The Golden Child – Wendy James

Published July 22, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Can bad children happen to good mothers? A totally absorbing novel, for readers of Liane Moriarty, Lionel Shriver and Christos Tsiolkas.

Blogger Lizzy’s life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness …
Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth’s clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.
This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Harper 360, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers for sending me a copy of this fascinating novel in exchange for an honest review. When the call for reviewers went up on Twitter, I was hugely grateful for my good blogger friend, Janel @ Keeper Of Pages tagging me in the post for as soon as I had read the synopsis, I instantly knew it was something I had to get on board with. I was intrigued by the idea of a narrative that focuses on the intensity of friendships between young adolescents and the all too prevalent rise of cyber bullying with its devastating effects. I have to be honest and admit I did see “what was coming,” but it didn’t effect my enjoyment of the story in the slightest. It was still a compelling read and I found the bullying part in particular was handled both deftly and sensitively by the author.

Wendy James, author of The Golden Child.

Not only does the female lead in this story share my first name, she also shares my hobby and of course, that’s blogging. This book seemed like the perfect fit and I was eager to get started, especially as I feel so passionately about the toll bullying can have on a person – unfortunately, I speak from multiple personal experiences. This is the story of Beth, who uproots her family, including two daughters (one on the border of adolescence, one adolescent) back to her home country of Australia from America where the girls grew up in order to give them all a better life. Once the girls are enrolled in school, it’s not long before the tension starts to rise. Enter the world of cliques, the nature of popularity, how it feels to be an outsider and horrifyingly, how the Internet and social media can use a person’s insecurities against themselves in the worst ways with potentially life-altering consequences.

Newcastle, Australia where the Mahony family move to begin their new lives.

As with most of these books, saying any more would definitely be giving away some spoilers for the novel and you already know I’m not one to do that, right? Let me just say the author has astutely captured what it’s like to be a teenage girl when fitting in and having people “like” you seems to be the only thing worth worrying about in your life. I remember those days so well. I attended boarding school for six years in Scotland whilst my parents were in Germany. My dad was in the army and we moved around every three years so they thought sending me away to school would be a more stable environment for my studies. As you might be able to imagine, I didn’t have the best time there and it was difficult, my mum being in a foreign country, I couldn’t just go home at the end of the day for a hug and get away from it all.

This is where The Golden Child really spoke to me. I felt the pain of the girl who was being victimised so intensely and can only thank my lucky stars social media wasn’t a thing when I was at school, I’m not sure in all honesty if I would have survived my years there emotionally intact! Then there are the bullies, the Queen Bees, the Mean Girls that everyone fawns over and begs their approval – I saw so much of people I have known in these girls but also, to try and approach it from a different angle, could see how seemingly innocent jibes could get so badly out of control. Sometimes, I really don’t believe bullies realise the repercussions of their actions or how it might affect a person right the way through their life and more certainly needs to be done to try and educate people about why this sort of thing is NOT okay.

As I alluded to in the opening paragraph of my review, unfortunately I did see where this story was going and although that was a bit of a shame, I still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this novel to anyone interested in the topic, particularly in how extreme and suffocating adolescence can feel for each child going through it. It was a hard-hitting, extremely necessary read and the author approached this rather thorny(but VERY relevant) issue absolutely beautifully.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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Blog Tour – Do No Harm by L V Hay

Published July 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Till death do us part…

After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong…
Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives…
Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the always fabulous Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of Do No Harm in exchange for an honest review. I’m adoring the new wave of psychological/domestic thrillers that are coming out at the moment and although sometimes I worry that they’re going to be too similar, so far I haven’t found any yet that aren’t both unique and thrilling reads. This is definitely the case with Do No Harm, it has so much to recommend it – a compelling, twisty plot, fascinating and very readable characters and of course, those unexpected moments (I call them “gasp out louds”) that cement the book in your memory and make it more likely you’ll remember the story months down the line.

L V Hay, author of Do No Harm.

This is the story of a marriage, as you might have guessed. Actually, hang on a second, this is the story of TWO marriages. We have our main female lead, Lily and her new husband Sebastian who have recently married and are attempting to achieve full wedded bliss but are being hampered slightly (understatement of the year!) by the spectre of Lily’s previous marriage with ex-husband, the very intense Maxwell. Lily and Maxwell both share a son and although they share custody fairly amicably, the boy becomes a perfect pawn for both finding out what is going on in the newlyweds’ household and manipulating that situation for some other, more venomous motives. Lily and Sebastian are desperate to enjoy their new life as man and wife and Sebastian, to forge a relationship with his stepson but it’s not long before the cracks start to show and the family are at breaking point. However, what they don’t realise is exactly how out of hand and dangerous their lives are about to get.

