Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Set-Up by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Published June 3, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s Set-Up all about?:

Set-Up follows a teenage girl who finds herself in precarious circumstances with no parents around to assist or comfort her.

What did I think?:

All the stories in Manslaughter And Other Tears have won awards in some shape or form and this latest tale, Set-Up was the recipient of the Cairns Post Writers Award in Australia. I’ve already waxed lyrical about how much I am adoring this collection but if you haven’t read my previous reviews, this collection has everything I would want from a short story and I love the themes that the author chooses to explore. Many of these stories are rooted in fairy-tales but the most common themes are both the darkness of the writing and the twists and turns that Dianne Gray imposes upon the reader. Set-Up is another one of these tales where you think you have it all figured out and then you realise you really, really don’t.

Dianne Gray, author of the short story collection, Manslaughter And Other Tears.

So as with every novel/short story that I review which has the potential to be spoiled for readers who haven’t encountered it yet, I really can’t say too much about this story without ruining everything. So what can I say? Well, it’s the story of a young girl whom when we meet her is lying at the bottom of her basement stairs having severely injured her ankle. She is railing in her head at her parents whom she blames for everything that has gone wrong in her life, including such banal things as them daring to want to have a second honeymoon in Paris. Alone and a bit afraid, she manages to drag herself up the stairs to find two men in her house who have escaped from the nearby prison. The men are looking for money and food before they go on the run and are not delighted to be faced with an injured young girl who just happens to be the daughter of the head of the police. The narrative follows her interactions with them as they maintain innocence for their crimes, claiming they were “set-up.” As they attempt to escape, the unexpected occurs and things become a whole lot darker and grittier for all parties concerned.

Stairs to a basement – how I imagined the location of our female lead’s accident.

It sounds like quite a simple, run of the mill story about a young girl in a dangerous situation with escaped criminals doesn’t it? Don’t let my vague, non-spoiler description fool you. There is so much more going on in this short story than just that. Our female lead is an interesting and captivating character to read about and as a reader, you want to know what exactly has happened to her i.e. how did she come to fall down the stairs and how she is going to get herself out of this predicament with the absence of her parents and two hardened “baddies,” in her house? Nothing is what it seems in this story and I was shocked and delighted once more by the direction Dianne Gray chose to take things. I would have thought that by a few stories through the collection I would have cottoned on to her wily tricks and the way she manages to turn things around yet every time I’m still surprised and honestly, not expecting it. Dianne Gray is such a wonderful, talented author and I’m always bowled over by how much her stories stay with me, long after I’ve finished reading them.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Some Drolls Are Like That And Some Are Like This by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

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June 2018 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #9

Published June 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

It’s June, and that means….drum roll please…it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

Hello everyone! Every other month I alternate what I’m reading quite specifically between three things. It’s either Real Book Month (in February and August) where I try and read all the physical books just waiting to be devoured on my bookshelves. (and that’s a lot!) Then there’s Book Bridgr/NetGalley/ARC Month (April and October) where I try and catch up on all those ARC/review copies sent to me by authors, publishers, NetGalley and Book Bridgr. (also a lot!) Finally, there’s Chrissi Cupboard Month (June and December) where I try my best to get through all the books my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads lends me (you’ve guessed it – there’s lots!). So this is what I’ll be reading for the month of June:

1.) Behind Closed Doors – B.A. Paris

What’s it all about?:

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

2.) Shtum – Jem Lester

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.

3.) How Not To Disappear – Clare Furniss

What’s it all about?:

Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to “find himself” and Kat’s in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding.

Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby…

Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one previously knew even existed comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia.

Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery – Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are wiped from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.

4.) The Last Time We Say Goodbye – Cynthia Hand

What’s it all about?:

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

5.) My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

What’s it all about?:

A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger – and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

 

As always, I’m really excited for all these books. My sister knows what I will like (and what I will avoid like the plague!) so I’m confident in her choices and I can’t wait to get to all of these. I have been especially looking forward to How Not To Disappear for years now, I’ve heard great things about My Lady Jane and Chrissi told me I absolutely HAD to put the B.A. Paris book on my list for this month. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What should I read first? Let me know in the comments!

