Tag Archives: historical books

18 Creepy AF True Crime Books

When it comes to guilty pleasures of the literary kind, there’s nothing I like better than a good true-crime thriller.

Be it murder, mayhem, corruption or conspiracy, I’m all about those haunting stories that keep us up at night.

If you’re in the mood for something similar, check out this list of amazing true-crime books that will leave you itching for more…

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18 Creepy AF True Crime Books

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My Story, Elizabeth Smart

On June 5, 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was taken from her home in the middle of the night by a religious fanatic. Elizabeth was chained up, raped and hidden from view until her rescue nearly one year later. This book recounts her amazing story of survival in her own words.

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story, Ann Rule

Ann Rule was a writer working on the biggest story of her life, tracking down a brutal mass-murderer. Little did she know that Ted Bundy, one of her closest friends, was the savage slayer she was hunting.

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed, Michelle Knight

For more than a decade, Knight was kept hostage in a basement in Cleveland, Ohio. Kept in captivity with two other women, Knight and her fellow captors endured horrible torture and pain. Their escape in 2013 made headlines around the world and Knight’s account will leave you shook.

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In Cold Blood, Truman Capote

In November of 1959 in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by a shotgun to the face. There was no motive and there were no clues. As Capote tries to reconstruct the murder and the investigation that led to finding the killers, he generates great suspense and astonishing empathy, making this book a true classic.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, Vincent Bugliosi

Prosecuting attorney in the Manson trial, Vincent Bugliosi, held a unique insider’s position in one of the most baffling and horrifying cases of the 20th century: the murders carried out by Charles Manson and his followers. This book recounts the story of these famous and haunting crimes.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, Erik Larson

In this engrossing book, Larson intertwines the true tale of the Chicago World’s Fair with the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure victims to their death. A true must-read, especially if you’re from the Chicago area!

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Columbine, Dave Cullen

What really happened on April 20, 1999, the day two troubled teens decided to bring a whole arson of weapons into their school? Cullen, who was a reporter on the Columbine shooting for years, puts together an amazing account by combining first-hand interviews, insights from psychologists and the killers’ own words and drawings into a book that you’ll want to finish in one nail-biting sitting.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer, Michelle McNamara

Written at the time of her sudden death, this book offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history that sent chills down the spines of the entire west coast. A book that may have helped lead to the capture of “the Golden State Killer”, this page-turner is made all the more bittersweet in that McNamara couldn’t see the subject of her study captured.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt

Filled with sublime and seductive language, this book is an engaging portrait of a Southern city torn. On the morning of May 2, 1981, shots rang out in Savannah’s grandest mansion. Was it murder or self-defense? Berendt journeys to find out…

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Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, Robert Kolker

Award-winning investigative reporter Robert Kolker delivers a humanizing account of the true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island and presents the first detailed look at the shadow world of online escorts, where making a living is easier than ever, and the dangers remain all too real.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective, Kate Summerscale

In June of 1860 three-year-old Saville Kent was found at the bottom of an outdoor privy with his throat slit. The crime horrified all England and led to a national obsession with detection, ironically destroying, in the process, the career of perhaps the greatest detective in the land. This is the dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.

People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo-and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up, Richard Lloyd Parry

Lucie Blackman – tall, blonde, and 21 years old – stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, then disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave. With a little something for everyone, this book is a non-fiction thriller, a courtroom drama and the biography of both a victim and a killer.

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American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land, Monica Hesse

The arsons started on a cold November midnight and didn’t stop for months. Night after night, the people of Accomack County waited to see which building would burn down next, regarding each other at first with compassion, and later suspicion. The culprit, and the path that led to these crimes, is a story of twenty-first century America.

The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, Jeff Guinn

This is the story of preacher Jim Jones, the man responsible for the Jonestown Massacre – the largest murder-suicide in American history. Through FBI files, research and interviews, Guinn tries to piece together what led Jones to this tragedy at Jonestown.

