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review 2019-02-10 15:04
The Flower Girls
The Flower Girls - Alice Clark-Platts

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Interesting (albeit disturbing) theme: that of ‘the Flower Girls’, two children suspected of the murder of a toddler. The elder girl, Laurel, went to jail, where she’s still rotting many years later; the younger, Primrose, was considered as too young and traumatised to stand trial, and given a new identity. The story follows the two women nineteen years after the gruesome murder, when on New Year’s Eve, 5-year old Georgie disappears from the hotel where she’s been staying with her parents. A host of other characters quickly get tangled with the case: DC Lorna Hillier, writer Max, Hazel Archer and her boyfriend Jonny, the cook who was the last person to see the little girl alive, but also Toby Bowman, Laurel’s uncle who was the only one to stick with her, and Joanna Denton, the aunt of the murdered toddler. Of course, during the investigation, revelations start to surface, hinting at something else going on.

The first part of the novel was pretty engaging, as the search for Georgie takes place, and DC Hillier starts suspecting that the truth is not so nicely packaged as it seems. We’re also given to see snapshots of Joanna’s fight to keep Laurel behind bars, as well as Laurel’s relationship with Toby, who’s trying to get parole for her.

However, after that, the story started to peter out for me, and I found the ending rushed and lacking. I get the later twists (predictable, but I get them), and that novels don’t all have to end up tied with nice little bows, but I felt that too many characters were either ushered out the easy way, or left hanging to dry. Those I liked the most, all in all, were Laurel herself; Toby, who in spite of being reviled in the eyes of the rest of his family for helping his niece, was probably one of the most human ones; and Hillier, who wouldn’t let go and really tried to figure out the real truth behind it all. Unfortunately, they were all part of these characters who were left out in the cold, with their storylines “unfinished”. (Yes, I know, that’s how it often is in real life; but see, the thing is, when I read a thriller/mystery, it’s not to see a mirror of real life: I want an actual resolution at the end.)

So I reached the last page thinking “wha, that’s it?”, and that’s how it remains, which is too bad, because there was a lot of potential in this story.

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review 2019-02-06 10:29
Book Blitz: The Blackfish Prophecy by Rachel Clark with Giveaway
 
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Young Adult / Nature
Date Published: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Fawkes Press
 
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Best friends Terra and Tiluk live alongside the wild orcas of Washington State. On the other side of the continent, Miles wallows in anger and self-pity fueled by his parents' divorce. In a moment of harrowing fate, their lives converge when Miles witnesses a captive orca brutally kill his trainer at a marine amusement park. When Miles contacts Terra and her family of whale biologists to better understand the "killer" whale, the three teens soon realize they are more linked to each other - and the whales - than they ever imagined. Driven by a primal urge to connect with the highly-evolved consciousness of the orca, the teens take extraordinary risks to challenge big business and renew lost traditions. Their journey is set to restore an ancient mystical bond between humans and whales that ultimately reveals The Blackfish Prophecy…a revelation about Terra - and those like her - that's about to change everything.
 
Excerpt
 
But this evening Claire was no peacemaker. She’d rung the bell. The bell was only for extreme emergencies. Yet when she’d gotten the call from a colleague in Florida about what had happened at OceanLand this morning, ringing the bell was her first response. With that phone call, all the years of hurt and frustration burst, and something broke inside her. She’d known even as she rang the bell that obviously this wasn’t a true emergency, but a part of her needed the tolling just the same. Something had to change. He’d killed again. Her heart cringed, thinking of him. She wiped her eyes, again.
 
Claire shivered inside her parka and glanced back at Terra and Tiluk, hand in hand as they descended the long set of stairs behind her and the other adults. She saw that Terra gingerly held the carved and bloodsoaked whale that shed brought home, her fingers bandaged from the cut shed given herself. Claire hadnt been surprised to see Terra’s carving of the new calf. She knew her daughter felt a special kinship with Wendy’s new baby. She took a deep breath of the salted air she loved so much, reminding herself why she and her family were here. But her stomach remained tight with grief and empathy. Now, instead of having the chance to meet the new calf her daughter had dreamt about with a free and easy heart, the news of the killing shadowed everything. And even though she was a scientist, a worldclass researcher of the highest order, Claire had asked Terra to broadcast the Adagio on the twoway. Just this once. With this latest killing, she felt an overwhelming need to ritualize her sorrow with the whales.
 
She looked at her husband Bill, taking in his saltandpepper windswept tousle of hair and etched face. His grim glance told her he felt as sick with the news and what it meant as she did. Looking back at Joseph and Maggie, she knew they felt it, too. Joseph reached out and clasped her shoulder for a moment, his eyes holding hers.
 
“Careful Claire,” Maggie said, eyeing the narrow, steep stairway. “Mercy, we don’t need any more injuries today,” she murmured. Claire stopped short, turned all the way around, and leaned into Maggie, hugging her briefly from the stair below.
 
“I know, honey.” Maggie hugged her hard. “I know.”
 
Terra met Tiluk’s eyes, puzzled. What is really going on here? The adults said they’d explain about the Shantu news later, at dinner. Why was her mom so upset? Terra didn’t even know how to feel about what they’d told her. She was too dazed. The calf has a brother. The calf has a brother. Her mind, overwhelmed by this news—and the killing—had shut down. The words kept rolling around and around her head: The calf has a brother. But her brother killed a human. Her brother killed someone. It was all she could think of as if the news itself blocked her from considering its implications. Tiluk had grown even more solemn and quiet than usual. Neither Terra nor Tiluk were ready to know more.
 
