The Death Row Book Club


Anthony Ray Hinton | The Sun Does Shine | St. Martin’s Press | March 2018 | 14 minutes (3,745 words)

The books were a big deal. Nobody had books on death row. They had never been allowed, and it was like someone had brought in contraband. Only six guys were allowed to join me in book club, but every guy on the row was now allowed to have two books besides the Bible in his cell. Some didn’t care, but others made calls out to family and friends to let them know they could send in a book or two. It had to be a brand-new book and be sent directly from a bookstore to the prison. It was like a whole new world opened up, and guys started talking about what books they liked. Some guys didn’t know how to read, others were real slow, almost childlike, and had never…

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December 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of Mad Hatters and March Hares

Tantor Media

Read by C.S.E Cooney and Eric Michael Summerer

From master anthologist Ellen Datlow comes an all-original of weird tales inspired by the strangeness of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Read the full description.

How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to
  2. Put the word “hatter” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by Dec 31, 2017. Open to US only.


Congratulations to William Arnold, winner of last month’s giveaway of Around the World in Eighty Wines. Thank you to all that entered.

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The Woman Who Smashed Codes: America’s Secret Weapon in World War II


  Jason Fagone | The Woman Who Smashed Codes | Harper Collins| October 2017 | 9 minutes (2,295 words)

Below is an excerpt from The Woman Who Smashed CodesJason Fagone’s riveting new book chronicling the work of Elizebeth Smith Friedman and William F. Friedman, a pair of “know-nothings” who invented the science of codebreaking and became the greatest codebreakers of their era. Their contributions continue to influence the U.S. intelligence community to this day. Our thanks to Jason Fagone and Harper Collins for allowing us to share a portion of this book with the Longreads community.

* * *

Sixty years after she got her first job in codebreaking, when Elizebeth was an old woman, the National Security Agency sent a female representative to her apartment in Washington, D.C. The NSA woman had a tape recorder and a list of questions. Elizebeth suddenly craved a…

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Crayon Tinted Embroidery Tutorial

I’ve been doing this for years, my Grandma Viola taught me this technique using crayons and a brown paper bag. I use a lot of line art machine embroidery patterns and make coloring books out of them using stabilizer and give them as gifts. You’ll find your own favorite way. The main thing to remember is “HAVE FUN” and there is no wrong way if it works and you enjoy it. Ila in Maine


Do you yearn to pull out those Crayons and relive your grade school days? Well we can! Tinted embroidery is a great way to spruce up those open spaces in a project and add a little color without all the work of filling in spaces with filler stitches like satin stitching.

So go grab your supplies and let’s get started!

Embroidery pattern
Pencil or brown .01 Pigma Pen
White paper towels

I’m working on Crabapple Hill’s Which Witch’s Boot.

1) Pin your pattern to your fabric.

2) Using a light box, transfer your pattern using a #2 pencil or Pigma pen. Remove pins and pattern.

3) Using a white Crayon, color heavily the areas that will be tinted with color. If your fabric is pulling, try taping your fabric down.

4) Tint the areas with the Crayons. Use light strokes. Remember we are tinting, not coloring…

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I Heard You Paint Houses Review

I Heard You Paint Houses: Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran and the Inside Story of the Mafia, the Teamsters, and the Final Ride of Jimmy Hoffa by Charles Brandt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Awesome book. There are numerous edits of this book as the author promised Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran not to publish certain things he was told until after certain people died so they would not be prosecuted or hounded by the FBI to roll on others. I understand this decision and admire that his promise was kept.

I highly recommend this book, and that you read or listen to the most recent edition, in my case that is the 2017 edition.

I Heard You Paint Houses

What I learned: What truly happened to Jimmy Hoffa. Something I have wanted to know for a good part of my life. Thought I have never, ever doubted he was, to use a euphemism, sleeping with the fishes, exactly how he got to that point was always the big question. Who did it? Why was it done? Where is the body? I now know this and you will also if you read this book.

I also learned exactly what happened to our beloved JFK, the who, how and why. I never believed the Warren Commission, and if you did, or do, please read this. That’s all I am going to say about that. I don’t want to spoil anything.

What I learned about the assassination of JFK angered me, made me shake with anger, and brought home to me just how filthy Politics and the people involved in them can be. Not all are, but some can be. I mourned all over again the loss of a great man who was ahead of his time.

I was 5 years old when JFK was murdered. I lived in a small (pop 116) town in KY on the border of TN. I came in the house to hear my racist father say “Someone finally killed that n __r(I refuse to type the rest of that derogatory work) lover.” I lost ALL respect for my father then and there, and I never regained it. He was a Minister – and taught us in church that we were all created equal, we were all children of God yet…. I can’t to this day abide a Hypocrite and I do everything within my life to love all people no matter their color, preferences or orientation.

This books contains the use of that N word a lot and my daughter objected to it. I was so proud of her. I explained to her that it was because of the times, and the ignorance of the people speaking, and that I disliked it as well. Its so hard for me to hear that word but it is used in this book during a certain time period, and you should know that in advance.

