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Search tags: Child-Abuse
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review 2017-04-07 14:19
Rarity from the Hollow- Robert Eggleton

   Not everyone will read the story the way I did. In fact, wading through twenty or so of the at this point in time 94 Amayon.com reviews, I couldn’t find any others that were reading the exact same message.

  This is a story that’s omnipresent voice explores the decent of an adolescent girl into madness. At the books end, I imagine her institutionalised, living her conscious life entirely in an invented world of her imagination, while kept ‘physically safe’ by psychiatric nurses.

   The setting of West Virginia is irrelevant, other than that I read that it is a place where the author worked as a psychotherapist. One can read in the deprived corners of any state on Earth.

  The book is comic, by line, sometimes treading in the deep crud of extreme social and physical abuse and poverty, by chapter. Lacy Dawn is the daughter of an abusive PTSD suffering father, and a down-trodden and objectified mother. We read about how, especially after the murder of her best friend she starts to tip over the edge, eventually losing even remote connection with reality. As she descends into the protective cocoon of her imagination she engages in a range of abnormal behaviour typical of traumatised children, and especially of those children that have being exposed to the very worst of adult behaviour. Drugs, guns, and sexual exploitation of all sorts are the bread and butter of everyday life in the neighbourhood of this poor child.

   If one chooses to read that way, she ‘really’ goes on an adventure across space, engaged to marry a robot that is slowly turning into a physically ‘entire’ man. If you don’t, and I don’t. The distant shopping Mall is the furthest she ever gets from home.

For my perspective, this is book is conceptualised brilliantly, and executed well. The writing is good, as is the pace of the plot. Perhaps the ending is a little weak, but by that point where could Lacy Dawn’s mind go that could be more distant from reality, and more protective of what little is left of her sanity. The satirical plot, the harsh existence which became an escape to the stars, or the closed spaces of the mind, is very clever. The ending was appropriate, as Lacy builds her own sanctuary, one in which she is at last in control of her life.

   Where could a sequel go? To rehab from drugs and mental recovery, or further into the stars?

   The message: “however life shits on you, don’t shit on the children” is delivered so harshly that only the comical prose could carry the ‘normal’ reader to the stories psychotic conclusion. If we don’t protect and fight for wholesome family values, our societies will all decay into an impoverished, disease ridden, Hobbesian Hollow.

Lacy Dawns mental space may be unique, but unfortunately isn’t that abnormal. Well, that is the view of a relatively sane man who only understands one psychology, my own.       Get well, Lacy Dawn and let Faith rest in peace, but never her death be hidden from the judgment of society.

AMAZONLINK

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review 2017-03-29 01:20
I would have been a runaway
Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding-Schools, 1939-1979 (Slightly Foxed Editions) - Ysenda Maxtone-Graham

Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls' Boarding Schools, 1939-1979 by Ysenda Maxtone Graham is exactly what I was looking for this week. As the title suggests, this is a non-fiction book about what it was like to attend a boarding school for girls from the years of 1939-79 (in the United Kingdom obviously). The author conducted numerous interviews of women who attended these school who recalled startlingly vivid memories (both ill and pleasant) of their time there. From what it was like to be separated from family at a young age (some incredibly young) to the traumatic recollections of the horrible food they were forced to eat to what really went on when a bunch of hormonal girls were kept sequestered without any boys in sight this is a book that is both informative and interesting. (It's also super funny.) I've read some fanciful stories about what it's like to live in a boarding school but never true accounts from the girls themselves about what actually went on behind those austere facades. (Seriously a ton of them were in manor houses and castles which makes me super jealous.) There are many similarities between the institutions and also some gargantuan differences. For instance, some of the places (Cheltenham for instance) were strict, highly academic, and the girls that left there were more likely to continue into higher education. Others were more practically minded (or obsessed with horses and sports) and the girls that left there were generally encouraged to go to secretarial college and then look for a husband almost immediately after entering the workforce. It's an eye-opening read about what it was like for these upper-crust girls who were sent away by their families and then suppressed by these same people into wanting less for themselves. I highly recommend this not only because it's extremely well-written and researched but also because it's so fascinating comparing it to the way young women of today are educated and their expectations after leaving school. 10/10

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-03-08 22:28
1970s Australia from the point of view of a child with an edge of creepiness and intrigue
The Silent Kookaburra - Liza Perrat

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with an ARC copy that I voluntarily chose to review.

