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review 2020-07-08 15:24
A challenging and beautifully diverse reading experience
Matt: More Than Words - Hans M. Hirschi

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel. I have read quite a few of Hirschi’s novels and have enjoyed them all, and some are among my favourites in recent years. He combines some of the characteristics that I most admire in authors: he writes strong and diverse characters, no matter what particular challenges they might be faced with; he carefully researches the topics he touches on (even when some of them might seem only incidental to the novel, he makes sure nothing is left to chance) and uses his research wisely (never banging readers on the head with it); and he does not shy away from the ugliest and harshest realities of life, while at the same time always dealing sensitively and constructively with those. His stories are not fairy tales, and they force us to look at aspects of society and of ourselves that perhaps we’re not proud of, but if we rise to the challenge we’ll be rewarded with an enlightening experience. And a great read. This novel is no exception. We follow the life of Matt, a young man diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to birth complications, for a few rather momentous months. The book, narrated in the third person, is told from three of the main characters’ perspectives. The novel is mostly Matt’s, or at least as good an approximation at what Matt’s experience might be as the author can achieve. It is a difficult task, and he expresses it better than I can in his acknowledgements at the end (‘How does one write about someone in whose situation you’ve never been? How do you give voice to someone who has none? And maybe, most importantly, how, without being insensitive, without objectifying, generalizing, stereotyping, in short without being a “dick”, do you tell a story that needs telling, about someone who could actually be out there, right now?’). He also explains that he shared his early drafts with experts (people with cerebral palsy and their carers), and, in my non-expert opinion, he manages to depict what the daily life of the protagonist would be like. The other two main characters, Timmy, a professional carer who is Matt’s personal assistant at the beginning of the story but gets removed from his team due to a misunderstanding, and Martha, Matt’s mother, are also given a saying and some of the chapters are told from their perspective. Timmy is a lovely young man, a carer in the true sense of the word, and he has a real calling for the type of job he is doing. Martha is a devoted mother who found herself in a tough situation when she was very young and who has poured her heart and soul into looking after her son. Neither one of them are perfect (nor is Matt for that matter), and they make mistakes, lose heart and faith at times, and can feel overwhelmed or despondent, but they never give up and always have Matt’s best interests in mind. Of course, I’ve already said that this is not a fairy tale. Far from it. We all know and have heard about some of the terrible things that happen: abuse, neglect, lack of resources, and although in this case there is no political and/or social oversight (Matt has access to a package of care and the family is reasonably well-supported, something that unfortunately is not the case everywhere), somehow things still go wrong, and we get to see what it must be like to be the victim of such abuse when you are totally unable not only of physically defending yourself but also of even talking about it. Terrifying. Not everybody is suited for this kind of work, and it is sad to think that those in the most vulnerable circumstances can be exposed to such abuse. And yes, because of the level of need and the limited resources, sometimes the vetting procedures are not as stringent as they should be. (The current health crisis has highlighted how much we expect of some workers and how little a compensation they receive for their efforts). Communication and how important it is to try to make sure everybody can communicate and become as independent as possible is one of the main themes of the book. The experience of living locked up inside your own body, with other people not even aware that you know what is going on around you and always making decisions for you comes through very strongly in the book. Matt knows and worries about how he is perceived by others, has internalised many of the attitudes he’s seen, and the comments he has overheard, and many aspects of life we take for granted are like an impossible dream to him. Speaking, going for a walk, even deciding what to watch on television, are tasks beyond his scope. The research into ways to facilitate communication and to increase independence is highlighted in the novel, and the role new technologies (including AI) can play is explored. With the appropriate investment, there’s little doubt that this could make a big difference in the lives of many people. Martha’s difficult situation (she wishes her son to fulfil his potential and be able to do what any other 23 years old normally does, but she’s also fiercely protective of him and does not want to get her hopes up for them to only be crushed again), the personal price she has to pay, the way she has to sacrifice any semblance of a normal life to keep looking after Matt, her worry about the future… are also convincingly depicted. And Timmy’s own feelings and his acknowledgment of his own limitations ring true as well. Family relationships feature strongly not only in the case of Matt, but also of Timmy, originally from Africa and adopted by Caucasian parents, a loving couple who accept him as he is, and Chen, Timmy’s friend and ex-boyfriend, whose parents are more understanding than he thought they’d be. The writing style is compelling and descriptive, although the descriptions are focused on the emotions and feelings rather than on the outward appearance of people and things. I found the story moving, and although it is not a page-turner in the common sense of the word, I was totally engulfed in it and couldn’t put it down, even when some of the events were horrifying at times and made me want to look away. The novel ends in a positive note, and I hope that in real life everybody in Matt’s situation will have access to a fulfilling life, if not now, in the very near future. As a society, we can do much to help, and we should. This novel reminded me of Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo (yes, the famous screenwriter who ended up in the blacklist, one of Hollywood’s Ten), whose movie version I saw as a teenager (also directed by Trumbo), and I’ve never forgotten. The main character there is a WWI soldier who is so severely injured during the war that he ends up unable to move and to communicate, or so those around him think. Although the circumstances are very different (the main character there had led a normal life before and has many memories, although if that makes his life better is a matter of opinion), and I’m sure this novel will appeal to people looking for a book focusing on diverse characters and exploring the world beyond our everyday experiences. As I’ve explained, it is not a comfortable and easy read, but one that will challenge us and make us look at life with new eyes. If you are up for the challenge, the rewards are immense.

