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The Stranger Beside Me – Book Review

“For Ted has gone through life terribly crippled, like a man who is deaf, or blind, or paralyzed.  Ted has no conscience. “Conscience doth make cowards of us all,” but conscience is what gives us our humanity, the factor that separates us from animals.  It allows us to love, to feel another’s pain, and to grow”. – Ann Rule, Author of The Stranger Beside Me.

I watched the Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix before reading this book, and I don’t consider myself one of his crazy fan girls that would have gone to his trials.  I am mostly just fascinated how a human being could have zero remorse, or any feelings whatsoever relating to all the innocent lives he took.

Aside from this book being about Ann Rule’s friendship with Theodore Robert Bundy,  it’s safe to say it has a lot of other important themes too. For example, the ability of trust and the importance of it, and how easily we as humans can be blindsided because of it.  Not only in relationships with people, but trust of a complete stranger. Additionally, she talks a lot about forgiveness and loyalty, especially through Ted’s point of view. And towards the end she discusses the death penalty (capital punishment), and how that was an important political issue during his trial in Florida.

She starts with a little bit of history about Ted’s childhood, adolescence, and his mother’s predicament, in that she had to give birth to Ted in a house for unmarried women (something along those lines).  His mother had to move away and pretend that Ted was her little brother, thanks to the judgmental society of the 1940’s. Anyway, he was considered an outsider, and not one of the ‘popular’ kids. As an adult he soon made up for what he lacked as an adolescent, and became handsome and charming.  He made friends easily and was actually a good listener and provided comfort, based on how Ann Rule described him. The point is, he became trustworthy, and I think he used this trait to his advantage, obviously! He had friends and family who trusted him, and he was easily trusted by strangers, to no fault of their own.

He also convinced his friends and lovers into somehow always forgiving him and made sure they stayed loyal to him despite his antics.  He did not have remorse for what he did, yet he was afraid of losing those close to him. Just don’t kill people! I don’t understand!  Okay, maybe he was crippled with the fact that he didn’t have a conscience, but still, c’mon Ted!  If he would have used his trustworthiness and loyalty traits and actually talked to someone about his ‘dark’ side, he could have gotten help! (These are things I’d say to him if he was in front of me, I hope he doesn’t haunt me!)

And I’m going to be completely honest, he got what was coming to him.  I remember doing a debate in my AP Government class in high school about Capital Punishment.  I can’t remember what my view was in high school, but I for sure would have been all for it had it been MY sister, or MY daughter, or MY friend, or MY mother, etc that was a victim of Ted Bundy.  If you take the lives of others that had a bright future ahead of them, someone who was someone else’s family or friend, and you have zero remorse, then GOODBYE FOREVER! I don’t care if you’re emotionally or psychologically crippled.  He could have gotten help early on, but decided to go on a different path, like Judge Cowart told him at the end.  I understand his mom’s plea during one of his court room sessions, but still, your son took away other parents’ beloved children, I’m really sorry Louise Bundy, Ted had to be punished for his terrible crimes!  Clearly I’m not Christian enough to forgive a person like him.

I don’t know what I would do if I had someone I knew that was close to me and ended up in this type of situation.  Ann Rule has a really big heart. She did her best to be his friend until nearly the end, and this mother fucker had the audacity to ask her for money for another ‘real classy lady’ named Carol Boone, his wife.  Ted, you lost your freedom because of YOU, stop crying about it and blaming others! Again, things I wish I could tell him.

Overall, I learned to seriously pepper spray a mother fucker first, and apologize later! And also, fuck politeness!  Thanks Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff for always reminding your listeners about this.

There’s more I want to say about this book. But I think I’d probably start to ramble. Even after so many years, Ann Rule never forgot about Ted. He was basically the main reason her career took off, which conflicted her in many ways. She sacrificed a lot of her time to aid the the future of criminal profiling.

I definitely recommend this book if you’re a true crime buff. And I recommend the Ted Bundy Tapes Netflix documentary as well!

What would you have done if Ted Bundy had been one of your ‘friends’?!

