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Review of Hot Milk by Deborah Levy

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About Hot Milk

Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant–their very last chance–in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis.

But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia’s mother’s illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia’s role as detective–tracking her mother’s symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain–deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.

Hot Milk is a profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, of myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria and big pharma, and, above all, the value of experimenting with life; of being curious, bewildered, and vitally alive to the world.

My Thoughts

Well written. Explores mother daughter relationship, identity. Enjoyed Levy’s writing style but that was about it, just wasn’t up my alley.

Sophie was too opaque, aloof, can’t really figure her out. Highly intelligent, she is a detailed observer. I felt she uses her mother’s illness as an excuse, scapegoat of sorts as a way to skirt the actual reason(s) for her uncertainty in both private and professional aspirations. Could be wrong since she is so vague bordering on discombobulated. Both women come across as enablers, resentful of each other, a silent hostility lingering.

My interest strayed early on due to unlikable protagonists and a boring plot going nowhere. The pieces set before me failed to fall into place, I have no idea what was to be constructed with the nonsensical fragments given. Frustrating at best. I’m sure there is deep meaning woven within the narrative, however it was elusive to my grasp although Sophie and Rose are memorable, their fractured dynamic surprisingly forceful.

I’m sure my aversion will be the minority, no doubt most will sing praises. Well written yet it failed to convince me of more, I require more than outstanding writing.

About Deborah Levy147246

Deborah Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, highly acclaimed for their “intellectual rigour, poetic fantasy and visual imagination”, including PAX, HERESIES for the Royal Shakespeare Company, CLAM, CALL BLUE JANE, SHINY NYLON, HONEY BABY MIDDLE ENGLAND, PUSHING THE PRINCE INTO DENMARK and MACBETH-FALSE MEMORIES, some of which are published in LEVY: PLAYS 1 (Methuen)

Deborah wrote and published her first novel BEAUTIFUL MUTANTS (Vintage), when she was 27 years old. The experience of not having to give her words to a director, actors and designer to interpret, was so exhilarating, she wrote a few more. These include, SWALLOWING GEOGRAPHY, THE UNLOVED (Vintage) and BILLY and GIRL (Bloomsbury). She has always written across a number of art forms (see Bookworks and Collaborations with visual artists) and was Fellow in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1989-1991.

Expected publication: July 12th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA

Review of The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

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About The Girl With All the Gifts

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

My Review

No doubt Melanie is special, I discovered this as the story unraveled. This was an incredibly addicting read in so many ways. Melanie captures your heart, she is extremely well written. All the characters worm their way into your sphere leaving you in a state of limbo where you are backed into a corner to either protect or overrun them despite your attachment, no other plausible choice given.

Somewhat intricate plot exploring love, loss, identity, blended with fantasy, science fiction, yet it’s almost a sub-genre of its own, more than a few major notable moments I will never forget. Lots leaving you bristling, uncomfortable, maybe even a tad but traumatized.

This read pulls you in, definitely not in my normal reading spectrum. An out of the box reading experience leaving me enthralled, providing escapism to another world I never thought I would venture into, despite the insanity I enjoyed my time immensely.

An incredibly well crafted read, a sub-genre I am unfamiliar with but this tomb will never be forgotten, forever etched in my mind. Quite a reading experience.

About M.R. Carey7177350

Mike Carey is the acclaimed writer of Lucifer and Hellblazer (now filmed as Constantine). He has recently completed a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and is the current writer on Marvel’s X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. He has also written the screenplay for a movie, Frost Flowers, which is soon to be produced by Hadaly Films and Bluestar Pictures.

Also writes as Mike Carey

Published June 19th 2014 by Orbit (first published January 14th 2014)

Review of The Girls by Emma Cline

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About The Girls

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.

My Review

Very well written and researched. We are granted psychological access to Evie as we understand her fascination towards the girls leaving you questioning why and how given her relative ‘normal’ upbringing. I was surprised her interest didn’t wane as her story unfolds, yet I’m not surprised she kept their company and deepened involvement. Cline’s attention geared around the girls as opposed to Russell was smart, great psychological angle, adding interest.

Wasn’t a fan of any of the characters by any means.

