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review 2019-02-21 02:24
Girl Last Seen by Nina Laurin
Girl Last Seen - Nina Laurin

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was okay. I really liked certain aspects of the book while I found other aspects less impressive. This book found its way onto my reading schedule largely because the premise of the book was quite intriguing in addition to positive reviews from others. I did find the story to be rather interesting and I am glad that I decided to give it a try.

Lainey is a rather tragic character. As a child, Lainey was taken and held captive for three years. She carries a lot of emotional scars from her ordeal in addition to her physical ones. They have never caught her captor. Lainey is really just getting by in her life. She works a couple of entry-level jobs and lives in an apartment she can afford. She uses chemicals to help herself deal with day to day life.

Everything changes when Lainey sees a poster for a missing girl. She knows right away that this girl is connected to her case and she knows that the girl is in danger. Lainey feels compelled to help find the girl before it is too late. She finds herself working with the police and even her parents to get to the bottom of what has really happened.

I liked the basic story but had a few issues. It seemed like everyone kept crossing boundaries with Lainey. Not only did I hate seeing these things happen to Lainey, but they also didn't always feel authentic to me. It never felt right that Lainey would have been given so much access to a case being actively investigated by the police. She was anything but qualified! I really had a hard time connecting with Lainey or any of the characters. 

I thought that Vanessa Johansson did a great job with the narration. I think that this was the first time that I have had the chance to listen to her narration work and I really enjoyed the way she read the story. She did a great job with various character voices and added a lot of intensity to the mystery. 

I do think that a lot of readers might like this one a bit more than I did. I thought it was a compelling mystery with an interesting twist. I wouldn't hesitate to read more of Nina Laurin's work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay. I liked it but it was never great for me but it wasn't terrible either. Lainey is a rather tragic character. She has been through so much more than any person should be expected to endure. This book is not only a mystery regarding the disappearance of little Olivia but also what really happened all those years ago to Lainey. Unfortunately, I never grew to care for Lainey. I could see that she has been beaten down by what has happened to her in her life and I didn't like how the people who were supposed to care for or watch out for her crossed the line time and again but I just couldn't connect with her on any level. It didn't make sense to me that she would have been allowed so deeply into the investigation surrounding Olivia's disappearance in the first place. I listened to the audio version of the book and thought that the narrator did a great job.

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review 2019-02-19 09:00
The Girl of the Sea of Cortez by Peter Benchley
The Girl of the Sea of Cortez: A Novel - Peter Benchley


"On an island in the Gulf of California, an intrepid young woman named Paloma carries a special legacy from her father—a deep understanding of the sea and a sixth sense about the need to protect it.

Every day, Paloma paddles her tiny boat into the ocean and anchors over a seamount—a submerged volcanic peak sixty feet underwater that is clustered with spectacular sea animals and a wondrous web of marine life.

It is there that an astonishing event takes place, when on one of her dives Paloma is shadowed by a manta ray—an animal so large it blocks the sun. She develops an extraordinary relationship with this luminous, gentle creature, but instinctively knows its existence is a secret she must fiercely protect.

Benchley’s novel paints a poignant picture of humanity’s precarious relationship with the ocean, which unfolds alongside a heartrending story of familial bonds, often revealing that the ignorance of man is far more dangerous than the sea. Full of beauty, danger, and adventure, The Girl of the Sea of Cortez is triumphant—a novel to fall in love with.



This is not a horror novel in the tradition of Jaws (also written by Benchley) - no blood, guts or corpses (except the fish). This is a lyrical and beautiful piece of writing.  Educational without preaching.  The novel is a rather plain story of Paloma, her love of the Sea, her desire to protect it and her relationship with her family - especially her brother who is more interested in the economic benefits to be gained from the sea regardless of how destructive they are to the local ecosystem.  The giant manta ray bits were delightful!  Benchley makes you feel like you are in the water with Paloma. The author also explores various conflicting themes such as gender roles, conservation, survival, human nature and the relationship between man and ocean life.  A lovely book, suitable for younger and older readers.


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review 2019-02-19 08:41
The Mystery of the Blue Train
The Mystery of the Blue Train: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie

‘A mirror shows the truth, but everyone stands in a different place for looking into the mirror.’


