Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Family drama – All The Tomorrows by @nillunasser

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading All The Tomorrows by Nullu Nasser

36002257

ALL THE TOMORROWS by Nillu Nasser

4 out of 5 stars

Set in Bombay, the novel starts when Jaya, one year into an arranged marriage, discovers that her idealist, undemonstrative husband, Akash, has a lover.  Criticised by her parents and feeling uncared for, her torment results in a truly shocking action, so stomach-turning I wondered if I could actually carry on reading the book.  Brave of the writer to include it, and that I reacted so strongly shows that it was well-written; I did continue, anyway.

Akash is knocked sideways by Jaya’s extreme reaction, and his life takes a swift, sharp turn downwards.  In short, this novel is about a falling apart and slow coming together… several of them.

The first twenty per cent is about Jaya and Akash’s younger years and the immediate fall-out of ‘the event’, after which we are moved swiftly on by being told that ‘the years sped by’, and suddenly it’s twenty years later, when we find out how the characters’ lives have fared in the interim, and what happens when they collide once more.

Nillu Nasser is a talented writer, without a doubt.  One of the reasons I chose this is because I like to read about other cultures, and this book taught me stuff I didn’t know, so that’s a tick from me.  Her storytelling ability held my interest, which is good for another big shiny red tick.  On occasion the dialogue felt a little stilted, or a teensy bit Hollywood, and she fell into the debut novelist trap of using dialogue to impart information to the reader rather than keeping it realistic, but I’ll cut her some slack with this; it was not constant, and, as I said, it’s a debut novel, and a good one (nb, this is not her first published work, but her first published novel).  Her characterisation was good; Jaya, her sister Ruhi, and their mother, were real, as were Akash, his friend, Tariq, and his lover, Soraya; Ms Nasser writes them all in clear definition, and even the secondary characters were completely convincing ~ another big tick!

I was, however, less sure about the pacing and structure.  With the younger lives of Akash and Jaya taking up only around the first fifth of the book, I was given little time to care that much about what happened to them before suddenly they were older but nothing much had gone on in the intervening twenty years except more of the same.  How much more effective it would have been to have cut the line about speeding years, and have a couple of interim chapters showing their lives after five, ten or fifteen years, too.  Akash tells Soraya all he has suffered in those years, but I wanted to see it, not just read it in a spoken report.  I loathe clichés, not least of all book reviewing ones, and you can’t play out every scene or the book would be a thousand pages long, but in this case I needed to be shown, not told.  For me (and a review is only ever a personal opinion), a slow build up could have turned this 4* book into a 5* one.

As the rest of the story unravels, Ms Nasser continues to write with authenticity, care and sensitivity, and I’d say that if you like emotional family dramas, you’ll love this.

Book description

Sometimes we can’t escape the webs we are born into. Sometimes we are the architects of our own fall.

Akash Choudry wants a love for all time, not an arranged marriage. Still, under the weight of parental hopes, he agrees to one. He and Jaya marry in a cloud of colour and spice in Bombay. Their marriage has barely begun when Akash embarks on an affair.

Jaya cannot contemplate sharing her husband with another woman, or looking past his indiscretions as her mother suggests. Cornered by sexual politics, she takes her fate into her own hands in the form of a lit match.

Nothing endures fire. As shards of their past threaten their future, will Jaya ever bloom into the woman she can be, and will redemption be within Akash’s reach?

About the author

Nillu Nasser is a writer of literary fiction novels. In March 2017 she signed a three book deal with Evolved Publishing. She also blogs, writes short fiction and poetry.

Nillu’s short story ‘Painted Truths and Prayer Beads’ was published in May 2016 in Mosaics 2: A Collection of Independent Women. Another short story ‘The Tombstone Man and the Coming of the Tigress’ was published in June 2016 in UnCommon Origins, an anthology of short fiction. In 2017, ‘Tombstone Man’ reappeared in UnCommonly Good.

Nillu has a BA in English and German Literature and an MA in European Politics. After graduating she worked in national and regional politics, but eventually reverted to her first love.