Cline left me uncomfortable and disturbed, certainly feeling immersed in the mind of teenage Evie, accompanying her as she mixes with the wrong crowd, making wrong decisions, choices, hallmark of a talented author. The big ‘what if’ question floats around in my mind weeks after finishing the book. Chilling.

About Emma Cline2926065

Emma Cline is from California. Her fiction has appeared in Tin House and The Paris Review, and she was the winner of the 2014 Paris Review Plimpton Prize.

Expected publication Random House (June 14, 2016)

Review of The Swede: A Novel by Robert Karjel, Nancy Pick (Translator)

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About The Swede

A Swedish security agent is summoned to interrogate a terror suspect held by the FBI —but the prisoner isn’t the only one with something to hide.

At a remote military base in the Indian Ocean, the FBI is trying to get a prisoner to confess. But the detainee, a suspect in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in the United States, refuses to talk.

Ernst Grip, a Swedish security officer, has no idea why he’s been dispatched to New York City. The FBI agent he meets on arrival, Shauna Friedman, seems to know a little too much about him. And when he arrives at his real destination, the American authorities have just one question: Is their terror suspect a Swedish citizen?

In the process of uncovering the prisoner’s true identity, Grip discovers the man’s ties to a group of other suspects—a ruthless American arms dealer, a Czech hit man, a mysterious nurse from Kansas, and a heartbreakingly naive Pakistani. The closer Grip gets to the truth, the more complicated the deception becomes. Who is real and who is leading a double life?

My Review

The characters were full of intrigue and differences, enough to create interest for the reader.

The plot was involved, at first you are curious to see how it all fits together and believe me it falls into place wonderfully. Loads of suspense complete with knotty twists will continually grasp your attention.

Impressive work from Karjel. Everything pulls together nicely at the end. Identities are revealed at the tail end amplifying the suspenseful conclusion.

Exciting debut, anticipating more from the talented Robert Karjel.

About Robert KarjelRobert-desk-webres-500x500

I was born in 1965 in Gothenburg, Sweden. My mother is Swedish, and my father Estonian.

At the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, I majored in Applied Physics.

After graduation, I entered the military. At first I flew fighter jets, and then helicopters. I became a Lt. Colonel in the Swedish Air Force. I’m proud to have trained with the U.S. Marine Corps and flown its attack helicopters.

I’ve written four thrillers, and I’m finishing a new one now, sequel to The Swede/ My Name Is N. This next one, based on my experience with the Swedish Air Force, is about pirate-hunting in the seas near Somalia.

Researching my novels has taken me to the Libyan Desert, Amazonian drug dens and the secret archives of the Vatican.

In my downtime, I’ve taken my younger daughter scuba diving in Egypt and the Maldives. I’m also a runner, and I like sea-kayaking.

And then there’s the kitchen. For celebrations with friends and family, my official job is to make fancy desserts and chocolate pralines.

I have two daughters. The older is attending college in the US; the younger goes to high school in Stockholm, where I live myself.

My latest novel, The Swede (in the UK, My Name Is N), was published by HarperCollins in July. This is my first novel to be translated into in English.

Published July 7th 2015 by HarperCollins (first published 2010)

Review of Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore

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About Wreck and Order

Decisively aimless, self-destructive, and impulsively in and out of love, Elsie is a young woman who feels stuck. She has a tumultuous relationship with an abusive boyfriend, a dead-end job at a newspaper, and a sharp intelligence that’s constantly at odds with her many bad decisions. When her initial attempts to improve her life go awry, Elsie decides that a dramatic change is the only solution.

An auto-didact who prefers the education of travel to college, Elsie uses an inheritance to support her as she travels to Paris and Sri Lanka, hoping to accumulate experiences, create connections, and discover a new way to live. Along the way, she meets men and women who challenge and provoke her towards the change she genuinely hopes to find. But in the end, she must still come face-to-face with herself.

Whole-hearted, fiercely honest and inexorably human, Wreck and Order is a stirring debut that, in mirroring one young woman’s dizzying quest for answers, illuminates the important questions that drive us all.

