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review 2018-03-15 15:16
Under the boardwalk, down by the sea, yeah...
Under the Boardwalk - Felice Stevens,Nick J. Russo

On a blanket with my baby is where I'll be...


Alexi Kharpov works at his family’s frozen custard stand on Coney Island, but he dreams of travel and a world that he’s never seen until the day he sees a gorgeous man standing in front of his family’s stand sinding like an angel. Than his dreams start to include the beautiful man who’s captivated Alexi’s attention and his heart.


Cameron Maxwell travelled the world as an opera singer and nothing has captivated him like the beautiful young man serving custard.


When Cam starts a summer fling with the attractive young man. Neither of them is counting on their feelings lasting beyond the warmth of the summer sun but when summer ends both men realize that their feelings have gotten stronger and their lives more complicated…


Alexi has been given the chance of a lifetime to travel and live abroad. To see a world, he’s only dreamed about, but can he do this when his heart wants something different and if he doesn’t how badly will he come to regret it and even scarier is Alexi’s desire to live a life that’s true and honest…a life that could cost him his family.


Cam knows that Alexi needs to make the most of what’s been offered to him and he doesn’t want to lose him, but he’s determined not to hold him back and Cam’s got his own issue to deal with the condition that ended his opera career is back and he needs to take care of himself. It’s not going to be easy, but Alexi and Cam need to find a way to follow their dreams and protect their love.


‘Under the Boardwalk’ is one of the sweetest NA, coming out stories that I’ve read in a long time. I loved both Alexi and Cameron. These two were so perfect for each other. At not quite 4 hours of listening time this wasn’t a long story and thankfully the author kept the focus to the relationship between Alexi and Cam. There were other life issues for both Alexi and Cam as individuals and as a couple but none of it ever overwhelmed the romance and was easily woven into the story. Whether it was Alexi’s coming out to his family or Cam dealing with his health issue it was all part of Alexi and Cam’s growing relationship.


I loved the secondary characters in this story from Cam’s parents who were loving and supportive to Alexi’s family which was such a mixed bag…his cousin who at first seemed homophobic but was really more misinformed and uninformed than anything and wanted to be supportive and there for his cousin…so not perfect but none of us are and what mattered most is that he loved his cousin and was willing to change his thinking to be open to the fact that whether Alexi was gay or straight he was still his cousin and still the same cousin that he’d been the day before. Then there was Alexi’s dad…not a total write off but he’s got a ways to go before he earns forgiveness for his behavior and more importantly there’s Alexi’s mom and his babushka (grandmother) these two women were AMAZING!!! Seriously for them alone this story was worthwhile.


And last but not least we have the ending…ok, I loved the ending seriously it worked for me and was definitely what flipped this story from a 3.5, precarious 4 stars to a solid 4 stars and sorry no, I’m not giving away the ending because that would just be wrong.


One of my other favorite things about this one was that it was narrated by Nick J. Russo…yep, still a fave of mine and as always, he did not fail me. I loved his voices but especially Alexi’s and that his accent varied becoming stronger during more emotional times and less noticeable at other times while it could be disconcerting it was also a realistic reflection of what happens when someone whose native tongue isn’t English finds themselves in an environment where they’re speaking English as much or more than their native tongue. I’ve known people who were Scottish, Russian, Australian, Belgium and various other ethnicities and while it doesn’t happen to everyone many of them when we were speaking while they never fully lost their accent if they became really emotional about something whether happy or agitated their accents generally became much stronger and more noticeable so for me Alexi’s accent and how it occasionally varied seemed natural and realistic but it also kept me on my toes as a listener.


‘Under the Boardwalk’ is only my second listening experience with a Felice Stevens novel and while I definitely enjoyed this story more than the previous one, I really can’t find fault with the choice of narrator for either story and I’m looking forward to seeing what else this author has written that I can enjoy on audio and who knows I may even slide an e-book or two onto the reading pile as well.


This was a sweet story about coming out, finding love and having dreams come true…so all in all there’s a lot of good feelz here…definitely recommended.





