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Tag: fiction (page 1 of 2)

The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

A Pretty Woman tale turns toxic and deadly in this provocative and riveting thriller of sex, obsession, and murder from Robyn Harding, the “master of domestic suspense” (Kathleen Barber) and the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Party and Her Pretty Face.

Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates, and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favors are optional.Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.

So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. She begins drinking heavily and stalking him: watching him at work, spying on his wife, even befriending his daughter, who is not much younger than she is. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.

Emotionally powerful and packed with page-turning suspense, The Arrangement delves into the sordid, all-too-real world of shadowy relationships between wealthy, powerful men and the young women who are caught in their web.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

Before I read this story, I had no idea what a “sugar baby” was. Now I know, thanks to this mostly forgettable story by the author of THE PARTY. Everyone is entitled to a flopper sometimes, and this one is Harding’s.

Struggling college student Natalie joins the over-the-top world of sugar daddies and babies when she is literally on her last dollar and has nowhere to turn. She is lacking self-confidence, but once she is dressed in designer duds and has a gorgeous older man on her arm, she becomes a sensual viper, living it up and loving every minute of it – even the intimacy. Then Daddy has a change of heart and decides to give all his attention to his beleaguered wife and hippie daughter, so Natalie loses her mind. The rest of the book is about Natalie boozing it up, complete with crying jags, stalking, and unhealthy behavior. Then there is a murder; Natalie is blamed and faces jail time.

At this point the book becomes interesting due to the plot twist and further development of Gabe’s wife. Natalie is a one-dimensional whiny girl who is in over her head, and it was hard to become invested in her future. Gabe was a typical narcissist rich guy, and I could see him dumping Natalie a mile away.

Harding’s writing style is great as usual, but there wasn’t the usual suspense that she is known for in this book. Even the ending with the twist seemed to sputter out and die with no lasting effects. I’m sure there will be lots of people who think I’m nuts for not loving it – but we are all entitled to our own opinion. You can pick up your copy here.

 

Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker

Beware the Man of the Year. You may praise him, resent him, even want to be him: but beneath the elegant trappings that define him, danger looms. Caroline Louise Walker’s stunning debut novel, for fans of Herman Koch’s The Dinner and Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, delves into the increasingly paranoid mind of a man whose life as the most upstanding of citizens hides a relentlessly dark heart.

Dr. Robert Hart, Sag Harbor’s just-named Man of the Year, is the envy of his friends and neighbors. His medical practice is thriving. He has a beautiful old house and a beautiful new wife and a beautiful boat docked in the village marina. Even his wayward son, Jonah, is back on track, doing well at school, finally worthy of his father’s attentions. So when Jonah’s troubled college roommate, Nick, needs a place to stay for the summer, Hart and his wife generously offer him their guest house. A win-win: Jonah will have someone to hang with, and his father can bask in the warm glow of his own generosity.

But when he begins to notice his new houseguest getting a little too close to his wife, the good doctor’s veneer begins to crack. All the little lies Robert tells—harmless falsehoods meant to protect everything he holds dear—begin to mount. Before long, he’s embroiled in a desperate downward spiral, destroying the lives that stand in his way. It’s only the women in his life—his devoted office manager, his friends, his wife—who can clearly see the truth.

Biting and timely, Man of the Year races along at an electric pace, with a wicked twist that you won’t see coming.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

Fans of unreliable narrators – get ready to love this book. Each character looks out for himself (some more than others), tells lies, and behaves oddly, and they all desperately want to avoid punishment for the tragedy that happens in the latter half of the book. The author is generous with tropes (narcissism, infidelity, money, desperation) and it mostly works to create this sometimes fast-paced story. I was not sure if I hated or felt sorry for the main character, the eponymous Man of the Year.

The author is skilled at creating circumstances that change with perception. Each chapter is told in the point of view from each character, so the disconnect between perception is magnified. Some characters get to speak only once, which is jarring. I had to think for a moment or two when a minor character took over the narration. Some of these narrators are never heard from again; they tell their story just for the reader to see things from yet another angle.

Dr. Hart is a tragic figure, cuckolded by his son’s friend, who is staying with the family over the summer. The stereotypical “guest staying in the pool house” provides a convenient location for some activities that muddy the plot and/or provide tension. His wife Elizabeth seems self-centered and vacuous – I am not sure if that was what the author intended, or if she was written that way on purpose. I disliked her almost from the start and did not change my feelings when the book was finished.  However, I did end up disliking the rest of the characters towards the end, regardless of how the plot twisted. At that point, I was heartily sick of everyone’s machinations and drama and self-servitude.