She lives in London with her husband, three children, one angelic and one demonic cat, though she secretly yearns for a dog. If you fly into Gatwick and look hard enough, you will see her furiously scribbling in her garden office, where she is working on her next story.

Nillu Nasser

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

The book can be purchased for a discounted price until December 12th, when it will return to the full price.

Advertisements

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Riding Shotgun by Andy Rausch @writerrausch1 @crimewavepress

Today’s second team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch

Riding Shotgun: And Other American Cruelties by [Rausch, Andy]

RIDING SHOTGUN and other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch

4 out of 5 stars

This is a collection of three novellas, and I enjoyed them all.  I really liked Andy Rausch’s writing style, it’s right up my street; very current, intelligently witty, sharp and observant.

The first one is Easy-Peezy, set in 1920/30s America, about Emmet Dalton, a former bank robber of the late 19th century who has hung up his boots and holster, but longs to show young guns like John Dillinger how it’s done.  He teams up with a couple of others from the same era and sets off for one last crime spree.  On its own, I’d have given this 4*.

The second, Riding Shotgun, is about a writer who find himself involved in a life of crime after his wife is killed.  I liked this one slightly less, as at times ‘darkly humorous’ crossed the border into ‘just daft’, although it was still well-written.  3*.

The last story, $crilla, is easily the best, I loved it.  Almost totally dialogue, and hilarious, easily 5*.  Two unsuccessful gangsta rappers hatch a plot to extort money from their reluctant producer.

The language, particularly in the last one, would not suit anyone who finds authentic street talk offensive; if you don’t, and can appreciate how well-observed it is, you’ll love it.  I felt the influence of certain TV shows and films, throughout, even in some specific lines, but I quite liked that about it.  It’s a good collection, professionally presented, and worth getting for the last one alone.

Book description

RIDING SHOTGUN AND OTHER AMERICAN CRUELTIES is a unique collection of quirky, Tarantinoesque crime novellas, representing three very different sub-genres. In the first story, “Easy-Peezy,” a band of elderly Old West bank robbers return to their wicked ways robbing banks in the 1930s John Dillinger era. The second story, “Riding Shotgun,” is a bitter tale about a man pushed to the limits of human endurance and forced to take up arms to protect those he loves. The third tale, “$crilla,” is an urban crime fantasy in which a fledgling hip-hop group kidnaps a record mogul in the hopes of finally making the kind of loot they’ve always dreamed of.

About the author

Andy Rausch is a freelance journalist, celebrity interviewer, and film critic. He is the author or co-author of nearly twenty books on the subject of popular culture. These include Making Movies with Orson Welles, The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, and The Wit and Wisdom of Stephen King. He is also the author of the novels Elvis Presley, CIA Assassin, Mad World and Bloodletting: A Tale of Revenge. He has also worked as an actor, film producer, composer, casting director, and as the screenwriter of the cult film Dahmer vs. Gacy. He is a regular contributor to Screem magazine, and his work has appeared in such publications and online journals as Film Threat, Shock Cinema, and Bright Lights Film Journal. He resides in Parsons, Kansas.

Andy Rausch

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s Team The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J Gyle by @James_D_Dixon #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Unrivalled Transcendence Of Willem J Gyle

36159053

5 stars

What a find.  This book is seriously good.  I mean, seriously.  I’d recommend it to anyone, whatever your usual genres of choice.

Willem J Gyle is a bit slow.  But he gets by.  He lives with his mother, who takes care of all his needs, including finding him a job on a construction site which suits his size and strength, and where he makes friends.  He loves his mam, his dog, and the football on the telly.  Then, in just a few days, his world comes crashing down, and Willem finds himself homeless.  Having neither verbal skill nor knowledge of how ‘the system’ works, he is unable to find anyone to help him, and drifts into a life on the streets and, inevitably, crime.  Much to my surprise, his darker side comes to the fore, but is this innate psychopathy, anger at the world, an expression of pain for all he has lost, or just a primal instinct for survival?  I thought it was a combination of all those elements.

Winding up in a community of other homeless people, which he considers, at first, to be ‘no more perfect place … outside the law, above the law’, he soon finds out that it’s a reflection of the ‘real’ world, corrupt, with the weaker members suffering.  And on he walks….

