Friday, May 19, 2017

How I read so many books

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

No matter how many reviews I post, or how many book related posts I write, someone always asks "but how do you read so many books?". I thought I'd put a post together explaining how I got back into reading (because I really didn't pick up a book for about 4 years at one point) and how I make time for it now.

This is just what I do, it's not a guide, it won't suit everyone. But hopefully, if you're someone who wants to read more, something here might work for you.



  • I set aside some time every day to read.

For me, that time is 9pm-12am at night. For others, it could be an hour at lunchtime or a half hour in the morning. I try to get most of the necessary time consuming house/family stuff out of the way before the kids go to bed, so the three hours before I go to bed are mine to read, craft, or catch up on TV. It's not always three hours, but it will always be something, however small.


  •  I make lists of books I want to read.

It's not always going to work - but if I have a general idea of what I want to read next, it means I don't end up wasting precious reading time browsing books online or sat in front of my bookshelf, overwhelmed with choice.


  •  I turn the TV off.

I use Sky+ to record a few shows - namely Britain's Next Top Model (laugh all you will), Greys Anatomy, GBBO, and a few other bits. Usually I sit down on a Friday or Saturday night and watch a few episodes of Buffy or something I've recorded during the week, but in general I wouldn't watch TV for more than 5 or 6 hours a week unless I'm in a reading slump and have been bewitched by something on Netflix.


  •  I turn my phone off. 

Or at the very least, put it on Flight Mode. I adore the internet, but it's also the biggest waste of time ever invented. I can easily scroll through Facebook for an hour, not learning anything, getting sucked into drama I don't care about. If I click through to a Buzzfeed link, I'm done - I could be awake until 2am doing quizzes to find out what type of pizza I am or who my book boyfriend is.


  • I read at my own pace.

I read fairly fast - not intentionally, it's just how I read. Most of the books I read are between 200-400 pages long, with the odd exception. I read 50-100 pages an hour. That means it usually takes me anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to read an average sized book, which I could do over two nights. Sometimes, it could take me a week - it depends on how much I'm enjoying the book.


  •  I join book clubs.

It's lovely to have a safe space where you can chat about books with other voracious readers without being judged. For me, that space is the Rick O'Shea Book Club on Facebook. It's full to the brim with people who are as enthusiastic about books as I am, and there's always a new recommendation or an interesting discussion happening.


  • I joined in with a Goodreads challenge.

Goodreads is a website for book lovers - you can set a number of books to read for the year and mark them off as you go along. It spurs me on when I see that I'm a book ahead, or a few books behind. You choose the number, whether it be 100 books a year or 10 books a year. It's a great sense of achievement to complete it if you're into challenges.


  • I don't care about numbers.

I always feel a little defensive when people ask "how many books have you read so far this year" or "how many books did you read last month" because it genuinely looks like I do nothing but read - but when you break it down to pages and hours, like I did in point 5, it's not a huge deal for someone who loves reading to read 4 books a week (just like it wouldn't be a huge deal for someone who loves movies to watch 4 movies a week).


  • I have a Kindle.

I haven't actually used it in a while, but I find it great for night-time reading or taking with me if I'll be in a waiting room. I found it a lifesaver when my twins were younger and up during the night - I could read when we did night feeds without having to turn a light on.


That's it, really - there's no big secret to reading a lot. I don't have secret hours stashed away, and I don't have the luxury of reading all day - but I do promise myself those few hours every night, and it definitely keeps me sane!





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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Richard & Judy Book Club Spring Review & Summer Picks

Not sponsored or paid | No affiliate links

Hi!

I find the Richard & Judy book club great for book club suggestions or books that will suit all kinds of readers. They usually have a good mix of genres, and this year is no different. There are 24 books chosen every year - the Spring picks were:


   

   

I read five of them. You can click on the covers to go to my Goodreads review.

A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart
A story about relationships - a couple are having difficulties, mainly due to the father's inability to connect with his son who is on the Autism Spectrum. Through the game of Minecraft, they begin to bond and understand each other. I didn't love this, I felt it verged into twee territory towards the end, but I think fans of US by David Nicholls might love it (I didn't really like that either, and the writing styles were quite similar).