I would give the book four and a half stars, for while the plot was engaging there were a few draggy spots and as mentioned above, some characters faded in and out. This fading caused me to disengage a bit when they reappeared since I thought they were on the fringe, not actually moving the story along.

You can get your own copy here.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed. 

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

Just like most of the other reviewers, I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. The plot was immediately interesting despite Jessica’s vacuous personality and poor decision making. Dr Shields was someone I loved to hate, with her internal monologues and her unemotional personality. At times she reminded me of a robot, until she started having feelings – and boy, were they unexpected!

The authors made each character an unreliable narrator, so you are thrown off balance towards the end, where the twists start to happen. The characters’ past affects their future in unexpected ways, and the authors do a great job of showing how tragedy affects people differently. The underlying tension of the morality study’s probing questions juxtaposed with Jessica’s difficulty with her own morals will make you think about your own actions, both past and present.

The psychological scars of each character shape their actions and decisions, giving the impression that we are no better than the sum of our past. As more light is shed on each character and their own past, things start to make sense – sort of. Once we learn Dr Shield’s motivation, the tension ramps up and you simply must devour each page in order to find out what happens next.

I found it quite interesting that the authors chose to have both women be strong characters, with Dr Shield’s husband somewhat of a weak link. He shows up in the book later on and is just as unreliable as the two women. Despite a strong beginning, he is no match for Jessica and Dr Shields as the story line comes to a head.  That being said, all three of these characters manipulate morality for their own benefit.

Dr Shields is a nearly perfect example of someone who needs control at all costs and will go to great lengths to gain it. At times she seemed too perfectly perspicacious, always seeming to be one or two steps ahead of Jessica’s machinations. However, each character has a flaw that can be exploited, and once those flaws are revealed the story starts to twist and turn as the characters unravel. I stayed up all night until I finished AN ANONYMOUS GIRL – it truly was that good. This is the book everyone will be talking about this year – don’t miss it!

You can get your copy here.

THE PARTY by Robyn Harding

In this stunning and provocative domestic drama about a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, a wealthy family in San Francisco finds their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.
One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.
Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming of age, a milestone, and a rite of passage. Jeff and Kim Sanders plan on throwing a party for their daughter, Hannah—a sweet girl with good grades and nice friends. Rather than an extravagant, indulgent affair, they invite four girls over for pizza, cake, movies, and a sleepover. What could possibly go wrong?
But things do go wrong, horrifically so. After a tragic accident occurs, Jeff and Kim’s flawless life in a wealthy San Francisco suburb suddenly begins to come apart. In the ugly aftermath, friends become enemies, dark secrets are revealed in the Sanders’ marriage, and the truth about their perfect daughter, Hannah, is exposed.
Harkening to Herman Koch’s The Dinner, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, The Party takes us behind the façade of the picture-perfect family, exposing the lies, betrayals, and moral lapses that neighbors don’t see—and the secrets that children and parents keep from themselves and each other.

Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

 

THE PARTY is a roller coaster, unputdownable book where all the characters are despicable. It’s the story of a sweet 16 birthday party gone horribly wrong, with consequences that will last a lifetime. Hannah, the daughter, is just trying to be more popular. Kim and Jeff are her parents, with the trope of “strict goody two shoes mom” plus “emasculated father trying to be cool”. The events of the fateful night are told over flashbacks, over the course of the story; which kept me interested and hungry for more detail.

The complex and turbulent relationships between the characters are drawn well and evoke a great deal of emotion. Everyone is manipulating – or manipulated by- someone else. There are multi layered agendas. There are mean girls. There is isolation, greed, and shallowness.

I literally could not wait to get back to the book, and thought about it while I wasn’t able to read; I just had to see what was happening next. It’s the kind of book you read with incredulity, wondering if there is going to be a happily ever after despite knowing another crash is coming.

The author exposes the ugly side of relationships with adeptness, even glee (if you read between the lines). Just when you almost start feeling sorry for someone, they expose their seamy side and you go right back to sneering at them. Delicious!

Do people really behave this way now, or is it just something that takes place in fiction? I am glad I don’t have to navigate the treachery of high school, where Facebook posts are created to hurt, and cliques do a lot more than name calling.

