Blog Tour: Veronica’s Bird #Memoir #BookReview

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Veronica’s Bird, a gritty memoir about a remarkable woman who rose from poverty to unprecedented success in the prison service

About the Book

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Title: Veronica’s Bird
Author: Veronica Bird & Richard Newman
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback ARC
Publication Details: January 22nd 2018 by Clink Street Publishing
Genre(s): Memoir
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

Amazon

Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

Through a series of interviews with Richard Newman —author of the bestselling A Nun’s Story— Veronica’s Bird reveals a deeply poignant story of eventual triumph, is filled with humour and compassion for those inside and will fascinate anyone interested in unique true life stories, social affairs and the prison system.

 

Excerpt

Veronica’s time training in the old Holloway prison was an eye opener for her, particularly when she came face to face with Myra Hindley but there were others, just as evil inside…

Myra’s (Hindley) reputation was powerful as all truly evil people impress, in a sick, sad way. Outside the prison, following the escape plot, children had to be reassured it was safe to go outside, and mothers would glance across the street as they waited for their children to come out of school. There was no way they were going to allow them to walk home alone despite being told she was safe inside her cell. Such was the status she ‘enjoyed’ but remember, she was not a celebrity, manipulative, yes, evil very, but don’t let us fall into the trap of giving her a cult status.

I write in some detail about Myra Hindley’s time in Holloway. Although she was carefully moved about the country from prison to prison, a fellow prisoner was able to get to her in an unguarded moment. The prisoner’s name was Judith, a dangerous psychotic. She was apt to flip from eating out of your hand at one moment to a sudden and unsafe rage. This day, for whatever reason, Judith launched herself at the Moors murderer and managed to throw her over a high balustrade where Myra landed on the security nets strung across the light wells to prevent suicides. Such was the force used, Myra’s head was smashed in and she had to have plastic surgery to repair the damage. These incidents occur in the flash of an eye and those eyes need to be in the back of one’s head.

Let me stay with Judith for a moment. When she was at Styal prison she climbed one night out of her cell window which had no bars, urged on by the knowledge it was New Year’s Eve. She shinned down a drainpipe (yes, really), into a workman’s yard where there was a conveniently stacked set of ladders. (You cannot make this stuff up). Selecting one of the long ladders, Judith climbed out before walking off holding out her thumb as she went. Who should be the first to stop and help her but an off-duty policeman. (I told you it could not be made into a film – no-one would believe it). He said goodbye to Judith, a dangerous psychotic, at the start of a motorway and drove off secure in the knowledge he had helped a lady in distress. Having enjoyed a night’s celebration through into the New Year, she finally turned up at a friend’s house in Swansea at three in the morning. She had managed to remain unchallenged for over twelve hours as a friendly inmate had signed the register at seven in the morning for her. This meant she remained unnoticed until lunchtime when the duty officer saw her name was not in the book. The alarm was raised; the hunt was on but Judith was well gone. The police finally apprehended her in her friend’s cellar and took her back. Red and faces were two words which probably came to mind several times that day with the prison officers, and no doubt, those ladders were securely locked up. And, as for that milkman…

This checking was all part of the eternal need to know how many prisoners there were at any one time in any part of the prison. To do so, numbers were checked four times a day, at seven in the morning, when Judith’s friend stood in for her, at lunch, in the afternoon and when the night duty staff arrived. When prisoners were moved around the prison or had to leave to go to a trial for example, chalk boards were constantly updated. As one prisoner left, the number was rubbed out and a revised figure inserted. When they came back the number was altered again. The boards were divided into sections, such as Remand, Trials and Section the last was where a prisoner had to be transferred to the hospital section. Pretty low- tech in those days but it worked, usually.

As I came to the end of my eight weeks I was skilled in controlling fighting prisoners, night patrolling, interpersonal skills, gate duty, the switchboard and…. counting.

I was ready for Wakefield.

My Thoughts

I work in a prison library and I’m constantly surprised and interested in prison life, so I was thrilled to be offered a spot on the blog tour for this memoir.

I’m ashamed to say that I’d not heard of Veronica Bird despite all of her achievements in the prison service. I was eager to learn about her life, why she joined the prison service at a time when very few women did, and how it affected her.

