Post Script: The Bird Box – K J Steele

Asylum = sanctuary, safety, refuge- not in this case.

The Bird Box

The Bird Box

K.J. Steele

The Story Plant

Story Plant, The

 

Description:

Society said they were insane, and in 1954, that was enough to put someone away in an asylum and separate them from the world. Even here, though, it was possible for souls to flourish.

 

Jakie was one such soul. He was all but lost until he met the girl. She is locked away in a cellar room, but he can feel her presence by imagining he is a small bird visiting her through a hole he has made in a stone wall. He spends hours whistling a cardinal’s song to her and she learns to whistle it back to him. She doesn’t even know that Jakie exists, only the bird, but their communication is changing her. And the overwhelming, protective love that Jakie feels for the girl will compel him to find more of himself than he ever knew there was – and through this, he will alter their worlds profoundly.

 

A remarkable exploration of the spirit, a sharp indictment of our blindness to what makes us human, and an unforgettable portrait of the power of the will, The Bird Box will move you in ways you never anticipated.

 

 

My View:

This is powerfully written book that confronts and shocks the reader when it spotlights the cruel and tortuous experiments and treatment of those deemed society as “different “ or whose behaviours were difficult to manage or embarrassing, those who were easily classified as insane and treated sub humanly. This novel gives the inmates a voice, a space to be heard.

 

Women were easily diagnosed as “insane” as they were relatively powerless in society at the time – women who were deemed difficult, embarrassing, free spirited, or who suffered the real pains of grief or menstruation or hormone imbalances or other illnesses or who had an unacceptable (to the male centric society) sexual appetite or who merely “got in the way” or did not do as they were told were often committed or duped into going into an asylum. In fact anyone could be easily condemned to time in the asylum, money and power bought influence and doctors were all powerful.

 

The first half of this book shocked and horrified me…the conditions were horrendous even in this particular institution which considered itself “enlightened.” Though a work of fiction this asylum was typical of conditions of the time- my studies at university substantiate this. The setting and the treatment of the disempowered was disgusting, the individuals considered sub human and often subject to malicious and sadistic treatment, dignity is denied, choice is banned, behaviours which have made me reflect on those seeking asylum today. Society has not changed a great deal; we incarcerate refugees /asylum seekers in detention centres in shameful conditions, isolating individuals from society, separating families, treating those seeking refuge as the enemy – thankfully lobotomy is not on the menu but in general terms, conditions for those needing asylum are difficult but I digress.

 

The second half of the book showed realistic optimism –and showcased the potential of the human spirit. Even in such depressing conditions hope prevails, small kindnesses make such a difference.

 

This is a very powerful, moving and at times confronting read. It will encourage you to scrutinise the world that surrounds you.

 

 

Post Script: Captured – Neil Cross

Murder/Mystery/Psychological thriller with a dash of horror!

Captured - Neil Cross - Open Road Intergrated Media

Captured

Neil Cross

Open Road Integrated Media

ISBN: 9781497692510

 

 

Description:

Given only weeks to live, Kenny Drummond finds a mystery worth dying to solve

 

In this gripping psychological thriller from the creator of Luther, Kenny Drummond has been diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer and is writing a list—a list of all the people he has let down in one way or another. He is determined to make amends before the black smudge that keeps showing up on his scans exercises its final power over him.

 

Working his way down the list, Kenny comes to an old schoolmate, Callie Barton, who was kind when he needed a friend. He heard she dated and eventually married Jonathan Reese, and that they live in Bath.

 

But no matter how hard he tries, Kenny can’t seem to get ahold of Callie; she’s disappeared without a trace. In fact, there are rumors that Reese wasn’t the kindest husband. And he sure seems like he has something to hide.

 

Now Kenny has a ticking clock and a promise to keep, and nothing’s going to stand in his way.

 

 

My View:

What a great page turning read – this book is full of surprises and reveals that shock. The premise of the book sounds worthy and interesting; the introduction to Kenny Drummond’s life is twinged with sadness and a few regrets and the unexpected recent diagnosis of impeding death by late stage cancer. Kenny’s world is in tumult. What do you do with just a few weeks to live? Kenny tries to make amends.

 

This starts out as a virtuous trip down memory lane and rapidly spirals in a bloodied and horrific gasp a minute rollercoaster ride of terror as Kenny’s cancer filled brain distorts his visual and psychological perspective of life – and death. He is determined to find and save his childhood friend reinventing himself as her “knight in shining armour”. But he is running out of time and drastic measures are called for. And drastic Kenny becomes.

 

What a visual treat this author has painted. The dash of horror is realistic and inspired. This is Stephen King’s Misery on steroids (and without the love). Your pulse pounds as you imagine yourself in this situation…merely observing this is enough to make you twitch with discomfort and turn away in shock. But you must keep reading! And the surprises continue….

 

Neil Cross is a brilliant writer – he paints realistic settings in a psychological thriller imbued with emotions and well fleshed out characters that is sure to disturb and surprise you.

 

Fly In, Fly Out With Georgina Penney At The Margaret River Bookshop

During the week I had the opportunity to attend an author event hosted by our local bookshop, The Margaret River Bookshop. What a perfect setting for an intimate discussion with author, traveller and storyteller, Georgina Penney.Georgina Penney(photo courtesy Lily Malone)

Georgina delighted the group with her personal stories of growing up in the region, specifically the property which is now home to the Churchview Estate Wines in Metricup (thank you Churchview Estate for providing the wine for this occasion).  Georgina has certainly led a very interesting life having lived in many cities and towns in Australia before relocating overseas to spend time in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Brunei Darussalam.  Georgina is currently living in Scotland.  During the course of her travels Georgina has had the opportunity to speak to many expats about their Fly in Fly Out experiences and you will recognise some of these stories in her novel Unforgettable You aka Fly In Fly Out.