No one escapes unscathed from THE PARTY – it’s the kind of story that you will think about for days after you finish the book, considering all the wrong choices every character made and how it affected their lives.

Want our own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1501161245″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

The Crimson Shamrock by Michael Hughes

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A scotch-swilling DUI attorney, a cynical congressional staffer, and a retired bomb- sniffing German Shepherd are just some of the characters Chuck Wesson meets after he takes a travel assignment from his new boss, mysterious Silicon Valley entrepreneur Axel DeWilde. Chuck has been sent on a flight from San Francisco to Boston in order to demonstrate the Crimson Shamrock, a breakthrough portable communication device code-named the RedClove.
However, Chuck begins to suspect that all is not as it seems after a robber tries to steal the device at the airport, and his flight later has to be diverted to the Twin Cities after a threat is made. After his meeting is relocated to the D.C. suburbs and does not go according to plan, Chuck flies back to California to discover who and what are behind his travails.

Many thanks to the author for this review copy!

THE CRIMSON SHAMROCK is a fast paced novella that contains a lot of action. Chuck Wesson gets a job offer that seems too good to be true – all he has to do is carry a protoype to a meeting. Once he decides to complete this simple task, the fun starts. There are plane trips, motels, attempted robbery and mixed messages aplenty. Chuck seems to be ok with most of the confusion, even managing to score a one night stand along the way.

As the amount left to read in the book got less and less, I started wondering how the author was going to wrap things up. I’m not sure if that is a good or a bad thing – when your mind leaves the story and is allowed to wander to the amount of pages left. I’d prefer to be enveloped in the plot and not concern myself with how much is left.

The pace of the story ramped up even more towards the end, when Chuck finally has enough deception and takes control of his destiny. At this point I was super curious to see what the heck was going on!

The novella is an easy enough read, with some freewheeling characters that represent the excess of the wealthy entrepreneur. Chuck seems like a mellow guy who lets thing happen to him, rather than be in control of his life. There were a few scenes of him hanging out with his buddies that perfectly captured the bro-speak and hijinks that take place during a weekend out. Hughes’ gift for creating dialogue is  wonderful, and is often the funniest part of his stories.

I would have liked more background on Chuck; it was hard to become invested in the things happening to him. The action kept me reading, but he was a bit too passive and one dimensional for me. It was also hard for me to picture the mysterious device at the center of the plot; but perhaps that was done on purpose, given how it all turned out. The ending was satisfying, with a resolution I didn’t see coming. All in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours reading.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1612967116″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Q&A with Eric Matheny, author of THE VICTIM

The Victim Book Cover

In the spring of 2003 on a desolate stretch of Arizona highway, Anton Mackey’s life is changed forever.  A reckless decision to get behind the wheel when he was in no condition to drive spawned a moment that threatened to destroy everything the 21 year-old had spent his life working toward.  With the sun rising over the mountains and the inevitable onslaught of morning traffic that would make the highway less desolate, Anton made a decision to save himself; a decision that claimed the lives of two people.  Eleven years later, Anton is a rising star in the Miami criminal defense community. He is married and has an infant daughter.  He is earning a good living and steadily building a name for himself as an aggressive advocate for the accused.  Anton shares an office with veteran defense attorney, Jack Savarese.  A mentor of sorts, Anton strives to model his practice – and career – after Jack’s.  A Miami criminal defense legend, Jack’s accomplishments in the courtroom are second to none.  However, Jack remains burdened by a loss, a mentally-ill client from ten years earlier found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the death of a troubled teen.

    When Daniella Avery, the beautiful wife of a man accused of a heinous act of domestic violence, comes into Anton’s office seeking his services, Anton thinks he’s landed a great case with a great fee.  But when he succumbs to temptation, he realizes that Daniella is a figure from his past.     Anton finds himself caught between the possibility of being exposed and the fact that his client – Daniella’s husband – may be an innocent pawn in the victim’s attempt to carry out her revenge against Anton.  As Anton struggles to balance defending his client while concealing the secret he has sought to forget, he uncovers the truth behind what really happened on that highway eleven years earlier.  The truth that may be connected to the conviction of an innocent man.

 

Many thanks to Book Publicity Services for introducing us to this author! This post contains an excerpt from Matheny’s new book, THE VICTIM, and a Q&A with the author.

Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney who enjoys writing crime fiction, drawing from his experience working in the legal system. He has handled everything from DUI to murder. His latest novel The Victim was released on August 13, 2015, published by Zharmae.

