Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

‘Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk’.

First of all, I’d like to start off by saying a massive thank you to Penny who blogs over at www.whatdoireadnow.co.uk for hosting an arc book giveaway on Twitter. I entered and was so surprised that I won!!

Right, so, how on earth can I write a review for Nothing Important Happened Today that’s going to make any sense at all because it BLEW MY MIND! I guess I’ll just start typing and see how it goes…

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Nine suicides. One cult. No leader.

Click on the noose for Goodreads Synopsis

Carver by name. Carver by nature.

Crikey Will, your book has carved up my brain, your sharp words and stabby no nonsense writing style had my undivided attention instantly. INSTANTLY I TELL YOU.

Nothing Important Happened Today has the most aggressive narrative I’ve ever read. Each page was telling me something I needed to hear, in straight up, no nonsense language. Words were being thrown at me, paragraphs hitting me square between the eyes. Whole pages making me forget to bloody well blink for gods sake!! Carver ensures that you are one hundred percent listening to what he has to say.

There was an odd familiarity to each character, a strange, relatable feeling that often made me STOP and just THINK. I’d find myself staring out the window, trying to understand why I connected to a diverse bunch of characters that surely I had nothing in common with…

ALSO!!! Is it just me, or are there HIDDEN MESSAGES in this book?? Am I going crazy? Is Mr Carver trying to tell me something? Advise me? I just don’t know.

Anyway, back to the story. I love crime fiction. I also thoroughly enjoy True Crime, but I’ve never read anything that incorporates the two together. One of the BEST things about NIHT (apart from the GENIUS STORYLINE) was the real life serial killer references, a fascinating and brilliant insight into the real crimes that gave this story real guts.

This is the deepest of darkest stuff people.

Take social media. Take these Millenials’.

To best describe this book, (the style of the writing more than the plot itself) I’d say it was the English equivalent of Irvine Welshs’ Trainspotting. (Minus the jacking up and Scottish lingo that even my Scottish husband can’t understand!)

I don’t want to start ooh-ing and aah-ing about how much I want you to go buy this book, or borrow it from the library or download it to your Kindle. (Other e-readers are available of course!)

I certainly won’t go on about how sensitive the subject matter is. This book is full of triggers.

I often experience difficulties when reading books with more than, say, 4 or 5 characters. I didn’t have any trouble here though. Carvers’ short chapters with simple titles helped to keep me in the loop. This book was as EASY TO READ as it was HARD.

HANG ON A MINUTE! It’s just clicked. I related so much to Carvers’ characters because just like them, I’m a NOBODY!

I see it now. Crystal clear.

I don’t think I can write anymore about this book because it’ll be just mindless waffle. What I will say though is that I’m starting Good Samaritans by Carver in a minute because I simply need to read everything this authors written.

I’ll go and pop my review onto Goodreads, and give it the FIVE STARS IT DESERVES.

Thanks Will for writing this life-like freak show of a story. I loved everything about it.

Dark Matter [A Ghost Story] by Michelle Paver

‘In one of my periodicals, there’s a paper by someone who’s worked out that what we know of the universe is only a tiny percentage of what actually exists. He says what’s left can’t be seen or detected, but it’s there; he calls it dark matter‘.

Synopsis

London, 1937. Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life, so when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Spirits are high as the ship leaves Norway and at last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year.

But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one his companions are forced to leave. Soon Jack will see the last of the sun, the sea will freeze and escape will be impossible.

And Jack is not alone. Something walks there in the dark…

Review

Loaded with tension and atmosphere, Dark Matter is my idea of the perfect ghost story. I could of easily read it in one sitting, I was gripped from the very start.

The writing was at a gentle pace, methodical, magical, terrifying. I was transfixed. In the first hundred pages not a lot had actually happened, but that didn’t matter to me in the slightest. The feelings of isolation and suspense traveled up through my fingers with the turn of each page, cold yet clammy because I was there, with Jack.

The relationships between the characters were bold and often amusing, their personalities deep, emotional, with subtle hints of their own darkness and fears.

Jacks relationship with Isaak, one of the eight Huskies who accompanied them on the expedition, developed into something really very heartwarming.

This is the first book I’ve read by Paver, but it definitely won’t be my last. Horror and the Paranormal is one of my go-to genres, so I’ve read a LOT of spooky reads. But this, by far, was of a higher quality, superior to most I’ve read before.

A five star rating is deserved.

www.michellepaver.comhttp://www.michellepaver.com

The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman by Summer Strevens

‘When Mary Bateman was born, she was of so little importance that the date of her birth went unrecorded. When it came to her final moments on the gallows however, thousands of spectators witnessed her execution upon York’s ‘New Drop’ on the morning of Monday 20th March 1809, some of whom, packed shoulder to shoulder in the crowd, were convinced to the very end that the Yorkshire Witch would save herself from death at the last moment by employing her supernatural powers to vanish into thin air as the noose tightened. Needless to say, she didn’t.’

