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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog Odd Numbers by JJ Marsh (@JJMarsh1) A spider web that traps readers and doesn’t let go #RBRT

Hi, all.

I bring you a great book that will be released on the 1st of May, and I want to recommend. Another great find by Rosie Amber and her team.

Odd Numbers by JJ Marsh

Odd Numbers by JJ Marsh

The Guilty Party meets The Secret History

Can you forgive a friend?

Strange things bring people together. Like a tragic death.

Over two decades, five friends reunite every other New Year. They celebrate, grieve and heal. Memories grow dusty and the nightmare starts to fade.

On the 20th anniversary, in a remote snowy chalet, old doubts surface.
Wounds reopen and morality comes into question.

Is friendship a safety net or a tie that hobbles to the past?

They thought they knew each other’s secrets.
Did they miss the biggest one of all?

When history is rewritten, they must act to preserve the future.
A fatal decision means this reunion will be their last.

A psychological drama with beautifully portrayed characters and an intricately woven plot. The suspense emerges between the lines, grabs you softly but never lets go.

“Twist follows twist in a riveting mystery as sharp as the shards of glass from a shattered champagne bottle.” Abbie Frost, author of ‘The Guesthouse’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0874LDH6N/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0874LDH6N/

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B0874LDH6N/

Author JJ Marsh

About the author:

JJ Marsh is the author of The Beatrice Stubbs series, featured in The Guardian Readers’ Recommend and The Bookseller’s Editor’s Choice

Jill is:
* A founder member of Triskele Books, an award-winning author collective founded in 2011
* Swiss Ambassador for The Alliance of Independent Authors
* Co-editor of The Woolf, Zürich’s literary ezine and writers’ workshop
* Reviewer for Bookmuse, the readers’ site with a difference

She lives in Switzerland with her husband and three pugs, and in an attic overlooking a cemetery, she writes.

Join Jill’s Newsletter to get:
* Exclusive prequel to the Beatrice Stubbs series – FREE
* New releases
* Cover reveals and sneak peeks
* Giveaways
* Background information & research trip reports

To sign up, copy and paste this into your browser’s address bar: http://jjmarshauthor.com

Other places to connect with Jill:

Facebook: facebook.com/jjmarshauthor

https://www.amazon.co.uk/JJ-Marsh/e/B007WIHQ5U/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

JJ Marsh is an author I’ve read great reviews about and has been on my list for a while, so I took the chance when I saw an ARC for her next book had become available. I can’t compare it to the rest of her works, but based on this novel, which is a new genre for her, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending her books, and I look forward to catching up on some of her previous novels.

I think the description above provides plenty of hints as to the plot, and this is one of those novels where the way the story is told and the fine details are fundamental, so I’ll try to avoid over explaining things or giving too many hints (I want to avoid spoilers at all cost). This is a story built around six friends (three women and three men) who meet at university, while they are studying to become international translators, and grow to be quite close. They come from different countries (mostly Europe, although one comes from the US, and one is from Indian origin), have very different personalities and backgrounds, and it’s likely that their friendship would have fizzled and died if not for a tragic event that takes place while they are away celebrating New Year (and the new millennium) in December 1999. After that, they meet every two years, and the event that binds them together weighs heavily on them all, having a very different impact in each one of them. Things come to a head on the 20th anniversary of that fateful New Year’s celebration and readers are privileged witnesses of another night to remember. This novel reminded me of a book I read and reviewed recently, The Hunting Party, but also of films like The Celebration (Festen), where there is a build-up of tension, strained relationships, plenty of secrets and lies, and a surprise or two. Although I think many readers will smell a rat from early on in the novel, even if they get it right (and let’s say things are left open to interpretation), the beauty of this novel is in the way it is built, the variety of points of view, and the psychological insights it offers into a catalogue of characters that are not miles away from people most of us know. Considering this is the author’s first incursion into the psychological drama genre, I take my hat off to her.

There are a variety of themes that come up in the novel, some more important to the action than others, for instance the nature of friendship, the way different people experience grief, the guilt of the survivor, how we change and evolve over time and how our relationships change with us, love, death, careers, priorities, family, charity missions, and, of course, lies.

