Review: Conspiracy by Tom Phillips and Jonn Elledge

 

Title: Conspiracy: A History of Boll*cks Theories, and How Not to Fall for Them

Author: Tom Phillips and Jonn Elledge

Published: 12th July 2022, Wildfire

Status: Read September 2022 courtesy Hachette Australia 

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My Thoughts:

 

“Conspiracy theories may be having A Moment right now, but that doesn’t mean they are new.”

An informative and entertaining book, Tom Phillips and Jonn Elledge offer insight into  the history and evolution of conspiracy thinking and theories in Conspiracy: A History of Boll*cks Theories, and How Not to Fall for Them.

The authors begin by attempting to define what a conspiracy theory is, the forms conspiracy theories take, and the evolutionary and social reasons humans indulge them. It quickly becomes clear that few, if any of us, are exempt from conspiracy thinking but while some theories are reasonably benign and have no or few mild consequences, others can risk the mental and physical well-being of their adherents, and pose a danger to society at large. Unfortunately, evidence shows that often the further you go down the rabbit hole, the faster you fall, as to justify one belief, others are folded in to support it, creating a type of superconspiracy.

As Phillips and Elledge delve into the history of conspiracy theories it’s interesting to realise that the roots of some of today’s conspiracies stretch back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The authors explore how theories have began, gained traction and adapted to suit the desired narrative of their proponents with specific examples. It is both horrifying, and yet not at all surprising, to discover the motives for some of the most damaging theories stemmed from the selfish desires of a single person or small group of people, though others were borne simply of fear, ignorance, and even, occasionally, a desire to do some good.

In light of current events, the chapter titled Viral Misinformation is particularly fascinating. Many of the same conspiracy theories that have surrounded the CoVid pandemic arose during other pandemics centuries ago, for example the elite were accused of introducing cholera to cull the lower classes, foreigners were blamed for spreading the Black Death by poisoning wells, and some suggested the ‘Spanish flu’ was created by the Russians as a weapon transmitted through electric lights. Just as now, the media were lambasted for perpetuating ‘lies’, government bodies argued about the best way to handle the consequences, and there were those who declared the disease of the day was a scam, or at the very least a distraction from some nefarious purpose.

I think Conspiracy presents its information clearly, and is well structured. Thankfully the authors’ humour takes the edge of what could otherwise be a dry, and depressing read, it’s important to note however they don’t make fun of those caught it in the web of conspiracy thinking.

Conspiracy is an interesting read, though it’s not exactly comforting to realise that such theories are common throughout human history as it challenges notions of human enlightenment and progress. I feel like I gained a better understanding of what drives someone to embrace conspiracy theories, how easy it is to become enmeshed, and how difficult it can be to escape, its a shame that most in need of the books insights are unlikely to pick it up.

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Available from Hachette Australia

Or help support* Book’d Out

*Purchase from Booktopia*

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Book Lust

 

It is a sad truth that I have a finite lifespan (and budget) yet a desire to read all the books. The books on my Review Schedule (click the link to view) largely represent those I’ve been privileged to select from offerings by a range of generous publishers, and therefore are my priority, but they don’t embody my every bookish desire or interest.

I’ve noticed a trend for limiting to-be-read (TBR) and/or want-to-read (WTR) lists (the distinction for me being those already on my physical or digital shelves vs those that aren’t), but I’ve never felt the need to temper my book lust. If I see a book that interests me, I add it to my WTR without a skerrick of guilt, at the moment my WTR shelf at Goodreads has around three and a half thousand books on it.

As I currently feature my TBR in my monthly Bookshelf Bounty post, Book Lust will be a monthly post featuring a handful of published books I’ve recently added to my WTR.

What books are you lusting after? Do you have any of these on your TBR/WTR list? And please feel free to share your links in the comments if you have reviewed them.

(Covers are linked to Goodreads)

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Older women often feel invisible, but sometimes that’s their secret weapon.

They’ve spent their lives as the deadliest assassins in a clandestine international organization, but now that they’re sixty years old, four women friends can’t just retire – it’s kill or be killed in this action-packed thriller.

Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie have worked for the Museum, an elite network of assassins, for forty years. Now their talents are considered old-school and no one appreciates what they have to offer in an age that relies more on technology than people skills.

When the foursome is sent on an all-expenses paid vacation to mark their retirement, they are targeted by one of their own. Only the Board, the top-level members of the Museum, can order the termination of field agents, and the women realize they’ve been marked for death.