Although the blurb appealed to me, I was dubious at first; the book starts off well-written but whimsical, which, coupled with the too-long and pretentious title, made me wonder if it would be slow-going.  But four pages in I was completely hooked, and stayed that way until the end.  J D Dixon has a real gift, the innate sort that cannot be learned from classes, ‘how to write’ books, blog posts, or anything else.  To me, writing talent is all about being able to create characters and worlds that absorb the reader completely, needing no wordy description, and JDD has this in spades.  He writes in a spare fashion, which I like.  He doesn’t explain, or over-emphasise.

The book is raw, rough in places, and sometimes shocking. It’s also immensely sad. It’s just – great. One of the best debut novels I’ve ever read.

Book description

In a Scotland beset with depression, Willem is one victim among many. He loses his job, his mother dies and he is forced out of the flat they shared. Seeing no other option, he takes to the streets of Edinburgh, where he soon learns the cruelty felt outside the confines of his comfortable life. Stories from his past are interwoven with his current strife as he tries to figure out the nature of this new world and the indignities it brings. Determined to live freely, he leaves Edinburgh, hiking into the Scottish Highlands to seek solitude, peace and an unhampered, pure vision of life at nature’s breast.

The Unrivalled Transcendence of Willem J. Gyle is at once a lyrical, haunting novel and a set piece in the rage of an oppressed, forgotten community. J. D. Dixon’s sparse, brutal language captures the energy and isolation of desperation, uniting despondency and untrammelled anger in the person of his protagonist.

About the author

J. D. Dixon was born in London in 1990. He studied English Literature and History at Goldsmiths College, University of London, before pursuing a career as a writer. He currently lives with his wife, the psychologist Dr Lauren Hadley, in Edinburgh.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Inner City #Thriller Breaking Bones by Robert White @robwhite247

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Breaking Bones by Robert White

35912843

3 stars

Robert White is a talented writer, and what I liked most about this book is its authenticity.  It is always clear when a writer truly knows the world and characters he has created; this is no chronicle of inner city crime attempted by a middle class scribe from the suburbs relying on research to produce a lucrative piece of gangster-lit.  The plot is interesting and the novel well structured; White understands the building of suspense and how to keep the reader turning the pages; the pace is perfect, the dialogue realistic, and the characters are all three-dimensional.  I was impressed that he can write convincing women, too.

So why only three stars?  Sadly, Mr White has been let down by his publisher.  The book does not appear to have been either edited or proofread with any kind of professionalism, experience, knowledge or care.  There are numerous punctuation errors on every single page (missing vocative commas is the most common error) as well as typos, spelling mistakes (‘hand-full’ instead of ‘handful’, for instance), and missed words.  Sometimes, the lack of punctuation actually changes the meaning of a sentence:

“He was just asking Eddie,” chipped in Tony.  

…which reads as though a third person was just asking Eddie something; in fact, Tony is telling Eddie that the person was ‘just asking’.  Thus, the correct version:

“He was just asking, Eddie,” chipped in Tony.  

As far as the editing is concerned, there are many instances of exposition, ‘telling not showing’, and unnecessary or perhaps slightly amateur sentences.  For instance: ‘Frankie was the epitome of the Italian gangster caricature.  He hunched his narrow shoulders, tucked in his elbows, palms up.  “Like, y’know…Blondie…Boomtown.”.

Any editor worth their salt would have removed the first sentence; it is ‘telling not showing’ and superfluous, as Robert White has depicted Frankie’s gesture perfectly, without it.  Never mind the lack of spaces before and after the ellipses; they probably should have been commas or full stops, anyway.

In short, the lack of work on this novel turned the reading of it into something of a chore, rather than the enjoyable experience it should (and would) have been, otherwise.  A shame, indeed.

Book description

The streets of Preston are alive with music and banter.

But nothing can drown out the sound of breaking bones.

Inseparable since childhood and feared by their community, Tony, Eddie and Frankie are beyond the reach of justice.

The brutal gang, The Three Dogs, are a law unto themselves.

