[487]: Warlord by Lana Grayson

warlord GOODREADS SUMMARY
Tika Lake Publishing | E-book via Net Galley
November 28th, 2014
Series: Anathema, #1
Adult Fiction | Romance | Erotica
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Admittedly,  my reading choices as of late have veered towards indulgence. Since recently shedding any care to other people’s opinions about my selections, reading has gotten even more fun. While Warlord isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, it was for the most part, something that I used to read in the darkest crevice of my closet.

I don’t really know what  evil possessed me to request this on Net Galley. Even though I used to be a fan of books set in this world, I’ve haven’t read one in the longest while.  After reading Madeline Sheehan’s Undeniable three years ago, I’ve kind of been traumatized.

Warlord, for all intents and purposes has everything you would expect from a novel that features warring Motorcycle Clubs. In the middle of the melee, is one Rose Darnell. For most of her life, she’s avoided being caught up in that world. But when she found herself in the wrong side of a territory war, it left her no other choice but to accept Anathema’s protection and the mercy of its leader, Thorne Radek.

Thorne is your stereotypical alpha male. He’s a brute; he’s unforgiving, and one who has a tunnel vision when he sees what he wants. While he didn’t really exercise gratuitous force in overpowering Rose’s will, he had moments where he’d shown tenderness was not his strong suit. In any case, he played the part to a T.

Being an Anathema is in Rose’s blood, but she chose to live away from all the bad things associated with the stigma. In fact, she’d rather worked as a paltry-paid diner waitress than never have to worry about rent money. But as most people in her situation would find out, something cataclysmic always happens to pull them back in.

In most cases with these type of books, readers will be put through wringer. I was always on tenterhooks; waiting for that moment when the story would show its monstrous teeth. It didn’t disappoint. If you’re like me, one who is  squeamish about sexual abuse, Rose’s story is as stomach-churning as they come.

For the most part, I think Ms. Grayson started off on the right foot with this series. Though you’ll be hard-pressed to find originality with this book, it’s still amazing that this is her debut work. I’m still on the fence on whether I’ll continue on with this series, but if you’re a fan of bikers, Warlord is a good addition to your collection.

 

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[484]: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

ConstellationGOODREADS SUMMARY | Random House Canada | May 6th, 2013 | Paperback, 384 pp. | Adult Fiction | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


This is one of those books that’s difficult to describe, with emotions that’s even harder to articulate. I’m always amazed when a writer is able to transform something despicable into a beautiful, life-affirming masterpiece. It’s hard to grasp that this is Anthony Marra’s debut work. The history, the hardships, the small miracles and the descriptive way he transports his reader to that time speaks of a veteran writer with several awards under his belt and not a – for lack of a better word – newbie.

It’s so easy to see how much time he spent immersing himself with the history for which this book is about. I, as a reader, can appreciate how he whet my curiosity for a war I was foolishly oblivious about. After reading this book, I spent some considerable time scouring the internet for anything I can find about the war; one that cost over 160,000 lives and immeasurable destruction for ten years. 

“On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Haava woke from dreams of sea anemones.”

The novel begins in a way that foretells the fate of Chechen nationals unlucky enough to have lived through the first and the second war. Haava, an 8-year-old clever, inquisitive child had just been orphaned. On the night of his abduction, Havaa’s father had the foresight to lead her into the woods to spare her life; while their neighbour, Akhmed, watched and waited fearfully until he’s able to see to Haava’s safety. In the morning, he’ll take her to the lone salvation he can offer the child by asking Sonja, the only surgeon left in their war-torn region.

Akhmed’s wife is in a permanent vegetative state. He’s seen through her care with very minimal resources he could afford and the paltry medical knowledge he remembers from school. He is, for all intents and purposes, a doctor himself. Although an incompetent one, for most of the time. What he lacks, he makes up with love and dazzling optimism in a world where kindness and beauty is buried deep in the rubble of a God-forsaken country.

I wish I could paint you the stories of these characters as beautiful as Anthony has done. I wish I can convince you to read it even though you’re probably grossing about how unnecessarily long this review had become.

 This is the type of novel where one person holds the key in unlocking the story’s brilliance. You can say it’s Havaa; for she touched the lives of each character; or Natasia, Sonja’s troubled sister who came and left like the smoke from a freshly-fired artillery. But that’s the best thing about this book. Anthony made every single one of his characters important enough to hold the story together.

