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review 2018-10-16 04:07
Gothic romance with spirits, mediums, and secrets. Nice read.
The SEcrets of Chateau Swansea - R.C. Matthews

I found this story very intriguing. I love a good ghost story, spirits, familial pasts, and this story gave me that. I enjoyed watching as Arthur came to believe in Maribeth's abilities. Maribeth was a great foil for him. This was a good story, and I recommend this story.

I received an ARC of this story from the author, and this is my unsolicited review.

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review 2018-10-15 04:16
Still not a favorite from the series.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling,Mary GrandPré

So on my YouTube channel I am participating in a readalong called potterwatch. Each month we are reading a Harry Potter book and watching the film that goes with it. Last month we did the first book and first movie. So this month it's book 2 turn. I still have to watch the movie for the book.

So this is only my second time reading this book, I never reviewed it before, because at the time the book first came out, I just read books and didn't rate them. If I would have back then, it would have probably been only 3 1/2 stars, but on the reread, u really felt I liked it much more this time around. I love the flying car scenes, the ending scene with Harry and Dobby. Things I didn't like and annoyed me was any scenes with Lockhart, and any scenes with Heromine and Molly, falling for what he was trying to sell. Heromine is suppose to be so freaking smart, but falls for that shit. And at first Dobby gets on my freaking nerves, but of course I start to love my adorable little house elf. 

Really can't wait to read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the first time I read it, I would say it was my favorite book and movie as well. So I can't wait to see if any of the positions of my book love changes. 

I will tell you my least to favorite, which I told you already my favorite and least favorite. 

7. chamber of secrets. 

6.the Goblet of fire 

5. The sorcerer's stone 

4. Order of the Phoenix 

3. The half blood Prince 

2. The Deathly Hallows 

1. The prisoner of Azkaban. 

So there we go 

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review 2018-10-14 14:22
Painful Memories: "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling,Mary GrandPré

(original review, 2000)

So millions of readers think these books are brilliant. It takes an odd sort of character to say, in this context, "frankly the books are rubbish".

Very odd.

It seems so much more natural, and logical, to say something like "I think these books are badly written ("he was sat there" etc.} and don't think they're any good". Just that tiny yet essential shift in emphasis from "They are crap" to "I think they're crap" prevents this massive denial of their appeal, which demonstrates they can't be crap.
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.
 
 

 

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review 2018-10-11 18:32
WWII Historical fiction set in the UK and a gripping family mystery
The Lost Letters - Sarah Mitchell

I am writing this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you’re looking for reviews, I recommend you check her amazing site here), and I thank her and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

The novel tells two stories centred in two different times, one set in the 1940s, mostly in WWII Norfolk, although with some visits to London, and another taking place now, also set in Norfolk in its majority. The chapters set in the past are written in the past tense from the point of view of Sylvia, a married woman, mother of two children, still pining for her teenage love. When her aunt dies she leaves her a beach hut and through it she meets Connie, a girl from London, and her brother Charlie. Despite the distance and the difficulty in maintaining communication during the war, they become friends, and their lives intertwine in unexpected ways.

The chapters set in the present are written in the present tense (something I must confess took me some time to get used to, although it means it is very difficult to get confused as to where you are or who is talking), and told from the point of view of Martha, a Canadian teacher whose father was evacuated during the war from England to Canada. Following the death of her father and gaps in the information about his childhood (as he was working on an autobiography when he died), she decides to use the opportunity offered by her father’s plane ticket and the hotel and beach hut he had booked to do some research into his past.

Both women, whose stories most readers will guess must be connected in some way, have their own problems. Sylvia’s marriage is not exactly happy, the war takes her husband away, and apart from the everyday danger and destruction, she has to face the evacuation of her son. The author manages to create a good sense of the historical period and, in particular, of women’s lives during the war, without being heavy-handed in the use of descriptions or over-the-top in the nostalgic front. We experience the character’s turmoil, her doubts, and although we might not always agree with her decisions, it is easy to empathise and understand why she does what he does.

