My rating: 5 of 5 stars Genre: Non-Fiction – Comedy – QuickRead
📖 Last week I reviewed Billy Connolly’s Windswept and Interesting (which is a brilliant book, highly recommended) – review can be found here: HTTPS://NEW2WRITING.WORDPRESS.COM/ It put me in mind of this little book which I found in a Charity Shop in Penrith last year. This book is a collection of stories and illustrations, all made from snippets of Scottish conversation heard in various places throughout Scotland. The book is broken down into places e.g. things overheard on a train. Etc.
✍️ As mentioned, I bought this book in a charity shop in Penrith, then we set off in the car to go home. I was reading the book as we drove along (I wasn’t driving) and laughed at a couple of the stories and illustrations. I passed the book over to my mother to show her what I was laughing at and she proceeded to read about a third of the book on her own, chortling away to herself as she did so.
👓 When I finally got the book back and started reading it again, it again made me laugh. I actually found myself photographing snippets to send to friends and family.
💔 Any Negatives: It probably goes without saying but understanding the Scottish accent or regional dialects of some form will really help, without that some will struggle to read this.
💭 Overall View: An enjoyable light-hearted little book to chase away the January blues. Perfect for those with a Scot in their lives. 👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
📖 I purchased this book having met this author at Middleham Castle. The author came across as very passionate about history and indeed, Richard III, I was intrigued to find out more so purchased this book, the first in the series. Needless to say, I was very impressed.
✍️ This book primarily follows the story of young Matthew Wansford (Matt), who starts as a young page in training at Middleham Castle, home of King Edward IV’s brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. He quickly encounters both a foe and friendships at the Castle and embarks on a journey that will change him from a young boy into a man. When asked to accompany the Duke on a journey south to London, Matt’s life changes beyond his wildest expectations, but in a world where loyalties can be costly, has Matt taken the right path in support of the Duke? Only time will tell.
👫 The book covers many issues, including estrangement from family, bullying, friendship, romance and more. The subjects are all handled delicately, making this book suitable for young teens but also not shied away from, which I loved. Life back then was hard, for young and adults alike, and the author captures this well.
👓 One of the great things about this book is the pace. A lot happens quickly in young Matt’s life. Historical fiction can be slow, lofty and full of excessive detail, but this book isn’t, whilst there is enough detail to give you a feel for the period, it isn’t bogged down with descriptions.
🗺 The setting of this book is primarily Middleham Castle, a location I love. The author does a great job of really capturing the hustle and bustle of castle life, the way it would have been. The hunts are also well-described and full of detail.
💔 Any Negatives: This story definitely feels like it is leading up to more. So although enjoyable as a story on its own, I think the others in the series will likely better it. No shock there, especially knowing in real-life the troubles awaiting the future of the Kingdom, but I just thought it was worth a mention that really towards the end of the book, the adventure is really just beginning.
💭 Overall View: A really brilliant start to what I’m sure will be a fantastic series. This book shows Richard and his family in a new more gentle light than the way his story is often told. I loved the youthful aspect of it and the sense of adventure, and the loyalty and friendship featured in the book. 👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
Genre: Fiction – Historical Fiction – London Tower – Romance
📖 So, I recently read the Ravenmaster by Chris Skaife (fabulous book, highly recommended) then whilst doing the weekly shop, I meandered down the book aisle and this beauty popped out at me. I must say, the cover is stunning, well done to the illustrator. I know, I know, never judge a book by its cover… but this one is very pretty. And luckily the book was enjoyable too! So, win-win.
✍️ This is such an intriguing little book. Joan is quite an interesting character a hard worker who adapts to most situations that come her way, she sees all that happens at court, yet rarely does she interfere. Joan’s mother enjoys the patronage of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, so Joan becomes a lady in waiting to Elizabeth of York from an early age. Joan’s depiction of courting, motherhood and life at court is quite fascinating. Hickson captures the fear that unwanted courtship from a man in a superior position, very well and it gives a real insight into what court life must have been like for a woman in a position such as Joan’s.
🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:
‘Think yourself honoured, young mistress. The ravens avoid us men because the archers use them for target practice. But there is a legend, which says that as long as they haunt the Tower, it and the kingdom will stand. Just lately they’ve been coming and going so perhaps there’s something in it.’ At the time I didn’t understand what he meant but so vividly had the raven’s image imprinted itself in my mind, that the incident and his words remained with me ever since.
👓 Joan’s escape from court appears to come in the form of caring for the Ravens. The birds are often tormented by the guards, yet they stay strong and resolute, and with the support and protection of Joan and her family, they even begin to thrive.
