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review 2018-03-04 00:00
Not a Drop to Drink
Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis 4.25 stars

This has been on my TBR list for a while, and when I saw that it was at the library, I borrowed it. I’ve read one other book by the author, Given to the Sea, and I still have mixed feelings about that one. The world-building made for a repulsive setting, but the writing was compelling and I couldn’t put it down. Not a Drop to Drink also has a grim setting, but I enjoyed this book much better. It’s a tight, fast read, one I read in just two sittings. And the more I think about it, the more I liked it.

Lynn has spent her entire life protecting the pond on her property. Along with her mother, she mercilessly shoots anyone who dares to approach their water source. In a world with severe water shortages, water is everything. Because their pond is fed by spring snow melt and rain, a dry season is disastrous for them.

After her mother is killed in a terrible accident, Lynn is on her own. Taught to survive by her mother, she rides out her grief, and then gets back to the business of staying alive. It’s all she’s ever known. When Stebbs, the man who lives on the property next door, approaches her, her whole life changes. She doesn’t have to do this alone, and not every stranger is an enemy. But when a group of men sets up in a town nearby, Lynn is in danger of having everything she possesses stolen away from her.

I loved Lynn. She has no idea how to trust, and her mother’s paranoia has kept them both isolated. When Stebbs asks her to check on the people living near the stream, she reluctantly agrees to go and see if they are still there. If not, she’s to bring back whatever they have left behind, and split it with Stebbs, in payment of him watching the pond while she’s gone.

What Lynn finds is a small family struggling to survive in the wilderness. Starving, Eli, a boy about her age, begs her to take Lucy, a young girl, back with her. Lucy has a better chance of surviving with Lynn. Eli is struggling to keep his sister-in-law alive, and they don’t have enough food to go around. Reluctantly, Lynn agrees, and her whole outlook on life changes after this one, awkward encounter.

At first, Lynn, like her mother, is distrustful of strangers and possessive of what’s hers. Mainly the water in the pond. The water is life. Without the water, they would be dead. She jealously protects her water source, and has never felt remorse dropping intruders with her rifle. But after meeting Lucy and Eli, and after getting to know Stebbs, she starts to develop a conscience, and wonder if it’s really necessary to kill everyone who approaches the pond. She begins to understand the value of friends. And she starts to want better for Lucy than sitting on the roof, waiting to shoot the next person who steps foot on the property.

I wish there was more world-building, but like Lynn, the reader’s world view is extremely limited. With no electricity, no safety, and no guarantee of survival, defending what one has is everything. Not a Drop to Drink is a gritty tale of survival, and it was one I had a hard time putting down.

Grade: 4.25 stars
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review 2018-01-18 14:45
"A Drink Before The War - Kenzie and Gennaro #1" by Dennis Lehane
A Drink Before the War - Dennis Lehane

How can this be my first Dennis Lehane book? How did I miss someone who writes like this?

 

I went into the book in complete ignorance because I liked the title.

 

I was immediately impressed by a new style of hard-boiled PI that mixes swagger with self-deprecation, reluctant empathy and hate-driven violence.

 

My only point of confusion was why the author had set this piece of edgy, I'm-self-confident as long as I don't think about it or the dreams don't get me, noir. in the 1990s. It took me ages to realise it was PUBLISHED in the 1990s.

 

"A Drink Before The War" is set in 1990s Boston and is wrapped around a plot involving corrupt politicians covering up the truth about the worthless excuses for human beings that they are, gang warfare, blackmail and multiple attempts on the lives of our two PIs.

 

The novel is powered by two challenging themes that feel contemporary: racial hatred as an unchangeable reality and the violence of abusive fathers and husbands. These two themes are braided together to explore what happens to the powerless when love and violence are twisted around one another and the corrosive effect long-harboured hate has on our ability to be human.

 

I admired Lehane's ability to provide a bold and ballsy shell for the two PIs while still letting us see the doubts and hatreds that eat at them. There's no preaching here, no moralising. This is not a discussion of issues and options, it's an up close and personal look at the consequences of abuse and hate, the hard choices they face us with and how much it costs us to make the right call.

 

The story is told mainly from Kenzie's point of view, so it's his head we get to crawl inside, his nightmares we share and his history that we discover, but Gennaro, his tough, competent, friends-since-childhood female partner is also well drawn. She is married to a man who beats her, has a partner who is constantly trying to woo her, is half the size of people trying to kill her and is still the most grounded and determined of the two PIs.

 

The plot twists but doesn't cheat. The setting feels authentic. The dialogue is sharp without becoming mannered, The violence is disturbing and morally ambiguous.

 

This is noir at its best. I'm sorry I missed these in the 90s but the good news is that there are five more Kenzie and Gennaro books in print so this year I'm going to enjoy catching up.

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review 2017-12-18 00:00
To Drink of Deceit (The Maddie Morgan Mini-Mysteries Book 1)
To Drink of Deceit (The Maddie Morgan Mi... To Drink of Deceit (The Maddie Morgan Mini-Mysteries Book 1) - Blythe Baker Light, easy, not much else to say
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review 2017-12-08 18:52
I Savored This Book
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories - David Lebovitz

I had so much fun reading this cookbook/memoir over the past week. I didn't hurry, just enjoyed the recipes, the little stories, and the vibrant pictures that David Lebovitz included. 

 

I will say that I found the recipes intriguing and thought everything sounded great. I am now addicted to salted butter and found out things that I never knew before regarding duck fat. Also I now want to buy all the duck fat and make it with potatoes. Mmmmmm.

 

I would say that I wish that we had more stories included. The recipes are great, but the book comes alive for me when Mr. Lebovitz gives readers an intimate look at his life in Paris. Whether it is finding out where to get kale or how to purchase cheeses, he makes everything seem like a fun adventure. 

 

One warning. Do not read this book if you are even a little bit hungry. 

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review 2017-11-19 20:03
#76 - Not A Drop To Drink
Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis

I had such a great time reading this book. I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptical novels and even more when it is realistic and it involves bad-ass female characters. Lynn lives with her mother in a world where water has become rare and expensive, they have a pond and will do everything to protect is as it is their only source of water. Lynn was born after all this and has never seen water running from the tap. She also does not know a lot of people and Mother is the only person she trusts. As you can imagine, something will happen and disrupt Lynn’s world.

 

I enjoyed this book so much, it was easy to read, the pacing was great, the characters were really realistic and the world created was flawless (now I want to tell you that this is a debut novel, I’m so impressed). I love the clash between country people and city people. Lynn does not know a lot about the outside world, she lives secluded in her little house (she has never heard music for example). I think the author did a really great job depicting a young teenager having only known her mother and poetry books her whole life. She, for example, have no idea that she is pretty, not having seen other women except her mother. She is clueless as what a man would want to do with women… I think this part was really well done.

 

My only complain about this book is that it was too short and I wanted more! Thankfully, there is another one and I have it on my shelf!

 

(+ this cover is one of my favourite ever!!)

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