The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
A heatwave in England in 1976 makes for a heady, sweltering atmosphere in this novel about two childhood friends investigating the disappearance of a neighbour. Their journey takes them around an estate filled with secrets, cover-ups and lies - I really liked this, it was an easy read and would be a good book club pick.

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
I was part of the blog tour when this book was released in paperback earlier this year - so you can read my thoughts in this post. It's a sharp thriller with a great cast of characters - including Lydia, the matriarch obsessed with self preservation. Liz has written a short prequel featuring Lydia - you can read that here.

Baby Doll by Hollie Overton 
A woman has been held captive for eight years, but one day her captor leaves the bolt unlocked...this, naturally, has drawn comparisons with Emma Donohue's (magnificent) book Room. It's only mildly similar - this story begins with the escape, and focuses on the family members affected. I have to say that this one wasn't for me, I didn't enjoy it - but others have given it more positive reviews.

Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant
Paul's life is a shambles. In order to save face, he tells a lie one day that spirals, culminating in a group holiday to Greece with some old acquaintances, where something sinister is happening. Paul isn't quite sure who can he trust - and can we, as readers, trust Paul? I really enjoyed this, I read it in one sitting, very addictive and the perfect flight or holiday book.

The ones I didn't get to are:

I'm Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork
A Scandinavian thriller about a murder investigation, the victim a six year old girl.

Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon
A non-fictional account of living with OCD.

The Muse by Jessie Burton
A historical thriller about two women, centuries apart, connected by a painting.

The Summer Picks are:

   

   

Conclave by Robert Harris
The Hunger Games with Cardinals. The Pope is dead - and over 72 hours, 118 Cardinals will battle it out to choose a new one.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
I read an advance copy of this a few months ago and really enjoyed it - it's a psychological thriller about a couple who attend a dinner party next door, only to return and find their baby missing.

I See You by Claire Mackintosh
A psychological thriller about a woman who sees her own photo in the classified section of a paper. This author's first book I Let You Go was one of my favourite reads last year, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Miss You by Kate Eberlen
We meet Tess and Gus in 1997, when they're teenagers. We follow them over the next 16 years, when it becomes apparent that they're destined to be together - the only problem is, they haven't really met each other yet...

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Described as "To Kill a Mockingbird for the 21st Century", this novel explores prejudice and racism when a nurse is held responsible for the death of a baby.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
Historical fiction, set in Essex and Victorian London. While a mythical serpent is mentioned, the story is about relationships, people, and love.

The Trespasser by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #6)
Detective Antoinette Conway deals with another difficult case while trying to remain calm in the face of a campaign to force her off the squad. I haven't read any of the previous books in the series so I won't be reading this one just yet.

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
A man finds something out about a woman he lost contact with 20 years ago and sets off on a journey of discovery.

You can join in with the Richard & Judy Book Club discussions on their Facebook page.

Several of the book club picks are included in the current Amazon 3 for £10 promotion - Three paperbacks for £10. You can select free delivery to Ireland if you spend more than £25. Which means I always pick three sets of £10s to take it over the limit...


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Degustabox April Review and Taste Test

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

I'm a huge fan of subscription boxes (as you probably know) - there are so many that I want to try. Degustabox is a food and drink box that ships from the UK monthly. I saw a friend post about it on instagram so decided to take advantage of a discount and sign up - I received the April box yesterday. I used Address Pal for delivery to Ireland.


Myself and my three sons (12, 3 and 3) tested almost everything in the box last night, so I'll give you an idea of what we thought! I have to admit this was one of the times I really missed Snapchat, particularly during the chocolate test...

This is what was in the April box, there's an option for either an alcohol or no alcohol box, this is the non alcoholic one.



Doisy & Dam Quinoa, Smoked Tea & Vanilla Organic Milk Chocolate

Me: Really disliked the smoked tea flavour, it tasted really odd - like old farmer smell. Not that I've ever eaten an old.......moving on...
12yo: Said it tasted like the smell of slurry.
3yo #1: Said it was yummy and asked for more.
3yo #2: Also wanted more. 