F*** You Very Much: The Surprising Truth About Why People Are So Rude – Danny Wallace

Published June 1, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

You’re not imagining it. People are getting ruder. And this is a serious problem.

Did you know that even one rude comment in a life and death situation can decrease a surgeon’s performance by as much as 50%? That we say we don’t want rude politicians, but we vote for them anyway? Or that rude language can sway a jury in a criminal case?

Bestselling writer and broadcaster Danny Wallace (Yes Man, Awkward Situations For Men), is on a mission to understand where we have gone wrong. He travels the world interviewing neuroscientists, psychologists, NASA scientists, barristers, bin men, and bellboys. He joins a Radical Honesty group in Germany, talks to drivers about road rage in LA, and confronts his own online troll in a pub.

And in doing so, he uncovers the latest thinking about how we behave, how rudeness, once unleashed, can spread like a virus – and how even one flippant remark can snowball into disaster.

As insightful and enthralling as it is highly entertaining, F*** You Very Much is an eye-opening exploration into the worst side of human behaviour.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Chloe Rose and Ebury Press via Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of Danny Wallace’s new book in exchange for an honest review. A big thumbs up to blogger friend Stuart at Always Trust in Books for letting them know that I might enjoy this one too! And enjoy it I certainly did. I’ve read a few of the author’s previous books in my pre-blogging days such as Join Me and Yes Man and thoroughly enjoyed his writing style and sense of humour so I was pretty confident that I was going to feel the same about this one, especially when I found out the subject matter – rudeness, a HUGE bugbear of mine. I devoured this book in about a twenty-four hour period and loved every moment, particularly when Danny draws on personal experience and of course, the geek in me enjoyed when he drew on scientific research to illustrate his (many) great points.

Danny Wallace, British author of F*** You Very Much.

So, I don’t think I need to go into too much depth about the contents of this book – the title and subtitle pretty much do the job for me! It’s a fascinating insight into how our society has got ruder and Danny explores the reasons that may be behind this gradual change in attitudes. The book itself is divided up into certain sections, to name a few of my favourites: Bad Manors, Women And Rudeness, Policing Rudeness and Rudeness And Power. It’s not until the author delves deeper into the subjects of why people have become so rude that I really started to notice things in my own life that I have found more difficult in recent years. To take a personal example, I have a chronic illness and can’t stand up for long periods of time but have to make a long commute into London each day. The rudeness I’ve encountered when people glance at you and then deliberately look at their phone to avoid giving you a seat is frankly, unbelievable and can be quite upsetting.

Then there’s trolling on the Internet, particularly Twitter, a hotbed of vicious snipes and negativity. Danny recounts his own personal experience with a troll who sent him an incredibly nasty message. I won’t go into what happens with this pathetic excuse for a human being but let’s just say Danny feels somewhat vindicated in the end. Throughout the entirety of this book, the author talks about the topic of rudeness with a wry sense of humour that at points, had me cackling like a banshee.

Ah….if only all Internet trolls were as cute as this!

Although it was one particular “hotdog” related incident that was his inspiration for opening up this fascinating talking point, he also quotes some historical incidents and, as I’ve mentioned real, hard evidence to back up his claims. Some of the information he quotes is hysterical, for example, how can one naked bottom save lives and change the behaviour of a group of people? Other parts are far more sobering, like the shocking effect one stressful, rude incident can have on the performance of a doctor/surgeon leading to potentially mistakes being made and lives being at risk.

Why have we got ruder? It’s hard to say but it seems to be a growing problem. Danny invites you to think of TV personalities that are famous for being rude and people LOVE them for it. Think of Simon Cowell who says exactly what he thought on TV talent shows, Anne Robinson who delighted viewers with her put-downs on The Weakest Link and Gordon Ramsay where everyone is on tenter-hooks, waiting for him to blow his top with some poor, unsuspecting cook.

