review

Review – Lamy Safari 2015 Special Edition Fountain Pen

I purchased this item from an online auction site and thus this review is my own personal opinion on the product / company, given in good faith and has not be sponsored or endorsed. The photography unless otherwise stated / credited is also my own. None of the links are affiliate links.

 

Lamy Safari 2015 SE

 

Unless you have been living under a stationary rock i would think it’s safe to say that you will have heard of the Lamy range of pens. With its bright selection of colours and its easy grip, it appeals to the novice and seasoned fountain pen user. Utilitarian in design with form following function it screams German engineering and quality.

 

I decided to finally give in and try a Safari pen, so i opted for the Lime Green 2015 Special Edition from eBay priced at a reasonable £15.95. Within two days i was holding my new pen.

 

My Safari came packaged in a standard blister pack along with a pack of 5 Lime green Lamy T10 cartridges and a carry pouch that seems a bit too large to be truly useful. The pen is light but not small by any stretch of the imagination (weighing in at 17g and 167mm posted). The nib is chrome (i opted for the medium) and the body is ABS with a chrome clip. The Safari comes equipped with 2 ink windows on the side, although i would have prefered them to have clear plastic coverings rather than be open. The nibs are interchangeable and come in the standard sizes like extra fine, fine, medium, plus unique nibs like obliques and stub italics in sizes up to 1.9mm.

 

Lamy Safari 2015 SE

 

So far this seems like a great pen and i cant wait to get writing my TMA’s with it!!

Also if Lamy would like to send me some of their other ranges i would love to review them 😉

Review: Prison Time by Shaun Attwood

Prison Time by Shaun Attwood

Prison Time by Shaun Attwood

So I have just finished the last in the Shaun Attwood ‘Time’ series, and wow, it was emotional. The sequel to ‘Hard Time’ follows ‘English’ Shaun as he journeys through Arizona’s prison system serving time for distributing Ecstasy. The series charts his rise from a poor English student to a drugs kingpin, then right down to a prisoner in a system designed to make you fail.

Having read the whole series in chronological order (Party Time, Hard Time and then Prison Time) I was expecting this to be the most difficult part of the saga, and I wasn’t wrong. As gripping and difficult to put down as the previous two, it benefits from Shaun’s finely tuned, almost journalistic, style of writing. Which captures the drama and feeling of the moment while creating an accurate documentation of what his surroundings where like.

We are introduced to some amazing characters throughout the book, both scary and genuine. From She-Ra, a tall transsexual who becomes friends with Shaun during his spell on the low security yard. Another is a great giant of a man is T-Bone, a kind of dark knight of the prison, who puts his life on the line protecting those who are weaker then him from prison rape. The person who seems to have the most effect on Shaun in ‘Two Tony’s’, a mafia hit man who  has left a trail of bodies from New York to LA.

One thing that stands out to me in this book is how genuine and touching Shaun’s naivety when it comes to women is, from Jade to She-Ra. Maybe it is down to him looking for the best in people, but in this book we see love, heartbreak and confusion in equal measure.  I especially liked the confusion that arose when he met Gina, who he describes as being as close to a women that you will meet in an all-male prison. After being in prison, where the constant search for love and companionship is part of everyday life for that long, I can sort of understand where he comes from.

We see Shaun develop his caring and nurturing side within this book, even to the point of developing an almost ‘guru’ persona in the prison. But not everything is smooth sailing, from arguments with others over his blog to a system that seems to be out to get him. Shaun battles not just to stay out of trouble, but to get out alive.

As with all the other books in the series it is dark, shocking, funny and really emotional right to the end. I must admit I am really sad the series is now over for me and will hope that one day Shaun writes a book about his return to normal life in England.

I give it 5 out of 5.

Review: Hard Time by Shaun Attwood

 

Hard Time by Shaun Attwood

Hard Time by Shaun Attwood

 

The News of the World are quoted as saying this book ‘Makes Shawshank look like a holiday camp’, and while that description may be a tad emotive, the conditions described in this instalment of the Shaun Attwood series are beyond horrific and push the boundaries of what is barbaric. In this book, Shaun leads us through one of America’s most tough jail system, in a journey that involves everything from militant cockroaches to brutal beatings.