Do No Harm is a gripping tale where you really never know what’s coming next. I’ve read so many novels in this genre and I can’t help myself trying to predict what’s going to happen but with this novel? I failed miserably. I kept thinking I had figured it all out and feeling quite smug and clever then my bubble was well and truly burst when L V Hay pulled that metaphorical rug right out from under me and completely twisted everything round beyond all recognition. I thought it was going to be obvious. It’s not obvious. I thought it was going to be predictable. Nope, definitely not predictable. I love when an author surprises me and refuses to submit to a cliché and Do No Harm does this time and time again. I’ve also had the misfortune to be in an obsessive, negative and manipulative relationship and the author describes the uncomfortable, confusing nature of this perfectly. Expect the unexpected with this exciting novel and just enjoy being taken along for a ride where ANYTHING could happen.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

L. V. Hay is a novelist, script editor, blogger, and head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival. She is the author of Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays and the thriller The Other Twin.

Check out L V Hay’s website HERE

Thank you once again to Anne Cater and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Do No Harm was published on the 30th June 2018 and is available as a paperback and an e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Do No Harm on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39215628-do-no-harm

Link to Do No Harm on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Do-No-Harm-L-Hay-ebook/dp/B079YWK3GK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531663434&sr=8-1&keywords=do+no+harm+lv+hay

Shtum – Jem Lester

Published July 17, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Powerful, darkly funny and heart-breaking, Shtum is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation – a strategic decision to further Jonah’s case in an upcoming tribunal – Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben’s elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men – one who can’t talk; two who won’t – are thrown together.

What did I think?:

There were a few things that first attracted me to Shtum by Jem Lester. Initially, I couldn’t fail but to be pulled in by that gorgeous cover and the way it was published as a naked hardback (one of my favourite types of hardbacks) then I read the synopsis and the early reviews and I got The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time vibe from it which intrigued me and made me more keen to check out what it was all about. Now I ordinarily hate comparing books to each other but did Shtum live up to the dizzying heights of Curious Incident? Unfortunately, not quite but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book by any stretch of the imagination. I think when you go into something expecting a direct copy, it’s never going to end well and Shtum deserves to stand on its own as the story of a very different and fascinating family that I did end up feeling a range of conflicting emotions for.

Jem Lester, author of Shtum.

In a nutshell, this is the story of Ben Jewell who has recently separated from his wife, taking custody of his severely autistic son Jonah and living with his father, Jonah’s grandfather Georg. The interesting thing about Ben and Emma’s struggles is that their separation is staged, purely so that they have a better chance of getting Jonah into the residential school of their dreams that will offer them a much higher level of support than they have previously been receiving. Both parents are at breaking point, with Jonah and with each other and Ben has turned to drinking heavily as a way of escaping rather than helping to run the family business. He is also dealing with a difficult relationship with his father, Georg and as the fight to get Jonah the best care rumbles on, everything comes to a head for all parties concerned and they must learn to pull together as a family if they are all going to get through this hardest of times unscathed.

An indication of the main problems that a child with autism spectrum disorder can present with.

Now, I’m in no way, shape or form an autism expert but I had no idea how devastating an effect severe autism can have on a family. Compared with Curious Incident, where our protagonist is on the milder end of the spectrum, Shtum gives a no holds barred account of the “other” end where lack of speech, continence and occasional aggression seem to be the norm. I cannot imagine how debilitating it must be for the child and for the family as a whole and it was certainly an eye opener into a different, very cruel world. On further reading, I’ve discovered Jem Lester happens to have a severely autistic child so presumably has drawn on a lot of his own personal experiences to tell Ben and Jonah’s story and this makes the narrative all the more poignant, increasing my admiration and respect for the author ten-fold.

