Non Fiction

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Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

Published April 11, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

What did I think?:

Oh my goodness, what could be better than a book about books? My boyfriend got me this book as a gift and as a loud and proud bookworm, he couldn’t have got me anything better. Seriously, this must be how some girls feel when they’re given jewellery? Lucy Mangan’s thorough exploration of her childhood reading is beautifully nostalgic and warmed my heart. We hear small parts of Lucy’s own life but unlike other memoirs, as the title suggests, this book is focused purely on how different books have shaped the author’s life. As a bookish, rather solitary child myself, I nodded along with almost everything the author described. For example, the joys of being sent to your room as a punishment – hey, more time alone to read right? Or the delights of reading under your cover with a torch when you’re supposed to be sleeping, which made me very tired the next morning at school but strangely satisfied as I managed to finish the book I was reading!

From the delights of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Lucy takes us through books that meant something to her as a child and how they changed her as a person. Lucy is slightly older than me by six years so some of the books I wasn’t instantly familiar with but I had a bundle of fun researching them on Google, especially when she mentioned illustrators like Edmund Evans and Maurice Sendak. However, the cockles of my heart were well and truly warmed when she mentioned my own childhood favourites like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia, the master that is Roald Dahl, the heart-break of Charlotte’s Web, the goddess of adventure stories that is Enid Blyton and of course, my own personal heroine, Judy Blume. Helpfully, the author also provides a complete list of all the books she mentions in the appendix and I have to admit to adding quite a few to my wish-list!

Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading is a gorgeous, evocative read that will have you remembering the books that really made an impression on you when you were younger and leave you with a wistful urge to re-read them all over again. The only reason I’m not giving it a higher rating is that there were a few books that I didn’t know and so didn’t quite feel the same connection with as others. However, this is a fantastic journey back in time that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly anticipate reading again in the future next time I need a trip down memory lane. The style of Lucy Mangan’s writing really invites you in and makes you feel like you’re having a chat with a good friend about the favourite topic of any bookworm of course – BOOKS. I’ve got that fuzzy, gooey feeling all over again just talking about this book!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

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Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

Published April 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

From the bestselling author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Everything is Illuminated:

Discover the mind-blowing, life-changing book which revolutionised the way we think about meat – coming soon as a major documentary film by Natalie Portman

Eating Animals is the single most original book about food written this century. It will change the way you think and change the way you eat. For good.

Whether you’re doing veganuary, trying to cut back on animal consumption, or a lifelong meat-eater, you need to read this book.

‘Universally compelling. Jonathan Safran Foer’s book changed me’ – Natalie Portman

‘Moving, disturbing, should be compulsory reading. A genuine masterwork. Read this book. It will change you’ Time Out

‘If you eat meat and fish, you should read this book. Even if you don’t, you should. It might bring the beginning of a change of heart about all living things’ Joanna Lumley

‘Gripping, breathtaking, original. A brilliant synthesis of argument, science and storytelling. One of the finest books ever written on the subject of eating animals’ TLS

‘Shocking, incandescent, brilliant’ The Times

‘Horrifying, eloquent, timely’ Spectator

What did I think?:

A quick side-note before I start talking about this book, I normally include the Goodreads synopsis above but I don’t normally include the quotes. With Eating Animals, I have chosen to because it was reading the quotes that pushed me to read this book earlier than I might originally have done. With Joanna Lumley suggesting “a change of heart about all living things” and Natalie Portman stating that it had changed her, I was super intrigued. Now, I’ve always been a meat-eater. I was raised as a meat-eater and although I’m a huge animal lover, as long as the food didn’t have a “face,” I was relatively okay about eating it, as long as I didn’t imagine the animal in its original form, frolicking in a field. Then a few years ago, my boyfriend turned vegetarian, purely because he had heard some awful things about the treatment of animals prior to them being killed for our meat. I was concerned at first about how our eating would change but to be honest, I haven’t noticed much of a difference. He will cook me meat when I want but generally, for ease of cooking, we both eat the same thing and I’ll perhaps eat meat, away from him on my own time. However my consumption of meat/fish has definitely gone down and I always wondered, could I do without it?

