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Book Reviews

The Good Girl * Fiona Neill Book Review

After a good book like Reconstructing Amelia  I was slightly disappointed by Fiona Neill’s take on teen drama in the Internet era and the dangers of posting compromising material about oneself online.
While Amelia’s story was more focused on the aftermath of bullying, Romy’s story is focused on the how and why’s and the family relationships around her.
It came off a bit patronizing at points with clear line on how children should be raised, using the Fairfields as a liberal-hippy-loving family with no boundaries as the “monsters” of the book. Romy’s mother, Ailsa, is the good headmistress moving to a new town where one of her first hurdles is to tackle the sensitive video of her daughter giving a blow-job to an unknown boy while wearing school clothes.
She is always concerned about how people perceive her – from the effect her sister’s relationship with one of the teachers might reflect upon her – to how this new scandal can destroy her career. She spends more hours at work rather than with her children and her relationship with her husband is under tremendous pressure from a previous affair of his and her father moving in for a while after the death of her mother.
So – there is a lot of drama going on and this is one of the possible reasons why Romy’s good-girl behaviour gets taken for granted and not supervised further.

The why of the story

Romy decides to give the neighbour’s boy a blow job to help him get over his Internet porn addiction in a science experiment to get him to form new neuronal pathways associated with “good sex”. She decides to perform oral sex on camera and then get him to view the video instead of online porn when the need arose.
She likes him and her flowering sexuality found this outlet and one more which is a lot like the scene from “American Beauty” – exposing herself in the window of her room for him to masturbate to.

The how of the story

Considering her home situation and her unsupervised status, she goes to a party where she discovers the fact that her boyfriend was still watching porn, decides to break up with him, gets consoled by his brother, gets kissed in full view of her friends and former lover and the next day the blow-job video is online.
This gets treated as revenge porn and while both are minors, only Romy’s face is visible. She is shunned at school and her parents are appalled and go and confront the next door neighbours.
It turns out that Romy’s younger brother uploaded the video to the website thinking it was a video of the inside of the cabin.

At this point I was ready to throw the book into the burn pile. Deux ex machina indeed.

The way that Romy talks with the child psychologist afterwards shows a very mature young mind and well aware of her own sanity and mental connection – the same girl that was curled into a ball hugging her pillow a few days earlier. They never tell you what happened to the girl that fell from the tree when witnessing the kiss and betrayal of her best friend or what happened to the brother. It felt like the last part of the book was merely plastered on after the author got bored of the medical explanations of how a teenage brain works like.

Good bits The book takes some psychological facts and embeds them in the book – as to why women feel the need to please the man in a patriarchal society and also about the judgement-making capabilities of a young adult.

Bad bits Besides the ending which was pretty awful, there is an accent on the relationship between the parents which goes south after the dad cheats. If you want to read better stories about cheating men and women, I recommend “Life before Man” by Margaret Atwood which is a pure dissection of both sides of the story.
I didn’t really think much of Ailsa and Harry. I found them both hypocritical, deceitful and weak. I found Ailsa’s sister Rachel and her father Adam pointless characters to fill in the lack of storyline. I liked Luke, Romy and Ben though and found them genuine and likeable. I felt for Romy especially after the whole sex tape scandal and I found Ben, the youngest child sweet, funny and endearing. I didn’t think very much of Jay and I found him a bit cowardly how he didn’t stand up for Romy.

Some parts of the story were very gripping and intriguing and it was well written. I like books about secrets and scandals but I always felt that there would be something more but there wasn’t. I just felt that the story was too jumbled with everybody’s secrets and dramas and it kept going off into different tangents. I was a bit disappointed especially as the blurb made it seem like a thriller. I felt that the writer should have either stuck with Ailsa’s story or Romy’s. I don’t really get why the story was only told through their eyes and not the other characters.

Second: the book is a slow burner – there is loads and loads of talking which does not contribute to the plot (padding). I picked it up and put it down a total of 27 times (I counted!) as I could not get myself pulled into the story for long enough before being distracted and my mind wondering someplace nicer.

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Book Reviews

‘Wisp of a Thing’ Alex Bledsoe’s second book on the Tufas

After reading the first novel in the Tufa series, Hum and Shiver, I wanted to know what would happen with the main protagonist – the Bronwinator – and the dark – haired people in the Appalachian Cloud County. This is a story about life in a small village and about the two main families of the dark and light fairy people called the Tufa.