Polo Mints Sugarfree

Me: They're polo mints. They're fine.
12yo: Mints are mints.
3yo #1: Said they were yucky.
3yo #2: Wanted to eat the whole packet. Did not allow this. 


Seabrook Lattice Sea Salt & Black Pepper Crisps

Me: The pepper was very strong, but texture was brilliant. Really liked these.
12yo: Loved them.
3yo #1: Said they were too spicy.
3yo #2: Licked the bag. 

Whitworths Vanilla Mac-a-Roons (pack of two)

Me: A bit like a softer version of a Bounce ball - nice texture, nice flavour, strong coconut aftertaste.
12yo: Wasn't keen on the taste.
3yo #1: Didn't like them.
3yo #2: Didn't like them.


New York Delhi VIP Nuts - Hot Chilli

Me: Taste lovely at first but then proceeded to burn the mouth off me. Like eating raw cayenne.
12yo: Said they were lovely, finished the bag, they burned the arse off him later that evening. 
3yo #1: Wouldn't allow him to taste, too spicy.
3yo #2: Wouldn't allow him to taste, too spicy.

Nothing But: Strawberry and Banana Snack, Pea and Sweetcorn Snack

Me: The pea & sweetcorn were just like ones from an uncooked pot noodle, the strawberry ones were like the bits in any cereal with red berries. Not my cup of tea but I'd add the savoury to noodles.
12yo: He liked the strawberry ones but didn't like the pea/sweetcorn.
3yo #1: Loved both flavours, especially the sweetcorn.
3yo #2: Also loved both flavours.


Garofalo Penne Ziti Rigate Wholemeal Penne

We haven't tasted this yet, but we only use wholemeal pasta so this was a very welcome addition.

Fentimann's Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water, 500ml

Me: Liked it, would be really refreshing with ice or used as a mixer. Really high in sugar. 
12yo: Really liked it, wanted to finish the bottle.
3yo #1: Hated it, said it was sour.
3yo #2: Said it was "nummy" and probably would've drank the bottle if I let him.


Dorset Cereals Machu Picchu Muesli

Me: Absolutely delicious. Full of nuts, oats, berries and with a slight hint of coffee. Really loved this.
12yo: Also loved it, ate spoonfuls of it straight out of the box.
3yo #1: Really liked it.
3yo #2: Loved it, loved the nuts in it.

Braham & Murray Hemp Seed Hearts

Me: Bland on their own but can see them fitting into baking recipes as they wouldn't affect taste.
12yo: Said they tasted like cardboard.
3yo #1: Wouldn't try them.
3yo #2: Didn't like them.

I liked the box - I'm going to get the May one as well to see what's in it, but I'm not sure if this is something I'll continue long term. I think it's a great way of trying new things and we had good fun tasting everything.

The box usually costs £12.99 a month with free delivery in the UK, but you can get £5 off your first box by using my code SHARONL-91D8 or signing up via this link (disclosure - if two people use this link I get a free box):


If you'd prefer not to use my code, you can sign up here: 


If you want to cancel your subscription after one box, you can do that - as long as you do it before the 9th of the month. Payment is taken on the 11th. 

For delivery to Ireland you can use Address Pal by An Post or Parcel Motel

Is a food subscription box something that would interest you? Also, I'd love to hear about any other non-beauty ones!






Friday, May 5, 2017

Books I Read in April

Not Sponsored or Paid | No Affiliate Links | ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here

Hi!

I didn't read a whole pile in April - mainly due to the recent spate of good weather and the fact that I've been crafting (I made a Giles) and binge watching things at night (Big Little Lies, 13 Reasons Why, Last Tango in Halifax, The Handmaid's Tale) - but I managed to finish 7 books altogether.

As always, head over to my Books 2017 page to find clickable covers for everything if you want to read my full Goodreads review.

The Rick O'Shea Book Club

The April picks were Skintown by Ciaran McMenamin and this:


The Raqqa Diaries: Escape from 'Islamic State' by Samer
Samer is a pseudonym, the author's identity is hidden. This is a short book, but it packs a punch - this man was an ordinary guy, living an ordinary life, going to University, making friends, finding new love. Once. Now? His city is under Daesh rule, people are beheaded for speaking out, his friends are killed in front of him, his life is in danger - he is on the run. This is horrific and should be read by everyone, especially anyone who has ever felt compelled to leave a nasty comment under an article about asylum seekers. The horror they have seen doesn't bear thinking about.