An audio book of ‘Under the Boardwalk’ was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-03-14 21:34
Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster
Reading the Ceiling - Dayo Forster

I agree with the other reviews that this is a fine option if you are doing a world books challenge and need a book from the Gambia – this is why I read it, and it’s certainly readable – but there isn’t much to recommend it beyond that.


Reading the Ceiling has an interesting premise: the narrator, Ayodele, is turning 18 and determined to get initiated into the mysteries of sex, so she needs to choose a partner with whom to do the deed. The three sections of the book follow alternate versions of her life as it unfolds along three different trajectories depending on whom she chooses: Reuben, an awkward classmate who likes her much more than she likes him; Yuan, a friend of Chinese descent in whom she is interested; or Frederick, the sexually experienced father of her best friend.


I was curious to see how the different stories played out, and there is a sense of place, though oddly for African fiction, Ayodele lives a middle-class life in terms of both values and material comforts, and there’s not much of a sense that she and her classmates are better off than those around them. Tracking the similarities and differences among the stories and the different ways characters relate to each other based on different lives and choices was interesting, and the author does a good job of showing different sides of those events that occur in multiple stories, avoiding repetitive content. I didn’t always believe the author’s choices, though: a character will die in a motorcycle accident in multiple stories despite having lived two different adult lives, or Ayodele will get a scholarship for London in one story but only for Dakar in another even though she submitted the applications before making her choice.


More to the point, though, the book is on the dull side. Ayodele’s feelings about events are often left unclear; instead we get bland descriptions of her surroundings, lacking in emotional content. And she’s not a particularly interesting character or one who inspired much emotion in me. While a character doesn’t need to be pleasant to be compelling, Ayodele doesn’t balance her lack of resilience or less-than-admirable choices with a strong or complex personality to keep readers engaged. In two of the stories she folds emotionally at the first blow, allowing an early failure or tragedy to shape and define her life, while in the final one she chooses to carry an unexpected pregnancy to term, though it derails her life, apparently just to spite her mother. She doesn’t seem destined to be happy regardless of her choices, though it’s hard to tell when the last two end without reaching a conclusion, leaving readers wondering what happens next.


Overall, this isn’t one I would recommend, though if you too have reason to read a book from the Gambia, then go for it. I’ve certainly read worse.

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review 2018-03-13 20:30
Rumors - Anna Godbersen




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review 2018-03-13 15:56
Mörderischer Apfelduft
Totenweg: Kriminalroman (Elbmarsch-Krimi, Band 1) - Romy Fölck

Manchmal darf es bei mir auch ein Regionalkrimi sein. Meine Qualitätskriterien in diesem Genre sind: Spannung, ein nicht durchsichtiger Plot, exzellente Figurenentwicklung, einigermaßen anspruchsvolle Sprache, gute Ortsbeschreibungen und dicht beschriebene Stimmungen, lustiges Mörderraten, nachvollziehbare Motive, ein Ende, das nicht an den Haaren herbeigezogen ist und die Vermeidung von jeglicher schmalziger Romantik. Romy Fölcks Krimi erfüllt diese Aufgaben auf jeden Fall gut, sicher wesentlich besser als der Durchschnitt der unzähligen Romane in dieser Gattung.

Am besten hat die Autorin im Rahmen der Figurenentwicklung und bei der Stimmungsbeschreibung gearbeitet. Frida, eine junge ehrgeizige Polizistin auf dem beruflichen Erfolgsweg zur Kommissarin muss von Hamburg kurzfristig wieder in ihr Heimatdorf zurück, da ihr Vater niedergeschlagen wurde und ins Koma gefallen ist. Dort wird sie zuerst mit der desolaten wirtschaftlichen Lage des Apfelbauernhofs der Eltern konfrontiert, muss schleunigst ein paar Brände löschen und dringende Probleme lösen. Weiters trifft sie ihre alten Freunde und Bekannten wieder und ein paar uralte Traumata brechen auf. Der Mord an ihrer Freundin Marit ist noch immer nicht aufgeklärt. Frida hat Kommissar Haverkorn, der sich nun erneut an ihre Fersen heftet und den Cold Case aufklären will, als 13-jähriges Mädchen wichtige Details zum Mörder aus Angst verschwiegen.

