Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention by Mindy Hardwick #BookReview #NonFiction

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Title: Kids in Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention
Author: Mindy Hardwick
Series: n/a
Format: Kindle Edition, 220 pages
Publication Details: February 23rd 2017 by Eagle Bay Press
Genre(s): Non-Fiction; Crime; Writing
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

Purchase

The gang leader doesn’t like poetry, but will a detention center workshop show her how to express love for her newborn daughter? A teen boy dies of a drug overdose. Will his final poem speak what he cannot say? 

In the middle of a career change from teacher to writer, Mindy Hardwick volunteered to facilitate a weekly poetry workshop at a juvenile detention center. By helping the teens write poetry about their lives, Mindy discovered strength and courage to grieve the loss of her father, find forgiveness and release the past. 

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be used as a grant for writers to work with teens at Denney Juvenile Justice Center. The youth’s poetry anthologies can be downloaded at: http://www.denneypoetry.org 


Review

 

I’m sure this book won’t appeal to everybody, but I enjoyed it. It’s part memoir, part poetry, and part inspiration.

Teacher Mindy Hardwick runs poetry workshops in an American juvenile detention centre. She is met by an interesting group of teenagers with various pasts, crimes, and issues. Most of the group appear uninterested in the workshop, greet it with trepidation, or sometimes even with defiance.

As Mindy tries to get a handle on the group, and encourage them to participate she reflects on her own past and struggles.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but I just knew that it would be an interesting comparison to what I do at work. I work in two prisons as a library assistant and run creative writing groups in both of them. A lot of what Mindy described rang so true. The bizarre nature of the workplace, but how it quickly becomes the norm. Having people in your group that don’t want to be there despite having signed up, and how nothing ever goes to plan!

I enjoyed reading about the dynamic of Mindy’s group, and how it changed over time. It was also nice to see the work that they produced. The part of the book I wasn’t expecting, and also wasn’t overly keen on was Mindy’s segues into her past. Some of it was enjoyable as it gave an insight into what has shaped her as a person, but I felt like it was too much at times.

Overall, I’m pleased I discovered this book, and it certainly gave me lots to think about.

unicorn rating 3

Out Today! 13 Steps to Evil by Sacha Black #AmWriting #PublicationDaySale

 

Today I’m spotlighting and reviewing the lovely Sacha Black’s debut non-fiction book – a masterclass in writing villains – for all you writers out there.

About the Book

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Title: 13 Steps To Evil- How To Craft Superbad Villains
Where is it published: Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Tolino, Barnes and Noble, inktera
No of Pages: 222
Release Date: 30th May
Formats: Paperback and eBook
Purchase: All good retailers! Universal book link.
Publication day sale: You can snap up the e-book for just £1.99 today! Limited time only!

Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.

Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?

  In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover: 

  • How to develop a villain’s mindset

  • A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up

  • Why getting to the core of a villain’s personality is essential to make them credible

  • What pitfalls and clichés to avoid as well as the tropes your story needs

Finally, there is a comprehensive writing guide to help you create superbad villains. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will help power up your bad guy and give them that extra edge.

These lessons will help you master and control your villainous minions, navigate and gain the perfect balance of good and evil, as well as strengthening your villain to give your story the tension and punch it needs.

 If you like dark humour, learning through examples and want to create the best villains you can, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting superbad villains. Read 13 Steps to Evil today and start creating kick-ass villains.

Meet the Author

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Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.

Contact Information

Non-fiction Website: www.sachablack.co.uk

Fiction Website: www.sachablackbooks.com

Social Media

Twitter: @sacha_Black

Facebook: Sacha Black author page

Pinterest: Pinterest profile

Instagram: Sacha Black profile

Goodreads non-fiction: Sacha Black profile

Goodreads fiction: Sacha de Black profile

Tumblr: Sacha Black profile

Google+: Sacha black profile

Linkedin: Linkedin Profile

Amazon Author Page

Excerpt

Why Writers Fudge Up Their Villains

Villains are like newborn infants. So much glorious potential. Until we writers get our grubby mitts on them and balls it up. With the careless flick of a pen, we can turn a finely sculpted baby villain into a cringe-worthy cliché because we didn’t make him bad enough, or we create something so heinously evil it’s unrealistic.

A villain might be a plot device, but he still needs a purpose and a goal, or he’s unworthy as an opponent for your hero (See STEP 3 for motives and goals).

While researching this book, writers told me all kinds of problems they encountered while creating their villains. From getting the dialogue right and avoiding clichés, to knowing how evil to make a villain, to how to reveal her motives without using blatant exposition.

