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Secrets? Everyone has some

We All Have Secrets Book Cover We All Have Secrets
Dr. Molly McCormick Series Book 1
by Florence Love Karsner
General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers
BooksGoSocial
Pub Date 06 Apr 2019

The year is 1962. Dr. Molly McCormick, a young female physician, has been attacked by a deranged psychiatric patient and has suffered physical and psychological damage. She is recovering at her grandfather’s home which is located on an island off the Southwest coast of Florida. Such a great location with one problem . . . it is just a hop and skip to Cuba where Fidel Castro has just pointed Russian missiles in the direction of the United States. The Cuban Missile Crisis is heating up and the whole world is on pins and needles.Dr. McCormick’s grandfather, a retired U. S. Navy Captain, Intelligence Officer, is neck deep in stopping arms from being sent to the rebels in Cuba. Recently he has learned that someone on his island is preparing to supply the rebels with a stash of sulfur mustard, a chemical that can be converted to mustard gas. This weapon can be spread many ways and will cause grave illness and possibly death to thousands. Oh, and just one more small issue . . . Dr. McCormick’s attacker is still out there . . .and has promised to “find her” again!

Down to the sea we go – the steamy sea – the islands with swamps and mosquitoes and noseeums – all ready to drink your blood…

In this novel we go back to the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the islands that are just next door to Cuba.

There are some interesting hints of future storylines coming through in the male characters and it will be disappointing if the series doesn’t follow them up.

The female character – Molly- still lacks definition for me, not yet fully formed but hopefully she will develop. Her final choice of career was obvious from the visit she made to an outlying island so no surprises there.

This is not the first book by this author that I have read, but the one with most potential for me.

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When it isn’t really such fun

Such a Fun Age Book Cover Such a Fun Age
by Kiley Reid
General Fiction (Adult) , Literary Fiction
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pub Date 07 Jan 2020 

What happens when you do the right thing for the wrong reason?

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the awkwardness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone ‘family’, the complicated reality of being a grown-up and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

An excellent story about what it is like being a coloured person in a middle-class white culture.

It is a coming of age story but the person it concerns, Emira, comes of age much later than many.

Emira struggles to find a purpose and what she is really interested in – apart from dancing and drinking and going out – her teenage and college life never seems to end even though she has got her degree. Alex tries to help her, but fails to understand her and her background. And then we have a strange man – helping Emira – or not?

I found it difficult at times to understand the speech that the girls shared as it was very particular to their culture but mostly got the gist – I think.

It is tricky to think about your domestic help and what they might want from life – especially when they come from such a different culture to you. and when your immediate impulse is to help them find their way.

Truthfully we had a mother’s help with a degree and we did help her find her next job – after 2 years with us as we taught business skills and she helped with our own business as well as the children, and she came from a nice middle class white family so i have not been confronted with his dilemma personally. But I suspect I would be an Alex!

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Let’s Predict the Future

Good Omens Book Cover Good Omens
Terry Pratchett &Neil Gaiman
Horror Parodies & Satires , Contemporary Horror, Occult Horror (
Corgi
(11 Dec. 2014)

Armageddon only happens once, you know. They don't let you go around again until you get it right' According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter Witch, Judgement Day is almost upon us and the world's going to end in a week . . . Now people have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it's only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day. But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea? You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as (hopefully) just another hoax. Or you could just try to do something about it. It's a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fast-living demon now finds themselves in. They've been living amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming Apocalypse. And then there's the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

NB I read this before the TV series came out! But was prompted by hearing about it.

I thought that Terry Pratchett was on form with Neil Gaiman’s extra touch. Note that this one of Prachett’s early books (written about 30 years ago) that I missed – don’t know how, as I thought I had read all of his books, including the ones aimed (so they say) at children!

So, the Apocalypse is nigh! Or is it? Agnes Nutter certainly thought so when she wrote her book of predictions several hundred years ago. Not only did she predict when, but also the special signs – saffron and holes for instance – and even knew exactly where it would be started.

And sure enough that was where HE lived – as a nice small boy, playing in the way all boys did, with a vivid imagination, and an unfortunate stack of magazines lent to him by Anathema Device.

I thought Crowley was a brilliant character, and especially liked the adjustment to the M25. On a bad day it certainly seems like he might have done this..

