Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Ronald Laing by @davidboyle1958 @TheRealPressPub #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs at http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Ronald Laing: The rise and fall and rise of a radical psychiatrist by David Boyle

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I’m writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. I was provided with an ARC copy of the book that I voluntarily chose to review.

I’m a psychiatrist and although I studied Medicine in Spain I have trained as a psychiatrist in the UK. Despite that, R.D. Laing and his ideas weren’t a part of our curriculum (I don’t know if things have changed now, as that was almost 25 years ago). During one of my training jobs, one of the psychotherapy tutors showed us a recording of an interview with R.D. Laing and he talked to us about him. He came across as a fascinating man with very interesting ideas, quite contrary to the standard focus on biological psychiatry, evidence-based interventions and emphasis on classification and symptoms rather than people. I read several of his books at the time and although I was fascinated by his ideas I didn’t have the time to study his figure and the rest of his work in detail.

This short book (the text takes up around 88% of the book as after that there are some extracts from other books from the same publisher, The Real Press) does an excellent job of highlighting both the person (the biography is succinct but it manages to include the salient points of his family life, his work experience and how both influenced his ideas) and his works. It also places Laing’s figure in its historical and socio-political era, linking it to other thinkers and movements of the time (hippy movement, antipsychiatry, existentialism, LSD culture…). Due to its length, it is not an exhaustive study of the individual works but it presents a good overview that will allow those who’ve never heard of R.D. Laing to gain some familiarity with his life and his work, and will bring together loose ends for those who might have read some of his works but don’t know how they fit into his career (because, as the author points out, some of Laing’s books are very difficult to understand). This text also provides a good guide to students interested in going deeper into Laing’s work and offers suggestions for further reading (both of Laing’s own works and of works about him). The book is being launched to coincide with the premier of a movie about Laing called ‘Mad to Be Normal’ starring David Tennant, and it should be a great complement to those who might come out of the movie intrigued and wanting to know more without embarking on complex theoretical books (that are very much of their time).

Boyle does a great job of extracting the most important aspects of Laing’s work and life and shows a good understanding and empathy towards the man and his ideas. Rather than focus exclusively on the most scandalous aspects of his life, he emphasises his care for patients, his own disturbed childhood, and how he insisted patients were unique and not just cogs in a machine that had to learn to show the required and accepted behaviour. Although many of his ideas have been discredited, his feelings about the profession and his insistence on listening to patients and putting their needs first resonate today as much as they did at the time. Personally, I’m pleased to see his figure is being re-evaluated. Never too soon.

Laing is one of these people whose life and scandals throw a big shadow over his work, but this book and, hopefully, the movie, might help new generations to rediscover him.

Book Description

The radical psychiatrist R. D. Laing took the world by storm in the 1960s and 1970s with his ideas about madness, families and people’s need for authenticity. At the height of his fame, he could fill stadiums like Bob Dylan and often did so. He became an icon of the movement that held psychiatry to be an agency of repression, his phrases on a million hippy T-shirts. Then he fell from grace, flung out of the medical profession, and his influence has been waning since. His basic ideas have been regarded as having been discredited. Yet, despite this, his influence is also everywhere – but largely unnoticed and unremarked. This book tells the extraordinary human story of his struggle, first with the authorities as a psychiatrist in the army and then a series of mental hospitals. It explains his extraordinary influence in the context of the upheavals of those psychedelic days – and it looks at what we can still learn from Laing today. Boyle finds he still has an unexpectedly potent message.

About the author

David Boyle

I live in the South Downs, in Sussex, and write in a small green hut at the end of the garden – mainly about history, politics, economics and the future. I find that history now absorbs me the most, from Richard the Lionheart to Enigma and with a great deal in between. I try to recapture some of the spirit, even the magic, of the past – I’ve also written quite widely about fairies (I find this doesn’t sit easily with writing about economics, but I still wrestle with holding the two sides together…). I’ve found myself more recently writing about codes and the navy, which is a lifelong fascination, and – most recently – writing about family members as well, in Unheard, Unseen (about early submarines) and my great-great-grandfather is the central figure in Scandal. But then, where the magic and the economics can potentially come together is in fiction – notably in my Leaves the World to Darkness (fairies) and The Piper (money).

