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review 2020-08-11 16:18
STOKER'S WILDE WEST by Steven Hopstaken and Melissa Prusi
Stoker's Wilde West - Stephen Hopstaken,Melissa Prusi

STOKER'S WILDE WEST is a follow-up to last year's STOKER'S WILDE. I think this book is even better than the first.

 

Bram Stoker is about to take the theatrical group he manages for Henry Irving to play NYC. He plans to bring his wife Florence and their new son, Noel, along for the ride. Oscar Wilde has recently returned from touring the states and has developed a bit of fame there. When Stoker is asked by Robert Roosevelt to help the Americans in sussing out a nest of vampires, Wilde joins him and we're off for a Wilde ride!

 

Like Dracula, this book is in epistolary form, which I love. Culled from the characters' journals, reports to the White Worm Society, (a group which formed to investigate the occult, among other things), and diary entries, we are treated to different viewpoints of several events. These are really what makes the book, because these entries are often hilarious as Stoker and Wilde do not really care for each other.

 

All kinds of famous people from that time in history show up or are otherwise mentioned. Personalities such as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, the Roosevelt family, and Arthur Conan Doyle, to name just a few. All of which contribute to make this book as funny and interesting as it is.

 

The historical fiction, a respect for the original works of these authors, and a great sense of humor all combine with some amazing storytelling in this fun wild west story. Highly recommended!

 

Available today, here: STOKER'S WILDE WEST

 

*Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2020-08-08 08:22
'Poirot Investigates' by Agatha Christie
Poirot Investigates - Agatha Christie

'Poirot Investigates', originally published in 1924, is a collection of fourteen Poirot stories, told over 211 pages. They are short, energetic, playful pieces, all centring around Poirot's brilliance in solving apparently unsolvable puzzles. 

 

At an average of fifteen pages per story, there isn't a lot of space for anything more than exposition, investigation and resolution - think the kind of thirty-minute TV mystery shows that were pumped out in the 1970's - but they're delivered with brio, self-confidence and humour that makes them engaging.

 

The subjects of the stories range widely. We have spies, blackmailers, jewel thieves, cursed Egyptian tombs, a kidnapped Prime Minister and opportunistic but devilishly cunning murders.

 

The only thing that they have in common is that they let Hercule Poirot play his part of Magician Detective, the man who can and does solve crimes while sitting at his desk with his eyes closed.

 

I began to see Poirot like this:

What pulls the stories together, and what I found more interesting than the puzzles posed, is the way Poirot and Hastings are revealed to us. With rapid, deft strokes, Christie gives us a clear portrait of both men and the relationship between them. 

 

Poirot, the small man with the large ego, a compulsion for neatness, a self-serving sense of humour and an analytical mind that treats people and their actions as no more than puzzle pieces. A man whose vanity is displayed as much in his refusal to speak English fluently as his luxurious moustaches. He is bright but often less than kind. My main impression of him? M. Poirot, il est un connard, non?

 

Christie skilfully manages to give us Hastings through his own eyes and still present someone different from the man Hastings sees when he looks in the mirror. He's an affable, reliable man, the epitome of his class, one step up from Bertie Wooster. Woman are an alien species to him but he is always willing to worship at the altar of the auburn-haired beauty, provided she's a woman of good family and character and not one of these 'new' women. It was pointed out to me that he's a perfect example of the Dunning-Krugar effect, a cognitive bias that allows a person of low ability to sustain an internal illusion of superiority.

 

The early stories read like playful trope twists on Sherlock Holmes stories. They all read as if Christie is having fun playing with ideas and using her stories as a lab for testing them out. Yet, taken together, they give a picture of this odd couple that is very different from Holmes and Watson and much more endearing.

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review 2020-08-01 15:52
CRIME AND POETRY by Amanda Flowers
Crime and Poetry - Amanda Flower

Violet's grandmother devises a way to bring Violet home. Needless to say, Violet is not happy about being back home. There are several things Grandmother Daisy neglected to tell her. One of the things is that she has a boyfriend who Violet finds dead the next morning in their driveway. Remembering the past, Violet is determined to solve the murder and to protect her grandmother from the police. So she stays and learns more about her family's past as well as the town's past and others' pasts.

 

I loved this! I had a lot of questions which were answered through the story (not always as quickly as I wanted them answered.) I had a hard time putting this down. I loved Violet and Grandmother Daisy as well as Emerson, the cat. The bookshop is fantastic! I want one like that. The secondary characters have good guys and bad guys. How many will stay throughout the series remains to be seen. I'm liking the triangle with Violet, Nathan, and David. This will be interesting to see how it plays out. I'm wondering how some of the confessions at the end will affect future stories. I'll have to read more to find out.

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review 2020-07-28 15:06
THE HOLLOW ONES by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan, narrated by Brittany Pressley
The Hollow Ones - Chuck Hogan,Brittany Pressley,Guillermo del Toro

Reminiscent of THE THING or perhaps FALLING ANGEL, THE HOLLOW ONES was a good time!

 

We follow a young female FBI agent named Odessa Hardwicke, as she is temporarily suspended for an officer involved shooting, wherein her partner was the victim and she the perpetrator. She ends up taking a desk job until everything is sorted out. She takes over the desk of an agent on medical leave and for...spoiler-ific reasons, she goes to meet him. He then tells her to mail a letter, which she does and then, POOF! We meet Hugo Blackwood, Occult Detective. Why did she shoot her own partner? How is Blackwood going to help her? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I absolutely love the idea of an occult detective and this one being named Mr. Blackwood, is, (I'm guessing), an homage to Algernon. I need to know more about him and the Hollow Ones. Being a man who has lived for a long, long time there could be many more stories about him and his history. I want to read them.

 

Brittany Pressley is the narrator and she's completely new to me. I thought her voicing performance was pretty good. (I think Ray Porter has spoiled me as far as narrators go, he is so great at changing voices.)

 

I'm being totally honest here, this book did not knock my socks off. It did pique my interest, though, and I enjoyed the finale quite a bit-enough to continue on with the series. I hope that Mr. Blackwood will be an integral part of it, as I found him to be infinitely more interesting than Odessa.

 

Recommended!

 

*Thank to the publisher and NetGalley for the audio download provided in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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text 2020-07-22 10:32
Reading progress update: I've read 8%. - a classic Walt Longmire opening.
As The Crow Flies - Craig Johnson

The first chapter filled with the dry, quiet, patient, gentle humour of the long friendship between Walt Longmire and Henry Standingbear as they try to find a new location for Katie's wedding when the venue on the Reservation becomes unavailable at the last minute.

 

There's a strong sense of place, a feeling of family and the easy companionship that comes from doing something important but not too challenging. Then, just as I was relaxing with Walt and Henry, taking in the beauty of the landscape, they see someone die and everything changes.

 

For me, this captures the spirit of the Longmire stories: men doing their best, taking their ease where they can but always keeping a weather eye for the next piece of misery the world will throw their way.

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