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.

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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.

The Carer by Deborah Moggach


James, a once eminent professor, needs full time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his distracted middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, a veritable treasure who seems happy to relieve them of their responsibilities. 

‘Our marriage was one long conversation that was only interrupted by her death’.

The Carer connected with me on a very personal level. A story I initially thought to be predictable, turned out to be a very powerful and surprising book, with numerous unexpected twists. 

I continually nodded my head throughout reading, raising my eyebrows on numerous occasions and thinking gosh, I totally get this. 

This is a cracking read, and it’s reinforced the fact that as you get older, life just gets more and more complicated. Fortunately, we do become wiser, so dealing with complex matters of the heart can be taken with a pinch or ten of salt. 

I think readers of a certain age would take a lot from this, particularly if they have/had elderly parents and middle aged siblings. 

I haven’t read anything before by Deborah Moggach, and unbeknown to me, she wrote The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and have added the book to my shelf. Her writing style is simple, yet magical. She designs her stories in a way that hooks gently. 

A solid 5 star read. It was faultless. 

Twitter #Book #Giveaway

Well, good morning/afternoon/evening/night, (another day gone) it’s only me! 😁

Over on my Twitter @owlbesatreading I’m currently hosting a giveaway!

I’m nearly at the 1k followers milestone and I actually can’t quite believe it.

Just a couple of years ago Twitter was somewhere for me to see what Holly and Phil were up to (don’t judge me 😮😂). Then I started to grasp what the platform could actually do for my reading hobby (addiction) as I started following Goodreads. And it’s just totally snowballed!

I’ve discovered some great bookish people, some super duper book blogs and hours of cracking cat videos where they knock things on the floor.

Now, a few weeks ago I was having a book organising session as I purchased this absolute beauty:

A BOOK TROLLEY! ❤️📚❤️

And I ended up with two bags of charity donations as a result. I’d even come across bloody duplicates! I cannot believe I owned more than one copy of the same books and didn’t realise! (I’m looking at you Elly Griffiths and Kate Mosse, oops!)

Anyway, the whole point of this blog post is to connect with anyone here on WordPress over on my Twitter. (And it’s also an excuse to show off my TBR book trolley which I look at lovingly on a daily basis).

So what better way is there to tempt the book addicted than to just send them some FREE BOOKS and CHOCOLATE in exchange for a teeny weeny follow and some cool book interaction?! Plus it gives me space to BUY MORE BOOKS if I give some away. I know they’d be appreciated. At least the chocolate would be, that’s for sure! 😏🍫

I’d say it was great…

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Ok, let’s cut to the chase.

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Not THAT Chase! Although I do love Anne Hegerty.

Click on ol’ matey from Lock Stock up there, and he’ll head you on over to my pinned tweet. Do the stuff to be eligible to win, and finally,

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I look forward to seeing you over there in Twitterland. The land of bookish wonder and argumentative bastards who just love getting their knickers in a twist over stupid trivial stuff. I’m only there for the books. AND CATS.

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T’s & C’s to enter:

🌟Head over to my Twitter pinned tweet

🌟Like my tweet

🌟Follow me

🌟Retweet

🌟UK Book Lovers Only (Sorry, just because of postage costs)

🌟Ends 8pm on Saturday 17th August

🌟Strictly NO GIVEAWAY TWITTER ACCOUNTS (have you seen those people?!! They’re vultures, honestly 😳)

 

 

Kiss Me, Kill Me by James Carol

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Kiss Me, Kill Me by James Carol

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I tend to read a lot from the psychological thriller genre, I enjoy books that get right into my head and mess it up a bit with twists and turns and WTF’s.

Kiss Me, Kill Me was an enjoyable read, the first half being it’s better half. As the story progressed, I felt that it went off on an unexpected tangent, which kept my interest piqued all the way through to the conclusion, but at times, it did get a bit far-fetched for my liking.

The characters behaviour and reasonings were just bordering on unbelievable. Putting myself in Zoe’s shoes, the main protagonist, I felt that her thought processes and decisions didn’t properly reflect the sheer seriousness and intensity of the situation. She was a bit wet behind the ears, shall we say.

I also found that the dialogue didn’t have a huge amount of depth, making the characters undeveloped and slightly uninteresting. The repetitive use of ‘keep you safe’ started to get on my nerves after I’d read it for the tenth time.

Now, it sounds like I’m properly dissing this book, but rest assured, I most definitely am not. As I said at the start of my review, I enjoyed reading this. I REALLY enjoyed reading this. These kinds of thrillers are pouring out all over the show lately, and I’m a tough reader to please in this genre, because I feel like I’ve read it all before.

Kiss Me, Kill Me was different in that it’s unusual spiral of events were unexpected and never have I come across a psycho-thrill that went off on such a crazy-assed tangent! For that reason alone, my brain was getting a good old mashing that was keeping me turning those pages.

I’d like to thank the publishers Bonnier Zaffre for sending me an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

OwlBeSatReading & The Order of the Books

Aka The Bookshelves of Order & Chaos

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Like all you bookworms, bloggers and reviewers, I often have this loose plan of what to read next. I’m usually thinking about my yearned for NetGalley 80% badge, my R2R’s direct from authors and publishers as a priority, and most importantly, what I actually WANT to read next.

So, we’re in the second week of January and my reading plan has become a bit chaotic to say the least. There’s books and e-books dotted here, there and everywhere, it’s making me feel annoyed and disorganised. I’m starting to feel in a right ol’ quandary as to what to pick up next. So, I’m going to get a bit more focused and organised, take full advantage of my lovely new diary, pens and stencils, and MAKE A PLAN.

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Time to regain some ORDER! ORDER AMONGST THE SHELVES!!

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To start with, I’ve put a note on my contact page so authors can see that I am currently not receiving review copies. I need to catch up! I have a NetGalley request ban put in place, I have a feedback ratio of 76% and that 80% badge is within spittin’ distance, and maaaan I want it.

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So, without further ado, here is my January/February reading plan. And this time, no off-piste moments, I’m sticking to it like llama saliva to a blanket.

(Click on the covers to be taken to the Goodreads page.)

Currently Reading:

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Next in Line:

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And finally:

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This is my action plan, I’m smashing through this lot during Jan/Feb like a madman and his melon.

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Have you a disorganised backlog? Does your TBR shelf need a talking to? Let me know what your plans are and I’ll lend you my enormous flaming hammer. Or something.