humour

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Blog Tour – Palm Beach, Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated by David Hackston)

Published October 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village—the “hottest beach in Finland.” The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams, and people struggling at turning points in their lives—chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for getting in touch and inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a digital copy of this darkly humorous novel in exchange for an honest review. Palm Beach, Finland is my first experience with Antti Tuomainen’s writing, although I do have one of his other novels, The Man Who Died which I included as part of my post, 18 Books I’d Like To Read In 2018, which I promise to try and get round to very soon! However, now that I’ve read Palm Beach, Finland, it only makes me more determined to read something else by Tuomainen as I found his work to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, full of atmosphere, quirky offbeat humour and a very individual writing style.

Antti Tuomainen, author of Palm Beach, Finland.

On first impressions, this novel is about an undercover detective, Jan Nyman who is investigating a series of strange events near a new beach resort in Finland that began with a suspected burglary gone wrong and ended with a murder. Nyman is trying to figure out whether the death was accidental or pre-meditated, who carried out the crime and for what reason, however things become rather convoluted when he gets to the resort and meets the people who could be potentially involved. There’s a number of characters to get to grips with here, all with their own motives for murder, including the woman whose house the death occurred in, Olivia Koski, who is in a desperate situation financially and wants nothing more than to make the house she lives in habitable and safe. However, there are far more personalities on the outskirts of this small, unassuming town to discover and the reader soon realises that nothing in this novel can be assumed or predicted.

An example of one of the beaches in Finland, Yyteri near Pori.

Before I started reading Palm Beach, Finland, I gave the synopsis a quick glance but tried to go into the novel knowing as little as possible about it. I don’t normally do this as I like to have a snapshot idea in my mind about the content of a book before I dive in but for some reason, this new tactic of mine worked really well for this particular work. I was delighted to find an intriguing mystery, some fascinating characters and a sense of humour I could really get on board with. The plot was intricate with multiple twists and turns but luckily, it felt believable throughout and it did make me constantly want to turn the pages and find out what was going on.

As I alluded to in a previous paragraph, I don’t think you can predict the actions of any of our characters in this story and to be honest, that was probably one of my favourite things about it. They all felt quite whimsical and other-worldly in a way and I was constantly surprised by the way in which each individual became personally embroiled in the plot. It began as a relatively simple criminal act, blew up into something much more dangerous and then dragged each of our characters into its clutches one by one as it became increasingly messy and out of hand. I did find myself wishing that we got to know each character a lot better on a much deeper level as it seemed as if the novel relied quite heavily on the complexities of the plot combined with the humorous undertone but generally speaking, this didn’t affect my enjoyment level in the slightest.

I’m reading much more translated fiction this year and completely loving this experience. The translator for Palm Beach, Finland, David Hackston did a brilliant job of bringing this novel to an English speaking audience whilst still retaining the author’s unique idiosyncrasies and comic timing. I definitely want to be reading more from Antti Tuomainen!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary
debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was
published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the
Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key
Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of
Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style,
Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his
poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller,
shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

Find Antti on his Goodreads page at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142432.Antti_Tuomainen

on his website at: http://anttituomainen.com/

or on Twitter at: @antti_tuomainen

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. Palm Beach, Finland will be published in October 2018 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 Palm Beach, Finland on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42086762-palm-beach-finland

Link to Palm Beach, Finland on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Palm-Beach-Finland-Antti-Tuomainen-ebook/dp/B07DFQ2DVK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538594419&sr=8-1&keywords=palm+beach+finland

 

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – SEPTEMBER READ – Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

Published September 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Living with his little brother, Fudge, makes Peter feel like a fourth grade nothing. Fudge is never far from trouble. He’s a two-year-old terror who gets away with everything–and Peter’s had enough. When Fudge walks off with Dribble, Peter’s pet turtle, it’s the last straw.

What did I think?:

Apologies for the smaller image than normal regarding the book cover but I couldn’t resist including this particular cover as the headline picture for my post as I’m pretty certain this was the actual cover I owned when I was a youngster! For anyone who might not already know, I love Judy Blume with every fibre of my being. She was such an important part of my childhood, she taught me so much about adolescence and how to cope with it and I was even lucky enough to meet her in person a few years ago when she attended YALC, a young adult’s literature convention that happens in London on a yearly basis. Chrissi has had to put up with my gushing admiration for Blume over the years and luckily for me, didn’t get too embarrassed at YALC when I came face to face with my idol (and made a fool of myself by dropping down into a curtsey, I was so overwhelmed with happiness!). Yes, the less said about that the better I think.