If you are a fan of John Grisham, David Baldacci, and Harlan Coben, this may be your kind of novel.

THE VICTIM is a tense, fast-paced, legal thriller/psychological suspense novel that centers around a young defense attorney whose horrifying misdeed from his college days comes back to haunt him.


March 16, 2003 – Payson, Arizona

He thought he was dead.

Steam hissed from the crumpled front end of the RV that had folded accordion-style against the guardrail. His face stung from the punch of the airbag. His lungs burned from that awful talcum powder that drifted through the cabin as the bag deflated. The chemical dust, suspended in the air, seemed to be frozen in time.

His nose was numb and swollen. He tasted blood trickling down the back of his throat like a cocaine drip. He peered through the cracked windshield, his eyes adjusting to the reddish glow of a desert sunrise. The crushed-in hood had jarred upward. The chassis was off balance. The whole vehicle wobbled as he shifted his weight in his seat.

Oh my God.

He cranked the door handle and heaved his shoulder into it to pop it off the jamb. He hopped down onto the highway. The winds were heavy and dry, rustling the sage and scrub oaks that dotted the rugged landscape along the Beeline Highway. A sliver of fiery light barely illuminated the peaks of the Mazatal Mountains, which rose and fell against the horizon. Giant saguaros stood like sentries.

The back half of a red two-door sedan lay beneath the shredded front tires of the RV. Flattened like an aluminum can. On impact the RV must have bucked forward, rolling up onto the rear bumper of the smaller car, coming to rest on its roof. The significant weight of the RV crushed the sedan into something you might see stacked in a junkyard.

The highway was quiet. Just the rush of hot wind crackling the delicate spines of the sagebrush. He got his bearings quickly, the initial shock of the crash having passed. A sobering experience. Literally. Half a handle of Jack Daniels coursing through his veins had been replaced by something stronger.

Panic.

He saw long hair, a young female’s. How he could tell her age by the back of her head, he would never know. Maybe by its length and sheen—bright, yellow-blond. Slick with blood. Her forehead propped on the steering wheel. The driver-side window blown out. The windshield was a shattered web.

The man beside her—or boy, he was arguably young—was out cold, his body positioned in the passenger’s seat in a gimpy, off-kilter fashion. The passenger side had been thrust into the guardrail, which molded itself to the frame of the car. His head lolled against the door. Blood leaked from his ear and ran down his neck.

“Are you okay?” he screamed, although he knew he would get no reply. His voice resonated throughout the valley. “Hello?”

He braced himself against the ruined front end of the RV. He felt a surge of bile and whiskey come up in the back of his throat. He heaved forward but held it in. He was lightheaded.

Oh God, please let this be a dream. Oh God, please…this can’t be happening, this can’t be happening. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening…


q&a graphic

1. Who was your favorite character in THE VICTIM, and why?

Jack Savarese. He reminds me a bit of my grandfather. Also, in a story with so many flawed characters, he was truly a good person and a father figure to Anton when he desperately needed one.

2. Which character was the hardest to write?

Daniella, by far. Creating a character as cunning and complex as she was was a challenge. I had to delve into the darkest parts of my mind to create her devious authenticity.
3. With all your experience dealing with the justice system in Florida,
would you say truth is stranger than fiction? Can you elaborate on an
unusual case of yours?

Truth is always stranger than fiction. I had a case involving a Gypsy woman who befriending a drug addict and began doing palm readings for her. Through this process, the Gypsy woman managed to convince this drug addict to give her all of her possessions.

4. What did you do to celebrate once your book was published?

Can’t recall exactly. I think the celebration was short-lived because the real work of getting the book edited began shortly after learning that it would be published.
5. Describe your writing routine; where do you work, any particular time
of day, do you listen to music?

I write at my desk during my work day. I try to hit 2000 words per day, and I can hit this in one shot during a slow day, or in little 400-500 word spurts throughout the day if I am busy. I also take down notes if I get an idea or some dialogue during the day. I try not to listen to music, too distracting.

6. Fill in the blank: If I had a million dollars, I would ___________.

Be debt free with hopefully enough left over to buy an Aston Martin.

7. Who is your favorite author?

John Grisham. He is the master of the legal thriller and a tremendous source of inspiration.
8. Do you have another book in the works? Will we see more of Anton
Mackey?

I am working on something. Whether Mackey comes back has yet to be determined.

