Bookshelf Bounty

 

Every third Sunday of the month I share my Bookshelf Bounty – what’s been added to my TBR tile recently for review from publishers, purchases or gifts.

This month I’m linking up with Mailbox Monday

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review 

(My thanks to the respective publishers)

 




 

Review: Before & Laughter by Jimmy Carr

 

Title: Before & Laughter: A Life Changing Book

Author: Jimmy Carr

Published: 28th September 2021, Quercus Publishing

Status: Read October 2021 courtesy Hachette Australia

++++++++

My Thoughts:

 

I ‘discovered’ Irish comedian Jimmy Carr when I stumbled upon the panel show ‘8 Out of 10 Cats’ on YouTube only a year or two ago. The show opened up an entire collection of British comedy programs I promptly binged, and given the incestuous nature of the business, Carr had a role in many of them. Whether acting as a host or  panellist, he often makes me laugh out loud, even if his humour tends to be more on the deliberately offensive, smutty side.

Billed as a memoir and self help book, I was somewhat surprised to find Before & Laughter leans far more into the latter than the former. There are glimpses of Carr here as he touches on his relationship with his parents, shares the story of throwing in his corporate job at Shell to take a chance on comedy, offers a mea culpa for his ‘tax thing’, and speaks of his partner and child, but largely this is a book of advice on how to find your purpose and be true to yourself.

Before & Laughter is funny as expected, with Jimmy sharing plenty of humorous anecdotes, but it’s also surprisingly sensible and insightful. There isn’t anything particularly unique about the essence of Carr’s advice, but his frame of reference – stand up comedy – is something different. Carr has an interesting perspective on life informed by the nature of his work, which involves more intense labour than you would expect. Though I don’t care much for self help blather generally, I think Carr offers some sound advice for anyone looking to enhance or change their life.

Whether you buy into the motivational message or not, Before & Laughter is an entertaining read.

++++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Review: The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

 

Title: The Woman They Could Not Silence: Elizabeth Packard’s incredible fight for freedom, and the men who tried to make her disappear

Author: Kate Moore

Published: 28th September 2021, Scribe Publications

Status: Read October 2021 courtesy Scribe Publications

++++++++

My Thoughts:

 

“I, though a woman, have just as good a right to my opinion, as my husband has to his.”

The Woman They Could Not Silence is the remarkable and inspiring story of Elizabeth Packard’s fight to be recognised as more than her husband’s property, and against the laws that allowed it, by Kate Moore.

In June of 1860, Elizabeth Packard, a wife of 21 years, and a mother of 6, was forcibly committed to the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane in Jacksonville, Illinois by her husband, Theophilus Packard, a Presbyterian preacher. In recent months 43 year old Elizabeth had begun to object to being silenced by her husband whenever she dared to venture a thought or opinion of her own, behaviour “so different from her former conduct,” that Theophilus claimed she was suffering an “attack of derangement….the result of a diseased brain.” Furious with “his newly outspoken wife, with her independent mind and her independent spirit”, he made plans, as was his right by law, “to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement”, arranging for Elizabeth to be committed to an asylum for the insane. No doubt Theophilus expected Elizabeth would quickly repent and return home throughly chastened and made docile, but instead her incarceration became the catalyst for a life long campaign for the rights of women, and the mentally ill.

“It shall be one of the highest aspirations of my earth-life, to expose these evils for the purpose of remedying them,” she announced. “It shall be said of me, ‘She hath done what she could.’”

Drawing upon varied resources, including Elizabeth’s journals written on, “tissue paper, brown paper, and even scraps of cotton cloth”, during her time at the asylum, correspondence, reports, court documents, and news articles, Moore details Elizabeth’s revolutionary challenge of a society permitted to declare women insane upon the whims of their husbands or fathers. She provides insight into the operations of asylums in the late nineteenth century, the understanding of and treatment (or more accurately the lack of) for mental health conditions, and how Elizabeth not only survived but thrived in an environment designed to break her.

“It is hereby ordered that Mrs. Elizabeth P. W. Packard be relieved of all restraint incompatible with her condition as a sane woman.”

By the time of her death in 1897 Elizabeth could claim responsibility for the passage of at least thirty-four bills in forty-four legislatures across twenty-four states resulting in law reform, and widespread, long-lasting change, related to the operation of Insane Asylums, including granting married women the right of jury trial before being commitment. Her legacy should not be underestimated nor forgotten, especially as the battle is still far from won given outspoken women are still labeled ‘crazy’ in an effort to silence them.

Meticulously researched with a readable narrative, The Woman They Could Not Silence is a fascinating expose of history and powerful biography of a courageous, noteworthy woman.

