To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Kids from Online Enemies Already in Your Home

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Author: Chris Hansen (duh!)

My Rating: 4/5

 

Dateline’s To Catch a Predator has always been a classic guilty pleasure of mine. To this day, I still rewatch the episodes on YouTube. While the technology used in the show is basically outdated nowadays, the humour is always golden. I figured since Predator is Chris Hansen’s magnum opus of journalism, he probably wrote a book on the subject as well. I was right. I eagerly ordered this book off amazon and was not disappointed.

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Like the television show, this book is light and entertaining. Let me clarify that: the subject matter is, of course, far from light, but the writing and organization of this book is much easier to read over many other true crime books I have read in the past. Like the show, the technology the book contains is pretty much outdated. (Unless tons of people still use Yahoo chatrooms, but I think all the kids are with the smartphone apps nowadays)

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One of my favourite lines from the show

 

The book contains situations and scenes from the show, but also gives you a more behind-the-scenes look into the production and execution.

I really enjoyed this book mostly because like the show, I love seeing these asshole predators being questioned on the spot by Chris Hansen and stammering as they get caught in their own lies.

I gave this book 4/5 stars because it is an important look how easily online predators can find kids, but also how much extra information Chris Hansen includes in the book that you wouldn’t have known from just watching the show.

I would’ve given this 5/5 stars, but I felt many of the scenes were just repeated and retold from the show.

Apart from that, an excellent book to to consider reading if you enjoy the genre of True Crime and of course, if you have watched the tv show as well.

 

(I’m just going to leave these here as well:)

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The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World

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Author: Nancy Jo Sales

My Rating: 5/5

My favourite movie director is without a doubt, Sofia Coppola. (I loved her Marie Antoinette and The Virgin Suicides; my two favourite movies of all time.) Learning she recently directed a film starring Emma Watson kind of made it impossible to turn it down. At the time, it was on YouTube, but a couple of days after I watched the movie, it had been taken down. I’d just like to say that the soundtrack for Coppola’s Bling Ring, was epic. Also, Emma Watson starring in it was a gift from the heavens, god bless.

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*Swoons*

The movie trailer.

Anyways, a few weeks passed and while in the Bargain Books section of McNally Robinson, I stumbled across The Bling Ring…the book edition. It was written by the same author who wrote the article that Ms Coppola based her film on.

Let me just start off by saying the book is a very light and has a teenage-magazine kind of vibe. It certainly is not a great piece of literature, but that is why I liked it. It felt like I was reading a reality tv show instead of watching one, which was a new experience for me.

In case you are not familiar with “The Bling Ring,” it is a story about a gang of teenagers who broke into the homes of Hollywood’s rich and famous back in 2008-2009. They robbed Paris Hilton’s house multiple times, and stole Orlando Bloom’s Rolex watches.

The teenagers themselves, are very self-absorbed and Hollywood obsessed kids. This made them feel like any ordinary group of spoilt rich kids trying to reach A-list fame through a ridiculous avenue.

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Above: The Hollywood portrayals.

Below: The Real Bling Ring.

The book itself, was engrossing. I gave it 5 stars for that reason. The Bling Ring has a fairly low rating on Goodreads, and I can understand why. The book feels chopped into multiple articles; but I feel given the story, the style worked.

While the real kids above really did break into Hollywood’s rich and famous (including Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, Megan Fox, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom and Audrina Patridge, to name a few,) I kind of felt myself cheering them on.

Obviously, there is nothing right about breaking into people’s homes. But when you find out how much designer crap Hollywood stars have, you can’t help but not feel any sympathy for them.

ESPECIALLY given the celebrities never turned their alarm systems on and Paris Hilton left her friggin house key under her welcome mat!!! I shit you not, this is how the Bling Ring kids got into her mansion multiple times. While every celebrity mansion had a high-tech security system, none of them were turned on. Some of the doors weren’t even LOCKED! Dude, I’m sorry, but if you don’t even bother to lock your doors, what do you expect would happen?

