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review 2015-08-15 14:14
Review: Those We Left Behind
Those We Left Behind - Stuart Neville

There are many lists with writing tips on the internet. Some are good, others not so much. I once came across one that had some really good advise. It also had one point that said Make everything the could go wrong go wrong. My immediate reaction after reading that was a burning desire to take out my copy of Henning Mankell's The White Lioness and hit the creator of this list over the head with it. And then force them to read the book (which would be so much more painful) and then ask if they still think that everything should go wrong. Because The White Lioness is a book where everything that can go wrong does go wrong and it's horrible.

Of course it is annoying if your characters would be dead after 10 pages if it wasn't for countless incredibly lucky circumstances and a lot of authors don't seem to get that.
However it is equally annoying if the case would be wrapped up neatly after 10 pages if it wasn't for a number of riddiculously unlucky circumstances.

I did not tell all this because I like talking that much (well I do like it but that's not the point...) but because Those We Left Behind is another of those books where just about everything goes wrong. It doesn't reach quite the level of The White Lioness but there's too many instances of people deciding to do something at the moment where it's causing the most harm. There is actually a moment about three quarters into the book where one of the boys is about to tell everything but is stopped when the DI's boss turns up just at that moment.

Additionally I couldn't really warm up to Serena Flanagan, the main character. She made some horrible and stupid decisions that were just inexcusable and even when she wasn't I just couldn't warm up to her. She's just one of the many fictional cops who is always so busy with the job that partner and children suffer. Yes it's truth in fiction but you still could copy & paste the discussions between her and her husband into a dozen other books or films without having to change anything but the names. There is nothing that makes either of them stand out from the crowd.
This is mostly because apart from Serena we have three other POV-characters: Ciaran, the boy who was convicted of the murder, Paula, Ciaran's probation-officer and David, the son of the murder-victim. Especially Ciaran gets a lot of pages and they are just so frustrating because he is such a passive character. Don't get me wrong: it makes sense that he would be but that doesn't mean reading about a character who barely does anything unless told to is any less...boring.

I still read the book in a few hours so it was engaging enough and I did want to find out how exactly it would end but I don't feel the need to pick up any following books.

ARC provided by NetGalley.

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review 2015-01-06 11:17
Review: The Castle of Otranto
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole

I while ago I read Northanger Abbey and while I enjoyed it I also felt like missing out on half of the jokes because while was vaguely aware that Gothic novels meant scary old castles, fair maidens and old curses I had never read one of them. So I eventually decided to read one (after buying it, putting it on my tbr-pile and forgetting about it again till yesterday).

As it happens The Castle of Otranto is actually the first novel that (in its second edition) was published as "Gothic Novel" and wow! It certainly is one. Half a page in the only son and heir of Manfred, the highly unlikeable the lord of the castle has already kicked the bucket (only minutes before the wedding) after a piece of a statue (that apparently appeared out of nowhere) fell on him. Half a page later Manfred has already condemned an unsuspecting bystander to death who just remarked on the similarities between the piece and a statue in the castle and then tries to persuade Isabelle, his son's not-quite-widow to marry him (she refuses among other reasons because Manfred's wife is still alive). It continues in that speed and so the 100 pages are crammed with everything. Mistaken identities, birth-marks that reveal a person's true heritage, curses and enough murder, manipulation and bloodshed to keep up with many contemporary thrillers.

As a result it reads more like a parody that crams all kinds of Gothic tropes together than something that (at least to an extend) wanted to be taken seriously but it is definitely an enjoyable read and because of the shortness and the fact that it was the first Gothic novel not a bad place to start if you're also curious about Gothic fiction.

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text 2014-03-28 19:00
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
From Whitechapel - Melanie Clegg

That was weird. And awesome.


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text 2014-03-21 18:52
Reading progress update: I've read 424 out of 720 pages.
Just One Evil Act - Elizabeth George

There's not enough alcohol for this



I will finish this book but I'm really not sure if I'll continue with the series afterwards.

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review 2014-03-14 21:05
Review: Tantalized
Tantalized - Nenia Campbell

I don't quite know what to say about this book. That is probably mainly because that's reading so far out of my usual comfort-zone that I don't even have something to compare it to.

I did like the idea. It was the story of two extremely messed-up people having lots of kinky sex. At no point the reader gets the impression that there is anything healthy about this...arrangement (I hesitate to call it a relationship...) and exactly nobody is surprised when it ends in utter disaster. Which brings me to the problem: the ending felt too rushed. For most part the plot kept going at quite a normal pace but then things just escalated very quickly. On one page everything went on normally (or what passes for normally in this book) and on the next the catastrophe begins and then everything happens at once. It felt like too much events were crammed into to few pages. 

Overall the ending also felt a bit...odd. I don't mind when the ending does not spell out everything for you and you're kept wondering what will happen in the future but here I felt that a bit too much threads were kept hanging while at the same time it isn't really enough to justify a sequel.



I received a free copy via a booklikes-giveaway.

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