Detective Jim Hacker has watched The Dogs grow from thuggish youths to psychotic criminals. He seems to be the only one who wants to see their empire fall.

Meanwhile Jamie Strange, a young Royal Marine, finds himself embroiled in the lives of The Three Dogs when his girlfriend, Laurie Holland, cuts off their engagement… to be with the most dangerous of The Dogs: Frankie Verdi.

Jamie vows to save Laurie, before Frankie damns them both.

Every dog will have its day.

This gritty, addictive crime story, fizzes with the energy of the eighties.

About the author

Robert White is an Amazon best selling crime fiction author.
His novels regularly appear in the top ten downloads in the Crime and Action and Adventure genres.
Robert is an ex cop, who captures the brutality of northern British streets in his work. He combines believable characters, slick plots and vivid dialogue to immerse the reader in his fast paced story-lines.
He was born in Leeds, England, the illegitimate son of a jazz musician and a factory girl.
He hated school, leaving at age sixteen.
After joining Lancashire Constabulary in 1980, he served for fifteen years, his specialism being Tactical Firearms.
Robert then spent four years in the Middle East before returning to the UK in 2000.
He now lives in Lancashire with his wife Nicola, and his two terrible terriers Flash and Tia.

Robert White

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #SciFi Chimera Catalyst by @SusanKuchinskas @OxytocinConnect

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Chimera Catalyst by Susan Kuchinskas

35997178

CHIMERA CATALYST by Susan Kuchinskas

4 out of 5 stars

‘The planet is getting drier and drier.  In fifty years, it won’t be able to support human life – not as you know it’ …

Chimera Catalyst takes place in an unspecified time in the future ~ from the information given, I am guessing around 150 years on.  The world as we know it now is gone, following the Big Change (some apocalyptic climate disaster, I gathered); water is a luxury, seas are brown and murky, weather is punishingly hot.  The gap between the ‘1 per cent’ (the rich) and the poor is vast.  Children are for the rich only; meanwhile, the manipulation of genes and DNA and advanced cosmetic surgery enables the creation of fantasy creatures and beings.  Religion is a mish-mash of science and hippie spiritualism ~ ‘mystical neuroscience crap’.

Most of life is lived virtually; following pandemics, people are scared of human interaction.  Food is scarce, the air inhospitable, and life is maintained via cocktails of chemical supplements.

The novel is written from the point of view of The Finder, who searches through data to fulfil his commitments to those willing to pay him the coin.  He has a pet he has made himself; the Parrot, who is actually part parrot, part dog.  The story centres around his search for the mysterious Miraluna Rose, but I found that the plot took second place to the fascinating and convincing picture of life in this future world.  It’s very readable and intelligently written, sometimes amusing, sometimes sad.  The Finder, for instance, knows little about human contact, and is baffled by how comforting he finds the ruffling of the Parrot’s feathers, or his warmth lying beside him.

Although the world functions ‘normally’, I found this more terrifying than any epic about a pandemic or zombie apocalypse, simply because it’s what could happen if the world carries on down its path to destruction; it is far more of a living hell than any return to medieval times with no power, etc.  It’s a jolly good book and I enjoyed it ~ I hovered between 4 and 5 stars throughout and my only complaint is that I wanted to know what the Big Change was, how it came about, and what happened immediately afterwards.  This is a series; I very much hope it will include a prequel!

Book description

When Finder is hired to locate charismatic, green-haired Miraluna Rose, it seems like an easy job. Crack into corporate databases, brew up some biologics to enhance his thinking, and get the job done with the help of the Parrot, a bird/dog chimera with the finest traits of both species.

The search takes Finder and the Parrot to the sun-broiled streets of Laxangeles, the canals of Seattle and the weirdly mutated vegetation of the Area. It turns out that it’s not a simple missing-person case after all.

Finder discovers that ReMe, a corporation providing medical cloning services, is illegally breeding human/animal chimeras. ReMe is selling these exotically beautiful female creatures, branded as ArcoTypes, as playthings to the wealthy and ruthless.

Miraluna Rose is its finest creation, but she has other ideas. She’s holed up at Refuge, a haven for runaway ArcoTypes, where she’s planning a future of freedom for her sisters.