As for the characters, I won’t go into too much detail about them, because the author does a great job of building them up through the novel, and readers should discover them as they read. Marsh chooses one of the female characters, Gael, as the main narrator, and she starts the story ‘now’ (in 2020). The whole novel is written in the first person, but not all from the same point of view. Although I’ve said that Gael is the main narrator, and she has more chapters than the rest, we also get to hear the voices of the other characters, who take us back into some of the reunions the friends have had over the years, and that allows readers to compare and contrast Gael’s version of the rest of her friends with their own words and insights. Readers can compose a mental picture and fit in the pieces of the puzzle, making their own minds up and deciding if they agree or not with Gael’s perceptions. It also makes for a more rounded reading experience, as we get to know each character more intimately, and perhaps to empathise, if not sympathise, with all of them. I liked Gael from the start: she is articulate, a journalist, and a bit of a free spirit, but she always tries to understand and accommodate others as well, and she is more of the observer and the outsider in the story, for reasons that will become evident to the readers from early on. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the friends are like an ersatz family, with individual roles they always fall back on when they are together (the nurturing mother, the responsible and dependable father, the youngest and spoilt sister, the rushed and sporty brother, the sister whom everybody confides in [Gael]), and this reminded me of Eric Berne’s Games People Play. All the characters are articulate and savvy enough to be aware of this and play it for keeps as well.

The book flows well, and the language used is appropriate to each one of the individual characters, fitting with their personalities and quirks without calling too much attention to itself. It helps move the story along and manages to build up the tension, even when there isn’t a lot of action in the usual sense. There are mysterious events taking place (some that will have readers wondering if the characters are imagining them or not), clues that sometimes don’t seem to amount to much, hints, and some memorable scenes. But all those elements are woven subtly into the narrative creating a spider web that traps the readers and the more they read, the more they become entangled in the strands of the story and the characters until it becomes almost impossible to put the book down.

There is a closure of sorts, although the ending is ambiguous and most of the surprises and big reveals have come before then. I liked the fact that there is much left to the imagination of each reader, but I know such things are down to personal taste.

This is a great psychological drama, with engaging characters (some more likeable than others), fascinating relationship dynamics, and a mystery at its heart. It’s a gripping read, perfect to keep our minds engaged and to have us pondering the ins and outs of friendships, relationships, and which actions would push us beyond the limits of forgiveness. A gem.

The last 7% of the e-book contains the first-chapter of the author’s work-in-progress, in case you wonder about its length.

Thanks to Rosie and her team, thanks to the author, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep smiling, and especially, keep safe!

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview Have Bags, Will Travel: Trips and Tales — Memoirs of an Over-Packer by D.G. Kaye (@pokercubster) Therapeutic for travellers as it shows you it could be worse!

Hi all:

Today I’m sharing the review of a book by a fellow blogger who is not only the heart and soul of the party, but she’s always sharing and promoting the work of others. D. G. Kaye (or Debby for those who know her elsewhere, other than just her books) writes non-fiction, mostly memoirs with a big heart. I had difficulty choosing only one of her books but I had to start somewhere. So, today I bring you…

Have Bags, Will Travel. Trips and Tales – Memoirs of an Over-packer by D. G. Kaye

Have Bags, Will Travel: Trips and Tales — Memoirs of an Over-Packer by D.G. Kaye  (Author), Talia Leduc (Editor)

D.G. Kaye is back, and as she reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines–with her overweight luggage in tow. Her stories alert us to some of the pitfalls of being an obsessive shopper, especially when it comes time for D.G. to bring her treasures home, and remind us of the simpler days when traveling was a breeze.
In her quest to keep from tipping the scales, D.G. strives to devise new tricks to fit everything in her suitcases on each trip. Why is she consistently a target for Canada customs on her return journeys?
D.G.’s witty tales take us from airports, to travel escapades with best friends, to reflections on how time can change the places we hold dear in our hearts. Her memories will entertain and have you reminiscing about some of your own most treasured journeys–and perhaps make you contemplate revamping your packing strategies.

Links: 

https://www.amazon.com/Have-Bags-Will-Travel-Over-Packer-ebook/dp/B015HP1R6S/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Have-Bags-Will-Travel-Over-Packer-ebook/dp/B015HP1R6S/

A bit about the author:

Author D.G. Kayes
Author D.G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye was born and resides in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of Conflicted Hearts – A Daughter’s Quest for Solace From Emotional Guilt, Meno-What? – A Memoir, and Words We Carry. D.G. is a nonfiction/memoir writer. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.

