Month: January 2018

Sweet Madness

Authors: Trisha Leaver  and Lindsay Currie
Published: August 7, 2015
226 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description from Amazon:

Sad young woman … or cold-blooded killer?

On a steaming August day in 1892, a sweet-faced, young woman in Fall River, Massachusetts stepped from a naive girlhood into a dark legend that has lasted for more than a hundred years. On that day, Andrew Borden, a prosperous businessman, was found hacked to death in his parlor. Upstairs, police find his wife, Abbey — just as dead. Andrew’s youngest daughter, Lizzie, was charged with the murders, sending shock-waves through the nation. A jury found her not guilty, for no one saw a thing and there wasn’t a single real clue. Still, as this captivating realistic novel suggests, someone may have known the truth.

Told through the eyes of Lizzie’s Irish maid, Bridget Sullivan, who may have been Lizzie’s only true friend, Sweet Madness tells of a cruel, penny-pinching father who had plenty of enemies, an ambitious second wife, a distant older sister and Lizzie, a trusting and kind soul who grew more unstable by the day. A carefully researched account from a bystander who was once a prime suspect, Sweet Madness will give you a look into the doomed house on Second Street and a deeper understanding of one of history’s saddest and most controversial crimes.

Kim’s Review:

I really liked this book and read it in almost one sitting. It kept me engaged and anticipating what the next page would say. Bridget was a realistic and likeable voice and I think she was the perfect narrator for the story. The authors captured the offness of the Borden house and of the Bordens themselves. I thought I knew the story of Lizzie Borden before I started reading, but the authors took the mystery surrounding the murders and molded it into a twisting and believable theory. The only critique I would give is that I wish the epilogue gave a little more info on Lizzie’s trial. I had to look up what the results of the trial were, even though the info was hinted at in the book. I just felt that I needed a little bit more. Other than that, the story was awesome. I didn’t want to put the book down. You felt every moment of tension, frustration, and fear right along with Bridget, Mr. and Mrs. Borden, and Lizzie. It amazed me the difference I could feel at specific times in the book. My stomach would literally lock up at the tension. This would be a great read for anyone looking for an easy mystery, especially those who enjoy cold cases. It’s on the shorter side so it doesn’t take long to get through. I absolutely recommend this book!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Sunday Series Review: The Hungry Plague

This week Kim reviews M.R.Carey’s The Hungry Plague series which is better known as The Girl with all the Gifts and The Boy on the Bridge. I have yet to read Boy on the Bridge but LOVED The Girl with all the Gifts. I awarded it 5 stars; In fact it made my Top 10 list in 2016. My review for it is here. I personally hope M.R. Carey continues with this series!

Books in the Series:
The Girl with all the Gifts
The Boy on the Bridge

Reviewed By: Kim

Kim’s Review: 4 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

Kim’s Review:

I will admit that this book really surprised me! I listened to it on audiobook and some of it in the dark on my bike while I worked out. Yeah, you definitely shouldn’t read this book in the dark! There are some super creepy parts that had me wishing that I could pedal faster to get away from the story! And I’m not a zombie person at all! I had no idea that’s what “hungries” were until I started describing them to my husband. I told him that they were zombie like creatures who fed on human flesh and had virtually no brain function at all. “Kim, that’s what zombies are!” Oh! Ok, then! This book is my introduction to zombies!!! Yay!!!

Considering the mindlessness of the hungries, this book was a thinker. There were many philosophical predicaments that I had a great time working through along with the characters. Melanie is a character that I had no problem liking. She’s smart and perky and optimistic. From the very beginning, I expected to hate Sergeant Parks . . . but I didn’t. Believe it or not, there was something about him that I really liked and he ended up as one of my very favorite characters! And Miss Justineau was someone I thought I understood but she surprised me several times throughout the story. Honestly, the hungries were the only reason I gave this book 4 stars . . . I really don’t like zombies, they’re scary!! I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good apocalyptic thriller. I bet even teens would enjoy this book.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

There is also a movie which Jessica really enjoyed!  Yes, there are differences in the film, but M.R. Carey wrote the screenplay and kept the ending faithful to the novel.  It is recommended as well.  You can buy it on Blu-Ray here:


Kim’s Review: 4 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy. The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world. To where the monsters lived.

Kim’s Review:

I loved reading The Girl with All the Gifts, so picking up this book was a no brainer. I was able to get it from Audible and I was thrilled to find out that the same narrator was reading for both books. One thing that The Boy on the Bridge missed from the very beginning was the emotional connection to the characters. Sure, I liked Dr. Khan and hated Dr. Fornier, just like I was supposed to. I trusted Col. Carlyle and distrusted Lt. McQueen, just like I was supposed to. But it was more like I was being told, through the opinions of the other characters, whether to like or dislike a character. Thankfully, this got better as the book went along. By the time I got to the end of the book, I did feel a connection to several of the characters.

