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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’?!

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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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.”