Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Philadelphia Set #Thriller Quick Fix by @JGregorySmith3 #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Quick Fix by J Gregory Smith

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4 out of 5 stars

This book has a great opening.  Military contractor Kyle Logan messes up his already messed up life by assaulting his wife’s divorce lawyer, who also happens to be her lover.  He’s then offered a role in the theft of some pieces of valuable artwork, by his friend Ryan.  Kyle is also suffering from injuries caused by an IED when he was in Iraq.

I warmed to the characters and the writing style straight away.  There’s plenty of dark stuff going on, but lots of humour, too – I liked the observations about characters, and often just the way stuff was phrased (‘I hated losing her to a puke like Fenster’).  The guy-on-his-uppers-with-wife-who-has-moved-on-to-a-more-straight-and-successful-new-man thing is an oft-used scenario in this genre in both books and on screen (I’m currently watching the TV series Get Shorty – there it is again!), but it works every time, and J Gregory Smith has painted all participants most colourfully.

When Kyle realises that involvement in Ryan’s criminal schemes means re-acquaintance with childhood chum-turned-gangster Danny ‘Iceballs’ Sheehan, he knows his life is not going to be easy.  Smith has portrayed the atmosphere of the criminal underworld of Philadelphia so well; this book is fast-paced and flows very well, with a convincing plot, and is, basically, a good, solid novel.  I haven’t got anything negative to say about it.  Nice one.

Book description

Military contractor Kyle Logan’s luck has gone from bad to worse ever since he returned home to Philadelphia following an injury by an IED in Iraq. First, his marriage crumbles, then his career after he’s pushed to the brink and assaults his wife’s lover, who is also her divorce attorney.

When Kyle’s shady best friend turns up and offers him a “once in a lifetime” chance to regain his job and his life, all for just a couple night’s work, Kyle figures he’s got nothing to lose. The police, Philly Irish Mob and a couple of drug cartels all think otherwise.

Now forced to fight for his life, and those around him, Kyle must turn to allies from his old neighborhood in a desperate effort to stay alive and out of prison.

Quick Fix is one man’s fall into a world of unintended consequences that seeks to tread the razor-thin lines between right and wrong, loyalty and treachery.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

 

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Real Life Crime A CITY OWNED and KILLING COUSINS by @OJModjeska

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading A CITY OWNED and KILLING COUSINS by O J Modjeska. A two book series: MURDER BY INCREMENTS

5 out of 5 stars

A City Owned was submitted to Rosie’s Review Team list, but after I’d read it I had to read the second book, too; thus, I am reviewing them as one.

This two part series, Murder by Increments, is about the crimes of the Hillside Stranglers, Kennth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, who made LA a frightening place to be in the late 1970s.  The first book, A City Owned, starts with a picture of what LA was like back then.  Such a clever way to start; to understand the lives of the victims and why Bianchi and Buono went undiscovered for so long, we have first to be aware of the culture of the time.  LA was a seedy place indeed, peopled by many who’d arrived seeking the Hollywood dream, only to be sucked into the underworld of prostitution, porn, drugs and crime.  The cops were overworked and jaded, with few resources; these were the days before the internet, before reliable criminal profiling, and before DNA databases.  Reading how carelessly they bungled the investigations, over and over again, made me think that crime solving had moved on very little in the hundred years since the London police tried in vain to identify Jack the Ripper.

O J Modjeska writes about the victims with great respect for each girl’s short life, drawing a heartbreaking picture each time.  These are not just names, and the book is far from being just a list of heinous crimes.  Only towards the end of the book do Bianchi and Buono themselves appear, and by then I had to know the whole story; I went back to Amazon and bought Killing Cousins as soon as I’d finished A City Owned.

I found Killing Cousins the most absorbing of the two books, as I am more interested in the psychological background of killers than the solving of crimes.  The drawn out trial was at times farcical, not only because of Bianchi’s attempts to convince psychiatrists that he suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder, but because of the self-interest and prejudice of many involved.