The book spans a period of just over 2 years in which Shaun goes on a wonderfully scary journey of self-discovery where there are battles at every turn and a judicial system that seems hell bent on making an example of him. Using his charm and his English wit he manages to progress from a broken shell of a man to a teacher and leader, but the biggest battle seem to come from within. When voices keep creeping into his every thought, sleep deprived and malnourished, Shaun battles not only for his freedom but his sanity.

One thing that does stand out to me in this book is Shaun’s ability to self-reflect and convey that he deserved to be punished for what he did, but not even animals deserve to be treated in the way that Sheriff Joe Arpaio prides himself on. A man who is clearly suffering from some kind of personality disorder which drives him to treat un-sentenced prisoners as his own toys to abuse. If you haven’t heard of Sheriff Joe before, I suggest you do some reading. You will be shocked. In this book Shaun is honest, sometimes to a fault, including stories that will make your toes curl. Such as the time his penis shrunk so much he struggled in the strip search and the time he had to unblock a toilet with his hand.

When it comes to his writing style Shaun states that the book was started in 2002 and you can tell he has come a long way with his writing ability. You can almost experience his ability grow as the book progresses. A more then forgiveable offence I am sure, this being his first book after all. But having said that, he still captures the imagery of the jail with great detail, from the smells of blocked toilets to the sounds of people being ‘smashed’. Yet another of his books that I struggled to put down.

I particularly like the competition hidden in the ‘Acknowledgment’ section at the back, although I suspect the prize has been claimed by now.

I gave this book 4 out of 5.

Review: Children Who Kill by Carol Anne Davis

Children Who Kill by Carol Anne Davis

Children Who Kill by Carol Anne Davis

“Children Who Kill,” by Carol Anne Davis, is a relatively long (396 pages) book which looks at the always emotive subject of juvenile homicide. The author sets out to explore this subject using in-depth case studies of children aged between 10 and 17. The book, as it was published in 2003, is relatively out of date and it does show when it comes to certain cases.

This could have been a very good book, it is relatively easy, if repetitive, to read. But then it is hard to write a boring book about such an emotive topic. Although this book is described as individual profiles, they are more like average essays including the obligatory lack of supporting evidence for what she puts forward as facts. Which unfortunately leads to Carol coming across as a bit of a ‘know it all’. It also leads to some wild claims which don’t sit as true to me, including a claim that all people who have attempted suicide has at one stage wanted to kill someone else. If I any Psychologists out there can confirm, or deny, this I would be grateful. She also makes the outrageous, and possibly libelous claim that Pathologists lie to spare the feelings of family members.

My main concern with this book, and thus the author, is that she seems to have a very simplistic view of what causes children to kill. Claiming that the only thing that can cause a child to kill is an abusive childhood, she seems to choose to ignore the influence of genetics as well as possible neurobiological influences.

Overall I was glad when it was over and that I don’t have to read it again.

I gave it 2 out of 5

 

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Review: Cries Unheard: the Story of Mary Bell by Gitta Sereny

Cries Unheard: the Story of Mary Bell

Cries Unheard: the Story of Mary Bell

 

Mary Flora Bell at the age of 11, strangled to death two little boys in Scotswood, an inner-city suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne. She was convicted in December 1968 of the manslaughter of Martin Brown (aged four) and Brian Howe (aged three). In this book Gitta Sereny controversially collaborates with Mary to provide a thought provoking biography that sheds some light on one of the most infamous child-killers of the 20th century.

I went into this book not having read her other book on the case (The Case of Mary Bell: A Portrait of a Child Who Murdered). The book was well written with a relatively easy to read journalistic style of writing. The book is structured in a way that Gitta writes a factual summery of a period of time which is followed by the reflective memory of Mary ad those who worked with her. I have two main criticism of Gitta, one is that there is almost an air of hero worship in the tone of her writing, this could be because she has spent so much time covering the case. The second is how she related the lack of religious faith to the fall of morality. If you need the fear of hell to behave in a good way then you’re not the nicest of people to begin with.

