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review 2018-08-02 22:12
Thornhill by Pam Smy
Thornhill - Pam Smy,Pam Smy

This is another book I randomly picked off the shelves when I went to the library for the first time in six months. I was drawn in by the spine. All I saw was it was completely black with Thornhill written in bright white font. Once I flipped through the book and saw it was also told through illustrations, I decided to read it right there and then. And I was not disappointed.


Thornhill is told through two perspectives. The first is Mary, an orphaned girl living in the Thornhill Institute during 1982, and is being viciously bullied by one of the other orphans. The second is Ella, a girl living next door to the ruined Thornhill Institute in 2016, who sees a little girl inside the institution and desperately wants to become her friend. What unfolds is a story about loneliness, anger, and pain these two must face in order to find their peace in the world.


This story is depressing. Pam Smy does not shy away from showing how terrible being the victim of bullying truly is. It hits the reader hard. Just reading about the pain Mary goes through, seeing her in pain, how lonely she is, it just hurts so much. With the fantastic artwork accompanying the story, brings that hurt alive. Smy is truly talented in weaving both the past and present into one narrative. I am in awe at her abilities to create a story not just through words but art as well.


Her characters are so amazing as well. I feel so strongly for Mary the most. She just wants a family to love and appreciate her and because of how quiet she is, she is treated so poorly. Not just by the other orphans, but by the adults as well. But she is such a kind, gentle soul. She loves creating dolls to be her friends and it's truly magical. I adore her. Ella is also kind and gentle. She works so hard in befriending the girl she sees next door and I love that her instinct was to be friends and not to judge her. Smy's characters are lovely and it makes me feel all the more for them.


I can't really dive into anything else that happens in this book because it's all about seeing how everything plays out for these two and how the two time periods become interwoven. All I will say that this is truly a tragic story and if there's one thing you take away from reading this book is, if you see anyone being picked on or bullied, please say something. Get help. Being tormented day in and day out is no way to live. Please don't let anyone suffer. We are all on this planet to live as best we can. Let's try to make it a good place for everyone.


I really like this book for its art and story, and though it is quite a depressing read, I highly recommend you pick it up. There's violence, bullying, and child neglect involved so keep that in mind when reading this book. However, I do think it's worth the read and worth it for the art as well. It's absolutely stunning!

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review 2017-12-23 00:52
Fed up and gonna do something about it
Thornhill - Pam Smy,Pam Smy

Just to show how long I've had some of these books on the back burner, today's book was actually read around Halloween of this year. Thornhill by Pam Smy immediately caught my attention because of its stark black and white illustration on the cover (and the black edges of the pages). This is one of those times that the cover was not misleading as to the artistic style found within the graphic novel. Reminiscent of Brian Selznick, the art was done with pen and pencil and was entirely black and white. That definitely helped to lend a creepy vibe to the text (although it didn't need much help). This is the story of Mary, an orphaned girl, who spends her time making dolls and writing diary entries about her miserable existence at Thornhill, an all-girls orphanage. The reader is introduced to Mary through her diary entries which are read by Ella, a lonely girl, who lives with her absentee father next to a desolate, run-down building with Thornhill written above its gate. At first, it's rather confusing as to which point-of-view we are seeing and which time period we are inhabiting but I think that's done on purpose by the author. Both girls are very similar especially in terms of their circumstances i.e. they're both very lonely. As mentioned before, the tone is quite eerie but at the same time I felt that it was very realistically written. Alienation, abandonment, bullying, and emotional and psychological abuse are explored in a very interesting way. If you like Gothic horror with a dash of realistic drama then this is the perfect book for you. I read it at Halloween for the ambiance but you wouldn't be wrong reading this on a dark, stormy night either. 9/10 (with a deduction because creepy dolls are creepy)


I mean look at this stunning artwork. [Source: Macmillan]



What's Up Next: Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures by Ben Mezrich


What I'm Currently Reading: it's 3 days til Christmas so I'm all over the place

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-10-22 22:03
Thornhill - part novel and part graphic novel
Thornhill - Pam Smy,Pam Smy
There were two stories told simultaneously throughout this novel, one told in prose and one was a graphic novel. I enjoyed having the two stories side-by-side, I liked visually analyzing one while reading the other, trying to decipher when the two stories would cross paths. The written story gave meaning and depth to the graphic novel side of this novel and I was surprised at how much more I enjoyed the graphic novel than the written text. The graphic novel panels fill the whole page and the black and white prints include lots of detail. The graphic novel story is the more current story line which occur in the present year (2017) and the written text begins in 1982 and is written in diary format. This novel caught my attention at the library for its simplicity, its subject matter and its size. This book is huge, it’s over 540 pages.
It is February of 1982 and Mary is living in the Thornhill Institute. Mary is a quiet girl, who prefers to be isolated and she makes puppets. Ever since “she” moved back, Mary has been living on edge. “She” has tried to be nice to Mary but Mary is keeping her distance. There has to be a reason why “she” keeps being sent back to this female orphanage and Mary is not the only one who thinks this way. Jane, one of the caretakers, encourages Mary to join the others and reluctantly, Mary joins in. Mary realizes that she can relax and have fun with these girls. She begins to enjoy hanging out with them and Mary begins to feel that she belongs somewhere. It all comes to an end when the girls play a trick on her and Mary realizes she was being played. It’s back to the secluded Mary and the noises start up again. Mary finds the garden of the institute a safe haven after reading a novel. Consumed with her puppets, Mary spends days there creating until the girls discover her. There is talk of closing the institute as the number of girls dwindles. Her days of isolation are coming to an end and what lies ahead is alarming.
The year is 2017 and Ella is just getting settled into her upper floor bedroom. Looking out the window, she sees a girl her age in the building behind her and Ella runs out to see her. Ella is hoping for a new friend. Ella finds the grounds overgrown, the yard covered in barbwire and Keep Out Signs littering the yard. Thornhill is printed on the address and there is no access in. Finding a hole, she slips inside the gated yard and looks around, only to return to her home to wait for her father whom she rarely sees. Ella sees the girl later, tries to run over to see her again and ends up following her. Ella loses the girl but discovers a head under a statue, a doll’s head. She takes the head home and fixes it and later returns it under the statue. Ella finds other things each time she tries to catch up with this mysterious girl. I was beginning to put the two stories together as Ella continues to make her trips to Thornhill.
I found myself anticipating what the graphic novel will expose for certain parts of the novel that I have read. I kept hoping that someone would show or tell me who “she” was, this part was just killing me. I didn’t like not having a name or a visual to attach to this person. I thought Mary was a gullible and trusting person who opened herself up every time “she” wanted to be a part of her life. Come on Mary, wise up! I liked the concept of the dolls and the institute. It was heartbreaking for me to read about how Mary was treated by the other girls in the institute and it was allowed. The ending was great and I was proud of Mary. This was a fun read.
I am using this novel for Halloween Bingo my Haunted House square.  