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review 2020-05-03 19:13
Review: Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
Darling Rose Gold - Stephanie Wrobel

Now this is the kind of debut novel I have been wanting to read lately! It seems that a lot of the books I've read have been hit or miss. Either very good or very bad. But this was absolutely wonderful! It made me deeply uncomfortable, which was the point. I compare it to watching a slow motion car crash, you know that only bad things are coming but you can't bear to look away either.

 

I truly love a book that has a flawed narrator, not being able to fully trust the story they are telling you adds an interesting element to the story. But what happens when you can't trust any of the narrators? That makes for a fascinating story.

 

Reading Patty's narration was sort of like rolling around in mud. It sticks to you and makes you feel gross. Even though you tried to shower it all away, there's still the odd smudge of grossness here or there that makes you feel disgusting all over again when you discover it. You know that she isn't telling the truth. You know in your heart that she did all the horrible things that Rose Gold says she did. Part of you really wants to see her punished for it. As a mother, I was thoroughly rooting for her demise.

 

Then we have Rose Gold. Her anger and need for revenge is entirely justified. She found out that her mother permanently ruined her life. Her teeth are rotting out of her head, everyone knows too many details about her childhood, and she will forever be the girl that her mother created. I really rooted for her, but as the book went on I found it harder and harder to do that. More and more she was reminding me of her mother instead of her mother's victim.

 

I did not see the ending coming. Parts of it yes, but the thorough depravity of it surprised me. And it was wonderful to see how all the pieces played out. But this is also where the book lost a star for her. I found it hard to believe that the police would buy that Patty had forced Rose Gold to take a specific action a full month before she got released from prison. Surely they would have been ever slightly suspicious of the timing on that right? But apart from that, it was a wonderful book. I will be keeping an eye out for this author in the future.

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review 2020-04-08 14:56
 Dagger (Vegas MMA) - S.L. Sterling

 

 

Got to love me some Dagger! I loved the story as it was heart felt and one that tugged on one's heart strings.The story had really great characters Dagger aka Derrick was a MMA fight that was rough and tough on the outside but, we found him to be a big softie at heart on the inside.We loved no matter how bruised and battered and in pain he was he always retained his sense of humor and that sexy smile of his was panty melting and he left a many broken hearts in his wake.



Katy was one of those character you first meet and she seems a bit standoffish and unapproachable but, once you get to know the real her below the protective armor she is a sweet and kind and a loving soul who has been battered and bruised and abused by her ex and she is just trying to survive day by day.



We loved the chemistry this couple had and the easy friendship that turned into so much more.The story had a bit of intrigue and suspense and personal struggles for both characters who were both surviving in the only way they new how.



Overall this was a real good story with love-able characters that found love in the mist of the chaos that their lives were currently at at this particular moment in time and we loved how Katy woes although, were not the same as Daggers he could in some way relate to the things she was currently going through as he had a crazy ex himself and we loved how they easily bonded over crazy ex's and after everything Katy has be through Daggers size and job alone should make her run for the hills but, it did the exact opposite it made her feel safe,cherished and protected. I think this new series got off to a real great with Katy and Daggers story and we are looking forward to the next book in the series to come.



PS - Everyone should have a Dagger in their corner....

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review 2020-04-08 01:58
Sweet Chaos (Love and Chaos, #2) - Emery Rose

This was an awesome read for us and we loved it from beginning to end and everything in between.