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This American Life Podcast – Episode 644 Reflection

On the days I do not take the train to work for one reason or the other I listen to podcasts.  Most of the time it’s My Favorite Murder with Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, which as I have mentioned in other posts, fuels my anxiety!  So when I need a little break from that, I either listen to SERIAL (currently on and off with Season 3,), Levar Burton Reads, or This American Life.

I started listening to This American Life a few years ago during the time I started listening to the first season of SERIAL with the story of Adnan Syed (which if you haven’t listened to it, you should!).  Anyway, the different stories on This American Life podcast that I have heard really get you thinking. The many stories and experiences that are shared on this podcast can range from things like a woman going out into the streets to confront men and their cat-calling, people talking about the crazy relationships they’ve been in, and how libraries can actually be a form of “The Room of Requirement” (if you don’t know that reference we can’t be friends! LOL – and also that episode [#664] made me cry at the end).  I haven’t listened to all the episodes, there are way too many! But the one I was listening to this morning was so good!

It’s call Random Acts of History, episode 644, which includes a story of some high school kids from Castlemont High in Oakland, CA and their experience learning about the Holocaust in the early 90’s – The Miseducation of Castlemont High. There was an incident where a group of students from this school got kicked out of a movie theater that ended up being in the media for quite a while, and ended up with Steven Spielberg visiting the high school! Give it a listen.

Overall, the full episode consists of people’s experiences and thoughts when they learn something about history that they never knew, or find shocking in some way or other.  I’m sure everyone has had a moment like this in their lives. I think that is why I’m so obsessed with historical fiction and non-fiction about the WWII era, because when I first learned about the holocaust in high school, and watched documentaries and what not, I was shocked that a person, a leader, could be so damn evil!  And I would question why God let the suffering of so many innocent people happen (I grew up Seventh Day Adventist, google it). As a teenager I really had no choice but to go to church or I would get the guilt trip from my mom later. And I remember bringing up this topic in my youth group class (me, who was always the super quiet girl, and still am) and asked the question of why did God let this happen?  I can’t remember exactly what the youth pastor told me, or what other people in church told me, but it had to do with “God’s plans”, and that these people were being punished because in the Bible, the Jews crucified Jesus and their people would suffer for many generations. This is the answer I had to be content with and accept. As an adult though, I still don’t really accept it.

Listening to this episode, I learned that there is a theory in which Jewish people owned slaves, and were part of slave trade. Which I thought to myself, “WTF, I didn’t know that!”.  Not that that in any way merits the way they were treated during the holocaust, but for sure it’s an interesting theory I was unaware of, and I say “theory” becase apparently this is a very controversial topic in the Jewish community.  Every time I read or watch something pertaining to the holocaust, Jewish history, and the Nazis, whether it is historical fiction or an actual documentary, I never once came upon the theory that at some point in history, Jews were involved in the enslavement of people.  Again, this is no way merits how they were treated, there were millions of innocent men, women, and children that lost their lives because of the asshole who was Hitler (aka Old School Voldemort). I know that human beings are not perfect. I am definitely not perfect in any way.  If you want to get biblical about it, we are all sinners, but we do not deserve to be treated inhumanely because we are different. Unless of course you’re a serial killer like Ted Bundy or Hitler (blog post on Ted coming soon!).

I quickly did a Google search and found an interesting article about the Jewish community and slave trade: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/jews-and-the-african-slave-trade/

Definitely check it out if you have a Holocaust, WWII, Jewish history obsession like me.  The article mentions some other references too, which I’ll definitely be looking up. There is also a list of books on this same website of recommended Holocaust books:  https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/10-holocaust-books-you-should-read/

I love that as an adult I have the liberty to learn about what I want and have an endless library at my fingertips.

Have you ever had a “WTF” moment when learning something you never knew about history? Or something you thought you knew and understood, and come to find out there is a whole different version of things?  Please comment and share!

Listen to the Mustn’ts

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I absolutely LOVED Shel Silverstein’s silly poems. My father was a fan so of course my sister and I grew up with his books. I remember checking these out at the library all the time. I knew I had to have them for my daughter. Although she won’t really understand stand them until she’s older, I’m hoping she’ll enjoy them as much as me.

