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text 2017-03-30 07:34
Burning Secrets: A Gripping Historical Thriller With A Great Twist (Scottish Mysteries Book 2) - Clio Gray

Not so much a murder mystery as a great adventure story.Set in 19th century Scotland ,on a remote stretch of western coast, it has the perfect setting.A man is brutally murdered allegedly by smuglers, but there is more to it, nothing is so straightforward. What was he bringing back to his master, who lives as a recluse on a private island surrounded by mysterious structures? And who does the skeleton, accidently found, belongs to? And where did that huge sundial, inscripted with strange languages, came from? Yes, definitely an adventure story! 

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review 2017-03-30 04:49
The Highlander - Kerrigan Byrne

Finished in the wee hours last night, so it could have been this morning.

 

It moved fast. The H has issues from an abused childhood (and I imagine the next book or two in the series will also feature titled gents with horrible childhoods. Yawn...) The h was encouraged by her father to marry a newly arrived neighbor... I'm somewhat mystified on this part because usually a title had a moldering pile attached to it somewhere, so why would a titled family acquire a new house? In any case, this was a bad idea because the entire family appears to have been wastes of skin. At the beginning of the book, the h has been locked in an asylum due to her interfering with her in-laws' scheme of killing off the previous h for reasons I've forgotten (it's been several months, and I've slept since then). Said asylum seems to be run by the same sort of people the poor h had married into. She was rescued in the nick of time, and packed off to be governess for the H's kids.

 

Lots of stuff happens. I felt like some disclosures didn't really get dealt with - I can only assume they'll be addressed in the next book. And well, no matter how you look at it, the h was NOT free to form a relationship until two chapters from the end. It's hard not to think about her being married, particularly since SHE keeps reminding herself.

 

Also, I really wondered about the whole "barren" bit. Still no kids in the epilogue but it seems odd I guess. How would a Dr know? And considering her husband's proclivities, did he have scattered proof of his own fertility?

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review 2017-03-30 02:37
Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard
Servant of the Underworld - Aliette de Bodard

Series: Obsidian and Blood #1

 

Servant of the Underworld is a fantasy mystery novel set in the Aztec Empire in the 15th century. Overall I liked it, but it was more of an intellectual liking than an emotional one. The concept of reading a Mesoamerican fantasy novel was interesting, but writing in a first-person POV distanced me from the narrative rather than engrossed me in it. It’s like I kept forgetting who was doing the talking, even though after a while I got used to the fact that it was Acatl. I’m not saying he had no personality, but I didn’t feel much of it when I was looking through his eyes. First-person POVs are tricky, and I don’t think this one entirely worked for me. Plus there was lots of sacrificial blood magic although it wasn’t too graphic.

 

Even though we’re introduced to the mystery (and the crime scene) almost immediately, it still felt like the book took a while to get going and draw me into the story. Things did finally start to pick up about a quarter of the way through. Anyway, if you want to try a mystery story in a different fantasy setting, you might want to check this one out. I plan on checking out the sequels (it’s part of a trilogy).

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review 2017-03-30 00:02
The Name of the Rose
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

I'm not sure there's much I can say here that I didn't already say in my status updates.  

 

This book is long; perhaps not by page count, but psychologically, it often felt endless.

 

Eco is a very talented writer if the only measurements of talent were creating a sense of place, bringing many characters to life, and plotting out a good story.  But he writes excessively.  His sentences run on well past anybody's idea of reasonable, he cannot stop himself from creating lists in narrative form that often run over a page long, and the theological lessons were excessively excessive.  All up, if you could go back and edit the book to include only plot related scenes, I'm not sure the book would be 200 pages long.

 

But those 200 pages would have made a spectacular read.  The abbey, the labyrinthine library, the passages, the codes, the books... the murders.  So much atmosphere, so much potential!

 

The book is broken into 7 days and most of the plot snowballs and takes place in days 6 and 7.  Here William of Baskerville once again channels his inner Sherlock, and the showdown is magnificent.  And tragic.  Days 6 and 7 earned this book the third star.

 

I'm not sorry at all that I read this; I complained a lot along the way, but a lot of it stuck with me.  Still, unless you enjoy a richly written verbosity in your reads, I can't recommend this one.  If the setting and plot sound like your thing - and I can't believe I'm going to say this - watch the movie instead.

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review 2017-03-29 21:42
Stone Spring / Stephen Baxter
Stone Spring - Stephen Baxter

Ten thousand years ago, a vast and fertile plain exists linking the British Isles to Europe. Home to a tribe of simple hunter-gatherers, Northland teems with nature's bounty, but is also subject to its whims.

Fourteen-year-old Ana calls Northland home, but her world is changing. The air is warming, the ice is melting, and the seas are rising. Then Ana meets a traveler from a far-distant city called Jericho-a city that is protected by a wall. And she starts to imagine the impossible...

 

I read this book for the frivolous reason that it has “Spring” in the title and its springtime as I write this review. Plus, it had been on my TBR list for some time and I decided that it was time that I moved it.

It’s a solid story—set in Mesolithic Europe, as the climate and the land masses change with the melting of the ice sheets. Baxter has obviously done his research on the archaeology of the region, including the parts that are completely underwater now. And he has thrown in his own imaginative touches, creating believable cultures for these prehistoric tribes and inventing one that is entirely fictional, the “Leafy Boys.”

There is conflict—when you’ve got a hammer, every problem looks like a nail and when you’ve got a stone-tipped spear, well everything looks like it needs to be poked with that spear. The primary relationships are those of tribe, parent, child, etc. and not so much romantic. There is very, very little sex described, it is mostly implied or spoken about crudely by loud-mouthed men. In some ways, it is Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series without the sex and much less emotional angst.

Obvious messages include: slavery is bad, global warming will raise water levels so deal with it, and that it’s difficult to deal with people who hold extremely different worldviews from yourself. I was somewhat unsure of how I felt about the character of Ana, who runs other tribe’s people’s lives ruthlessly and has a baby only to solidify her chosen power structure. I know people like this exist, but her choice of power over genuine emotion bothered me.

I guess what I didn’t entirely care for was the grafting of 21st century values and motivations onto Stone Age people. It didn’t always ring true for me, but it was still a pretty good book.

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