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review 2018-03-08 00:35
Sleuthing for a new mystery series
The Killings at Badger's Drift - Caroline Graham

It might come as a surprise that I had never heard of the writer Caroline Graham until my mom got me into watching a show called Midsomer Murders. (It's on Netflix if you're interested.) What does one have to do with the other? Well, the tv show is based off of a book series by Graham that begins with The Killings at Badger's Drift which also happens to be the first episode's name. As this is the first in the Chief Inspector Barnaby series, you can expect the usual character introductions and some growing pains as the reader decides if they actually want to throw their hat into the ring of a somewhat grumpy detective in the English countryside. In the show DCI Tom Barnaby is a fatherly figure accompanied by a somewhat bumbling underling named Gavin Troy. It's not quite the same in the book. Firstly, Troy (who is one of my fave characters) is not at all likable. The reader is treated to somewhat of an inner monologue of his and he's not what I'd characterize as a a good dude (he's misogynistic, arrogant, and a cheater). Secondly, Barnaby is bordering on being a full-blown hypochondriac with an extensive knowledge of horticulture which at times seems to nearly distract him from the case at hand. (Get ready for a lot of plant descriptions.) However, looking beyond these very different versions of the characters the 'feel' of the mystery is the same if somewhat more overtly sexual. (This is an adult novel.) The crime centers around a small village called Badger's Drift and the victim is an older woman who everyone can agree was very likable. There aren't any concrete leads on suspects and Troy is ready to write it off as a bizarre accident when another murder occurs right up the road. Onward, super sleuths! Like Christie, Graham is able to write characters extremely well and the feel of the village comes completely to life on the page. This was an extraordinarily fast read for me because I was enjoying it so much and wanted to see whodunit (even though I already knew). Mystery fans who want to visit what has to be the deadliest county in the UK must get their hands on this book because I strongly suspect (see what I did there?) you won't want to stop there. 9/10 but lost a point because Troy made me grind my teeth in sheer frustration.


What's Up Next: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Others Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty


What I'm Currently Reading: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-12-21 22:13
Not exactly what I wanted
Find the Good - Heather Lende

I went into Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons From a Small-Town Obituary Writer by Heather Lende with a lot of perhaps too many expectations. I anticipated (and hoped for) humor of the macabre variety. Find the Good is a book of anecdotal advice from someone who regular faces death head on...or at least experiences it alongside those left behind. From the book's blurb, I thought that this was going to be a look at death with a light touch because how else can one continually run up against death and retain their positive outlook on life? I guess in a way Lende does explore the way she has had to structure her life so that she can continue to be a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen when the grief overflows. As an obituary writer in a small town, most of the notices that she has had to write were about people that she knew if not intimately then by sight. That takes a toll on a person and also fosters an environment for emotional and spiritual growth.  There are some good, positive points made but in my opinion not enough to warrant an entire book. It would have made a good article or think piece. There's very little I can say about this one other than it didn't really live up to my expectations or blow me away. It would probably work well on a short train ride or as a beach read. It's a 3/10 for me, guys.


What's Up Next: Thornhill by Pam Smy


What I'm Currently Reading: still reading Scythe and Mine Own Executioner

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-11-14 18:45
Childgrave by Ken Greenhall
Childgrave - Ken Greenhall


CHILDGRAVE is a beautifully written quiet horror story, with a sketchy small town lurking in the background. By the time the secrets of the town are revealed, it's too late for the reader to turn back.


As I get older, I find myself more and more drawn to quiet horror. I can do without gore and torture and all that if I have a tale that's well written and atmospheric. I also need compelling characters and CHILDGRAVE has that in spades. The main character, Jonathan, is a widowed photographer. He, his daughter Joanne, and his housekeeper Nanny Joy, are so well drawn I feel as if I know them personally.


When Jonathan's photos of his daughter seem to show specters in the background, while at the same time Joanne seems to have developed some new invisible friends, Jonathan is intrigued. Are the two events connected? Who is Conlee, the name of Joanne's new invisible friend? Lastly, what is Chilegray and how is connected to Conlee? You'll have to read this to find out!


I'll get it out of the way now-this is a slow moving story. What kept me interested was the quality of the writing and the characters. Jonathan is a quirky man. He has few friends and little interest in fashion or modern day trends. His housekeeper Nanny Joy loves jazz and Jonathan's daughter, but is concerned about the appearance of Conlee and the specters in the photographs. Jonathan's agent Harry is hilarious and his girlfriend, Lee, is interesting as well. NYC of the 70's is the main setting, and it was fascinating to read about the city during that time of social upheaval and change.


I was inexorably drawn to the conclusion which leads the reader to a small town hidden in a valley. "Evil in a small town" is one of my favorite tropes and Greenhall knew how to deliver it in a chilling and shocking- yet believable way. You find yourself wondering what you would do in such a situation and I continued to think about it all night long...hours after finishing the book. I can't say that I blame Jonathan for the choices that he made.


While CHILDGRAVE isn't the psychological, fast moving story that both ELIZABETH or HELL HOUND were, it was excellent in its own quiet and compelling way. Slowly drawing the reader down into the valley where secrets are kept for generation after generation, Greenhall deftly brings things to a head and left this reader wishing for more.


Highly recommended!


You can get your copy here: CHILDGRAVE


*Thanks to Valancourt Books for providing this e-book free, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-11-03 17:44
Ash Wednesday by Chet Williamson
Ash Wednesday - Chet Williamson


A beautifully written and touching story of what happens when the dead of the town of Merridale are suddenly visible and blue. They're visible in the places in which they died or in the places that meant the most to them when they were alive. At first, people are freaked out, (wouldn't you be?), but then they get used to it. Well, some do and some don't.


The characters in this story are well drawn and believable. This is a story about guilt, and about making the most of the short time that we have here on earth, among other things.


I'd classify this as a quiet horror tale, not too many bloody, ugly scenes and that's the type of horror I prefer these days-the quiet, atmospheric, and psychological kind. This book just hit all the right notes with me. Bravo!


Highly recommended!


You can get a Kindle copy here for only $2.99! 

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review 2017-09-12 19:00
Haven by Tom Deady, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Haven - Greymore Publishing,Matt Godfrey,Tom Deady


Haven is a coming of age story, set in a small town in Massachusetts. Narrated beautifully by Matt Godfrey, and set in a such a perfect place, how could the story itself not be fabulous? Truth is though, it's just okay.


Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it and as I said the narration was excellent. However, I didn't find that this book added anything original to the genre. 80's horror nostalgia is a big thing now and that may have soured my opinion a little. I recently saw the movie of Stephen King's "It" and I just don't think it's possible to compare the two without having Haven come up short. I'm also not sure that it's possible to NOT compare the two- which may be my whole problem.



There are some differences, but at its heart, this is a very similar story. We have our plucky kids going up against a mysterious monster, while they're getting bullied at every turn, and Denny's mom is in just about the same state as were Bill Denbrough's parents from IT. There's even a chance that the monster will return in the future. Sound familiar? The only thing that's really different is the origin of this creature and I won't spoil that here.


(spoiler show)


This is an engaging "coming of age"/"evil in a small town story", it's just that I didn't find the writing or the story itself to be outstanding. Good? Yes, definitely! And who knows? You may enjoy it a lot more than I did. So, if this sounds interesting to you, I say give it a shot.




*I received this audiobook free from the narrator, in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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