Behind all these issues lie two basic barriers that are the Achilles in every writer’s villainous heel:

1. Depending on the point of view (POV) the book’s written in, the villain is usually seen through the eyes of your hero.

A solitary POV gives you a page-limited amount of time to show your villain’s best, most authentic and devilishly evil side. Page-limited to the point it makes it eye-wateringly difficult to convey her backstory effectively without information dumping. You have to be better, clearer, more tactical and more concise with your words to create superbad villains.

2. Writers are hero worshippers.

We love our heroes and protagonists more than our spouses. And as a result, we spend shameful amounts of time honing our protagonist’s muscular heroics into shape. But that relegates our villain (the plot-driving conflict-creator) to the corner of our book, complete with a nobody-loves-you-anyway hat. In other words, writers don’t pay enough attention to their villain.

Review

I’ve been following Sacha’s blog for a while now and love the energy, humour and passion that she puts into helping writers hone their craft. In 13 Steps to Evil, Sacha has put together everything she has learnt about writing and focused on how to create superbad villains – something she believes is often overlooked.

I thought this book was brilliant. Even if like me, you’re not currently writing anything and therefore not using it directly as a writing tool, it’s still a great read and one that you can apply to any kind of writing. It’s full of tips, examples, and in-depth exploration of writing bad guys (and girls).

“It will teach you to craft villains so brilliantly twisted they’ll make your readers throw themselves like sacrificial lambs between the pages of your book.”

I was especially impressed by the way the book structured with each chapter acting as a different step, exploring a different facet of writing a convincing and complex villain, and each point is backed up with an example from a well-known book or movie. I thought this was a great idea – it made it really easy to picture exactly what Sacha was explaining, and each example was totally spot on.

The end of each chapter also has a bullet-pointed summary and finishes with questions to ask yourself as you work through your own manuscript. But the best part of this book, is definitely Sacha’s wit and wisdom. Her personality (and potty mouth – which I love, obviously) really shines through, making it an enjoyable read and not something to trawl through like a lot of writing books.

“Motives are story mechanics, pillars of structural necessity. Without them, you’re fuckled, sideways…With a giant piranha covered pogo stick.”

It’s also clear that Sacha did a lot of research for this book, and I felt like I was in good hands the whole way through! If you’re struggling to create an evil character, or even if you’re just interested in the writing process, I think this book will help and entertain.

Many thanks to Sacha for providing me with a copy of the book and letting me join in the publication day partayyy! Let’s dance!

 

 

 

This Week in Books 08.03.17 #TWIB #CurrentlyReading

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Welcome to This Week in Books, where we share what we’ve been up to in bookland this week and look ahead to next. 

Bit later than I usually post but I made it!  Here’s what my week has looked like:

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Now: The Invisible Hand ~ James Hartley // Girl in Disguise ~ Greer Macallister // The Time Machine ~ H.G Wells

I’ve only just started The Invisible Hand but it’s been a good first impression. I’m just over half-way through Girl in Disguise with is released on the 21st of this month. I’m really enjoying it. I’m also stiiiiiiiiiiill going on The Time Machine at lunch-times.

Then:   All the Good Things ~ Clare Sita Fisher // The Mercy of the Tide ~ Keith Rosson

I really enjoyed All the Good Things which is an emotional read about one woman’s road to prison and coming to terms with what she did. I’ll be reviewing it soon. It’s not out until June. I unfortunately had to DNF Mercy of the Tide. It was really intriguing, and didn’t start off badly, but I just really wasn’t in the mood for it for some reason.

Next: ??? 

Definitely something from my physical TBR shelf. Maybe Six of Crows, The Chemist, or King’s Cage depending on what mood i’m in after my current reads.

New on the Shelves

 

From Netgalley:

kidsinorangeThe gang leader doesn’t like poetry, but will a detention center workshop show her how to express love for her newborn daughter?  A teen boy dies of a drug overdose. Will his final poem speak what he cannot say?  

I’m Waiting on…

I’ve already been approved for this which I’m delighted about. Love the idea of The Little Mermaid in graphic novel form. 

littlemermaidThe Little Mermaid is Hans Christian Andersen’s most celebrated tale and is beautifully adapted here as a graphic novel by the Eisner award nominated duo Metaphrog (Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers), winners of the Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards Best Visual Artist 2016, and authors of the acclaimed The Red Shoes and Other Tales.

The Little Mermaid lives deep under the ocean and longs to see the world above. When at last she is allowed to rise to the surface at age fifteen, she falls in love with a young prince. In order to become a human and to be with him, she makes a dangerous pact with the Sea Witch.

