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review 2017-07-30 17:23
The Bad Luck Club
When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson

Some people have all the luck—the bad luck. And in this book, they find each other. The writing is so good and the characters so engaging, it didn’t matter in the long run that I occasionally wondered if that many bad things could really happen to people in close proximity with each other. Oddly enough, in such a feast of disasters, there’s also humor—not funny incidents, but perspectives on life and events as seen through the characters’ eyes. I loved teenaged Regina (Reggie) Chase, the ultimate plucky, spunky kid, but not a stereotype. I’d have followed her anywhere, no matter what the plot.

 

A couple of aspects of the mystery felt a little loose or not quite realistic. There was the matter of one man having another's driver’s license and not his own after nearly dying in a train crash. No one follows up on his missing credit cards or license for a long time. I kept thinking, “What about his credit cards?” and felt relieved when someone finally thought of it. A final twist in one of the layers of the romantic subplot struck me as impossible to pull off in the 21st century, though it probably could have been done fifty years ago, and an aspect of the mystery plot was deliberately left unexplained, something for the reader to figure out, with only a hint as to how it might have happened. Figuring it out would have meant going back through the book and piecing together the timelines of events and clarifying where the affected characters were at various times. The book was due back at the library, so I didn’t do this. (Maybe I’m dense and other readers got the explanation right away.) I wonder if the author felt the book was getting too long and decided the only way to tie up this thread was to dangle a hint about it, or if the unfinished, unexplained aspect was intentional, a secret one of the characters successfully kept from the police.

 

A narrative device that I had mixed feelings about was showing a scene in one character’s point of view, ending it, and then switching to a short recap from another POV as the transition to the next scene. I understand the urge to do that, but there are ways to suggest conflicting perceptions without retelling. I don’t mean omniscient head hopping, but choosing the POV of the person with the most at stake and then letting subtle details of expression or behavior on the part of the non-POV character imply what they might be thinking and feeling. This transition technique was not done too often, but it jumped out at me as something a writer would have to be famous and well-established to get away with. Others would be advised to pick up the pace.

 

Five stars for characters, dialogue and setting and three stars for plot=four.

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review 2016-10-24 08:28
Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack
Good News, Bad News - Jeff Mack

Genre:  Animals / Comedy / Friendship


Year Published: 2012


Year Read:  2016

Publisher: Chronicle Books

 

Good

I have read many children’s books that have like one or two words on each page to narrate the story. But, I had never read a children’s book quite like “Good News Bad News” by Jeff Mack that not only has four words on each page, but also conveys so much emotion and humor in this simple children’s story!

The story starts off with Rabbit pronouncing “Good News!” to Mouse as he shows him the picnic basket that they are going to eat out of for their picnic. Mouse then pronounces “Bad News” when it starts to rain, but then Rabbit says “Good News!” when he produces an umbrella for Mouse to use. Mouse then says “Bad News” when the umbrella is blown away, along with him on it, but Rabbit then says “Good News!” when the umbrella and Mouse ended up in a tree. But then Mouse says “Bad News” when the apples started falling from the tree, hitting him…

You see where this story is going?

How much can Mouse and Rabbit handle with all of this misfortune happening to them on their picnic?

Read this book to find out!


Jeff Mack has done an excellent job at writing this book as the story is mainly told through the four words “good news, bad news” and these words convey the humor and the emotion in the story extremely well! I loved the way that Jeff Mack wrote both Rabbit and Mouse as Rabbit is portrayed as being the more optimistic of the two as he is the one who constantly says “Good News!” throughout the story as he tries to look on the brighter side of things. Then we have Mouse who is portrayed as being more negative than Rabbit and he is the one who is always saying “Bad News!” when bad things start happening (especially to him). It helps give the story two different perspectives on the situations at hand and it gives the story a balance between being optimistic and being negative. Jeff Mack’s artwork is both cute and hilarious to look at as Rabbit is shown as having a constant wide grin on his face no matter how bad things get as the story progresses. Mouse meanwhile is shown to be snarling on every page and seems to have a torn up ear and a bandaged tail that indicates all the bad things happening to him throughout the story.

