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THE CHALK MAN: A Suspense Novel ~C.J. Tudor

Monday, January 29th, 2018

THE CHALK MAN is about 5 children who at age 12 were a group trying to make sense of confusing community events and their small world – 4 boys and 1 girl.  1986 is the year where the story begins and 2016 is when the group comes together to discover the truth.

The children roam their sleepy English Village on their bicycles and find adventure while communicating with their chalk stick figure communications system.  The boys are pursued by mean older boys and need to hide from those bullies.  There is an accident at the summer fair when a ride injures a beautiful young woman, who later on the group finds murdered in the woods.   There are protestors against the new abortion clinic and this adds confusing information to the group and they are still figuring out what was going on back in the flashbacks.  Chalk figures are appearing everywhere.

There is speculation that this will be the Thriller or Suspense Novel of 2018.  It is predicted to be a best seller.  There is definitely a reason why these children are unable to leave town.  They have not done the work or tried to resolve their confused or disturbed behaviors.  Ed the prominent character in the story is drinking more and more and he is not even able to leave his parent’s home.  He is emotionally closed off and yet trying to be a great English Teacher at the school.

I had trouble with this book.  The writing is excellent, but I felt so awful about the problems the children were encountering and the abuse that was put upon them.  There was no one who could talk to them to relieve the pressures and provide understanding.  And the one teacher, who was trying his best was peculiar himself and the children were warned against him.  I wanted to help the children and thought about all the ways that we try to talk to children today to relieve trauma and bring about understanding.   I was kept awake by the violent death and the horrible violence perpetrated by the old boys.  I suppose this worry is what makes the book a winner in the suspense category, but it kept me awake for sure and finally I just barreled through to the end to find out what actually happened.  After you read this remarkable book, I want you to come back and tell me what you think happened to the head!

“I haven’t had a sleepless night due to a book for a long time. The Chalk Man changed that.” —Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow

C. J. TUDOR lives in Nottingham, England, with her partner and three-year-old daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. The Chalk Man is her first novel.

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Related:
Thief’s Mark
Autumn in Oxford
Natchez Burning

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER: A Psychological Thriller ~Margot Hunt

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is indeed about a friendship that has developed over a number of years between two very different individuals. Kat Grant is a wealthy socialite who owns an art gallery in South Florida and Alice Campbell is a logic professor/mathematician who is currently a stay at home mother. The women met regularly and shore each other up over a series of crises and wine.

Howard Grant, Kat’s financier husband, is the biggest problem as of late that the women are figuring out, and it is becoming quite major. Howard is a bully, violent, a drunk, and having an affair.  Kat does not have a pre-nuptial agreement and she does not want her husband to get her money.  Alice’s husband has lost his job and is trying to start his own firm.   Lots of tension mounting in each household, and then Howard falls from the balcony to his death.   Kat goes silent.  Alice works at figuring out what has happened.

It is very hard to put down BEST FRIENDS FOREVER as you are gripped in suspense and wanting to know the answers.  Are Alice’s children in jeopardy?  How will it evolve and come to a resolution?

I very much get caught up in this kind of story and I had a hard time figuring out what was happening and I had to figure out the depth of the truth as one of the characters began to figure it out.   This is often how counseling appointments go in my past.  The client keeps revealing little truths each session and then wow, one gets the whole picture and then the work begins to make change.  There is always lying, omission and truth as people are quite complex and have interesting journeys to arrive to the present point.

This book will be very popular I am certain and I believe it will be on a few folk’s wish list.   I know that one member of my book group will be racing to read this one right away.   Oh My!  It is hard to understand what one person will do to another and yet compelling to figure it out.   I thought this was a good read, but not several in a row please, I need to catch my breath.

Margot Hunt is the pseudonym of a bestselling writer of twelve previous novels. Her work has been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER is her first psychological thriller.

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Lie To Me
The Forever Man
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GYPSY MOTH SUMMER: A Novel ~Julia Fierro

Monday, June 26th, 2017

GYPSY MOTH SUMMER is being praised as the must read of the summer of 2017.  I have seen lots of promotional material for the book and was looking forward to having an opportunity to read and review this book as presented by TLC Book Tours . The Huffington Post was truly wrapping lots of energy around this highly anticipated book.

I jumped right into the read and it compelled me to stick with the book from cover to cover.  I just knew that somehow this story was not going to end well, and then again maybe I was hoping that it was not going to end well for the people on Avalon Island – the wealthy and the poor.  The story is a tragedy.

I knew many of these character types and I lived through this period of time with great awareness and a budding interest in ecological studies.  I was beginning to understand pollution and how cycles of problems exist and I lived through several Tent Caterpillar infestations and could hear the squish, crackle of walking on the creatures under my feet and know the sticky goo that stuck to everything; really creepy was the critters falling onto your hair and body.

I need to back up here and outline the story of the island people and their sordid, limited view of the world.  Many characters were introduced and before and after each chapter there was information about the Gypsy Moth’s life cycle and years of infestation.  How they marked the world in a very disgusting and filthy pattern.  Because the island was experiencing an infestation throughout the story, which paralleled the slimy behaviors of the community, I did not enjoy the read as much as I thought I would.

About THE GYPSY MOTH SUMMER:

“The summer the Gypsy Moths descended, an even more toxic pest was spreading its way through the people of Avalon. East Avalon is the upper crust, built with generations of military engineers who had exchanged their Navy whites and blues for suits and offices, while West Avalon families hailed from generations of factory workers.

