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text 2018-10-24 02:31
Southern Pleasure by Kaylee Ryan Free!
Southern Pleasure - Kaylee Ryan

They tell you that a parent’s love is all consuming. I never put much thought into it. Not until the minute I heard her take her first breath. That little girl is my world. I’d do anything to protect her. 

My ex signed over her rights and her family vowed that my daughter didn’t exist. Now that she’s gone, they want my little girl. They’re trying to say I can’t give her what she needs.

I’ve known Evan all my life. Our families farms run parallel with each other. He and my brother Aaron have been best friends for as long as I can remember. 

What they’re trying to do is wrong. He needs my help, someone he can trust and I’m more than happy to do it. I volunteered without hesitation.

I should have thought about what it would be like to have our lives intertwined. I should have thought about what would happen when our time together ended and how my heart would feel when I had to walk away.

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review 2018-10-17 12:18
More magic, more supernatural events, and plenty of wonder in the second novel of the series.
Atonement in Bloom - Teagan Riordain Geneviene

I was offered an ARC copy of this novel, that I had been after for some time, and I enthusiastically decided to review it as soon as I was able to.

I have followed Teagan Geneviene’s blog for a few years and have long been amazed by her creativity and her power to weave stories from the most unlikely jumble of elements, always rising to the challenges set by her readers, and writing by the seat of her pants. I am inclined to think there is some kind of magic at work, and I am not surprised by the genre she has chosen for her novels.

I have read and reviewed several of her books (you can check my most recent review of one of her serials here) and have long been a fan of her first-novel, Atonement, Tennessee (you can check my review, here). I had been waiting for the next instalment of the series for some time and had eagerly read any stories and snippets the author has shared in her blog about the Atonement universe. And I jumped at the opportunity to read an ARC copy of this novel, the second one in the series.

The author has tried to make this book stand alone, to ensure that anybody who started reading the series at this point would be given enough background to follow the events and enjoy the narrative, without slowing down those of us familiar with the story. Having read the first novel a while back and having reread it recently, I am probably not the best person to comment, but, in my opinion, she succeeds, although I would recommend anybody considering the purchase of this novel to go ahead and get the whole series, as they will be able to more fully appreciate the plot twists and the character development that take place in the series. And there are some companion stories available that you will enjoy as well.

The story is told from two different points of view, as was the case with the first novel. We have Lilith, Esmeralda’s (Ralda for short) calico cat, whose narrative is told in the third-person, and whose personality (her likes and dislikes, her strong opinions, and, indeed, her all-appropriate curiosity) shines through even more than in the first novel. She is witness to a number of events that allow the reader to be slightly ahead of Ralda at some points, but also increase the suspense and the expectations. She is not a human narrator and her understanding of events is often puzzling for us, so her clues are a bit like cryptic crossword prompts, familiar and alien at the same time. She gets involved in some hair-raising adventures of her own, and the end of the novel hints at many interesting things to come for our favourite feline narrator.

Ralda is the other narrator, and she tells the story in the first person. Those of us who have read the first novel know that she is a Southerner at heart, although she has spent many not-very-happy years in Washington DC. Atonement, Tennessee proves to be anything but the quiet and charming little town she imagines at first, secrets and supernatural events abound, and most of them centre on her house and her family line. She is a woman of strong intuition, but there is more to the events unfolding around her than a sixth sense. If the first novel saw her teetering between real-world difficulties (the move, the state of her house, the problems of her new-found friends), and some strange and decidedly supernatural events, in this second novel she at first suspects, and later comes to realise, that in Atonement, Tennessee, there is no clear separation between the “normal” and the “supernatural”. One of the things that make her a very compelling character, apart from her lack of ego and her self-deprecating sense of humour, is her open spirit and her ability to experience the wonder of the world around her. By her own confession, she has suffered the nasty side of things and people, and she at times appears overcautious and paranoid, but she is unable to say no to anybody needing help, and no matter how hard she resists, she finds it difficult to believe the worst of anybody. She might hesitate, but she will get in harm’s way if any of those close to her are in danger (and that includes Lilith, of course).