 

mathenyVisit Eric Matheny’s website ! Want your own copy of THE VICTIM? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1943549117″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

A Tiny Feeling Of Fear by M. Jonathan Lee

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“I’ve made a decision to become the only person on the planet to become completely truthful about everything. I’ve never told anyone my secrets before. I’m hoping that being honest with you may just save my life. And perhaps yours.”

This third novel by Jonathan Lee takes the reader through the many insecurities we all experience, through the eyes of Andrew Walker, an ordinary guy with an extraordinary twist to the tale. Jonathan is working closely with MIND and Rethink mental health charities to raise awareness of mental health issues.

 

Thanks to Publishing Push and the author for gifting me this review copy!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, as the blurb talks about mental health. Was this going to be the crazy ramblings of a manic depressive, or a thinly disguised dream sequence passed off as real life until the very end?

It’s neither. A TINY FEELING OF FEAR is a wonderfully down to earth, no holds barred tale of a man who is suffering from depression. It’s also something more—a story with a crazy, jaw dropping twist that no one could EVER see coming, not in a million years. The plot kept me interested, and I so appreciated the author’s wry humor, especially when describing Walker’s coworkers. After spending time with his office mates, it’s no wonder he was depressed. Hostility and impotence hang over everyone’s head like a miasma, with Andrew Walker at the center. The author’s recounting of a nasty, demanding customer is spot on and cringingly accurate. Anyone who has ever worked in client services will have flashbacks, especially when an angry customer is abusing Walker and we are privy to his mental dialogue. Those are the bright spots. Interspersed with these moments are Walker at his darkest, when he is having such a bad day he can’t even get out of bed and is contemplating suicide. His anxiety and how it affects him is recounted in excruciatingly correct detail; anyone who has suffered from this all too prevalent malady will be intimately familiar with the pounding heart, crushing doubt, and sense of failure. A simple trip to the supermarket nearly turns into a disaster, as Walker almost loses his grip on reality as he travels up and down the aisles.

The one bright spot in his life is his next door neighbor, newly moved in and with issues of her own. The two form an oddly awkward yet comforting relationship, and she helps Walker come to grips with a personal decision that is a long time coming. Some details about his life are revealed very slowly, and I got the sense that even though he was keen enough to make others familiar with the anxiety, I was not permitted to gain very much insight into the man that Walker was. Often the character says that he is worthless, ordinary, and uninteresting, which is normal for someone with depression. Over time, we learn exactly what happened to bring about this life change.

As Walker leaves for a business trip, a few plot lines are near to becoming resolved. I felt so bad for the character and wondered what would be happening–would the author create a happy ending or would there be more misery? Depression and anxiety are not always “fixed”, and I was curious to see how things would turn out. After all, the blurb says that the character is being honest, and this may just save a life.

In any case, no matter what scenario you may have built up in your mind will not prepare you for how things end. Anyone who says they saw this coming is either lying or crazy–or both. I felt exhilarated and manipulated all at the same time, and there were times where I wasn’t sure what just happened. Jonathan Lee is crazy talented and crafty as hell to have pulled this off, that is about all I can say without spoiling the surprise. He has managed to create a book that will spark dialogue about mental illness while entertaining the reader and making their mind boggle. Quite impressive.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”B015OQN4ES” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

 

Matronly Duties by Melissa Kendall PLUS GIVEAWAY!

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Hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into Earth and sent it into a new ice age, what remains of the human race lives on in underground sanctuaries. Now, as the bicentennial anniversary of the impact approaches, a new leader prepares to take her place at the head of the government. At least, that’s what she thinks.
Bethanie Greene’s life has been planned out for her since the age of thirteen. Beautiful and intelligent, she’s spent the last twelve years training to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. But when Bethanie is kidnapped by rogue extremists just six weeks shy of taking office, her world is turned upside down by the handsome stranger who rescues her.
Howard James’ life has been the polar opposite of Bethanie’s. Struggling to survive in a world where those in power wished he didn’t exist, he harbors a deep-seated resentment of the government and all its representatives. Together with his unconventional family, he shows Bethanie a life she never knew was possible, while at the same time, opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead. But can she trust a stranger? And can a few days change everything she believes and desires? Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.

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The office of Matron is the highest a girl can aspire to—but Bethanie learns that she is just a puppet of the government. Darkly manipulative and suspenseful, MATRONLY DUTIES is a book about learning to trust and learning to love.