Now to get out alive they have to turn against their own organization, relying on experience and each other to get the job done, knowing that working together is the secret to their survival. They’re about to teach the Board what it really means to be a woman–and a killer–of a certain age.

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Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.

PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.

It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). But it’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.

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Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.

Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?

Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.

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The Widow of Walcha is a shocking true story about death, love and lies in the small NSW town of Walcha.

All farmer Mathew Dunbar ever wanted was to find love and have a family of his own. That’s why, just months after meeting Natasha Darcy, the much-loved grazier didn’t hesitate to sign over his multi-million-dollar estate to her.

When Mathew died in an apparent suicide soon afterwards, in a stranger-than-fiction twist, Natasha’s estranged husband – who she was once charged with trying to kill – was the first paramedic on the scene after the murder.

Journalist and author Emma Partridge travelled to the cool and misty town of Walcha in the Northern Tablelands of NSW in the months after Mathew Dunbar’s death, drawn by the town’s collective worry that Natasha was going to get away with murder. Partridge spent months researching the case, interviewing Mathew’s friends, family and Natasha herself in an attempt to uncover her sickening web of lies and crimes.

The Widow of Walcha is about one of the most extraordinary criminal trials in Australia’s history and reveals Natasha’s sickening crimes against those she claimed to love, fuelled by her obsession with money.

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A novel tracing a widow’s unlikely connection with a giant Pacific octopus.

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.

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Thanks for reading!

Review: Do As I Say by Sarah Steel

 

Title: Do As I Say: How Cults Control, Why We Join Them, and What They Teach Us About Bullying, Abuse and Coercion

Author: Sarah Steel

Published: 28th June 2022, Macmillan Australia

Status: Read July 2022 courtesy PanMacmillan

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My Thoughts:

Sarah Steel, the creator and host of the popular ‘Let’s Talk About Sects’ podcast, examines the dynamics of cults and the people involved with them in Do As I Say: How Cults Control, Why We Join Them, and What They Teach Us About Bullying, Abuse and Coercion.

The definition of a cult is not always clear, but most of us are certain we would recognise one, so I found it interesting that many of the former members (who weren’t born into one) interviewed by Steel claim they didn’t join a cult, they joined ‘a group’ or ‘a movement’ or’ a community’, and it was only much later, some not until after they’d left, that they recognised they had been recruited into a cult. They’d often been vulnerable at the time, not because they were naive or unintelligent as people are wont to think, but because they were at a turning point in their lives and searching for purpose or a sense belonging.

Toxic cults, Steel demonstrates, are incredibly adept at promising to have the answers for those seeking them, and irrespective of country, culture or belief system, share similar unhealthy traits designed to impose control on their followers. Steel explores the tactics they exploit to recruit and keep members, and why people, especially women, find it so difficult to leave once they become enmeshed. It’s far more complicated than you might think and Steel, sharing fascinating firsthand accounts and meticulous research, provides thoughtful insight into the issues.

Steel also addresses the elements of cultic behaviour that can be found in a range of societal organisations including mainstream religion, MLM companies, political groups, fandoms, and street gangs. There is some discussion about conspiracy theories including those that have arisen due to the pandemic. I appreciated the focus on cults operating in Australia, somewhat surprised to how many have a foothold here, though often these are an offshoot of North American or British groups imported via the global reach of the internet, and disappointed to learn that Australia’s weak whistle-blower laws offer them so much protection.

Written in an almost conversational tone, Do As I Say reads well. I particularly like that Steel allows for individuals to share their personal stories. I do think the book could benefit from some boxouts to highlight or summarise points made in the narrative though.

Do As I Say is an interesting, thought-provoking read that should suit a range of readers interested in the topic. In her conclusion, Steel suggests transparency, empathy, bridging and education, especially in regards to understanding coercive control, is a way to not only combat unhealthy cults, but will also help those caught in abusive intimate relationships. Certainly something needs to change as society increasingly veers towards absolutism.

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Available from Pan Macmillan

Or help support* Book’d Out

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2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #8

 

Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the

2022 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 #ReadNonFicChal

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IN AUGUST…

[ECONOMICS]

Nazi Gold: The Full Story of the Fifty-Year Swiss-Nazi Conspiracy to Steal Billions from Europe’s Jews and Holocaust Survivors by Tom Bower, “…is an informative book but it is hard to read. The textbook style of writing does not do the material justice.” writes Laura of Reading Books Again.