The protagonist of the story is  Rob Quillen – a winner at the known game show – “So you think you can sing”. His world has come crashing down around him as his wife dies in an air-crash when she flies to see him at the show final. When trying to heal his wounded heart, he goes on a pilgrimage to Tufa county after a mysterious guide has pointed him in the direction of an old secret song that can heal his broken heart.

With his beloved gone, and his career both awash and uninspiring, Rob takes the chance and makes his way, settling in to the Catamount Corner motel on the edge of Needsville, home of the Tufa.

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Book Reviews

Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children

book-review-miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children-by-ransom-riggs.w654I have just finished reading this beautiful story from new American writer Ransom Riggs. I was even more excited to find out that Tim Burton is going to make a movie out of it which will be released in 2016.
This is one unforgettable novel, peppered with old vintage photographs of “peculiar” children. Ones that are invisible, can float in air, can manipulate greenery and also the story of a world caught in a loop in time.

The story centers around a 16 year old who is his grandad’s favourite relative. Abe has showered his grandson with tales of monsters and special children ever since he was little but as he grew older, he became quieter and only upon his tragic death does His grandson finds him mauled and sliced and sees a creature in the forest that had tentacles coming out of his mouth.

“We cling to our fairy tales until the price for believing in them becomes too high.”

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Book Reviews

Kid Rocha – Beyond Shame Book Review

beyondshame-400I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but the words “Bestselling author” made me buy the book from an author I have never read before.
Unfortunately, I made a horrible, horrible mistake that I have learned to regret since a month ago, when I first started reading the book.

I had really thought I was going to put the book in the abandoned bin but, heroically, I read on, hoping to see something better at the end, to at least find a plot…

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Book Reviews

Fifty Shades Freed * EL James

When we last left our romantic icons, Ana Steele and Christian Grey, they were newly engaged and facing (a) Ana’s ex-boss, Jack Hyde, whom Christian fired in a fit of jealous pique when Jack made a pass at Ana and (b) Christian’s “Mrs. Robinson,” the woman who initiated him into his life of BDSM. Can these two crazy love birds find happiness and contentment? Thank goodness E. L. James doesn’t keep us hanging and gives us the GIFT that is Fifty Shades Freed.

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Book Reviews

50 Shades Darker * EL James

The 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy continues with 50 Shades Darker. The ‘Cinderella story on steroids’ continues with a happy ending/beginning. If you read the first book you know that Ana refers to Christian Grey as 50 Shades hence the book title. Christian has many moods and ‘personalities’ that lead Ana to this name for him.

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Book Reviews Dean Koontz

From the corner of his eye (Dean Koontz)

Horrormeister Koontz looks heavenward for inspiration in his newest suspense thriller, From the Corner of His Eye, which is chock-full of signs, portents, angels and one somewhat second-rate devil, a murky and under characterized guy named Junior Cain who throws his beloved wife off a fire tower on an Oregon mountain and spends the rest of the novel waiting for the retribution that will surely come.
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But not before a series of tragedies ensues that convince Junior that someone or something named Bartholomew is out to exact vengeance for that crime and the series of other murders that follow.
Bartholomew’s own troubles begin with his birth, which transpires moments after his father is killed in a traffic accident as he is taking his wife to the hospital, and continue with the loss of his eyes at the tender age of three. Young Bartholomew has visionary gifts, though to his mother, a nice lady who’s renowned for her pie-making abilities as well as her sweetly innocent nature, he’s just a particularly smart kid who can read and write before his second birthday. Eventually, Bartholomew regains his sight, Junior Cain gets his comeuppance and fate conspires to bring love into the Pie Lady’s life, reward the faithful and put a happy ending on this genre-bending tale. Koontz will no doubt rocket right to the top of the bestseller list with this inventive, if somewhat slower-paced, read. —Jane Adams, Amazon.com

