Book 330: THE BARTER Review



The Barter by Siobhan Adcock
ISBN: 9780525954224 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780698161375 (ebook)
ASIN: B00INIXNPA (Kindle edition)
Publication date: September 4, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Adult



A heart-stopping tale as provocative as is suspenseful, about two conflicted women, separated by one hundred years, and bound by an unthinkable sacrifice. 

The Barter is a ghost story and a love story, a riveting emotional tale that also explores motherhood and work and feminism. Set in Texas, in present day, and at the turn of the twentieth century, the novel follows two young mothers at the turning point of their lives.

Bridget has given up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter, joining a cadre of stay-at-home mothers seeking fulfillment in a quiet suburb. But for Bridget, some crucial part of the exchange is absent: Something she loves and needs. And now a terrifying presence has entered her home; only nobody but Bridget can feel it.

On a farm in 1902, a young city bride takes a farmer husband. The marriage bed will become both crucible and anvil as Rebecca first allows, then negates, the powerful erotic connection between them. She turns her back on John to give all her love to their child. Much will occur in this cold house, none of it good.

As Siobhan Adcock crosscuts these stories with mounting tension, each woman arrives at a terrible ordeal of her own making, tinged with love and fear and dread. What will they sacrifice to save their families—and themselves? Readers will slow down to enjoy the gorgeous language, then speed up to see what happens next in a plot that thrums with the weight of decision—and its explosive consequences.



Bridget is a stay-at-home mom. She worked for years as an attorney but now spends her time devoted to her daughter Julia. Bridget loves being at home with her daughter but her thoughts have recently turned to the macabre and she thinks about the unimaginable, death. Is it possible that her thoughts have manifested a ghost in their home? What makes the situation even more bizarre is that her husband, Mark, doesn’t seem able to see the ghost. Their home is newly constructed, so how is it possible a ghost could appear in their home? What does this ghost want and even more importantly, can Bridget give this ghost what it wants?

When we are introduced to Bridget, she comes across as a tired, yet loving mother. She is rocking her daughter to sleep and thinking about death when she first notices a strange smell. She then hears several thumps before finally seeing what appears to be a ghost. At first she is sure that she has imaged this vision until the ghost begins to move further into the room. As the days and nights go by, only Bridget and her infant daughter Julia are able to see the ghost. What scares Bridget the most is that the ghost always seems to appear around the baby. Just as the anxiety begins to build with Bridget and the presence in her home, the author switches perspective and voice by introducing the reader to Rebecca. Rebecca is a young woman, being raised in the city around the turn of the century. She is newly engaged to a young farmer and is thinking about becoming a new bride and life on the farm. Unfortunately Rebecca isn’t quite sure she’s cut out to be a farmer’s wife and she winds up breaking her newly wedded husband’s heart on their wedding night. After she gives birth to her son, Rebecca’s perspective on life, family, and home seem to change but it seems to be too little too late to save her marriage.

The Barter is an interesting blend of contemporary and historical fiction with a paranormal theme. It is told in alternating voices of Bridget and Rebecca. We’re never quite sure if there is a connection between these two ladies other than the fact they are both young first-time mothers without a clue. Who is the ghost and what exactly does it want? What happened to Rebecca and her family in the past? What will happen to Bridget and her family in the present? All of these are questions that arose in my mind as I was reading this story. I’d love to say that I enjoyed reading The Barter, but there was just something about it that didn’t quite do it for me. I was often frustrated with Rebecca’s naïveté, as well as Bridget’s “woe is me” mentality. Are the characters well developed? Yes. Is the story well crafted? Yes. I don’t know if it was the paranormal aspect of the story or not, but I simply found it hard to connect. It is quite possible that since I don’t read a lot of paranormal-horror I was just unable to appreciate the finer points of this genre. Now having said all of that the question that remains is can I recommend The Barter? My answer is yes. If you enjoy paranormal or ghost stories with a slight horror twist or if you’re looking for something a little outside of your comfort zone, then I urge you to add The Barter to your reading list. 


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via BookSparksPR. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Book Showcase: GHOSTING by Edith Pattou



Ghosting by Edith Pattou
ISBN: 9781477847749 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781477847893 (paperback)
ASIN: B00ICWYTPA (Kindle edition) 
Publication date: August 19, 2014
Publisher: Skyscape



On a hot summer night in a Midwestern town, a high school teenage prank goes horrifically awry. Alcohol, guns, and a dare. Within minutes, as events collide, innocents becomes victims—with tragic outcomes altering lives forever, a grisly and unfortunate scenario all too familiar from current real-life headlines. But victims can also become survivors, and as we come to know each character through his/her own distinctive voice and their interactions with one another, we see how, despite pain and guilt, they can reach out to one another, find a new equilibrium, and survive.

Told through multiple points of view in naturalistic free verse and stream of consciousness, this is an unforgettable, haunting tale.



Excerpt:

MAXIE

When I was a little girl

ghosting was

a sheet of paper and

a drawing in

black ink.

A crudely sketched ghost,

with a Tootsie Roll

taped on.

Not scary.

A fun Halloween prank.

You slipped it under a neighbor’s door,

ran away,

giggling.

“You’ve been ghosted!”

Exciting.

Harmless.

But now

ghosting is:

this can’t be happening,

screams like knives in your ears,

pooling glistening blood.

Everywhere.

And death, bellowing

hot and loud

in

your

face.




Meet the author:

Edith Pattou has found acclaim as a writer in middle-grade fantasy with such award-winning books as East, which received starred reviews in Booklist and School Library Journal; was selected as a Top Ten Book for YA, an American Library Association Notable Book, a School Library Journal Top Ten YA Book, one of the 100 Best of the Best YA Books for the 21st Century by the Young Adult Library Services Association; and was nominated for numerous state awards. It’s a nominee for NPR’s all-time Best YA Novels list. 