About the Author

photo unnamed 1_zpsmo4acqvk.jpg Rachel is a writer and biologist. As a kid she got hooked on all things animal, vegetable, and mineral. To complicate matters, she was hatching up stories before she could hold a crayon. Once she discovered biology it was all over. Ever since her first class in 7th grade when she refused to dissect a frog, a little voice in her head said: You gotta share this amazing stuff about how nature works, and ask if we really need to harm it. The little voice only got fiercer once she went to college and worked with captive dolphins and Beluga whales, then got to see wild killer whales only a few weeks later. From then on it was an all-out quest to convey the wonders of nature, while pointing out the serious problems of our very bad habit of dominating others and the Earth. She’s been a card-carrying science writer for twenty years. The Blackfish Prophecy is Rachel’s first book.

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review 2019-01-31 02:57
A Heist Novel where the Heist is maybe the Dullest Part
Immoral Code - Lillian Clark

It's their senior year, their lives are stretching out before them, this incredibly close group of five friends are preparing for graduation, college, etc. -- even (not that they'll confront this quite yet) living without each other. They all excel in one or two ways -- one's a hacker/activist, one's an artist, one's got a real shot at the Olympics -- etc. One is a physics genius (or close enough to a genius to count) who was admitted early to MIT. But there's a catch. She can't afford it. Her mom works two jobs to help the two of them barely make it and her dad hasn't been in her life since he was a poor student and impregnated her mom. Since then he's gone on to become one of the richest of the rich. The kind of rich that people really can't believe exists. So when MIT looks at her financial aid, they roll their eyes and move on to the next student.

 

Not content to shake their heads sadly at injustice, her friends come up with a plan to hack into her dad's company and skim a little bit of money. Not enough that he'd ever notice -- just enough to pay tuition for a year. Their hacker friend is good, but not good enough to break in remotely -- she has to be physically in touch with the network -- for just a few seconds. Like the tagline on the cover says, "Payback is a glitch." So over Spring Break they take a little road trip -- bigger than their families know -- to get access to the network. It's going to take a lot of nerve, some real disregard for the law, and their combined talents to pull this off.

 

The question they don't really consider until it's too late isn't what will happen if they fail (although, they all could think of that more), it's what happens if they succeed?

 

On the whole, I haven't seen many people classifying this as a Crime Novel, despite the Heist story at the core. It's definitely not a thriller. Because the Heist story is just an excuse to talk about friendship, figuring your life out, the pressure on teens to know what they want the next few decades to be about (not the same as the previous item on the list), the complicated relationship that exists between parents and their teens on the cusp of adulthood, and the hugeness of the moment where you leave home/family/friends to start the next phase of your life. Oh, also, morality. Somehow Clark does all that while telling a fast-moving, funny, and heart-felt story.

 

Which is not to say that the Heist story isn't important, or well executed. And you can read the book just for the Heist. But you'll miss out on a lot -- and you'll probably wonder why I rated this so highly. As fun as the Heist/prep for the Heist is, the heart of the book is the rest.

 

Each chapter jumps between first-person narration from each kid, keeping things moving nicely. There's plenty to like/identify with in each character. You learn a lot about them as individuals, them as friends, and generally them as children (not that much about them as students, oddly). They're so well-drawn, I'm sure what I respond to in one character or another will not be the same as what another reader responds to. There is one character who serves as the group's Jiminy Cricket -- their vocal and ever-present conscience. Like Jiminy, the character is ignored a lot and fought against. But I appreciated them -- the voice of moral reason, the one trying to save the others from themselves, the only one who demonstrated a sense of right and wrong, not just about what feels right.

 

The writing is breezy, engaging -- no matter whose POV you're reading. Clark did a fantastic job differentiating the characters, giving them all a unique voice so that you don't even have to pay attention to the indicator at the beginning of the chapter to know whose voice is telling that particular chapter. Now, as each chapter is told from the Point of View of a teenager, and fairly realistically done, that means you have to check your inner grammarian at the door -- so much of this book can drive you around the bend if you don't.

 

The novel is engaging, it's beyond that really -- it's infectious.There were several points during reading that I asked myself why I was enjoying it as much as I was. Not that I thought I should dislike it, but I liked it a lot more than I should have. I don't mind that I did, I'm just not sure I understand why. I'm just going to chalk it up to Lillian Clark being a very good author -- someone you should check out, starting with her debut, Immoral Code.

 

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Random House Children's Books via NetGalley in exchange for this post -- thanks to both for this.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2019/01/30/immoral-code-by-lillian-clark-a-heist-novel-where-the-heist-is-maybe-the-dullest-part
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text 2019-01-29 00:32
Reading progress update: I've read 356 out of 356 pages.
Larchfield - Polly Clark

Well, this was surprisingly beautiful, but so, so sad.

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text 2019-01-28 23:06
Reading progress update: I've read 278 out of 356 pages.
Larchfield - Polly Clark

Ok, I can't wait to see how this book ends. The story is fab and I have no idea whether Dora is imagining things or whether the events are some sort of real, which is not to say that they're not real for Dora even if the events are just taking place in her head. 

 

Mo and Terrence seem to be truly horrible people, and Dora's isolation is aggravating and so sad. 

The other storyline, the one about Auden, is not much happier. 

 

Even tho I have no idea how the book will end, I have a hunch this might not be on a happy note.

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