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review 2018-05-31 18:31
The Mandela Plot by Kenneth Bonert
The Mandela Plot - Kenneth Bonert

A special thank you to Edelweiss, NetGalley, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Set in 1980s South Africa, The Mandela Plot centres around Martin Helger—a student at an all-boys private school in Johannesburg that doesn't quite fit in unlike his brother who is a mysterious legend.  Martin is bored with his mundane life until a beautiful American girl, Annie Goldberg, arrives.  Martin finds himself no longer in his protective bubble and is immersed into the political and societal struggles.  

Oh boy..where do I start?  I had the honour of reviewing Bonert's first book The Lion Seeker and it was a stunning debut.  But this sophomore effort coming of age tale just simply didn't resonate with me.  Honestly, I can't put my finger on it—perhaps it was the dialogue?  It was very hard for me to get into the book with several failed attempts and start overs.  That being said, once I did get into the story, I did enjoy parts of it.  The characters are complex, some are well-developed, and others, like Martin are underdeveloped.  Bonert clearly has a gift; there are some beautiful passages, but the lengthy paragraphs are unnecessary bulk and the slang stunts the reader (of note: there is a glossary at the end of the book).    

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review 2018-05-17 12:53
Review of The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
The Plot Against America - Philip Roth

This was a fascinating novel - mainly due to what I see on the news every day today.  I loved the alternative history and the way Roth builds up the rise to fascism and the anti-Semitic tones of the story is impressive.  The characters are also nicely done, but the story itself did not have me turning pages.  It was a slow burn, and there was never a real desire for me to find out what happens next to the main characters.  That is why I did not rate the book higher.  With that said, the parallels between our political climate today and the alternate world Roth wrote about over a decade ago were scary at times.  

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review 2018-05-08 00:00
A Killer Plot
A Killer Plot - Ellery Adams Olivia Limoges is the subject of constant gossip to the residents of Oyster Bay, North Carolina. Ever since she came back to town after having left when she was a child to be raised by her grandmother, after her mother died after an accident during a hurricane and being abandoned by her father, Olivia has kept to herself. All she needs in her life is her dog Captain Haviland a black standard poodle and her unfinished novel which she hopes to finish soon. With a little cajoling from the charming writer Camden Ford, she agrees to join the Bayside Book Writers, to hopefully break her writer's block, and even make a few friends. When townspeople start turning up dead with haiku poems by their bodies, anyone with a flair for language is suddenly suspect. It's up to Olivia to catch the killer before she meets her own poetic ending.

The mystery has enough twists and turns to keep the reader off track but not for them to lose interest in the story. The characters are fun, believable, and a little on the eccentric side. The author does give the reader how the the world of a writer is different for each of the members of the writer's group. The author's description of the town and characters makes it possible to picture them in your head. I liked how Olivia seems to grow throughout the story from being someone who only cares about herself to caring for others and starting to make friends with the members of the writer's group.
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review 2018-05-03 20:48
A Killer Plot
A Killer Plot - Ellery Adams

Book one of the series. I had inadvertently read a book farther into the series and had enjoyed the story. I have been combining reading with audio for awhile so that I can knit/crochet/drive, etc and finishing a book, but I still enjoy the delights of reading a book.

Olivia returned to her hometown, that she had been taken from after the death of both her parents, by her grandmother. She has come back wealthy and has become a landowner with many businesses and some view her as being haughty. They gossip behind her back and make comments. One day, she is eating at her friend's cafe, Grumpy's, and makes comments on a group's author readings and afterward is invited to come join them. She is also asked if she has a place that the group can meet to discuss their writing and help each other. She becomes friends with the leader, a flamboyant gay man who also writes a gossip column. After the last meeting, at Olivia's restaurant, they listen to a couple who are famous (an actress and a bad boy band member). He then follows them to the bar where the young man is going to meet someone for something. Later, Olivia's friend is found murdered. This starts the group on trying to figure out who would murder their leader and friend.

The story was okay and while I did finish it, it was not as interesting as the later story. I know that I will probably read a few more (hopefully in order) to see if it gets better.

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review 2018-04-17 15:59
"The Mandela Plot", by Kenneth Bonert
The Mandela Plot - Kenneth Bonert

This political thriller and fiction tale take place in and around Johannesburg, South Africa during apartheid and focuses on the supporters of the cause. The story spans from the uprising up to the release of Nelson Mandela and sometime after. The main players are the Helgers, a second generation Jewish family, young Martin is the key player in this heartbreaking and tragic account.

In the 1980’s, the regime is on the verge of collapse and the population suffers a maelstrom of violence during that horrifying time. Although fictional the author’s words have made this story sound so real with his incredible passages. When Martin is thrust in the heart of the struggle by a manipulative American and comes out of his bubble to help the cause we see a tad of what may have occurred during that time. Mercy is in short supply and no one is safe…..black, white, Afrikaans, Europeans, foreign nationals, immigrants ….. This novel, a moving coming-of- age tale honestly explored the bold themes of identity as well as terrorism and revolution and is said through an unforgettable journey.

The characters are well developed and believable some are even quite sympathetic and others so evil it is hard to believe their actions. This is a very hard book to get into. The narration and dialogue are peppered with some South African dialects, some slang, some Yiddish a challenging mix if not familiar with the languages. Although the author has given us a glossary at the end of the books I found it was very distracting and I needed to pause too often and reread the sentences in order to understand the meaning. The long paragraph sometime over a page long and its stretched narrative also made reading a daunting task at times. ….Of course what I think doesn’t remove the feeling of authenticity this story projects. 

I may not have enjoyed this novel at its fullest nevertheless I must say “The Mandela Plot” is a good read to be enjoyed by historical buff…. 

I received this ARC from Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalleys for my thoughts

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