Mary comes across as a really articulate and intellectual, especially considering her start in life and the time spent in the system. One thing that strikes me as really interesting is her writing ability which can be seen in her letters.

The inadequacies of the UK judicial system, when it comes to youth offenders, is shocking. There was a clear bias by all involved to put the blame on Mary while Norma Joyce Bell was treated with protective gloves. From where she was held on remand to the way the prosecutor omitted evidence. It may be controversial to say but the evidence shows that Norma played on her ‘slow’ status.

There seems to have been many opportunity to remove Mary from her mother’s care and i can’t help but think how different life would have been for her and more importantly for Martin Brown and Brian Howe.

Reading this book with an open mind and the belief that there must be something that has happened to these children to make them commit these horrendous crimes. I must admit that I now stand by this view with even more conviction. This does not take away from the horror and torment she caused to those two children and their families. The revelations about Mary’s childhood and the physical, mental, and most of all, disgusting sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother. Her mother, Betty, clearly demonstrates a clear narcissistic tendency of needing to be the centre of attention and this came at the cost of Mary’s parental ‘safety blanket’.

Overall it is a really interesting book which shows how not everything is black and white when it comes to these cases.

If your looking for a book that condemns child killers without a thought, then this is not the one for you. But on the other hand if you want a book that makes you think long and hard about what can cause these acts, this is it.

I give it 4 out of 5.

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Review: Lessons From A Drug Lord

Lessons From A Drug Lord

Lessons From A Drug Lord

First off the bat I must congratulate Mr Attwood on creating a quick, effortless read that was easy to digest and very enjoyable.

For those of us who are yet to come across Shaun’s work let me tell you, well paraphrase from his goodreads bio page, a little about him and his interesting background. Raised in a small chemical-manufacturing town in northern England, Shaun was the first from his family to go to university. As a penniless graduate, he took his business degree to Phoenix, and worked his way up to become a stock-market millionaire. But he also led a double life. An early fan of the Manchester rave scene, Shaun headed an organisation that threw raves and distributed Ecstasy. On May 16th 2002, a SWAT team knocked his door down. He sentenced to 9½ years, and served almost 6. Shaun was released in December 2007, and continues to campaign against Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He keeps Jon’s Jail Journal going by posting stories mailed to him by his prison friends. Shaun presently lives near London, and talks to student audiences across the UK and Europe about his jail experience and the consequences he faced from getting involved in drugs and crime.

I must admit I wasn’t expecting much when I first received this book in the post, after all this comes after a trilogy of his life and time in prison, that I am yet to read. But as I had won this copy in a competition run by Shaun on his twitter page I thought I should at least give it a go, and I must admit I am glad I did.

Shaun’s writing style is casual yet entertaining, he keeps you turning those pages without being sensationalist about the emotive subject covered.

I especially like the story of the relationship he formed with a charismatic mob hit man, known as ‘Two Tony’s’. Showing that although people in prison may have committed horrendous crimes they are still people and need to be helped not locked away. I found that man to be really deep and his story touching.

As a Tool fan the section where Shaun talks to his Yoga instructor who metaphorically describes the subconscious as a spiral to be explored and expanded really sat well with me.

Alternatively the only downside to the book I could find was that the advice given by the yoga teacher sounded like pop psychology mixed with spiritualism, but seemed to be passed on like it was sound psychological advice.

Overall a great book and Shaun should be really proud of both the book and how he has changed his life. I will now have to get the first three books so I can learn more about his story. That is unless he wants to send me a copy and I will review them on here for him.

Overall I will give it 5 out of 5

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Review: Girl A: The truth about the Rochdale sex ring by the victim who stopped them by Girl A

Girl A

 

This was not something I really thought about as being an enjoyable read, and I was right, but as my future career will bring me into contact with victims such as ‘Girl A’ I gave it a chance. This is really a compelling book once you get past the first paragraph or two. It is written in more of a narrative style, which I guess comes from the fact that she dictated her story to a ghost-writer. Some parts where shocking and others had me feeling angry and frustrated at clear failing by the authorities. This book by far had the biggest emotional effect on me out of all the true crime books that I have read.

