Review: Evil – The Science Behind Humanity’s Dark Side by Julia Shaw

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★★

Abrams Press | 2019

Opening Thesis: Evil is just a misunderstanding.

Main Evil: Apparently pedophiles aren’t that bad?

Thesis Conclusion: Shockingly shallow.


I really wanted to like and I’m having a hard time with the rating, because I didn’t like this, and frankly parts of it are so off-putting I want to toss it out a window.

But it’s not a bad book either in terms of writing quality.

My biggest problem really comes down to the fact that this book is not about the science behind humanity’s dark side, as the cover suggests.

I wanted to learn about the brain, human chemistry, nature vs nurture; I wanted case studies and scientific journals and theories and experiments. What I got was the author explaining why evil is subjective and nothing is really bad because all humans fuck up. The overall theme boils down to “rethinking evil.”

While that may be a provocative topic to tackle, I wouldn’t have necessarily started the book with the argument that we should reconsider labelling Hitler as evil.

There is actually very little science-back study and explanation in this book. She invokes the Milgram Experiment to discuss the banality of evil, and then uses the Stanford Prison Experiment to explore group-think, but never mentions that many issues with that study that led to it being discredited. Shaw doesn’t do a very good job at tying the referenced studies to the points she’s trying to make; they are loosely thrown together and barely make a correlation.

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True Crime Tuesday: The Nun Killer

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these and it’s a bummer. I know. Really, I’m way behind in reading too. Everything is crashing down around me now that it’s the end of the year.

The truth is, October (to the end of the year) is a really busy time for me. I have my husband’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, three other family birthdays, then my own; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Shit gets crazy. Plus we had an election in Canada that ended last night (phew!) Suffice to say, my stress levels are through the roof most days. I no time, I spent too much money, our pet’s heads are falling off!

When I’m stressed out from it all, you will find me decompressing by way of isolation. I don’t do too much social media, I burrow myself in my bedroom and watch TV. So there’s no a lot of motivation to write reviews or research murder.

Cinderella Cheetos GIF by WENS

Today, it’s time to break the slump!

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True Crime Tuesday: The Bear Brook Murders

A surprise affect of my true crime interest is that some days my appreciation and deep love for my husband is amplified as if the volume has been turned up to eleven.

That’s not to say that there are other days where I am numb to it. Quite the opposite. I’m always fully aware of the cosmic luck that brought my husband to me. Contrasted against the background of my shitty ex and the shady AF choices I’ve made in my life, (that I’m truly surprised didn’t totally fuck me,) he doesn’t really need to do much to be wonderful. But he does anyway.

Every one thought we were crazy when we met. Getting involved, being long distance, trying to navigate an immigration system, starting over from scratch once he moved to Canada and blending our family. But it was truly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I followed my heart completely on that one, because from a rational point of view, yeah we were taking big, unknown risks and it could have gone totally sideways.

But here were are. Seven years later.

And some days, when the volume is up to eleven, it feels like my heart is going to burst out of my chest and be carried away by a million butterflies because I know, truly and honestly, from the bottom of my bottom, that my husband would never kill me and stuff my body in a 55-gallon drum.

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True Crime Tuesday: The Nine Million Dollar Murder

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It’s been a while!

Sorry for the break! But not really. I hope you stumbled across many other funny and wonderful book bloggers and true crime writers to fill the Krystin-shaped hole in your heart. I know there are so many writers to read, and it means a lot to me that you still stick around my blog even when I disappear every now and again.

I’ve been super fucking busy at home trying to finish my bedroom renovation. I know, I know. I’ve been promising forever to post my basement reno and I’ve already moved on to my bedroom. What can I say? I don’t possess a lot of virtues, and patience definitely isn’t one of the few.

I finished painting on Sunday and I’m so happy to say there are no more rooms in my house that require a full wall of paint… three years later. I fucked up my shoulder once again and my back is twisted, but all the heavy, big projects are officially done and now I can just focus on the smaller details like hanging a mirror or putting up curtains.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to just sit on my fucking ass and do nothing once again. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And it looks a lot like me in bed with a book and a snuggly puppy. And of course, writing more posts around here. I fucking swear it!

Truly, my Fitbit has never seen me achieve so many steps before. It thinks someone new is wearing it.

Anyway, I’m feeling a little bit less stressed, my brain fog is clearing and my creative juices are totally pumping… forgive me for saying “creative juices.” That phrase could not be any more disgusting. But I digress… a new true crime story is just breaking within the last couple of days, and it is completely fucked up and sensational and has me rolling my eyes in all kinds of directions because goddamn teenagers are just so fucking stupid, cruel sometimes.

We’re talking terrible teenagers. We’re talking murder. We’re talking child pornography. We’re talking fake millionaires. We’re talking being gullible as fuck.

This is the murder of Cynthia Hoffman.

