Review

The Best Binge-worthy True Crime TV Shows

A couple of weeks ago, Dorothy Johnston told us about her time living close to a secret military base. The experience inspired her newest novel, The Swan Island Connection, which is available for pre-sale now. Here at For Pity Sake, we can hardly wait to unleash the book on the world. If you’ve ordered the book but are hungry for more crime inspired by true events, we’ve got you covered. Here are three true crime television series you can down in a single gulp to get you ready for the release of The Swan Island Connection.

 

Making a Murderer - Netflix

If you’re one of the few people left alive who hasn’t seen this remarkable 2016 hit, then you’re in for a treat. This dramatic examination of a stunning double murder case and its prosecution is deeply addictive. Every episode comes with new twists and turns. The documentarians have unprecedented access to everyone - the lawyers, the family, the lead suspect, and more. What begins as a simple case with DNA evidence slowly unravels into a story of corruption, exploitation and a search for justice.

 

The Keepers - Netflix

Almost fifty years ago, a nun was murdered in an ordinary American town. The case is still unsolved. The Keepers is frustratingly less open-and-shut than Making a Murderer, but it means you won’t be able to resist the temptation to become an armchair detective. In fact, the most compelling part of this fantastic series is following the journey of the small group of women who have taken up the case, disturbed by the local police’s lack of action on the matter. They uncover a far-reaching group of abuse survivors who form a unique community. It’s the examination of these survivors as the case unfolds that will keep you glued.

 

The Jinx - HBO, available on Foxtel Now

Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki receives a phone call from Robert Durst: the exiled member of a New York millionaire family who is a suspected serial killer. Robert wants an interview. The series only gets weirder from there. The slick, gripping series pulls apart the evidence on multiple murder charges. At the time the series went to air Robert Durst was walking free. The series helped to put charges back on him, and he’s currently awaiting trial. It’s a disturbing portrayal of a dark corner of humanity.

 

Don’t delay, pre-order your copy of The Swan Island Connection now.

Praise for 'As the Lonely Fly'

For Pity Sake’s latest title, As the Lonely Fly by Sara Dowse, is set to be released in June 2017. Review copies of this phenomenal work were sent to a distinguished list late last year and recently we’ve received several, very positive responses. Robert Hefner, Literary Editor of the Canberra Times (1988-2000) had this to say: 

"Twenty-five years in the making, As the Lonely Fly represents the distillation of Sara Dowse’s talent. It is a work that unfolds with beauty and depth, magnificently imagined, sweeping in its scope and scale, like a classic Russian novel. This is writing of international importance, never sentimental, always in control, even in the passages that reveal evil at its basest and most banal. A poignant insight into the lives of three women whose personal lives are entwined in the creation of the modern Israeli state, As the Lonely Fly is, above all, an impassioned cry for humanity to heed the call of those still being displaced from their homelands."

 As the Lonely Fly is now available for pre-release purchase from our store. Order your copy now to ensure you're one of the first to receive this astonishing novel hot off the press this June. 

Self-help for the help-reluctant

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘self-help’? Probably what I think – I don’t have time, it’s all the same gibberish, it’s too convoluted and complex to practically apply it to my everyday routine. I hear you. I understand the reluctance to read spiritual guidance – life is busy enough as it is, and I can barely follow common sense practices that I learned when I was twelve, let alone complicated spiritual teachings. But this is what makes Jennifer McDonald’s little book Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them a miracle for impatiently dubious people like me.

It is drawn from Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, a collection of seven laws that are renowned for their simple yet effective laws of nature that when followed and applied to your everyday thinking, can transform your life. He teaches all the fundamentals of spirituality, from daily meditation to practicing non judgement to the laws of karma – reaping what you sow, and so forth. But he also instructs to accept things as they are, to release yourself of expectations and to give and receive everything in life from possessions to love, as if everything can be thought of in terms of currency.

Many have interpreted his laws, but sometimes, for the busy student or the frantic parent, without a voice that one can relate to and examples that mirror those of your own life, spiritual guidance can be tough waters to wade through.

Divided into seven small chapters, Vegetarian Vampires takes Chopra’s laws and explains them with aplomb from McDonald’s personal experience. She is a small business owner and mother, and has taken these verbose and at times confounding laws and brought them down to earth for us mere mortals.

But what makes McDonald's interpretation of Chopra's laws different from every other commentary on achieving success in your life is her ability to take his laws, and through her honest, unique perspective, explains her failures and identifies where Chopra’s advice would have or did guide her to success. From everyday joys and issues, to deaths in the family, to dire work situations, to health issues - she explains how the laws got her out of it, or would have if she had been following them to begin with, helping you understand how to maneuver yourself easily from issue to issue. I have to say, I’ve already noticed subtle changes in my own life - stressing less, focusing more and reflecting on my experiences with a fresh perspective.