I have always thought of The Mystery of the Blue Train as a strange story - not a first rate mystery, not a complete mess, but most definitely not a memorable Christie classic.


As Christie herself tells us in her autobiography, she was not fond of this story either - partly because she didn't feel like she managed to flesh out the characters so they would come alive on the page, and partly because she wrote this story under the pressures of having to earn a paycheck after the separation from her first husband. 

I felt more strongly than ever that everything I was saying was idiotic! (Most of it was, too.) I faltered, stammered, hesitated, and repeated myself. Really, how that wretched book ever came to be written, I don’t know! To begin with, I had no joy in writing, no elan. I had worked out the plot–a conventional plot, partly adapted from one of my other stories. I knew, as one might say, where I was going, but I could not see the scene in my mind’s eye, and the people would not come alive. I was driven desperately on by the desire, indeed the necessity, to write another book and make some money. That was the moment when I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well. I have always hated The Mystery of the Blue Train, but I got it written, and sent off to the publishers. It sold just as well as my last book had done. So I had to content myself with that–though I cannot say I have ever been proud of it.


Agatha Christie - An Autobiography (pp. 357-358). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

And indeed, for me, too, there is little that stood out in the characters when I first read the story, and the crime and it's motive are, while horrible, fairly uninteresting. 

As a result, I have always looked at this story as a first draft of what would become one of my favourite Christie classics - Murder on the Orient Express.


On this most recent re-read, however, details that were not strictly connected with the whodunnit revealed themselves that gave the story another layer, that connected this odd little story to the rest, and the best, of the Christie universe. 

If you look closely, you can find that one of the characters, Katherine Grey, does not only have the spark of the brightest of Christie's young things but she's also come from that most intriguing of little villages - that cradle of human psychology in the Christie universe - St Mary Mead, home of a certain fierce and judgmental little old lady whom I can't stand but who, one has to admit, has a certain flair for snooping out crime.


This is as close as we get to Marple and Poirot ever meeting in the same book. They don't (and Christie herself was not in favour of them meeting), but The Mystery of the Blue Train seems like one of the key steps in Christie's development of the Marple series, even if this was perhaps not what the author intended. 


The full force of Marple would hit the reading public two years later in Murder at the Vicarage, but there are some hints at village life that seem to have already been on Christie's mind when penning Blue Train. For the Christie enthusiast - or Agathyte as Moonlight Reader has christened us fans - this is a delicious little detail that makes the book worth reading if it lacks much of the intelligent and complex plotting of a great Christie novel.  


Previous Reading Updates:


Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 44 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 78 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 104 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 196 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 276 out of 308 pages.

Reading progress update: I've read 293 out of 308 pages.


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text 2019-02-18 22:29
Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 235 pages.
Dead Man's Folly: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie

‘I see…Yes, I see now a lot of things.’

‘It’s about time,’ said Mrs Oliver.


‘I said it was about time,’ said Mrs Oliver. ‘That you did see things, I mean. Up to now you don’t seem to have done anything.’ Her voice held reproach.


‘One cannot arrive at things all in a moment,’ said Poirot, defending himself. ‘The police,’ he added, ‘have been completely baffled.’

‘Oh, the police,’ said Mrs Oliver. ‘Now if a woman were the head of Scotland Yard…’


Recognizing this well-known phrase, Poirot hastened to interrupt. 



One of Ariadne's best lines from Cards on the Table and I love that she maintains her convictions in this one.


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text 2019-02-18 20:55
Reading progress update: I've read 140 out of 235 pages.
Dead Man's Folly: A Hercule Poirot Mystery - Agatha Christie

Looking at the ceiling, the inspector spoke.


‘Mrs Legge says she was in the tea tent between four and four-thirty. Mrs Folliat says she was helping in the tea tent from four o’clock on but that Mrs Legge was not among those present.’ He paused and then went on, ‘Miss Brewis says that Lady Stubbs asked her to take a tray of cakes and fruit juice to Marlene Tucker. Michael Weyman says that it’s quite impossible Lady Stubbs should have done any such thing – it would be most uncharacteristic of her.’

(spoiler show)


‘Ah,’ said Poirot, ‘the conflicting statements! Yes, one always has them.’



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