As for the conflicting emotions I mentioned earlier, that was mainly directed towards the behaviour of certain characters in the novel whom I found endlessly frustrating at points. Yes, we understand why Ben drinks and also why he shirks work. In the horrendous situation that he finds himself where his child requires constant, specialist care, you can’t blame him for becoming depressed and losing himself in something that will make him forget his troubles and responsibilities for a while. But this was also the reason why I just wanted to shake him. Him and Emma, for burying their heads in the sands and ignoring the issues or not asking for the appropriate help that they obviously deserve. Ben’s love for Jonah completely shines through and this is lovely to see, despite his misgivings and considerably “human” reactions to an awful situation BUT there were so many opportunities that he had the chance to turn his life round, build his fractured relationship with his father, sort his drinking out and each time, he just failed miserably.

Of course, it is always difficult to get that happy ending and it was authentic in the way that Ben took his sweet time to address his troubles but personally, I just found myself getting annoyed with him too quickly for his occasionally ridiculous actions. However, if you can get past this, this is a heart-breaking read that is well worth the time and investment purely for the different slice of life that this kind of challenge brings to thousands of families all over the world every day. I appreciated the sentiment, the volatile relationships and the humble way in which the author approaches a difficult and emotional subject area.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History – Bill Schutt

Published July 16, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism–the role it plays in evolution as well as human history–is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we’ve come to accept as fact.

In Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural Historyzoologist Bill Schutt sets the record straight, debunking common myths and investigating our new understanding of cannibalism’s role in biology, anthropology, and history in the most fascinating account yet written on this complex topic. Schutt takes readers from Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, where he wades through ponds full of tadpoles devouring their siblings, to the Sierra Nevadas, where he joins researchers who are shedding new light on what happened to the Donner Party–the most infamous episode of cannibalism in American history. He even meets with an expert on the preparation and consumption of human placenta (and, yes, it goes well with Chianti).

Bringing together the latest cutting-edge science, Schutt answers questions such as why some amphibians consume their mother’s skin; why certain insects bite the heads off their partners after sex; why, up until the end of the twentieth century, Europeans regularly ate human body parts as medical curatives; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of the Neanderthals. He takes us into the future as well, investigating whether, as climate change causes famine, disease, and overcrowding, we may see more outbreaks of cannibalism in many more species–including our own.

Cannibalism places a perfectly natural occurrence into a vital new context and invites us to explore why it both enthralls and repels us.

And now for something a bit different…

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special review on my blog. In April, I had the pleasure of doing my first buddy reads with Stuart from Always Trust In Books where we read the YA novel Scythe, the first in a fantastic new series. Check out my review HERE and Stuart’s review HERE. We both had a great time doing it and decided for our next buddy read to read something a bit different – in this case, a popular science book all about cannibalism. I realise I might have lost some readers right now, haven’t I?!

Stuart and I ummed and aaahed for a little bit about how we wanted to review this book – individually or more of a collaboration and he had the brilliant idea of capturing our Twitter chat and then including it as part of our review. So please find here before our thoughts and feelings about Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History at the moment of reading it. If you’re worried about spoilers, never fear! Stuart and I deliberately kept the juicier parts of the narrative very vague so if you haven’t read this yet, no big secrets are given away.

What did WE think?:

Beth: Okay I’ve just finished Chapter Five, let me know your thoughts whenever you’re ready! 🤔🤗

Stuart: I’ve been looking forward to teaming up with you again for a read and here we are! What a topic for discussion we have ourselves, cannibalism. The first 5 chapters were both immensely graphic and incredibly informative. I am enjoying Bill Schutt’s writing style, though it is slightly information dense, and his insights into insect, fish and mammal cannibalism was fascinating if not slightly hard to process. I will never look at Cupid the same again. How are you finding this read?

Beth: I’m really enjoying it Stuart, as you say it’s incredibly informative and as a huge animal lover this was always going to be an interesting read for me. It did take me about two or three chapters to really get into it and get used to his writing style but now I feel fully invested. I’m loving finding out facts I wasn’t aware of about cannibalism in the natural world – I mean the dedication of that mother spider was crazy wasn’t it? Are you enjoying the illustrations?

Stuart: The illustrations are great if not a little unsettling 😂. Yeah I know what you mean about getting into Schutt’s rhythm. I was surprised how common cannibalism is in the wild and what it truly takes for animals and creatures to cross that line. Reading about insects and animals makes me dread when Schutt gets to the humanity sections!

Beth: Very unsettling! I did like the part about the acrobat redback spider though even if he comes to quite a sticky end. 😕 There is a dark humour throughout which I am appreciating as well!