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[POPULAR SCIENCE]

Tina at Turn the Page found The Lost Family by Libby Copeland, about the consequences of DNA testing with companies like Ancestry or 23andMe, interesting, but said, in relation to genetic health testing, “It would hang like a guillotine over my neck the rest of my life so I don’t want to know.”

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[CELEBRITY]

Though Helen at Helen’s Book Blog is not a fan of baseball, she writes that The Church of Baseball: The Making of Bull Durham: Home Runs, Bad Calls, Crazy Fights, Big Swings, and a Hit by Peter Shelton, “…is a fun book that reads quickly and was really enjoyable. If you’ve seen the movie Bull Durham it will be especially fun.”

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[LANGUAGE]

“Provocative and intriguing,“ is how I described Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson. If you read Go Ask Alice (by Anonymous) as a teen, you must read this extraordinary exposé on the book’s author, Beatrice Sparks.

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[LINKED TO A PODCAST]

“I don’t usually dog ear my pages, but I did it so much in this book.” writes Book Shelf Discovery of Lost Connections: Why You’re Depressed and How to Find Hope by Johann Hari. “I found this an incredibly powerful book. It was incredibly well researched and always informative, using a wide range of case studies. I’ve read a lot of books about depression and anxiety and I’d say this one is up there with the best of them.”

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What will you be reading in September?

 

Need some inspiration? Check out these posts

SOCIAL HISTORY and POPULAR SCIENCE

LANGUAGE and MEDICAL MEMOIR

CLIMATE/WEATHER and CELEBRITY

REFERENCE and GEOGRAPHY

LINKED TO A PODCAST and WILD ANIMALS

ECONOMICS and PUBLISHED IN 2022

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #5

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #6

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #7

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #ReadNonFicChal Check out some of the latest #Nonfiction book reviews shared last month #readingchallenge at Book’d Out

Review: Unmask Alice by Rick Emerson

 

Title: Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries

Author: Rick Emerson

Published: 5th July 2022, BenBella Books

Status: Read July 2022 courtesy BenBella Books/Edelweiss

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My Thoughts:

I was about eleven when I read Go Ask Alice, which I think it came into my possession via a friend’s much older sister. It was a cheap early paperback edition, already quite worn my guess is it had already passed through a few sets of hands in the way that certain books (like Flowers in the Attic) did when I was at school. Presented in the form of a diary, I read Go Ask Alice with a mixture of fascination and horror, aghast at how easily Alice, a bright, pretty, American suburban teenager spiraled into drug addiction, prostitution and homelessness, before dying from an overdose. I believed it was a true story, after all it said so right on the cover, and it was the mid eighties, so the ‘War on Drugs/Just Say No’ campaign was in full swing, providing plenty of reinforcement. Alice’s example must have lodged deeply into my psyche, I’ve never even been tempted to try hard drugs, too certain that her fate could be mine.

It was probably only a decade or so ago that I learnt Go Ask Alice was not a true story at all, but was written by a middle aged Mormon woman named Beatrice Sparks. When the fraud was exposed, Sparks insisted it was based in truth, inspired by her work as a youth counsellor. I remember being annoyed by the deception, but I’m furious having now read Emerson’s book, Unmask Alice.

Unmask Alice is a seemingly thoroughly researched, exposé of Beatrice Sparks, revealing her background, how she came to write ‘Alice’, and her subsequent deceits, including the publication of Jay’s Diary, which fed the ‘satanic panic’ of the late 1980’s. Sparks purpose for writing Go Ask Alice may not have been entirely bereft of good intentions, but the same definitely can’t be said about Jay’s Diary. Convinced of her own righteousness, Sparks presents as manipulative and narcissistic, with a disdain for truth and a hunger for recognition. She claimed demonstrably false education and experience, and wielded a wholly dismissive attitude toward anyone affected by her hubris.

By today’s standards, Go Ask Alice, Jay’s Diary, and Sparks other works are obvious in their hyperbole, but in their time they appealed to the conservative elements of society reeling from social upheaval, fed by the naivety of sheltered suburbanites and a dearth of understanding about youth and mental health. Even if you have never read Go Ask Alice or Jay’s Diary, (though you probably should for context), Unmask Alice offers fascinating insight into how and why the books gained such recognition and support, and the enormous cultural impact which still reverberates fifty years later.

Though the narrative style of Unmask Alice ensures it is a compelling read, it can be said to be somewhat problematic. Emerson does not always make a clear distinction between the evidence he gathered from first hand sources and his own editorial input. I’m inclined to trust the author did his research and isn’t deceptive, but then I wholeheartedly believed Alice was a real person too.

