“The Children Act” by Ian McEwan

Genre: Courtroom Drama The Children Act
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Pub. Date: September 9, 2014

Mini Review

I read this book years ago.  Recently while surfing channels I noticed that it was turned into a movie.  Instead of watching the movie, I re-read the novel because remembered liking it. I had previously read McEwan’s “Atonement.”  I found in both novels that his writing skills are first-rate. As in “Atonement,” a single event sets off a chain reaction of consequences.  In “Children,” a female judge must make a life or death decision regarding a 17-year-old boy. The teen has leukemia and desperately needs a blood transfusion.  He and his family happen to be Jehovah’s Witnesses, a religion that forbids blood transfusions.  What makes this courtroom drama different from others is that the writer is not playing on the readers’ emotions. This book will not have you on the edge of your seat. ” It is not primarily about religious beliefs and saving a life. It is more about the judge and making difficult decisions in British High Family Court.   You will read about other brutal cases that she has proceeded over.  She does this daily, all while trying to keep her marriage together. You can’t help but admire her legal skills.  “This has been no easy matter to resolve. I have given due weight to A’s age, to the respect due to faith, and to the dignity of the individual embedded in the right to refuse treatment …” Her decision and its consequences throw her into confusion and self-doubt. Even though the author is writing about a female protagonist, don’t expect this to be a women’s fiction novel. This is a short (224 pages), concise, strong novel, where a judge’s ruling decision affects her life in ways she never intended or imagined.  Okay, there is a hint of a soap in the tale still, it remains a literary read that will make you think about the judge even after you have finished the novel.

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“Dracula” by Bram Stoker

Genre:  Gothic horror Dracula2
Publisher:  Archibald Constable and Company
Pub. Date: May 26, 1897

Martie’s 2020 Halloween Read


“Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will!” Those words, which were written in the 19th century, were the beginning of the vampire craze that is still going on today. There have been earlier stories on vampires but it was Stoker, who made the vampire, Count Dracula, a household name. Surprisingly, the novel is not a pure horror book, especially when compared to present day horror novels. It flows much slower and probes deeply into human identity and sanity.  I am sure I do not need to tell you the basics of the story that has been recreated in theaters, television, and films. I can share that none of them get the tale correct. Even the 1991 movie, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (I watched it the moment I finished the book) misses the major themes of the novel. The plot is too complicated for film reproduction.  It is a true mixed genre novel including, folklore, Victorian culture, religion, eroticism, colonialism, war, mystery (almost reads like a detective murder mystery), and of course gothic horror. There is no narrator. Almost the entire story is written in the daily journals of the main characters. This can make the novel trying to read.  But, stick with it because it is so darn good.

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Blogging Buddies I’m Out of Commission

I have just been released from the hospital so I am afraid that I haven’t been able to read any of your lovely reviews.  My latest attention-seeking shenanigans (if you remember I had broken my shoulder a couple of months ago) was having a minor heart attack, meaning I won’t be online for a bit longer. I’m fine no worries. Looking forward to reading reviews again soon.

A Portrait of an Artist

Sounds wonderful.

The Chocolate Lady's Book Review Blog

Book Review of Notes from an Exhibition” by Patrick Gale.

aad14-notesTo try to describe the plot of Patrick Gale’s novel “Notes on an Exhibition” is as difficult a task as to try to explain a piece of abstract art. In fact, this novel is less of a story than it is a portrait of a personality and the life around her. The action of this book revolves around Rachel Kelly, an artist who came from Canada and lived most of her life in Cornwall. What’s more, Rachel is bipolar (manic-depressive), and this affects not only her own outlook on life, but also all those around her as well as her art. With nothing is truly obvious from the outset of this book, the full story is only revealed once you’ve finished reading the last page.

What’s more, Gale sets up this book in a fascinating way. To…

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“The Girls In The Garden” by Lisa Jewell

Genre: Murder Mystery/Psychological Thrillerthe girls in the garden
Publisher:  Atria Books
Pub. Date:  2016

Due to a recent injury, this mini-review is being written via voice to text. Please forgive errors and a review that is not up to par.

I enjoyed this character-driven murder mystery. I thought the storyline reads more literary than the genre, something that isn’t too easy to pull off when writing a psychological thriller. Jewell nails adolescent anguish. The novel revolves around a few dysfunctional/offbeat families with young teenage kids. Their homes share a common garden park, which is the communal backyard. There is a “gang” of young teens who hang out in the yard. Think the movie “Mean Girls” mixed with “The Breakfast Club.”

The mystery part of the story is that the reader learns that years before a teenage girl died in that park. No one knows if her death was an accident or a murder. In the present, during the boozy annual summer party thrown by the adults, something bad happens to another girl. The author gives us many characters with persuasive motivations. It could’ve gone in many directions. Unfortunately, I can’t say I like the one Jewell picked.

I could not figure out exactly what happened. Maybe this was the author’s intention. Or maybe it’s simply that I am having trouble concentrating lately. Either way, I probably did not mind as much as other readers might, because it wasn’t the mystery that caught my interest. It was the families’ dynamics written with very good character development. There isn’t much suspense in “Girls.” What you get is an insight into what makes the author’s characters tick. That was good enough for me.

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When You’re a Jet


Grateful American: A Journey From Self to Service by Gary Sinise is an eye-opening look into the life and mission of the well- known actor. Until reading this book, I never realized the author’s many connections to the Chicago area. This discovery, along with sharing the same year of birth and faith, made his story relatable to me personally.

I had no idea Gary is one of the founding members of the Steppenwolf theater in Chicago. I know many people who frequented the plays there… small world!

What I found most fascinating is the trajectory of Gary’s life. Here’s a pot smoking kid who was seemingly without direction until a drama teacher suggested he audition for a high school play. He’s accepted as a chorus member in West Side Story and he’s hooked! As is often said, the rest is history. It’s not without it’s ups and downs, but Gary’s…

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ELEVEN well-known books that were inspired by dreams


Introduction by Brigid Ludwig

Did you know that Stephen King dreamed the entire plot of ‘Misery’ on a plane?

If you’ve ever been unable to put a great book down, you know how easy it is to get lost in a story. The interesting characters, the fascinating plot points, and enthralling description can keep you turning page after page. Authors work very hard to craft compelling stories that their readers will not only enjoy, but love. For many this takes years of hard work and planning. It may even mean hundreds of rejections, thousands of edits and loads of re-writing. For a lucky few, however, they don’t have to work so hard at all.

Authors of famous books like Frankenstein and Jane Eyre claim to have come up with the ideas for their novels in their dreams. And these aren’t the only cases, either. You’d be surprised how many famous…

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