Mary Bateman was no witch! More a petty thief and fraudster with a sociopathic personality. She was intelligent and used her reading and writing abilities (a rare attribute for women of this era) for unsavoury financial gains.

This was an interesting account of crime in the early 1800’s, as rarely were women seen to be of criminal mind, often simply being deemed ‘mad’ and locked away in an asylum.

Mary was charming and manipulative and had an inventive imagination, often making up non-existent characters, used purely to back up her dodgy dealings, to improve her chances of getting more money out of her victims.

She was labelled a witch because of her wicked ways, having some knowledge of herbs and remedies and offered her own kind of ‘healthcare’ to many unfortunate women. Poisonings were her main go-to MO all in the name of lining her own pockets.

I enjoyed how Strevens’ put this book together, it read well as a nonfiction and had enough creativity to keep me reading. I particularly liked how the time period was described, this added to my reading experience in a positive way. The centre of the book has glossy photos which always gets bonus points from me in a nonfiction read!

As I was coming to the end, I really enjoyed how macabre this era was. I won’t give too much away, but the following picture shows how Mary ended up! As a museum exhibit, of all things, how shocking!

I’d recommend to British history enthusiasts, particularly folk who have lived in and around Leeds and York. A lot of settings would be familiar to folk who dwell in these parts!

The Yorkshire Witch gets 4 stars from me!

I’d like to say thank you to those lovely folk at Pen & Sword Publishers, in particular Rosie, who kindly sent me my copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author

Born in London, Summer Strevens now lives and writes in Oxfordshire. Capitalising on a lifelong passion for historical research, as well as penning feature articles of regional historical interest, Summer’s published books include Haunted Yorkshire Dales, York Murder & Crime, The Birth of Chocolate City: Life in Georgian York, The A-Z of Curiosities of the Yorkshire Dales, Fashionably Fatal , Before They Were Fiction and The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman.

The Regrettable Actions of my Bookish Younger Self

So today I’ve decided to take a trip down Book Memory Lane. You know what us oldies are like for reminiscing about days gone by, all nostalgic, when times were better…

As you’ve probably all experienced in your own lives, us book lovers simply run out of shelf space. Unless of course you’re one of those lucky sods with a massive spare room/library to house every single book you’ve ever owned. (No bitterness or jealousy at all there.)

I’ve done many a charity shop donation with books I just didn’t have room for. Okay, admittedly, some I was glad to see the back of, but most were ‘I doubt I’d re-read, but I still like yous’. I have been known to *ahem* buy them again if seen for a bargain somewhere though.

In superb technicolour, here are the actual editions I have loved and lost.

[Click on the covers to find out more!]

And there we have it. A mixed bag of books from my past that I would love to have back on my bookshelves. Did any of these ring any bells? If you were a child/teen of the 80’s, I’m sure some of these covers will take you back!

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend folks!

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Read back in February 2017, I came across my Goodreads review of Shantaram and decided I liked it enough to post it on my blog. Two and a half years after finishing it, I was right, I’ll never forget this book.

A 4 star read, with many 5 star elements

I have so many thoughts whirling around my head about this book. I had to sleep on it before writing my review because, on finishing it yesterday I couldn’t write the jumble of emotions down in a way that could be understood!

I’m still struggling to piece together how I’m going to review this without writing what hundreds of other readers already have. And give it the justice it deserves for its brilliance. 

It educated me, it filled me with awe, it lifted me up and plonked me down in Bombay, with a ‘there you are, take this little lot on board’. Sometimes, it was just too much, too many characters, too much information, some of which I had little or no interest in. (Eg: I care nowt about weapons and war logistics, which, in parts, I had to skim read as this book was sooo long!) 

Had Shantaram been 200 pages shorter, I probably would of awarded it full marks, but it was long, way too long. Bits could of been 
omitted without any adverse effect on the storyline.

That said, Gregory David Roberts has written a masterpiece. I’ve experienced India in such a unique way, the beauty, the dark underworld, the passion of its people, and thankfully, all in the safety of pages of a book! 

I would probably of never chosen this to read, but I was recommended it by a friend, who then lent it to me and urged me to read it. I could see how passionate he was about this book, and I have my own book loves that fill me with ‘hey, you have to read this’ moments. So I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t refuse! 

I enjoy the challenge of a big fat book, and the challenge of reading about something I know little or nothing about. And above all, I love the satisfaction of having completed a book of such epic proportions. 

I’m rambling a bit now, so I’ll round this review up with one sentence:

Shantaram, I will never forget you.

A Predator and a Psychopath by Jay Kerk

‘She attracted me, but I didn’t know if her magnetism was because I hadn’t had sex for a year. Like grocery shopping when you’re hungry—it’s not recommended.’