Connect with the author:

Website      |     Facebook      |     Twitter      |     Goodreads




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Book 299: THE WONDER – QUEEN OF HEARTS VOL. 2 Review



The Wonder (Queen of Hearts Volume 2) by Colleen Oakes
ISBN: 9781940716213 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781940716206 (ebook)
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: SparkPress


An Exiled Princess. An Ancient Tribe. A Dangerous Stranger with Unknown Loyalties. 

Dinah, the former Princess of Wonderland Palace, has been chased into the wilds of Wonderland after the brutal murder of her brother and the ruin of her impending crown. Now, as her half-sister Vittiore sits on the throne beside her Father, the brutal King of Hearts, Dinah finds herself alone in the forbidding Twisted Wood with only Morte, a homicidal beast, for company. 

Hunted by the King and his army of Cards, Dinah struggles to evade those who long for her head, including Cheshire, the King’s clever advisor, who is slowly tightening his grasp around her. Spurred on by her rising terror, the former Princess finds herself at the center of a web of conspiracy reaching far beyond the Palace and deep into the mysterious Yurkei mountain tribes. 

Even with the balance of an entire Kingdom at stake, Dinah knows something that her allies and enemies do not: that the most dangerous conflict of all has already begun as she battles the enticing rage that beckons her ever closer as love slips further from her grasp.

The second book in the bestselling and award-winning Queen of Hearts Saga, The Wonder takes readers back to the most wondrous and curious places in Wonderland, and continues this darkly addictive tale featuring one of the most infamous villains of all time.

But be warned…not every fairy tale has a happy ending.

This is the story of a princess who became a villain.


Readers were introduced to Dinah, Princess of Hearts in The Crown, volume one of the Queen of Hearts Saga. We were able to see Dinah wander listlessly around the palace in Wonderland, still grieving her mother’s death, and saddened over the madness and others ills that her brother, Prince Charles (aka the Mad Hatter), must deal with. Her father, the ruthless King of Hearts, appears to despise her presence. Just when it seems the Dinah is getting closer to being crowned the new Queen of Hearts, her father presents the royal court with his bastard child, Dinah’s half-sister, the Duchess of Hearts – Vittiore. As Dinah rivals Vittiore, unsuccessfully, for her father’s affection, she begins to wonder about her father’s motives. On the night before her coronation, Dinah awakens to find her brother, Prince Charles, brutally murdered by her father yet Dinah is quickly blamed for the death. Fearing for her life, Dinah flees the palace and Wonderland.

The Wonder finds Dinah trying to survive in the wilderness. Her only companion is her father’s stolen steed, a horse as large as a house with spiked hooves. Amazingly Dinah survives, but little does she know that she’s being tracked by the best. Fortunately for her, the best tracker quickly becomes her ally. Or so she thinks until her ally leads her into the kingdom and the hands of the king’s sworn enemies, the Yurkei. Mundoo, the chief of the Yurkei, takes Dinah in and begins to train her in the art of war. Bewildered by this, Dinah isn’t quite sure what to think about what is happening around her until she stumbles upon the king’s most trusted adviser, Cheshire. The story Cheshire reveals demonstrates that he is indeed Dinah’s father not the king, and that he seeks to place her on the throne of Wonderland. Now Dinah has the most fierce and largest warriors in the land, the Yurkei, aligning to fight beside her to overthrow the present King of Hearts. Dinah also now has several hundred warriors from the House of Spades willing to fight on her behalf. Is it possible this teenage queen can become the warrior leader needed to overthrow the current despotic king? Will her reign as queen be any better than her predecessor’s? Will the people of Wonderland be able to respect a queen that is now despised and known as the Red Queen?

Ms. Oakes takes many characters from Lewis Carroll’s beloved Alice in Wonderland and twists them into a modern retelling of Wonderland. The readers are allowed to see how the legend of “the Red Queen” began and why. We discover the impetus behind the feared “off with their heads” threat. Instead of a Cheshire cat, we see the head of the House of Diamonds, a gentleman named Cheshire with a cat-like grin become the king’s most trusted and feared advisor. The Mad Hatter becomes the brother of the Queen of Hearts and is someone that suffers seizures and appears may be autistic in that he lives in his own world and hates to be touched. The game of Royal Croquet is played with mallets shaped like birds and balls carved to resemble hedgehogs. The Knave of Hearts is head of the House of Hearts and leads the king’s most-trusted and highly trained warriors. The House of Spades are considered the lowest of all of the house cards and aren’t afforded the same rights and privileges. These men live in squalor and poverty and are forced to do the king’s dirty work in the Black Tower, torturing various prisoners. Dinah isn’t a bad person but she is someone filled with anger. She seeks to avenge the deaths of her mother and brother. If she isn’t careful that righteous anger may become something just as twisted and dark as the emotions that drive the current King of Hearts.

I actually enjoyed reading both The Crown and The Wonder (I read them back-to-back on one Saturday). I’m not a big fan of fantasy, but it was interesting to read these books and see how Ms. Oakes deftly twisted the already twisted story by Mr. Carroll. Dinah isn’t a wholly likeable character but she is a sympathetic character that grows on you as you read (or at least she did with me). I know that there will probably be a great deal of bloodshed and anguish in the next volume in this series, because war seems to be inevitable. Although this series is classified as YA, I found it to be an engrossing read and one that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. If you are a fan of fantasy, the retelling of classic literature, or simply interested in something a little different to read, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of The Crown and The Wonder today. This is one series you don’t want to miss!


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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