ARCs

I'm still a little behind on my Netgalley reviews, but I finished two in April.

 

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
This is one of those strange psychological thrillers that I read, and know I quite enjoyed, but can not remember. I can't remember one thing about the plot without looking at my notes. Amber is a radio presenter, currently in a coma. She is married, she has been in an accident, and she thinks her husband is up to something. She is also a liar. Twisty, but forgettable - a perfect non-taxing holiday read.

The Stepmother by Claire Seeber
I requested this so long ago that I'd accidentally bought it on Kindle since - it's a modern take on Snow White and the Evil Stepmother trope. I enjoyed this one, it was paced well and all the characters were pretty horrible. The main character's sister breaks the literary equivalent of the fourth wall frequently, talking directly to the reader, which I found unique for this sort of book. It took a bit of getting used to but it worked here. Full of secrets and red herrings, so if you like that kind of thing I'd say you'd enjoy this one.

Series

  

I picked up the Chaos Walking trilogy last year in Charlie Byrne's (my favourite bookshop ever, nestled away in the heart of Galway City) but it only called to me recently. As an aside - does that happen to anyone else? I could be in the middle of one book and something I bought two years ago will jump out and demand to be read. In this case, I was really glad to finally get to this series.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness 
Book One in the Chaos Walking trilogy. Todd Hewitt is a twelve year old boy who lives in Prentisstown. It's not like other towns - firstly, there are no women. None. Secondly - all the men can hear what the others are thinking, due to a "noise germ". Todd is the last boy in Prentisstown, due to officially become a man on his thirteenth birthday in a month. Only - something is happening, something big, and Todd needs to get out for his own safety. With the help of an unexpected companion, Todd realises that things in Prentisstown may not be what they seem... I LOVED THIS BOOK. The writing style took a while to get used to, but I really liked it and devoured it over two days.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Book Two carries on right where book one left off - not to spoil anything, but this has a dual POV in slightly different fonts which was handy, because both characters can sound alike at times. The War is coming - but it's not the one they were expecting.... this book was a more serious read, tackling subjects like feminism and genocide, as well as examining truth, conscience and loyalty. This took me longer to get finished, but it was a solid sequel and sets everything up nicely for the last book.

Young Adult


 


Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
I wanted to watch the series on Netflix so I decided to read the book first - I wrote a post about what I thought of the series, but I really didn't enjoy the book at all. If anything, the series was a huge improvement on a weak story. I don't agree that the series glamourizes suicide - but I think the book did. I wouldn't recommend it.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
The second in a series (the first being A Court of Thorns and Roses), this was an excellent sequel. To avoid spoilers I won't go into too much detail - but I'll say that I am firmly on Team Rhysand, and I can not wait until my copy of the third book arrives! This is a young adult fantasy, set in a world of High Kings, Faeries, Magic - all the things I usually avoid like the plague unless they come from the mind of Joss Whedon - but this series is really addictive and enjoyable.

So there you have it - I've added another seven to my yearly total, and hopefully I'll be back next month with an even bigger round up.





Friday, April 21, 2017

Owlcrate April 2017: Head Over Heels

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

I've mentioned this before, but the thing I love most about Owlcrate is how they look after their International customers. I received my box the day after I received the shipping notification - before the majority of U.S subscribers. It's a small thing, but it means so much when I'm used to having to wait and avoid spoilers from other companies. Much appreciated!

As revealed in last month's post, the theme for April is "Head Over Heels".


The contents were fantastic this month, I loved the variety.



The book this month is The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. It's a YA novel about an overweight teenager, a twin, who wishes she had a boyfriend. Now at almost 34 I'm thinking I'm not the target age group for this, but I read an awful lot of YA, I was an overweight teen who wished she had a boyfriend, and as a twin Mum I'm all over anything with twins - so I'm going in with an open mind, hoping it's a light read. Also included are a letter from the author, a signed bookplate, and an emoji sticker.


