Review of Six Foot Six

Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover – Six Foot Six

📖 This is a really cute little book. A fun and easy read.

✍️Timothy flowers is six feet six inches tall. The story follows Timothy as he goes about his day on his 21st birthday. However, when he is in the midst of his day he meets Charlie who is a builder and offers him a day’s work. It becomes clear that Timothy has some kind of learning disability and is more childlike than an adult. In many ways, Charlie takes advantage of Timothy using his size for both menial labour and for a bit of intimidation. Yet the friendship between the two flourishes into a heart-warming tale.

📖 I liked this book. It is part of the “quick reads” collection which I like to intersperse between larger novels. The idea of this collection is exactly as it says on the tin (or should that be cover), a shorter than a normal book by world-leading authors (less than 100 pages). One of the things I quite like about these books is that they force the authors to cut out a lot of the waffle that sometimes goes on in books. This keeps the stories quite fast-paced with a lot happening in less time.

🗣 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:

Charlie parks outside the house with the basement and tells Timothy to get out.
‘I’ll be back in a bit. You just carry on.’
Timothy doesn’t move.
‘What you waiting for?’ Same job as before. Go on.
‘I don’t want to go down on my own.’ Timothy is thinking of the broken room and the Brute hiding in the corner.
Charlie looks up at the ceiling of his van and shakes his head. ‘Christ. Come one then. But I’m not paying you to be sitting on your arse all bloody day.’ He starts the engine and drives off. ‘When we get back, you’ll have to work twice as hard and twice as quic. Got it?’

👓 This book covers some really complex issues (disability, vulnerability, domestic abuse) but the author handles them in a subtle, gentle way. I became invested in Timothy (and Charlie) and I really wanted the day to go well.

☠️ Any Negatives: Not a negative as such, and I have never read Kit De Waal’s work before so this may already exist, but I would love to see this story in a longer works or a sequel.

💭 Overall View: It is well worth the £1 cover price to read this. An unexpected but pleasant little tale. Another “quick reads” win which I would highly recommend it to any (mature) reader.

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Review of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I am very late to discover Jon Ronson and The Psychopath Test which appears to now be a cult classic. To be honest, I’d never heard of it, but came across it in a store and was intrigued by the title, the cover and then the blurb. It was reasonably priced, so I decided to give it a go and I am so pleased I did.

Firstly, this book is non-fiction (I mostly read fiction and honestly when you read parts of this you might mistake it for a psychological thriller).

This story is what it says on the cover, a journey. So, you learn more and more about what it means to be a psychopath and how they are defined (these days). The book starts with a strange hoax that has been sent to a variety of individuals in the world.

Cover: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
Cover: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

It then introduces us to The Hare Psychopathy checklist, the standard screening test for potential psychopaths. Suddenly, armed with this material Jon is finding everyone around him seems to have these psychopathic traits (and indeed many do as most people display some symptoms of psychopathy). Jon is particularly interested in the business world after finding out psychopaths are found in greater proportions among CEOs and indeed meets some very interesting individuals in the process.

Alongside this is the story of Tony. Tony committed GBH at the age of seventeen and in an attempt to evade the prison system decided to feign madness. He was then imprisoned in Broadmoor. He then had the difficult job of convincing people he was sane and twelve years on still hadn’t. As he says, how do you sit in a sane way, how do you act in a sane way? With psychologists watching your every move the more normal you try to act, the more self-conscious you become. It becomes a vicious cycle. So, is he a psychopath or not? Well, that’s what Jon tries to figure it.

I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style.
GRAPHIC CONTENT
Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

‘One of my old buds from the FBI was investigating this woman, Karla Homolka,’ Bob had told me earlier. ‘She and her husband had videotaped themselves torturing and raping and murdering these young women. The police were taking her through the house where they’d cut up the bodies, carved them up, and Karla was saying, “My sister would like that rug…”. They took her into the bathroom and Karla was saying, “Can I ask you something? I had a bottle of perfume here…” Totally disconnected.’

As mentioned above, some of the writing and scenes are quite graphic, as you can imagine they would be in a book of this kind, dealing with mental health and violence.

💭 Overall View: I really enjoyed this book. I’ve never really read anything like it before. I did study psychology in college when I was younger so I do have an interest in this topic and understanding how people’s minds work. It’s odd and it’s not the quickest read but it is interesting and I find myself reflecting back on it.

P.s. Jon has also done a TED talk on this book which people may find interesting.

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Review of “The Silent Tide” – 4 Stars

The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Relaxation = Book and a bath. 😍

With a small child around I don’t get as much reading time as I’d like but with this book I have found myself squeezing it in at every opportunity. LO watching night garden, hello next chapter. 😉

The book is a dual timeline following the stories of Emily and Isabel. In present-day London, Emily is an up-and-coming editor who is helping a young biographer publish the life of a now-deceased famous writer, Hugh Morton. When mystery parcels begin to turn up at Emily’s work telling the story of Isabel, Hugh’s first wife, Emily becomes obsessed with Isabel’s story and must know more.
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:

After a week of tense waiting she asked Stephen, ‘I don’t suppose you’ve had time to read that report on Hugh Morton’s book I left you?’
‘Ah, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you about that,’ Stephen replied with a guilty look, and her hopes fell. But then he said, ‘The author’s coming in next week. I’ll make sure the two of you are introduced.’
‘We’re publishing the book?’ she asked, in surprise and not a little anger. She was used to not being told much, to having to pick up information through opening the post or by correspondence she was asked to type, but she was hurt that he hadn’t mentioned anything about this project.

