Centre for Kids who can’t Read good and Wanna learn to do other good stuff too

by HughVanCuylenburg, Victoria Helen Stone

Let’s not make a habit of this …two posts in two nights.

*seductive whisper* People will start talking about us.

I feel like writing and I guess this time I’d better make it about reading. Even though, I’m technically not reading much…not because there aren’t some ahhhhmazing books to read right now (yes amazing books, I see you), but because of everything I discussed in my last post.

Ummm by the way, the title of this has nothing to do with what the post is actually about. I’m trying something new, where nothing makes any sense. So have yourself a merry little Christmas, a very merry unbirthday to you and keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel. 😉

But who doesn’t love Zoolander? and if you don’t we can’t be friends.

How do I fight the short attention span, lazy, crazy, coronavirus version of myself right now?

I have a plan.

It’s all about accountability and I heard somewhere (a podcast and some books – sources remain nameless) that when you are forming a new habit if you put it out there to the world you are more likely to follow through. So I’m compiling a list of books I’m reading/have read/need to review to make sure I bloody do it.

There are some fierce competitors I tell you and one review in particular I can’t believe I’m holding back from you. I’ll start there because it’s extremely important to me and I bang on to everyone who will listen to me about it.

The Resilience Project – finding happiness through gratitude empathy & mindfulness

Hugh Van Cuylenburg

I love this book. The resilience project is not just a book – they build resilience in children through education programs, offer live events, present at sporting clubs and do corporate talks also.

Hugh is the founder and I have seen him speak live. I love the resilience project so much that I bought the audio book and the kindle version, have a wellbeing journal and a t- shirt. It’s safe to say I’m a super-fan and it means a lot to me. I listened to the audiobook a very long time ago and it was a situation where I wanted to be able to give the best review I could and wanted it to be perfect, so much so that I delayed writing the review. I do this when I love things a lot – to people too – many times have I not kissed/gone home with someone I reeeeallly like. Why? because I’m stupid. If the resilience project was a man I had a crush on I’d be flirting, pretending not to flirt, giving suggestive looks and praying that they notice me. The review is coming and hopefully by now I have the balls to do it justice.

Problem Child

Victoria Helen Stone

I’m reading this one right now. It is hard to believe my pathetic excuse for motivation has had trouble continuing with it – it bloody fabulous so far and I have the biggest girl crush boner ( don’t have a bone – but if I did…) for the author. Apologies…things have gotten sexual now.

I’ll tell you why:

  1. She wrote Jane Doe and this is more Jane (where I have an even bigger crush on the character Jane because she is a sociopath who reminds me of Dexter and I wish I was her)
  2. She is great I follow her on Twitter and love it
  3. Problem Child has allllllllll the things I love – Jane is so perfect. Strong, emotionless. I. want. to be. her.

I’ve highlighted half the god damn book on my kindle because Jane’s lines (Victoria’s words) are fucking phenomenal this time around. I need to finish the book and get a review to you ASAP. *public service announcement – the review will contain large excerpts of the book, (the man hating parts) hope this is legal.

P.S – love you Victoria. Jane is a GANGSTER.

Also – my heart is large and it appears I even have room for psychos and for some reason Henry Higgins comes to mind – (character from My Fair Lady folks – do your research – or Pygmalion if you are especially creative 😉 ), who I also love and adore – why? because he’s a prick mostly and I have a thing for pricks. In my head I’m singing “just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait!” Ok, that has nothing to do with the book but the narrative of Henry’s “never let a woman in your life” and “why can’t a woman be more like a man” – makes me want to punch him in the face – Jane Doe style. But what Jane does is better, so much better. By the way when I say Henry Higgins – I mean Rex Harrison. He is my fave Henry. Review coming as soon as I finish the book.

*whispers* I also love Henry Higgins. I may have daddy issues.

Ok that’s enough.

I know. It’s only two books and there are so many more I want to tell you about – but small steps ok?

I have the writing bug, so lets see what happens.

About Victoria Helen Stone

Victoria Helen Stone, formerly writing as USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, was born and raised in the flattest parts of the Midwest. Now that she’s escaped the plains of her youth, she writes dark suspense from an upstairs office high in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. She enjoys summer trail hikes with her family almost as much as she enjoys staying inside during the winter. Since leaving the lighter side of fiction, she has written the critically acclaimed, bestselling novels Evelyn, After; Half Past; Jane Doe; and her latest Amazon Charts bestseller, False Step.

