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review 2018-06-21 08:51
A challenging but satisfying book written in a unique voice that deals in momentous and relevant themes.
Just: A heart stopping thriller, full of emotion and twists - Jenny Morton Potts

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are interested in getting your book reviewed, you can check here) and thank her and the author for providing me an ARC copy of her novel that I freely chose to review.

I had read great reviews of the author’s previous book Hiding and when I saw that her new novel was available, I knew I had to read it. I’ve been lucky with most of the books I’ve reviewed so far. I’ve read many good books in recent times. Some have been well-written and entertaining genre books (and I love a good genre book. There is something reassuring and satisfying about reading a book in a genre we like. We know what to expect, and we can be pleasantly surprised when the book pushes the boundaries of the genre or is an excellent example of it), some I would count among some of the best books I’ve read on a topic or genre, some have managed to mix different genres, sometimes even genres that seemed hardly compatible and have pulled it off beautifully, and there are some books that have surprised me, because they seemed to keep wrong-footing the readers, challenging them, and demanding their attention. They are not for easy consumption and they do not reassure. But they can be very rewarding. Just is one of these books.

This novel is told in the third person from a variety of points of view. We have women who cannot move on and let go (of past relationships, or their past and their families), and can at times seem pathetic and self-pitying, whilst at others, they will not hesitate to sacrifice themselves for those their love (at a great cost). We have men who are ridiculously devoted to women (a close friend they’ve known forever, or somebody they’ve worked with but hardly know anything about), hopelessly romantic, and willing to go to any lengths to “save” or “help” this women (who might or might not need saving).  There are friends and relatives who will keep secrets that will cost them dearly. All the characters have very distinct voices, and the reader needs to pay attention at all times, as the dialogues are dynamic, and the author rarely uses tags, so it can be a challenge to know who is talking at times, especially when new characters are introduced.

I’ve seen some comments about the book that mention that none of the characters are sympathetic. Leaving to one side personal preferences and the fact that unsympathetic or downright unlikeable characters can be protagonists as well, as long as they engage our curiosity (why are they as they are?, can we connect with them at some level, even if we don’t like what they do?), in this case it is clear that the author has carefully chosen how to tell the story, and this contributes to the way we feel.  Although the book is written in the third person (and that puts us in the role of the observer), we do see things from inside the heads of these characters, and, as we all are, they can be mean, cruel, egotistical, and truly annoying at times. Personally, I wanted to slap some of the characters sometimes, but there were some I quite liked, and by the end of the book, I definitely felt I had gained an understanding of most of them. As the book evolves we discover that we don’t know as much as we thought about all of these people, and only then do we realise how carefully constructed the novel is, and how its structure creates a whole that is much more than its parts.

The book touches upon important, controversial and difficult themes, both at a general, societal level (terrorism, emigration, wars, international aid and charities, adoption, indoctrination…) and at a more individual one (new models of family, friendship and love, letting go, romantic love, parenthood, family bonds…) and  I doubt any readers will remain indifferent to the plight of the protagonists. When I finished the book, I felt I had gained insight into subjects I had read about or seen in the news often, but the novel managed to make them feel much more personal and immediate.

There are wonderful settings (from Cambridgeshire to Libya), and scenes (beautiful and poignant) that I won’t forget. (I don’t think I’ll be able to look at shoes again the same way). The book is not evenly paced, and there are some contemplative moments, and some when we are taken from one scene to the next and left hanging on, trying to make sense of what just happened. A lot of the book deals in serious subjects but there are some light moments and plenty of humour, some witty, some dark, that bring some relief while underscoring the gravity of the issues at hand.  If some of the scenes might stretch the imagination and require suspension of disbelief (too romantic or contrived, or so I thought when I first read them), we are later obliged to re-evaluate them, we come to see them in a new light and they make sense.

I highlighted many sentences, but I thought I’d share a few:

Muduj had a weak stomach behind her strong heart.

Where once there were honey bees, now the metal drones buzz. Everything good has been replaced by manufactured evil.

Her body now was a foreign attachment to her head. Her heart was beating in her gums. Her eyes felt like transplants.

And so you don’t think it’s all very serious:

I always think it’s a worrying sign, when someone starts to read poetry.

I always recommend that prospective readers check a sample of the book to see if they feel it suits their taste, and this is especially true in this case. As I have warned, this novel treats in serious themes and is not a feel-good book (I will not discuss the ending, that I loved, but is not traditional, as it pertains such a book) for somebody looking for a light read. But if you are interested in discovering new talents and don’t mind harsh content (some sexual scenes as well) and are up for a challenge, this is a treat.

