For Whom the Belle Tolls

Hell’s Princess by Harold Schechter is the well-researched story of the mystery of Belle Gunness, a butcher of men. I note that she was “a” butcher of men, not “the” butcher of men or even the title without an article. Belle was a serial killer, one of many in history and to date. She was notable for several reasons. She was “she;” female serial killers were and are disproportionately few compared to males. Women nurtured; they did not “knock people off.” Second, Belle was unusually cruel in her kill methods and selection of targets. They were not strangers; her victims were husbands, lovers, and included her own children. Finally, she operated in a time and environment that we look back upon from the present day as a time of innocence, a closely interactive environment where people trusted the common good in each other, where such things just didn’t happen.

Let the Games Begin

Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom is, from the author’s point of view, a true account of one woman’s remarkable ability to see opportunity and innovatively carve her own empire out of a niche previously dominated by males. Many of the males were hustlers, conmen, professional poker players, and members of criminal enterprises such as the Mafia or the Russian Mob. While male members of the mentioned groups all seem to have shadowy or incomplete backgrounds with little regard for anything described as a moral compass, Bloom decided to take a higher road. She did not employ criminal enforcers to collect a player debt. She did not resort to vicious gossip strategies to destroy the reputations of reluctant payers. She took a more relaxed, feminine approach. She simply cut off their rights to play. Sounds like a stern Mommy figure.

Stop Denying It

How can I pass up a book with a title The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head by Gary Small, M.D., and Gigi Vorgan? The letters M.D. give me some assurance I hadn’t landed on a weird porn site and I really wanted to see what was behind this title. Then I encountered my second problem. The subtitle tells me these are anecdotes, cases, or stories by a psychiatrist. Isn’t there some sort of confidentiality between a doctor and patient? This is especially true in the case of a psychiatrist where the treatment almost demands revelations of dark personal secrets. This book might discourage me from seeking counseling or treatment if I had to worry that I might be talking to an aspiring writer. I was initially put off by the idea that the stories violated patient privacy. I decided to only read enough to know the story behind the title.

All Hell the Orange in Chief

This is a repost from True, I could have just posted the link and asked folks to click on it but, for your convenience, just scroll down a bit. The link furnished is my way of acknowledging the excellent work below is not mine.
For technical reasons beyond me, and most are, I can’t get a reblog button at the bottom of posts I like to actually reblog. I click, the blue circle spins, I get an acknowledgement of reblog, but nothing ever appears or lands at this site. So, I copy/cut and paste (with credit given).

All the banners below are safe enough for work (SEFW) and should offend none except the hardcore base. You know who you are. I mean the hardcore political base not the other hardcore sites which occupy a majority of the internet. I’m sure any similarity between the two is unintentional.

When a Man is a Woman

The Whip by Karen Kondazian is a work of historical fiction with a heavy slant on the historical part. Charley and Charlotte Parkhurst are one and the same despite outward appearances signaling a gender difference. Charlotte recognized from childhood that there were two worlds; one for men, one for women. Men seemed to inhabit a world with considerably more freedom, bound only by the choices they made and the consequences that followed. In Charlotte’s opinion, a woman’s world was one of only consequences that followed choices usually made by men. This story takes place between 1815 and 1880. Of course, today the world has no such inequality. Charlotte’s choice to proceed in life as a man was a result of horrible events that happened to her and a desire for revenge toward the man that had brutalized her and her family. On her journey to achieve revenge, Charley’s choice was to live as a man while she worked as a “Whip,” the person who drove a stagecoach, expertly guiding and instructing the teams of horses so they worked in unison. Charley didn’t use the whip to beat or punish horses; she (he) used it to defend the horses from snakes and wild animals as she touched the horses lightly in combination with pulls on the reins to indicate desired travel directions.