Veronica’s Bird is a compelling read. I was gripped by her difficult childhood, which was a surprise as I thought I would have been more interested once she entered HMPS, but this was not the case. It’s a wonderful story of bravery and triumph from the very beginning.

I enjoyed following Veronica as she embarked on a career in the service with a driving ambition for promotion after promotion. I’m not sure I could ever be that driven, but work was Veronica’s whole life – she had little else – so it made sense that she wanted to be the best.

Many of Veronica’s anecdotes are interesting and insightful, and the pages flew by, but I did feel like there was something missing, and that was emotion. Veronica’s time in the various prisons she worked are told in almost a clinical fashion. I wanted to know how she felt about her first day, about the prisoners she met. How she felt about Myra Hindley, her colleagues, etc. But I felt like most of her memories were devoid of emotion and intimacy. She was doing a job and that was that. This is the only thing that let the book down for me.

There’s no question that Veronica is an astounding woman, who has achieved more than most us ever will, and her story is one that deserves to be read. I only wish that by the end of the book I felt like I knew her, but I didn’t.

She remains an enigma!

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About the authors: After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system.

A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.

Thanks to Rachel @ Authoright for arranging this tour

 

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Authors, publishers, agents…If you would like me spotlight, review, or be part of your blog tour please get in touch via the contacts page

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Blog Tour: The Twelve Days of Elfin by Melanie Chambers

Welcome to my spot on the ‘Twelve Days of Elfin’ blog tour!

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About the Book

Twelve Days of Elfin Cover

Publication date:  November 21st 2017 by Clink Street Publishing
Genre(s): Children’s; Christmas

This is the story of a little boy who becomes friends with an elf; soon they are best friends!

The elf and the boy go on adventures together, creating wonderful magical things that every child would love to experience.

Keep the magic of Christmas alive for your little ones with this delightfully festive story by author and mum Melanie Chambers, to help create magical times together, with lots of fun and happy memories, for parents and children everywhere.

 

Goodreads // Amazon

Excerpt

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My Thoughts

The Twelve Days of Elfin is a charming little book that’s on a big mission – to bring parents and children together this Christmas by sharing quality time reading, baking and crafting.

I love the idea and the structure of this book which you can read over twelve nights during December. It follows Ruben and his new best friend Elfin who encourages him to get well and truly into the spirit of Christmas. Each section is followed by a simple recipe, or instructions on how to make whatever Elfin and Ruben have that day. What a great idea!

The only small criticism I have is that it felt a little bit amateurish to me, with regards to the storytelling and the illustrations, but saying that, I think it just added to the simple charm of it.

Twelve Days of Elfin is a lovely little book will without doubt bring parents and children even closer at Christmastime, encouraging wholesome family interaction and festive cheer.

 

 

Meet the Author

Tweelve Days - Melanie Chambers Author Pic

Melanie Chambers was born in Bristol, and had a troubled childhood. She was only diagnosed with dyslexia a few years ago on a British Sign Language course.

Melanie has been inspired by her own children to write books for that age group, due to their limitless imaginations. With her younger daughter also being an arts and crafts fan, and with Christmas being a favourite holiday it made sense to combine them into a her first book – The Twelve Days of Elfin.

 

 

You can follow Melanie on:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/melanie.chambers.948

Twitter – https://twitter.com/rjchambers2009

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/teacup18/

Thanks to Rachel at Authoright for arranging this tour. If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂

Flash Fiction Battle: Entry #1 #FFB17 #HO17

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Welcome to the second annual flash fiction battle in which four brilliant independent horror authors will battle it out to be crowned the King or Queen of Horror, (well, Horror October at least). 

For the past week and a half, the four participating horror writers have been creating an original short story based on the theme you chose.

The winning theme was ‘Master of Cemeteries’, and the stories have started rolling in. Once all four have been published, the vote will open for you to pick your favourite. I will crown the winner on Halloween!

Without further ado, feast your eyes on Entry #1.

Please do let us know what you think in the comments below. Will this story get your vote?

Holding On

by Sean Seebach

“It’s my job,” Ben said to his wife. “It has to be done.”

