True Crime Podcasts

Because I’m morbid and scared of everything, I listen to true crime podcasts and get too scared to leave my house (or stay in my house). I know that recently there’s been a pushback against these podcasts, especially comedy podcasts possibly because it can be seen as trivialising horrible things so if you’re not a fan then this post isn’t for you. If you’re interested in true crime and want some recommendations or are a fan of some others then let me know if you love these or have one you’d like to share then please let me know!

1. My Favourite Murder

This was the first crime podcast that I listened to so it is my favourite by default. Karen Kilagariff and Georgia Hardstark present a case every week to each other as well as minisodes with listeners hometown murders. They’re so funny and so nice, very open with listeners about their lives (not so open that it’s weird, they’re crime ladies so they know about privacy) while talking about awful things. Also this gif is from Georgia’s Drunk History episode about the Circleville Letters which is just weird and the podcast ep about it is weird – some crimes are just weird.

Episode recs: 158 Burn Day (3 Billboards), 130 Mike is Right (the West’s and the Romanovs), 18 Investigateen Discovery (Mary Vincent’s survival).

2. Last Podcast on the Left

I spent a few episodes of this podcast unsure about how I felt and my friend had the same experience when she started listening. These guys (Marcus Parks, Henry Zebrowski and Ben Kissel) go hard on humour and details. Details. Sometimes way too many details and I’m sat at my desk with one earbud in just stating into the middle distance not getting any work done just focusing on not fainting (Dahmer episode, had to change to Wonderful for a break). They do alert you that it’s ‘heading into Gold Star territory’ which is code for ‘this is disgusting and if you listen to it you get a gold star because you’re messed up’.

Episode recs: HH Holmes, Joseph Mengele (I started on a conspiracy spiral after hearing about the rat lines now I’m just constantly mad), Carl Panzram and I’m currently listening to the Toybox Killer which I might have to stop.

3. Jensen and Holes: The Murder Squad

Not a comedy! Started on MFM’s podcast network, Exactly Right, this is a new podcast with only a few episodes but it’s Billy Jensen and Paul Holes who are just amazing. Paul Holes is a retired investigator who has appeared on many podcasts and documentaries, Billy Jensen is a crime journalist who helped finish Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone In the Dark – they’re professional and sensitive.

Episode recs: The Golden State Killer – Paul was part of Michelle’s book AND part of the investigation when they caught and arrested him, his story of that night is great to listen to. They also speak to a woman who may have been a victim of GSK but the DNA evidence has been destroyed.

4. Casefile

Not a comedy! This is another details podcast but with no levity, it can be very hard to listen to and there are more episodes of this that I have abandoned. The episode descriptions are mysterious too so unless the title is clear then it’s impossible to find a specific story.

Episode recs: 108: The Kicevo Monster

5. Criminal

I’m Phoebe Judge, and this is Criminal.

Not always murders, Judge covers many interesting and weird crimes on this show and it’s just interesting. This one isn’t scary or unnerving.

Episode recs: 4: Call Your Mom (mother daughter investigator interview – YES)

That’s all I’ve got for now! My main goal for this post was actually to ask for your recommendations! I’ll probably do another of these at some point but these are my top favourites, please let me know if you have any more I should listen to 🙂

You can find my social media @beccaggray on Twitter and Instagram, I also have my bookstagram @bookstagrambecca if you want to see any of my bookish posts. Thank you for reading!!

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Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

I don’t like to write negative reviews on my blog, I know that I won’t like every book because people have different tastes, authors have different styles and a book that I don’t like will be someone’s favourite.

WTF is this book? This review will contain spoilers because really WTF is this book?

I got this on Kindle when Kang won the Man Booker International Prize for it in 2016 but only just read it this past weekend and I have to ask: WTF?

Sometimes, the writing style and words were poetic and nice to read which is the work of the author and the translator together. I admire the work that goes into translated fiction and wanted to read more this year (I’ve kind of failed with that so far in my reading this year). But what is the obsession with nipples in this book? Every few pages there’s a point where the protagonist just talks about his wife’s nipples for a bit. We get it. You want her to wear a bra. She doesn’t have to, no one has to, they’re annoying. Let her live her life without a bra oh my god you’re like a broken record.

Then there’s the surprise rape scene in the first part of the book. No reaction or repercussions from that. Ok. Cool. Then the father-daughter slap then attempted force feeding scene which ends with an attempted suicide? What. Also there’s depictions of animal abuse and mutilation. Great.

The second part is a bit better. Male characters still struggle with the idea that a woman’s body is a body rather than an object for their enjoyment. But Yeong-hye actually seems to be better after her divorce and is still comfortable in her body despite her brother-in-law now being the one obsessing over her boobs and forcing her into sexual situations.

