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Roberta Westwood

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Fantastic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-01-26

I loved this book. I chose to read this book in light of recent news and politics, hoping it would give me more insight into Iran and the Iranian people. It did not disappoint. The hopes and dreams of Iran's youth, set against the context of the country's norms and traditions, provided a rich picture. The characters were very real to me. The tiny details of the neighbourhood, the cooling hose in the heat, the imaginings under the stars, took me right there. Richly written. Great narration. 5 stars.

Rambling

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-01-26

I'd had enough of this book about half way through, but stuck it out. Not so sure it was worth it. Overall, the book could have been 1/3 shorter and told the same story. The order was odd, the last half was misplaced. It was factual at first, but seemed to fall into conjecture. The last 2 minutes of the Acknowledgements told me why, and I wasn't thrilled to have spent my time on it. I like true crime stories but would not read this author again.

1 person found this helpful

Very dark but compelling

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-01-12

I've had Eric Larson's "The Devil in the White City" sitting unlistened to in my library for sometime, but decided to read it before reading "Bloodstains". I recommend you do the same, as it provided context.
I like memoirs and have read a few by people who have learned about a parent or relative's criminal history ~ drawn by the curiosity of wondering what that must be like ~ so Bloodlines caught my eye.
But this is no run of the mill serial killer (if there is such a thing), this was the first and worst. A truly evil psychopath. And I knew this story would involve unfathomable darkness. The journey Mudgett took to uncover his family history was inseparable from his own mental illness, which reared its head while he was uncovering revelations. It made for a very dark story indeed. But I am glad I read it.
There is an oddity about this book in that it has a music and sound effects in the background throughout most of it, and it was distracting. Like B-grade movie, the amateurish audio effects drew attention to them, instead of enhancing the story.

Dark history in the white city

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-01-12

After a false start a year ago, when I couldn't get into this book, I picked it up again. I had just come across "Bloodstains" by Jeff Mudgett, the great grandson of the "devil" in this book, and thought I should read this first (I recommend reading them in this order; it gave good context for Mudgett's revelations).
Overall, this was a pretty good book, but tying together two largely unrelated storylines isn't easy to do. While both were joined by the time and place of the Chicago World's Fair, flipping from a mass murderer's arrival in the city to the architects planning the site couldn't help but feel disjointed.
In the end, the stories were joined in the grizzly nightmares and calamities during the fair. It was disturbing to learn that the disappearing women barely registered with authorities and the "devil" carried on under their noses.
It is a dark history, but interesting nonetheless.

Convoluted

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-12-18

Interesting premise, but the storyline was just too convoluted for me. Yes, it worked in terms of making it impossible to guess what might happen next, and who the characters really were. The story and main characters never really grabbed me though. I wasn't left to mull over the lessons or revelations or human relationships afterwards.

A fascinating read!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-12-09

I finished this book months ago, but it feels like yesterday... the story is that memorable. If you think you have an idea how the original dictionaries were created, think again. This book will blow your mind. It does move a bit slow at times, but I could put up with it, given the surprises that it contains. There are lovely word interludes, giving insight to how the definitions of certain words were created. And, yes, there IS a madman at the centre of the story.

Interestingly unsatisfying

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-12-09

A well researched and written book... but oddly unsatisfying. I knew going in that these murders have not yet been solved, but finishing the story felt unfinished. Who did it? And why? I am fascinated by the crime, so I did what the author knew (or hoped) I would do: buy it anyways. Perfect set-up for me to buy book 2 later, which I will probably do.

Hardly memorable

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-12-09

I enjoyed this book when I read it (listened to it), but a month or two later, as I go to write this review, I had no memory of it. I truly drew a blank. Of course, once I read the book summary, it came back to me, and I remembered the storyline. There were surprises and twists and turns I did not see coming, so it was good in that respect, but my lack of recollection afterwards tells me that it wasn't compelling enough to engage me on a deeper level. Even for fiction, I want to be moved in some way, to be made to think, to ponder the lessons long afterward.

1 person found this helpful

Thanks Rick

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-09-27

Definitely worth a listen. A combination of Rick's rants/reports (in context), backstories from the show's making, and the Canadian icon's life. Overall, entertaining and well told. Jann Arden fans will not be disappointed.

A great heist story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2019-09-16

I always love heist stories, fascinated by how they pulled it off... and how they got caught. I downloaded this book after hearing an interview with the author on CBC. I had just watched the movie about the old gents' crime (I'm a sucker for Michael Caine), so wondered if it would still hold my attention. It did... though funnily enough the narrator sounded a lot like Caine. Overall, very well researched and written. The only thing that turned me off ~ almost to the point of not continuing ~ was the excessive use of the 'c word' (ladies be warned). I respect that initially this was part of creating realistic characters, but it got tired very fast. I think men (in this case the author) have no idea how offensive this term is to women. I was ready to stop listening. It became gratuitous and unnecessary, and took away from an otherwise excellent book.