Sunday, May 21, 2017

Roses of May - Dot Hutchison

Publishing: May 23rd, 2017, Thomas & Mercer.
Pg Count: 302 (e-book)
Find the Author: Goodreads
"Four months after the explosion at the Garden, a place where young women known as the Butterflies were kept captive, FBI agents Eddison, Hanoverian, and Ramirez are still entrenched in the aftermath. With winter coming to an end, the Butterflies have longer, warmer days of healing ahead. But for the agents, the impending thaw means one gruesome thing: a chilling guarantee that somewhere in the country, another young woman will turn up dead in a church with her throat slit and her body surrounded by flowers. Priya's sister fell victim to the killer years ago. Now she and her mom move every few months, hoping for a new beginning. When she ends up in the madman’s crosshairs, the hunt takes on new urgency. Only with Priya’s help can the killer be found—but will her desperate hope for closure compel her to put her very life on the line?" -Goodreads Blurb

Last year I reviewed The Butterfly Garden after picking it up on a whim (after having seen it suggested on my Amazon page a gazillion times). It was the start of what is now entitled the 'The Collector Trilogy'. It's being released on the 23rd. And like it's predecessor - I basically read the entire book in one night because I needed to see how it ended. 

If you haven't read The Butterfly Garden yet - don't read this book. It has too many recurring characters and references to the Garden from the first book to make proper sense to read alone. I, myself, kind of wish I had reread Garden before reading this one. However - the new characters and the developing of old ones is original and organic. The tone, and general theme, of this book is different. Whereas Garden was about trauma and how to survive and what you might do to do survive...Roses of May was about what to do after. What happens when you survive, when you're the one left behind? The theme of recovery is layered several times over within the plot. 

Familial bonds - both by blood and by choice - are also a recurring theme. As is the refreshing and clear difference between a healthy relationship and a unhealthy one. Priya, has a tight bond with the 'Quantico 3'. Eddison who has been handling her sister's case since the start in particular. When you have a series centered around the obsession of young girls/women in the most sadistic, creepy-as-fuck way I think it'd be easy to fall into the trap of making all adult male figures a crap-shoot. There is no confusion as to the platonic, paternal nature of the relationship between Eddison and Priya (and her mother). Just because family is blood doesn't mean they are Family. Looking back on the Butterfly Garden I'm beginning to see a re-occurring theme linking the series together. Ultimately the theme shifts from - what to do after surviving...to making the active stance to no longer being a victim. It's a deeply personal choice and it means different things to different people and I felt that Hutchison effectively communicated this.

My biggest pause on this book was the corny tone the narration took. At times it felt like Hutchison was forcing the lightness into the interactions of the characters. Adding humor, little quirks, and insights solely to re-affirm the shifted tone. I say that because you jump from the anonymous POV of the pervy serial killer stalking and talking about his victims to another character (usually Priya or Eddison). Perhaps that's what made it seem corny. Hutchison can rock the darkness. She is most excellent about it. The contrast between light/dark, good/evil is tangible in Roses. In ways that it was most certainly not in Butterfly.

I also thought Priya's Mom was a little crazy for letting her daughter do what she did. However, I won't spoil it. I just want to add that no kid of mine would ever, ever have to be put in a situation like Priya was. Definitely not to my knowledge and not on my watch.

3 out of 5 stars! Just like the Butterfly Garden. I genuinely look forward to the conclusion of this trilogy. I have a strong suspicion who and what case it might entail. ;)

Until next time..happy reading!

Jess


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Foretelling - Alice Hoffman

Publishing: Oct. 25th, 2016. Open Road Media.
Page Count: 72 pgs (e-book)
Find the Author: website

"Born out of sorrow in an ancient time of blood and war, Rain is a girl marked by destiny. Her mother, Alina, is the proud queen of a tribe of female warriors, yet she refuses to touch or even look at her only daughter. Determined to win her mother’s love and take her rightful place as the next queen, Rain becomes a brave and determined fighter. But the dream of a black horse clouds her future, portending death. As one devastating battle follows the next, Rain hopes for a different life for her tribe beyond never-ending bloodshed. Peace, mercy, and love, however, are forbidden words in her language—can Rain teach her sisters to speak in a new tongue before it’s too late?" - Nabbed from Goodreads. 

I've been seeking a take on the Amazon culture for a while (outside of Wonderwoman) now. Having Alice Hoffman, author of my beloved Practical Magic, write one was like getting an extra chocolate bar out of the vending machine. Trust in an author goes a long way. It leads you to buy a book without reading based on the expectation that it's worthy to stand on your shelf. It deeply pains me to say that I am happy I didn't buy this book in physical form. Because...it doesn't quite stand up to Hoffman's reputation. 

Yea, that hurt to say. 

She brought me PRACTICAL MAGIC. 

IT'S ABOUT THE AMAZONS. 

And yet...it doesn't stand up. 

We open up on a young Amazonian narrating her life. Her mother is cold towards her, she's raised by the Priestesses, tutored by the best warriors. The premise, the plot is pulling towards the readers. Brings you in with such hope. The world building that is told (told not shown - but more on that later) is shiny and hopeful...at first. And you keep reading because you want to have more...except you don't exactly get it. My personal pet peeve is when a world is built and it's entirely and utterly confusing - you can't figure a picture in your head of what's going down. That's NOT what happened. Foretelling might not live up to Hoffman's reputation but it's still Hoffman we're reading. The problem I faced was that I couldn't connect to the characters, the world was told far more than it was shown, and it went way too fast. The book (in e-book) was only 72 pages. It read like a rough draft (a good one, but still a rough draft) where the characters needed to be fleshed out and the narration needed to be crafted with visual and emotion-based world building. 

72 digital pages was not enough to fully flesh out the plot. There was so much the reader could have experienced. It read like a myth being told - which makes sense considering it is about the Amazons - but what you wanted (and expected) was a novel. 

A positive of Foretelling was the imagery inspired by the many animals Rain and her people were close to. Not just horses - but bees as well were sacred to them. Rain bonded and raised a bear cub as close to her as her horse. The bear became part of her spirit, her strength, her personality. For those who know a little about animal symbolism - it reads as a nod to foreshadowing, a extra foundation of which to understand Rain's personality and motives. 

As for the actual prophecy part of the novel named "The Foretelling"...it was a surprising twist. The prophecy is a mixture of symbolism, self-perpetuated destiny, and the circle of life. Also bad (or excellent) timing. It's a fitting tribute to Rain's journey and of course, she would act the way that she did. It's got all the makings of a emotional punch in the heart. The kind that makes you cry, freak out, get WAY into a fictional story so far that you wonder if you're kind of maybe a nut job - but it...just doesn't deliver the blow. 

I literally pouted after finishing up the 72nd page.  That was it? I wanted more! THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE WE COULD HAVE EXPERIENCED. Novels are meant to give experiences, they're meant to have so much written that the author is forced by their editor to cut their precious baby scenes out. What I read wasn't a finished novel. It was the bones of an potentially excellent novel written by a talented author. Hence, the experience I was expecting (and looking forward to) wasn't what I got.

It wasn't a waste of my Saturday evening. However, I couldn't suggest purchasing it to put on your shelf (the highest degree of recommendation I can give). If you are intrigued by myths and by the Amazons, if you enjoy Alice Hoffman - borrow it from the library or catch the digital on sale. 

3 out of 5 stars. 

Until next time, 

Jess

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