Review: “All the Bad Apples” by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

p-3Title: All the Bad Apple
Author:
Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Publication Date: August 1, 2019 (UK) August 27 (US)
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content Warnings: Homophobia (challenged), suicide (supposed), rape (incestuous & of other minors), murder & arson (implied), institutionalization, forced labor, abuse (physical, mental & emotional), abortion, forced separation of mother & child
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

  ARC access provided by the publisher through NetGalley as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour. All opinions expressed are my own.

One teen-aged girl’s quest to find her missing sister uncovers more than she expects. Family secrets and curses, and a country’s unspoken history fuel this brutally emotional contemporary by Moïra Fowley-Doyle.

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

There are stories that just grip you and crush you into tiny little pieces. All the Bad Apples was one of those stories for me.

All the Bad Apples is a force of its own. Combining contemporary and magical realism, its story weaves together intergenerational stories of the women of the Rys family – a long history deeply rooted and intertwined with Ireland’s own unspoken history of Catholic fundamentalism, discrimination, and institutional abuse.

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Queer representation

Though there wasn’t much racial diversity in this story (Finn is the only black character in the book. The rest were white,) queer representation is not a problem for this standalone. The main character, Deena, and her possible love interest Cale are both lesbians. Finn, Deena’s best friend. Mary Ellen, Deena’s great-great-grandmother, and Ann, Cale’s great-great-great-great-aunt, were in a relationship. Before that, Mary Ellen was with Deena’s philandering great-great-grandfather.

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Nitty and gritty

All the Bad Apples tackles some of the toughest issues there is – homophobia, sexual abuse, and abortion to name a few – but it doesn’t pussyfoot. Fowley-Doyle addresses these issues in a very straightforward manner, her words sharply honed to get to the very core of things. This fitted the story and helped propel her narrative on the right ground.

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Rage, rage, rage

“This novel was, in part, fueled by rage,” Moïra Fowley-Doyle wrote in her author’s note, and, indeed, rage was a palpable and dominant emotion throughout the whole story. It was hard not to feel fist-clenchingly angry with what all the women – not just the Rys’ – went through in this story.

It was not just anger that I felt though.

This book dragged me through a whole range of emotions, back and forth several times over. I felt disgusted at the way men objectified and used women, treating them like objects that can be discarded at any time they pleased; felt sadness and betrayal when families turned their backs on daughters because they don’t conform to their notion of right and normal; shame at the righteousness of the people who deemed themselves the interpreters of God’s word and will – more so because, like them, I’m also Catholic.

But at the end of it all, hope.

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The ending definitely was a satisfying one, having gone through a rollercoaster of emotions to get to it. Fowley-Doyle definitely succeeded in making readers feel what her characters feel, using Deena as a touchpoint through which her audience experienced her fictional piece of the world.

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All the Bad Apples is a powerful story. Though the characters and places are fictional, the history peppered throughout the pages of this novel has happened to real people. This is one book that should be read by everyone.

about the author

p-4MOÏRA FOWLEY-DOYLE is half-French, half-Irish and made of equal parts feminism, whimsy, and Doc Martens. She lives in Dublin where she writes magic realism, reads tarot cards and raises witch babies.

Moïra’s first novel, The Accident Season, was shortlisted for the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize & the North East Teen Book Awards, nominated for the Carnegie Medal & won the inaugural School Library Association of Ireland Great Reads Award. It received two starred reviews & sold in ten territories. Her second novel, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, was published in summer 2017, received a starred review from School Library Journal and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

Giveaway

Win one (1) of three (3) copies of All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle. Open to UK/Ireland only.

Giveaway starts August 22nd and ends September 5th.

Follow the Tour

p-1

AUGUST 21ST

AUGUST 22ND

The Book Bratz – Interview
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Review + Favourite Quotes
Bookish Looks – Promotional Post

AUGUST 23RD

The Clever Reader – Interview
Hauntedbybooks – Review + Favourite Quotes
L.M.Durand – Promotional Post

AUGUST 24TH

The Baroness of Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Story-eyed Reviews – Review
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Playlist + Dream Cast
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post

AUGUST 25TH

Downright Dystopian – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Life – Review + Favourite Quotes
Starry Sky Books – Review + Playlist
A Book Addict’s Bookshelves – Promotional Post

AUGUST 26TH

Utopia State of Mind – Review + Favourite Quotes
Dazzled by Books – Review
Portrait of a Book – Review
Book Rambler – Review

AUGUST 27TH

Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Playlist
Boook Beach Bunny – Review
Kait Plus Books – Promotional Post

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “All the Bad Apples” by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Happy Wednesday!

Today I’m going to be featuring a book about daughters, mothers, and sisters; a story about religion and secrets and a country’s history.

Title: All the Bad Applesp
Author:
Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Publication Date: August 1, 2019
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.
And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

I just finished reading this book a couple of hours ago, and I’m telling you this one is a must-read. Written around the Magdalene Laundries and start of initiatives to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland, and woven into the story of a teen-aged girl’s quest to discover her familial roots, All the Bad Apples is a tough book to read. It made me mad and disgusted – made me hurt – all in equal measures, but it made me hope, too.

All the Bad Apples is now out from Penguin Random House.

Follow the Tour

I’m thankful to be reviewing this as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club‘s blog tour for this book. If you have the time and want to know more about All the Bad Apples, please do check the rest of the tour stops.