She tucked her face into her husband’s neck, rubbed her nose into his flannel collar, then kissed his unshaven cheek before leaving a coffee filled thermos and ham sandwich with him. The coffee would get drank. She had her doubts about the latter, noticing Ben’s flannel hanging loosely from his body. Everything had changed so quickly for them.

But she knew Ben was right. It was his job as the caretaker of Cedar Grove Cemetery to do the work that had to be done. She took a moment to gaze at the purple streaked sky before firing up the family’s 2001 Plymouth Neon, the one that fought to remain forest green against the orange colored rust, and thought about how proud she was to have Ben Taylor as her husband.

…..

Ben picked up the plastic grocery bag his wife had left him and took a squat next to the pile of dirt where he left his spade. He unscrewed the thermos cap, poured, and sipped black coffee during the chilly October twilight.

Across the street, he heard children laughing, screaming, yelling “trick or treat!” at the top of their little lungs. Visions of toddlers dressed as dinosaurs, spacemen, princesses flashed through his mind. Huddled together in small groups, holding the hands of their Mom and Dad, only to let go once they were close to a walkway that led to the porch. Then, a full on joyous sprint, high-pitched screeching, heavy breathing, wide smiles. Plastic bags decorated with witches and castles and bats and cartoonish looking boogiemen being whipped open. More smiles as handfuls of sugary goodness fell into those bags. Bags that Mom and Dad would surely have to go through once darkness fell.

His stomach turned sour.

He picked up the sandwich his wife had left him and unwrapped it. He put it to his nose and smelled it. When was the last time he ate? Ben couldn’t remember. He hadn’t eaten in so long that Ben wasn’t sure if he even liked ham anymore, let alone sandwiches.

He took a greedy bite anyway. He chomped around for a few seconds before spitting it out. He wasn’t ready to eat. Not yet. Maybe later.

The sun fell faster and soon it would be dark. If Ben didn’t get a move on, he’d be working by the light of the lantern. This was okay by him. He wanted to hear the children a little longer.

…..

The moon was almost visible now, a large white china plate hanging in the darkest sky imaginable. Gray, elongated clouds hovered in front of it. They were so close to each other they almost touched. Crickets began chattering to one another in the copse of trees close to where Ben was. Every now and then their chirps drowned out from the call of an owl. The children’s voices from across the street became nothing more than an echo. Ben picked up his spade and began to work.

He had done this so many times before. He tried to convince himself this was just like all the others. But he couldn’t fool what the heart knew. Trying to move on, to push through, was something he and his wife would have to learn as they lived. But Ben needed something to hang on to, something he could feel.

He took a moment to give his hands a break. They began to bleed in the cracks of his palms. He removed his flannel and wiped sweat from his face. When he exhaled he saw his breath and the cool air felt good. He straightened his back and glanced down and regarded the missing pooch from his beltline.

“Heck of a way to lose weight, Ben,” he said. “Didn’t even have to exercise.”

Then it came to him.

“Exercise.” He took a deep breath. “Running.”

Running was the word he needed to find the memory that he would…

“Hold on to forever. Bobby, you’re…”

“Running! Look Daddies! I’m running!” Bobby is running all right. He’s running in the backyard. His arms are outstretched along with his chubby hands. He is smiling and his head is tilted back so his eyes are squinting into the sunlight. White light enhances the child’s blonde hair, mainly at the flared ends where the wind has caught them, forcing them to flap like little wings…

“Daddies, I spin.” Bobby holds his arms up. Daddy grabs a hold of Bobby’s hands and asks him if he’s ready. “Readies,” Bobby says with a nod and a grin. Daddy plants his feet into the tall, soft green grass and begins to spin. Bobby’s feet lift from the grass and into the air. Their eyes lock onto each other. In the corners of their eyes, the world is spinning in a kaleidoscope of color: green, blue, white, brown. Daddy’s worries vanish in that moment. The envelopes stamped with PAST DUE in red letters, asking the cashier to return the snack cakes and bubble bath at the register to prevent an overdraft (just the necessities on this shopping trip, Bobby. Sorry), the anxiety from watching the price screen on the fuel pump go higher and higher are all forgotten in the whirlwind…

“Daddies, look! I fall.” Bobby falls down. “Daddies! You fall…too!” Daddy also falls, right on his back. He looks over at Bobby who has his arms once again stretched out to his side. Daddy does the same. They face each other, make eye contact and smile. Together they raise their feet to the clouds then watch the sky as the dizziness slows…

Ben finds that memory in the darkest of moments, one that he will hold on to for the rest of his life, as he spills the last of the dirt onto the gravesite with the tombstone marked:

Bobby Taylor

February 5, 2015-October 24, 2017

The End

(988 words)

Meet the Author

ffb17-seanInfluenced by Stephen King and Rod Serling, Sean Seebach has written four books: A Looking in View, Autumn Dark, Our Monsters Are Real: The Pig Man and his latest release Unknown Vol 1.

