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text 2018-01-08 18:58
2017 in Review
How To Be A Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Everyday Life - Ruth Goodman
New York 2140 - Kim Stanley Robinson
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World - Andrea Wulf
Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Summer Before the War: A Novel - Helen Simonson
Racing the Devil - Charles Todd
Calamity in Kent - John Rowland
Ashes of London - Andrew Taylor
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

2017 was an excellent reading year around here.  I had four five-star reads, not counting re-reads, which is a very high total for me, out of some 90+ books read.  One was a novel - 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, and three non-fiction: The Invention of Nature, by Andrea Wulf, and two by Ruth Goodman, How to be a Tudor, and How to be a Victorian.  Wonderful re-reads included Dorothy L. Sayers' Murder Must Advertise, several Mary Russell novels by Laurie R. King, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (which I think I read in about 1978, but remembered nothing).

 

The best historical novel I read in 2017 was The Summer Before the War, by Helen Simonson, and the best new mystery Racing the Devil, by Charles Todd.  I read a decent amount of non-fiction, all of it good, from The Glass Universe (about the ladies of the Harvard Observatory) to Michelangelo's Ceiling (Damn it, your holiness, I'm a sculptor, not a painter), The Sun and the Moon (the Man-bats, or America's first great "fake news" story), and A is for Arsenic (Agatha Christie knew her poisons).

 

I had some reads that were just pure fun, like Jennifer Crusie's Agnes and the Hitman, Deborah Harkness' trilogy on witches, or Anne Bishop's novels about The Others.

 

It did have down moments.  Calamity in Kent's plot boiled down to "Scotland Yard inspector decides his tabloid journalist friend, Jimmy, is the best choice to solve a locked room mystery, and tells Jimmy to go for it."  Um.  OK?

 

The one which angered me, however, was my sole 1-star read of the year, The Ashes of London, which was billed as a thriller set during the Great Fire of London.  It is set *after* the fire, did not have very good historical detailing (it could have been pretty much anywhere and anywhen in the past that had suffered a large fire), and had two narrators, neither interesting.  And then it offended me with a touch of "let's start the characterization of the woman by having her evil cousin rape her" and I was out.

 

But most of my reading year was wonderful.  I hope yours was, too.

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review 2017-12-10 02:15
The Other Mother
The Other Mother: A Novel - Carol Goodma... The Other Mother: A Novel - Carol Goodman

While the book description seemed intriguing I couldn't imagine how much I would enjoy this book. This book follows Daphne Marist who takes her baby Chloe with her to a job in a remote area to escape from her husband. At the beginning you don't really know why she felt the need to escape but the further you read the more everything is revealed. 

 

Daphne before she moved with her daughter had a friend named Laurel. Laurel also happens to have a baby named Chloe. The more Daphne gets to know Laurel the more she realizes just how alike she and Laurel really are.

 

This book had quite a few twists and turns that I really enjoyed. I really loved that not only do you get to see just what happens with Laurel and Daphne but also get to see previous events that happened at the mental institution that is next door to where Daphne takes a job as an archivist. The ending really showed how certain things were connected and I enjoyed it.

 

I received this book from a Librarything Early Reviewers giveaway. My review is not affected by that in any way.

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review 2017-12-04 01:33
Book Review: The Ghost Orchid
The Ghost Orchid - Carol Goodman

Book: The Ghost Orchid

 

Author: Carol Goodman

 

Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Mystery/Historical

 

Summary:

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review 2017-11-06 07:04
The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard by David A. Goodman
The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard - David A. Goodman

This is a somewhat bland novel that is supposed to be an autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard, but reads more like a Vulcan student's summary of the life of Captain Picard in which his human school mate wrote the first third dealing with Picard's childhood. Nothing particularly new or exciting to read here.

 

I recommend the Star Gazer novels by Michael Jan Friedman and Buried Age by Christopher L. Bennett for anyone wanting to know more about Jean-Luc Picard.

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review 2017-10-23 20:19
The Widow's House by Carol Goodman
The Widow's House: A Novel - Carol Goodman

This chilling novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of The Lake of Dead Languages blends the gothic allure of Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and the crazed undertones of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper with the twisty, contemporary edge of A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife—a harrowing tale of psychological suspense set in New York’s Hudson Valley.

When Jess and Clare Martin move from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to their former college town in the Hudson River valley, they are hoping for rejuvenation—of their marriage, their savings, and Jess's writing career.

They take a caretaker's job at Riven House, a crumbling estate and the home of their old college writing professor. While Clare once had dreams of being a writer, those plans fell by the wayside when Jess made a big, splashy literary debut in their twenties. It's been years, now, since his first novel. The advance has long been spent. Clare's hope is that the pastoral beauty and nostalgia of the Hudson Valley will offer some inspiration.

But their new life isn't all quaint town libraries and fragrant apple orchards. There is a haunting pall that hangs over Riven House like a funeral veil. Something is just not right. Soon, Clare begins to hear babies crying at night, and sees strange figures in fog at the edge of their property. Diving into the history of the area, she realizes that Riven House has a dark and anguished past. And whatever this thing is—this menacing force that destroys the inhabitants of the estate—it seems to be after Clare next…

 
**********


I read The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman a couple of years ago and was deeply impressed with the book. After that, did I read The Ghost Orchid and The Sonnet Lover and was not as impressed (not bad books, just not as good as The Lake of Dead Languages). So, when I saw this book and read the description did I immediately want to read it. I love old mysterious houses and the description of this book, about a couple moving there as caretakers made me think of The Shining. Especially since the husband is a writer.

I quite enjoyed reading The Widow's House, the story is good, and I felt that the characters are complex and there is something very weird going on. Clare Martin has had problems in the past, for instance, a miscarriage when she was in college and her childhood was a hard one. And, now at the house, is she experiencing things that make her wonder if the house is haunted or if she is losing it.

One thing I truly loved about the book is how not everything is at it seems, Clare's husband Jess didn't make a good first impression on me, and although the book did I feel that he was a self-centered son of a bitch. But, the ending, without wanting to give anything away, I love how Carol Goodman decided to write an ending that just turned everything around.

The Widow's House kept my interest up from the beginning until the end. I've been a bit tired of reading psychological thrillers with a woman in center trying to solve a mystery, but this book felt refreshing to read. I felt that I connected with the story and its characters and I was eager to learn the truth about the house.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through Edelweiss for an honest review!

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