D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and the lessons that were taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcomes some of the many obstacles that challenged her. From an emotionally neglected childhood, to growing up with a narcissistic mother, leaving her with a severely deflated self-esteem, D.G. began seeking a path to rise above her issues. When she isn’t writing intimate memoirs, Kaye brings her natural sense of humor into her other works.

D.G. began writing when pen and paper became tools to express her pent-up emotions during a turbulent childhood. Her writing began as notes and cards she wrote for the people she loved and admired when she was afraid to use her voice.

Through the years, Kaye journaled about life, writing about her opinions on people and events and later began writing poetry and health articles for a Canadian magazine as her interest grew in natural healthcare. Kaye became interested in natural healing and remedies after encountering a few serious health issues. Against many odds, D.G. has overcome adversity several times throughout her life.

D.G. began writing books to share her stories and inspiration. Her compassion and life experiences inspire her to write from the heart. She looks for the good and the positive in everything, and believes in paying it forward.

“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return, Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

D.G.’s Favourite Saying: “Live. Laugh. Love …and don’t forget to breathe!”

When D.G. is not writing, she’s reading. Her favourite genres of reading are: biographies, memoirs, writing and natural health. Kaye loves to read about people who overcome adversity, victories and redemption and believes we have to keep learning–there is always room for improvement! She loves to cook, travel, and play poker (when she gets the chance).

You can find D.G. on social media and her author and blog pages:
www.dgkayewriter.com

www.goodreads.com/dgkaye
www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7
www.twitter.com/@pokercubster
www.facebook.com/dgkaye
www.about.me/d.g.kaye.writer
www.google.com/+DebbyDGKayeGies
www.linkedin.com/in/dgkaye7

My review:

Although I’ve been travelling more than I used to in recent years, mostly for family reasons, I cannot say I’m a seasoned traveller or one who knows all the tricks of the trade. I get annoyed by the queues at the airport, like most of us, and I always discover I’ve left something in my hand luggage that shouldn’t be there, even after checking.

Reading this book I realised that perhaps I shouldn’t complain. I am not obsessed with germs (thankfully), I’m not a big shopper, I don’t wear make-up and although I’ve managed sometimes to pack too many things, I haven’t had to carry three suitcases all by myself. The author of this very short book has all those things against her. She also remembers the good old days when travelling was more glamorous and the airlines weren’t so strict with weight limits and didn’t insist on packing the clients as if they were sardines. That for sure must add to the frustration, as at least quite a few of us have nothing to compare it with and know no better, only degrees of discomfort.

D.G. is a woman with a great sense of humour and writes the book as if she were sharing anecdotes around a table with some friends. She wonders why she always gets picked up for searching at the airport (she tries to go unnoticed but there are limits to her attempts at invisibility) and is happy to confess to her fears, her crazy shopping sprees, and her failed best-laid plans. I was particularly interested in her reflection about how Las Vegas had changed. She describes her first trip there as a fascinating experience, when you landed in the desert and the hotels were the only oases in it and is disappointed by how much it has changed. I’ve only visited once and not being a gambler either, found that although its location was very convenient, it wasn’t the place I had read about. It’s difficult to fight commercialisation and consumerism and nobody can stop “progress” but perhaps there’s more to be lost than to be gained by some of the changes we’re implementing.

This is not a guide to travelling or packing (although there are a few wise words of advice at the end), but, as the subtitle indicates, a memoir of some of the writer’s trips. It could be extremely therapeutic if you’re going travelling as you’ll have the comfort of knowing that things could always get so much more complicated. You’ll end up with a smile on your face and you might also pick up a tip or two.

Thanks so much to D.G. Kaye for her book and for her blog (don’t forget to visit it), thanks to all of you for reading, and don’t forget to like, share, comment and CLICK!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Reviews

#Bookreview Berlin. A Literary Guide for Travellers by Paul Sullivan (@slowberlin) and Marcel Krueger (@kingofpain666) Well researched, detailed and offering great insights into an emblematic city. #Berlin

Hi all:

I am trying to get up-to-date and catch up with the reviews I haven’t shared (I’m sure I’ll miss some but…) so I can start sharing them as I read the books. Today it’s the turn of a non-fiction book that travel and literature fans will love.

