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.

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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.

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:

Online Killers: Portraits of Murderers, Cannibals and Sex Predators Who Stalked the Web for Their Victims

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Authors: Christopher Berry-Dee and Steven Morris

My Rating: 4/5

I am giving this book the rating not based on the educational side of it, but more on the entertainment aspect. Entertainment may be an odd word to use in this case, but I’ve always had a morbid fascination with serial killers and sexual predators. I also happen to love and live on the internet, so the two went hand in hand for me.

This book is a bunch of of short stories, all connected by real life cases of murderers and predators logging online to seek out their victims.

The first short story is on cannibalism, so if you are assuming gruesome scenes will be skipped over or watered down, you will be sadly mistaken.

All in all, it is a fast paced and interesting read. Normally, I do not care much for short stories, but these ones were excellent.

Inside the Mind of BTK: The True Story Behind the Thirty-Year Hunt for the Notorious Wichita Serial Killer

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Authors: John Douglas and Johnny Dodd

My Rating: 2/5

A long title for a very long read. The book itself was only 336 pages, but reading this was frustrating and tough to finish.

The subject itself, is fascinating. It is a gruesome tale, and the book is filled with details about the case you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. This would be one of my favourite books ever, if it had been written by someone who was not so self-centred and arrogant. I haven’t read anything else by John Douglas, so I can’t say if all of his books have the same egotistical writing style like this one does, but this surely hit the mark of it making the book super annoying, despite the topic being very interesting.

If you can get past the “legendary FBI profiler” and his unnecessary personal details (i.e. I do not care what you were thinking about when you were making love to your wife,) you will learn a lot more information on BTK in this book than you ever could from the media.

Pretty Little Killers: The Truth Behind the Savage Murder of Skylar Neese

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Authors: Daleen Berry and Geoffrey C. Fuller

My Rating: 4/5

I first heard about the murder of Skylar Neese on a Dr. Phil episode. (Okay, don’t judge me, but I do watch a lot of Dr Phil.) So when I came across this book I already had a general idea what this was going to entail.

Continuing with my current obsession with true crime novels and underage murderers, this looked like another disturbing book to sink my teeth into.

I was correct. It was twisted, and a mystery of its own. What would drive two sixteen year old girls, Sheila Eddy and Rachel Shoaf, to kill their best friend? And when asked why they did it, the response was “We just didn’t want to be friends with her anymore.” Had there been an ulterior motive? The book has a possible answer to that question.

Pretty Little Killers is very creepy, unbelieveable and above all, sad. It really gives you a glance as to what happened through the eyes of the two teen killers.

I highly recommend this for anyone who heard about this case and would like to learn more about what happened. The book is very detailed and gives you a lot more information about what had happened, the families involved and the timeline of the events that occurred. As always, I also recommend it to people like me who find kid killers interesting.

Runaway Devil

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Authors: Robert Remington and Sherri Zickefoose

My Rating: 4/5

I’m a huge Deadly Women fan, and in one of their episodes called Forbidden Love, the show featured a twelve year old girl that killed her family with help from her twenty three year old boyfriend. I was creeped out but fascinated at the same time. The authors of Runaway Devil were featured on the show, so I knew there was a book written about the case, and there was no way I was going to pass on this bizarre, dark, true crime story.

It was strange, twisted and a page turner. I read it all in one sitting, something I rarely do. It explores the life of the twelve year old girl nicknamed “JR,” the events that led up to the murders and after.

In some ways I wish this was fiction, the book itself reads like fiction, and it had all the elements of a creepy, crime novel; but when you remind yourself this actually happened, it is startling. On the other hand, the fact it really did happen made me even more interested as to how and why this could happen. It is a good story, but it will leave you horrified, or at least uneasy.

I think people will hate or love this book, depending on what their preferences in true crime are. I happened to love it because I could not put the book down until the very end. I also happen to have a weird interest in child murderers.

I highly recommend this if you are looking for an odd, unique true crime book, or if you like crime novels but would like to branch out into the non-fiction side.