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review 2017-09-17 11:05
Stalking Jack
Stalking Jack - Madison Kent

by Madison Kent

 

I have mixed feelings about this book. The prologue was pure info dump and there were many signs of an amateur writer; shoehorning too many subplot lines into the first chapter, showing a limited knowledge of Victorian convention, dialect, British English or proper use of apostrophes, yet the writing was strangely engaging and I took a liking to the main character, Madeleine, early in the story.

 

Madeleine Donovan is a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and fancies herself an amateur sleuth. She lost her family in tragedy and in the process of looking for purpose, travels to London. All the papers are full of stories about Jack the Ripper and a group of English ladies whom she meets shipboard become concerned about a niece who has gone wayward in Whitechapel and could be in danger. Madeleine vows to find her, despite the danger.

 

The premise is actually rather unlikely in Victorian England and the author uses American English for English character's dialogue, but the story itself is engaging and I ignored the occasional cringe and let myself enjoy the story. I think a few words didn't mean what the author thought they meant and the idea of finding bourbon in a 19th century Whitechapel pub just boggles the mind, especially contrasted with an almost encyclopedic history of the nationalities and religions of people who settled in the area shoehorned into a conversation, but I liked the main character and with Alternative History being a popular genre these days, I started treating this as Fantasy and ignored anomalies like decent women casually going out for a drink in a pub in that era.

 

Of all the things technically wrong with this novel, the thing that bothered me most was the attempt to have lower class characters talk in dialect. It read like something out of the hills of Arkansas rather than anywhere in all the history of England. Old ladies wearing pillbox hats (invented in 1930) in 1888 London pales by comparison. Other dialogue was sometimes stilted too. Yet despite all the historical inaccuracies and other problems, the characters were brought to life skilfully and the plot moved along in a way that kept me interested.

 

The editorial mistakes increased later in the book, yet the story itself took on relevance, looking into issues of obsession and addiction in a Victorian setting where opium use was rife. Madeleine is a headstrong character and I found it easy to feel sympathy for her, yet she walks into trouble on many levels and I felt needed rescuing from her own impulses.

 

I actually liked the way the story ended. The explanation of what happened to Jack the Ripper was as plausible as any of the popular theories and there was a wonderfully poetic passage about the way London leaves its mark on a person's soul. Just before the poinsettias all bloom in November English weather (poinsettias are native to Mexico and an old association with Christmas travelled to America when the plants were first cultivated in the U.S. in the early 1900s, long after this story takes place. The tradition never travelled to England and the plants don't survive in under 58 degrees Fahrenheit.)

 

Apparently there is a series and Madeleine becomes a female detective in her native Chicago, but the ripper's story is finished so I won't be following the other books. Perhaps someone who likes detective stories would enjoy them. Hopefully they'll be set in America where the language and cultural references will fit!

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review 2017-09-15 16:36
I should have known
The Name of the Blade, Book Three: Frail Mortal Heart - Zoë Marriott

I am quite a fan of Zoe Marriott and I should have trusted that the end of the series would be satisfying. It was well done and the characters played a blinder and I was at the edge of my virtual seat (most of the reading was in bed) throughout.

 

Mio has managed to win a battle, at a terrible cost and now she has to try to keep with the war.  She realises that she will have to make more hard choices and that if she wants to win and keep the world safe she will have to fight and that fight will not be easy in any way.

 

I was invested in the characters and the situations and the relationships felt right, yes, things were finished up a bit neatly and somewhat less nastily than if it was an adult novel but it was a good read all the same.

 

I know I said I was going to use the Peter Grant novel I have on the wings for my Darkest London square but I'm going to use this one.  It was a good story and I enjoyed the read.

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text 2017-09-12 11:03
Halloween Book Bingo

This is for my own reference and I intend to tick off stuff as I go (my work PC hates the image of my bingo sheet and I borrow books from my work - libraries).  Bolded is the squares I have, strike through is done and dusted, underlined is called.  I'm also going to list possible books and state the book I've read for the square here for my own reference.

 


The 31 spaces:

Locked room mystery: A subgenre of detective fiction in which a crime—almost always murder—is committed under circumstances which it was seemingly impossible for the perpetrator to commit the crime and/or evade detection in the course of getting in and out of the crime scene.

Country house mystery: A closed circle mystery, occurring at a gathering like a house party. Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwhistle

Classic noir: A subgenre of mystery that includes authors such as Dashiell Hammett, James Cain, Raymond Chandler and Cornell Woolrich. Anything that also qualifies as "hard-boiled" will work for this square. The Thin Man by Dashiel Hammett

Murder most foul: any murder mystery! And only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

Amateur sleuth: this mystery will have a main character who is not a member of law enforcement. Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters

Romantic suspense: any romance which has a significant sub-plot that involves mystery, thriller or suspense.