The story —set in an Australia richly brought to life by the writing that describes landscape, animals, trees, food, furniture, cars, lifestyle and social mores— is told in the first person by Tanya Randall. Adult Tanya is back in her childhood cottage and a newspaper cutting from 1973, which her grandmother kept, makes her remember that time when she was only eleven. The story of adult Tanya frames that of her childhood memories, which take up most of the book (I had almost forgotten that fact until the very end of the story).

Young Tanya is quite innocent (of course, she doesn’t think so), overweight (she eats compulsively, seemingly to comfort herself when the situation gets difficult at home, when they call her names, when she has any upsets or… most of the time. There are long lists of biscuits and other foods she consumes at an alarming pace, well-researched for the period, although I’m not familiar with them), and loves her mother, father, cat (that she insists on walking as if it were a dog, even if that brings her even more unwanted attention), dog, true crime magazines, and her friend Angelina, although not so much her grandmother, Nanna Purvis.

Seeing (or reading) things from a child’s point of view is a good way to reflect on how adult behaviour might appear to children and how difficult certain things might be to process and understand. Her mother’s miscarriages and depression (that keeps getting missed until very late in the novel), her secret uncle’s devious behaviour (it’s hard to read the scenes of Tanya with her uncle, as she’s clearly craving for attention and we know from early on where things are headed, but Tanya doesn’t and she finds it more and more difficult to extricate herself from the situation). The author is excellent at making us share her point of view and her thought processes that create an atmosphere of dread and impending disaster. The dualistic life view of young children, for whom everything is black or white is reflected perfectly in Tanya’s reactions to her grandmother (whom at first she doesn’t like at all but later, as she realises she’s the only one to stick by her, goes on to become complicit with) and to her uncle, who goes from being perfect to being a monster (although the novel suggests that he had also been a victim).

The novel is not easy to classify, although it comes under the thriller label, but it is a psychological exploration of childhood, memory, tragedy, the lies we tell ourselves, and also a work of historical (albeit recent history) fiction, as it beautifully recreates the time and place (down details such as hit songs, records of the era, bicycles, toys, cars, magazines, foodstuffs, clothing and hairdos) and even historical events, like the opening of the Sidney Opera House. There is something of a twist at the end, and plenty of secrets, like in most domestic noir novels, but for me, the strong points are the way the story is told, and some of the characters. Nanna Purvis (who is a fantastic character and proves that grandmothers are almost always right) has old-fashioned ideas about relationships, sexuality, religion and race, but manages to surprise us and has good insight into her own family. Tanya reminded me of myself at her age (although I read other types of books, I was also overweight and wasn’t the most popular girl at school, and we also lived with my mother’s mother, although thankfully my home circumstances were not as tragic) and she tries hard to keep her family together. Her point of view and her understanding are limited, and her actions and frame of mind repetitive at times (she munches through countless packets of biscuits, pulls at her cowlick often, bemoans the unattractive shape of her ears, wonders if she’s adopted) as it befits a character of her age and historical period (so close but yet so far. No internet, no social media, no easy way to access information). Real life is not a succession of exciting events; even at times of crisis, most of our lives are taken up by routine actions and everyday tasks. Her mother’s sinking into depression and her bizarre behaviour, which is sadly misunderstood and left untreated for far too long, rang a chord with me as a psychiatrist. It is an accurate portrayal of such conditions, of the effect the illness can have not only on the sufferers but also on the family, and of the reactions of the society to such illnesses (especially at the time). Uncle Blackie is also a fascinating character but I won’t say anything else as I want to avoid spoilers. Although the setting and the atmosphere are very different, it brought to my mind some of Henry James’s stories, in particular, What Maisie Knew and The Turn of the Screw.