Stuart: I think we are going to need that dark humour for the coming chapters! This has to be the most surprising non-fiction read I have ever read. I wonder what other secrets Schutt has in store for us. He brings up many good points about the idea of cannibalism and what actually constitutes cannibalistic behaviour. I am glad that Schutt is a hands on scientist because I don’t think this book would have been as impacting if he was just reiterating previous research.

Beth: Well, we’ve got some interesting chapters coming up including one on dinosaurs and one on Neanderthals! I’m looking forward to what’s coming next – shall we read onto the end of Chapter Ten?

Stuart: Sounds good. Should be there by tomorrow morning. Chat to you then 😁

Beth: 👍🏻

Chapter 10

Stuart: I have just finished chapter 10 and ready to discuss you are 😁.

Beth: Okay I’m ready! Sorry, had an interview today and was studying. Well that was an interesting few chapters! I have to say I didn’t enjoy them quite as much as the previous five but I was intrigued to read about Colombus and his determination to label all indigenous people cannibals!

Stuart: Yeah it is hard to discern what is sensationalism and what is genuine cannibalism. I am glad the spirit of the book is that cannibalism is only an animals/humans last resort of survival. Painting the Carib’s as monsters to justify wiping them out is brutal and it has distorted our view on other cultures still to this day. I was fascinated by how far back evidence of cannibalism in nature goes.

Beth: I can’t even imagine how they had the gall to paint them as monsters with one eye or a tail etc?! It was quite a sobering fact to think of the amount of the indigenous population has been decimated due to invasion, direct or indirect factors! 😱

Stuart: Considering there is very little evidence to suggest any ritualistic cannibalism present in those communities and cultures other than in times of mourning or survival. Definitely not savage, mindless and evil behaviour. It goes to show how important it is to stick with the facts as false evidence can lead to a lot of suffering! Schutt has done a great job compiling and explaining the history of cannibalism. I hope we get more up to date insights in the coming chapters.

Beth: I completely agree. As the subtitle “A Perfectly Natural History,” suggests it seems like it’s only resorted to when necessary or as part of a ritual of a tribe for dealing with dead bodies rather than burying them as they find burial abhorrent. Who’s to say what’s right and what’s wrong if they had their own religious/spiritual reasons for it?

Stuart: Reading ahead a little I can see a couple of natural western practices that involve cannibalism in certain forms so it is about to get even more intriguing. Meet back at chapter 15?

Beth: 👍🏻

Chapter 15

Beth: Hi Stuart, ready whenever you are. 😁

Stuart: I am ready too 😁 chapters 11-15 are, in my opinion, the strongest so far. What do you think?

Beth: Absolutely. I read it all in one evening yesterday as I’ve been so busy and it was so interesting I flew through it. The chapter about the Donner Party was fascinating and I also loved the eating people is good/bad chapters! I particularly enjoyed the small part on cannibalism in fairy tales and cannibalism in China. What did you think about the filial piety and honouring your parents?? 😱

Stuart: Each chapter delved into the thought, struggle and methodology behind potentially eating another human being. It really did turn my stomach but it was interesting to see humanity’s recent dealings with cannibalism. The Donner Party showed the true circumstances that a person may cross that line. I guess different cultures have to show their love/mourn their losses in different ways 😯

Beth: Yes and if it’s the option of survival where food is scarce, what else where they going to do? I was quite interested about the references to cannibalism in the Bible, I was raised Catholic (lapsed now!) but I remember being told communion was Christ’s body and blood. Of course I didn’t even connect it back then with cannibalism. 😳

Beth: Ready to read until the end? 🤗

Stuart: Absolutely! I am impressed with Schutt’s work and I am hoping he has saved the best for last 😁

The End

Beth: Hey Stuart, ready whenever you are! 😁

Stuart: I am ready 😃. What did you think of the last lot of chapters?

Beth: Yaay! Well, those were some very interesting chapters indeed! He certainly knows how to go from strength to strength in his book. I couldn’t even tell you what my favourite topic was, he covered so much but I found medicinal cannibalism kind of horrifying! 😳

Stuart: I had a hard time with the last sections of this book. You’re right that the medical cannibalism part was weird and I don’t think mummy booze would catch on but I thought the rest of the chapters didn’t go down so well. I know that Kuru and BSE may have links to cannibalism but I felt like I was reading a different book!