It taught me about grooming and what it is really like, as apposed to what you hear about online. I learned a lot about the hold these predators can have without physically controlling them, and how this brain washing works. I did find myself getting angry with her at times and found myself wanting to scream at her when she made, what seemed like stupid decisions. However, I guess this just testifies to the hold that the gang had on her.

The crime itself is shocking and the idea that this can be happening in your, or my, hometown is, well, disturbing to say the least. Can there be any rehabilitation for the perpetrators while inside?

The failings by Greater Manchester Police and especially Rochdale Children’s Services where systematic and shocking. Was this due to them not wanting to open a racial can of worm or was it a prejudice against what they saw as a girl from a ‘poor’ and ‘chaotic’ background? Well I guess we will never know, but they fact the social worker called what was happening a ‘lifestyle choice’ should help realise the answer. In fact, I would go as far as to say, that it seemed the victims social worker had a vendetta against ‘Girl A’. There is no doubt that the abuse that affected dozens of teenagers could have been stopped earlier but in the aftermath of the Baby P scandal social workers were more concerned about cases involving younger children than teenagers. Parents were fobbed off with suggestions that their daughter was simply hanging out with a bad crowd. Yet child sexual exploitation was not an unknown concept to care teams in this area. They first identified girls at risk of grooming in 2007. However, even at the end of 2011 they were still making mistakes in efforts to tackle the problem.

The attitudes of the parents sometimes disgusted me also, I know that they did not know everything that was happening, but the judgmental attitude they held should leave them in shame.

If there is anyone from Rochdale council reading this, then I sincerely hope that you have learnt the lessons needed from this failure. Although I must admit, I am not holding my breath.

Finally if ‘Girl A’ ever happens to read this review, I just want to say that you are a very courageous person and I hope your finally moving on and giving your daughter a better life then you had.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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Review: Beyond Evil – Inside the Twisted Mind of Ian Huntley by Nathan Yates

Beyond Evil

Being on a role when it comes to reading I have managed to finish two boos this week. The first one can be found here and now I am reviewing this book about the Soham murders.

Nathan Yates who is a journalist for The Daily Mirror and worked the case as it happened writes this book. A book delves deep into the past of both the killer and his partner including their upbringing and Huntley’s previous sexual and violent history. I can help but think there is a heavy use of ‘artistic licence’ in the details and descriptions that he uses. The author documents what Huntley would have been thinking and feeling when he murdered the girls, when he was hiding the bodies and subsequently trying to return to his normal life. As none of these details have ever been revealed, let alone discussed, I wonder how Nathan knew what was going on. The only person who knows what happened that day is Huntley himself. The author also tries to detail how Huntley killed the girls, which is still disputed by pathologists.

There is also one glaring fault in the book where Nathan claims that he believes Huntley may have used a drug similar to GHB to subdue the two girls, or may have given them alcohol. This is inaccurate as the girls stomach content analysis proved that they had not been given drugs or alcohol as their stomachs were devoid of any alcohol or drug related substances.

Nobody relevant to the case was interviewed in the book. The quotes all come from “a person close to the families”, or “An old school pal”.

Overall the book was sensational and biased, rather than fact based, but having said that it was a good read. Weather or not the murder of Holly and Jessica was intentional or not, I do not know. But I do believe that if he wasn’t caught he would have killed again.

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Review: Cocky – The Rise and Fall of Curtis Warren

Being from Liverpool I was particularly interested to read this book. As far as the reliability of the information contained in the book is concerned, it cannot be faulted. In fact, it sort of read like an official report in places and lacked the writing skills to make it ‘gripping’. I must admit that I struggled to finish it. As an historical background to the issues and reasons behind the troubles in Toxteth it is much more interesting, but that is just a small part of the book.

As far as the Cocky Watchman himself goes, I found him to be an interesting figure who is clearly very clever and charismatic. It is clear that as a youth he had a strong desire to become successful and rise above the poverty and desperation that surrounded him in Toxteth, it just a shame that he did not use his ability and brains for something more productive. Towards the end of the book we start to see how the pressure of being one of the world’s biggest drug dealers makes him paranoid resulting in him living in a safety ‘bubble’ that eventually leads to his downfall.  It is such as shame that he refuses to write his own story, hearing it from his own mouth would be interesting.