My Dark Places, James Ellroy

In 1958 Jean Ellroy was murdered, her body dumped on a roadway in a seedy L.A. suburb.  Her killer was never found, and the police dismissed her as a casualty of a cheap Saturday night. James Ellroy was ten when his mother died, and he spent the next thirty-six years running from her ghost and attempting to exorcize it through crime fiction. In 1994, Ellroy quit running.  He went back to L.A., to find out the truth about his mother–and himself.

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The Midnight Assassin: Panic, Scandal, and the Hunt for America’s First Serial Killer, Skip Hollandsworth

In the late 1800s, the city of Austin, Texas was on the cusp of emerging from an isolated western outpost into a truly cosmopolitan metropolis. But beginning in December 1884, Austin was terrorized by someone equally as vicious and, in some ways, far more diabolical than London’s infamous Jack the Ripper. For almost exactly one year, the Midnight Assassin crisscrossed the entire city, striking on moonlit nights, using axes, knives, and long steel rods to rip apart women from every race and class. With vivid historical detail, Hollandsworth brings this terrifying saga to life.

The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders, Anthony Flacco

From 1926 to 1928, Gordon Stewart Northcott committed at least 20 murders on a chicken ranch outside of Los Angeles. His nephew, Sanford Clark, was held captive there from the age of 13 to 15, and was the sole surviving victim of the killing spree. Here, acclaimed crime writer Anthony Flacco―using never-before-heard information from Sanford’s son, Jerry Clark―tells the real story behind the case that riveted the nation. This book was also the inspiration for Clint Eastwood’s movie, The Changling.

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder, Charles Graeber

When nurse Charlie Cullen was arrested in 2003, journalists were quick to dub him “The Angel of Death.” But Cullen was neither a mercy killer nor a simple monster. He was a son, a husband, a father, a best friend, and a valued caregiver. He was also implicated in the deaths of as many as 400 people, and may be the most prolific serial killer in American history.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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41 Books about Our Nation’s Presidents

As any history lover will tell you…there is an ABUNDANCE of books written about America’s past presidents. Some 15,000 books have been written about Abe Lincoln ALONE! Powering through these biographies is a daunting task for even the most die-hard history fans…but if you want to read the best of the best about our nation’s leaders, stay tuned!

Here lies some of the best biographies about our nation’s presidents. From Washington to Obama (as of 2017, there has not been an official biography written about Donald Trump), this list basically makes up our nation’s history.

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Granted I have not read ALL of these, so I can’t personally vouch for most of them…however, I did my best to gather books with the best reviews, comments, and recommendations from other readers and historians. To add a personal note, I have read Lincoln, which was outstanding, as well as an excerpt from The Accidental President, which was also really interesting…so I can at least vouch for those!

41 Books about Our Nation’s Presidents

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George Washington
His Excellency
Joseph J. Ellis

John Adams
John Adams
David McCullough

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
Jon Meacham

James Madison
James Madison
Ralph Ketcham

James Monroe
The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness
Harlow Giles Unger

John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
Harlow Giles Unger

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Andrew Jackson
American Lion
John Meacham

Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren and the Political System
Donald B. Cole

William Harrison
Old Tippecanoe
Freeman Cleaves

John Tyler
John Tyler
Gary May

James Polk
Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America
Walter R. Borneman

Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor
Jack Bauer

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Millard Fillmore
Millard Fillmore: Biography of a President
Robert J. Rayback

Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce: New Hampshire’s Favorite Son
Peter A. Wallner

James Buchanan
President James Buchanan: A Biography
Philip S. Klein

Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln
David Herbert Donald

Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson: A Biography
Hans L. Trefousse

Ulysses S. Grant
Grant
Ron Chernow

Rutherford Hayes
Rutherford B. Hayes: Warrior & President
Ari Hoogenboom

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James Garfield
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of the President
Candice Millard

Chester Arthur
Gentleman Boss: The Life and Times of Chester Alan Arthur
Thomas C. Reeves

Grover Cleveland
An Honest President
Paul Jeffers

Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison
Charles W. Calhoun

William McKinley
In the Days of McKinley
Margaret Leech

Theodore Roosevelt
The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Edmund Morris

William Taft
Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers
Jefferson Powell

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Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson: A Biography
John Milton Cooper, Jr.