There's a card print featuring a quote from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (I squealed at this, I read the book recently and adored it) - designed by Evie Bookish. There's a sampler from Umberland by Wendy Spinale, this is book 2 in a series based around a retelling of Peter Pan. There's also the theme reveal for May - the theme will be Comic Explosion, and the item previewed on the back was............a full sized Funko Pop! figure. Can.Not.Wait.


On to the merchandise - this is honestly one of my favourite selections yet. That packet up in the top left is a pack of cherry chocolate tea from The Tea Spot, inspired by Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The candle is vanilla, from Novelly Yours, and called Park and Eleanor after the novel of the (almost) same name by Rainbow Rowell. The little keyring designed by Bookworm Boutique features a quote from Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda also written by book of the month author Becky Albertalli, and the little badge is an Owlcrate exclusive (there's a badge every month). The final item is a headband from Storiarts with quotes from Pride and Prejudice.

Here are all the books that inspired the contents of the box - click on the covers to go to the Goodreads page for each book.



I'll probably never wear the headband, but the rest of the stuff is right up my alley - flavoured tea, candles, keyrings, quote cards - all some of my favourite bookish merchandise.

I really, really loved this box - more of the same, please!

If you're interested in subscribing to Owlcrate, you can use the code WELCOME15 for 15% off your first order. That's not an affiliate code, I gain nothing from it. If you would like to help me earn a free box, this is my referral link - otherwise go directly to www.owlcrate.com and sign up there. It is expensive, it's just under €50 a month, but I put away €12 every week for it because no matter how many others I try - this is my favourite, I love it, and I look forward to it every single month. There's also a great facebook group for subscribers full of smart, intelligent book lovers of all ages and nationalities, it's a lovely place to chat.

Are you into bookish merchandise? What's your favourite type? 



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

13 Thoughts about 13 Reasons Why [Contains Major Spoilers]

Nothing to Disclose

Hi!

I've had the book 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher on my Kindle for a few years, but had never been tempted to read it until the recent buzz about the new Netflix adaptation. I read the book and watched the series over the past week, so I wanted to share my thoughts on it here. The book is very different to the series, but for the purposes of this I'll stick to the events in the series.

Copyright - Netflix

1. Assholes v Bitches
In the series, Hannah says "boys are assholes, girls are evil". This is a terrible message to give out - in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists, she says "If we see something often enough, it becomes the norm. If we do something often enough, it becomes the norm." By making the athletes macho assholes and the cheerleaders bitches, isn't this just perpetuating stereotypes? If the cheerleaders are expected to be bitches, and athletes are expected to be assholes, how does this help change anything? Where are all the "in-between" kids? There are a huge group of people who are struggling through school who aren't on a team or don't know the popular kids. Where were they in this series?

2. Self Harm
A character, Skye, says that she self-harms because "it's what you do instead of suicide, suicide is for the weak". Skye is the only "alternative" girl in the show, with a unique style (tattoos, piercings, wears a lot of black). She's also the only non-cheerleader apart from Hannah. By calling suicide "weak", she sends the message that self-harm is a valid escape without the finality of suicide. This is so dangerous and isn't addressed more than once.

3. What About Jessica?
I'm really conscious of not crossing over into victim-blaming territory here, but Hannah sat in a room and watched Bryce rape Jessica while she was almost unconscious. Justin also knew what was happening. They both then continued to hang out in a group that included both Jessica and Bryce, all the while knowing what had happened. WHO DOES THIS. Who watches their friend being sexually assaulted and does nothing? Who still hangs round with their best friend when they know he is a rapist - not just a rapist, but your girlfriend's rapist?

4. The Blame Game
Hannah takes her life because she feels there's no other option. She feels like she isn't good enough for Clay, that she is a disappointment to her parents, that she is a laughing stock with a bad reputation and that things will never get better. She lays all of that on Mr. Porter - saying "I decided to give it one final shot". The discussion doesn't go the way she wants, and she carries out her plan. She said she began to feel like she could do this, she could get through it - what could Mr. Porter have said to change her mind about the suicide, then? What could he have done? Or, was this a red herring, and would his response have made things better until the next time Hannah felt she had upset someone or something else had happened to her? Was she a ticking time bomb all along? Was she always going to take her life, regardless of what was happening around her?