I must admit, even though I do not want to, that I did feel sorry for Curtis towards the end of the book. His treatment at the hands of the Dutch judicial system has been disgusting. There seems to have been underhanded dealings between the international police squads that resulted from the desperate need to capture him that has cast a shadow over the whole case.

At the end of the day, the book is written in a journalistic style that can be boring at times and does not really provide anything more then what could be found in reading 90’s newspapers and Wikipedia.

I give it 3 stars out of 5.

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Merry Christmas To All & New Books

Hey you awesome bunch of people who frequent my blog! I hope you are all having an amazing Christmas and, for those who are a part of the OU, i hope your enjoying your two weeks off. If your doing DD101 have you started TMA 03 yet? I would love to hear how you are getting on. I thought i would pop on today to ask you all if you got any awesome psych or criminology related gifts? I got an awesome haul of book this year 🙂 you can never go wrong with books!!

Books Galore!!

Books Galore!!

Granted Two of them arn’t really related to this subject but i had already took the picture lol.

The first book is “The Big Question: Mind” by Richard M Restak

‘The Big Questions’ series is designed to let renowned experts confront the 20 most fundamental and frequently asked questions of a major branch of science or philosophy.

In ‘The Big Questions: Mind’ the explanations behind the ‘mysteries’ of our unique minds – including how they differ from our brains and how they create our awareness – are explored.

Among the questions discussed are: How do brains come to exist? Is the mind more than the brain? What does it mean to be conscious? What is knowledge? Does the mind play tricks? What is the ‘I’ in our brain?

Amazon rated the book as: Well they havn’t but the rest in the series got a good review.

Next we have “Forensic Psychology for Dummies” by David Canter

“A fascinating guide on the psychology of crime Thinking of a career that indulges your CSI fantasies? Want to understand the psychology of crime? Whether studying it for the first time or an interested spectator, Forensic Psychology For Dummies gives you all the essentials for understanding this exciting field, complemented with fascinating case examples from around the world. Inside you′ll find out why people commit crime, how psychology helps in the investigative process, the ways psychologists work with criminals behind bars – and how you too can become a forensic psychologist. You′ll discover what a typical day is like for a forensic psychologist, how they work with the police to build offender profiles, interview suspects or witnesses, and detect lies! Covers the important role psychology plays in assessing offenders Explains how psychology is applied in the courtroom Explains complicated psychology concepts in easy–to–understand terms If you′re a student considering taking forensic psychology or just love to learn about the science behind crime, Forensic Psychology For Dummies is everything you need to get up–to–speed on this fascinating subject.”

Amazon has rated this as 4.7 out of 5

The next book is “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker.

“What makes a serial killer?

Only one man really knows. FBI Special Agent and expert in criminal profiling and behavioural science, John Douglas. A man who has looked evil in the eye and made a vocation of understanding it. Now retired, Douglas can let us inside the FBI elite serial crime unit and into the disturbed minds of some of the most savage serial killers in the world.

The man who was the inspiration for Special Agent Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs and who lent the film’s makers his expertise explains how he invented and established the practice of criminal profiling; what it was like to submerge himself mentally in the world of serial killers to the point of ‘becoming’ both perpetrator and victim; and individual case histories including those of Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and the Atlanta child murders.

With the fierce page-turning power of a bestselling novel, yet terrifyingly true, Mindhunter is a true crime classic.”

With a rating of 4.2 out of 5 it looks like a good read.

“Cocky: The Rise and Fall of Curtis Warren, Britain’s Biggest Drugs Baron” by Tony Barnes, Richard Elias, Peter Walsh is next, descibed as:

Shortlisted for the Macallan Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction

Curtis Warren is an underworld legend, the Liverpool scally who took the methods of the street-corner drug pusher and elevated them to an art form. He forged direct links with the cocaine cartels of Colombia, the heroin godfathers of Turkey, the cannabis cultivators of Morocco and the Ecstasy manufacturers of Holland and Eastern Europe. His drugs went around the world, from the clubs of Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin to the golden beaches of Sydney.

