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review 2017-09-13 22:10
Historical fiction for those interested in the history of New York, women’s history during WWII, and followers of Egan’s career.
Manhattan Beach: A Novel - Jennifer Egan

Thanks to NetGalley and to Scribner for providing me with an ARC copy of this book (due for publication in October) that I freely chose to review.

I read Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad a few years back and I was fascinated by its language, the stories, the way the story was told, and its inventiveness. When I saw Egan’s new book on offer at NetGalley I couldn’t resist. I have not read any of Egan’s other novels, but this one is very different from A Visit. For starters, this is a historical fiction novel. Both from the content of the novel and from the author’s acknowledgements at the end, we get a clear sense of how much research has gone into it. The novel covers a period around World War II, in New York and the surrounding area, and focuses on three stories that are interconnected, and are also connected to seafaring, the seafront, New York, and to the war era. The story goes backwards and forwards at times, sometimes through the memories of the characters, and sometimes within the same chapter, we get to see how that particular character got to that point. Although the story is narrated in the third person, we are firmly inside the character’s heads, and we can be at sea one minute, and the next at home remembering one gesture, a smile…

Anna Kerrigan is the strongest character and the one we spend more time with. We follow her story and know of her circumstances: a severely disabled sister, a father who disappears, and a mother who decides to go back to her family. Anna is a young woman, independent and determined to live her own life. She has never made peace with her father’s disappearance and remembers a strange encounter, when she accompanied her father as a child, with a man later revealed to be a gangster. Anna’s story was the one I was most interested in. Partly, because she was the character we got to know in more detail, partly because of her eagerness and determination, as she decides to become a diver and does not give up until she achieves her goal (at a time when being a woman severely limited one’s options, even during the war, when there were a few more openings, as she was already working at the Navy Yard). Her relationship with her sister, her training to become a diver (and you feel as if you were with her inside the incredibly heavy suit), and her obsession with finding out what happened to her father make her somebody to root for, although I found it difficult to engage at an emotional level with the character (it was as if she was contemplating herself at a distance and always analysing what she was doing, except for some brief moments when we get a sense of what she is feeling).

Dexter Styles is a strange character: he married a woman of the upper-class, and he has a good relationship with her father and her family, but by that point he was already involved in some shady deals and the underbelly of New York clubs and gambling joints, and he is smart, elegant, classy, but also ruthless and a gangster. I’ve read in a number of reviews that there are better books about New York gangsters of the period, and although I don’t recall having read any, I suspect that is true. I found the background of the character interesting, and his thoughts about the links between banking, politics, legal business, and illegal enterprises illuminating, but I am not sure I would say I completely got to know the character and did not feel particularly attached to it. (His relationship with Anna is a strange one. Perhaps it feels as if it was fate at work, but although I could understand to a certain extent Anna’s curiosity and attraction, Styles did not appear to be a man who’d risk everything for a fling. And yet…).

Eddie, Anna’s father, makes a surprise appearance later in the book and we get to learn something that by that point we have suspected for a while. From the reviews I’ve read, I’m probably one of the only people who enjoyed Eddie’s story, well, some parts of it. I love Melville (and the book opens with one of his quotes) and when Eddie is at sea, in the Merchant Navy, and his ship sinks, there were moments that I found truly engaging and touching. He is not a sympathetic character overall, as he takes a terribly selfish decision at one point in the book, but seems to redeem himself (or is at least trying) by the end.

This is a long book, but despite that, I felt the end was a bit rushed. We discover things that had been hidden for most of the book, several characters make life-changing decisions in quick succession, and I was not totally convinced that the decisions fitted the psychological makeup of the characters or the rest of the story, although it is a satisfying ending in many ways.

The novel’s rhythm is slow, although as I mentioned above, it seems to speed up at the end. There are jumps forward and backwards in time, that I did not find particularly difficult to follow, but it does require a degree of alertness. There are fascinating secondary characters (Nell, the bosun…), and the writing is beautifully descriptive and can make us share in the experiences of the characters at times, but I also felt it didn’t invite a full emotional engagement with them. I was not a hundred per cent sure that the separate stories interconnected seamlessly enough or fitted in together, and I suspect different readers will like some of the characters more than others, although none are totally blameless or sympathetic. An interesting book for those who love historical fiction of that period, especially those who enjoy women’s history, and I’d also recommend it to those who love seafaring adventures and/or are curious about Egan’s career. 

