Tag: Nonfiction

Member of the Family

Member of the Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside his Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties
Author: Dianne Lake
Published: October 14, 2017

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

In this poignant and disturbing memoir of lost innocence, coercion, survival, and healing, Dianne Lake chronicles her years with Charles Manson, revealing for the first time how she became the youngest member of his Family and offering new insights into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminals and life as one of his “girls”

At age fourteen Dianne Lake—with little more than a note in her pocket from her hippie parents granting her permission to leave them—became one of “Charlie’s girls,” a devoted acolyte of cult leader Charles Manson. Over the course of two years, the impressionable teenager endured manipulation, psychological control, and physical abuse as the harsh realities and looming darkness of Charles Manson’s true nature revealed itself. From Spahn ranch and the group acid trips, to the Beatles’ White Album and Manson’s dangerous messiah-complex, Dianne tells the riveting story of the group’s descent into madness as she lived it.

Though she never participated in any of the group’s gruesome crimes and was purposely insulated from them, Dianne was arrested with the rest of the Manson Family, and eventually learned enough to join the prosecution’s case against them. With the help of good Samaritans, including the cop who first arrested her and later adopted her, the courageous young woman eventually found redemption and grew up to lead an ordinary life.

While much has been written about Charles Manson, this riveting account from an actual Family member is a chilling portrait that recreates in vivid detail one of the most horrifying and fascinating chapters in modern American history.

Kim’s Review:

I think this might be the end of my true crime obsession for a little while. People really are horrible and stupid. Ok, let me go back to the beginning. I decided to listen to this audiobook narrated by Dianne Lake herself. I have read Helter Skelter several times and I wanted to learn more about the family itself and the people in it. This book gave great info in a far more personal way. It’s easy to look in from the outside and criticize and judge, but when you get a glimpse of the realities, that definitely changes.

It’s also an interesting view into hippy culture. The 60s were a very different time and the things that people got away with then would seriously ruin their lives if they tried it today. Who lets their 14 year old daughter just up and go to a completely different city with someone she just met?? I mean Lake’s parents literally pushed her at Charlie Manson even though they knew something was off about him. I put my head down on the steering wheel and just tried to breathe out my frustration. I also learned a lot more about Charlie and his manipulative ways. Of course those girls followed him and loved him unconditionally. He gave them what no one else in the world did, love and acceptance. And he played them like a Hawaiian on a ukulele! I could go on and on about this book, but I’ll just encourage everyone to read it! Very informative and disturbing!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK **The UK version is titled slightly different: Member of the Family: Manson, Murder, and Me**

I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks

I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks

Author: Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw
Illustrator: Wendy Leach
Published: April 24, 2019
32 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: June 10, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

I scream! You scream!
Josh…campaigns…for ice cream!

I Campaigned for Ice Cream is an upbeat, educational, and heartwarming true story of Joshua Lipshaw, who as a nine-year-old petitioned his local government to change an outdated law that prevented ice cream trucks from driving through his town. Complete with adorable illustrations by Wendy Leach, this sweet book is a tasty treat for young readers as well as a lesson that they too can make a difference in their communities. Relive Josh’s passionate journey as he works to bring the joy of ice cream trucks to his town.

Jessica’s Review

This is a brilliant yet short children’s picture book that has an even bigger message: One person can make a difference- even kids!  Ice Cream also shows how important it is to stand up for what you believe in. 

Josh Lipshaw is just nine years old and he sees the need for ice cream trucks in his town during the summer. After all, other towns have ice cream trucks!  He goes campaigning for ice cream trucks and even speaks at the town hall giving his reasons.  And guess what: He succeeds!

This story is based off the true incident of Josh Lipshaw and this picture book was written by his mother.  This occurred from July 2001- April 2002. Ice Cream shows children how drive and determination help to accomplish something, no matter how big or small.  This feel good story had me laughing at the end.  This children’s picture book with definitely help kids feel good about themselves and show how important that they are. 

There is also a glossary of terms at the end of the story book for the ‘bigger words’ that young children may not understand.  The pictures are wonderful and definitely add to the story.  This would be a good book for those in the ages of 6 and up.

Special thanks to Warren Publishing me for granting me a copy to read via Netgalley. It was a pleasure to read and review! 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Dead Serious

Dead Serious: Breaking the Cycle of Teen Suicide
Author: Jane Mersky Leder

Published: January 23, 2018
210 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 1-10, 2019
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Are you under a lot of stress? Feeling too much pressure to get good grades? Trying to avoid social media because you’re being bullied? Grappling with your sexual/gender identity? Feeling depressed—even suicidal?

What are the reasons why teens decide to take their own lives? What can be done to stop them? Through stories, studies and strategies, Dead Serious helps teens, parents and educators navigate the choppy waters of adolescence and provides tools that can help break the cycle of teen suicide.

Teen suicide is preventable.

Jessica’s Review:

Suicide is a difficult subject to think about. The first edition of Dead Serious deals with teen suicide and was published in 1987, and now author Jane Leder has published a second edition.  Why a second edition now?  In the 30+ years that have passed our world has changed significantly: we all lived through 9/11 and terrorism, bullying is at an extreme, and there was no internet and social media. There is so much more that today’s kids have to deal with that we did not.  And don’t forget LGBTQ, there are so many variations on sexual preferences and gender identity that it seems impossible for one to keep up with.

Jane Leder is no stranger to suicide.  She has lost several family members to it, including a brother to whom this book is dedicated.  Dead Serious is written to teens and it does not talk down to them. It is also for adults and educators.  This is one that should be read by all teachers and be in school libraries. This should even be taught in class. 

Each story begins with a musical lyrics or similar.  There are candid stories throughout the book that are shared, and a variety of subjects that including bullying, and there are also LGBTQ definitions. Leder outdid herself with this second edition as you can see she worked with an abundance of research that includes useful information on where one can seek help from different organizations. 

Teen suicide is a major problem, but we can all work together to help stop it. Every life matters, you matter. You ARE worth it.

Dead Serious is highly recommended. Special thanks to the author Jane Leder  and her team for sending me a copy to read and review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK