Friday, October 26, 2018

Review: The Telltale Turtle

The Telltale Turtle The Telltale Turtle by Joyce Lavene
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This is one of the worst books I have ever read. Ridiculous from start to finish.

The MC is annoying. Which I could possibly forgive if the mystery was solid, but it was not. It's my fault for assuming a "pet psychic" mystery would not be ridiculous. Come on, now. She's getting clues from the turtle to solve the crime. Seriously one of the dumbest ideas and plot lines I have ever encountered.

Oh, P.S. I hate, hate, hate books that constantly tell you what people are wearing. I do NOT care that she was wearing an flowing orange blouse with a green vest and a long purple skirt and dangling earrings. Go away with that nonsense. If you had removed the superfluous descriptions, the book would have only been about 45 pages. 1 star. I recommend to no one, not even a mortal enemy.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: From Sand and Ash

From Sand and Ash From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was lovely, as I expected it would be. It ticks all of the boxes: Historical fiction. Forbidden love. War. Family. Secrets. Resolution.

Eva and Angelo grew up together as brother and sister. She's an Italian Jew, and he's an American Catholic, but none of that mattered until the war broke out. We journey with them over the years, seeing Eva and Angelo take separate paths but still remain connected. Until the atrocities of WWII turn everyone's lives upside down. Like I said, lovely. Close to 5 star territory for me. It felt like it should be a tremendous tear-jerker, and there were heart-wrenching parts, but I felt it was just slightly sanitized for the audience. I wanted more realism on what was happening to the Jews. Hit us in the face with it, Amy. We know it happened. It was absolutely awful. But it felt uneven in places. Sometimes I felt I was reading novel for young adults, and other times I felt I was reading the gritty, ugly war-torn novel aimed for adult audiences. I wanted to have a good cry, but left only depressed and a little angry.

Still, it is lovely writing with interesting, complex characters. 4 stars.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Review: The Life We Bury

The Life We Bury The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Came highly recommended, but just hit enjoyable for me. I also was surprised to see it touted as first in a series for a character who barely appears. Interesting strategy.

We follow Joe Talbert, college student who has had a bit of a tough upbringing but is pulling himself up by his bootstraps, friends. You are meant to like him instantly. He's a good guy with a crappy mother and an autistic brother. Joe has to write a biographical story and chooses to write about some random person in a nursing home. Luckily for him, a convicted murderer is spending his last dying days there, and we are off to the races with a series of unfortunate events. Oh, and Mr. Nice Guy Joe is all about his neighbor, and he eventually nice guy's his way into her life, as you might expect. Odd partners in crime, but they determine the killer is wrongfully convicted and run off to accuse the real killer. That's as bad of an idea as it sounds, for sure.

It was decent enough for 3 stars and I would tell you to give it a read if you like mysteries and characters who don't always make good decisions.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Review: Ghost Story

Ghost Story Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry, Harry, Harry. Even in death you have the worst luck.

My boy Dresden has been taken out by an unknown assailant. Magical or human? Man or beast? We have no idea, and neither does Harry. But he's caught in the in-between after taking out the Red Court. We get lots of flashbacks in this one, and a small appearance from a lot of our friends, but not all of them. Not enough Murphy for my taste, but I enjoyed Butters and better understood Molly by the end.

If you are up to book 13, you don't need me to tell you that Harry is awesome and you should listen to these only on audio because James Marsters IS Harry in my mind. Not sure how I will cope when this series ends. 4 stars.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Review: Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti

Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti by Bailey Cates
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This series is quickly losing its charm. Katie is getting dumber and the characters are all a bit over the top. But the real low point for me was the love triangle, natch. Also, what is up with the nosy neighbor? I totally thought she was going to be the killer because she is written so poorly.

We still have the bakery and all of its magic, but Katie was trying to investigate a crime, and doing it poorly. She has a knack for putting herself and others in danger. I'm quickly tiring of the insta-love between Declan, Steve, and Katie. Calm down, all three of you.

