Anne Bonny #BookReview Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture Edited by Roxane Gay #NonFiction #RapeCulture @HarperNonFic

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Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture Edited by Roxane Gay
Review Copy

Synopsis:

In this valuable and timely anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence and aggression they face, and where sexual-abuse survivors are ‘routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied’ for speaking out.
Highlighting the stories of well-known actors, writers and experts, as well as new voices being published for the first time, Not That Bad covers a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation and street harrassment.
Often deeply personal and always unflinchingly honest, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that ‘not that bad’ must no longer be good enough.

My Review:

I picked this title as my first non-fiction read of 2019. It is timely, relevant and something I wanted to share with my teenage daughter. It explores the entire spectrum of abuse, harassment and assaults that exist when rape culture is allowed to thrive in society.
A society, we are all far too familiar with…

‘If rape culture had its own cuisine, it would be all this shit you have to swallow’

‘Rape culture speaks in every language’

There are a variety of ways these narratives are delivered, and each portray a differing experience. From victim blaming in society, from the point of view of a victim and male entitlement to female attention etc. Every page helps shape your opinion of abuse, from victim, to abuser.

This book carries with it, so many truths, women need to hear

The narratives are explored in such a way, that I felt I was listening in to the conversations of a group therapy session. It is incredibly powerful writing which touches on LGBT, trans, self-blame, risky behaviour and coming to terms with abuse.

‘Angry women are always the villains’

Highly recommended 5*

RG
Roxane Gay
Website
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Conviction Of Cora Burns by @novelcarolyn 5* Genius @noexitpress #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction

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The Conviction Of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby
Review Copy

Synopsis:

To believe in her future, she must uncover her past…

Birmingham, 1885.

Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.

Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment.
But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?

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My Review:

Step into Victorian Birmingham and the life of Cora Burns. . .
If You Dare?

The Conviction Of Cora Burns, tells the life story of Cora Burns. We start with her humble beginnings, born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse. To Cora, eventually starting a position as a ‘between maid’ for Thomas Jerwood Esq. The novel spans 1874-1886, we get a real sense of who Cora was, is and who she intends to be, given the right chance.

The novel is beautifully written, the author brings alive industrial Birmingham, you can almost spell the city if it wasn’t for the fact I was gripped with tension and holding my breath. During the last 50/100 pages, I found myself having to think ‘take a deep breath’, I just became so engrossed with Cora and her story. When the ending is finally revealed I wanted to read the whole novel again!

The novel opens in 1885 with 20yr old Cora being freed from a life of servitude at the Borough Lunatic Asylum. She has served her 19 month sentence and awaits release.
When she is released and as she makes her way to Thomas Jerwoood’s residence we become aware of the very few options open to women in Victorian England. With the obvious one (working girl) Cora firmly rules out. She hasn’t hit rock bottom YET!

The novel details Cora’s upbringing within the workhouse and her best friend (sisterly relationship) with Alice Salt. It is this friendship which gets Cora through the darkest times of her childhood.
‘It’s best not to have a mother. Everyone who does can’t stop blubbing’ – Cora

Cora is tough, feisty and yet you just know she is carrying some emotional baggage. Yet, despite her not being a ‘model citizen’ I warmed to her instantly. I liked her and I rooted for her throughout the entire story.

Thomas Jerwood is a man whose morals we cannot quite guess. We the reader become aware of his research and experiments much before Cora. But even then, I wasn’t sure where it would all lead and what it would ultimately build up to.

‘A baby is no more likely to be born to crime than he is to emerge from his mother’s womb able to play a polka’ –
Mr JW Armstrong

‘An addiction to crime runs through the generations of a family as surely as short stature or red hair’ –
Thomas Jerwood Esq

We also follow the research journals of Dr David Farley M.D the assistant medical officer of the Birmingham asylum. Which I found incredibly fascinating.
My previous employment was in the mental health sector and a huge part of our study would be to study theories of yesteryear. Whether it be the kind and humane treatments of The York Retreat or the callous abuse that took place at Bedlam.
I found the novel to be very authentic and the author had really researched into the individual viewpoints we see in the novel.

Life at the Jerwood residence is far from easy for Cora, when she eventually makes ONE friend Violet. It seems a friendship set to be doomed. Cora is wary of all strangers. . .
‘Nothing of what went on in the servants hall at the asylum must ever happen here. She’d die first’ – Cora
Despite my initial liking of Cora and the way in which she carries herself. I did feel that we the reader, never truly know what she is capable of.