👫 I enjoyed the inclusion of Joan’s husband Richard who underneath everything was a lovely, kind man whose love and loyalty to his family shined through. I enjoyed reading about the couple and how their story developed across the pages. Her adopted role of a stepmother was a great inclusion in the story and again I enjoyed that the author did not take the path of a hated stepmother but a family trying to make their way together during a difficult period of history.
🗺 I quite enjoyed this different take on the Tudor period (an often-saturated market when it comes to historical fiction books). The Country is recovering from the War of the Roses and this story features the early reign of Henry VII. There is a continual threat of revolt and fear of false allegiances within the court (indeed, within Joan’s own family), all of which add drama to an already busy court life.
💔 Any Negatives: I really enjoyed this book but there were areas that, for me, dragged on a bit. It is very well researched, but I feel some of the action could have been a bit more centre stage.
💭 Overall View: An enjoyable book and a great new take on the Tudor period. I’m looking forward to reading more from this fabulous author. 👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
📖 This is a great holiday read for those wanting a crime twist to their holiday reading. Roy Grace is a detective superintendent who packs up his family for a luxury holiday at a small boutique type hotel in France. Arriving late, things go wrong very quickly, with an unhelpful host, and a member of their party not yet arrived, the holiday is stalled before it has even begun. Yet, things take a more sinister turn which leaves Roy fighting to protect his family from an old adversary he had hoped never to meet again.
✍️ As other reviewers have pointed out, this story does not involve the traditional police procedural detective novels some might expect if they are familiar with the Roy Grace novels. It instead focuses on his family and his need to protect them. I have never previously read the Roy Grace series but didn’t feel this detracted from the story.
🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:
As Cleo dialled yet again, Bruno announced, reading from his iPad, ‘Papa, Mama, Listen!’ ‘Yes, Bruno?’ Cleo said. ‘It says that next to being in a car, this is where you are most likely to die. Guess where?’ ‘In an aeroplane?’ said Cleo, who did not like flying. ‘Wrong!’ ‘Your kitchen,’ Roy Grace said. ‘Wrong, this is the third most likely place! It says here the next most likely place to dis is on holiday. We’re in a car and we are on holiday. Doesn’t that make it probable we are all going to die?’ Roy frowned. Bruno often came up with weird stuff. ‘So it’s lucky we’re not in a camper van, then, Bruno?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because they have kitchens. So we would be in a car, on holiday and in a kitchen!’ They all laughed.¨C22C
👓 The story itself was fast-paced (which is how I like my crime novels) with the whole thing taking place in around 24 hours. I hadn’t read any of the previous Roy Grace novels but felt it gave more than enough backstory to those books to figure out who was whom and why they were important.
💔 Any Negatives: I enjoyed this story. I wouldn’t say it was as good as some of the other quick reads mostly because it is clearly an extension to or even an excerpt of a much larger series. Therefore, it is probably not the best place to start within a series. As a member of the quick-reads collection, it is often the aim to encourage the users to pick up a book and read which they wouldn’t normally. Something with so much backstory is probably not the best place to start. If a new reader now wanted to continue the series they need to decide whether to go back to the beginning of the Roy Grace series or try to pick up where this book sits and continue from there. I think that could be off-putting.
💭 Overall View: I enjoyed this book and it was great to see a lighter crime novel in amongst the quick-reads series. I enjoyed the story, the characters and the setting. I would certainly look out for other works by this author. 👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
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The last few years have been devoted to giving my small son the most magical Christmas memories. Not showering with gifts but filling every magical moment spare with memories that will last us (if not him) a lifetime. From visiting friends and family, attending the town centre light switch-ons, spotting sparkly ice sculptures on a trail, a visit to a volunteer-run railway and being amazed at an awe-inspiring castle. This year has been packed, already! Phew.
But this year….
This year, we also included a special day out for me.
We included a trip to one of my most favourite places in the world.
With a book for every genre, and an impressive converted train station to walk around, I reckon this place could convert anyone into becoming a book lover.
After such a magical time, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more festive.
Or more thankful to have gotten to spend this time with my wonderful little family.
The most joyful sight of the day, watching these two cuties sitting in the Book Lorry reading together.
📖 Talking with Psychopaths and Savages: A Journey into the Evil Mind. It’s pretty easy to guess what this book is about. The title is straight to the point, unfortunately for me, the book was less so.
