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review 2018-10-14 13:47
A Darker Shade of Magic ★★★★☆
A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab

I approached this with some wariness, as I saw other readers had tagged it as YA and my experiences in that genre has led me to expect tiresome teenaged angst and even more tiresome love triangles, but this was a pleasant surprise. The only connection with that genre I saw was the age of the primary female character. What I found instead was a good adventure fantasy with a well-developed world and rules of magic. The characters were fun, the world was fun, and the action was suitably violent and gory, even if the Antari trait of self-healing did rob some of the danger of its impact. I would have liked to see more well-developed villains, though. They were fairly two-dimensionally evil, simple baddies to be knocked down. We did get a little more depth to the opposing Antari, at least, so there was some investment in that character. The book is obviously the start of the series, but there is a satisfactory (enough) resolution to the books to events to allow this one to serve as a stand-alone.

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Darkest London: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book set in London. This book is set in several Londons in adjacent worlds, with one (not visited) literally called “Black London”.

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review 2018-10-13 13:14
October: A Novel ★★★★☆
October - Michael Rowe

This novella was a quick wild ride, once it got going. I think it could have benefitted from a longer and more thorough treatment, to give us a more nuanced view of our main characters, but as I understand this was originally a short story, perhaps this is really all the author had to say about his characters. But I felt for Mikey and Wroxy. I had a small, very small, taste of being bullied as a child, and I remember other children who were the constant targets of harassment, likely much worse than was done publicly. The ending… is the logical conclusion of Mikey’s choices, but not the one I hoped for. Sometimes, though, the ending that we, as readers want, is not the ending that is right. It was still satisfying.

 

Audiobook, via Audible. Joel Froomkin was the perfect voice for Mikey, although he reminded me irresistibly of George McFly.

 

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square New release: mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural that was published after 10/31/17. Although it was based on a short story written in the late 1980’s, this novella was just published in February 2018.

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review 2018-10-11 20:36
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (illustrated edition) ★★★★★
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition - J.K. Rowling,Jim Kay

I don’t have anything to add about this book – the story, the characters, the complex world that JK Rowling created – that I didn’t say on my last re-read. I love it as much now as I did when I first picked up the audiocassettes from a bargain bin, skeptical but figuring that I ought to see what the fuss was about.

 

Instead, I’m going to review this specific edition, an oversized “deluxe format” hardcover illustrated by Jim Kay. It added another dimension of pleasure to my eleventy-billionth re-read, for the heavy weight of it, the tactile sense of turning the thick, almost card stock quality pages, and the visual texture on every page. Even those pages with no illustrations have a sort of inkspotted parchment look.

 

But the illustrations! I love Jim Kay’s interpretation of the scenes and characters. Some pages are just decorated with little elements from the stories.

 

Every chapter has an illustrated header.

 

Some pages are text superimposed over an illustration.

 

But there are also several full page, standalone illustrations.

 

This edition was horrifically expensive. But so very worth it. I’ll be buying all seven books for my collection.

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Baker Street Irregulars: mystery that involves children/teens in crime solving. In this book, 11 year old Harry and friends try to solve the mystery of what Fluffy is guarding and to prevent the theft of the Sorcerer’s Stone.

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review 2018-10-11 00:24
20th Century Ghosts ★★★☆☆
20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill,Christopher Golden

This was, for me, a wildly uneven collection of short stories. I truly enjoyed a little over half of the 15 stories, with several 5 stars among them. The remaining ones didn’t connect for me at all. Pop Art was probably the best, one of those stories that will stick with you long after finishing it. My other favorites: 20th Century Ghost; You Will Hear the Locust Sing; Better Than Home; Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead; and Voluntary Committal.

 

Hardcover version that has been sitting on my shelf for four years, waiting to be read.

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Ghost Stories: any story involving ghosts or hauntings, including haunted houses, buildings, graveyards, etc

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review 2018-10-08 23:44
After the Funeral ★★★★☆
After the Funeral (Audio) - Agatha Christie,Hugh Fraser

This is the third Agatha Christie novel I’ve read, and I’ve definitely passed the threshold from wary curiosity to fandom. The first two (And Then There Were None; Orient Express) were so famous that even a detective mystery averse reader like me knew of them, but I’d never heard of this one. It was almost as good. The characters were fun, the mystery was interesting, and the whodunnit was a surprise, but definitely not a cheat.

 

I will say that I was a little surprised at the attitude towards women expressed throughout the story. Especially women “of a certain age”. Especially women who are childless. Especially unmarried women. I know it’s at least partly a function of the time in which it was written. I get – even expect – it as coming from particular characters, but it was so pervasive that I can’t help but wonder if it reflects the author’s beliefs as well, which would be disappointing to me, especially because I enjoy the female characters she creates, across the spectrum from hysterical and useless to strong and competent, from ignorant to intelligent. It’s a puzzle to me, but maybe it will become more clear as I read more in her body of work.

 

I am becoming even more fond of Poirot. He really is delightfully arrogant. Even his mustaches are delightfully arrogant.

 

 

Audiobook via Audible. I’m so glad I spent the Audible credit on this one. I could fall in love with Hugh Fraser’s voice. I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Terrifying Women Authors: mystery, horror, suspense or supernatural written by women.

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