It’s disappointing to have been duped by Sparks, who died in 2012, and her enablers, including her publishers who still perpetuate the fiction of her ‘true stories’. While Go Ask Alice could be recognised as having a positive effect of scaring young girls into rejecting drug taking, I have enormous sympathy for the family of Alden Barrett, and the many lives Sparks’s fictional account of ‘Jay’s Diary’, damaged.

Provocative and intriguing, I found Unmask Alice to be an absorbing read that was informative,surprising and entertaining which I’d recommend to anyone interested in social history or literary hoaxes.

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Available from BenBella Books

Or help support* Book’d Out

*Purchase from Booktopia*

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

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: Nothing But the Truth by The Secret Barrister

 

Title: Nothing But The Truth: Stories of Crime, Guilt and the Loss of Innocence

Author: The Secret Barrister

Published: 10th May 2022, Pan Macmillian Australia 

Status: Read July 2022 courtesy PanMacmillan Australia

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My Thoughts:

Having read and enjoyed Fake Law: The Truth about Justice in an Age of Lies defending judicial independence, penned by The Secret Barrister, I was curious about their new release, Nothing But The Truth: Stories of Crime, Guilt and the Loss of Innocence.

In Nothing But the Truth, The Secret Barrister shares their journey through the UK system to gain their qualifications and their early experiences of working as a criminal barrister. Largely presented chronologically, they expose the weaknesses and strengths of the process, and the need for change to better support the legal profession to serve their clients, with their particular witty irreverence.

“Four in five of you will never practise as barristers.”

The first quarter or so of the book explains how a person becomes eligible to serve at the Bar, from studying law at university, to competing for a place at Bar school, and then for pupillage (a kind of internship). It’s a long, expensive process steeped in tradition, pageantry, and nepotism, and The Secret Barrister describes it with a mix of humour, contempt, and nostalgia. They make several interesting observations, one of which is the way the current system results in a lack of diversity, among criminal barristers particularly, which disadvantages their clients.

“The verdict you seek from the jury is, after all, ‘not guilty’, not ‘innocent’.”

It’s under the supervision of pupillage in court that students begin their career as a barrister, the first six months is spent largely observing their pupil master and assisting with paperwork. For The Secret Barrister the period exposes the discrepancy between theory and practice, and challenges many of their long held beliefs about guilt, innocence, punishment and justice.

“If I were a victim of crime, or accused of a crime, this is the very last place I would want my case to be tried.”

As promised there are stories of crime, guilt and the loss of innocence, but they reference not just their clients, but themselves and their colleagues. The Secret Barrister presents a system in crisis, and all parties involved in the judicial system are suffering. Decades of funding cuts to the courts and related services including Legal Aid, CPS and the police increase the pressures. For criminal barristers, hours of work have notably increased while earnings are stagnant, contributing to a high attrition rate. Their vignettes reveal confusion, negligence, ego’s, corruption, exploitation, stress and exhaustion barely tempered by hard won victories. They are informative, interesting and affecting.

“Most days I am not an advocate; I’m a firefighter,…”

While Nothing But the Truth is an insightful and honest insiders view of the overburdened English and Wales legal system, its relevance, in part, extends to the practice of law in other countries. This is a fascinating and entertaining read if you have any interest in learning about legal representation, law or crime.

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Available from Pan Macmillan Australia

Or help support* Book’d Out

*Purchase from Booktopia*

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon

 

Linking to: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? at BookDate; Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer; and the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

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Life…

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I’m sick again! Another bad cold (multiple RAT’s have come up COVID negative), it seems maybe even the same one as last month. I swear I catch stuff more often from my kids now that they are adults than I did when they were little. It started Wednesday night with a headache and an occasional throat tickle, on Thursday I felt like I’d swallowed razor blades, and I started coughing so hard I lost my voice. By Friday my nose started flowing, but today my head is a bit clearer and I haven’t been coughing quite as often, so hopefully it’s nearly done with me. I hope so because I’m my ribs are really sore, and I’ve barely slept for days.

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What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

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Confidence by Denise Mina

Blood Sisters by Cate Quinn

All of Me by Cadance Bell

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New Posts…

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Review: The Change by Kirsten Miller

Review: The Emma Project by Sonali Dev

Review: Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

Review: Rattled by Ellis Gunn

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #7

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What I’m Reading This Week…

 

This is not a romance, but it is about love

Two kids meet in a hospital gaming room in 1987. One is visiting her sister, the other is recovering from a car crash. The days and months are long there. Their love of video games becomes a shared world — of joy, escape and fierce competition. But all too soon that time is over, fades from view.