Book Review – Back, After the Break by Osher Günsberg

by Osher Günsberg
Published by HarperCollins Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Celebrity & Popular Culture, Entertainment & Performing Arts, Humor, Mental Health, Personal Memoirs, Psychology, Rich & Famous, Topic

*Disclaimer: this post isn’t formatted as smoothly as I would like or at my usual standard…have no fear, my plugin needs updating (that’s what she said) and everything will be back to normal ASAP. The good news is that you have my 5 star review and a book that you should absolutely read …

Sometimes I’m all in for self development and healing and all that stuff. Sometimes, I hate it because it feels like I’m trying to do too much and putting too much pressure on myself to ‘improve’…what’s wrong with me the way I am right now boo? Yeah. I hear you. But right now…we need to be kind to each other and kind to ourselves. We need to support each other more than ever…so be prepared….for the self improvement stuff (which I read a while ago and have not been reviewing with my usual vigour – oh what isolation does!).

Osher Günsberg is the one person in the world I didn’t realise I needed to know more about. Once again, I’m late to the party. I did not know about Osher’s personal battles, or even that he had an amazing podcast (Better Than Yesterday) focused on mental health and self improvement. I knew that I loved Osher. He had a familiar, smiling face, that always appeared friendly and happy. I thought he was attractive with a strong jawline and confident approach. Osher’s biography, Back, After the Break shows that there is so much more than meets the eye.

My history with Osher started with Australian Idol, back then he was Andrew G and it was a great new reality tv show I loved to watch. I then suddenly knew him as Osher and hosting the Bachelor and Bachelorette. Always loveable, always soft. Of course there was a lot more I didn’t know about Osher and his journey. It’s dark and not as glamorous as one would expect. The world of ‘celebrity’, as I’ve learned, is not everything it’s made out to be. There are pressures, mostly put on oneself, to achieve and criticism. Heavy criticism.

It’s interesting and naive to think that Osher wouldn’t or couldn’t struggle and I know better now, with age, wisdom and several university degrees about the subject that mental illness and alcoholism don’t discriminate. You can be powerful, successful, admired and still be struggling on the inside.

I find it admirable when anyone shares their struggles with others, let alone writes a book and puts it out there for everyone to read and possibly criticise. Osher might not recognise this in himself, but his ability to be vulnerable, to share the parts of himself he is ashamed of, as well as his great achievements are what really makes him special and makes his story so wonderful to share. It’s like standing naked in front of a mirror, except the world, as well as yourself, are watching. It’s bloody scary and intimidating. It takes guts to tell everyone when you’ve fucked up, made mistakes and how you’ve overcome the obstacles. Osher, you’ve got some balls mate.

By the way, you didn’t ask me but I’m going to tell you, I would say his greatest achievements to date are his 10 years of sobriety, continued self awareness and ability and desire to help others. There is something to be said about a man that can own his own problems and face them them, dead on. It’s the definition of bravery in my book.

Osher openly talks about his anxiety, alcoholism and how these both affected his personal relationships and day to day life. Would you ever believe that Osher was afraid to leave his home or that he was scared of strangers??? Osher was also in New York during the September 11 attacks, which had a big effect on him at the time and thereafter. Osher also struggled with body image…which really surprised me because he has always looked great in my eyes. I don’t want to give too much away, so you’ll have to read for more, but importantly…

Osher isn’t blasé about the fact that achieving good mental health and self awareness is a daily, sometimes minute by minute effort. There is no quick fix, there is persistence. Like any goal, any achievement, good mental health takes practice and patience. He shares what’s worked for him – hint: exercise, journalling, gratitude, being surrounded by loved ones, as well as professional help. Again, I can’t stress how important his message and continuous journey is… for everyone.

So read the goddam book. While you’re at it, listen to his podcast…Better Than Yesterday, it’s amazing. I particularly love his weekly check ins and find him grounding and calming. Some of his interviews are fantastic too. Most of us have a little more time on our hands and time with Osher is time well spent.

YES its a 5 star review! Even that button won’t work for me right now (that’s what she said…).

Synopsis

Osher Gunsberg, one of Australia’s most loved celebrities, opens up in a powerful, dark, funny and heartwrenching memoir about life, love and living with mental illness. It’s hard to remember a time when Osher Gunsberg (or Andrew G as he was then) wasn’t on TV – he’s just always been there, looking at ease in the spotlight, beaming a big smile, with a questionable haircut. He was there hanging out with The Offspring backstage at the Warped Tour on Channel V; announcing to a national audience of three million people that Guy Sebastian was our first Australian Idol; and later capturing the heart of the nation by hosting every season of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and now Bachelor in Paradise. But while everything looks great from the outside, the real picture has not always been quite so rosy. Osher has always known he’s different to most people. Struggling with anxiety, panic attacks and weight issues since he was young, he tried for years to drink away the anxiety and depression. He ended up unemployed, divorced, suicidal and certifiable on the other side of the world, yet somehow he managed to put the broken pieces of his mind back together and make a life for himself again. He lives with a mental illness – and he’s come to terms with it to live an authentic, rich and fulfilling life. A revealing, raw, funny and heartfelt memoir from one of Australia’s most well-known and well-liked celebrities.

About Osher Günsberg

Osher Günsberg is one of Australia’s most recognisable media personalities and has been a guest in the living rooms of Australian’s for nearly 2 decades.
From his work on Channel [V] in the early 2000’s to seven seasons on Australian Idol, Osher was the first Australian to host live network prime time TV in the USA on Live To Dance (CBS). Currently, Osher hosts three formats within The Bachelor franchise – The Bachelor Australia, The Bachelorette Australia and Bachelor in Paradise, and is the narrator of Bondi Rescue (all Network 10). This year saw Osher’s return to live TV where he hosted season 1 of the smash-hit show, The Masked Singer Australia (Network 10).
The release of his memoir, Back, After the Break (HarperCollins Australia) became an instant best-seller and detailed Osher’s powerful, dark, funny and heart wrenching story about life, love and living with mental illness. It was nominated for a 2019 ABIA for Best Biography Book of the Year and a LIVE show of the same name was produced and toured Australia, selling out nationally.
Osher’s roots in media began in radio in 1994 at Brisbane’s B105 on the overnight shift. He rapidly moved to a national audience with Take 40 Australia and The Hot Hits Live from LA, and years later returned to radio to co-host Hit105’s Stav, Abby & Matt with Osher breakfast show for Southern Cross Austereo, and Osher’s Love Line nationally on the HIT Network.
An early adopter of independent digital broadcasting, Osher has written, produced and hosted several podcasts. His interview podcast Better than Yesterday with The Osher Günsberg (previously The Osher Günsberg Podcast) has been published weekly since 2013 and has over 4.3 million downloads. The show now releases two episodes per week, was a finalist in the 2018 Australian Podcast Awards (Storytelling category) and selected episodes are available on Qantas Inflight Entertainment. In 2017 Osher hosted Tall Tales & True series 3 (ABC podcast) and Love Life with Leanne Hall (Mamamia network). In late 2019 Osher teamed up with Charlie Clausen to create DadPod, a weekly podcast from the duo sharing their experiences around fatherhood.
A man of his word, Osher said he would never be photographed with his shirt off unless it was for the cover of Men’s Health Australia. In August 2018, he did just that when he graced the cover revealing his Men’s Health Transformation cover. He moved his body to heal his mind and was happy to take the aesthetic benefits with it.
Osher served on the board of SANE Australia as a director from 2016 – 2019, in an effort to help change attitudes in our society about complex mental illness. Osher was previously an Ambassador for leading children’s charity The Shepherd Centre to help educate the public and help children who are born deaf or hearing impaired. A passionate photographer, cyclist, plant eater and coffee connoisseur, Osher lives in Sydney with his wife, newborn son, step daughter and their mischievous cavoodles.

Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Book Review – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Published by Penguin on May 9, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Women, Literary, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 336
Goodreads
five-stars

No. She’s not.

I think that’s ok. I think it’s ok to not be fine, but the lame, standard response to “how are you?” is, “fine”, “good”, “ok”. All smiles. When actually no one is fine or good or ok all of the time and we are all afraid to say it. God forbid we feel it.

I really love Eleanor. Yes, I hated the way she called her mother “mummy” throughout the whole thing. Yes, her prim and proper facade was irritating. But she’s just so perfect because Eleanor is completely herself most of the time. She’s not her vulnerable self, because that’s scary, but she is her imperfect self perfectly.

I know some people don’t like this book, haven’t got into it, but I’ll tell you a secret. The book is actually about trauma and a lot of it. At times Eleanor is just eccentric, amazingly interesting and funny, but it’s much more and much darker than that. Lucky I fell in love with this woman quickly. The love affair enabled me to keep reading and I was very happy I did.

