Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Movie Review: Tales of the Grim Sleeper

This is a documentary by Nick Broomfield.  Instead of focusing on the crimes themselves, he focuses on the society and its priorities and values that led the crimes to go on for so many years.

Lonnie Franklin is charged with the murders of 10 women dating back to the 1980s.  They suspect many more. 

One of the things I liked in this film, was an actual ex-prostitute was going along with them and talking to people who probably wouldn't have normally talked to two white guys from the UK.  Some who had survived encounters with Franklin.  Some who on first talking go on and on with the usual, he's a good guy bs that friends always say, but then later tell of things that they knew of (one talks about torture he WITNESSED that he referred to as Lonnie having fun with screwdrivers and women.  Grinning while he said it.  Another one saying that women should not get in a car with Lonnie that they don't get back out.  LAUGHING while saying it.,

It is those moments that make the film more horrifying.  The complete LACK of horror at what was done to those women or that their 'friend' could do such things.

The women talk of crack and what they would do for it and how he exploited it. It isn't always what they say, it is how they say it that conveys the hopelessness of the killing grounds and the disinterest of the media and law enforcement that led him to get away with it for so many years.

The saddest thing is that if his son hadn't been arrested and his DNA put in the system, triggering a familial match, he would probably still be free.

This is not a sensational film about a serial killer, it is a commentary on South LA and the bleakness that let this unfold.



Monday, April 27, 2015

TV Review: The Slap

I just finished watching the final episode of this short series. It had an amazing cast and premise.  During a backyard party, an unruly child is slapped by an adult who is not his parent.  The story is about the repercussions from this; legal and emotional on all the parties.
It is more than the story of what happened: it is the story of how it effects each individual and their relationships with others.  It is a story that makes you think.  Where do we draw boundaries?  What is okay and under what circumstances?  It makes you think about your feelings about what is deserved or not.  And you find yourself making judgments about the characters and their behaviors. 
Zachary Quinto plays Harry, the man who slapped the unruly child swinging a baseball bat at his own children while the child's parents are oblivious.  He is not a nice guy and IMO, not a likeable one.  But did I think he should go to jail for the situation?  That is the question isn't it?  I am still not sure of my answer.
And then there is the mother - Rosie.  I could not stand her.  All the while she was screaming and sobbing about the 'trauma' to her child, all I could think was it was her reaction that was intensifying the trauma.  And for all she was on and on about how it was about her poor son, it really seemed all about her...
Each episode focuses primarily on one person from the party, their perceptions, and their secrets and pasts and how they are relevant to the current situation they are faced with. 
What I liked most about the show is that the characters were rich and complex and nothing in the story was simple.  Including the way I reacted to it.  I think this is a great show for starting a dialog with.
And of course, it also is based on a book (which I have not read yet).  The style of the show makes me think of Jodi Picoult and the way she used many POVs in her books to get you to think about the issues.  So, now I am curious to read it and compare.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Review: A Dangerous Woman by Debra Lee

Fay Cunningham is a newspaper reporter taking a break from her stressed-out life.  After her good friend Joe's brother suddenly dies, she goes to visit him only to find a mysterious young woman who won't allow her to see him.  One thing Faye is though is determined.  After eventually finding Joe, she is not satisfied with the role that Angel plays in his life and does some digging.  Only then Fay is implicated in the murder of Joe's housekeeper Ethel and she feels her life is spinning around her.

This was a really good story with interesting characters, but not I am afraid, the best mystery. Very little misdirection or shady alternative suspects. Still, I did enjoy it for the story it was. 

I also have to say, I loved the cover!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: Pride v. Prejudice by Joan Hess


Hardback cozy mystery series

Claire Malloy has once again attracted trouble. This time it's trouble that comes with jury duty. She was willing to do her part but
the prosecutor doesn't like Claire's husband (Peter Rosen), and by his way of thinking Claire will not serve on the jury.

The worst part is that Sarah Swift, will not have a fair trial. Prosecutor Wessell is convinced that she in cold bloodshot her husband. Her husband Tuck was shot in the barn and while others heard the shot from the shotgun Sarah did not hear it. She had a book club meeting that night (this wasn't much of a book club. The women got together to drink, snack and complain about their husbands.

She had a lot to drink and says she didn't hear a thing. Her lawyer ha only been out of law school for two years. Claire knows the woman needs  her, as does her daughter, husband because his mother is coming to visit for the first time. This is just the beginning of trouble on all fronts and a full plate.