Her Royal Highness Judy Blume, author of Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing. Your majesty…

Chrissi was also incredibly gracious when I begged her to let me put some classic Blume on our Kid-Lit list this year and I’m so very glad that we did. Jumping back into her writing was so wonderfully nostalgic it made me feel all warm and cosy inside. Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing is probably written for the younger readership, i.e. middle grade fiction but the enjoyment I got from it was second to none. I think I might have mentioned in a previous post that when Chrissi and I were growing up, our father was in the army and we lived in Germany for about thirteen years. At one point, we didn’t have access to many English bookshops – in fact, there was only a very small one about half an hour’s drive away and we went there about once a month to spend our pocket money. The rest of the time we had to make do with the local school library or re-reading the books we currently had so we spent a LOT of time doing that. As a result, my Blume collection was unsurprisingly very well thumbed, dog eared and a bit worse for wear from the amount of times I re-entered the world of Peter, Fudge and company.

As I started to read Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing as an adult, all the old feelings I had about this story came rushing back and some of them were truly precious. I remembered whole incidents that I had completely forgotten (for example, the little girl who wets herself at Fudge’s birthday party) but what was most remarkable to me is how little my views had changed on the characters since I read it as a child. Reading it back then, I remember being exasperated almost up to the point of tears with the character of Fudge. I felt terribly sorry for Peter as he struggled with his painfully annoying younger sibling and even went so far as to question his parents love for himself after, initially, Fudge appears to be blatantly getting away with everything. I wondered if as an adult, I would feel more sympathetic towards Fudge and understand his predicament slightly better – in other words, he’s a small child and doesn’t have the skills yet to realise the consequences of his actions. Of course, I DO realise that but I have to admit….I’m still team Peter. There’s something about Fudge that really irks me, I can’t put my finger on it.

I sympathised with Peter, being the oldest sibling myself and can remember those times in my childhood where the responsibility of looking after my two younger siblings seemed occasionally to be quite a huge cross to bear. If you’ve been there, you might be familiar with the frustration of being blamed for something your sibling does because as the oldest: “you should know better/you should have been looking out for them.” Maybe this was why I connected with Peter so much? Anyway, this is a beautiful little tale about the scrapes Fudge gets into, how it affects his older brother and how one devastating incident with a pet turtle called Dribble ends up bringing the whole family closer together again. I smiled, I groaned, I got emotional and I loved every minute.

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 OCTOBER ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT: Nightbirds On Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles #3) by Joan Aiken.

 

This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor – Adam Kay

Published September 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Adam Kay was a junior doctor from 2004 until 2010, before a devastating experience on a ward caused him to reconsider his future. He kept a diary throughout his training, and This Is Going to Hurt intersperses tales from the front line of the NHS with reflections on the current crisis. The result is a first-hand account of life as a junior doctor in all its joy, pain, sacrifice and maddening bureaucracy, and a love letter to those who might at any moment be holding our lives in their hands.

What did I think?:

I have been hearing about this book literally EVERYWHERE and it has been taunting me for months now, pleading to be read. At the moment and probably for the forseeable future, I work for the NHS as a scientist and come into contact with a lot of junior doctors, usually by phone when I’m giving out patient results. My mum also used to work for an NHS hospital as a nurse on an emergency surgery ward so she too is more than familiar of the importance of forging good relationships with doctors. You could say, as a family, we’re very aware of the crucial need for our health service and I was excited to read a book that would uncover an inner secret sanctum I may not have had complete and exclusive access to before. I actually listened to this book on Audible after recently getting into audiobooks as a way of reading more when I’m out and about and I couldn’t have picked a better first choice of book. This Is Going To Hurt is a no holds barred account of what it’s really like to work for the institution that is the NHS and deals frankly and hilariously with a variety of patients that Adam Kay has worked closely with as a doctor.

Adam Kay, author of This Is Going To Hurt, pictured here enjoying his own book!

This brilliantly funny work of non-fiction is told in the form of diary entries from when Adam was a junior doctor right the way through his career which ended when he was a senior registrar. Some diary entries are shorter than others but in each one, Adam’s dry wit and passion for what he was doing shines through and we hear fascinating tales of his work, mostly in gynaecology that have the power to make you laugh, shock and amaze you and by the end of his journey in medicine, irrevocably break your heart. Adam bares his soul in this memoir and doesn’t hold back from the grittier, nastier side of what it’s like to work as a doctor with the NHS in the current situation that it finds itself now – understaffed, underfunded and supremely underappreciated.

Honestly, what on earth did we do before the NHS?