Unfortunately, I gave my copy to the goddamn street library before writing this (foooooooolish) and I had pages earmarked that I wanted to discuss. Pffft. I’m an amateur book reviewer and right now it shows.

I can’t forget the general gist of what I wanted to write about though. I wanted to write about her loneliness. It is all encompassing. I don’t think she knows it is, for much of the book, but it is there like another character. Tick tock of the clock in a quiet room. It’s there and it is possibly the most accurate depiction of loneliness I’ve ever read. Shit. I need my copy of the book back. Or any copy. Hang on a tick.

“When the silence and the aloneness press down and around me, crushing me, carving through me like ice, I need to speak aloud sometimes, if only for proof of life.”

There it is. I’m going to have to re- read this book because there are moments that are like gold. I read an interview with the author a while back (see? research) and she said that she said something about this idea that people can spend an entire weekend not talking to anyone. She said she thought this only happened to old people. Pffttt. Come on now Gail.

I had a lot of smiles while reading this book too. Particularly at Eleanor’s experience of having a visit from a social worker. Where this gem occurred:

“I assume that it’s part of the job, checking to make sure that I’m not storing my own urine in demijohns or kidnapping magpies and sewing them into pillowcases.”

That one was a laugh out loud on the train moment actually.

and then this…

“Well, I haven’t become aware of any additional support needs, and I’m fully integrated into the community, June,” I said.”

For much of the book I could hear Eleanor’s voice as I read. I cried for her, I was happy for her, frustrated at her. Eleanor had me feeling every emotion possible. Her and her alone. I know someone is making this movie, but I tell you, I don’t know if an actress can do this character justice. I may eat my words. I may be surprised. I doubt it though. Eleanor is a character I don’t want anyone messing with. I’m quite protective of her.

Ok, one more thing before I go. I could write all day about this book and it’s not even a thriller! I love the hint at romance. No fluffy, cringe worthy stuff. It felt real. It was refreshing. The focus was on friendships and I really like that.

It’s the authors debut novel and not gonna lie, I expect even more greatness in the future.

five-stars

About Gail Honeyman

Gail Honeyman is a graduate of the universities of Glasgow and Oxford. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine won the Costa First Novel Award and the British Book Awards Book of the Year, was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize, the Desmond Elliot Award, and the Author’s Club Best First Novel, and was long-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. This is Honeyman’s debut novel and she lives in Glasgow, Scotland.

Book Review – The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett

Book Review – The Bus on Thursday by Shirley BarrettThe Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett
on September 18, 2018
Genres: Fiction, horror, Literary, Thrillers, Supernatural
Pages: 304
Goodreads
four-stars

Welcome to a wild ride from Shirley Barrett.

Australian Author – check

Australian setting – check

Humour – check

Creepy weird AF story – check

I got this ripper from my Street Library and I don’t regret it. The protagonist, Eleanor, tells it like it is, with all the Aussie slang and references (as well as swear words) she can muster.

Written in a blog/diary entry form, it made for an easy read that was entertaining and kooky. It might be written a little too casually for some, but I enjoyed it and felt it was refreshing to read something a little more relaxed.

I mean, it is written by one of the directors of the tv show Offspring (Australian soap) and I certainly see some similarities in that Eleanor has an internal dialouge that isn’t unlike Nina’s in Offspring. Offspring is one of my favourite tv shows…so it all makes sense.

This book might not translate very well for international readers, due to Aussie terms and references. If you can get past that and the curse words you will enjoy the humour and weirdo storyline.

I don’t think I can say that Eleanor is a particularly likeable character, but she is relatable…well…sort of, if you can see yourself making passes at your elderly doctor or discussing exorcising demons at the local church. Eleanor finds herself in some interesting situations when she gets a new teaching job in a small town – most of which are funny, strange or confusing.

There were times when I didn’t know where the story was going or if it was in fact going anywhere, but I had gotten so far in that I didn’t mind the commitment and I had invested myself to reading Eleanor’s story. Perhaps I liked her more than I’m happy to admit.

The new town is full of crazy characters and whilst Eleanor might seem like one of the ‘normal’ ones, she herself has some questionable behaviours. Actually, she fits right in.

Just when you think things couldn’t get any more quirky in this story, there is what I like to call an “Evil Dead” moment. I’ll say no more, if you’ve seen the movie you’ll likely put two and two together. I’ll just say, I enjoyed it.

If you love the weird and wonderful, interesting characters and a touch of the supernatural you will enjoy this book – just don’t expect to be given all the answers and don’t take it too seriously.

