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review 2019-08-06 03:55
Hitchcock-style caper has an emotional core and moves at a break-neck speed; pick up this high-stakes YA thriller from Derek Milman for an exciting summer read
Swipe Right For Murder - Derek Milman

RELEASES TUESDAY AUGUST 6, 2019!

 

This is the sophomore novel from the immensely talented and wildly unique Derek Milman, who previously gave us the quirky and brilliant YA novel, ‘Scream All Night.’

Milman steps it up a notch in this one, bringing readers something close to the anxiety-fueled capers of Hitchcock, but with an emotionally-fueled story  at its core, something he seriously does best.

 

‘Swipe Right’ is a high-stakes genre-bending murder mystery, with classic elements like a case of mistaken identity, running from the good guys (the FBI) and being targeted by the bad guys (a crazy, murderous cult). There are dead bodies, accusations of cyber-terrorism, and it all starts with a deadly DirtyPaws hookup in a hotel room.

What makes this incredibly fresh and compelling for readers of YA, is the fantastically honest character portrayal of a young gay man, the main character Aidan Jamison. He is flawed, and arrogant, funny, charming, and he is struggling with his independence from his family, while receiving warnings from friends who seriously are worried about his recklessness. Amid all the action, and dark comedy that’s packed into this book (one of my favorite things about Derek’s writing), Aidan is forced to face his disturbing past and relationships.

 

‘Swipe Right’ moves at a break-neck speed as Aidan races to solve the crime that he’s implicated in, without getting killed or arrested, and finds out a lot about himself while he’s ‘on the lam.’ His character arc is natural and necessary and kept you rooting for him. Derek just knows how to write compelling, flawed characters and knows how to really get you to feel.

 

It’s exciting, funny, relatable, and it’s hard not to get wrapped up in Aidan’s story of emotional highs and lows as well as Milman’s writing really quickly. I swooped in quickly on Derek’s first book and became a fast fan of his, and now I’m already wondering what he will be doing next. This must be your summer thriller read for 2019!

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/39678946-swipe-right-for-murder
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text 2019-06-04 03:44
BEA 2019, Pt 3- The Loot

Got some good stuff at this year's BEA.  My summer is fully booked. 

 

A Heart so Fierce & Broken 
 
Africaville 
 
American Dirt
 
 
Bluff
 
 
Cursed
 
 
Dear Haiti, Love Alaine...
 
 
How to be an AntiRacist
 
 
Imaginary Friend
 
 
Information Wars
 
 
Lalani of the Distant Sea
 
 
Little Weirds
 
 
Me & White Supremacy
 
 
Motherhood so White
 
 
Moving Forward
 
 
Oblivion or Glory
 
 
Princess of the Hither Isles
 
 
Secret Service
 
 
Serpent & Dove
 
 
Sophia, Princess among Beasts
 
 
The Dreaming Tree
 
 
The Flight Girls
 
 
The Nanny
 
 
The Passengers
 
 
The Science of Game of Thrones
 
 
The Storm Crow
 
 
The Water Dancer
 
 
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
 
 
A ASWanderers
 
 
Witcraft
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review 2019-03-11 06:25
Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery
Alfred Hitchcock's Ghostly Gallery: Eleven spooky stories for young people - Alfred Hitchcock

When I was a kid, there were a couple of Alfred Hitchcock anthologies on our shelves, but since Scooby Doo scared the crap out of me, I'd never really do more than take them off the shelve and stare at the covers.

 

Now I'm just about a hardened enough cynic to be able to finally read the stories and delight in them.  This one had a cover that looks vaguely Autumnal, which I needed for a challenge, and that was a good enough excuse. 

 

11 stories, most better than average.  The first one, Miss Emmeline Takes Off, was just purely delightful in that way it feels like authors today just never achieve.  I doubt it would have even scared little-kid me, and I further doubt it was written to be; I imagine my nieces giggling in delight over this one.

 

The Valley of the Beasts by Algernon Blackwood was, far and away, my favorite as an adult.  The writing was gorgeous and the plot, while incredibly simple, was a morality tale that never dates.  A lot of people today would read this and think "racist!!", as Blackwood's choice of character descriptions is revealing of the sensibilities of his time and age.  Those people would miss the forest for the trees;  I'd argue there's a definite satiric bent to his word choices, because it's the Native Canadian Indian that comes out of the story as hero, and the white Englishman who has a much deeper lesson about life and morality shoved (deservedly) down his throat.

 

The Haunted Trailer was the weakest of the collection for me; very meh.  As was The Truth About Pyecraft by H.G. Wells, though it has an ironic twist that's very Poe.  The Wonderful Day is another delight; the best of Karmic fantasy.  In a Dim Room won the kewpie doll for most unexpected ending.  It's short, abrupt and it works.  The Waxworks by A.M. Burrage is hands down the spookiest and would definitely have scared younger-me, as would The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford.

 

The final story is The Isle of Voices by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The plot didn't do that much for me, but the writing is wonderful.  Nothing scary about it either, for either now-me or then-me.  But it definitely made me curious about finally getting around to reading more of his work.

