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review 2019-02-18 01:40
Callander Square (book) by Anne Perry
Callander Square - Anne Perry

Thomas Pitt, a policeman, has been married to his well-born wife, Charlotte, for a relatively short amount of time. Charlotte is pregnant and quite happy with her marriage - she doesn't mind that she and Thomas don't have much money, or that she has to do housework. But that doesn't keep her from meddling in Thomas's work a bit.

Thomas's latest case involves the discovery of two dead infants buried in a wealthy neighborhood. There's no way to tell whether they were stillborn or murdered, although the one that's been dead the longest shows signs of deformities. It's a delicate case: the mother (or mothers?) likely worked or is still working for one of the nearby families. As Thomas questions the various servants, Charlotte and her sister Emily become involved as well.

I haven't read the first book in this series, but it didn't seem to interfere with my enjoyment much. I picked this up during a recent used book shopping trip, due to a recommendation in a comment on a Smart Bitches, Trashy Books post asking for historical romance recommendations involving working class couples. Unfortunately, the first book wasn't available, or I'd have started with that one.

The blog comment indicated that the books were mysteries with romantic elements, which I can sort of see but which set up expectations that Callander Square, at least, didn't fulfill. For example, while Thomas and Charlotte clearly loved each other, they didn't actually spend much on-page time together. I went into this book expecting Charlotte to give Thomas information more regularly than she did. I can't recall if she ever even admitted to Thomas that the "friend" she'd begun helping was actually General Balantyne, who might have had some connection, direct or indirect, to the dead babies. The number of sections from Emily's POV also surprised me.

Also, I didn't remember until after I started reading this that Anne Perry is the mystery author who, when she was 15, participated in the murder of her friend's mother. I'd always previously avoided her books because of that - reading murder mysteries written by someone who has actually committed one seemed...icky. On the plus side, at least there were no explicit on-page murders or "killer POV" scenes.

Anyway, back to the book itself. I really liked the beginning but started to become impatient as I got further in and there seemed to be no progress in the case. True, there were potential scandals galore (exciting!), but if it hadn't been for one particular murder, I doubt the mystery of the buried babies would have ever been solved. One very important detail didn't even come up until the last ten pages or so.

I really wish the book had included a character list/guide, or possibly a set of family trees, because keeping all the names straight was difficult. For a while there, I had a theory about the murderer's identity that involved one character's father, but I couldn't for the life of me remember if his name had ever been mentioned. It didn't help that some of the characters had relatively similar names and/or didn't get mentioned much. I kept on mixing up Carlton and Campbell, for example. And even if I remembered who the characters were and why they were important, I couldn't always remember who their spouses and children were.

Still, I enjoyed all of the various intertwined scandals and was surprised (in a good way?) that things actually worked out fairly well for several of the families, considering. The original mystery, the issue of what happened to the two dead babies, didn't grab me as much, maybe because it tended to be overshadowed by everything else.

One of my favorite things about this book was the way it handled its various female characters. Perry included a whole range of female characters, from annoying and silly to ruthlessly pragmatic. I liked some without reservation, disliked others, and found myself grudgingly respecting a few that I initially thought I'd 100% hate. The one thing nearly all of them had in common was that the men around them underestimated their perceptiveness and the depth of private lives and feelings. Even Thomas occasionally made this mistake, although he was good about listening to and learning from Charlotte, and was never so badly shaken by what he learned as some of the other men.

This was a bit slow for my tastes and didn't have Charlotte and Thomas on-page together as much as I'd expected, but I did enjoy it and plan on reading the next book at some point. I might also go back and read the first one, just to see what I missed.

 

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

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review 2019-02-15 18:01
An intense twisted psycho thriller
The Other - Thomas Tryon

 

So, who was it!?

 

Twins.

 

Was it really Niles missing his dead brother?

Or was it Ada using the 'games' to try to convince Holland he was Niles?

 

Who really died in the well?

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review 2019-02-04 21:37
Mistletoe Miracles - Jodi Thomas

I received this book for free from the publisher (Harlequin) as part of their Bookstagram Christmas mailing.

 

This was such a heartwarming book!

 

This book tells three different romance stories and all of them were so cute and uplifting. They all had the common thread of finding love in unexpected places, which I loved. I liked how the author balanced the three stories. Griffin’s story seemed to get the most screen time but didn’t overshadow the other two. The other two stories got the proper attention they deserved and I’m glad the author didn’t force the stories to be longer. Sometimes less is more. 