Synopsis

Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in this wickedly funny, dark novel about one woman’s post-cancer retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her

It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett’s life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it.

One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. The next thing she knew, her breast was being dissected and removed by an inappropriately attractive doctor, and she was suddenly deluged with cupcakes, judgy support groups, and her mum knitting sweaters.

Luckily, Eleanor discovers Talbingo, a remote little town looking for a primary-school teacher. Their Miss Barker up and vanished in the night, despite being the most caring teacher ever, according to everyone. Unfortunately, Talbingo is a bit creepy. It’s not just the communion-wine-guzzling friar prone to mad rants about how cancer is caused by demons. Or the unstable, overly sensitive kids, always going on about Miss Barker and her amazing sticker system. It’s living alone in a remote cabin, with no cell or Internet service, wondering why there are so many locks on the front door and who is knocking on it late at night.

Riotously funny, deeply unsettling, and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett’s The Bus on Thursday is a wickedly weird, wild ride for fans of Helen Fielding, Maria Semple, and Stephen King.

four-stars

About Shirley Barrett

Shirley Barrett is a screenwriter, film director and novelist.

She has written and directed three feature films, including Love Serenade, which won the Camera D’Or (Best First Feature) at Cannes Film Festival in 1996. She has also directed television drama, including Love My Way, Offspring and A Place to Call Home. Known for her ability to elicit strong, truthful and detailed performances in both comedy and drama, her work is also striking visually.

Shirley has written two novels: Rush Oh! (2014) and The Bus on Thursday (2018).

Book Review – Life Will Be The Death of Me by Chelsea Handler

Book Review – Life Will Be The Death of Me by Chelsea HandlerLife Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler
Published by Random House Publishing Group on April 9, 2019
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Family & Relationships, Political Science, Civics & Citizenship
Pages: 256
Goodreads
four-stars

I love her. I love her. I love her.

Chelsea Handler is my girl crush. Woman crush….whatever. I found Chelsea on You Tube, many years ago interviewing someone famous and I found her so hilarious, witty and accomplished. She oozes a confidence I admire and wish I had. I’ve followed her since I discovered her, through her Netflix specials, numerous books and I also stalk her on Twitter (told you, girl crush).

I have read all of Chelsea’s books. Some I found more hilarious than others, but all of them had me laughing out loud at some point.

Life will be the death of me is different. There were still some laugh out loud moments, but the overall tone is much more sombre. Chelsea is incredibly vulnerable in this memoir. It was a side I hadn’t seen (except when she was being interviewed by Ellen, who mentioned the death of her mother and she started crying). I did expect lots of laughs from this book, but there was a vast journey into grief and loss and how that has manifested into Chelsea’s life now.

As always, there were some side stories which were less emotional. I loved reading about Chelsea’s many dogs over the years (yet another reason to love Chelsea). One story in particular I found extremely hilarious was her dog getting high on a plane and running amok.

Nothing ever surprises me with Chelsea. Usually. In this book she is completely open about the work she has done with her psychologist, her flaws, her downfalls and it makes me love her more. Was this book my favourite of hers? No. Am I still a massive fan and respect her for writing about many losses and her therapy experience? Yes.

I think if you are a fan of Chelsea you will still enjoy this book. Just be aware that it’s a little more emotional and deep than her other books.

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The funny, sad, super-honest, all-true story of Chelsea Handler’s year of self-discovery—featuring a nerdily brilliant psychiatrist, a shaman, four Chow Chows, some well-placed security cameras, various family members (living and departed), friends, assistants, and a lot of edibles

A SKIMM READS PICK • “This will be one of your favorite books of all time.”—Amy Schumer

In a haze of vape smoke on a rare windy night in L.A. in the fall of 2016, Chelsea Handler daydreams about what life will be like with a woman in the White House. And then Donald Trump happens. In a torpor of despair, she decides that she’s had enough of the privileged bubble she’s lived in—a bubble within a bubble—and that it’s time to make some changes, both in her personal life and in the world at large.

At home, she embarks on a year of self-sufficiency—learning how to work the remote, how to pick up dog shit, where to find the toaster. She meets her match in an earnest, brainy psychiatrist and enters into therapy, prepared to do the heavy lifting required to look within and make sense of a childhood marked by love and loss and to figure out why people are afraid of her. She becomes politically active—finding her voice as an advocate for change, having difficult conversations, and energizing her base. In the process, she develops a healthy fixation on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and, through unflinching self-reflection and psychological excavation, unearths some glittering truths that light up the road ahead. 