++++++++

Available from Scribe Publications

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

 

Review: Larrimah by Caroline Graham & Kylie Stevenson

 

Title: Larrimah: A missing man, an eyeless croc and an outback town of 11 people who mostly hate each other

Author: Caroline Graham & Kylie Stevenson

Published: 28th September 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read October 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++++

My Thoughts:

“The police poster has all the grim details. Full name: Patrick (Paddy) Moriarty. Approximately 178 centimetres tall. Black and grey hair. Age seventy. Last sighted at dusk on Saturday, 16 December 2017, when he left the Larrimah Hotel on his quad bike with his dog, Kellie. She’s pictured on the sign too -the red-and-brown kelpie looks young, friendly, with her tongue sticking out.”

To be honest I requested this thinking it was fiction, however Larrimah is non-fiction, a true crime investigation into the fate of a missing man, and the town he lived in.

Larrimah is a tiny outback town, spread over an area less than 1kmsq, in the Northern Territory on Wubalawun land, and at the time of Paddy’s disappearance, the population numbered just 12. It was a few days before he was officially reported missing, and wherever he had gone, he had taken nothing with him but the dog, not even the hat that rarely left his head.

Paddy’s disappearance may have gone largely unremarked by the wider world except no one can make sense of it. In essence this is a ‘locked room’ mystery. A thorough forensics investigation turned up no clues, neither did days of searching by foot, or from the air. Despite extensive police interviews, international media scrutiny, and an inquest, there has yet to be any answers.

There are theories of course. One of the most enduring is that 1 (or more) of the remaining 11 Larrimah townspeople murdered Paddy. Fran Hodgetts, whose home and tea house is situated across from Paddy’s house, was immediately a prime suspect. The two had a long history of acrimony – trading barbs and claims of harassment, but Larrimah is no stranger to feuds. At any one time it seems half of the town is at war with the other, whether it’s over the provision of pies to the passing trade, the leadership of local ‘progress’ committees, the massacre of a buffalo, or the theft of Mars Bars. There is also speculation that Paddy was abducted by drug dealers, swallowed by a sinkhole, or simply did a runner and has started a new life elsewhere.

In an attempt to understand the case, and hopefully solve the mystery, journalists Graham & Stephenson spent five years investigating the story (before this was a book, it was a Walkley award winning podcast called Lost in Larrimah), spending time with the residents of Larrimah, while also endeavouring to piece together a clearer picture of who Paddy was. In trying to answer their questions, this book develops into a portrait of both the missing man and the town of Larrimah, the two seemingly inseparable.

Rich with detail, whimsical and poignant, Larrimah reads like an Aussie yarn with its abundance of colourful, eccentric characters and unlikely sounding events, except this is a true story… well, in so far as the truth can be known.

++++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$32.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #9

 

Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge!

Each month I’m highlighting some of the reviews shared for the challenge in the linky

Don’t forget to link each book you read as you read during the year!

I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they are reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on Facebook, twitter, or instagram #2021ReadNonFic

===================

In September …

{Click on the cover or link to learn more}

[OCEANOGRAPHY]

This month I read The Whale in the Living Room by John Ruthven and found it really fascinating. It’s a well written, informative behind the scenes look at filming ocean  life documentaries, including the groundbreaking series’, Blue Planet and Blue Planet II narrated by David Attenborough.

++++++

[DISEASE]

At Turn The Page, Tina read Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Dr Eric Manheimer, which she notes was the inspiration for the tv series, New Amsterdam. While she felt “Some of the chapters do go on a bit too long…”, her summary states, “Overall I enjoyed reading this book and loved reading about the dedication of the professionals and their various cases.”

+++++++

[INVENTIONS]

Described as, ‘A journey through the attempts artists, scientists, and tinkerers have made to imagine and communicate with the otherworldly using various technologies, from cameras to radiowaves.’ Carol of Carols Notebook, would have liked there to have been more to Strange Frequencies: The Extraordinary Story of the Technological Quest for the Supernatural by Peter Bebergal

++++++

[ESSAYS]

Of The Best American Essays 2020 edited by André Aciman, Maphead writes, “My favorites essays in the collection were ones with sharply focused narratives and specific topics in mind, akin to the long form pieces you’d find in Harpers, the New Yorker or Atlantic. While considered essays, they easily could be included in anthologies featuring outstanding writing in the fields of science and nature or crime.”

++++++

[BIOGRAPHY]

Laurel-Rain of Curl Up and Read awarded five stars to The Good Son by Christopher Andersen, which examines the relationship between JFK Jr and his mother Jackie Kennedy Onassis

 

What will you be reading in October?


===================


In case you missed it…

Join the challenge!