I loved PRIDE v. PREJUDICE , Claire has landed herself into a current murder case that in turn leads to a most wanted retro murder case. This doesn't include a church group like no other, blueberries, a dog chasing her up a tree, which leads to her taking off more clothing than the local protect and serve would rather not shine a light on. Peter is kept busy with the FBI, Caron and her best gal pal (Inez) are arrested for breaking and entering (they like good teens didn't rat out their mother), and the list goes on an on. Did I mention that Sarah Swift is no angel?

I have to say this mystery is filled with nary a dull moment. I wanted refrain from answering my door because I might find a kooky character or a deranged mom of a teen on the other side. It truly is filled with laughs and I enjoyed every page.

Joan Hess is once again the best of the best and the series is delightful not to mention in this case quite educational. ********
nine out of ten stars.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Review: Hello, Love by Karen McQuestion

  • File Size: 2159 KB
  • Print Length: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (September 16, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J8U1H3M

Dan and his daughter Lindsay are grieving over the loss of Christine (wife and mother), when their dog Anni is stolen from in front of their house. They struggle through more loss while trying to maintain hope.  All this, while Dan's friends try and get him to resume living and get out and meet people.

Meanwhile, Andrea finds a dog being abused in one of the properties she manages and steals her from the abusers. Also, after a messy divorce, she is struggling to find her own voice and place in life.  After a attending a spiritual retreat with a friend, where she sent out a message requesting love in her life, she wonders if the unconditional love of Anni is what she received instead.

Yes, we all know this is the same dog and all the players' paths indirectly cross until the time comes when they realize Andrea's Anni is Dan and Lindsay's Anni.

It is a fun book though - A bit of Comedy of Errors and hints at future romance. Still, a feel-good story that is quite enjoyable!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guest Blog - Alice Duncan

Two Books, a Book Cover, and a Crash

April will be a banner month for two of my heroines. Daisy Gumm Majesty will make her eighth (it’s actually her ninth, but who’s counting?) appearance in SPIRITS ONSTAGE, which will be available for all e-book formats and in trade paperback on April 4. In this outing, Daisy is more or less forced to take a part in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta, The Mikado. She’s not happy, and she’s even more unhappy when folks begin to drop dead. SPIRITS ONSTAGE is already available for Kindle, so I’ll give that link:

Then Mercy Allcutt spends a challenging almost-week with her parents in their new mansion in Pasadena. Mercy is horrified that her ghastly Boston parents have actually bought a home in Pasadena, but she’s more horrified when her mother commands her attendance at the family Thanksgiving dinner. Daisy Gumm Majesty puts in an appearance in THANKSGIVING ANGELS. Even before Thanksgiving arrives, someone falls from the Allcutts’ fancy wrought-iron balcony railing and lands, splat, on the parquet flooring below. Mrs. Allcutt demands that Mercy call Ernie Templeton to solve the crime.

I also received the charming cover art for Daisy’s next adventure, UNSETTLED SPIRITS, which will be available in December (providing I can finish it. Naw. I can finish it):

And then, as sort of a last gasp to the month of March, 2015, since there hadn’t already been enough excitement in my life, someone driving a blue Hyundai drove (probably drunk) into my fence. Just try getting people to give you estimates for fixing fences if you live in Roswell, New Mexico. Go ahead. I dare you. Sigh. Oh, and we know it was a blue Hyundai because great big parts of it were left behind in the rubble.

April will be awash in medical stuff for me, which I’m kind of looking forward to because I want to know what’s wrong with me and how to fix it.

Winners of last month’s contest for SPIRITS REVIVED are Ella N. Strattis and Shirley Orio. Congrats, ladies. I’ll send your books ASAP.

If you’d like to be entered into this month’s contest, during which I’ll be giving away Kindle or Nook copies of SPIRITS ONSTAGE and hard copies (two of them) of THANKSGIVING ANGELS, just send me your name and home address at

If you’d like to visit my woefully out-of-date web site (gotta get on that!), the URL is and if you’re interested in being Facebook friends, please visit


Review: Blotto, Twinks and the Intimate Review by Simon Brett

Blotto and his friend go see  Light and Frothy;   a new popular show and his friend falls for the star of the show.  After his friend is k...