Expected Publication: 4th April by Papercutz

 

So that’s my week in books, now why don’t you tell me about yours!?

Leave your answers or the link to your post in the comments and I’ll take a look 🙂

A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold #BookReview #Memoir

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Title: A Mother’s Reckoning
Author: Sue Klebold
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 296 pages
Publication Details: February 9th 2017 (reissue) by Ebury Publishing
Genre(s): Biography/ Memoir; True Crime
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review. 

Goodreads 

bookdepo

 

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.


For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?


These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In”A Mother s Reckoning,” she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.


Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, “A Mother s Reckoning”is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.


“All author profits from the book will be donated to research and to charitable organizations focusing on mental health issues.”

 

Review

I was interested in this book because I remember when I first heard about the Columbine shooting – the first of many tragic school shootings to come (in America), in 1999.

I was of similar age as the shooters and in my penultimate year of high school. I was going through my goth phase (Goths 4eva IDST – LOL!) and was big fan of Marilyn Manson at the time. The media was singling the band out as the reason for the shootings. Because we all know how damaging rock music is to impressionable teens don’t we!? Sigh.

Even back then I knew that was a load of bull, however the media spotlight was infuriating but also seen as some sort of badge of honour. Of course that sounds ridiculous and callous now but being full of teenage angst – it was “cool” to be a Marilyn Manson fan for a while because of that.

This book is the account of Dylan(one of the shooters)’s mother Sue. It’s a really interesting look at parenthood, adolescence, mental illness and tragedy but I can’t say I enjoyed it.

The first 20% of A Mother’s Reckoning seems to solely aim at frantically proving how normal the Klebold family were; what such good, normal parents Sue and her husband Tom were and how they couldn’t possibly understand how their nice, normal son could have killed so many people. The idea of normal really annoyed me throughout this part of the book – Sue of all people should understand that there’s no such thing as normal.

The disquieting reality is that behind this heinous atrocity was an easygoing, shy, likeable young man who came from a ‘good home’. Tom and I were hands-on parents who limited the intake of television and sugary cereals.

This was made even more frustrating by the next 20% of the book where Sue goes from describing Dylan’s perfect childhood and the morals and discipline (a ‘normal’ amount of course) they imparted on him, to all the worrying behavioural signs they missed. One minute he was perfect, the next he was a teenager who had made some worrying life choices.

And the more ‘normal’ and good at parenting she was trying to prove to be, the more strange she sounded; the type of parent I’m glad I didn’t have. A control freak…

I thought of all the times I’d called the mom hosting a sleepover to find out what movie she was planning to show. More than once, I’d asked for a less violent selection.

Now, I’m certainly not one of those people who blame the parents for everything, but don’t write 100 pages with your hands in the air saying ‘look at what good parents we werewe couldn’t possibly have known…he showed no signs,…we couldn’t have done anything’ etc and then tell us the exact opposite. Argh!

I was also not happy about the conclusion Sue came to about Dylan’s actions being caused by ‘depression or some other brain illness’. It is perfectly possible that Dylan was depressed – aren’t most teenagers!? but depression does not a murderer make!

In this book Sue Klebold researches what she calls ‘brain illnesses’ (she doesn’t believe the term mental illness is as accurate) and suicide, especially in teenagers. It is researched well and I found it interesting but it just felt like she was trying lay blame on anyone but herself or her troubled son.. I can’t blame her for trying to find a reason for her son’s actions, but I think it was a very one-sided view.

For me there was a huge elephant in the room the whole way through this book. I think working in a prison has given me a little insight into criminal behaviour and how people tick. And the one thing that people never want to believe is that humans are capable of hideous things, without making them evil.

Every single one of us has the occasional evil thought but thankfully most of us wouldn’t dream of acting upon them. Lots of things prevent us from doing so. But something didn’t stop Dylan from that terrible act. In fact it sounds like instead of him having lots of reasons to not act on those thoughts – he had lots of reasons to go through with it. School is hard, adolescence is hard, and his circumstances sound worse than most. As one of the survivors said at the time ‘I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner’.

Klebold does make some insightful psychological points which – although few and far between-  did make this book worth reading for me.

The expertise with which desperate people can mask their true feelings and intentions is the far more important message.

It’s nothing groundbreaking but was interesting enough to keep me reading and thinking. This is definitely a book worth reading for those interested in psychology, especially criminal psychology, but despite the fact that this whole book is Sue pouring her heart out, I couldn’t relate to her because I didn’t believe that she completely believed what she was saying. I think there is a huge element of denial here, and that she wrote this story to rid herself of guilt.

