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review 2017-10-18 17:47
The Witches' Tree: An Agatha Raisin Mystery (Agatha Raisin Mysteries) - M. C. Beaton

This was my second Agatha Raisin book and while the first one I read was okay for me, this one, not so much.

It was a good story but Agatha Raisin just really got on my nerves in this one. She's always pining for a man and looks at every man like a dog in heat and wonders what he could do for her. 

While I thought it was funny in the first book, not so in this second book that I read.

There were lots of other interesting characters and the story was good, Agatha's narcissist personality overwhelmed everything else for me.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2017-10-16 02:32
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest ★★★☆☆
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: 50th Anniversary Edition - Ken Kesey,John C. O'Reilly

I can see why some people praise this book so highly, and I can see how it was such a hit at the time it was published, even without the iconic movie starring the always-crazy Jack Nicholson. The imagery is compelling, as is the unreliable voice of the (?) paranoid schizophrenic narrator through which we experience the events. It works well as a rather heavy-handed political/social allegory, but I found myself unable to get past the unapologetic racism and misogyny presented as a fun way to break from societal norms and expectations.

 

I was much more interested in the audio “extra” at the end of the story: an NPR interview by Terry Gross of the author, who explains the origins of the story, his first-hand experiences as a subject of the CIA’s LSD experiments conducted on students in the 1960’s and as an aide in a psychiatric hospital.

 

Audiobook via Audible. The author’s unpolished reading of his own work really fits the story.

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review 2017-10-14 16:32
The Malice by Peter Newman
The Malice - Peter C. Newman

Series: The Vagrant #2

 

Years have passed since the events of The Vagrant. I'm not certain of how many, but one review I found said it had been twelve years, which is consistent with how Vesper acts. Vesper, the little baby from the first book, takes centre stage as the main character of this one. When the Vagrant, whom she calls Father, doesn't answer Gamma's sword's call (the Malice), Vesper tries to take it to those who would help. Instead of being accompanied by the old goat, Vesper takes along the old goat's baby kid who is adorable and instrumental in the story (and not just as bait). The kid held the book at three stars, despite some of the clumsiness in parts.

 

This is basically an alternate fantasy world with technology that has fallen into a kind of Dystopia after the world is invaded by the infernals through the Breach (a kind of crack in reality). Infernals take over human bodies (sometimes in gross combinations) in order to survive in the new world. Something massive that's being called the Yearning is making its way through the Breach with potentially dire results for everybody, even for the infernals already there, halfbreeds and tainted humans. It is hoped that the Malice will be able to stop the Yearning, which is why Vesper journeys south.

 

Despite feeling fuzzy on how much time has passed since the events of the first book, I'm pretty confident that the source I found stating twelve years is pretty close if not spot on because Vesper certainly acts like she's twelve or thirteen and by the end of the book she's physically grown a bit. So I'm comfortable using this for the "Chilling Children" square for the Halloween Bingo. It could also be used the "Supernatural" and "Genre: Horror" squares, I think.

 

I know I mentioned that the kid is adorable but he's seriously adorable.

 

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review 2017-10-13 02:05
The Chalk Man - C.J. Tudor

Thirty years ago, five misfits banded together while growing up in the small town of Anderbury. Eddie, Mickey, Hoppo, Gav, & Nicky weren’t cool or popular. And sometimes they didn’t even like each other all that much. They shared adventures, pranks & secrets. They even had their own way of communicating by leaving chalk stick figures for each other on pavement & fence posts.

 

Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint when it all began. Maybe it was the summer of 1986. That was when new teacher Mr. Halloran came to town. And when Eddie, Mickey, Hoppo & Gav found the body.

 

In the present, Ed is a bachelor still living in the same house. His days are spent teaching at the local school & occasionally meeting Hoppo & Gav for a pint. He’s a quiet, solitary man who rarely thinks about that summer. But someone wants to jog his memory. Ed receives a letter with only the drawing of a stickman in a noose & a piece of chalk. Then Mickey suddenly reappears on his doorstep after a long absence. And he’s got a proposition. Somehow you know this won’t end well.

 

Not another peep about the plot. It’s layered with so many twists that it’s better you go in blind to get the biggest bang for your buck. All you need to know is this is a fabulous read. The past & the present are told in alternate time lines. As we follow Ed the adult, we slowly learn what happened to those kids 30 years ago. And it’s quite a tale.

 

Chapters set in the past will feel familiar to anyone who grew up in a small town. There’s a clannish culture where everyone knows your business & outsiders are viewed with suspicion. We get to peek over their shoulders as the kids struggle to fit in & deal with family problems while something sinister stalks them from the shadows. Each character has such a distinct personality that they pop off the page fully formed as you meet.

 

There’s a definite Stephen King vibe to the story & it reminded me of the movie “Stand By Me” which was based on on his novella “The Body”. But the creepiness is balanced by humour, heartbreak & poignant moments that resonate as they remind you what it was like to be 12. With the possible exception of finding a body…you probably missed out on that.

 

After the chalk man arrives, Ed is forced to remember what it was like to be Eddie. As he sifts through events from that pivotal summer, he reexamines his own actions & how they affected the terrible crimes. Looking back with adult eyes, he sees things he couldn’t understand as a child. And he realizes he is surrounded by people who have kept their own secrets for decades.

 

This is a spooky, addictive read that forces me to trot out that tired old phrase….I couldn’t put it down. It’s a gripping mix of chilling suspense & coming-of-age.  And it’s not just great story telling. Once finished, I found myself thinking about memories & how they can be coloured by a specific place & time. Why I can remember a throw-away moment so clearly while something others would deem significant is a blur.  It’s a running theme on several levels from beginning to end where the author takes one final jab at your heart on the very last page.

 

I’m now officially freaked out by stick men. And…sorry kids…henceforth, all chalk is banished. So speaketh the boss.

 

        

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review 2017-10-12 22:38
Dissolution ★★★★☆
Dissolution - C.J. Sansom,Steven Crossley

Excellent historical mystery. This is the first in a recurring character series, and the first I’ve read of this author. An attorney in Tudor England, working for Thomas Cromwell, seeks to solve the murder of another of Cromwell’s agents in a monastery. Bonus mystery thrown in, and lots of interesting historical detail, which forced me to read up a little on Cromwell and the Reformation, which I only vaguely remembered from high school World History classes. I especially enjoyed the character development over the course of the book, of both the main and secondary characters.

 

Audiobook via Audible. I had purchased it so long ago that I don’t even remember why, because it’s certainly not something I’d spend my precious Audible credits on. Maybe it was on sale. I enjoyed Steven Crossley’s performance on the audio very much.

 

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10/11/17 54%

 

 

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