When the pair spot each other eight years later in a crowded train station, they are catapulted back to that moment. The spark is immediate, and together they get to work on what they love – making games to delight, challenge and immerse players, finding an intimacy in digital worlds that eludes them in their real lives. Their collaborations make them superstars.

This is the story of the perfect worlds Sadie and Sam build, the imperfect world they live in, and of everything that comes after success: Money. Fame. Duplicity. Tragedy.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow takes us on a dazzling imaginative quest as it examines the nature of identity, creativity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play and, above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love.

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‘So you believed the alleged rapists over the alleged victim?’ Jane’s voice took on an indignant pitch. ‘Girls lie sometimes.’ I nodded. ‘And rapists lie all the time.’

When Senior Detective Antigone Pollard moves to the coastal town of Deception Bay, she is still in shock and grief. Back in Melbourne, one of her cases had gone catastrophically wrong, and to escape the guilt and the haunting memories, she’d requested a transfer to the quiet town she’d grown up in.

But there are some things you can’t run from. A month into her new life, she is targeted by a would-be rapist at the pub, and realises why there have been no convictions following a spate of similar sexual attacks in the surrounding district. The male witnesses in the pub back her attacker and even her boss doesn’t believe her.

Hers is the first reported case in Deception Bay, but soon there are more. As Antigone searches for answers, she encounters a wall of silence in the town built of secrets and denial and fear. The women of Deception Bay are scared and the law is not on their side. The nightmare has followed her home.

Chilling, timely and gripping, The Unbelieved takes us behind the headlines to a small-town world that is all too real – and introduces us to a brilliant new voice in crime fiction.

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As a photographer, Stevie’s been to enough bush weddings to last a lifetime. When’s it going to be all about her?

With her ex soon to be married, her mum back on the dating scene, and her best friend threatening to settle down with the Most Boring Man Alive, Stevie is feeling left behind.

To top it off, her old uni mate Johnno West, whom she hasn’t seen for years, keeps turning up as best man at Stevie’s jobs. And he is looking so good.

Perhaps their youthful pact – that if they were both still single in their early thirties they’d get together – is not so crazy after all?

Then the enigmatic Charlie Jones walks into the frame …

Capturing the heartbeat of rural Australia, Five Bush Weddings is an uplifting romantic comedy about looking for love, second chances, and what really matters when the bouquet has been thrown, the swag’s been rolled up and the party’s over.

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A private investigator returning to the hometown he fled years ago becomes entangled in the disappearance of two teenage girls in this stunning literary crime thriller.

Reid left the small town of Manson a decade ago, promising his former Chief of Police boss he’d never return. He made a new life in the city, became a PI and turned his back on his old life for good.

Now an insurance firm has offered him good money to look into a suspicious car crash, and he finds himself back in the place he grew up – home to his complicated family history, a scarring relationship breakdown and a very public career-ending incident.

As Reid’s investigation unfolds, nothing is as it seems: rumours are swirling about the well-liked young woman who was driving the car which killed her professor husband, while a second local student has just disappeared. As Reid veers off course from the job he has been paid to do, will he find himself in the dangerous position of taking on the town again?

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I’m sorry if I haven’t visited you recently, I’m trying to get back on schedule.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR @thebookdate #SundayPost @Kimbacaffeinate #SundaySalon @debnance #TheWrongWoman #FiveBushWeddings #TheUnbelieved #TomorrowandTomorrowandTomorrow

Review: Rattled by Ellis Gunn

 

Title: Rattled: A rare first person account of surviving a stalker

Author: Ellis Gunn

Published: 1st May 2022, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read June 2022 courtesy Allen & Unwin

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My Thoughts:

 

“….I was beginning to think I’d overreacted. Looking at it logically, he hadn’t done anything wrong.He hadn’t threatened me, or been offensive. A little over-eager maybe, a little too personal, but…probably nothing to worry about.”

It began with an casual interaction over a chest of drawers at an auction, Elise Gunn responded amiably to The Man’s attempt at conversation but politely brushed off his overture for further contact, and then ignored his unsolicited email. When he attempts to speak with her again, weeks later at the same auction house, Elise quickly makes her exit, feeling uncomfortable and anxious. When The Man next approaches Elise, she is walking home through a park having just dropped her son at school. He insists on walking with her, and during his one sided conversation he mentions details about Elise he is unlikely to know, unless he’s been following her for some time. The police are sympathetic when she reports her concerns but can’t do anything to help, and Elise is left feeling powerless.

