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review 2017-11-22 04:16
Childhood's End
Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke,Eric Michael Summerer

 

A slow-paced story about aliens who come to earth bringing world peace, ending cruelty, and guiding mankind into a strange, new, and unexpected future.

 

I listened to the audiobook version of this novel. The narrator was ok, but not exceptional. The events of the story take place over decades and generations. It was interesting to hear how different people felt about the aliens and the prospect of world peace. And what do people do with themselves once everything is affordable and you actually don't have to work if you don't want to? The ending was clever and not at all what I expected.

 

Overall it was just okay.

 

 

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review 2017-11-07 21:27
Classics of Childhood, Volume 3: A Christmas Collection ★☆☆☆☆
Classics of Childhood, Volume 3: A Christmas Collection - Various,Celebrity Narrators

Terrible collection, terribly produced. The only worthwhile story was The Gift of the Magi, but the stilted performance could only just barely be distinguished from the thunderingly loud background music – a problem that affected every story except Miracle on 34th Street, which featured the only good reading performance (Carl Reiner). Unfortunately, it couldn’t overcome the terrible writing, because this is *not* the 1947 Valentine Davies story.

 

I could go on enumerating the flaws, but will direct you instead to this much better review.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive.

 

I read this for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, Square 16: December 26th-31st - Hogmanay / New year’s eve / Watch night / St. Sylvester’s Day: a book where miracles of any sort are performed (the unexplainable - but good - kind).

 

 

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review 2017-10-24 22:28
A sobering picture of the Victorian era and a must read for those interested in social history
Childhood and Death in Victorian England - Sarah Seaton

Thanks to Alex from Pen & Sword for providing me with a review paperback copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

After working as a forensic psychiatrist for a number of years, I guess death and what brings it about is something I’ve given a fair amount of thought to. I have always been more interested in social history, and the everyday lives of people in other historical periods than I am about battles, war, etc. (I am intrigued by some of the people who get to make the decisions and fight in the battles, but not so much by the actual specifics). Old records being what they are, the adage about the two things that are certain in life, death and taxes, comes to mind. And although the subject of the book might appear particularly morbid, examining death records and other information about the deaths, in particular of children, tells us a great deal about what society was like at the time. Because what more important for the future of a nation than its children?

I live in quite an old village and one can find gravestones from three or four centuries back and I could not help but notice that many of those buried in the Victorian period were babies and very young children. Sometimes there were families who lost quite a number of children in quick succession. And although I had read about poor sanitation, deaths at birth, and illnesses of the period, and I knew that life for poor children was harder at the time, I had never spent much time reading about it. When I saw this book I felt perhaps it was time I did.

In the introduction, the author explains that she had a similar experience to mine. While researching newspapers and archives for another book, she came across many items about dead children and thought they deserved to have their stories told.

Although the book is respectful and tries to bring to light what the conditions were like, the nature of the material can make for a hard reading. I won’t go into details, but if you are very sensitive you might want to look away now or stop reading.

Seaton divides her book into five chapters.

Chapter one: Industrial Mishaps and Misdemeanours, brings home how hard life what for poor children, especially (but not only) orphans, children who ended up in the workhouse, and who were working from as young as four. And we’re not talking about easy jobs. They went to sea, working in fishing boats (yes, many drowned or were severely abused, beaten up and killed), the mines (opening and closing air shaft for hours on end, and quite a few died when there was flooding, some not far from where I live), textile factories (crushed by the machines), chimney sweeps (yes, no Mary Poppins romanticism here. Small kids could go up the chimneys easily and sometimes burn inside too)… The author notes that the laws changed, first increasing the age at what children were allowed to start working (the Ten Hour Bill in 1832 stated that no child under 9 could work and those under 18 should not work for longer than 10 hours per day and only 8 on Saturdays), and later insisting that all children should have access to education, and that helped avoid the worse of the abuse (that was not considered abuse at the time).

Chapter two: Accidents. It is strange to read this chapter and imagine a time when mothers might go out or go to work and leave their children under the care of another child, only a few years older than his or her charges, when children would play in a room with a live fire and no protection (there are a large number of deaths by fire), or would go out and play by a river and drown, or be run over.

Chapter three: Poverty, Paupers and Health, centres on matters of health, illnesses, poor diets, and also the fact that many illegitimate children were sent away to women who usually would take many children for money, feed them little or nothing, and keep what were called ‘baby farms’. At the time it was common to give children laudanum if they felt unwell, and many of them died of opium overdoses. As the author notes, while nowadays there are many services and programmes offering information and help to new mothers on how to bring up a child, and there is support in place, charities, welfare services, doctors and midwives who offer practical advice and support, that was not the case at the time, and even children from well-off families could die in circumstances that seem incredible to us now.