Natasia and Sonja’s relationship bears the scar of an early childhood sibling rivalry. Over the years, they’ve played their roles with uneasy acceptance. Sonja, the one with the brilliant mind, moved to London to start her medical studies at the beginning of the first war. While Natasia stayed behind and tried to escape the best way she could. Sonja will lose contact with her sister and will eventually be the reason why she leaves the comfort and peace of London.

Natasia did not have an easy life. We see her suffer in the hands of an abusive lover; we see her fend for herself while bombs rained down on her city; we see her fall in the hands of a sex-trafficker by her own choice. Eventually, she’ll succumb to drug addiction. By the time Sonja and Natasia catches up to each other, both have gone through unimaginable horrors.

This is a war story. Nothing will be easy to digest. There are tales of torture, amputation, and heartbreak. But there are also love, compassion, and hope to brighten an otherwise stark novel. Once again, I find myself scouring the web; searching for the whys, the whens, and the hows. This is the kind of novel where a reader will be tempted to understand the futility of it all, and would cry at the impossibility of that task.

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[480]: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Knopf | Hardcover, 333 pages | September 9th, 2014 | Adult Fiction | Post-apocalyptic | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


This year, I’ve added discovering more Canadian authors on my list of reading goals as I haven’t read too many novels penned by my country men. Emily St. John Mendel is a British Columbia-born novelist who has three books under her belt, none of which, has ever grace my bookshelves. While it is no surprise that I have not heard of her,  my first taste of her writing went swimmingly well, to say the least.

The Georgia Flu.

The last performance of Arthur Leander’s acting career marked the beginning of the end of human civilization as we know it.  A mutation of the bird flu virus was well on its way to ridding the world of 99% of its population. This was not how Arthur died, however. While performing in a production of King Lear, he collapsed in an apparent cardiac arrest. Jheevan Chaudry, and a cardiologist tried to revive him to no avail.

On a night when the wide-spread contagion was taking a swath of the general population, five people connected to Arthur will tell the story of how they witnessed the end of the world, and the beginning of a new existence.

The Beat Goes On.

Kristen Raymond was 8-years-old when the world collapsed. She was a child actress then. She doesn’t remember a lot of things. But what she remembers the most, is the actor who gave her the time of day, talked to her like a father would, and gave her the most precious of her possessions that she carried with her twenty years after the world’s demise.

Now, twenty-eight, Kristen is a part of a band of performing actors and musicians traveling the area around Lake Huron and Michigan. By foot and horse-drawn wagons, the Traveling Symphony is trying to keep the arts alive.

The Prophet.

On one of their stops, they come across a religious cult headed by The Prophet. A man who collects underaged wives, and one who have convinced his flock that he is the way, the truth, and the light. The revelation of how the prophet relates to Arthur happened in a slow, calculated manner.

 Five in a Knot.

Five intertwining stories all relate to Arthur Leander, and through flashbacks interspersed within the story, we get to know Arthur in the eyes of these people. His successes and failures; his loves and heartbreaks.

The reader will not be surprised, but it was a feeling akin to trying to find out what happened to an estranged acquaintance you’ve lost contact with.

This is a quiet novel; the world, though it succumb to the loss of technology and infrastructure,  remained humane. Aside from allusions to violence in the past, very little gore happened thereafter.

Mandel successfully tells the story of the human condition that floundered and slowly flourished over the years following the apocalypse. I love the way she describes the long-dead technology as if they were artefacts from a lost world. I supposed in all manner of speaking, they really were. She will make you feel a potent nostalgia for the daily comforts that we so often take for granted. Such is the power of her prose.

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[477]: The Blonde by Anna Godbersen

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Weinstein Books | Hardcover, pp. 390
Publication Date: May 13th, 32014 | Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


I’ve always held a fascination with Marilyn Monroe’s bright and short-lived life. When I saw this book at the bookstore, I just know that I had to get it. I must admit that I was equal parts skeptical and thrilled. Skeptical on how convincing of a spy she’d be, and thrilled with the prospect of whatever conspiracy theories I would be taking away from this novel.

Little Girl Lost.