‘There were the cops who thought the lives of prostitutes were worthless, the officials who wanted to look good in front of the media, the shrinks seeking professional recognition, the prosecutors who assumed middle-aged women were crazy, and the politicians seeking office.  There was stupidity, there was self-aggrandizement, there was sexism and the tyranny of the herd.’ 

This two-book series is everything that true crime should be, without being in any way sensationalised.  O J Modjeska has not only written a riveting account of the victims, perpetrators and law enforcement bodies, but also shown how very different attitudes in general were, only forty years ago; if just a few incidents had not taken place, a few people not spoken up, if a few jurors been swayed by the individuals who defended these two monsters, the outcome might have been very different.

Book description

A City Owned

One after another, they appear by the sides of suburban roads and freeways – the naked, strangled bodies of women who have been raped, tortured and left for dead.

Police begin to suspect that their target is a rogue operator who has emerged from their own ranks. And then, all hell breaks loose in Los Angeles…

An arrest in the strangling murders of two co-eds across state lines finally leads to a break in the case, but the mild-mannered suspect remembers nothing about the crime of which he is accused. His attorney and a team of psychiatrists are convinced this is no lust murderer, but a mentally ill man tormented by an evil alter personality, the terrifyingly malevolent sexual sadist “Steve”. But what if Steve is the final triumphant act in a psychopath’s lifelong career in deception?

None are prepared for the dark journey through the mazes of the human mind it will take to unlock the door to justice.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Book description

Killing Cousins

One after another, they appear by the sides of suburban roads and freeways – the naked, strangled bodies of women who have been raped, tortured and left for dead.

Police begin to suspect that their target is a rogue operator who has emerged from their own ranks. And then, all hell breaks loose in Los Angeles…

An arrest in the strangling murders of two co-eds across state lines finally leads to a break in the case, but the mild-mannered suspect remembers nothing about the crime of which he is accused. His attorney and a team of psychiatrists are convinced this is no lust murderer, but a mentally ill man tormented by an evil alter personality, the terrifyingly malevolent sexual sadist “Steve”. But what if Steve is the final triumphant act in a psychopath’s lifelong career in deception?

None are prepared for the dark journey through the mazes of the human mind it will take to unlock the door to justice.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Relationship novel The Men by @fannycalder #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Men by Fanny Calder

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5 out of 5 stars

Loved this book!  As a member of Rosie’s review team, I look down the submissions list when it’s time to choose a new one, and I usually go for sci-fi, dystopian or something otherwise nice and dark, rarely anything about love relationships or labelled ‘women’s fiction’, but I’m so glad I stepped out of my box with this one – it’s eons away from mainstream relationship dramas.

The Men is a series of thirteen snapshots, all linked so that it’s a continuing story, about the relationships with the opposite sex that have punctuated the author’s life.  It appears they’re part autobiographical, part fiction:

‘It is a tale of urban human connections crafted with no judgement or deep introspection – a window on the author’s own life at that time that will resonate and stay with you.’

Some of them reminded me of my own younger years, the racketing around and caring only about the moment, which is perhaps why I liked them so much; particularly the first one, The Singer.  The writing style is great – witty, sharp, joyful, but melancholy at times, too.  Some of the relationships are sad, some heartbreaking, and some made me think ‘what the hell was she thinking of’ (Rotting Man!), but those made me sad, too; loneliness can push people into all sorts of bad decisions, and I felt that the author was lonely, sometimes.  Never in a victim or despairing sort of way, though she seems to become more so as the book goes on.

I loved how the book concentrates only on The Men, that she was never tempted to give more background, which would have diluted it.  On occasion the writing is quite beautiful; a section about a party with an eighteenth century theme made me want to stay in it.

One point that intrigued me―earlier in the book she clearly has a high-powered job that involves much travel, though we are never told what it is.  I did a bit of digging and discovered that the author is a fairly well-known environmental campaigner; all that and she can write, too.

Highly recommended; I wanted to carry on reading when I’d finished it.

