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review 2019-09-28 13:41
Brief Thoughts: Lost Among the Living
Lost Among the Living - Simone St. James

Lost Among the Living

by Simone St. James

 

 

England, 1921.  Three years after her husband, Alex, disappeared, shot down over Germany, Jo Manders still mourns his loss.  Working as a paid companion to Alex's wealthy, condescending aunt, Dottie Forsyth, Jo travels to the family’s estate in the Sussex countryside.  But there is much she never knew about her husband’s origins… and the revelation of a mysterious death in the Forsyths’ past is just the beginning…

All is not well at Wych Elm House.  Dottie's husband is distant, and her son was grievously injured in the war.  Footsteps follow Jo down empty halls, and items in her bedroom are eerily rearranged.  The locals say the family is cursed, and that a ghost in the woods has never rested.  And when Jo discovers her husband’s darkest secrets, she wonders if she ever really knew him.  Isolated in a place of deception and grief, she must find the truth or lose herself forever.

And then a familiar stranger arrives at Wych Elm House…



There was a lot going on in this book, but I found myself really loving it.  Between the atmosphere and the haunted house premise, as well as Jo's character, this is probably my second favorite of Simone St. James's books I've read.  Of course, when we got into a lot of the pre- and post- Great War tangents, as well as the big surprise twist in the end, the story might have started untangling a little bit.

And the truth is, I saw the plot point concerning the mystery behind Alex's disappearance from ten miles away.  It was pretty obvious so I wasn't so surprised when the big surprise twist came around.  Hopefully, I've given nothing away, but, again, it was pretty obvious from the beginning where St. James was going with her story.

If it's one thing that St. James seems able to do, it's create appropriately creepy atmospheres involving all the hauntings depicted in her books.  Truth, I felt a very big chill go through me in the beginning, when Jo first arrives at Wych Elm House, and sees the girl sitting silently in the parlor.  Something about the way that scene was described was so vivid that I couldn't help seeing it in my own mind and being dutifully freaked out.  A lot of the other later scenes, such as when Jo sees the ghost girl Frances walk past her bedroom door out of the corner of her eye was also a great scary, and atmospheric moment.

Or maybe I'm just easily scared.

Jo's story was a good one, with a wonderfully strong starting point, but I feel like the characters' directions kind of got lost when more plot devices started getting added to the book.  So this book wasn't entirely perfect, but it was entertaining enough that I really, really liked it.

 

Halloween Bingo 2019

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/09/brief-thoughts-lost-among-living.html
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text 2019-09-23 19:31
Halloween Bingo 2019 | Update #2

 

Halloween Bingo 2019



I'm not entirely sure how often I'm going to update, so I'm just going to wing it as I go.  Reading has been slow going and I think I've only finished two more books since the last update, a little over a week ago.  It's not bad progress, but I'd been hoping to have at least one other book finished reading by now.

I've decided to go ahead and declare a couple Transfigurations: (and I will move these graphics to the proper section in future updates)

 

 


Modern Noir and Magical Realism are the two squares I'm feeling the least interested in reading for at present, and I've felt the least interested in reading them since the beginning of the game.  I have books lined up for the squares I'm transfiguring them to already, so I'm going to go ahead and make this commitment, even though I haven't actually read for those squares yet.

 


Mainly, I just wanted Dark Academia on my card, because it's my favorite of all the newest Halloween Bingo squares--and, oh look at that, the square just got called!  I swear, I started putting this post together before today's (9/23) call.  I'm planning on reading the second book in the Truly Devious trilogy since I'm enjoying the first book right now.

Meanwhile, I should hopefully be getting the next InCryptid book via library hold soon, so I'm going to go ahead and put Cryptozoologist onto my card.

Moving along with this update, I've just recently finished reading Mercy Strange by Alisa Woods for Spellbound.  I know I'd intended to read Terry Pratchett's Sourcery... but plans change.  That is all.

The next book I finished was Lost Among the Living for the Ghost Stories square.

And while I'm currently reading Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson for the Baker Street Irregulars square, I felt like I needed to read some more romance of some sort, so I decided to go ahead with Firelight by Kristen Callihan for Darkest London.  Yes, I know, I've already read at least three other books that have romance... I just need more.  For me.

Anyway, I'm sort of picking and choosing which books to read next based on which ones are library books and which ones are for squares on my card that have already been called.

So you see, there's a somewhat strategy going on... not really, but maybe.  No.  Not really.  There is no strategy.

Anyway, I went ahead and added some graphic to my card to indicate the Transfigurations, which I hadn't been quite sure how I wanted to do it, but I kind of like the effect... for now.  When Penni gets added to the square, we'll figure something else out.

