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Congregate if you dare

A NetGalley review of

The Congregation

by

Desiree Bombenon.

A congregation of the abused, strong in their determination to channel their emotional hurt into something positive –  for them – but in reality a destructive act of great consequences.

A story of just what lengths people will go when they have been hurt by those they trusted. From the child battered by a parent; to a child abused by a person in a position of trust suh as a priest or social worker; to a wife beaten on a regular absis by her abusive controlling husband; all will go to extreme lengths to demonstrate just how damaged they are by what has happened to them.

The legacy of such tragedy goes on echoing down the generations and the Roman Catholic Church still has not fully answered for its sins – or so those in the Congregation would attest.

In Chicago, there were a number of allegations of sexual and physical abuse in the RC church carried out by priets of varying ranks. So much so that  Andrew Greeley wrote The Priestly Sins (2004), a novel about a young priest from the Plains States who is exiled to an insane asylum and then to an academic life because he reports abuse that he has witnessed.

Fall from Grace is a 1993 novel by Father Greeley. It is a story of sin and corruption in leading Irish Catholic families in Chicago and the cover up of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. [Wikipedia]

It is clear from records now released that the RC church including Jesuits and schools in Chicago hid the behaviour of priests such as  Donald McGuire and Daniel McCormack who are now convicted. So the setting was very important for this novel.

The other issue that drives tis story is the church’s stance on homosexuality. Apparently, it is OK to have such thoughts, but not to act on them.  Between 20 and 60 percent of all Catholic priests are gay, according to one estimate cited by Donald Cozzens in his book The Changing Face of the Priesthood. This is a higher percentage than in the general population and there has been much speculation that a gay lobby exists within the Vatican power brokers. Nevertheless, being known to be gay in the priesthood, is a recipe for blackmail and so we see in this story also.

These are both very important issues and either would have made for a great thriller by other authors, but this story lacks tension and insufficient complications and mis-directions to provide for a really satisfactory read. Thi is sad as the auhor has picked a great possibility but has not followed through. We found out the perpetrators too early and the hero/heroine had too little to do to unravel the plot.

So this is a light version of a conspiracy novel that would work for those not familiar for the genre and wanting an introduction but for me lacked depth.

 

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Enter the Angel when the winds are rising

A review of The oncoming storm: bk 1 in Angel in the Whirlwind series.

by

Christopher Nuttall

This was my first experience of a book by Nuttall – who is quite prolific – and I was impresssed. So much so that I have pre-ordered the next in the series.

Am i getting soft in my choices I wonder? but no, I am not giving this book 5 stars, only 4 but interesting enough in premises and story-line that I wanted to read more.

spaceFar far into our future Earth has been destroyed. Gone through warfare and no-one lives there any more.

Humans have scattered across many worlds – with varying degrees of technological capacity depending on who settled them and what with. Sects and cults are still with us though as are religious wars. Can we never learn? And just what is this new religion, that is so zealous and so reminiscent of a nasty cross between the Taliban and the Roman Catholic Church at the time of the Inquisitors? Inquisitors with torture again and women once more to be forever hidden from view and disregarded and unable to participate in life.

Here we have a story of Galactic wars with a twist. A twist for women. The hero is actualy a heroine. Nice contrast of course with the new religion (I think there is a hint of what it is at the end of the book but I need it confirmed before I write a spoiler, but if I am right, it is just an old religion made new).

In the heroine’s culture women are equal and allowed to fight hand to hand and on the front line. and that gives her an advantage, an edge against this new religion and their leaders s they underestimate her and her capabilities.

She is feisty and strong in intellect even if not funny, and I want to command a space ship too… although being in charge of all those weapons would not suit me – I want to ban the bomb after all…

So yes, I have ordered the next book and wait to find out how the war progresses and just how sneaky women who are locked up can be…(ref Princesses).

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Bones, Bones, Bones again, and then more Bones!

NOT (!) a NetGalley Review but just book reviews for Kathy Reichs

Yes, I’ve just had a four-fold fest of Kathy Reichs.

I haven’t read her for a while and when I found a great second-hand bookshop and one of her books, I started reading paperbacks again…

I have read every Kathy Reichs book in sequence and was very glad to find that the paperback I had picked up was the next one on for me to read (even though I was now 4 behind!). I have never yet failed to be fascinated with Tempe  Brennan and her complicated emotional life, and horrified by her job and the dreadful crimes that are committed in these books.

Once I started with ‘Bones of the Lost’ I was hooked again and remembered why her books were best sellers (the TV series is not really related at all and I have given up thinking it ever might be). However I do have a very philosophical question to ask of the world of books – ‘Why, whenever I read a crime novel over my cereal in the morning, do I always come to the section about the grisly murder, horrible torture or morgue scenes, especially autopsies or dissections or descriptions of body parts found scattered and how the brain matter is splattered across walls?’  With all the gory details included and spelled out in full? Especially for a person such as me who hides their eyes when surgery comes on TV?

