Title: This Little Piggy
Author: Bea Davenport
Publisher: Legend Times Group
Date of Publication: 1 April 2015
Number of Pages: 288
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers – Literature/Fiction (adult)
Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Copy provided free by Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: It’s the summer of 1984 and there is a sense of unease on the troubled Sweetmeadows estate. The residents are in shock after the suspicious death of a baby and tension is growing due to the ongoing miners’ strike. Journalist Clare Jackson follows the story as police botch the inquiry and struggle to contain the escalating violence. Haunted by a personal trauma she can’t face up to, Clare is shadowed by nine-year-old Amy, a bright but neglected little girl who seems to know more about the incident than she’s letting on. As the days go on and the killer is not found, Clare ignores warnings not to get too close to her stories and in doing so, puts her own life in jeopardy.
Review: I was nervous about reading this. Please don’t ask me why, the answer is not structured nor coherent. Part of me, I think, was nervous about the word “piggy”, what with being a large woman who still has a fear of being teased and ridiculed when reading in public. Ridiculous, yes.
All personal baggage aside, this book is fantastic!
I don’t feel I can go into much detail about This Little Piggy without giving away something in the plot. I’m not even going to say more than that. Just read it.
One thing I would like to congratulate Bea Davenport on is her writing. This isn’t as strange as it might seem. Think about how many times you’ve started a book set in the 1980s or the 1880s or the 1780s and been surprised but not all that cognisant of how modern the language and the writing. How many books have you read, set in a historical period that may as well be modern except for the clothing? Davenport escapes this invisible and largely unacknowledged constraint. For me, this book could have been written in 1984. There is no moment where you are jolted out of the correct time frame. The miners strike, the picket line, the typewriters and the description of their noise. There are payphones and journalists who do shorthand and then call their stories through to copy writers. They think nothing of jumping in their cars, also unassuming, to go cover a story. Every element, for me, is 100% believable. I haven’t read anything that comes close to this for a while.
It’s not a big read, it isn’t a challenging read but it is definitely one that should be on your to read list.
Title: A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience
Author: Emerson Baker
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date of Publication: 6 October 2014
Number of Pages: 400
Rating: 4 stars
Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers–mainly young women–suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history.
Review: Emerson Baker, Professor of History and archaeological historian, has produced an anthropological work that delves into the human nature of the Salem witch trials. The text produced is ethnographic in nature because he focuses on the people, the way they interacted, their loyalties, and the various, conflicting forces exacting their toll on the settlements of the Massachusetts region. Baker takes the topic beyond the supernatural, beyond the ergot poisoning and into a psychological problem known now as “conversion disorder”. This is a new phenomenon to me and while it makes sense at one level, it lacks conviction when considered on a global scale. However, when considered as a partner to depression and anxiety, conversion disorder does take on a new face. I do not want to focus on this though.
A Storm of Witchcraft is not an easy book to read. Baker gives you the names and dates of the trials and expects you to keep up. Some parts were so dense it was almost impossible to get through. Other parts were fantastically interesting and could easily be called ‘light bulb’ moments.
It has taken me a long time to read this book. I won’t say it was a pleasure but it was certainly interesting. For anyone who is interested in the witch trials but only wants an easy to read taster, this book is not for you. Baker writes for an academic audience and is not afraid of intimidating (in a good way) his reader. I’m very glad I convinced myself to finish.
Posting my September reads back at the start of October passed me by. I don’t know where I was or why it didn’t happen but it hardly matters now.
The Returning Tide by Julie Sokota – 1 star
Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid – 2 stars
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan – 5 stars [also current winner of best book of 2015]
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – 4 stars but I am thinking about down grading it slightly.
The True & Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters by Michelle Lovric – 4 stars – This was a hard read to get into. It didn’t feel like it was going anywhere and then all of a sudden there were many things happening and you felt completely consumed by the story. A pleasing slow burner.
Mystery Inc. by Joyce Carol Oates – 2 stars – I feel I may have missed the point of this short story. It could be a symptom of me not liking short stories in general though.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – 2 stars – over hyped and under whelming.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler – 4 stars – I can see why some people haven’t liked this book and I can see why some people have. I obviously enjoyed it but one thing I have to say is that autobiographies are, for me, just another form of fiction. The writer is still only telling you what they want you to know. Biographies are not much better.
24 stars out of a possible 40
Average – 2 stars (I honestly didn’t think it would be this low. What a slack two months…)