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review 2019-03-02 02:46
The Prowling Devil
The White City (True Colors) - Grace Hitchcock

Combining fact with fiction in an engaging historical context, Grace Hitchcock kicks off the True Colors trilogy in style with “The White City”. Scads of books and documentaries exist about Henry Howard Holmes, the man given the notorious distinction of being America’s first serial killer, yet in this novel Hitchcock presents a new, albeit fictional, perspective on his case. Introducing Winnifred Wylde, a young woman who loves nothing more than reading the latest romantic adventure novel by her favorite author, Hitchcock takes the reader along on a thrilling quest of discovery. The action begins when Winnifred believes that she witnesses a kidnapping while at the Chicago World’s Fair, an incident that eventually leads her to the employ of H.H. Holmes as she seeks to pursue her suspicions. However, as the investigation proceeds, both her wellbeing and her heart are in danger.

“The White City” proficiently blends genres to create an absorbing narrative. Each chapter opens with an epigraph from classic literature, hinting at its contents, and all of the characters were 3-dimensional and had emotional depth. Their reactions to events and the lingering effects of trauma made them seem true to life. From Aunt Lillian’s matchmaking to Percy Covington’s romantic idealism to Auntie Ann’s outwardly gruff demeanor, each contributed to the flow of the story. Hitchcock captures H.H. Holmes’ charisma as well as sparks of the violence lurking beneath his façade. Along with catching glimpses of the World’s Fair, recognizing the societal and familial expectations of both women and men during the late nineteenth century further set the scene and linked the historical with the fictional side of the tale. As somewhat of a true crime aficionada, this series held special appeal for me as soon as I heard about it, and I am happy to report that the first book exceeded my expectations for a fictional take on the case. What truly made it a five-star read was its Christian foundation and the way that the main characters relied on the Lord throughout their trials and testing.       

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and CelebrateLit and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2019-02-02 12:37
A dark and creepy read with a twisted sense of humour
Call Drops: A Horror Story - John F Leonard

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novella.

I won’t keep you guessing, I loved this story. After reading several longish novels in a similar genre, I fancied a break. And what better break from reading than reading something completely different?

I had read some great reviews of another one of Leonard’s novellas (also from the Dead Boxes Archive series) from members of the review team and knew I was in for a treat.

The story starts innocuously enough. An old man of means, Vincent Preece, (he used to have a business, one of the early businesses in mobile phones, and he sold it making a big profit) who likes to go to second-hand shops and car-boot sales finds something rather unusual and impossible to resist for him. It looks like an old mobile phone, but he does not recognise the model and cannot find any indication of how it works. Still, he has to have it.

If, like me, you loved the old Friday the 13th TV series with its creepy objects, or other similar stories (including some of the films in the Conjuring series), you will have guessed by now that things are going to take a turn for the interesting. And they do.

I don’t want to spoil the read, but let’s say the phone does not keep silent for long, and the atmosphere gets creepier and darker as it progresses. The story, told in the third person but almost totally from Vincent’s point of view, gets deeper and deeper into the protagonist’s psyche. When we meet him, he is a lonely man, somewhat embittered and opinionated (although he keeps those opinions to himself), who has suffered losses in his life, from his business and his cat, to his wife and daughter, but he seems settled and has learned to enjoy the little things in life. He is a keen and witty observer, has a quick mind, and a sharp sense of humour. I am not sure I would say she is the most sympathetic character I’ve read about, but he comes across as a grumpy but amusing old man, and his wit and the plot are more than enough to keep us engaged and turning the pages. If you’re a reader of the genre, you’ve probably guessed that things are not as clear-cut as they seem, but I won’t give you any specific details. You’ll have to read it yourselves.

Is it a horror story? It is not a scary story that will make you jump (or at least I don’t think so), but there are some horrifying scenes in it, graphically so (although no people are involved), and they’ve put some pictures in my mind that will probably remain there for a long time, but it is more in the range of the darker The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents type of stories than something that will have you screaming out loud. If you read the description of the series, you’ll get a good sense of it, and the epilogue and the closing warning to the reader are very well done and reminded me of both these TV programmes.

The writing style is crisp and to the point, and the author manages to create a credible character with recognisable personality traits despite the briefness of the story. There are also moments when the writing reaches beyond functional storytelling, as if the character had dropped his self-protective shell and his stiff attitude and was talking from the heart.

Here, talking about his wife and daughter:

Their departure had left Vincent mystified and empty. As if the marrow had been sucked out of him. Hard to stand with hollow bones.

But also:

However liberal you tried to be, some folk were simply a waste of good organs. There was no denying it.

I won’t talk about the ending in detail. There is a twist, and although some readers might have their suspicions, I think it works well, and I enjoyed it.

I recommend this book to people who like dark and creepy reads, have a twisted sense of humour, and don’t mind some horrifying scenes. If you love The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents and are looking for a short and quick-paced read, give it a try. Perhaps we don’t need Dead Boxes’ objects in our lives, but we definitely need more of their stories.

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