Archive for January, 2017

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#frenemies

In Book Reviews,CannonballreadIX 2017,YA literature on January 28, 2017 by mrsdilemma

With Malice by Eileen Cook

“Waking in a hospital bed with her leg in a cast, the last six weeks of Jill’s life are a complete blank. . .  All she knows is what she’s been told: while in Italy on a school trip she was involved in a fatal accident and had to be jetted home to receive intensive care. Care that involves a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident. . .  wasn’t just an accident.”

With Malice by Eileen Cook is a fast paced, high drama, psychological thriller for teens. It tells the story of Jill’s rehab and the hunt for what really happened in Italy, the author provides numerous plot directions and possibilities for readers to consider as to what actually happened, which ramps up the stories intrigue.

On a larger scale the novel makes comment on the concept of trial by media. Reminiscent of Amanda Knox, Jill is vilified in the media, completely torn apart without facts, using photos out of context and the impressions of other people.

A realistic thriller is difficult to deliver for teens but Cook does this well, Her plot is advanced not only by a convincing narrative but by the inclusion of blog posts, interview transcripts and news articles. This non traditional format is one which will particularly suit YA readers.

With Malice is not highly character driven and whilst the main protagonist Jill, is fairly detached and not completely likeable I believe that is highly appropriate given that you are supposed to be deciding whether or not she is a murderer! Unfortunately some of the supporting cast are fairly stereotypical; the evil stepmother, sleazy italian cop, the overzealous physical therapist . . . but they don’t take away from the narrative at all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and raced through it. I will wholeheartedly recommend this for YA lovers of all ages.

As an aside. . . one thing I wish publishers didn’t do, is change the covers for the “international” market – I am in New Zealand and the cover here is awful compared with the US & UK alternative.

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I was thoroughly disappointed.

In Book Reviews,CannonballreadIX 2017,Fiction,what i'm reading now. . . on January 22, 2017 by mrsdilemma

Without Prejudice is a story told in two halves; Flashbacks to the story of two children, one black and one white, who are thrown together in 1960s Chicago and a present day dilemma; Should I let this man into my privileged life?

Late one night, Robert Danziger receives an unexpected call from a childhood friend, Duval Morgan. Duval has spent more than twenty years in an Illinois state penitentiary for the horrific rape and assault of a young nurse. Now he is finally out.

The protagonist – Robert, is a rather bland character, he comes across as petty and randomly racist. I don’t believe that the author would have intended him to be perceived in that way. His wife seems wholly ideological and their relationship is not believable or as compelling as it needs to be for this story to work.

The story is a very slow burn, the flashbacks add insight but it takes 90% of the book to get to a point where the reader feels they have caught up to the action and then when all the strands of the plot are drawn together the pace is so rushed it feels like the author was editing to acknowledge a word count.

I believe the thought provoking premise and the flashbacks were worth reading the entire book for, just,  but I would only ever recommend this for someone who can live with cliche characterizations and predictable plot lines. I was thoroughly disappointed.

Articles

Was the Buzz Justified? The Mothers Brit Bennett

In Book Reviews,CannonballreadIX 2017,Fiction,what i'm reading now. . . on January 7, 2017 by mrsdilemma

cbr9-the-mothersBuzz? Justified? Yes! The Mothers is a stunning debut, it is beautifully crafted and is a wise and lingering piece of writing. The complexity of the characters and Ms Bennetts ability to allow them to unwind so slowly ( whilst in the middle of a fast paced storyline ) keeps the reader hooked. I wanted to know, not what was going to happen next, but how the characters felt about these events as they unfolded.

The Mothers is the story of the constraints of a smaller community where everyone knows everybody else’s business.  The story is told, firstly, by the Mothers – the eponymous older women of the church community in which the three pivotal characters; Nadia, Luke & Aubrey, live and love.  All three characters are marked by tragedy and that draws them together at different points with different consequences. Nadia’s decision to terminate her pregnancy early in the narrative impacts across all three characters lives, their stories are intertwined, their destinies tangled.

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

A line like that is magic, it demonstrates the skill and talent of its writer and shows such promise, and such hope for not only the rest of that work but for the rest of their body of work. Brit Bennett is a young writer to watch, with some spectacular commentary on important social issues under her belt she writes with grace and forceful eloquence.