5. What the hell IS Tony
At the start, I thought he might be some kind of guardian angel from the 1950s. He constantly pushes Clay to keep listening to the tapes, knowing that Clay didn't do anything bad - but instead of letting him know that it was okay to keep listening, he says "yes" when Clay asks if Tony thinks Clay killed Hannah - what?! "Listen to the tapes, Clay" - Fuck OFF, TONY. Also - okay. The first tapes are full of stuff that could send people to jail. Rape, assault, stalking, dangerous driving - why would Tony continue to do what Hannah wanted instead of handing the tapes straight over to Hannah's parents (or the police) - Hannah was already dead, he was in control of both sets of tapes, if he felt that guilty why engage in ridiculous chain letter behaviour, why leave her parents in limbo, why risk someone not passing the tapes on - who the hell is he to play God?

6. While we're on the subject of Clay's tape...
Hannah left him until number 11? She knew he loved her. She knew he was a good person. She knew he would blame himself. So she makes him sit through 10 tapes, listening to all the bad stuff that ever happened to her, before she lets him off the hook? Really cruel. Really fucking cruel. Tony got a letter - but Clay didn't? I understand why Clay was on there, and why she wanted him to hear what happened to her, but I think it was cruel to leave him waiting so long.

7. Hannah's Parents
In the book, they're pretty non existent, so I was glad to see Hannah's parents in the series and watch them deal with the aftermath (as awful as that sounds). I was also glad to see them in Hannah's life - they were busy, and they did get annoyed with her (any parent would be annoyed if their kid lost hundreds of dollars) - but they didn't get a tape. They didn't get a letter. Hannah didn't confide in them. She left tapes to her rapist, her stalker, her tormentors - but nothing to her parents. This terrified me as a parent - the notion that you can do all you can for your child and they still won't tell you when something's wrong.

8. Peeping Tom
You know what you do if you catch someone taking photographs of you? A) Close the curtains, B) Report the fucker. Call the police. In the book, Courtney and Hannah deliberately pose seductively knowing that Tyler's outside taking photographs. It's Courtney who turns on Hannah, joking about the contents of her bedroom drawer with others at a party. In the series, Courtney is gay and comes on to Hannah - then they catch Tyler taking photographs. Tyler then turns on Hannah after she rejects him and releases a "blurry photograph that nobody could identify" (only if you have eyes) - Tyler is walking round with a camera, photographing whomever and whatever he wants, AND NOBODY REPORTS HIM???!!!! Clay later stalks him right back and spreads round a naked picture of him - a really dick move that makes Clay seem petty.

9. The School
When I was in Secondary School (maybe 14/15), one of my friends started saying that I fancied the caretaker (old enough to be my Dad). I actually became so paranoid about it that I didn't want to go to school, and I certainly didn't want to go past him - "there's your boyfriend, Sharon" - I was MORTIFIED. Like Alex's "list", that kind of crap went on all the time and I suspect will go on until the end of time. This show doesn't teach people how to deal with that. This is stuff that goes on in every school in the country - it's happening to kids today. Teenagers will come home tonight and cry because of something stupid that was said, or something that was laughed at. This show tells us that there are two ways to deal with that - 1) suicide, or 2) self harm.

10. Abandon all hope ye who enter here
There's no hopeful message in this. None. I'm not one for branding things "triggering" but I can't imagine watching this if I was still in Secondary School. There's no message of hope, no message that it's going to get better. Should there always be a message of hope? Maybe not, maybe that's not reality, but those few last years of Secondary School can be really, really shit and IT DOES GET BETTER. I swear to god it does. Yes, you'll always come up against toxic people, and toxic environments, but you'll learn skills to deal with them. You'll grow in confidence. The noise won't matter so much. It gets better. Do you hear me?
IT GETS BETTER.

11. Where are all the phones?
There were three pictures circulated. That's it. No online bullying, no Facebook page, no group chats, no forums - one of the major differences between when I was a teenager and now, is the internet. I find it really weird that in 2017, the only mention of technology or phones was to circulate the three pictures.

