Medical · Non-Fiction

Unnatural Causes – Dr Richard Shephard ★★★★

Blurb; The dead do not hide the truth and they never lie. Through me the dead can speak …

As the country’s top forensic pathologist, Dr Richard Shepherd has spent a lifetime uncovering the secrets of the dead.

When death is sudden or unexplained, it falls to Shepherd to establish the cause. Each post-mortem is a detective story in its own right – and Shepherd has performed over 23,000 of them. Through his skill, dedication and insight, Dr Shepherd solves the puzzle to answer our most pressing question: how did this person die?

From serial killer to natural disaster, ‘perfect murder’ to freak accident, Shepherd takes nothing for granted in pursuit of truth. And while he’s been involved in some of the most high-profile cases of recent times, it’s often the less well known encounters that prove the most perplexing, intriguing and even bizarre. In or out of the public eye, his evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads.

But a life in death, bearing witness to some of humanity’s darkest corners, exacts a price and Shepherd doesn’t flinch from counting the cost to him and his family.

My Review; I picked this one up cause I had seen it around a lot and thought it was similar to This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay. Same genre (medical), TOTALLY DIFFERENT!

This is a non fiction book with an indepth look in to the life/work of a Pathologist and I when I say indepth I mean it. Parts are very descriptive, Stomach turning. It will take you on a real life journey to many post mortems from babies to the elderly and all in between. Which may be an unpleasant and an unsuitable read for some readers.

However, it is an eye opening read, I learnt a lot from this book. It contains some of the worlds biggest terror attacks and devastating incidents. We get a good glimpse into what happens after death, how they reach verdicts and how pathologists conduct their work. It is brutally honest and fascinating. A real page turner and brilliantly written.

I awarded a well deserved four stars and would highly recommend to you all.

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Emotional · Historical fiction · Non-Fiction · War

*BLOG TOUR* The Librarian of Auschwitz – Antonio Iturbe ★★★★★

Blurb; ‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp.

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

My Review; Oh my heart. I teared up so many times througout reading this, I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like. Not an easy read, but one that has changed my life and will stick with me forever. It’s changed the way I look at life and realise how lucky we all are compared to how they were treated and had to survive in Auschwitz. Just terrible.

The Librarian of Aushwitz is beautifully translated and written by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites. It is based on a true story and it hurts how close to the truth it really is, makes it all the more real and heart-breaking.

Within the story you really get to know each character individually and when you lose one, IT HURTS! It’s upsetting. I felt that! The story highlights how important friends, family and books are… Even though there was only 8 books they meant the world to block 31 and the children. There are so many beautiful quotes about books in this story. It was their form of escape from reality during the worst of times.

Ditas character (based off a real woman). Wow. She was only fourteen and had so much responsibilty placed on her, she risked her life technically daily. She is one strong and determined woman. I really do look up to this woman and appreciate her and applaud her for what she did. What a wondeful woman! I love to meet her.

An absolute eye opener of a read! The truth is in this book about what really happened at Auschwitz camps. I’m tearing up writing this review. A must read. A well deserved five stars from me and it obviously has a space in my top twenty of the year and honestly this might be stuck with me for life. I learnt a lot from this book.

(Sorry for the long review, if you made it this far, thank you).

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Non-Fiction · Prison story

*12 days of Clink Street* Veronica’s Bird – Veronica Bird & Richard Newman ★★★★★

Blurb; Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the Fifties as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. However, a glimmer of hope revealed itself as she, astonishingly to her and her mother, won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates.

A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness. That was until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the fire.

He soon began to take control over her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as cheap labour on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away from him and applied to the Prison Service, intuiting that it was the only safe place she could trust.

Accepted into the Prison Service at a time when there were few women working in the industry, Veronica applied herself every day to learning her new craft even training in Holloway Prison where Myra Hindley was an inmate. With no wish to go outside the prison, Veronica remained inside on-duty. While her colleagues went out to the pub, the theatre or to dine she didn’t feel able to join them.

Her dedication was recognised and she rose rapidly in the Service moving from looking after dangerous women prisoners on long-term sentences to violent men and coming up against such infamous names as The Price sisters, Mary Bell and Charles Bronson. The threat of riots was always very close and escapes had to be dealt with quickly.

After becoming a Governor, Veronica was tasked with what was known within the Service as a ‘basket case’ of a prison. However, with her diligence and enthusiasm Veronica managed to turn it around whereupon it became a model example to the country and she was recognised with an honour from the Queen. With this recognition the EU invited her to lead a team to Russia and her time in Ivanovo Prison, north east of Moscow, provides an illuminating and humorous insight into a different prison culture.

My Review; I absolutely loved this book! I have always been fascinated about prisons, so this book was perfect. A little different from what I usually read as this is a non fiction book, a true story. But it’s brilliant!

As a true story you really get to know Veronica up close and personal, through the good and bad! She is a woman I admire with an interesting life story to tell. I was well and truelly hooked, I wanted to know everything about what this woman experienced and had to tell me especially inside of the prisons she worked in.

Parts will have you laughing, parts will make you gasp. Veronica is one extraordinary woman. I loved the photos included in the middle of the book making it more personal and a look into the history of how prisons were run and criminals dealt with (a lot has changed since then).

Beautifull written and told. Highly recommend. A story that is going to stick with me for a long time. A well deserved five stars from me.

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