Martha is at a bit of a loss. She is divorced and although her ex-husband has moved on (he has remarried and has twins), it is not that clear if she has, as she still sends him birthday cards and seems jealous of her daughter’s relationship with her father’s new wife. She knows her relationship with her daughter Janey, who is studying at Cambridge, is strained but seems to have forgotten how to communicate with her. Her research into her father’s childhood and past gives her a focus, and the mystery behind Catkins (a file her sister finds in her father’s computer) and his/her identity help give her a purpose.

We have some male characters (and Martha’s father and his past are at the centre of the novel), but this is a novel about women: about mothers and daughters, about friends, about women pulling together to survive and to get stronger (I particularly enjoyed the chapters set during the war recalling the tasks women were doing in the home front, and how they supported each other becoming all members of an extended family), about the difficult decisions women were (and are) faced with for the good of their families and their children. The author is very good at conveying the thought processes of her characters and although it also has a great sense of place (and I am sure people familiar with Norfolk will enjoy the book enormously, and those of us who don’t know it as well will be tempted to put it on our list to visit in the future), in my opinion, its strongest point is its great psychological depth.

The book is well researched and it has a lightness of touch, avoiding the risk of slowing down the story with unnecessary detail or too much telling. As the different timelines are kept clearly separate I do not think readers will have any difficulty moving from one to the other.

The book flows well and the intrigue drives the reader through the pages, with red herrings and twists and turns included, although its pace is contemplative, as it pertains to the theme. It takes its time, and it allows its readers to get to know the characters and to make their own conjectures. I worked out what was likely to be the connection slightly before it was revealed, but it is very well done, and I don’t think readers will be disappointed by the ending.

A great first book, that pulls at the heartstrings, recommended to lovers of historical fiction and women’s fiction, especially those interested in WWII and the home front in the UK. I will be following the author’s career with interest in the future.

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review 2018-10-09 02:14
A Child Abduction Sets Off a Disturbing Chain of Events
Burning Secrets - Ruth Sutton

For a book that clocks in at 264 pages, Sutton packed in a lot of story. I'm having difficulty deciding what to focus on, I've got to say. If only all authors could present a guy with such problems . . .

 

This book starts off with a child abduction -- a child, Helen Helsop, that we get to know a little bit before she's abducted. Immediately I groaned, because the last thing I wanted to deal with is a book about a little girl getting snatched and then dealing with whatever abuse is looming. Without spoiling much, let me assure you -- nothing like that happens. This is not that kind of kidnapped child story. This doesn't mean that she's been taken for benign or even beneficial reasons, however.

 

Helen hasn't been living at home -- she's been staying with family in town so she can attend school. Because theirs is a farming community -- predominately, or at least heavily, a dairy and cattle area, and this is 2001 -- the height of the Foot and Mouth crisis. I'll be honest, as an American in a pre-social media age, I didn't have a strong grasp on the effect this had on smaller farmers -- I just never was exposed to it. I got what it meant on the national/industry front, but didn't think much more about it. If I had, it would've been obvious just how much this would decimate a community, an individual family, and why this was such a horrible crisis. Anyway, back to Helen -- she hasn't had a good time of it in this temporary home and is easily persuaded to leave. It's hours (of course) before anyone notices that she's missing, and even then, most of her family doesn't believe she's actually missing.

 

Before that, thankfully, the police are called in -- we focus on DC Maureen Pritchard -- a well-known fixture in the community (not as well-known as her father, however) and the newly-arrived DS Anna Penrose. There's a little professional jealousy between the two -- Pritchard envies another woman in a position she was denied and Penrose would love the acceptance and respect her fellow officers seem to have for Pritchard. But largely, they can put that aside to focus on Helen. It's obvious from the start that the foster family and Helen's actual family are both holding back from the police, but it's hard to tell if it's germane to the case, or if it's just things that no one wants to share with outsiders.