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True Crime Tuesday: Bobby Joe Long

We had a 3-day weekend in Canada to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday. That badass bitch is long dead and I don’t even know how old she’d be at this point, but honestly, most people just use it as an excuse to drink and watch fireworks. It’s commonly referred to as “May 2-4,” (as in, a case of beer) and I’m not complaining about an extra day off.

I’m not really a beer and fireworks kind of girl, so my time looks like any other day off, but with scrambling for groceries because everything is going to be closed, to make things interesting. You’d think people were expecting the end of the world with how busy Costco gets the day before a stat holiday.

Another little bonus this weekend: my husband and I had the house to ourselves for the first time in a long time. We capitalized on this by showering with the door open, walking around without pants on and ordering a bunch of food that we didn’t need to share with anyone else… except for the dog.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey (2018)

On Sunday afternoon, after I’d finished my book, and changed out of my leggings into a new pair of leggings, I turned on Lifetime and indulged in made-for-TV-movie goodness. I happened to find one titled, Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey.

It said based on a true story. It said serial killer. I was 100% sold.

So, speaking of badass bitches…. girl. For real. Lisa McVey is a true warrior queen and I’m so glad I watched this movie about her ordeal at the hands of serial killer, Bobby Joe Long. She was abducted and raped for a 26-hour-period when she was 17-years-old.

Having suffered long-term abuse throughout her life, mostly at the hands of her grandmother’s boyfriend, McVey says she tapped in the “survivor skills” she’d cultivated in order to overcome her captor, not physically, “but psychologically.” McVey said: “It worked. I’m still here.”

Lisa McVey is the only survivor of a serial killer who hunted in the Tampa Bay area, abducting, raping and murdering at least 10 women in 1984. The details she provided to the police are directly responsible for Long’s arrest.

I did a little research while I was watching the movie. One of my questions was why is this movie on now? Could there be a reason to shed light on McVey’s story this weekend? The answer is that Bobby Joe Long is scheduled to be executed by the state of Florida this coming Thursday, May 23rd.

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Review: Helter Skelter – The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi with Curt Gentry

“You can convince anybody of anything if you just push it at them all of the time. They may not believe it 100 percent, but they will still draw opinions from it, especially if they have no other information to draw their opinions from.”

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★★★★

W.W. Norton & Company | 1974

Opening Brainwashing: The lowest of low hanging fruit.

Main Cult Leader: The folk singer with the swastika seems on the up-and-up

True Crimey-ness: Pop culture murder


Everyone and their mother knows the story of Charles Manson. Or at least the bullet points, because the bullet points are fucking insane. Crazy “hippie” cult leader who brainwashed otherwise normal young people into brutally murdering pregnant actress Sharon Tate and her house guests in the Hollywood Hills in 1969.

Everyone knows the blurb. Everyone knows the images of Manson and his craziest moments. Everyone has seen, at some point, that image of three happy girls singing on their way to their murder trial with swastikas on their foreheads. Everyone knows that Sharon Tate was pregnant because it’s those kinds of headline specifics that make your stomach turn or your jaw drop.

The famous imagines and soundbites are so robust and insane and sensational, and seared into pop culture by our own doing, that it led me to believe that I knew basically everything there was to know about this case. Or that I had enough of an understanding that reading this book was going to be just to say that I’d read it. It’s kind of a must for true crime fans, in my sometimes abrasive opinion.

But I was wrong.

There is so much information to be gleaned from this book by the prosecutor who convicted Manson, Vincent Bugliosi. Helter Skelter is a broad picture of Manson’s crimes, his early life and his followers that I found it utterly fascinating, even if the narrator of the audiobook sounded like he stepped right out of Fast Talking, High Trousers.

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True Crime Tuesday: Bradford Bishop, Fugitive.

This weekend my husband and I were watching Dateline – or I should say, I was watching Dateline and my husband was barely paying attention, looking at his phone instead.

His interest was piqued when he realized the case was about a woman scorned who had tried to poison her lover. She was one of the top breast cancer doctors in the US. She’d saved many lives and was making important strides in cancer treatment. Now she’s serving ten years for attempted murder and will likely lose her medical license.

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My husband said to me, “why would someone so successful risk everything over a relationship?” Good fucking question. “The dick was really good?” was my quippy retort, but I know that’s not the real answer.

But, why do people risk their own livelihoods, successes and futures for a relationship? It makes no sense from the outside looking in. And yet, it happens all the time. There is an endless supply of Dateline stories about otherwise normal people killing their spouses and mistresses and boyfriends. And getting caught. And losing everything.

Part of me understands the “heat of the moment” thing. Or being so hurt or angry that you see red and don’t really know what you’re doing until it’s over. And part of me understands a cold, calculating anger that waits and plans and poisons. Would I ever do it? I doubt it, but there is something to be said for not being “in your right mind.” I’ve been there a time or two for other reasons. It’s an interesting feeling, to say the least.

Perhaps a great many people understand those emotions. And that’s where our fascination with these kinds of cases comes from. We just don’t get it! …but then, we kind of do.