To help the ArcoTypes fight ReMe, Finder and the Parrot will need the help of a couple of sympathetic AIs, the CEO of the world’s largest advertising company and a posse of highly modded, celebrity-crazed media kids.

About the author

As a kid, Susan Kuchinskas spent hours catching toads, watching rabbits and starting ant wars — and reading, reading, reading.

She’s never lost her love for creatures of all kinds. In fifth grade, she discovered the bookmobile’s science fiction section and read nothing else until she got to college.

After the usual writer’s mix of odd jobs – gogo dancer, housepainter, office temp – she happened into journalism. As a technology journalist, she covered the rise and fall of the dotcoms, the move to digital and mobile, and the ascendance of social media.

She’s the author of two previous books, Going Mobile: A Guide to Real-time Mobile Applications that Work (CMP Books 2003), and The Chemistry of Connection: How the Oxytocin Response Can Help You Find Trust, Intimacy and Love (New Harbinger 2008).

Her short stories have been published in anthologies and journals including Deep Space Dog Fight and Chicago Literati. This is her first novel.

To exercise the parts of her body and mind that don’t get a workout from writing, Susan is an organic gardener, beekeeper, sculptor and DIY re-modeler. She enjoys uncovering exotic cultures at home and abroad.

She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her mate, Mike, and their socially challenged dog and super-chill cat.

Susan Kuchinskas

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Shortstories Donkey Boy by @marysmithwriter #fridayreads

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Donkey Boy and Other Stories by Mary Smith

36314454

4 out of 5 stars

This is an interesting and diverse collection of stories, set in several locations, from Scotland to Pakistan, where the author lived for a while.  Some of them were written as monologues, which have been performed.

I liked those set in Pakistan best, my very favourite being Accidents Happen, about a girl whose mother marries a man she hates.  I liked it so much I read it again, straight away.  I also liked Donkey Boy itself, about a little boy who has to work for his father instead of going to school, and Trouble with Socks, about the sort of ghastly, patronising auxiliary in a care home who thinks that physically disabled means mentally deficient.  The last one, a longer story called The Thing In Your Eye, was interesting.  A woman believes she sees evil in people in their eyes; this left me a little unsure, as I didn’t know if we were meant to think it was all in her mind (as everyone else does), or if she really could ‘read’ people.

They’re all unusual, with a theme of private sadness.  I liked a very short one called My Name is Anya, too, about an Afghani girl adopted by Scottish parents.  They’re ideal for a nice bit of lying on the sofa, afternoon reading when you’re not in the mood for complicated plots.

Book description

Shot through with flashes of humour the stories here will entertain, amuse, and make you think. Mary Smith’s debut collection of short stories is a real treat, introducing the reader to a diverse range of characters in a wide range of locations. A donkey boy in Pakistan dreams of buying luxuries for his mother; a mouth artist in rural Scotland longs to leave the circus; a visually impaired man has a problem with his socks; and a woman tries to come to terms with a frightening gift – or curse.

About the author

Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wanted others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

Mary Smith

Goodreads | AmazonUk | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Terry reviews Home To Roost by @ChaunceyRogers

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Home To Roost By Chauncey Rogers

34676831

HOME TO ROOST by Chauncey Rogers

3.5 stars 

When trying to ‘tag’ this book for my blog, I wasn’t sure under what genre to put it; possibly there should be a new Amazon category for it, called anthropomorphic suspense, or something.  There’s a horror aspect too – it gets darker as it goes on.  Okay.  The basics.  It’s about chickens, mostly Little Crown, a small black rooster, and how he finds his way in the world (or the coop).  But it’s also NOT about chickens, but about social hierarchy and pressure.  Another reviewer labelled it ‘Animal Farm meets Watership Down’, which sums it up, I think.  

I loved some of the all-too-human observations, like the way in which Long Tail the Father Rooster does not want Little Crown to learn to fight, because he wants to be all powerful, and show to the hens that he can protect them.  And how the chickens think that the Great Yolk (actually the sun, which they consider to be ruler of all things) prizes chickens over other beings, and looks after them first and foremost.  Reminded me of the practice of armies praying to an entity in the sky for victory in battle, with the self-important assumption that such an entity would necessarily favour them over the opposing armies.  