Book description

A darkly brilliant debut novel by Fanny Calder, and arguably essential reading for the feminist hedonist woman in your life. City life in the 1990s. Anonymous, intense, paradoxical and sometimes lonely. A young, haunted woman falls in love with a singer. She finds she has been consumed by the relationship and when it ends – as it inevitably does – she feels unable to quite rediscover herself. Cities can draw you into even darker places, and she embarks on a series of intense relationships with thirteen men of very different types, from a rough sleeper to a millionaire, and from a transvestite to a leading politician. As she is propelled through a series of extraordinary adventures and wild parties she finds she begins to lose her own identity. Is there a way out? A raw and unflinchingly honest narrative with stripped down language that is liberating and sometimes challenging. It is a tale of urban human connections crafted with no judgement or deep introspection – a window on the author’s own life at that time that will resonate and stay with you.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Histfic #Mystery Fear & Phantoms by @carolJhedges #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Fear & Phantoms by Carol Hedges

5 stars (and possibly more)

This is the sixth book in Carol Hedges’ Victorian Detectives series, featuring the inimitable Leo Stride and Jack Cully.  As ever, it is a complete stand alone; there is the odd reference to events that occurred in previous books, but none of these would make the book any less enjoyable to a reader new to the series.

The story opens in London’s freezing early months of 1865, with a series of sightings of a ghostly Madonna in the Underground.  This, however, is but a humorous diversion from the main story, which involves a dastardly conman who defrauds banks to the extent of their ruin, and murders those who impede his success.

As ever, the star of the show is mid-Victorian era London itself, with many delightful, larger-than-life characters to illustrate its many faces.  You will meet the enchanting Pip and Muggly – starving street children who press their noses up against bakery shop windows – the rich in their gambling dens, hard-working clerks Helen and her twin brother Lambert Trigg, the lovely Lucy Landseer – aspiring novelist and writer of controversial articles – and the Triggs’ landlords, Mr and Mrs Mutesius, so beautifully painted that you can almost smell the fustiness of their downstairs quarters, and many more.

One quip I have to mention ~ Jack Cully’s disapproval of the name of a new cosmetic.  ‘I’m not a religious man, but all the same, I don’t approve of using Bible names like that.  It’s wrong.  Virgin soap, Virgin cream ~ whatever next?  Virgin trains?’

No detail is spared in illustrating the gap between rich and poor, the plight of those who are just scraping together enough to keep body and soul together in grim lodgings, and the careless attitude of the unprincipled rich.  Ms Hedges’ love of London and the period shines through, as always, her impeccable research and easy wit making this novel a joy to read; I read it in bed, as I always do with this series; curled up under the duvet I could almost believe that outside my window was Victorian London.  I loved every word.

Book description

When a young man’s body is discovered buried deep beneath the winter snow, Detectives Stride and Cully little realise where the discovery will take them. Is his murder a random, one-off event, or could the death be linked to the mysteriously elusive individual who has already brought down one of the City’s long-standing private banks?

Mishap, misunderstanding and mystery dog their footsteps, as the Scotland Yard detectives find themselves in very murky territory indeed, struggling to keep their heads above water in the umbrous underworld of murder and  financial fraud.

Can they unmask the dark brutal mastermind lurking at the centre of it all, before he strikes again?

A taut, gripping historical crime novel that lays bare the dubious practices of the Victorian banking businesses and entices the reader into the shady world of high-class gambling houses, where fortunes can be made or lost on the luck of the cards.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scifi / #Horror Survivors’ Club by @MKMartinWriter

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Survivor’s Club by M. K. Martin

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4 out of 5 stars

A brilliant young geneticist, Marius Tenartier, starts work at the top security Chrysalis Biopharmaceuticals.  It seems like he’s landed a dream job, but is a bit perturbed by the excessive regulations and the way in which the company appears to expect full life commitment.  The first 20% was brilliant; I was totally engrossed.  It was clear that the author really knows her stuff, and was so well-written, and cleverly, subtly sinister.  Then Marius is sent on a mission to pick up one of the boss’s daughters and pick up some samples, and the book turned into something else.  I felt as if it had switched genre from a terrifically convincing scifi thriller into comedy horror, with humans growing tentacles and damsel in distress Miranda’s inner thoughts about how hot Marius is when she’s strapped to a gurney by a mutating madman.