On to more positive aspects:

The author Charles Brandt does an excellent job of keeping dates, people and facts straight. Even listening to the audio book I never became confused as to who was being discussed, where the conversation was taking place or, perhaps most importantly what was being discussed.

One thing I have always heard about Jimmy Hoffa, and as a member of the working class of the USA, I have to agree with, was the good he did for the working class.

Without Jimmy Hoffa children would still be able to work at age 12 -for unlimited hours. We would be able to work unlimited hours without being compensated for overtime. We would not have insurance from our employers, and yes I know that now some do not, but that was taken away by Politicians, and weak union members.

There would be no prenatal or after birth time off – and so many more working ‘rights’ that we now expect would be absent from our lives.

Jimmy Hoffa was a stand up man. I always was told this, I always believed this, and I found nothing in this book to dissuade me from continuing to believe it. On the scales of life, he certainly weighed out on the side of good much more than bad. He lived to help make the lives of others better than what they were before.

So why 4 stars instead of 5? Documentation was not available, that I am aware of, from the author. He speaks of it, but if its available somewhere I missed it, and its entirely possible I did. Listening to an audiobook its easier to do. However there was not a separate download as there was with other audiobooks, with a website listing to view documentation.

If that had been available my review would have been 5 stars.

I have read anything and everything I can find about Jimmy Hoffa. I found this book to be the most informative, and I feel a sense of peace, finally, knowing what happened to Mr. Hoffa. May he rest in peace.

Ila in Portland, ME
Sept 29, 2017

View all my reviews

Random Acts of Silence

Something Stirs

One day, when my stepson was ten years old, he arrived home from school in tears. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that some older kids at school had cornered him, mocked him, beat him up, and called him a “fag”. One of them spit into his mouth. Why? Because he wore glasses. In telling me this story, my stepson seemed angry, not so much at the boys who had tormented him, but at himself. He referred to himself as “stupid” and “ugly”. And this is what bullying does: it shatters the confidence of children before they have even had a chance to fully develop it. Being so malleable and emotionally fragile at that age, they believe what they are told by their peers if they hear it often enough. Childhood is a minefield fraught with insecurity and uncertainty. We don’t yet know who we are…

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Worth reading, if you have the stomach for it.

If you are not familiar, Dana is an excellent author in her own right. I respect her for many reasons, and I enjoy her reviews.

Dana Stabenow


In the early twenties the Osage Nation becomes rich on the oil buried beneath their land in Osage County, Oklahoma, and then white men begin marrying Osages and killing them and all their family members so they could run off with the cash. The Osage call it the Reign of Terror, those years between 1920 to 1926, although evidence shows that it probably started at least three years before and continued for some time afterward.

The subsequent investigation by a nascent FBI revealed that everyone was in on it, the coroners, the undertakers, the police, it was a conspiracy of silence all the way up to Congress, who in their ineffable insufferableness collude with these greedy, racist, murderous assholes by deeming the Osage unfit to manage their own money and naming some of the actual murderers as the Osages’ guardians. It takes Osage Mollie Burkhart until 1941 to get that…

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Is it true that Donald Trump has unusually small hands? If so, what is the evidence?

Is it true that Donald Trump has unusually small hands? If so, what is the evidence? by Simon Moore

Answer by Simon Moore:

In the Madam Tussaud’s wax museum in New York, there’s a bronze cast of Trump’s hand. It’s been there since 1997 when the museum took impressions of Trump for their waxwork model of him.

The cast shows that Trump’s hand is 7.25″ long, measuring from wrist to tip of the middle finger. The average length of a male’s hand in the USA is 7.61″ long, making Trump’s hand in the bottom 15th percentile. This means 85% of all American men (and indeed 33% of all American women) have bigger hands than Trump.

This statistic in itself is a little misleading in that it flatters Trump. Trump claims to be 6′3″ tall, making him significantly taller than the average American man (at 5′9″). the 7.6″ hand size is for average sized men. Compared to men of his own size, Trumps hands would be even smaller in comparison, down to the bottom 5th (perhaps even lower) percentile. By comparison, I’m also 6′3″ but my hand size is 9″.

You can even print out and measure your hand against the great man himself:

It’s a shocking indictment of current American politics that the level of discourse has dropped to that of the schoolyard. My willy’s bigger than yours!

Is it true that Donald Trump has unusually small hands? If so, what is the evidence?

April 2017 Audiobook Giveaway of The Sting of the Wild

I admire Justin for his willingness to offer up his own body for pain experiments.

Tantor Media

“Schmidt’s tales will prove infectiously engaging even to entomophobes.”
Publishers Weekly Starred Review

In The Sting of the Wild, entomologist Justin O. Schmidt takes us on a journey inside the lives of stinging insects, seeing the world through their eyes as well as his own. Read the full description.

“Not only does he explain his Schmidt Sting Pain Index, wherein he rates the pain of numerous stings on a scale of one to four, but he also relates the fascinating natural histories of these animals.” —National Geographic


How to Win This MP3-CD Audiobook

  1. Send an email to
  2. Put the word “Ouch” in the subject line.

Entries must be received by April 30, 2017. Open to US only.


Congratulations to Ray Sutton, winner of last month’s giveaway of The Cyanide Canary! Thank you to all that entered.

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