[ARC] The Betrayals by Fiona Neill

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Rosie and Nick had a happy family: she, an oncologist, he expert in the mechanics of memory, a daughter and a son.

The novel starts with the happiness already shattered since some years, precisely since the time Nick left his family to go living with Lisa, Rosie’s ex best friend, who left herself her family.

The trigger element of the story is a letter to Rosie, where Lisa shares the fact she is dying of cancer and wants a last meeting with her friend to tell her a last secret.

The novel is built on four points of view (of Rosie, Nick, Daisy e Max), and soon we understand that their family is quite a dysfunctional one, and each of them has some secrets she/he does not want to share. We understand also that Rosie is very attached to her work – maybe too much – and that she is still sentimentally recovering from Nick’s leaving; Max is a brilliant student but very insecure, always wanting the approval of his new girlfriend. The most interesting PoVs are Days’s and Nick’s, both unreliable narrators, the former because of her OCD, the latter for his choice of omitting details. The theme of time that modifies the way we recollect past events is one of the most relevant in the novel, ironically also because of Nick’s professional activity.

The story of the family is nicely built thanks to the four PoVs and a jump to the past, to the summer when the changes begun. In the end I liked The Betrayals, it is an engaging and well-built novel.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* The Betrayals by Fiona Neill ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

Saint Peter’s Snow by Leo Perutz

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Friedrich Amberg wakes up from a coma in a hospital, the doctors tell him that he has been there for five weeks, but his memories, when they come back to him, are quite different.

In the novel Friedrich tells the story from his point of view: as a doctor he accepted to work in Morwede, a village under the feud of Baron von Malchin. In Morwede Friedrich met the village administrators and the two children of the Baron, and Bibiche, a woman he was in love with during the university studies.

During the five weeks in Morwede the main character is made part of the baron’s plan to have the Faith back in the village, a plan based on a grain parasite drug, Saint Peter’s Snow.

The baron’s dream is destined to face reality, while the readers – as well as Friedrich – are left with the doubt about what actually happened in Morwede.

With this novel I completed another bit of exploration of the writing by Leo Perutz (by now I have read some of his novels: The Swedish Cavalier, Master of the Day of Judgement, Between Nine and Nine, Little Apple); here the narrative style is the one I’m used to, but here politics has a greater and explicit role in the story.


Saint Peter’s Snow by Leo Perutz ★★★☆☆½

*I read this book in italian

[ARC] Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade by Joe R. Lansdale

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The novel belongs to the famous series based on the adventures of Hap and Leonard, notorious protagonists of lots of Joe Lansdale’s novels.

The book is a mosaic one: Hap and Leonard remembers some stories of their childhood – like when the met each other – and tell them to their families and friends.

In the end its a collection of stories linked by a common thread; like other mosaic novel or collections not every story is at the same narrative level, and only some of them leave a mark.

One of the major topic is racism (the setting is mostly in Texas) and the struggle to overcome prejudices (Hap’s mother is a truly positive example).

Overall it’s a nice book, but I still prefer the “standard” novels of the series that deal with a single aventure with a wider scope.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* Hap and Leonard: Blood and Lemonade by Joe R. Lansdale ★★★☆☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] Autumn by Ali Smith

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Autumn is the first of the four installment of the “Seasonal” series, focused on the perception of how time flows.

In Autumn we have two main characters: Elisabeth Demand and her neighbour Daniel Gluck; we discover that they met in 1993 when Elizabeth was a child and Daniel already an aged man.

The narration brings the story from the past to the present, and in this way we see a series of episodes of the characters’ lives. In this novel, like in How to be both, there is also an almost unknown artist, Pauline Boty, the first artist performing pop art in Great Britain, and whose paintins were found again only recently.

Daniel descrives to the child Elisabeth Pauline’s paintings: he brings them back with his memory and Elisabeth has to imagine them, and flashbacks are memories by Daniel or Elisabeth of past events.

It seems that the memory is one of the expedients we use to face the flowing time: his memory brings Daniel back to when he was young to oppose to the phisical old age during his forced sleep in the clinic.

The novel deals about characters, the passing time, relationship, and the emotions that shape them.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.


* Autumn by Ali Smith ★★★★☆

*I read this book in english

[ARC] Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

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La notte prima del matrimonio della figlia Lolly, la casa di June Reid va in fiamme e nell’incendio muoiono Lolly, il suo futuro marito Will, l’ex marito di June e l’attuale compagno Luke. E’ un evento drammatico che segna la vita di diverse persone, e in particolare quella di June, unica sopravvissuta che ha perso tutte le persone che amava.

