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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-12-02 14:52
Death in Focus (Elena Standish #1) - Anne Perry
Death in Focus - Anne Perry

Death in Focus is the first book in a new series by Anne Perry. It features Elena Standish, a seemingly ordinary girl who is trying to develop a career in photography (see what I did there?) in the years between WWI and WWII. 

 

I'm having a hard time understanding how Anne Perry is going to make a series out of the adventures of Elena Standish. Mainly because Elena should have been dead a thousand times over by the end of the first book. 

 

This book was pretty awful. I've been working on putting down books that I know are going to be one star reads for me. There are too many books waiting for me. Why waste time on books that aren't going to be any good? This book was an exception to that rule. Be warned there are a lot of potential spoilers ahead.

 

Elena was the biggest problem with this book. She was flat out stupid. At several points during the novel, the reader is reminded that Elena has more poor choices regarding men before. We aren't told exactly what her previous flame does. All we know is he betrayed England during WWI. He made her look like a fool. The reader is told this several time. Elena tells herself this several times. One might think a person would learn her lesson. If you can't trust a man you knew for years and found yourself to be in love with, why in the world are you trusting a man you met on the street in a foreign country? I have no idea what the answer to that is. Elena does though. Or at least she must have a good reason because that's exactly what she does. More than once. 

 

Elena decided to abandon her sister in Italy and go fleeting to Paris with a man she just met. The trip to Paris is interrupted when her new love interest is given a secret mission that requires him to immediately go to Berlin. "I'll just go to Paris and wait for you." That's what you might think Elena would say. You'd be wrong. Elena decides she should go to Berlin (a current powder keg where Hitler is doing everything he can to throw a match) with this man she knows nothing about.

 

Long story short, the man ends up murdered. Elena ends up on the run. She spills her guts to every stranger she meets but then can't figure out why the German police are after her. Meanwhile in England, her grandfather who use to be the head of MI-6 can't seem to come up with a plan to keep tabs on Elena and get her out of trouble. 

 

This was one of the most absurd, unbelievable novels I have read in a long time. I really only finished it thinking that the publisher was pulling a fast one on readers. Elena ends up dead at the end of the novel and there's actually going to be an entirely different series. Hopefully a series featuring Elena's Luger wielding grandma, Josephine. There's your series folks. If it weren't for the anachronistic political discussions sprinkled in, I would have forgot I was reading an Anne Perry novel. This had none of the trademarks of her Pitt, Monk, or even Christmas novels. 

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review 2019-11-17 03:22
I'm Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight - Gilly Segal,Kimberly Jones

Date Published: August 6, 2019

Format: Kindle

Source: Library

Date Read: November 4-5, 2019

 

Review

 

A fast paced story that did not skimp on characterization, this is the story of Lena's and Campbell's chaotic and scary night. Lena is an African-American high schooler who has a strong network of family and friends and dreams of being a high-profile stylist. I loved Lena which is why I hated that she let Black skip out on rescuing her where she was at rather than meeting him where he was at. But Black came through as a solid boyfriend at the end of the story, so I can't be too mad at him. Campbell was the new girl and the reader sees how the neighborhood/area of Atlanta has the tension among residents and the government (police) rising. Campbell was forced to move in with her dad because her mom took a job in another country and wouldn't let Campbell go with her. Her family wasn't really there to support her at all and she didn't really have a support structure before the night went sideways; she did, however, have a certain inborn privilege that helped her and Lena survive the riot and get home. 

 

Everything about this book was pitch perfect and I highly recommend it.

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review 2019-08-10 15:49
Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) - Kerri Maniscalco
Stalking Jack the Ripper - Kerri Maniscalco

It looks like my quest for a good book continues.Stalking Jack the Ripper is just the latest in a line of bad books. I understand that this book was written for a Young Adult audience. However, this book is a prime example of why I avoid Young Adult books. Even when I was a Young Adult, I avoided Young Adult books. I went straight from the Babysitter Club books in the basement of the public library to Anne Rice upstairs. There was never an in-between stage for me. I'm not saying that there isn't good Young Adult literature out there. This just isn't an example of it.

 

First of all, I think the author could have easily avoided using the Jack the Ripper story line. She could have easily told her story as something separate from Jack the Ripper. If you read her author notes at the end, you'll find she more or less told her story separate from Jack the Ripper. The notes were full of things like "I know this happened like this but it didn't fit my story so I changed it" and "I didn't mention this person, even though they were kind of a big deal because it didn't fit my story". Then tell a different story. Plenty of books exist dealing with the mythology of Jack the Ripper without actually being about Jack the Ripper.

 

If she would have told this story with different characters it would have been even better. I will preface this by saying I finished Anne Perry's A Breach of Promise right before starting this book. One of my biggest problems with that book was the lecturing about feminism during Victorian England. I don't want to be preached at. I understand that women were poorly treated. I understand sexism still exists. I'm raising three girls. I get it. Anyway. I knew this book wasn't going to be about a Victorian teenage girl who falls into the expected societal roles. The blurb tells you she helps her uncle perform autopsies. That's fine. I have no issues with that. What I do have issue with is a character who has to constantly remind everyone around her (and the reader) that she's not just a stupid girl. However, at the same time, don't tell her she's not a lady. She may like dead bodies but she also really likes pretty things. She's complicated like that. More than solving the mystery of Jack the Ripper, our protagonist Audrey Rose, sets out to answer the question "Can I be taken seriously in the science world if I still wear make up and pretty dresses?" Again, I have zero issues with the feminism at work here. My problem is the way the author continues to hammer it home. I get it. She's unconventional. I get it. She's in a man's world and she has to prove herself. Tell me who Jack the Ripper is already.

