Archive for the ‘You Review’ Category

You Review a Local Author: The Price of Peace – Ron Muyzert

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Reviewed by Sheila Schenkel

It’s Wednesday morning and Dutch diplomat Rob Ginsberg is on his way to the West Bank. He’s on a mission to find out what’s happening with a large sum of money collected on Dutch streets, now that it’s being transferred to a political movement called New Palestine. It’s the beginning of a full-on spooks story.

Khalil Abu Hassan, leader of New Palestine, wants peace. As soon as possible. Peace for the Palestinians, peace with the Israelis, peace for future generations. And yet he’s under suspicion of using the € 75,000 donation for terrorist acts.

Visiting Abu Hassan at Birzeit University, Ginsberg ends up in the middle of the planning of an attack on Israel. As always, the questions are: who’s behind the attack, and when and where is it going to take place? When Ginsberg offers a ride to Abu Hassan’s assistant Lidia Shamas, he sets off on the infamous Path of No Turning Back.

Whilst unfolding the story of the donation, author Ron Muyzert lifts the veil of history, sharing his factual knowledge of Israel and the way its politicians ensure a state of their own. While diplomat Ginsberg’s story is fictional, he learns stories from the past that are real. Muyzert manages to keep that balance. Unfortunately, the characters as well as their dialogues remain a bit wooden.

The Price of Peace could have done with a few side stories. Perhaps the love story of Ginsberg and his Dutch girlfriend could have been given some more depth, or perhaps we could have gotten some more insight into the relationships of his boss Paul Kramer?

That being said, this book makes a very interesting read — especially if you’re at all fascinated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

The Price of Peace was first published in Dutch, as De prijs van vrede, by Uitgeverij Van Gennep (2012).  Ron Muyzert is a senior diplomat in the Dutch foreign service. He served as Ambassador in Bolivia and Cuba. From 2000 to 2003 he was Head of the Dutch Representative Office in Ramallah.  He launched the English translation of his book at ABC The Hague in March 2014.

The Price of Peace is self-published on ABC’s Espresso Book Machine.

You Review: Fourth of July Creek – Smith Henderson

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Reviewed by Didi Groenhoff

Even though he often feels powerless and is certainly not always welcome, social worker Pete gives his all to help deprived children and their parents in a small town in Montana. This is the real America, where for many people life is a struggle. Pete sees it all, and tries to reach out. But he’s not entirely the hero he seems to be. In his personal life he meets the same struggles as the people he works with. Despite being a lonesome man that spends many of his evenings seeking company in bars, Pete tries to break with his family which he finds stifling. And then there’s his daughter Rachel, who he hardly ever sees because she is living with her mother. Leaving his personal problems untouched Pete acts only to help people he hardly knows and is not personally attached to. And what interesting people they are…

The story is brilliantly told. Using only a few words Smith Henderson sets each scene in such a way that you virtually see it happen in front of your very eyes. Reading this book will be a source of jealousy for everyone that once tried to write himself.

But the best thing about Fourth of July Creek is not the catching story or the amazing style. The most fascinating accomplishment is that Smith Henderson succeeds in tying this narrative of ordinary people living in the rough Montana mountain lands to big American themes like Freedom and Religion. In between the lines he discusses the complicated relationship between the Citizens and their State, and the question of who bears what responsibilities and rights. Henderson forces us to think about the foundations of the USA, where they led to success and where they resulted in failure. Placing the story in the late 70’s and early 80’s shows us that what we consider to be problems of our time might not be quite that. Touching on all these big subjects does not do any harm to the narrative, flooding my brain with thoughts and considerations and leaving me truly astounded after finishing.

This book is not a critique on the American way of life, nor does it celebrate it. It sets you thinking. Just like a good book should.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook available of Fourth of July Creek.

You Review: The Oversight – Charlie Fletcher

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Reviewed by Natalie Gerritsen

The natural and supernatural world have lived on the same Earth for millennia, but the supernatural side has always kept its distance from the ‘normal’ side and indeed, the natural world doesn’t even know the supernatural world exists. The balance is kept by The Oversight, a society of men and women with the blood of both sides in them, who guard and protect both sides and punish those who bring harm to the peace.

The Oversight used to have hundreds in its ranks, but due to a mysterious disaster, the society only has five members left, who try their best to protect London in the 1850’s. Every member has the ability to use magic and most have their own special talents.