Starting in 1948 we follow the story of Isabel. Isabel is working hard to find her place and forge a career in a man’s world in London. Having run away from home she is determined to manage life on her own. When she is given extra responsibility at work she relishes the challenge and after meeting a handsome young debut author soon her work and personal life begin to merge. Yet as these worlds merge she begins to struggle to keep her independence and personal identity.

I loved the characters in this book, especially those featured in Isabel’s story. Berec is a particularly interesting sub-character and I liked the hints the author left regarding how difficult someone in his situations life would have been at that time period, yet his jovial attitude was uplifting just when the book needed it. Hugh makes a great bad guy, that’s not all that bad, just attitudes of that time.

I must admit, the 40/50’s is a time period I don’t know much about, being so close to our own (for a historical history novel) it is easy to picture certain things, yet attitudes and opportunities certainly for young ladies, was different and I think the author does a great job in capturing this.

The timeline shifts were handled well with clear indications of the time period and most of Isabel’s story was told through manuscript extracts of Isabel’s memoirs.

This novel also touches on the fragile emotional state of post-natal depression. This can be difficult reading but is nonetheless a fact of life and would have been much less understood in the time period.

Any Negatives? Not negative as such but I did enjoy Berec’s story and think it has a place to be told in more detail (perhaps a little novella). I also found Lydia a strange character, meek at first then emboldened later on. I feel to be more true to life, she would have been less forgiving and more resentful of Isabel’s choices. None of this detracts from the main story of Isabel or Emily though.

Overall View: A really interesting book. A strong and engaging storyline that really had me reading at every opportunity. It was a compelling and addictive read. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

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Extract - The Silent Tide
Extract – The Silent Tide

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Review of The Mermaid’s Scream – 4 Stars

The Mermaid’s Scream by Kate Ellis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Premise: This is book 21 in the DI Wesley Peterson Crime Series. This story centres around the mysterious figure of Wynn Staniland, an enigma of the literary world. After his wife’s unusual death Wynn stopped producing novels and retreated from the literary limelight, now many years later a biographer set to publish Wynn’s story disappears. Bodies begin to stack up in the area with their only commonality being a connection to Staniland.

In the historical timeline, Neil Watson of the County Archaeological Unit is dealing with his own mystery, the death of Mary Field and a gruesome retelling of her story from the nineteenth century which fascinated Victorian taste for grim tales.

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:

Wesley recognised the object in her hand as a driving license.
‘Maybe he found it.’
‘There was money too.’
‘How much?’
‘Thirty pounds. I know he didn’t have that much. Look at the name on the licence: Zac Wilkinson. I went to that talk he gave last week. Remember? Didn’t you say he was missing?’
Wesley caught his breath as she handed him the license. The picture stared out at him. Wynn Staniland’s biographer; the man who’d failed to turn up at Neston Library.
‘I’d better have a word with Michael.’

Viewpoint: The story regularly changes perspectives from a host of characters and includes diary extracts from the nineteenth century. This makes the story feel fresh and fast-paced even during the more police procedural sections when the police are frustrated with a lack of progress/delays.

Character(s): Using the multi-viewpoint approach also allows the author to introduce us to a great breadth of characters. Some bringing more to the novel than others. There is a sub-story to this of a son navigating trials of being a teenager, a story of a long-lost daughter and the story of a sick wife. All these threads are woven together with great skill without too much distraction from the main plot.

Setting: This novel is mainly set in the region of Tradmouth which is, of course, loosely based on Dartmouth. This setting with small towns and remote locations really compliments the community feel of the novel but also highlights the isolation of the rural communities.

Any Negatives: I love this series, it’s one of my favourites. The author has such a talent for drawing me in quickly so that I am eager to turn the page. With this novel, there were a few things holding me back from going for the full five stars. The first was the random entries of Delia, the mother-in-law. I really don’t think it added anything to the main story or even contributed to the daughter’s cancer storyline. It may be the author setting the series up for a future book, but it didn’t seem to work for me in this book.

The main reason I didn’t give that 5 star is how the standalone book works. I appreciate it is incredibly difficult for any author to balance a book as both a series entry and a standalone and normally I haven’t noticed this as an issue at all. It’s been a number of years since I read the previous novels in this series and I was really struggling to recall details of past relationships etc. The author gave small snippets of info but it wasn’t really enough to clarify things for me e.g. Neil’s girlfriend is working away, Gerry’s relationship with Joyce, Gerry’s daughter Rosie is often spoken of as highly sensitive etc. I just felt like a little more detail or backstory to these would have helped this work better as a standalone, or for those of us whose memories are not as they once were – haha.

Overall View: As always a brilliant book by Kate Ellis. She is a truly fantastic writer. A great array of characters. A lot of fast-paced action. The fascinating historical aspects still pull me in and are so intriguing, I love how she intertwines these with the modern storyline.

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Extract from The Mermaid’s Scream

#Maydays Prompt – Skeletons in the Closet – Great Uncle Bill

Hahahaha – These skeletons don’t stay hidden long! Great response to the #maydays prompt by Michael. Great fun. KL ❤

Morpethroad

maydays-logo#maydays prompt its time for that age old family discussion of skeletons in the closet.

Mum screamed we all came running

There at her feet lay Great Uncle Bill.

At least the skeleton she explained

Was all that remained of Great Uncle Bill.

He was a philanderer we all knew that

A legend and myth within our family.

Bill had sailed the seven seas

A girl in every port they said

A larrikin and playboy all in one.

He died when on the run

Found shelter with his one great love

His wife, the forgiving Great Aunt May.

She said he’d gone out fishing

And never saw him again

Despite looking high and low

Not a trace was found, not one clue.

But now mum feared it would all come out

We had a skeleton in our closet,

Behind the ironing board in a hidey-hole.

At least said dad as…

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