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text 2018-10-01 11:46
September wrap up
White Lies - Jeremy Bates
Hark! The Herald Angels Scream - Christopher Golden
John Peters in the land of Demons - A.H. Matai
Loch Ness Revenge - Hunter Shea
Doomsday - Samie Sands
Rose Cottage - Mary Stewart
Unsettled Spirits - J. Matthew Saunders
Barnabas Tew and The Case Of The Missing Scarab - Columbkill Noonan
The Hermit's Creepy Pet (Single Shot Short Story Series Book 10) - Terry M. West
Trapped in Room 217 - Thomas Kingsley Troupe

 

Wow, 14 books this month! That's a lot for me. Admittedly I was going for the shorter ones to get through as many as possible. I do have some reading done on longer ones too, so we'll just see how things go in the coming month.

 

Stand outs this month are The Last Werewolf, White Lies and Pieces of Her. These were all really good. I got various levels of enjoyment from most of them, only one got below 3 stars from me.

 

Bingo reads continue! But I also have 4 Netgalley books that aren't for Bingo squares so will need to at least make a start on those. Not much sample reading during Bingo. I'll have to devote some time to that in November.

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review 2018-09-16 06:45
Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly
Missing Abby - L.A. Weatherly

I assume this is set somewhere in England, based on the author's bio. It's written from the perspective of Emma, a 13 (or possibly 14?) year old girl who realizes that she was likely the last person to see her former best friend Abby before she disappeared. She reports their encounter to the police and is forced to think about a time in her life that she thought she'd left behind and that she desperately hopes no one at her new school will ever find out about. Although a part of her wants to try to continue with her life as normally as possible, she can't stop thinking and worrying about Abby, Abby's last words, and the events that eventually drove them apart.

This was aimed a bit younger than the YA I normally read, and some of my issues with it stemmed from the fact that I was too old for this book - definitely not the book's fault. Emma was concerned with how others viewed her in a way that made perfect sense for her age and experiences but that I found extremely frustrating. For example, back when she was friends with Abby, Emma loved sci-fi, fantasy, writing stories, and playing make-believe games in which she and Abby were adventurers fighting against an evil witch named Esmerelda. Some horrible bullying eventually led to her cutting herself off from Abby and attempting to completely remake herself, right down to her hobbies and interests (this isn't a spoiler - it comes up pretty early on). It struck me as a huge and emotionally draining amount of work for something that seemed likely to cause a new set of problems later on.

Although Emma's actions and thoughts often frustrated me, I could see where she was coming from. Every time she considered taking the route I wanted her to take - talking to an adult about her plans to find Abby, talking to her friends about the bullying she went through - something came up that made that route seem, to Emma, potentially more dangerous and/or difficult than the alternative.

This was a more realistic take on a "missing persons" mystery than I was expecting. Emma wasn't smarter than the cops, although she had knowledge, through her past connection with Abby, that turned out to be helpful. Also, there were no 13-year-olds battling adults in adrenaline-fueled climactic moments - instead, Emma mostly battled her own emotions and the reactions of some of Abby's friends.

I appreciated the scene between Emma and her friends near the end, and I liked the way the relationship between Emma and Abby's friends progressed, once I got past Emma and Sheila's horrifically awful first encounters. Unfortunately, one sore spot for me was the way Weatherly wrote about counseling. It wasn't so much Emma's reaction to the idea of it - horror and anger that her family thought worrying about Abby was crazy - but rather that her reaction was never really challenged. One character told Emma that she'd been to counseling before and that it wasn't what Emma thought. In the end, however, Emma's dad decided that it'd be better to just talk and listen as a family more. Readers were never shown that Emma's ideas about counseling were false.

All in all, this was pretty good, if occasionally frustrating and exhausting from an adult perspective. I did wonder how dated certain aspects were, though. This was originally published in 2004. The parental controls on Emma's internet seemed to be extremely strict - at one point, she mentioned that there was really only one site that she could go to that at all interested her. And is it still believable for that many parents and teens to be weirded out by teens who play Dungeons & Dragons and like sci-fi and fantasy?

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2018-09-15 17:56
Reading progress update: I've read 198 out of 198 pages.
Missing Abby - L.A. Weatherly

Well, that was incredibly tragic.

 

I have no idea how I'm going to rate this. I'm definitely not the intended audience, and I know it - the way Emma and Abby's friends occasionally tried to handle things was frustrating from an adult perspective, but at the same time I could understand why they did what they did. And I could understand Emma's humiliation at the event that resulted in her drifting away from Abby, even as her efforts to hide her love of fantasy and sci-fi bugged me.

 

I liked the friendship stuff near the end, but I wasn't happy with the way Weatherly wrote about counseling. It wasn't so much Emma's reaction (utter horror and anger that her family thought worrying about Abby was crazy) as the way that reaction was never really challenged - one character mentioned that she'd been to counseling before and it wasn't what Emma thought, but in the end Emma's dad decided that it'd be best to just talk and listen more as a family. Readers never got to see that Emma's ideas about counseling were false and that it could be helpful.

 

Halloween Bingo squares of mine that this would work for:

 

Spellbound - This one is unexpected, but still works. Abby and Emma used to play a game in which they were adventurers battling against an evil witch named Esmerelda, and Emma's memories of their games turned out to be the key to the mystery of Abby's disappearance.

 

Baker Street Irregulars - Emma, a 13-year-old (or possibly 14), attempts to solve the mystery of what happened to her former best friend.

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review 2018-09-15 13:27
Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab
Barnabas Tew and The Case Of The Missing Scarab - Columbkill Noonan

by Columbkill Noonan

 

There's something about Victorian era book settings that brings out the use of language to fit within that setting and gives the story a certain flavour.

 

Barnabas Tew wants to be like his hero, Sherlock Holmes, but so far it's not going too well. He isn't nearly as clever and pretending to understand things when his assistant, Wildred, gets a reference that he doesn't does him no favours.

 

They've been given a case by Anubis to find a missing god. The trouble is, searching for clues in the underworld requires being dead! Traversing a landscape where they have to learn the rules as they go along leads to a constant state of confusion for the detectives.

 

This is a light, fun story. The journey through the realms of Egyptian gods added an interesting touch, although purists will wonder how the author assigned personalities to some of them, especially Maat and Hathor, who seemed way out of character.

 

It was a little slow moving in parts and had a sort of comic feel to it, but was overall enjoyable. The obvious set up at the end for a next book in series was actually rather well done, but the story works fine as a stand alone.

 

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text 2018-09-14 02:47
Reading progress update: I've read 48 out of 198 pages.
Missing Abby - L.A. Weatherly

I went looking for more interesting sounding YA or Middle Grade mysteries or thrillers and came across this.

 

It stars a 13-year-old (?) girl named Emma. She's learned that she was likely the last person to see her former best friend Abby before her sudden disappearance on Saturday. Something soured between the two of them a year or so ago - Emma got bullied for being a "freak" who played make-believe with Abby. One of the worst bullies was a girl named Karen, and at some point Emma had enough and asked her dad to transfer her to a new school, heavily implying that the reason she wanted the change was because Abby had gotten too wild for her.

 

So far, while I understand Emma's desperation to fit in, she also frustrates me a little.

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