Intelligent and compassionate

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The Body in Question by Jill Ciment

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

A teenage girl has been accused of murdering her toddler brother in a horrific way.  The jury for her murder trial has been chosen and sequestered in an Econo Lodge.  Jurist Hannah, known in much of the book as juror C-2, is a 52-year old married well-known photographer.  She’s married to a much-older man, an 85-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner.  She finds that she’s very attracted to one of the jurists, Graham (known as juror F-17), who is a 41-year-old anatomy professor.  Hannah and Graham find ways to be alone, which is prohibited by the court, and they begin to have an affair.  They don’t discuss the case when alone but find that the affair causes some distraction during the hearing of evidence.  However, the effects of their affair are not seen only during the trial and deliberation but for long afterwards.

This is an intelligent and compassionate look at two people drawn to each other during a time in their lives when they’re asked to weigh some heavy issues that will result in finding a young girl innocent or guilty of a horrendous crime.  I found these characters to be true to life and believable.  The author handles the plot with delicate finesse and never makes a misstep.  The case at trial is a heart-breaking one and the jurors are not always given all of the facts, which is the way it often happens in trials.  The story of Hannah and her elderly husband is a touching, faithful rendition of the effects of old age in a marriage.  And the affair between Hannah and Graham is portrayed with a non-judgmental hand.  I loved reading this book and thought it was very well written.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

Call for bloggers

writerchristophfischer

Our multi-author charity “Do No Harm” box set is looking for promotional gigs. I was wondering if any of you would be willing to host us on your blog – I’m looking for one a week for the next ten weeks. Let me know if any of you would be interested. I have always space on my blog, if nothing else I can re-blog posts that are important to you in exchange.
Many thanks

Christoph

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My previous blog posts on the box set:
https://wordpress.com/post/writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/15652

https://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/2019/04/08/available-for-pre-order-medicalthriller-boxset-do-no-harm/

 It is set to be released on Amazon later this year

You can pre- order it now for .99!

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1131032041
 https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/do-no-harm-21
 https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1457771385

DO NO HARM is an extraordinary, limited collection of medical thrillers written by USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-selling authors.

Do you crave reading books with nail-biting suspense, twisted plots and great characters who get caught up…

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A very unique blend of literary genres

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Solovyov and Larionov by Eugene Vodolazkin

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

Solovyov is a naïve young scholor who has been given the topic of General Larionov for his thesis.  General Larionov was a commander in the White Russian Army during the Russian Civil War.  The mystery surrounding him is why Larionov was allowed to live the remainder of his life following the war in the new Soviet Union.  He was even given a pension by the soviets.  Solovyov goes to Yalta where Larionov last lived to find some lost wages of Larionov’s memoir in an effort to solve this mystery.  Along the way, he meets a host of unique characters.

This book is a very unique blend of literary genres.  The author has a dry wit and I enjoyed his humorous satire.  I’m sure I missed some of the satirical references due to not being Russian but there were quite a few that I understood.  The military history could be somewhat dry at times and sometimes quite interesting.  Solovyov is a very likeable character and I enjoyed the romantic parts of the book and the fun that Vodolazkin poked at his main character.  It was a bit slow taking off but once it did, I became captivated by this Russian tale with all of its stories within a story.  This is a true Russian novel with all the complications that Russian novels entail.

Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publicist in return for an honest review.

Pure escapism centering on the unexpected

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Things That Fall From the Sky by Selja Ahava

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

We don’t always know what’s going to happen to us in this world.  Little Saara learns that when her mother is unexpectedly killed when a block of ice falls from the sky.  Her Aunt Annu unexpectedly wins the lottery – twice.  And Harnish MacKay is expectedly struck by lightning five times.  That’s all I wish to say about the plot of this book and leave it to this talented author to tell her memorable tale.