I have to admit, this book has been on my TBR for the longest time and I was a bit worried about reading it. Perhaps I’ve been putting it off as I didn’t want to be confronted with the brutal truth about where our meat comes from and thought it might finally tip me over the edge into vegetarianism. Well, now I’ve finished it and finally know the ugly truth. And it is horrendous. Some of the facts about how chickens, pigs, turkeys, cattle etc are treated in this book are truly disgusting and it has definitely made me think twice about eating meat in the future. I’ve made the decision not to go into detail about how exactly the animals are treated in this review because I really don’t want to offend or upset anyone but believe me, it’s all kinds of shocking. I think I’ve had blinkers on for so long now about this issue and have heard rumours here and there but it’s seeing it put down there in black and white with clear facts and figures and statistics provided by the author that is really eye opening and a huge game changer for me.

You’d think this might be a manual advocating vegetarianism/veganism as the only proper way to do things and that it could potentially get a bit preachy. I didn’t find this at the beginning, in fact the author plays devil’s advocate and talks about the benefits of eating dogs (of all things!). He describes the vast numbers of stray dogs that are euthanized each year and how large an ecological and economic problem getting rid of their bodies is. Of course, I don’t condone eating dogs in the slightest, they’re one of my favourite animals but it’s interesting to see him try and find an environmental case for eating animals, even if they’re few and far between. It was also fascinating to learn that animal agriculture in general provides a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined and it is actually the number one cause of climate change. That’s definitely food for thought (no pun intended!).

Overall, I’m not quite sure where to rate this book. It absolutely did what I expected it to do – it turned me off eating animals with its brutal honesty and has made me seriously consider vegetarianism as a lifestyle option. Knowing what I know now after reading this book, personally I would feel so guilty eating meat as I realise the process it *might* have gone through to get to my plate. Perhaps ignorance is really bliss but I’m glad I read Eating Animals, I feel much more educated about the farming process and so-called “free range.” It wasn’t a perfect book at all, occasionally it got slightly repetitive and I didn’t care much for the writing style or how it was structured but I can’t deny it’s a life-changing book that made me think differently about how I eat.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably! (with caution)

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer was the twenty-third book on my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Mini Pin-It Reviews #19 – Four Author Requests

Published March 25, 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 author requests for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) The Spirit Guide – Elizabeth Davies

What’s it all about?:

Seren has an unusual gift – she sees spirits, the shades of the dead.
Terrified of being accused of witchcraft, a very real possibility in twelfth century Britain, she keeps her secret close, not even confiding in her husband.

But when she gives her heart and soul to a man who guides spirits in the world beyond the living, she risks her secret and her life for their love.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

2.) I Once Knew A Poem Who Wore A Hat – Emma Purshouse, Catherine Pascall-Moore (illustrator)

What’s it all about?:

Looking for a book packed with begging-to-be-read-out-loud poems and joyful pictures? Look no further! Come inside and meet Figment (of the Imagination). Discover poems about a grandad with big ears, an invention for recycling belly button fluff, Jeevan’s quest to find his Opal, teeth, dinosaurs, cats, dogs, dragons and lots, lots more!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

3.) Return To Glow: A Pilgrimage Of Transformation In Italy – Chandi Wyant

What’s it all about?:

In her early forties, Chandi Wyant’s world implodes in the wake of a divorce and traumatic illness. Determined to embrace life by following her heart, she sets out on Italy’s historic pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, to walk for forty days to Rome.

Weakened by her recent illness, she walks over the Apennines, through the valleys of Tuscany, and beside busy highways on her 425-kilometer trek equipped with a nineteen-pound pack, two journals, and three pens.

Return to Glow chronicles this journey that is both profoundly spiritual and ruggedly adventuresome. As Chandi traverses this ancient pilgrim’s route, she rediscovers awe in the splendor of the Italian countryside and finds sustenance and comfort from surprising sources. Drawing on her profession as a college history instructor, she gracefully weaves in relevant anecdotes, melding past and present in this odyssey toward her soul.

This delightful, transporting tale awakens the senses while inviting readers to discover their own inner glow by letting go of fixed expectations, choosing courage over comfort, and following their heart.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

4.) Trudge On: The Poetic Works Of Shawn Worth

What’s it all about?:

American Poet Shawn Worth explores themes of nature, class, depression, technology, and human interaction though the use of free verse and structured poetry.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four YA Books.

 

Another Day In The Death Of America – Gary Younge

Published March 16, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

On Saturday 23 November 2013 ten children were shot dead. The youngest was nine; the oldest was nineteen. They fell in suburbs, hamlets and ghettos. None made the national news. It was just another day in the death of America, where on average seven children and teens are killed by guns daily.

Younge picked this day at random, searched for their families and tells their stories. What emerges is a sobering, searing, portrait of youth and guns in contemporary America.

What did I think?:

This piece of non fiction has been on my TBR for quite a long time and I’m delighted (yet still slightly traumatised from the reading experience) that I’ve finally got around to reading it. If you’re a long-time follower of my blog you might remember a post I did on the short piece of work by Stephen King called Guns. If you haven’t read it and feel as passionately as I do about gun regulations, you really should, I found it to be a phenomenal read. But back to Gary Younge whom in Another Day In The Death Of America, takes one 24 hour period, completely at random and catalogues in detail the stories of young people who have died because of guns. Some of the families of the victims he was unable to speak to personally, (understandably some grieving parents found it too difficult to talk to a journalist) but in these cases, he goes behind the scenes and learns as much about the young person that has died as possible.

It’s absolutely shocking to think that in the one day that Gary Younge chose, TEN young people were shot dead, the youngest being just nine years old which was particularly horrifying to me. I’m not sure if it was the age of this victim, a young boy called Jaiden, or the manner of his death which was so abhorrent to me and I really felt passionately angry at the perp. What kind of grown man or to put it better – monster, inflicts that on a child purely to get back at an ex? With Another Day In The Death Of America, the punches just keep on rolling and I had to keep my notebook handy to write down multiple facts as I read them as I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. Did you know that firearms are the leading cause of death in black children under the age of nineteen in America and the second cause of death in children of the same age groups after car accidents? Furthermore, a lot of people justify these figures as being “black on black crime” (a direct quote from a New York Mayor) but the difference between black people killing other black people and white people killing other white people is barely significant.

I just want to mention one more story that had a profound effect on me, although I have to add that all these stories will touch in you in some shape or form. There was a case of two boys, eleven and twelve years old respectively, who were left alone overnight without adult supervision. Tragically, one of the boys was killed by the other accidentally. The father was held as responsible, often leaving his guns out where the children could reach them and in the end, he was charged with the crime of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor.” Basically, this is the same charge as if the two boys had found his stash of porn!

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book, apart from Gary Younge’s obvious compassion towards all the victims, is that not all of the victims are made out to be angels. He accepts that in fact, some of them made very bad decisions and life choices and illustrates their individual circumstances, situation they were born in to, limited choices, bad schools, the availability of drugs, the lure of gangs etc. He doesn’t make any excuses for them but lays out the cold, honest facts on the table for the reader to scrutinise. At the end of the day however, does anything in the world excuse the fact that they were shot? I don’t think so.

After the horrific Florida Parkland shooting recently, I feel more strongly than ever that there should be more stringent regulations on guns. In this book, Gary Younge could not have illustrated this point any better by including a quote by President Obama who said words to the effect: “if there’s a lock to prevent a child getting into some aspirin, there should definitely be a lock to stop a child pulling a trigger on a gun.” In fact, it’s a sobering thought that 31% of accidental deaths caused by firearms could be prevented by adding child lock/loading indicators. If you’re interested in this topic and have fervent views on gun violence like my own, I highly, highly recommend this book. It will make you think, break your heart and pray that something can be done to stop this madness soon.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Another Day In The Death Of America by Gary Younge is the twentieth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts and Daring to Act Differently – Emer O’Toole

Published March 10, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The fiercest new voice of feminism – Emer O’Toole is the perfect mix of Caitlin Moran, Germaine Greer and Lena Dunham.