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Silent Kookaburra by @LizaPerrat #Australian #Thriller

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs at http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading The Silent Kookaburra by Liza Perrat

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My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I was provided with an ARC copy that I voluntarily chose to review.

The story —set in an Australia richly brought to life by the writing that describes landscape, animals, trees, food, furniture, cars, lifestyle and social mores— is told in the first person by Tanya Randall. Adult Tanya is back in her childhood cottage and a newspaper cutting from 1973, which her grandmother kept, makes her remember that time when she was only eleven. The story of adult Tanya frames that of her childhood memories, which take up most of the book (I had almost forgotten that fact until the very end of the story).

Young Tanya is quite innocent (of course, she doesn’t think so), overweight (she eats compulsively, seemingly to comfort herself when the situation gets difficult at home, when they call her names, when she has any upsets or… most of the time. There are long lists of biscuits and other foods she consumes at an alarming pace, well-researched for the period, although I’m not familiar with them), and loves her mother, father, cat (that she insists on walking as if it were a dog, even if that brings her even more unwanted attention), dog, true crime magazines, and her friend Angelina, although not so much her grandmother, Nanna Purvis.

Seeing (or reading) things from a child’s point of view is a good way to reflect on how adult behaviour might appear to children and how difficult certain things might be to process and understand. Her mother’s miscarriages and depression (that keeps getting missed until very late in the novel), her secret uncle’s devious behaviour (it’s hard to read the scenes of Tanya with her uncle, as she’s clearly craving for attention and we know from early on where things are headed, but Tanya doesn’t and she finds it more and more difficult to extricate herself from the situation). The author is excellent at making us share her point of view and her thought processes that create an atmosphere of dread and impending disaster. The dualistic life view of young children, for whom everything is black or white is reflected perfectly in Tanya’s reactions to her grandmother (whom at first she doesn’t like at all but later, as she realises she’s the only one to stick by her, goes on to become complicit with) and to her uncle, who goes from being perfect to being a monster (although the novel suggests that he had also been a victim).

The novel is not easy to classify, although it comes under the thriller label, but it is a psychological exploration of childhood, memory, tragedy, the lies we tell ourselves, and also a work of historical (albeit recent history) fiction, as it beautifully recreates the time and place (down details such as hit songs, records of the era, bicycles, toys, cars, magazines, foodstuffs, clothing and hairdos) and even historical events, like the opening of the Sidney Opera House. There is something of a twist at the end, and plenty of secrets, like in most domestic noir novels, but for me, the strong points are the way the story is told, and some of the characters. Nanna Purvis (who is a fantastic character and proves that grandmothers are almost always right) has old-fashioned ideas about relationships, sexuality, religion and race, but manages to surprise us and has good insight into her own family. Tanya reminded me of myself at her age (although I read other types of books, I was also overweight and wasn’t the most popular girl at school, and we also lived with my mother’s mother, although thankfully my home circumstances were not as tragic) and she tries hard to keep her family together. Her point of view and her understanding are limited, and her actions and frame of mind repetitive at times (she munches through countless packets of biscuits, pulls at her cowlick often, bemoans the unattractive shape of her ears, wonders if she’s adopted) as it befits a character of her age and historical period (so close but yet so far. No internet, no social media, no easy way to access information). Real life is not a succession of exciting events; even at times of crisis, most of our lives are taken up by routine actions and everyday tasks. Her mother’s sinking into depression and her bizarre behaviour, which is sadly misunderstood and left untreated for far too long, rang a chord with me as a psychiatrist. It is an accurate portrayal of such conditions, of the effect the illness can have not only on the sufferers but also on the family, and of the reactions of the society to such illnesses (especially at the time). Uncle Blackie is also a fascinating character but I won’t say anything else as I want to avoid spoilers. Although the setting and the atmosphere are very different, it brought to my mind some of Henry James’s stories, in particular, What Maisie Knew and The Turn of the Screw.

This is a great novel that I recommend to those who are interested in accurate psychological portrayals, reflections on the nature of memory, and books with a strong sense of setting and historical period, rather than fast action and an ever changing plot. A word of warning: it will be difficult to read for those with a low tolerance for stories about child abuse and bullying. If you’re a fan of good writing that submerges you into a time and place and plunges you inside of a character’s head, with an edge of creepiness and intrigue, this is your book.

