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review 2018-10-13 02:28
Thoughts: Sick of Shadows
Sick of Shadows - Sharyn McCrumb

Sick of Shadows

by Sharyn McCrumb
Book 1 of Elizabeth MacPherson



When delicate Eileen Chandler is set to marry, her family fears the man is a fortune hunter.  Thank goodness, Eileen's cousin Elizabeth MacPherson comes early for support.  Unfortunately, Elizabeth also has some detecting to do, as a dead body is found, and none of the wedding party is above suspicion....

First of all, the only summary blurb I can find for this book is extremely misleading, in spite of the fact that it's mostly true.  Because as you find out from the beginning of the book, Elizabeth does not actually "come early for support," and actually spends the first two pages of the book making fun of her cousin and her cousin's family in a letter to her brother.

This was a little off-putting since we learn that Eileen Chandler had been admitted into a mental care hospital not long ago in her life.  The fact that Elizabeth spends even an ounce of time poking fun of that was quite tasteless and unnecessary.  I'm not sure if this has to do with the time this book was written in 1984, but I didn't care for it.  It was a bad first impression of the main heroine in this series.

Secondly, Elizabeth doesn't so much do the detecting, as let clues fall into her lap at intervals.  In fact, there is a set of policeman in this book who probably have more book time than Elizabeth, and who actually do the detecting.  This is a bit of a change from what I'm used to in cozy mysteries--at least the cozy mysteries I've read--wherein the police force is either missing, incompetent, or the asshat of a main male love interest.  Instead, the two police detectives are definitely there to investigate and they kind of edge Elizabeth out of the book's limelight.

Then there's a twist in the end, pertaining to the murder investigation, that bugged me a lot because it didn't make sense, really.

Sick of Shadows wasn't a terrible book--it wasn't even a bad book, to be honest, and was actually written quite well.  But the writing was really all that it had going for it.  Well, all except for the part where the dialogue read like British instead of Southern U.S.A.  I'm not sure if the perception was my fault since I'd been listening to an Agatha Christie mystery in audio book, narrated by Hugh Fraser, but aside from Aunt Amanda, I could not formulate a southern drawl for anyone else in the book.  When I tried to "hear" the dialogue of any other character that way, it just slowly morphed into something more British.

I don't think I'd ever had that problem before with books that took place in the U.S. south.

But moving along...

Truth be told, the rest of the story was pretty flat.  The characters were a little hard to grasp, and our main heroine--of whom the series is named for--doesn't really play much of a role in this book, as I've mentioned already.  Instead, Elizabeth spends time doing the stereotypical feminine chores around the house to be helpful, interrogates people around her about future career prospects, and kind of just fades into the background.  All of her cousins are described as eccentric, despite the fact that she describes them as crazy, and yet they come off as entirely too over-the-top, in my opinion.  And you never really get to know them, any of them, well enough to care about their emotions or even their existence.

This is a pretty mediocre start to a cozy mystery series that, according to other reviewers, will pick up in the next book.  So I'm not writing it off immediately, but I'm not going to hit up a store just to get a hold of the next book.  I will wait patiently until my library picks up an e-book copy, or barring that possibility, I might give inter-library loan another go... another time from now.

I DO wish that Elizabeth had had more of a direction and some development to her character.  As it is, she's really just another side character in a book full of side characters.

As I already mentioned, I'll give this series another spin some other time and hope that things are a little better outlined.




Halloween Bingo 2018
(mystery, supernatural, suspense, or horror set in the Southern part of the United States)


Other Possible Squares:  Genre: Suspense; Country House Mystery; Terror in a Small Town; Cozy Mystery; Amateur Sleuth; Terrifying Women; Murder Most Foul



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/10/thoughts-sick-of-shadows.html
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text 2018-10-11 13:42
"I Am Half-Sick Of Shadows - Flavia De Luce #4" by Alan Bradley
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley

My fourth visit to Flavia De Luce found her posh but impoverished family preparing for Christmas by allowing their home to be used to film a movie, starring two of Britain's brightest acting stars.