Home to Roost is written mostly from the point of view of Little Crown, and the first half dots back and forth between his very early life, when he was adopted by the daughter of the farmer’s daughter, and before and after ‘the racoon incident’ ~ an attack outlined at the beginning.  Other points of view are from dogs or occasional humans.  It’s well-written and clever, but I think it would have worked better without all the to-ing and fro-ing with the timeline, just as a straight narrative; I didn’t think going back and forth between time periods added anything to it.  I also thought the whole thing was too long; chopping down by about a third would have given the story more impact.

Little Crown (earlier and later to be known as Brad) gains knowledge about coop life through the somewhat limited guidance of the Mother Hen, faces fear in the form of cats and snakes, experiences love, loss and revenge.  It’s good, and interesting; I’d say that it would appeal most to readers interested in sociology and psychology, and people-watching in general.

Book description

When Brad is sent to live with the other chickens, his life of ease is transformed into one of struggle–for friendship, for love, for survival. But when everything he’s accomplished teeters on the edge of destruction, Brad discovers that the true struggle is against evil itself, and it may be a fight that is impossible for him to win.

Inspired by a true story, Home to Roost is touching, beautiful, and dark; a powerful debut novel.

“A heart-wrenching tale of love, mania, fear, and the descent into madness. Chauncey uses simple farm animals to demonstrate the complexities of social pressures, and issues such as love, hate, and death. A beautifully-chilling story, a horrifyingly-addictive read.”
-Lara Hues, author of Allies of Ignorance; Arrows; and Archers

About the author

Chauncey Rogers was born in Arizona, and since then has hopped back and forth between the mid-western and western United States. He married in 2012 while attending school in Utah. His favorite movie since he was three is Jurassic Park, and he wishes very badly that Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster were real, though he doesn’t believe in them as much as he used to.

Chauncey Rogers

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #SciFi #TimeTravel Do You Realize by Kevin Kuhn @Big_Kuhna

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Do You Realize by Kevin Kuhn

33883976

Do You Realize by Kevin Kuhn

4 out of 5 stars

This is a most unusual and interesting novel, categorised on Amazon under ‘metaphysical and visionary’, and ‘time travel’.

George is your average American middle-aged husband and father, unstimulated by his job, with a marriage that’s lost its joy, and the usual teenage children angst.  On his morning journeys to work he gets to know the curious Shiloh, who philosophises about life, the universe and everything, and asks him to beta test a new app for an Apple watch.  There is, of course, more to both Shiloh and the app than meet the eye.

Meanwhile, back in his normal life, George struggles with family problems ~ his daughter has a bad car accident, his son is being difficult and secretive, and his job is giving him headaches.  Soon, he realises that Shiloh and his mysterious app are giving him a completely different perspective on life, introducing him to the idea of parallel universes.

I loved the first half of this book.  I really like the author’s writing style; George and his family are very real, and the narrative is darkly comic, interesting and highly readable, with lots of popular cultural references; I liked that each chapter has the name of a song.  I also loved the philosophy, ideas and views of Shiloh, many of which echoed my own, though this was not the only reason I was toying with 5* for the book at this stage.  I read the first 50% almost in one go.

The quality of the writing does not falter throughout, but at around 60% my attention started to waver.  Story threads that seemed interesting were quickly resolved and everything was hunky dory in George’s world for quite a while – nice for George, and, indeed, this served a purpose for the outcome of the story, but it was not that interesting to read about.  Without giving too much in the way of spoilers, the app means that George relives days in his past life.  He also has vivid dreams.  I thought the dream sequences were far too long, slowing the progress of the story down, and the relived days from the past could have been written more succinctly, especially when a day was lived more than once.  Also, Shiloh’s long explanations became longer (or maybe it was just me), and I thought there was too much explanatory dialogue, generally.

In the second half is a tragic episode which I thought was well done; all the threads lead to the outcome, as Shiloh reveals his purpose; sadly, by the end I felt less involved with the story.  The whole idea is a terrific one, and Mr Kuhn clearly has much talent, but I felt that the second half was written less with the reader in mind than the first. 