Emer O’Toole once caused a media sensation by growing her body hair and singing ‘Get Your Pits Out For The Lads’ on national TV. You might think she’s crazy – but she has lessons for us all. Protesting against the ‘makey-uppy-bulls**t’ of gender conditioning, Emer takes us on a hilarious, honest and probing journey through her life – from cross-dressing and head shaving, to pube growing and full-body waxing – exploring the performance of femininity to which we are confined.

Funny, provocative and underpinned with rigorous academic intelligence, this book shows us why and how we should all begin gently to break out of gender stereotypes. Read this book, open up your mind and, hopefully, free your body. GIRLS WILL BE GIRLS is a must-read wake-up call for all young women (and men).

What did I think?:

Girls Will Be Girls was the third book on my Five Star TBR Predictions post and one I had high hopes for after reading some fantastic reviews and learning about some of the content. As an ardent feminist myself, I am always hungry for books that explore the topic in a new, fresh and exciting way and I’m delighted to announce that Emer O’Toole gave me everything I had been looking for. Using her personal experiences, brutal honesty and novel ways to look at gender equality, Girls Will Be Girls was a fascinating read that I found difficult to put down. Although it wasn’t quite five star, it was extremely close and I have no qualms about highly recommending this to everyone if you’re intrigued by the subject matter.

The book is divided into twelve chapters and a conclusion and explores a variety of topics surrounding gender interspersed with tid-bits from Emer’s own life to illustrate the points she is making. She starts off completely honestly, admitting that she hasn’t always been the best feminist in the world and often conformed to those pesky female stereotypes to fit in with a group of friends or her male friend/boyfriends points of view. She laughed at their sexist jokes, dampened down her own vibrant personality and ambitions in order to “be like a girl.” It wasn’t until a bit later on in her early adulthood that she started realising she didn’t have to do all that, she could be her own person and there was no need to bow to the whims of society. So started her journey of experimenting with her gender – dressing like a boy, refusing to shave her legs and underarms and even shaving her head to try and understand how deeply rooted gender stereotypes really are in our world and if there was a possibility she could bend things so other women wouldn’t feel so pressurised to act/be a certain way.

I absolutely loved that Emer used her real-life experience to approach the gender debate and this book was packed full of humour, heart and real honesty as she embarked upon her journey of discovery for the good of womankind. I had heard about her infamous interview on This Morning here on the UK where the presenters quizzed her about her refusal to shave and I was delighted to discover an genuine, intelligent woman who was just as funny and “real” as the writing in her book. She had some incredibly sound points to make about how society constrains young girls and puts unrealistic, sometimes very unnecessary pressures on them. I admire her bravery and resilience for standing up for what she believes in and think all women could take a leaf out of her book in their approach to being a woman. If we’re ever going to have anything close to gender equality, I really think we need to challenge things like the media, people’s expectations and how we raise our children if we’re ever going to teach the next generation that women are in fact, not second-class citizens to men.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

18 Books I’d Like To Read In 2018

Published February 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone and welcome to a bit of a different post on my blog. I’ve already made some Bookish Goals/Resolutions for the year but I also made a little promise to myself that I would do a random post every month that I have been inspired to participate in from seeing it either on booktube or from a fellow blogger. A lot of the booktubers that I follow have been posting videos about 18 books they would like to read in 2018 and I thought I’d join in with the fun. So, without any further ado, here are the 18 books I’d like to get to this year!

1.) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Jane Eyre is tied for one of my all time favourite classics (with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen). My mum got me a beautiful clothbound classic for my birthday a couple of years ago and I’m definitely due a re-read so I’m excited to read it in this beautiful edition.

2.) The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I’ve read a few John Boyne books now and loved every one of them. I’m really trying hard not to buy hardbacks at the moment but when I read Renee’s @ It’s Book Talk review of it HERE, I bought it immediately. I’m actually reading this very soon as it’s part of the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club 2018 and I’m beyond excited.