Overall, “Good News Bad News” is a cute and hilarious children’s book about the importance of friendship and how it can survive even through the worst situations. I would recommend this book to children ages three and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book and the narrative is easy enough for smaller children to read through.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2016-09-11 15:22
When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson
When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson

The first few Atkinson books I read I was kind of "meh" about. I didn't really love them, but I liked her writing enough to keep trying. Then she published the first two Jackson Brodie books and I enjoyed them enormously. And then, although I kept adding all her new books to my TBR list, somehow none of them ever made it to the top. Don't be like me. Put Atkinson at the top of your list. [I've got A God in Ruins standing by as soon as I finish this other book, and the others are at the top of the queue]. The Brodie books in particular hit that sweet spot of examining the after effects of a crime like Barbara Vine, or Laura Lippman, while also being a compelling read, an entertaining mystery, and a Literary Novel.

Good stuff.

Library copy

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text 2016-04-29 16:23
I Love "Good News" Stories

Reported by Nate Scott in  USA TODAY

 

 

The caption reads ...

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One New Orleans steward came out to her Little Library and found this surprising note: “Thank You who ever you are for have-ing the book box. I’m 46 I learned to read 4 yrs ago & the libary how ever its spelled is to far. I just moved from Maine so I dont know alot of places. So Again Thank You! From a Neiphor spelled wrong sorry.” #givebooks

 

The Little Free Library is a free nationwide system of small, side of the road lending libraries where people are invited to drop off books, take books, and share in the wonder of reading.

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review 2015-09-09 00:00
When Will There Be Good News?
When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson 76. WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?, BY KATE ATKINSON (Book 3 of Jackson Brodie)

The third one on the Jackson Brodie series, and the last one I’ll be reading this year, to my great unhappiness. I didn’t expect to like this book so much; I liked the first two on this series, but not passionately. This one was a big leap up from them.

Synopsis: Joanna, a survivor from an attack that killed both her siblings and her mother is now married with her own child, and employs Reggie as her “mother’s help”. The man who attacked her family in the past is set to be released, which brings her in contact with Louise Monroe, previously met in One Good Turn. Her disappearance leads Reggie to Brodie, who has recently being involved in a train crash and is suffering from amnesia.

Overall enjoyment: I loved it. The prose is fantastic. It’s definitely not a classic crime novel, though. That might have been why I liked it so much more than the previous books: when I read them, I was expecting something different; when I read this one, I already knew what was coming and could fully appreciate it.

Plot: There are many smaller plots that combine to form a bigger picture. This joining is quite impressively done, she doesn’t leave any loose threads. There are many surprises, and the suspense is very well constructed. Once again, though, this isn’t a classic crime novel; there isn’t much investigating or mystery. It is much more about the characters and their relationships. Someone who is expecting a mystery would probably be disappointed.

Characters: I love how quirky and well developed they are. All of them feel real, with flaws and virtues. It was particularly interesting reading the interview with Kate at the end of the book, where she says she is always afraid that she doesn’t know how to write male characters; Brodie is such a masterfully created male character I would never have imagined it.

World/setting: Edinburgh, mostly. It permeates the story with an overarching bleakness, in the weather, in people’s personalities, in the buildings.

Writing style: She has an amazing turn of phrase, it’s delicious to read. She fluidly includes what the characters are thinking on the narration, and I love this style of writing.

Representation: Not very good for most minorities, but there are very few characters in total, so that might be overlooked. Most of her characters are female.

Political correctness: Something that I’m getting to see the more I read: if you take the time to make well-built, multidimensional characters, it’s very hard for you to make great blunders in political correctness. It could have been better if her characters were more diverse, though.

Up next: Ariel, by Sylvia Plath
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