My overall rating is based on the fact that I’d give the first half 5* and the second half 3*.  It’s a good book, and readers who are particularly interested in the metaphysical and visionary will probably enjoy it very much indeed.

George is a middle-management, middle-class, middle-aged guy who hates his job and struggles to stay connected to his wife and teenage children. Most guys might end up with a steamy affair and a flashy car for their midlife crisis, but George gets a quirky, philosophical physics professor named Shiloh. Trapped with this mysterious misfit on his morning commuter train, George is dragged into awkward conversations about love, fear, music, and the meaning of life. Shiloh asks George to beta-test an app he wrote for the new Apple Watch–and with a free watch included, how could he say no?

When tragedy strikes, throwing George out of his uncomfortable comfort zone, he learns that Shiloh’s app lets him journey through alternate versions of his past. As challenges mount in his own reality, George must make a decision that will change him–and possibly the entire multiverse–forever.

Kevin Kuhn lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, with his wife Melinda, three children, and two fierce schnoodles. He is a technology executive who enjoys sipping cheap bourbon, avoiding yard work, and living vicariously through his children’s sports. While Kevin has no musical skill whatsoever, he appreciates a broad spectrum of artists from Pink Floyd to Prince and Radiohead to the Rolling Stones. His golf game is horrific with flashes of mediocrity.

Kevin A. Kuhn

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s Review Team #RBRT The Unraveling Of Brendan Meeks by @briancohnMD #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Unraveling Of Brendan Meeks by Brian Cohn

35917343

THE UNRAVELING OF BRENDAN MEEKS by Brian Cohn

5 out of 5 stars

Brendan Meeks is schizophrenic.  He thinks his head contains an important, secret code, and that mysterious men in dark suits are trying to get inside his brain.  He comes from an affluent, middle class, dysfunctional family; his mother is cold and aspirational, his father a weak shadow, but his sister is the one light in his life.  Brendan lives in a run down apartment block, where his friends are a druggie, a drunkard and a dealer, but they’ve become his new family.

When tragedy strikes, Brendan is sure that the police are not doing enough to solve the crime, and takes on his own investigation.  Trouble is, he is unable to tell what is truth and what is just the voices in his head…

‘My voices commanded me to do awful things, like jump off a bridge or slit my throat or step out into traffic.  They never told me to do anything useful or productive, like, ‘Eat more vegetables’ or ‘Don’t forget to floss’.’

I read this book over just two days, it’s very good indeed.  Brendan is likeable and totally believable, and every character, even the minor ones, shine out.  Mr Cohn’s writing style is intelligent, incisive, and subtly amusing, which is just right for this unusual and highly original story.  Cliché alert: I couldn’t put it down!

Brendan makes some excellent observations:

About a DEA officer ~ ‘His voice was low and soft, with a backwoods Louisiana accent, Cajun and Creole and jambalaya all mixed together.  I envisioned him living in a house on stilts, driving a fan boat and wrestling alligators in his spare time.  He probably put Tabasco sauce in his coffee’.

About a dealer: ‘…a pudgy white guy with short blond hair … he looked like a bloated Eminem, and I wondered if he had eaten the rapper and taken on some of his persona in the process’.

The plot itself is interesting, some of it almost black humour, but it’s tragic, too, and I had no idea what the outcome would be.  When it came, it wrapped all the threads up nicely, and gave me hope for Brendan too.  I don’t throw 5* around but this book definitely deserves it.  The author has masses of genuine talent, the sort you can’t learn, or fake with ‘by-numbers’ plots.  Highly recommended!

Book Description

THE UNRAVELING OF BRENDAN MEEKS is a first-person glimpse into the mind of a young man with schizophrenia as he deals with tragic loss. The result is a unique and unforgettable mystery clouded with hallucinations and fraught by paranoia.

Meeks is a young man born with a silver spoon jammed down his throat, a fact his domineering mother has never let him forget. Although he has nearly everything he could ever want—friends, money, a good education—Brendan’s life falls apart during graduate school when he begins to show signs of schizophrenia. Forced to drop out of school, he watches most of his friends disappear and his parents distance themselves further and further.