 

 

Updated Marked Card:

 



Read: Red-Eyes Penni
Called: Green Square Outline

 

 

Currently Reading:

 

 

 

Up Next:

 

 

 

Books Read and Unallocated:


TBA

 

 

Squares/Books/Called Dates/Update Post Links:


Progress on my card:  7 squares called || 7 books read || 3 squares completed

 

Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
Called: 9/22/19
Read: 9/19/19
Called:
Read:
A Study in Death
by

Anna Lee Huber
book
by

author
Dreamer's Pool
by

Juliet Marillier
Mercy Strange
by

Alisa Woods
Thornyhold
by

Mary Stewart
 
~*~*~*~
 
Called: 9/20/19
Read:
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read: 9/15/19
Called: 9/13/19
Read: 9/11/19
Called: 9/23/19
Read:
book
by

author
The Broken Girls
by

Simone St. James
Ice
by

Linda Howard
Footsteps in the
Dark
by
Georgette Heyer
The Vanishing Stair
by

Maureen Johnson


 

~*~*~*~
 
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
book
by

author
The Visitor
by

Amanda Stevens
book
by

author
Truly Devious
by

Maureen Johnson
book
by

author
 
~*~*~*~
 
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read: 9/14/19
Called: 9/1/19
Read: 9/23/19
Called:
Read: 9/1/19
Called: 9/4/19
Read:
Firelight
by

Kristen Callihan
Half-Off Ragnarok
by
Seanan McGuire
Lost Among the
Living
by

Simone St. James
The Sign of
the Four
by
Arthur Conan
Doyle
book
by

author
 
~*~*~*~
 
Called:
Read: 9/2/19
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
Called:
Read:
The Epic Crush
of Genie Lo
by

F.C. Yee
book
by

author
Pocket Apocalypse
by

Seanan McGuire
book
by

author
book
by

author

 

 

Daily Calls
 
Date Square Date Square
09/01 Ghost Stories 10/01  
09/02 Genre: Horror 10/02  
09/03 Creepy Crawlies 10/03  
09/04 Amateur Sleuth 10/04  
09/05 American Horror Story 10/05  
09/06 Dystopian Hellscape 10/06  
09/07 Fear Street 10/07  
09/08 Black Cat 10/08  
09/09 Relics and Curiosities 10/09  
09/10 A Grimm Tale 10/10  
09/11 Stranger Things 10/11  
09/12 Creepy Carnivals 10/12  
09/13 Country House Mystery 10/13  
09/14 Classic Horror 10/14  
09/15 Supernatural 10/15  
09/16 Psych 10/16  
09/17 Darkest London 10/17  
09/18 Cozy Mystery 10/18  
09/19 Southern Gothic 10/19  
09/20 Read by Flashlight or Candlelight 10/20  
09/21 Modern Noir 10/21  
09/22 Spellbound 10/22  
09/23 Dark Academia 10/23  
09/24   10/24  
09/25   10/25  
09/26   10/26  
09/27   10/27  
09/28   10/28  
09/29   10/29  
09/30   10/30  
    10/31  

 

 

Transfiguration Spell:

 

 

2 of 3 used

 

 

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/09/halloween-bingo-2019-update-2.html
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review 2019-09-21 00:26
Fairly Brief Thoughts: Ice
Ice - Linda Howard

Ice

by Linda Howard

 

 

Gabriel McQueen has only just arrived home on holiday leave from the service when his county-sheriff father sends him back out again with new marching orders.  A brewing ice storm, and a distant neighbor who’s fallen out of contact, have the local lawman concerned.  So he enlists Gabriel to make the long haul to the middle of nowhere, and make sure Lolly Helton is safe and sound.  It’s a trip the younger McQueen would rather not make given the bitter winter weather–and the icy conditions that have always existed between him and Lolly.

But there’s no talking back when your dad is the town’s top cop.  And there’ s no turning back when night falls just as Gabriel arrives–and discovers that the weather outside isn’t the only thing that’s frightful.  Spotting strangers in Lolly’ s home–one of them packing a weapon–is all it takes to kick Gabriel into combat mode.  And his stealth training is all he needs to extract Lolly from the house without alerting her captors.  But when the escape is discovered, the heat–and the hunt–are on. And the winter woods are nowhere to be once the ice storm touches down, dropping trees, blocking roads, and trapping the fleeing pair in the freezing dark.



Ice was pretty much like an exciting action/thriller and romance movie.  While the beginning of the book was kind of slow to start up, once our couple gets trapped in the ice storm on the mountain, the action just kept moving forward.  This isn't a mystery or anything, really just a suspense and thriller that takes place throughout the night in an ice storm, with danger lurking everywhere in the form of mother nature as well as human.

Character development was sorely lacking, but I still found that I liked the main hero and heroine enough.  I wish we could have delved more into the relationship between Lolly and Gabe, because the ending of the book seems rather abrupt.