The book is more people-fighting-monsters-ish than I thought it would be, but of its type it’s jolly good.  I liked the writing style a lot, although sometimes the quip-filled dialogue became a little irritating, particularly that of Miranda.  I notice that the author has a military type background and this is clear; this aspect of the novel was highly convincing, as was the medical.  I liked the ending very much; I love a book that surprises and leaves you up in the air in the last chapter, a perfect lead in to the next book.

If you like intelligent scifi/horror and have an interest in horrendous viral outbreaks, I’d most certainly recommend this book.  

Book description

People have always wanted to be stronger, faster, smarter, better. The scientists at Chrysalis Biopharmaceuticals believe they’ve found a virus that will allow them to unlock humanity’s hidden potential. The cost is small. A few lives here and there, but it’s all for the greater good … and the corporate bottom line.

Brilliant and idealistic geneticist, Marius Tenartier, has dedicated his life to battling the world’s worst diseases – from malaria to Ebola, tuberculosis to cancer. When Chrysalis offers Marius the chance to carry on his work with no budget caps, he accepts, no questions asked.

While Marius tackles the most challenging pathogens, Chrysalis secretly uses his work to develop an experimental vaccine intended to artificially evolve the human race. Instead of making people into super humans, it mutates them into terrifying abominations. After Marius is caught in an outbreak, he realizes that Chrysalis has been using him. Worse, they’ve covered up the outbreak.

Bureaucracy, incompetence, and greed threaten civilization and even the human race’s survival. Surrounded by danger and cut off from the outside world, time is running out to contain the virus, and Marius can’t do it alone.

Who can he trust – Chrysalis’ ambitious vice president, the rigid head of security, or the CEO’s fearless daughter?

Can Marius discover the truth about the virus’s origin before it’s too late to prevent a global pandemic?

About the author

M. K. Martin is a motorcycle-riding, linguistics nerd. A former Army interrogator with a degree in psychology, she uses her unique knowledge and skill set to create smart, gritty stories that give readers a glimpse into the darker corners of the human mind.

M.K. Martin

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #thriller Lily White In Detroit by @CynthiaHarriso1 #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Lily White In Detroit by Cynthia Harrison

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4 out of 5 stars

Lily White is a PI in Detroit who usually concentrates on insurance scams and missing persons.  When she is asked to investigate the activities of Jimmy Heyl’s wife, she finds herself involved in much more than she bargained for, and events become complicated when her personal and professional lives become intertwined.

The novel is written in alternating POVs: Lily in the 1st person, and Detective Paxton in the third.  From the beginning of the story, we discover that there is more to Lily than meets the eye, and the mystery surrounding her is drip-fed slowly, which I liked.  The theme of PTSD is examined throughout the novel, with regard to both Lily and the ex-partner of Paxton.  It is clear that the author has done her research into not only the psychological effects but also the physiological, and the effect is quite an eye-opener for a reader such as me; I knew very little about it.  The factual side of the novel is convincing throughout, and I liked the picture of the Detroit of the 21st century.

I do warm to an emotionally damaged loner in novels, and though this character type is one to be found often in detective stories both in literature and on-screen, Lily was in no way a stereotype.  The author’s background in romance novel writing was evident in that I could see exactly where a certain relationship was heading from the very beginning (you know how in romance novels the reader knows before the characters do!), but this element did not seem out of place, for this is a psychological drama as well as a crime story.

There were some events that I thought deserved to be shown in an actual scene via flashback, or at the time, rather than the details being related to one character from another in dialogue, which would have made for more impact and suspense, but on the whole it’s a cleverly put together book, and I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys unravelling murder clues, or has particular interest in PTSD.

Book description

Private investigator Lily White has a client with a faulty moral compass. When the client is arrested for murdering his wife and her alleged lover, Lily follows her intuition and her own leads. If she’s wrong, she’ll at least know she did her job.

Detroit police detective Derrick Paxton remembers Lily from another case. He understands she suffers from PTSD and thinks her judgment is impaired. He goes after her client and the evidence he needs to close the case. When Lily is kidnapped, the case takes an unexpected turn.

