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Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Blog Tour Review - Looking for Lucie by Amanda Addison

 Blog Tour Review - Looking for Lucie by Amanda Addison

"Where are you really from?"

It's a question every brown girl in a white-washed town is familiar with, and one that Lucie has never been able to answer. All she knows is that her mother is white, she's never met her father, and she looks nothing like the rest of her family. She can't even talk about it because everyone says it shouldn't matter!

Well, it matters to Lucie and-with her new friend Nav, who knows exactly who he is-she's determined to find some answers.

What do you do when your entire existence is a question with no answer?

You do a DNA test.

Looking for Lucie is a fascinating look at what it is like growing up mixed race in contemporary Britain. It's a story about family and culture, and what they can mean for different people, as Lucie tries to figure out where she fits into the world. She doesn't look like any of the rest of her family, and her ethnicity is impossible to figure out based on the information she has. She's had a lifetime of wondering where her dad comes from, comparing her appearance to people she meets on holiday and such like. This contrasts sharply with Nav, who has a very strong sense of cultural identity and all of the benefits and annoyances that come with it. And much of the novel is driven by these two very different people coming together in an accidental friendship. There are other contrasts between them too, for example Lucie is an artist, whereas Nav is fascinated by science. But one thing I really liked is how easily they find common ground. They find the places where science and art meet and complement each other, just as they find the similarities in their backgrounds despite their very different perspectives.

It's a fairly powerful story, with strong emotional touches at parts. The central mystery, of who Lucie's dad is, was pretty gripping, especially as secrets long buried began to reveal themselves. I think the story was a little let down by sudden switches to new point of view characters around the middle of the book. There was a weird mixture of inconsequential observations about the minutia of their daily lives mixed with reminisces about events of decades ago that felt like a somewhat clumsy form of exposition. There didn't seem to be any neat way to explain why they were effectively telling the reader all of this information directly within the context of the story and it got quite distracting. Even more distracting were the quick shifts between point of view characters, occasionally during the course of a single conversation we'd switch, paragraph by paragraph, between two characters. One point of view character, Nav's father, really didn't seem to add anything to the story other than some fairly random musings about being the father of a teenage son. 

Despite meandering a little during the middle portion, the sections with Lucie and with Nav are both really strong and focused, and I really liked both characters and found them quite believable. It was all a little emotional by the end, despite a further meandering section through three years of university. 

With its musings on science and art, and family and culture, there was a lot to enjoy in Looking for Lucie, and I loved both the story and the characters. It was just the style that didn't work for me at times.


Looking for Lucie by Amanda Addison is out now from Neem Tree Press.

I was given a review copy in return for an honest review and participation in this The Write Reads blog tour.


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