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review 2018-04-22 15:44
The Lord of the Wings
Lord of the Wings: A Meg Langslow Mystery (Meg Langslow Mysteries) - Donna Andrews

The town of Caerphilly, VA is hosting a Halloween event that is family friendly during daylight hours and for adults during the evening hours. Randall Shiffley hired a young woman, Lydia, to run the event and Meg was volunteered to lead the Goblin Brigade. The Goblin Brigade is the nickname for the liaisons between the police and tourists and the locals. But Meg is being run ragged, still putting out fires all over the place. Dr. Smoot's house/haunted house/museum was broken into, but nothing appeared to have been taken. People are causing trouble at Dr. Blake's zoo and a body is found. It seems that someone started a LARPers version scavenger hunt where you have a certain amount of time to find and send in proof and then you get a new list. As the event continues more things begin to happen and then Lydia disappears as the Smoot House is set on fire, Smoot is found injured and another body is found. Is she a victim, an accomplice or just not involved. 

 

I love having these books play as I drive as my kids are almost always with me and they start giggling over silly things that are read, i.e. the Ravens saying, "Nevermore," "Doom, doom," or "Room Service." Another was the pun of a coat of arms (a coat with extra arms all doing things). I love to hear them giggling or laughing and as they are teens these times are few and far between. 

 

This book is also part of series and thankfully this series does not need to be read in order. 

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review 2018-04-22 00:10
Hen of the Baskervilles
Hen of the Baskervilles - Donna Andrews

It is the second year of the UnFair and Meg is the Deputy Director and she and her volunteers are sleeping in the tents for the animals and she is woken up to the shock that someone has stolen some Heritage Chickens. As the fair is progressing many people are causing problems, Janette is hassling people to sell her their heritage animals, someone is destroying other people's entries into the different categories (pumpkin, quilt, etc) and Janette is trying to make Meg let her play her music so loud that people run from them. 

 

The other winemakers band together to get Janette out of the tent, because of her behavior and her bad ways with others. New rules are created to deal with certain problems, others are strictly enforced, but then the next night, her married boyfriend ends up being shot in the parking lot and the Clay County Sheriff and the Caerphilly Chief come to an agreement where one of the Clay County Deputies is to help with the work, but the Caerphilly Department can take the lead, but the deputy assigned has rubbed many the wrong way. As they continue to search to find who murdered the man and who is stealing chickens and destroying property. 

 

My kids were chuckling over some of the things that happened in the story and it was a fun story. So improbable, but fun. 

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review 2018-04-21 02:34
Invisible City
Invisible City - Julia Dahl

First in a series is tough. Making the jump from journalist to novelist is tricky. 

 

Invisible City is a solidly plotted murder mystery that reads more like a police procedural than a cozy (though our main girl is a journalist not an officer of the peace).   While better than many first novels, there's plenty of room for growth.  In particular, I felt like the book was a hodge-podge of thinly veiled elements from a number of recent sensational news stories rather than being fully original. 

 

Like the main character, author Julia Dahl has a Jewish mother and a Christian father.  While it's always difficult to write about insular communities without a true in, I felt like a lot of Ms. Dahl's personification of the Ultra-Orthodox characters was built on stereotypes.

 

I'm counting this as an IRL bookclub read because Julia Dahl will be speaking in my community about book #3 in the series (released about a year ago) on Sunday.  I read Invisible City because Conviction was checked out of the Library and I wanted to have read something by the author before I went to brunch.

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review 2018-04-20 18:51
Lost Books and Old Bones
Lost Books and Old Bones - Paige Shelton

Why did I pick up this book? I had never heard of the author and this is the first book I have read by her. I liked the title and the cover picture. That was all, pure and simple. I walked into the library and saw another title by an author that I wanted to read and there was this book. I picked it up and read a little here and there until today, today I worked hard to finish the story. 

 

Delaney is an American from Kansas, who is living and working in Scotland at a bookshop owned by Edwin. She is there to make sense of all the things in his hidden room. Check it's provenance and see what it is worth and where it should be (a museum, a university or sold to Edwin's buyers). One night, she is out on the town with two new friends who are older students at the medical school and a friend of theirs. But the night turns strange and they leave to go their separate ways. She goes to her boyfriend's pub and then to her workspace, they to their flats or so they say. The next morning, the friend of the two medical students is found in the close (alley) behind the bookshop, a window is broken, the front door is open and things take a twist from there. 

 

Paige Shelton, the author, does a lot of research on her books, she introduces the reader to Burke and Hare who murdered people to sell to the medical school in the early 1900's. She even puts in a story about another man who pretends to be a doctor, but actually was not. 

 

The story is part of a series, but I would never have known if not for little things like Hamlet, a college student who works in the shop, helping to translate Scottish style words for Delaney (and the American reader) and other little things that do not detract from the book. A thoroughly enjoyable read with a twist at the end. 

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review 2018-04-20 03:03
Heroes of the Frontier
Heroes of the Frontier - Dave Eggers

This was tough for me. I love Eggers' work, and so much of this is what I would expect from him, but there are parts that just left me irritated, confused, or extremely stressed out for this unprepared, ill-equipped, mother of two, who displays an almost stunning lack of judgment when she takes her children on an inspired but completely unplanned trip to Alaska. The children, of course, are perfectly sweet, beautiful, wise little Yodas, who manage to charm even when they are at their worst.

 

Despite this, I was rooting for Josie. I bookmarked my audio-book and listened to one part several times — describing how we went from 4 parent visits a year at school to 46-hours' worth of recommended involvement (in a month). So, I cheered for Josie, even when she did some super questionable things (did anyone besides Josie not figure out the jumpsuits immediately?). And I almost made it all the way through. With about an hour or so left, Josie composes some music, and the story went from completely unrealistic yet kind of sweet and brave, to you have got to be kidding me. I considered Josie's musical scoring a charming affectation, a cute little character trait, but this was completely bizarre and almost offensive (to all musicians, everywhere, and I am not a musician). It went right off the rails for me after that.

 

There are some awesome, radical, refreshing ideas here about parenting and life, and it would have been so great if the rest of it had measured up to that great promise. Based on some other comments, I am guessing the geography is not well-researched, which seems a shame, and also easily avoidable. Any Eggers fans out there? Curious to know your thoughts.

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