Beth: That’s interesting 🤔 I did feel like I was skimming a few chunks right near the end, I’m not sure why. The placenta chapter was a bit odd wasn’t it?

Beth: How did you feel like you were reading a different book?

Stuart: The placenta section was strange but I have come across the placenta decision in other NF books so it wasn’t too surprising. I thought that the last couple of chapters changed the direction of Schutt’s momentum so much that I also found myself skimming and a little disappointed.

Beth: That’s a shame. I think I *enjoyed* if that’s the right phrase the medicinal and the placenta chapters and was intrigued by cannibalism in the Pacific Islands but it did feel a bit “samey” when he started talking about kuru and CJD. It suddenly got a bit dry which was strange as the majority of the other chapters were so strong!

Stuart: It was a bit of a shame to finish on a low but overall it was a pretty fascinating read that definitely changed my perspective on cannibalism. What do you think overall?

Beth: Overall I’m really impressed both with the subject matter and writing style. I did expect it to focus much more on cannibalism in nature but I’m kind of glad it didn’t. I felt that I discovered much more about historical incidences of cannibalism in different cultures and their reasoning behind doing it. It took down all the sensationalism behind the topic and delivered honest, accurate evidence. You?

Stuart: I agree. Bill Schutt is a hands-on researcher and an informative and down-to-earth writer. He wanted to get all the facts in one place and discuss where cannibalism exists in nature and the reasons behind it. I was amazed about the injustices done to the Carib and other indigenous tribes just to gain more land but to be honest after thinking about it, it’s not surprising. Us humans are capable of terrible things. Do you have a favourite chapter?

Beth: Very true. It made me ashamed of what we’ve done to people on their own land purely for colonialism! Ooh that’s a good question 🤔 I think my favourite chapter had to be Go On Eat The Kids or Sexual Cannibalism, Or Size Matters just because I was absolutely fascinated by cannibalism in nature. How about you?

Stuart: The chapter about The Donner Party was my favourite. It captured the essence of how desperate a normal human being would need to eat their own. Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History really gave me food for thought (excuse the pun). It was a subject I had no experience of and I was surprised by how much I learned. Thank you for suggesting it for our buddy read. I was glad that Bill Schutt skipped the unnatural cases like serial killers etc and instead focused on the deep rooted presence of cannibalism in nature and humanity. We need to find more eye opening NF just like this!

Beth: Absolutely! I’m very intrigued to read his other NF now, it’s called Dark Banquet: Blood And The Curious Life Of Blood-Feeding Creatures. Any NF that is as eye opening as this is a winner in my books. 🤗

Stuart: Cheers for another brilliant buddy read. I look forward to reading your full review 😁

Here endeth the Twitter chat.

Final Thoughts

As some of you might know, I’m a scientist (by day! blogger by night!) and I really love to get my teeth into some popular science non fiction. This book has been on my radar for a little while now as it appealed to the science geek in me as well as my more morbid, darker side. I actually wished for it as one of the books I’d most like to receive for my birthday this year (see my post HERE) and very luckily for, some little fairy was listening in the form of my sister, fellow blogger Chrissi Reads and it landed on my doorstep along with ALL the others on the list as soon as I had returned from holiday. I have the best sister.

Anyway, as my previous buddy read with Stuart was YA fiction, we thought we’d branch out a bit into a different genre and the topic of cannibalism throughout history seemed to be the ideal, if rather controversial talking point. I’m not sure if I can speak for Stuart but this was a hugely different buddy reading experience for me, personally. I mean, obviously we’re talking real-life events rather than fictional characters but it was fascinating to hear his point of view on certain topics that were raised, as you can see in our Twitter chat above. We both had similar reactions to the horrific ways indigenous peoples have been treated through history and is certainly now something I want to educate myself more about going forward in reading non fiction.

Bill Schutt, author of Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History.

Generally speaking, I thought the author made consistently valid and sensible points regarding an issue that at times could be considered both sensationalist and scare-mongering. In fact, this was precisely the way many people in our recent history have viewed it, labelled certain behaviours or simply used it as an excuse to get rid of certain groups of individuals that don’t fit the necessary mould. The great thing about this book is that it never delves into that sensationalist mindset. It would be so easy for Bill Schutt to talk about the cannibalistic murderers in human society that have made headlines and whom we may associate with the topic as soon as the word pops into the periphery. Of course, they are given a brief mention, it would again be strange not to acknowledge them but this book is about so much more than the rogue psychologically disturbed and relatively few members of the human cannibalism club.

