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review 2018-01-26 19:44
Paper Ghosts
Paper Ghosts: A Novel of Suspense - Julia Heaberlin

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

I had liked ‘Black-Eyed Susans’ by the same author well enough, and I thought I’d like this one as well, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the case. As evidenced by the time I needed to finish it, that wasn’t because I had too much work and no time to read, but because it kept falling from my hands and I’d reach something else to reach instead.

It started well enough, and I thought that the story would be a game of cat and mouse between the main character and the suspected killer. However, while I kept waiting for said character to reveal her hand—for instance, to show that she had made this or that mistake on purpose, in order to better turn the tables—such moments never happened. I think this is where it went wrong for me, and I believe the first-person narration wasn’t an asset in this case: with a third person POV, I could’ve been fooled into thinking the ‘heroine’ knew what she was doing, since I wouldn’t have been completely ‘in her head; but with first person, it’s more difficult to fool the reader...

So, well, I wasn’t fooled. In spite of all her alluding to her ‘trainer’ and to how she had taught herself to face various difficult situations, she wasn't really one step ahead. Perhaps in the very beginning, but this fell down the train as soon as Carl started coming up with new ‘conditions’ along the way, and she was totally taken aback, and... just relented, or protested weakly. That didn’t fit my idea of someone who had planned carefully, or whose plans were unravelling but who still had the savvy to bounce back.

Also, I wasn’t convinced at all by the twist at the end. Something you can’t see coming because there was never any hint of it throughout the story, is not what I call an actual twist, but cheating the reader. (Now, when I read something and I’m all ‘a-ha! So that’s why she did this in chapter2, and said that in chapter 6, and that character did that in chapter 14’, well, that’s a proper twist.)

Conclusion: 1.5 stars. Too bad.

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text 2017-12-15 19:30
Reading progress update: I've read 97%.
Malice - Hugh Fraser

Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!

 

I can't believe he's just spoilt the twist in Rebecca!

 

And for no reason! It's not like this was needed to understand the plot in Malice.

 

Hrumpf!!

 

So, should anyone pick up this one before reading Rebecca...

 

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review 2017-03-02 21:52
The Unexpected Guest
The Unexpected Guest - Charles Osborne,Agatha Christie

The Unexpected Guest is another play by Agatha Christie that was adapted as a novel Charles Osborne - so in short, it is not that great.

 

Of course I am peeved that I ended up with this book because it was advertised as an Agatha Christie novel, and it is not, but I am also astounded Osborne got to write several novelisations at all, and all of them on commission by Christie's estate!

 

He has no feel for Christie's characters.

 

While I can see that the setting in this novel is a typical Christie country house mystery, the main character of Laura Warwick does not strike me as a Christie woman at all.

 

But maybe I'm just peeved that Audible did not make it clear that this was an Osbone novel. 

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text 2017-01-25 14:43
I'm still around...I think...

*pokes head in*  Hi.  I'm here.  Lots going on IRL...had to move AGAIN.  Asshole landlord's son nearly ran over my dog (I did not realize it was him as I could not identify the snowmobile's driver because of the time of day and clothes he was wearing until we got the eviction notice), I bitched, he denied it, we got evicted because I was 'vulgar' in my bitching.  They also claimed I posted vulgarity to their Facebook page, which I did not.  Unfortunately, my iPhone geo-located me when I posted my brief rant (it is still visible if you do a Facebook search for posts about Malenfant Fuel Co. We left, but things are still up in the legal air about the actual eviction, I am told I have a civil case of some sort against them, which I might pursue, if the assholes do not keep their promise about letting my mother return in the spring to take up her plants and get her statues that are still on the property we rented.

 

My grandmother died.  This wasn't unexpected- she was 95 and ailing.  I am happy for her...my beliefs are that she is with our ancestors and that is a good place, but still...her presence has been a solid constant in my life for 40+ years, having that physical presence gone is going to take some getting used to.

 

Anyway...hi folks, hope things are going great for you, and I will be back soon-ish.  This is a picture of my grandmother (on your left), her father, and her younger sister.

 

 

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review 2016-03-03 20:42
The Painted Ocean
The Painted Ocean - Gabriel Packard

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

There were merits to this book, for what it denounced (oppression; rape; manipulative people who drown others in words the better to confuse them; humans demeaning other humans to the point of making them look like animals). Unfortunately, I thought the story overall was too implausible, and the characters not compelling enough for me to really care.

The first half of the novel was decent enough at first, depicting Shruti's life in England as an 11-year old kid whose father was gone and whose mother was torn between her life with her daughter, and the family's honour. This is made most blatant through the Uncle Aadesh character, who wants her to go back to India and marry another man, however the price would be to put Shruti in a foster family... and leaver her there. Terrorised by the prospect of being kept away from her mother, Shruti makes bad decision upon bad decision, managing to land herself in, well, a foster family.

And I guess this is where things started to go downhill, because for the whole story, Shruti struck me as a pushover and a not so smart person, which didn't made her sympathetic nor made me root for her. Meena wasn't better, mind you: her way of ending the bullying Shruti suffered was efficient but ruthless, and her idea to teach Aadesh a lesson was just mind-boggling (what sane 12-year old girl would come up with that? Why did Shruti not reflect upon that when she was grown-up?). It didn't reflect so much the life of South-Asian people in the UK than make me wonder why I should care, and this was really too bad, because I wanted to care, and I wanted to read more about Shruti's experiences... if only they hadn't been so improbable and/or based on silly decisions on her part. I guess that's obsession for you: it makes you dumb.

More than anything, what bothered me seriously was Shruti's voice. It fitted her as a 11-year old girl, even though all the “cos” and “like” and “And I was this. And I was that. And then we did this. And then that happened.” quickly got on my nerves. However, it was definitely weird when she kept that voice as a 18/19-year old woman, and when she went through the traumatising experiences of the second half of the novel, it was... disturbing. Not in a good way: in a “see a child being raped” way. I don't particularly like reading about that. Rape is terrible enough as it is.

Those same experiences were also too far on the bizarre end of the spectrum: flying to the other side of the world, getting embroiled in such situations, people treating others like slaves, manipulative games... All those kept piling up upon each other, to the point where my suspension of disbelief was all but suspended by a thread, which broke quickly soon after that. If it had been less unbelievable, and more subtle, it would definitely have had a strong impact; but there's strong, and there's overkill. I wanted to feel for Shruti, and ended up just wondering why she couldn't see through anything, why she thought like a kid (using a stolen passport and thinking that's a good idea? Well...), why anyone would make such decisions, really. The ending was interesting; it would've been better if it hadn't been so rushed—I honestly couldn't believe how Shruti managed to get where she did, in so few pages (considering how non-savvy she was, she should have died ten times over).

I may have appreciated the story if the bizarre setting had been peopled with characters I could enjoy reading about... but it wasn't.

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