La narrazione fornisce diversi punti di vista, alcuni dei quali ricorrenti, che contribuiscono a dare tridimensionalità alle persone coinvolte e a ricostruire gli eventi precedenti e successivi all’incendio.

Did You Ever Have a Family è un bellissimo romanzo in cui i personaggi prendono lentamente vita agli occhi del lettore, e che parla del dolore e del rimpianto e di come cercare di sopravviverne.

Ringrazio l’editore per avermi fornito la copia necessaria per stendere questa recensione.

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The night before June Reid daughter’s wedding, her house goes on fire and in the event June loses her daughter Lolly, her future son-in-law Will, her former husband and her current companion, Luke. It’s a dramatic event that affects the life of various people, but mainly June’s, who lost everyone she cared and loved.

The narration provides different points of view, some recurrent like June’s or Lydia’s, Luke mother, that help giving form to the characters involved and reconstructing the events before and after the fire.

Did You Ever Have a Family it’s a beautiful novel where characters slowly become alive in the eyes of the readers, and it talks about loss and regrets and how to survive them.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me the copy necessary to write this review.

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Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg ★★★★

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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Da ragazzo spiare i ragazzi giocare
al ritmo balordo del tuo cuore malato
e ti viene la voglia di uscire e provare
che cosa ti manca per correre al prato,
e ti tieni la voglia, e rimani a pensare
come diavolo fanno a riprendere fiato.
(Un malato di Cuore, F. De Andrè)

Madeline vive in una camera bianca, in una casa isolata dall’esterno e dagli agenti allergici che potrebbero scatenare la malattia di Madeline e ucciderla.

Madeline ha una particolare sindrome da immunodeficienza, e ha ormai accettato uno stile di vita basato su letture, lezioni online e la sola presenza dell’infermiera Carla e della madre, ma l’arrivo di nuovi vicini, e in particolare del loro figlio Olly, creerà delle crepe nell’equilibrio della ragazza che inizierà a desiderare tutto quello che le può offrire la vita.

Il romanzo ci racconta la storia di Madeline dal suo punto di vista, e la sua particolarità sta proprio nei disegni e negli appunti con cui la ragazza arricchisce il suo racconto, indicati anche mediante cambiamenti tipografici. Originale anche l’idea di inserire le “spoiler review”, tema del blog scritto dalla ragazza, ovvero recensioni spoiler di romanzi in una singola, lapidaria frase. Tra i vari registri utilizzati anche quelli delle chat e delle email, e sotto questi punti di vista l’edizione è molto curata.

La storia di Madeline è emozionante, e lo sviluppo degli eventi del romanzo tiene sicuramente incollati al testo, purtroppo un episodio chiave risulta molto forzato, col risultato di banalizzare una storia originale e ben strutturata.

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Madeline lives in a white room, in a house isolated from the external environment and from the allergens that could trigger Madeline’s illness and kill her.

Madeline has a particular form of immunodeficiency, and has accepted an isolated life, based on reading, on online lectures with the only presence of her nurse Carla and her mother. The arrival of the new neighbours, and in particular of their son, Olly, will start cracking the balance in the girls’ life, and she soon begins desiring everything life could offer her.

The novel tells Madeline’s story from her point of view, and the peculiarity of the book stays in the illustrations and notes she makes to enrich her story, that stands out also thanks to typographic changes. It’s original also the idea to insert the “spoiler review” articles Madeline writes for the blog, one lines, hard, spoiler book review. Among the narrative style used there are also chat messages and emails, and from this perspective the book is very well-built.

Madeline’s story is exiting, and the events development keeps the eyes to the book, unfortunately a key event is quite forced, making an original and well-built story in a standard ya one.

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Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon ★★☆☆

Viviane by Julia Deck

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Viviane is a business woman in a company, and she is also the mother of a lovely baby girl. Despite this, she is depressed and insecure, so much to need the session with a psychologist: the separation with her husband is the last straw that forces Viviane to an emergency session with the doctor.

His patronizing way, the superficiality of the session will bring Viviane to an extreme violent act and then to run away from the murder scene.

This is how begins this short but deep novel where we follow the action and thoughts of a confuse woman who, to divert police suspicions, decides to encounter the other people potentially involved with the doctor’s death: his wife, his lover, a patient with violent issues who will share with Viviane their lives without hesitation. Left aside the murder, Viviane must manage also the communication with her ex-husband, now wanting to meet his child.

The reader is slowly engulfed by Viviane confusion, till the very end that will provide new insights on the story.

Julia Deck was able – despite the novel length – to create perfectly believable character that are accurately described, above all Viviane, more and more dragged by the events and her nervous issue, but also the other characters, the ones Viviane choses to meet and who share with her their story.


* Viviane by Julia Deck ★★★★☆

*I read this book in Italian