Book Reviews – May 2022

Ad | Some books were gifted in return for a review (marked with *) – all opinions are my own

Good morning and welcome to May’s book reviews! It has been a good book month and I am excited to share some of these titles with you – and I have plenty more on the way as if you have followed me for a while you will know I like to have a few books on the go at any given time! This first one has stayed with me since I read it… what a trip! Read on to find out why!

Free Marcus Katz*

A Curated Collection of Yelp Reviews – A Novel

by Howard Marc Chesley

The Blurb

Woven into his odd, chatty Yelp reviews of restaurants, stores and services, 22-year-old Aspie Marcus Katz chronicles in vivid detail how, after the death of his doting mother, he is railroaded by the Los Angeles probate court into an abusive conservatorship.

When his bullying conservator tries to warehouse him in a run-down, dead-end group home, intending to drain his inheritance, Marcus runs away to Oregon, pursued by his conservator, on a risky, ill-advised road trip to meet up with fellow Aspie Durinda, a devoted fan of his now viral Yelp reviews.

She lives with others also on the autism spectrum on a collective farm in rural Oregon. It is here that Marcus hopes to make a stand and finally take control of his life.

What I Thought

Well – I don’t think I will get over this book for a very long time and was devastated when I finished it!

Marcus Katz is a 22 year old man with Asperger’s and is the central character in the book. I absolutely fell in love with the character and adored his world and being able to get a peek into it.

The book is not for the faint of heart – it can definitely pull at the heartstrings at times – but you will be unable to put it down and will be cheering Adam to freedom as you go! Told through a series of his Yelp review posts, Adam’s story is funny, tense, heart breaking and heart-warming.

I couldn’t help thinking as I read, that this book needs making into a film – a Catch Me If You Can style romp across America (without the fraud) and with a main character you can’t help but want the best for.

And then I came to the end. And I realised it isn’t true! I was literally telling everyone I saw about this book and what was happening to Adam, my mum got daily updates on his adventure to freedom – but it was just a work of fiction and I sat looking at the book for half an hour after finishing reading it, in disbelief!

The clue was probably in the title – a novel – and the fact the author is not Adam Katz, but I clearly bypassed this information and took this man (character) into my heart. Superbly written and erven if you are not as gullible as me, you will love it I am sure. Absolutely recommend to all, you will not be able to put it down and Adam Katz will be a character I remember for a long, long while!

Buy The Book on my Amazon shop

Morning Meditations*

A Guided Journal to Start Each Day Feeling Calm and Energized

The Blurb

Begin your day with Morning Meditations, with reflective meditations and thoughtful journal prompts for every season paired with serene landscape art to get you on the path of mindfulness.

Though it can be easy to get caught up in the fast-paced world throughout the year, Morning Meditationsencourages you to be present and mindful of every thought. With this beautiful book, you can start each day focused and prepared to take on anything.

Morning Meditations will help you create a peaceful and purposeful mindset, giving you the freedom to feel calm and think reflectively as you begin to understand your thoughts each morning through this mindful routine. With prompts for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, this guide is perfect for everyone—from those picking up their first mindful practice to long-time followers.

Some prompts include: Spring – What things in your life do you need to examine more closely today? Summer – In what ways are you growing, both inward and outward?Fall – How will you receive peace today? Winter – Describe the things about yourself that you are glad to have. The Everyday Inspiration Journals series has a guided journal for every self-improvement journey. Whatever your personal goal, whether it is to incorporate more positivity into your life, or to slow down and find calm, or to hone your spell-building craft, or something else, you will find in this series an elegant journal in which you can record your thoughts, aspirations, and progress. With a simple, easy-to-follow structure, each journal is filled with powerful prompts and helpful trackers to illuminate your way.

What I Thought

Such a beautiful book – I am forever grateful that I get sent books to review and I received this in a digital version – but I definitely want to get the physical copy of this one!

I love that the book is broken down seasonally, with reflections relevant to each season, which can be started at any time of the year if you flip to the season you are currently in. Each entry contains a quote, followed by a question which asks you to reflect on something. There is plenty of space to write daily without feeling overwhelmed and the book is visually beautiful. The suggestion is that you do this reflection in the morning, which is a great way of starting your day.

This is an excellent example of a journal and would be a great place to start if you are interested in journaling for your mental health.