Book Description

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web. 

Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory. 

Unsettling psychological suspense blending the intensity of Wally Lamb with the atmosphere of Peter James, this story will get under your skin.

About the author

An image posted by the author.

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her husband and three children for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII German Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third in the series, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.

The Silent Kookaburra, a dark psychological suspense novel set in 1970s Australia, was published in November, 2016.

Friends, Family and Other Strangers From Downunder is a collection of 14 humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia, for readers everywhere.

Liza is a co-founder and member of Triskele Books, an independent writers’ collective with a commitment to quality and a strong sense of place, and also reviews books for Bookmuse.

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Angelic Business 1 Pink Matters by Olga Miret @OlgaNM7

Angelic Business 1. Pink MattersAngelic Business 1. Pink Matters by Olga Núñez Miret
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Angelic Business 1 Pink Matters is book #1 in this #YA series involving Angels and Demons. Petra is an ordinary teenager who prefers to be called Pink, she’s not part of the “in” crowd and someone most boys tend to see past. She’d like to mean more to her friend Seth, but he insults her by offering to be a sympathetic date should she ever need one.

Together with her best friends Sylvia and Lorna, Pink hatches a plan to make Seth jealous and it’s more than a coincidence when new boy G turns up at school and refuses to be interested in any of the popular crowd.

Pink can’t quite believe that G has only eyes for her and she’s very doubtful about his intensions. It takes a lot of persuading for Pink to accept his word and even then the goal posts keep moving and she is left angry and confused.

At times the storyline is slowed with repetition of events and conversations. The tale will continue in the next book.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

View all my reviews on Goodreads

The #RBRT Reviewer Profiles – Olga Miret @OlgaNM7

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Reviewers on the #RBRT are very busy hard working people who give their time freely, so I thought it was about time readers had the chance to meet them and find out a bit more about them.

Olga Day 29

 

Olga Núñez Miret  lives in South Yorkshire, UK

Find her book reviews here;  http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

You can also find Olga here;

Twitter: @OlgaNM7

https://twitter.com/OlgaNM7

Facebook authorpage

www.facebook.com/OlgaNunezMiret

LinkedIn account:

http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=212028338&trk=tab_pro

My Goodreads author page is:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562510.Olga_N_ez_Miret

G+   https://plus.google.com/u/0/118443714277719085351

Pinterest :

http://www.pinterest.com/olganm7/

Tumblr

http://OlgaNMwriter.tumblr.com

Booklikes:

http://olganm9.booklikes.com/

Riffle:

https://read.rifflebooks.com/profiles/151299

Olga’s reading is varied, she enjoys;  Horror, literary fiction, thrillers, adventure, romance with something else (historical romance), chick-lit sometimes, historical fiction…

 

Book Formats Olga prefers when reviewing for team are;  Mobi or Amazon gift

Hobbies & interests?  At the risk of being boring, books, reading, but also movies, fitness, going for walks, antiques, crocheting…

Reading Soft edge

I asked, “What new genres have you tried from the review team list?” I haven’t been very daring yet, although I’ve discovered I like a challenge sometimes and I’m very intrigued by some of the dystopian YA books being published.

“What genres make you step out of your comfort zone?” I’m not very keen on erotica (although I don’t mind some scenes in a book), and I like some science-fiction but not always if it involves very lengthy descriptions of new worlds, weaponry, etc.

 

“What do you look for in a book?” I’m definitely a character’s person. I have to believe in the characters or find them interesting (even when they might be despicable). If it’s a good adventure I can go along with a solid plot but I still need some good characters I can connect with at some level. I’ve read some very interesting books that have opened my eyes to new topics and I’m always grateful if I can learn new things that encourage me to find out more. I’m more of a dialogue reader than a long descriptions one, but admire writers who can set up a scene beautifully in a few words.

“Book Styles you don’t enjoy?” I have so many books to read that I prefer something that keeps moving along these days, but I don’t think I have a particular style that I wouldn’t consider, if it gets me hooked.

“Do you read & review Non-Fiction?” Yes, although I have to be in the mood for it and it has to be a topic that either intrigues me or I have a particular interest in. My preference is usually for fiction, but I can’t resist certain things.