This is a great novel that I recommend to those who are interested in accurate psychological portrayals, reflections on the nature of memory, and books with a strong sense of setting and historical period, rather than fast action and an ever changing plot. A word of warning: it will be difficult to read for those with a low tolerance for stories about child abuse and bullying. If you’re a fan of good writing that submerges you into a time and place and plunges you inside of a character’s head, with an edge of creepiness and intrigue, this is your book.

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review 2017-01-14 19:32
Hard to Fight (Tales of the Citadel Book 51) Viola Grace Review
Hard to Fight (Tales of the Citadel Book 51) - Viola Grace

Brenn has spent her life being quiet and avoiding the attention of her father, the psychopathic emperor. He keeps her close and anyone who befriends her is in immediate danger.

 

Review

 

The backstory of the heroine is very sad and very compelling. 

 

The hero is a dragon shifter which is always cool.

 

Her talent is nifty.

 

A very good short story in the series. 

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review 2016-12-08 09:00
British policing and a dark and twisted family
The Taken: DI Erica Martin Book 2 (Erica Martin Thriller) - Alice Clark-Platts

Thanks to NetGalley and to Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for offering me an ARC copy of this novel that I voluntarily agreed to review.

Although this is the second novel in the DI Erica Martin’s series and I haven’t read the previous one, I did not find this detracted from my ability to enjoy the novel.

The story, set for the most part in Durham, in the North East of the UK, follows DI Erica Martin’s team as they investigate a bizarre death, that of a somewhat special preacher cum TV celebrity. The novel is narrated from a variety of points of view, mostly in the third person, although there are also parts in italics that at first, we don’t know who they belong to or whom they address (they seem to be a letter of some sort). Although Martin’s point of view dominates the action, we also have the points of view of other members of her team, and other characters, including the victim and the many suspects. In my opinion there is clear differentiation between the different points of view that helps the reader to not get confused, and each segment is clearly separated, so although I know some readers don’t appreciate head-hoping, due to the complexity of the case and the way the investigation develops, the change of points of view serves the book well.

Martin is a capable woman, also blessed (and cursed) with a strong intuition, but somewhat distracted by her impending divorce and her burgeoning relationship with her superior, Sam Butterworth. She’s a good boss, understands her team and has a good relationship with them, and is sympathetic and has her heart in the right place. Although we get to know a bit less about the other members of her team, Jones is also a reliable and likeable character (and high up in Martin’s esteem) and it’s a breath of fresh air to have a police team where everybody seems intent on doing the best job they can and there’s no corruption or shady motives. It’s true that Martin’s capacity for empathy and her reaction to the complications and the revelations of the case affect her personally, but, at least for me, that’s a bonus rather than a weakness.

The family of reverend Snow (although his church sounds more like a cult than a benign church) and those close to him hide many secrets, and the more layers that are peeled away, the worse things get. I read one of the reviewers commenting the Snows are a dysfunctional family. It’s possible there might be some more dysfunctional than this one, but it’s pretty high up on the ranking. If what we learn from the church’s functioning is bizarre and scary, in some ways this pales in comparison to the intricacies of the family relationships.

The plot is carefully crafted, with red herrings and many suspects that are highlighted and then dismissed, and although it might be possible to have some suspicions, things aren’t as clear-cut as most readers might suspect at first. I don’t think thriller and mystery readers will be disappointed with the plotting side of the story.

Although there are some violent scenes and descriptions of wounds and injuries, they are not extremely graphic. On the other hand, some of the topics of the book might be distressing for readers (as there is violence against children and women), and the bizarre behaviours and states of mind (that merit quite an in-depth psychological discussion) make it a hard book to read and one that will cause much discussion.

The writing style is easy to follow, descriptive enough to make the different characters believable, with changes in rhythm (not always frenetic, but it flows and ebbs with some contemplative and precious moments too), and very well chosen quotes from Euripides’s Medea.

A good novel for those looking for a British police procedural book, well-crafted, with a complex plot, likeable characters that also encompasses challenging topics. I for sure wouldn’t mind reading more of Erica Martin’s cases.

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