Best History in Its Genre

Many readers probably pass up a read such as Abraham Lincoln A Life From Beginning to End by the group Hourly History. Everyone knows the story of Abraham Lincoln, right? So why read more? I identified two reasons for me to read this work. First, there is always the possibility that I do not possess perfect memory and even worse, I may not have gotten it right in the first place. Second, Abraham Lincoln is only one in a huge collection that is known as Hourly History. I have read several of them and they vary in quality as is invariable with books written by groups or committees. Some are so good that I tried to find the author’s name so I could read more by the same author. I have been unsuccessful. I don’t know whether this is a policy of the group or not, so I won’t reveal the name on the email requesting a review of this work.

There are two parts to this review. One part is about Honest Abe. The other is my thoughts on Hourly History.

UBUD Readers and Writers Festival

Hotel Bali in Ubud by wendysaputra11 at Pixabay

Today I want to focus not on a book review but on a festival dedicated to Writers and Readers (note the pretentious caps) held annually in Ubud, just a stone’s throw away from Bali, Indonesia. Writers looking for another networking link, avid readers who like to be in the company of other avid readers, autograph seekers, and people (not from Indonesia) who have money and time to burn should consider this highly entertaining five-day diversion from routine. Of course, this is a nice event for Indonesian people and gives Indonesian authors a chance to shine. But the event is not one price for all. Forgetting about airfare for a moment, there are lower event prices for Indonesian nationals, students, foreign residents of Indonesia, and other specially designated groups. Google “UBUD” in conjunction with Writers and Readers Festival and you can sign up for a newsletter that may arrive in your inbox fortnightly up to the event.

Sexual Predator Lawyer

Rogue Divorce Lawyer by Dale E. Manolakas will appeal to readers on three levels. Published in January 2018, this novel adds another element to discussions about sexual crimes against females. Who do victims go to for redress? Lawyers. But don’t go to this lawyer or any of the colleagues he met on a regular basis to discuss (brag about?) clients. Second, this is a novel based on true events. In the preface, an appellate court case number is cited in support of factual elements. The fictional element comes in when Manolakas details what may have been the thoughts and rationalizations of lawyer Gary Stockton. They follow logically from his actions but who can know what goes on in the mind of people? There may have been thoughts much darker than those portrayed in this work. Third, the title will appeal to any readers who have had unfortunate experiences with lawyers. Depending on the length of time spent on the planet, that is a large number of people.


I am not sure what the title of this novel is. It might be Roman Collar Crime: Violated by Charles Utter. The subtitle explains the title, “the transgressions of a small-town priest.” The most accurate genre classification I found is historical fiction. Although based on a true story, readers will note that Utter goes inside the mind of Joe Brennan and details how an imagined satanic being groomed Brennan to advance the causes of evil under the disguise of religious instruction and behavior. There are factual statements in this absorbing account of the near dissolution and ruin of a small town but statements such as the following earn the fiction label. “He (Joe Brennan) had made a deal with the devil and had chosen wealth and power over God.” (p. 72).

The Beast I Loved by Robert Davidson is a non-fiction horror account of spousal abuse. As the subtitle clearly states, it is “A Battered Woman’s Desperate Struggle to Survive.” Published in 2018, in the preface the author provides a context for the book’s publication with an account of the TIME OUT movement in December 2017. This book doesn’t need a context to report the understated horrors of this case that drew national attention in 1996; the actions described remain always horrible, criminal, and a crime against humanity no matter the current attention paid to developing social trends. Davidson points out that this book focuses on the important attention paid to the narrower phenomena of Battered Women’s Syndrome expressed through “learned helplessness.” As if the horrors June Briand were not terrible enough in their own right, she was then abused further by a slow-moving near non-responsive justice system when she was imprisoned for taking extreme measures while attempting to survive and protect her children. In the sense that this novel contributes to the overall movement for increased empowerment for women in a search for equality, this is a novel of social justice. Readers will discover that this novel has its own niche and stands alone in a genre of non-fiction domestic abuse horror.