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review 2018-03-21 18:54
See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt
See What I Have Done - Sarah Schmidt,Jennifer Woodward,Erin Hunter,Garrick Hagon

This is a fictionalized retelling of the Lizzie Borden murders and though it gets many “meh”reviews, I surprisingly enjoyed it very much. These people are awful! They are selfish, resentful, devious and maddening in their “woe is me” entitled thoughts but I LOVED reading about their misery. And, boy, did they all live in a cesspool of misery, resentment and hate.


I do think you have to be in a certain grumpy headspace to appreciate this one and I was there. We’ve had a never-ending winter and I hurt my back so bad I had to quit a much loved workout routine probably forever. Reading this when I did was perfect timing. We were all miserable together for a short time. So moral of this sad story? Don’t read this if you’re happy or want to be happy.


The story is told from three different points of view. Lizzie, Bridget the maid and a shady male character whose name I can’t recall right now. I listened to the audio which is narrated by three different people. The women do a fine job as does the male narrator EXCEPT when he attempts to do a female voice in a painful fake falsetto. Fortunately he’s mostly narrating the man part so the cringe level is tolerable.


Many people have an issue with the grit and grue factor in this book and I can understand that. This book is an experience. You can feel the cloying sickness permeating these people and for me that’s the mark of good writing but it’s almost enough to make one queasy and I have a strong stomach. There is an exceptional amount of blood everywhere but almost worse is the vomit and rumbling stomachs. These gross people have been eating rotten mutton broth for what seems like weeks on end! The maid suspects it’s bad but keeps adding more salt to disguise the reek of rotten meat. I’m guessing this was because poppa Borden was too much of a cheapskate to let food go to waste.  But I wasn’t there so who knows.


Many people also have issues with the way the story was told and I get that too. It jumps around in time and can be quite confusing and the people telling the story seem quite confused themselves at times. The end of the book leaves a lot of questions unanswered but still I love reading about these people. I cannot explain exactly why. Their relationships are poisonous and mean but if you’re up for that maybe you’ll love it too!

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review 2018-03-20 17:10
DNF at 30% mark.
The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin

I think I should have just read a biography of either or both of these women, because they led extremely interesting lives which the book managed to make fairly dull. I wanted way more about actually making movies, and less angsting about boys, and a lot of the writing felt overwrought and melodramatic. It kept skipping over actually making the movies and what that was like into other issues.


The author backed herself into this weird smarm corner of saying the main character was completely fine with gay people, and then immediately insisting that she didn't get lesbians at all because who doesn't like cock, amirite? By the way, the character really likes cock, and isn't gay at all. Look, I don't mind stories about two women having a friendship rather than a romance, but the notgaynotgaynotgay(but not homophobic!) dance got old a long time ago. I felt like I'd fallen into Xena gen fic from the '90s. At the same time, the author had the same characters not blinking at the racism in the industry in general and Birth of a Nation in particular. So I'm not sure why period-typical racism was okay, but period-typical homophobia was not?


I did like some of the discussion about being a woman in a male-dominated field, which mostly managed to stick to period language and not sounding like it was cut from modern day. But so much of it was telling not showing, as we very rarely see the dynamics on set, or the sets at all, just hear about them after the fact. I looked at some reviews to see if it picked up, but apparently the middle is even more draggy and about boys, so I bailed.

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review 2018-03-17 23:05
A Lady Darby Mystery- Book 6...
A Brush with Shadows - Anna Lee Huber

Lady Darby a.k.a. Kiera Gage and her husband Sebastian Gage return to Sebastian's childhood home, Langstone Manor, at the request of his grandfather, Viscount Tavistock, to investigate the disappearance of his cousin Alfred. His family hinders their investigation from the start by either withholding information or misleading them so what should have been an easy inquiry turns in to much more that...


I enjoyed the story but I don't think the author used the Moors and the family curse to its full potential. Also, I've noticed in the last couple of books, especially this one, that the author doesn't give Kiera the opportunity to use her medical background. She's fell into more of a questioner role like Sebastian.  I kind of liked the series more when she applied her "knowledge of the macabre."


*I received this ARC from the Penguin Random House First-to-Read program in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!


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review 2018-03-17 22:17
Hunting Prince Dracula...
Hunting Prince Dracula - Kerri Maniscalco

I liked this second book even better then the first! Right from the start, in the train ride through the Romanian countryside, the author did a fantastic job of evoking an eerie atmosphere and sense of foreboding. This continues throughout the book, as  Audrey Rose and Thomas Creswell are residing in Bran Castle which is full of tunnels, traps, a creepy staff and someone determined to make sure everyone believes Prince Dracula is alive and hunting for his next victims. If you're a fan of this series then this book is a must read!


I do have one complaint though about the audio recording.  I listened to the audio version of both the first and second book and I had a very hard time hearing the narrator in the first book. I thought maybe it was just a fluke thing with my download but I had the same exact problem with this second book. I have to turn the volume all the way up on my phone and car to be able to hear it then it sounds sort of diluted like you're in a tunnel. I don't think the narrator is speaking loud enough or directly into the microphone. I hope they fix that in the next book. Anyone else have that problem? 

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review 2018-03-17 00:02
Catarina's Ring
Catarina's Ring - Lisa McGuinness

Catarina Pensebene grew up in Italy's farming country.  Her life was filled with olive groves, hard work, good food and a large, loving family.  When Catarina is put to work as a maid for another family, she attracts the attention of the husband and is almost raped.  Salvation comes in the form of a letter from the United States.  A family friend is asking for Catarina's hand in marriage for their son, Franco.  Catarina gains the courage to leave her home and her family in order to travel to America and marry a man she only knew in her youth.  Making the best of the life she now leads, Catarina finds love with Franco and his family, she dutifully passes on her life lessons along with the ring Franco made for her to her daughter and granddaughter.  Years later, Catarina's granddaughter, Juliette decides to escape to Italy after a tragedy.  Juliette calls upon the strength of her grandmother to get through heartbreak and find the courage to follow her dream and open her own Italian restaurant. 

Beautiful scenery and intriguing plot immersed me into both Catarina and Juliette's stories.  I am a sucker for dual time stories and I loved that I knew the connection between Juliette and Catarina from the beginning, but not the full importance of the ring.  I felt a strong connection to each character; I experienced the struggle of Catarina's decision as she weighed leaving her home for a new land and fiance, as well as her resolve in being happy and making love grow.  Juliette's experience began in tragedy, however Italy was a wonderful place to recuperate.  I was brought into the sights, smells and food as Juliette cooked her way to recovery.  I enjoyed that Juliette also found solace in her Grandmother's letters, the shared experiences through time and the bond of the ring deepened their links. Overall, an emotional and enchanting story of love, lessons, loss and family.

This book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

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