Some of my other favorites included the Peter Rabbit stories by Beatrix Potter, The Lorax (and a ton of others) by Dr. Seuss, and of course some classics like Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

My goal is to show my daughter the joy of reading, escaping reality every once and while, and using her imagination.

I hope that she’ll believe that ‘anything can happen child, anything can be’.

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Salty Bitch Vibes

So, tell me about yourself.

If that’s not the most hated question on planet earth then I don’t know what is! Am I right?! Every time I’ve had to answer that question in the past for an interview I start to get spicy pits, sweaty palms, and I usually don’t have any idea what to say except that I’m a motivated, quick learner, team player, blah blah blah!

Maybe it prepared me for later in life so that I can end up writing a blog and telling complete strangers all about myself, who knows – But here I am doing just that – except I’m behind a screen, it’s much easier, and I can be as random as I want to be 🙂 So here we go…

  1. I’m really not a salty bitch – I’d say half salty/half sweet 🙂
  2. The name Salty Bitch derived partly from a podcast I listen to all the time: My Favorite Murder, and partly because my BFF and I like to pretend we’re super bitter all the time (Deep down we’re sweet! I promise!)
  3. I’m a mother of one talkative little toddler who drives my husband and I crazy sometimes, but of course we can’t live without her!
  4. I’ve lived in Southern California all my life. Can’t see myself anywhere else – except maybe Oregon or Ireland!
  5. I went to CSU, Long Beach for my B.A. in Communication Studies and for my M.P.A – Masters in Public Policy and Administration.
  6. I love reading (obvi!) Wish I had more time though, and that I could mute my toddler sometimes #SorryNotSorry
  7. My favorite genre is historical fiction (specifically WWII novels) – my husband jokes that I love Nazis -__-
  8. Other favorite genres include true crime, contemporary fiction, some fantasy, mystery, and self-help occasionally.
  9. I used to want to be a Librarian when I was little – and also a Paleontologist, and then an Interior Designer.
  10. I used to have a makeup blog, and also a food blog. I stopped buying makeup by the tons, because I got over it. I still love food, but don’t make time to cook as much – but I plan to change that!
  11. I started drinking coffee when I turned 30!
  12. I grew up in the Seventh Day Adventist church (where my SDA people at?!) – but now I’m a heathen and I don’t attend church anymore. I’m sure I’ll be struck by lightning some day.
  13. I’m Mexican, married to a Colombian (also my high school sweetheart, crazy right?!)
  14. I’m a Harry Potter nerd, but I’ve only read the series once!
  15. I’m a Disney nerd too!
  16. I LOVE the Parks and Recreation T.V. series! – Ron Swanson and April Ludgate are me in a nutshell (like I said, half salty/half sweet 🙂
  17. I have one sister. And people always tell me I should have another child so my daughter can have a sister or brother, no thanks! – I’ll do what I want! (This is when my saltiness makes an appearance)
  18. I have 3 tattoos – my mom only knows about one. Did I mention I’m Mexican and my mom is a Seventh Day Adventist (google it)
  19. I’m 35 and I’m still scared of my mom #MexicanProblems
  20. I’m just here to talk about books, coffee, food, places to eat, bookstores and libraries to visit, and other nerdy things.

Tell me about yourself! Comment below 🙂

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Hey Boo

“Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough”. ~Scout Finch~ To Kill a Mockingbird.

For those have never read this, this is the description from Goodreads: “Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos”. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is definitely one of my all time favorite classics. It’s one of the few that I’ve re-read in my adult life. I recall reading this in high school and having to analyze every single thing! Although I appreciated my English teacher, sometimes I really hated analyzing every. single. thing. And of course like many books I had to read as an assignment in school, I did not appreciate it until I was older.

One of my favorite characters was Boo Radley, although you do not get to “see” him until the very end. In the beginning he’s often depicted as someone dangerous, and someone to be afraid of thanks to the rumors of the neighborhood. However, in the end he is discovered to be quite the opposite, and it is only because Scout, one of the main protagonists, follows her father’s advice and “stands in someone else’s shoes”.