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #4

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #5

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #6

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #7

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #8

Review: The Whale in the Living Room by John Ruthven

 

Title: The Whale in the Living Room

Author: John Ruthven

Published: 14th September 2021, Robinson

Status: Read September 2021 courtesy Hachette Australia

+++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

“The ocean is by far the largest liveable space on Earth, and hugely exceeds our conception of life’s abundance. It’s average depth is about 3.5km, or 2 miles, and, as is often mentioned, the ocean covers nearly three-quarters of the world.”

It’s unlikely that you’d recognise the author of Whale in the Living Room by name, but you, and millions of others, have likely seen his work. A television producer, John Ruthven is in part responsible for the extraordinary footage seen in almost fifty ocean  life documentaries, including the groundbreaking series’, Blue Planet and Blue Planet II narrated by David Attenborough.

The Whale in the Living Room provides the reader with a behind-the-scenes look at how documentaries like the Blue Planet series is filmed. Ruthven shares his journey’s all over the world to gather footage for what may only be a minute long sequence of television. It takes a huge amount of hard work, risk, money, luck and patience to bring ‘whales into our living rooms’, exposing the amazing variety of life to be found in the ocean, from the enormous to the microscopic, the sublime to the ridiculous, we would otherwise likely never see.

I found Ruthven’s stories to be fascinating, related in a personable tone with flashes of humour. He provides insights not only into the complex logistics of a shoot, but also the subjects themselves, from cuttlefish to blue whales. The only producer to have worked on both Blue Planet I & II, he also touches on the changes he, and others, have witnessed, due to issues such as global warming and plastic pollution.

As I’ve been reading The Whale in the Living Room I’ve been re-watching the Blue Planet documentaries with new appreciation. Available on a multitude of streaming services, if you haven’t watched these, you really should. The images are particularly stunning on a large screen, with the room darkened (though I find Attenborough’s voice can have a somewhat soporific effect). The author also has a YouTube channel (search for Indoona) where you can view some short clips he has captured.

A well-written, informative book, I’d recommend it to anyone interested in marine life and ecology, travel, environmental issues, ocean diving, wildlife photography/videography, or television production. The Whale in the Living Room is fascinating, compelling reading.

+++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #8

 


Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge!

Each month I’m highlighting some of the reviews shared for the challenge in the linky

Don’t forget to link each book you read as you read during the year!

I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they are reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on Facebook, twitter, or instagram #2021ReadNonFic

===================

In August…


[PUBLISHED IN 2021]

Of The Power of Geography by Tim Marshall, Journey & Destination writes, “It’s a book I’d be more than happy to read again in order to digest all the details, or to dip into as a reference when any of the countries are mentioned in the news or current affairs.”

++++++++


[BIOGRAPHY]

 

“[Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King] is part biography, part history, and part legal thriller as it goes into deep detail in the Groveland case.”, writes The Curly Geek at The Book Stop, “I keep thinking I know the history [of racism in the US] and then I realize how very much I don’t know.

+++++++++

[WARTIME EXPERIENCES]

Maphead writes, “I found [Sons and Soldiers: The Untold Story of the Jews Who Escaped the Nazis and Returned with the U.S. Army to Fight Hitler by Bruce Henderson] hard as hell to put down and one of the most pleasant surprises of 2021.”

++++++++

[TRAVEL]

 

From Jo at Booklover Book Reviews, “In Uprising, [Nic] Low explores the pre and post-colonial history of the Southern Alps of New Zealand at the same time as he explores the terrain, the former at times just as treacherous. Particularly compelling and well-paced are the chapters where he has interspliced his own experience on a particular walk with the known and imagined experiences of historical adventurers (both Maori and European settlers). His evocative descriptions render the Southern Alps’ with a sense of grandeur and otherworldly gravitas that helps bridge the gap between history and fantastical origin stories.”

+++++++++

[PUBLISHED IN 2021]

Laurel-Rain writes, “As I delved into The Reckoning, [Mary L. Trump] I think I was expecting more about our personal experiences living under the rule of a fascist narcissistic president, someone who put all of us at risk and did nothing to mitigate the crises he created.

+++++++++

What will you be reading in September?


===================


In case you missed it…

 

Join the challenge!

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #4

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #5

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #6

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #7

Review: CSI Told You Lies by Meshel Laurie

 

Title: CSI Told You Lies

Author: Meshel Laurie

Published: 3rd August 2021, Ebury

Status: Read August 2021 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

CSI Told You Lies by Meshel Laurie, the host of the Australian True Crime podcast, is an interesting, informative and sometimes confronting account of forensic investigation in Victoria.

 

(More to come…)

++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #7

 

Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the 2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge!