This, for me, extends to the family annihilator killer as well. As my husband and my conversation progressed, we ended up talking about John List.

Would I ever murder my entire family and then run away? I can’t see myself doing that for a number of reasons that include I don’t like running, I don’t like exerting myself and I don’t deal with open-ended stress well which would certainly follow me as a fugitive. But do I understand how someone could do this? A little bit.

I found myself searching out some of these family annihilator cases and came across Bradford Bishop. Everyone knows the John List story, but I’d never heard of Bishop before that I can remember. He’s super interesting to me because today, he’d be 81 years old. And if he’s still alive, he’s still successfully hiding from justice.

This is the story of William Bradford Bishop Jr.

Continue reading “True Crime Tuesday: Bradford Bishop, Fugitive.”

True Crime Tuesday: The Moors Murders

Finally another #TCT! I know, I know, I knowwww. It’s been a while since I’ve posted one. I wanted to have this story up last week, but I’ve been super busy both personally and in terms of the reading I’m trying to get done (my goals this year have been lofty so far,) so the draft I’d been working on for the last couple of weeks never saw its way to publication. Whomp whomp.

Another thing I’ve wanted to get posted is a Book Nook Sunday where I finally share images of my finished (for a second time) basement. That’s right! The water damage is repaired, new floors are down and I’ve finally gotten it all put back together. I’ve been down there, under blankets on my nice couches playing Assasin’s Creed: Odyssey all weekend and it’s been glorious!

There are still lots of finishing touches that I want to get done – pictures on the walls, etc. And basically, two of my four bookshelves are totally empty, but trust me I am rapidly correcting that and spending too much money in the process. This includes a trip to Book Outlet’s Box Sale next Friday! It’s the most wonderful time of the year for any booknerds within travel distance!

But enough about me and my bullshit. Let’s talk about Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Together, between July 1963 and October of 1965, in Manchester, England, they sexually assaulted and killed five children together.

You know what they say: the couple that kills together goes to prison in separate locations and never gets to see each other ever again!

This is The Moors Murders.

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True Crime Tuesday: The San Francisco Witch Killers

It’s the Month of Love! Is everyone excited? Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and you certainly don’t need to be partnered up to celebrate. Give yourself some love, go out with a friend and celebrate your friendship. Buy your furbaby a special treat and watch a movie snuggled up. Love is love, baby! It doesn’t need to be romantic to count.

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My husband and I have dinner reservations and then we’ll be going to see a movie if something that doesn’t suck is out. It’s nothing fancy. And honestly, we don’t really do anything at all for Valentine’s Day under normal circumstances, but after you’ve been together seven years, you tend to make a more concerted effort towards date nights and getting out of the house. It’s so easy to fall into a very contented, eventless life that doesn’t see much romance, like at all.

What better excuse than a day that is solely reserved for love? Nothing says love like a conservatively priced meal and movie gift cards!

There are couples who go all out for Valentine’s Day. A guy I work with is taking his long-time girlfriend to Cuba and will be proposing to her. That’s one for the books!

Other couples prefer to keep the romance alive all year long and don’t need a special day as an excuse to get out of the house. Maybe they’re consistently doing little things for each other, trying to make the rest of us look bad. Maybe they have a standing date night every Friday where they pull popsicle sticks out of a jar and do whatever idea is written on the stick, like some Pinterest-level experts.

Or maybe they start practicing the occult and murdering witches!

In the spirit of the Month of Love, I’ll be writing up the stories of Killer Couples for the next couple of weeks.

First up, Michael and Suzan Carson, The San Francisco Witch Killers.


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True Crime Tuesday: Christmas Eve Massacre

Merry Whatever-You-Celebrate, Booknerds!

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It’s officially Christmas/Yule for my family today, so as you’re reading this I’m definitely still in my PJs, making breakfast for everyone and settling in to open presents. After that, we’ll watch a holiday movie and play some games before I inevitably pass out from expending so much of my limited energy trying to make everyone fucking happy. Good times.

What are your typical December 25th plans? I’d love to hear about how your day went today and what gifts you got! Epic book hauls? Fandom gifts? What made your hearts happy today? Let me know in the comments.

Between all of my offline plans today, you can be sure that I’m still going to poke my head in to check out #bookstagram and read your blog posts whenever I get a chance.

And if you’re doing the same thing, welcome to my last True Crime Tuesday post for 2018! What better day for it than on Christmas? Clearly, between your family time and your excitement about all your new goodies, you’ve popped by my blog to get your fix of murder and mayhem and for that, I say thank you and we are the same.

Today’s story is a full-on Christmas nightmare committed by Santa Clause himself!

So, grab a hot chocolate, wrap yourself in a holiday blanket, enjoy the soothing sounds of Christmas music and your family talking or screaming or laughing together, while you snuggle in for the next fifteen minutes to read about another family getting fucking killed ten years ago.

This is The Covina Massacre.

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