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review 2018-11-13 15:22
interwar mystery for kids
First Class Murder - Robin Stevens First Class Murder - Robin Stevens

This is a nice reflection of Murder on the Orient Express which is referenced a few times in the text. Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are taking a holiday with Hazel's father on the Orient Express and of course there's a murder. Officailly there's no-one there to investigate but the two girls use their wits to resolve the mystery.

Entertaining and I like how Hazel is developing as a character.

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text 2018-11-09 00:06
24 Tasks: Door 4 - Diwali - Task # 4
The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood
Heidi - Johanna Spyri
Ladies of Letters - New and Old - Lou Wakefield,Carole Hayman
The Deceased Miss Blackwell and her Not-So-Imaginary Friends - K.N. Parker,K.N. Parker
Juliet Takes a Breath - Gabby Rivera
A Talent for Murder: A Novel - Andrew Wilson
Geisha, a Life - Rande Brown,Mineko Iwasaki

This task was hard.

 

And because I'm clearly lacking books that feature women holding flowers, I had to stretch my interpretation of the task. And by stretch I mean, stopping just short of a post-modern expressive dance interpretation of what can be understood as woman holding a flower. 

It would not have been a pretty sight.

So, count yourselves lucky to not have to see it.

 

Anyway, I have listed my covers above and there are a few more than five, just in case some should not work...

 

So, we have one actual cover with a woman holding flowers. Atwood to the rescue. 

Then we have a girl holding flowers - Heidi. Still close enough, I guess.

Then we have a Vera of Ladies of Letters sporting a buttonhole flower. 

The Deceased Miss Blackwell on top the grave is holding a rose. 

Juliet has a flower-shaped earring.

A flower in a hat on the cover of A Talent for Murder, and finally...

Flowers in hair on the cover of Geisha, a Life.

 

I had to wade through more than 2500 covers on my combined shelves to even get the ones I listed. Seriously, this was a hard task.

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review 2018-11-08 22:08
Murder at Monticello
Murder at Monticello - Wendy Wray,Sneaky Pie Brown,Rita Mae Brown

Book 3. I know I am reading out of order, but I read as I am able to obtain. I borrowed this in both hardcover and audio format. I was listening to the story as I was driving and reading when I was at home. Harry is divorced from Fair and he is trying to win her back and tells her all that has been happening since he has been out of her life. She is working in the post office and taking care of her animals. She and Mrs. H and Big Mim are all interested in what is happening up at Thomas Jefferson's House - Monticello. A body is found in a pit being dug on the property in the slave houses. After the body is found, the sheriff is called and the remains are researched to find out who the man is and why he was buried under the fireplace. In the research, the researcher is killed for something that he found out. Now the race is on for Harry, Mrs. H and Cooper to find out who murdered him. 

 

I enjoyed this story. I have never been to Monticello, but it is on my bucket list. We try to go someplace different with the teens before they are on their own and exploring. 

 

 

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review 2018-10-30 19:03
Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr
Murder by Perfection - Lauren Carr

Note: While this is Book 3 in the series, it works just fine as a stand alone.

I’ve been a fan of Lauren Carr’s works for several years now. Sinking into this book was like joining an old friend for a lengthy cup of tea. I enjoy the writing style and characters equally. There’s also a twist or three and there’s usually more than one mystery to solve.

Jessica and Murphy are trying to balance her schooling and his career with their personal lives. And that’s how they get pulled into a minor investigation that involves a couples’s cooking class. Natalie Stepford is a well known cook and quite the looker too.

Of course, we get a body or two and the investigations into each are off and running. Then Murphy turns up missing. So the timeline jumps around a little in regards to Murphy and that through me a bit more than once. Still, I loved it that Murphy, this very capable man with lots of combat training and other special skills gained from his time in the super secret Phantoms, is the one that goes missing and it’s up to his wife and family to save him.

Newman was a source of amusement, a mix dog of some sort that rules over the TV, changing the station if the show doesn’t suit him. I also found the electronic butler Nigel fun, as people are sometimes started by his disembodied voice.

This tale had a few more cliches than normal for Carr’s works. On one hand, that made it easy to follow along and just enjoy the characters. On the other hand, it did make some things predictable. Despite this, I had a lot of fun with the story.

Murphy’s twin brother gets called in to help lay down a ruse that will bring the culprits to light even as other members of the family continue to pursue their investigations. I didn’t really like that Jessica had to use her feminine wiles, playing a woman in emotional distress, as her part of the ruse. First, she hasn’t acted like that at all, and secondly, she has plenty more to offer as a character.

The action is well balanced with humor and I also liked the flirtations between Murphy and Jessica as they do their best to fit in some sexytimes with their busy schedules. The end leaves us on a very satisfying note. 4/5 stars.

The Narration: Mike Alger has narrated several of Carr’s books and listening to his narrations is like listening to an old friend at this point. I love his voices for the men. He manages to make all the related men sound like relatives while also giving them their own unique voices. He makes a perfect Murphy. His female voices are usually feminine but there’s less range there and sometimes more then one woman will sound like the other. His pacing is perfect and there’s no issues with the recording. 4.5/5 stars.