 

The other main character, Thomas, was just as irritating as Audrey Rose. We get it. You like her. You've done everything put push her off the playground swings and pull her hair. The author set out to make Thomas, a younger, more dashing, and significantly more handsome (we are constantly reminded how handsome Thomas is) Sherlock Holmes. It didn't work. Part of the wonder of Sherlock Holmes is how he figures things out first and the reader has to figure out how he figured it out. This kid was trying to be Sherlock Holmes hosting a cooking show. The reader had to be told everything he was doing as he was doing it. Not a fan. 

 

I think it's kind of obvious at this point that this book didn't work for me. Let me assure you, it wasn't just the characters. Again, I realize this was a Young Adult book. I was promised a huge plot twist. I did not get a huge plot twist. I had the "who" figured out about 20 pages in. Spoiler alert, I was right. The "why" was a little bit of a surprise but once I thought about it, the clues were there the whole time. It is possible I was just so annoyed with the main characters, I glossed over a few things. I think it does a little disservice to young adults to assume they can't handle a plot any more complex than what this book offers. 

 

It's safe to say, I won't be picking up any of the other books in this series. It's also safe to say, I won't be recommending any of these books to my girls either. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-07-25 20:33
Oksana, Behave!
Oksana, Behave! - Maria Kuznetsova

I will admit to judging this book by its cover. A book where a girl is sticking her middle finger (Is it still your middle finger if you only have four?) at everyone? This book had to be written with someone like me in mind. 

 

I cracked open the book while my kids were cooling off at the local splash pad (judge me all you want, they were supervised) and immediately I was hooked. I could related to little Oksana on so many levels. She was sassy. She had problems listening to her parents. She doesn't want a little brother.........

 

-I need to squirrel out here for a second. Throughout the book, Oksana's mom seems to be constantly pregnant. Every time the reader is given the clues to guess Oksana's mom is pregnant, the readers is also told that mom still drink and smokes. I understand that this book starts around 1992. However, Oksana's parents are intelligent people. Her dad was a physicist in Russia and mom is an accountant. Even in 1992, we knew that smoking and drinking while pregnant were bad. As the 90s progressed, Oksana's mom continued to get pregnant. My problem is that, as someone who grew up and went to school in the 90s, I know the information about smoking and drinking while pregnant continued to increase. We were constantly told during high school health classes that smoking and drinking while pregnant would lead to bad things. They lived in America. They went to American doctors. You can't tell me that no doctor pointed out that after several failed pregnancies, maybe you should stop smoking and drinking while pregnant.  I'm done with my squirrel rant now.  Thanks for coming to my TED talk. 

 

Anyway, Oksana should have instantly became a girl I could invite into my home and share a glass of wine with. Especially once she got to college. I am going to need a little bit more information about how she could graduate from Duke and move on to higher education with all the abuse her liver took. 

 

Now Oksana is a full-fledged adult. If you thought all of her questionable choices were behind her, you would be wrong. You get the the end of the book and Oksana has learned nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. She did not develop. She did not mature. She did the same shit she had always done and there never seemed to be any real consequences. It seemed like no matter what kind of stupid decision she made, she always ended up with exactly what she wanted in the end. It is really hard to root for a protagonist like that. In Oksana's defense, it is kind of hard to see any kind of change or development when your author writes a book that's more like a new short story with every chapter instead of a cohesive, flowing novel.

 

 

 

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review 2016-03-03 09:30
Murder By Candlelight: The Gruesome Slayings Behind Our Romance With the Macabre
Murder by Candlelight: The Gruesome Slayings Behind Our Romance With the Macabre - Jonathan Yen,Michael Knox Beran

Err. I don't really know what to say about this book. Really.

 

 

Because the audiobook went in one ear and out the other. I remember bits and pieces but it resembled nothing so much as a continuous noise you slowly cease to be able to hear.

 

Part of it was that I never could quite catch the flow of the text. The idea...I think...was to come at the rise in interest of murder during the Victorian times (and slightly before) from a romantic, almost poetic view. The author framed the cases, many of them the exact same ones covered by Lucy Worsley in The Art of the English Murder, around Thomas de Quincy. It was an interesting take...but I never seemed to reach the point of it all.

 

Now, I was listening to this at the same time (not reading and listening at once but going back and forth) as The Science of Sherlock Holmes, so it could be I kept confusing the two and simply remember the one I took notes on. But while they shared some similarities, none of it really overlapped at any one time. And wouldn't one be more likely to enforce the other if they covered similar information?

 

I'm tempted to say this simply isn't a book to be listened to. And while I think there's truth to that, I don't believe it was the only reason. Certainly the narrator was not by any means the worst I've found. I've gotten through truly monotone narrators and still remembered the information.

 

No, I think some of the fault lies with the writing itself but how much, I don't know. I do plan to attempt this again but read it the next time. But that won't be anytime soon. I may be interested in what the author has to say, but I need to forget how I first encountered it.

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