Berlin. A Literary Guide for Travellers by Paul Sullivan and Marcel Krueger
Berlin. A Literary Guide for Travellers by Paul Sullivan and Marcel Krueger

Berlin. A Literary Guide for Travellers by Paul Sullivan and Marcel Krueger. 

I.B.Tauris

Description

An alternative guide for those looking for the literary heart of Berlin.

Located at the centre of the ever-changing politics of Europe, Berlin has a rich literary and creative history: from the socialist literary salons of 18th century Prussia and the rise of Expressionism in the 20th century to the explosion of creativity during the Weimar period and those who captured life on both sides of the divided city after the Second World War.

Written by local experts, this new guide offers travellers a glimpse into the compelling body of literature on Berlin, charting the bars, cafes and neighbourhoods in which much of it was created. Here travellers will discover the pub where Joseph Roth wrote The Radetzky March just a year before he left Berlin on the day that Adolf Hitler was elected Chancellor, and the apartment where Nabokov spent some of the most productive years of his career. The authors also chart the up-and-coming neighbourhoods that are enticing writers and artists from all over the world today.

A Note From the Publisher

I.B.Tauris Literary Guides for Travellers were recently voted among the 24 best indie travel guides by FATHOM. Also in the series: Sicily, Florence and Tuscany, Tangier, Venice, Scotland, The French Riviera

Advance Praise

‘A rich and learned companion for every lover of Berlin; bursting with anecdote and alive with history. A must.’
– Rory MacLean, author of Berlin: Imagine a City

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1784536423/

https://www.amazon.com/Berlin-Literary-Guide-Travellers-Guides-ebook/dp/B01LWSKY4H/

A bit of information about the authors:

Author Paul Sullivan
Author Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan

Paul Sullivan is a Berlin-based writer & travel photographer and the founder/editor of Slow Travel Berlin. His words and images have appeared in The Guardian, BBC, Sunday Times Travel, The Telegraph, Nat Geo UK and more, and he has written several books on music and travel, including the HG2 Berlin, Rough Guide to Berlin, National Geographic Walking Berlin and Wallpaper Berlin. You can check out his photography galleries here.

Paul on Facebook

All posts by Paul Sullivan

Author Marcel Krueger
Author Marcel Krueger

Marcel Krueger:

Marcel is a writer, translator (German-English / English-German) and editor, and mainly writes non-fiction about places, their history, and the journeys in between.

He works as Content Manager for PayPal and is also the book editor of Elsewhere Journal and the contributing editor of Sonic Iceland.

His articles and essays have been published in the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, Reykjavik Grapevine, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Le Cool Dublin, Slow Travel Berlin, the Matador Network, CNN Travel and Spotted by Locals, amongst others. He has translated Wolfgang Borchert and Jörg Fauser, and his commercial translation clients include Gidsy, new talents – biennale cologne, University of Bielefeld, Fuhrwerkswaage Kunstraum and the Enveritas Group.

Together with Seamus Heaney, Roddy Doyle and a bunch of other great Irish writers Marcel currently holds the world record for ‘Most Authors Reading Consecutively From Their Own Books’ at the Irish Writers’ Centre.

In 2009, together with the other contributors, he won the Irish Blog Awards for their writings in the Dublin Community Blog.

Marcel is also a graduate of the Matador New Media School for Travelers.

Check his website for more information.

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley and to I.B.Tauris for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I voluntarily choose to review.

This is a book that does what it says on the tin, and much more. The authors share a great wealth of research that they divide by neighbourhoods, not only of the writers born in Berlin but also of those who emigrated to the city or visited and produced some significant piece of work inspired by their stay or travels. Providing a detailed historical background into the birth and development of the city, it also describes the most important buildings in each area, and their significance to culture, be it official culture or underground and resistance.

The book contains brief biographies of the authors it discusses, from the Grimm Brothers, Mark Twain, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, to writers published within the last five years. It illustrates the city with quotes and extracts from a variety of works, from poems, songs, novels… I’ve personally discovered fascinating stories of parks housing suicidal literary lovers, of breweries that became hubbubs of culture and neighbourhood life through the centuries, of resistance on both sides of the wall, of writers who continued to create no matter how dire their circumstances, of heroics and controversies, and of a city that has suffered and endured as much as its citizens. Destroyed and rebuilt, fragmented and reunited, it has provided fertile ground for literature and artistic creation through its history and this guide offers the reader a taster that is sure to encourage further exploration.