It took me a little while to finish A Predator and a Psychopath because I went on holiday for a week. I had every intention of continuing and finishing this while I was away, but due to very hot weather and far too much fun both in and out of the sun, I didn’t pick it up again until I got back home. 

I did read a handful of chapters on the plane en-route, and had to laugh because one of them was called ‘Turbulence’! How very fitting!

A Predator and a Psychopath is one of those stories that I’d imagine many, many people would start, discover what one of the characters was like, and instantly stop out of sheer disgust. Normal people don’t read this kind of thing surely.

To best describe my reading experience would be to compare it to a car crash that you know is up ahead. You know full well that there’s fatalities, there could be graphic and unsettling scenes, stuff of nightmares that you’d rather not see. You look and stare regardless because you just can’t help yourself.

This book was awful. The characters were awful. So much of this book was utterly awful. I cannot stress enough how awful this book was. 

I loved it! Am I awful too? Perhaps.

What made this book worthy of a four star rating was the style in which it was written. It was so brilliantly put. So easy to follow. Each chapter flowed to the next with ease. My weeks break of not reading didn’t have any effect on my reading enjoyment. Often if I have a break in reading something, I really struggle to get back into it. Not this. It was captivating, full of triggers, I made faces throughout reading, often asking myself , why do read such horrific stuff? 

I feel like I shouldn’t recommend this book to anyone at all. The subject matter is twisted and questionable and sickening. But it was written with such intelligence, clearly, lots of research went into writing this, and that really shines throughout the book. 

To compare it to other books I’ve read, I’d say it has hints of Easton Ellis’ American Psycho mixed with Frey’s My Friend Leonard and Long’s The Book of Paul.

Thank you to Book Sirens for providing me with a copy to read in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Understanding and Treating Your Migraine by Paula Greenspan

Ironically, I started reading Understanding & Treating Your Migraine when I had a bit of a dull ache behind my right eye. I put it down to strenuously decorating my bathroom, looking up at the ceiling at a funny angle without my specs, and the two double vodka and diet cokes I had the night before.

Had I of already read this book, I would of been well aware that this was the beginning of a three day throb in my head that felt like an axe was chopping its way through my brain at twenty second intervals.

As some of you may or may not know, I’m at that age where I’m getting more and more aches, pains, strains, cracks and generally struggling to get up from kneeling down without bracing myself to do it.

My headaches over the last 3 or 4 years have been getting worse. I’ve tried to solve the problem, thinking perhaps it was down to my slightly unhealthy lifestyle, so I ditched the caffeine, red wine and chocolate for a while.

I’m pleased to say it made very little difference, apart from my waistline improved somewhat. I missed those three delights and was just a miserable, slightly slimmer version of me, so they are all back on the menu. As are the size 12-14’s.

Thinking it could be my eyesight, I spent a fortune at Boots opticians, ok, granted, I’ve always wanted Ray-Bans and decided to splash out, all in the name of stopping my aching head, but alas, the headaches still came. But at least I looked a bit cooler now, even if I was still in agony every few months.

The author, Paula Greenspan is a migraine sufferer herself. Along with input from many other poor souls who suffer buckets from these debilitating symptoms, I actually feel like I can start to improve the way in which I cope with them. After all, there is no cure, it’s just a case of educating myself and understanding those tell tale signs. This is all down to the reassurance, simple advice and knowing I’m not alone in my struggle after reading this book.

It also includes a whole host of experts giving sound advice on the subject, some things obvious, some not so much. It also has pointers about how to keep a Migraine diary and actually learn from it. There’s also a brilliant chapter covering Migraine and hormones and some very useful links to further help.

I’ve taken so much from this book, because, like many of us do, I’ve googled signs and symptoms and there’s so much out there, it’s hard to distinguish the sensible to the darn right ridiculous. (One person vowed that placing a blue clothes peg on her third eye was the ultimate cure. Failing that, anything a mid-dark blue colour would do. And no, I didn’t try it, I just took more ibuprofen and went back to bed!)

A surprisingly high proportion of people suffer from migraines and loose days due to not being able to function because of the intense pain and discomfort caused. Dizziness, feelings of detachment, cottonwool head and one of my regular favourites, the underfoot dropping jolt sensation.

I’m trying to make this as entertaining and funny as I can, but for those of us who get this horrible ailment I’d highly recommend getting this book! I cannot believe how much better it has made me feel.

Sometimes I thought I was having a stroke, the pain in my head was so severe, but after reading this, I’m far more positive about how I’m going to get through my next episode. I think that is due to the reassurance and knowing that other people experience similar symptoms, and I’m not loosing my head after all.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the author for writing this book, to Pen & Sword Publishers for sending me a copy to review, and also to the fellow sufferers who shared their experiences. I feel a whole lot better and not so alone now.