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review 2019-07-13 12:28
A highly recommended tough and inspiring read
winter flower - Charles Sheehan-Miles

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

This is the first novel I read by Charles Sheehan-Miles, who is a brand new author to me, although he has published a large number of books, and from the comments I guess he has a legion of fans that were surprised by this book, as it is not a romance. I cannot compare it to his previous work, but I agree with the warning. If readers from his previous books approach this novel as a romance, they will be shocked, because it is far from it.

This is a long book (over 600 pages long), divided up into four parts, with a prologue set two years before the main action of the book, although there are flashbacks (memories) narrated in the first-person by the four main characters —all members of the same family— that offer readers a good understanding of the background to the current situation and help them get to grips with their circumstances, their pasts, and who they are. This is the story of a family, a married couple and their two children, on the brink of collapse due to a terrible tragedy that took place two years before the action we follow chronologically. Or so it seems. (The truth is a bit more complicated than that). Sam and Brenna, the children (adolescents by the time we met them) are close, and Brenna has always willingly played the role of big sister to Sam, there to protect and guide. Until she disappears. Carrying on without her puts a big strain on a family we soon learn was going through difficulties already (some more out in the open than others), and whose communication had ground almost to a halt. The parents, Cole and Erin, are living example of the “opposites attract” edict, at least from a political perspective (Cole, the father, who as a young man decided formal education wasn’t for him and moved up the corporate ladder at lightning speed, is conservative as can be, while Erin, the mother, a college  graduate, is a convinced liberal who sacrificed her career to look after her children), and although the story opens up with Sam’s narration, we soon get to read their own perspective on the matter, and the kind of traps they find themselves in.

This is a story that deals in many important subjects, and it could have been told in a variety of ways, but I am impressed not only by the subjects (adultery and its toll on family relationships, sex trafficking, rape, prostitution, bullying, harassment and violence against the LGBT community, missing youths, the isolation of the trans-gender experience for young people, prejudice and harassment at work…) and the sensitive and enlightening way they are handled, but also by the way the story is told. The author allows each character to tell his/her own story, and that makes us walk a mile in their shoes, no matter how uncomfortable they might feel. I am sure many readers will think, as they read, that they would have never reacted in a certain way, or allowed their circumstances to deteriorate to such an extent, but, do we truly know? Although, as the author reminds us in the final note, the events in the book are far from unique (yes, it is a work of fiction, but many individuals and families unfortunately will go through similar experiences to those depicted in the book), many of us will never have been in close contact with somebody in such dire circumstances, much less be directly affected by it, so, how do we know what we would do? The characters are not necessarily the most likeable when we meet them (drinking heavily, harassed, afraid for their lives, paralysed and frozen, unable to make decisions and move on), and they are all closed off from each other, trapped, physically or mentally, sometimes by others and their preconceptions, sometimes by their own fears and inability to grief and forgive. The author also makes a conscious decision to introduce the rest of the family —the parents and Sam— first, so we get to see the effect her loss has had on the family, before we meet Brenna, the missing girl. Her situation is heart-wrenching, and the most extreme and difficult to read about, although none of the characters have an easy ride.

Thankfully, the author manages to achieve a difficult balance between telling the story, not pulling any punches, making sure people can understand and empathise with what the characters are going through, while avoiding extremely graphic scenes (both of sex and violence), and gratuitous iterations and repetitions of the abuse, which would risk further exploitation rather than facilitating understanding and empathy. Don’t get me wrong; this is a hard read, and readers with triggers arounds topics such as child abuse, rape, bullying, violence against women and the LGTB community, and racism need to be aware of it. Even people who don’t have such triggers will find it a tough read, but, on the other hand, this is a book with a big heart, and the individual journey of each character, and of the family as a whole, make for an inspiring and hopeful read.

I have already talked about how impressed I am by the story and the way it is told. I grew fond of all the members of the family by the end of the book (it’s impossible for our hearts not to go out to Sam and Brenna, but we get to appreciate their parents as well), and I particularly enjoyed the journey of enlightenment Cole’s father goes through. The author includes most of the reactions we can imagine to these subjects, from the sublime to the ridiculous, (not everybody changes and accepts either. Bigotry remains alive and well, as we all know), and they all felt true. I was particularly fond of Jeremiah and his wife — almost too good to be true— who are an ideal we should all aspire to. I also liked the fact that the story does not stop when most readers would expect it to, and even Sam makes comments on that. There is no magical happy ending here that just makes everything right again. All the members of the family will have to keep working at their relationship and supporting each other, but that is as it should be.

There were no negative reviews of the book at the time I wrote this, and the only objections (apart from the warning that it is not a romance) some people had referred to were Sam’s virtual game  playing (that a reader didn’t feel added anything to the novel. Personally, I think it helps readers understand what life is like for the character and experience the kind of coping strategies adolescents in similar circumstances might use), and some others felt the book could have been shorter and still managed to tell the same story. That might be true, but I suspect some of the nuances would have been lost.

