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review 2018-09-25 15:20
John Peters in the Land of Demons
John Peters in the land of Demons - A.H. Matai

by A.H. Matai


This one confused me in that the writing was stilted, much of it in short sentences like you might see in a children's book, but the characters were university age. There was some off sentence structure and weird word choices and eventually I decided that it must have been written by someone whose grasp of English is being seen through a foreign grammar structure. I tried to look up information on the author to see if they came from a non-English speaking country, but couldn't find anything.


There were some interesting ideas but the story just didn't flow. I do generally find stories involving demons very interesting. There was a lot of 'telling' as far as the character's feelings were concerned, mostly when they got angry. The premise of the story really attracted me but I just couldn't get into it.


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review 2018-09-16 12:04
Unsettled Spirits
Unsettled Spirits - J. Matthew Saunders

by J. Matthew Saunders


Workers at a tractor and farm supply company play a common prank on Bobby, a new guy, by having him go into the factory after hours on a ruse, but things go wrong. There is genuine gossip about the factory being haunted and when Bobby hears a child laughing just before the lights go out, he is terrified. A subsequent unfortunate accident brings the incident under investigation.


Zed & Penelope make such investigations their business and are called in. They also consult an associate, Charles, who is an adept magician. The company owner brings in a magician of his own, but won't say who.


The story is fairly short, yet has a lot of strands. I thought it had too much description of minor characters and sometimes seemed unclear what was going on.


Apart from the beginning, I can't say there were a lot of scares and the story falls more into a detective story than chilling Horror, until near the end. There is even some doubt cast on the legitimacy of the hauntings.


Some interesting supernatural shenanigans happen towards the end, but then the story just stops. No explanation, no resolution. Presumably it's a serial, but there is no warning in the description to say so. There were some interesting ideas involved and the writing was fairly good, but the plot didn't have me riveted enough to compel me to read another book to tie up all the loose ends left hanging.


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review 2018-09-15 13:27
Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab
Barnabas Tew and The Case Of The Missing Scarab - Columbkill Noonan

by Columbkill Noonan


There's something about Victorian era book settings that brings out the use of language to fit within that setting and gives the story a certain flavour.


Barnabas Tew wants to be like his hero, Sherlock Holmes, but so far it's not going too well. He isn't nearly as clever and pretending to understand things when his assistant, Wildred, gets a reference that he doesn't does him no favours.


They've been given a case by Anubis to find a missing god. The trouble is, searching for clues in the underworld requires being dead! Traversing a landscape where they have to learn the rules as they go along leads to a constant state of confusion for the detectives.


This is a light, fun story. The journey through the realms of Egyptian gods added an interesting touch, although purists will wonder how the author assigned personalities to some of them, especially Maat and Hathor, who seemed way out of character.


It was a little slow moving in parts and had a sort of comic feel to it, but was overall enjoyable. The obvious set up at the end for a next book in series was actually rather well done, but the story works fine as a stand alone.


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review 2018-09-11 02:04
Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi
Emergency Contact - Mary H. K. Choi

A special thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Although her grades were decent, and she had a boyfriend (albeit a not very attentive one), Penny Lee found high school to be incredibly mundane.  Penny wants to be a writer and is looking forward to going to college, even if it is only an hour away.  Maybe she can writer herself a new life, one that is not only more interesting, but one without an overbearing mother that dresses too young and tries too hard to be her friend.  


Sam is a mess.  He sleeps on a mattress on the floor of a spare room over the coffee shop where he works.  Sam is an aspiring filmmaker that can't afford to finish school and he is also struggling to get over a bad break up.    


When Sam and Penny meet through Jude who is Sam's ex-niece and Penny's new roommate, their first encounter is incredibly awkward.  In spite of that, the two exchange numbers and eventually text their way to a relationship where they share everything with each other.  It is much easier to type their fears, dreams, hopes, and anxieties than to say them face-to-face.  Sam and Penny become each other's "emergency contact".  


Choi pens some quirky, awkward, and angst ridden characters that at times seem too old in the way they conduct themselves, but it totally works.  She adds just the right element of conflict and the pace of the story is spot on.  This book is in the same vein as Eleanor & Park and I can see why fans of Rainbow Rowell also like this book so much.  Both authors have a flair for this genre and write complicated, yet endearing characters that stay with the reader long after the last page.  


My only criticism is with the timing, I'm a little confused.  Jude met Sam when she was seven.  She had an iPad.  iPads were introduced in 2010, so if she is seven in 2010, she would be 15 in 2018.  How is she old enough to go to college?  Did I miss something?   

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review 2018-09-10 20:21
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart Turton

A special thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss, HarperCollins and Sourcebooks Landmark for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.  


"Nothing like a mask to reveal somebody's true nature."


Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden Bishop—one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party—can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again.


But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath...


As far as any book goes, the concept is actually brilliant, especially for a debut.  The book is smart, (mostly) well-executed, and clever.  


Here's where my glowing review ends.  I was confused throughout and had to keep going back to reread parts which given the size of the book, was not ideal.  It was unclear at times as to which body Aidan was in and at what times.  There were also a lot of characters and it was challenging to keep them straight.  Having a character change their identity eight times is a gamble for Turton and he almost pulls it off.  Where he fails is that the reader questions how well they know and understand the characters—they are suspect because of all of the different identities inhabited.  


The premise, as mentioned, is fantastic.  When you read the synopsis, there is definite intrigue, but actually reading it was a whole other matter.  I was left disinterested around day six.  There was some unnecessary bulk at this point in the storyline and hopefully this will be resolved in the published product.  My final thought is that given the level of detail, the number of players, and the intricate plot, this should have been a series.

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