Review

This is not merely a novel of suspense; it is also a story of belief and reflection, of choices and thebeauty that can blossom from doing what is right, rather than what is easy. While dazzling the reader with magnificent turns of phrase that will evoke simultaneous admiration and envy, [Koontz] alternates the mood between tenderness and suspense. A novel that is absolutely perfect from opening word to closing sentence’ Bookreporter.com ‘Koontz tries to create serious literature, and he largely succeeds in FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE’
USA Today
‘Uplifting and optimistic. There’s nothing sentimental…in this book, though a complex philosophical thesis is at its heart. A knuckle-biter from start to finish’ Toronto Star ‘FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE may be Koontz’s crowning achievement in a lengthy career already filled with triumphs. In this first-rate thriller, non-stop action keeps one turning the pages in spite of the book’s length’
Minneapolis Star Tribune
‘Readers in search of a pull-out-the-stops, multigenre thriller need look no further than FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE’ Denver Post ‘A fascinating theme…peopled with interesting characters, a fast-paced plot, and some imaginative theories about the nature of science and faith. Koontz has written another winner’ Toronto Sun ‘He succeeds in creating and fleshing out a cast of remarkable and unique characters. Koontz builds mansions of place and time. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is a suspenseful, entertaining and thought-provoking novel, examining the depth of the human spirit, our capacity for good and evil…and the consequences of even the simplest deed’ Harrisburg Patriot-News ‘An ambitious exploration of the intricacies of human relationships’ Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ‘Highly entertaining’ Chicago Tribune ‘Koontz connects these [characters’] stories with his usual ingenuity. He has always had near-Dickensian powers of description, and an ability to yank us from one page to the next that few novelists can match’ Los Angeles Times ‘Though over 600 pages, the book never seems long. The characters are vivid and emotionally exciting, creating a fast and compelling read. Highly recommended’ Library Journal ‘A psychologically complex suspenser’ New York Daily News ‘Fans of Dean Koontz are in for another thrilling treat. Once again we [are] mesmerized by his gift for…colorful prose’ Oakland Press ‘Koontz is famous for the way he falls in love with his characters. They’re so richly and compellingly drawn, you can practically hear them breathing from the page. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is chuckfull of hope an wonderment, good and evil, familial adoration, and characters you’ll wish lived next door. You’ll never want to leave the worlds Koontz draws you into. Settle in for one remarkable read of awesome possibilities’ Lexington Herald-Ledger ‘Full of more surprises than the average Koontz offering — and that is saying much. His opening is like a man announcing he will juggle bowling balls while frying eggs and piloting an air balloon. Preposterous — but Koontz proceeds to do it, and much more. Koontz does not bore’ San Diego Union Tribune ‘Exceptional writing and storytelling. Year after year, Koontz provides fresh ideas’ San Antonio Express News ‘A heart-pounding tale of Biblical proportions. [Koontz] proves once again that he still has the power to scare the daylights out of us’ Ottawa Citizen ‘Very appealing characters… For some time now, Koontz has been quite ambitious with the themes of his thrillers. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is the most ambitious yet. Here joy is definitely in the journey’ Flint Journal ‘A wonderful read. The pacing is perfect, keeping the reader in exquisite tension. This is a deeply satisfying, rich novel. You may have nightmares about [the villain] but you’ll love the other characters. Singularly and collectively, they are unforgettable. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is magic’ New Orleans Times Picayune ‘Delightful…fascinating and terrifying’ Detroit News and Free Press ‘Dean Koontz almost occupies a genre of his own. He is a master at building suspense and holding the reader spellbound’ Richmond Times-Dispatch ‘Vintage novel writing… The reader waits intensely for the final showdown’ Calgary Sun ‘Dean Koontz is not an author to be taken for granted. Each of his books stands alone; they do not fit a pattern. FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE is full of well-developed characters which is a trademark of Koontz’s. Highly diverse characters…marvelous people’ Fort Meyers Beach Observer ‘Probably the most creative and most far-reaching book he has ever written. Riveting…well-written. This book says a great deal about why Koontz is on top of his field — he’s very good’ Deseret News ‘An explosion of emotion and wonder. The tale is spun so masterfully that it is as gripping a novel as you’ll find, and as thought-provoking’ Baton Rouge Sunday Advocate ‘In his latest novel, Dean Koontz has achieved a literary miracle. A tapestry of intrigue and suspense…stunning physical description, unique turns of phrase… FROM THE CORNER OF HIS EYE will make readers stop, think, and ultimately appreciate “the many ways things are”‘ Fort Worth Star-Telegram ‘A fascinating piece of work…stuffed to the gunwales with colorful characters and plot twists. It’s virtually a Charles Dickens epic for the 21st century’ Locus From The Corner Of His Eye was no.7 in the Sunday Times and Observer bestseller lists

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