logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Mackenzie
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-04-21 16:53
A memorable, witty and dark comedy about some very serious topics. Highly recommended.
One Year of Ugly - Anderson, Caroline, Mackenzie, My

Thanks to the Borough Press (Harper Collins UK) and NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

This is a debut novel, and what a debut! Although I hadn’t heard of the author before, I was thrilled when I realised that we had a few things in common (I’ve also worked as a translator, and we’re both alumnae of Sussex University. Go Sussex!), and I am sure this will not be the last novel I read by Mackenzie.

This novel touches on many things, and although it does it with wit and humour (at times a very sharp and quite dark sense of humour), the themes it delves in are quite serious. Illegal immigrants (in this case, Venezuelans in Trinidad) that try to settle into their new life, but whose already uncertain and danger-ridden existence becomes more complicated when they are blackmailed into doing all kind of other illegal things to settle the debt a member of their family, Aunt Celia, left unpaid upon her sudden death. The Palacios, an extended but close family, with their traditions, their unique personalities, their traditions from home and from their adopted land, their parties and meals together, with their quirks and their not-quite-upstanding members, are suddenly thrown into the hands of the criminal underworld, and their lives become even more dangerous. There is blackmail, housing other illegal immigrants, being tracked and followed, having to work all hours to keep their non-paying guests, being threatened and pushed around, and some of their members are even driven out of their minds by the pressure. To all these events (and more that I’m keeping quiet), we have to add life as usual for this family, and that includes: secret love-children, a young girl’s pregnancy, dangerous love affairs, strong women (some with a flair for drama), weak-willed men, heavy drinking, unfaithful husbands, grief and mourning, mental illness, trying to fit into a completely different place and being the object of prejudice and suspicion. The author explains her reasons for choosing to write a comedy in her note at the end, and they make perfect sense to me. First, because, as she says, some people might resist reading another book that deals in some of these very serious topics if they are presented in a straightforward manner, but a comedy might reach those readers, and also, because comedy and humour are great weapons to deal with dark situations and to endure and keep hope alive when things are tough. The author does a great job, both in dealing with the illegal immigration angle, and also in creating a family that we love (or at times, love to hate).

There are many characters, some pretty major (not all the members of the family have important roles, but we do get to know them fairly well by the end of the novel, although there are plenty of surprises, and I’m not only talking about Aunt Milagros here), and others that only pass-by, like some of the illegal immigrants they are forced to house through the year, and in many cases they are depicted like a cartoonist would do, exaggerating some traits for comedic purposes, but affectionately. Yola, the main protagonist, who narrates the story in the first-person, is intelligent, witty, hard-working, and although she might not see eye-to-eye with all the members of her family, she loves them fiercely and would do anything for all of them, even for the new arrivals that she’s not so keen on. Aunt Celia, who has died just before the story starts, is also very present in the novel, as she had been writing her biography/memoir, and the manuscript is passed on to Yola, who is also a writer and translator, and whom the majority of the members of the family think of as the most suited to follow in Aunt Celia’s steps (and become the family’s official bitch). Celia’s book is priceless, and we get to hear her voice through Yola’s reading. Then we have Ugly, who although doesn’t turn up often, his few appearances are very memorable. And Román, the romantic hero (yes, I know, the name is self-explanatory), who at first appears more of an antihero, but there is more to him than his gorgeous looks, and, well, let’s say the romance side of the story is bound to satisfy most readers keen on the genre. I liked Yola, and although some of her actions seemed pretty unreasonable and inconsistent, she is fully aware of it. As we’re inside her head, it’s easy to empathise, especially because she’s put in pretty impossible situations at times, and it’s difficult to imagine what else she could do. I also liked most of the members of her family, and yes, Aunt Celia and Aunt Milagros truly shine through. The female characters are more memorable than the males (other than Román and Ugly), but they are also familiar, and it’s likely that most readers would identify people they know who share characteristics with them. As is the case in all families, you might have your favourites, but there’s so much history shared that you feel for them. Yes, I’ll miss the Palacios.

The writing is sharp, witty, and eminently quotable. It flows well and although I know many readers don’t like first-person narratives, I enjoyed this one, and also the fragments from Aunt Celia’s memoirs. There are words and expressions in Spanish (I’m not from Venezuela, but the Spanish terms are well-written, and the research has paid up), but they do not impede the understanding of the text, and rather add to the atmosphere and the realism of the piece. I have highlighted the text extensively, but I’ll try to share a few examples of the writing. As usual, I’d recommend prospective readers to check a sample first, to see if it suits their taste. (Some reviewers did not like the humorous tone when dealing with such serious matters, but I felt that was one of the strong points of the novel).

Her wit was as lethal as a syringe of cyanide.”

Only a real political genius like him, with his communist sympathies despite everything we’d been through in Caracas, would name his kid after Fidel Castro.”

Our immigrant story is as classic and unchanging as any Hans Christian Andersen fairytale —the tale of the illegal refugees who risked it all to live like cockroaches, hiding in the dank cracks of an unknown society where they hope no one will find them, antennae forever twitching, listening for the heavy boot of National Security, only to discover that the strange new place they call home has all the ugliness of the world they left behind, except worse, because here you’re stripped of rights, dignity, personhood.”

’Life is a big piece of sugarcane’. ‘Sugarcane?’ ‘Yes, a maldito sugarcane! You have to bite down hard and suck as much sweetness out of it as you can.’”

The ending is open to interpretation and to what we have learned and think about Yola. I liked it, as I liked the whole book, and whichever choice readers think she goes for, it is certain to be hopeful and positive (although this being Yola, not without a touch of irony and ambivalence). Considering what happens during the book, the ending is perhaps too neat, but this is a comedy so it goes with the territory, and I think most readers will enjoy it.

This is a great debut novel, which deals in serious topics using a comedic register that in my opinion works very well but might not suit everybody. The characters are wonderful, if somewhat cartoonish at times, and the family Palacios is likely to stay with readers for a long time. I recommend this novel to people interest in finding new authors, and who don’t mind the use of dark comedy to discuss important issues. I highly recommend this book and I am looking forward to the next novel by the author.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2020-01-20 15:28
thoroughly enjoyable listen
The Quarterback - Mackenzie Blair
Verified purchase July 2018 Usually I don't go for college aged characters, but Matt and Trevor both have old heads on their young shoulders, for very different reasons. Yes Matt comes from money, but there are strings attached. Yes Trevor has suffered after being rejected by his family, but he is pulling himself upwards now. I loved how things develop between these two! Not just how they initally get together, but how things move along between them, physically as well as emotionally. This is the first of Blair's work I've listened to, indeed, read so I would like to read or listen to more now! Greg Boudreaux narrates and the man is a MASTER at his craft! His voices for everyone are easily indentifiable when listening to multi person conversations. The reading voice Boudreaux uses is deep and even and there were no dips or bits I missed when Matt or Trevor got emotional or were thinking (a common theme, trust me!) 4 stars for the book 5 for the narration (cos, you know, Greg!) **same worded review will appear elsewhere**

 

Like Reblog Comment
review 2020-01-11 21:08
The Nowhere Emporium (Kelpies) - Ross MacKenzie

I may be twenty (mumble) years old but I am still as enchanted by magical books like The Nowhere Emporium, as I would have been at 7 years old. If I could go back in time to my younger self, I would arrive with the biggest stack of books and this would be among them, as I know this tale of a magical shop with doors to different worlds would be read until it fell apart.

This story has a good mix of magic, mortal peril, fun and more serious subjects that kids may relate to, using orphan Daniel Holmes as our storyteller. Family dynamics are quite cleverly explored here and it's only when I start thinking back that I realise just how much they come up, and I love the idea of choosing your own family. Dealing with the death of a parent in cruel circumstances, Thomas was a hero that I really enjoyed reading about.

Magic shows, a mysterious shop, a cruel villain, family secrets, mysterious and wonderful rooms with infinite possibilities, it's all explored here. It reminds me of a popular book from last year, Starless Sea, except aimed at a much younger audience of course. The sequel, which isn't currently attached to this one on Goodreads yet, is The Elsewhere Emporium, I'm intrigued to find out what Thomas gets up to next!