Parts of this book reminded me of BREEDER by KB Hoyle. However, the government in this book is more threatening and controlling, and the romance aspect is detailed thoroughly, with quite a bit of love scenes. At times these scenes slowed down the action, but I can understand why the author created the plot this way; to develop Bethanie’s growing feelings and to show the reader how she is growing as a person who thinks for herself.

There are close calls as the renegades are hunted by the government, and moments when we are unsure if Howard will come back alive. The world that Kendall creates is bleak and delightfully dystopian, with rules in place that control childbirth and love. Sex is viewed as “fornication” and taboo, and we see how Bethanie goes from prim and proper Matron, to a girl who falls in love, the old fashioned way. I found myself cheering for the family of Traditionalists who help Bethanie learn what life really means.  They were truly an oasis for the struggling girl, losing sight of everything she believed in for so many years.

I felt that there could have been a bit more character development when it came to Bethanie’s office mates–her bodyguard and secretary. She seemed to trust them without question, and I waited for them to double cross her as she shared all her thoughts and hopes with them. No spoilers here–read the book to see how it all ends!

A fairly solid outing from Melissa Kendall, MATRONLY DUTIES is a quick read, one that will make you think about figureheads and the sacrifices they may have made to be where they are.

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2 TWCS-Blog-Tour-Banner Thanks to The Writer’s Coffee Shop for offering this book to me!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

You can also visit the author’s page here.

MKendall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re having an honest-to-goodness TWO WINNER book giveaway! (hard copy signed by the author, and ePub version)

Alice of the Rocks

What book is it this time? The one we just reviewed, of course! Kyle had an awesome time reading Alice of the Rocks, and we’re hoping that you’ll enjoy it as well. I’m a hardcore advocate of digital books, but that doesn’t mean I’m against paper. Sometimes there’s nothing like holding a dead tree version of a great book while you enjoy the story. Enter below, and you could have your very own dead tree edition of Alice of the Rocks in no time!

This softcover book has been SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR.

Even if you don’t win the softcover, you may still win an ebook version. This giveaway will have two winners. Please state your preference in your entry.

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Binary Star by Sarah Gerard

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From the publisher:

The language of the stars is the language of the body. Like a star, the anorexic burns fuel that isn’t replenished; she is held together by her own gravity.
With luminous, lyrical prose, Binary Star is an impassioned account of a young woman struggling with anorexia and her long-distance, alcoholic boyfriend. On a road trip circumnavigating the United States, they stumble into a book on veganarchism, and believe they’ve found a direction.

Not every book needs to be a masterpiece. If it were so, then there wouldn’t be any pleasure in discovering uncommonly good books. For the most part, it is good enough for a book to merely know what it has set out to do, and to accomplish whatever that is in a capable manner.

 

Binary Star traces the codependent relationship of an anorexic astrophysics teacher and her alcoholic boyfriend. I say “traces” rather than “follows” because the reader is never allowed to deduce of him or herself what the subtext is. The outlines of every contour of every personality is writ in bold as characters’ outlines are in cartoons. It’s all tell and no show. This deficit is buried underneath layers of poetic prose and obfuscated by astrophysical metaphors that reveal the author’s imperfect understanding of astrophysics. Strip away all of the nonsense, and you would be left with a compelling 40- or 50-page short story. Instead, we have 40 pages of poetry followed by about 120 pages of prose-poetry soup reminiscent of the drunken meandering of Stephen Daedalus in Ulysses without the benefit of James Joyce’s genius.

 

This book, I presume, had the intention of putting a human face on the struggle of anorexia as it told its tale. However, Binary Star fails to facilitate a bond between the reader and the main character because, telling all and showing little, the book leaves the reader little room to engage her in the way that humans engage each other. We humans come to know each other by startling each other, revealing the mystery of our personalities one or several pieces at a time. There is no way for me to learn about you in a way that will get me emotionally involved if you present your life to me as a series of facts. The layers of poetry and metaphor do not change the fact that Gerard presents her characters to her readers as collections of facts rather than as dynamic, startling individuals.

 

The final wound on this novel is that the plot, being the strongest part of the tale, has so much difficulty finding its way out from under the heavy coats of language that it takes a back seat to the characters themselves, about who I seemed to know everything but feel nothing.

 

Gerard’s potential as an author is extraordinary, but I believe that little more than the fact of that potential is on display in this effort. Although I had few positive remarks to offer about Binary Star, I will await the author’s next effort.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link asin=”1937512258″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link].

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