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review 2020-05-03 19:13
Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Darling Rose Gold - Stephanie Wrobel

Now this is the kind of debut novel I have been wanting to read lately! It seems that a lot of the books I've read have been hit or miss. Either very good or very bad. But this was absolutely wonderful! It made me deeply uncomfortable, which was the point. I compare it to watching a slow motion car crash, you know that only bad things are coming but you can't bear to look away either.

 

I truly love a book that has a flawed narrator, not being able to fully trust the story they are telling you adds an interesting element to the story. But what happens when you can't trust any of the narrators? That makes for a fascinating story.

 

Reading Patty's narration was sort of like rolling around in mud. It sticks to you and makes you feel gross. Even though you tried to shower it all away, there's still the odd smudge of grossness here or there that makes you feel disgusting all over again when you discover it. You know that she isn't telling the truth. You know in your heart that she did all the horrible things that Rose Gold says she did. Part of you really wants to see her punished for it. As a mother, I was thoroughly rooting for her demise.

 

Then we have Rose Gold. Her anger and need for revenge is entirely justified. She found out that her mother permanently ruined her life. Her teeth are rotting out of her head, everyone knows too many details about her childhood, and she will forever be the girl that her mother created. I really rooted for her, but as the book went on I found it harder and harder to do that. More and more she was reminding me of her mother instead of her mother's victim.

 

I did not see the ending coming. Parts of it yes, but the thorough depravity of it surprised me. And it was wonderful to see how all the pieces played out. But this is also where the book lost a star for her. I found it hard to believe that the police would buy that Patty had forced Rose Gold to take a specific action a full month before she got released from prison. Surely they would have been ever slightly suspicious of the timing on that right? But apart from that, it was a wonderful book. I will be keeping an eye out for this author in the future.

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review 2020-03-05 00:40
Under the microscope
It Takes One - Kate Kessler

Continuing with the theme of 'murder murder murder' I picked up It Takes One by Kate Locke which is a psychological thriller taking place in a small rural town. (Looking at the descriptions of some of Locke's other books it seems like 'small town murder mystery' might be a specialty of hers.) Audrey Harte is a criminal psychologist who is frequently asked to lend her opinion on true crime shows where a professional analysis is required. Unbeknownst to her colleagues, she has a dark past that she's been trying to leave behind for years. You see Audrey murdered her best friend's father when they were kids and spent several years at a juvenile facility for violent girls. O_O So when she goes home for the first time in several years and a body turns up...you can imagine where the fingers start pointing. Now Audrey has to find the killer before either she's found guilty or dead. I will say that when you find out whodunit it is a SHOCK to say the least.

 

This is the first in a series featuring Audrey Harte as the main character but I think I've probably had my fill after reading this one. (She's not particularly likable if you want my opinion and the explicit sex scenes are not my cup of tea.) A surprising ending doesn't override the fact that I've read better psychological thrillers. 5/10

 

What's Up Next: The 7th Victim by Alan Jacobson

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2020-02-13 03:03
Not lacking in characters
Disappearing Earth - Julia Phillips

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips had a great premise and sounded like it could be the Russian equivalent of Broadchurch which I found very excitingThe story opens with the disappearance of two little girls from a small community and the suspicion and unease which come about as a result. Unlike the TV series, the book introduces a cast of characters that did nothing to add or move along the narrative plot. [A/N: There's one character's story in particular that really made me question its addition. If you read the book you'll recognize her as the lady that visits the hospital. What was going on there?!] I can only guess that they served as a kind of backdrop for the area which the author took great pains to describe (and which I knew nothing about prior to reading this book). I can't fault Phillips' writing or ability to engage the reader because I was fully hooked by this story...that is until I realized (nearly at the end) that so many of these side stories (not to mention the main plot) had no real conclusion. I read quite a lot of mysteries and crime procedurals and my favorite part is generally the dramatic tying up of the loose ends of the case which you don't get with Disappearing Earth. Instead you get more questions than answers. (Why was Denis obsessed with aliens?!) So I'm afraid the overall rating suffered as a result and I can only give it a 6/10. (This hasn't stopped me from encouraging others to pick up this book though. I keep waiting for one of them to come back and rage at me because they're annoyed by the ending.)

 

Absolutely stunning cover. [Source: Amazon]

 

What's Up Next: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-11-17 02:56
WWII History Part 3 of 4
When The Children Came Home: Stories Of Wartime Evacuees - Julie Summers

By the time I got to this book I was starting to get a bit fatigued with the topic of WWII but once I got truly stuck into this book and discovered just how much I didn't know on the topic...I was hooked. Children were evacuated to the countryside during WWII (this much I knew before) but I learned that they were also sent to America, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Parents weren't especially picky as long as they were away from London. This book is chock full of recollections which recall the 'waves' of children which would leave suddenly only to be called home again especially during the Phoney War when the prejudice against 'townies' coupled with the desire to see their children again prompted parents to yank their kids back to the city. Understandably, the uncertainty of the situation created a lot of anxiety among children and adults alike. The psychological trauma of abandonment had a lifelong effect on most of the children which manifested itself in a variety of ways. Some children never reconnected with their biological family while others felt their foster family was their 'true' family (some were eventually adopted and stayed in their new homes). I had never really given much thought on the intricacies of the evacuation scheme and what kind of result it had on the children and their families so this was an eye-opening reading experience. 9/10 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-11-08 13:24
A solid first novel for lovers of psychological suspense and Basset Hounds
Closer Than You Think - Lee Maguire

Disclaimer: the publisher offered me a free ARC copy of this book. This this not affect my review.

In brief, this is a promising debut novel (in a planned series of psychological thrillers), narrated in the first person, with a solid stalker plot (clues, red-herrings and twists likely to make most readers of the genre happy), an interesting setting (a mental health treatment facility for troubled youths) and a good development of the main character (psychologist Bryce Davison, a man with an unsettled and traumatic past), and a wonderful Basset Hound. On the minus side, it could do with a tighter editing, more development of the secondary characters, and more attention to the pacing of the action.

This book will be especially appealing to those who enjoy psychological suspense, with particular emphasis on the “psychological” part. The author’s professional experience shines through, and that aspect of the novel is particularly well achieved, although it might seem overdetailed to people used to faster-paced thrillers.

The first-person point of view works well for the type of story, as it allows readers to share in the doubts and thoughts of the victim, experiencing his anxiety, reliving the trauma he experienced when he was young, and also trying to piece together the clues with him. On the other hand, the novel reads, at times, like a poorly focused memoir, with plenty of repetition of everyday living activities and chores that don’t help move the action forward and don’t add much to our understanding of the character. (There are so many times we can read about the character having a shower, the fact that his fridge is empty, or his switching or on off the computer). I’ve read novels that meander through stuff that does not seem particularly noteworthy, but the style of writing makes it impossible not to enjoy the detour. In this novel, neither the style of writing nor the genre are best suited for it. The other characters are not very well developed, partly perhaps to do with the choice of point of view, and in some cases, like Bryce’s wife, that has the effect of making them appear inconsistent or totally at odds with the protagonist’s opinion of them.

The suspenseful plot and the way it builds up work well, although I agree with some of the reviewers that complain about the ending and the final explanation being too rushed. The story is not heavy on action or violence, although there is some, and the ending itself is satisfying.

As I said, this is a solid first novel that could be further improved by another round of editing, and I’d recommend it to people who prefer psychological suspense and who value plot over character building. Also recommended to Basset Hound lovers.

 

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