Throughout this book, when I wasn’t laughing, I was filled with admiration and a new-found respect for the work that doctors do, the severe pressures they are under, the extended shifts that they work, the fatigue and stress that they must suffer and the walls that they have to put up to protect themselves in highly emotive and painful situations. Personally, I would have loved to have been a doctor but even if I had got the grades, reading This Is Going To Hurt only brought back to me what I had suspected about myself all along. I couldn’t do it. I’m a bit of a sensitive soul and the emotional aspect of the job, which is of course unavoidable, would be far too devastating for me to handle. As a result, I give an internal “high five” to EVERY doctor/nurse out there who deals with often heart-rending decisions on a daily basis.

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the cases that Kay talks about for fear of spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t read this yet but let me assure you, some of the incidents that he recalls are forever etched in my mind, the mental imagery of some will probably never be erased! Obviously, patients have complete anonymity but I often wonder if the real-life patient behind the author’s case reads this book and cringes with embarrassment, recognising the resemblance to their own experience! He doesn’t shy away from detailed, descriptive passages and some recollections might be a bit too graphic for the queasier audience but I found his brutal honestly and candour both refreshing and fascinating. I particularly loved the sections where he bemoans the state and instability of the health service, the expectations placed on doctors and the alarmingly little time given to ensure doctors’ mental heath is being taken care of considering what they have to see and experience during a regular shift.

I can’t stress enough how wonderful and amazing this book really is if you’re in the mood for something that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure. Curious about the experience of junior doctors in the NHS? Adam Kay strips it all back with unflinching honesty and everyone is invited in to observe.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story (The Lady Janies #1) – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

Published August 20, 2018 by bibliobeth

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.

What did I think?:

I chose this book as one of my recent Chrissi Cupboard Month picks because of the rave reviews I had heard about it, particularly from one of my favourite bloggers, Stephanie over at Stephanie’s Novel Fiction and of course, my sister whose opinion on books I trust implicitly. I’ve got to admit, I did keep putting it off, for two reasons which are both as silly as the other. The first is that I wasn’t completely sold on the cover (of the edition I have, please see image above) and I should know by now that judging a book by its cover is a very dangerous thing to do – who knows what you could be missing? Indeed, I’ve almost missed out on some amazing stories i.e. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes just because I mis-judged the cover and thought it would be something it wasn’t.

From top to bottom: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, authors of My Lady Jane.

The second reason (and probably the silliest) is that I’m a huge fan of the Tudor period of history and adore fiction re-telling lives of the real people in this moment of history, particularly in the style of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir. As a result, I’m very familiar and fond of the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey and the thought of it being re-written to be completely different from the actual history with a humorous edge didn’t sit well with me and made me feel slightly uncomfortable, goodness knows why? Now I’ve experienced all the joy, brilliance and wit that Hand, Ashton and Meadows have brought to this tale I am a fully fledged convert to these new imaginings of history and am thoroughly berating myself for leaving it so long before reading in the first place.

My Lady Jane is the story of the Tudor dynasty, particularly the point where Lady Jane Grey ascends to the throne of England, like you’ve never heard about it before. It’s a land where there’s two classes of people, those that can turn into animals, otherwise known as Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated) and then there’s those who can’t. There’s a reason why Henry VIII was compared to a lion, you know! There’s quite a bit of bigotry and prejudice against people who assume their animal forms and huge factions of the country are at war with the young King Edward struggling to maintain control of his kingdom. It also doesn’t help that he’s dying and the succession for the throne is becoming very hazy indeed, particularly as Edward is certain if he chooses his sister Mary, she will be all too delighted to extinguish every last Eðian in England. Edward is also attempting to marry his cousin, Lady Jane Grey off so her future will be secured but the groom in question, Gifford is unable to control his urge to turn into a stallion every evening as soon as the sun goes down. Then all three become embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy for the throne that threatens not only their own lives but the whole future of England.

A portrait of the “real” Lady Jane Grey, also known as the Nine Day Queen.

This book was so much fun! I immediately texted my sister about twenty pages in and told her just how much I was enjoying it and could almost hear her sigh of relief from over fifty miles away. No, it’s not in any way a true account of the life of Lady Jane Grey but that’s one of the reasons why this book is so exciting. It feels fresh, unique, incredibly different and was so light-hearted and hilarious, it was a pleasure to settle down with it whenever I had a minute. It felt like re-visiting characters you know and love, like Jane herself, Edward and his sisters Mary and Elizabeth but also it painted them in such a distinct, new manner that it felt like you were getting to know them all over again. Gifford was a very welcome addition to the pack (or should that be herd?!), I loved his excursions as a horse, the way he opens up ever so gradually and ultimately, the growth of his relationship with Jane which was nothing short of adorable.

