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text 2019-12-06 16:32

Interview with Molly Greeley, whose debut novel, The Clergyman's Wife, just came out with William Morrow. Pride & Prejudice fans, this one's for you!

 

 

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review 2019-12-04 22:44
The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald
The Deep Blue Good-By - John D. MacDonald

It's easy to see why Travis McGee's legend endures. He's a white knight in tarnished armor, a decent man who lives by his own moral code and personal philosophy on the outside of society, on a houseboat called The Busted Flush.
No stereotypical P.I., he's a self described "salvage expert" who will find what was taken from the innocent...for half of what he retrieves.
Although a character of his time and place, Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the 1960s, he is more timeless than dated, in my opinion.

Highly recommended.

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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 2019-12-01 10:49
"A Good Girl's Guide To Murder" by Holly Jackson - Highly Recommended
A Good Girl's Guide To Murder - Holly Jackson

This is my book for Door 8: International Children's Day.

 

 

This debut Young Adult novel deserves the hype and praise it's been receiving. It was a book I found myself looking forward to getting back to whenever real life got in the way of reading and which I finished with the same sense of satisfaction that comes from finishing a good meal.

 

The premise is that bright, independent, highly organised Pippa, in her final year at school and planning to go on to Cambridge, uses her EPQ project to investigate the alleged murder and suicide, five years earlier, of two kids from her school. She tells her teachers that she wants to explore the impact of social media on how the deaths were understood and how that affected the investigation. Her real motivation is that she doesn't accept that the boy accused of murder was guilty.. So, Pippa uses her summer vacation to investigate the five-year-old crime.

 

What follows is an engrossing mystery that kept me guessing and hungry for answers right up to the end, which also managed to do interesting non-pretentious things with form and has a main character who is easy to believe in.

 

The plot is twisty. The suspect pool is diverse. The method of investigation is quirky but believable. I thought the idea of presenting the investigation using the project log format required by the EPQ worked very well. As well as providing a clear structure, it displayed the way in which Pippa's logical mind, well-suited to this dispassionate reporting, kept bouncing off her passion to find out what really happened, resulting in some innovative and often risky courses of action.

 

I found it refreshing to read a story set in a realistic version of a modern English school. Although the story is Young Adult and therefore avoids the direct depiction of some of the action, the story still covers various kinds of abuse, assault, drug abuse and bullying without pulling any punches and without falling into moral outrage. I admired that way in which Pippa navigates through these things without getting distracted and mostly keeping her anger under control.

 

Pippa is one of the main strengths of the books. She's real and engaging. She's bright, methodical and persistent and often brave. She's also vulnerable, often scared and when things go wrong sometimes becomes so distraught that she can't function. When she's at home, playing with her little brother, having dinner with her family or dancing with her dog, she's still very much a young girl. When she's facing down a drug dealer you can see the woman she will become. When she's with her friends you can see where her strength comes from.

 

Perhaps the most distinctive thing about Pippa is her unwillingness to settle for easy labels. She wants to scrape those off and see what lies beneath. In the early chapters, we're given an insight into how Pippa thinks and how her background has affected that thinking when Pippa reflects on people's puzzled reaction to her pale white skin when they see her dark-skinned father and little brother.

"The giant Nigerian man was quite evidently her stepfather and Joshua her half-brother. But Pip didn’t like using those words, those cold technicalities. The people you love weren’t algebra: to be calculated, subtracted, or held at arm’s length across a decimal point. Victor and Josh weren’t just three-eighths hers, not just forty per cent family, they were fully hers."

My only criticism of the book is the final chapter. It's one of those "Three Month's Later" things. It's well-written but, to me, it seemed too neat and too preachy. The rest of the book convinced me, even when it surprised me, but this seemed too simple.

 

I highly recommend this book. I hope Holly Jackson goes on to produce more work like this.

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review 2019-12-01 09:34
A Fairbanks Affair (Odds-Are-Good #3) by Katy Regnery
A Fairbanks Affair (Odds-Are-Good #3) - Katy Regnery

 

 

With humorous dialogue, heartwarming moments and predictably, irresistible characters, the odds are readers will LOVE, A Fairbanks Affair. Regnery always delivers the goods when it comes to deliciously, tempting storytelling. Faye and Trevor are love at it's best at the worst possible time. She needs a favor. He needs a reason to hope. Two strangers that fell upon something more are waiting to steal away with your heart. And believe me, THEY WILL.

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