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review 2017-11-11 14:33
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere ★★★☆☆
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - Z.Z. Packer

I was enchanted with this book of short stories at first, but gradually lost enthusiasm as I progressed through the short stories. I love the author’s ability to draw characters through their actions and interactions with each other and their environment. I love her ability to create a sense of place and how her characters fit in that setting. I love the little thought-provoking moments in each story. But there was an unrelenting sameness to the stories. She likes Shirley Jackson-ish main characters: young people who live too much in their own heads, socially-awkward, alternating between remaining passively and resentfully where they are and impulsively jumping into situations that they then don’t know how to extricate themselves from. She also doesn’t seem to know how to wrap a story up. Most of them just end abruptly, like the author just ran out of things to say. Of the eight short stories, the best were “Brownies” and “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”

 

Paperback copy, which I will donate to the library as I don’t keep paperbacks that I rated fewer than 4 stars. Although this book has been on my physical TBR for two years, I don’t remember what prompted me to buy it. It was probably something I read when I was looking for TBR recs when I started the Book Riot challenge for We Need Diverse Books.

 

I read it for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 December 26th-31st: Book themes for Kwanzaa: Read a book written by an author of African descent or a book set in Africa, or whose cover is primarily red, green or black. The author, ZZ Packer, is African-American.

 

Previous Updates:

11/9/17 82/265pg

11/10/17 210/265pg

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review 2017-11-10 20:47
DECEMBER PARK Review
By Ronald Malfi December Park [Paperback] - Ronald Malfi

In 1993, children in Harting Farms begin to go missing. The police start investigating — and a curfew for kids under eighteen is implemented — but no answers are found. The crimes go on. Five teenage friends band together to solve the crime for themselves, going to places in town adults aren’t aware of, the places kids frequent. Their investigation goes on for quite a while, and in that time they’ll discover more than they expected.

 

This was my second Ronald Malfi novel. Call me a bonafide Malfi fan, because this guy is 2/2 with me. Though this one didn’t quite reach the heights of Bone White, I feel, it was still a lot of fun. It’s a quick, enthralling read, and I would have finished it much sooner had I not also had David Copperfield on the docket.

 

I must admit a few things about this book felt rather derivative. The main character and narrator, Angelo, is a horror-loving kid with a penchant for storytelling. This sort of character has become a trope in horror-tinged coming of age fiction, though it is understandable. It’s a case of writers writing about what they know. Still, it just smacked of unoriginality. Other elements such as a massive storm and a creepy house the kids refer to as “The Werewolf House” felt like they’d been ripped straight from Stephen King’s IT. That’s not to say this is a case of plagiarism; most certainly not. It’s just these things have been done so often before.

 

This is a fun and emotional mystery/thriller starring five very likable (albeit somewhat unmemorable) kids. Whatever problems are present are made up for with Malfi’s sheer writing talent.

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text 2017-11-10 14:42
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - 210/265 pg
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - Z.Z. Packer

This author apparently has no use for happy endings to her stories. They're not unrelentingly grim, but it's close.

 

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text 2017-11-09 18:39
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - 82/265 pg
Drinking Coffee Elsewhere - Z.Z. Packer

Although the stories themselves are of varying quality so far, the writing is wonderfully evocative. This author can do more in less than 2 dozen pages to create a world, people it with real characters, and provoke my emotions than many authors can accomplish in a novel-length story. 

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review 2017-11-04 05:46
[Claire Douglas] Last Seen Alive (Paperb... [Claire Douglas] Last Seen Alive (Paperback)【2017】by Claire Douglas (Author) [1837] - Claire Douglas

Three and a half rating.
A dodgy house swap, slightly problematic marriage, strange goings on and plenty of twists and turns along the way. Someone has got it in for Libby and Jaime, but who and why? This pair are meant to be intelligent but are so naive. It’s as if they shared the same one brain cell the way they carried on most of the time! There’s a lot of nasty, selfish characters in this book and only the dog is truly likeable. The ending comes as a bit of an anticlimax. There are some edge of your seat moments, it’s fast moving and there are some great descriptions of Bath, Cornwall and Thailand. I did like the writing style and the cover.

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