August 21st

August 22nd

The Book Bratz – Interview
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Review + Favourite Quotes
Bookish Looks – Promotional Post

August 23rd

The Clever Reader – Interview
Hauntedbybooks – Review + Favourite Quotes
L.M.Durand – Promotional Post

August 24th

The Baroness of Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
Story-eyed Reviews – Review
Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Review + Playlist + Dream Cast
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post

August 25th

Downright Dystopian – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Life – Review + Favourite Quotes
Starry Sky Books – Review + Playlist
A Book Addict’s Bookshelves – Promotional Post

August 26th

Utopia State of Mind – Review + Favourite Quotes
Dazzled by Books – Review
Portrait of a Book – Review
Book Rambler – Review

August 27th

Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Playlist
Boook Beach Bunny – Review
Kait Plus Books – Promotional Post

Review: “Sweet Black Waves” by Kristina Pèrez

31179006Title: Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1)

Author: Kristina Pèrez

Publisher: Imprint/Macmillan

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-million

 

 

 

Odai eti ama. I hate and I love.

That line just about sums up what I feel about Sweet Black Waves, the first book in what is to become a trilogy inspired by the Celtic legend of Tristan and Iseult.

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Goodreads

Sweet Black Waves centers on Branwen, Princess Iseult’s cousin and lady-in-waiting. Orphaned when she was a young girl after both her parents were murdered by Kernyvak raiders, Branwen is taken in by her mother’s sister Queen Iseult and raised in court alongside her cousin Essy, the only child and the heir of Iveriu.

Apprenticed to her aunt and serving as lady-in-waiting to her cousin, Branny lives a seemingly content and peaceful life. But all these is turned upside down when a striking young man washes ashore, half-dead. Branny saves him without knowing that he’s an enemy, that their meeting will change everything for both of their countries and for themselves.

My feelings for this re-telling is a mix of good and not-so. The fact that this one is based on Tristan and Iseult is already a plus for me. I’ve been waiting for so long for a re-telling of this Celtic legend. I actually cannot believe no one has done this sooner. But while it does base a lot of its elements on the ancient legend, being super familiar with it is not a pre-requisite. You could easily go in blind and still enjoy this book.

Two things I loved about Sweet Black Waves: the writing and the main characters.

Pèrez’s writing is just so beautifully evocative you’ll be transported to a lush and untamed alternative version of ancient Ireland and Cornwall. From the first line down to the crushing end, I was hooked. Poetic and lyrical, readers are sure to find Pèrez’s story immersive. She overdoes this though at some points, dipping into purple prose territory, something I’m hoping she’ll be able to rein in in the coming sequels.

As gorgeous as Pèrez’s writing was, ultimately what made me keep on reading were the characters. I was just bound to love Branwen. Strong, loyal and dutiful, she is oftentimes caught in between her role as Essy’s handmaiden and keeper and working for peace between Iveriu and Kernyv. She is flawed as she is passionate, rash as she is cautious – and, for me, it made her character only more believable.

Then there’s Tristan – charming, sincere, romantic, good-hearted and fierce Tristan who also has loyalties of his own, duties of his own to his land and his king. It was hard not to like him.

Together, these two characters make for a compelling story. The pair of Branwen and Tristan, dare I say, is the best thing in Sweet Black Waves. I breezed through pages featuring these two, just wanting to know what happens next. It was interesting to watch Branwen and Tristan’s dynamic evolve from enemies to unwilling friends then finally becoming lovers. Their attraction was instant, something I was wary about at the start of the book though I got over it after seeing the obvious chemistry between them. These two are totally shippable! (I do, I ship them!!! 😍😍😍)

Now, for the not-so-good parts of this book.

As much as I love Sweet Black Waves, there are still things in it that I didn’t much like. They aren’t really big blunders, nothing as bad as that. I think it’s more to do with my preferences, so take this with a pinch of salt.

I’m writing this review a couple of days after I finished the book, so I had the time to let the story sink in. I just can’t help but think that Pèrez could have cut a bit more of the book’s bulk. At 400++ pages, Sweet Black Waves is a long book. I understand that this being the first installment of a planned trilogy, the author wants to lay down the building blocks of her world, and she succeeds half of the time. The other half though, she wobbled, forcing in the details so her characters arrive at a pre-planned conflict. I totally read through some of the foreshadowed events, and while it did not stop me from enjoying this story, it did take out the element of surprise the author intended for her readers. This problem was most noticeable in the second part where the story moved the slowest, the characters plodding through the thick plot Pèrez set up for them.

Another bit that could have been done better – the secondary characters. While both Branwen and Tristan’s characters are well-developed, the characters who support them just felt flat to me. King Óengus was almost non-existent. Essy and Keane, meanwhile, were two-dimensional, oftentimes playing foil for Branwen and Tristan.

For all its imperfections, however, Sweet Black Waves is a thoroughly enjoyable and emotional read. It’s an interesting and creatively imagined re-telling, and I’m sure going to grab the next two books especially after that punch-in-the-gut ending. I highly recommend this to readers of fantasy romance.

P.S. (because I just got to sneak this in) Essy annoyed me throughout the book. She doesn’t deserve Branny’s devotion. The brat! (You could tell, I still have a lot “feels”. Sorry, not sorry.)

P.P.S.The second book already has a title!!! Wild Savage Stars!!! 🤩🤩🤩