When Sean isn’t writing or managing a wonderful barbecue joint with amazing people, he enjoys reading, cooking, and listening to rock n’ roll. He currently lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and son.

Goodreads // Amazon // Twitter // Website

Follow the fight on Twitter

Huge thanks to all four writers, especially Stephen for helping to coordinate.

Lazy Saturday Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas #YA #MiniReview

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

thugTitle: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 438 pages
Publication Details: April 6th 2017 by Walker Books
Genre(s): YA; Contemporary;
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora!

Goodreads 

bookdepo

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Review

I’m only doing a lazy review for this one because I honestly don’t think there’s a lot I can say that hasn’t been said already.

The Hate U Give is brilliant. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s funny. It’s completely compelling. And it’s a book that we needed. Everyone should read it. It should put on the high school curriculum. There, I got it off my chest.

In case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what THUG is about, in a nutshell it’s about Starr, a girl who struggles with her identity because she’s living two different lives. The one where she lives – in a poor black neighbourhood where Ganglords rule- and the posh, predominately white high school she attends. Starr’s two lives don’t mesh well with one another, but when her oldest friend Khalil is shot by a police officer for no reason whatsoever, Starr has to make a choice. Stay a silent witness or come forward and risk her two worlds colliding.

THUG was really hyped up in the book-world and that always worries me, but this time it was completely deserved. It’s a great read that isn’t just powerful and important but also a genuinely gripping, enjoyable read.

It was my book of month.

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Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit #BookReview #Thriller

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Title: Fear
Author: Dirk Kurbjuweit
Series: n/a
Format: Digital ARC, 303 pages
Publication Details: Jan 25th 2018 by Orion Publishing Group
Genre(s): Thriller/Mystery;
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

 

‘YOU’D DIE FOR YOUR FAMILY. BUT WOULD YOU KILL FOR THEM?

***

Family is everything.

So what if yours was being terrorised by a neighbour – a man who doesn’t listen to reason, whose actions become more erratic and sinister with each passing day? And those you thought would help – the police, your lawyer – can’t help you.

You become afraid to leave your family at home alone. But there’s nothing more you can do to protect them.

Is there?


Review

Fear is psychological thriller with a difference.

At the beginning of the novel we learn that the protagonist’s elderly dad is in prison for shooting a neighbour who was terrorising his family. What follows is the build-up to how and why he took those measures.

Translated from German, the writing style of this book has a distinct Germanic feel to it which I enjoyed. It’s written from the protagonist Randolph’s sole perspective with a stream of consciousness narration. I’ve enjoyed this style in the past, but I did find Randolph a slightly strange,  monosyllabic narrator which made it hard for me to truly get on his side. I don’t know if this was the intention to create further intrigue (didn’t work for me) or if it was something lost in translation.

It did create suspense though, and I felt for Randolph every time the police and lawyers failed to help him. His complaint was that his neighbour was sending abusive notes to him and his wife, claiming that he knew they were sexually abusing their two children. This is obviously a terrible thing to be accused of if innocent, as we believe them to be.

However, I didn’t understand some of Randolph’s reaction. He basically went into a meltdown and started wondering if it was true. Had he ever touched them inappropriately when bathing them etc. Has his wife? Now, I don’t have children but I’m pretty sure if I did I would know if I’d touched them inappropriately. I mean, WTF.

