Blog Tour – Never Be Broken (DI Marnie Rome #6) – Sarah Hilary

Published May 22, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost.

Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.

DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late.

NEVER BE BROKEN is a stunning, intelligent and gripping novel which explores how the act of witness alters us, and reveals what lies beneath the veneer of a glittering city.

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 Headline Books for providing me with a complimentary hardback in exchange for an honest review. I have to admit, when the email first came through from Anne, I practically bit her hand off for the chance to be involved in this tour. The DI Marnie Rome series remains one of my absolute favourites in crime fiction and unlike series from different authors in the past (where I’ve sadly lost interest as the series continued) in my opinion, these books just keep getting stronger and stronger. Like my other favourite crime author Cara Hunter, Sarah Hilary dives into the heart and soul of her fascinating characters and as each book continues, you really start to believe not only that these characters exist but that you understand and care about them on a much more intimate level.

Sarah Hilary, author of Never Be Broken, the sixth novel in the DI Marnie Rome series. 

I would urge anyone reading this review with an interest in contemporary UK crime fiction to seek out and devour these novels right from the beginning. Although each book could theoretically be read as a stand-alone, you will understand much more about our protagonists’ pasts, hopes, dreams and fears from enjoying it from the start. There are a few particular threads I’m thinking of involving Marnie and her colleague Noah, specifically their individual family situations that just HAVE to be experienced from Someone Else’s Skin onwards. Although it may feel overwhelming to catch up on seven books in a series, I can confidently confirm that it will be worth every single page you read. Sarah Hilary manages to capture not only the authenticity of her characters as I’ve mentioned previously, but the current situation in London today. I found this particularly poignant in Never Be Broken as topics explored included Brexit, the tragedy of Grenfell Tower and violent crime amongst young people.

The devastation of the fire at Grenfell Tower, mentioned in Never Be Broken.

DI Marnie Rome and her sidekick, DS Noah Jake are our two main protagonists in the series and the author has chosen to explore their lives intricately through previous books in the series. In Never Be Broken, the main focus is on Noah which I was delighted by as I have a particular soft spot for him as a character. Well – I wasn’t expecting joy and happiness in a novel that mentions “broken” within the very title but I seriously wasn’t prepared for how much drama, heart-break and havoc I would be facing as a reader. Sarah Hilary expertly merges the exploration of her characters personalities with tense, gut-wrenching moments of action. The result is that you get a story with slower, beautiful and more thought-provoking passages combined with parts that literally kept me on the edge of my seat as I continued to read. As I alluded to before, because the author spends so much time letting us get to know the characters on a personal level, you champion and root for them even more so because you feel that special connection.

I’m thrilled to confirm another stellar outing from Sarah Hilary with Never Be Broken but I never expected any less, to be honest. She is truly becoming a “must read” author in the crime fiction genre that everyone should be aware of if they aren’t already familiar with her. I’m so excited to see where she’s going to take our characters next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Sarah Hilary’s debut, Someone Else’s Skin, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the
Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer’s
Book of the Month (‘superbly disturbing’) and a Richard & Judy Book Club
bestseller, it has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the
series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series
continued with Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing and Come And Find Me.

Find Sarah on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3418841.Sarah_Hilary

on her website at: http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.co.uk/

on Twitter at: @sarah_hilary

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater and Headline Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Never Be Broken was published on 16th May 2019 and will be available as a hardback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Never Be Broken on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43527422-never-be-broken

Link to Never Be Broken on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Never-Broken-D-I-Marnie-Rome/dp/1472249003/ref=sr_1_1?crid=GIZKJVZ5ODE9&keywords=never+be+broken&qid=1558464618&s=gateway&sprefix=never+be+broken%2Caps%2C135&sr=8-1

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Personal Post – bibliobeth – the end?

Published May 18, 2019 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all well. Gosh, I don’t know where to even begin with this post. Here goes…

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but for a little while now (perhaps since the start of the year?) I’ve been in the biggest blogging slump. I even wrote a post about it recently HERE. There’s been a number of reasons for it but at the moment, there’s a couple of things that are standing out and making my whole blogging experience not as fun anymore. I’ve recently been promoted into quite a stressful job and at the moment, it’s taking up quite a lot of brain space and time. It’s the best job I’ve ever had and I’m really loving it but it’s making it quite difficult to carry on blogging too.