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-11-09 06:04
Audio Review: Back For More by: Kayley Loring (author) Teddy Hamilton (narrator) Mackenzie Cartwright (narrator)
Back For More - Teddy Hamilton,Mackenzie Cartwright,Kayley Loring

 

 

 

Kayley Loring is one of the most endearingly, frustrating authors I have ever come across. She shows a heart what it means to be human. Her characters remind us it's okay to be less than perfect. Back for More was not love at first sight for me. Lily is more than a little self involved and Wes comes across far too self righteous. What I failed to understand was that there was more to the story. Good thing I took a chance on the audio version. Loring lays the groundwork, but for me it was actually Cartwright and Hamilton that helped me find the gem that was hiding within. Although Wes and Lily seem different, their lives are quite similar. Both have been dealt some heartaching blows by life. Love seems determined not to be kind to them. In a world of unpredictability, the one constant is the bond they have with each other. What makes Back for More, the treasure that it is, are the lessons the characters learn as they get to know themselves and each other.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2019-10-28 04:57
Review: A Mackenzie Clan Christmas by Jennifer Ashley
A Mackenzie Clan Christmas - Jennifer Ashley

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

“A Mackenzie Yuletide” (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 11.5)
A ghostly visitor, a missing artifact, and multiple generations of Mackenzies getting in on both hunts? Sign me up! “A Mackenzie Yuletide” is a delightful Christmastime romp featuring one of my favorite families.

It’s December 1898 and Mac Mackenzie is at Kilmorgan painting when he spies a ghost. His siblings and their various offspring are determined to settle their supernatural debate over the existence of ghosts by catching the specter. Meanwhile, Ian Mackenzie is equally determined to get the perfect Hogmanay gift for his wife, Beth. But the priceless antique necklace has been stolen and he’s not the only person – or even the only Mackenzie – searching for it. Both mysteries are delightful, mostly because various Mackenzies team up to solve the cases.

Ian has always been a scene-stealer for me, so I was delighted to catch up with both him and his beloved Beth. Their love for one another and their children is as strong as ever and spending time with them was pure joy. And speaking of their children, author Jennifer Ashley gives an exciting peek into the minds of some of the Mackenzie children. The only downside to this? I desperately hope the younger Mackenzies get books of their own one day because they are as fascinating as their parents. Cam’s daughter, Gavina, intrigued me most of all and her determination never to wed means she’s practically begging for a book of her own.

The Mackenzie clan is bright, boisterous, and unique. The romantic and familial bonds are on full display in “A Mackenzie Yuletide” and made me smile more than once. I’m so glad I got to go on another adventure with the Mackenzies and I desperately hope Ms. Ashley has more stories in store for them.


“A Mackenzie Clan Gathering” (Mackenzies & McBrides, Book 8.5)
“A Mackenzie Clan Gathering” is a beautiful story brimming with emotion. Fans of the Mackenzies & McBrides series won’t want to miss this novella, for it’s sure to make you fall in love with the Mackenzies all over again.

Ian, Beth, and their children are the only Mackenzies in residence at Kilmorgan when thieves break in, stealing a good portion of the duke’s art collection. Ian is determined to track the culprits before the rest of his family shows up, but he’s sidetracked by the arrival of Beth’s late husband’s brother, a man who claims he can cure Ian of his “madness.” Ian and Beth are two of my all-time favorite characters, and in “A Mackenzie Clan Gathering” we get to see how they’ve grown over the years they’ve been married. Their bond is stronger than ever, but when Ian is tempted with the possibility of being “cured,” it just about broke my heart, especially because he wants to do so for Beth’s sake. Of course, we know two things: (1) Beth loves him just the way he is and (2) Ian isn’t mad, nor does he need to be “cured” – he has Asperger’s, decades before anyone knows what that is. What follows I’ll leave readers to discover, but I will say that we get to see more interesting things about the Mackenzie family. Most importantly, Ms. Ashley touched my emotions showing the deep bonds of love – romantic and familial – among the Mackenzie clan.

The investigation into who is behind the art theft takes some interesting turns, tying into the series in an unexpected way. And though “A Mackenzie Clan Gathering” is primarily Ian and Beth’s story, other family members do get their moments to shine. I’ll never get tired of seeing Hart with Ian; the duke’s love for his youngest brother never fails to grab me and revisiting this novella made me want to re-read their books all over again. If you’re new to the series, don’t worry – you’ll still be able to follow along. But truly, this story is probably best enjoyed if you’re already invested in the Mackenzie & McBrides series. I absolutely loved revisiting Ian and Beth and I hope Ms. Ashley continues to gift readers with more glimpses into what happens after happily ever after for the entire Mackenzie clan.


A Mackenzie Clan Christmas is perfect for any fan of Ms. Ashley’s Mackenzie family. It’s lovely to catch up with such beloved characters after their happily ever after, to see the bonds of love and family strengthen as their number grows. Both novellas warmed my heart and made me smile; they’re the perfect holiday reads that you can enjoy all year long.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Source: witandsin.blogspot.com/2019/10/review-mackenzie-clan-christmas-by.html
More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?