 

Fly in Fly Out is a romance sited in Perth, Fremantle, on an oil rig of the coast of  Mauritania and the Margaret River region. Fly In Fly Out is not typical of the Romance genre – whilst writing a romantic novel Georgina weaves into the narrative examples of many of the difficulties that people working in a Fly In Fly Out situation experience – isolation, long shifts, exhausting rosters… and the difficulties in maintaining relationships and friendships long distance. Some of these difficulties were attested to by those who attended the event. Further the book opens up discussion on Domestic/Family Violence and provides a conclusion of realistic optimism where events of the past are highlighted as that – the past – and can be overcome. A very interesting read.

A great evening thanks to all involved. I look forward to hearing more about Georgina’s work and her remarkable life and travels in the future.

Fly In Fly Out - Georgina Penney, Penguin.

Fly In Fly Out – Georgina Penney, Penguin.

Post Script: Coffee Gives Me Superpowers – Ryoko Iwata

Fun and enlightening – coffeelicious!

coffee give sme superpowers

Coffee Gives Me Superpowers

An Illustrated Book about the Most Awesome Beverage on Earth

Ryoko Iwata

Andrews McMeel Publishing

ISBN: 9781449460839

 

Description:

For coffee lovers and those who love them, Coffee Gives Me Superpowers is a fun, graphic design-centered book focused on one of the world’s most addictive and beloved substances–coffee.

 

If coffee is the foundation of your food pyramid, then this is your book. Inspired by Ryoko Iwata’s popular Web site, I Love Coffee (en.ilovecoffee.jp), Coffee Gives Me Superpowers is overflowing with infographics and fun, interesting facts about the most awesome beverage on earth written by Ryoko, a Japanese coffee-lover living in Seattle. The book includes the most popular pieces on the site, such as “Your Brain on Beer vs. Coffee,” “10 Coffee Myths,” “The 15 Most Caffeinated Cities in the U.S.,” “The Best Time of Day to Drink Coffee (According to Science),” and “10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Caffeine,” plus 25 percent new, original material that is available only in this book.

 

 

My View:

I learnt a few coffee facts, some myths were dispelled and I had fun! The descriptions of the various type of coffees was very useful – I need to have this book with me the next time I order a coffee at a café. (And the coffee calorie count info was mind blowing!)

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Dead Time – Tony Parsons

Dead Time - Tony Parsons

Dead Time – Tony Parsons

Dead Time

A DC Max Wolfe Short Story

Tony Parsons

Random House UK, Cornerstone

Cornerstone Digital

ISBN: 9781473518803

 

Description:

An exclusive short story featuring DC Max Wolfe from Tony Parsons, the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of The Murder Bag.

 

One am, Boxing Day. Snow falls, the city sleeps.

 

Not DC Max Wolfe. He is looking out of his loft apartment at the deserted streets below.

 

A van has just drawn up. Two men get out. Dressed in black and wearing ski-masks, they are dragging something.

 

It’s a man. Half-naked. Half-dead. But still alive.

 

Not for much longer.

 

Soon Max Wolfe is hunting a gang of killers who decapitate their victims

 

And this time it’s personal …

 

 

Includes an exclusive sneak preview of Tony’s new novel, The Slaughter Man.

 

 

My View:

Tense, gritty and graphic this short story is pulse raising in its violence level however I feel this genre (short story) left the narrative a little bare boned and lacking in character development and the associations I so enjoyed in his first book The Murder Bag. The narrative felt a little rushed, when I was keen to know more. That Tony Parsons can write and engage the reader is not in doubt but I think his talent lies in the long form art – I eagerly await the publication of his next full length novel, The Slaughter Man.

 

Post Script: When The Night Comes – Favel Parrett

Evocative. Transforming. Gentle. Powerful.

When the Night Comes

When the Night Comes

Favel Parrett

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733626586

 

Description:

The hauntingly beautiful story of a young girl transformed by the power of kindness from award-winning author Favel Parrett.

 

Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything.

Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and life on board. Like the snow white petrels that survive in the harshest coldest place, this lonely girl at the bottom of the world will learn that it is possible to go anywhere, be anything. But she will also find out that it is just as easy to lose it all.

For Isla, those two long summers will change everything.

Favel Parrett delivers an evocative and gently told story about the power fear and kindness have to change lives.

 

My View:

This is a beautifully written book – I loved the language, the style, the characters, the setting … the realistic optimism this work conveys. This narrative reminds me that there are kind, gentle, thoughtful, sensitive people in the world and if you think hard enough you will be able to identify some in your own life that have eased the way for you; these are remarkable people and this book pays homage to these memories.

 

Ms Parrett takes you on a journey – literally and figuratively – we journey with the crew of the MS Nella Dan – a ship that is home to so many, filled with extraordinary characters, where we learn you don’t have to be related to be part of a family. We journey with Isla as she is shown a different path, one of light and inspiration and happiness through storytelling, thoughtfulness, inclusivity and kindness.

This is a beautifully executed book that takes you to new places and adventures- Antarctica, Hobart Tasmania, Denmark and the classroom – where we are reminded that some teachers do make a difference. I loved the descriptions of the of foreign landscapes in this book – in particular the description of the snow kestrels is haunting and evocative, the “little angels come down from the sky and fly around you…I closed my eye and dreamt of falling snow that turned to pure white birds. I watched each snowflake fly away one by one, and I wished I had wings so that I could go with them. I wish that I could follow.” Beautiful.