Thrillingly honest, insightful, and deeply, darkly funny, Chelsea Handler’s memoir keeps readers laughing, even as it inspires us to look within and ask ourselves what really matters in our own lives.

Advance praise for Life Will Be the Death of Me

“You thought you knew Chelsea Handler—and she thought she knew herself—but in her new book, she discovers that true progress lies in the direction we haven’t been.”—Gloria Steinem 

“I always wondered what it would be like to watch Chelsea Handler in session with her therapist. Now I know.”—Ellen DeGeneres

“I love this book not just because it made me laugh or because I learned that I feel the same way about certain people in politics as Chelsea does. I love this book because I feel like I finally really got to know Chelsea Handler after all these years. Thank you for sharing, Chelsea!”—Tiffany Haddish

four-stars

About Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler is an accomplished stand-up comic and actress, as well as the bestselling author of My Horizontal Life. She is the star of her own late-night show on E!, Chelsea Lately; was one of the stars of Girls Behaving Badly; has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman; and has starred in her own half-hour Comedy Central special. Chelsea makes regular appearances in comedy clubs across America and lives in Los Angeles.

Book Review – Bully Brother by Craig M Dial

I received this book for free from the author, Craig M Dial, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you to the author for the opportunity.

Book Review – Bully Brother by Craig M DialBully Brother Published by Independently Published on May 24, 2018
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Family Life
Pages: 258
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
three-stars

I had been meaning to read Bully Brother for quite a while. The author sent me a copy a long time ago. I misplaced it and he was kind enough to send me another copy. I’m glad he did.

I always make this disclaimer, but as with any memoir or personal story, I’m particularly sensitive to the fact that this is someone’s life and story – who am I to say what I think of that? I always feel terribly responsible and cautious when reviewing.

For me as a reader, Bully Brother was like exploring an era. I really like the fact that Craig asks readers to play the music mentioned throughout the book whilst reading to evoke that sense of being in the 60’s and 70’s. I thought it was a great concept and really gave me an idea of the mood and tone. The 60’s and 70’s being slightly before my time, I think this helped set the scene. I loved the music (most was familiar to me) and found myself waiting for the next mention of a song whilst I was reading.

I found the descriptions about Craig’s childhood and his relationship with his siblings familiar. Despite the fact that I grew up in the 80’s. Some of his stories were funny, some were a little worrying. The bullying by Craig’s brother David, was not as extreme as I expected it to be, but, I am used to reading things a little darker and more disturbing (so maybe it’s me and my dark mind?) and, once again, who am I to comment on someone’s experience? I’m sure it was horrible for Craig at the time.

I will say that the book was an easy read, but, I often wondered where it was going. I was waiting for the inevitable tragedy, but I found this was very close to the end of the book. I think I would have liked a hint of it at the beginning.

If you enjoy reading memoire you will enjoy this book. Particularly if you are interested in the 60’s and 70’s and family types of genres.

three-stars

About Craig M Dial

Craig grew up in Marin County in the late 1960’s and 1970’s where he experienced the hippie love culture from a child perspective. He is married and now lives near Sacramento, CA.

Book Review – After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Book Review – After Anna by Lisa ScottolineAfter Anna by Lisa Scottoline
Published by St. Martin's Press on April 10, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense, Domestic
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Goodreads
four-stars

Another new author to me, but certainly not a new author – Lisa Scottoline has been writing thrillers (among other things) for years. I’m both disappointed and excited all at once. Disappointed because I didn’t read any of her books sooner and excited because it means I now have another wonderful author’s work to read!

I’m noticing that a lot of female authors appear to be quite skilled with the thriller genre…hardly surprising, us ladies do know how to be appropriately terrified. I once read somewhere that women are the biggest viewers of true crime on TV. It is certainly true of myself – I love true and fictional crime, in every format! podcasts, TV and books. The article I read pointed to several factors (from memory) that because women are typically less aggressive than men – true crime lets them explore a darker fantasy and women are more empathic, so they relate more to the victims of the crime also.

I do have to be honest here, I actually downloaded After Anna by accident! I was looking for a book called After Anna, but by a different author, Alex Lake. I still really want to read that book by the way, but when I began reading Lisa Scottoline’s After Anna, I became pretty engrossed straight away.