The Bling Ring had the assumption that since these celebs had so much materialistic things, if the Bling Ring only took some stuff, the home owners probably wouldn’t notice. And you know what? They were right. They robbed Paris Hilton multiple times before she discovered she was a victim of the infamous Bling Ring.

I’ll be given crap for this, but I really have no sympathy for Paris Hilton or the other celebrities they robbed. (I won’t give out any spoilers as to what happens in the end.) All I can say is I didn’t find them terrible criminals. This may be because most of my True Crime reading involves murderers. They were just thieves; stealing from people who honestly could do just fine with a fraction of what they own.

What I took away from this story is really how much the Hollywood elite has. The Bling Ring stole millions of dollars of jewelry along with tons of designer clothes and accessories with none of their victims noticing in the beginning. They have THAT much designer crap.

The ultimate 1%.

The characters were vain, narcissistic at times, but hey, I think the celebrities they robbed deserved it to some degree.

I also have to give these kids credit for actually having the guts to pull these robberies off.

And hey, they kind of got what they always wanted, they got their 15 minutes of fame in the end.

I recommend this True Crime story to people who like trashy Hollywood stories, rebellious partying teenagers and just generally can’t stand Paris Hilton and her stupidity.

No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine

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Authors: Brooks Brown and Rob Merritt

My Rating: 5/5

 

Columbine. One of the worst and well known school shootings in North America. Years later, the same question still lingers: Why?

Brooks Brown and Rob Merritt attempt to explain some of the reasons what could have led the two high school seniors (Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold,) to plan and take out a massacre at their very own high school before turning the guns on themselves.

Like the title states, there are “no easy answers,” as to what caused the boys to commit such a crime, but I found this book to be very informative and compelling.

If you’ve seen any Columbine documentaries, chances are you have seen Brooks Brown being interviewed. He was not only just a student at Columbine at the time of the massacre, but also a childhood best friend to one the shooters, Dylan Klebold. Brooks also had a long history with Eric Harris.

I honestly feel this is one of the best true crime novels I have ever read. Some of it does have to due with the fact that the authors knew the shooters personally; but most of it was because of Brooks being able to recount the warning signs the boys displayed before the shooting  as well as explaining the truth about the bullying in Columbine and what it was like to be an outcast (like Eric and Dylan.)

There are so many theories as to “why” Eric and Dylan did what they did. Some claim it’s the graphic and grotesque video games that kids are playing these days. Some say it’s the obscene musical lyrics that blast on the radio now. Others say it’s the easy access to guns.

In my opinion, something so complex as teenagers being motivated to shoot up their school and committing suicide afterwards would never be driven be a single factor. We may never know what exactly was going through the minds of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold as they planned out their killing spree. Then again, maybe that is just why this case has been talked about for so long. Almost two decades later and people are still trying to look for answers. There may be answers, but they certainly will not be “easy.” In the end, all we can do now is speculate and wonder.

The Fifties: A Women’s Oral History

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Author: Brett Harvey

My Rating: 5/5

This is an incredible collection of unique stories told by different American women who all were coming-of-age in the 50’s. I knew very little about the 50’s before I read this book. I had a naive assumption that the fifties was the “golden age” of families. I guess thinking Leave it To Beaver was the average 50’s family was a stupid assumption to have, on my part.

In reality, behind the awesome cars and colourful clothing, the 50’s was an incredibly difficult time for women. Each woman interviewed in this book talks about the societal and peer pressures they felt as they were figuring out what the wanted their lives to be. (Aka: If you’re a women, you go to college, get married and then settle down and have kids.) While this book does feature women who tried to go against the flow, such as attending graduate school, each run into the same sexist, financial and/or racist struggles. With the already obvious financial issues and peer pressure, most admitted to falling back on the traditional marriage and family route. I was quite saddened by this, as many of these women were incredibly gifted and intelligent. I’m not saying they were “less” by becoming wives and mothers, but it is sad that they couldn’t reach their full potential in those areas, whether it was academics or their preforming arts dreams.