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review 2016-08-28 05:04
THE GANGSTER'S KISS by Ginger Ring
The Gangster's Kiss (Love is a Dangerous Thing Book 1) - Ginger Ring
  Gangsters, sheriff, and judge on the take. The sheriff hires John to be a bodyguard to his sister, not knowing she was a witness to a murder. John and Grace are attracted to each other but Grace does not want a gangster.

I liked the story and characters. I enjoy that era of Prohibition. John and Grace have a lot to deal with as John is looking for his sister and Grace is looking to leave the town. The threat of death is always close to the surface. Ms. Ring captured the era well.

I have to read the next book in the series. I want to know what happens, if John finds his sister, or if the gangsters find John and Grace.
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review 2016-08-25 20:00
SUCH A DANCE by Kate McMurray
Such a Dance - Kate McMurray

M/M romance set during Prohibition in NYC. Eddie is part of a comedic duo who everyone thinks are a couple. The theater manager wants to highlight the female part of the duo so he fires Eddie because he's gay. Eddie has been seeing Lane who manages a speakeasy for the mob. Lane's done some things he's not proud of but it's kept him alive. The two struggle with getting closer to one another. When the cops raid the speakeasy, Lane and Eddie have to determine where they go from there.

I liked these men. Neither is what the other expected. Both are determined characters with strong opinions. Eddie has to come further to accept his need of Lane. The secondary characters are an eclectic group and fun. They too have their stories to tell.

I love this era of gangsters and speakeasies. The author captures it well as she shows the underbelly of Prohibition and the gay community in the 1920's. The story is good. I had a hard time putting it down to go to work.

I look forward to reading more by this author.

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text 2013-11-15 15:30
Bold Tricks - Updates
Bold Tricks - Karina Halle

100%

I liked it. But not as much as I thought I would. Some things were illogical for me. Some pushed too hard for me. I adore Karina Halle's writing style but I'm not such a fan of her Artist Trilogy. If somebody is going to start bearing a grudge against me, I can't help it.

 

~85%

This is too much. Too much brutal crime and too much cartel shit. Think I'm happy when I'm back in the World of Experiment in Terror.

 

~73%

Ok, everything is good now. Where is the catch? Let me guess, it should be 'who' is the catch...

 

~60%

Oh happy family.

 

~37%

Can't be possible Ellie is marching into the Dschungle of Hounduras. And why is it that Travis wants to lay hands on Javier via Ellie but is only expecting Ellie to come after him. I'm a bit confused right now.

 

~11%

I'm back. Mmmh, am I the only one wondering about Camden's steady hand (two shots) after Ellie has been shooting a bunch of bullets at the heli?

 

 

~7%

I don't know if I'm in the right mood for this book. I didn't like the end of Shooting Scars so much. I have to say I fucking hate Javier. He is such an asshole and I'm really angry with Ellie for hooking up with him once more. But I think one more finished series is a good idea^^.

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review 2013-11-03 10:27
The Iron Jackal ~ Chris Wooding

The Iron Jackal pb Yes, Darian Frey, you are an idiot. By stealing an ancient relique sword and touching it out of curiosity he gets himself cursed. Now he has twelve days and nights to not only get the sword back but take it to the place where it belongs. Otherwise a demon entity called The Iron Jackal will come three times and get him at the last visit. A waltz. But Darian is a lucky bastard. The Ketty Jay crew goes through fire and water for him and together they make the impossible possible...

 

It took a while to get used to an even cockier Darian Frey than ever. After saving the human world in Black Lung Captain his head is high in the clouds of his own importance. Although his curse is a punishment it is also needed for an ongoing developement. The events force everyone on the Ketty Jay to do so. And it's real fun to accompany Silo, Cracke, Jez, Malvery, Hawkins, Pinn and even Slag the crazy cat. They grow all a lot in this book.

Also two new characters were introduced: Ashua and Ugrik. Chris Wooding is an ass in creating interesting characters. They are both as unique and cryptic as his other protagonists. 

 

I'm totally in love with Wooding's witty, ironic and brash writing style. There are so many lively dialoges. One of my favourites:

 

"What you don't know about Samarla could fill a library, Cap'n, said Silo."
"What I don't know about libraries could fill a library, Frey replied."

 

If you haven't read a single book of Chris Wooding but love fantasy you should read one of his books soon. I could highly recommend the Tales of the Ketty Jay (much more than his Braided Path series) or if you are a fan of YA fantasy The Haunting of Alaizable Cray.

 

For the German review

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Source: www.buchjunkies-blog.de/?action=review&reviewId=192
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