When she was a girl on the cusp of adulthood, her father, a travelling salesman,  left one morning and didn’t come back. She’d been looking for him ever since. With every man that comes into her life, she creates a perception of what her father might be like.

A Woman Made-up.

When she was a struggling actress trying to make it in Hollywood, a Soviet agent decided she’d make the perfect spy: with her blond tresses, a voice of childlike innocence, and the hourglass figure, no one would know the better. They created this sexual persona that very few men could dare resist. Norma Jean shed her skin, and Marilyn Monroe was born.

A Man on the Scope.

John F. Kennedy was a senator whose star was on the rise. When the KGB set their sights on him, Marilyn was tasked to infiltrate the life of a notoriously known womanizer with a brilliant political future.  Jack, because of despite his staunch Catholic upbringing, was unable to resist the sensational actress. An affair ensued.

This is not Marilyn Monroe.

We only know of Marilyn’s legendary life through what we’ve been told, heard, seen, and read in the years following her death. We know of the failed marriages, the alleged affairs, and her apparent suicide. Among the number of males linked with her name is one John Fitzgerald Kennedy. A man whose family name is synanymous  to royalty in America. This is a fictional account of a different Marilyn Monroe, her illicit love affair with the president, and her role – directly and indirectly – in his assassination.

It is everything you’ve come to expect from a novel whose main character exudes her legendary sexual allure: erotic, exciting, and a visceral depiction of a life lived in the grasp of a powerful organization.

Godbersen perfectly captured the voice of a vulnerable woman in desperate search of a familial love. She was an easy prey to a man who knew her weakness, and knew how to manipulate it to work in his advantage. However, he grievously miscalculated the passion and loyalty of a person in love.

We see an intelligent, cunning, and a strong woman  who hid behind the quivering lips, the cloud of silken white hair, and the soft voice meant to enrapture the male audience. Marilyn Monroe behind the public eye, was a different creature altogether.  It was difficult to see the demarkation line between fact and the myth; the fiction and the legend; the truth and the imagined.

We also see a different JFK. He is portrayed as a man weak with desire, but whose drive is powered by his political aspirations.  I’ve always been curious about the iconic, Happy Birthday songso I was ecstatic to read the bathroom romp that followed thereafter.

This book perfectly exemplifies Marilyn’s relevance after all these years. Our never-ending curiosity about her fabled life will always spark someone’s creativity to satiate an itch more than seven years in the making. Anna Godbersen allowed her readers to see Marilyn in a different light, while remaining true to the icon that we’ve all come to know.

 

 

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[476]: The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

chocolatethiefGOODREADS SUMMARY
Kensington | Kindle Edition
Publication Date: July 31st, 2012
Romance | Adult Fiction
Amour et Chocolat Series, Book 1
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


Billionaire heiress, Cade Corey is on a mission to stamp the name of  the most prolific chocalatier on their brand. Getting Sylvain Marquis to agree, however, will prove to be a challenge. Negotiations fell apart; bribery only cost her, her self-respect. So when she can’t get him to give her the time of day, she resorts to thievery. Awkwardness and so-so chemistry ensue.

Truth be told, I am not a fan of these two. Sylvain instantly gives credence to the stigma that the French people are snobs when it comes to their food. His disdain for anything mass produced did not make him all that appealing. In fact, he was downright insulting. While his conviction may be alluring to some, I found that he incites a completely different feeling in me. He was, for the most part, an obnoxious romantic interest. I was not a fan.

Cade Corey is hardly any better. I can commend her for sticking through what she believes in, but at times, I found her exhausting. It’s as if she has blinders when it comes to Sylvain. While it may be true that Sylvain did not insult her personally, the way he looked down on her family’s source of fortune was, to me, an extension of her own person.

I love the French language. I think it’s romantic. It’s right up there with Italian or Spanish. What I didn’t like, however, is the gratuitous insertion of French that more often, was not translated so the non-speaking reader can understand. It lent to some annoyance, and worst, choppy narration.

This first book lacked a couple of key ingredients: likeable characters and conflict. Sylvain was a conundrum. He has moments of self doubt unheard of for someone who oozes a magnanimous male ego. So much so that he sounded like every other Mary Sue who don’t think of themselves worthy enough. Cade for her part, has questionable intentions. I can’t decide whether she likes Sylvain for the person that he was, or for what he represents from a business stand point.