Warren Harding
Warren G. Harding
John W. Dean

Calvin Coolidge
Coolidge
Amity Shlaes

Herbert Hoover
Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times
Kenneth Whyte

Franklin Roosevelt
Man of Destiny: FDR and the Making of the American Century
Alonzo L. Hamby

Harry Truman
The Accidental President
A.J. Baime

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Dwight Eisenhower
Eisenhower in War and Peace
Jean Edward Smith

John Kennedy
An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy
Robert Dallek

Lyndon Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson: Portrait of a President
Robert Dallek

Richard Nixon
A Life in Full: Richard M. Nixon
Conrad Black

Gerald Ford
Gerald R. Ford
Douglas Brinkley

Jimmy Carter
The Unfinished Presidency
Douglas Brinkley

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Ronald Reagan
Reagan: The Life
H. W. Brands

George H. W. Bush
Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush
Jon Meacham

William Clinton
The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House
John F. Harris

George W. Bush
Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
Peter Baker

Barack Obama
The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama
David Remnick

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Lincoln in the Bardo Review

When I was about 11 years old, I watched a made-for-TV movie about Abraham Lincoln titled, Tad.  It starred my crush at the time, Bug Hall, as Lincoln’s son Tad, as well as Jane Curtain as Mary Todd Lincoln and Kris Kristofferson as Abe Lincoln.  I don’t remember much about it, but that movie changed my life in two major ways:

  1. It was the motivation behind me wanting to take up the trumpet, which became a massive part of my middle school, high school, and college career
  2. It instituted in me a life-long obsession with Abraham Lincoln

If you’re REALLY interested in watching Tad, it is available on YouTube.  I’ve been on the fence about wanting to watch it again, but you can check it out in all its glory right here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBedzZ7QAW0

I honestly can’t tell you what it was about the movie that made me love Lincoln so much…but it was enough for me to ask for a family trip to Springfield, IL so I could dwell in Lincoln nostalgia.  It was enough for my family to start buying me any book with “Abraham Lincoln” in the title.  It was even enough for me to dress up like Abraham Lincoln for Halloween one year and have an Abraham Lincoln-inspired birthday cake.  The love was real, guys.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for Honest Abe…and I think I always will.  I still gravitate to TV shows, movies and books about him, which is what led me to pick up today’s book, Lincoln in the Bardo.

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Told from the perspective of several ghosts two nights after Abe Lincoln loses his son, Willie, to typhoid fever, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is unlike anything I’ve ever read before.  Organized more like a play than a novel, this book begs for a stage or film adaptation, and a rather creepy one at that (word is that actor Nick Offerman and his wife, Megan Mullally have purchased film rights to this book…so read it before it hits theaters)!

The entire book is set over the course of one night and is narrated by a handful of spirits, some long since dead, some only recently so, and is a thrilling exploration on death, grief, the afterlife, and the powers of good and evil.

In Tibetian Buddhism, The Bardo is a sort of limbo state between death and rebirth into the next life.  Willie Lincoln lingers there, unable to move forward, along with a collection of spirits who are all being held back for one reason or another.  And Abe, who would often visit the crypt of Willie after his death to stroke his face and hair (true story), also lingers in a bardo of sorts, trying to steer the country forward during the brink of the Civil War while also dealing with the death of his beloved child.  If that’s not enough to break your heart, Willie’s narration throughout the book helps give insight into Abe Lincoln’s character as only a son can…with deep understanding, respect, and love.

I’m gonna be honest…this book was hard to read at times…not because of the content, but just because of the way it’s written.  It’s different.  There are parts that are repetitive and there are parts that don’t really flow, but as you read on, things begin to make sense…and though it’s not a heart-racing dash to the big finish, the ending is just what you need it to be…honest and meaningful and bittersweet.

