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text 2017-08-19 23:30
Halloween Bingo 2017: My Reading Pool / Shortlist -- and My Bingo Marker!

 

Aaaargh ... decisions, decisions.  Ask a Libra to make a snap decision, and you'll be waiting 'till doomsday.

 

So, in true Libra style, I haven't managed to narrow my list down to a single book for most of my card's squares yet -- but I've at least come up with a pool from which to pick my reads, with several books that would qualify for more than one square and a resulting short list with a certain preference per square. Which still doesn't mean I won't end up reading something completely different for one or more squares eventually, of course, judging by how things went last year. -- My 2017 pool / shortlist list includes mostly books I have not yet read, though augmented by a few audio versions of books that I've read before, but where I'm really, really interested in the audio version, which I'm not yet familiar with.

 

Anyway, this is the plan for now:

 

Most likely: Donna Andrews: Lord of the Wings

Alternatively:

* Diane Mott Davidson: Catering to Nobody
* One or more stories from Martin Greenberg's and Ed Gorman's (eds.) Cat Crimes
* ... or something by Lilian Jackson Braun




Most likely: Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights
(audio return visit courtesy of either Michael Kitchen or Prunella Scales and Samuel West)

Alternatively:

* Wilkie Collins: The Woman In White
(audio version read by Nigel Anthony and Susan Jameson)

* Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey
(audio return visit courtesy of Anna Massey)
* Isak Dinesen: Seven Gothic Tales
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* ... or something by Daphne du Maurier




Candace Robb: The Apothecary Rose




Most likely: Simon Brett: A book from a four-novel omibus edition including An Amateur Corpse, Star Trap, So Much Blood, and Cast, in Order of Disappearance

Alternatively:

* Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler?
* Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(audio version read by David Thorpe)
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Minette Walters: The Shape of Snakes




Most likely: Something from James D. Doss's Charlie Moon series (one of my great discoveries from last year's bingo)

Or one of Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins mysteries

Alternatively:

Sherman Alexie: Indian Killer




Terry Pratchett: Carpe Jugulum




One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Miraculous Mysteries: Locked-Room Murders and Impossible Crimes




Most likely: Agatha Christie: Mrs. McGinty's Dead
(audio return visit courtesy of Hugh Fraser)
Or one or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Serpents in Eden: Countryside Crimes

Alternatively:

* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar, To Love and Be Wise, or The Singing Sands
* Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler?
* Peter May: The Lewis Man
* S.D. Sykes: Plague Land
* Arthur Conan Doyle: The Mystery of Cloomber
* Michael Jecks: The Devil's Acolyte
* Stephen Booth: Dancing with the Virgins
* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers
* Martha Grimes: The End of the Pier
* Minette Walters: The Breaker




One of two "Joker" Squares:

 

To be filled in as my whimsy takes me (with apologies to Dorothy L. Sayers), either with one of the other mystery squares' alternate books, or with a murder mystery that doesn't meet any of the more specific squares' requirements.  In going through my shelves, I found to my shame that I own several bingo cards' worth of books that would fill this square alone, some of them bought years ago ... clearly something needs to be done about that, even if it's one book at a time!




Isabel Allende: Cuentos de Eva Luna (The Stories of Eva Luna) or
Gabriel García Márquez: Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold)




Most likely: One or more stories from Charles Dickens: Complete Ghost Stories or
Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills

Alternatively:

* Wilkie Collins: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost
(Gillian Anderson audio)

* Stephen King: Bag of Bones




Terry Pratchett: Men at Arms




Obviously and as per definition in the rules, the second "Joker" Square.

 

Equally as per definition, the possibles for this square also include my alternate reads for the non-mystery squares.




Most likely: Cornell Woolrich: The Bride Wore Black

Alternatively:

* Raymond Chandler: Farewell My Lovely or The Long Goodbye

* James M. Cain: Mildred Pierce
* Horace McCoy: They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
* David Goodis: Shoot the Piano Player or Dark Passage
* ... or something else by Cornell Woolrich, e.g., Phantom Lady or I Married a Dead Man




Most likely: Ruth Rendell: Not in the Flesh or The Babes in the Wood (audio versions read by Christopher Ravenscroft, aka Inspector Burden in the TV series)

Alternatively:

* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills




Most likely: Peter May: Coffin Road

Alternatively:

* Stephen King: Bag of Bones or Hearts in Atlantis
* Denise Mina: Field of Blood
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Minette Walters: The Breaker
* Jonathan Kellerman: When The Bough Breaks, Time Bomb, Blood Test, or Billy Straight

* Greg Iles: 24 Hours




Most likely: Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills

Alternatively:

* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers
* Greg Iles: Sleep No More




Most likely: Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley
(audio version read by David Thorpe)

Alternatively:

* One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Murder at the Manor: Country House Mysteries
* Georgette Heyer: They Found Him Dead
* Ellis Peters: Black is the Colour of My True-Love's Heart




Most likely: Something from Terry Pratchett's Discworld / Witches subseries -- either Equal Rites or Maskerade