Chapter four: Manslaughter, Murder and Circumstantial Evidence, is a particularly hard one to read. The author notes that some of these crimes remind us that some things don’t change much and there are incidents that are remarkably similar to recent ones, but the chapter includes from murders where the criminal was clearly mentally disturbed, to others that caused outrage for their cruelty. At that point in history the police were becoming a better organised and official body and they were starting to use techniques that would allow them to trace evidence and use it to catch the criminals (newspapers used to wrap body parts with names or addresses on it feature prominently). This is a horrific chapter, but one that would be of interest to mystery writers considering setting their novels in this historical period.

 Chapter five: Newborn and Early Infant Deaths. Many of these are the result of illegitimate births, with young mothers who usually had hidden their pregnancy and at the moment of birth got desperate, out of options and with no support. But there are also cases of women who offered their services ‘adopting’ children only to neglect them or actively kill them. It is of note that although newborn and infant deaths were very high at the time, very few of these were reported as homicides.

The author concludes that although at the beginning she talks about modern children having little freedom compared to their Victorian counterparts, we must acknowledge that the circumstances have changed for the better and now society puts a lot of emphasis on protecting children. There is the welfare state, better transportation, many of the illnesses that decimated children have disappeared or can be cured…  (Of course, the book looks at the subject in Victorian England, and the comparisons are to current circumstances in the UK. We all know not all societies are respectful of children’s lives even today).

This is a hard book to read. It does paint a sobering picture of the Victorian era, as it centres mostly on those whose stories were not important enough to make it into the big chronicles and the Historic books in capital letters. The author uses newspaper articles to illustrate the specific cases she chooses, but also archival materials. The book offers detailed accounts of the events, and reflects the opinion of the time, leaving most of the personal comments or interpretations to the beginning or end of the chapters, although she mostly lets the facts speak for themselves. We read witness testimonies, coroner’s reports, inquests, all fairly objectively reported, but the nature of the material makes it poignant.

The paperback version contains pictures, mostly illustrations from newspapers, but also photographs of the period and some modern ones of some of the locations, in black and white.

This is a well-researched book that would be of interest to people researching the social history of the Victorian period, particularly as it pertains to the treatment of children, to writers looking for background on the period, but it is not a light read or a standard history book of the era. It goes to show that truth can, and it often is, more terrifying than fiction.

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review 2017-10-13 16:36
Body armor
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body - Roxane Gay

Today I'm going to attempt to form some coherent thoughts about my experience reading Roxane Gay's newest book entitled Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Some of you might have already had this book on your radar because of the huge amount of press that it got right after its release. This is an extremely personal account of Roxane's experiences as an obese woman in our society (which is obsessed with being skinny as you know). However, it's less a commentary on that than a self-exploration of her relationship with food and her body. You might recognize Gay's name from my review of her frank assessment of feminism and how she identifies herself (not just as a feminist but all-around human). I thought that she had pushed the envelope with her openness and willingness to 'go there' with that book but reading Hunger was a whole new experience. For one thing, this isn't a book about the trials and tribulations of being overweight in America and how she's planning on using this book as a tool to get her life back on track. No, this is a cathartic exercise in purging some of the darkness that she has had buried inside for too long. (I'm trying to not give away too much because her writing of the events of her life is kinda the whole point of the book.) This book will make you rethink the way that you look at your own body and how you make assumptions about other people based on their bodies. It is not meant to be preachy or shaming. It's one woman opening up about a horrific experience in her life and how that changed her forever. I think this is the kind of book that everyone should read because it opens your eyes to yourself, to others, and makes you think. 9/10 definitely recommend

 

What's Up Next: The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation by Randall Fuller

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-09-05 09:12
The Password Is Wishpers by Jack Chaucer & Jeanine Henning (Artwork)
The Password is Wishpers - Jack Chaucer,Jeanine Henning

This is an easy and quick paced book. I feel like it can be enjoyed by all ages, but is most important for grade school students who might not understand the horrors of a shut down. It would be confusing and scary for an adult, let alone a child! I never had to experience anything like this as a kid; it is sad that it is now common for schools to have these drills.

 



Using your imagination and cherishing your childhood seems to be some of the main themes of this book. I adored how they used their imagination to do all sorts of cool things, while there was a lock down drill.

One of my wishes for this book and the reason this did not have a 5 star rating, is I wish that there was more description instead of telling. Part of me can understand why this does not happen, because perhaps the author wants the child/person reading to use their own imagination. That is a nice thought, but I still like when books have showing over telling.

I know this is meant for children, and it is supposed to be quick and simple, but as an adult, I really wish I knew what caused the lock down, but I suppose I can use my imagination there as well.

The artwork by Jeanine Henning was cute. I wish there were more artwork in this book! I love the colors they went with.

Disclaimer: I received this from Netgally in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the chance to read this!

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