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review 2019-02-23 00:45
Strange Magic - Syd Moore

I love the happy accident that was Strange Magic: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore. A patron dropped this book (and the next one I'm reviewing) at the circulation desk and the covers (and her effusions of pleasure) led me to checking them out for myself. This is the first in a series about (you guessed it) mysteries at the Essex Witch Museum. Our protagonist, Rosie Strange, has just inherited the museum from her deceased grandfather and she has plans for its renovation and immediate selling. (Rosie is immediately characterized as a no nonsense take charge lady.) However, soon after meeting the somewhat pompous curator, Sam Stone, she finds herself embarking on a search for the lost remains of an accused witch from the 16th century. [A/N: The accused witch they seek named Ursula Cadence is based off of an actual woman from this time period and location in Essex named Ursula Kemp who was accused, tried, confessed, and hanged for the crime of witchcraft.] Why the urgency to find these bones? Well, a little boy possessed by the son of the dead woman is losing the fight against the spirit within and the bones hold the key to his exorcism. No biggie. It's obvious that Moore has done her research on the history of witches and witchcraft in Essex because a ton of facts are thrown at the reader in this little volume (and I'm sure that's why it's spawned a series). But this isn't high brow literature by any means so please don't be deterred from giving this a shot. If you liked the nonfiction book Witches then you'll probably dig this historical fiction/mystery as it's based on true events and discusses how occult practices still occur today. It had been a while since I delved into the supernatural and I enjoyed my time with these characters so I'm sure there'll be a future review of the sequel Strange Sight. 7/10 for Strange Magic.


What's Up Next: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield


What I'm Currently Reading: I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-02-18 01:40
Callander Square (book) by Anne Perry
Callander Square - Anne Perry

Thomas Pitt, a policeman, has been married to his well-born wife, Charlotte, for a relatively short amount of time. Charlotte is pregnant and quite happy with her marriage - she doesn't mind that she and Thomas don't have much money, or that she has to do housework. But that doesn't keep her from meddling in Thomas's work a bit.

Thomas's latest case involves the discovery of two dead infants buried in a wealthy neighborhood. There's no way to tell whether they were stillborn or murdered, although the one that's been dead the longest shows signs of deformities. It's a delicate case: the mother (or mothers?) likely worked or is still working for one of the nearby families. As Thomas questions the various servants, Charlotte and her sister Emily become involved as well.

I haven't read the first book in this series, but it didn't seem to interfere with my enjoyment much. I picked this up during a recent used book shopping trip, due to a recommendation in a comment on a Smart Bitches, Trashy Books post asking for historical romance recommendations involving working class couples. Unfortunately, the first book wasn't available, or I'd have started with that one.

The blog comment indicated that the books were mysteries with romantic elements, which I can sort of see but which set up expectations that Callander Square, at least, didn't fulfill. For example, while Thomas and Charlotte clearly loved each other, they didn't actually spend much on-page time together. I went into this book expecting Charlotte to give Thomas information more regularly than she did. I can't recall if she ever even admitted to Thomas that the "friend" she'd begun helping was actually General Balantyne, who might have had some connection, direct or indirect, to the dead babies. The number of sections from Emily's POV also surprised me.

Also, I didn't remember until after I started reading this that Anne Perry is the mystery author who, when she was 15, participated in the murder of her friend's mother. I'd always previously avoided her books because of that - reading murder mysteries written by someone who has actually committed one seemed...icky. On the plus side, at least there were no explicit on-page murders or "killer POV" scenes.

Anyway, back to the book itself. I really liked the beginning but started to become impatient as I got further in and there seemed to be no progress in the case. True, there were potential scandals galore (exciting!), but if it hadn't been for one particular murder, I doubt the mystery of the buried babies would have ever been solved. One very important detail didn't even come up until the last ten pages or so.

I really wish the book had included a character list/guide, or possibly a set of family trees, because keeping all the names straight was difficult. For a while there, I had a theory about the murderer's identity that involved one character's father, but I couldn't for the life of me remember if his name had ever been mentioned. It didn't help that some of the characters had relatively similar names and/or didn't get mentioned much. I kept on mixing up Carlton and Campbell, for example. And even if I remembered who the characters were and why they were important, I couldn't always remember who their spouses and children were.

Still, I enjoyed all of the various intertwined scandals and was surprised (in a good way?) that things actually worked out fairly well for several of the families, considering. The original mystery, the issue of what happened to the two dead babies, didn't grab me as much, maybe because it tended to be overshadowed by everything else.