Elise Gunn gives a powerful account of being stalked by a stranger with unknown motives. For Elise, The Man’s behaviour is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’. Quivering from hyper-vigilance, and expecting the worst, she is anxious, fearful, and panic-stricken. Unable to affect The Man’s behaviour, Elise attempts to take control of her own, seeking help from a victim support agency and CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy).

In between each encounter with The Man, Gunn relates a former experience where she was affected by sexism, misogyny or male violence, from being heckled by a group of aggressive young men outside a pub, to enduring a rape by a trusted employer, and a poem the messages women too often receive about such encounters.

I was expecting an exclusive focus on stalking but Gunn also explores the broader research on topics related to trauma and PTSD, socialisation, gendered crime and inequality, and what is still needed for society to change. I am a little disappointed that, though Gunn includes a bibliography, she doesn’t list Australian services that readers could reach out to.

I found it frighteningly easy to relate to many elements of Gunn’s narratives. Rattled is an honest, thoughtful and impactful memoir that educates and informs.

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Available from Allen & Unwin

Or help support* Book’d Out

*Purchase from Booktopia*

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #7

 

Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the

2022 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 #ReadNonFicChal

—————

IN JULY…

 


[PUBLISHED IN 2022]

Of The Power of Regret by Daniel H Pink, Bibliographic-Manifestations has this to say, “Pink conducted the World Regret Survey (which is still going on) and used the stories he collected there as a data set to analyze the role of regret in our lives. He identified correlations among the various regrets and addresses each type as well as talking about the implications of regret more generally. This was a thought-provoking book and Pink is an excellent writer. Mixing in people’s personal stories with the social-science make this a very readable book.”

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Janette, of the Wicked Witch’s Blog, was disappointed with I Belong Here by Anita Sethi, she writes, “…the actual journey formed a much smaller part of the book than I expected…. descriptions of her walking were constantly interrupted with other thoughts and the chapters seemed to meander between describing her journey, musings on society in general and racism in particular and even to include parts of a dictionary….. I really loved many parts of this book but others just didn’t hold my interest which is a shame as this was a book that I really wanted to like.”

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Over at Maphead’s Book Blog states that Free: A Child and a Country at the End of History by Lea Ypi, “…is definitely worth the hype and should easily make my year-end list of Favorite Nonfiction.” He writes, “What sets Free apart from other memoirs of life under communist rule is you see all this monumental history unfold through the eyes of an innocent child. Over the course of the memoir you learn just how oppressive life was under Albania’s communist overlords…”

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[CELEBRITY]

Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors by Tom Bower has cemented Laura’s, of Reading Books Again, dislike of the ‘Harkles’. She felt the book offered several surprises that contradicted media coverage and was impressed that, “the last 100 pages of the book are a list of references from where [the author] obtained his information.”

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[MEDICAL MEMOIR]

Katherine Clark was visiting her son’s school, playing tag with some children on the playground. One boy climbed up on the jungle gym and jumped off onto Kate’s head. They both fell to the ground. The boy’s arm was fractured, but Kate’s neck was broken, and she was instantly paralyzed from the neck down. In Where I End: A Story of Tragedy, Truth and Rebellious Hope by Katherine Elizabeth Clark, the author, “…intersperses the details of what happened to her on that fateful day and the aftermath of surgery and physical therapy with reflections of the effects of her injury on her children, the inevitable “why” question, coming to terms with the label “quadriplegic,” wrestling with God’s will and His mysteries, and so on.” BarbaraLee of Stray Thoughts, who recognised some parallels between her own and Kate’s experience“…appreciated Kate’s testimony of God’s grace in hard circumstances.”

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What will you be reading in August?

 

Need some inspiration? Check out these posts

SOCIAL HISTORY and POPULAR SCIENCE

LANGUAGE and MEDICAL MEMOIR

CLIMATE/WEATHER and CELEBRITY

REFERENCE and GEOGRAPHY

LINKED TO A PODCAST and WILD ANIMALS

ECONOMICS and PUBLISHED IN 2022

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #5

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #6

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #ReadNonFicChal Check out some of the latest #Nonfiction book reviews shared last month #readingchallenge at Book’d Out

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