ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first novel that I'm reading by Jay Stringer and I enjoyed every page of it. The entire novel is based in Glasgow, another place on my to-visit list.
For me, the hero and the most enchanting character in this book was not the PI Samantha Ireland. It was Fergus, right from the beginning. And who wouldn't love a hit man for Christ's sake.
I loved reading about the mind and the workings of a contract killer/hit man through Fergus. He was entertaining, agile, cute and funny. Now, a girl like me threw my head back and laughed on his jokes and oddball takes on life. Honestly, the last time I enjoyed characters like Fergus was in Pulp Fiction - you know, the movie and a classic for my taste.
What made this book more interesting was not just the wide range of characters but the double journey narrative with three major plot lines. This literary technique is beautifully pinned down in How to Kill Friends and Implicate People, which I've only seen in movies so far. This is a very clever way to design a plot because all of a sudden I realized....I've got to pay attention, I can't skip a line or a word....I have to read it through.
I don't have to mention that all the characters are witty, smart, hilarious and most importantly, unique. The varied language dialects also adds to the charm of their narrative, not forgetting to mention - the colorful language.
I bet if they decide to make a movie out of How to Kill Friends and Implicate People, it will be a cultural classic for audiences everywhere.
Overall, it was a treat for my senses and I'm getting me a paperback.
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Few readers might call it insta-love, which would have come across as boring had Ms. Miller not worked her charm throughout the story. Her writing was spectacular. It flowed, literally.
Caleb is charming, witty and I loved him till the end. So was Brook memorable and it has nothing to do with her abrupt bouts of crying. It’s a neuro-psychological condition people. Read the book and find out why the heroine is one balloon filled with tears, ready to burst. I sympathized with her pain and how Caleb had been by her side throughout.
One thing that I simply loved about Caleb and Brook was the fact that they didn’t let petty insecurities or jealousy drive them into madness or cause them to behave irrationally like toddlers. Brook was the first one to surprise me when she doesn’t throw the napkin on their first dinner date and walk-out on Caleb when he declares he’s a Blackstone. Both have been mature individuals throughout the series. Their discussions are not petty or unwanted. It gave me a deeper look into who Caleb and Brook truly were.
I don’t even want to start writing about the swoon-worthy, heart palpitating, steamy scenes between Caleb and Brook. There were moments when I was happy, sad, and worked-up and seriously thinking about various aspects of the book.
To be honest, the story has nothing new to add. I’ve read some of the same instances occurring in other books and could find connections with other novels that I’ve read in the same genre. The overall story is more of an ‘old-wine-in-a-new-bottle’ kind of story. But, the characters and their depths make it one unique and hard-to-put-down read.
I finished it in a day. I was not very happy when the book ended because I wanted more.
I know, I’m one greedy reader.
When I read the blurb, I thought Who We Were Before was something similar to Rabbit Hole; you know the Nicole Kidman-Aaron Eckhart movie about a couple trying to move on after their four-year-old son dies in an accident.
I’ve seen the movie and wanted to see what made this book stand apart from the theme of grief-stricken parents Edward and Zoe who’ve lost their two-year-old son as well.
Who We Were Before blew me away. I couldn’t put it away because no matter how hard it was getting to read and breathe at the same time, I pushed on to finish it. My throat closed up reading their experiences and how they were drifting apart.
Leah Mercer’s writing was beautiful. Who We Were Before is told through two perspectives - Edward and Zoe; switching between past and present. I can’t even begin to explain how bare and honest their story was because my family has gone through grief as such - twice. I can’t even begin to explain what grief of losing a child does to parents, because time and again I could see my cousin and his wife in Zoe and Edward. Losing a child is an irreplaceable loss that nothing or no one else can fill. It forever remains and open wound; sometimes it throbs till you can’t breathe anymore and sometimes it becomes numb.
Through their past and present narrations, I got to know what each of their actions meant and how the better-half interpreted it. There were many instances of misunderstanding because both Edward and Zoe were not willing to talk about their pain and kept running away from each other. When Edward escaped to work, Zoe’s plans were only getting drunk to numb her pain.
Yeah, you might think why didn’t they just talk it out-and-out? Well, it’s not that easy.
“But how can you help someone who won’t just let you in, but who is also lying to you?”
You can’t. Truth is, whatever Edward and Zoe were going through was real. Grief changes people/parents in so many different ways and I’ve seen it changing people in real life. I loved how Leah Mercer traced this subject with right amount of delicateness and honesty. As much as I loved reading about their past, I dreaded reading about their present because nothing was hearts and flowers.
A harsh truth they both had to live.
Overall, this is a beautiful book and sadly, not everyone will understand the deep-rooted sentiments and pain of Edward and Zoe. It is a story for mature readers who will appreciate the efforts, sensitivity, and Leah Mercer’s willingness for writing a book about loss and grief.
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love with Cletus, but I seriously loved Jennifer too. Usually, it so happens that I remember the male protagonist and forget the female protagonist altogether because she is lack-luster or is not enough. A princess-in-distress kind to be precise and I don’t appreciate those stories much; unless the guy has stolen my heart.