Lincoln in the Bardo stands up to its reputation of being bizarre and irreverent; heartbreaking and surreal.  It’s a profound meditation on grief, loss, and how painful it is to let go of something we hold dear.  It’s not for everyone, but for those who look for a book that will challenge you to think differently or a book that will help give you perspective, you cannot go wrong with at least giving this book a try.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Devil in the White City Book Review

Chicago, 1893.  The city was still rebuilding after the fire that left 100,000 homeless and destroyed most of the wooden buildings that peppered the downtown area.  In an attempt to draw more people and revenue to the city, Chicago grew as a national retail center and produced a crop of brand-name business tycoons, including Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and George Pullman.  People began coming to the city to shop the best in (affordable) fashion and see the birth of a new type of architecture that would come to define and reinvent Chicago.

At the age of 26, a young man named Daniel Burnham joined the offices of Carter, Drake, and Wright, an architectural firm behind the Manierre Building, Lennox Building, Mercantile Library, New York Academy of Design, and Grant Park.  While there, he met a man named John Wellborn Root and, together, the two designed one of the first American skyscrapers: the Masonic Temple Building in Chicago.  Measuring 21 stories and 302 feet, the temple held claim as the tallest building of its time (but was ultimately torn down in 1939).

Right in the midst of their 15 minutes of fame for the Temple Building, Burnham and Root were asked to oversee design and construction of The World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, named so to celebrate the 400-year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ famous voyage.  The duo accepted the challenge, but when Root passed away suddenly, Burnham was left to create a new team, bringing on such visionaries as Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, and Louis Sullivan to help him turn then-desolate Jackson Park into an amazing world’s fairground.

It was a feat.  A HUGE feat.  Financial panic and an extremely tight timeframe caused major stress on the architects, not to mention the fact that Chicago had to compete with the most recent release of the Paris World’s Fair: The Eiffel Tower.  And brewing under all the commotion surrounding the fair, tucked away in a small area away from the hustle and bustle, a murderer by the name of H.H. Holmes was plotting a most gruesome rouge to take advantage of the fair’s most delicate and feminine fair-goers…

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And so begins Erik Larson’s book, Devil in the White City.  The true story of the fair that changed America, this book is a captivating account of the trials and tribulations that came with designing the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Besides being about the building of the fair, this book also explores the life of H.H. Holmes, a charming murderer masquerading as a doctor to woo and attract young women, then ultimately torturing and killing them.

The two storylines exist independent of each other until the opening of the World’s Fair.  The massive draw of the exposition was all the motivation Holmes needed to construct his own hotel on the fairgrounds, for women only of course, where he could set up his own murderous torture dungeon, brimming right under the hype of the Columbian Exposition.

Told with amazing detail and captivating language, Devil in the White City brings the Chicago World’s Fair to life.  It puts you right in the heat of the action, takes you into the brainstorming room with Burnham’s team…into the hotel with H.H. Holmes, and into the streets of the fair that, from then on, defined architectural design.

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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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16 Books You Can Read in 2 Hours or Less

Let’s face it, we’re all busy people.  Some of us, though we would LOVE to, just don’t have the time to dive into huge novels like A Game of Thrones or the Harry Potter series…but that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from reading entirely!

Even the busiest people have a little time here and there to spare…and in those moments, if you want to get lost in a book, there are stories you can read that will take little to no time to finish…and I’m not just talking about children’s books.

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These are books with substance…books with a plot and moving storylines.  They may be short, but their messages pack a punch; and honestly, having read them all, a good chunk of these are on my list of books that have changed my life.

It’s a new year, people…you CAN make an effort to read more and you CAN make time in your schedule to get lost in literature…starting with this list of short and powerful quick-read books.

*Quick disclaimer…I know everyone reads at different speeds, so some may finish a book on this list quicker than someone else.  Personally, as someone with an average reading speed, I was able to finish all of these books in one sitting, so let’s say 2 to 4 hours, depending on how dedicated you are! 😉

16 Books You Can Read in 2 Hours or Less

The Little Prince
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The story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behavior and emotions along the way.

A Monster Calls
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A monster teaches a little boy about love, acceptance, and the things we can’t control or change.  This is a tear-jerker for sure.  Do yourself a favor and read the book before seeing the movie that just hit theaters.