“Right, I’ll get you more pumpkin. I’ll ram it right up your f***ing a***. Would you like it whole or diced?”

Gordon Ramsay said this by the way, not me. Complaints his way please!

Finally, there is the perhaps obvious blatantly rude person in the media at the moment. You know, the one who was elected as President Of The United States. A lot of people didn’t see it coming but come it did and personally, I continue to be horrified with everything that comes out of his mouth. If that kind of person can be elected to be in charge of a country, well…..the less said about that the better otherwise I’ll just get into a massive rant. I’ll just say that the author describes Trump’s personality and the things that he has done/said so far perfectly when relating it to the topic of the book, but somehow manages to stay light-hearted and bring out that fantastic humorous side that he is well known for.

Donald Trump – Rudeness And Power?!

There’s so much to savour in this book, tasty tid-bits that I know I’m going to remember and quote to others like the information junkie that I am! It explores so many topics, including class, power, the modern world and women with such delicious detail that I could go on and on about the wealth of information covered within. One final thing – the author describes how if you experience someone being rude to you, you are statistically more likely to be rude to another person later on, maybe that day or perhaps a bit later, depending on how the incident has affected your state of mind. This absolutely horrified me as I would hate to be “that person,” and I would hope that I’m not intentionally rude to ANYONE. However, when I mused on it a bit more, I realised that it may be true. I’ve been grumpy, been upset and I’ve probably mistakenly snapped at someone else because I felt hard done by! It’s horrible to think of and I’ll certainly be checking my reactions in the future. Meanwhile, if you’re into non-fiction and fancy a few smiles and things to mull over, F*** You Very Much is definitely the book for you!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – MAY READ – The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3) – Lemony Snicket

Published May 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Dear Reader,

If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted; but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all. If you haven’t got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair. I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

What did I think?:

I think I was a little bit older when the Unfortunate Series Of Events books first came out so they kind of passed me by. This is why I love doing the Kid-Lit challenge with Chrissi though, I get to re-visit old childhood favourites and discover ones that I missed. The Wide Window is the third in the series so if you want to check out what I thought about The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room I’ll link my reviews in the book titles. I initially fancied suggesting this series for our Kid-Lit challenge as I had always been curious to check them out and also to watch the Netflix series at some point which looks equally brilliant. So far, I’m thoroughly enjoying my adventures with the Baudelaire orphans and although life treats them abominably, I’m always intrigued to discover both what mishap might befall them next and how they manage to overthrow the wicked Count Olaf’s plans each time he turns up.

Daniel Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, author of The Series Of Unfortunate Events stories.

In the third outing of this series and the dramatic events that led to the Baudelaire children being removed from their Uncle Monty’s house, Violet, Klaus and baby Sunny are sent to live with their Aunt Josephine in a house on the top of a cliff overlooking Lake Lachrymose. As soon as they get there, the children begin to have worries about their new guardian. She worries about everything – not just ordinary anxieties but things that affect her life drastically. For example, she won’t turn radiators on because they might explode, she won’t answer the telephone in case she is electrocuted, she won’t cook anything hot in case the stove catches on fire and she stacks tin cans by the door of each room so she can be alerted by anyone trying to burgle the house. Of course, as you might have suspected if you’ve read the previous books in the series, Count Olaf returns, once again in disguise as Captain Sham to flatter Aunt Josephine and persuade her by any means necessary to give up her claim on the children, his motive being to access that huge Baudelaire fortune.

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf in the Netflix series.