His underlings called him the Cocky Watchman. His pursuers called him Target One.

This best-selling biography uncovers his meteoric rise from Toxteth mugger to `the richest and most successful British criminal who has ever been caught.’ It relates how the Liverpool mafia became the UK’s foremost drug importers; tells how Warren survived gang warfare and how he corrupted top-level police officers; unveils the inside story of the biggest UK law enforcement operation ever undertaken; and reveals the explosive contents of the covert wiretaps that brought his global empire crashing down.

Thoroughly revised and updated, Cocky is a shocking insight into organised crime and an important investigation into the workings of the international drugs trade.”

Rated 4.1 out of 5

Having read the book “The Jigsaw Man” by Paul Briton i thought it only right i follow that up with his other title. “Picking Up The Pieces” is descibed as:

“Forensic psychologist Paul Britton can ‘walk through the minds’ of those who murder, rape, torture, extort and kidnap. He can see the world through their eyes and know what they’re thinking. That is why the police have called on him to help with many high-profile criminal investigations and catch those responsible.

How does he do it? Paul Britton’s newest book, Picking Up the Pieces, reveals the psychological and forensic foundations upon which he has based his expertise. It is a remarkable journey into the darkest recesses of the human mind. From top security prisons and mental hospitals to ordinary outpatients’ clinics, Britton introduces us to his clinical and forensic work. A man turns into a werewolf at four o’clock every afternoon. Another has built an electric chair in his basement to kill his father. A woman accepts the blame for abusing her child when she had nothing to do with it. How can they be helped? When Britton so accurately profiled the child killers of Jamie Bulger in Liverpool, or told police the true nature of Frederick and Rosemary West, he could do so because he had treated disturbed children and confronted sadistic sexual murderers in his consulting room.

For twenty-five years Britton has interviewed, assessed and treated people with damaged or broken minds. Some were responsible for terrible crimes, others were stopped before it was too late. The answers aren’t hidden at bloody crime scenes or in the post-mortem photographs. Instead, the truth is often locked away within someone’s mind or deep in their past.

Picking Up the Pieces is not a sequel to Britton’s award-winning autobiography The Jigsaw Man, but a companion volume that shows the heart of his work and the knowledge that underpins his conclusions.

It is a unique and revealing book that will fascinate and provoke discussion.”

With a rating of 4.3 out of 5 i hope this one is a bit better then the last.

Next is a book on a subject i know very little about. “Beyond Evil” by Nathan Yates is descirbed as follows:

“The horrific murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman shocked and sickened the nation. The man found guilty of their murders is now one of the most reviled men in the country. As if his crime was not dreadful enough, he has recently admitted that he lied under oath about the circumstances of one of the murders. This in-depth book is written by investigative journalist Nathan Yates, who witnessed the murder hunt first-hand and even interviewed Huntley and former girlfriend Maxine Carr. Yates also has an exclusive source for contact with Ian Huntley and will have further revelations about how far Huntley has lied about what happened that tragic day.”

Amazon has a rating of 4.3 out of 5. Im starting to notice a trend with these ratings lol.

Last but not least is “Jack the Ripper: CSI: Whitechapel” by Paul Begg.

“Over 100 years have elapsed since what is believed to have been Jack the Ripper’s final murder, yet he still has a powerful hold over the public’s imagination, which is manifested in the hundreds of books, television programs, and films that are produced every year on the subject. “Jack the Ripper: Crime Scene Investigation” is the first and only book to enable the reader to travel back into the London of 1888 by reconstructing key scenes from Jack the Ripper’s murders in pin-point accuracy. Through detailed and atmospheric crime scene recreations, plus thoroughly researched text written by experts in the field of Jack the Ripper, this book explores the movements of each victim, the position of witnesses. and the location of various buildings and streets to give the reader the most complete view to date of the gruesome crimes that shook Victorian society.”

Rated as 4.7 out of 5 this will be my first reading on Jack.

Books Mofo!

Books Mofo!

Well i hope you have enjoyed this summery and i will have detailed reviews as i read them. Would love to hear from you if you have read any of these.

Happy Christmas!!!!