As this is a Flavia De Luce novel, it's clear that Flavia will discover at least one dead body without having to leave her isolated little village. As it's a Christmas special, it's also clear that the plot will be as plausible as "Miracle on 34th Street". As it's an Alan Bradley novel, it's clear the writing and the characterisation will ferry your imagination into a world that feels true even if it doesn't always seem real.


In this visit I got a spectacular winter snowstorm, an insight into Aunt Felicity's murky wartime activities, a scene from Romeo and Juliet performed in Buckshaw's shabby splendour, a gruesome murder and rooftop fight to the death as well as learning about the chemistry of fireworks and more ways of producing poisons at home.


I make these visits in order to meet Flavia, who has captured my heart, In this book her energy is only exceeded by her curiosity as she tries to solve a murder, prove whether or not Santa Claus exists, reak revenge (real and imaginary) on her sisters and garnish scraps of approval and affection from the people she loves.


The reason I visit Flavia is best demonstrated in "I Am Half-sick Of Shadows" by the way she treats Dogger, the manservant at the Flavia's palatial but decaying home. Dogger suffers from fits of the terrors, a legacy from his experiences in a Japanese-run prisoner of war camp. One of these fits overtakes him when he is alone with Flavia. Flavia, eleven-year-old Flavia, eases him out of his attack, banishing his ghosts and giving him his dignity by letting him recover while she looks out at the pre-Christmas snow, reflecting aloud on the billions of oxygen and hydrogen atoms it takes to make the "stiff water" of a snowflake, continuing her monologue until he slips into sleep.


These moments of compassion and companionship fleck the narrative of these books with bright points of poetry that make me wish I knew Flavia and that, if I did, I would be one of the people with the insight to see her for who she really is rather than dismissing her as just another precocious girl.


I know Flavia is a fictional character, but still... fictional characters like her are what make fiction worth reading.


cozy mystery Mike Finn Halloween Bingo Card-014I read "I Am Half-sick Of Shadows" for the Cozy Mystery square of Halloween Bingo. I think it's the perfect archetype of that concept.

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review 2018-10-08 17:22
Didn't love it as much as the first book, a darker shade of Magic.
A Gathering of Shadows - V.E. Schwab

I didn't hate this book by any means, it just took me awhile to really get into the storyline. I will have to say that, it could have been just my mood at the time. I might do a reread of the whole series, sometime next year, and who knows, maybe the rating will change. But for right now, I have to go with this rating. 

I loved the Magic tournament in the book, kind of gave me a Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire vibe. The characters I freaking love, especially Rhy, and Kell, and there relationship as brothers. The world building and Magic system is just plain awesome. I am also currently reading a conjuring of light, and that book, is giving me a whole lot of feelings. I still would recommend this series and this book, too readers that love this type of world, and have some awesome and amazing characters and a bad ass, female like Lila Bard. 

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text 2018-10-06 01:45
Halloween Bingo - Creepy Carnivals
A Gathering of Shadows - V.E. Schwab

I continued the Shades of Magic series with A Gathering of Shadows. A large part of the book revolves around magical tournament held in Kel's London. Since the whole thing is treated as a giant festival when the actual tournament isn't happening, I decided to use is for the Creepy Carnival square.




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review 2018-10-02 23:39
The Figure in the Shadows - John Bellairs

Definitely not as classic as The House with the Clock in its Walls.


Most jarring was the change of illustrators. Mercer Mayer (!) .... doesn't really come from  the same planet that Edward Gorey does. Now don't get me wrong, I love me some Little Monster, and he actually captures the new character Rose Rita pretty darn well. It's just hard for him to be creepy and have me take it seriously.


There were some definitely chilling parts to this book, but the general level of peril seemed lower. Also in this book (just like the first), everything could have been solved if Lewis ever actually talked to his Uncle Jonathan... He apparently didn't learn his lesson the first time.


Ah well, kid fiction. It was fun and quick, why am I complaining?

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