In a sometimes racially divided city, a black cop and a white PI work together to peel back every layer to find the truth. What they find leads them to each other, but do they have enough to bring the true criminals to justice?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #shortstory The Baby On Tha Back Porch by Lucia N Davis

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Baby On The Back Porch by Lucia N Davis

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3 out of 5 stars

San Francisco girl Sara rents a mountain cabin as a retreat, having been through a difficult year with a relationship break-up and bereavement.  As luck would have it, the landlord is the handsome, single David.  No sooner has Sara got settled in than she starts to have sightings of a bear in the garden… and then everything goes from bad to worse, to dangerous and inexplicable.

This is a nicely written story, presented well, and I didn’t guess what was going to happen, always a plus with a mystery.  I did find the style a little safe; it’s all very ‘nice’, so perhaps just not really for me, though I imagine it would appeal to perhaps an older readership who like a ‘clean read’, and enjoy a light, undemanding drama.  It took me about an hour to read.

Book description

An old cabin, hidden in the forests of the Northern Cascades, has been a silent witness to mysterious events long forgotten. But sometimes the past has a way of resurfacing…

In search of solace after a personal tragedy, Sara Eriksson exchanges vibrant San Francisco for a small mountain village. Initially, everything at the cabin is just as she imagined: Her new surroundings are breathtaking, and her landlord, David, is kind and helpful. As soon as she’s left alone, however, Sara finds her new home is not quite as peaceful as she’d thought. First she has an unwanted visitor. Then, an unsettling dream…

Sara pursues the leads presented to her, but she can’t solve the mystery on her own. It takes both Sara and David to uncover the truth about the past—and discover a connection they never expected.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #YA #SciFi #Dystopia Clone Crisis by Melissa Faye @melissafaye16

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Clone Crisis by Melissa Faye

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4.5 stars

I really enjoyed this book.  I’m not its target audience, which is (it says) YA/NA, but it’s the sort of intelligent YA that’s not terribly ‘teen’.  It’s set in the US about 300 years in the future, when a 100 year long fertility crisis means that the human race continues by way of cloning.  Obviously this means no families; citizens live in communities, where they are divided into Gold, Silver, Bronze and Grey categories, according to intelligence and capability tests taken at a young age, and assigned a job most suited to them ~ allegedly.

It’s all about the community.  Most follow the culture and rules laid down by the authorities without question, but the main character, a ‘Gold’ intern doctor called Yami, has started to think that all is not as it seems.  Then the impossible happens: someone gets pregnant.

I liked Yami very much; she’s antisocial, doesn’t require many friends, and says what she thinks because she doesn’t care too much what others think of her.  The blinkered believers and followers of rules get on her nerves.  Some of her friends are super-irritating in their inability to see what was really going on, but such is the way of things in these dystopian worlds.  The writing flows well, all the characters are clearly defined, and the story is not predictable.  The science is convincing, too, when it needed to be; I never thought, uh-oh, she doesn’t know enough about this stuff.  It’s clear, for instance, that computer hacking/concealing of data is not her area of expertise, but it’s written in such a way that the reader has all the information he/she needs.

There were a couple of areas that I felt could have been dealt with more fully; for instance, Yami and her friends have to leave the community to travel across country to others, over land they have never seen before, but there was nothing about what the country actually looks like, 300 years on.  Where are all the old cities and towns?  I’d have thought the characters would have been gazing about in wonder, and I was looking forward to knowing what America was like outside these small, artificial settlements, but there was nothing.  Or perhaps Ms Faye didn’t consider that necessary for a YA/NA novel ~ as I said, I’m not exactly its target market.

Yes, I’d recommend it for any lovers of light, dystopian/futuristic scifi.  The ending is excellent, and made me want to read more, which I definitely will do.

Book description

In the 25th century, the entire population of the world is a clone of a person born hundreds of years earlier. Without parents and family, what’s best for the community is best for all. That means going along with the career assignments that divide society by class, working towards finding an end to the fertility crisis, and obeying whatever the government decides is best.