Once again, this is another gripping episode of the misfortunes of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. I adore that each child has their own personality and talent, Violet for inventing things, Klaus for reading and learning and Sunny for er….biting. It does come in handy I promise, especially when dealing with that dastardly Count Olaf. Yes, you could say that each story follows the same old pattern; i.e. Count Olaf appears in disguise, nobody believes the children when they tell a responsible adult that it’s him (especially Mr Poe who is starting to get on my wick a little bit) and eventually, after an exciting incident, the children foil Olaf’s plans and he runs away to lick his wounds rather than getting captured and imprisoned for his crimes. But at the same time, I think the repetitive nature of the plot works in its favour too. As the older reader, we are always kind of aware of this formula but the younger reader can delight in the blessed relief of Olaf being defeated once more by some very industrious children.

I’m definitely going to continue with this series, after all, I do have that little glimmer of hope that the villain of the piece will be vanquished eventually and it’s always fun to see the unique way in which the children manage to get themselves out of a sticky mess time and time again.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP IN JUNE ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Face On The Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

 

The Good Son – You-jeong Jeong

Published May 30, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed in this breathless, chilling psychological thriller by the bestselling novelist known as “Korea’s Stephen King” 

Who can you trust if you can’t trust yourself?

Early one morning, twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home – he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life?

Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Grace Vincent and Little, Brown publishers for providing me with a digital copy of this astounding novel from “the Korean Stephen King,” in exchange for an honest review. When Grace first emailed me and I read the comparison to King above, well of course I had to have it! As a die-hard Constant Reader (King fan) anything that is compared to my all-time favourite author, I have to check out. Now, I normally hate comparisons to other books or authors but this one I didn’t mind so much. I think because it was compared to King and my expectations are astronomically high when it comes to him, I was too curious to see how You-jeong Jeong would measure up. And did she? Well, I would say absolutely yes. However, I feel like her novel stood completely on its own as a twisted, dark tale that wasn’t reminiscent of King’s work in my opinion, but a great example of a unique author with an individual, quirky style.

You-jeong Jeong, author of The Good Son

I don’t want to go too deep into the synopsis as I believe the one above taken from Goodreads describes this novel more than adequately without me giving any more detail. In fact, this is one of those books where you’ve got to be incredibly careful exactly what you say, because you could be giving away major spoilers. However, never fear, I’m not one to be doing that and I will be as deliberately vague as possible. Set in South Korea, we have our unreliable narrator, Yu-jin who finds his mother’s lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs in his house and has no memory of the previous nights events, apart from going running late at night. Our male lead has suffered with seizures and memory loss for as long as he can remember and although he is on tablets that are meant to control/stop his episodes, he goes for periods where he doesn’t take them at all as taking the medication gives him debilitating headaches. As the narrative continues, we get glimpses into Yu-jin’s childhood and the present day as he attempts to remember what happened to his mother as ever so slowly, the memories start trickling back.

South Korea, where our story is set.

I was very worried about writing this review but I’m relieved to realise that as soon as I sat down, everything I wanted to say (without giving away major spoilers) just managed to flow (PHEW!). I was hugely impressed by this novel and it’s one that has continued to stay with me, despite having read it a few weeks ago now. I think this is for a number of reasons – first, the unreliable narrator, secondly, the brutality of the story and thirdly, the multiple surprises that are round every corner. The way in which the information is fed to you by the author is nothing short of spectacular and you become desperate to discover exactly what’s going on in Yu-Jin’s head and what has occurred in his past to get him to the situation in which he finds himself at the beginning of the story. It’s not a story for the faint-hearted, I have to say. There is violence, graphic and shocking details of this violence and characters that crawl under your skin, give you goosebumps and make you shiver.

This novel starts as a slow burner but please don’t let that put you off. You-jeong Jeong expertly builds and weaves all the necessary parts of this jigsaw puzzle of a story piece by piece. This is absolutely necessary in my opinion to construct a tense and creepy atmosphere where you’ll be glad certain characters in this story exist only in this book, it’s that terrifying.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

 

Blog Tour – Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

Published May 29, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body. Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of Fault Lines in exchange for an honest review. Well, honestly, I’ve never read anything by Doug Johnstone before but after this little blinder of a novel, I will certainly be reading more. This is a relatively short read at 300 pages in paperback form but it packs so much intrigue, betrayal and secrets into the narrative that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a much longer novel. At the same time, it doesn’t feel long at all. I sped through this in about a 24 hour period because I did find it so difficult to put down, I had to know what happened. Being set in Edinburgh (hailing from that fair city myself), was just the icing on the cake for me and the author backed up his alternative setting with intriguing characters and an exciting plot.