I’m not saying she has anything to feel guilty about – who am I to make that judgement – nor am I saying that she doesn’t deserve empathy or closure, but I just felt like she is masking something in this book, which is strangely something that the victims’ friends and family have said from the beginning. Maybe that’s the only reason I’m so suspicious, but maybe not…

unicorn rating 3

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top books recently added to the dreaded TBR pile. #TTT

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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… Top ten books recently added to your TBR pile.

Well, this is a nice, easy topic, although I have been buying more books recently so it’ll be hard to choose just 10.

Added from Netgalley:

The Silent Songbird ~ Melanie Dickerson: I shouldn’t have requested this book because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it read and reviewed by the pub date (today!) but I just couldn’t resist. I really fancy an epic historical YA. The opening line of the synopsis had me instantly…I mean castles =  DONE. “Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost”

The Girl Who Saved Christmas ~ Matt Haig: You should all know by now that I love Christmas, and festive reads. I’ve wanted to read Matt Haig’s books for ages so this one was also impossible to resist.

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily ~ Rachel Cohn & David Levithan: I didn’t even know this book was on the cards until I saw it on Netgalley. I loved Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares so I’m thrilled that these authors have got together once again for a sequel. This time, Dash and Lily’s brother have just 12 days until Christmas to cheer Lily up after her grandfather became seriously ill. Can they recapture the magic of Christmas in New York for her?

Shock and Awe ~ Simon Reynolds: This book chronicles the legacy of glam rock from the seventies to today and as such will heavily feature my hero, David Bowie. I don’t often read non-fiction, but I’m really looking forward to this one.

Recently Bought:

The Red Eye Box Set ~ Various: This set of four YA Horror books from Stripes Publishing arrived at the beginning of October. I’ve already read one of the books, Frozen Charlotte and really loved it so I hope the others are as good too.

A Christmas Party ~ Georgette Heyer: I picked this up from a charity shop recently. ‘Tis’ the season for…Murder‘ is the perfect tagline that enticed me.

City of Dark Magic ~ Magnus Flyte: I bought this book in an English bookshop I found in Prague. It sounds amazing.

“Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.”

Six of Crows ~ Leigh Bardugo: This arrived just this week. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Borrowed:

The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness: It’s Ness. I don’t have to say much more. Other than perhaps my shame that I haven’t read it yet.

Koko Takes a Holiday ~ Kieran Shea: I think I can safely say that this will be my first ever Cyberpunk book. It sounds mad, in a good way. My friend Dora enjoyed it and passed it on to me.

Have you read any of these? What should I go for first?

 

 

Something for the Weekend… #BowieExclusive #BookPromo

Earlier this week an email appeared in my inbox which was not only a refreshing change from all the dull, badly-written press releases for books with home-made covers, but was also asking if I’d like to share news of this new book of never before seen photos of David Bowie…err would I ever!

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About the Book

A limited edition of 5oo copies, featuring stunning unseen photos of David Bowie. Released 22nd April 2016

This 45cm by 30cm book with its full bleed over the 20 pages of magnificent images produced in Black and White Duotone throughout the entire book, sporting a front cover of Galerie Art Gloss laminated 350 gram paper whilst the inner pages of text are laid out on 300 grams of Galerie Art Gloss paper. Nothing has been spared here when only the best would do for ‘The Legend’. Each copy will be hand signed by Michel Haddi, shrink wrapped and numbered from 1 – 500. The book is beautifully designed by the creative director, Roberto Da Pozzo. 

About Michel Haddi

Michel haddi has worked for more than 20 years as a leading photographer in fashion & celebrities. His editorial collaborations include the most important magazines in Europe, Asia and the USA. British, French and Italian Vogue, Uomo Vogue, Tatler, GQ, Interview, Vanity Fair, Italian Glamour, Elle, The German Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire, Rolling Stone, The Sunday Times, The Washington Post, Face, Arena, Details, Vibe, Premiere, Stern are among them. He is not only a photographer but also owns publishing house One Eyed Jacks in London which publishes his own books and more.

David Bowie, the Legend…

Los Angeles, the 90s I don’t recall the exact time, but what I can remember I am at home, in my studio in Venice Beach. 

I am preparing some shoots for Vogue Hommes and some clients.

I get a phone call from Ingrid Sischy in New York asking me to photograph David Bowie for Interview Magazine.

Well as you can imagine I was ecstatic, my first proper record was an LP that my stepfather gave me following a visit to London: Diamond Dogs by Bowie and I still have it.

Anyway, I am with the production team, that includes Paul Starr for make-up and Kim Bowen for styling at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. An hour later, I see a man in a sharp suit, it is David Bowie.