This story was heart felt and emotional and one of those slow burn romance reads with and older guy in lovelust with a younger women but, with one major complication he used to be in love with his sister or thought he was .


We loved Dylan already from Wilder Love with his sister Remy the man was just a boy and one that was so strong and determined and so broken but, no matter what age he was and no matter what he had to do he would do anything to see what he considered his was provided for and taken care of.I loved the growth we saw from Dylan this time around although still broken in a lot of ways he made some of his dreams come true and was becoming a little less broken every time he spent with Scarlett.


Scarlett was the rebel of her family and planned to live her life on her own terms.We found Scarlett to be strong ,independent,beautiful on the inside as well as out but, her one weakness was never putting herself first.We loved how she always believed in Dylan when others never did all they saw was a punk from the wrong side of the tracks what Scarlett saw was what was below the surface the good along with the bad.


The chemistry between Dylan and Scarlett was scorching.These two who came from totally different backgrounds fit perfectly together. I loved the story and how this couples journey was wrought with tons of things stacked against them but, Dylan was determined to beat the odds and claim the one thing that would complete his own happiness. I loved the broken bad boy he made my heart just melt when it came to loving and taking care of the people he loved most in this world. Dylan with little Kai melted my heart each and every time and had me wishing that Dylan would someday have everything that his twin sister had because he deserved it for all the sacrifices he made in life in the sake of family.


This was one heart felt tale that tugged at ones heart strings but, also was one of hope ,healing,forgiveness and family.


"we absolutely loved it"


This is a fairly new author too us but, the books that we have ready by her have been both amazing and we are looking forward to seeing what this author creates for us.


"This one goes into the keeper pile!"

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review 2020-04-08 01:36
Screw (Hell's Handlers MC #8; No Prisoners MC) - Lilly Atlas

What and awesome story this was as it was so emotional that it brought me to tears.The love triangle was awesome we loved the characters all of them broken in some way yet, perfect for their poly-relationship giving the men the best of both worlds and Jazz she got something that she was needing from both of them that lend-ed to her healing.

I always loved Jazz she was already and interesting character but, once reading her story my heart just broke for everything she endured and not knowing how she survived it all emotionally. Props to Jazz for being so strong as she was always strong and beautiful and we loved that the men in her life saw that and no matter the horror that scars left on the inside as well as out.

Screw was one messed up dude emotional scarred and scared and once threatened emotionally in anyway he struck out against those in the only way he new to defend himself.We loved the broken man to pieces as we saw through all his bs but, with Jazz in his life as well as Gumby he too was healing as both had something to give him that no just one person could provide what he needed physically as well as emotionally.What we loved most about Screw was how open he was with his own sexuality and his f***-off attitude he had for others who didn't approve but, we loved that his brothers couldn't care less and even teased him about his conquests but, for Jazz things were working to her advantage as she had feelings for to men and was unable to choose between them.

Gumby was a love-able character just like the rest of them but, between the three he was the most emotionally scarred and his hangups could be his undoing you understand why this man feels the way he does considering his upbringing but, unless he deals with his personal demons he might lose the loves of his life.My heart went out to this man time and time again but, I wanted to smack him more often than not to wake up and see whats right it front of you before its to late.

Overall we loved it and we would could go on and on for sometime telling you about all the things we loved about this story it was just that amazing!Lilly never disappoints us and she makes it so easy for us to fall in love with her characters and even though we love the characters of this entire series and my heart broke and melted for Jigsaw and Izzy's story but, Screw & Jazzy & Gumby's story moved into the top number one spot for my favorite in this series .We loved that the No Prisoners MC and its character's graced the pages of this current tale as we love those guys as well and that Ms. Atlas created a bit of a dilemma with Gumby belonging to another MC but, lucky for us they are one cool club and love nothing more then seeing their brothers find the love and happiness they all deserve.

Final thoughts we be that this tri worked for all parties involved and if push came to shove and a decision to choose could have between made but, in the long run something would always be missing from ones life to make that one person truly happy and fulfilled in all ways possible.This author has done it yet again!What and amazing emotional tale with a whole lot of complications and more than a few twists and turns along the way.For us we think each and every time this author puts a pen to page her stories just get better and better and each and every time manages to bring me to tears.

This story and its character's will not be easily forgotten and we can tell you right now this one will be a constant re-read we have in our library.

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