The only constant left in Brendan’s life is his loving sister, Wendy. When she turns up dead, he must ignore the insults and threats from the voices in his head to begin his own investigation. With the help of an odd assemblage of his few friends—a drug dealer, a meth addict, and a war veteran with a bad case of agoraphobia—he begins to uncover a conspiracy that may, or may not, be a byproduct of his own delusional mind.

About the author

Brian Cohn

Brian is an ER doctor practicing in St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives with his beautiful wife and their two rambunctious children. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama where he grew up loving to read. His passion for books continued through his college career at the UNC-Chapel Hill, and traveled with him back to Alabama where he attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine. He moved to St. Louis for residency training, met his wife, and fell in love with both her and the city itself. He has been practicing emergency medicine for over a decade and loves helping people every day, but turned to writing as a creative outlet.

A self-professed nerd, Brian has long enjoyed everything science fiction, from books to TV and movies. He is also a huge fan of great mysteries and thrillers, and is a sucker for a surprising plot twist. He writes the kind of books that he would want to read, reflecting a deep-seated curiosity about what motivates people to do the things they do.

When he’s not busy writing and taking care of patients, Brian loves to run, play with his children, and spend quiet time watching TV with his wife. If he can only figure out how to do all three things at once, he’ll finally have it made.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s Team #RBRT @TerryTyler4 reviews #Scifi #Fantasy Phaethon by Rachel Sharp @WrrrdNrrrdGrrrl

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Phaethon by Rachel Sharp

33384562

PHAETHON by Rachel Sharp

4 out of 5 stars

Jack and Rosie are a young married couple living in downtown Boston.  They have an obsession with all things techy, and spend their time pulling them apart, posting ‘how-to’ videos, reports on the latest software, and troubleshooting tips; they have menial jobs but supplement their income from donations via their online life.  They care more for what they do and love than upgrading to a better apartment or slipping into the American middle-class ‘norm’; domestic and material stuff is unimportant to them, in comparison with their tech world.  I loved Jack and Rosie!

When the new ‘Phaethon’ phone is introduced, they’re among the first to buy it, in order to make a bit of much needed cash from their critiques and how-tos.  But this is no ordinary phone.  When Rosie pulls ‘Lassie’ apart, she discovers that the inside is more like something from the pre-camera phone 1990s.  After a long, long night in conversation with Lassie, Jack suspects other-worldly goings on….

Basically, this book is about a magical world of faeries and other beings who exist alongside our world, unbeknownst to most ~ think Harry Potter.  Not a subject that is absolutely up my street, generally, but I enjoyed this, and sometimes I loved it.  Elements of the faerie world are rising up against the humans; you begin to find out why at about 60%, just as I was wondering what, exactly, it was all going to be about!  Calthine, the fae creature who labours alongside Jack, Rosie and their friends to put things right, is hilarious, so well written.  The tech stuff is spot on, clever and current, as are the observations of popular culture.  It’s sharp, funny, intelligent and (of no little importance) it’s perfectly proofread, edited and formatted ~ which is no less than I would expect from the creator of Jack and Rosie 😉.

Book Description

Hacker couple Jack and Rosie crack technology, but the newest device, the Phaethon, isn’t like other phones. The parts are junk, yet it can do the impossible. Though gentle prodding and data theft, they learn it’s powered remotely…by a living creature.
Cracking the Phaethon enters them into a war. Some, like Calthine, the bitter Bogle, are on their side. Others are controlled by ​a new type of fae; the bosses of the Phaethon corporation, who have steel for eyes and iron for souls. Now, the hackers have to fight creatures they’ve never heard of to save the friends they’ve just made.

About the author

Rachel Sharp

Rachel Sharp is an author and lifetime member of the Somewhat Eccentric Creative Persons Club (which she just invented).
She now lives in New York City with her partner, several plants, and her boundless sense of inappropriate humor. At time of writing, she is working on entirely too many projects. The previous statement will be true regardless of time of reading.
She also lives with chronic illness, plays ukulele, and tries to save the planet.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter