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Search tags: Paranormal-Mystery
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review 2020-10-12 07:51
The Red Lamp
The Red Lamp - Mary Roberts Rinehart

I knew this was a ghost story, of sorts, so I started it bright and early yesterday morning, and became so engrossed in the story that I almost, almost, finished it last night. leaving nothing but 3 of the last 4 conclusion chapters for me to read today.

 

Mary Roberts Rinehart was an excellent writer; that her genius has been so far forgotten today is a tragedy.  The Red Lamp was originally written in 1925, and putting aside the lack of technology and the beautifully elegant writing that today might be considered a tad verbose, the story holds up perfectly; it would take very little to make this story 'modern'.

 

The Red Lamp is complex to the point of labyrinthine though.  Like the main character, I stumbled through the story in ignorance.  Some of this was by design, as the mc is meant to be a spectator not an active participant in solving the crimes, but some of it was because there was just so much going on and that beautifully elegant writing of Rinehart's made for easy camouflage of any clues.

 

The book is, with the exception of the introductory and final 4 chapters, purely epistemological, with no chapters, just journal entries.  This style doesn't always lend itself to a submersive experience for the reader, but these journal entries are detailed enough that it makes almost no difference from a first person narrative.

 

The ghostly part of the story, in spite of the enormous potential for scarring the spit out of me, were subdued enough that they never raised so much as a hair.  This was a wee bit disappointing, I admit, but it didn't adversely affect the story; they were never the point of the book, it was always about the mysterious killings and there was never doubt that those killings were done by a very corporeal being.

 

All in all, this was an excellent mystery.  I'd recommend this to anyone curious about Golden Age Mysteries who might be hesitant fearing dry or dated story-telling.  While not perfect, The Red Lamp is most assuredly neither dry nor dated.

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review 2020-07-13 14:45
Bottling It by A.A. Albright

From Amazon: 

Wanda Wayfair is a bit of a late starter. At almost twenty-one she still hasn't received her magical powers, and she's running out of time. But that doesn’t bother Wanda. Much. Not when she can spend all of her time in the human world and pretend that her coven doesn’t exist. But when Wanda takes a job at Berrys' Bottlers, working with the handsome Will Berry and his unpleasant Aunt Alice, she soon realises that she's a lot closer to the magical world than she thought. All over Dublin, humans are murdering witches. When asked why, all they'll say is, 'I dunno why I done it.' But Wanda thinks she does know why they’ve done it – and hopefully she’ll receive her power in time to help her coven discover the truth.

This isn't my usual type of book. I almost never read paranormal romances or vampire stories or in this case a paranormal mystery. This, however, was much better than I'd expected. My sister and I decided to read it at the same time and discuss it afterwards. We both loved it. It was a fun, quick read. I enjoyed reading a book set in Dublin for once. That doesn't happen very often. I especially enjoyed reading about covens and familiars. Maybe we'll get to read about brooms in later books in the series. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-02-02 05:01
Review: Blood of the Fae by Tom Mohan
Blood of the Fae - Tom Mohan

***Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley!***

 

This book is proving to be a difficult one to review and decide on an appropriate rating. I finished it over 24 hours ago and am still trying to put my thoughts together. On the whole, it was an alright story. There was absolutely nothing revolutionary about it, but it’s a solid story.

 

Let’s start with Liza. I did not really like her as a character. I found her to be annoying for the most part. She starts off fine, a bit histrionic but who wouldn’t be freaked out by the things she is discovering about the world? After awhile she seemed far stupider than I felt she should be. The pieces were there but she just refused to put them together and instead continued with her internal narrative that “there’s no way that any of this involves me”. Literally everyone in the book is telling you that it does. Hell, your dreams are telling you that it does! The strange happenings are telling you that it does! EVERYTHING IS SCREAMING AT YOU THAT YOU ARE INVOLVED!! So while there was nothing actually wrong with the character, she grew to be infuriating. And then when we got to the end of the book, it turned out she was pretty useless and unnecessary to the plot. More on that in a minute.