I really wasn’t sure whether the fantastical edge was going to work for a story about the Tudors but the authors have pulled it off magnificently. As a huge animal lover myself, I always enjoy animals within narratives but to have characters that can turn into animals? My heart was so happy. This novel was both a huge surprise and an absolute delight to read and I was completely won over by the wonderful ridiculousness of the narrative and how easy it was to devour.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

My Lady Jane by Hand, Ashton and Meadows was the forty-second book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

August 2018 – Real Book Month

Published August 2, 2018 by bibliobeth


It’s time for one of my favourite months – real book month! This is where I try to bring down that pesky TBR as much as I can. I try to focus on books I’m really excited about and roll my eyes that I haven’t managed to get to them before now. I normally have a list of about ten I want to read, however, because I also participate in Banned Books and Kid-Lit with my sister as well as reading the Richard and Judy book club titles, I’ve felt under too much pressure lately so am just easing that slightly. This month I want to focus on some more of the titles my sister Chrissi Reads and I bought on our trip to the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights in Bath. This is what I’ll be reading:

1.) The Name Of The Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) – Patrick Rothfuss

What’s it all about?:

MY NAME IS KVOTHE

I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

You may have heard of me.

So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature–the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

2.) My Name Is Lucy Barton (Amgash #1) – Elizabeth Strout

What’s it all about?:

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016 AND THE BAILEYS WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016 

THE NEW YORK TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER 

An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Her unexpected visit forces Lucy to confront the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of her life: her impoverished childhood in Amgash, Illinois, her escape to New York and her desire to become a writer, her faltering marriage, her love for her two daughters.

Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable. In My Name Is Lucy Barton, one of America’s finest writers shows how a simple hospital visit illuminates the most tender relationship of all-the one between mother and daughter.

3.) Lighthousekeeping – Jeanette Winterson

What’s it all about?:

The young orphan Silver is taken in by the ancient lighthousekeeper Mr. Pew, who reveals to her a world of myth and mystery through the art of storytelling. A magical, lyrical tale from one of Britain’s best-loved literary novelists. of the Cape Wrath lighthouse. Pew tells Silver ancient tales of longing and rootlessness, of the slippages that occur throughout every life. One life, Babel Dark’s, a nineteenth century clergyman, opens like a map that Silver must follow, and the intertwining of myth and reality, of storytelling and experience, lead her through her own particular darkness. Stevenson and of the Jekyll and Hyde in all of us, Lighthousekeeping is a way into the most secret recesses of our own hearts and minds. Jeanette Winterson is one of the most extraordinary and original writers of her generation, and this shows her at her lyrical best.

4.) Get In Trouble – Kelly Link

What’s it all about?:

The first new collection in almost a decade from a bewitchingly original writer hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction.”

One of today’s most celebrated short story writers, Kelly Link creates brilliantly detailed, layered fictional worlds pulsing with their own energy and life. The situations are at first glance fantastical, but the emotional insights are piercing and the characters vividly real. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural Florida serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a one-time teen idol movie vampire takes a disturbing trip to the set where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a bizarre new reality show; in “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present, a new animated doll. Funny, uncanny, always deeply moving, these stories demonstrate a writer of wondrous gifts operating at the height of her powers.

5.) Undermajordomo Minor – Patrick deWitt

What’s it all about?:

Lucy Minor is the resident odd duck in the hamlet of Bury. He is a compulsive liar, a sickly weakling in a town famous for begetting brutish giants. Then Lucy accepts employment assisting the majordomo of the remote, foreboding Castle Von Aux. While tending to his new post as undermajordomo, he soon discovers the place harbours many dark secrets, not least of which is the whereabouts of the castle’s master, Baron Von Aux. Thus begins a tale of polite theft, bitter heartbreak, domestic mystery, and cold-blooded murder.

Undermajordomo Minor is an ink-black comedy of manners, an adventure, and a mystery, and a searing portrayal of rural Alpine bad behaviour, but above all it is a love story. And Lucy must be careful, for love is a violent thing.

 

So if my calculations are correct, after I finish this little list I will have finally read all the books that were recommended to my sister and I at our two reading spas that we’ve had with Mr B’s Emporium Of Reading Delights! I feel a sense of achievement at getting them all completed but a strange sense of relief too as there’s plenty more physical books on my shelves I’ve been excited about but have been putting to one side to try and get all of these books read.

