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review 2018-02-18 06:18
Church Ladies with A Heart
The Mothers: A Novel - Brit Bennett

I read this a few weeks ago, and it's sticking with me. I think about the characters often, and I really wish I'd have read it with a group so I could refer to it and not get weird faces pulled in return. Brit Bennett must be a very wise old soul in a young woman's body. (She was apparently 25 when this was written.)

The Mothers are the old church ladies in a California community. The action revolves around the church, specifically one family in the church. But while it's based in the church, this is a very secular novel without any religious zealotry directed toward the reader. (Some zealotry gets directed toward characters.) The Mothers represent missing mothers, mothers who can't fulfill their duties, mothers who are actually fathers, and many other mother figures in today's world.

It's a quiet story about loving people we aren't sure how to love, or how to show we love; about what happens when we can't, don't or won't talk our loved ones and instead keep secrets. It's a story about the fact that even when someone doesn't show you they love you in the way you might have hoped for or doesn't tell you everything, they may be the one to come through for you. Conversely, those who profess love may not be there when things get tough. It's about family and the ache that comes from missing family. It's an excellent story. Read it if you haven't.

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review 2018-02-17 10:04
Playing Beatie Bow
Playing Beatie Bow - Ruth Park

An Australian YA book from the 80's, this was a RL book club read.  Though not science-fiction so much as historical time-travel, the book feels akin to the Australian equivalent of A Wrinkle in Time.

 

Abigail is an unhappy 14 year old, bitter and bratty after her parents' separation.  She spends time with her next-door neighbour, Justine, helping her out by taking Justine's two kids to the playground, where the youngest, Natalie, likes to watch the other kids play a game called 'Beatie Bow'; a cross between Bloody Mary and tag.  Natalie and Abigail notice another child that only watches, the 'furry girl' that stands in the shadows.  One day, Abigail sees the girl and approaches her, then gives chase as the girl runs away.  As she runs down the street, she suddenly finds herself in 1873, stuck there until she helps the furry girl, who turns out to be Beatie Bow, and her family figure out how to save the family 'Gift'.  

 

More than a few of my friends here consider this a beloved classic, so imagine my chagrin when I showed up to book club and had to admit I didn't like it.  Fortunately, I wasn't alone.  The book has a lot going for it: the writing is beautiful, the setting evocative; Park puts you in Sydney in 1873, and let me tell you, it's filthy.  Park won the Australian Book of the Year Award in 1981 and it was well deserved.  

 

But...I don't like time travel books, I'm not a fan of the dark edge so prevalent in even Australian YA, and most unfortunate of all, I didn't like a single character in this book.  Abigail was a spoiled, whiney, brat; Beattie Bow was too ornery to be considered charming and the rest didn't get enough page time to be anything other that friendly shadows.  Abigail's first love was just too trite; I couldn't buy it, it was all too neat and pat (although to be fair, I might have totally bought it when I was 12). 

 

The book is a worthy read, I just wasn't the right audience for it. 

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review 2018-02-16 09:30
A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell, #3)
A Treacherous Curse - Deanna Raybourn

I love Veronica Speedwell.  Her character is almost everything I admire in a person, with the exceptions of her penchants for collecting butterflies, necessitating her killing them, and her need to verbalise her sexual liberty.  This isn't hypocrisy on my part; I think it's distasteful when men make their sexual needs topics of casual conversation, and it's no less so when a woman does it.  Boundaries.  Good fences make good neighbours and all that.

 

But these are very minor niggles.  Everything else about Veronica is excellent and Stoker doesn't suck either.  Raybourn has found that perfect balance of rawness, gentility, intelligence, anger, and grace in her hero (although I have to say, what's up with the eye patch? Is that really considered sexy?  I see one and have to resist the urge to pull it and watch it snap back).  The dialog between the two of them is snappy and sometimes electric.  There's no doubt as to where these two are headed, but Raybourn is taking her time sending them there, and doing it well enough that I, for one, feel no impatience for them to get on with it already.

 

The mystery plot is the only thing that held this book back a bit for me.  It succeeded in terms of leaving me guessing until the very end, but honestly it was so convoluted that I stopped trying to figure it out about halfway through and just focused on the characters until the end.  That's not necessarily a criticism; this is a strong book just on the merits of being an engrossing work of historical fiction.  But my enjoyment came from the story first, with the mystery an afterthought.

 

Sadly, I'm going to have to wait an entire year for the fourth book.  But I'll be looking forward to it with anticipation.

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review 2018-02-15 17:46
Perhaps one day in the future...
Haunted Nights - Lisa Morton,Ellen Datlow

I have learned a few things about myself as a reader over the course of last year. Anthologies, for me, are either a complete hit or a definite miss...and usually it's the latter. I got to page 129 of this book before I decided to give it a pass. I read the first 7 short stories and it wasn't the writing that was putting me off (that was quite good) it was more that I just wasn't in the mood to continue. This may have been due in part because I had inundated myself with way too many supernatural books (it was Halloween time if you recall) and the short story collection Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods blew me away SO hard. The common thread running through the stories in Haunted Nights was that they were all set on Halloween night which was a really cool idea.

 

I want to give a shout out to the story "The Seven Year Itch" because that one was SUPER creepy and was my favorite of the few that I read. I'll most likely check out some of the writers from this anthology in the future. :-)

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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url 2018-02-15 05:00
Author Of The Month - J.K. Hogan - Week Three

Join us again today as we continue our celebrations for this fabulous author!! 

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