I introduce myself and tell him that he looks like a fashion icon straight out of a Luchino Visconti movie. Bowie smiles and says he’s very much into neo-realist Italian movies.

The most unnerving thing while photographing Bowie was his intensity of looking, his eyes with those hypnotic dual colors felt like he was looking right through me. The shoot lasted an hour and I had a real blast.

In that time I tried to pay homage to Bowie through these portraits and indeed he looks like a character from Visconti’s film Death in Venice. – MICHEL HADDI

Website // Management // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Guest Post: My Love of Murder and Mayhem by Cleo Bannister #HorrorOctober

I discovered Cleo’s blog, Cleopatra Loves Books relatively early on in my blogging life, and have been an avid reader ever since. I really enjoy crime fiction, especially a good, gritty, psychological thriller, but I still find myself only reading them sporadically.

Cleo however, has a seemingly insatiable appetite for all that involves death and murder, something we have joked about before in comments and such. As Horror October approached I thought it would be a great opportunity to find out more about Cleo, her blog, and where her love of crime fiction came from.

Huge thanks to Cleo for agreeing and sending over this great guest post. If you don’t follow her, head over there ASAP (she also covers more than just crime fic btw).

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My Love of Murder and Mayhem

by Cleo Bannister, Cleopatra Loves Books

I came to murder fairly late in life, although on reflection the seeds were sown earlier, but up until relatively recently you were more likely to find chick-lit or historical women’s fiction decking the shelves of my bookcase. These days they are dominated by black spines adorned with words such as death, murder or the darkly mysterious single word title!

My earliest introduction to murder stories came in the form of true-crime, more specifically the very trashy looking True Crime magazines with which I scared myself half to death before passing them onto my younger brother (something my more responsible adult self would say is probably not to be recommended).

Buying these magazines was a feat in itself, we lived in a rural town where everyone knew my mother, who certainly wouldn’t have approved, and they were kept on the top shelf. I’m not exactly tall now, and in those days top-shelves weren’t meant to be reached by under-sized teenagers so it was only on trips to the nearby city, Gloucester, that I was occasionally brave enough to get someone taller to pass me a copy.

Our local library didn’t stock YA fiction, it hadn’t been invented back in the 80s, and so once I’d finished the children’s section it was straight round the corner to adult fiction where I continued to read the classics fairly indiscriminately interspersed with the occasional bonk-buster as was required reading for every girl my age! Now either my library didn’t stock much in the way of crime fiction or I simply never really came across it, remember these were pre-internet days, you read what was available and unless you had a title and an author it really was pot-luck when pulling books out of the shelves.

Murder on the Orient ExpressI do remember one holiday home we stayed in, I want to say it was Wales but maybe that is my adult self, superimposing the stereotypical rainy weather on an entirely innocent region, which contained a huge stack of readers digest magazines and a good stock of Agatha Christie books which I devoured with relish and then I returned home and they became the one highlight in a very wet, windy and quite frankly miserable holiday.

In no time at all I left home, joined a library in every place that I called home still without any real structure to my reading, except for an overwhelming need to have a constant supply of books and it was only when I moved to Jersey that I became reacquainted with Agatha Christie with Poirot being played by the marvellous David Suchet which was required Sunday evening viewing for an entire winter, as well as settling down more than happily to watch Inspector Wexford do his stuff in a gentler contrast to Poirot’s more flamboyant manner. I sought out Ruth Rendell’s books featuring the detective and fortunately not only was Jersey library better stocked, it was better structured, books were shelved traditionally but some shelves were designated genres, paperbacks or recently published books, although I found my best bet of getting the choicest picks was to peruse the trolley which had the recently returned books on it. There I picked up a book by Barbara Vine, A Fatal Inversion, and having worked out this was Ruth Rendell whose Inspector Wexford books had filled my need for police procedurals, who used the pen name Barbara Vine when she wrote about crime from a psychological view-point.

Happy Like Murderers - Fred and Rose WestIn 1994 Fred West, an odd-job man in Gloucester had his garden dug up and the bones of his daughter who had been missing for eight years were located, I was in hospital giving birth to my son when the news came through that more bodies had been found, twelve in total. When Fred’s wife Rose was arrested, and later found guilty, I wanted to understand how such a large number of murders could take place under the noses of the residents in Cromwell Street, a road that I had walked along the end of many times while living in Gloucester.

I also wanted to understand why? Particularly in the case of Rose; what sort of woman kills for pleasure? In short this case reawakened my interest in true crime, although I now accept that the answers to the why part of my question will probably never be clear since Rose has refused to say anything at all in the intervening years.