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review 2017-03-26 17:54
Lady Justice and the Lost Tapes by Robert Thornhill
Lady Justice And The Lost Tapes - Robert Thornhill

Note: While this is Book 2 in the series, it works perfectly fine as a stand alone novel.

Walt Williams was a retired senior real estate agent but he felt he still had more in him. So he joined the Kansas City police force as part of their senior citizens outreach program. Now he and his partner, Ox, traipse around the more colorful sections of town in this tale. The mafia wants certain real estate freed up and use nearly every dirty trick there is to get people to sell. Meanwhile, one of Walt’s friends uncovered a lost rock and roll treasure that needs to be kept under tight wraps for now.

This was a fun light-hearted murder mystery. There’s lots of corny jokes and the plot is pretty straight forward. The characters are lovable in a good-will-always-win-out sort of way. I really liked how this book had so many seniors in it. Some still work. Some are retired. Several do volunteer duties. Walt’s girlfriend, Maggie, is still working as a realtor and that gives Walt a bit of an advantage as he looks into the unusual circumstances of some recent sales.

Throughout this book, Walt plays dress up, going undercover more than once. The locations of interest to Walt and the police department include some lively bars that cater to the LGBTQ community. While there are plenty of jokes from both Walt and his fellow officers, they felt rather dated, like something an older uncle would say and the next generation would be slightly embarrassed for him.

Speaking of the humor, there’s plenty of it in this book. Everything from a whoopee cushion to a stand-up comedian to one-line zingers to ribbing from fellow officers. Some of it was well timed and funny. Some of it was rather worn and just got a groan from me. Sometimes I felt like the author had a big book of jokes sitting beside him as he worked on this book and he felt obliged to put in at least 3 jokes per chapter.

I did enjoy the main plot concerning the mafia moving in and forcing owners to sell their houses or businesses cheap. The story did a good job of showing the various ways the mafia went about getting their way. They did everything from polite requests to buy outright to dirty trickery to intimidation to torching a place. At first Walt is the only officer that is interested in checking this out but as things escalate, the force in general becomes committed to putting an end to it.

The minor plot line, that dealing with the lost tapes of a rock and roll idol, didn’t really appeal to me. I just wasn’t into the R&R idol and therefore, this chunk of the book didn’t grab me. When the main plot line wrapped up, I still had about 1.5 hours of book to listen to! Well, that was mostly this second minor plot line and a big holiday celebration. They were cute but not nearly as interesting as the mafia.

All in all, it was a fun, quaint little mystery. If you’re looking for something light and, perhaps, a bit predictable, then this would be a good book to check out. For me, it was so-so.

I received a free copy of this book.

The Narration: George Kuch did a good job. He had an unexpected range of voices and even did a decent job with the female voices. His voice really fits well with the variety of seniors. There were a few times where I heard a few mouth noises but they didn’t distract from the narration.

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review 2015-11-07 00:00
Over in the Meadow
Over in the Meadow - Jan Thornhill I was excited to get a chance to review this book. It looked like it would be something that I could really get into. After all, we are talking a strong female kicking butt and falling for a covert assassin/spy, while going after a serial killer. Shades of Criminal Minds crossed with Alias. Right up my alley.

The book started great with a male narrator who didn't butcher the female voice in a super high falsetto to make my ears bleed. Eric Dove was a new to be narrator, and I wasn't initially certain I would go for a male narrating a Romance based book, but it worked for me. He had good tone and emoting, all while not making me cringe during the female dialogue.

The story starts with a young woman being abducted from the side of the road. It was scary and full of anticipation and tension, as you figured out what was going on. The author does a fantastic job at setting a scene and the mood.

My problem was my ability to connect with our main characters. I tried, I really did. But Mallory just left me cold and Alex wasn't strong enough to keep my attention on his own. The only thing that kept me going was figuring out who the bad guy was. But as soon as I figured it out, I just couldn't gather the interest to go back to the book. I tried multiple times to get back into it, but without a solid connection between me and Mallory and Alex, I just felt "meh" about seeing the specifics of how the book ends... After all, I am sure they get together, living happily ever after, as soon as the bad guy gets taken down... I just don't care to hear the details.

I was very disappointed in not being able to stay connected to this book and at 60% (5hrs, 53min), am throwing in the towel with a DNF and a rating of 2 stars - 1 for the book and 1 for the narrator.

Thanks to the author for the opportunity to listen and review the book.
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