In the summer of 1992, Maddie LaRosa tries to figure out how to survive high school and its queen bee, Bitsy, and worries about maintaining her East Avalon persona and picture-perfect family life. Meanwhile, Leslie Day Marshall, daughter of Avalon Island’s most established wasp-y monarch, has just moved back home with her husband, Jules, who is black, and their kids. Their move from a one bedroom apartment in “the City” to “The Castle” isn’t as big as the change from the melting pot of New York City to the homogeneity of East Avalon. Jules and Leslie’s presence triggers tensions, romances, and unusual alliances that simmer all summer and lead to violence that leaves the community atomized forever.

Diving deep into research on gypsy moths, Fierro was inspired by her own childhood on Long Island, and the tensions that exist in a community where there are two economically different sides of town. Also included in her acute observations are the political tensions of 1992 during a different Clinton campaign and the rise in cancer rates due to the community’s water pollution. Grounded in real events, Fierro’s writes an intense and engrossing story that will stick with you long after the tragic ending.”    (From the promotional materials)

The teenagers in the story were the same unhappy, drunken, drugging, sniffing, nasty behavior laden kids I knew back then and tried to stay away.  They felt so entitled and are still acting entitled as they move into the Medicare years.  They still deny climate problems and toxic waste sites.  They feel they can just purchase their way out of everything.  Fierro wrote about them with brilliance and they were awful in the story as they were in person.  The sad thing is that they have been trying to lead the world now and be the leaders because they are “rich” and they are just as awful to encounter today as they were.  I still attempt to stay away but they keep trying to damage health care, public schools, and destroy social programs – they want to make money from schools and prisons and they truly do not care about human beings.

The story is very bright and capable and does keenly capture a segment of our community and wrap them in Moth slime tying them up smartly in a bow.  It was my pleasure to finish reading the book and be done with it.  GYPSY MOTH SUMMER left me wondering how to help people change and want to live by kindness.  There was no attempt to illuminate the future in GYPSY MOTH SUMMER.

“Fierro doesn’t just observe, she knows. Like all great novelists, she gives us the world.” – Amy Bloom, bestselling author of Away and Lucky Us

About the Author:

“JULIA FIERRO is the founder of The Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, a creative home to more than 4,000 writers in New York City, Los Angeles and online. Her first novel CUTTING TEETH, was praised by The Boston Globe (“at once modern and timeless”) and The New Yorker (“a comically energetic début”).

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NATCHEZ BURNING: A Novel ~Greg Iles

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

The first book in a trilogy that will just knock you over it is so compelling and non-stop.  The action and history is condensed into an 800-page turner of a book, which fills in history and the violence of the 1960s that continues into 2005.

NATCHES BURNING was sent to me by TLC Book Tours and I have to admit I was not too thrilled as I was already reviewing 7 books for them this month and this gem was 800 pages and part of a 3 way deal.  Whew!   I am not hugely a fan of thrillers either although this one had some historic merit, which found me interested.  Then I read what Stephen King wrote on the cover:

“ Natchez Burning is extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful.  I defy you to start it and find a way to put it down; as long as it is, I wished it were longer.  There’s a bonus: You’ll finish knowing a great deal about the Deep South’s painful struggle toward racial equality, and the bloody road between Then and Now.  Only a southern man could have written this book, and thank God Greg Iles was there to do the job.  This is an amazing work of popular fiction.”

There was so much history in this story from the killing of the voter registration workers in 1964 to present day distress and unequal treatment.  The torture and murder of anyone of color, and others, who got in the way or seemed funky to the KKK and the wealthy scheming whites were just what one thought was going on in the back of the mind.  And yet, the FBI and police could not seem to find the guilty parties or justice.

Iles has lived in Natchez, Mississippi all of his life and the book is full of characters that his fans have known before.  Dr. Tom Cage is a physician who has served all of his community with his medical care, which involved the keeping of many secrets. Dr. Cage’s son Penn is a lawyer, writer and now Mayor of Natchez and is working to solve the charges against his father.  Henry Sexton is a reporter who has faithfully kept the research and storytelling alive about the murders, fires and rape which throughout his history has plagued the community and threatened every member of the society with prejudice and hate.  Dr. Cage is loosely based on Iles own father, and the newspaperman is based on a fellow who has written the stories in his own paper in town and is about to write his own book on what he knows.

The book is extremely hard to put down and I read the whole in 3 days of hard pressure.  I can actually say that I am looking forward to THE BONE TREE, which I will review next month; book two in the trilogy I must wait until March for book three.

Even thought it contains a great deal of history, I know one of my book groups will not read it because of the violence and another because they have a 400 page limit.  It is a thriller and it contains a great deal of violence; it reveals a great deal of the context that I always thought was true but has been bred into the culture and will take a great teacher to heal and a determined citizen to break through.  Greg Iles breaks through and opens a door to re-enculturation.  NATCHEZ BURNING – What a Read!

“Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi.  His first novel, SPANDAU PHOENIX, was the first of thirteen NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of THE QUIET GAME, TURNING ANGEL, AND #1 NY TIMES bestseller THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL. Iles novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children.”

www.GregIles.com

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The Contractors
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The Shock Doctrine