Jersey library had a fairly good stock of the books that spring up after a particularly sensational crime so for a while my days were filled with caring for my young children while my nights were spent looking into some of the most depraved minds to grace the earth. It will relieve all those close to me that I wasn’t particularly interested in the methods used, I was interested in the make-up of these men and women.

The Scolds BridleAt about the same time I came across Minette Waters who wrote in a new style, one which combined my interest in the psychological but felt far more modern than Barbara Vine, whose novels were often, but not always, set in a bygone era. Minette Waters used transcripts and newspaper articles as part of her stories, which were without exception incredibly powerful. In The Scold’s Bridle, Mathilda Gillespie is found dead in her bath, flowers in her hair and wearing just us to a medieval torture implement, the scold’s bridle – absolute genius, no crazed serial killer needed just a deeply disturbing (and it still disturbs me now twenty years later) image.

In many ways my crime fiction reading continued with those books picked up for TV serialisation so I came across the marvellous Dalziel and Pascoe, Inspector Frost and of course the wonderful Morse and true to form proceeded to read the entire series of each – people the books are so much better than the TV series! There is far more to these books than cosy Sunday night viewing, the depth in the Dalziel and Pascoe books whilst brilliantly portrayed on screen, is lost when reduced to a two hour show.

As the years rolled by although I picked up any new books by these now much loved authors, plus a few more favourites found along the way, most notably Gillian White who wrote brilliant psychological thrillers with P.D. James, Peter James and Gill McGown for the more classic police procedurals, my reading was more concentrated on the books of the moment, I loved Bridget Jones, Dorothy Koomson, Lisa Jewell and Jodi Picoult. At the same time I love history and have a particular weakness for dual time-line stories so Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Lucinda Riley also have book that still grace my shelves today.

In 2010, with far more time on my hands, I decided to start reviewing the books I was reading on Amazon, and was lucky enough to be invited onto their Amazon Vine program which offered me free books in return for a review. I was in heaven and here was an opportunity to read books not only before publication but to check out those that I probably wouldn’t pick up in a bookstore.

The books I chose became increasingly dominated by murder and mayhem so that in 2015 out of the 111 books read and reviewed so far 67 are shelved under crime fiction or psychological thriller with a high percentage of non-fiction category also being books about murderous intent. My love of history, and particularly women’s history hasn’t dimmed, but now I enjoy books about Victorian Murderesses, women committed to lunatic asylums and suffragettes instead of love stories.

In 2013 Cleopatra Loves Books was launched primarily so that I had control of the books I’d reviewed and since then, the list of books I’ve found and been recommended that fit into this preferred genre has grown totally out of control. I thank you fellow bloggers for some absolute cracking reviews that has widened my reading to include such a variety of murderers from the domestic to the sadistic serial killer, I simply can’t get enough!

As you can probably tell, I have read loads of books about murder and mayhem so far so I’ll just leave you with a few suggestions from my bookshelves but if you want more detailed advice you can always contact me on my blog – I don’t even bite!

Police Procedural Series
Police Procedural

Roy Grace Series – Peter James
Lewis Trilogy – Peter May
Dalziel and Pascoe – Reginald Hill

Psychological Thriller
Psychological
Just What Kind of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly
Disclaimer – Renee Knight
Copycat – Gillian White

Historical Crime Fiction
Historical Crime

The Anatomy of Death – Felicity Young
Out of the Silence – Wendy James
Caversham Lock – Peter Conway

Non-Fiction
Non Fiction
A Very British Murder – Lucy Worsley
The Magnificent Spilsbury and the Case of the Brides in the Bath – Jane Robbins
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Kate Summerscale

Thanks again to Cleo! I hope this post has inspired you to pick up a murder mystery or two this Autumn, it certainly has for me! 🙂

Sixteen, Sixty-One by Natalie Lucas

sixteen61
Title: Sixteen, Sixty-One
Author: Natalie Lucas
Series: N/A
Edition: Kindle, 320 pages
Publication Details: June 6th 2013 by HarperCollins Publishers
Genre(s): Non-Fiction; Memoir
Disclosure? Nope, I bought it.
Goodreads // Purchase.

Natalie Lucas was just 15 when she began a close relationship with a man in his early sixties. Matthew opened Natalie’s mind and heart to philosophy and literature. Within months they had entered into the intense, erotic affair that they would disguise as an innocent intergenerational friendship for several years. Together they mocked the small-town busybodies around them, laughing at plebs like her parents and his in-laws, who were all too blinkered by convention to live pure lives. Only Natalie and Matthew were truly free.

Or so she believed. But when Natalie left her hometown for university and decided she wanted to try to live a normal life, Matthew’s affection soon turned into a consuming obsession.