Aside from all the other heavy topics throughout the novel, I feel like this is the most important. Being able to listen and understand someone else’s story and not always believing all the hearsay from other people. Sadly this still happens all the time. I see it in my daily life, in the news, at work, it seems to be an ongoing crisis. All you can do is try to be a decent human being and listen to others and do you best to understand them. Like Atticus Finch says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”.

I hope to teach my daughter the importance of listening, understanding, and compassion. And I hope I get the chance to read this with her when she’s older, and learning the ways of the world and life.

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Bookworm Beginnings

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Does anyone ever ask you how you became a bookworm? Do you remember what sparked the joy of reading for you? Was it a particular book? A relative? A teacher?

I grew up with books all over the house all the time. My dad was an avid reader. He had books from all kinds of genres, sci-fi, horror, comics, true crime, biographies and autobiographies, history and who knows what else.

My dad took my sister and I to libraries all the time! The librarians knew our names, waved and smiled when we walked in, and it was just a normal thing. I really miss those days. I know I’m not alone when I say that “library book smell” is a real thing and its the best.

Aside from frequent library trips, my sister and I got to go to author signings, Ray Bradbury and Clive Barker were the main ones I remember! At the time of course I was more into E.B. White, Shel Silverstein, and R.L. Stine (Fear Street!). However, I recall some of my earlier childhood author favorites included Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne, Maurice Sendak, and Dr. Seuss of course.

Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, even when my dad passed away, reading was something I still enjoyed. I recall doing an extra credit assignment in high school in which I had to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and write an essay. And I feel like that was the first book that really had an impact on me (I haven’t read it since and probably need to re-read). I was surprised how much I loved it!

I’m grateful my dad played such a huge influence on my love of reading and really embedded the importance of it to my sister and I. And I’m even grateful for the chance I had to do that one specific extra credit assignment. I’m sure if I read The Alchemist now it might mean something different to me, but that’s what’s so great about books. At different chapters of your life, you can relate to a book in so many ways. Sometimes they inspire you, make you cry, laugh, or just feel good.

“We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too.”

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan – Book Review

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Am I the only one who feels guilty abandoning a book midway?  I know there are many great novels that have a slow beginning and end up being amazing. For example, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah began a bit slow, but I ended up getting hooked at some point and now it is definitely one of my favorites!  As for Rainbirds, I was not feeling this book at all, I felt it dragged for a good while, but I was determined to finish it to see if by any chance the plot thickened or it had a surprise ending of some kind.

It begins with the main character, Ren, finding out about the death of his sister and him traveling to the city where she lived, Akakawa.  He meets with the police to provide any information he has, and also to collect her belongings and what not. To be honest, it was a pretty sad story as he goes through flashbacks of memories with his sister, and of course all the regrets he has of not spending more time with her and visiting her more often.  He also has very distant parents, zero close friends, and a girlfriend he totally abandons in Tokyo, because he doesn’t know how to deal with his emotions. I know I myself tend to live in a glass case of emotions, but this guy seemed like a robot! I kind of wanted to punch him in the face!

The other two characters during his time in Akakawa were meh.  One of them, Honda, a fellow school teacher, is the only one who Ren seems to connect with at some level, but only because he knew his sister. The other frequent character, “Seven Stars”, is a teen girl who annoyed the shit out of me the whole time with her dumb teenage angst.  I just can’t with lame teenagers! Although she did have somewhat of a traumatic childhood, I still can’t help but to want to slap her a majority of the time during the story (I swear I’m not a violent person! LOL).  SIDE NOTE – I’m dreading the day when my daughter goes through that teenage angst phase! I know we all have to have experiences and learn as we grow up, I just hope I don’t screw her up too bad!

In the end, Ren ends up discovering some pretty dark secrets about his past and his sister’s, but that was it, nothing else.  I suppose he learned he waited until it was too late to let his sister know he really cared for her and appreciated all she did for him when they were younger.  I just didn’t feel that sense of satisfaction when it ended and I hate that. This is the author’s first novel, and this is my first book review blog, so I don’t want to be a Judgy McJudgerson, but I’m hoping her writing will improve (along with mine:) and maybe her next novel will be better!

Thanks for checking out my first book review! 🙂 Stay Salty!