The title says exactly what it does on the tin. This astounding piece of non fiction is about cannibalism both in nature and in history. We learn the reasons why animals may cannibalise in the natural world and even the isolated incidents in humans are explored in a rational and methodical manner. It’s not just about eating your own kind for the hell of it. Sometimes it’s pure and simple survival when other resources are dangerously dwindled and there is literally, no other choice. Of course, there will be obvious exceptions to this rule but it was fascinating to see this topic in a whole new light and realise that we can’t always rely on history to tell the absolute truth.

Thank you so much to Stuart @ Always Trust In Books for another amazing buddy reading experience, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to many more in the future!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Mini Pin-It Reviews #22 – Four YA Novels

Published July 15, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four YA books for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) The Swan Kingdom – Zoe Marriott

What’s it all about?:

Shadows have fallen across the beautiful and lush Kingdom. The queen was attacked by an unnatural beast, and the healing skills of her daughter, Alexandra, cannot save her. Too soon the widowed king is spellbound by a frightening stranger – a woman whose eyes reflect no light. In a terrifying moment, all Alexandra knows disappears, including her beloved brothers, leaving her banished to a barren land unlike her own.

Alexandra has more gifts than even she realizes as she is confronted with magic, murder, and the strongest of evil forces. She is unflinchly brave and clever as she struggles to reclaim what she knows is rightfully hers.

This new voice in fantasy weaves a tale rich in visual detail, peppered with a formidable destructive force, and sweetened with familial and romantic love.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

2.) The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children Of Ashton Place #1) – Maryrose Wood

What’s it all about?:

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place are no ordinary children, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess, and mysteries abound in this first volume in a new series for ages 9+.

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance’s holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

3.) The Drowning (The Drowning #1) – Rachel Ward

What’s it all about?:

What happens if you’ve done something terrible? But you can’t remember what. And you don’t know how to put it right …When Carl opens his eyes on the banks of a lake, his brother is being zipped into a body bag. What happened in the water? He can’t remember And when he glimpses a beautiful girl he thinks he recognizes, she runs away. Suddenly he knows he must find her – because together they must face the truth before it drowns them.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

4.) Follow Me Down – Tanya Byrne

What’s it all about?:

The sensationally good Tanya Byrne returns with her new novel – a dark, compulsive tale of obsession and betrayal.

When sixteen-year-old Adamma Okomma, a Nigerian diplomat’s daughter, arrives at exclusive Crofton College in Wiltshire, she is immediately drawn to beautiful, tempestuous, unpredictable Scarlett Chiltern. Adamma and Scarlett become inseparable – until they fall for the same guy. Soon the battle lines are drawn and Adamma is shunned by Scarlett and her privileged peers. But then Scarlett goes missing and everything takes a darker turn. Adamma always knew that Scarlett had her secrets, but some secrets are too big to keep and this one will change all of their lives for ever.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI-PIN IT REVIEWS: Four Graphic Novels.

 

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things – Jenny Lawson

Published July 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, Jenny Lawson baffled readers with stories about growing up the daughter of a taxidermist. In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

Jenny’s first book, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

What did I think?:

I’ve been sitting on this review for a long time now, purely because I don’t know if I can put into words how much I needed this book when I read it recently. This wonderful work of non-fiction is the author’s experience with mental illness, namely anxiety and depression and it is raw, brutally honest and full of the most amazing humour, heart and soul. Jenny Lawson gives us a no holds barred account into her daily struggles keeping her mental health on an even keel but what struck me most about this book was how fantastically upbeat and hopeful it was. Jenny is determined to be “furiously happy,” despite her internal monologues attempting to make her feel otherwise and I had nothing but deep respect and admiration for the way she consistently made the best of a bad situation.

Jenny Lawson, blogger at The Bloggess and author of Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things.

I’m sure we all know how important it is to talk about mental health and not to suffer in silence but it’s strange, I feel like in recent years it’s become even more crucial to let people know they’re not alone. I hope everyone knows my DM box is always open and I’d hate to think of anyone out there staying quiet, hurting inside and acting in ways they might regret, purely because they didn’t feel like they had anyone to talk to. I’ve had my own struggles with mental health which began when I was a teenager and was bullied, carried on right through my adolescence with social anxiety, depression, dodgy friendships and even dodgier relationships and at the moment, even though I’ve gone through a personal year of hell, I’m feeling probably the strongest I ever have been in my life. This however doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days where I question everything including my place on the planet.

