Book Review #89: “The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity”

When I did a recent Tag post, I picked this book as “An intimidating book on your TBR.”

I wrote: “The Less People Know About Us: A Mystery of Betrayal, Family Secrets, and Stolen Identity by Axton Betz-Hamilton. I know the backstory behind this book, Betz-Hamilton’s memoir, from the Criminal podcast. (Make sure you listen to Episode 51 first, then Episode 125). I want it to be as amazing as I think it is, based on the podcast episodes that were so masterfully produced.”

As soon as I heard about Betz-Hamilton’s book on Episode 125 of the Criminal podcast, I added it to my wish list. I was so thrilled when I opened it as part of my Christmas gift from Al at the end of 2019.

It took me nearly six months to get to it, but I knew I was avoiding it. I had so many high hopes for this book, and I did not want to be disappointed.

Thankfully, this was not disappointing.

It’s hard to talk about this book without giving away certain things. But, I will say that I hope Betz-Hamilton writes more books. She did an incredible job with this. It’s such a personal story, and she truly turned it into action. She has done incredible work with helping identity theft victims for many years, while simultaneously trying to solve the mystery of identity theft in her own family.

If you’ve wanted to learn about identity theft, and its interesting history, this is a great book to read. Betz-Hamilton started her investigation with hardly any resources, and little law enforcement involvement. Times have certainly changed, and she helped educate many people along the way. Without her work, I don’t think identity theft would be as widely known or investigated now.

I related to this book in a few ways. Axton and I were both only children. I struggled with my relationship with my mom, especially as I became a teenager. But, I realize how good I had it. Axton lived in a version of hell under her mother’s roof until she went to college. I recognized so many signs of abuse, sadly.

The chapters were the perfect length. I flew through multiple chapters every night, and struggled with putting the book down.

It was so interesting to read about her life. This book spanned from before she was born up through the early 2010s. I really enjoyed the personal anecdotes, mixed in with academia and identity theft history. I’ve found myself searching for presentations she’s given. I’m hoping she’ll offer a course on identity theft. I want to learn more from her.

This is currently my favorite book of 2020. I’m always planning to re-read it next year.

5 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #180: Nine Years

True Love

Image Credit: TheloveBits

I love writing these “dating anniversary” posts every year!

Today, Al and I celebrate nine years together!

Here are nine photos that are special to me.

June 2014: One of six weddings we celebrated that year. This was taken at April and Steven’s wedding reception.

December 2014: Al’s first company Christmas party! I loved that dress so much!

Our first Tidewater Comic-Con!

November 2015: I will always share wedding photos.

November 2015: One of our many honeymoon photos.

December 2015: Cheesin’ with my new iPhone.

December 2015: Taken at lunch before seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

December 2018: The day we adopted Phineas and Ferb!

August 2019: My birthday party at Circuit Social!

Happy Anniversary, Al. I love you!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂



Getting Personal #139: Eight Years

Love Quote - BrainyQuote

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I love writing these “dating anniversary” posts every year!

Today, Al and I celebrate eight years together!

Here are eight photos that are special to me.


September 2010: This was the first very photo that was taken of us!


January 2015: Spending the weekend with friends in Richmond.


November 2015: One of the best days of my life!


October 2017: One of my favorite photos of all time. This was at the start of Nick and Savy’s wedding reception at the farm.


October 2017: Dancing the night away!


April 2018: We took this at The Main in Norfolk!


April 2018: This was part of the “Love Gallery” at LanternAsia, the amazing display at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.


August 2018: This was the Norfolk Tides game on my birthday!

Happy Anniversary, Al. I love you!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #83: Seven Years


Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I can’t believe another year has passed.

On this day in 2016, I posted the following:

I loved doing it, and since I received so much positive feedback, I’ve decided to make this an annual post!

Plus, I’m really proud of myself – In the last year, I’ve posted nearly 50 “Getting Personal” posts. Wow!!

Today, Al and I celebrate seven years together.

Here are seven photos that are special to me.

Facebook July 26

Photo taken July 2015. I made this photo my Facebook cover photo on July 26th: “Two years ago today, we had our amazing engagement photo session with Amanda Kyle MacDiarmid, who owns and operates Stellar Exposures. I had completely forgotten about this photo until it popped up on my Facebook Memories! I need to get a photo canvas!” Image Credit: Amanda Kyle MacDiarmid, owner / operator of Stellar Exposures.

November 2015 (3)

November 2015: I think we were laughing during Al’s dad’s toast as the best man. Image Credit: Amanda Kyle MacDiarmid, owner / operator of Stellar Exposures.

November 2015

November 2015: Obligatory photo! We had a blast at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in Orlando, Florida, for our honeymoon!