The book began in the courtroom and you already know…someone is on trial for murder, but there are so many more juicy details to come. I actually really enjoy books that have a bit of courtroom drama. Mostly because I hate lawyers and I love to hate them. I read all of their sentences with an annoying demeaning voice in my head.

The subject of the title, Anna, is the estranged daughter of Maggie. Anna returns to Maggie’s life and everything is roses…until it’s not. Some of the plot is a little predictable, but I was still very intrigued and curious about all the events Before and After Anna. Each chapter is either set in the recent past or the present, which I also enjoy. I don’t want to know everything straight away or I’ll stop reading.

I moved through this book quite quickly, partly because I was intrigued and partly because I think the book is pretty fast paced. There wasn’t a moment I was bored and waiting for more.

I think people who enjoy thrillers will like this book, it was a little predictable, but still an enjoyable read if you like family type thrillers.

I know my blog has been a little quiet of late but rest assured I’m still reading and have lots of great books on my TBR list – I need to do a new blog post for my TBR’s because the list is getting big and I don’t want to forget any I am especially excited about (or skip any golden missed opportunities with books I’m less excited about). I’ll be bringing you some different genres to spice things up a bit too!

Synopsis

Nobody cuts deeper than family…

Dr. Noah Alderman, a widower and single father, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie Ippolitti, and for the first time in a long time, he and his young son are happy. Despite her longing for the daughter she hasn’t seen since she was a baby, Maggie is happy too, and she’s even more overjoyed when she unexpectedly gets another chance to be a mother to the child she thought she’d lost forever, her only daughter Anna.

Maggie and Noah know that having Anna around will change their lives, but they would never have guessed that everything would go wrong, and so quickly. Anna turns out to be a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules, though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble brewing in a once-perfect marriage and home.

Events take a heartbreaking turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused and tried for the heinous crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her daughter, but the realization that Anna’s murder may have been at the hands of a husband she loves. In the wake of this tragedy, new information drives Maggie to search for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.

Riveting and disquieting, After Anna is a groundbreaking domestic thriller, as well as a novel of emotional justice and legal intrigue. And New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline will keep readers on their toes until the final shocking page.


four-stars

About Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is a #1 Bestselling Author, The New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 32 novels, including her latest work, Someone Knows, which is coming April 9, 2019.

She also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Chick Wit” which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman’s perspective. These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in a New York Times bestselling series of humorous memoirs including their most recent, I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses, and earlier books, I Need A Lifeguard Everywhere But The Pool; I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places; Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?; Have a Nice Guilt Trip; Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim; Best Friends, Occasional Enemies; My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space; and Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, which has been optioned for TV.

Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has served as president of Mystery Writers of America and has taught a course she developed, “Justice and Fiction” at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, her alma mater. Lisa is a regular and much-sought-after speaker at library and corporate events. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Book Review – The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald

Book Review – The Cry by Helen FitzgeraldThe Cry by Helen Fitzgerald
Published by Faber & Faber on August 27, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Crime, Psychological, Thrillers, General, Suspense, Mystery & Detective
Pages: 320
Goodreads
five-stars

I absolutely devoured The Cry whilst on holiday. The Cry was recommended to me by a friend (thanks Lisa!) and from the moment I started it I was hooked.

The book is set in Victoria, Australia, so the names of towns were familiar and this helped me get into the story. The storyline was incredibly gripping, perhaps because it involves a baby and some big mistakes. Heartstrings are on the line straight away. There were times I was holding my breath, shaking my head and wanting to yell “no, don’t do that”. This isn’t a common occurrence for me, maybe while watching tv, but not when reading. I was invested straight away.

I really liked the protagonist, Joanna. There were moments where she might have become a bit tiresome, but this wasn’t the case. I felt like I was with her throughout the events and I wasn’t bored or frustrated with her. Sometimes characters can be whiney, boring or repetitive, Joanna was not and I empathised with her.

Like all fantastic stories right now, The Cry has been made into a television series. I haven’t seen it yet (slack I know! I’ m off my game) usually I would watch it before writing a book review to compare the two, but the book doesn’t really need anything to support it. I will eventually watch the show but the book is fantastic and I strongly recommend it for readers who enjoy psychological thrillers or crime genres.

I was also very excited to see that this is not Helen’s first time at the rodeo – far from it – she has written several thrillers which I am now very excited to read. I love finding new authors, but it makes my TBR list very long!

Synopsis

NOW A MAJOR NEW BBC ONE DRAMAThe Cry was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. 

When a baby goes missing on a lonely roadside in Australia, it sets off a police investigation that will become a media sensation and dinner-table talk across the world. 