Also the fact that him and his wife were slightly estranged and didn’t trust each other either made me question them more, added to the weirdness of his childhood stories about his gun-mad dad and always thinking he might shoot someone – I found it hard to relate to any of them. That being said, this all created a lot of intrigue, and along with some very dark, compelling moments, kept me reading.

it wasn’t a quick read, however. I found it a little slow with all the backstory and a bit too long. However, if you enjoyed We Need to Talk About Kevin, and/or want something a little different than your average psychological thriller then definitely give Fear a go! Bit of wait until it’s released though, soz!

unicorn rating 3

Fear is out 25th January 2018, but you can pre-order it now!

Broken Branches by M. Jonathan Lee #BookReview #JulyReleases

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Title: Broken Branches
Author: M. Jonathan Lee
Series: n/a
Format: Paperback ARC, 294 pages
Publication Details: July 27th 2017 by Hideaway Fall
Genre(s): Thriller/Mystery; Horror
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

‘Family curses don’t exist. Sure, some families seem to suffer more pain than others, but a curse? An actual curse? I don’t think so.’

A family tragedy was the catalyst for Ian Perkins to return to the isolated cottage with his wife and young son. But now they are back, it seems yet more grief might befall the family.

There is still time to act, but that means Ian must face the uncomfortable truth about his past. And in doing so, he must uncover the truth behind the supposed family curse.

Review

The cover of this book is so perfect it’s hard to put into words. It’s dark, beautiful and mysterious, which is exactly how I’d describe the story within.

Broken Branches is about the Perkins family, in particular Ian and his wife Rachel, who move into the cottage where Ian grew up. The cottage with the huge, ominous looking tree outside; the cottage where bad things happen.

I found the book a little slow to start with but before I knew it couldn’t put it down. It’s one of those stories that never quite gives you the answers you want. You know the type; the type of story that drives you mad in the best possible way.

There had been talk of ‘the curse’ since Ian’s childhood when his uncle died, but he never truly believed it until he inherited the cottage himself. This threw up many questions in itself – why would he move into a house with such a bad history? Other curiosities in the story (and believe me when I say it’s full of them), surrounded Rachel who is extremely distant and aloof from the start – was she depressed? Mentally ill? We’re not quite sure.

Ian delves deeper into his family history, and that of the cottage, in order to learn more about the curse, thinking that proving the existence of it will solve everything including whatever it is that’s wrong with Rachel and his marriage. But of course it only drives them further apart as Ian get more and more obsessed. He loses his job and sinks into a frenzied, isolated existence where the tree is always lurking in the background, and someone keeps moving his research around.

I think Broken Branches’ success comes from the masterfully layered atmosphere that just gets creepier and creepier as the story goes on. M. Jonathan Lee has done a wonderful job in creating suspense and intrigue, and there are some great horror elements in it too. I’m not sure I’d even want to read this on a stormy night…

unicorn rating 4

Top Ten Tuesday: It’s all about Dads! #TTT #HappyFathersDay

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… Father’s Day related Freebiefavorite dads in literature, best father/daughter or son relationships, books to buy your dad, worst dads in literature, etc

I thought it was about time I joined in another TTT post. It’s always fun, but I don’t always find the time. I thought I’d make a special effort this week however, seeing how it’s Father’s Day this Sunday.

I’m going to split my list into two: Good Dads Vs Bad Dads!

Good Dads in Literature

  1. Vicente – The Inexplicable Logic of my Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Sáenz writes such wonderful characters, and the dad in this novel is a new favourite. He’s kind, loving, strong, and cool. He’s always there for his son, Sal, but he doesn’t smother him. He’s a gay artist who gave up the man he loved for his adopted son, and he treats his son’s best friends as his own. He’s the best!
  2. Jack Peak – She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick: I thought I’d be able to remember more about this book than I’ve just realised so forgive me for inaccuracies, but I do remember that I loved Laureth and her relationship with her semi-famous author Jack Peak who goes missing. Laureth is blind but she doesn’t let that stop her. Her father’s interest in seeing patterns and connections in things rubbed off on her and she uses those skills andsheer bravery to try and find him.
  3. Atticus Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I really want to reread this book as I haven’t read it since I was at school. Atticus Finch is possibly the most recognised dad in fiction though and so it’s hard to forget about him. He’s a single father in a tough economic climate but he still manages to raise his two children as kind, loyal and accepting.
  4. Matt – The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lipton: I really loved this book, and for some reason, Matt -the father in this story- stood out. I say it like that, because I’m not sure how good a father he actually was. Matt is a wildlife photographer and was absent for a lot of the book (and his daughter’s life by the sounds of it). Similar to She is not Invisible, Matt goes missing, and his daughter Ruby goes in search of him. Ruby is deaf and loves that her dad doesn’t try to make her speak like her mum does, which brings them closer together. They have a unique bond that made the story as good as it was.
  5. Mo – The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke: For my last pick of ‘good’ dads I was torn between Mo and Detective Swan from Twilight…they are both great dads! But Mo wins for his storytelling abilities and huge heart.