The third part is the only one that I kind of liked. It focuses on Yeong-hye and her sister In-hye while Yeong-hye is in a hospital to be treated for her anorexia and schizophrenia. Only because it is centred on the relationship between the sisters, rather than the men of the family who are just irritating and bad. I can’t say I’d recommend this book to anyone because I just didn’t enjoy it, I finished it because it was short and I thought I might as well carry on to see if I started to like it. I didn’t.

Trigger/content warnings for: anorexia, eating disorders, mental illness, schizophrenia, rape, sexual abuse, child abuse, animal abuse, blood, gore, suicide.

You can find my social media @beccaggray on Twitter and Instagram, I also have my bookstagram @booksforbecca if you want to see any of my bookish posts. Thank you for reading!!

Book review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles is a retelling of Achilles and Patroclus’ story and the battle of Troy from the perspective of Patroclus. Somewhere between YA and general fiction, Miller’s writing is engaging and brings Homer’s story to life for a new audience. I sat through torturous hours in class reading The Odyssey, The Iliad and The Aeneid paragraph by paragraph with the whole class and that isn’t the way these stories are meant to be enjoyed.

Miller’s retelling is far more enjoyable than that experience but truer to the mythos than the Percy Jackson series. Her portrayal of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is everything that historians and classicists have tried to take away from mythology – ya bois are in love and it’s cute.

I also wasn’t expecting (for some reason) to see Briseis presented here as nicely as she was. I read The Silence of the Girls earlier this year and in that she was the main character, bed-slave to Achilles which she is not in this novel. I also forgot about Phyrrus, a really annoying character in the original text and this one, just a really snotty twelve year old who goes to fight in the Trojan way (as you do) and is terribly rude and oh yeah loves literally stabbing people in the back. What’s the deal with that? Stop it.

I do have to say, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. Maybe because of how much I enjoyed Circe and The Silence of the Girls but I also think this book has been overhyped for me. I gave it 4 stars because the story is enjoyable but then again, I enjoy the myths. Sorry that this isn’t a more in depth review but the most fun I had while reading this was saying everything that Odysseus said in a Sean Bean voice.

Top 5 Tuesday: Unputdownable Books!

Another Tuesday and another top five picks! Top Five Tuesday is a book tag created by Bionic Bookworm, I’ll link her blog here with the topics for this month, it’s a great way to think about your reading and find new books and bloggers to check out too!

1. Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I finished this all in one sitting a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it. I can’t speak highly enough about this book and think it’s definitely one of my favourites. I’ll link my full (very excited) review here.

2. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

I think this is my absolute favourite retelling of classical mythology. It’s the story of Briseis, a woman captured by the Greeks in the Battle of Troy who becomes a prize of Achilles. Yay for female focused retellings! I did put this down a few times but only to prolong the experience of reading it.

3. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Favourite book of 2018! I think it’s truly wonderful, I’m excited for his second book and think he’s a lovely man, he was so nice and funny when I went to his event with Laura Purcell. Speaking of…

4. The Corset by Laura Purcell

Victorian crime and intrigue and classism and murder and scandal and phrenology? Yes please sign me up oh my goodness this is wonderful and just came out in a beautiful ‘arsenic green’ paperback!

5. Vox by Christina Dalcher

Dystopia focused on female oppression and religion dominating the political landscape? I wonder where that idea came from…

You can find my social media @beccaggray on Twitter and Instagram, I also have my bookstagram @booksforbecca if you want to see any of my bookish posts. Thank you for reading!!

Down The TBR Hole #7

I missed a week and you thought I forgot! Ha! Never again! Not until I beat my Goodreads TBR down to a minuscule pile of books that I’m excited to read!

This tag/idea was created by Lost In A Story and has some rules!

The Rules:

• Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

• Order on ascending date added.

• Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books

• Read the synopses of the books

• Decide: keep it or should it go?

• Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Book 26: The Enchanted by Rene Denfield

Date added: 30th October 2014

Decision: Remove

Explanation: Death row and magical realism. Doesn’t appeal to me anymore without it being hyped up to me as I remember it was quite a bit when I added it.

Book 27: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Date added: Unknown (not 2018 as Goodreads says)

Decision: Keep

Explanation: This was from my final year at university for the gothic reading list and I wanted to read it so much! I have a beautiful edition just sitting on my shelf unread!

Book 28: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Date added: 27th May 2018 (but before because GR lies)

Decision: Keep

Explanation: I’m a fan of time loop/dimension narratives and this sounds like an interesting one!

Book 29: The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion by Meghan Daum

Date added: 21st November 2015

Decision: Remove

Explanation: This is a collection of essays and after reading some of the reviews, quite an oddly offensive and pretentious one at that. I’ll give it a miss.

Book 30: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

Date added: 27th May 2018 (actually added before this)

Decision: Remove

Explanation: After enjoying Parks and Rec, then his stand up in which he seemed to be a nice and funny guy, we were all disappointed when it was alleged that Ansari was actually a creepazoid. That’s all I think when I see this sitting on my Kindle. I’m not completely sure what happened with those allegations and the article itself was a bit uncomfortable on both sides. I don’t want romantic advice from this guy.

I’m up to 30 books on this tag now and I’ve removed quite a few! Do you remove old books from your shelves in this way?

You can find my social media @beccaggray on Twitter and Instagram, I also have my bookstagram @bookstagrambecca if you want to see any of my bookish posts. Thank you for reading!!

May TBR!

It’s the middle of the month but here we go with my TBR! I only have a few since we’re halfway through but better late than never 😂

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

I’ve been listening to That’s Ancient History, a podcast about classical and ancient history (surprise) which made me really want to read some of the classics themed books on my TBR. It was the episode where Jean interviews Madeline Miller about her latest book Circe that made me pick up The Song of Achilles which has been on my TBR (and my Kindle) for a few years. So far, I’m really enjoying this book. I’m enjoying Miller’s writing of Patroclus, a character that has been sidelined as he’s not a hero and so it’s interesting to read about him. I really enjoy Miller’s writings on lesser known mythological characters and did my MA dissertation on her novella Galatea (review linked here) so I’d really recommend anything by her.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

This is one from my library that became available for me today so I’m excited to get to it. It’s about a young man that gets an offer to start an apprenticeship that he can’t turn down with a bookbinder that binds memories. When he finds one on the shelf with his name, WHAT WILL HAPPEN? I don’t know but I’ll find out.

The Meg by Steve Alten

I mentioned this in my Magical Creatures post (here) but I recently watched The Meg and immediately found it on my library app. That film is so bonkers stupid crazy town and I loved every second of it. I’m also intrigued as to how you make a big shark story into a book, there are a few in the series too so maybe I’ll get into it.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these or what you’re hoping to get to this month!

You can find my social media @beccaggray on Twitter and Instagram, I also have my bookstagram @booksforbecca if you want to see any of my bookish posts. Thank you for reading!!

Book Review: How To Come Alive Again: a guide to killing your monsters by Beth McColl

Happy Mental Health Awareness Week! I started the week with a nice counselling session and then an afternoon in sunny Halifax where I visited The Book Corner and didn’t get any books 🙂

Last week I finished off How To Come Alive Again by Beth McColl, a book released last month that focuses on dealing with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and panic disorders. I really enjoyed this book, I’m not a stranger to self-help or nonfiction is this area but this is the first book I’ve read with very practical advice for your immediate future. So immediate that it includes reminders to go and do your laundry or plug your devices in to charge because while you might feel terrible right now, life goes on and you’ll feel worse if you feel that you’ve fallen behind.

The section on self care, specifically sensory self care, was one that I liked because it wasn’t telling you to do a face mask and take selfies #selfcareblahblah. The suggestions are more about taking time for yourself to appreciate small parts of life. Take time to savour food and drink, soft blankets or clean sheets. Watching a nature documentary or a film with subtitles that trick you into “putting your phone down and focusing on what you’re seeing on the screen. Je suis yes please, bitch.”

McColl also gives you tips on speaking to doctors, friends and family members or coworkers about your mental health and how to ask for help when you need it, or make them aware that you may need help and not be able to ask for it. She also describes treatment options, medications, therapy options and methods that can be prescribed or sought out for whatever you are struggling with.

I have been going to counselling for a few months now and have found it really helpful, my next step with this is to get a referral for regular counselling outside of my work which involves me being pushier with my GP (I asked directly for a referral four times in two appointments to a specific healthcare provider but still, no referral). I’m lucky enough that I have a workplace with a manager that has been understanding of my issues and has counselling available through Occupational Health and that I live in a country with socialised healthcare so my antidepressants only cost £9 per prescription. I try not to take it for granted that I have access to these things and know that unfortunately my government has made cut after cut to mental health services which has restricted access to these things as much as it has. TM light up 10 Downing Street in green today for Mental Health Awareness which yeah ok Theresa, cool.

I got a bit off topic there but my point is: this book is great. It’s an honest, funny read that’s really well written, constantly engaging (on a topic like depression which literally makes engaging with things like this difficult!!!) and full of essential bits of advice and help. I’d recommend it to anyone that deals with mental illness, those that deal with people with mental illnesses or anyone in general.

You can find my social media @beccaggray on Twitter and Instagram, I also have my bookstagram @booksforbecca if you want to see any of my bookish posts. Thank you for reading!!