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review 2018-12-13 20:45
[REVIEW] The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
The Hating Game: A Novel - Sally Thorne

This was such a fun read. I was about to be really mad because I had no idea how the author would wrap it up so neatly, but she managed to do it in a way that left me satisfied.

The heroine and the hero have amazing chemistry and it was a delight to spend time in their world with them. Lucy's thoughts were insane and over the top but it just made me love her more. And Josh? UNF. That man is a sexy beast with a heart of gold.

 

Reading progress notes

 

8% - Started this today and it’s ok, haven’t been gripped by the story yet. Lucy is SO into Joshua, it’s hilarious. I mean, I don’t think she can tell that she’s into him but she totally is.
 
24% - That is one hell of an angry kiss, that's all I'm gonna say.
 
35% - I am living for caretaker Josh. LIVING.
 
38% - I love that Joshua cleans up the apartment. Biggest turn on ever.
 
40% - Danny, you gotta take a hike, dude. Like NOW.
 
48% - I spot a little origami bird made of notepaper I once flicked at him during a meeting.

omg i'm ded
 
51% - First peeve: unless those macarons were refrigerated there is no way they would've survived enough for an 'emergency.' Stuff like that throws me off.
 
68% - ”Get to know me. And I never thought it would be you.”
“Do you want me to stop?”
I almost can’t hear his reply, it’s so quiet. “No.”


omg my heart
 
78% - I'm suspecting the thing that Josh isn't saying is concerning the 'happy' couple and oh boy.
 
80% - I KNEW IT.
 
96% - "I couldn’t. If I’d let myself smile back. And be friends with you, I probably would have fallen in love with you.”

*melts into a puddle*
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review 2018-12-13 18:32
Women’s fiction with a touch of the paranormal. A beautifully written feel-good story.
The Last Thing She Said - Rachel Walkley

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.

I recently read and reviewed Rachel Walkley’s first novel The Women of Heachley Hall and enjoyed it so much that I had to check her second novel as soon as it became available. And I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

This is the story of three sisters, twins Rebecca and Leia, as different as two sisters can be (or perhaps not), and younger sister Naomi. Their parents move to the US when the youngest sister is in her late teens and she refuses to go with them. Rebecca becomes her ersatz mother (Nancy, their mother, does not seem particularly close to any of them, although perhaps that is the sisters’ impression) and eventually Leia also moves to the US to work on her medical research.

The three sisters are gifted, although they all have trouble dealing with their gifts, which are very different. Rebecca gives up her career as a lawyer to take refuge at home, bringing up her children and looking after her husband and the house; Naomi, a talented flute player, loves to perform but does not feel confident and dedicates most of her life to teaching music to children; Leia has a big brain and dedicates her efforts to useful research, but hates the limelight and would prefer all the credit to go to her team. Their grandmother, the member of the family that managed to get them all together with her traditional birthday celebration, also had a gift, but most people dismissed her birthday predictions as an eccentricity. When Rebecca starts investigating her grandmother’s past pronouncements —for very personal reasons—, she gets a big surprise.

The story is told in the third person from different points of view, mostly those of the sisters, although we get some glimpses into other characters’ minds as well, and in chronological order for the most part. There are some short chapters that go back to show us past events (there are no lengthy explanations or “telling” in the novel), and these flow logically from the narrative. For example, if Naomi is thinking about the relationship with her parents, her memory might go back to how she had felt when her parents decided to leave the country. It is a great way of layering the background story of the characters without disrupting the action for too long, and it also helps us understand where the characters are coming from, and their reasons for being the people they are. Each chapter and fragment is clearly labelled with the character’s name and the date, and it is not an effort to follow the story, as it flows naturally, at a sometimes wandering but engaging pace.

There are some descriptions of places and locations, but these are limited to what is necessary to tell the story and to allow readers to see it. The story is more interested in the psychological makeup of these characters, and the author does a great work of making us understand them in their own terms. We see each protagonist from her sisters’ point of view first, but on later seeing things from their perspective, we get a completely different picture of them. By the end of the story I was attached to all of the characters, even the ones that at first I was not sure about. And although not all the characters are sympathetic, the novel is not judgmental about any of them, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Rose, the grandmother, the passages about Naomi’s playing and her thoughts about it (if you read the author’s note at the end you’ll understand why these scenes appear so vivid), and grew very fond of Leia and Howard. That is not to say I don’t like Rebecca and the rest of the chapters from Naomi’s perspective, but perhaps because they are the ones we get to know first, we are on their side from the beginning, and the rest of the characters came as a revelation much later on. There are secrets and lies, but none are Earth-shattering or beyond most reader’s expectations and experiences, and they do not require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief, even the paranormal elements. There is mystery, but the strongest element of the story is the relationship between the three sisters and how they all become more their individual selves by working together and protecting each other.

The novel is both easy to read and beautifully written, and the ending… No, I won’t give you details, but let’s say I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did. Definitely a feel-good story.

A book I recommend to anybody who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction, optimistic stories about family relationships with a touch of the paranormal, and who are eager to discover a new and talented writer.   