3.) The Wisdom Of Psychopaths – Kevin Dutton

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a non-fiction book that I think does pretty much what it says on the tin. The reason I want to read it this year is that it’s been on my “to read soon,” shelf for too blinking long now. This needs to happen.

4.) Stasi Wolf – David Young

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I went to see David Young talk about this first novel in this series, Stasi Child at Guildford Library last year and was determined to read the second book in the series. Of course, life and other books got in the way but I’m going to make it one of my priorities this year.

5.) Midwinter – Fiona Melrose

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Midwinter was long-listed for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction last year and I always love to read some of the nominees for this fantastic prize, I find such interesting books are picked. This book got a lot higher on my list after I watched a video from one of my favourite book tubers Simon from Savidge Reads who loved this book and sold it to me incredibly well!

6.) The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors and I am shamefully behind with his books. That’s a good enough reason for me! I hope to get to his most recent book, Release as well but we’ll see how I get on.

7.) Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is another one of those books that I heard rave reviews about last year and just didn’t get round to reading. I will this year!

8.) End Of Watch – Stephen King

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a no brainer for regular visitors to my blog. End Of Watch is the third novel in the Bill Hodges/Mr Mercedes trilogy and I’m really excited to see how the story ends. It left on quite the cliffhanger in the second book, Finders Keepers.

9.) Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King and Owen King

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Oh look another Stephen King book! This is Stephen King’s latest release that he wrote with his son, Owen and this cover does not do justice to how beautiful the book is in real life. My boyfriend bought me a copy to cheer me up after a rough year as I was trying to wait for it to come out in paperback. It’s a chunky beast but I’m so glad and grateful he got it for me, now I can read it even sooner!

10.) Charlotte Bronte – Claire Harman

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a non-fiction account of the life of Charlotte Bronte (as I mentioned before, Jane Eyre is one of my all time favourite classics/books). I have been neglecting my non fiction recently and this is another present from my wonderful boyfriend albeit a couple of years ago – oops. This is why I need to get to it this year!

11.) English Animals – Laura Kaye

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I had been aware of English Animals last year and the cover is obviously stunning but it was only after watching book tubers Mercedes from Mercy’s Bookish Musings and Lauren from Lauren And The Books give glowing reviews for this novel that I knew I had to make time for it this year.

12.) Her Husband’s Lover – Julia Crouch

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I met Julia Crouch at a bookish event a little while ago and she kindly signed my copy of this book and was lovely to talk to. I gave this book originally to my sister to read as she’s a big Julia Crouch fan but now I’m determined to read it for myself, especially after seeing Chrissi’s wonderful review.

13.) The House In Smyrna – Tatiana Salem Levy

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Confession time. This is a review copy that the lovely people at Scribe were kind enough to send me that I thought I had lost and have found recently. I remember why I was so excited to read it when it arrived and I’m definitely going to be checking it out soon.

14.) Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is another non-fiction book that I’ve had on my shelf for a long, long time and I keep meaning to read it but keep getting distracted by other books. It promises to change the way you look at eating meat so I’m intrigued. My boyfriend and sister are vegetarians but I still love the taste of meat…even if I feel very guilty about doing so!

15.) The Man Who Died – Antti Tuomainen

Why do I want to read it this year?:

My lovely blogger friend Stuart from Always Trust In Books sent me some wonderful books and I loved the sound of all of them but I’m especially intrigued by this one, just read his review to see why.

16.) We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Yes, it’s been on my shelves for ages. Sigh! It won a host of awards and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2014. Plus, I think my sister is quite keen to read it so I need to get started so I can pass it on to her!

17.) The Death House – Sarah Pinborough

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I can’t even remember buying this book (hangs head in shame) but re-reading the synopsis right now and hearing great things about this author from other bloggers I know that I need to start reading some Sarah Pinborough. As I already have this book this seems the perfect place to start.

18.) Miss Jane – Brad Watson

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I bought this book on the London Bookshop Crawl in Oxford last year which I went to with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads. Of course I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover so it was that I have to admit that initially attracted me. However, the synopsis cemented the deal and I couldn’t resist buying it.