One of my favorite things about this book was the way it handled its various female characters. Perry included a whole range of female characters, from annoying and silly to ruthlessly pragmatic. I liked some without reservation, disliked others, and found myself grudgingly respecting a few that I initially thought I'd 100% hate. The one thing nearly all of them had in common was that the men around them underestimated their perceptiveness and the depth of private lives and feelings. Even Thomas occasionally made this mistake, although he was good about listening to and learning from Charlotte, and was never so badly shaken by what he learned as some of the other men.

This was a bit slow for my tastes and didn't have Charlotte and Thomas on-page together as much as I'd expected, but I did enjoy it and plan on reading the next book at some point. I might also go back and read the first one, just to see what I missed.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2019-02-14 18:44
Der Seidenspinner - Cormoran Strike (2) | Robert Galbraith
190211 Seidenspinner
Autor: Robert Galbraith (J. K. Rowling)Titel: Der SeidenspinnerReihe: Cormoran Strike (2)Übersetzer: Wulf Bergner, Christoph Göhler, Kristof KurzGenre: Thriller, DetektivromanVerlag: Blanvalet, [24.11.2014]Kindle-Edition: 673 Seiten, ASIN: B00JYAJPXKauch im HC, TB und HB-Format erschienenWhispersync for Voice verfügbarhier: gelesen auf dem Kindle Paperwhiteklick zu Amazon.de

Inhaltsangabe (Amazon):

Ein neuer Fall für Cormoran Strike
Als der Romanautor Owen Quine spurlos verschwindet, bittet seine Frau den privaten Ermittler Cormoran Strike um Hilfe. Es ist nicht das erste Mal, dass Quine für einige Tage abgetaucht ist, und sie möchte, dass Strike ihn findet und nach Hause zurückbringt. Doch schon zu Beginn seiner Ermittlungen wird Strike klar, dass mehr hinter Quines Verschwinden steckt, als seine Frau ahnt. Der Schriftsteller hat soeben ein Manuskript vollendet, das scharfzüngige Porträts beinahe jeder Person aus seinem Bekanntenkreis enthält. Sollte das Buch veröffentlicht werden, würde es Leben zerstören – zahlreiche Menschen hätten also allen Grund, Quine zum Schweigen zu bringen.
Als Quine tatsächlich tot aufgefunden wird, brutal ermordet unter bizarren Umständen, beginnt ein Wettlauf gegen die Zeit, um das wahre Motiv des skrupellosen Mörders aufzudecken – eines Mörders, wie Strike ihm noch nie zuvor begegnet ist …
Absolut fesselnd und voller unerwarteter Wendungen: Der Seidenspinner ist der zweite Roman der hochgelobten Krimiserie um den Ermittler Cormoran Strike und seine entschlossene junge Assistentin Robin Ellacott.

Meine Meinung:


Nach dem ersten Band der Reihe, den ich mir habe vorlesen lassen, war ich wirklich gespannt, was ich zu Band 2 sagen würde. Von mehreren Seiten habe ich eher Negatives über dieses Buch gehört und auch die Warnung: Achtung, das ist nichts für schwache Nerven! – Aber das ist das Seltsame: Während ich bei einer Verfilmung nicht so viel verkraften kann und bei grausamen Szenen die Augen zukneife oder, wenn das nicht ausreicht, sogar das Zimmer verlasse, ist mein Kopfkino ganz anders. Ich sehe zwar nicht verschwommen, aber irgendwie ist alles nicht ganz so schlimm, wie im Film. Ob das was damit zu tun hat, dass ich ein visueller Mensch bin und mir Dinge viel besser merken kann, die ich einmal aufgeschrieben und gesehen habe?


Mir hat das Buch letzten Endes gut gefallen. Allerdings gebe ich zu, dass ich die Idee bizarr finde, manche Szenen wirklich eigenartig und ich mir nicht vorstellen kann, wie man sich SO etwas ausdenken kann. Aber gut. Die Harry Potter-Schöpferin tat es, wenn ich auch nicht verstehen kann, wieso Cormoran nicht mal den Rat von Ärzten annimmt und sich so richtig um sein Bein kümmert. Das ist ja bald nicht mehr mit anzu”lesen”, unter was für Schmerzen er leidet und was er alles in Kauf nimmt, um sich von seiner Ex mental lösen zu können und in seinem Beruf aufzugehen.


Ein bisschen überzogen fand ich “Pip”, allerdings passte es dann doch auch irgendwie in dieses seltsame Szenario von Schriftstellern, die irgendwie alle den einen oder anderen Dachschaden hatten. Was mich dann auch irgendwie zu der Frage führt: Es sind aber nicht wirklich alle so, oder?


