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review 2017-10-17 21:33
Little Secrets
Little Secrets - Anna Snoekstra

By: Anna Snoekstra

ISBN: 9780778331094

Publisher: MIRA

Publication Date:  10/17/2017 

Format:  Paperback 

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

Anna Snoekstra returns following her dark and edgy debut, Only Daughter, with her second psychological suspense thriller, LITTLE SECRETS — an arsonist, a cop, porcelain dolls, a stranger, dark secrets, mystery, and a journalist are all part of a dying town. 

Rose Blakey is living in the small town of Colmstock, Australia. a small town. She is tired of the dead-end job at the Eamon’s Tavern Hotel and her dead-end life. 

After the car factory shut down the town had quickly lost its sense of purpose. Small enough to have a strong community, but big enough that you could walk down the street without recognizing every person you passed.

Everything and everyone seemed broken and ugly. People were not friendly. Crime was up. People had meth habits. She wanted out. She is a journalist. 

The local paper had closed with all the setbacks. She was still on a list for a larger national paper. It had been a wealthy town with its grand buildings. Now cracked and weathered. 

The mines closed in the eighties. The newspaper closing, had been the worst for her. 

A boy had died. Ben Riley. He had been only thirteen and was brain damaged. He acted like a kid instead of a teen but everyone liked him. His parents owned the local grocery store. 

A fire at the courthouse. Bored teens or a psycho? Since the high school had been closed down, the crime was worse. 

Then there was Senior Sergent Frank Ghirardello. He was hot for Rose since she started working there. His partner Bazza was a good looking buy. Frank could picture them double dating. Mia, Rose’s friend with Bazza and he with Rose.

She had written about everything including the search for the arsonist. Regardless of the topic, there were endless rejections. 

Rose wonders about the mysterious newcomer, Will. 

Then someone was leaving porcelain dolls on the doorsteps of houses. Plus the dolls looked like the little girls in the respective home. Creepy. 

 



If she does not get a good paying job, she will never escape this dark town. She was living on borrowed time. Most people in the town had given up, trying to escape. She would not give up on her dreams. 

She would write about the “Porcelain Terror in Colmstock.”After all, everyone loved a good mystery. Is there a link to child molesters and pedophiles?

There is also the mum, stepfather, and the younger siblings. If she could learn more about the fire and person behind the dolls, it would help her stories.

Rose gets caught up in the stories. She may be making things worse. She needs to dramatize the stories for flair. The person who had left the dolls was marking his victims. Some monster had her sister.

“Hack journalist wanting their piece of the pie, religious groups looking for a cause, children’s groups trying to find a new level of outrage, they were all here.”

The entire town felt changed, paranoid and suspicious. It was her fault. Did the truth matter? 

. . . "People didn’t care about human life like she’d thoughts they did. People cared about purity, they cared when something unexpected happened, something that confirmed the deep-seated fears they already held. They wanted black and white, someone was good or someone was bad and nothing in between."

If something didn’t sound good in a headline, it wasn’t news. 

From a bleak remote town pulled down by its economic misfortunes and crime, there is a sense of ongoing claustrophobic darkness infiltrating the town. 

Gloom and doom. A town of devastation. From police misconduct, an old mine, desperation, drug trafficking, as well as being overwhelmed by arson attacked and the highly publicized porcelain doll case. 

On an emotional level, there is betrayal, dark secrets, revenge, tension, domestic abuse, anger, rage, friendship, menace, evil, lust, unhappy families, and envy. A need to protect. A means of survival. Fear. Coverups. 

The author creates Rose, a complex woman who wants nothing more than to escape this Aussie town. She is desperate. However, how far will she go? 

Not a "feel good" kind of book; however, some intriguing twists and turns you do not see coming. Several of the characters had plans, with good intentions in the beginning, but their plans unravel and ignite a spark which spirals out of control. Creating havoc for many. The butterfly effect. 

The author does a good job of creating that “Noir” feeling and a sense of dark foreboding lurking with mystery, suspense, and tragedy — throughout the book. 

A lot of tug-and-pull between characters; at war, with one another and themselves. The characters are deeply flawed and everyone seems to wear a mask. A good pick for Halloween. 

A town full of little secrets and big lies. For those who enjoyed Big Little Lies and The Blackbird Season,  in a rural darker Australian remote setting. 

A special thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. 

I also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld(love her accent) for an engaging listening experience.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2017/09/11/Little-Secrets
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review 2017-09-14 13:26
It might be more to your tastes than mine...
Worlds Within Worlds - Tahlia Newland

This is another example of fantastic writing from Tahlia, the prose was spot on, crisp and taught where it needed to be, and soft and flowing as needed too. 

The characters were an interesting mix, starting with slightly quirkly Prunella (Ella) Smith, who Tahlia assures readers is not her (although between you and me, I couldn't help but see Tahlia's face when I brought up Ella's face in my mind). My favourites by a long shot were Merlin the cat and James. James is the sole reason this book gets shelved on my 'a-lil-sexy' shelf.

This story consists of several threads and weaves them together to form a strong, eloquent book. However, the overall message certainly sat in the spiritual realm, which is where it loses me and my interest. I can't say I get the buddhist belief system and this was far too engrained in the story for my liking. 

I did enjoy Kelee's story that threaded throughout the tale, including the communication between Kelee and Ella. This was compounded by the fact that I have read some of Tahlia's Diamond Peak series; I was glad to get some background information on some of the characters I'd already met. 

Where this story came into its own was the interestingly complex look at badly behaving authors and their war on honest reviewers. Having been on the receiving end of some minor indie author angst for my own honest reviews, I found the whole story a bit too explosive. This being said, I have heard of some pretty crazy reactions from people for constructive, yet negative reviews, so Tahlia's fictional account isn't completely outside the realm of possible. 

I can't say this was my favourite of Tahlia's books, but it was an enjoyable, interesting mix that kept the pages turning. If you're interested in metaphysical and magical-realism books, give this one a try, it might be more to your tastes than mine.

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

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review 2017-09-14 12:15
Not Fiona McCallum's best, but still might appeal to horsey people who don't mind reading about characters that are annoying and downright unlikable.
Leap of Faith - Fiona Mccallum

This is the third Fiona McCallum book I've read, and the second one I've rated two stars. There's one main reason this book tanked in my opinion. 

Apologies in advance for the tirade below:

Jessica, the main character, is a self-centred, immature and selfish adult-child. The constant inane babbling of her inner thoughts drove me batty, and her complete inability to think about anyone outside of herself left me wanting to wring her scrawny neck. 

Add to this continued form of abuse to the reader, Jessica's incapacity to put basic symptoms of pregnancy together after the reader was subjected to copious PG-rated coitus between Jessica and Steve, her rough-on-the-outside-but-soft-on-the-inside husband, and you're left wondering how this TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) character even made it to adulthood. 

Considering the amount of inner dialogue the reader is subjected to, Jessica's character has very little character growth, the one tiny speck of change really didn't warrant the 220 pages of torment within the covers. What's with that?! Really? Are there people like this in the world?

This book gets added to my swear-tastic shelf, not because it has a lot of vulgar language in it (there is a little, it's fairly light on), but instead it's added because of the quantity of vulgar language it elicited from me as I read it.

The ONLY reasons this book gets 2 stars instead of 1, is Laurel and Hardy, the farm dogs who were adorable, and the Plain-Jane-but-not-really, Faith. The little filly, Faith, is a welcome piece of sunshine and amusement to the book. If only we'd spent more time in her mind and less in Jessica's. 

I was left thinking:

Throw it in a dumpster, burn it

Not Fiona McCallum's best, but still might appeal to horsey people who don't mind reading about characters that are annoying and downright unlikable.

**Note: I was provided a copy of this book from the Publisher in return for an honest review**

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review 2017-09-13 11:44
The characters felt stilted and unnatural.
One Hundred Days - Mark Morey

One Hundred Days is a partially fictionalised account of how Australians were part of winning World War One.

While I found the story to be intriguing and providing some new concepts and ideas about how the Australians were involved with the war, the writing lends itself to a war strategy book, more than a fictional story. 

The characters felt stilted and unnatural. Less like characters and more like people represented by a number of pieces of factual information. For example, each person is introduced by their name, then their physical attributes rattled off in a list-like manner. Hair, eye colour, height and weight (especially when it came to the soldiers). And all the women had meaty/fleshy arses - which annoyed me too.

It was obvious to me, from the writing style that Mark has spent a lot of time working in the IT field, the way sentences were structured and the story flowed, was like a simplified and basic version of something far more complex. Like an IT person trying to write an 'IT for dummies' version of some complex IT issue. This is how the story of One Hundred Days felt. All facts, little emotion, simply written - almost in bullet point (pun not intended). 

This withdrew me, as a reader, from this story. It presented the tale in a clinical and unemotional way, which meant that I felt nothing for the characters. There were points in this story that should have come across as harrowing and highly emotionally charged, but alas, I felt little for the characters and had no emotional connection. 

The writing style aside, this book needs a serious edit. There were a large number of easily fixable issues (a lot listed below), but the one thing that annoyed me the most, was the overuse of the word 'and' to link two otherwise separate ideas together. This was done a lot in dialogue, but it also happened in the other text too. This was most annoying because it made the writing feel strange. People just don't talk like that.

An example from 9% through:
They reached the steps of Flinders Street Station and Alec kissed Dorothy's cheek. "Goodbye sweetheart and thank you for coming out with me."
"Goodbye sweetheart," she said. "Thank you for the evening and I really enjoyed being with you."
Alec stood at the base of the steps and watched until Dorothy disappeared out of sight. It was truly wonderful to have her as part of his life, and maybe one day they could marry. Alec was sure that would happen, and then he would be the luckiest man in the world.

Overall, this was an interesting look at how Australia played its role in WW1, but with little emotional connection with the characters and fundamentally flawed writing, I just can't give this any more than 2 stars. With a good edit, this could be a good addition to war history books, but as it is, it needs a lot of work.

The things I noticed:
9% - ...the war will be over before your (you're twenty-one.
- Then he was then free to go. (Excessive overwriting including dialogue with excessive use of 'and' instead of shorter sentences.
19% - After a week of fine of (delete of) weather....
24% - behind the (delete the) Billy still holding the...
25% - and he was (too) embarrassed (to) recount...
- Repetition of parade ground training came to some use.
30% - ...identifiable (by) their untidy clothing, Random lines and paragraphs from here are bolded text.
32% - ...you seem to be over (t)he worst...
34% - ...eyed the pile (in) his locker...
44% - ...that was bad lack(luck) for Charlie...
46% - ...Martin wondered (what) he was going to do...
68% - The(y) picked him up...
71% - ...cripples/. (Remove /)
81% - the text is italicised for a number of pages when Simone and Martin talk of their histories.
- ...I lived there for four yea(r)s...
89% - I didn't understand." He said in French. (")I really speak English." 
91%- ...the front net(not) yet tested...

**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review**

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review 2017-04-24 11:43
This is how a short story should be done.
A Piece of Time - Traci Harding

This!

This is how a short story should be done. The story felt whole, the characters real and the conclusion satisfactory yet still ambiguous enough to leave questions.

Tani, our protagonist, made logical choices and decisions, even while dealing with the paranormal phenomenon in the story. It was so nice to see that logical thought pattern.

That the piece also focused on a pocket watch and tied it in so nicely, was an added bonus.

I saw no errors in this piece. An enjoyable read with a great cast of characters.

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