✍️Christopher Berry-Dee is quite an interesting author, he is (according to the intro) a direct descendent of Dr John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I. He no doubt has a great legacy in interviewing the worlds most notorious serial killers and murderers. The book has an interesting premise, cool cover and showed a lot of promise. It also did have plenty of detailed content about a small number of murderers which fit a definition of ‘psychopath’.
When CBD actually gets into the content, he takes us through some really interesting cases such as JR Robinson, Kenneth Allen McDuff, Arthur Shawcross, Kenneth Bianchi and more. However, he doesn’t start reviewing the cases until page 73 in a 292-page book (that’s 25% of the book that doesn’t really include talking with psychopaths and savages)! That’s a lot of pre-reading before the reader gets what they came for.
🗣 CBD also has this habit of referring to his other works throughout the book. I found it incredibly frustrating and distracting from the current story. I lost count of the number of times he wrote something along the lines of:
‘I fully documented Ross in Dead Men Talking: The World’s Worst Killers in Their Own Words, first published in hardback by John Blake, 2009, but the book you are reading now is not so much about his life and crimes…
👓 These types of self-promotion are a regular occurrence throughout the book distracting from the actual topic. In my opinion, these should have been a footnote (or a bibliography) to allow the reader to look up later if they felt the desire.
I think part of the reason I found all the waffle and self-promotion frustrating is that the author also mentions (repeatedly throughout the book) how he has a tight word count by his publisher so cannot go into details he would like to.
💭 Overall View: I hate to give a negative review and I realise the content of this review is mostly negative. However, I truly appreciate there is a lot of work and research put into writing any book. This subject matter is not a pleasant one and I think kudos has to be given to anyone who managers to spend time with these individuals and trying to understand their mental state. Even more kudos in the instances the author has managed to convince the killers to reveal details of the crimes which has given the families some comfort they would likely not have had otherwise. In these areas the book is really good. Another reviewer wrote a quote that cannot be beaten when summarising this book:
You know those really annoying blokes down the pub who keep bragging about what they’ve done, and you so want to just tell them to piss off but you’re a little transfixed, so you buy them another pint then instantly regret it as they ramble on some more with just enough interesting stuff to keep you going? This book is like that. (Credit: Alyssa Cowell).
I’ve read Jon Ronson’s The psychopath test recently (my full review of that can be seen following the links below) and in my opinion, it’s a better read than this, although this one does contain many more individual cases. Ronson’s book is easier to digest and a bit more well-rounded. 👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
Genre: NON-FICTION – HISTORY – MEDICAL – SCIENCE – MENTAL HEALTH – HORROR
This book is well worth 5 stars. Sometimes it can be quite dry reading and of course a lot of the extracts quoted in it are centuries old with a rather more difficult take on the English language but it really is worth persevering to get a real overview of the history and to get to the best parts (in my opinion) a real sense of the people involved.
Premise: This book captures everything from barbaric treatments, human zoos, manic doctors who were worse than the insane they treated (that is when they actually did the job of treating patients, not something they always did), beautiful buildings, advances through medical history, and even some fascinating insights into the first world war.
I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:
As to those wild, wanton women drinkers, their tipple of choice, regarded as the source of all evil by many commentators, was tea. In his Observations on Maniacal Disorders (1792), William Pargeter condemned the frequent and immoderate use of tea.
I think this is possibly one of my favourite quotes for life now.
I found this book captivating and found myself regularly telling friends of its contents. I also stuck various post-it’s in it of interesting quotes (one of my favourites being about woman and tea as shown above) and of people or stories I want to follow-up and read more about.
Any Negatives: As mentioned earlier sometimes the historic language is difficult but I think once you settle into the book even that gets easier to read as you go along.
Excellently researched, a book that spans the years and gives so many different insights.
Overall View: So, a book that makes me want to read more books will always be worth 5 stars in my opinion. Great job by this author. I am intrigued to research their writing career and see if they have published any further works. Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
There is a strange urge to turn into that scruffy looking shop… a calling that drags at your gut until you succumb.Dust and grime covers everything; there is nothing in there that you would touch without a hazmet suit and yet… there in the corner is a rusting metal basket full of foxed and battered paper. You spot a title you have been searching for since your youth. Suddenly the world is a beautiful place.
You may have a problem…and there are other signs…
Waiting in queues becomes quality time with your mobile phone. The Kindle app is a godsend…
You hope the appointments are running at least two chapters late.
Flu is welcomed as a six-book-a-day event.
Decluttering means throwing out the TV to add another bookshelf.
Getting an early night means a few extra hours reading and even less sleep. (Well, you only had another couple of chapters…