Each month I’m highlighting some of the reviews shared for the challenge in the linky

Don’t forget to link each book you read as you read during the year!

I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they are reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on Facebook, twitter, or instagram #2021ReadNonFic

 

===================

In July…

 

[INVENTIONS]

Barbara of StrayThoughts declares The Secret War of Charles Fraser-Smith: The Q gadget wizard of WWII by Charles Fraser-Smith with Gerald McNight and Sandy Lemberg to be “a fascinating book”. Outwardly, Fraser-Smith was a civil servant of the Ministry of Supply’s Clothing and Textile Department. In reality, he procured or developed an astonishing numbers of gadgets and supplies for the Special Operations Executive during WWII.

+++++++

 

[BIOGRAPHY]

“This book certainly made me think about the Eureka Stockade, one of Australia’s ‘foundation legends’, differently, and to see the connections between the experiences of women there and on the goldfields more generally, with later political and suffrage rights campaigns.” says Denise of Denise Newton Writes of The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright

 

+++++++

 

[INVENTIONS]

Of Half Lives: The Unlikely Story of Radium by Lucy Jane Santos, Journey & Destination writes, “I found parts of the book fascinating, other parts I thought were too detailed for the layperson who doesn’t have a scientific background. I would recommend Half Lives for those who have some knowledge of the science behind the topic or for someone studying upper high school science as it does go into some depth.”

+++++++

 

[SELF-HELP]

The Menopause Manifesto by Dr. Jen Gunter “…is a comprehensive, practical resource for all in possession of female reproductive organs. I wish I had read something like this five years ago and strongly recommend that women aged from in their early forties consider educating themselves about menopause well in advance.” Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out 

+++++++

 

[INVENTIONS]

Laura of Reading Books Again concludes of Yellow by Michel Pastoureau  “The book is a fine treatise but it is not for the light hearted reader. Obviously, someone interested in art history should read this book. It would be helpful for artists too but I believe there are other books on color that would be more helpful for the studio artist. “

 


===================

What will you be reading in August?


In case you missed it…

Join the challenge!

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Inspiration Part #4

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #5

2021 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #6

Review: Gun To The Head by Keith Banks

 

Title: Gun To The Head: My life as a tactical cop. The impact. The aftermath.

Author: Keith Banks

Published: 20th July 2021, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read July 2021 courtesy Allen & Unwin

 

+++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Gun To The Head follows on from Drugs, Guns and Lies by former Queensland police officer, Keith Banks, detailing his years of service in the Queensland Police Force during the 1980’s.

Banks offers readers personal insight into policing during a period that can probably be best described as transitional. In the 1980’s the Queensland police force was exposed as a hotbed of corruption, which had little tolerance for officers who played it straight. After several years serving as an undercover operative in the Drug Squad, Banks was forced out when he declined an invitation to participate in a corrupt enterprise.

Transferring to the Criminal Investigation Branch as a Detective Senior Constable, Banks enjoyed the work but found himself missing the adrenaline rush of his former position and leapt at the chance to become a member of the part-time  Emergency Squad, which eventually morphed into the full-time Tactical Response Group.

Keith Banks (left) and Steve Grant at Cunungra Training Camp 1986 (courtesy Allen & Unwin)

 

Banks played a role in some of Queensland’s most high-profile operations, including the hunt for notorious bank robber, Russell ‘Maddog’ Cox, and the MLC Siege, where Banks personally convinced the would-be bomber to surrender, but everyday he and his team put their lives on the line to apprehend violent criminals. Banks insights into the groups daily operations are fascinating, it’s often intense, thankless work that requires a huge commitment and courage. The public generally only hear of such incidents when something goes wrong, as it did when Senior Constable Peter Kidd was shot to death by an armed robber who had escaped from prison, during a raid to recapture him. I knew vaguely of the case but it was very impactful to hear it from Banks first hand viewpoint and I was horrified to learn of the role bureaucratic interference had in the tragedy.

Emergency Squad training exercise at Cunungra 1986 (Keith Banks is on the left). Courtesy Allen & Unwin


Banks, who was a team leader in the raid, was dogged by undiagnosed PTSD after the death of Kidd. Banks is honest about his increasing struggles with alcohol, anxiety, guilt and anger in its wake. I really felt for him, and was appalled by the lack of support available from the force not just after a tragic incident like this, but also in other instances, such as re-entry from undercover work. I certainly hope the situation is much improved now. Sadly it cost Banks his first marriage, his police career, and very nearly his life.

Raw, thrilling and often dark but not humourless, Banks presents as personable and truthful. Gun to the Head is a compelling memoir exposing life behind the blue line.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Booktopia I Amazon

Previous Older Entries