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review 2018-09-23 02:48
Hollywood Homicide (Detective by Day Mystery, #1)
Hollywood Homicide - Kellye Garrett

This was a freebie I received at Bouchercon 2018 (the author was there, but I never met her and have no obligation to her or Midnight Ink).   When I saw this on the freebie table, I immediately grabbed it because it was obviously a cozy mystery, the first in a new series, and I've been looking for new series.  It was also an obvious fit for for the bingo Diverse Authors square and the back of the book made it sound like a great read right up my alley.  It was ticking all the boxes.

 

Ok, so maybe not quite all the boxes, as it turns out. There was a lot to like in this book and I think Garrett has found a unique niche for Day's investigations - the refreshingly mercenary angle of "doing it for the money", i.e. investigating the crimes the police are offering reward money for.   But there were also a few things that dragged the story down and left me feeling less than enthusiastic.  

 

What I didn't like:

The story was too long and the pace dragged.  Every scene was just too detailed and long.  A tighter editing process would, I think, have helped a lot without losing any of the story and it would have given the book a snappier pace.

 

One of the characters, the brains/girl with all the cool gadgets, spoke in text speak.  All the time.  Do people actually speak in text speak?  Because if those people actually exist, they should be smacked about until read words come out of their mouths.  It was annoying as hell reading it; I can't imagine remaining calm if someone started speaking it to me.

 

Slightly less annoying, although only because it's such a frequent device I've become numb to it over time, is the MC never seeing a conclusion she wasn't ready to jump to.  At least the author set her up to do it with a believable amount of desperation as a motivation.

 

What I did like were all the strong female characters; even the shallow ones were likeable and the friendships came across as believable and relatable.  I liked Day, the MC, too.  Her life is a mess, but she knows it; she has her head on straight, and even though she has a few too many TSTL moments, I found myself cheering her on.  I liked the plot too, though it would have been so much better for having had a tighter editing and fewer conclusion jumps.  As a reader, I should never lose count of how many people the protagonist has accused of a crime.

 

Overall, I think the author has a lot of talent for writing mysteries with a solid cast of characters.  A stronger editing would have made this a much better book though, and ffs, lose the text speak.

 

I read this for the Diverse Voices Square for Halloween Bingo.

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review 2018-09-22 07:36
Poison: A Wicked Snow White Tale
Poison - Sarah Pinborough

I'm a firm believer that it's a rare re-telling that's better than the original.

 

This is not that rare re-telling. 

 

In general, I'm 'meh' about fairy tales anyway, at least as an adult, though I can't remember any I loved as a kid either.  Even in my innocent youth I lacked romance.  But I needed a fairy tale and this was on the FOTL shelves for a buck and the cover was pretty.

 

The star is for the pretty cover and for serving its purpose.  Otherwise the writing was juvenile, which is fitting for a fairy tale, but the sex and language were not.  Perhaps the dichotomy is part of the darkness of the re-telling, but it didn't work for me.

 

But what really didn't work for me was that the story didn't end.  It didn't have a happy ending or a dark ending or a sad ending; it lacked any ending - it just stopped.  No resolution for Snow White, the Woodsman, the elves or the witch.  There's an epilogue, from the POV of a minor character, but it does nothing to offer any kind of closure.  Again, probably part of the whole "dark retelling" but obviously, I'm not the target audience, because it didn't feel all that dark, or all that twisted, or all that wicked.  

 

By the last page of the book, I felt nothing for any of the characters, which I guess is the best possible outcome since that means I won't waste any time wondering what the hell happened at the end??

 

I read this for the A Grimm Tale square for Halloween Bingo.

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review 2018-09-22 00:17
The World of All Souls: The Complete Guide to The All Souls Trilogy
The World of All Souls: The Complete Guide to A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life - Claire Baldwin,Colleen Madden,Deborah Harkness,Lisa Halttunen,Jill Hough

There are some here who know I'm an unapologetic fan of this series, but fan or not, I'm generally not the type to buy the "guides" the more popular series put out because in all truth, they feel like something that's been thrown together to squeeze just that much more money out of everyone; especially completists.  

 

But the cover of this one sucked me in at the Barnes and Noble and BN was the first bookshop stop on my Holiday of Book Buying Madness, so I caved.  

 

Yay to caving!  It ended up being really interesting, as evidenced by the fact that it took me three weeks to read the damn thing.  Harkness et al manage to weave an awful lot of historical facts into a book about books that are about vampires, witches and demons.  This is the place where Harkness gets to share all her historical knowledge, research and education that went into giving Matthew and Diana's adventures verisimilitude, as well as brilliantly weaving the lives of the vampires (and Diana to a lesser extent) into history.

 

She's really clever about this too; using real documents that have gone missing, or paintings done during the correct period that are of unknown subjects or known to have been destroyed over time, she's able to plausibly weave fact and fiction together without an abundance of anachronisms.  Little asides throughout the book in her own voice shares with the reader her inspirations for locations, homes, castles, even tea shops.

 

I had no problem seeing the delineation between the factual and the fictional, but in the section where the characters are outlined, a symbol is next to each name that does exist in the historical records, a touch I appreciated since Elizabethan history is something I'm hazy about, at best.

 

There are beautiful illustrations throughout, a couple of out-takes from two of the books, and a few full color illustrations from - I think - alchemical texts.  This was, in fact, my only complaint about the book - the full color inserts were not captioned - an odd oversight where everything else is clearly foot-noted and cited or explained within the narrative.  At one point Harkness' own historical research was used as a citation, leading me to believe the authors' were determined to be as clear and accurate as possible.  Perhaps this means the color inserts were the work of the illustrator for the book, and not historical, but it would be nice to know either way.

 

A fun and very informative read for those that enjoyed the trilogy; not sure how well it would work for those that didn't read it as it might be annoying to have fictional characters you know nothing about, or care nothing for, interwoven through all the historical goodies.

 

I read this for the New Release square of Halloween Bingo 2018.

 

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text 2018-09-21 00:55
I'm just putting this here for future reference

Some of you will understand.

 

 

 

 

 

I prefer the texts for my English classes to know the difference between possessive pronouns and contractions.

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review 2018-09-20 23:24
Mapping the Interior
Mapping the Interior - Stephen Graham Jones

I think I would have loved this book if I hadn't bounced off the writing style so hard. It's a short read, so I was able to work my way through, but had the book been longer I think I would have gotten very frustrated. As is it took me far longer to read this slender novella than I expected. That said it was very affecting. Creepy and dreamlike in a way authors rarely capture convincingly. The childlike logic of the main character pulling me back in time to my own youth. So while I didn't care for the writing style it was still quite evocative and effective.

 

This book was dark and unsettling, far more so than I expected. The menace that grows as the story progresses was deeply upsetting, and the final ten or so pages were a punch to the gut. This didn't go where I expected it to, and that was actually great. Diving deep into how family can be toxic, especially when paired with poverty and substance abuse, this was a dark look at the damage being wrought in communities across the world, but especially within indigenous communities. This story unsettled me in the best possible way. I'm glad it has gotten the attention it deserves.

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