This is why Furiously Happy is so important. Personally, I respond best to humour and I often use it as a defence mechanism in my own life. I have a small but very appreciated group of close friends both online and in “real life,” and they’re well aware of using humour to bring me out of a funk or make me realise how lucky I really am in the grand scheme of things. You know who you are guys. So when I read this book I was utterly delighted to be pulled into a world that I could sympathise, understand and most importantly, see myself in the author’s writing. It’s like being taken on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, from sadness to incredulity then compassion to joy. The greatest thing is, I didn’t find it in the slightest “triggering,” as I was never too upset for long before the humour kicks in and we start hearing about voodoo vaginas or dead raccoon rodeos! Yes, seriously.

This book is my kind of humour. Dark, a bit close to the bone, occasionally quite sinister but it tickled my strange little funny bone so much that I found myself desperate to get back to it as soon as I put it down. We need people like Jenny Lawson with her self-deprecating and candid thoughts and feelings. Admittedly, it IS a bit odd in points and reads almost like a stream of consciousness but for me, this was also the beauty of the narrative. You never know exactly what’s coming next and the thrill of that for me as a reader is second to none. I understand some reviewers have commented on her overuse of capitals and that occasionally a joke will feel a bit forced, like she is trying too hard to be funny. For me, that didn’t come across. I just appreciated a brilliantly funny woman being open and honest about her own internal struggles and if it opens up the conversation and gets other people talking and receiving help, that can only be a good thing.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #8

Published July 10, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

Here are the other Shelfies I’ve done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7

Anyway – on with the tag, here is the fifth shelf of my first bookshelf (I’ve chosen to split it up into two separate shelfies because of the sheer number of books, oops!). Here is the front shelf and we’re looking at the middle part of this image.

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

Finally we have a bit of organisation on my shelves! Just a little bit though, I didn’t want to go too mad…haha! This shelf has a couple of miscellaneous books at the far left and horizontally but generally we have a few books by Zoe Marriott (which I haven’t read yet, surprise surprise!). Then the rest of the shelf is all of my short stories collections which are either in use or lying in wait for my Short Stories Challenge.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

I don’t have too many strong memories associated with books on this shelf but I’m going to mention 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill. Anyone who has followed my blog for a while or knows me well is aware that I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve only started getting into his son, Joe Hill’s writing recently and this was one of the first books that I bought of his. It’s currently active in my Short Stories Challenge – I think I’ve read two of the stories so far?

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Sigh. I’m afraid I have a definite book in mind for this. It’s again another book active in my Short Stories Challenge, the collection by Helen Oyeyemi called What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. I’ve only read one of the stories in the collection so far – Books And Roses but unfortunately I really wasn’t impressed and I was so disappointed, I’ve heard such wonderful things about her writing! I am definitely going to carry on with the collection for now but if I had to, that’s the book I would ditch.

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Purely for the cover alone it would be Angela Carter’s Book Of Fairy Tales. Look at it – it’s just gorgeous!!

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

I think that would be The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw. I just haven’t managed to get round to it yet but it’s on the front shelf to remind me of its existence. Apparently!

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

The newest addition and one I hope to read VERY soon (who am I kidding?!) is When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait Of The Writer As A Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy. It was short-listed for The Women’s Prize For Fiction this year and I’ve heard such amazing things.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent. I’ve mentioned it before on the blog and I’ll probably mention it again before I blinking get round to reading it!! (*eye roll*).

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

There’s no room for any object on this shelf unfortunately, it’s double stacked as a lot of my shelves are!

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

Like other shelfies I’ve done, I think it demonstrates the variety of genres I enjoy although because I decided to be organised with this shelf, it says that I enjoy a short story or two!

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

For other Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere, please see:

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE and her Shelfie by Shelfie 2 HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A, 1B, 1C 1D

Dee @ Dees Rad Reads And Reviews Shelfie HERE

Jacquie @ Rattle The Stars Shelfie HERE

Stuart @ Always Trust In Books Shelfie #1 HERE.

Thank you so much to Chrissi, Sarah, Dee, Jacquie and Stuart for participating in Shelfie by Shelfie, it really means the world to me. Hugs!

If you’ve done this tag, please let me know and I’d be happy to add you to Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #9