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review 2017-11-06 17:46
Dragonfly Song - Wendy Orr

This was kind of a hard book to review, mostly because it almost falls between genres. It's classed as an upper Middle-Grade historical fantasy, which, that's not wrong . . .

 

I felt like it had more of a classic children's fiction feel to it. It's coming-of-age, and also a sort of epic hero's journey, straddling children's lit and YA in a way that's often done more by adult literary works. It touches on many 'big ideas': deformity, religion/society, acceptance, adoption, trauma, bullying, disability, purpose/identity, fate . . . The format is creative and unique. The story arc stretches from the MC's birth to age 14 and is told in omniscient third person varying with passages in verse.

 

I'm not sure if there was a meaning to the alternating styles; at some points, I thought the dreamlike verse passages were meant to show the MC's perspective in a closer, almost experiential or sensory format as an infant, a toddler, a mute child . . . but then that didn't necessarily carry through, so perhaps it was more to craft an atmosphere for the story.

 

The setting is the ancient Mediterranean, and the story picks up on legends of bull dancing. The world feels distinct, grounded and natural, without heavy-handed world-building. It's a world of gods and priestesses, sacrifice and death and surrender. Humans seem very small within it, and as a children's book, it's challenging rather than comforting. There's death and violence and loss, handled in a very matter-of-fact manner, so I'd recommend it for maybe ages 10+, depending on the child. It's not gratuitously violent or graphic, but it's a raw-edged ancient world where killing a deformed child, having pets eaten by wild animals, beating slaves - including children - and sacrificing people as well as animals to the gods is just part of life. 

 

I was very kindly sent a hardcover edition via the Goodreads Giveaways program, and the book production is lovely. It has a bold, graphic cover with some nice foil accents, a printed board cover (which I prefer for kids books due to the durability), fully illustrated internal section pages, and pleasant, spacious typesetting.

 

Confident, mature young readers will find this an engaging, challenging and meaningful read with an inspiring story arc and some lovely writing. Hesitant readers and very young readers will probably find it a struggle. I'd give it 5/5 as a product, 4/5 as a literary work and 3/5 as kid's entertainment.

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review 2017-01-13 12:22
Book Review of Chase: The Hunt for the Mute Poetess by Thomas Dellenbusch, Translated by Richard Urmston
Chase: The Hunt for the Mute Poetess - Thomas Dellenbusch

Translated Version from the popular German book series of Theatre-Of-The-Mind-Stories in Movie Length

 

Enrique "Rique" Allmers runs a security firm in Hamburg, Germany. When he encounters a young woman fleeing from pursuers through the local fish-market, he takes her under his wing. They get away, but the same men - now with reinforcements - are still on their tail. Rique doesn’t know who she is, or the identity of those who are after her. Because she doesn’t speak a word to him…

 

Review 4*

 

This is a crime thriller that has been translated from German into English. I really enjoyed it!

 

Enrique "Rique" Allmers is a wonderful character. I liked him a lot. He runs a security firm called CHASE, which investigates mostly business related espionage and crimes. When a deaf mute young woman literary runs into his arms, his protective instincts kick in. As he investigates, danger is never very far behind. Can he keep Katja from the clutches of an extremely evil man?

 

I must admit that I may not have read this book if the author had not contacted me. I have so many books on my reading list that I originally turned him down. However, after thinking about it, I changed my mind and purchased a copy to read in my own time. I'm glad I did because once I started to read it, I didn't put it down until I'd finished it.

 

Set in Germany, this book takes the reader on a thrilling adventure of danger, suspense, mystery and romance. Mostly told through Rique's point of view (although some scenes are through Katja's eyes), it is a pulse pounding ride, with chases, gun fights and several twists that keep a reader hooked. There are several interesting characters in this story. Katja is a deaf mute, so there is very little in the way of dialogue from her, but the author has written her in a realistic and expressive manner that makes you forget that she can't hear or speak. She can, however, lip read and use sign language, and is an author of poetry. Then there are Rique's work colleagues. They seem like a rag tag bunch at first, but they all have their own specialty and are highly professional. I love Dr. Liang. Although he's an octogenarian, he is well versed in martial arts and owns a gym where Rique and the rest of the team train. Chen Lu is his granddaughter and part of Rique's team, which also consists of: Jerome, Ben, Maik, Nikolai, Hannes and Andree. I must admit that I would have loved to know more about CHASE, as they seem to skirt pretty closely to the edge of the law at times to get things done. Speaking of skirting the edge of the law, I took an instant dislike to Lorenzo Marone, who is not a very nice man. He runs a prostitution ring and is more a mafia don than businessman. As to why he was after Katja, you'll just have to read the book to find out.

 

I reached the end of the book with mixed feelings, sad that it had ended but happy at the way it concluded. I am not sure if I would call this a movie-length story though, as it felt too short. However, maybe I'm just being difficult by wanting to read more.

 

Thomas Dellenbusch has written an intriguing crime thriller. I love his fast paced writing style. However, whether it was because it had been translated from German to English, I found some of the story didn't flow smoothly in places (other readers may not be of the same opinion). Nevertheless, this didn't detract from my enjoyment of it. I would definitely consider reading more books by this author in the future.

 

Although there are no explicit scenes of a sexual nature, I do not recommend this book for younger readers due to some violence. However, I highly recommend this book if you love crime thrillers/mystery/suspense genres. - Lynn Worton

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review 2017-01-05 22:25
The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon Review
The Bird and the Sword - Amy Harmon

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?

 

Review

 

I am so happy to see Fantasy Romance having such a good year.

 

This is a lyrical love story with great world building and imagery. The way the details of the culture and magic systems are feed to us one by one and the mysteries solved is enchanting.

 

The very fabric of the language engages. I adore the heroine and her troll. Her magic and coming into her power is wonderful. The hero is less known and therefore less beloved to me. Better communication and couple time would have made the book more of a feast but I was very happy spending time here.

 

I can't wait for the next book!

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review 2016-07-13 00:00
The Ill-Made Mute
The Ill-Made Mute - Cecilia Dart-Thornton A not very surprising twist at the start, leading into pages and pages of description about the minutiae of everything around the main character leading up to the start of a quest type adventure.

Never really got that involved in any of the characters, and there weren't any real surprises or moments of suspense.
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review 2016-01-31 00:00
Mute Witness
Mute Witness - Rick R. Reed
3,5 stars. Rounded up to 4 stars.

It is not an easy book to read, and not an easy book to review. I knew when I picked it up that it deals with a heavy topic – just read the blurb!

Sean and Shelley, the parents of eight-year-old Jason, are divorced and each of them has a new life with a new partner. They both love their son above all things. When Jason suddenly disappears, their world falls apart. A few days later he turns up, but something really terrible happened to him: the kid is severely abused and horribly beaten, so that a police officer who first sees him in a hospital isn’t even able to recognize him, even though his picture is everywhere all over the city. Jason is emotionally traumatized and physically shaken, he doesn’t speak, and it is not possible to question him to find out who did it to him. So, the only person who could shed light on what happened to him, and it is Jason, is not in mental, physical or emotional condition to do it.

I didn’t expect that I’d know very soon WHO did it to him. It is not a book where an author plays a cat-and-mouse game with his readers, throwing riddles at his audience. Even if this book deals with such serious crimes like child abuse and a murder case, I won’t necessarily qualify it as a suspense mystery.

I don’t think that the author here wanted to show a perfect investigation, but that

** prejudices and biases still dominate the public opinion,
** very often people are too quick to make wrong conclusions,
** how fragile even the most proved relationships could become in a tough time,
** how crises can break harmony between couples and families,
** how pure emotions, even if they were ruled by the best intentions, are not always helpful to solve all problems.

And in my opinion Rick R. Reed succeeded in it.

Though as a passionate mystery reader, I can’t ignore the crime investigation that left me slightly unsatisfied. I had my problems the way investigations were conducted and I wasn’t convinced by methods of the detective Hugh Allen. For this reason it wasn’t very surprising that the crimes has been solved not by the local police department, but simply by chance.

This book is very well written, and even if I prefer the first person POV, and I don’t belong to the fans of changing POVs, I think this way of telling was pretty suitable for the plot structure, and helped to see the story from all possible perspectives. Rick R. Reed has a flowing and smooth writing style, and in spite of a disturbing and depressing subject, Mute Witness is fast-paced and a real page turner.

Mute Witness can’t deliver you a conventional HEA. I just can’t stop thinking about Jason and how his life will continue further. Solving the crimes won’t solve the healthy problems that this boy hast to deal with, and I don’t mean his physical wounds, but mental ones that left deep scars in his young soul. I wish this kid the best, but I doubt that he will be able ever completely recover from severe damage that this monster done to him.


Still despite a heavy topic and my weak complaints about some issues in the plot, it is an enjoyable read, though the word “enjoyable” feels out of place here – heart wrenching, horrifying and shocking would be the better choice.


***ARC provided to Gay Book Reviews by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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