Buy the book on my Amazon shop

Redhanded: An Exploration of Criminals, Cannibals, Cults, and What Makes a Killer Tick

By Suruthi Bala and Hannah Maguire

The Blurb

Features an audiobook exclusive interview: Suruthi and Hannah interview award-winning author Denise Mina on ‘the less dead’, equality and bigotry in crime, the justice system and the media.

The highly anticipated book from the UK’s number one true-crime podcast, Redhanded!

What is it about killers, cults and cannibals that capture our imaginations even as they terrify and disturb us? How do we carefully consume these cases, and what can they teach us about what makes victims and their murderers our collective responsibility?

Redhanded rejects the outdated narrative of killers as monsters and that a victim ‘was just in the wrong place at the wrong time’. Instead, it dissects the stories of killers in a way that challenges perceptions and asks the hard questions about society, gender, poverty, culture and even our politics.

With Bala and Maguire’s trademark humour, research on real-life cases and unflinching analysis of what makes a criminal, the authors take you through the societal, behavioural and cultural drivers of the most extreme of human behaviour to find out once and for all: what makes a killer tick?

What I Thought

When I heard my favourite podcasters were writing a book I had to get a hold of it and I chose to get the Audible version as I am used to listening to these two on the RedHanded podcast. I was really glad I did – this was like a slightly different version of, and elongated version of the podcast.

While the ladies did tell the stories of some killers (most of who have been covered more extensively in their own episodes of the podcast) this book delved deeper into the WHY and what might cause these individuals to carry out their awful crimes. Rather than define them simply as monsters, it looked into personality, mental health, society and more as to how killers can be ‘made’.

If you don’t listen to RedHanded – why on earth not?! – you need to immediately, especially if you are a true crime fan and you will love this book too, and the slightly different focus on what makes killers tick, rather than exploring individual crimes.

Buy the book on my Amazon shop

We Had To Remove This Post*

by Hanna Bervoets

The Blurb

‘[A] superbly poised, psychologically astute and subtle novel of mental unravelling.’
Ian McEwan, author of Atonement

‘Fast paced and thrilling, violent and nightmarish and grief-stricken, but also tender and wildly moving.’
Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things

This novel gives us an acid glimpse into a new form of labor existing today . . . Fascinating and disturbing.’
Ling Ma, author of Severance

To be a content moderator is to see humanity at its worst — but Kayleigh needs money. That’s why she takes a job working for a social media platform whose name she isn’t allowed to mention. Her job: reviewing offensive videos and pictures, rants and conspiracy theories, and deciding which need to be removed.

It’s gruelling work. Kayleigh and her colleagues spend all day watching horrors and hate on their screens, evaluating them with the platform’s ever-changing moderating guidelines. Yet Kayleigh is good at her job, and in her colleagues she finds a group of friends, even a new girlfriend — and for the first time in her life, Kayleigh’s future seems bright.

But soon the job seems to change them all, shifting their worlds in alarming ways. How long before the moderators own morals bend and flex under the weight of what they see?

We Had To Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets is a chilling, powerful and gripping story about who or what determines our world view. Examining the toxic world of content moderation, the novel forces us to ask: what is right? What is real? What is normal? And who gets to decide?

Translated by Emma Rault.

What I Thought

I am sure we have all reported something on social media that hasn’t been removed for breaking guidelines and thought – why the hell not?! This book takes you on a disturbing tour of what life as an internet moderator is really like.

I have to be honest – it isn’t something I really thought about. That a real person has to sit there and look through all this awful content of which I am sure everyone who is on social media has come across at one time or another. But there are people out there who for them, this is how they pay their bills. And the rules are actually shockingly strict.

This is a short book that packs a dark punch. What happens to Kayleigh and her colleagues as they are exposed to more and more of this brutal content is deeply disturbing and you have to wonder how anyone can keep doing the job for long. The ending was sudden but unexpected and leaves you with a lot to think about. I can’t say I enjoyed the book as that seems strange but it was an insightful, haunting and timely read for sure.

A Note From the Publisher

A note about the content: this book contains a depictions of violence, sexual abuse, self-harm and animal cruelty

Buy the book on my Amazon shop

Well I hope you enjoyed this round up and have found your next read! I would love to hear what you think about it, be sure to let me know in the comments below! Take care and keeeeeeep reading,

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