Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Man, I hated these characters. The only characters I hated more were the ones in Gone Girl. What a frustrating story!

Rachel. She's a mess. She is a mess, and needs serious therapy. She is a liar, and an alcoholic, and a terrible, terrible roommate. I. Do. Not. Like. Her. Everything bad that happens to her is basically her fault. When the main character is so awful I have a hard time caring what might happen to them.

And the other characters? They are just as bad. It was like a train wreck reading about their messed up lives. I can muster not an ounce of pity for any of them. Simply atrocious behavior that ruined everything about the mystery for me.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Little Women

Little WomenLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ah, Little Women. I did not quite realize it when I read you many years ago, but I am the Jo of my family. Tomboyish, hot-tempered, geeky. Unladylike, swearing, opinionated. Clumsy--I would be the one to burn my dress, spill things on me, and not be asked to dance. I love books more than socializing. And I have three wonderful sisters.

This book is a charming return to my childhood, and I had the treat of viewing it through the lens of life experiences this time around. I didn't understand Jo's romantic choices when I was young, but I completely understand now. I would have done the same thing. I won't spoil you if you haven't read it already, but if you have, which Marsh sister are you?

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell #2)

A Monstrous Regiment of Women (Mary Russell, #2)A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mary meets women's lib. Well, actually Mary was already plenty liberated herself, but she joins a feminist church / cult and works to solve a case. Now an Oxford graduate and coming into her inheritance, she begins to figure out what she wants for her adult life, and where Holmes might fit into it all.

I love this series so much. Holmes has mellowed in his old age, but not lost that arrogant intelligence. Mary is the perfect match for him, as a partner and an equal.

Lots of good disguises and red herrings in this one all leading up to a very satisfying ending that left me eager to read book 3.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Charming Wish (Magical Cures Mystery #3)

A Charming Wish (Magical Cures Mystery, #3)A Charming Wish by Tonya Kappes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Another series bites the dust for me. I can't go on with this one. Too much poor writing and editing, and the characters are annoying.

June is still in Whispering Falls, and is now the village president (what? Suspend disbelief with me). June butts her nose in where it doesn't belong, is falsely accused, and shenanigans ensue. Just like book 1. Just like book 2. And the author decides to hit a tremendous reset button three books in and I have no idea why.

Rumor has it that the series rights itself by book 5, but I won't be around to find out. Sorry, Whispering Falls, but I am not a fan of quirky for quirky's sake when it isn't accompanied by solid writing.
P.S. Get an editor, for crying out loud. "Hit the breaks" is not acceptable.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway #6)

The Outcast DeadThe Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I keep torturing myself with this series. Why? No idea. I can't stand any of the characters but Cathbad. And Judy. They should have a spinoff mystery series. I'm totally pulling for those crazy kids to make it.

In this one, Ruth gets to be a part of a TV show because she's unearthed some really interesting bones. She's insecure, down on herself, yet still gets attractive men to chase after her, as always.
I'm pretty much over this series. She and Harry can live unhappily ever after without me. Sorry, Ruth. I'm out.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Second Glance

Second GlanceSecond Glance by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Coincidence, or fate? That is the question. Picoult is a favorite author of mine and this one doesn't disappoint.

Part ghost story, part romance, part history lesson, we are dropped into two timelines which are intertwined over time. A 70-year-old murder mystery and a modern day story are woven together into a bundle that all makes sense by the end. You end up with a ghost story along with an interesting history of eugenics and Native American cultures that is little-known but worth the read.

Ask yourself a few questions to see if you should read this book?
1) Do you like ghost stories? Then yes, please read.
2) Do you like murder mysteries? This one will keep you guessing.
3) Do you like stories that tie in real-life history? Read this one--it's fascinating.
4) Do you like alternating timelines? This is the book for you.