 

 

The three storylines don’t really overlap or connect to one another (there is one or two instances of characters interacting with each other but that’s about it), but I wished they would have. That felt like a missed opportunity and it would have took it to the next level. 

 

This book does have a Christmas theme, but it is not super Christmasy so you can read it any time of the year. The central aspect of the book are the romances that blossom and romances are fun to read any time of year. 

 

Overall, this was a wonderful collection of three romance stories! I definitely recommend it if you want something sweet to read. 

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text 2019-01-31 13:27
January Wrap-up
Just Eat It - Laura Thomas
SLEEPY HOLLOW: General of the Dead (Jason Crane Book 3) - Richard Gleaves
Numerology: Dancing the Spiral of Time - Elen Sentier
The Sound of Silence - Myron Ulhberg
Empire of Sand - Tasha Suri
The Search for Rasha - Paul B. Skousen

Six books finished in January, 5 of them Netgalley. I do keep trying to get ahead of those but somehow end up requesting more!

 

Never mind. A lot of them have been disappointing recently so I'm getting pickier again.

 

Meanwhile I've started reading my samples again and am delving into the free book slush. Who knows what might come out of that! The rejections are thick and fierce.

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review 2019-01-31 11:50
Just Eat It
Just Eat It - Laura Thomas

by Laura Thomas PhD

 

Non-fiction

 

I had mixed feelings about this book. The premise is sound. A qualified nutritionist is advising to escape 'diet mentality' and stop obsessing about food. Great! But there's rather a lot of swearing which makes it sound unprofessional and hinders the 'authority' of the author's voice, despite the PhD after her name.

 

She makes a lot of good points about the detrimental obsession over weight and food, but at times she seems to be saying that people who are overweight should just accept it as normal and make no effort to lose health-destroying obesity. I can see her advice being wonderful for those who obsess over 10-20 lbs of natural weight gain and for rejecting the rail-thin ideal of popular magazines, but someone who is 100-200 lbs overweight can't rely on 'intuitive eating' to lose enough to be a healthy weight! Diabetes and heart disease from excessive weight are a real thing!

 

Not to mention increased mobility and energy if someone does it a healthy way rather than through fad diets (don't even mention Keto to me! I equate it with Scientology.)

 

There is a chapter on 'gentle nutrition' and some extensive nutrition information near the end, but the author seems to assume that anyone who stops obsessing over food will naturally gravitate towards healthy eating. I don't believe that. I know people who would happily live on pizza and tacos forever and never touch another vegetable if they weren't paying attention to nutrition and quite honestly, I'm one of them. I spent my late teenage and early 20s years eating whatever I liked and the fruit/vegetable category didn't feature! The occasional banana maybe. And assuming I would EVER put vegetables on a pizza is just fantasy. I'm a meat feast girl and don't want my flavors diluted with nasty vegetables!

 

There are several mentions of Instagram and a specific hashtag that give me the impression that the author is assuming everybody has the same attitudes and assumptions about food and dieting as a particular group on that network. I'm not on instagram and don't know anyone among my real life family/friends/acquaintances/work colleagues who is, or who has the exact mindset as the author is working from.

 

I know a lot of people who consider themselves to be overweight to one degree or another and a few who have successfully lost weight through healthy diet programs. One thing we have in common is that given free reign to eat anything we want as the author suggests, certain Easter sweets in the stores right now would push those vegetables off our plates as far as our budgets could take it!

 

There are a lot of good nuggets of information in this book but I don't feel I can recommend it to anyone except those who keep obsessing over 10-20 lbs over the BMI charts. True those are outdated and imperfect, but someone seriously obese could easily see this as giving them permission to ignore the very real health dangers and put it down to stressing over food, as the author theorizes. Accepting your body shape isn't going to get you to fit into seats on planes or at entertainment venues and as much as I might agree that fat shaming and discrimination is wrong, it still happens.

 

I don't swallow that nature makes some people naturally fat in the extreme. Processed foods and high sugar content might have made it the new normal, but eating a nutritious diet will find the biological norm.

 

I've never one starred a book on Netgalley before but I think apart from the unprofessional delivery, the advice in this book is actually dangerous to people at risk of diabetes and heart disease through excessive weight.

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