This is the second novel by the well-respected Finnish author, Selja Ahava, and is a wonderful gem of a book.  I feel an author must be very brave to venture into creating a book such as this.  There’s a fine line between the quirky and the absurd and as unconventional and offbeat as this book is, the author always keeps it real and alive.  It has a rich poignancy to it that I absolutely loved.  It’s tragic and it’s humorous, it’s frightening and it’s inspiring.  This is a high quality novel by an accomplished author.  Not a false note anywhere.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Chilling story of changelings

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Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

Lauren Tranter has just given birth to twin boys, Morgan and Riley, after a difficult birth.  She’s completely exhausted.  When a strange, threatening woman comes to her hospital room carrying a basket with her own two weird babies and tries to convince Lauren to exchange babies, no one believes Lauren.  They think she’s imagining things.  But Lauren is convinced that this filthy woman is trying to steal her babies, leaving her “changelings” in their place.  When Lauren gets out of the hospital, she hides away at home, leaving her husband baffled.  When she finally ventures outside with the babies a month later, she falls asleep in the park, awakening to find her babies are gone.  They’re soon discovered but Lauren is sure that these are not her babies.

Goodness, this one had my spine perpetually in chills throughout its reading.  It was so realistic and frightening but I couldn’t look away.  It completely held me in its spell.  I don’t often given thrillers 5 stars but this one was a step above the usual.  I could completely relate to Lauren and suffered her fears right alongside her.  As horrifying as it was to believe her babies were going to be stolen and not having anyone believe her and then finally having them taken, how much more horrifying for her to believe that these were not her babies but rather the creatures left by the scary woman.  This just escalates in suspense.  And there are plenty of twists that have you wondering whether Lauren is correct in her convictions or not which really leave you on the edge of your seat.

What I absolutely loved, too, is that the author included snippets of fairy tales/poems throughout her book, such as from “The Stolen Child” by Yeats and from several poems from different authors called “The Changeling”.  This added to the overall darkness of this compelling book.  This fact that this is the author’s debut is quite surprising.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Ironic, tragic look at love and marriage

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The Behavior of Love by Virginia Reeves

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

Dr. Edward Molinowski has become a workaholic.  He’s the superintendent of a mental institution that needs every second he can give it.  His patients and his work take almost all of his time, leaving little for his artist wife, Laura.  Laura feels that Ed just doesn’t see her anymore.  Plus, he talks far too much about one of his patients – a young, beautiful teenager named Penelope.  Penelope is an epileptic who calls her doctor “Dr. Ed” and who is obviously falling in love with him.  When Laura starts to give art classes at the institution with Penelope as one of her students, the situation begins to heat up.

It took me awhile to get involved in this book but once I did, I was completely immersed in it.  The author is adept at rendering her characters very believable and true to life.  I cared for each of the main characters, although I felt a lot of anger at Ed throughout the book but that turned around to great sympathy.  There are some truly touching moments in this book and those moments are what makes this a recommended book for me.  The author has given her readers some wonderful insights into how love ebbs and flows and can last through so much.  The several ironic events were mind blowing and will remain with me for a long time.

I was very impressed by the author’s first book, “Work Like Any Other”, so I know I went into this second book with great expectations.  Not all of those expectations were met but if I don’t compare her two books in my mind, I can say that this one was very good.  There are two scenes towards the end of the book, one between Ed and Laura and the other between Ed and Penelope, that were very repetitive and not to my liking.  I also think the book cover will not do the book any favors as I feel it looks too light hearted for this very complex book.  But overall, I found this author’s newest effort to be very compelling and gripping.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

I’ll Be Watching You by Courtney Evan Tate @court_writes @harlequinbooks @tlcbooktours #bookreview #illbewatchingyou — Audio Killed the Bookmark

Happy Thursday all! Excited to share with you today my review for this thrilling and disturbing story that will keep you glued to the pages! A huge thank you to Lisa from TLC Book Tours for my invitation to the tour!🧐 My Thoughts A dark disturbing domestic drama that will have you furiously turning those […]

via I’ll Be Watching You by Courtney Evan Tate @court_writes @harlequinbooks @tlcbooktours #bookreview #illbewatchingyou — Audio Killed the Bookmark

Elegantly told tale based on life of Stalin’s daughter

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The Red Daughter by John Burnham Schwartz

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

Svetlana Alliluyeva is the only daughter of the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin.  Stalin was a brutal leader and millions of his own people died during his horrific reign.  He was a cold, insensitive man.  But he loved his little girl and called her “my little housekeeper”.  Then Svetlana grew up and fell in love with a young man who her father didn’t like.  He cruelly had the man arrested and deported to Siberia.  Thus began the estrangement between Svetlana and her father.

