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Search tags: winter-or-cold-setting
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review 2015-12-13 16:46
Snow, Food and Murder
On Thin Icing - Ellie Alexander

I loved all the descriptions of food and scrumptious cooking. A foodie will definitely appreciate that about this book. The mystery wasn't quite as compelling, since too much focus on Jules lovelife for me. Overall, an entertaining book.

My rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

Review for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.

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review 2015-10-05 04:36
Cold Heart
The Snow Queen - Hans Christian Andersen,T. Pym
  This is my favorite fairy tale, hands down. If I'm honest, I'm such a huge fan of snow and cold weather. The idea of snow becoming personified makes a lot of sense, because winter does seem to have a life of its own. I love in Texas, and we don't get much winter, but I grew up with it. I miss it so much! Reading this book makes me long for a good winter.

Along with the evocative imagery of winter, there is a very emotional and spiritual love story. Kay and Gerda share a strong emotional bond, but that bond is damaged by Kay's infection with the slivers from the shattered evil mirror. His eye and his heart are pricked, and it changes the way he sees the world, and makes his loving heart grow cold towards poor Gerda. But Gerda doesn't give up on him. When the Snow Queen steals away Kay, she goes searching for him, going on quite an odyssey and meeting some very unusual people along the way. But she never gives up on him.

The lesson of sacrificial love never gets old. That kind of love can melt the fiercest frozen heart and claim back those who are lost. I loved rereading this, and the illustrations I had in my version was a lovely adjunct.

If one has not ever read this book, I highly recommend it. It's available as a free ebook as part of Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tale collection.
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text 2015-10-05 04:16
Sleight of Hand

The Miser's Dream  (An Eli Marks Mystery #3)The Miser's Dream by John Gaspard

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Enjoyable mystery about a stage magician who helps the local police solve the murder of a local projectionist who's also dealing rare objects under the table.  The pop culture elements and magic trick info was a fun element in this book, but I wish Eli's voice was more distinctive.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.

View all my reviews

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review 2015-08-20 05:22
The house on the hill
Greenglass House - Kate Milford

This was admittedly a slow read for me. But it's proof that some things are worth sticking in for and waiting on. At its heart, this is a moving story about a young boy who is coming to terms with his identity as an adoptee. He's asking the questions about his birth family, but that in no way invalidates his feelings or attachment to his adoptive family. On the surface, this is a mystery/adventure about a treasure hunt in a house that once belonged to a famous smuggler. Milo wanted a quiet Christmas with his family, but unexpected guests arrive and change the whole dynamic. But it turns out this is a pivotal event that will put to rest old secrets and reveal the answers to all the questions of the guests that come to stay in Greenglass House one snowy Christmas week.

While this moved slowly, and I found myself rereading several parts to make sure I understood what was happening, there is a strength to the narrative that made me want to soldier through. I found Milo adorable. He's Chinese by birth and ethnicity, and he's sick of that question of why he doesn't look like his white parents. He's a quiet and bookish kid with a big inner life, and he's ripe for an adventure. Milo meets a young girl who comes along with their cook, and they become partners in a Dungeons and Dragons-like game called "Odd Trails", which ties in very heavily with their quest for secrets about Greenglass House.

That mystery is extremely clever. Especially how the very house itself is full of clues about the mystery. I would enjoy staying at Greenglass House, and exploring its several floors that have stood the test of time, and gazing at the raging winter (I love winter) outside the beautiful stained glass windows. Any good mystery writer presents a group of suspects, and each one is interesting, with deep motives yet to be discovered.

The end was quite a lovely surprise. I hadn't suspected what we find out near the end, but it definitely makes sense, and there are seeds all along. That's the hallmark of a good mystery to my mind.

The author writes an afterword about her reasons for writing this novel, and that adds so much to the story. How this came out of her personal journey to adoption, along with other aspects of the genesis of writing this novel, in which an adoptee plays a major role.

I'm glad my library had this book, and for the recommendation from my friend Rane. While it took me a good while to read, it was definitely worth the reading. I'll look forward to reading other books by Ms. Milford.

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review 2015-02-02 02:39
Too lukewarm to be frozen
Terminal Freeze - Lincoln Child
This was a little 'blah' for me. But I think I don't care for monster stories. I don't like twiddling my fingers and waiting for characters to be picked off by the monster. I also didn't like how predictable it was for who would die. It was like Child was mainly killing off the jerky characters. While I am not saying that I want to see likable characters killed off, it seems too calculated to establish a character as a putz and then kill them off. It was a bit sadistic of the author, quite frankly. Also, there were characters I didn't know if they made it at the end of the book. Honestly though, I wasn't too sad about one of the characters who got eaten. That's terrible of me, I realize it.

I did like the descriptions of the frozen North a lot, but that's because I love cold weather and winter settings. I live in Texas, so I don't get nearly enough 'winter.' When I feel hot and I really miss winter, I even day dream about there being a good two feet of snow on the ground and playing in the snow. That crunching sound it makes when it's a newly fallen powder. Yup, that's how much I love winter and snow.

Probably my favorite part of this book was the look at winter as a brutal adversary in itself. Now that I could get behind. My favorite part was when the refugees from Camp Fear had to drive across two ice lakes. That was fascinating and it was probably the most exciting moments of the story.

I didn't quite like the concept of the predator itself. It never came together as concretely as it should have. Also, some characters who had promise were underutilized. Logan promised to be an intriguing character, but he was barely in the book. Also, Marshall didn't have much charisma as a lead. Considering his tragic past, I think he didn't have his fears challenged enough in the long run. Usuguk felt a bit one-dimensional to me. The native shaman who provides spiritual/cultural background for the story.

I think this book is a low three stars for me. I rarely give under 3 stars, so getting a three isn't a compliment per se. It's more like saying it's a blah book that didn't offend me enough or I didn't dislike enough to rate lower. It wasn't a bad book, by any means. Just mediocre.

I am thankful for the suggestion to read this for our Action/Adventure Aficionados group read. It was pretty listenable as an audiobook. I am grateful that I found it at my library in audiobook, but I don't think I could have committed to finishing this in print. It just didn't get me excited enough.
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