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review 2017-05-27 22:51
The Girl in the Red Coat - Kate Hamer

A solid and readable novel about a child, Carmel, who goes missing. Not a mystery, since the book is told in alternating short chapters, one from Beth, the mother's POV and one from the child's. The reader's interest is held by wondering how both will cope and what Carmel's ultimate fate will be. And perhaps that's where the tension lagged someone for me. I was far more intrigued by the Carmel's story than the mother's.

 

In Beth's chapters I kept waiting for her to be haunted by the images of what might, indeed, have befallen Carmel. Murder? Abuse? Slavery? But, while Beth is understandably gutted and obsessed with finding her daughter, she dwells more on her own possible complicity and what's actually happening to Carmel doesn't enter her mind. That felt off to me, unless the author is implying she's a narcissist.

 

There are come gaps in the narrative. For one thing, the child ends up on another continent and yet we are never told how she gets there, although she was clearly drugged. No one on a plane or boat, train or customs office thought to question this odd 'family' of little means and obviously-mixed parts? How did they afford fake papers? Birth certificate? Passport? Was she smuggled in a container? It felt as though the author simply couldn't figure out a way to do it, but wanted the religious sect that kidnapped Carmel to be based in the US. Very odd.

 

Then too, Carmel never felt in any serious danger. A tough and unpleasant and sad and awful spot? Sure. But not enough for thriller material, and not psychologically deep enough to stand up against similar books by other writers such as Ian McEwan's CHILD IN TIME, for example.

 

But, it's a quick afternoon read and this is the season for such things.

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review 2017-05-24 22:32
Review: Learning to Swim (Troy Chance #1) by Sara J. Henry
Learning to Swim - Sara J. Henry

Highlight of the book is the fact when I sat down to fully invest in reading this book, I got it done in a day. So the book was completely read and I get full value for BL-opoly for my investment.

 

Lowlights (how many there were!):

1. Literary fiction version of a "romance" - yea, there is no HEA or even HFN. And so many problems within the "romance" between Philippe and Troy that was just borderline toxic relationship status.

 

2. Mystery is in the vein of literary/women's fiction, so there is not really a focus on actually solving the mystery until the last 50 pages. And the cops (Ottawa Police, Montreal Police, Lake Placid, NY Police, Burlington, VT Police) were given the stupid Keystone Kops treatment.

 

3. The MC, Troy Chance, is a SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE of a character. She is not like other women or into girly things/interests! My goodness, her smugness was aggravating to read. She was outfoxed by the killer until the very end and she was such a dim bulb. And every man she met was attracted to her and she had to fend off the hordes with a stick.

 

4. Weird conversational structures - French, then the translated English, then a random French sentence followed by more English.

 

There is a sequel, but I am not reading it. Be forewarned: the author comments on low rating reviews on GR and tries to explain away reviewers' issues with the book.

***************************************************************************************************

Read for BL-opoly

Pages: 296 Value: $3.00

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review 2017-05-24 07:14
Make Your Own Lunch by Ryan Porter
Make Your Own Lunch: How to Live an Epically Epic Life Through Work, Travel, Wonder, and (Maybe) College - Ryan Porter

This is one of those books you give to high school students or beginning college students.  The author provides motivational stories on making your own decisions about what you want to do with your life aka "make your own lunch".  The book is amusing and well written.  It's not a bad book, but I wonder how realistic some of the advice is.

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review 2017-05-23 20:51
Review: London by Edward Rutherfurd
London; the story of the greatest city on Earth. - Edward Rutherford

This was an intense look at the history of London from ancient druid period to the Blitz of the 1940s as seen through the eyes of a few families. I actually understand the Tudor period and the Restoration period much more now than when I took a class in college on the same topics.

 

The way the book is set up is each chapter being its own short story, making it easier to put down for the night and picking it up again in the morning. I am not used to reading long family sagas, so I had to refer to the family trees in the front of the book a lot; funny, I didn't need the maps of London in the different time periods at all - maybe because I have been to London many times that I knew where about the place was being described. My favorite chapter was The Whorehouse; why wasn't the political and social structure of the whorehouse in medieval times talked about in my college class? I feel a little cheated academically. If a character in the chapter I was currently reading was getting on my nerves, chances were high they weren't in the next chapter (rather it would be their descendants with different character arc). I also liked that I didn't have to read about endless battles; the book focused on political, social, and religious intrigue with splashes of family drama. There was also a healthy dose of Romance, and my favorite couple was Jane Fleming and John Dogget - they didn't get together until they were in their late 50s/early 60s. My least favorite chapter was the last one, titled The River - it was corny and an undisguised way of the author telling the reader how much research went into the book.

 

The men were described with one physical trait that belonged to the family (Duckets and Doggets had a white streak in their hair and webbing between their fingers; the Silversleeves had cartoon-ishly long noses; the Barnikels had vibrant red hair; the Bulls had the typical Anglo-Saxon fair hair and blue eyes). The women were physically described by their family traits and the size of the breasts, but were not objectified (well, maybe the whores) and were shown to be much more smarter and cunning than history often paints them. These were no wall flowers; these women were survivors.

 

I am really glad I took the chance and read this book; the size of the book intimidated me for only a couple of chapters, but I was soon reading 3 chapters a day and making decent progress without feeling like I was slogging through any part. I am going to read Rutherfurd's book New York late this year or next year.

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review 2017-05-22 09:12
The Wonderful Weekend Book
The Wonderful Weekend Book: Reclaim Life's Simple Pleasures - Elspeth Thompson

One of my impulse buys from the library sale, I thought it would be a fun source of inspiration for new weekend activities.  

 

As it turns out, the author and I are apparently on the same page when it comes to ways of enjoying a weekend:  most of the things she recommends or suggests are things we already do, to some extent.  Except learning to play the ukulele - er, no thanks, I'll pass on that one.  Still, MT and I are guilty of the weekly Sunday shop; something both he and I dread, and even though we take advantage of farmer's markets, there's just always something on the list that can't be gotten without a supermarket trip.  (We're not quite ready to trust online grocery shopping yet, either.)

 

There are a lot of good ideas here, helpfully broken down by season and all-year-round activities.  While the ideas are universal to all, the main drawback is that the book is entirely UK-centric, providing liberal lists of UK sources and the author's anecdotes about great places to stay or things to do in the UK.  The debate about how worthwhile it is to go to France to stock up on alcohol seems a particularly moot one to someone living in Australia (or anywhere else that isn't Europe for that matter).

 

Frankly, it's not a book I'd say is worth buying in the shops, but if your library has it, or like me, you find it for a buck at the library sale, it's not a bad source for ways to mix your weekend up a bit.

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