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review 2017-03-24 21:00
A good book to gain an overview on a particularly complex and fascinating topic for those working in law and/or psychiatry.
Mad or Bad: Crime and Insanity in Victorian Britain - David J. Vaughan

Thanks to Pen and Sword History for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book that I voluntarily review.

As a psychiatrist, and having worked in forensic psychiatry in the UK for a number of years, mad or bad is indeed one of the questions that we’re asked very often. (Of course, the two categories are not mutually exclusive, but in the eyes of the law there are certain prerequisites that need to be complied with to be able to apportion guilt). Therefore, I was very curious to read this book that dealt with the issue of insanity and criminal justice in the Victorian era.

The book is divided into five parts, discussing the main players in the debate, the conditions that were listed under the insanity label, the history of the debate, a part discussing ‘mad women, bad women’, and the last and longest part that discusses in more detail the case studies that caused the debates and the legal changes discussed in the book.

Personally, I was fascinated by reading details about the cases behind some of the defences and legal terms still in use today. Having an overall view of the period and what was behind the discussions illuminates and helps explain the legal changes, placing them at a historical and social moment in time. As a psychiatrist, I was particularly interested in the issues of diagnosis and the discussions as to the different categories used to classify disturbed mental states, including some that sound difficult to believe now (like the many ‘women’s conditions’ that justified all kinds of crimes). Although the details of some of the cases and the discussions might sound bizarre, the truth is that matters are not that clear even now, and even if the debates are framed differently, a decision is not always easy to reach.

The case stories are fascinating to read in their own right and cover the most famous and relevant cases of the era. They provide a great overview without going into excessive detail and would be a good starting point for people who want to delve deeper into the subject, whilst providing a general background to others who might be looking for orientation and general reading on the topic. The book is well organised, written clearly, and provides a good summary of the main issues whilst illustrating them well without excess detail or the use of unnecessarily complicated terms.

A good read for anybody interested in issues of criminal justice, insanity and law in Victorian England, particularly those that pertain to the treatment of women by the legal system of the time. A word of warning: the passing of time hasn’t made these cases less upsetting or shocking, so although the book doesn’t dwell unnecessarily on the gore details, you might find some of them hard to read.

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review 2017-03-21 17:37
A Brief History of Roman Britain - Conquest and Civilization by Joan P. Alcock
A Brief History of Roman Britain. by J.P. Alcock - Joan P. Alcock

This is an adequate, brief and basic overview of the Roman occupation of Britain. The book serves as an uninspiring introductory text to the subject. The narrative follows events in a chronological order, with additional chapters dedicated to army life, town life, the countryside, religion and belief, food and diet, industry and society.

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review 2017-03-07 06:34
History of Ancient Britain by Neil Oliver
A History of Ancient Britain - Neil Oliver

A well-written, easy-going, entertaining book that covers the history of Ancient Britain from the earliest humans, the Ice Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and to the Roman occupation in broad strokes. There is not a great deal of technical language. The author discusses significant archaeological finds with passing mentions of such things as genetics and linguistics. I would have liked to read more about the languages, technological developments (other than the arrival of bronze and iron), changes in farming techniques, changes in human physiology over time etc. But, I suppose this type of information is rather difficult to glean from a small collection of bones and artifacts. The book includes two sections of colour photo inserts. It would have been helpful if the author had also included a map indicating the sites he discusses. None the less, I found the book to be interesting and informative.

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text 2017-03-06 19:06
Planning to read via library ebook loan ...
Perfect Shadow - Brent Weeks
When Demons Walk (Sianim Book 4) - Patricia Briggs
Steal the Dragon - Patricia Briggs
Arrows of the Sun - Judith Tarr
Firebrand - Kristen Britain
The Fate of the Tearling: A Novel (The Queen of the Tearling Book 3) - Erika Johansen
The Trouble with Kings - Sherwood Smith
Half a King - Joe Abercrombie
Closer to the Chest - Mercedes Lackey
It's Raining Men - Jennifer Stevenson

These I put on hold from those newly added to my public library's overdrive ebook loans.

 

I already read the Succubus Blue's (Georgina Kincaid) series from Richelle Meade so didn't hold -- but that's been recently added as well.  Plus more Nalini Singh ebooks (my library had mostly audiobooks of hers).  First three Cassandra Palmer series by Karen Chance now showing in ebook rather than just audiobooks also.  Not my thing, but a lot of Battletech books showed up as well.

 

I did put in a librarian request adding missing covers if any are still showing on this post. 

 

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review 2017-01-24 18:17
Book Review: Blackveil by Kristen Britain
Blackveil - Kristen Britain

I love the Green Rider series. I fell in love with it six years ago when my best friend handed me Green Rider and  told me that I would probably be done with it the next day. She was right. Blackveil, however, just wasn’t up to par for me.

 

What I liked:

 

The suspense is terrific and I am greatly enjoying how the overall storyline is progressing. Once again, Britain creates a world that I can just grab onto and completely immerse myself in. Blackveil is deliciously horrific and I am glad she held nothing back when it came to making it the scariest forest you could possibly imagine.

One of my FAVORITE parts about this book was that we got to learn a little bit more about Kariny, Karigan’s mother. She is a character I have always been interested in, and I think the wait was worth it. Even though she’s not alive in these books, she is still a complex character that I find myself caring for very much.

 

What I didn’t:

 

I said I liked the progression of the overall storyline, however, the storyline of the individual novels is getting a bit formulaic — there’s danger, Karigan dives into it headfirst, and then almost kills herself.

 

Also, for me, this book was drawn out. It was one of those novels where when it’s good, it’s really good, but getting to the good parts takes some effort. One of the things I disliked the most was all the indirect inner dialogue. What I mean by that is that we got a lot of “Bob was sure Nancy did that because (insert reason here).” I don’t like being told characters’ motivations very much, especially when they’re through a different perspective. Did Nancy do that because of that reason? Maybe not. Bob thinks so, but it may not be true. Honestly, I don’t think this sort of information adds anything to the story. It’s much more interesting to incorporate Nancy’s background and characteristics throughout the story, have her do the action, and then leave it up to the reader to decide why she did what she did. It’s more of a creative process for both the reader and writer and allows for good discussions and debates to arise, which is one of the joys of reading.

 

Conclusion:

 

Do I recommend this book? For fans of the series, I certainly do. However, if you haven’t read it yet, I suggest waiting and reading some other books on your “to read” list. This book has a ridiculous cliffhanger and considering that there was a 2 year gap between the third book and this book, answers aren’t going to be coming anytime soon.

 

Will I continue reading? Absolutely. I still love the characters and the world Britain has built. I just hope it ends soon, because I’ve pretty much had enough of Karigan getting herself into trouble. If it isn’t wrapped up by the sixth book, I’ll probably quit this series.

Source: www.purplereaders.com/?p=918
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