 

This is all so compellingly told -- the layers that Sutton is working on are something to behold. She's excellent at revealing more and more about Pritchard and Penrose while they're uncovering more about Helen's life and whoever took her. You could make the case (I think you'd be wrong, but you can make it) that the mystery in this novel takes a back seat to the drama surrounding the women and their superiors. Initially, probably because we meet her first, I was pulling for Pritchard to solve the case, rescue the girl and save the day to put Penrose in her place. But soon, I just wanted the two of them to knock off the nonsense and just work together -- preferably by being open with each other about what's going on. I won't say if I was ultimately satisfied in that desire, but I can say that Sutton deals with their relationship in a way that is absolutely believable and realistic -- a very satisfactory job.

 

The greatest impediment to the search for Helen isn't the fact that the family is hiding something(s), the difficulty in tracking down a person of interest, the cleverness of the kidnapper, finding a particular van in a decent size, getting a straight answer out of scared kids with overbearing/concerned parents interfering (for nefarious reasons or unintentionally), or any of the other absolutely understandable and inevitable roadblocks. Instead, it's Detective Inspector Stanley Bell -- he's too focused on the budget and on impressing his DCI, not that we can forget his obvious misogyny and blatant racism. It'd have been easy for Sutton to leave him as a buffoon, an obstacle, a foil for Pritchard and Penrose -- but she doesn't, there are times when he seems to be a perfectly capable police officer. But those times are the minority -- it is fun to watch his subordinates play him to get their way, Penrose learns from Pritchard's example quickly on this front.

 

If I tried to talk about the kidnapper, I'd spoil it -- if I tried to talk about Helen's family, I'd fail. I can't summarize what Sutton did there (I was reductionistic enough with the police -- and I'd still be reductionistic if I'd included everything I wanted to say about them) -- I've known men like her father and older brother. I could feel their pain, their frustration -- with their life in general, even before Helen's abduction, which just seemed like the next-to-last straw for them. Between Foot and Mouth, general hardships (physical and financial) related to this lifestyle, too much alcohol, and a wife who wants more than all this -- it's just too much for people to take.

 

The depiction of Helen is really strong, as well -- she is a scared twelve year-old doing the best she can in a horrible circumstance. At some point the police don't understand why she did X in a situation. I wanted to yell at them, "because she's a scared little kid!" Of course, she's not going to act like a rational adult. (The other thing I had a hard time buying was that given the emphasis the officers put on local knowledge, was that it was the outsider who understood the importance of getting his cows milked to a dairy farmer)

 

I've gone on too long, and haven't said nearly enough. So let's hit the important things as I try to wrap up.As I said at the outset -- this is not a typical kidnapping novel. Every assumption you make early on in the book will prove to be mistaken, but it all feels organic, it all seemed natural. This isn't one of those books where you can see the author moving pieces around to achieve her ends. I have no doubt she did -- but I couldn't see it. There's some good action, some very clever policework, and a strong psychological-thriller bent to parts of this as well. There's a strong Perry Mason-esque quality to the strategy the police employed at the end, which I appreciated. Burning Secrets ticks almost every box a mystery-fan will have on their list.

 

This is a novel about family secrets, family problems -- all families, on some level, I'm sure. There are strong threads about options various women take to take care of their families and themselves -- what lengths they may go to, what shortcuts they may take, what hard choices they may make -- to secure happiness, health, or survival. This is a novel about change -- individual and societal -- how difficult that is. But none of these themes detract from a heart-stopping and heart-breaking story about a kidnapping and the consequences radiating from it. All in less than 300 pages -- not a bad feat.

 

I have no idea if Sutton intends to write more about these characters (there's every reason to think she will, given her track record) -- but I'd love to spend more time with them. If Penrose and Pritchard can turn their détente into some sort of working understanding, or better, a real partnership, they'd be a fantastic combination (for drama, they'd still be interesting if they don't form any closer relationship, but it wouldn't be as fun to read). Sutton does have a pretty hefty backlist, and I should try to dive in -- and you should, too. Start with this, though, it'll whet your appetite for the rest.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/10/05/burning-secrets-by-ruth-sutton-a-child-abduction-sets-off-a-disturbing-chain-of-events
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