I also didn’t like how Carey almost undid the struggles and the scope of The Girl with All the Gifts in this book. It is a prequel, which is a very important thing to know. I wish I could elaborate more without giving away the story, but I can’t. So y’all will just have to read it! The second half of the book was definitely better than the first. The first was far too technical for me. There was a lot of science mixed with drama, that you would think wouldn’t exist in the face of a zombie apocalypse, and it dragged very slowly. However, the second half redeemed the book! All the emotions and philosophy and ethics were crammed in and I loved it! And I was in TEARS at the end of the book! It had such a beautiful ending! It was the perfect resolution to the “hungry saga.”

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who read The Girl with All the Gifts; I would suggest reading that before starting this book. Saying that, I would recommend the series to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic fiction. I think older teens would really enjoy this series as well.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

[Top]

Author Spotlight: Ellis Shuman

 

 

 

 

 

Ellis Shuman was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. He completed high school in Jerusalem and served for three years in the Israeli army. Along with his wife, Jodie, he was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel. After working for several years in the hotel industry, he today writes and edits online marketing content. In the years 2009 – 2010, his job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Ellis’s writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. He is the author of a collection of short stories, The Virtual Kibbutz (2003) and two novels, Valley of Thracians (January 2013) and The Burgas Affair (October 2017).

Ellis lives with his wife, children, and grandchildren on Moshav Neve Ilan, outside Jerusalem. He writes about Bulgaria, Israel, books, travel, and the craft of writing on his blog.


**Published October 30, 2017:

The Burgas Affair
327 Pages

She’s an Israeli data analyst. He’s a headstrong Bulgarian detective. Together they must track down those responsible for a horrific bombing.

In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence agencies launch a joint investigation. Detective Boyko Stanchev on the police task force teams up with Ayala Navon, a young Israeli intelligence analyst on her first overseas assignment.

The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization in laying the groundwork for the attack.

It should be a routine investigation, but shadows of the past keep interfering.

Boyko’s interactions with a crime boss pursuing a vendetta against him threaten to throw him off track. Ayala’s pursuit of the terrorists and their accomplices brings up painful memories of a family tragedy.

Boyko and Ayala form a shaky alliance, one that evolves into growing cooperation and affection as they desperately race against time to uncover who was behind the Burgas bombing.

The Burgas Affair is a fictional account of the aftermath of a very real terrorist attack. On July 18, 2012, a deadly explosive rocked a tourist bus at Burgas Airport, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver. The terrorists responsible for this murderous attack have never been brought to justice.

Buy The Burgas Affair NOW:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Other Works:

The Virtual Kibbutz: Stories from a Changing Society
220 Pages

Israeli short stories from the kibbutz.

For over fifty years, the magnificent oak tree stood as a solitary landmark in the middle of the valley, witnessing the cool, wet winters and the hot, humid summers. Young pioneers established a new kibbutz nearby, celebrating their collective way of life in the shade of the tree.

Decades later, the kibbutz is not the same. Its members’ idealism has changed. Can the community still be considered a kibbutz?

In this debut collection of stories, the author introduces you to kibbutz residents challenged with adapting to new realities. Along the way you’ll see how kibbutzniks face up to the violence of the Intifada, cope with the Internet, and struggle to have more control over their lives.

Meet a clown who uses magic to heal the wounds of terror victims, a veteran dairy worker who has difficulties bidding farewell to an albino cow, a farmer who must decide what to do with the prize money of a lottery, and a reporter who is researching comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s kibbutz past.

These are the stories of Israel’s unique society, of the changes and dilemmas it faces, and of the hopes, challenges and dreams of those who continue to call the kibbutz their home.

Buy The Virtual Kibbutz Now:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Valley of Thracians: A Novel of Bulgaria
357 Pages

How far would you go to rescue a loved one?

A Peace Corps volunteer has gone missing in Bulgaria and everyone assumes he is dead, everyone except his grandfather, who refuses to give up hope. Retired literature professor Simon Matthews launches a desperate search only to be lured into a bizarre quest to retrieve a stolen Thracian artifact—a unique object of immense value others will stop at nothing to recover.

Matthews travels through a Balkan landscape dotted with ancient tombs and fortresses, unaware that his grandson has been confined to an isolated mountain cabin, slowly recovering from a severe head injury. Nothing can be taken at face value, as the woman assisting Matthews in his quest and the nurse caring for his injured grandson may have ulterior motives in helping the two reunite. Even when Matthews succeeds in joining up with his grandson, departure from Bulgaria is only possible if the missing relic can be found.

Buy Valley of Thracians Now:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Contact Ellis:
“Ellis Shuman Writes” Website
Facebook
Twitter  @ellisshuman
Goodreads

[Top]