An OUTSTANDING debut novel that covers many aspects of the Victorian era. From the class structure to the poverty inflicted by industrial greed; to the stigma surrounding mental health.
5* Genius

CK
Carolyn Kirby
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract Brotherhood by @DavidBeckler1 @SapereBooks #NewRelease #MasonAndSterling #Thriller #Series #Manchester

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Brotherhood by David Beckler

Synopsis:

An ex-Marine is forced to confront his troubled past…

Manchester, England, 1998

When Byron Mason’s estranged nephew, Philip, rings him out of the blue in desperate need of help, he knows he must put his personal feelings aside to protect his family.

A teenage boy has been murdered, and Philip is one of the suspects.

Worse than that, the dead boy was the nephew of Ritchie McLaughlin – a local thug who Byron has clashed with in the past – and Philip has now gone missing.

Desperate to clear Philip’s name, Byron enlists the help of his old friend Adam Sterling to track down the real killers.

Is Philip in danger? Can Byron and Adam find him before the police do?

Or has Byron’s violent past with McLaughlin come back to haunt him…?

Extract:

The loud click from the speaker above the hatch into the kitchen announced another fire-call and Firefighter Adam Sterling groaned with frustration. He wanted to be busy, but this was the fourteenth shout of the night and he still hadn’t finished the evening meal he’d started six hours earlier. He wolfed down another mouthful of chilli, now a congealed mess following several trips to the hotplate and rushed to the engine house as the piercing notes of the siren faded away. The others waited on the first pump.
“Come on, slowcoach,” Station Officer Reid said.
“Sorry, Boss. I had to have food, I’m bloody starving.”
“Gannet,” Mal observed, to laughter.
The pump lurched out of the engine house and Adam stepped into his boots before pulling up his leggings. The vehicle raced round the first corner and Adam braced himself, glancing across at Mal, his partner for the night. With over twenty years’ service, Mal was ‘senior man’ and the team leader. Adam noticed he’d already dressed and was struggling into the straps of his breathing apparatus set.
“You’d better hurry, Adam. It’s just around the corner.”
A rush of adrenaline energised Adam and, thrusting his arms into the sleeves of his tunic, he fastened the zip. The two pumps made their way through deserted streets, and blue lights reflected from windows as they glided past. The brakes hissed and the pump came to a stop. Eager to see what awaited, Adam slid across the bench seat and followed Mal out onto the pavement, the heavy cylinder on his back making him clumsy. Just behind them, thick black smoke poured out of an opening above the front door of a terraced house. A mixture of excitement and apprehension made Adam’s pulse race.
“Okay, lads. Go under air. Mike, check round the back. Pete, get the sledgehammer,” Station Officer Reid said, his voice calm.
Adam started up his set and the comforting flow of cool air passed over his cheeks. He pulled the head-straps tight and took a deep breath before putting on his helmet and following Mal along the line of hose which had sprouted across the pavement. Mal reached the end and picked up the branch plugged into it, releasing a blast of water into the gutter. Adam seized the tail of hose and concentrated on trailing Mal. The voices and sounds of the pumps merged into the background. The splintered remains of the door lay beside the front steps and Mal crouched in the doorway.
Behind Adam, Reed hovered, trying to see past his men. “Check for missing floorboards, Adam, and look out for needles. These houses are popular with junkies. Find the electrics and knock them off.”
Adam listened to these instructions, his mind on what awaited them, and he ran through what he’d learned in the last three years and countless hours of training. Mal blasted the ceiling ahead of them and a shower of debris fell. When this stopped, he led Adam into the house. Thick, viscous smoke engulfed them when they stepped through the front door, absorbing the beams of their lamps. Adam kept low, but within seconds heat infiltrated his flash-hood, forcing him lower. Dragging the hose he followed Mal into the smoke. Mal blasted the fire and the hose jerked in Adam’s hands, like a serpent coughing. The water hit the flames, generating clouds of steam which enveloped the two men. Intense heat penetrated Adam’s clothing and sweat poured off him. He panted, using up precious air.
Adam went even lower, trying to burrow into the floor, searching for the cooler atmosphere. He ignored the lumps of debris jabbing him through his leggings and crawled into the house. The sounds of another team came from behind, and their shuffling steps on wooden treads told him they were going upstairs. He found it hot enough downstairs. It would be worse for them, fighting their way through the layers of heat.
Mal grabbed his shoulder. “The main fire’s in the back room. Do you want to take it?” he said, his voice muffled by the facemask.
He thrust the branch into Adam’s hands and moved aside to let him pass. Adam tucked the hose under his arm and Mal dropped in behind him, keeping a hand on his shoulder. Flame showed under the smoke and leaning forward, Adam fired off a blast of water. More steam enveloped him and he could see nothing. Then it cleared and the flames returned, smaller and less bright.
He advanced and sprayed them again. Mal disappeared, giving Adam a moment’s anxiety until sounds of his colleague searching the adjacent room reassured him. He crouched in the doorway and blasted the ceiling of the room beyond until bits of it stopped falling.
Mal returned. “Let’s go in.”
Adam moved into the room attacking the flames each side of the doorway. They died as he hit them and the heat reduced. Centimetres at a time, they advanced, knocking down the fire.
“Hole in the floor on our left, Adam.”
Prompted by the call, he checked each step but soon reached the far wall. A scan of the room confirmed he’d extinguished the fire.
“Give me a hand here?” Mal’s voice came from his left and leaving the hose, Adam shuffled across to join him. “Window’s got a security grille.” Mal gripped Adam’s sleeve and directed his hand to a smooth piece of metal. “This end feels loose at the top. You’re taller, can you knock it out?”
He hit it with the heel of his hands until the end popped out, creating an opening at the edge of the board. Adam pushed the panel, widening the gap. Smoke and steam rushed out of the top of the opening and cool clean air replaced it. After more pushing, another anchor point gave way and working together, they removed the metal plate, leaving a wide hole. The air cleared and Adam’s torch illuminated the back room. Broken kitchen cabinets lined two walls and, in the gap for a cooker, stood a wheelie bin.
“We’ll use the bin to put the crap in,” Mal said, then the radio on his set crackled.
“Station Officer, come in.” The sub officer’s urgent tone made Adam pause.
“Go ahead, Mike.”
“Geoff, we have persons reported.”
The news sent a jolt through Adam. Although he knew they should treat every building as if it might contain casualties, he hadn’t seriously thought they’d find someone in here.
“Say again, Mike?”