Lies, rumours and guilt snowball, causing the parents, Joanna and Alistair, to slowly turn against each other. 

Finally Joanna starts thinking the unthinkable: could the truth be even more terrible than she suspected? And what will it take to make things right?

Perfect for fans of Julia Crouch, Sophie Hannah and Laura Lippman, The Cry was widely acclaimed as one of the best psychological thrillers of the year. There’s a gripping moral dilemma at its heart and characters who will keep you guessing on every page.

five-stars

About Helen Fitzgerald

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of Dead Lovely (2007) and ten other adult and young adult thrillers, including My Last Confession (2009), The Donor (2011), The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and Viral (Out Feb 2016). Helen has worked as a criminal justice social worker for over ten years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband and two children.

Book Review – Educated by Tara Westover

Book Review – Educated by Tara WestoverEducated by Tara Westover
Published by HarperCollins on February 20, 2018
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Women, General
Pages: 400
Goodreads
five-stars

A little change of pace here…I read this book a week ago but I’ve struggled to find time to write a review and I want to do it justice. I have wanted to read this book for quite some time. I feel quite strongly about biographies and memoirs and I tend to read and review them with a different lens. I acknowledge that the story is personal, it actually happened and should be respected.

Educated is a memoir about the author, Tara’s, childhood, continuing into her adulthood. Tara’s upbringing was challenging, she grew up in an environment whereby her parents had extreme beliefs about healthcare, education and the government. Tara, her parents and siblings are mormons, but Tara makes it clear from the outset that the book is not about mormonism.

As always, I’ve done my research, I watched some interviews with Tara on You Tube and she stresses that mormonism was not responsible for the views of her parents and the events that occurred for her and her siblings. There are plenty of practising mormons who still attend school and access healthcare. Rather, her father’s declining mental health heavily influenced his actions and paranoia about the world.

Tara’s situation is extraordinary, she entered university education at the age of 17, despite having no formal education previously. Tara’s family members suffered injuries and illness as a result of her father’s belief about medical treatment. Due to Tara’s lack of exposure and awareness of how other families and children live, the home life she experienced was normal. The beliefs were not questioned by her, until much later.

The book is such an intriguing read. It reminded me of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It is about more than just Tara’s formal education, it is primarily about her home life, family, relationships and struggles. Tara’s home life was sometimes abusive and often neglectful. Tara and her siblings were often in very dangerous situations as a result of her father’s actions. I know a lot of people have feelings of anger towards Tara’s parents after reading her book. Tara does not mirror these feelings towards her parents and her siblings. Tara still expresses gratitude for some aspects of her upbringing, which is so admirable.

I had mixed feelings towards Tara’s father whilst reading the book. At times I was shocked, other times angry, but there were times when his responses made me giggle a little. Tara is successful in portraying her father honestly, without degrading him. Tara also acknowledges at the end of the book that she and some of her siblings have different accounts in relation to several events in the book.

You’ll enjoy this book if you love memoirs, or stories where people have overcome hardship in their lives. Tara is certainly admirable and her accomplishments speak for themselves.

five-stars

About Tara Westover

Tara Westover is an American author living in the UK. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom, and after that first taste, she pursued learning for a decade. She graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

The gift that keeps on giving

I’ve talked about it before, very recently, that it is such an honour to be sent books to review and I really appreciate it when authors ask me to review a book, even it’s not really my preferred genre.

Even more lovely, is receiving the physical copy of a book in the mail, all the way from the US. I’ve also said that I enjoy reading books on my kindle rather than physical books, but there is something about reading the physical copy of a book when it is gifted to you. This is the first actual book I have been sent and it is rather exciting.

I’m looking forward to reading Craig M Dial’s Bully Brother. Memoires and biographies is another of my favourite genres (aside from thrillers). At the moment I’m reading Educated by Tara Westover, which is also a memoir. So I might need a break from the genre before reading Bully Brother. It’s also such a personal experience and I think when an author is sharing that much of themselves, I need to give it my full attention. To be honest, Educated is almost taking it out of me emotionally. I’ll be reading a thriller next. Not sure which one yet…that will be a suprise.

Books really are a gift. When you recommend them, lend them buy them or borrow them. I think that’s what I love most about books and reading. The ideas and stories can be shared and through the sharing comes enjoyment. I enjoy the book and I want everyone else to read it and know what I know. It’s like a shared secret. Except I have the opportunity to share that secret with you. 😉