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Autobiography and Biography

**BLOG TOUR** Trafficked Girl by Zoe Patterson

Today, I am so pleased to be one of the blogs featuring on the tour for Trafficked Girl by Zoe Patterson. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

When she was taken into care at the age of 13, Zoe hoped that her life was about to take a turn for the better. Abused at home from a very young age, Denver House was a fresh start, away from the physical and emotional violence she had experienced. Little did Zoe know that her life was about to go from bad to worse as she found herself being bullied by older girls who forced her into going to ‘parties’ which were actually further ways of abusing her. Soon, Zoe found herself being trafficked around the country with no one in authority willing to help put a stop to it. Trafficked Girl is the story of a girl who truly experienced rock bottom yet managed to fight back.

It is hard to read a book like this without asking the question, ‘How was this allowed to happen?’ The quote at the start of the book is actually a dictionary definition of the word ‘care’ and this is precisely what Zoe never managed to experience. From being physically and mentally abused by her mother and sexually abused by the older men she was forced to spend time with, Zoe really had no chance in life whatsoever. Perhaps what really sickened me the most, however, was the attitude of those who were tasked with her protection. How could the police turn a blind eye to what was going on? How could the staff of Denver House be so blasé about what their charges were doing? How could social services not put a stop to what was, seemingly, happening in several authorities at the time? The list of questions could go on.

In recent years, there have been countless stories that have emerged about the failings in the care system and while these are horrific to read, hearing the words of one of the children actually involved gives you a whole new understanding. My heart went out to Zoe as she moved from place to place, each time hoping that this would be where she would finally belong. It was also quite poignant to see how, despite her mother’s abuse, she still tried to keep contact with her dysfunctional family only to find herself still the subject of ridicule.

Trafficked Girl shows how all it takes for someone to turn their life around is the trust and belief of another person, this person being Pam, who took Zoe under her wing and gave her the strength to fight back and take on the system that had failed her repeatedly. It was thanks to Pam that Zoe is now able to take steps towards moving on in her life and, although the memories of her past will probably remain with her for ever, she is now in a position to achieve the things she always wanted but was never able to.

It has been a long time since a book has made me so angry and I applaud Zoe Patterson for having the courage to tell her story. Trafficked Girl is a highly emotive read on a subject that should never be brushed under the carpet. These children, now adults, deserve their justice.

With thanks to Rosie Margesson and Harper Collins for my ARC.

Take a look at the rest of the blog tour:




Member of the Family: Manson, Murder and Me by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman

51wTNZH99oLWhen fourteen-year-old Dianne Lake encountered the enigmatic Charles Manson and his ‘Family’, little did she know the huge effect it was going to have on her life. Now, fifty years later, Dianne is telling her story – a first-hand story of her experiences with one of the most heinous characters in American history, and what a story it is…

Over the years, I have read several books about Charles Manson, including one written as a result of interviews with the man himself. Where this book differs, though, is that it is affording us a first-hand account of someone who lived through the free-love era of late-1960s America as part of Manson’s ‘Family’.

The first third of the book details Dianne’s early life, which was far from conventional. Born into a seemingly typical family, secrets begin to rear their heads and soon, her parents make the decision to ‘drop out’ of normal society. This action set the tone for the rest of Dianne’s life, as they moved from place to place, taking drugs and living in several communal habitations. When she made the decision to go it alone, I found it hard to remember that she was only fourteen at the time. It was clear to see that she craved some normality and would have loved to have had the opportunity to attend school and make something of herself. The actions of her parents, though, were the first steps into pushing her towards Manson.

When we finally meet Charlie Manson, there is no immediate indication of what is to come. Initially, Dianne gets what she yearns for – a family who look out for each other. As time progresses, though, Manson’s true nature begins to emerge and it is interesting to read that, with hindsight, Dianne wished that she had noticed these signs and got away whilst she had the chance. Such was Manson’s pull, though, and the fact that she felt she was in love with him, she remained in his clutches until he was arrested. It was difficult to read about the abuse she endured during her time with the ‘Family’ and how her skewed idea of what was normal didn’t give her the impetus to run away.

If you read this hoping to find out more about the Tate/LaBianca killings, then you are going to be disappointed as this is not the purpose of the book. Dianne was not part of the atrocities but became aware of them after the fact. Repulsed by what she found out and realising the true nature of the man she adored, it became a relief when they were finally picked up by the authorities and she could start to remove traces of the cult from her life. It was pleasing to read how Dianne managed to turn her life around, thanks to the kindness of a police officer and also how she found happiness with a husband and the real family she had always longed for.

Member of the Family is a fascinating, well-written read and I sincerely hope that Dianne continues to live a happy life, free from memories of the past.