The lack of conflict also aided in the low rating for this book. It was boring. There were no ups and downs, so more often, I was left feeling apathetic. They hardly even fought, and even with the temporary separation, I felt nary a twinge of anticipation for their eventual reunion.

So far, we’re not off to a good start. But I’m crossing my fingers that the next one will be better.

 

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[475]: Saga Volume 4

DSC_0840Goodreads Summary | Image Comics, Issues 19-24 | Published December 17th, 2014 | Graphic series | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


Shit just got real, yo. 

Volume 4 brings about the beginning of the end for Hazel’s parents. Sorry for the spoiler. Mother dear found work at a pay-per-view theatre while Daddy dearest stayed at home to watch over our favourite toddler.

As in the case of some families whose mom is the bread winner, Hazel’s parents are maybe a bit resentful at this turn of events. Added to the mounting tension was mommy’s dependence on drugs, and daddy’s growing friendship with Hazel’s dance teacher, the couple du jour seems to be well on their way to splitsville.

In the meantime, they are still on the run from those who want them dead. But the more immediate one was a new enemy who may be just a taaaaad bit psychotic.

Business as usual.

I hate that I have to wait forever and a day for the next series of issues to come out. I was told that you can actually read the next ones if you find them at a regular comic store? Or the on-line site, comiXology. I prefer these ones though (paperback compilation of five issues per publication).

The issues seem to be getting darker, funnier, and if you can even believe it, even more intense. We are learning a bit more about our characters, and seeing the darker sides of ma and pa. This is heartbreaking. I don’t want them to separate, but like I mentioned above, they did. Though it wasn’t a choice that they’d made. Other forces led them to the separation.

With a new enemy, comes a surprising twist of event as father dear joined forces with a former enemy. I can’t wait to see how far this alliance would go.

Vaughn’s writing goes head-to-head with Staples’ insane artistry to combine the best graphic novel I’ve read to date. These comics have rated a consistent perfect rating on my blog, which just shows you how much I adore them.

Seriously. Read these or you can’t hang with me.

..kidding.

 

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[473]: Wake by Anna Hope

DSC_0803 GOODREADS SUMMARY | Random House Canada | January 1st, 2014 | Hardback, 304 pages | Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


The most effective way to learn History is to experience it through works of fiction. While that statement may be a paradox, it is the most accurate way to describe how I feel about learning History.  Sometimes, cold hard facts do not inspire ravenous curiosity. Reading historical accounts through someone’s personal perspective changes the experience quite drastically.

Anna Hope’s Wake is a good example of that. I’ve learned a thing or two about the war. But the one thing that stood in my mind was the Coalition Forces’ ability to kill their own soldiers should they be found guilty of desertion.

The journey of the unknown soldier.

Set five days before the arrival of the unknown soldier, Wake tells the story of three women with their own struggles during the aftermath of World War I.  The stories of their lives are knotted in the same thread. And as the soldier nears his final resting place, it becomes clear how closely their lives were twined together.

Ada

Ada’s marriage  died along with their son who didn’t come back from the war. Haunted by his memories, she goes through life seeing his apparitions. She can’t shake off the feeling that her son never really died. Because without a body to speak of, her hopes are still alive.

Hettie

Hettie’s life hasn’t been the same since the war. She lost her father to Spanish flu, and her brother came back from the war catatonic from severe shell shock. A dancer by profession, she makes sacrifices to help her mother run their household. One night, she meets an enigmatic rich man who was haunted by his own demons from the war.

Evelyn

Evelyn is a rich heiress who never had to work her entire life. Aggrieved by the untimely death of her lover, she spends her life working at a veterans’ pensions office as an act of self-flagellation. There, she hears every single stories of trauma and injuries suffered by the soldiers who served the country.

One person too many.

As is the prevalent problem with stories told from different points of views, I had a difficulty focusing on the focal point of the story. I found myself unable to keep a consistent interest with all four, the fourth one being a collective group of people who were somehow connected to the unknown soldier. More often, I found myself getting the characters mixed up – which ultimately led to some re-reading sessions that bogged me down whilst in the throes of this novel.

That’s not to say their stories aren’t all that interesting. They are, in their own merits, captivating regardless of how muddled they may be at times. The novel suffered from  too many sub stories that I had a tough time staying focused.