Written with remarkable candor and grace, Sixteen, Sixty-One is more than an account of suburban grooming: it is the gripping story of a young girl’s sexual awakening and journey into womanhood.

Review

It’s been a while since I finished this book, and I’m still not sure how much I enjoyed it.

I definitely did enjoy parts of it, and I liked Natalie’s voice in terms of the narration, but I found it all a bit odd.

A fifteen year old Natalie meets sixty year old Matthew – a friend of the family, and all of a sudden her eyes have been opened to a whole new world. Matthew draws her in with intellectual discussions regarding literature, art and philosophy, and Natalie is completely taken in. She’s thrilled to have someone in her life to inspire her and talk to her as an adult, as she doesn’t really feel connected with others her age, or her family.

By the time Natalie is sixteen, her and Matthew’s relationship has turned into more, with him making the first move, and her not objecting. Talk has turned from the arts to that of “Uncles”, people who are not bound by society’s rules – clearly all an elaborate grooming technique to make Natalie feel like all of this is special, but not wrong. It left a bad taste in my mouth, as you’d expect.

The book moves at a good pace and covers a lot of ground. Sometimes I couldn’t put it down, and at other times I just wanted it to end.

I really did feel for Natalie. She went through some really horrific times, but there are moments of joy and happiness too.

I think my main problem with it was that it read as fiction. Which is a good thing in terms of readability, but a curse in the sense that I wasn’t convinced by how real it all was. At times I was stunned by Natalie’s decisions, and it’s like she had to keep reminding the reader just how naive and young she still was to justify her actions.

But overall, I have nothing but respect for her in writing this book (if indeed it is all true – could this be another A Million Little Pieces?), as she has told the world about the most intimate details of her young life – even the things she lied to herself about for so many years – and she’s done it in a eloquent, interesting manner.

It certainly makes for a thought-provoking read if nothing else.

unicorn rating 3

Sixteen, Sixty One is available now in paperback from Waterstones.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

omni180
Title: The Mind’s Eye: The Art of Omni
Author: Edited by Jeremy Frommer & Rick Schwartz
Edition: Hardcover, 180 pages
Published: June 10th 2014 by powerHouse Books
Genre(s): Non-Fiction; Sci-Fi; Art

GOODREADS
PURCHASE

Omni was a jewel among popular science magazines of its era (1978–1998). Science Digest, Science News, Scientific America, and Discover may have all been selling well to armchair scientists, but Omni masterfully blended cutting edge science news and science fiction, flashy graphic design, a touch of sex, and the images of a generation of artists completely free and unburdened by the disciplines of the masters.

Created by the legendary Bob Guccione, better known for founding Penthouse than perhaps any of the other facets of his inspired career in business, art, and literature, Guccione handpicked the artists and illustrators that contributed to the Omni legacy—they in turn created works ignited by passion and intellect, two of Guccione’s principal ideals.

The Mind’s Eye: The Art of Omni is the very first publication to celebrate in stunning detail the exceptional science fiction imagery of this era in an oversized format. The Mind’s Eye contains 185 images from contributing Omni artists including John Berkey, Chris Moore, H.R. Giger, Rafal Olbinski, Rallé, Tsuneo Sanda, Hajime Sorayama, Robert McCall, and Colin Hay among many more, along with quotes from artists, contributors, writers, and critics. With an introduction by Ben Bova.

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My Thoughts

This isn’t a review as I know very little about the source material, and wouldn’t even really consider myself an art-lover. However, I am a fan of Science Fiction and recognised many of the names cited in the synopsis, so when I was approached about this book I jumped at the chance to see more.

Some of the images are recognisable, some are like nothing I’ve ever seen before, but they are all completely stunning different ways. Together with interesting quotes, The Mind’s Eye is a beautiful collection. I couldn’t stop looking at it and I feel like it’s a must-see for any Sci-Fi fan. It’s definitely one of the coolest ‘coffee table’ books I’ve ever seen, and I can’t help thinking about all the people who would love to be given it as a gift!

Meet the Editors

Jeremy Frommer, Wall Street financier and media industry investor, has been collecting art and pop culture memorabilia for over 20 years. In 2009, he retired from the financial services industry, where he was senior managing director and global head of The Royal Bank of Canada’s Global Prime Services division. Soon thereafter, Frommer and his business partner, producer Rick Schwartz, began acquiring a number of intellectual properties and media assets. In early 2012, they formed Jerrick Ventures. Jerrick Ventures acquired the assets of Omni magazine, including its vast art collection.

