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 – Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Book Review – Nineteen Minutes by Jodi PicoultNineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Published by Atria Books on March 5, 2007
Genres: Family Life, Fiction, General
Pages: 440
Format: eBook
Goodreads

five-stars




Old School

I know, I know… this book was published in 2007 and I’m only reading it now. I’m slow to the party on this one. I wish I had read it sooner. I’m a converted Jodi fan.

I had read another of Jodie’s books (The Pact) and I loved it and several friends recommended Nineteen Minutes as another great read.

The book was a change of pace for me. It’s not a thriller in the traditional sense, more of a drama, but has moments leaving you on the edge of your seat. I had trouble putting it down.

A school shooting is a horrible reality in the US and has been for a long time. The details of the school shooting were heartbreaking. Jodi does a fantastic job of describing the events leading up to and the post impact of the shooting. There are many players in the telling of the story. From the police investigator, to the lawyer (hello again Mr McAfee from The Pact), to the parent of the shooter and of the victim. Jodi accurately reflects the thoughts and feelings of the characters and yourself as the reader.

From the investigator:

He had no fucking idea how to process a nightmare this massive…

From the mother of the shooter:

no one seemed to have the right words of comfort for someone whose son had just killed ten people.

The overall feeling and questions you ask yourself when reading:

Did every teenager have the capacity to fall on one side or the other of that tightrope, and could you identify a single moment that tipped the balance?

As well as the courtroom drama that plays out, the book focuses on relationships. In particular the relationship between mother and daughter and the associated struggles. Also worth mentioning is the exploration of relationships between friends and the cruelness of young people.

I loved the book and a friend advised me it reminded them of the book We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I loved that book too, but they are different. There are many more perspectives in Nineteen Minutes and I don’t think it is as dark as We Need to Talk about Kevin, although the same feeling of heartbreak and senselessness is there – as it is with all the shootings that occur on a daily basis. I’m grateful  I live in Australia, where thankfully, since the Port Arthur massacre, shootings are not commonplace in my country.

Read this and be prepared to be moved.

Synopsis

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five….In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it. In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.


Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens — until the day its complacency is shattered by a shocking act of violence. In the aftermath, the town’s residents must not only seek justice in order to begin healing but also come to terms with the role they played in the tragedy. For them, the lines between truth and fiction, right and wrong, insider and outsider have been obscured forever.

Josie Cormier, the teenage daughter of the judge sitting on the case, could be the state’s best witness, but she can’t remember what happened in front of her own eyes. And as the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show, destroying the closest of friendships and families.

five-stars

About Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the #1 bestselling author of twenty-five novels including My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, The Storyteller, Leaving Time, the acclaimed #1 bestseller, Small Great Things, which explored the issues of power, privilege and race, and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Picoult’s most recent novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT., published on October 2, 2018, was her tenth consecutive instant #1 New York Times bestseller, and was praised as “Picoult at her fearless best” by the Washington Post.

Book Review – Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Book Review – Baby Teeth by Zoje StageBaby Teeth by Zoje Stage
Published by St. Martin's Press on July 17, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological, Family Life
Format: eBook
Goodreads
five-stars

 

In the spirit of Halloween, it does not get any creepier than a child with evil intentions…

Baby Teeth is author Zoje Stage’s debut novel and I enjoyed it immensely.

The book focuses on the voices of mother, Suzette and daughter ,Hanna.  I loved reading from both perspectives. I felt so much empathy for Suzette throughout the book and the anguish she continually faces in every day dealings with Hanna. Suzette torments herself in relation to Hanna’s behaviour.

She could believe that something hurt inside Hanna, something the girl couldn’t name. Something Suzette had inadvertently planted.

This is a book that stands on its own, without needing those twists and turns to which we have all become accustomed. It was gripping and dark. I know some would describe this book as absolutely monstrous. For me this was not the case.  However,  I am a renowned macabre specialist . I suspect for people who are a little more delicate, this would be a hard subject matter. The idea of a child with a killer instinct is hard to stomach.

Hanna is gruesome and merciless when it comes to her mother.

Sometimes mummy was an octopus with a sharp blade in each hand. It seemed fair to Hanna that when mummy bruised her heart, or made her feel all icky crumbly inside, that she should be able to hurt her back.

Overall, this is a great read if you are a fan of the genre and think you can bear the thought of a child with a very disturbed mind. I loved it.

Synopsis

Afflicted with a chronic debilitating condition, Suzette Jensen knew having children would wreak havoc on her already fragile body. Nevertheless, she brought Hanna into the world, pleased and proud to start a family with her husband Alex. Estranged from her own mother, Suzette is determined to raise her beautiful daughter with the love, care, and support she was denied.

But Hanna proves to be a difficult child. Now seven-years-old, she has yet to utter a word, despite being able to read and write. Defiant and anti-social, she refuses to behave in kindergarten classes, forcing Suzette to homeschool her. Resentful of her mother’s rules and attentions, Hanna lashes out in anger, becoming more aggressive every day. The only time Hanna is truly happy is when she’s with her father. To Alex, she’s wilful and precocious but otherwise the perfect little girl, doing what she’s told.

Suzette knows her clever and manipulative daughter doesn’t love her. She can see the hatred and jealousy in her eyes. And as Hanna’s subtle acts of cruelty threaten to tear her and Alex apart, Suzette fears her very life may be in grave danger.

About Zoje Stage

Zoje Stage is a former filmmaker with a penchant for the dark and suspenseful. Her debut novel BABY TEETH, released by St. Martin's Press in July 2018, was a USA Today bestseller. It was published in the UK by Transworld, under the title BAD APPLE. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.

About Zoje Stage

Zoje Stage is a former filmmaker with a penchant for the dark and suspenseful. Her debut novel BABY TEETH, released by St. Martin’s Press in July 2018, was a USA Today bestseller. It was published in the UK by Transworld, under the title BAD APPLE. She lives in Pittsburgh, PA.