This is a hard one to summarize because so much is happening, but there is a little something for everyone inside. The strong motherhood story you have come to expect from Picoult with some supernatural twists and turns.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Blitzing Emily

Blitzing Emily (Love and Football, #1)Blitzing Emily by Julie Brannagh

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

*Movie trailer announcer voice* "He's an NFL star. She's a rising opera diva. Can they blend their two perfect, fabulous lives and find love?"

I rarely read contemporary romance. I find myself hating the characters and rolling my eyes. I think it's a sign that I'm getting old. I can't say I hated the characters here, but I found myself doing a large amount of eye rolling. Unrealistic? Yes. Ridiculous at times? Yes. But the story was sweet and Brandon, while a perfectly drawn romantic hero with literally no flaws, was likeable. But unrealistic. Seriously, real life is nothing like these two. The end was especially ridiculous but perfect for those wanting a HEA.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cards on the Table (Hercule Poirot #15)

Cards on the TableCards on the Table by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I adore Agatha Christie. If I could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, I think I might choose her.

Four great minds brought together to solve a crime. Battle, Poirot, Oliver, and Race. Each brings a different talent to the table. Each contributes. And at the end of this amazing mystery full of twists, turns, and red herrings, you will be satisfied by the outcome. Along the way you will think you have solved the crime, and I think you will be incorrect. I was, multiple times. The only thing that might have improved this one might be more Poirot. Or maybe if they had invited Miss Marple to play cards, too.

This book makes me want to learn to play bridge and start a bridge club with my friends. Without the murder. Who's with me?

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Monday, April 13, 2015

The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell #1)

The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Mary Russell, #1)The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I adore everything about this book! Sherlock Holmes has finally met his match in young Mary Russell.

I simply love Mary. Her independence, her awkwardness, her ability to be ok in her own skin despite, or perhaps because of, her tragedy. I love Holmes. I love how he stays somewhat true to character but softened by time and retirement. And I love Mrs. Hudson. She's the best.

It's a different take on Sherlock Holmes, but still a fun, engaging mystery. You will find yourself rooting for Mary as she grows over the years, and the little adventures throughout showed how their partnership grows over time. One of my favorite series. I can't wait to read more.

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Lake of Dead Languages

The Lake of Dead LanguagesThe Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked it. It's a re-read for me, and I didn't love it like I remembered from the first time. It was, to be fair, many years ago when I read it and my life is very different now. It's an interesting book. Part mystery, part romance, all dramatic and overly complicated with a gothic feel. It made me want to learn Latin.

What I did like: weaving the past and the present together. The Latin. The boarding school setting. What I didn't like: the overly obtuse main character. Really? You can't figure out what is going on? I need my heroines to be smarter than she was throughout the book. And then when you do it gets spelled out to us, the readers, like we are small children. Also, the villain sucked and the explanation was lame. But overall, I still liked it, just not in 4 or 5 star territory this time around.

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Shakespeare Saved My Life

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the BardShakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"People just put themselves into so many prisons."

I found this book through Overdrive's Big Library Read, a global eBook club through your local library. If you haven't participated, you should. It will introduce you to some books you might not have found on your own.

Laura Bates must be crazy, or a saint. She dedicated a large chunk of her time to teaching Shakespeare to convicts in solitary. Along the way she meets an interesting enigma of a man In Larry Newton.

As a memoir, it's a bit dry. I never really felt her passion for teaching Shakespeare in prison. I still don't feel like I know Laura Bates at all--it was very surface. However, I found Larry Newton to be a fascinating mixture of bad decisions and interesting self development. It makes me wonder how many others could find something to help them grow with the right topics and teachers.

Overall a three-star read. Not life-changing but still interesting.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

The Moving Finger (Miss Marple #4)

The Moving Finger (Miss Marple, #4)The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Life in a small town can be the best thing and the worst thing. Everyone is up in your business and this can be a source of comfort, support, and family or it can be a complete invasion of privacy, misunderstandings, and judgments. And when brother and sister Jerry and Joanna Burton move to Lymstock, they encounter the best and the worst of village life. Anonymous letters of the "ransom note" style are sent to various members of the community, inferring secrets best left hidden. It seems like the culprit will never be uncovered and lives will never be the same. Enter the delightfully charming Miss Marple. She comes in with her innocent, unassuming style and see the details missed by others. Look for the classic Christie twist and the mostly happy ending.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oooh, book, I wanted to love you so much. Alas, it was not meant to be. Friends?