Anna Hope’s Wake is a fascinating take on the stories of people coping after the war. In their own way, the burial of the unknown soldier was their way of letting go and accepting inner peace. Most stories, though unresolved, at least offered underlying hope that each characters’ ghosts were laid to rest along with the soldier.

 

 

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[472]: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

DSC_0800GOODREADS SUMMARY  | Knopf Canada | Hardcover, 240 pages | September 9th, 2014 | Fiction | 4 out of 5 Stars


When I picked up McEwan’s Sweet Tooth, I had a certain expectation about his work. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite hit the mark. This one, however, fulfilled everything Sweet Tooth did not.

Order in the court

Fiona Maye, a high court judge in London has had years of experience and arguable success with the cases she’s presided over. Mostly, she dealt with cases that are of family interest. And each heartbreaking case  typically involve children. Anything that will protect their well being and interest is of the foremost consideration.

One particular case was the focal point of this book, and one that will leave a lasting effect on Fiona. It was the case of a 17-year old boy suffering from leukaemia. He refused the administration of  a blood transfusion, but without it, he will likely die a slow and painful death. The boy is about two months remove from being an adult. And because of this reason, his manner of treatments are left for his parents to decide.

However, because they are a firm Jehova’s Witness , and the very act of blood transfusion is against their religion, the case had to go to due process and had reached high courts.  The doctors treating him could not abide with their request. Because among other things, it is against their Hippocratic Oath.

It is wholly interesting to see how Fiona would arrive at her decision. She spent time with the boy to make sure that he knows what will happen either way. But it is the relationship that she will form with him, and his curiosity with the judge several decades his senior will ultimately be the crux of her guilt.

Disorder at home.

At home, her marriage life is crumbling. In the spirit of honesty, her husband had asked her permission to have an affair (who does that?!).  Stating that she’s become a cold fish, and that she’s put work over him time and time again. He wanted to experience passion in the arms of his much younger assistant.

Fiona is anything but a simpering housewife who will beg a straying husband to come home. However, the readers will see her struggle between the delicacy of the case, and the tumult brought on by her husband’s apparent consideration of her feelings.

This woman is a rock; a rock that’s been battered by the times, and weathered so many storms. Professionally, she carries the weight and responsibility of a decision that could very well ruin or change a child’s life. That alone is enough to keep you up at night. But she is a formidable human being who manages to shrug the troubles of her personal life as soon as she steps inside the court room.

The tip of the McEwan iceberg.

So I see what the big deal is all about. McEwan brilliantly captured the ebb and flow of one woman’s struggle to balance emotions and intelligent thoughts in order to tackle what are to be the biggest fights of her life.

She goes through the pros and cons  in a deliberate fashion while ignoring her need to break down and succumb to an easy decision. She couldn’t even swallow an entire sleeping pill even though all she wanted was to wallow in the bliss of sleep. Aside from the initial explosive, but understandable reaction to her husband’s disclosure, she was even-tempered, mild mannered, and yet remaining passionate about the law and the conflicts of her personal life.

The narrative was pretty simple; a reader will not be beleaguered with legalese and recitations of old cases. He doesn’t even attempt to explain how the British legal system work – for which, I am thankful. Because this book is really not a big book, I’m glad that McEwan dives right into the heart of the story.

My second attempt at McEwan led me to believe that Sweet Tooth was a fluke. With several books in his belt, I’m even more anxious to read more. He tackled the case of a dying boy with such intelligent sensitivity, without being prejudiced against a religion known for being purists.

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[469]: Saga Deluxe Edition

DSC_0783 GOODREADS SUMMARY: Saga Issues 1-6, Saga Issues 7-12, Saga Issues 13-18 | Written by Brian K. Vaughn | Illustrated by Fiona Staples | Publication Date: November 24, 2014 | Hardcover bound | Science Fiction | Graphic Novel | Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars


I read issues 1 – 12 a long time ago. At the time, I didn’t quite know how to go about reviewing these comics. Heck, before then, I never really know that I could get into reading comics, period. Saga’s buzz somehow broke through a milieu of Young Adult titles and into my reading circuit. Because of its format, I easily polished off all issues in one sitting.