One day a young girl with her own powers and holes in her memory is delivered to The Oversight. Could she be an asset or is she planted there, and if so, by whom? Soon it becomes clear an enemy is coming for The Oversight and the weakened group may not be strong enough to win. But, as the book cover says, if The Oversight falls, so do we all…

I love urban fantasy and it’s nice to see it translates well to the 19th century. Charlie Fletcher did a nice job of making every member of The Oversight a very unique person, without making their talents feel like superhero tricks. They are members of The Oversight after all and not the X-Men.

Fletcher uses very small chapters, which I usually like, because it invites you to keep reading ‘one more’. This time, however, the story shifted too quickly between different storylines, which made it a bit harder to get invested in the characters. I really loved the story, the setting and the people in it, but it took a little bit too long to get sucked into it. I still liked it enough to buy the promised sequels once they’re published, though.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook available for The Oversight, as well as of his other books: Stoneheart, Ironhand, Silvertongue, Dragonshield and Far Rockaway.

You Review: Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Reviewed by Em Angevaare

Maud’s friend Elizabeth is missing, just like her sister Sukey disappeared nearly 70 years ago. She is determined to find out what happened to both women, but she is also in an advanced state of dementia. As soon as a clue presents itself, she must write it down or she won’t recall. But after she’s written them, she frequently can’t remember what her own notes are about… As Maud understands less and less of the world around her, and even her childhood memories grow confused, the reader slowly understands more and more of what has happened.

But this makes Elizabeth is Missing sound more interesting than it turns out to be. The two mysteries are not nearly mysterious enough, their explanation simple and only arrived at so late in the day exactly because Maud cannot keep hold of the relevant information. And that might be an interesting premise, but it is not enough to hang a whole book on. There is also something not quite right about what we are told is going on inside Maud’s head. She is instantly forgetful and mixes things up, and this is very convincingly described. But the reader never gets to hear what her daughter keeps telling Maud, and what she then can’t keep hold of: where Elizabeth has gone. This selective revelation keeps the mystery going, but it isn’t Maud being forgetful, it’s Emma Healey being disingenuous.

What Healey has to say about Alzheimer’s she says well: Maud’s permanent confusion made me think about how I would act in her daughter’s place, and about how frightening it must be to find your own thoughts slipping away like that. But there have been other fictional characters which have done that already and better, like the aging actress in Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog or Will’s mother in Patrick Gale’s Rough Music. And because hers is the only viewpoint we get, and Maud cannot herself appreciate the solving of her mysteries, the books lacks resolution. There is, in the end, still something missing.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

There are ebooks available for Elizabeth is Missing and Started Early, Took My Dog.

Em has self-published three books under the pseudonym Marcus Attwater: The Chapter of St. Cloud, The Gift and The Last Initiate.

You Review a Local Author: This Precious Jewel: MIME, the Body as Instrument – William Dashwood

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Reviewed by Elysia Brenner

“It’s not a book just for mimes,” the blurb teases. And there is truth in that. With that in mind, the title of William Dashwood’s This Precious Jewel: MIME, The Body as Instrument sums up exactly what you should expect from the book: it’s longer and perhaps more confusing than it needs to be, and the language can be overly flowery at times… but the book will teach you how to “play” your body, finding notes you never knew existed. And, yes, it will likely change what you think about mime.

The tone flops between technical instruction, psychological exploration, and vaguely philosophical meanderings; unfortunately, the third detracts from the first two. The weakest section of the book is its opening (“Part 1: Can You Make Money at That?” – a question never really answered). It rambles and lectures through a prolonged defense of the form of miming that seems unnecessary in a book whose serious tan cover makes it unlikely to be picked up by someone not already interested. Along the way, however, many misconceptions are squashed: Pantomime is but one of the many types of miming, it turns out. There are even mimes who speak!

The book is least convincing when it emphasizes the differences between miming and other theatrical disciplines (kudos for the description “dance devours the stage”; thumbs down for insisting dancers don’t draw their movements from emotion). It is in Parts 2-5 that the book has its broadest appeal. Here it lays out, in detail, muscle movements you have never considered so that you find yourself almost subconsciously acting them out, already exploring your body’s capabilities while you read. Dancers and actors will have much to learn from the perceptions of postures, managers will find the discussion of status projection fascinating, and even writers have something to learn from the analysis of emotional conveyance and story development. Mostly, however, the book is ideal for the reference shelf of any… well, mime.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

William Dashwood is based in The Netherlands.  His book is sold on consignment at ABC Amsterdam.