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review 2019-03-15 07:18
A House of Ghosts - w. c. Ryan

Loved the cover! The book itself, not quite as much mainly because it couldn’t seem to decide what it was. Supernatural? Espionage? Romance? Not enough of the first, too much of the second and the third only just touched on. The house on the island was interesting, so would have liked that to have been gone into in much more depth than it was. This novel had the makings of being really creepy but wasn’t and I felt it could’ve been reduced by a quarter as it was too long and repetitive.

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review 2019-03-05 22:16
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner
Music of the Ghosts - Vaddey Ratner

This is an emotional, contemplative novel about two survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime, who struggle to come to terms with their memories decades after the genocide. Unfortunately, its characters are half-baked: one of the protagonists is a blank slate despite nearing middle age, while the other is built up as a reformed villain only to turn out not to be a villain at all.

Teera arrives in Cambodia in 2003, for the first time since fleeing the country for Thailand and ultimately the United States in 1979, at the age of 13. She’s drawn to return in part by the dying wish of her aunt, the only other member of her family to survive, and in part by a letter from a man calling himself the Old Musician, who wants to give her musical instruments that belonged to her father. The Old Musician, aka Tun, lives in a monastery where he nurses his physical and emotional injuries from the days of the Khmer Rouge, and seems to live in a state of constant self-flagellation. The novel alternates between the perspectives of these two characters, as they wander about feeling lots of feelings, remembering their traumas in detail, and witnessing the harsh realities of Cambodia in 2003 (a country full of poverty and violence, though this never threatens the protagonists directly).

Given that this book revolves around the characters’ emotional journeys, it’s a shame they aren’t better-drawn. Teera in particular is a blank slate; she’s supposed to be 37, but I would have pegged her at late teens or early 20s, as she seems to have neither lived an adult life, nor to have thought about her life and what she wants from it. How does she feel about being single and childless at 37? How has her community of Cambodian refugees in Minnesota reacted to this? Has she ever had a romantic partner, or even a friend; has she connected with anyone other than her aunt in the last 24 years? And if not, how does she so easily fall into a romance once the book begins? Has she found purpose in her work as a grant writer (mentioned only to tell us she quit to go to Cambodia), or is it just a job, and if so, what does motivate and interest her? She apparently wants to be a writer, so what has she written in all that time, or if she hasn’t, why not? None of these questions are answered. Teera has a lot of feelings about her childhood, her family and her home country, but she’s lacking a personality and a life history outside of her childhood trauma. She doesn’t quite feel real.

Tun has had more of a life, though he’s still not a complex character. My issue here is that the book is presented as addressing the way Khmer Rouge victims and perpetrators now live side-by-side in Cambodia, and Tun is built up as the perpetrator in Teera’s father’s death. But it turns out to be one of those stories where, when our so-called villain protagonist’s history is revealed, he hasn’t actually done anything that awful. Tun joined the Khmer Rouge because he opposed the previous bad government and believed this would help bring democracy, and then he did his best at every turn. Every horrific thing he’s supposedly done turns out to have been either a mercy killing or something he was forced to do under torture or at gunpoint. I’m not sure what to make of this: was the author’s point that there were very few real villains, just lots of good people struggling with the terrible hand they were dealt? Or did she just chicken out on creating a complex and morally flawed character?

And while we’re at it, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the rest of the cast either. The repeated introduction of three-year-old girls orphaned under traumatic circumstances, and yet who are complete angels who bring nothing but joy and love (definitely never frustration or difficulty) to adult lives, was a bit much. One such child I might have grudgingly accepted, but two?

But I did learn a bit about Cambodia and its history from the book, and it’s a fairly quick read, though the subject matter is often dark and brutal. There’s a lot of presumably genuine emotion in it, as the author herself was a survivor who journeyed back to Cambodia in hopes of learning about her father’s fate. The writing style is fluid and easy to read, though I’d call it “wordy” more than “lyrical”; there was nothing particularly arresting to me about the use of language, but it’s certainly contemplative, with many passages embroidering on the characters’ thoughts, emotions, ideas, and sensations. While there isn’t a lot going on in the present-day plot, the story still manages to be engaging and vivid. I wouldn’t recommend this book on its literary merits, but as a deeply-felt novel by a genocide survivor, it’s worth a read for those interested in the places and issues addressed.

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review 2019-03-02 00:08
Phenomenally gripping narrative
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield

For those who love an engrossing family drama steeped in mystery I have just the book for you: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I guarantee you'll be hooked by the third page (or perhaps even earlier). I had barely gotten a third of the way through before I was checking to see what else Setterfield had written and if I could get my grubby mitts on it. (She just released a book in December called Once Upon a River and I'm already on the library's holds list for it.)

 

When I was writing notes about this book after reading it I realized that I was basically regurgitating the plot because I had no idea how to sum up my feelings without divulging loads of spoilers. I'm still not entirely sure how to do it so I'll try to be as basic as I can be here. The story opens with a bookseller named Margaret Lea who upon returning to her flat finds a letter from an acclaimed author named Vida Winter. Despite being very well-read and what most would consider a true bookworm this is one author that she has never paid much mind to despite her abundance of novels and literary renown. This is rather awkward as it seems the esteemed lady wants Margaret to write her biography. There follows a meeting between the two women where Ms. Winter's true identity is revealed (no mean feat in itself as she's been dodging the truth for years with interviewers). We are then treated to some of the most amazing writing I've read in quite some time as Setterfield begins to weave a story that pulled me in hook, line, and sinker. Make no mistake, Margaret is simply the vehicle through which we are treated to the story of Vida Winter but without Margaret this book wouldn't be the well-rounded thing of beauty that it is (but it would probably still be pretty great).

 

The book is touted as a mystery because the reader is alongside Margaret as the story of Ms. Winter's life is slowly and inexorably revealed and she finds herself having to hold her tongue as the flow of questions becomes almost too much to bear. Who exactly is this woman? What kind of connection do twins have and can one live without the other? By hearing Vida's story will it irrevocably change the course of Margaret's life? You have to read The Thirteenth Tale to find out (or to come up with even more questions). This is one that you don't want to miss, guys. 10/10

 

**SPOILER ALERT** If allusions (subtle and not so subtle) of incest are too much for you to handle then you'd better give this one a miss and maybe take a look at one of her other books because Diane's writing is excellent.**SPOILER ALERT**

(spoiler show)

 

What's Up Next: I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

 

What I'm Currently Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson

 

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2019-02-28 11:00
Release Blitz! Immortal Desires Box Set available for a limited time!

 

http://www.ladyambersreviews.com/

 

Hello, Readers! Today, I am celebrating the release of a paranormal romance anthology – Immortal Desires! Enjoy and don’t forget to add Immortal Desires to you shelves!

 

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Title: Immortal Desires
Author: Multi-Authors
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: February 26th, 2019
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
http://www.ladyambersreviews.com/

 

Blurb:

 


Immortals last all night…


So do their desires…


Dive into this wickedly sexy boxed set, packed with thrilling and steamy romances from some of your favorite New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Bestsellers.
We’ve brought the heat with paranormal bad boys who will leave you begging for more. If you love vampires, dragons, shifters, ghosts, and other hotties that go bump in the night, this is a limited time charity boxed set you don’t want to miss out on!

 

 

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

 

Melanie James
Lia Davis
A.K Michaels
Madison Sevier
Heather Hildenbrand
Rebecca Rivard
Bella Roccaforte
Monica La Porta
Jennifer Theriot
Susan Griscom
N.L. Hoffmann
Nicole Garcia
S. J. Pierce
CJ Hartnett
Casey Hagen
D.J. Bryce
Cora A. Murray
Christina Escue


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Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43126718-immortal-desires

 

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/books/immortal-desires-by-casey-hagen-and-elaine-barris

 

Riffle - https://www.rifflebooks.com/books/1040701

 

 

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AVAILABLE in ebook

 

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/3nnWdB

 

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

 


http://www.ladyambersreviews.com/

 

 

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review 2019-02-03 20:27
3 Out Of 5 STARS for Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Monstrous Beauty - Elizabeth Fama

  

 

๏ ๏ ๏  Highlights ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 
Present Day Interspersed With Historical Flashbacks
Pilgrims of Plymouth History
Mermaids
Cursed Ghosts
An Evil Sea Hag
Doomed Romance
 
 
 

With Narration by Katherine Kellgren

 
 
 

 

๏ ๏ ๏  My Thoughts ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 
I'm fairly certain the reason I was never able to fully immerse myself in this story is due to the narration by Katherine Kellgren.  I didn't like her accent, it felt all wrong to me and I couldn't tell if the story was in the present tense or the past tense, most of the time. 

The story feels like it is well researched as far as the history of the pilgrims and the religious beliefs of the time, and I enjoyed that aspect as well as dark themes and the violent outcomes.  Sadly, though, I didn't feel the connection/romance between Ezra and Syrenka or Ezra and Hester...and maybe that's due to the narration or maybe it's not.  This could be one of those books that would be better to read rather than listening.

 

๏ ๏ ๏  MY RATING ๏ ๏ ๏ 

 

3STARS - GRADE=C

 
 
 
 

๏ Breakdown of Ratings ๏ 

Plot⇝ 3/5 
Narration Performance⇝ 2/5
Main Characters⇝ 3/5
Secondary Characters⇝ 3/5
The Feels⇝ 2/5
Pacing⇝ 3/5
Addictiveness⇝ 3/5
Theme or Tone⇝ 3.8/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇝ 2.8/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇝ 3/5
Originality⇝ 4/5
Ending⇝ 3.5/5 Cliffhanger⇝ Nah...
๏ ๏ ๏
Book Cover⇝ Eerily Beautiful
Setting⇝ Plymouth, MA
Source⇝ Audiobook (Library)
๏ ๏ ๏

๏ ๏ ๏ Links ๏ ๏ ๏

 

Kindle eBook | Audio

Add to Goodreads | Add to Booklikes 

 

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

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