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review 2017-05-29 02:57
Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Long Black Veil - Jennifer Finney Boylan

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

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It was a bit of a different story than I expected it to be only because I don't tend to read book summaries very carefully. I went into this book expecting a straight forward mystery thriller but I think that this book really a bit different. I didn't really think that the mystery was really the main driving point of the book instead the focus was on the characters and how their lives have changed since the event at the prison. I am glad that I decided to give the book a try.

This book focuses on several different periods of time. In 1980, this group of friends were locked in an abandoned prison and one of them never made it out. The other main focus of the book is set in more recent times when her body is finally discovered. There are some chapters that are told entirely during one period of time but a lot of the book set in the more recent times include a lot of memories. The past is obviously still a big part of these characters present day.

The book spends some time with each member of the group that was at the prison that night back in 1980. The main focus really seemed to be on Judith's life since that day. Her life is nothing like it was back then. Her situation has changed dramatically but it really doesn't have anything to do with what happened at the prison that night.

I did have a few issues with the story. Judith's deception to her husband of many years just seemed like to big of a stretch. I don't really understand how a close married couple like that would be able to keep such a huge secret from each other. I also don't get how the body could of been lost for so long when it was right there the whole time. Did they not do a proper search? I also feel like I should probably warn readers that there is a scene in this book where an individual is putting shelter dogs to sleep one after another as part of his job. I know this happens and I really wish it didn't but I know that reading that kind of scene will bother some readers.

The writing is what really won me over with this book. The story just flowed and even when I was questioning a plot point, I didn't want to put the book down. The point of views in the story seemed to be changed exactly when they needed to be and I always felt like the book was moving forward. The memories of the past worked into the sections set in the present worked perfectly. This was a book that I read very quickly because it completely held my attention.

I would recommend this book to others. The book isn't perfect but the writing is great and the story is solid. This is the first book by Jennifer Finney Boylan that I have read but I would definitely pick her work up again in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Crown Publishing via Blogging for Books.

Initial Thoughts
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the way the story unfolded and was equally interested in the present and the past.

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text 2017-05-26 18:55
Friday Reads - Summer Holiday Weekend Part I
After the Storm: A Kate Burkholder Novel - Linda Castillo
Her Last Breath - Linda Castillo
Among the Wicked: A Kate Burkholder Novel - Linda Castillo
Death by Tiara (A Jaine Austen Mystery) - Laura Levine
Egg Drop Dead - Laura Childs
Purl Up and Die (A Knitting Mystery) - Maggie Sefton
Nothing but Trouble - Susan May Warren
Diary of an Accidental Wallflower - Jennifer McQuiston

I feel like it has been a long time since I did a Friday Reads post. I hope all my fellow US'ians have a safe holiday weekend. I hope my British neighbors have a safe bank holiday weekend. We got caught in a heat wave (in the 80s come afternoon time) so I broke out the kiddie pool; forecast states we have one more beautiful summer day, then the rain and lower temps are coming by the end of the weekend. I am spending most of my weekend with books and a long walk in the Thetford Forest with the family before the rain comes.

 

Here is what I hope to read over the weekend/the final week in May.

 

1. After the Storm by Linda Castillo

2. Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo 

3. Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo

      I picked these three books from the library. They're from the Kate Burkholder series (Amish police procedurals). I've wanted to try this series for a while now. These books are from later in the series.

 

4. Death by Tiara by Laura Levine

5. Egg Drop Dead by Laura Childs

6. Purl Up and Die by Maggie Sefton

        Another bunch from the library, this time in really cute cozy mystery flavor. The first is from the Jaine Austen series, and the name of the series was enough for me to take it off the shelf. I tried one book from Laura Childs before (from that tea shop mystery series) and DNF'ed it, so I don't have much expectation for this one (from the Cackleberry Club series). The last one's titled just made me laugh.

 

7. Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren

           Borrowed this one from OverDrive because I kept getting recommended it (OD has the first three books in the series). I'm at the 62% mark and really liking it; PJ is not one of those perfect model of a Christian, but she is a Christian with good intentions and a good heart. The writing is different from a lot of Christian fiction without being profane. I am looking forward to book two and three.

 

8. Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuinston

          My BL-opoly pick which makes it a priority. New to me author, but I loved the interviews she did for the Smart Podcast, Trashy Books podcast - she talked about her work at the CDC in general and her work in Africa dealing with Ebola outbreak specifically....along with her weekend job writing historical romances.

 

 

 

 

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text 2017-05-26 18:48
The Choice for this Evening
Shakespeare's Champion - Charlaine Harris
Venom - Jennifer Estep

 

It has felt like a long week at work.  Tonight, I'm picking up these 2 books from the library on my way home.  It's tacos for supper.  There's wine in the refrigerator.  There are some nice scented candles and a blankie waiting for me.

 

Does life get any better than this?  I don't think so.

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review 2017-05-26 02:26
Book 31/100: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
All the Bright Places - Jennifer Niven

This is one of those books that inspires complicated feelings. Is it possible to write a book about teens and suicide that doesn't inspire complicated feelings? I've certainly never read one -- but it's something writers need to keep writing about, and that we need to keep talking about.

My biggest qualm with YA suicide books is that I always fear they run the risk of romanticizing the issue, and that is particularly true when the suicide is contextualized within a romantic relationship as it is here. And so what made me most uncomfortable about this book was that Finch and Violet's suicide attempt in the same place on the same day was essentially reduced to a "meet-cute" (this isn't a spoiler, it's the opening chapter.) And the road-trippy aspects of the story also made the whole thing seem kind of fun and sweet and exciting rather than truly harrowing. The book didn't make me cry, which considering the subject matter seems like a bit of a fail.

At the same time, the things that I can be most critical about in this book can also be interpreted as some of its greatest strengths. Dealing with mental illness does not mean your entire existence is bleak, or that there aren't moments of beauty and adventure and wonder. It doesn't mean that life doesn't continue to unfold around you. I thought that Niven handled Finch's mental illness in a way that was believable and nuanced. I was less impressed by her depiction of Violet. Violet was damaged in her own way, still grieving the loss of her sister, but I kept feeling distracted by the fact that her parents didn't seem to be grieving along with her. In some ways they seemed too "perfect" and "together" for parents who had gone through the tragedy of losing a child, but at the same time it was nice to see some responsible, competent adults in a YA book.

My book club spent a lot of time dissecting how things could have been different if this or that circumstance might have been changed, and although the book loses points for not tugging at my heartstrings the way it maybe should have, it gets those points back again by being the kind of book you keep chewing on for quite a while after the final page has been read.

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review 2017-05-25 20:33
Agnes and the Hitman
Agnes and the Hitman - Bob Mayer,Jennifer Crusie

Agnes publishes her syndicated food column under the name of "Cranky Agnes," inspired by her anger management issues; she is, however, justifiably cranky one night when a teenaged mobster shows up with a gun, attempting to kidnap her dog.  (She whacks him over the head with a handy cast iron frying pan.)

 

Luckily for Agnes, her uncle the semi-retired(?) mobster has sent a hitman, Shane, to look after her.  And the five million dollars that might be stashed in her house.  What ensues are more attempted hits (on the dog, Agnes, and assorted other people), police investigations, non-police investigations, flamingos, explosions, frying pans, larceny, and a high-society mob wedding.

 

It's a mob-themed romantic comedy-suspense thriller-farce.  And a lot of fun to read.

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