The friendship between Crowley and Aziraphale was nicely detailed, even if they weren’t ‘real’ theological characters, they certainly seemed like they could be. And the whole of the book is a nice adaptation of the Book of Revelations with a couple of vivid imaginations thinking outside the box.

I wish there were more stars to give this book!

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Be a painter… have some debt!

Mrs Whistler Book Cover Mrs Whistler
Matthew Plampin
Historical Fiction , Literary Fiction
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction
03 May 2018

Chelsea, 1876

Struggling artist Jimmy Whistler is at war with his patron. Denied full payment, he and muse Maud Franklin face ruin.

As Jimmy’s enemies mount, he resolves to sue a famous critic for libel, in a last-ditch attempt to ward off the bailiffs. Although she has no position in society, Maud is expected to do her part. But Maud has a secret that forces her to choose between art and love.

Mrs Whistler is a dazzling glimpse inside a world of passion, art and power.

A nice blend of reality plus imagination – as the author himself admits, the exact circumstances cannot be known as there were no diaries, and ‘Mrs’ Whistler herself and her actions and feelings were never documented at the time.

It seems clear that Whistler was not only a braggart but also naive and always thought that either people were his friends or his enemies and never considered that some may have had dubious reasons for being his friend – see Howell. And were so many of his paintings really destroyed? If so, it was a real shame. But his classic painting of his mother is still to be viewed.

Personally though I cannot agree with his reaction to Burne-Jones having seen a recent exhibition of his work where it demonstrates just how good he was, and how multi-talented, despite his later somewhat fanciful works of angels etc.

I am great fan of Whistler’s moody paintings where the items are barely distinguishable – the low light and almost monochromatic effect are wonderful.

I surprised myself by enjoying the book, but then I like (almost) all the Pre-Raphaelite painting/painters and found this an interesting exposition of just how they lived – so many debts – yet so much entertaining, and the fostering of children was heart-rending to read about.

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Cultivating What?

The Farm Book Cover The Farm
Joanne Ramos
General Fiction (Adult) , Literary Fiction
Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)
07 May 2019

THE MUST-READ DEBUT NOVEL OF 2019. Sharp, compulsive and darkly funny, this is an unforgettable novel about a world within touching distance of our own.

Ambitious businesswoman Mae Yu runs Golden Oaks – a luxury retreat transforming the fertility economy – where women get the very best of everything, so long as they play by the rules.

Jane is a young immigrant in search of a better future. Stuck living in a cramped dorm with her baby daughter and shrewd aunt Ate, she sees an unmissable chance to change her life. But at what cost?

A novel that explores the role of luck and merit, class, ambition and sacrifice, The Farm is an unforgettable story about how we live and who truly holds power.

A book that makes you think about your own moral code and just when you might be tempted to farm out a body! Yes, a body – perhaps your own body, or perhaps you might farm someone else’s?

And what would you be cultivating? Why a baby?

So The Handmaid’s Tale with a twist and actually something that is all too likely to be inexistence, and as it would be very secret, we would never know.

We all know that people use surrogate mothers when they can’t have babies for themselves – male couples for instance, or perhaps when they can’t carry a child themselves due to illness or…

But the premise in this book is that the uber-rich may want to use surrogates for other reasons. Perhaps they are too old have a child, perhaps they are too busy, or perhaps they just don’t want to ‘spoil’ their figures? Or just go through the grind of pregnancy?

And how to choose your surrogate? What would motivate them? There are good reasons why in the UK you cannot pay the surrogate expect for reasonable expenses, and also, even with a contract, the child is still the ‘property’ of the person who carries it through pregnancy. In Australia the law prevents commercial surrogacy, and this is the case in most countries. In some even altruistic surrogacy is banned, eg France and Germany; but in the US it is decided by the State. States generally considered to be surrogacy friendly include California, Illinois, Arkansas, Maryland, Washington D.C., Oregon and New Hampshire among others. Both New Hampshire and Washington State have laws permitting commercial surrogacy from 1/1/2019.

So a very timely book on a subject that is very controversial still. Well written and one that I couldn’t put down – I wanted to know what happened to the young women who contracted out their bodies for pregnancy and still think that Jane was badly treated despite what she thought!

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