In 1967, Svetlana decided to defect to the United States.  She left behind her two children, I believe the daughter was 16 and the son was 22, if I remember correctly.  The CIA sent a young lawyer, Peter Horvath, to smuggle her out of Russia.  This was a huge and stressful decision on her part and led to much publicity here in the US and complete alienation by her children.  All Svetlana wants is a peaceful American life away from her father’s evil name.  She attempt to find that life in Princeton, NJ.  When an invitation by the widow of architect Frank Lloyd Wright comes, she decides to see what Taliesin West is all about.  She’s pulled into the cultist community there and exchanges one dictator in her life to another, the controlling Olgivana Lloyd Wright, who believes Svetlana has money that the community could use.

The book slightly covers Svetlana’s younger years but mostly concentrates on the time after her defection to America.  Interestingly, the author’s father is the young lawyer who accompanied Svetlana to America.  The author is given his father’s private papers to use so there are parts of actual letters in this book.  However, the author departs from accurate history in several respects.  I find it very odd that he chooses to invent a romantic interest between Svetlana and her lawyer, especially since that lawyer was Schwartz’s own father and the love triangle would have involved his mother.  I can see that from a literary sense it was a good choice but I much prefer a historical novel more based on fact than fiction; otherwise, I would have given this sensitive novel 5 stars.  It does seem that most of the book is factual, other than the change of some names and the switching of the sex of some children mentioned and of course the romantic relationship between Svetlana and Peter.

Svetlana’s life was certainly a tragic one and she’s a very sympathetic character.  She struggles for so many years with her abandonment of her two oldest children.  She’s a broken woman in many ways and my heart bled for her situation and her confusion.  It’s a heart breaking, engrossing story and this author, being a very talented one, brings Svetlana back to life.  I’ve always been very interested in the life of Frank Lloyd Wright and found that part of the book fascinating.  Based on what I know of how Taliesin West was run after his death, I found all of that to be very believable.  This historical novel has inspired me to read Svetlana’s own memoirs that have been published or possibly some biographies on her fascinating life.

Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Portrait of an immigrant family

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Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Book Review:  3 out of 5 star rating

Sylvie Lee is a successful, beautiful woman.  Her younger sister, Amy, idolizes her.  When news reaches them that their grandmother is dying in the Netherlands, Sylvie flies there to be with her.  Sylvie grew up in the Netherlands.  Her parents were too poor to take care of her when she was born and sent her to live with her grandmother and the Tan family.  Sylvie didn’t return to the US and her parents until she was 9 years old.  But now Sylvie has returned to the place she thinks of as home.  But Amy and her parents become deeply upset when Sylvie disappears and they are unable to get any answers as to what happened.  Shy Amy must find the courage to go find her sister.  Her search for Sylvie uncovers long concealed family secrets.

The book fluctuates between chapters detailing Amy’s search for Sylvie and Sylvie telling her story starting a month earlier when she leaves for the Netherlands and occasionally a chapter from their mother’s point of view.  The character development in this book is very good and I cared about this family.  The author does a particularly good job of detailing the cultural differences and problems this immigrant family faced and the racism shown to the Chinese in the Netherlands.  But I was disappointed in some respects and felt parts of the books were too much like a soap opera.  I did not feel that the ending rang true at all and it felt out of place to me.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Book Review & Giveaway: American Flowers by Michael A. McClellan – Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card & 6 eBooks #BookReview #Giveaway #AmericanFlowers @McLellanBooks — ReadRantRock&Roll

 

Great review and book giveaway posted by fellow blogger, ReadRantRock&Roll

 

American Flowers By Michael McLellan My review: American Flowers by Michael A. McLellan is a book about two teens, both from broken homes, who are struggling to get their lives together. Chris is caught up in drugs and Allie needs to find a place to live. Neither one of them have much support from anyone. […]

via Book Review & Giveaway: American Flowers by Michael A. McClellan – Win a $10 Amazon Gift Card & 6 eBooks #BookReview #Giveaway #AmericanFlowers @McLellanBooks — ReadRantRock&Roll