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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.

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!