Coming back to Cletus. He is no alpha-male. Thank-effing-God for that! Because I’ve been sick and tired (read nauseated) with the thoughts of reading books that star an alpha-male. The brooding kinds and the works.
Cletus is a man on a mission. He is remarkable force to be stayed away from. He is meticulous, detailed, and passive-aggressive and oh man, he’s got amazing skills that I admired throughout the book. Kudos Ms. Reid for developing such a strong man, who is no alpha, but is sneaky and dangerous on a whole new level. I’ve always been afraid and suspicious of ‘the quiet ones’ and you surely cemented my thoughts by introducing me to Cletus.
GAH! I LOVE CLETUS! I kept reading about him with admiration and awe with an undercurrent of fear. It was thrilling!
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED CLETUS.
Looks like Penny Reid heard my prayers and gifted womankind Jennifer. She doesn’t come across as the alpha-kind in the beginning. But, wait till you find out how she strikes a deal with the revengeful, calculative, never-forgive-never-forget Cletus. What I loved most aboutJennifer was the fact that she never came across as a self-loathing, pity-me kind of character even when she knew others were treating her unfair.
But, I believe she just needed a nudge from Cletus from being mere a kitten to becoming a tigress. WOAH! Her change was not just profound but she commanded attention. I loved that!
I’ve read Penny Reid’s Elements of Chemistry series which also had a strong and unique female protagonist and I still remember her name - Kaitlyn. That is the best part about her writing. Her female protagonists’ are memorable.
Cletus on the other hand was brilliant. You do not want to cross with him. EVER. He is the best passive-aggressive avenger I’ve ever read about and he thrilled me to the core. I loved his bluntness, those solemn nods, and the way he spoke. I love a man who knows where to apply the right amount of sarcasm.
Furthermore, I wanted to strangle Jennifer's father, shove a dirty rag down her mother’s throat and I don’t even want to begin how I wanted to torture her brother. You see, I love it when my emotions are out of control when I’m reading. It does showcase how profound Ms. Reid’s writing is that Beard Science has drawn such emotions out of me. My emotional investment was worth every second of it and I’m going to re-read this book countless times.
Plus, Penny Reid understands WEIRD. I know WEIRD, because I am WEIRD. That is what makes her writing unique for me because whenever I’ve read her books, I keep nodding and grinning in affirmation with all the little details she puts that I have noticed on quite a few occasions myself.
There are so many nuggets of lessons Penny Reid’s weaved throughout Beard Science, and whenever I’m reading her work, I’m on high-alert to spot all the details and observations she puts into her writing. She is by far one of the best author’s I’ve read in the scene today. She does not come up with forgettable characters and storylines. She knows where to mock, joke or throw in sarcasm without over-throwing the plot or the seriousness of it.
She is the Wise Yoda in the writing smart romance.
She tackled serious topics such as isolation, OCD, emotional abuse and physical/child abuse in all fairness without making me question the characters.
I recommend this book to everyone who’s looking for something different to read, other than the same-old yada-yada love stories. You will get a love story in Penny Reid’swriting alright, but you will also get to know so much about the ‘other’ kind of people.
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I was spooked by so many facts so intricately woven in the story-line. The descriptions were much needed to understand the world of puppets and puppeteers. There was not a dull moment.
I felt so bad for Theo on countless occasions. I could understand the parallel-shift that Kay was experiencing because what had happened to her.
Read the book to find out. I would not be giving out any spoilers in this review.
Keith Donohue’s writing beautifully covered the concept of the ‘fear of the unknown’ throughout the story. I kept reading it page after page just to find out what would the end entail. Believe me, the end did not disappoint me. It rather hurt me and ripped me into a thousand pieces. It was not what I expected, neither did I see it coming.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:
The story starts with She fell in love with a puppet. Because he was beautiful, because he was rare, because he could not be hers. And believe, me when I say this, you will ponder upon this quote when you finish reading it, because I certainly am and the killer part is, I know what it means!
Never enter a toyshop after midnight. I took this as a clear warning when I was 40% done with the book. I swear on my life!
Sometimes the puppets return, sometimes they never come back. Sometimes they last forever.
Lesson Learnt: I’m never stepping a foot inside a puppet store. EVER.
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“Maybe I was destined to forever fall in love with people I couldn’t have. Maybe there’s a whole assortment of impossible people waiting for me to find them. Waiting to make me feel the same impossibility over and over again.”
Believe me, I did not expect this book to be so gripping and enriching. I can somewhere relate to June because she is one of those 14 year-olds who is too mature for her age. Her thoughts are on a completely different level. Through June, Carol Rifka-Brunt has shown a very unique side of love that is not bound by or dependent on physical intimacy.
“I thought of all the different kinds of love in the world. I could think of ten without even trying. The way parents love their kids, the way you love a puppy or chocolate ice cream or home or your favorite book or your sister. Or your uncle. There's those kinds of love and then there's the other kind. The falling kind.”
I have experienced love that's 'the falling kind' and Carol Rifka Brunt has just worked her magic in explaining why it is so right.
From the blurb, no one would realize what a miracle and outstanding this book actually is.
On the other hand, the author has touched a very delicate subject. AIDS. Although this book is set in 1987, the AIDS-related taboos are still masking out society.
This is one book I'd press upon people in years to come.
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