Auf Seite 120 könnte der Leser meinen, der Roman sei schon zu Ende, denn der Täter des Mordes aus den 90er Jahren ist nun klar, Frida hat als Kind zuerst aus Angst geschwiegen und als Polizistin deshalb, weil der Mörder relativ bald nach der Tat bei einem Autounfall gestorben ist, und sie seinen Vater nicht noch mehr belasten wollte. Lediglich der feige Anschlag auf ihren Vater ist noch ungeklärt, aber da werden die Spuren von der Autorin auf massive Grundstücksspekulationen gelegt.

Dann macht der Plot eine Kehrtwende um 180 Grad (so etwas ist immer ganz mein Geschmack) und alles wird in Frage gestellt, der vermeintliche Mörder von Marit war es gar nicht, weitere Verbrechen geschehen, sind alle miteinander verflochten und werden offenbar: Mord, Totschlag, Brandstiftung, Entführung … die Entwicklung ist sehr rasant und man kann das Buch kaum weglegen.

Die Autorin beschreibt wundervoll die Dorfgemeinschaft, die angehende Kommissarin Frida und ihre Probleme, die Kinderfreundschaften aus der Vergangenheit und die Erwachsenen der Gegenwart, die Landschaft und die Apfelhöfe, deren Duft man förmlich riechen kann, Kommissar Haverkorn mit all seinen gesundheitlichen und privaten Problemen, der kurz vor seiner Pensionierung noch Lunte gerochen hat und endlich diesen alten Fall, seinen ersten Fall und gleichzeitig Misserfolg als Leiter der Mordkommission aufklären will. Auch das ambivalente Verhältnis von Haverkorn und Frida wird ziemlich ausführlich und psychologisch sehr aufschlussreich thematisiert und analysiert, das ist wirklich große Klasse.

Der wahre Mörder kristallisierte sich für mich zwar relativ früh vor dem Ende heraus, was mir aufgrund der nicht ganz so zahlreichen Verdächtigen ein bisschen die Lust am Mörderraten nahm, aber nicht alle Taten aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart hätte ich so eingeschätzt und die Motive werden auch sehr konsistent und realistisch dargelegt. So geht ordentliche Krimiunterhaltung.

Fazit: Ein spannender Pageturner, der Krimi erfüllt alle relevanten Anforderungen an eine schlaflose Nacht, in der man dieses Buch dann nicht mehr weglegen möchte.

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review 2018-03-12 23:00
Fun Beginning to Tommy & Tuppence
The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence #1) - Agatha Christie

I haven't really focused on Christie's non-Poirot/Marple books. Last year I said j would read all of Christie's other books and I just got busy and lost interest. Now I'm ready to take a look at her other works. There's also a rereleased of a biography coming out soon about Christie that I can't wait to read. 


"Secret Adversary" is flawed, but I enjoyed it. The plot gets down right ridiculous after a while and there's way too many coincidences to make the story work, but Tommy and Tuppence are great partners and it makes me think that this is what I wanted "The Thin Man" to be more like. 


The characters of Tommy and Tuppence were fun. They were weirdly apart for most of the book, but still were totally in each other's corners. I did laugh at Christie saying how Tommy isn't attractive and Tuppence was just okay. And it's even said many times that Tommy is not that smart. She does love disparaging her creations, it's kind of funny to read a book where the main characters are not beautiful and the smartest things ever. 


The secondary characters were sketched with broad strokes. We get a millionaire American that I felt was just a walking talking stereotype of an American. We get mysterious women and a mysterious man hell bent on wrecking England. I had a hard time swallowing this storyline in The Big Four and didn't buy it here either. 


The writing takes a bit to get used to, but I didn't find it hard to understand the dialogue between characters. The flow didn't work though. Some scenes felt endless. 


The setting of post war England shows that not everything is coming up roses. Tommy and Tuppence are both struggling to make ends meet and there frank conversation about marrying for money was funny, but also realistic.


The ending was rather sweet I thought. You have Tommy and Tuppence setting off together in more ways than one. Going to read book number two soon. 


This book is available via public domain. I would say that the formatting drove me up the wall. I'm glad I got it for free, but now I'm wishing I just paid for a version. 


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