12. Was the suicide scene necessary?
I watched through my fingers. Hannah's voice, her pain, the sight of it - I couldn't watch it, I felt it was too far. We don't need to see that. It has been argued that we do need to see it - we need to see what suicide looks like, and what rape looks like - but I disagree. I think it was graphic for the sake of being graphic. They showed her getting a specific type of blade and dragging it across her wrists, while shouting in pain - it's one of the most horrifying things I've ever watched. I felt that the scene where Hannah's parents found her was far more effective at showing the horror and shock of suicide.

13. Rapists are untouchable... if they're athletes
After she witnesses him raping Jessica, Hannah then goes to a party at Bryce's house, where he rapes her. We watch him get away with Jessica's rape so he's free to do it to Hannah as well (and lord knows how many others, given his "every girl at that school wants to be fucked" speech) In Louise O'Neills Asking for it, we also see a young woman raped by an athlete. In reality, we saw a Stanford rapist get a measly sentence after he raped a girl, and we saw him described in the majority of reports as "Stanford swimmer". The notion that athletes are untouchable needs to change - had the tapes not been passed to Clay, it's possible that nothing would have been done about Bryce. Had Clay followed Hannah's preferred order, Bryce would have received the tapes next - did Hannah really believe that having heard everything, Bryce would have handed them over to Mr. Porter? Yeah right?! Bryce raped Jessica, there were witnesses, nobody did anything. Justin convinced Jessica that Hannah was lying and that Jessica wasn't raped. HIS OWN GIRLFRIEND. Hannah told Mr. Porter about her rape, he said "name him or get over it" (paraphrasing here, but that was the gist of it). That's an appalling message to send out to young teenagers. So many young women already don't come forward - but when you see, on a screen, nobody doing anything to help? That was a huge missed opportunity to let young women know that this doesn't have to be the norm anymore.

The main issue I have with this is that Hannah was a bright, articulate, friendly, beautiful woman who felt so alone and lost that she felt suicide was her only option. Is that not enough, without the elaborate set up? So often we don't get closure or answers when someone dies. We don't get tapes. We don't get reasons. We are told to be careful what we say or do to others, because we don't know how it will affect them. We're told to be kind - there were people here who were kind and it made no difference. Clay was kind. Tony was kind. I came away from watching this absolutely terrified about parenting through teenage years - I appreciate that is has opened up discussion, but unfortunately the biggest thing it has done is create a new meme - "welcome to your tape". In saying all of this - the series is a hundred times better than the book (which was a hot mess).

We really didn't see enough of Hannah's headspace - mental health is a huge factor in suicide, and we didn't get enough of an insight into how Hannah really felt. The emotional wellbeing of our teenagers is at risk here - every day we see more and more young people dealing with their emotions, trying to cope with the pressure of being a teenager in a digital age where everything's scrutinized and judged, trying to work out their place in the world, trying to fit in, trying to overcome anxiety, depression - trying to get through the day.

In my humble opinion, we got 13 reasons, but we still don't know why.

So how do we help?

We talk.

If you're a young person and you're experiencing bullying, sexual abuse, or suicidal thoughts, you can contact:

Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland (for people aged 12-22): http://yspi.ie/. Even if you have no credit, you can text HELP to 50015.
Childline (for young people up to age 18): http://www.childline.ie/. You can call 1800 666666 or contact teentext by texting CHAT, or if you're experiencing bullying, BULLY to 50101.
Spunout.ie have a helpful article here (http://spunout.ie/health/article/sexual-abuse/) about how to identify sexual assault and what to do if you've been assaulted. You can also contact the National 24 Helpline for anyone who has experienced rape, sexual assault, or childhood sexual abuse at 1800 778888. 

You're also free to contact me if you want to. I'm not a counsellor or therapist but if you're reading this and you don't have anyone to talk to, you can talk to me.




Friday, April 14, 2017

March 2017 Reads

Not sponsored or paid | ARCs clearly defined

Hi!

Somehow, I thought I had already done this post, so apologies for the lateness.

In March, I read 11 books.