Alternatively:

* Karen Maitland: The Owl Killers

* Shirley Jackson: The Witchcraft of Salem Village




Most likely: Antonia Hodgson: The Devil in the Marshalsea

Alternatively:

* Rory Clements: Martyr
* Philip Gooden: Sleep of Death 
* Minette Walters: The Shape of Snakes
* Ngaio Marsh: Death in Ecstasy

* One or more stories from Martin Edwards's (ed.) and the British Library's Capital Crimes: London Mysteries




Most likely: Robert Louis Stevenson: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
(audio return visit courtesy of Sir Christopher Lee)

Alternatively:

* H.G. Wells: The Island of Dr. Moreau 

* ... or something by Edgar Allan Poe




Most likely: Something from Ovid's Metamorphoses

Alternatively:

* Robert Louis Stevenson: The Bottle Imp
* Christina Rossetti: Goblin Market
* H.G. Wells: The Island of Dr. Moreau




Most likely: Jo Nesbø: The Snowman

Alternatively:

* Val McDermid: The Retribution
* Denise Mina: Sanctum 
* Mo Hayder: Birdman
* Caleb Carr: The Alienist
* Jonathan Kellerman: The Butcher's Theater
* Greg Iles: Mortal Fear




Most likely: The Medieval Murderers: House of Shadows
or Hill of Bones

Alternatively:

* Sharyn McCrumb: She Walks These Hills
* Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House
* Stephen King: Bag of Bones
* Carol Goodman: The Lake of Dead Languages
* Michael Jecks: The Devil's Acolyte




Ooohhh, you know -- something by Shirley Jackson ... if I don't wimp out in the end; otherwise something by Daphne du Maurier.




 Now, as for my 2017 bingo marker ... it's rather an obvious choice this year; I mean, how could I possibly not?!

 

 

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text 2017-08-17 00:04
Look!! Isn't it pretty? Thank you so much, MR!!

 

Now, as for filling in all those beautiful squares ...

 

 

I think my brain will be going full tilt tonight!

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review 2017-03-19 15:00
Sarah Review
Sarah - Teri Polen

Teri Polen’s Sarah is a pleasingly creepy young adult horror. Fans of Supernatural will be delighted with this book. If you’ve ever watched any of those typical high-school rom-coms/dramas where guys make a bet to trick a girl, and boo’d at the screen, you’ll enjoy Sarah. It’s a twisted take on a classic plot that will make horror fans cheer. This is the version they were waiting on.

 

Cain and his best friend Finn are good kids that both have their heads screwed on straight. Cain took on a lot of responsibility after his dad’s death, and that definitely made him grow up a bit. Finn, too, has had his share of problems. They could be the male version of Mary-Sues if Polen hadn’t written in some believable flaws. But they’re not perfect, and that makes all the difference. Quick tempers, wicked tongues, and Finn’s desire to needle every one around him means that at any given time, someone’s probably thinking about punching him. Or Cain. Or both. The rest of the characters are appropriately likable or detestable. Except for Lindsay. She’s a bit of a non-entity.

 

I liked that the author made a few salient points in Sarah about the mindset towards sexual assault. There was more than one conversation or interaction when I just sat back in my chair and sighed after reading it. It was utterly realistic. Teenagers are, as a rule of thumb, very selfish individuals, and it seems like jocks in particular excel in this. They think they can get away with anything, and/or that the world revolves around them. It’s behavior that’s either never corrected, or not corrected until it’s too late.

 

Hasn’t recent events proven that if a boy can score several touchdowns per game, who cares how many girls he assaults, right? We all know they were asking for it anyways. Or if adult males make enough money, they can do anything they want to girls, because they believe they are more important than the girls are. And these types of beliefs are constantly getting reinforced in today’s society.

It’s disturbing and disgusting and Teri Polen shows the reader a path to douche-hood that hundreds of young men start down every day.

 

I did, however, have one huge problem with Sarah. Sarah, herself. Well, her dialogue to be specific. For the most part, I liked her. I liked seeing the change. I puzzled over what, exactly, was going on with her. Yes, I thought she was vengeance-crazed ghost thing, but she was a fun vengeance-crazed ghost thing. Until she opened her mouth. Pretty much every time she started talking, it was like someone just hit the ‘off’ button on my interest in the story.

 

I understand that her background means that we could expect a certain amount of dialogue that seemed unusual for her age range. I was fully willing to accept that. But Sarah presented with lines that went between disturbingly formal and super-villain monolog. Luckily, her talkative scenes appear in bursts, so for most of the story it’s really not an issue.

 

Sarah is a book that takes a bit to get going, but overall it’s an easy, enjoyable creepy read. I was definitely hooked fairly early on, and read the book in two bursts over two days. It comes in at just under 200 pages, so it’s not something that demands a lot of your time. If you like horror, but don’t like it too gory or scary, this will probably be a great choice. Teri Polen did a pretty solid job.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley for review consideration

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/sarah-review
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review 2017-03-18 15:00
Stone Cold Bastards Review
Stone Cold Bastards - Jake Bible

Forget clawed mutants and moody men of steel. Jake Bible’s Grotesques are the heroes this world needs. Stone Cold Bastards is outright bloody fun. I love zombies, and I’m a fan of the author’s Z-Burbia series, but I think this was much better. It is a gust of fresh air blowing away some of the rancid post-apocalyptic rot pervading the genre.

