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 – 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. 😉