November 2015 (2)

November 2015: All smiles at Universal Studios!

February 2016

February 2016: When Lane came home to visit! Cannot wait for the end of October! Image Credit: Lauren Lane Bellar.

September 2016

September 2016: Al took this photo while we were sitting around the fire at the Vardaro Farm, Scottsburg, Virginia.

Bauer Holiday Party December 2016

December 2016: Bauer Compressors company Christmas party.

We need to take more pictures to round out 2017!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Book Review #40: “The End of Everything”

The End of Everything

Image Credit: Amazon

A couple of weeks ago, I found this book while I visited 2nd and Charles with a dear friend of mine. They opened a new location across the street from my office last year – They have every type of book, DVDs, Blu-ray, vinyl, CDs, toys, games, and more. Some things are brand-new, still in the packaging! It was only $5.00, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

I immediately recognized that Abbott is the author of other books such as You Will Know Me (currently on my TBR). I was intrigued by a combination of the cover and the synopsis on the inside. And, I can’t really turn down a hardcover book for $5.00!

I found myself reading multiple chapters per night, and I ended up finishing the book after less than a week.

In the 1980s, Lizzie and Evie are finishing up eighth grade, best friends since childhood. They’re attached to each other’s hips, but they appear to be going through their own paths and struggles. What 13-year-olds don’t?

Lizzie’s dad left years ago, but her mom looks like she’s been having a man over to the house recently. Evie appears to be living in her older sister, Dusty’s, shadow, but also excelling at soccer while trying to figure out what happens next.

Then, mere weeks before eighth-grade graduation, Evie Verver suddenly vanishes. As her family and the police investigate, Lizzie proves to be invaluable, finding multiple clues and helping assemble the complex puzzle. Everyone is desperate to get Evie back, although different characters are going through different emotions and handling the situation in different ways. One suspect, from their own neighborhood, looks promising, and the intensity continues to increase.

The book weaves together the complex topics/subjects of a child abduction, painful childhood memories, blossoming sexuality, and the relationships of parents with their children. The setting was the 1980s, and Abbott stays faithful to it the entire time. She also does a good job with balancing tragedy with triumph in her writing.

The only major complaint I had was that Abbott focuses so much on the relationship between Lizzie and Mr. Verver, and then tries to also explain/develop the relationship between Dusty and her father. The lines started to blur, and it was hard to tell sometimes who Abbott was referring to, and to figure out what exactly was going on.

It was challenging to differentiate between the two, and I felt a little creeped out by the end of the book. Mr. Verver appeared to be the sweetest, least-pervy of the fathers in the book, but some of the allusions that Abbott was making, absolutely made my skin crawl. Part of me didn’t want Lizzie, Evie, or Dusty to be taken advantage of, but part of me knew that the setting was also a different era (in a way), and parent-child relationships can still be taken too far, if you catch my drift. It makes me shudder just writing it.

Abbott is a great writer overall, and I look forward to reading more of her books! I just hope this one is just a fluke.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #39: “The Truth About Toxic Relationships” (Reblogged)

Carla’s post about toxic relationships is spot on. I sincerely appreciate her writing about this, since this topic is something I have been struggling with immensely, for a good while now.

No names mentioned, but seeing this post this morning makes me feel so much better, and so much less guilty.

Thank you, Carla!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #34: Six Years

Love Quote - picturequotes

Image Credit:

Today, Al and I celebrate six years together.


Time flies when you’re having fun.

I want to share a few special pictures with you, my readers. But, other than that, I’ll keep this post short.

I’ve expressed my love for Al several times on the blog:

So, here’s six photos that are very special to me.

Al - November 2010

November 2010: This was a candid shot taken at the Alpha Sigma Tau Anchor Banquet, just a couple months after we started dating. Photo Credit: Tina Bird Stewart.

Al - August 2013

August 2013: I entered a contest on Busch Gardens’ Facebook page, and ended up winning VIP passes to their KC and the Sunshine Band concert! We had a blast!

Al - August 2014

August 2014: We decided to visit the Norfolk Zoo for the first time in years, and had a great time! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Al - December 2014

December 2014: This was Al’s company Christmas party at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. I absolutely loved the Kate Spade sparkly dress!

Al - July 2015

July 2015: This was just one of our fabulous engagement photos at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront! Photo Credit: Amanda MacDiarmid, owner/operator of Stellar Exposures.

Al - November 2015

November 2015: One of the many spectacular, gorgeous photos of our amazing wedding day! Photo Credit: MacDiarmid, owner/operator of Stellar Exposures.

Happy Anniversary, Al!

Here’s to the rest of our lives!

I love you!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