With thanks to Rosie Margesson and Harper Collins UK for my copy of the book.


Only Fools and Stories by David Jason

downloadIn his first book, David Jason told us about his life so far, from his time growing up at Lodge Lane, Finchley to the TV actor we all know and love today. In this, the follow-up, he tells us more about the characters he has portrayed from Granville in Open All Hours, Frost and not forgetting Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter from Only Fools and Horses.

I am a huge fan of David Jason and over the years I have loved his portrayal of some of the most iconic characters on British TV, my favourites being the aforementioned Del Boy and Detective Inspector Jack Frost. I’ve also always had a soft spot for Blanco from Porridge and was pleased to see him referenced in this book. Only Fools and Stories is a delightful behind-the-scenes look at all of these programmes featuring numerous tales that I had never heard before. It was satisfying to read about the genuine friendships that developed on Only Fools and Horses and I enjoyed the stories of practical jokes played on other members of the cast.

It was interesting to see how the different characters came about and his role in developing them. I was disappointed to read that there was potentially a Frost spin-off in the pipeline, featuring the retired detective as a private investigator, but that it never materialized. I would have loved to have watched Frost’s continuing development.

One of the things I enjoy about David Jason’s style of writing it that it is easy to imagine his voice as you read the words. This made it a very entertaining read and a perfect follow-on to this previous autobiography. I just hope that he continues to entertain us for years to come, providing him with enough material for a third autobiography.

Walter Dew: The Man Who Caught Crippen by Nicholas Connell

51z4a1hexblPerhaps most known for his transatlantic chase to apprehend the suspected murderer Dr. Crippen and his alleged accomplice Ethel Le Neve, Walter Dew: The Man Who Caught Crippen tells the story of the detective’s humble beginnings to his retirement from the police force after almost thirty years of service. Containing original research and excerpts from Dew’s own biography, Nicholas Connell gives a fascinating insight into one of the twentieth century’s most notorious criminal cases.

As someone who has an interest in nineteenth and early twentieth century crime, this book begged to be bought when I saw it at a local bookshop. I had also wanted to read more about Walter Dew after reading the fictional The False Inspector Dew by Peter Lovesey. I have read many books of this genre and find that, sometimes, there can be too much emphasis placed on quoting trial transcripts ad verbatim. This was not the case here and I found this book a very easy yet informative read.

Although much of the book is taken up, understandably, by the Crippen case, I was pleased to see that there was also a large section devoted to Dew’s involvement in the Jack the Ripper investigation. Dew’s recollections of being one of the first policemen on the scene of the Mary Jane Kelly murder were absorbing and gives readers an awareness of how horrific it must have been to witness what he did.

I was also pleased to see a little cameo role for the pathologist Bernard Spilsbury – a personal favourite of mine!

Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in true crime.

The World According to Danny Dyer: Life Lessons from the East End

41nk2ofpkdlNow a household name playing Mick Carter on Eastenders, life hasn’t always been a bed of roses for Danny Dyer. Born in Custom House, in London, Life Lessons from the East End gives us an insightful look into what it was like growing up in an area where becoming an actor was not exactly top of everyone’s career choice list.

More a collection of stories and anecdotes than an autobiography, it is hard to read this book without hearing the voice of the man himself due to phraseology being used. For those not able to translate the Cockney rhyming slang throughout the book, a glossary of terms is provided at the back! Danny is very forthright with his opinions and while some of them may not be to everyone’s liking, he certainly makes a lot of sense on a great many issues.

I found this a very funny read with quite a few genuine ‘laugh out loud’ moments. Danny comes across as a very normal, down-to-earth man and while the liberal use of profanities may offend some, if you are reading this book you must surely know what language to expect!

An enjoyable read.


Legacy by Tim Cahill

The son of a Samoan mother and an English father, ‘Legacy’ is the autobiography of Australian footballer Tim Cahill. Known primarily in the UK for his many years spent at Everton, the book charts the beginning of his career in the country of his birth, to his arrival in England with Millwall and leads up to his time at current team Shanghai Shenhua.

One thing that can be said about this autobiography is that if you are expecting scandal then this is not the book for you. A lot of the book centres around how his great work ethic has propelled Tim from his humble background to, arguably, the most successful footballer in Australian history. Unlike a lot of autobiographies, this is not simply a recount of various dressing room tales but more of an account of how he got to where he is today.

His liking for all his previous clubs is apparent but it is his love for Everton that shines through; from the players and management to the backroom staff and fans, it is clear to see that Everton is in his heart. This is not just about club football, however, as much of the book is taken up with his international career – something which he is seemingly very proud of.

It will be interesting to see if he achieves his aim of buying an A-League club when his playing days are finally over. Any chance of a role at Everton first, Tim?!

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