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review 2017-06-25 08:05
Secrets in the Mist
Secrets in the Mist - Anna Lee Huber

Hmm... how to sum up my thoughts about this book?  Mostly, it needed a harsher editor.

 

I'm a huge fan of Anna Lee Huber's Lady Darby series, and the writing in this is equally as good, but it's just too long.  The story dragged for at least the first half of the book, and as Ella is a poster child for co-dependency, a situation that was played to the hilt, the reading was tedious at the start.

 

Once it got going though, the reading became much easier, even at times, exciting.  Huber never goes for the fantastical and cliched plotting choices, but still weaves an impressive story.  The ending felt a bit abrupt, but I can't say that's a fair call; I think I tried to anticipate how the end would happen, and being completely wrong is what felt abrupt.

 

I'm not sorry to have read it - it was a good story (and a good romance) - but it would could have been a more amazing story with tighter editing.

 

This was my Free Friday Read for BLopoly and it was 378 pages.

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review 2017-06-20 22:19
My Cousin Rachel - Daphne du Maurier

I listened to the audiobook for My Cousin Rachel, and it only took two hours to finish. I based my assumptions of this story off the two-minute trailer for the upcoming film adaptation.  While there were heavy implications that Rachel would be the villain, upon reading Daphne du Maurier’s book I can easily say that my sympathy for her supposed victim Philip Ashley is lacking and that his blindness towards others is the real evil.

The primary source of enjoyment when reading this story derives from the classic suspense plot and the Gothic undertones that remind me of Henry James’s Turn of the Screw or the movie Crimson Peak (especially when it comes to all that tea, am I right?) If I was already sensing this kind of literary layout, then I should have suspected that the protagonist would be a selfish and ever-so-slightly unhinged young male heir to a considerable fortune.  Philip hears only what he wants to hear, and honestly I can’t see Rachel’s actions as villainous, but rather powerful in the fact that a woman is claiming her right to live richly and well without marrying.

My two questions: what the heck with Rainaldi? Did anything happen with Louise?

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-06-14 19:54
Not on my wish list
A Gift of Ghosts - Sarah Wynde

Disclosure -- I obtained the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free on Amazon.  I do not know the author, nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.

 

Trigger warnings, just in case:

Deaths of children, child abuse, suicide, abortion

(spoiler show)

 

The book started out fine.  Akira Malone, physics professor, has jeopardized her academic standing with a paragraph in a research paper, in which she suggests ghosts may be a form of energy.  She's now looking for another job, and lands one with a bizarre research facility, General Directions, in the small town of Tassamara, Florida.

 

Tassamara is a "quirky" little town, where most of the residents are "quirky," too.

 

Akira's quirk is that she can see ghosts.  And there seem to be a lot of them in Tassamara.  There's one in the rental car, for crying out loud!

 

I thought this was going to be a light, fun read.  The writing was competent, if sometimes a little heavy on the telling and light on the showing, but it wasn't horrible.  Akira was a likable character, and she didn't do stupid things just for the sake of the story.

 

Her boss at GD is Zane Latimer, the usual gorgeous hunk.  He didn't seem quite as well developed at Akira, but I could live with that in a fluff book.

 

Unfortunately, A Gift of Ghosts didn't stay fluffy.

 

The ghost haunting Akira's rental car -- which she ends up leasing when she moves to Florida to take the job -- is of a 15-year-old boy.  I had a bad feeling about that right away. 

 

There are four more ghosts at the house she rents: an older man, a young woman who loves television and parties, and two little boys who play in the back yard.  I had more bad feelings about the boys.

 

General Directions is owned by Zane and his siblings and his father, Max.  Each of them has a "gift," too.  Akira sees ghosts, but Zane can find things; his older brother Lucas reads minds; one of his sisters can see the future; and so on.  Zane is frequently contacted by police and other investigative bodies to find missing things, like stolen property.  Sometimes he's asked to find missing people.

 

The whole book took a very dark turn when Zane takes on a case of a missing toddler and his father. 

Instead of his "gift" helping to resolve the mystery and return the boy to his grieving mother, Zane's inability to locate the boy suggests that the boy is dead, and points to the father as the killer.  Akira steps in because she can see the boy's ghost.  Well, at least it wasn't murder, but the father's death is suicide and the whole episode altered my whole attitude toward the book.

(spoiler show)

Of course the relationship between Akira and Zane becomes insta-lust, which didn't add anything to the story because there was no tension in the relationship.  No complications, no nothing.

 

About the time they started having super-duper sex, I realized there wasn't a whole lot of emotional development in the book.  There were plenty of opportunities for it, but the characters didn't seem to react appropriately to what seemed to be highly charged situations. 

For example, the ghost in the car, Dillon, is Zane's nephew, who died of a drug overdose, apparently.  But there doesn't seem to be much grieving or reaction, or even soul-searching about what went wrong.

(spoiler show)

  So when another of the many ghosts in the book --

Zane's mother, Dillon's grandmother, who died of a stroke after Dillon's death

(spoiler show)

-- went into emotional overdrive and threatened Akira's life, I went into eye-roll overdrive.

 

I also found the ghostly debate over whether or not someone who had aborted -- or at least tried to abort -- an unwanted pregnancy could be forgiven by God and go to heaven rather than burn in hell to be a completely unnecessary distraction.

 

So it was a good start that kind of went in a lot of wrong directions, at least for me.  I finished it, but I did skim quite a bit through about the last 20%.

 

BL-opoly Small town setting, 211 pages.  $3.00

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review 2017-06-14 19:04
The Girl from Rawblood
The Girl from Rawblood: A Novel - Catriona Ward

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

I did like the narrative weaving back and forth between past and present, shedding more light on characters that came before Iris and Tom, as well as the atmosphere of Rawblood, both stifling and inviting to nostalgia. I had more trouble keeping interested in the story itself, though: the characters weren’t particularly engaging, so I never cared much about them. I never really felt the connection between Iris and Tom, and therefore its role in the ‘immediate and terrifying’ consequences mentioned in the blurb didn’t have much of an impact

The present tense narration tended to throw me out of the story from time to time, which didn’t help; I’m not sure why, I’m not too keen on that tense when it comes to historical fiction (and/or when several narrators are involved, as it’s often difficult to tell who’s telling the story, and it was the case here at times).

The reveal towards the end made sense in a way, yet seemed to me like it fell a little abruptly, and wasn’t completely… justified. Revenge? But why, considering ‘her’ identity, why would she inflict that on the Villarcas? Accident, couldn’t help it? Hm, not really convinced here. Quite a few things were unclear, and not in a way that contributed to a mysterious / gothic atmosphere.

Conclusion: I may have liked it more, if not for the style and the characters.

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text 2017-06-11 19:19
Reading progress update: I've read 9%.
A Gift of Ghosts - Sarah Wynde

Light, pleasant, competent writing so that I'm not reaching for a red pen every half second.

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