It was different. It was funny, and unapologetically crass. It’s an odd feeling for someone who’s been so used to devouring pages upon pages of words to be reading something that had more pictures than words.

I’ve always steered clear of anything resembling Science Fiction. But as soon as I started this series, I thought this is the type of Science Fiction I could easily get into. Where the world is there for me to see, and there’s very little chance that I could develop a brain cramp.

 This month, all 18 issues were bound into one spectacular copy.  So of course, I couldn’t resist. 

Saga is the story of Hazel, a child borne into a world in perpetual war with another planet (in this case, moon). Her parents are what you would call as mortal enemies. But that didn’t stop these two from copulating and bringing their bundle of joy into a world full of violence and strife. We see Hazel come into the world with the military on their heels, but because her parents has kickass blood thrumming through their veins, they escaped detainment, and/or imminent  deaths.

Both planets are determined to find them; each one with their own agendas. More than anything, they want them punished for consorting with the enemy. But there are forces (very limited) in the works that want to achieve peace. Through Hazel and her parents, they can show that it doesn’t always have to end in bloodshed and hate. So there are social implications in this story as well. Unconditional love, abolition of hate against another race, and peace amongst the planets of the entire galaxy.

This was such a delight to read. The story moves at a fast pace, that you’d literally be flipping through pages faster than you can digest what you just read. It’s funny, highly imaginative, clever, with beautiful illustrations that your eyes will be more than happy to gorge on.  I’ve thought about taking snap shots of my favourite scenes, but that would mean I would be taking pictures of the entire novel. I mean I could go on for days about this book. But I think you should do yourself a favour and experience it for yourself.

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[467]: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

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GOODREADS SUMMARY | Vintage | May 9th, 2013 |
| Paperback, 384 pages | Adult Fiction
| Historical | Romance |Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars


Let’s see… MI5. Spy fiction. Historical. Written by a critically acclaimed author. I knew going in that I’m a little bit over my head with this novel. But I’ve always been a believer of trying new things, and while McEwan is a pretty popular author in the literary circle, this is my introduction to his world.

His writing is something that one needs to get used to in order to fully appreciate what you’ve signed up for. Unfortunately for me, the formality of his narrative couldn’t keep me drawn into the story.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

It’s the 70s, the Cold War is in full swing, and close to home, Britain is under civil unrest. Serena Frome didn’t have a clue what she wants to do in her life. English Literature is out, since her mother – one of feminist values – dissuaded her against taking the lazy way out. After a stint in Cambridge majoring in maths, a number of forces and influences would land her a position in Britain’s covert intelligence agency.  Unexpectedly, she’ll find out that a former lover was recruiting her all along.

Her first mission was Sweet Tooth; an operation which focuses on finding the ten best writers England has to offer, but would have to have proven skepticisms about the developing Eastern utopias in Europe. Her path would cross with one Tom Haley; a writer she’s commissioned to pursue. Serena, being a compulsive reader, soon starts to fall in love with his work, then with the man.

Of course she kept him in the dark about a lot of things. Least of all, why the struggling writer was all of a sudden flushed with money. She kept her real employment a secret, but in the end, she’ll discover that Tom Haley is harbouring secrets of his own.

This message will self-destruct in 3…2..

Spy fiction! I’ve never read something like this before…not that Sweet Tooth was one. Unfortunately, this is not in the scale of Ian Fleming’s type of work. Or the more modern, Ludlum. In fact, the mission was kind of lame. MI5 created a top secret operation in which they will support the livelihoods of ten writers in the hopes that they’ll write something significant in the future. A bit like propaganda against the rising powers of the Red countries. But what a complete waste of resources! Considering what kind of literature their chosen writers were writing, and how painstakingly long it would take for the whole of England to take notice. Talk about a slow return on investment.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the novel was a psychological thriller, because then, the mission would make more sense. But since the focal point was on Serena’s romantic entanglements, this book would’ve been better off marketed as romance. The entire thing felt too hopelessley contrived to make it believable. That twist in the end did nothing to stave off the boredom I felt while reading this book. Some may find Tom’s secrets to be quite interesting, but for me, it neither enhanced it nor did the story suffer with its inclusion.

I should’ve chosen Atonement for my induction to his work. If Ian McEwan is capable of writing fluff, I’m thinking this is his version of one.

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