Doug Johnstone, author of Fault Lines.

The author chooses to set his story rather alternatively, as I’ve already alluded to, in a modern Edinburgh with a difference. There has been a fault in the tectonic plates which make up the shell of our planet and it has caused a volcanic island to erupt in the Firth Of Forth. Our female lead, Surtsey (named after a volcano in Iceland) is a scientist who makes regular trips to the island to collect and analyse soil samples, carry out research etc. When we meet her, she is travelling to meet her boss and married lover, Tom on the island for a rendez-vous but she is shocked to discover his body instead with violent evidence that he might have been murdered. From this time on, we follow Surtsey as she makes decisions about what to do next and learns to cope with what she has discovered and her own actions following the gruesome find. Then somebody texts her on Tom’s secret phone that he only used to contact her. They know what happened and they have no qualms about making her life a complete misery, even resorting to drastic measures when the threats have little effect.

The Firth Of Forth with the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh.

What a great read this was! I adored the re-imagining of Edinburgh and it was strange, even though this volcanic island is obviously imaginary, Doug Johnstone describes everything so beautifully that I could almost picture it in my mind, from the boat ride over to the island itself. Coupled with this new entity in the middle of the estuary, the residents of Edinburgh also have to deal with regular tremors which funnily enough, have become part of everyday life. It was really interesting that as the tension and action gradually increased in the novel, so too did the intensity of the tremors which only made for a more powerful reading experience.

I just have to mention the characters as well, particularly Surtsey who at times, was quite unlikeable but unlike other books I’ve read recently where the character put me off the entire book, this wasn’t the case at all with Fault Lines. I think it’s because Surtsey felt really believable to me. She wasn’t an angel, she made some AWFUL decisions where as a reader, you just want to scream at her to “stop! go back! be careful!” but of course, we all make mistakes. She drinks too much, she smokes too much marijuana and of course, the ill-advised affair with her married boss but something about her still made me want to carry on reading. It might have been the relationship with her terminally ill mother and her wayward sister but I don’t know, in the end I just ended up feeling sorry for her.

The Icelandic volcano Surtsey, from where our main character takes her name.

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by my first novel from Doug Johnstone. It was a thrilling read that had obviously been methodically planned and although I guessed the perp behind the mysterious texts to Surtsey, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel in the slightest. If all the author’s books are like this, I want to be reading them!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His fourth novel, Hit & Run, is published by Faber and Faber on March 15th 2012. His previous novel, Smokeheads, was published in March 2011, also by Faber. before that he published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008), which received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and Christopher Brookmyre.Doug is currently writer in residence at the University of Strathclyde. Hes had short stories appear in various publications, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature.He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children. He loves drinking malt whisky and playing football, not necessarily at the same time.

Find Doug on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/758942.Doug_Johnstone

or on Twitter at: @doug_johnstone

Thank you once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Fault Lines was published on the 22nd May 2018 and will be available as a paperback and e-book. In fact at the time of writing it was on Amazon UK for the bargain price of 99p! 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 book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37849000-fault-lines?from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fault-Lines-Doug-Johnstone/dp/1912374153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527355288&sr=8-1&keywords=fault+lines

Banned Books 2018 – MAY READ – Blood And Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

Published May 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the fifth banned book in our series for 2018! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

JUNE: Brave New World-Aldous Huxley
JULY: Julie Of The Wolves -Jean Craighead George
AUGUST: I Am Jazz– Jessica Herthel
SEPTEMBER: Taming The Star Runner– S.E. Hinton
OCTOBER: Beloved -Toni Morrison
NOVEMBER: King & King -Linda de Haan
DECEMBER: Flashcards Of My Life– Charise Mericle Harper
For now, back to this month:

Blood And Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

First published: 1997

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2001 (source)

Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH:  With most Banned Books we discuss on this feature I normally get quite cross about a reason for challenging/banning it as I don’t agree with banning books generally. Monitoring them for certain age groups sure but an outright ban? No. Or if they did, they should come up with MUCH better reasons than the ones above. When this book was originally published in 1997, I was a teenager and things weren’t that much different than nowadays (apart from the lack of social media/full use of the internet). As a result, I think the reasons that this book was challenged are ludicrous. I wouldn’t say it was sexually explicit at all. There’s no lurid sex scenes or even sexual descriptions. It’s far more suggestive than that. The characters talk about sex and want to have sex but then again, what teenager isn’t curious about that with hormones going wild? I cringed quite a bit when reading this book, I’m afraid to say, especially when certain kisses were described and there were a lot of “throaty chuckles,” and “head tilts,” which did make me feel slightly ill. However I wouldn’t say any of these incidents were explicit in the slightest.

CHRISSI: I had to chuckle a little bit when I read Beth’s answer to this question. Ha! It certainly wasn’t a “throaty chuckle” though. As for whether I agree with the reason for this being banned/challenged? No. I don’t. I think there’s much worse out there and this book is quite tame compared to some teenagers can come across. Do I think it should be read by teenagers? Not really… and that’s because I believe there’s much stronger literature out there for them to read now. I don’t mean stronger/more intense content. I mean stronger storylines…

How about now?

BETH: As I mentioned, I don’t think attitudes have changed that much in the last twenty years, to be honest with the internet and explosion of social media, if anything these days I’m seeing an increase in teenage sexuality. They have access to much more detailed information than kids in the eighties/early nineties and have learned to channel their attractiveness to the opposite/same sex through “selfies.” Is this novel inappropriate for the age group concerned? No, I don’t think so. It appears to be marketed as a young adult story and that’s exactly what it is. There’s a bit of swearing, some violence and issues with relationships but nothing I would denounce as inappropriate.

CHRISSI: I definitely don’t think this book should be challenged. It totally wasn’t for me, so I don’t feel as passionately about it as I have done other books in this feature. It was a total cringefest for me as a reader. However, if this book floats teenagers/young adults boat then they should totally be given the chance to read it. There’s nothing ‘shocking’ in there, in my opinion…so why not?

What did you think of this book?:

BETH:  Oh dear. I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I was actually glad it was a relatively quick read as by the time I realised I didn’t like it, I was just wishing for it to be over. I don’t think it helps when you despise a main character as much as I did our female lead, Vivian. Now I like unlikeable characters, of course. But I think you have to dislike them for the right reasons. When there’s a female character that’s supposed to be our heroine and you can’t stand her, well…..me and the book just aren’t going to get on I’m afraid. I couldn’t relate to her either as my adult self or my teenage self, her arrogance knew no bounds and sometimes, the way she treated other characters in the novel was despicable. As for other characters, we really didn’t have much to choose from, they all felt flat and one-dimensional and intensely unbelievable in my opinion. As for the plot, it was predictable, I didn’t see the point of some decisions the author made and that ending…..just WHY?

CHRISSI: I went into this book with low expectations after reading some of Beth’s texts and tweets. I really did try to give this book a decent go, but I was infuriated by Vivian and her mother quite early on in the book. Vivian was such an unlikeable character, but it was no surprise really considering what her mother was like. I’m not one to be put off by an unlikeable character, but Vivian really grated on me. She was arrogant from the very beginning and I didn’t see any character development. Arrogant until the end of the story. Meh. I did not enjoy this book.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably not.

CHRISSI: It’s not for me! I was infuriated by the main character and couldn’t get past that.

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Coming up in the last Monday of June on Banned Books: we review Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.