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review 2018-10-29 06:33
Daughter of the Burning City (audiobook) by Amanda Foody, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller
Daughter of the Burning City - Amanda Foody

Sorina has spent most of her life working in the Gomorrah Festival, a city-sized traveling carnival, as the adopted daughter of the Festival's proprietor, Villiam. Although Sorina is the first known illusion-worker born in a hundred years and will eventually become the Festival's next proprietor, she doesn't feel particularly special. The blank areas of skin where her eyes should be mark her as a freak, even within Gomorrah. And although Villiam is kind and always finds time to talk to her, he doesn't seem to be putting serious effort into training her to be his successor. There is much Sorina still doesn't know about how Gomorrah works.

In addition to Villiam, her adopted father, and Kahina, Sorina's mother figure, Sorina has her other family members, her various illusions. Over the years, she has created several illusions so complex that they appear to almost be real people. Each of them was specifically designed to fulfill a role - Sorina's uncle, bossy older sister, annoying younger siblings, etc. - but each of them also acquired traits that Sorina didn't plan, special "freakish" abilities. They all add a bit of stability to Sorina's life, until one day she discovers something she hadn't thought possible: one of her illusions has been murdered.

Who would have killed an illusion? How did they manage it? Sorina doesn't know who to turn to. Should she trust Villiam, who believes that the killer is an outsider trying to harm him, the proprietor, through her? Or handsome Luca, who believes the killer is someone within the Gomorrah Festival?

I'll start off by saying that the only reason I listened to this was because I needed something I could use for my "Creepy Carnivals" square in Booklikes Halloween Bingo. Even just in the description, there were aspects of this book that didn't appeal to me. The entire setup sounded a bit ridiculous, for one thing, and Sorina's "family" reminded me too much of James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge's The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, a truly terribly YA book. I also rolled my eyes at the whole "first illusion-worker born in a hundred years" thing.

Daughter of the Burning City turned out to be both tedious and gross. I mean, I didn't like the whole "Sorina created nearly all of her friends and family members" aspect, but I didn't expect it to be quite as awful as it was. And the murder "investigation" was just a joke.

I was halfway through the book before anything resembling an on-page investigation started. Villiam swore he was doing a "full investigation," but I couldn't see how that could possibly be true considering that the victims were cleaned up and buried soon after their deaths. Sorina's investigation with Luca wasn't much better. Honestly, it seemed like they were randomly questioning people. I vaguely remember Luca saying something about Gomorrah residents with particularly special abilities (or more than one ability?) being more likely murderer candidates for some reason, but in practice it really just seemed like they were talking to people to fill the time and make Sorina feel like they were doing something useful.

I'll admit that I never figured out the killer's motive on my own, but the killer's identity was such a cliche that I managed to guess it about 15% in, and the oddities in their behavior just kept stacking up. I wasn't impressed at all with the murder mystery storyline.

The romance didn't start off well, but it gradually improved...until it suddenly became one of the top grossest YA romances I've read in a while.

When Sorina and Luca first met, there was some stereotypical "he's so good-looking, but he can't possibly be interested in a freak like me" stuff. Then Sorina learned that Luca was *gasp* not interested in sex. The character who initially told Sorina this said it like it was the most freakish thing she'd ever heard of, and Sorina herself seemed to have trouble wrapping her brain around the idea. After hearing this info about Luca from at least two separate people, Sorina had a conversation with Luca in which she declared the two of them friends, received a lukewarm response, and then decided to kiss him out of the blue. When he didn't respond favorably, she assumed it was at least partly due to her own freakish lack of eyes rather than the fact that she'd forced a kiss on him without his consent and with the knowledge that it might make him uncomfortable.

In a much shorter amount of time than I would have expected, Luca decided that he was okay with kissing Sorina. He explained that he needed to get to know a person before he could feel interested in them (demiromantic?). Considering that he'd also said that he'd never been put in this sort of position before and had never really thought about it, I wondered how he knew the exact words to describe all of this - his panicked confusion felt more real than his later explanation and his sudden willingness to passionately kiss Sorina.

I eventually adjusted to their romance, even though I wasn't a fan of the way it started. However, a revelation late in the book made it all skin-crawlingly gross. This is where I get into major spoiler territory.

At one point, Sorina learns that Luca is actually one of her illusions. Various machinations caused her to forget about his existence, and, if things had gone as planned, Sorina would never have met him again and they'd have lived entirely separate lives. But of course that didn't happen.

What I could not get past was that Sorina had created Luca. Foody tried to smooth this over via Luca telling Sorina that her more person-like illusions always had aspects of themselves she didn't expect. She'd never planned any of their "freakish" abilities, and many of them had private lives she was unaware of. Luca claimed that their romance was perfectly fine because he'd chosen to be with her. What Foody never addressed, however, was the fact that all of Sorina's illusions perfectly aligned with whatever role she'd assigned them to fulfill. Venera was her best friend, because that's what Sorina created her to be. Nicoleta seemed fine with being Sorina's "bossy older sister." And Luca, meanwhile, was created to be Sorina's lover. No, he didn't turn out quite as planned, but in the end he slid right into his assigned role just like all the others.

(spoiler show)

Was consent really possible in a situation like this?

Emily Woo Zeller's narration didn't improve my opinion of this book. She tended to sound overwrought, which I suppose fit Sorina well, but all this did was make Sorina grate on my nerves more. Her voices for the various male characters often sounded cartoonish, and I disliked Nicoleta in large part due to the waspish tone she used for her.

This wasn't a good book in the slightest, but at least it netted me the bingo square I needed, so that's something.

 

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

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