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review 2018-07-09 00:31
ARC Review: Stranger In A Foreign Land by Michael Murphy
Stranger In A Foreign Land - Michael Murphy

I hate writing negative reviews. 

Unfortunately, in the case of Stranger In A Foreign Land, there isn't a whole lot of good I can say. I liked the blurb, and the premise sounded promising.

The execution however left much to be desired. 

My first issue was with the amnesia itself, I suppose. While I completely bought the part where Patrick loses his memories, wakes up and doesn't know who he is, where he is, or how he got there - I bought that. I also agreed that it is likely extremely scary to wake up in a strange place with no memories of what got you there, and that you might fear for your life.

However, that does not mean that the loss of your memories also means the loss of your personality, or that a grown man suddenly becomes no more than a child in his actions and reactions. Limiting him to short sentences, with dialogue that felt stilted and unrealistic, didn't do him any favors. His actions didn't make a whole lot of sense to me either. 

Similarly, Jack is also not clearly defined beyond being Australian and having lived in Thailand illegally for 16 years, after having run away from Australia for some unclear reason, possibly related to his being gay, though how Thailand is better in that aspect, I don't know. While Jack rescues Patrick/Buddy and gives him a place to stay, and tries to figure out who Buddy really is, I never really got to know Jack either, outside of his easy-going nature, and his ethics. 

There is some sex as Jack and Buddy/Patrick have to share the one bed in Jack's ramshackle house, though it doesn't happen right away, and thankfully did not feel icky, as if Buddy felt obliged to repay Jack with his body for being fed and clothed and sheltered. Still, I felt as if Buddy clung to Jack only because there was no one else who spoke English, and no one else he felt somewhat safe with, so the romance was limited for me. While I didn't get the feeling that Jack was using Buddy for sex, I also didn't feel that Buddy/Patrick was in full control of his emotions and mental capacity to make the decisions he did. 

The 2nd half of the book, when Jack finds Patrick's brother, and Patrick reluctantly flies home to LA to meet the parents of whom he has no recollection, and the rude and aggressive behavior displayed towards these people he admittedly doesn't remember, really turned me against Patrick, and I no longer had any real sympathy for him. 

The ending, reuniting Jack and Patrick, left much to be desired. There was no mention of Patrick regaining his memories. There was no mention of how they can logistically be together, or any resolution of the issues they are still facing. It just ended. 

The writing itself isn't terrible, though dialogue is stilted and inorganic, and the sentences are somewhat choppy. What I did enjoy were the descriptions of the tropical locale, the seemingly authentic views of Bangkok and the surrounding areas. I though that the author did a fine job with those. 

This book didn't work for me. YMMV. 

** I received a free copy from the publisher. A positive review was not promised in return. **


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review 2018-06-29 02:44
Murphy's Law
Murphy's Law - Sandy James
Whelp. That's done. I really liked the 80's movie "Maid to Order," with Ally Sheedy. This is similar, except it's a guy who has to work for a living (and there are other differences, but the concept is the same). I wish I could say this worked for me.
My main issue is Seth. Yes, he's an Asshole. He had moments, for example, he got attached to the horses and I would think, he's changing! But, then, he'd open his mouth and something shitty would come out. (An example: "No woman's worth that much money.") While he does get better, it wasn't enough for me. I also didn't like how he *suddenly* got so good at the job. Going from groom to trainer to driver? Really? 
While I liked Katie, I thought she got weak at the end. Here is this strong, ambitious, driven woman, who (why???!!!) decides to marry someone that she loves as a friend only. Eh? I really didn't understand how fast she fell for Seth. I also have to point how the plot-line: "I was told I would have a difficult time getting pregnant." Horseshit. That might be true in Real Life, but in Romancelandia? Yeah, not a problem at all! It's a plot device.
All my nitpicking aside? I stayed up this morning until 1230am to finish it. I did like that it took place in Indiana, where I lived from 1986-2006. I lived Indianapolis and worked at Methodist Hospital. Dan Patch Raceway I imagined was like Hoosier Park in Anderson. 
I did like Ross and will read his story. (It's also got one of my favorite tropes).
 Ripped Bodice BIngo: Forced Proximity square!


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-06-15 15:10
The Walker Papers Series by C.E. Murphy Comes to an End


Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on June 15, 2018.


I started reading this series back in 2012. Now that I have finished it, I am going to miss reading about Joanne’s road to self-discovery and some amazing male characters — who didn’t take over her story or act like assholes.
Above is an infographic on why I loved this series the way I did!
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review 2018-05-23 16:05
"Coyote Dreams - Walker Papers #3" by C E Murphy
Coyote Dreams - C.E. Murphy





This third instalment of the Walker Papers sets itself a significant challenge that it doesn't entirely rise to: how do you make fighting sleep exciting?


The strength of this book lay in the character development and the dialogue.


The weakness lay in an excess of metaphor-heavy astral combat.


Moved the series along but if this is the shape of episodes to come, I'll be tuning out of this series.


The Story:


Joanne Walker's actions in the first two books, "Urban Shaman"and "Thunderbird Falls", have caused a disturbance in the Force, or at least woken up an as-yet-unknown big bad that is sending all Joanne's friends (which includes half a Police Precinct) into a potentially lethal sleep. Joanne has to figure out what the threat is and how to stop it while dealing with big changes in her social life (she finally seems to have one) and confronting trauma in her past that made her the late-developing Shaman she is today.


Things I Liked:


The humour remains sharp and well-dressed. Joanne's progress through her day is a chaotic rush from crisis to crisis lubricated by witty or sometimes regretful exchanges with her friends, bosses and even her maybe-enemies. This is done in a way that is smooth without being slick, makes me care enough about the characters and often gives me cause to smile.


The introduction of two new characters, (one of whom Joanne wakes up next to in the opening paragraphs - even though she doesn't know his name or remember how he got there) freshened up the ensemble cast and gave lots of room for jealousy, misunderstanding, wit and a little bit of genuine insight.


I enjoyed going back and seeing Joanne Walker's earlier self and getting a better understanding of how she got to be where she is. It was a welcome origins story that was done well.

The book ended with some decisions about Joanne Walker's future that could set the series on a new and more varied path, which would be very welcome.


Things I Thought Could Have Been Better


The astral-projection dream-landscape stuff went on for too long and without enough physical action in between. The Walker Papers has the same problem as Marvel's "Doctor Strange" comics, most of the conflicts happen at a level and in a place the rest of us can't even see. This places a heavy burden on the metaphor machine. C.E: Murphy does this well but this novel had an over-abundance of it. I hope future episode will vary the pace a little.

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review 2018-05-18 18:30
Sei wer du bist
DUMPLIN': GO BIG OR GO HOME - Claudia Adjei,Julie Murphy

Willowdean hat sich immer wohlgefühlt. Zwar ist sie dick, hat sich davon aber niemals einschüchtern lassen. Auch wenn sie ihre Mutter stets liebevoll Dumplin' - Knödel - nennt, ihr Leibesumfang hat ihr nie etwas ausgemacht. Doch dann lernt sie den attraktiven Bo kennen und zum ersten Mal wäre es ihr lieber schlank zu sein. 

Dumplin' alias Will ist ein dicker Teenager, der sich nie daran gestört hat etwas voluminöser zu sein. Sie hat sich nie für ihren Körper geschämt und war damit zufrieden. Als der hübsche Bo heimlich um sie wirbt, wird Will bewusst, dass sie sich doch nicht so wohlfühlt. Liegt es an ihr? Sind die anderen bzw. die Gesellschaft daran schuld? Um sich und der Welt zu beweisen, dass Schönheit relativ ist, beschließt sie am  „Miss Teen Blue Bonnet“-Schönheitswettbewerb teilzunehmen. Und zieht damit einen Rattenschwanz hinter sich her ...

Dumplin' erzählt ihre Geschichte direkt an den Leser gewandt. Anhand der Ich-Perspektive lernt man das dralle Mädchen kennen und schließt sie sofort ins Herz. Sie ist ein interessanter Charakter, der mit sich und ihren Vorstellungen von sich kämpft. Dabei kommt sie nicht ohne Ecken und Kanten aus, weil sie auch verletzend sein kann. Beispielsweise indem sie ihrer besten (und schlanken!) Freundin verwehrt, sich ebenfalls zur Wahl der "Miss Teen Blue Bonnet" zu stellen.

Ich habe Willowdeans Entschlusskraft bewundert. Sie hat sich bewusst dazu entschieden, sie selbst zu sein und sich für niemanden zu verbiegen. Das fällt ihr zwar manchmal schwer, dennoch hält sie daran fest.

Eine weitere wichtige Rolle nimmt Willowdeans Mutter ein. Diese hat selbst einmal die Krone der "Miss Teen Blue Bonnet" getragen und ihr Leben seither dem Schönheitswettbewerb als Obfrau verschrieben. Sie richtet ihn jährlich aus und hat darin sozusagen ihren Zweck gefunden.

Die Handlung ist alles andere als Klischee. Es ist jetzt nicht so, dass Willowdean abzunehmen beginnt und als strahlender Schwan am Ende mit dem Schönheitswettbewerb-Krönchen eine Runde über den See plätschert. Es geht eher darum, dass jeder mit sich selbst unzufrieden ist und wir Akzeptanz von anderen aber auch von uns selbst brauchen, um glücklich zu sein. So spielen viele weitere Nebenfiguren in die Handlung rein, die allesamt durch offensichtliche Makel - seien es ein kürzeres Bein, ein Pferdegebiss oder auch das Leben als Transvestit - vor allem ihre individuelle Perfektion hervorheben. Die klare Botschaft ist für mich: Egal, wie du aussiehst, wer du bist oder woher du kommst, zuerst musst du dich selbst lieben bevor du es anderen zugestehen kannst. 

Der Handlungsverlauf war schön, gut und logisch aufgebaut. Einzig, manchmal ist es mir ein bisschen zu lasch vorgekommen. Eine Prise mehr Action hätte der Geschichte meiner Ansicht nach gut getan. 

Stilistisch und dramaturgisch fand ich die Geschichte allerdings einwandfrei. Man begleitet Will, wie sie zu sich selbst findet, folgt ihren Gedankengängen und setzt sich mit ihren Ängsten, Wünschen und Sorgen auseinander. Sie lernt, sich selbst zu akzeptieren, auch wenn es ihr meistens Probleme bereitet. Außerdem erkennt sie, dass auch alle anderen nicht komplett zufrieden mit sich sind. 

Für mich ist „Dumplin': Go Big or Go Home“ eine schöne Geschichte für zwischendurch, die Äußerlichkeiten thematisiert, die in Wirklichkeit nicht wichtig sind, und die wohl häufig überbewertet werden. 

Source: zeit-fuer-neue-genres.blogspot.co.at
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