D Beckler image
David Beckler
Twitter
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Anne Bonny #BookReview She Lies In Wait by @thegyth 4* #Psychological #Thriller #NewRelease @MichaelJBooks

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She Lies In Wait by Gytha Lodge
Review Copy

Synopsis:

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

Seven friends went down to the woods, but one of them never came home

30 years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens already knows what’s waiting for him – Aurora Jackson, found at last.

They all claim to be innocent, but one of them must be lying.

Because she was found somewhere only they knew about.

Now everyone’s a suspect.

My Review:

She Lies In wait has a complex plot that revolves around a cold case from 1983. The disappearance of Aurora Jackson.
The prologue opens with the discovery of human remains and DCI Jonah Sheens is called in to investigate.
Has there been a murder at Brinken wood?
The body is identified as being a prepubescent female, showing signs of decay and immediately Johan thinks of the Aurora Jackson case. But why that is Johan’s first thought will all be revealed much later. . .

The novel jumps back to the 1983 camping trip which saw Aurora the unwilling tag-along to her big sister Topaz’s trip into the woods. We meet the various characters that were present that day and their internal motives. We also learn what has become of them in their adult lives, via scenes in the modern day.

Aurora’s family is desperate for confirmation/news/updates on the case. With sister Topaz even flying in to be present in town.
I found Topaz quite frustrating in the 1983 scenes. Here is her younger sibling, left at various stages in risky positions. Whilst Topaz seems to have zero regard for her own safety, or that of her younger sibling. I had to agree that although I wouldn’t behave as Topaz did, she played the role of selfish teenager perfectly.

This novel is a classic mystery and whodunit. You as the reader are constantly trying to guess the motives of the various members of the camping trip and their motives in the modern day for remaining silent.
Something happened on that trip and someone knows the truth. . .

There are moments where the novel is slow paced. But it is without a doubt a great start to a new series 4*

GL1
Gytha Lodge
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Murder In Belgravia & A Death In Chelsea by @LynnBrittney2 5* @TheMirrorBooks #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #London #ADeathInChelsea #Mayfair100

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Murder In Belgravia by Lynn Brittney
Review Copy

Synopsis:

The first in the exciting new Mayfair 100 series of nostalgic crime sagas.

Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially formed crimebusting team based in a house in Mayfair, London in 1915. Just 10 months into the First World War, the City is flooded with women taking over the work vacated by men in the Armed Services.

Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is tasked with investigating the murder of an aristocrat. The man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen.

As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes.

Will the Mayfair 100 team solve the murder? And if they do, will they be allowed to continue working as a team?

My Review:

The novel opens with a confession and a problem…
Lady Harriet makes an emotional and desperate confession to murder. However, due to her society class and position, she refuses to elaborate unless she is allowed to speak to a female. This causes quite a conundrum for Chief Inspector Peter Beech, as there are no females currently on the staff.

Eventually, Peter is able to negotiate the formation of a new team, which will include an unlikely bunch of amateur detectives. Met Commissioner Sir Edward Henry is reluctant to agree, believing females have no place in the police force. Can the team prove him wrong?

The team is formed, it includes Caroline aka Dr Allardyce a young woman who has already defied her class, taking a role in the medical profession treating women. PC Billy Rigsby aka ‘The Creek’ a young and novice police officer. Retired Detective Sargent Arthur Tollman re-recruited back to the police force due to lack of man power with the war. And finally Caroline, a lawyer with an eye for mystery and an old flame of Peter’s.

‘Times had changed with a vengeance and the police force had a long way to go to catch up’

Lady Harriet’s physical condition worsens and it becomes apparent to Caroline and Peter, that she would have lacked the physical wellbeing and strength to commit the murder of her husband Lord Mucheson.
So who killed the Lord?

The team must dig into the private lives of the Lord and Lady and their serving staff. Can they gain the trust of the upper classes and the serving staff? Or will the culprit remain at large?

The historical depth within the novel is insightful, accurate and really enhances the story as a whole. We learn about the impact of the great war on the mental wellbeing of the returning soldiers, the injured and the families left waiting for answers.
Recently I watched author Marlon James give a talk at Oxford Uni about JRR Tolkein; within the talk he breaks down the difference emotionally and on the male psyche between the great war and world war 2. It is easy to see, how this could provide ample inspiration for historical fiction writing and Lynne Brittney does not disappoint, at all!

The novel also touches upon the discrimination women faced in the early days of their relationship with the Met. Ironic really, given that now in 2019 the met is now ran by a female!

Rich in historical detail with a real sense of the era. 1915 is brought alive on the page and I was so pleased to learn this is the first in a new series! 5*

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A Death In Chelsea by Lynn Brittney
Review Copy

Synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially-formed crime fighting team based in a house in Mayfair.

A call comes through to Mayfair 100, where the intrepid team of investigators eagerly await their next case. A society gossip queen has been found hanged in her room in mysterious circumstances. Her enemies are numerous – and her family are convinced she was murdered.

Can the group uncover the truth?

My Review:

The novel offers a brief introduction for those readers whom may not have had chance to devour Murder In Belgravia. It does cover the necessary facts, but I am glad I had the chance to read the first in the series as there is four individual characters that form the team and each have great background stories.

July 1915, Chief Inspector Peter Beech is summoned to the office of the met commissioner. There he is introduced to the case which forms the basis of this novel The death of society ‘it girl’ Lady Adeline Treborne. Her mother the Duchess of Penhere, believes it to be a murder…
Adeline was estranged from her family due to the scandalous nature of her profession.
‘Whoever heard of a society columnist who never actually went to any of the events she wrote about’

We are briefly introduced to a new team member Miss Mabel Summersby. I really loved the introduction of a new female team member and I hope the author continues to layer the novels with more intriguing characters.

Adeline’s post mortem brings more mystery to the case and we are left to wonder, who do you solve the death of a woman, many had motive to kill?
Is Adeline the most hated person in all of London?
The team must dig into the pasts of Adeline’s family and those that knew her.

This novel shines a spotlight onto the working relationship between team members Tollman and Billy. I really loved the mix-up of the old and new police tactics and their ability to create funny moments within the novel.

The novel covers differing themes to Murder In Belgravia with blackmail, hidden desires, secrets and hushed up crimes playing a central role in Adeline’s career success…

A real sense of the team spirit and impressive characterisation. 5*

LB
Lynn Brittney
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