laughing, crying and thanking him.

At first glance, the reader may think this book is geared toward the Young Adult crowd. It is more than that. Adults will find themselves thrown into their own memories of High school after reading this book.

This book should be read by every teenager, teacher, medical professional and parent. It should also be on the required reading list in High School. The novel puts the reader in the ring with the bullies and those that suffer at the hands of them. It also shows, in order to survive in this culture, you risk becoming what you hate.

After you read this novel, please pass it on to a teenager, or parent or teacher. There are lessons to be learned.

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Calling all Jack the Ripper Fans.

Jack the Ripper: The Forgotten VictimsJack the Ripper: The Forgotten Victims by Paul Begg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a must have for any Ripperologist. Written by Paul Begg and John Bennett and published by Yale University Press it is a welcome addition to the numerous books out there about Jack the Ripper. This book not only touches on the subject of the ‘canonical five’ but on other murders and slayings which had a strong resemblance to Jack the Ripper’s accused crimes.

The authors do a great job of providing clear information regarding other murders of women in and around London and how they may relate to Jack the Ripper. Many of these ‘lost’ women are overlooked when it comes to the famous murders. It is possible, according to the authors, that these other murders were products of the mystery killer, Ripper, or someone who was a fan of Ripper.

Each chapter focuses on a different, lesser known murder around the same time of the Ripper murders. The authors provide a picture of London in disarray, poverty, and panic. It gives life to women who would have been forgotten.

This book also contains stories of murders from around the world that were either attributed to Ripper or similar to the murders committed in London.

Inside the book are several black and white photos and drawings relating to the murders.

The authors have included as much detail as possible for each woman. This is a very graphic book and not for anyone who has a weak stomach.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in information about Jack the Ripper, the culture of London in 1888 and the lost victims of this time.

(Thank you to Goodreads, 1st reads giveaway, Yale University Press, and the authors Paul Begg and John Bennett for providing me with the opportunity to read this book. I won this book after entering a Goodreads, 1st reads giveaway, July,1 2014.)

C.L. Hailey.

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Driving with the Top Down: A Novel. Book Review.

Driving with the Top Down: A NovelDriving with the Top Down: A Novel by Beth Harbison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brutally Honest. This book rocks!

I won Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison, after entering a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. The book is published by St. Martin’s Press.

As I said, this book is brutally honest. The book follows two woman in their 30’s and one 16 year-old girl on a strange road trip. Colleen Bradley, the married, mother of one, with a small business on the side, decides to take a road trip. She is having a small mid-life crisis and needs to take a break, while her husband and son go on a ‘boy’s trip’ for a week or so. Right before she is set to leave, her husband asks her to take his niece, 16 year-old Tamara, along because his brother has to go out of town. Tamara is damaged goods. Weed smoking, drinking and all around bad girl, Colleen is less than eager to take her along. Other than a heated disagreement over a Facebook post, the two have not spoken. Colleen dreads it, but agrees to take her along. Once on the road, the two are accosted by a sick-o in a semi-truck and they take the next exit on the highway to get away from him. The exit just happens to be for the town Colleen went to college at. It has a great diner and they stop for some home-cooked, greasy, southern food. While at the diner they run into Colleen’s ex-best friend from college, who is having a crisis of her own. After circumstances make them pile into the old worn out convertible of Collen’s, the three set out on a wild trip down the east coast to Florida. All the while, coming to terms with their own personal demons.

This book is raw, personal, truthful and so much fun. It is also dark, and very real. Beth Harbison tackles real issues in her novel many women face every day. She brings to light the darkness, and heartache that go along with bad choices, fate and destiny with grace. She also gives the reader a sense of hope when everything else fails.
The only issue with this novel is that it could be a trigger for some people who have been abused, or are depressed. Do not let this keep you from reading this amazing story.

This is the first novel I have read from author Beth Harbison and I will be searching for more of her books. I started the book yesterday and finished it this morning. It is that good. Driving with the Top Down is more than just ‘chick lit’, as some would call it. It is a lesson in what it means to be a woman, mother and human in this crazy messed up world. I recommend giving this book to your mother, sister, daughter or best friend.

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A World Elsewhere: An American Woman in Wartime Germany

A World Elsewhere: An American Woman in Wartime GermanyA World Elsewhere: An American Woman in Wartime Germany by Sigrid MacRae
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To start off, I won an AUP of A World Elsewhere: An American Woman in Wartime Germany(softcover) by Sigrid MacRae after entering a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.
This novel is a memoir of a family in Germany before, during and after WWII. This novel is written by one of the younger children who never knew her father.
The novel also shows the reader a view point of A German military officer during WWII and the reasons he joined with Hitler against the Russians. I found this to be very interesting because, most history is written by the winners and the losers are often portrayed in an unjust light.
After the death of her husband, the Countess and her 6 children must learn how to survive in war torn Germany. Her struggle is amazing and horrible. This story is not just about Hitler or even who was right or wrong. It is a snap shot of what happens in war to those left behind. The daily the struggle to survive,to gather food, clothing and to have a roof to sleep under at night brings us a picture of the effects of war. It is a great human story of one woman’s fight to keep her family safe, alive and together.
I wish there would have been more photographs since, they are hinted at in the book. Also, at times, the background and stories about the war are jumbled and can lead to some confusion for the reader.
Overall, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys memoirs and history.
A big thank you to the Author, publisher and Goodreads for allowing me to read this inspiring work!

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A Room for Another Heart Review.

Room for Another HeartRoom for Another Heart by Yvonne C. Hebert
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I won a signed paperback copy of Room for Another Heart by Yvonne C. Herbert, MA after entering a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads.

This book is short and easy to read. It is “set in the Northern Michigan Manistee Forest,” per the back cover.

The setting is what drew me to this book. The book focuses on a recently widowed woman and her struggles after her husband’s death in the Iraq war. She lives on a farm and decides to start boarding the dogs of soldiers.

What I liked about the book.

I enjoyed the animal stories, the setting and the tone of the story. This book is easy to read in a few settings, which makes it the perfect book for a short trip or weekend read. I enjoyed the black and white photo’s. They were a wonderful surprise. The story flowed steadily along and was easy to keep up with. The story about the bear, was my favorite part. I was able to visualize the setting without any problems. The author did a great job of describing the setting for the reader.

What I did not like about the book.

The first thing which bothered me, was the author’s use of her Master title. To some, this may seem petty on my part, if so, disregard this part of my review. I really do not care if an author has a Master in Psychology when I am reading a fiction book which does not have anything to do with her degree. I applaud the author’s dedication to learning and her career, but it seemed a little like ‘hey look at me’. The 2nd thing I did not like about the book, it felt restrained. As if, the author was holding back the story. I really wish there would have been more back story on Tom, her new love interest, as well. Overall, this story was predictable.

I will look for more stories from this author. A big thank you again goes out to the author, and Goodreads for allowing me to read this work. Thank you, Yvonne C. Herbert for signing my copy.

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