Serial/spree killer: any book that involves a serial killer or a spree killer, no matter what genre/sub-genre it involves.

Cozy mystery: a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.

American horror story: horror, set in the USA.

Genre: horror: this seems obvious.

Gothic: any book with significant: a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance. 

Darkest London: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book set in London. Frail Human Heart by Zoe Marriott


Modern Masters of Horror: horror published in or after 2000. The masterful These Deathless Bones by Cassandra Klaw

Supernatural: mystery, suspense or horror books which include elements that defy current understanding of the natural world, including magic, witchcraft and/or crypto-zoological aspects.

Ghost: any mystery, suspense or horror which involves a ghost, or a character who believes that the events involve a ghost.

Haunted houses: any structure or location that is, or is believed to be, "haunted" qualifies - it doesn't need to be a house.

Vampires

Werewolves

Witches

Demons

Classic horror: horror that was published prior to 1980

Chilling children: any book tagged horror, YA horror or MG horror that includes a child or children as a main character.

Aliens: beings from outer space.

Monsters: any crytpozoological or mythological creature that isn't a vampire, werewolf, or demon. Or zombie.

The dead will walk: basically, zombies.

80's horror: any horror published between 1980 and 1989, or which is set in that time period.


In the dark, dark woods: a mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book in which a forest/woods plays a significant role, or which has a forest/woods on the cover.

Terror in a small town: horror set in a small town.

Magical realism: a genre which expresses a primarily realistic view of the real world while also adding or revealing magical elements.

Terrifying women: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book written by a woman.  Death by Water by Kerry Greenwood

Diverse voices: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book written by an author of color. Currently reading Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin for this

 

I'm going to have to work on 80s Horror and actually anything with horror in the title, Diverse Voices (mostly because I don't pay attention to the race, colour or creed of an author, so now I have to look) and Locked Room Mysteries because I read a full book of these a while ago.  Easy ones are going to be Terrifying Women (90% of what I read are women) and Darkest London, because I have a Peter Grant Mystery waiting for me.  We'll see how we do.

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review 2017-09-08 19:00
Meet My Twin Brother, Merlock Holmes
A Beautiful Blue Death - Charles Finch

Image result for prince walking away gif

 

This will be short cause I really loathed this book. It took me two days to get through. If not for the fact that a DNF does not count towards bingo, I would have done so at the 10 percent point. This book is tedious, boring, and overwrought somehow all at the same time. The main character is opposite day Sherlock Holmes. I really wanted him to reach a terrible end, but since this is the first book in a 11 book series, there was not much hope of that. I heard through reliable readers that the series gets better. I hope so.

 

I read this for the "Darkest London" square since this is a mystery taking place in London during the Victorian age. 

 

The lead character is Charles Lenox. He is self proclaimed amateur sleuth who helps out the Yard from time to time. He has a Yard inspector that doesn't like him, a close friendship with a childhood friend, another friend who is a doctor with a drinking problem, and his butler is used as his runner for certain jobs he needs him to do. When his childhood friend and London neighbor, Lady Jane asks him to look into whether a former maid of hers was murdered, he does. Frankly, I never got a good reason why Lady Jane cared, but that is neither here or there. So off Lenox goes to stick his nose in and quickly deduces that the former maid (Prudence Smith) was poisoned. Hence the name "A Beautiful Blue Death."

 

Lenox really is just a boring type of Sherlock Holmes. He fusses about being cold, his feet being cold, being wet, taking naps, how much toast to eat, his freaking tea, wine, scotch and soda, everything. I have never read so many boring descriptions about what a character was doing in one book before.


Everyone in this book is a version of a character in a Sherlock Holmes novel. I refuse to list them and all the ways. 

 

The writing was blah. Reading that when X woke up, they stretched their arms, and thought about what they would have to break their morning fast. They rose from the bed and admired their pajamas which were silk and put their feet into soft slippers. Looking around the room, X admired a winter painting of London which he thought captured London as it's most beautiful when it was quiet and no people around. Blah. The whole book was like that. He literally took a paragraph to describe a terrible ass room that he needs to re-do. I just can't anymore. Skip this first book unless you want o know the main players for future books. 

 

The ending was a mess. It didn't make much sense. I think Finch is trying to set up Lenox having his own Moriarty and once again, good luck to him. Once we find out the guilty party it's like another 50-70 pages before the book ends. Maybe I am exaggerating, I don't care enough to open my e-reader to check.  

 

 

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text 2017-09-08 12:02
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
A Beautiful Blue Death - Charles Finch

Made sure I finished last night. So irritated. Call this dude watered down Sherlock Holmes and be done with it. There were also three endings to this book.

 

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