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review 2018-02-10 19:30
Zäh wie Gummi
Thomas & Mary - Marty Parks

Wo soll ich anfangen? Eigentlich dachte ich, das wird ein Buch mit Tiefenpsychologie. Mit Vorwürfen, Anschuldigungen und Selbsterkenntnissen. 

"Thomas&Mary"ist ein Roman über eine Ehe, die schon am Ende ist. Es gibt aber kein Geschirrgewerfe oder Aufgestampfe. Das stört mich auch nicht. Was mich aber nervt ist das Selbstmitleid, hauptsächlich von Thomas, der der Erzähler ist. Natürlich ist bei einer Trennung auch Selbstmitleid dabei. Aber da ist doch noch so viel mehr. Es ist ein ziemlich oberflächlicher Roman, der mir durchgehend ein gereiztes "ooaahrr" hervorlockte. Vielleicht war ja auch das das Ziel...vielleicht aber auch nicht

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text 2018-01-11 12:16
BLOG TOUR, EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT & #GIVEAWAY - Bleeding Like Me by Riley Parks
Bleeding Like Me - Riley Parks

Being gay in their neighborhood is perilous. Being gay in a street gang is unheard of. Being gay and in love with a man in a rival gang is a death wish. Through drug addiction, brutality, and seemingly endless peril, they remain; finding stability within each other that shouldn’t exist in their volatile world.

BEAUTIFUL CONTRADICTION

He didn't paint people; the curves of their bodies and angles of their faces never interested him as much as cityscapes. The circumstances of his life had compelled him to create new worlds that he could get lost in rather than reflect the features of the people he ran from. He constructed buildings from their foundations, making them taller and stronger than he was. He adorned the edifices with countless windows, always left open or cracked so hope could pour in and fears could seep out. Tree lined streets reminded him how to breathe, pumping oxygen through the atmosphere, off the canvas, and into his lungs.

He didn't paint people until the day he no longer desired the anonymity of his cities. The streets didn't feel like his escape anymore, not like him. Cerulean skies gave way to pale blue eyes and bus routes to pink pouts. Evan didn't paint people until he painted Jackson.

 

Source: archaeolibrarianologist.blogspot.de/2018/01/blog-tour-exclusive-excerpt-giveaway.html
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review 2017-12-13 04:15
The word "riveting" doesn't do this book justice.
Closer Than You Know: A Novel - Brad Parks

When you read a book about a dog -- from Marley & Me to Where the Red Fern Grows -- you've got a pretty good idea what's going to happen near the end. Same goes for a Nora Ephron movie. Or a Horror flick. But you still read or watch them, and you cry, or laugh and "awww", or jump in your seat when you're supposed to. Even on repeat reads/viewings. But when done right, those things just work. Similarly, think of a roller coaster -- you may stand outside the fence watching the thing go around the track while standing in line (some lines give you plenty of opportunity to study), and armed with that study, as well as the your own eyes, you know that track is going to drop from in front of you in a couple of seconds -- or the coaster is about to hit the loop -- that doesn't stop your stomach from lurching when it does.

 

Why do I bother with that? It's a thought that kept running through the back of my mind while reading Closer Than You Know. By the time I hit the 10% mark, if you'd made me write down what I expected to happen -- the reveals, the twists, the story beats, etc. -- I'd have gotten an A. I'm not saying I'm smarter than the average bear or anything, anyone who's read/watched a handful of thrillers would've been able to, too. And it worked. It absolutely worked. How Parks pulls it off, I do not know, but he does. He's just that good.

 

And all the stuff that I didn't guess? Oh, man, it was just so sweet when Parks delivered it, there were a couple of scenes that just left me stunned. And, I should rush to note, the way Parks made a couple of reveals that I'd seen coming from the start were so well done, it was like I hadn't called the shot.

 

In his previous stand-alone, Parks said that he wanted to write about the thing that scares him the most -- his children being kidnapped. Closer Than You Know taps into a very similar fear -- Child Protective Services taking your child from you, leaving you to the mercies of the machine where you're presumed guilty. This time instead of "the bad guys," faceless criminals, taking someone's kids, this time it's the forces of justice, of law and order, taking the child -- they're celebrated for it, they're doing it "for the best interests of the child."

 

What's worse is that no one will tell Melanie Barrick why her infant son had been taken from his daycare. Melanie spent most of her childhood in the Foster Child system, and most of that time in the worse situations that system has to offer. This isn't the stuff of nightmares for Melanie, mostly because I don't think she has enough imagination for her subconscious to cook this up. And then she's arrested for possession of cocaine and paraphernalia suggesting distribution -- a felony that will guarantee she's about to lose her little Alex for good.

 

Melanie is a "good person" -- she's one of the success stories that we don't see as often as we'd like from the Foster Child system. She worked to put herself through college; has a great, supportive husband; a lousy job (but with benefits) -- but one that will help her family get somewhere; and is a devoted, doting, loving mother. The kind of person we all want to think we're surrounded by, but fear we probably aren't.

 

From this point on, it's a cyclone for despair as every part of her life -- her job, her husband, her brother, her friends, her finances, her sense of privacy and security -- is affected, is under siege during this ordeal. Can Melanie maintain her hope, maintain her innocence, maintain her conviction that she'll hold her baby boy again?

 

In charge of prosecuting "Coke Mom" (the press is always so quick with these nicknames), is Amy Kaye. Amy Kaye could easily be the protagonist in any legal thriller, she's just the kind of character you want to read in that kind of thing. She's smart, dedicated and driven -- at the moment, she's primarily concerned with a serial rape investigation that she's doing pretty much on her own. Amy starts to make progress for the first time in years when she's put on this prosecution (largely for political reasons) -- which she's more than willing to do, but she hates to take away time and attention from the rape investigation. What really makes this difficult for Kaye is that Melanie is one of the most recent victims in this investigation.

 

So basically, things are not going well for these two women. There are occasional moments where there is hope, where there is a hint of humor, or life for them and it's just enough to get you to let your guard down before the gears turn again and life gets bad. Melanie seems to be a living embodiment of Murphy's Law -- things just never go her way in this book. As she notes herself, addicts talk about hitting rock bottom -- she isn't like them, she keeps finding new bottoms. It's during this part of the book, where the gears keep grinding away, where the Justice System seems most like a machine, and least like a method for determining (not presupposing) guilt, that things will really get to you. That stomach lurching I mentioned earlier? That image came from somewhere. It feels so real, it feels like this is something that actually happened to someone that Parks spent hours interviewing. I don't know how you read these parts of the book and not get demoralized -- but unable to put the book down, because you just have to, have to know what happens next.

 

As I've said before, I've been a Brad Parks fan since the first time I read his debut novel -- and I miss Carter Ross, the star of his series. The bad thing for me reading Say Nothing and Closer Than You Know is that these are so good, he's going to spend years doing books like this and I don't know if he'll be able to get back to Carter. On the other hand, I can't complain really if he's putting out reading that's this compelling. Yeah, I said the book was largely predictable -- and you'll likely find it the same. But you will be wrong about some things and you won't know how he'll show you that you're right. Think of a NASCAR race -- we all know that it's basically a series of guys going fast and turning left -- but it's how they go fast and turn left that makes all the difference. Parks delivers the goods -- the word riveting doesn't do this book justice. It's compelling, riveting, gripping, exciting, and will make you rethink so much of what you may believe of the Criminal Justice and Child Protective systems. You will laugh, you will be stunned (in good and bad ways), you will give up hope for this poor mother.

 

And you will hate when the book ends -- as much as you breathe a sigh of relief as you know you have some degree of closure.


Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Dutton Books via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this.

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review 2017-09-19 09:42
Portrait of Vengeance (Gwen Marcey #4) by Carrie Stuart Parks
Portrait of Vengeance (A Gwen Marcey Novel) - Carrie Stuart Parks

Gwen Marcey has done a good job keeping the pain of her past boxed up. But as she investigates the case of a missing child in Lapwai, Idaho, details keep surfacing that are eerily similar to her childhood traumas. She doesn’t believe in coincidences. So what’s going on here? No one knows more about the impact of the past than the Nez Perce people of Lapwai. Gwen finds herself an unwelcome visitor to some, making her investigation even more difficult. The questions keep piling up, but answers are slow in coming—and the clock is ticking for a missing little girl. Meanwhile, Gwen’s ex-husband is threatening to take sole custody of their daughter. As Gwen’s past and present collide, she’s in a desperate race for the truth. Because only truth will ensure she still has a future.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Let me start off by saying that if you haven't read any of the previous Gwen Marcey stories, I'd recommend checking out the earlier books with this particular series. While the cases themselves could technically make for stand-alone works, there are characters and certain details of Gwen's life that are carried through all the books. 

 

In this fourth installment in the series, forensic artist Gwen Marcey is investigating the murders of a married couple within the Nez Perce tribe (Lapwai community) as well as the whereabouts of the victims' missing (presumed kidnapped) young daughter. Some of the particulars of the case, as far as clues at the scene and specifics regarding the profiling of the killer, appear to echo traumatic events from Gwen's own childhood. As the case / plot progresses, Gwen becomes more and more convinced that finding the answers within this present case will, in turn, answer questions about her own traumas that have plagued her for years.

 

The journey to the truth proves to be a solidly uphill battle, as Gwen finds that many of the key witnesses she is relying on for information have deep-seated prejudices against Caucasian people. In what's now become a signature mixture within this series as a whole, author Carrie Stuart Parks creates her characters and environments by bringing forth a compelling blend of historical fact, details / inspiration from actual true crime cases, and occasionally details from cases Parks herself worked during her own years as a forensic artist. While working within the Nez Perce tribal lands, our protagonist Gwen gets a crash course in the history of such traumatic events as Wounded Knee / Pine Ridge, as well as the development of AIM (the American Indian Movement). It takes little time for Gwen to see that she will need to tread lightly when working with the descendants of people involved in these painful moments within Native history. Though the years have passed, the hurt has hardly diminished. 

 

Having followed this series from the beginning, I couldn't help but laugh and shake my head to find 8 pages into this latest book that Gwen is STILL having fights & custody battles with her ex-husband. I couldn't help but think "it's been four books now, that kid can't have too much high school left for this argument to be relevant much longer.." I feel for Gwen there. On the happier side though, I'm loving that the stories within this series seem to be quietly steering toward a "Gwen & Beth Investigate" kind of trend. Beth has a bigger role in this book than in some of the previous ones. She's such a hoot, I love to see her getting more of the spotlight! Keep your dictionary nearby though. Beth loves her some "word of the day" usage and Parks works in some words that definitely had me feel like I was back in SAT prep days! 

 

The true star for me though has to be Winston, Gwen's Great Pyrenees dog. While Parks always gave him quite the humorously entertaining dog personality, he, like Beth, was more in the background in much of the previous books. In Portrait of Vengeance however, Winston gets solid book "screen" time, scenes that will make dog lovers cheer at the protectiveness of pups over their humans. Go ahead, hug your own pooch after this one. :-)

 

So far, the very first book in the series, A Cry In The Dust, still proves to be my very favorite. But this one is now in a close second. This book proved to be slightly more gruesome in parts than its predecessors -- in one scene, Gwen likens a crime scene to a Jackson Pollack painting. Yeaaah, I'll just let you art fans visualize that one. But if you're not scared off by a little edge, Parks yet again gives the reader one fun ride full of twists and turns that have you wondering who in this story is to be trusted! 

 

It was neat to read in Parks' acknowledgements that she wrote this story (at least in part) while participating in a writing retreat at author Colleen Coble's home. She further notes author Frank Peretti as a mentor in the process of developing this series as well. For fellow fans of Gwen's investigations: when asked whether a 5th book was in the works, Parks answered (via Goodreads):

 

"As of now, book 5 will be a stand-alone about an artist (caught up in a case) in Kodiak Island, Alaska. My publisher wanted me to take a break from Gwen. You'll be meeting Murphy."

 

 

I, for one, am looking forward to meeting this Murphy fella! 

 

 

FTC Disclaimer: BookLookBloggers kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book with a request that I might check it out and share my thoughts. The opinions above are entirely my own. 

 

------------------------

ICYMI -- My reviews for the previous books in the series:

 

#1 A Cry In The Dust

#2 The Bones Will Speak

#3 When Death Draws Near

 

* Gwen Marcey also makes a cross-over appearance in Colleen Coble's Mermaid Moon AND Twilight At Blueberry Barrens

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text 2017-09-06 22:53
Wow!
Birds of Utah Field Guide - Stan Tekiela
Lonely Planet Zion & Bryce Canyon National Parks (Travel Guide) - Lonely Planet,Greg Benchwick,Carolyn McCarthy,Christopher Pitts

Finally having a bit of down time after some exhausting days hiking. Haven't seen any TV and not even had time to do any reading, but the amazing scenery and wildlife I've seen, kind of makes up for it. 

 

Zion National Park

 

Bryce Canyon

 

Tomorrow we're heading for Capitol Reef, and after that it's Arches and Canyonland before we head to Salt Lake City and then home. 

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