Book App/Site of the Fortnight – Smashbomb

Folks, if you’re looking for reviews on movies and box sets as well as books, look no further than Smashbomb.com!

Smashbomb is a social platform that lets you research and discover new things through recommendations from your friends, experts, and influencers.  It’s a great little site, despite still being in its early (beta) stage.  It has reviews on all the latest entertainment from books to games to tech to movies to TV series.

Anyone can join in, signing up is free.  You can say your piece on products already on there, search for reviews on things you’re interested in, receive recommendations, see what’s trending.  Item pages are well set out, with ratings out of 10 and scores displayed much like reviews on Amazon.  You can make your reviews as brief or as long as you want.

You can now follow Book Blog by Cari on Smashbomb, just hop along to their site smashbomb.com, sign up, and search for BookBlogbyCari.

When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost his Brain by Giles Milton.

Book Review by Cari Mayhew.

If only all events in history could be taught this way! This is his hands down one of the most entertaining history books you’ll ever read!  The book is composed of 50 chapters depicting from lesser known points in history.  The stories are dramatic, compelling, and often shocking.  There are tales of heroism, injustice, conspiracy, and cannibalism. Continue reading When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost his Brain by Giles Milton.

I Heart My Kindle.

I was into e-books before Kindle was a thing, and the ultimate reason for buying my first tablet was for use as an e-book reader.  I loved that the Kindle app was free and that I could buy e-books at a fraction of the price I would pay for a paperback.

The thing was, whenever I read on my traditional tablet, either in daylight or in artificial light, I would be met with screen glare/reflection, and I’d often struggle to make out words.  I often gave up on trying, making my 1-hour commute on the train something of a drag.

That was until I invested in a Kindle – its light enough to carry anywhere, and I can enjoy clear reading whatever the lighting!  I always have a good book on me, for whatever genre takes my fancy or matches my mood.

The Kindle has loads of great features, which make it a lot more than a mere reading app.  It shows you recommendations based on what books you’ve purchased previously, which is particularly good if you want to expand your knowledge in a narrow field; or if you’re interested in a particular genre.

With my Kindle Paperwhite I can make minute adjustments to the brightness of the screen, adjust the typeface, and see how long I have left in a chapter.  Also, the battery for a Kindle lasts way longer than a traditional tablet.

If you’re considering switching to e-books I don’t blame you!  And you could do a lot worse than investing in a Kindle – highly recommended!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – The Official Playscript of the Original West End Production – by J.K.Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne.

Book Review by Cari Mayhew.

Until now I’d never read any of the Harry Potter books, but I’m glad I read this one!  There’s magic, mayhem, time travel, alternate realities, and some seriously dangerous close calls.  Don’t worry there are no big spoilers here! Continue reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – The Official Playscript of the Original West End Production – by J.K.Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne.

Book App/Site of the Fortnight – Blind Date with a Book.

Do you want your next read to be a complete surprise?  Blind Date with a Book has got it covered!  You receive a completely wrapped-up book, tagged with intriguing clues alluding to the book inside.  It makes for a great gift!  The books are hand selected great reads and are chosen from all genres including classics, thrillers, mysteries, romances, science fiction, adventure, and literary fiction.  They pick books that readers may have missed by great authors or other great books that perhaps did not receive the publicity that they deserved. I’ve taken a peek at their range of genres and clues and it looks superb!

The books come in at slightly under the usual price of paperback, and postage is circa £3.  You simply pop to their website https://blinddatewithabook.com, and select a book based on the clues provided.

If you’re after a new surprise book every month you can subscribe to their exclusive book club – details on their website.

My View on Mental Illness in Modern Literature

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In the past few months, I’ve read one trending fictional YA novel centred on a character’s suicide, and 2 real life memoirs where the authors attempted to take their lives and were institutionalised.

The former was called 13 Reasons Why, where the central character listens to audio tapes where Hannah explains what lead to her suicide. Some of the “reasons” (but not all) were simply Hannah’s overreactions to normal teenage life.  Other reasons where more pressing, but nothing she could not have lived through and come out the other side of.  I didn’t like how the book portrayed depression at all.  Although depression has its triggers, it is not unequivocally caused by events or a series of events.  It is an illness as natural as the common cold and can happen to anyone – regardless of their circumstances.

I also read Girl Interrupted, a memoir from which the film of the same name was made.  The author clearly had a madness to her, there is no question of that, yet she depicts her gradual slide in and out of madness as something that wasn’t really so mad at all.  She had lost a lot of interest in what her life had to offer and started questioning whether she was truly motivated to stay alive.  Then one day she overdosed on pills, seemingly just to end the dreary obsession.  It was then that she was admitted to a mental health hospital.  It is clear that she was more sane than any of her fellow patients, however, and that some patients were merely acting up just because they could.

In contrast was the memoir-like classic, The Bell Jar.  Here the same madness was depicted entirely differently.  Stark, bold, unworldly, horrific and deadly.  The author had been living a young lady’s dream life, but things began slipping away from her and on a whim she got herself into a deliberate skiing accident.  She too was institutionalised, but when an acquaintance was also admitted the author failed to recognise that other people really could go through the same thing.

In both memoirs, both authors were eventually found to be sane enough to leave the institutions.

All 3 books were very readable, but words in The Bell Jar had a poetry to them, and it was far more striking and effective.

So I guess the points I want to make are these:

  • Depression can happen to anyone, regardless of circumstances
  • Bad event/s don’t have to lead to suicide
  • Recovery is possible and is even common
  • Memoirs have a truth to them, whereas novels are purely for entertainment