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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

12 Days at Bleakly Manor
Michelle Griep
expected publication date: 1 September 2017
3/5 stars

In 1851, Clara, newly impoverished, receives a mysterious invitation to stay at Bleakly Manor for the Twelve Days of Christmas, with a promise of 500 pounds if she stays through to the end. Arriving there, she finds other guests who have been given similar invitations with differing promises if they stay all twelve days. One of the guests is Ben, from her past and an unwelcome addition. These twelve days become a time of second chances for the two of them.

This short book is very light reading, at times insipid, with a plot not fully believable and stereotypical characters. The Victorian atmosphere was not well pulled off, and details such as mores, language, and customers were often not quite right. Advertised as a Christian novel, it has only brief mentions of the faith. However, Griep did a great job of gradually revealing the past stories of Clara and Ben, which raises this book to three stars for me. Overall, though, while I didn't hate it, I wouldn't recommend it either.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Lost by Jonathan Aycliffe

The Lost
Jonathan Aycliffe
2/5 stars

After his Romanian father's death, Englishman Michael discovers that he is the heir to a castle in Romania.  A series of frightening events follow him, as well as his friends back in England, as he makes his way to the castle.  Once there, he discovers the terrible secret of his family.

Excellently written in the epistolary style, The Lost mirrors Dracula in some ways.  Like the original, it builds in suspense slowly, given the reader an increasing sense of unease.  Unlike the original, though, it falls flat with it's climax.  In addition, there were several unexplained circumstances and loose ends.  Overall, I found it to be quite disappointing.

Monday, July 31, 2017

July Wrap-Up

Books Read:
The Necklace by Claire McMillian 3/5 stars (my review here)

Hide Your Fear by Kevin O'Brien 5/5 stars (my review here)

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin 2/5 stars  (my review here)

The Black House by Constance and Gwenyth Little 3/5 stars
Henry reluctantly agrees to be bodyguard to his boss's daughter because an escaped criminal is on the loose.  They all end up at house with a moving dead body, a sherry-drinking ghost, and an isolating snow storm.  This wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as is usual with the Little Sisters, nor was the plot as engrossing.  It's still a fun read, in their particular loony style, but it's just not their best.

Missing Joseph by Elizabeth George 3/5 stars (my review here)

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald 4/5 stars (my review here)


Audio Books Completed:
White Corridor by Christopher Fowler  4/5 stars
Snowed in on the interstate in Dartmoor, Bryant and May must solve a case over the phone for the P.C.U., as well as protect a woman being stalked in the storm.  As with all the series, this is an often witty and generally interesting mystery.  Unlike the others, there are no bizarre supernatural elements to confuse the issue.  This is definitely the best I've read of the series so far.

The Return of the Discontinued Man by Mark Hodder 4/5 stars  (my review here)

The Girl from the Sea by Shalini Boland  4/5 stars  (my review here)

The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg 4/5 stars (my review here)

The Sins of the Father by Lawrence Block 4/5 stars (my review here)

The Bloodhounds by Peter Lovesey 4/5 stars
Peter Diamond is a likable character and Lovesey's mysteries are intriguing.  This one included a classic locked room, riddles, and murder.  I had one problem with the solution, but other than that, it was a satisfying novel.


Did Not Finish:
Death of a Travelling Man by M.C. Beaton
The Hamish MacBeth novels are simple fluff, and basically all the same. So far I have enjoyed them to a certain extinct.  I mainly have only been reading them because there are plenty available on audio.  About half way through this one, though, I decided I just didn't care.  So many crimes in one small village just isn't believable anymore, Hamish has become stale, and the mysteries just aren't that interesting.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Katarina Bivald
4/5 stars

Sara, living in Sweden, becomes pen friends with a fellow bibliophile, Amy, who lives in a small town called Broken Wheel, Iowa.  She comes to Broken Wheel to stay with Amy for a few months to rest and read, and instead finds herself at the heart of the Broken Wheel community.

This is a heart-warming story about books, friendship, and taking chances.  Sara is likable, as are the people of Broken Wheel.  The minor plots are as interesting as the main story.  The only thing I didn't find fully believable was Amy's correspondence.  I don't doubt that she would share such personal things about herself and her friends, but I do doubt that she would do it so abruptly and incompletely.   Other than that, this was a light and enjoyable, feel-good novel.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Missing Joseph by Elizabeth George

Missing Joseph
Elizabeth George
3/5 stars

A vicar dies of poisoning and it's dismissed as an accident.  Months later, Inspector Lyndley's attention is drawn to the case and he finds reasons to suspect murder.

George is a good writer, and for the most part this book is no exception.  However, she described so much sex--consensual and non, and both teenage and adult--that bore no relevance to the plot, that it became ridiculous.  She also tended to ramble on with colloquies, soul searching, and elaborate descriptions.  Furthermore, the plot hinged on one huge coincidence.  The story itself was still interesting, the development of personal relationships between recurring characters was good, and the ending was poignant.  The real problem is that the tale could have been told succinctly in about half the pages, and been a much better book.

On a personal note: I began this as an audio book and was so frustrated by all the unnecessary sex and rambling that I gave up on it 3/4 of the way through.  When I found myself thinking of it a few days later, I decided to try reading it, instead.  I was able to skim all the annoying bits and get straight into the solution, so was able to finish it.


Monday, July 17, 2017

The Sins of the Fathers by Lawrence Block

The Sins of the Fathers
Lawrence Block
4/5 stars

A young prostitute is murdered in her apartment and her roommate is arrested; before any investigation can take place, he hangs himself in his cell.  The girl's father asks Matthew Scudder, former NYPD, to find out about her life for him.  This leads Scudder to more questions and answers than expected.

This 1976 novel is the first in the long-running Scudder series.  It doesn't seem like a mystery at first, as Scudder is not searching for a perpetrator, but for details of a life.  It is an engaging novel, that draws in the reader as Scudder finds pieces of the crime in various places.  Scudder is a likable protagonist, and the noir style works well with his character.  I found myself pondering on it when I wasn't reading it, and thoroughly enjoyed it.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Girl from the Sea by Shalini Boland

The Girl from the Sea 
Shalini Boland
4/5 stars

A woman is washed up on the beach, with no memories of anything that happened before she was rescued.  She discovers her name, Mia, and begins to learn about her life.  The people closest to her, though, seem to be lying and Mia struggles to find out about her life prior to her accident--if it was indeed an accident.

Mia's journey to know herself seems straight-forward enough at the beginning of the novel, but as the lies mount up, it becomes increasingly interesting.  Just when it all seems to make sense, Boland gives the story not one, but two twists that left me breathless.  Despite two plot holes, this is a great light suspense that, while a quick read, will leave the reader wanting to talk about it.