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review 2019-01-15 22:13
Mystery, police procedural, and an in-depth look at the US judicial system. A great read.
Justice Gone - N. Lombardi Jr.

I am reviewing this book as a member of Rosie’s book review team and thank her, NetGalley,  and Roundfire for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, ahead of its publication, that I freely chose to review.

This is not an easy book to categorise, and it could fit into a number of classifications, but it goes beyond the standard examples many of the readers of some of those genres are used to come across. When I heard about this book, my interest was piqued by several elements: the book features as one of its main characters a female therapist who has specialised in counselling war vets (many of them suffering from PTSD), and as a psychiatrist (and I did work with military personnel, although not from the US) I’m always intrigued by the literary portrayals of psychologists and psychiatrists and of mental health difficulties. There is a mystery/thriller element, and because I’m an eager reader (and writer) of those genres, I’m always keen to explore new authors and approaches. The novel also promised a close look at the US judicial system, and having studied criminology and the British Criminal Justice system, that aspect of the book was also intriguing. Could the novel deliver in so many levels?

Dr. Tessa Thorpe is an interesting character, and it seems that the author is planning to develop a series of novels around her. She is described as insightful and compassionate, with strong beliefs (anti-war), morals, and a trauma of her own. She is not the perfect professional, and at times her trauma affects her behaviour to a point that I thought would have got her into trouble if she were working in a different environment. We are not given full details of what has happened to her before, but the hints we get through the novel (where other characters in possession of that information refer to it) give us a fair idea. She is much better at dealing with others and understanding what moves them to act as they do than she is at dealing with her own issues, but that is a fairly realistic aspect of the book (although considering how insistent she is in getting others to talk about their difficulties, it is surprising none of the colleagues take her to task). What I was not totally convinced about was the fact that at some point she decides to support the vet going to trial accused of murder, and she leaves her practice and patients unattended for weeks. As she works in a private clinic and we only meet one of her patients, we don’t have sufficient information of her day-to-day tasks, and it’s quite possible that this is not a problem, but it felt counterintuitive to me. Tessa plays an central part in the plot in more ways than one, because although she is an expert in some aspects, she is totally new to what happens in other parts of the novel, like court procedures, and at those points she works as a stand-in for the readers, asking for clarifications and being walked through the process in detail.

The mystery and thriller elements, as I said, are dealt with differently to in many other books. The novel starts at an earlier point than many of the books that give advice to writers would recommend. It does not start in the middle of the action, or the crime (what the real crime is here is one of the main questions). We get the background to the events, down to the phone call to the police about a homeless man, which gets the ball rolling at the very beginning of the book. The police, who have been fed the wrong information, end up beating the man, a war-vet, to death. This causes a huge uproar, and we hear about the way the authorities try to sweep it all under the carpet, then the apparent revenge killing of the three policemen, the chase of a suspect, the hair-raising moment when he gives himself up (with some help from the doctor and others), and then we move onto the court case. There are moments where the book leans towards the police procedural, and we get plenty of details about the physical evidence, the investigation and those involved, we witness interrogations, we are privileged to information even the police don’t have, we get red herrings, and dead ends. The ending… there is a twist at the end, and although some might suspect it is coming, I was so involved in the court case at that point that I had almost forgotten that we did not know who the guilty party was.

I think this is one of the books I’ve read in recent times that best manages to bring to life a US court case, without sparing too many details and at the same time making it gripping. I will confess that the defense attorney, Nathaniel Bodine, is my favourite character, one of those lawyers who will happily cross the line for their client, and he seems, at times, a much better psychologist (and manipulator) than the doctor is. The judicial process is realistically reflected and at times it reads as if it were a detailed film or TV script, with good directions and fantastic dialogue.

And, we also follow the deliberations of the jury, in a few chapters that made me think of Twelve Angry Men, a play I remember watching many years back, although in this case we have a more diverse jury (not twelve men and not all Caucasian) and a more complex case. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the novel as well, and I could clearly see the interaction between the sequestered jury in my mind’s eye. (It would make a great film or series, as I have already suggested).

The story is told in the third person by an omniscient narrator that at times shows us the events from the point of view of one of the characters, mostly from Tessa’s perspective, but at times from others, like her co-workers or members of the police force. At some points, the story is told from an external and fairly objective perspective (like the jury deliberations); although at times we glimpse the personal opinions of that unknown narrator. I know readers dislike “head-hopping”, but I was never in any doubt about whose point of view I was reading, and the alternating perspective helped get a more rounded view of events and characters. Although the style of writing is factual and to the point (some of the descriptions reminded me of police reports, in their matter-of-factness), that does not mean the book fails to produce an emotional reaction on the reader. Quite the opposite. Rather than emphasising the drama by using over-the-top prose, the author lets the facts and the characters’ actions talk for themselves, and that is much more effective, in my opinion.  

I recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a mystery/thriller/police procedural novel which does not obey by the rules and is keen to engage readers in controversy and debates that go beyond a standard genre novel. (The author explains he was inspired to write this book by an incident not dissimilar to the death of the veteran at the hands of the cops at the beginning of the novel). The novel goes into more detail than most readers keen on those genres will be used to, and also follows the events from the very beginning to the very end. This is not a novel only interested in thrilling readers by highlighting the action scenes and ignoring the rest. Readers who always feel there are aspects of a story missing or underdeveloped will love this book, and also those who like complex characters (plenty of grey areas here) and a story that lives beyond the page. I also see book clubs enjoying a great discussion after reading this book, as there is much to debate and ponder. An accomplished novel and the first of a series that we should keep a close eye on.