I’ve been blogging now for over six years and when I first started, I absolutely adored it. It’s everything – the chance to read advance review copies, the opportunities to work with some fantastic publishers and authors but most of all, it’s the interaction with the blogging community that I’ve found the most valuable part of my experience. I’ve treasured the special moments, like blogging with my sister Chrissi Reads, making some wonderful new friends and being able to chat everything bookish with people who feel exactly the same way as I do about books. I’ve even got the chance to meet some of you at blogger events, buddy read with you and message you regularly which has given me the opportunity to get to know you not only as a blogger but as a person. I’m overwhelmed to call some of you genuine friends.

More recently, I’ve started to feel a little bit different about blogging. Please let me stress it’s NOTHING to do with the community – as I’ve already mentioned, you’re the best part! It’s a “me” thing rather than a “you” thing, I promise. Personally, every time I’ve set down to write a review, it’s not felt the same. It hasn’t been fun, I haven’t been excited about doing it and to be perfectly honest, occasionally I’ve been dreading it. As I have a busy work life at the moment, I really don’t want to be getting home and feeling like I’m still working which sadly, has turned out to be the case. Blogging is supposed to be a hobby and is meant to be fun right? If I’m not enjoying myself, why am I still pushing myself to continue?

I’ve tried different things just to check if it might be a slump. I’ve gone on hiatus, I’ve dialled down the number of review copies I accept but it hasn’t improved the situation. I’m starting to get miserable when I look at the hundreds of books (yep, hundreds!) waiting for me on my bookshelves to read. These are books I’ve been really excited about but keep getting pushed to the back of a seemingly never-ending list. The books I push to the front are books I’ve received recently and feel compelled to review because I’m a blogger.

So I thought long and hard about this and I’ve decided to give up blogging. I’m not putting this post out as a means of getting sympathy or for you guys to persuade me to come back, I’ve pretty much 99% made up my mind that this is the right decision. I want to leave that 1% there because I’d like to think I might change my mind in the future and come back, perhaps when work has calmed down or when I’ve retired (haha!). It’s funny though, I knew I had made the right decision when I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, like a weight had been lifted as soon as I had said it out loud to my sister, my blogging besties Janel @ Keeper Of Pages, Jennifer @ Tar Heel Reader and my long-suffering partner Mr B.

I’ve got a couple more review commitments that of course I will stick to – one this month, one in June and one in July. I’ve also promised to carry on my Kid-Lit and Banned Book series with Chrissi until the end of the year as our books were already agreed so you won’t be getting rid of me just yet! However, posts will be very much reduced from August onwards (just Kid-Lit and Banned Books) with a view to stopping completely at the end of December.

At the moment, I’m absolutely loving coming home from work and not having to worry about writing a review. I can settle down, watch a TV show or lose myself in my books and it feels nice. I know it’s the right decision for me right now. I did want to write this post to get it all out there and even though you’ll see posts a couple of times a month until December, I wanted to say a proper thank you and goodbye, just in case it is the end.

I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your support for my little blog over the past six years. The blogging/bookish community is the best and I’ll miss you all. I am still going to be active on Instagram and Goodreads (maybe Twitter, haven’t decided yet) so if you want to follow me over there and see what I’m up to, I’d be delighted to have you along for the ride! Thank you for the nominations for blog awards over the past couple of years which has been unbelievable and really warmed my heart. Thank you for all your likes, shares and comments and every single interaction we’ve had, no matter how small – it’s meant the world to me. Thank you for reading my reviews, sharing your own thoughts and feelings and making my time in this community so special. Thank you also to all the publishers and publicity people who’ve been kind enough to send me review copies, I’ve felt like such a lucky girl every time a package drops on my doormat!

Blogging has been such a life-altering and awesome time in my life and I’ve had an amazing and unforgettable journey. I wish EVERYONE all the best with their own blogs – you’re all incredible and I know how hard you work and how much time the whole experience takes out of your lives.

I can’t say thank you enough. Please keep in touch!

Love, Beth xx

Blog Tour – Death And The Harlot by Georgina Clarke

Published May 15, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A gripping historical crime debut from an exciting new voice.‘It’s strange, the way fortune deals her hand.’