Bad Dads

  1. The Marsh King – The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne: This one is fresh in my mind because I finished it recently (and loved it!). The dad in this story is the worst kind of dad. He kidnapped, raped, and abused Helena’s mum, and Helena was born into captivity. The even worse part was that Helena didn’t know any different and almost idolised him because he taught her how to hunt and live in the wilderness. He also trapped her in a well when she did something he didn’t like, though. BAD DAD. 
  2. Humbert Humbert – Lolita by Vladimir Nabookov: I think this one speaks for itself. Humbert is the worst ‘step-father’ ever. A scheming, slimy, seductor. Eugh.
  3. Jack Torrence – The Shining by Stephen King: Alcoholic, unhinged and the worst taste in jobs; Jack was never gonna be in the running for Dad of the year.
  4. King Shreave- The Selection series by Kiera Cass: It’s not apparent at first but the King in this series is horrible. He’s controlling and violent and has lied to the entire country. Poor Maxon!
  5. Pastor Thorne – Release by Patrick Ness: Adam Thorne’s dad was pretty bad but to be honest I wanted him to be worse. I felt like this book need more drama and less subtlety, but that aside, he was still a dad who is close-minded, strict, and bigoted. So still not great. Especially for the lovely Adam who just wants another boy to love him.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s lists this week because there were so many others  I could have chosen. Who made your lists? Leave a link in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out. 

Lazy Saturday Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness #MiniReview #YA

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I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot (or content) and writing and more on my overall feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

therestofusTitle: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Series: N/A
Format: Paperback, 434 pages
Publication Details: 
August 27th 2015 by Walker Books
Genre(s): YA; Fantasy; LGBT
Disclosure? Nope, I borrowed it from Dora, thanks Dora! 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Review

I wasn’t sure about this at first but ended up absolutely loving it. Patrick Ness has this amazing ability to nail that insecure, confusing time of adolescence when you don’t really understand who you are yet, and he does so in increasingly imaginative ways.

TROUJLH is set in a world where zombies and vampires are real, but the main characters aren’t part of that world, they’re always on peripheries  – just watching, they’re just the normal kids in world full of superheroes and martyrs.

I loved everything about this book – the way it was structured, the uniqueness of the premise, and as always, the execution by Ness was perfect. But it’s the characters that really stand out. All completely different and unique but startlingly real. Whether they’re gay, unsure, struggling with OCD, depressed, or desperate to go to a concert, they’re all just doing what everyone is trying to do – get through the day, the week, high school, life.

Have all the unicorns, Patrick Ness!

unicorn rating

Calling Major Tom by David M. Barnett #BookReview

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callingmtTitle: Calling Major Tom
Author: David M. Barnett
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 304 pages
Publication Details: June 18th 2017 by Trapeze
Genre(s): General Fiction; Science Fiction
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

CALLING MAJOR TOM is a heart-warming and ultimately life-affirming story of a man who has given up on the world… but discovers in the most unlikely way that it might not have given up on him.

We all know someone like Thomas.

The grumpy next-door-neighbour who complains to the Residents’ Committee about the state of your front lawn. The man who tuts when you don’t have the correct change at the checkout. The colleague who sends an all-company email when you accidentally use the last drop of milk.

Thomas is very happy to be on his own, far away from other people and their problems.

But beneath his cranky exterior lies a story and a sadness that is familiar to us all. And he’s about to encounter a family who will change his view of the world.

Review

Calling Major Tom is a story about family and friendship, and more importantly about losing your way.

Thomas Major is an extremely grumpy scientist who partly by chance and partly by his own stupidity becomes the first man to be sent to Mars. It’s basically a suicide mission but that doesn’t bother Thomas. He’s just happy that he’ll be alone. For a really, really long time, if not forever.

