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review 2018-09-25 09:28
Marigolds for Malice (Enchanted Garden, #3)
Marigolds for Malice - Bailey Cattrell

The series name implies a cutesy factor in these stories, but thankfully, there isn't.  Even the brief mentions of fairy houses the MC has throughout the garden have a more mysterious, spooky edge to them.

 

While getting ready to open their town's historical museum, the Greenstockings (women's business organisation) finds a sealed up butter churn they believe is a time capsule.  During the opening ceremony, they find a number of items from the gold rush days, including a rather sizeable nugget.  Later the night, the local historian is murdered in the museum with all the items stolen - except for the nugget, which had been taken by the police to the bank.

 

While the mystery goes in unexpected and interesting directions, the murderer was telegraphed by the author from their first appearance, so the ending held no surprises for me.  It didn't keep the story from being interesting though; the plant lore sprinkled throughout, and the solid female friendships, as well as the low key romance, all held my attention and kept me reading.  There were some bits that didn't work so well here and there; parts that felt awkward, as if the editor added them to 'zest' the story up, but they were mercifully brief.

 

An enjoyable read by a reliable author; I always look forward to the new release notices for these books.

 

I read this one for the Murder Most Foul square in Halloween Bingo

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url 2018-09-25 04:05
If I Knew Then What I Know Now

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review 2018-09-24 21:50
The Invisible Man / H.G. Wells
The Invisible Man - H.G. Wells

This masterpiece of science fiction is the fascinating story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible, and his descent into madness that follows.

 

I read this book to fill the Classic Horror square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I remember owning the Classics Illustrated comic book of this title as a child and being rather fascinated by the idea of an invisible person. I remember being captivated by Griffin’s fake nose! If I’m remembering correctly, though, I don’t think the violence in the comic was equal to Wells’ original work. It was probably watered down a little to be suitable for a juvenile audience (although nowadays I’m not sure that would be necessary).

I spent a great deal of last year on the cataloguing of a very large collection of books by and about Herbert George Wells and I was interested to read another of his fictional works. I’ll work through more of them as I can. He was an interesting person and a prolific writer.

This is definitely horror-lite. The most horrifying part is actually the behaviour of Griffin, the invisible man of the title. His lack of empathy for his fellow human beings (and the cat that he tests his invisibility device on) is scarier than his actual achievement. During the reading I kept wondering, was he mentally ill and became fixated on this idea or was he fixated on the idea before he became mentally ill? Someone with more empathy could have charted a far different course—co-operating with his fellow beings, rather than trying to terrorize them.

Reminiscent of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, another tale of a scientist making dubious moral choices.

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review 2018-09-24 21:35
The Xibalba Murders / Lyn Hamilton
The Xibalba Murders - Lyn Hamilton

Lara McClintoch, her marriage ended and her antiques business sold, eagerly embarks on a trip to Mexico to help an old friend solve a mystery. On arrival, her friend puts off their meeting and then disappears. After Lara witnesses a brazen robbery of a valuable statue of the ancient Mayan civilization and stumbles on a corpse in a museum of antiquities, she becomes a police suspect. Afraid of the police and unsure whom to trust, Lara follows clues pointing to black marketeers and zealous revolutionaries. This dangerous trail takes her to remote archaeological ruins, lush jungles, and bustling streets filled with revelers. Lara engages in a thrilling battle of wits and courage to unmask a killer and stop a tomb-robber in the shadowy world of Xibalba, the Lords of Death.

   

I guess that the purpose of various reading challenges is to get us to read outside our comfort zones. I chose this book to be my “title beginning with X” choice for this year. Although I am a sometimes mystery reader, I’m generally not a big fan of the cozy mysteries and that is how I would have to categorize this one.

What I did really like in this book was the emphasis on Mayan mythology and culture. I hope that the author did her research, as I’d like to believe that I learned a few things about both. However, this is very much a first book as well as the first book in a series. Not too bad for the first novel of a bureaucrat (Hamilton was director of the governmental branch responsible for licensing of archaeology in the province of Ontario) and it did get nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel in 1998. Apparently Ms. Hamilton visited the sites where she set her books—what a wonderful way to choose your travel destinations!

I can’t say that I feel impelled to read the further adventures of Lara McClintoch, despite the fact that there are ten more books in the series. I suppose that if one of them fit into another reading challenge, that I could be convinced to pick it up.

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review 2018-09-24 16:39
Stolen / Kelley Armstrong
Stolen - Kelley Armstrong

It was in Bitten, Kelley Armstrong's debut novel, that thirty-year-old Elena Michaels came to terms with her feral appetites and claimed the proud identity of a beautiful, successful woman and the only living female werewolf.

In Stolen, on a mission for her own elite pack, she is lured into the net of ruthless Internet billionaire Tyrone Winsloe, who has funded a bogus scientific investigation of the "other races" and their supernatural powers. Kidnapped and studied in his underground lab deep in the Maine woods, these paranormals - witches, vampires, shamans, werewolves - are then released and hunted to the death in a real-world video game. But when Winsloe captures Elena, he finally meets his match.

 

 

I read this book to fill the Shifters square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I just don’t know quite know why this series doesn’t grab me. It had been a year since I’d read the first book and I was actually looking forward to this second installment. The assumptions in Urban Fantasy are always ridiculous to those who don’t like the genre, but this one seemed a bit more ridiculous than most.

Take an ultra-insensitive billionaire, add his secret prison for supernatural creatures, and shake it up with the plot line of Richard Connell’s short story The Most Dangerous Game, and you get Stolen. The first book limited itself completely to werewolves and was all about Elena coming to terms with her life as a member of that community. Hey presto, this book suddenly produces a whole range of other supernatural folk not hinted at in book one—vampires, witches, demons, shamans and sorcerers. Might as well go whole hog, I guess.

I’m not sure why some authors can do this successfully (for me) and yet I find this version annoying. I find Elena to be a disappointing main character, not nearly as mentally strong as I would like her to be. What good is supernatural strength if you haven’t got the brains to back it up? Her relationship with Clay is also an irritant—they are incredibly irresponsible, often stopping in the middle of something crucial for a quickie. The sex seems gratuitous to me, not really moving the plot along, just thrown as “characterization” I’m guessing.

However, I haven’t given up. I will persevere with book three to see where Armstrong takes the concept from here. Just not until I’ve wrapped up all my various reading challenges for this year.

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