Letters to a Young Poet
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A young poet writes to Rainer Maria Rilke asking his advice on some poems.  The ten letters that make up this collection are brilliantly crafted and contain some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read in a long time.

Night
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A candid and horrific account of his survival in the Nazi concentration camps, Elie Wiesel’s Night is a masterpiece in Holocaust literature.

The Old Man and the Sea
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A story of an old Cuban fisherman and his struggle with the giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.  A powerful book about personal triumph and courage.

Of Mice and Men
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A story about friendship, jealousy, and understanding, Of Mice and Men is a compelling story of two outsider striving to find their place in an unforgiving and cruel world.

Big Fish
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Big Fish is the story of a man’s life, told as a series of legends and myths.  Through these hilarious and tender tales, we begin to understand the great feats and failings of a man facing his own death.

Nine Stories
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This book is exactly what it says, nine short stories written by J.D. Salinger.  These stories will stick with you and remind you what an amazing writer Salinger was in his day.

The Phantom Tollbooth
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When a mysterious tollbooth shows up in Milo’s room, he embarks on a series of adventures that teach him just how exciting and amazing life really is.

Lady into Fox
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When newlywed Sylvia Tebrick suddenly turns into a fox, it’s up to her human husband Richard to protect her from the dangers of the outside world.  This is a little gem of a book with a sweet message about love and acceptance.

Love Letters of Great Men
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Inspired by Sex in the City, Love Letters of Great Men contains just that.  Read some of history’s most romantic letters from Beethoven, Mark Twain, Charles Darwin and much more.

Half-Minute Horrors
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This little gem of a book holds more than 70 30-second ghost stories written by some of the biggest names in literature today, including Lemony Snicket, Margaret Atwood, Michael Connelly, Gregory Maguire, Joyce Carol Oates, James Patterson, R.L. Stine, and many more.

Bill Bryson’s African Diary
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Fans of Bill Bryson are sure to enjoy this little easy read.  This diary recounts Bryson’s trip to Africa at the invitation of CARE International.  In his own wry style, he comments on some of Africa’s greatest attractions and the struggles plaguing the country to this day.

The Prophet
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A collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and inspirational, this book covers such topics as love, marriage, children, work, friendship, beauty, religion, death and much more.  Though it’s technically a short read, you might want to take your time with this one…there’s a lot to take in.

The Last Lecture
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This is an account of Professor Randy Pausch’s last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University before leaving to take care of his health.  A brilliant education on achieving your childhood dreams, The Last Lecture is both inspiring and brilliantly sad.

The Alchemist
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This is a love story for the ages!  Evocative and deeply humane, The Alchemist is a testament to the power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Columbine Book Review

41r2b1sidfylColumbine High was buzzing with post-prom excitement.  Mere days away from graduating, the seniors of CHS were enjoying their last days of high school glory.  Some were getting ready for college, others were planning summer road trips or family adventures…and hidden among those graduating seniors were two boys harboring a dark secret that would completely change the lives of everyone in the small town of Littleton, Colorado.

Toting jackets and bags stuffed with bombs, guns, and knives, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High on April 20, 1999 with one goal in mind…destruction.  They made a pact to take out as many students and faculty as they could before blowing up their high school for good.  Though most of their plan actually failed, there’s no denying that the Columbine tragedy has gone down in American history as one of the worst domestic attacks of our generation.  It left 13 students and faculty dead and several more wounded, both physically and emotionally.  It was a horror story that left an indelible stamp on the American psyche, turning one high school, thought to be a safe haven for students, into a bloody hunting ground.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about the Columbine tragedy is the insurmountable amounts of unanswered questions…the most prevalent being why.  Armed with 10 years of reporting on the Columbine disaster, as well as a keen investigative eye as to the make-up of Eric and Dylan, journalist Dave Cullen attempts to answer that question.  Filled with amazing stories about the victims, the survivors, the killers and the facts of what actually happened that day in April, Columbine aims to shed light on this horrible tragedy and perhaps offer some sense of closure for those who were affected by this terrible act of aggression.