So that’s the 18 books I’d like to read in 2018! I’d love to hear from you guys, have you read any of these books? If you have, what did you think? What books would you recommend I get to sooner rather than later this year? If any other bloggers fancy doing (or have done) their 18 books to read in 2018 please leave your link down below, I’d love to check out what you really want to read this year.

Mini Pin-It Reviews #16 – Four Books From Netgalley

Published December 2, 2017 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 books from Netgalley for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) Dead Set (January David #3) – Will Carver

What’s it all about?:

Following on from Girl 4 and The Two, DI January David is back in a fantastic new thriller

“Detective Inspector January David doesn’t love me. He loves his missing sister. He loves his job. But he doesn’t love me. Not in the way he should. I am his wife. I am still his wife. And I will do anything for him. No matter what I have to sacrifice.”

Detective Inspector January David finds himself on forced leave when he receives an urgent telephone call from a secretive FBI agent. A body has been found in a vacant New York theater, and the murder is reminiscent of a London serial killer with whom David is well acquainted. Determined to help the investigation—and find his estranged wife who is also now living in the United States—DI January David risks his neck to travel to New York. At the same time, back in London, there is a missing girl who has shown up dead after being hugged to death in an equally perplexing case. This fast-paced, psychological thriller told in the first person will keep you guessing until the very end.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

2.) Gift Of Time: A Family’s Diary Of Cancer – Rory MacLean

What’s it all about?:

When his mother Joan was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Rory MacLean and his wife Katrin took her into their home. For five months, as their life fragmented and turned inward, they fought both to resist and to accept the inevitable. Each gave vent to their emotions in different ways, but all three kept a diary.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

3.) Why Are You So Sad? – Jason Porter

What’s it all about?:

Have we all sunken into a species-wide bout of clinical depression?

Porter’s uproarious, intelligent debut centers on Raymond Champs, an illustrator of assembly manuals for a home furnishings corporation, who is charged with a huge task: To determine whether or not the world needs saving. It comes to him in the midst of a losing battle with insomnia — everybody he knows, and maybe everybody on the planet, is suffering from severe clinical depression. He’s nearly certain something has gone wrong. A virus perhaps. It’s in the water, or it’s in the mosquitoes, or maybe in the ranch flavored snack foods. And what if we are all too sad and dispirited to do anything about it? Obsessed as he becomes, Raymond composes an anonymous survey to submit to his unsuspecting coworkers — “Are you who you want to be?”, “Do you believe in life after death?”, “Is today better than yesterday?” — because what Raymond needs is data. He needs to know if it can be proven. It’s a big responsibility. People might not believe him. People, like his wife and his boss, might think he is losing his mind. But only because they are also losing their minds. Or are they?

Reminiscent of Gary Shteyngart, George Saunders, Douglas Coupland and Jennifer Egan, Porter’s debut is an acutely perceptive and sharply funny meditation on what makes people tick.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):

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4.) The Strangler Vine (Avery & Blake #1) – M.J. Carter

What’s it all about?:

Calcutta 1837. The East India Company rules India – or most of it; and its most notorious and celebrated son, Xavier Mountstuart, has gone missing.

William Avery, a down-at-heel junior officer in the Company’s army, is sent to find him, in the unlikely company of the enigmatic and uncouth Jeremiah Blake. A more mismatched duo couldn’t be imagined, but they must bury their differences as they are caught up in a search that turns up too many unanswered questions and seems bound to end in failure.

What was it that so captivated Mountstuart about the Thugs, the murderous sect of Kali-worshippers who strangle innocent travellers by the roadside? Who is Jeremiah Blake and can he be trusted? And why is the whole enterprise shrouded in such secrecy?

In the dark heart of Company India, Avery will have to fight for his very life, and in defence of a truth he will wish he had never learned.

M. J. Carter is a former journalist and the author of two acclaimed works of non-fiction: Anthony Blunt: His Lives and The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

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COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI-PIN IT REVIEWS: Four books from Book Bridgr.