So, throughout this blog post you may have been dying to know: what in God’s name is a Vegetarian Vampire? And what do pale monsters on a diet have to do with applying spiritual practices to your life? Sorry folks, there will be no spoilers here. However, suffice to say, a few pages into the book where McDonald’s intent was divulged and her assortment of approaches to life unfolded, I was entranced. Her distinctive perspective on the tribulations we will all face at some point or have already bore is written with a relatable, humble, wise, humorous and supportive voice, and will make your head throw back with laughter and your eyes prick uncomfortably.

This little pocket-sized, self-help book includes something for those of all ages. It will live and breathe in your bag and your bedside table, until you start to notice changes in your life; a trigger in the mind to change its patterns, and once the mind has been changed, the reality changes with it.

 

 

You can buy your copy of Vegetarian Vampires and What We Can Learn From Them here!

A Bitter Harvest- Review

What is a book – to different people I’m sure they represent different things. There are textbooks, educational journals, fiction, non-fiction, biographies; the list is endless. Realistically it is merely a combination of words on a page, jumbled together to make sense out of this big wide world of ours – or to transport you to another one entirely, to create sense in an otherwise muddled reality or to recount the past to educate those in the future. Books are inanimate objects, so how pray-tell do they take me from being euphorically happy to the depths of sadness in the space of a few pages. Like music where the perfect combination of notes equals a beautiful composition; when words are placed into the perfect order, symmetry occurs that has the ability to transport the reader to a place where you feel the complexity of despair, the freedom of flight or the powerlessness of imprisonment.

Never before has a book done this so well than Peter Yeldham’s,  A Bitter Harvest, a thought provoking, emotional roller-coaster of love, despair, triumph and new life. Set in the harbour side city of Sydney at the time of federation to the end of the Gallipoli campaign, Yeldham’s natural affinity for story-telling weaves the reader through a complex set of events, places and times, culminating in a book with a genuine sincerity towards its characters and their surrounding world.

The lives of William Patterson, a career politician with a shady past, his beloved and beautiful daughter Elizabeth and a penniless German, Stefan, collided in a storm of events that left the family all but torn apart. Now, separated by not only distance but opinions and loyalties the family try to rebuild before the strangle of the first world war wraps its hands around the beautiful Barossa Valley and hysteria sweeps the nation.

Yeldham beautifully highlights the effects of the Gallipoli campaign on the German migrant population settled in Australia prior to the war. Following Stefan and Elizabeth’s love, the reader feels the hatred toward the racist police, the love for their growing family and the injustices that were occurring throughout the nation at the time.

Not only did this book send me on a roller-coaster emotional journey, it opened my eyes to the perspective of the down trodden, the power trips of the rich and influential and the despair of those who can’t speak up for themselves.

A book becomes more than just a combination of glued pages with words on each, it becomes more than just a simple book when, after you’ve closed the final page you see the world with a slightly altered lens – one coloured with a touch of the imagination, wit and empathy the author has presented you with.

If you are to read one book this year – make it this one.

 

Buy your copy here.

Brave New World

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly - they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, 1932. Whenever you read something that makes you question everything, it usually stays with you long after you’ve finished the book; irritating you, challenging you, and unnerving you to the point of insanity. Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World had exactly this effect on me, after I was forced to read it by a friend who told me it was an actual literary necessity.

Within this frighteningly distorted, futuristic society, the people within have been artificially created in test tubes; altered, so that when they are born, they are easily segregated into social class by their varying degrees of intellectual capacity and physical ability. There is a recreational drug frequently used called ‘Soma’, which provides a hallucinogenic holiday from reality, or in other words, a smart way to nullify and control the people. Sexual promiscuity is not only encouraged for men and women, it is embedded in their social conditioning from childhood; so much so that any stigma still present in our lives on the subject is completely removed in theirs.

Can you imagine it? Huxley’s writing forces you to, through his talented ability to paint a picture that raises the hair on your neck; as twisted as this version of the future is, you can almost see it as a possibility.

The story follows Bernard Marx (yes, the last name is a play on the famous social economist Karl Marx, co-author of the 1848 Communist Manifesto, drawing attention to the criticisms Marx makes of society’s class system) and his struggles in his society; his physical deformities set him aside from the perfect biological constructions of his peers. When he visits a reservation, a primitive section of society where traditional values of religion, monogamy and community still exists, he and those around him are confronted with fear-provoking truths of their falsified existence.

This novel’s beauty lies in the disturbing wake up call. It poses such questions as: is absolutely everything we believe, even the commonalities of our nature which we have been dictated to understand as biological truths, a huge pile of lies? No one likes to think they are being manipulated or trained to be a certain way, but Huxley makes you realise that not everything is as it seems.

Huxley’s words have pierced my brain, allowing uncertainty to tumble through in its wake; but I’m okay with it. To read Brave New World is to commit an act of bravery in itself, but one you will be genuinely glad you did.

I promise you, after reading this novel, you will never look at your world the same.