The year is 1759 and London is shrouded in a cloak of fear. With the constables at the mercy of highwaymen, it’s a perilous time to work the already dangerous streets of Soho. Lizzie Hardwicke makes her living as a prostitute, somewhat protected from the fray as one of Mrs Farley’s girls. But then one of her wealthy customers is found brutally murdered… and Lizzie was the last person to see him alive.

Constable William Davenport has no hard evidence against Lizzie but his presence and questions make life increasingly difficult. Desperate to be rid of him and prove her innocence Lizzie turns amateur detective, determined to find the true killer, whatever the cost.

Yet as the body count rises Lizzie realises that, just like her, everyone has a secret they will do almost anything to keep buried…

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo Publishers for getting in touch via email and offering a spot on the blog tour and a digital copy of Death And The Harlot in exchange for an honest review. I was instantly compelled by the intriguing synopsis and pleased to discover a heady mixture of crime, mystery and historical fiction, set in one of my favourite time periods, 18th century London. Furthermore, it was wonderful to read about such a fascinating female protagonist, Lizzie Hardwicke whose personal back story becomes all the more intriguing as the story continues and certainly piqued my interest for reading further novels about her, if this becomes a series.

Georgina Clarke, author of Death And The Harlot. 

Georgina Clarke has provided a story steeped in curiosity, from the previously mentioned female lead who works as a prostitute in one of the higher end brothels, to the engrossing mystery that surrounds one of her customers’ rather sudden and suspicious death. Lizzie becomes embroiled in the case, having been one of the last people to speak to the unfortunate man and before long, heads into a whirlwind plot of blackmail, secrets and danger. In 18th century London, it is difficult enough to be a woman, especially if you have a character as determined and independent as Lizzie Hardwicke, but she sets her mind firmly on unravelling the mystery and unmasking the villain, no matter what the personal cost may be to herself.

A Harlot’s Progress (1732) by William Hogarth depicting 18th century London. 

Image from: https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/London-life18th.jsp

The author does a wonderful job of bringing all the squalor and atmosphere from London in this period of history to life in glorious detail. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I appreciate when an author can capture a setting so vividly and imaginatively. As a result, I certainly felt as if I walked the same paths as Lizzie, seeing everything she saw and feeling everything she felt. As a character, I loved her stubborn doggedness in pursuit of justice, the way in which she never gave up despite how hopeless the situation may have seemed and the size of her heart when she was faced with other characters within the story that needed her help or advice. I did feel occasionally that it would have been nice to have the same level of development with other individuals in the novel – for example, Sallie and the lead male protagonist William Davenport, but perhaps this is all in the works for future books in the series?

I think if you’re a fan of historical fiction, crime and beautifully detailed settings, you’ll definitely enjoy this book and I have to admit, I am curious to find out where Lizzie’s life may take her next. I’m even crossing my fingers for a change in her circumstances in the future – a clear sign that her character got under my skin.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Georgina Clarke has a degree in theology and a PhD in history but has only recently started to combine her love of the past with a desire to write stories. Her Lizzie Hardwicke series is set in the mid-eighteenth century, an underrated and often neglected period, but one that is rich in possibility for a crime novelist.

She enjoys running along the banks of the River Severn and is sometimes to be found competing in half marathons. In quieter moments, she also enjoys dressmaking.

She lives in Worcester with her husband and son, and two extremely lively kittens.

Find Georgina on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18869213.Georgina_Clarke

or on Twitter at: @clarkegeorgina1

Thank you so much once again to Ellie Pilcher and Canelo Publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Death And The Harlot was published on 13th May 2019 and will be available a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Death And The Harlot on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43923902-death-and-the-harlot

Link to Death And The Harlot on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Harlot-Lizzie-Hardwicke-Novel-ebook/dp/B07NBJKVZM/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=death+and+the+harlot&qid=1557861057&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Bitter Orange – Claire Fuller

Published May 8, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘A compulsive page-turner. Fuller creates an atmosphere of simmering menace with all the assurance of a latter-day Daphne du Maurier’ The Times

Frances Jellico is dying. A man who calls himself the vicar visits, hoping to extract a deathbed confession. He wants to know what really happened that fateful summer of 1969, when Frances – tasked with surveying a dilapidated country house – first set eyes on the glamorous bohemian couple, Cara and Peter. She recalls the relationship they forged through sweltering days, lavish dinners and elaborate lies, and the Judas hole through which she would spy on the couple.

Were the signs there right from the beginning?

Or was it impossible to avoid the crime that split their lives open like rotten fruit?

What did I think?:

I first came across Claire Fuller’s remarkable writing in Our Endless Numbered Days which remains one of my favourite books of all time and a signed copy sits with pride of place on my favourites shelf. After being quite frankly astounded by her debut novel, it was a very easy decision to read her second novel, Swimming Lessons which I also thoroughly enjoyed and hence to make sure I got my hands on the beautiful hardback copy of her third offering, Bitter Orange. Shamefully, it has been sat on my shelves for months now as I just haven’t been able to get my act together and prioritise it before now. Thank you so much to Jane Gentle from Penguin UK for letting me know that the paperback had been recently released and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to finally settle down with my copy and disappear into the author’s delicious writing style once more.

If I had to describe this novel in three words I’d probably choose the phrases sumptuous, evocative and captivating which I have now realised appears to be a pattern whenever I lose myself in a Claire Fuller story. She has a beautiful way of capturing characters, atmosphere and settings which pull the reader in immediately and makes them feel instantly part of the world that they are reading about. In Bitter Orange, we follow three characters staying in the same country house for research purposes. They are Peter and Cara, who are romantically involved with each other and Frances who arrives on her own after the death of her mother to survey some historical aspects of the building.

When the novel first opens, we encounter Frances close to death and the local vicar is trying to unlock the secrets of what really happened back in 1969 between the three main protagonists. We are immediately thrust into a world of secrets, mistrust, unreliable characters and a compelling mystery as the reader slowly begins to unravel not only what happened to Cara, Peter and Frances in the end, but what particular events unfolded to lead them there in the first place.

Bitter Orange is a incredibly rich and compelling narrative, gloriously packed with quiet moments with our characters, slow teasers and tasters of the personality of each one of our protagonists and the constant intrigue throughout that makes you want to keep turning the pages. Cara, Peter and Frances are all unique and fascinating in their own right and I adored the fact that they all oozed imperfection. At no point did I find any one of these individuals reliable but oh my goodness, that just made for an even more bewitching reading experience! It’s the sort of book I can’t tell you anymore about for fear of spoilers but it’s also the sort of book that once you finish it, you immediately want to go back to the beginning and read it again, fresh with the knowledge you possess by the end.

Everything is gorgeous in Bitter Orange, from the intricate characterisation to the way the orange was used to represent particular parts of the relationships and the way the setting felt so alive and vibrant that you could almost imagine yourself there. Through Claire Fuller, I walked through a building where parts of it were dilapidated and crumbling and other parts were filled with magnificence, I spied with Frances on Peter and Cara in the bathroom, I listened (or read!) with rapt attention when Cara told us some of her tragic back story and I wondered at Peter’s intentions. It’s very easy to become enraptured with a story like this if you allow yourself to sink in and enjoy it and I’ll certainly be remaining an avid fan of Claire Fuller’s work.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Blog Tour – Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

Published May 7, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A delicious dark, relentless and chilling psychological thriller by the international bestselling author of The Cry

‘The harrowing plot keeps you gripped until the final, devastating revelation’ Sunday Mirror

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation officer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line.
Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.
Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.
A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and to Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of Worst Case Scenario in exchange for an honest review. What can I say? I wasn’t expecting this at all! I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books so had no expectations in term of style or substance and she delivered on both counts with such a unique piece of work and a different, interesting female protagonist that I was instantly hooked. It probably helped that the novel begins with such an intriguing first line that I challenge anyone not to want to read on further:

“Every time Mary tried to relax in a bath, a paedophile ruined it.”

I have no words. I just needed to read on after that!

Helen Fitzgerald, author of Worst Case Scenario.

Worst Case Scenario was a novel for me that encompassed so many different genres. It combined contemporary Scottish life with a psychological thriller and crime element but there there were wry moments of humour too which I very much appreciated. It felt much more to me like a character study of one woman, our female protagonist Mary Shields who is at a very frustrating and difficult moment in her life. She is struggling with the menopause and all the symptoms that accompany it including mood swings, hot flushes, night sweats and weight gain. Additionally, she has an incredibly stressful job as a probation officer and often has to deal with quite harrowing cases involving children and the individuals she monitors are often sex offenders, hardened criminals or drug addicts that have heart-breaking back stories of their own.

When we first meet Mary in Worst Case Scenario she is at the height of her emotional and personal struggles and is starting to get to the point where she just doesn’t care anymore. She has informed her superiors that she is planning to resign so feels a new freedom of being able to do and say whatever she wants to her clients – after all, she’s leaving, what’s the worst that could happen? Then she encounters a new client, Liam Macdowell, who has just been released from prison who causes her all kinds of new problems. The decisions that Mary ends up making now, in this uneasy and stressful part of her life have the potential to cause repercussions not only for herself but for those closest to her.

Glasgow, Scotland where Worst Case Scenario is set.

What made Worst Case Scenario such a different read for me? I think it was a combination of multiple elements. Mainly, it was our protagonist, Mary. I loved reading about an older woman going through the menopause which is often a subject you don’t see explored in fiction and should definitely be highlighted a bit more. She was grumpy, she was irrational, she made some hideously bad decisions and at some points, I just wanted to scream at the book: “No Mary, don’t!” but she was such an authentic and believable character because of these things. It was also touching to read about her vulnerabilities, her worries about her husband and her own sexuality and her caring nature towards the troubled individuals that she has to monitor. As a reader, it made you want to root for her even if at times you just wanted to cringe and cover your eyes a little bit!

Additionally, being Scottish I’m always a huge fan of a Scottish setting and Helen Fitzgerald has captured this beautifully in the novel. I felt instantly back at home and as I read this just after a short trip back to Edinburgh, it made the experience strangely comforting, despite the often dark subject matter of the story. Finally, the author has written a fantastic narrative that really makes you want to keep reading with moments that may not necessarily be conventionally “thriller-like,” but are truly gasp-worthy all the same. After this particular ending…. well, I NEED to know what happened next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers,
including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the
Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama
for BBC1. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen
years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her
husband.

Find Helen on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4341584.Helen_Fitzgerald

on Twitter at: @fitzhelen

or on her website at: http://www.helenfitzgerald.net/

Thank you so much 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. Worst Case Scenario will be published on 16th May 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Worst Case Scenario on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45014364-worst-case-scenario

Link to Worst Case Scenario on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Worst-Case-Scenario-Helen-FitzGerald-ebook/dp/B07KGNC7VF/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=34XUU2B4I5FCE&keywords=worst+case+scenario+helen+fitzgerald&qid=1557146054&s=gateway&sprefix=worst+case%2Caps%2C204&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2019 – APRIL READ – Demon Dentist by David Walliams

Published May 6, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Darkness had come to the town. Strange things were happening in the dead of night. Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find… a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow.

Evil was at work. But who or what was behind it…?

What did I think?:

First of all, apologies (especially to my sister!) for getting this post out so late. Chrissi and I usually try to get our kid-lit posts out at the end of the month but this past week, I’ve been feeling a little under the weather and have only got round to doing it now. It’s always a pleasure to pick up a David Walliams book and even though I only discovered him a few years ago and was slightly sceptical, I can really see why he’s so beloved, particularly amongst children. You always know what you’re getting when you pick up one of his books. He has such a wonderful sense of humour, brilliant characterisation and an edge of reality that make his books such a joy to read.

David Walliams, author of Demon Dentist.

I say you always know what to expect when picking up a Walliams books but to be perfectly honest, Demon Dentist completely surprised me. I found it much darker than the author’s previous books with a villainous character that was nothing short of terrifying. However, I loved that he wasn’t afraid to explore some more difficult aspects of life. For example, our young protagonist Alfie’s father is chronically ill in a wheelchair and as a result, some parts of the narrative make for a very emotional and hard-hitting reading experience. Despite his father’s health issues, Alfie still has a wonderful relationship with him and it was heart-warming to read about their interactions. I can only applaud the author for choosing to write about a father-son relationship that is not conventional or expected so as to illustrate that not all families have the luxury of having parents who are healthy and well.

Alfie’s dad, beautifully illustrated by Tony Ross.

Image from: https://www.worldofdavidwalliams.com/book/demon-dentist/

In Demon Dentist, Alfie hasn’t been to the dentist for a long, long time after a bad experience when he was younger and his teeth are now rotten. Then when a new dentist, Ms Root comes to town and starts taking a rather obsessive interest in all the children’s teeth, Alfie begins to realise that something is seriously wrong and vows to get to the bottom of it. The villain of the piece who is of course, Ms Root as you may have guessed, is a fantastic villain in every sense of the word. She looks a bit strange, she definitely acts a bit strange and, as with all good baddies, she has an evil plot afoot that involves all the children of the town and their teeth.