Rick O'Shea Book Club



The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne
I had never read anything by John Boyne before, so I didn't know what to expect with this. What I got was an engaging, warm, witty journey through one man's life. Cyril Avery was adopted as a child into an eccentric Dublin family - this is his story. There are moments of real sadness, heartbreak and loss - but there are also laugh-out-loud parts and really touching exchanges. I adored it.

I didn't fare as well with the other pick (A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume) - it's a very introspective look at a woman coping with depression and I just wasn't in the right headspace for it, but I will pick it up again at some stage.

ARCs

I got all three of these from Netgalley - actually, if you'd like a post explaining what Netgalley is and how to use it, please let me know and I'll do one. It's a resource available to all reviewers, some publishers require you to have a blog, others don't.


  

Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey
This is part of a series - and I didn't know that before I requested it. It's about a newly promoted Sergeant, Maeve Kerrigan, and her investigation of a murder with a difference: there's no body. This was enjoyable enough, but I felt I missed out by not having much of a backstory on the Police characters and I also felt there were too many subplots.

Buzz Books 2017 Young Adult Spring/Summer 
I keep mentioning these because they're fantastic - and free. Publisher's Lunch publish a couple of these every year, and they have extracts of upcoming Young Adult releases. There's an adult version too. This has 18 previews, from fantasy and contemporary to non-fiction.

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown
Set in 1645 and based on the life of Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins, this is the fictional story of Matthew's sister Alice. Alice has fallen on hard times and returns to her homeplace to live with Matthew, who has started a crusade to condemn people as witches and have them hanged. Alice is horrified and tries to make Matthew see sense - but will he pay attention to her? Or does she need to tread carefully? I really enjoyed this, I liked Alice and I thought it panned out well. Really atmospheric.

Young Adult



  


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
It has taken me so long to read this series but with the release of the third book in May, I said I'd give it a go. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this is about a young huntress named Feyre who accidentally kills a Faerie. A beastly creature arrives at her home one night and demands she return to his kingdom with him to amend for taking a life - so the adventure begins. I did like it a lot, even though this wouldn't be my usual read. I moved straight on to book 2, and adored that, but that'll be in next month's wrap up.

Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan
Having previously read One by the same author, I tried this - it's a story about a young teenager named Appollinia (Apple), who has been raised by her Grandmother after her mother left over eleven years ago. When Apple's mother arrives back on the scene promising Apple the world, what will happen? This was good, slightly younger than I thought, but deals with sensitive issues well. That mother though.........

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
This was in an Owlcrate a few months ago. It's the story of three sisters, each born with a unique gift. Only one can take the throne - so they must fight to the death for it. I like books about sisters, but I was a little wary about the whole pitting them against each other thing - it actually works well here, it was quite slow but picked up toward the end leaving room for more action in the sequel as opposed to so much world building.

Feminism


 

We Should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A short novel based on a talk the author gave in 2012. It's a basic introduction to understanding feminism and why it's as important for young men as well as young women. So often, feminists are called "angry" - as the author says, we should be angry. A really great read.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Offred (literally Of Fred) is a Handmaid - one of a group of women in a society that only values men. The role of the Handmaids is strictly to procreate - to provide the men they're assigned to with children. Offred contemplates suicide regularly, and dreams of her former life as a mother and partner. This was always going to be an unsettling read, particularly in a world where President Trump is a reality - but it just didn't have the impact on me that it might have had if I'd read it a few years ago.

TV/Movie Adaptations


 


Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
The TV adaptation is showing on Sky Atlantic at the moment - I really wanted to read the book before watching the series. It's a sharp, clever story about the lives of three women that are all connected in some way. Madeline is worried that she's losing her daughter to her ex-husband's new wife; Celeste is hiding something about her seemingly perfect marriage; and Jane has moved to the area to escape something in her past - but is it catching up to her? A really engrossing read.

Nocturnal Animals by Austin Wright
Originally published as Tony and Susan, this is a novel within a novel. A woman receives a manuscript from her estranged ex husband and reads it in three sittings, wondering what it means to her. Unfortunately, I didn't really get along with this - I felt that nothing really happened.

And that's it - that takes my total up to 31 for the first three months of the year, which I'm pretty happy with. As always, the books will be added to my Books 2017 page so you can click through for longer reviews or more information.