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review 2018-08-09 04:38
Still Water
Still Water - Amy Stuart

 

Clare jolts upright, her hand at her mouth to stifle a scream.

- first sentence

 

Clare goes undercover at a home that provides shelter to women who are trying to escape domestic violence to help find a missing mother and her son. Clare escaped her own abusive husband in Still Mine (the first book by author Amy Stuart). I didn't read Still Mine, and I only picked up this book because I was stuck going to a water park with no physical book to read (I was afraid to get my iPad wet or not be able to see the screen in the sun). Anyway, I grabbed this book at Target because the cover was pretty and it wasn't too long.

 

The book was just meh. I didn't connect with any of the characters, including Clare. Everyone is hiding something, but Clare never seems to figure much out - people just end up confessing or revealing each other's secrets. When the final reveal came, I was unimpressed. Maybe I would have liked it better if I read the first book...

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review 2018-08-07 05:45
Review: The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart Turton

Reviewed for Wit and Sin

 

Evelyn Hardcastle is going to die; that much has been foretold. But who did it? That is the question Aiden Bishop must answer if he ever hopes to be free of Blackheath. He has eight hosts – each a player on a deadly chessboard he can’t fully see. Eight different points of view, eight chances to solve a mystery before time runs out…

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an intense, evocative, intricately-plotted tale that will keep you on your toes. From the start, I was drawn into the rich imagery of the decaying world of Blackheath, its inhabitants unique and vividly drawn. There are so many secrets in this complex mystery, so many puzzle pieces and point of view jumps that it’s no wonder our protagonist needs eight hosts to even have a glimmer of a chance at solving Evelyn’s murder.

The more you know about a mystery going in, the less enjoyable it is, so I’m loathe to say much about what happens in the story. I will say that I loved watching Aiden put the pieces of this sizeable puzzle together. It’s no easy feat, as he’s hindered as well as aided by the hosts chosen for him. In the hands of another author, this story might have been a tangled mess. But Stuart Turton has done an exceptional job of weaving together a massive number of threads to form one solid mystery. The worldbuilding in this book is fantastic and I loved that I couldn’t tell what would happen next. With so many personalities swirling about, no one can be entirely predictable. There’s also a sinister presence dogging Aiden’s steps that adds a slightly chilling quality to the story, which I enjoyed. The only thing that kept me from absolutely loving this book was the ending. When it comes to stories like these, you really have to stick the landing or it’s a bit of a letdown and while the ending was satisfying enough, it did leave me wanting a bit more. That being said, I still highly recommend The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle to anyone looking for an original, engaging mystery and I’m looking forward to seeing what Mr. Turton comes up with next.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

 

Source: witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/08/review-7-deaths-of-evelyn-hardcastle-by.html
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review 2018-07-26 02:50
“If this isn’t hell, the devil is surely taking notes."
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart Turton


Couldn’t have said it better myself. If, after reading the first few chapters, you find yourself feeling a bit discombobulated don’t worry. You’re in good company. Even the MC doesn’t know what the hell is going on.

 

Imagine you’re playing a real life game of Clue. You wake up one day as Col. Mustard & find yourself sequestered in a decaying old manor full of strangers. All you’ve been told is tonight someone will murder Miss Scarlet & your job is to identify the killer. Oh, and you have 24 hours. Because if you fail, tomorrow the whole day will play out again in exactly the same sequence. Except this time you’ll be Prof. Plum. Fail again & you’ll relive the same day as Mr. Green.

 

Now take this scenario & transfer it to Blackheath, home of the Hardcastles who’ve invited a throng of bickering, scheming guests for a special occasion. The plot & structure of the story is too complex to be reduced to a few sentences here. In this mash-up of Agatha Christie & Groundhog Day, the story centres around daughter Evelyn. And yes, she does die…a lot.

 

Our narrator & MC is Aiden Bishop although it takes a while before he (and we) know his true identity. There is a deliberate lack of the kind of information that gives a story context such as date & location that leaves you feeling uneasy & slightly uncomfortable. This bonds the reader with Aiden as we both struggle to make sense of his predicament. But eventually the reality of his situation is revealed & it’s a doozy. HIs first task each day is to figure out who he is & then continue his investigation. Luckily, he retains his memories as he jumps from one character to the next. This enables him to slowly put together the pieces as he sees the same events through different eyes. But it’s complicated by a wealth of suspects. With few exceptions, these are despicable people who have cornered the market on lying, cheating, stealing & blackmail. They don’t even seem to like each other & it’s not ’til the end that we understand why they ended up here.

 

This is not a lazy beach read. It’s a book that requires patience & attention to detail if you want to nail the killer. Hang in there, the payoff comes at the end when all is revealed & the true scope of the story takes shape.

 

It’s a clever, ambitious mind bender of a story that will test your memory skills. Hats off to the author, I truly don’t know how he managed to keep it all straight & avoid errors in continuity (I can’t help but picture him writing this in a room wallpapered with spreadsheets connected by strings). Ingenious, tense, mystical & haunting…this is a book you’ll think about long after you’ve finished.

 

 

           

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review 2018-07-24 06:19
A Boy Made of Blocks
A Boy Made of Blocks - Keith Stuart

You had me at Minecraft. I admit it. After the Minecraft obsession swept through my own home, I was curious to see how the game would be used to engage Sam, the autistic boy at the center of this story. To be fair, calling this merely a story about autism (or minecraft, for that matter) does this story and its author a disservice, because it is really so much more than that. This is a universal story — a beautiful and complicated love story— that begins with a family fallen apart, and then follows them as they cautiously try to piece it back together. The author manages to take characters who are at first appalling in their lack of courage, and turn them back into commendable human beings. This is not always an easy task, but handled with grace and elegance here. This is a powerful story, and, while it has an almost Hollywood ending (which I sometimes pretend to disdain), I loved it here. Set that box of tissues near your comfy chair and have at it.

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review 2018-07-12 03:45
Crazy Like A Fox (Louisiana) (Born in the USA) - Anne Stuart

 

Hmm. I found myself wondering near the beginning what sorts of jobs the h was applying for. Supposedly she was working on her graduate studies in reproductive biology when she found herself widowed and having to drop out. I would think at the state of desperation she seemed to be, she'd look at waitressing jobs at diners or something. Instead, she's living out of her car, with a 9 year old daughter, and broke.

 

Then there's the motel - what sort can you get where you could stay in for $30-40 bucks? Granted, this book was written in 1990.

 

So she contacts her late husband's grandmother, and ends up in Louisiana where she finds herself pursued by one cousin, falling for another... and supposedly that one is a homicidal maniac...

 

Except that the homicidal maniac isn't, and the dullard lawyer cousin...is mentally disturbed and nobody knows. Weird. Because usually there's some sign somewhere...

Of course everyone figures all this out at the end when mild mannered lawyer tries to kill her - after calling the police - to set up a scene so his cousin will be incarcerated or executed. Grandmere asks him why he tried to kill his cousin...and he confesses to it all.

Heroine - justifiably anxious to escape. Too bad the mild mannered lawyer's grabbiness didn't make her wary of him. She continued being wary of the wrong one.

 

Hero - well, I guess being locked in the attic - sortof - beats being executed. Fortunately, his cousin's confession exonerated him, otherwise there would be no romance.

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