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review 2018-09-13 17:44
French Takes on Teens
The Secret Place - Tana French

The Secret Place is Tana French’s fifth entry in her fantastic Dublin Murder Squad series.  Like in the previous novels, French selects one member of the squad to build a story around.  This time, French concentrates the action on Stephen Moran, a new officer first introduced in her third book, Faithful Place.  Moran played a pivitol role in that novel, and it provides background information about his methods and character.  The earlier work also establishes his initial encounter with Frank Mackey, an MS detective who also appears here in The Secret Place. Holly, Mackey’s daughter brings an important clue to Moran who is starting out in the Cold Cases department.  It involves an unsolved murder that took place a year ago at her posh private school.  A boy from the school next door was found dead in the woods, but the perpetrator and a possible motive was never discovered.  Moran is ambitious and leaps at the opportunity to bring the new evidence to a Murder Squad member who might vouch for him and advance his career.  Unfortunately, the detective assigned to the case when it was active was Antionette Conway.  She is an outcast in the Murder Squad, and her prickly demeanor and easily offended sensibilities will make working with her a challenge.  Moran and Conway reopen the case and head up to St. Kilda’s school to follow up. Their investigation brings them in contact with two opposing groups of tight-knit girls who definitely know more than they admitted last year.  French juxtaposes the two cliques, exploring teen friendships-some based on dominance/intimidation, and others on blind loyalty and co-dependence. It is a pretty negative and stereotypical portrayal of adolescent girls, and Conway is also not presented as the best example of a well-adjusted female.  There is a different tone to The Secret Place, which is often considered to be the weakest entry in French’s otherwise successful series.  Some elements stretch credulity and the character development is not as extensive as in the others.  Fans accustomed to her gritty realism and deeper psychological themes may find it a bit disappointing, but French’s writing and storytelling are still more impressive than most.  Her next Dublin Murder Squad book, The Trespasser, is French at her best again and not to be missed. Each Murder Squad mystery can stand alone, but the sequential reader benefits from a richer understanding of the characters, their history, and their interactions with other members of the squad. A new stand-alone work, The Witch Elm is due to be released in October 2018.

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text 2018-09-12 15:44
Halloween Bingo Catchup.
Beyond the Empire (The Indranan War Book 3) - K.B. Wagers
Murder In Thrall - Anne Cleeland
A Dangerous Place: A Maisie Dobbs Novel - Jacqueline Winspear
The Last Namsara - Kristen Ciccarelli
The Reapers - John Connolly

So far this month I have read 5 books.

Some of them are easy to put into a square and some are difficult:

 

Last Namsara falls somewhat into Doomsday; it involves stories so I think A Grimm Tale would be pretty apt but it is about Dragons so Cryptozology is the best slot.

 

A Dangerous Place is set in Gibraltar which I'm pretty sure counts as a Small Town, it could also have been Genre Suspense, just about Fear the Deep (she arrives on a Liner from India) and most of this series qualifies as Cosy, the first few pages are quite Gothic, Maisies mental health is not the best here and that's most of the terror in the tale... but Terror in a Small Town is the best fit.

 

Beyond the Empire is more space opera than anything else, the only thing I have that it fits into is New Release 

 

Murder in Thrall falls into Genre Suspense, Supernatural a little, Modern Noir and Gothic; I'm going to use Genre: Suspense here.

 

The Reapers has elements of Genre Suspense, Modern Noir and Supernatural; you could also argue Southern Gothic and Terror in a Small Town (where the final battle takes place and most of the gore) I think I'll go with Modern Noir here.

 

Feel free to tell me I'm wrong.

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review 2018-09-11 13:50
Well...
A Dangerous Place: A Maisie Dobbs Novel - Jacqueline Winspear

After the last few novels and Masie having to make choices about her future and the author pulls the rug out from under her in the first 10 or so pages, I found it somewhat jarring and discomfiting.

 

Maisie goes from Canada to India and sails back (via the Suez canal) to England but when the boat stops in Gibraltar she decides to stop off and stay ther for a while, feeling a huge pressure to deal with the past and present. And then she falls over (quite literally) a body.  She is sure that the dead man is not as he seems and with the Spanish Civil War next door she gets involved in complex politics of the era and human drama as it plays out.

 

The beginning jarred but overall it was an interesting read.

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review 2018-08-26 13:29
Book Review of Hell & A Hard Place (The Heckmasters) (Volume 1) by Allison Merritt
Hell & A Hard Place - Allison Merritt

An ad in the newspaper for a schoolteacher in a small New Mexico Territory town is the answer to Rhia Duke's prayers. She packs her sister and friend into a rickety wagon and leaves Nebraska behind, intent on escaping a threat from her past. But her hopes are shattered when they arrive in Berner and she learns there is no job. Sheriff Wystan Heckmaster is the oldest son of a demon who spurned evil for the love of a human woman. His duty is to slay any demons that rise from Hell to serve their master—his father's former liege and his greatest enemy. With a gut full of regret, a forgotten town filled with reformed demons and now a beautiful schoolteacher to look after, Wystan must decide whether revenge is worth dying for, or if he can find peace the way his father did—with enough love to overcome the blackest evil.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the first book in The Heckmasters series. I absolutely loved it!