 

Sometimes you just want to watch the world burn. If you cannot watch it burn, then you at least want to see geysers of blood and rib-cage battering rams. If none of those are available, chocolate will suffice. Luckily for me, I didn’t need to resort to chocolate. Jake Bible’s Stone Cold Bastards gave me all the head-bursting violence my blackened heart could want.

 

It also appealed to the teen in me. The one who discovered the show Gargoyles and sat in front of the TV for hours on end, watching the protectors of New York kick evil guy butt. Though you daren’t call the Stone Cold Bastards anything other than Grotesques, it’s clear there is a resemblance. Living stone attached to a sanctuary are moved halfway across the world to America and take up their positions as guardians.  These herculean heroes of various proportions are a bit cruder and less puppy-doggish than the Gargoyles I knew and loved, but they have an undeniable appeal. Especially the shotgun toting fairies with mouths that would make a sailor blush.

Though Stone Cold Bastards doesn’t exactly hit the ground running, by the time you’re halfway through the book, you’ve forgotten the real world exists. A literary treat that will have you on the edge of your seat, always ready to do a fist pump and cheer the Grotesques on. Morty and company burst to life in your mind’s eye. As tension builds and the violence becomes almost non-stop, it’s impossible to put down.

 

And Bible’s world in Stone Cold Bastards is a scary one. There are no zombies, but instead, there are demons. In this new post-apocalyptic world, the gates of Hell have opened and demons are queuing up to take their turns in the meat bags there were inheriting the earth. But human bodies can’t contain the festering rot of evil for long, and as the book opens, there’s only one Sanctuary of uncorrupted humanity left.  What makes this so scary, though, is that in this world all it takes is eye contact to become possessed. Bible takes something that we take for granted and twists it effortlessly into something with terrifying consequences.

 

By the time I was 30 pages from the end of Stone Cold Bastards, I was grinning like a loon. After it had finished, I went full on fangirl squealing and bugging my book-reviewing compadres to put it on their To-Read list immediately. I haven’t shown so much geekish excitement over a book since I read Andy Weir’s The Martian a few years ago.

 

Even a few days later, I still grin every time I think about the awesomeness that is Stone Cold Bastards. It’s an unashamedly campy, no-holds-barred post-apocalyptic thrill ride that will make you cheer. And maybe do a little Snoopy dance. (Or maybe that’s just me. What can I say? Some gals go gaga for romance, some go nuts for butt-kicking.)

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/stone-cold-bastards-review
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review 2017-03-14 15:00
The Devil You Know Review
The Devil You Know - Mike Carey

The Devil You Know was my second book by Mike Carey, although I didn’t realize it until after I’d already purchased the book. The first, of course, was The Girl With All The Gifts. While it wasn’t exactly filled with suspense, there was a good bit of a mystery involved in it. Carey did a great job of giving as a familiar yet unfamiliar world. You also can’t help but root for the main character.

 

There were so many snarky quips in this book that had me rolling. Michael Kramer does a great job delivering Castor’s lines with such a dry wit that it takes a minute to realize the insult that’s just been delivered. If you are quite the religious person, I highly recommend that you avoid this book. Castor is decidedly anti-church, and he let’s people know it, both in direct remarks and in thoughts.

 

A paranormal mystery with an exorcist slash beginner gumshoe, The Devil You Know is set in a world where all sorts of abnormal creatures walk the earth. There are zombies, rougaroos, ghosts, demons, succubi, so on and so forth. The world has been dealing with this new state of things for quite a while, so you get a sense of ‘the new normal’ after the world has adjusted to the big event. There were not many references to what happened, or to the details of how it happened, and I found that refreshing. Sometimes you don’t need an epic recounting of a calamitous event. The after is just as fun.

 

From beginning to end, the book is well-paced and intriguing. The characters aren’t exactly fully fleshed out, but they don’t need to be. Felix is a fantastic grey-shaded protagonist. He has no qualms with admitting to why he does things. He’s also not above blackmailing or doing whatever is necessary to get things done. Underneath it all, though, he’s essentially a good guy, and that’s part of why he’s so darn likable.

 

This is not a book for the easily offended. But, if you’re able to enjoy a little bawdy humor and a good dose of snark, you’ll love what you’re reading/listening to. I definitely intend on picking up the rest of this series. The Devil You Know was just too entertaining for me to walk away from it after just one book. (And that’s extremely rare for me.)

 

I definitely recommend fans of paranormal and supernatural mysteries pick this up. And from what I’ve read of The Dresden Files, if you’re a fan of that type of urban fantasy, The Devil You Know will be right up your alley as well.

Source: www.scifiandscary.com/devil-you-know-review
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