Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Noir #Mystery BLACK IRISH BLUES by @andrewcotto

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Terry has been reading Black Irish Blues by Andrew Cotto

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Black Irish Blues is a long novella (or possibly a short novel) featuring Caesar Stiles, a man whose childhood was spent in a rough area of a small town in industrial New Jersey.  His father left the family when Caesar was thirteen, and his two brothers are now dead; he loved the older one who died in a tragic accident, whereas the middle brother was a vicious thug. Caesar spent most of his life travelling all over the country, but returned when his mother died, moving into the family home and buying the local inn.

The story centres around blasts from the past, friends reunited, mysterious disappearances and the local gangsters.  Written in the first person, much of the narrative details Caesar’s observations about small town life and his impressions of the town and people in which and with whom he grew up.

The plot is perfectly paced and structured, and fits well into the shorter length; although the story itself is fairly standard, I loved Caesar, the writing itself is as good as that of any classic American novel, and the characterisation is outstanding, making it a real page turner.  All the side characters are beautifully observed, the dialogue is spot on, and the atmosphere is vivid and so well described without ever being wordy.  I could tell by reading this that the author really knows his subject, along the place, time and people about whom he has written.  I’ll definitely read something else by him, probably the book before, which I’ve already had a look at.  Highly recommended.

Desc 1

Black Irish Blues is the return-to-origin story of Caesar Stiles, an erstwhile runaway who returns to his hometown with plans to buy the town’s only tavern and end his family’s Sicilian curse.

Caesar’s attempt for redemption is complicated by the spectral presence of his estranged father, reparation seekers related to his corrupt older brother, a charming crime boss and his enigmatic crew, and – most significantly – a stranger named Dinny Tuite whose disappearance under dubious circumstances immerses Caesar in a mystery that leads into the criminal underbelly of industrial New Jersey, the flawed myth of the American Dream, and his hometown’s shameful secrets.

Black Irish Blues is a poetic, gritty noir full of dynamic characters, a page-turning plot, and the further development of a unique American character.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview #ContemporaryFiction THE MUSIC OF BEES by @EileenGarvin #TuesdayBookBlog

The Music of Bees : A NovelThe Music of Bees : A Novel by Eileen Garvin

4.5 stars

The Music Of Bees is contemporary fiction set in the small American town of Hood River, Oregon.

Jake is angry and depressed after a stupid prank left him with a broken spine. Now instead of riding his skateboard, he spends his days alone in a wheelchair.

Harry is drifting through life, full of worry and indecision. He lives in a condemned trailer with his great uncle, but he really needs a job, so he applies for a handyman advert with a local beekeeper.

Alice is a widow; she keeps bees and works in the county planning office. Since her husband’s unexpected death, Alice has panic attacks, but the bees help to soothe her pain. Alice meets Jake on the roadside after an ‘almost accident’; they bond over the bees. Jake’s natural musical ear picks up the bee’s humming and he can tune into their temperament.

Suddenly Jake has a purpose in life; the bees fascinate him and he becomes a quick student. When Harry’s uncle dies and he is evicted from the trailer, he awkwardly finds himself on Alice’s doorstep too.

This is a lovely story in a small town setting with a wonderful bee theme. My father keeps bees, so I was nodding along to much of the bee detail. Each chapter began with a quotation from an old beekeeping book; they were prudent words which worked really well with the story. The author keeps bees herself and this shone through in the narrative. I also enjoyed the coming-of-age style tales of Jake and Harry and Alice’s own personal growth. I thought that the ending was a little rushed, but that was only a minor point, and it didn’t deter from my overall enjoyment of the book.

View all my reviews  on Goodreads

Book description

Forty-four-year-old Alice Holtzman is stuck in a dead-end job, bereft of family, and now reeling from the unexpected death of her husband. Alice has begun having panic attacks whenever she thinks about how her life hasn’t turned out the way she dreamed. Even the beloved honeybees she raises in her spare time aren’t helping her feel better these days.

In the grip of a panic attack, she nearly collides with Jake–a troubled, paraplegic teenager with the tallest mohawk in Hood River County–while carrying 120,000 honeybees in the back of her pickup truck. Charmed by Jake’s sincere interest in her bees and seeking to rescue him from his toxic home life, Alice surprises herself by inviting Jake to her farm.

And then there’s Harry, a twenty-four-year-old with debilitating social anxiety who is desperate for work. When he applies to Alice’s ad for part-time farm help, he’s shocked to find himself hired. As an unexpected friendship blossoms among Alice, Jake, and Harry, a nefarious pesticide company moves to town, threatening the local honeybee population and illuminating deep-seated corruption in the community. The unlikely trio must unite for the sake of the bees–and in the process, they just might forge a new future for themselves.

Beautifully moving, warm, and uplifting, The Music of Bees is about the power of friendship, compassion in the face of loss, and finding the courage to start over (at any age) when things don’t turn out the way you expect.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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