Yami, a driven but closed off medical intern, has avoided building new relationships after her mentor disappeared years ago. She can’t hide from the world anymore when her best friend, Etta, gets pregnant for the first time in three hundred years. Yami begins a journey to protect her friends at all costs. But when more and more secrets are uncovered about the government they all trust, Yami is forced to question the walls she’s built up around for herself.

What’s best for the community may not be best for any of us.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie

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3 out of 5 stars

Doctor Perry is an evil medical man from the pages of an Edwardian horror story, complete with black leather doctor’s bag and a curious potion he asks patients to drink.   The crux of the plot is about what happens when you drink said potion; this came as a surprise to me, and the build-up to it was well done.

Much of the action takes pace in a retirement home, with an abundance of characters.  Some are well-drawn and realistic (Elijah, the main man, was particularly good), others conforming to perceived stereotypes, which I felt was intentional, as this is not a ‘serious’ horror story.  I changed my mindset about what I was reading once I saw that Perry is more a like a dastardly doctor you might see walking out of the mists on an old BBC drama.  Patients drink a ‘tonic’ from Perry (rather than one obtained via a pharmacy) with little questioning about what it contains. Of course this is pure pantomime, in an era when many patients look up even prescribed medication on the internet to make sure it is safe.

The writing is generally good, with wit and understanding of human nature (always a plus) but it needs another go-through with a copy-editor/proofreader who knows how to punctuate/has more of an eagle eye. There was a fair bit of incorrect punctuation, mostly missing commas or commas that should have been semicolons, and many, many run-on sentences/comma splices. The sort of uncorrected punctuation errors present in the book are not of the type that would be noticed by everyone, perhaps only by those they call ‘punctuation Nazis’, but unfortunately I am one!

Book description

“The sound of the man’s screams changed pitch and Doctor Perry looked up from his notes. Ah, the cranium was shrinking…”

Under the Hippocratic Oath, a doctor swears to remember that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

Doctor Perry reassures his elderly patients he can offer warmth, sympathy, and understanding. Doctor Perry is a liar.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Set in 1984 #ComingOfAge Lucky Star by Holly Curtis

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Lucky Star by Holly Curtis

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3 out of 5 stars

Set in 1984, this story opens with a group of schoolboys who go on a shoplifting trip to Guernsey, keen to get their hands on designer sports gear they crave.  Protagonist Ben is particularly desperate for a certain pair of trainers.  This is intermingled with him seeing the gorgeous Susie and falling instantly in love with her, all set to a backdrop of Madonna’s Lucky Star.

What I liked:

  1. It’s nicely written, and flows well; it’s an easy read.  The characterisation is very good, I thought, and the dialogue is, for the most part, realistic; natural.  I liked the usage of regional slang words like ‘dinlo’ and ‘clump’ (and the fact that the author didn’t feel the need to explain them!).
  2. There are elements that are very typical of kids of that age, and it’s good to read about a time when young people didn’t have their eyes permanently fixed on smartphone screens.  It certainly ticked a few nostalgia boxes, too.

What I was less sure about:

  1. The basic premise.  I realise the kids who flogged the designer gear would have had money, but where did Ben and his friends get the cash to travel to Guernsey, get taxis, eat in cafés, buy beer, etc?  There was no indication of him asking his aunt for it.  I also don’t buy that a group of daft 16 year olds suddenly became proficient at shoplifting from upmarket shops, where assistants know all the tricks.  I think it’s a fun idea that needed a bit more thinking through.
  2. I found the whole Susie-love-at-first-sight thing a little hackneyed, more like something you would see in a 1980s film, but the ‘coming of age’ genre has grown more sophisticated since then; also I felt the whole novel needed chopping down a bit.

So not really for me, but the fact that it’s nicely written and the characterisation is good, and it has the nostalgia thing going on means it may appeal to those who like a light read about a time they remember, and enjoyed films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Book description

Teenager Ben Somerset has three great loves in his life: Sherlock Holmes, designer clothes and a certain song by Madonna. And then Susie appears.

Set in England in 1984 Lucky Star tells of Ben’s introduction to the world of shoplifting, music, politics, love and heartbreak.

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