As I mentioned earlier, things get quite frightening in Demon Dentist but it’s all done with Walliams’ trademark wit and style accompanied by the most glorious illustrations by Tony Ross. The action never lets up for a second and I whizzed through this book in less than a day very easily as I found it very difficult to put down. Just when I thought there may have been a resolution, there was another crescendo of tension and terror that our poor hero Alfie was subjected to! Eventually it does end – not particularly in a satisfying way I have to say, there is quite a bit of heart-break but it is also accompanied by hope for the future which as it turns out, is a far more realistic ending to a fantastical story.

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

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN MAY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree #1) – Enid Blyton.

Banned Books 2019 – APRIL READ – We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier

Published April 29, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

They entered the house at 9:02 P.M. and trashed their way through the Cape Cod cottage. At 9:46 P.M. Karen Jerome made the mistake of arriving home early. Thrown down the basement stairs, Karen slips into a coma. The trashers slip away.
But The Avenger has seen it all.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the fourth banned book in our series for 2019! 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:

MAY: Crazy Lady– Jane Leslie Conley

JUNE: Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture– Michael A. Bellesiles

JULY: In The Night Kitchen- Maurice Sendak

AUGUST: Whale Talk– Chris Crutcher

SEPTEMBER: The Hunger Games- Suzanne Collins

OCTOBER: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn- Mark Twain

NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

But back to this month….

We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier

First published: 1991

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2003 (source)

Reasons: offensive language, sexual content.

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

BETH: I never usually understand any reason for a book being challenged/banned, no matter what year it was raised in. I can think of occasional books where access should perhaps be restricted in a school library setting for very young children but generally, I think people should be free to read whatever they like, particularly if there’s not a solid reason for the challenging or banning. This book was published in the early nineties and although it’s slightly dated, I feel that it could still be read right now without any difficulty. As always, I get a bit dumbfounded about the issues that were raised. I think this is meant to be a work of young adult fiction, so for the age group it’s aimed at, I do think there shouldn’t be too many problems. I don’t think there’s too many incidences of offensive language – certainly nothing I found offensive anyway but I do appreciate that people are different and may be more sensitive to those aspects.

CHRISSI: I didn’t think the language in this book was overly offensive. When it’s aimed at young adults, we really need to stop thinking that they can’t handle offensive language. I’m pretty sure most young adults use offensive language. It’s everywhere! Film, TV, books, family members and peers… why should we challenge a book due to offensive language? I do think there are some moments in the book that is quite heavy going, so I think if this book was in a school library, it should have an age range on it. It’s really down to individual discretion, I think and guidance from teachers/librarians if it’s in a school.

How about now?

BETH: The fact that this book was still on the list for 2003 blows my mind a little bit. There is a bit of sexual content (although it isn’t graphic) but could still upset readers so they should perhaps be aware of that. I find it very strange though that I always try and guess the reasons for challenging a book and more often than not, I’m usually wrong. I anticipated that people would have problems with the level of violence that is used in this novel and that isn’t mentioned at all. However, I do stand by what I said in my previous answer – it’s meant to be young adult fiction and I think it is probably okay to be read by that particular age group.

CHRISSI: I have definitely read more explicit books in the YA genre than this. Like Beth, I thought the violence would be a bit of an issue, but it’s not mentioned in the reasons for challenging this book. I don’t see why it was challenged in 2003. There’s definitely more to be worried about than a book like this. As I mentioned in my previous answer, it should be restricted access to the YA age range.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This book left me a bit surprised, to be honest. It’s only 200 pages so didn’t take me that long to read and I fairly flew through it as it was quite action-packed. I was intrigued by the story-line, the devastation that a family go through after their property is violated, leaving one of their daughters in hospital. I was also curious about the part of the plot that involved The Avenger and how that ended up being resolved, which was very much “heart in the mouth,” kind of stuff. I certainly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did!

CHRISSI: I flew through this book. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. It does seem a little bit dated having being published in the 90s, but it was still highly enjoyable and so easy to read. There was a great amount of intrigue that kept me turning the pages!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s personal star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING UP IN MAY ON BANNED BOOKS: Crazy Lady by Jane Leslie Conley.