Watch Dem Bones on YouTube:

I loved all four of these books equally but the last book – Speaking in Bones –  is perhaps not as new in its ‘crime’ as the others. The outlawed priest and exorcisms and the ghastly outcomes are perhaps old territory as is the psychological illness of one of the main characters (I won’t say who,  as this will spoil it for you) and what happens as a result is again not new. I felt that this last read book lacked some of the tension of the previous ones and I did get rather annoyed with Tempe and her emotions and impulsive behaviour which, having lived through all that she had, you would have thought she had grown out of. Rather childish in many ways and her agonising got on my nerves a bit… but all’s well that ends well and she did survive for another story to be written about her!

So 4 star for all books again.

I look forward to the next one – perhaps next year?

 

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The Winds Chime

The Windchime Legacy

by

AW Mykel

A NetGalley Review

This was the first novel by AW Mykel and was originally written in 1980. Unfortunately this shows in a number of places. If it had been updated  – just a little – I would have given it 4 stars but it just fails due to being out-dated.

When it was written the spy world described with Russia and the US and the UK were very true. But unfortunately for this novel we all know that the Russians were very good at trapping people through sexy spies and no-one would be fooled by that these days – after Christine Keeler all politicians and defectors knew only too well to look out for a gift-woman and avoid them like the plague.

Then there is the computer and Sentinel. For its time, the novel was verging on fantasy but this computer is easily imagined today as are the implants and you would need to go further in what it could do – after all Google knows where all the missile silos are!

So update the hardware – the phones, the computers and some of the behaviour and what is an interesting spy novel would become good, but it just missed it for me as it seemed I had read it all before – even the idea of the Nazi plan for later world domination and a mysterious notebook have been seen in other books now – though it may have been the first to have these ideas.

The author has stopped writing but appears to live in Texas but always wrote under a pseudonym so we don’t know who it was but Brash books have some knowledge – I wonder if there are royalties to be paid to him for the re-publication? If so, they know where he lives!

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Play ball with me

Hail Storme

by W.I. Ripley

A NetGalley Review

The characters just rip up a storm in this book – literally and figuratively – all puns intended..

This is the first book in the Storme series and as such introduces you to the characters of Wyatt Storme and here, his mysterious buddy Chick, who claims to be just a skip tracer but turns out to be something more, and really has such useful skills I hope he stays for the rest of the series.

As the first novel in a series it is set not that long after the Vietnam War or Second Indochina War, 1954–1973 (or what did the US call it? They certainly didn’t admit that their soldiers were at war – just supporting or advising?). In any event it left significant numbers of Vets as they began to be called traumatised and with PTSD – often unrecognised – which left them liable to nightmares and flashbacks that hindered their ability to maintain a successful life outside the military after returning home. This fact is still not always admitted.

Over 20 years, more than 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam and more than 150,000 were wounded. Yet the US were not the only troops fighting – we hear little about the Australians, the New Zealanders and the South Koreans who also fought.

Public opinion was initially in favour of the intervention and thus the majority of those fighting volunteered rather than were drafted and this included those in minority races as well as white Americans.

Here are some facts – not too many though:

  • 9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the official Vietnam era from August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975.
  • 2,709,918 Americans served in uniform in Vietnam.
  • Vietnam Veterans represented 9.7% of their generation.
  • 8,148 soldiers were killed in Vietnam.
    • 75,000 were severely disabled.
    • 23,214 were 100% disabled.
    • 5,283 lost limbs.
    • 1,081 sustained multiple amputations.
    • Of those killed, 61% were younger than 21.
    • 11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old.
    • Of those killed, 17,539 were married.
    • Average age of men killed: 23.1 years.
    • Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old.
    • The oldest man killed was 62 years old.
    • As of January 15, 2004, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

So Wyatt Storme came back from the war and made a career in American Football which seems to be a very rough sport indeed from the tactics her learnt to subdue opponents. but the violence on the field became too comfortable and led to a lifestyle that is all too common amongst the rich and famous. Eventually however, he realises that his football tactics are emulating his fighting in the Vietnam War tactics far too freely and gives up his career – with the usual footballer injuries of course.

He is still full of testosterone and chivalry it seems and can’t let a wrong go un-righted and so gets involved where others would not in a local dispute that ends up with people dying. “People talk about what they want and who they are: few are concerned with duty and responsibility – the things we must do to be what we are.”

I did enjoy this book and read it very quickly – within 24 hours as the style is easy and uncomplicated and you did want to find out just what was going on and who was involved and who was the goody and who the baddy – and this seemed to change as you read on.

I did bookmark the stuff about male clothes in this book as there seemed to be a fascination with what people wore: oxblood loafers came up several times – which seems to be a shade of red that is popular; not sure why Haggar slacks/pants are mentioned as they are a style of trouser that is very casual and rather baggy but add in the oxford cloth shirt and you have a preppy style that is very popular in the US. Florsheim shoes are also still available and again a very classic look.

London Fog raincoats – or trench coats are not sold in the UK but seem again to be a very traditional style. It is interesting that although this book was first published in 1993, the clothing ranges are still current – in the US, I doubt if they would be in the UK. Now I just was fascinated by Gglen plaidlen Plaid and so found myself a photo of it:

Not forgetting that the Rep or Repp tie is again a preppy essential – the diagonal striped tie.rep tie

 

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