Nonetheless, this was a rather exciting and entertaining read, even if not my favorite of Linda Howard's work.

 

 

Halloween Bingo 2019

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/09/fairly-brief-thoughts-ice.html
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review 2019-09-21 00:23
Thoughts: Half-Off Ragnarok
Half-Off Ragnarok - Seanan McGuire

Half-Off Ragnarok

by Seanan McGuire
Book 3 of InCryptid

 

 

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn't expect people to start dropping dead.  But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone...

The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary.  Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.

Of course, so do the talking mice.



I went into this third book in the InCryptid series knowing that we were switching perspectives from Verity Price to her older brother, Alex Price.  I hadn't exactly decided on any kind of expectations, but I was still a bit wary about how much I'd like the book based on what little you get to know about Alex from Verity's POV in the first two books.  And while I didn't really squee or love Half-Off Ragnarok as much as I loved the first two books, I admittedly enjoyed following Alex's POV very much.

Alex Price is a science nerd and his sort of socially awkwardness only makes him so much more endearing.  Especially since this book didn't really focus on the quirks of his personality, even while displaying them in ways that I absolutely enjoyed.  I'm not sure how I felt about Shelby, although she seemed a bit one-dimensional and stereotyped--though this could have just been because of the first person POV wherein we only really get to see things from Alex's perspective.

The mystery of who was turning people to stone was actually a rather great premise to start the book off with, and made this an interesting page-turner... even as the rest of the book felt a bit lackluster.

Don't get me wrong--I absolutely enjoyed myself reading this book.  But somehow it just didn't bring about the giddy feels and the laugh-out-loud moments that I'd found so much fun from the first two books.  This could just be because of the little book time you get with Alex's splinter colony of Aeslin mice, or maybe the absence of a specific carnage-loving Gothic-lolita Waheela whom I ended up loving from the second book.  Even Alex's miniature griffin, Crow, didn't really help much, cute as the little snot was.

Nonetheless, this was definitely a great inclusion to the series, and I actually kind of appreciate seeing the cryptid world from more than just Verity's perspective.  And the nerdy scientist thing that Alex is sporting is quite endearing.

We still could have used more time with the Aeslin mice, though... just sayin'...

 

 

Halloween Bingo 2019

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/09/thoughts-half-off-ragnarok.html
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review 2019-09-15 22:09
Quick Thoughts: Footsteps in the Dark
Footsteps in the Dark - Georgette Heyer

Footsteps in the Dark

by Georgette Heyer

 

 

Locals claim The Prior is haunted and refuse to put a single toe past the front door.  Left empty for years, and even their deceased uncle chose to live in a different house, far away from this particular property.  But the ramshackle old house, with its rambling charm is the perfect setting for a much-needed holiday for siblings Peter, Celia and Margaret, who have inherited it from their uncle.  It wasn't the lack of modern conveniences that made a summer spent at the ancient priory mansion such an unsettling experience.  It was the supposed ghost... or whatever was groaning in the cellars and roaming the countryside around Framley Village after dark.

But when a murder victim is discovered in the drafty Priory halls, the once unconcerned trio begins to fear that the ghostly rumors are true and they are not alone after all!  But traditionally ghosts don't commit murder.  And in this case, the things which go bump in the night are deadly.  With a killer on the loose, will they find themselves the next victims or will they uncover the true in time?  Does the key to the crime lie in the realm of the supernaturalr?  Or is the explanation much more down to earth with a more corporeal culprit of flesh and blood?



The premise for Footsteps in the Dark was definitely one that I was extremely excited about.  Even though I'm a scaredy cat, and don't really like scary stories, I get really giddy about haunted house stories, and a double whammy would be a haunted country house setting.

This is my second Georgette Heyer book, and while I didn't care for the first one I read of hers, Death in the Stocks, this book definitely made up for it.  By rights, it's not the best book in the world, and the investigative process was probably a bit questionable, but the characters were fun, even if the humor slipped into "tackily overdone" territory a few times.

And yet, I still found the bit of comical interactions rather appealing.  I DO wish that the women had more of a role in the investigation... and well, more of a role at all in the book--they seemed like background scenery, to be totally honest.

The romance was most definitely insta, which made it a little hard to take it seriously, especially since Margaret's love interest was more or less a creepy unknown who kept secrets when they first met.  I'd have been happier if their courtship didn't only consist of one walk together and a cryptic conversation in which Margaret is still unsure whether or not Michael Strange was a killer.

Nonetheless, the rest of the book was very enjoyable.  The few moments involving the Monk got appropriately creepy enough to maintain the haunted house atmosphere.  The side characters were also appropriately delightful as comic relief.

And so I'd definitely give Ms. Heyer my continued interest in her work.


***

Halloween Bingo 2019

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/09/quick-thoughts-footsteps-in-dark.html
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