There was so much more pressure back then for women to be the same when it came to their futures. Each women discussed pregnancy (or their incredibly fear of it,) abortion and general reproductive rights. Each rather had nearly no knowledge or went through very sketchy and painful procedures.

What I especially loved about this book was that black and lesbian women were featured, not just straight white women.

Brett Harvey really covered every area of being an American coming-of-age woman in the fifties.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in Women’s Studies and/or 19 century history.

Let the Right One In

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Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist

My Rating: 5/5

To sum up this book review in one sentence it would have to be that this is a real vampire novel.

Not meaning to bash Twihards, but this is what I would consider to be an excellent vampire story. (So no sparkling vampires or everyone falling head over heels in love with a girl that has virtually no personality.)

This is a vampire story that is raw, creepy and chilling. (With no Mary Sue protagonist, thank God.) Let the Right One In is not by any means for children or young teens. The novel covers issues such as bullying, pedophilia, prostitution, alcoholism and drug use, despite the fact our main characters are twelve years old. (Or have been twelve for a long time.) And do not think that these issues are simply glossed over, they are very detailed and incredibly disturbing.

The story itself was a a quick page turner for me and I didn’t find there to be any fluff or fillers. A truly classic horror story.

Let the Right One In is one of those books that clings onto you for a few days after you finish reading it; it is just that haunting.

I absolutely loved it, 5/5 hands down. This book is also in my Top 10 for best books I ever read, ever.

Seriously, I can’t highly recommend it enough.

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Or if you are more of a movie person, there are two movie adaptions, the original Swedish version and the American version. Watch the Swedish one, the settings are better and the actors are more talented and portray their characters very well.

Here is a really good clip, one of my favourite scenes:

Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth

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My Rating: 4/5

Author: Jenny McCarthy

I have Tokophobia, the fear of pregnancy and childbirth. I also happen to be a huge fan of gross and disturbing subject matter, so this book looked like a good creepy read for me.

Boy, was I right. While it was humorous and on the short side, Jenny McCarthy doesn’t skip any embarrassing or gross experiences she went through during her pregnancy. I would highly not recommend this to anybody who recently found out they were pregnant for the first time, Belly Laughs may make any first-time-pregnant woman freak out and have nightmares.

Belly Laughs is light, funny and almost like you are talking to your best friend on the subject of their pregnancy. It’s hardly a book for advice or medical information, but still, an enjoyable read.

Belly Laughs hasn’t swayed or changed my decision on not having children myself, but I find pregnancy and childbirth itself, very fascinating, and this was a very cute read.

Bathory: Memoir of a Countess

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My Rating: 5/5

Author: A. Mordeaux

If you are looking for a historically fact-based biography on Erzsebet Bathory (pronounced Elizabeth Bathory,) for an essay or school project, this is without a doubt, not the book for you.

However, if you are looking for a scandalous, fast paced, erotic and incredibly dark story, I can not recommend Bathory any higher. I absolutely loved this book, and was sad when I finished reading it. I already know this will be one of the books I will be rereading for a long time to come, it is just absolutely amazing.

I am assuming this is one of those books that you will rather love it or hate it. I happened to fall in love with it, a historically accurate memoir, but also reads like excellent fiction. I could just not put it down.

The Countess has been accused of torturing and murdering more than 600 people, including children, so that alone will make many people dislike Bathory based on the subject matter. There are a lot of descriptive erotic and torture scenes, so I am strongly discouraging this book to anybody who dislikes creepy, disturbing and gruesome topics.

On the other hand, If you are into serial killers, lust, dark and twisted people, you simply cannot pass on Bathory.   

Or if you are more of a movie person, check out this creepy half hour documentary on Erzsebet Bathory: