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review 2018-12-04 15:46
Temptation Rag
Temptation Rag - Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

May Convery is a young woman living in New York City's upper class neighborhood in 1895. More than anything, May wants to make decisions of her own, including her love life and pursuit of poetry. May plans on going after her dreams beginning by sharing her romantic poetry with her piano teacher and love interest, Mike Bernard. Mike is faking it in the world in order to become a renowned musician. Mike and May's romance comes crashing down quickly as May's parents have other plans for May as Mrs. Theodore Livingstone. Meanwhile, the world is being overtaken by ragtime music. Mike quickly picks up the style and makes a name for himself as the Ragtime King of the World. Mike and May go their different ways, but will never forget what they once had.

Temptation Rag is a look into the lives of some of the real-life stars of the ragtime era and is written by the wife of Mike Bernard's grandson. While the story takes us from 1895 through 1920, the writing gives a good sense of the feeling of the ragtime era. One of the most interesting themes of the book was the cultural appropriation of ragtime music and how it persisted through time. Mike Bernard, crowned the Ragtime King of the World and his competitor Ben Harney, dubbed the creator or Ragtime were both white men. The African-American pianists, such as Scott Joplin, Strap Hill and Otis Saunders had to fight for their recognition. May's story, though fictionalized showed another side of the time period, though part of the upper class, May had no rights. Through time, May participates in the Women's Suffrage Movement, embraced her poetry and befriended African American artists. With this, she was finally able to take control of her life and forgive events of the past. Overall, a sweeping historical novel of the Ragtime era. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2018-07-16 14:09
The Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

A serial killer called the Gardener captures young women, tattoos intricately detailed butterfly wings on their backs, gives them new names, keeps them in a secluded, secured location with a lovely garden and their own personal rooms. He clothes them, feeds them, rapes them and on their 21st birthdays, does something completely horrific to them.

 

The only other person who knows of this place of horrors is his son, Avery. Avery is allowed access to the girls and may come and go as he pleases. He is not kind to the girls at all, and enjoys causing pain and torturing them. This is a disturbing story told from the point of view of one of the surviving girls as she reveals to two FBI agents all that happened from beginning to end. Maya's depictions are not overly graphic despite all she had to endure, but explained in a matter of fact manner.

 

The biggest issue that I had with this book was being unable to understand why none of the girls attempted to escape. Not a real attempt outside of trying to peek at the door's security code. It is explained that they were afraid that if they failed and were caught, the Gardener would murder them sooner. Each of the girls seemed to be resigned to their fates, and even when they were taken off to be killed, they were terrified, but never put up much of a struggle.

 

I cannot imagine knowing that a psychotic man was taking me off to end my life and not fight tooth and nail! Not once did he use any sort of weapon. If they were going to die anyway, why not die fighting? Not only did the Gardener come to the garden alone, he was an older man and grossly outnumbered by the girls. I felt that the girls had so so many options and opportunities, but didn't even try.

 

They had a cave they could talk privately and devise a plan of action, they had access to the kitchen, they had trinkets and things given to them by the Gardener, surely they could have used something as a weapon. One girl was even granted a pair of scissors which had only been used for embroidery and to cut the hair off another woman for the sake of revenge.

 

There was a woman who had gained the Gardener's trust to the point where he did not kill her, instead he stopped visiting her bed, and even allowed her to come and go as she pleased. This woman was loyal to the Gardener and not once so much as considered going to the police to save the rest of the girls! In fact, she envied the girls and wanted the Gardener to love her.

 

The book, for me, had a satisfying ending. The twists and turns were interesting and despite the frustration of all the wasted opportunities to escape (many of which I am not even discussing in this review due to spoilers), kept me invested. Due to the subject matter, I would not recommend this book to everyone. It is a story that will stay with you long after you've finished reading it.

 

 

-Shey

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-07-07 03:43
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He's accurately named the "Gardener", as in his possession is a most enchanting garden, with its own collection of delicate butterflies. He cares for them; feeds them, grooms them, even mourns them when they perish, but he's also the reason they expire, for he is their captor. Taken from their lives and branded as property, the young women must endure their time as a beloved butterfly.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

Well, at least I more or less knew what I was getting into, as it was abundantly clear from the synopsis that this book would be chock-full of disturbing content. I mean, there was obviously going to be sexual abuse, right? However I can’t say that preparing myself for the inevitable made it any easier when it came around - the discomfort I experienced during some scenes was fierce, but I think it was worth it overall. I really enjoyed the format of the plot; the interview process and the accounts of certain events that took place within the garden. It was much of a beautiful nightmare; I say beautiful because the garden itself was a green thumb’s paradise. The writing clearly did well in expressing how exquisite the surrounding flora was - I would absolutely adore living somewhere like that, only of my own free will, of course. The darkness that lurked behind its exterior brought up the topic of ugly secrets hiding behind attractive fronts, which I believe can apply to a lot in today's world.

I found Maya to be extremely difficult to comprehend at times, and even like in some instances. Sure, I understood her hardships in life and the resulting effects on her mental state, but emotionally detached characters are generally harder for me to relate to. Her behaviour didn’t make much sense, even with the inclusion of the lacklustre twist at the end. I mean, you’d have to be a machine to just accept the fate of suddenly being a prisoner, and Maya was the definition of the perfect captive. This leads me to my biggest gripe that I couldn’t ignore about this book - the complete lack of self-preservation. The women were young and fit, and they never considered working together to overpower their much older captor? They even had access to a multitude of items that could have been used as weapons, such as sculpting tools and the likes. It does bother me when I need to question the plausibility of a story, as it’s the authors job to sufficiently build up a believable, consistent narrative. My suspension of disbelief can only go so far.

It's because of the absurdity of the characters that I didn't particularly favour any of them. Sure, one or two were likeable enough, just like the clear-cut villains were dislikeable, but none made their way into my heart. It was too bad, to say the least, that there was this constant barrier of doubt and incredibility that I couldn't bypass.

I need to mention the ending, or specifically, the attempt at a last minute revelation. I’m an enormous fan of plot twists, of those moments that force me to rethink, or surprise me to a large degree, but not every book needs one. In fact, I believe that, in this case, it was shoehorned in as a poor effort to try and explain Maya’s bizarre behaviour. In no way, shape, or form did it thrill or even interest me, and I considered it having little value. I won't outright state the details, but it was the wrong direction for the story.

This review reads significantly more negative than what my final rating displays. I think I should be clear that I was gripped, and it was difficult to tear me away from Hutchison’s grim tale despite the issues I had. I'm fond of dark fiction that touches upon horror aspects, and this really did tick a lot of boxes in that regard; there were many taboo themes, and the writing made it simple enough to become quickly absorbed. Perhaps it would have even been a top read, had some aspects been a little more logical.

In conclusion: It was remarkably entertaining, offering a twisted account of one man's obsession with beauty. Not for the faint of heart, as depictions of abuse were plentiful throughout. I had my problems with believability, and whilst I couldn't exactly dismiss those issues, I found it only right that I rated accordingly. Am I going to read further into the series? I can honestly say that it doesn't appeal, as I've glanced over numerous reviews that state it's more police / investigation work, and I'm not into that sort of thing.

Notable Quote:

Like beauty, desperation and fear were as common as breathing.

© Red Lace 2018


Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/07/07/the-butterfly-garden-by-dot-hutchison
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review 2018-04-30 15:16
3.7 Out Of 5 "demented and twisted" STARS
The Butterfly Garden - Dot Hutchison

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~ABOUT THE BOOK~

The Butterfly Garden

Dot Hutchinson

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Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

 

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

 

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

 

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding…

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I hesitated to read this because the subject manner was the sort that I have a difficult time reading…then I saw a review that said it was disturbing but not graphically so…and I thought, maybe I can get through this.  Since Amazon basically gave (I paid $1.99) me a KU membership for the next 3 months, I went for it.

 

The Butterfly Garden is seriously twisted but something about it kept me from investing in the story completely.  I honestly think that was due to the wide-ranging reviews on this book. I think they jaded me right from the start.  I'm not going to get into the details of that because I wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone else.  Although, I will say that the twist at the end felt entirely unnecessary to me and it really just left me confused.

 

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~MY RATING~

3.7STARS - GRADE=B

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

 

 

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Plot~ 4/5

Main Characters~ 4/5

Secondary Characters~ 3.7/5

The Feels~ 4/5

Pacing~ 4/5

Addictiveness~ 4.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 4/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4/5

Originality~ 4.5/5

Ending~ 2.5/5 Cliffhanger~ Sorta…

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Book Cover~ It's decent

Narration~ 5 -Lauren Ezzo was amazingly good & 4☆ -Mel Foster was decent too.

Series~ The Collector #1

Setting~ The Garden

Source~ KU Read & Listen

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url 2018-04-01 20:20
April Amazon First Reads, Editor's Picks (formerly Kindle Firsts)
When Never Comes - Barbara Davis
It Ends With Her - Brianna Labuskes
Bandwidth - Eliot Peper
An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew - Annejet van der Zijl, ‎Michele Hutchison
The Air Raid Killer - Steve Anderson,Frank Goldammer
Monsoon Mansion - Cinelle Barnes

I like that they now say Editor's Picks because the program for years now has been just Amazon's own publishing imprints.

 

If unfamiliar with the program, it's a selection of ARCs available for Amazon prime members (who get to choose one free to keep a month ahead of publication date).

 

I am noticing that some have not been new books as have been previously self-published.

 

Durn if I can get any of these added to this post. (I have carefully added the editions to booklikes but it will not find it searching; even shelved to search on my shelves to no avail.) I'll try to edit and add later in case some cache lag with recently added works.

 

UPDATE: some now searchable in booklikes; some not but can now search on my shelves to add to post.  All added to post now.

Source: www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/firstreads
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