Out of this list, I’m particularly excited about The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss which I’ve only heard amazing things about but have been a bit intimidated by so far as it’s a beast of a book at 662 pages! My fellow bloggers have also given rave reviews of My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout so I’m looking forward to that and I’m trembling with nerves about Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt as I loved his novel The Sisters Brothers so much I’m worried this one might not meet my very high expectations. We shall soon see.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? I’d love to know in the comments below! Have a great month everyone. 

Love Beth xxx

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

Published July 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

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

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

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

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

What did I think?:

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

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

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

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

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

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish – Allan Stratton

Published July 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

It’s the Great Depression and Mary Mabel McTavish is suicidal. A drudge at the Bentwhistle Academy for Young Ladies (aka Wealthy Juvenile Delinquents), she is at London General Hospital when little Timmy Beeford is carried into emergency and pronounced dead. He was electrocuted at an evangelical road show when the metal cross on top of the revival tent was struck by lightning. Believing she’s guided by her late mother, Mary Mabel lays on hands. Timmy promptly resurrects.

William Randolph Hearst gets wind of the story and soon the Miracle Maid is rocketing from the Canadian backwoods to ’30s Hollywood. Jack Warner, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Rockettes round out a cast of Ponzi promoters, Bolshevik hoboes, and double-dealing social climbers in a fast-paced tale that satirizes the religious right, media manipulation, celebrity, and greed.

What did I think?:

I honestly don’t quite know where to start with this review and I’ve spent some time mulling over the book since finishing it and am still none the wiser on how to get some coherent thoughts down to express the complexity of mixed feelings I have about this novel! The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish is a book that has been languishing on my Netgalley “to read” list for quite a long time now and as I’m making a concerted effort to improve my Netgalley ratio this year, I thought it was about time I read it. As soon as I reminded myself of the synopsis, I have to say I was excited. The Great Depression, 1930’s Hollywood and a normal girl who becomes an overnight sensation after bringing a young boy back to life after just putting her hands on him? Yes please, I’ll have some of that.

Allan Stratton, author of The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish.

Excuse me while I’m still formulating my thoughts. Okay, so this novel had so much promise and at times, was executed absolutely wonderfully, then there were other times where I felt the narrative dragged unnecessarily and that was a real shame. It divided me so much that at times I wanted to give it three stars, at times four stars, most of the time somewhere in between at three and a half stars and very occasionally, two stars. I struggle to recall a time in the recent past where a book has twisted my opinion this much and to be frank, I’m still attempting to work out why. There were so many positives – the plot which INSTANTLY made me want to read it, the wry humour and satire which did make me smile on multiple occasions and the way in which the author explored the idea of religion, society and morals, especially after an event as life-changing as The Great Depression.

The Great Depression, 1930’s America.

In fact, this novel got off to a terrific start, following our heroine Mary Mabel McTavish as she leads a humdrum slave-like existence with a distant and occasionally cold father and the reader feels her despair at life and misery over the loss of her mother and the blase attitude of her only other caregiver. Her attempted suicide is prevented at the last minute with a hallucination of her mother’s ghost and a feeling of power that she in turn, bestows on a young boy, Timmy Beeford, bringing him back to life and returning a slightly exasperating little human to his weary parents. This was all great and incredibly intriguing to read about. I think things went downhill for me when people start to capitalise on Mary’s powers and use her abominably in order to make money of their own. It was humorous at points sure, but there were times when I just wanted to shake Mary and open her eyes as to how she was being manipulated.

I think the two saving graces time and time again in this narrative were the owner of The Bentwhistle Academy For Young Ladies, Ms Bentwhistle who did make me howl with laughter at times, especially when she decides to pull the wool over the Americans’ eyes in pretending she’s one of the gentry. Obviously, she’s intended to be a shady, rather villainous character compared to our heroine but by the end of the novel, I just found her hilarious. Then there was our avid preacher, Brother Percy Brubacher who is incredibly odd (and a little scary!) but hugely fascinating and I would have liked to have seen more scenes with him and explore his back story in greater detail. Sadly, apart from these two, most of the other characters, even our female lead felt decidedly two-dimensional and unbelievable and this did affect my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

Hope this review made some kind of sense – if I had to sum it up I would say interesting premise, a few brilliant characters and good use of humour but at times the characterisation and plot suffer from peaks and troughs. This unfortunately means that at times the story drags and becomes much less compelling.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Resurrection Of Mary Mabel McTavish was the thirty-sixth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!