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review 2018-05-28 14:57
Dark Angel
DARK ANGEL a gripping crime thriller full of twists - HELEN H. DURRANT

I couldn't put this one down, I'm sorry it took me so long to start it! I've long been a fan of Helen H. Durrant's Calladine and Bayless books, but this is my first DI Greco. I can safely say this can be read as a standalone or an entry into the series, I wasn't lost at all, any prior references are explained enough that they're not a distraction.

 

First off, I have to say that Durrant is skilled in drawing in a reader completely into the world she creates, making the book so much more than a gripping mystery (as if that wasn't enough!), but also the frequently messy lives of the very compelling and realistic (if not flawed) characters. You end up with not only a thrilling case that keeps you turning pages, but also the can't-turn-away-train-wreck that is Greco's personal life. I like Greco, he's unemotional and methodical, traits that frequently cause problems with interpersonal relationships. Reading this, I was reminded Olympia Dukakis's line from Moonstruck ("Can I give you some advice? Don't s**t where you eat.") and boy, is that relevant to this book. Still, I felt for Greco, it was clear he was being pushed into something he didn't want and that never ends well.

 

But it's the case that takes front and center in the book, it got off to a running start with a body found at a music festival by a young woman before turning to the murders of two young men who got more than they bargained for when they burgled a house. The quick pace and many twists and turns kept me greedily turning page after page and that surprise ending left me gasping. An excellent read from start to finish, something I always expect from this author and definitely recommended for fans of gritty crime fiction.

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review 2018-05-25 03:15
ARC Review: A Full Plate by Kim Fielding
A Full Plate - Kim Fielding

This was utterly adorable. And it's apparently true - the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

At least, in this case, that old adage works - Sage seduces Tully with his cooking skills.

I'm getting ahead of myself though...

Bradford Tolliver aka Tully is a hot shot young lawyer, living in a fancy condo, driving a fancy car - and living an empty life. When his colleague asks for a favor for her cousin to live with Tully for a few months, less than a year, Tully reluctantly agrees.

Sage Filling (what the heck, Kim Fielding?) took a job as a short order cook for reasons, but his dream is cooking on a much higher culinary scale. He loves trying out new recipes, and Tully is only too willing to be the guinea pig. He doesn't mind the hot kissing either. He doesn't mind spending a bit of his cash on some fancy cookware either if that keep Sage cooking up culinary delights.

The focus of this story is on the slowly developing romance between the two men and the presumably inevitable ending - Tully's life is in the city, and Sage wants to go home to his small town. 

There's a wee bit of drama with Tully's filthy rich ex Eddie who needs to learn the meaning of NO, and who comes across as a bit smarmy. I didn't like him much, though the Thanksgiving standoff was highly entertaining. 

This is a romance, so of course they get their happy ending. That's not a spoiler, is it?

This is a really sweet, adorable story, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone - the author is Kim Fielding after all. Enjoy this with a glass of wine or two, or read it lounging by the pool this summer. You won't regret giving this book a chance. 


** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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review 2018-05-11 17:28
Wonderful BBC series
Mclevy the Collected Editions: Series 5 ... Mclevy the Collected Editions: Series 5 & 6 - David Ashton,Brian Cox,Full Cast,Siobhan Redmond

I love this series based on the life of McLevy, a Scottish policeman in Edinburgh.  Mostly because Jean Brash, who is freaking awesome.  If you haven't listened to this wonderful series, give it a go.  Nice humor, good characters, and Scotland.

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review 2018-04-05 14:36
Truck Full of Ducks
Truck Full of Ducks - Ross Burach
Ok, who ordered the ducks? This was a cute storybook and I loved the illustrations. The storyline is simple and I am sure after a few times through this book, young children would be able to recite and enjoy this gem by themselves.
 
It’s a truck full of quacky ducks and as ducks are, they ate the part of the invoice that had the address where they were to be delivered. Dog, the driver has to ask a variety of individuals that he sees on the road, if they had ordered the ducks and I enjoyed each of the responses that he received. They’re all different, each one is comical and the illustration is perfect. For example: dog asks a young girl if she ordered the ducks as she on the sidewalk with her phone. She tells dog that, she “called for a mall truck” and sitting right beside her is a large parcel with a head sticking out of it, a stamp across it’s lips. On the parcel is written: CONTENTS: 1 Brother Please mail very far away.
 
The illustrations are bright and colorful, the text font is large and simple. Watch the ducks as the truck continues on its journey as they don’t just sit still and enjoy the ride, they’re enjoying themselves. So, who do you think phoned in for the truck full of ducks? The final pages will tell you and it will definitely put a smile on your face. I highly recommend you check out this book – you really do need to read it!

 

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