Natürlich habe ich auch beim Nebenstrang wieder mitgefiebert. Ein aufatmender Aufschub ist uns vergönnt, die Hochzeit zwischen Robin und Matthew musste verschoben werden. Ich kann mir irgendwie nicht wirklich eine Ehe zwischen den beiden vorstellen, weil Mat so gar nicht mit Robins Beruf klar kommt. Wobei, auch da scheint sich ja einiges zu tun – es ist gut, dass die Angelegenheit in doppelter Hinsicht mal zur Sprache kam.


Es war spannend, ich war ganz schön auf dem Holzweg, obwohl ich mir meine Version auch gut vorstellen könnte, und zum Schluss machte es dann auch bei mir klick *kopfklatsch*, dass ich da nicht eher drauf gekommen bin…


08/10 Punkte gibts von mir – und ich bin auf Band 3 gespannt, den ich mir wohl wieder vorlesen lassen werde ;-)


190211 SeidenspinnerA


Bücher der Reihe:


1. Der Ruf des Kuckucks – beendet 10.01.2019 – 09/10 Punkte
2. Der Seidenspinner – beendet 11.02.2019 – 08/10 Punkte
3. Die Ernte des Bösen
4. Weißer Tod

Der Seidenspinner: Roman (German Edition) - Robert Galbraith 

Source: sunsys-blog.blogspot.com/2019/02/der-seidenspinner-robert-galbraith.html
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text 2019-02-14 16:43
A monster of a project
Aethelstan: The First King of England - Sarah Foot

A few years back (so long ago that I can't even remember how I first encountered it) I started following Stephen Floyd's website chronicling his effort to read a succession of biographies in chronological order about America's presidents. While I have some issues with some of the premises inherent in such an approach and I don't always agree with his judgments, I have enjoyed reading his evaluations and value his assessments.


A recent exchange with him has me wondering whether it might be worthwhile to undertake a similar effort, only with a different focus. My initial thought would be to read and review a succession of biographies about Britain's various prime ministers, though such an effort would be difficult to manage at first given the scarcity of biographies of many of the early ones, who unlike the kings and queens in English history have never had their lives chronicled in a systematic way.


And that's when it occurred to me that such a project would be better focused on the monarchs rather than the prime ministers. Unlike prime ministers there is no shortage of biographical studies of them  there's currently not one but two ongoing series underway to provide biographies of all of them and acquiring volumes with be a cinch with my access to the Inter-Library Loan system. Admittedly it would be somewhat hypocritical to undertake such an effort (some of the same issues I have with Steven's approach would apply here), but it would address some of the more glaring gaps in my knowledge of English history, and in an extremely beneficial way.


There are three things stopping me from doing this. The first is the challenge of setting up the dedicated blog for this, but that's a minor issue. The second is more problematic, as Steve's site suggests that this can become an all-consuming project. I don't know if I would like so much of my reading time (stretched as it is between books for podcasts and those for academic reviewing) to be spent just on biographies of English monarchs, especially as I would be reading several books on the same subject in succession, which I have never enjoyed.


The final one is the most troubling, though, as it would take away from what I should really be spending my spare effort on, which is my own writing. As fun as such a project would be, part of me sees it as yet another distraction from the book project that I always seem to find reasons to postpone. Juggling the two shouldn't be impossible, but knowing myself as I do I can see how it might become the excuse for not sitting down and cranking out chapters.


So what do you think? Would you be interested in reading a succession of extended reviews of biographies of English kings and queens, or does it sound like an uninteresting waste of time that would be better spent doing something else?

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review 2019-02-06 04:12
The Devilish Lord Will (Mackenzies & McBrides #10) by Jennifer Ashley
The Devilish Lord Will - Jennifer Ashley

The Devilish Lord Will - Jennifer Ashley 


Last book in this trilogy but book 10 in The Mackenzies & McBrides series, it tells the story of how Lord William Mackenzie helped his family return to their homeland after the Jacobite risings.

This is one of my favorite series ever and so is the author but I’m afraid this book was only ok and not as exciting nor romantic as the rest of the series. I was several chapters in and still didn’t know where the story was going and I felt lost somehow. It took me a long while to really get into it and although it did get better, I still didn’t feel any sparks between Josette and Will, not even with their shared past. I don’t know, perhaps because of everything that was going around them, what with the treasure hunting, Josette’s blackmailer, and Will on the run, it felt as if the story didn’t leave much room for romance.


*I received this book at no cost to me and I volunteered to read it; this is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher*

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