I haven’t visited Berlin personally, but I finished the book with an urgency to go, and with the feeling that anybody who visits Berlin taking this guide with them will see it through a myriad of perspectives and live an unforgettable experience.

I hope to read more of these literary guides and to be able to take them with me on future trips. Highly recommended to lovers of travel and literature alike.

Thanks to NetGalley, I.B. Tauris and to the authors for this book, thanks to all of your for reading, and remember to like, share, comment and CLICK!

Categories
Guest author post

#NewBook P.S. I Forgive You by D.G. Kaye (@pokercubster) Memoirs can teach us so much!

Hi all:

Yes, I know I said I would be sharing old posts because I’m trying to carve some time for the things I should be doing… (the other things I should be doing) but I’ve wanted to share D. G. Kaye‘s new book for a while and kept thinking that perhaps I’d do it when I read and reviewed one of her books. Realistically I know it will take me some time to get there (my reading list has become all jumbled up, so anything might happen), and I don’t want to deprive  the readers who follow my blog from getting started  and exploring her books (even if it takes me, personally, a while to get there). D. G. (Debby for her friends and followers) writes non-fiction, some about her travels, menopause, but some that are even more personal, about her relationship with her mother, and this one is very personal indeed.

So here it is.

P. S. I Forgive You by D.G. Kaye
P. S. I Forgive You by D.G. Kaye

 

P.S. I Forgive You by D.G. Kaye

“I hurt for her. She wasn’t much of a mother, but she was still my mother.”

Confronted with resurfacing feelings of guilt, D.G. Kaye is tormented by her decision to remain estranged from her dying emotionally abusive mother after resolving to banish her years ago, an event she has shared in her book Conflicted Hearts. In P.S. I Forgive You, Kaye takes us on a compelling heartfelt journey as she seeks to understand the roots of her mother’s narcissism, let go of past hurts, and find forgiveness for both her mother and herself.

After struggling for decades to break free, Kaye has severed the unhealthy ties that bound her to her dominating mother—but now Kaye battles new confliction, as the guilt she harbors over her decision only increases as the end of her mother’s life draws near. Kaye once again struggles with her conscience and her feelings of being obligated to return to a painful past she thought she left behind.

blog-new-book-ps-print-cover

Excerpt

The End Is Near

My mother had been dying for years, and through those years she refused to surrender her bitterness and remained in denial of her flaws. The many times I heard she was dying reminded me of the boy who cried wolf. I almost believed she was invincible, and even though I never wanted her to suffer, she did.

I thought it was just a horrible and sad way to die—holding hatred for those she had chased out of her life, living in bitter seclusion, knowing her days were numbered. Her once vibrant life had diminished into a mere existence of watching TV and complaining. She’d also given all her caregivers a difficult time, bitching at them all and letting them know how useless they were to her because of what her life had become. Nobody was exempt.

I asked my brother Robby why God didn’t just take her out of her misery and pain during one of the many times she was on the brink of death. Why would he not spare her from suffering? He replied, “God has his own plans.” I couldn’t help but wonder if he was letting her suffer because she had hurt so many people in her lifetime, but in my next thought I couldn’t believe God would play those cruel games, tit for tat.

I wondered what thoughts had to have been going through my mother’s head. How awful it must have been to know her time left on earth was limited. I thought about how frightened she must have felt in her lonely world, although she’d never admit it. I was sad for her, knowing that the anger and bitterness she displayed was a front for the depressed state of her pathetic life. I couldn’t fathom why she remained so obstinate in her resolve to spend what little time she had left wallowing in misery instead of embracing the end and making amends with her children. I wanted to fix her, but I didn’t know how.

Get Your Copy Here!  Available on Amazon!

On the occasion of her new book, D. G. Kaye has given a number of interviews that I thought you’d enjoy too. Here I leave you links to them and that way you can go and explore her blog too.

Author D.G. Kaye
Author D.G. Kaye

Interviews:

http://dgkayewriter.com/mind-pen-spirit-interview-d-g-kaye/

http://dgkayewriter.com/write-memoir-savvy-book-writers/

Thanks to Debby for her books, thanks to all of you for reading and if you’ve enjoyed it, you know what to do, like, share, comment and CLICK!

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