This is an excellent book that manages to combine complex and credible characters with a plot that deals with several difficult subjects, without becoming preachy or too graphic. It is horrifying, touching, and insightful all at the same time, and it makes readers witness the highs and lows of the human condition. I recommended it to readers interested in the subjects, but I advise those who might worry about possible triggers to proceed with caution. The author adds some resources (links to websites) for people who need more information about some of the issues raised in the book, and I thought the final conversation of the book, between Brenna and her grandfather in the garden —when the grandfather talks about the snapdragon, and how it grows back after getting rid of the dead stuff, stronger and more beautiful— stands as a great metaphor for the story. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

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review 2019-05-30 17:38
Hairless Harassment (Pet Whisperer PI #3) by Molly Fitz, Melissa Storm
Hairless Harassment (Pet Whisperer PI #3) - Melissa Storm,Molly Fitz

 

 

Clever gains a sense of humor by taking a detour toward eccentric. Fitz takes on danger with her animal posse. A suspenseful turn with a cute twist, Hairless Harassment will take readers from what was I thinking, to why did I wait so long. Angie and Octo-cat will have my vote every time.

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url 2019-02-20 14:54
Non-book post: Anime voice actor Vic Mignogna accused of sexual harassment

Warning: the article has detailed descriptions of the accusations.

 

This isn't really book news, but I figured I'd post it since manga volumes are books and manga and anime fans often overlap.

 

I just read the article (mostly - I had to start skimming near the end, because it made my skin crawl), and I'm deeply disappointed. He really is huge in the industry - if you've listened to a Funimation dub, you've probably heard him. The one role of his I absolutely loved was Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

 

I'm glad that Funimation seems to be taking this seriously, although it sounds like this has been going on for long enough that it should have been an issue for them sooner.

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text 2018-12-10 12:10
Hire Sexual Defense Lawyer to Secure your Reputation Between the Societies

It is the most disgusting situation for a person, who is suffering from the guilt of sexual harassment. The system is strict and convenient for those who are filing the charges; they can easily bring the person to court. Is this, what you deserve due to an unintentional felony or unintended fault? To execute such conditions you should hire sexual harassment attorney San Diego. It is a very complicated charge of assault which can break down the image of the person involved in it and its family if the jury will decide is not in your favor. If you found guilty for an offensive act then this will destroy your life and the life of your loved ones into pieces.

What are the steps you should take, to get bailed out from that criminal cause?

The only person who can stand by your side after an unfortunate blame is your sexual assault lawyer. This criminal charge will tear apart your reputation if you will not react with your legal attorney at right time. You have to contact the best prosecutor of sexual harassment case to rescue you from the complicated matter. This criminal conduct has punishments of the death sentence and lifetime prison. So, if you take the assistance sexual harassment lawyer then it will be more convenient favor for your case.

What is the need for sexual assault lawyer?

If you got involved in a criminal case due to actions of another person, then you should look for no further than San Diego sexual harassment attorney. Victim of these assaults suffers a mental illness and it is a hard call for them to explain the horrific incident happened to them. But it is important to understand your rights and fight for it, and do not experience the consequences of it. By explaining the details of the incident it will make the easy situation for your prosecutor to rescue you from the crime.

About SDC:

SDC has the best representatives of sexual harassment attorneys San Diego. Lawyers of their firm will stand by your side unless they will prove you not guilty.

For further information, visit

https://www.google.com/maps/place/San+Diego+Criminal/@32.7487901,-117.1549737,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xb06954e2d4450bf0!8m2!3d32.7487901!4d-117.152785

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text 2018-11-16 06:59
My #MeToo Moment

One of the reasons I write is to explore contemporary issues through different perspectives. For example, in Book 3 of the Mattie Saunders Series (yet untitled), I’m researching the #MeToo movement and the issue of sexual harassment through the eyes of Mattie, my protagonist. 

This investigation that included watching Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and hearing the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford made me reflect on my own behaviour. Did I ever cross the line, that line being the use of force or intimidation to have sex with a woman?

The answer is an emphatic no. Why am I so convinced? To understand, you need some context.

Between the ages of fourteen and nineteen, I tried to have sex with every woman I dated. It was just what you did, and, it seemed the girls I dated expected me to, not that they were all cooperative.

It was a game we played in the backseats of cars and in dark rec rooms.

The necking would start, and hands would search out clasps to undo, pants to slide down or dresses to slip up. There were three inevitable outcomes. The girl would get up and go home, the girl would break off go to the washroom, come back and re-engage only to break off, etc.,  the girl would go all the way.

Despite the outcome, I didn’t feel different about the girl, though the ones who walked out never dated me again.

I don’t think I was too different, or indifferent than most guys my age at that time, except for me when it came to sex it wasn’t so much the destination, but rather the journey.

Women had to want to have sex with me, that was whole the point. It was all about being cool, attractive and desirable. If I got turned down, and I did, a lot, I told myself it was their loss. I may not have been a nice guy, but I wasn’t a misogynist.

The idea of using anything but charm, appearance and style combined with a confident, cavalier attitude was unimaginable. In fact, intimidation, coercion or force were the antipathies to what was trying to be achieved.

The times have changed dramatically in fifty years, I’ve matured, and my attitude regarding many things has undergone a paradigm shift. What hasn’t changed is my view that using force to achieve your goals is the way of idiots and cowards, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish. 

Not surprisingly, Mattie feels the same way.



Keep calm, be brave, watch for the signs

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Author's  Amazon Page for the Mattie Saunders Books 1 & 2, The Rocker and the Bird Girl and Cold-Blooded

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 



 

 



 

 

 

 

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