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review 2018-12-17 23:58
Is Book 3 out yet?!
5 Worlds Book 2: The Cobalt Prince - Mark A. Siegel,Alexis Siegel,Boya Sun,Matt Rockefeller,Xanthe Bouma

At the beginning of the epic month of reviews (still going strong!) I talked about the first book in the 5 Worlds series and in a move no one could have predicted I now return with my review of 5 Worlds Book 2: The Cobalt Prince by Alexis & Mark Siegel with illustrations by Boya Sun, Xanthe Bouma, & Matt Rockefeller. If you haven't read that book then I suggest you skip today's review as it's bound to spoil a few plot points. The book picks right back up with the ongoing quest to defeat the Mimic who had overtaken the Cobalt Prince (ruler of the Toki people). We discover that the Toki are in fact the 'Chosen People' and that Oona and Jessa are in fact genetically altered Toki. *gasp* The last book focused primarily on the mythology surrounding the beacons while giving Oona room to discover her hidden strengths/magical abilities. Book 2 meanwhile covers a lot of ground with Oona and Jessa's past while delving further into the real deal between the segregation between the peoples in the different worlds. I really felt like the pace ramped up with this one and it was super interesting which makes it even more frustrating that the next installment doesn't come out until the spring of 2019. *grumbles* 10/10

 

I've had some conversations with parents who have kids reading this series and they've been telling me how much the kids are liking it and how much they as parents enjoy it also. If you're looking for a common denominator between you and the children in your life and books you can discuss together this is a great choice. :-D

 

Jessa in turmoil over her sister Oona[Source: Bam Smack Pow]

 

What's Up Next: Afterlife with Archie: Escape From Riverdale by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Elfquest Archives: Volume 2 by Wendy & Richard Pini

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-05 23:41
Like sand through the hourglass
5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior - Boya Sun,Matt Rockefeller,Xanthe Bouma,Mark A. Siegel,Alexis Siegel

5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior by Alexis & Mark Siegel with illustrations by Boya Sun & Matt Rockefeller is the first book in a fantasy series set in a place where magic plays a distinct and politically polarizing role. In this universe, all 5 worlds in the system (different types of beings live on the different worlds) are kept in careful balance with one another until they suddenly start to die for unknown reasons. There are some that believe their only hope of survival is to light all 5 beacons (one in each world) but the Toki peoples are adamantly set against this course. Our heroine, Oona Lee, is a less than stellar student of the Sand Dancer Academy (inexpertly wielding magic sand) and suddenly she finds herself swept up in a seemingly foolhardy attempt to save the universe before time runs out. There's intrigue, danger, and a health dose of racial tension just to stir the pot. I've recommended this to quite a few kids and all of them have enjoyed it because all of those heavy topics are real and kids can spot a fake from a mile away. Additionally, I thought the art style of this book was really unique and beautiful which made it even more astounding when I discovered that the book was a collaborative effort between people living in different parts of the world. Talk about life not imitating art! 10/10 and you can look forward to my review of the second book in the series in a few days. XD

 

SO. GORGEOUS. [Check out the source for larger images: 5 Worlds Team]

 

What's Up Next: Tucker Grizzwell's Worst Week Ever by Bill Schorr and Ralph Smith

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-12-05 05:18
Pride and Prejudice - Review
Pride and Prejudice (Manga Illustrated Classics) - Jane Austen,Shiei

Overall this book is boring. There's really nothing that happens except taking strolls, playing cards and having balls/parties. Of course there's talking, lots of talking.

That being said there's a lot here that modern romance and YA novels can learn here.

First of all Elizabeth (the MC) never doubts her beauty and it's Darcy making a snide remark about her that makes Lizzy hate Mr. Darcy.

Also here we have the male falling into basic "insta-love" after he sees Lizzy a few times. Her on the other hand is of course hating him as he is NOT making himself a good person.

Lizzy also is one to speak her mind and tell him off as well as his mother. She's not a shrinking violet that most female main characters are. She doesn't let people treat her as a doormat. Another thing to be taken from this book.

 

Now another thing is that after Lizzy reject Darcy';s marriage proposal, he doesn't keep harassing her to get a yes, that most books do. Nor does he do ONE good thing in saving her life that she suddenly likes him for. He actually works to build her trust back up.

Where he told Mr. Bingley to give up on Jane, he rectifies this by telling him the found truth. He helps Lydia out when she runs off with Wickman to "save her honour". He also discharges some of Wickmans debt so Lydia can live better. (They don't as both of them pretty much waste all thier money frivolously). It's also only after these things that Lizzy starts to like and then love Mr. Darcy. So a good half of the book she hates him.

Most of the love interests are assholes and remain assholes and we are supposed to love them for this.

Finally Lizzy gets to tell Darcy's mom off after she insults her and her family. Most modern MCs just roll over and take it. This also doesn't affect the way Mr. Darcy views Lizzy in any negative way.

 

The parts which should be left behind are of course the whole "women as property" and the "marriage for status". Also it says that Lizzy is "poor" but she has a few servants so we know she isn't that poor. Just a poor noble. Also there's talk about hos women are a certain way and of course Lydia running of with a man "ruins her" as if she was some object to be used. Also the fact that Lydia is 16 and Wickman is 25 is pretty gross.

Also there's no real plot to speak of other than talking and talking and more talking. The only point of this talking is to get the girls married. There's no real big thing. You can call this book a slice of life in that regard.

 

Overall there's a lot modern books can get from this book, but leave the past garbage in the past.

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text 2018-12-03 03:41
Reading progress update: I've read 454 out of 616 pages.
Pride and Prejudice (Manga Illustrated Classics) - Jane Austen,Shiei

Ah yes the good old "a woman is ruined if a man rapes her." Something that is carried forward even today.

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