Thinking he’s calling his ex-wife from space, Thomas actually gets through to Gladys, a grandmother suffering from dementia and he’s unwittingly thrown into the lives of a family with some very real problems.

Despite his best efforts to be alone, Thomas Major finds himself trying to help the family from space, and in helping them he learns that maybe he’s not quite the lost cause he thought he was.

Calling Major Tom is wonderfully odd. It’s one of those genuine heart-warming stories that just makes you smile. It’s far-fetched; not at all realistic in plot, but each and every character stands out providing a good injection of realness to bring us back down to earth.

That’s not to say that I didn’t find some faults in it. There seemed a  tendency to jump from one scene or thought to the next without any transition, but that may have just been the pre-proof format to be fair. However, it did put me off at first until I got into the erratic rhythm of it.

I am always impressed by anyone who can create a wonderful story like this, but what impressed me the most was how current it was. There are references to David Bowie’s death and Brexit which makes me wonder when Barnett started writing it and how long it took him. I loved all the Bowie references, naturally, and its crazy quirkiness and undeniable charm made it a perfect tribute to the great man.

 

unicorn rating 4

 

The Hummingbird’s Cage by Tamara Dietrich #BookReview

hummingbirdTitle: The Hummingbird’s Cage
Author: Tamara Dietrich
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 342 pages
Publication Details: August 25th 2016 by Orion Publishing Group
Genre(s): General Fiction; Thriller/Mystery; Fantasy
Disclosure? Yep, I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

A dazzling debut novel about taking chances, finding hope, and learning to stand up for your dreams…

Everyone in Wheeler, New Mexico, thinks Joanna leads the perfect life: the quiet, contented housewife of a dashing deputy sheriff, raising a beautiful young daughter, Laurel. But Joanna’s reality is nothing like her facade. Behind closed doors, she lives in constant fear of her husband. She’s been trapped for so long, escape seems impossible—until a stranger offers her the help she needs to flee….

On the run, Joanna and Laurel stumble upon the small town of Morro, a charming and magical village that seems to exist out of time and place. There a farmer and his wife offer her sanctuary, and soon, between the comfort of her new home and blossoming friendships, Joanna’s soul begins to heal, easing the wounds of a decade of abuse.

But her past—and her husband—aren’t so easy to escape. Unwilling to live in fear any longer, Joanna must summon a strength she never knew she had to fight back and forge a new life for her daughter and herself….

Review

I wasn’t sure how to categorise this novel as it was a little bit of everything. Part thriller, part mystery with a little bit of the fantastical mixed in. This doesn’t always work for me, but I think it worked perfectly in The Hummingbird’s Cage.

It is the troubled story of Joanna and her daughter Laurel who live in constant fear of Police Officer husband and dad, Jim. Jim is your classic abusive husband, and in a very short amount of page-time the reader is emerged in the hell he has  created for Jo; breaking her down until she is a shell of a woman and too terrified to try and get free of him. It’s a story that has been told in many a psychological thriller, but that’s where The Hummingbird’s Cage steers itself in another direction.

Jo does manage to break free of Jim with a little help from one of his ex-girlfriends who knows all too well what Jim is capable of but survived to tell the tale, and Jo finds herself in an unknown town, in an unknown bed with a caring elderly couple looking after her.

However, it’s not long before Jo realises that Morro isn’t your average town. Things just don’t seem to add up. It’s too perfect, too accommodating. But for the first time in as long as she can remember, Jo feels safe and her daughter is happy. Is it too good to be true?

I was hooked into this story straight away. I was expecting the psychological thriller part of the story to continue for a lot longer than it did, but when Jo wakes up in Morro, it was so intriguing I still couldn’t put it down. It was all a bit Twin Peaks, albeit not quite as insane. 

I really enjoyed the themes of this novel, some of which would be spoilers so I’ll refrain from listing all of them, but I’ll just say that it’s a book that throws up many questions. Jo was happy there, but didn’t belong…I was as torn as she was as to what to do! Would you go back  and face your demons if you were happy with your new start? Would you need closure?

A fantastic debut!

unicorn rating 4