I was 15 years old when Eric and Dylan attacked Columbine.  I remember kids talking about it in the hallways and parents discussing it at PTA meetings.  Councilors were available near 24/7 for any student who wanted to talk about it and security was at an all-time high for my little high school which still sits on the boarder of Illinois and Wisconsin.

Before Columbine, the thought of a school shooting never even entered my mind.  I couldn’t comprehend how someone could do that to their friends and teachers.  School was supposed to be a safe place, somewhere I could go where the biggest thing I had to worry about was what to have for lunch.  I never felt in danger there, never looked at anyone twice or thought anyone at my high school would have the balls to do what Eric and Dylan did.  And really, most people at Columbine felt the same.

From beginning to end, I was completely mystified, engrossed, and disgusted with Columbine.  It is a brilliant, honest, and intricate account into the lives of Eric and Dylan and a true and unsettling retelling of the events that unfolded on April 20, 1999, as well as the days leading up to it.

Interspersed with the story, Cullen also offers a look into the lives of those who were taken on April 20th, including Rachel Scott, Cassie Bernall, and the beloved coach, Dave Sanders.  After several hundred interviews with family members, witnesses, police officers, and others who were on the scene that day, Cullen attempts to rebuild this broken story in the hopes of offering some type of understanding as to WHY Eric and Dylan did what they did.

There are no excuses…no reasons…no explanations to completely satisfy this burning question, but Columbine does shed light on the lives of two troubled teens who felt so lost, so unaccepted and unloved that they were eventually driven to horrible deeds.  A story told with amazing respect and fairness, Columbine does not point fingers, it does not cast unfair blame or generalize in any way; rather, it offers what everyone has been searching for these last 10 years…the truth.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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Voyagers of the Titanic Book Review

Near, far, wherever you are, I think it’s safe to say that most people are familiar with, or at least know about, the Titanic disaster. Late in the evening of April 14, 1912, the mighty Titanic, a passenger liner traveling from England to New York, struck an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.  Four days after it began its maiden voyage, it found its final resting place 12,500 feet below the surface.

In the two and a half hours it took for the Titanic to sink, more than half of the passengers on board succumbed to the freezing Atlantic waters. Of the 2,240 passengers, crew, and staff on board the ship that night, only 723 made it out alive.

John Jacob Astor IV, the wealthiest man on board the Titanic. He died the morning after the sinking.

The Titanic disaster sent the world into a tizzy. New York, Paris, London and other major cities in Europe and the US experienced an outpouring of grief. Family members and friends of those on board flocked to nearby magazine stands to inquire about the fates of those still not identified or found, while others waited to hear word about the famous people aboard Titanic that night.

While many books, films, and accounts of the Titanic disaster focus on figuring out why the ship sank, Voyagers of the Titanic: Passengers, Sailors, Shipbuilders, Aristocrats, and the Worlds They Came From follows the men, women, and children whose lives intersected on the vessel’s fateful last day, from the men whose blood, sweat, and tears built the mighty Titanic to the plutocrats and captains of industry who perished on her maiden journey.

The last meal for first class passengers.

Like the mighty ship herself, Voyagers of the Titanic is broken up by class, covering the full spectrum of first, second, and third classes, as well as the men who designed, built, and financed Titanic. Learn what it was like to sit in a first-class dining room, what the meals were like in each section of the ship, what the third class cabins were like, and what it felt like that night when the ship met her demise…all from the people who experienced it first-hand.

Author Richard Davenport-Hines does a poetic justice to those who were on board Titanic that night, giving as much time and dedication to the stories of the cobblers, clergymen, teachers, and tailors on board as he does to those whose names helped build and define the early 20th century.

The memory of the Titanic disaster remains a part of the American psyche, even for those who have no familial or emotional connection to the event. The mystery that haunts that night in April 1912 has sparked a whirlwind of theories and ideas as to why the ship sank, but often disregards the stories of the people who were witness to that horrible night. In Voyagers of the Titanic, readers get an inside look into the lives of those individuals who were on board the ship on April 14, 1912, and what it was like to experience the destruction of one of man’s greatest creations.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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