 

First off, I absolutely love the new cover! It fits the story perfectly, although the original cover did too. It was originally published as Wystan, but the author received her rights back from the publisher when it closed and she had a new cover made and re-published it herself. I have noticed it's no longer available in Kindle format, so not sure if this book is going through another round of edits to be re-published in the near future through another publisher.

 

Rhia Duke is a wonderful character. I liked her very much. She is a schoolteacher by trade. She is a very determined woman, with a stubborn streak a mile wide. Desperate to leave her past behind, she sets off, along with her young sister and a companion they pick up en-route, to answer an advertisement in the newspaper for a job in New Mexico. But things are not all they seem and danger lurks in every corner.

 

Wystan Heckmaster is a fantastic character. I liked this man very much. He is quite gruff and tough, but as I got to know him a little better, realised that he hides a softer, gentler, not to mention honourable, side. He is the sheriff of a town where the citizens are reformed demons. Being a half-demon himself, his life has not been easy. However, he has taken it upon himself, along with his two brothers, to keep the earth and humans protected from the demons trying to escape through a portal called the Pit. When Rhia appears in his town, he realises that things are about to change forever.

 

This is a fantastic supernatural/paranormal romance! Set in the late 1800's, this book quickly swept me up and carried me away. The story is told through various points of view, which made it very interesting. There is excitement, danger, mystery and suspense mixed in with the hot romance.

 

I liked meeting Sylvie, Rhia's twelve year old sister. She is full of curiosity and is extremely bright. I also liked meeting Beryl Brookshier, a young woman the two sisters had befriended on their journey. However, she is also a mystery and, when her secret is revealed, it completely threw me. I certainly didn't see that twist coming! I also loved meeting Wystan's two brothers, Eban and Tell. Eban is the healer and Tell is the hunter. The three Heckmasters make a formidable team as they tackle the evil escaping from hell. We also get to meet the other residents of Berner, some of whom I liked and some not. The heat between Rhia and Wystan fairly sizzled on the page and their chemistry is extremely explosive! The story has several twists and turns, not to mention a villain that sent a shiver down my back. Noem is a vile character, but even he pales in comparison. You'll have to read the story to find out for yourself as to whom I'm talking about. However, I will say that I didn't suspect a thing and their betrayal actually brought a pang to my own heart. Although, in hindsight, I should have realised that they were up to no good. There is a battle between several demons and the Heckmasters that is quite intense, with a surprising twist that had me sitting on the edge of my seat! I finished the story and sat for a while as I contemplated and absorbed what I had just read. I love books that make you go "wow" at the end, and this is one of them. It took me on a journey that I didn't expect. I am now looking forward to reading Eban's story as soon as possible.

 

Allison Merritt has written a wonderful paranormal/supernatural romance. Her characters come alive on the page and her descriptions of the scenes made me see them in my mind's eye with ease. I love her writing style, which is fast paced and exciting. I also love the flow of the story, the scenes flowed seamlessly from one to another. I have never read any other books by this author, but I would definitely love to read more of them in the future.

 

Due to scenes of an explicit nature, I do not recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 16. However, I highly recommend this book if you love erotic wild west type supernatural romances filled with sexy half-demons, or paranormal romances with strong characters. - Lynn Worton

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review 2018-08-22 16:24
Review: A Small Place
A Small Place - Jamaica Kincaid

I've heard of Jamaica Kincaid for years, but I've never read her work until now. Of the titles she's written, A Small Place is not one I recall ever having been mentioned. It's a short book. It's non-fiction. It's brutally honest. And for these reasons, I think it's often skipped over. Regardless of how great her fiction is or is not, skipping this brief history of Antigua is a mistake.

A Small Place is a powerful exploration of Kincaid's home, the island of Antigua. Colonized by the British in 1632, and left in the hands of tourists and a corrupt government, Antigua is portrayed as a land of damaged beauty. A Small Place is an indictment against colonialism, capitalism, complacency, and so much more. Kincaid spares no punches; her lens is wide, but exact. Her outrage and rhythmic exploration of the island make this impassioned essay searing with pride and indignation. A Small Place is a Caribbean answer to Baldwin'sThe Fire Next Time; Kincaid's prose rises with a voice that rivals Baldwin's. While Baldwin offered hope and solutions, however, Kincaid largely focuses on the sources of the many problems.

I don't know what to expect from Kincaid's more popular fiction, but if it's anything like this, it will be incredibly poetic and powerful. I look forward to it.

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