Allison is an unregistered human living on the fringe of the vampire society. But then things get interesting. She gets into serious trouble and makes a tough choice to survive by allowing herself to be turned. So much potential! I was with the story all the way until they got to Chicago, but the ensuing drama fell flat for me. Undecided if I will read book two. Not bad, not great.

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (Cat Who...#2)

The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern (Cat Who..., #2)The Cat Who Ate Danish Modern by Lilian Jackson Braun

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hop in my time machine back to 1967. A place where you don't have cell phones, the internet, and it's perfectly acceptable to smoke a pipe. People still read newspapers to get their news. Meet Jim Qwilleran, old-time investigative reporter now taking on the interior designer beat. Meet Koko, Siamese cat and crime fighter. Together they stick their noses where they don't belong and save the day. And in the end, they bring pretty lady Yum Yum into the family and everyone is happy.

These books are dated, for sure. But I like Qwill and his crime fighting kitties. I read these books back in the early '90s and while the mystery is simplistic they are still an enjoyable hour or two diversion. I think the series really hits its stride when Qwill relocates to Moose County, so if you start at the beginning, stick with it. There are lots of books in the series if you like it. Cute and harmless.

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2)

The Murder on the Links (Hercule Poirot #2)The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An early Poirot and Hastings mystery. It's funny to see how the characters evolved (and didn't) over the years. Hastings, ever the romantic, falling for beautiful ladies left and right. Poirot, ever practical, laughing quietly behind his back. And solving the crimes while outfoxing Giraud.

In this one, what's past is prologue. Poirot remembers a famous case and uses it to solve this one. Clever, so clever. You might, like me and Hastings, think you have solved the crime several times until you give up and let Papa Poirot explain it all. And in the end he proves he does have some romance in his heart and a true friendship for Hastings by setting up a sweet ending.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

The ABC Murders (Hercule Poirot #13)

The ABC MurdersThe ABC Murders by Agatha Christie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh, Poirot, you've done it again. You have taken a fairly straightforward set of murders and completely turned them upside down. You do this especially well when Hastings is by your side. I especially like you when you have Colonel Hastings to balance you out. I can see why your friendship has endured through the years.

This one kept me guessing until the end. I thought I knew what was happening and why, yet in the end I choked on all of the red herrings. This book proves once again why my old friend Agatha was the Queen of Suspense. Love her!

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1)

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)In the Woods by Tana French

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Solid start to a new crime series for me, but the ending left me both scratching my head and anxious to start book two. Well played, Tana French. The mystery spans two timelines; both past and present.

Past: Twelve-year-old Adam Ryan was playing in the woods behind his suburban Dublin home with his two best friends when they both disappeared without a trace. A bloody, traumatized Ryan is found in the woods with no memories of what happened.

Present: An archaeological dig in those same woods finds the team stumbling upon the body of a murdered young girl. Are the cases related? Will Ryan regain his memories? Will either case really be solved? Lots of twists and turns and red herrings like you would expect in a mystery series.

I liked the detectives on the case and I am curious which ones will be featured in book two. I will definitely continue on with this one.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just like Juliet, I have fallen in love with Guernsey. I want to pack my bags and live there and join their literary society. I am enchanted.

Journey back in time through a series of correspondence between author Juliet Ashby and the people of Guernsey Island following the occupation of World War II. But beware--you might find you leave a piece of your heart behind. Funny, sweet, dramatic, and curious, I was so absorbed. I just loved this book. I loved everyone in the literary society, especially Dawsey. And I loved the ending, and felt it was the perfect ending to a beautiful book.

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