Rick Schwartz is an award-winning film producer and financier based in New York. Throughout his career, he has worked on a wide range of critically acclaimed and commercially successful films including The Aviator, Gangs of New York, Machete, and Black Swan. Schwartz has been involved with movies that have cumulatively grossed over one billion dollars in worldwide box office sales and earned 31 Academy Award nominations. He is a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, as well as a published writer whose work has appeared in such outlets as The Times of London, The Huffington Post, The Washington Times, and Grantland.

A Litte More About Omni

Founded in 1978, Omni Magazine was, for 20 years, one of the most influential science magazine in existence. Publishing early works by such authors as Orson Scott Card, William Gibson, George R.R. Martin, William S. Burroughs, Stephen King, and Joyce Carol Oats, the magazine was pioneering in its focus on “an original if not controversial mixture of science fact, fiction, fantasy and the paranormal.” Along with speculative essay and fiction, Omni published lush art essays and “space art.”

Omni lived in a time well before the digital revolution. The images you see on the pages have taken years to track down and brought the editors in touch with many esteemed artists, amazing photographers and dusty storage lockers. Their quest is far from over; you’ll notice an almost decade-long gap in the material, the contents of which were either lost or destroyed. Efforts to search throughout the universe for any images will continue and will be shared with the world at the all-things-Omni website, omnireboot.com. Stay tuned…

“Omni is not a science magazine. It is a magazine about the future…Omni was sui generis. Although there were plenty of science magazines over the years…Omni was the first magazine to slant all its pieces toward the future. It was fun to read and gorgeous to look at.” —Ben Bova, six-time Hugo award winner

All images are subject to copyright, powerHouse Books. Not to be used without permission.

Favourites Friday #10: Open (Just Look at Those Sad, Sad Eyes!)

In honor of the US Open which I’ve lost many hours to this last week and a half, my favourites choice for today is pretty different to any of my other picks!

Click to view on Goodreads

Click to view on Goodreads

I don’t read many auto-biographies but this is my absolute favourite. I was a huge fan of Agassi growing up and JUST LOOK AT HIS SAD EYES. Don’t you want to give him a hug?

The great thing about this book isn’t the revelations of him taking Crystal Meth or wearing a hair-piece it’s his brutal descriptions of some of the best/worst matches of his life. They are written like battle diaries; playing with injury on top of injury; through excruciating pain but doing anything in your power to win. I’m not sure if you’ll feel the same if you’re not a tennis fan, but Open is written beautifully and is a thrilling and heartbreaking read.

From Andre Agassi, one of the most beloved athletes in history and one of the most gifted men ever to step onto a tennis court, a beautiful, haunting autobiography.

Agassi’s incredibly rigorous training begins when he is just a child. By the age of thirteen, he is banished to a Florida tennis camp that feels like a prison camp. Lonely, scared, a ninth-grade dropout, he rebels in ways that will soon make him a 1980s icon. He dyes his hair, pierces his ears, dresses like a punk rocker. By the time he turns pro at sixteen, his new look promises to change tennis forever, as does his lightning-fast return.

And yet, despite his raw talent, he struggles early on. We feel his confusion as he loses to the world’s best, his greater confusion as he starts to win. After stumbling in three Grand Slam finals, Agassi shocks the world, and himself, by capturing the 1992 Wimbledon. Overnight he becomes a fan favorite and a media target.

Agassi brings a near-photographic memory to every pivotal match and every relationship. Never before has the inner game of tennis and the outer game of fame been so precisely limned. Alongside vivid portraits of rivals from several generations—Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer—Agassi gives unstinting accounts of his brief time with Barbra Streisand and his doomed marriage to Brooke Shields. He reveals a shattering loss of confidence. And he recounts his spectacular resurrection, a comeback climaxing with his epic run at the 1999 French Open and his march to become the oldest man ever ranked number one.

In clear, taut prose, Agassi evokes his loyal brother, his wise coach, his gentle trainer, all the people who help him regain his balance and find love at last with Stefanie Graf. Inspired by her quiet strength, he fights through crippling pain from a deteriorating spine to remain a dangerous opponent in the twenty-first and final year of his career. Entering his last tournament in 2006, he’s hailed for completing a stunning metamorphosis, from nonconformist to elder statesman, from dropout to education advocate. And still he’s not done. At a U.S. Open for the ages, he makes a courageous last stand, then delivers one of the most stirring farewells ever heard in a sporting arena.

With its breakneck tempo and raw candor, Open will be read and cherished for years. A treat for ardent fans, it will also captivate readers who know nothing about tennis. Like Agassi’s game, it sets a new standard for grace, style, speed, and power.