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review 2018-12-13 07:10
The Word for World is Forest
The Word for World is Forest - Ursula K. Le Guin

Has anyone of you watched the movie Avatar and thought the same thing as I did: “It´s worth watching the movie because of its visual style but the story is one of the lamest I ever had to sit through in a cinema.” Leave it to Ursula K. Le Guin to write almost the same story and make it an interesting one out of it. I guess she could write an essay about the telephone book and I would be enthralled by it.

 

What I realized about Le Guin´s writing is:

  • she does an incredibly job in creating the world in which her story is set in.
  • she has the most wonderful way of writing about interspecies friendships. In both “The Left Hand of Darkness” and “The Word for World is Forest” there is a pair of human and alien, who are forming a friendship despite their differences and I feel like the pages are radiating a warmth whenever I´m reading about these friendships.
  • I love how subtle her commentaries on social issues come across in her books. Whether it being the criticism of the Vietnam War (which Mike Finn – Audiobook Addict kindly told me this book is) or gender issues in “The Left Hand of Darkness”, as a reader I never feel whacked over the head by Le Guin´s views.  

 

As you might tell, I loved this book. It´s 128 pages of a highly immersive and spellbinding story and I loved how the ending packed such a punch. Highly recommended.

 

I´ve read this book for the 24 tasks as a book, that has green on the cover

 

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review 2018-12-12 16:49
Creature by Hunter Shea
Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea

CREATURE surprised me. I’ve only read one Hunter Shea book, THE JERSEY DEVIL, and that thing was pure madness from beginning to end with its out of control body count and frenetic pace. I was expecting a crazed people eating monster to pop out of the woods and eat everyone and the pup before moving on to town and slaying more innocents but this is a completely different type of horror story. This one is about the physical and emotional toll an incurable disease has on a woman and those who love her. It’s slower paced and allows the dread to slowly creep in as the characters face an ever present and unconquerable monster.

 

Kate has Lupus and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, both are incurable diseases that are managed with pain medication and surgery to fix body parts as they break down. The diseases and multiple surgeries have all but stolen her life. She’s housebound with her dog Buttons and a devoted husband who has turned into her caretaker. After a grueling trial of an experimental treatment, Andrew takes a leave of absence from work and surprises Kate with a getaway to a cabin in Maine where she can recuperate and they can spend some quality time together with Buttons. But it’s not long before strange events begin to taint their tranquility.

 

This book was incredibly hard to for me to read. My sister and two family members suffer from EDS, have all had multiple surgeries and were all disabled in their 30’s. Shea’s portrayal of Kate’s pain was heartbreaking and grueling and viciously accurate based on everything I’ve heard and seen. This is why it was a difficult read for me but I imagine it will be the same for most anybody who picks up this book because it is a punishing depiction of chronic pain, that insidious destroyer of lives.

 

If you’re looking for a stomp ‘n’ chomp this isn’t it, for the most part, but it isn’t any less of a horror novel than The Jersey Devil. It’s a different kind of horror novel. One that is slower paced and thoughtful and full of all the emotions. There is so much pain and suffering and guilt and love that when the slow creeping dread begins to interfere on the couple’s idyllic sabbatical, you’ll need to hang on tight to your heart. It’s breathtaking how well the author weaves it all together. I wasn’t expecting this type of story at all but I wasn’t disappointed. Very highly recommend if you enjoy a book that’ll tear you to pieces.

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review 2018-12-12 15:05
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Book
Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow, #10) - Donna Andrews
Six Geese A-Slaying - Donna Andrews,Bernadette Dunne

I decided to backtrack a bit to the series's first (I think) Christmas entry, which is set right after Meg and Michael's marriage and in which Meg is in charge of organizing Caerphilly's annual holiday parade -- emphatically not a "Christmas" parade, since it includes a nod to Diwali (complete with elephants), as well as a Kwanzaa float, which obviously makes this book a fun match with "24 Festive Tasks".

 

Andrews had definitely found her Meg Langslow legs by the time of this book, and the writing and plotting is great fun ... of course a holiday parade themed on The Twelve Days of Christmas offers countless opportunities for things to go hilariously haywire, but you still have to be able to hit just the right balance of humor and storytelling instead of simply stringing together a series of (wannabe) quirky incidents and characters, which not every writer is able to pull off convincingly.  Perhaps the one tiny letdown was that the murderer (and their motive) was fairly obvious well before the conclusion of the book, but still, I very much enjoyed my annual return to Caerphilly for Christmas the holidays.

 

And since a whole rafter of turkeys show up in various parts of the book -- they march in the holiday parade, they're being offered as charity gifts to the local poor, they're roasted at one of the local church community's food stand, and a turkey also features in the Christmas dinner "in the off" at the end of the story, to be prepared by Meg's mother -- I feel justified in using this as my Thanksgiving square read in "24 Festive Tasks" ... even if the turkeys are not accorded quite as prominent a role as the titular six geese (or actually, 37 geese ... or make that 38, counting one deceased of natural causes).

 

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