 

The characterization of the fae was fabulous. I enjoyed seeing a more horrifying aspect of the land of fae instead of the pretty, sparkling faeries that are so common in literature. I can’t say that the book was overly scary, but the horror aspects of it were very well written and interesting. I can’t say that I can conjure up too much emotion about the other characters since I did not feel that I got to know them at all. They were a flat and lacked qualities that would have made them more relatable and realistic characters. They were fine, but one dimensional. They also seemed to be a bit stupid at times, similar to Liza’s stupid. They acknowledge that everything happening is telling them that the old rules don’t apply. But then they run around screaming, “Oh My God! Why are the old rules not working!?” Well, duh, you just said why just a few pages ago.

 

A lot of this book was difficult to read. I found myself reading the same page a few times in order to understand what was going on. I am not entirely sure what made it difficult but I had a very hard time.

 

On to my last point for this: The ending. Warning!!!! Spoilers:

 

So, the whole point of the book is that Liza is a fae princess and has to choose between two princes. One prince wants the fae to rule the world and exterminate humans. One prince wants the fae to live in a dimension completely separate from humans and allow the peaceful existence of both. In the end, Liza will choose her prince and that will decide the fate of the world. But then we get to the end and she doesn’t choose! She chooses to stab herself instead in order to not have to make a choice. And somehow this meant that her choice was for peaceful co-existence of humans and fae? I have no idea where that ending came from but I didn’t like it. Making a choice by not making a choice and then somehow that means that everything is fine. So dumb and kind of made me feel the book was pointless in the end.

At the end of the day this book was decently written with passable characters and the fae are good enough to make this book a decent read.

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review 2019-10-10 07:32
Game of Bones (Sara Booth Delaney, #20)
Game of Bones - Carolyn Haines

After 19 really solid, enjoyable books, this one tanked for me.  It's still ok, hence my 3 stars, but comparatively speaking, nowhere near as good as the book that came before it.

 

Contributing to my general disappointment was the feeling that Haines just never got a handle on the plot.  It's a really interesting one about Indian burial mounds, archeology and curses, but it never gelled and in fact went somewhat around the bend in terms of incredulity, character angst, and abuse of dues ex machina.  The series has always had a light touch of the paranormal in Jitty, the ghost that haunts Sarah Booth, but the author charges past the lightly paranormal line, and blazes right into unbelievable miracles, and then she throws in some science fiction just to really stomp on any believability the plot may have had going for it.

 

I didn't hate it, and it's not generally bad; it's just not anywhere near as complex and interesting an instalment as previous books have been.  Everyone gets a phone-it-in in a long running series, and it took Haines 20 books before she cashed hers in.  I'm confident that should there be a 21, it will be back to the high standards of previous books.

 

I read this book for Halloween Bingo's New Release square.

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review 2019-08-02 12:37
Bewitched and Betrothed (Witchcraft Mystery, #10)
Bewitched and Betrothed - Juliet Blackwell

Lily's wedding to Sailor is fast approaching, but a kidnapping outside her shop on Haight Street and a murder on Alcatraz prove distracting and threaten to jeopardise a lot more than her upcoming nuptials.  

 

I read this right on the heels - literally, as I was on the plane when I started it - of our day-long layover in San Francisco.  This was a definite plus, as so many of the places she mentions in the book were places I had just visited.  

 

I've always enjoyed this series, and I'm a little bummed that this one reads like it might be the last; the series arc comes to an end, and all sorts of loose ends are tied off.  On the other hand, it was a good story, even if the villain was recycled from a previous story, and the face of villain was fairly obvious early on.  I love the characters, and at this point I'm probably devoted to them more than I am to solving the mystery.

 

Hopefully there are more books to look forward to in this series, but if not, at least it feels like it ended in a good place.

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