My Review

Lovely writing, my only compliment to the book. Elsie was boring, lazy and stupid. I wouldn’t want to befriend her or be in close proximity, nothing about her is appealing. She claims to seek her life’s purpose while in reality it’s a poor excuse to allow her to shrug responsibility and aimlessly flounder. She proclaims she wants to change yet she keeps reverting to her pathetic ways, whining, swearing to try again and repeating the pattern again and again without realizing (well maybe a little) her choices/decisions are terrible. Any person allowing abuse to occur should question why, not Elsie, and yet we are given a quick gloss over as to the root of her tolerating objectification and physical/sexual abuse. Frustrating for the reader with any intelligence to journey with this train wreck of a young adult. Her preoccupation with sex is annoying. Searching for meaning and purpose….not in my opinion. Disappointing and monotonous best describes my excruciating reading experience.

About Hannah Tennant-Moore1450541957702

Hannah Tennant-Moore’s work has appeared in the New York Times, The New Republic, n+1, Tin House, Salon, Bookforum, Dissent, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and has twice been included in Best Buddhist Writing. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband.

Published February 9th 2016 by Hogarth

Review of Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker

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About Crazy Blood

The Carson dynasty rules the ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Founded by patriarch Adam, the town is the site of the Mammoth Cup ski race-a qualifier for the Olympics. But when Wylie Welborn, Adam’s illegitimate grandson, returns after a stint in Afghanistan, it reopens a dark moment in Carson family history: the murder of Wylie’s father by his jealous and very pregnant wife, Cynthia. Her son Sky, born while his mother was in prison, and Wylie are half-brothers. They inherit not only superb athletic skills but an enmity that threatens to play out in a lethal drama on one of the fastest and most perilous ski slopes in the world.

Three powerful and unusual women have central roles in this volatile family feud: Cynthia, bent on destroying Wylie; his mother Kathleen, determined to protect him; and April Holly, a beautiful celebrity snowboarder, on track to win Olympic Gold. But, as Wylie falls in love with April and they begin to imagine a life away from the violence that has shattered his family, history threatens to repeat itself and destroy them both.

Combining exquisite writing with breathtaking scenes of high stakes skiing, Crazy Blood is an unforgettable story of two brothers on a ruthless quest for supremacy.

My Review

Fabulous description of competitive skiing along with the emotional, physical and mental demands the sport requires. Your adrenaline hits an apex as you find yourself racing the course completely exhilarated attempting to shave off seconds from your time.

None of the characters left a mark, including Wylie, not much development more of a rough outline provided. Sky was theatrical and just plain weird along with Cynthia. Both characters and plot felt contrived, strong predictability factor. It’s safe to say the narrative was very dramatic, would make a great Lifetime movie. Hardly a psychological thriller, behavior of protagionists too off the wall and the reactions of others equally bizarre.

I would read more from Parker, solid writing, the book has a great framework in need of minor tightening and tweaking with stronger characterization and plot.

About T. Jefferson Parker55814

T. Jefferson Parker is the bestselling author of 20 crime novels, including Edgar Award-winners Silent Joe and California Girl. Parker’s next work is a literary novel, Full Measure, to be published in October. He lives with his family in Southern California.

Published March 8th 2016 by St. Martin’s Press

Review of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

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About The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’

This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

My Review

Love the creativeness of North. Unique paranormal aspect appearing quite plausible. Alternative history fans will enjoy the rules established in the plot. Immersed in Harry’s world and it is an unforgettable ride.

Lots of humor popping up when least expected. Harry August is a hoot, privy to his thoughts you’ll find yourself laughing at his internal banter. Observing the world through Harry’s eyes and experiences is both enlightening and fascinating, you sort of step back and reexamine and rethink what you normally ignored or never really considered. For the most part Harry is tame but boy his fifteen lives are something else.

The story moves slowly yet my interest never waned, through all the fun and humor a few moving moments make an appearance.

Fun read leaving you in a semi-existential state questioning much. Much more than a time travel experience, this book is a mind, body and soul absorbing trek. North is extremely clever and I look forward to reading more from this imaginative authoress.

About Claire North7210024

Claire North is actually Catherine Webb, a Carnegie Medal-nominated young-adult novel author whose first book, Mirror Dreams, was written when she was just 14 years old. She went on to write seven more successful YA novels.

Claire North is a pseudonym for adult fantasy books written by Catherine Webb, who also writes under the pseudonym Kate Griffin.

Published October 21st 2014 by Redhook