As for the plot… After taking stock of what happened in the first novel, things start getting interesting very soon. Some of the characters we thought we knew are revealed not to have been how they looked like at first (some for the better, some for the worse), and we have quite a few new characters turn up, some supernatural without a doubt (including my beloved glowing pigs), and others… well, I’ll leave you to see what you think. But there are unrequited loves, magical objects (one of my favourite things, both in fantasy and in the horror genre), some very Shakespearian turns of events, kidnappings, natural (or supernatural) wonders, and a fantastic battle scene (and I won’t reveal anything else).

Although the storyline is complete in itself and the events that unfold during the book get a resolution (and a more than satisfying one, I might add), there are mysteries still to be solved, some new ones hinted at, and I can’t wait to read the next book. If you love fantasy, supernatural events, folklore, myths and legends, Shakespeare, and appreciate a wild-tale full of imagination, you’ll be delighted by this book. I know I was.

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review 2018-10-08 14:25
Endless Book With no Payoff
The Little Friend - Donna Tartt

This book is not worth reading. If you are considering it, just know that after reading 640 pages, you still don't find out who murdered Robin Cleve Dufresnes. You are stuck jumping around to a myriad of characters with no real ending in sight. When you do get to the end you are going to want to throw this book across the room and ask was that it? There is no character development. The flow is non-existent. We jump back and forth among different times in this book and between characters so it's really hard to even recall who is who and who did what to who after a while. 

 

"The Little Friend" is supposed to be about the aftermath of the Cleve family trying to put themselves back together after Robin Cleve Dufresnes is found murdered in the front yard. The book starts off on his last day and we get to see why so many in the family loved Robin. When he is found murdered, there is an initial investigation that turned up no suspects. The death left Robin's mother, Charlotte, devastated and the woman for all intents has turned into a living ghost. Robin's father, Dixon, who didn't really care about his family at all prior to Robin's death, disappears to another state entirely and only returns home for the holidays. It really is Charlotte's mother and her aunts that take over raising her two daughters, Alison and Harriet. After the prologue we get into the here and now and find out that Alison is 16 and Harriet is 12. 

 

If you have to call someone the main character of the book, it would be Robin's younger sister Harriet. Harriet decides that she is going to solve the mystery of who killed her brother. When her family's maid, Ida Rhew talks about how Robin was always fighting with a local boy named Daniel Ratliff. Ida and others have looked down their noses at the Ratliff family and there are hints that he was jealous of Robin. Harriet through no evidence at all decides that Daniel murdered her brother so she is going to kill him. No this makes zero sense and since Harriet barely seems to like anyone in this book, it's odd she decided she is going to avenge her brother who has been dead for 12 years. 


Harriet is annoying. Tartt shows her nastiness throughout this book. And then something changes and we are supposed to feel for her when the family's maid quits. Eventually this turns into a coming of age story for Harriet, but then we go back to the ridiculous subplot with her trying to kill Daniel. Tartt does foreshadow that Harriet's life gets worse after this summer and she can pinpoint the exact time when things started to go badly for her. Her side kick in arms to this mess is a boy named Hely. Hely sucks and is focused on either making Harriet take notice of him and or annoying her throughout this book. Hely agrees to help Harriet with the killing of Daniel because he has zero sense too.

 

Besides following Harriet and her misadventures, we also follow Harriet's grandmother, Edie, and the aunts, Libby, Adelaide, and Tat. The book jumps around between them and also Daniel and his family too. If this has just been a book focused on a southern family in the 1970s it maybe would have worked, instead we have the murder mystery plot with a hundred other things going on. 

 

The book setting is the 1970s in Alexandria, Mississippi. There is some instances where I thought I was reading "The Help" when we get into the dynamics of white children and their black maids. Harriet doesn't seem to pay any attention to her family's maid, until through a series of misunderstandings, Harriet causes Ida Rhew to get dismissed. Her great aunts don't really get why she's upset, except for one, and Harriet refuses to say goodbye to Ida Rhew and we find out regrets it for the rest of her life.


The ending was just a mess. Things happen. There are red herrings. And then the book clunks to a close. 

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-10-05 22:21
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Little Friend - Donna Tartt

That was a colossal waste of time.

 

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text 2018-10-05 16:15
Reading progress update: I've read 52%.
The Little Friend - Donna Tartt

I wasn’t that fond of The Secret History and this isn’t much better. There’s just characters all over the place going in and out of the story. Then Tartt will throw some random piece of information your way and the story just continues.  

 

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