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review 2018-10-06 14:51
Locked Doors - Mary Roberts RinehartĀ for Terrifying Women
Locked Doors - Mary Roberts Rinehart

Woo hoo. I love getting lost in a doorstopper, but it takes a skilled writer to squeeze the right emotions out in a shorter work. Roberts Rinehart got mad skills. And a truly modern feel. Hard to believe this was first published more than 100 years ago.


We get a quick and dirty set up: Miss Adams is a trained nurse who investgates for the cops from the inside. She packs her gun and a suitcase and is on the scene in a big family home trying to find out what the family is hiding, what happened to the nanny, and what freaked out the last nurse so badly. 


I am delighted to say I never predicted that solution. Happily there are plenty of stories available in the public domain. Collect them all.

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review 2018-09-13 00:01
Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King, Owen King for Modern Masters of Horror
Sleeping Beauties: A Novel - Stephen King,Owen King

  I enjoyed this enormously. There were some surprises and some poor reading on my part (my earlier race comment was wrongish, because of my failure to notice and/or remember the race of characters, but also kind of accurate given later developments - it's complicated). Anyway, nice work with archetypes and fairy tales and a premise that is clearly fantasy, but also very grounded and concrete. There's a large cast and lots of plot. But also really nuanced and generous, kind even. Stephen has always showed an understanding of and sympathy with abused women, so a whole lot of compassion towards the inmates of a women's prison is no surprise. But there is also a lot of anger, some of it directed at people behaving badly and some of it directed at society for creating and exacerbating iniquity. Dickensian.


Good on these two for writing a book that is absolutely entertaining, but more than just entertaining.


Good for many squares, and recommended to those who don't care for horror in general.



Library copy

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review 2018-08-04 03:06
The Fireside Grown-Up Guide to the Hangover - Jason Hazeley
The Fireside Grown-Up Guide to the Hangover - Jason Hazeley

  Free for Kindle today.


Not only did I grow up surrounded by books of this ilk, I still have a few. This might not be so funny if you didn't read in this style as a child, but I enjoyed a wry chuckle. The art is magnificent. There are several pictures that killed me, the cover is one. Some of the art, framed, would be awesome in the library next to my childhood Nancy Drews, or arranged above the drinks cabinet.*




*These are a purely theoretical library and drinks cabinet. Currently the shelves are randomly distributed throughout the house, decorated with too many books and ten years worth of dust, and I haven't hung any art in the fridge over my box of wine, but I can envision a minimalist modernity above with both.


Thanks to Chris' Fish Place for the hot tip!

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review 2017-06-07 02:23
The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty
The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

I hope I've learned my lesson: don't start a Moriarty book unless I have plenty of time to finish it, because I can not put it down to go to sleep. Knowing I have to get up and go to work the next morning is not nearly sufficient to stop me reading just one more chapter, again and again until it 's all done.


The only bad thing I can say about it is that she focuses on white urban professionals. Yeah, that's attractive to many readers, 'm sure. And she is fabulous at depicting family life in a way that's realistic and not sentimental or smarmy. She can make a minor school event into high drama and a successful Tupperware saleswoman into a canny titan of industry.


And also, I suspect that these are all books I'm going to enjoy rereading, but it isn't as if characterization or setting or tone are sacrificed in favor of narrative drive. The plot zips along because the reader has become emotionally invested in these people, all of them.


Library copy.


Edited later the same evening to add:


Okay, I figured out one thing Moriarty does that makes her so appealing. She respects the work that women do. All of it. Not just the creative or professional careers, but also the glamour -free jobs, the volunteer work of PTAs, the emotional work of looking after family, the shitwork of buying groceries, and planning meals. All of it. That's so rare. Even the assholes who are instigating Mommy Wars don't really respect all of it: regardless of their agenda, they only respect the work of privileged women, whether it's as a CEO or as the stay-at-home mom fixing organic Vento boxes with loving notes. President of a tech start-up good, president of the PTA is just a joke usually. Women in Moriarty 's world can be wrong, prejudiced, or thoughtless, but they are all respected.

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review 2017-04-27 20:43
Hold Me (Cyclone) (Volume 2) - Courtney MilanĀ 
Hold Me (Cyclone) (Volume 2) - Courtney Milan

Courtney Milan is a hell of an overachiever. She isn't content to write charming romances in which, as in Austen, the primary barriers to love are the uncontrolled aspects of multifaceted personalities. Milan also strives to remind the reader of how many different kinds of love there are, and that loving thy neighbor is hard, but worthwhile. She is Dickensian in her examination of class, but so much broader in scope. But also fun. They flirt with math. How adorably geeky and STEMy is that?

If they weren't so much fun, I might be tempted to call them uplifting. They are, often, deeply moving, because her characters have sometimes horrible, albeit too believable, backstories. Her happy endings are hard-earned.

personal copy.

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