I'm not sure how many more I'll read. 2.5 stars.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Review: The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints

The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints The Mystery of the Flaming Footprints by M.V. Carey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my favorites! I think this must be the first one I bought at a Scholastic Book Fair and hooked me on Jupe and the boys. I mean, come on, who doesn't want a secret hideout with gadgets and tunnels in a junk yard? His aunt and uncle are a very odd mix of strict and lenient.

We have an eccentric old potter, flaming footprints, a secret past, and a mystery to solve. The boys band together to get to the bottom of things, Jupiter figures it all out (natch) and he's a little less obnoxious in this one. It's a good one, to be sure.

Remember, I read them again so you don't have to! Or go ahead, because I like this one the most. My poor paperback is nearly falling apart at this point. 4 stars.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: Scandal in Skibbereen

Scandal in Skibbereen Scandal in Skibbereen by Sheila Connolly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We travel back to Ireland to see how Maura is adjusting to her new life, and her new bar. Americans continue to be painted in a ridiculously bad light. We get it, you hate us.

This time some crazy lady (American, naturally) comes barging into Leap and pisses everyone off with absolutely zero interpersonal savvy and situational awareness. She's looking for a missing piece of artwork to convince the family to sell, or show it, or something. It's a Van Dyke, people! Anyway...a murder happens. Poor citizens of Leap. No wonder they are leery of Americans. Maura is a jinx. And she's actually pretty boring as well. But things inexplicably fall together, the police listen to Maura a little too much again, and the bar has quirky characters.

Yes, I'm complaining, and yes, I'll read the next book in the series. 3 stars.



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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Review: Endangered Species

Endangered Species Endangered Species by Nevada Barr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anna, Anna, Anna. Forever alone. Forever independent. Forever on the side of truth, justice, and the American way. She's like the NPS version of Superwoman. I also am convinced she's Kinsey Milhone's long lost sister. They have the same sort of life.

This time we are fighting fires on Cumberland Island, Georgia. We have baby turtles. And drug runners. And a plane crash. And Anna gets knocked around, duped, then saves the day. Go on, girl, with your plucky self.

And nothing surprised me at the end, but it was still an enjoyable ride. 3 stars, as usual.

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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Review: Assaulted Pretzel

Assaulted Pretzel Assaulted Pretzel by Laura Bradford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I traveled back to Heavenly to check in on Claire and see if she has gotten her life back together. I give her a C+ on her journey so far. Girl, do you have to be in an impossible love triangle?

This time we have the annual Amish food festival happening, and everyone is excited. It is a tourist draw, for sure. But (gasp) another murder! Claire, I think you are a magnet for bad luck. They are going to shun you soon. A toy manufacturer wants to produce a line of Amish toys and it will bring lots of business to our friends in Heavenly. But then he's murdered, we find they might or might not have been bamboozled by the contract, and fingers are pointing everywhere. Oh, and a break in at the Inn causes her aunt turn into a totally different person. I definitely didn't like how such a strong woman could become meek and tearful. Come on, Aunt Diane. You're better than that.

Claire continues to annoy me with her constant introspection and waffling between both worlds. This series could benefit from more effort on the mystery and less effort into what Claire is thinking all the time. Hey, my internal dialogue is boring and inane too, but I don't put it out there for everyone to know. Still, giving it 3 stars but can see that sliding to 2 if the next book doesn't pick up.

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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Review: The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I came in wanting to be creeped out, but I wasn't. Barely a thriller.

This is a debut novel by C.J. Tudor, and the bones are there. Tragedies in the past with multiple deaths. A group of young friends and mysterious happenings that are not solved at the time but everyone moves on, as life does. Here's my issue. There is too much happening. We have a doctor under fire in the community. We have a hot headed reverend who has his own secrets. We have an albino teacher who makes questionable decisions. We have schoolyard bullies. We have a group of friends who don't seem to really like each other. We have a seemingly unreliable narrator. And lots of flash forwards and jumps to the past. This book is disjointed and tries to do too much. At the end you can see the threads but they end up in a knot instead of smoothly tying it all in a bow. Plus I really couldn't stand the MC, and that's a deal breaker for me.

But please, read this anyway. I'm giving it 3 stars and I would like to talk about it with you. Change my mind, because I wanted to love it but just ended up liking it a bit instead.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Review: The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright

The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright The Scandalous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Tessa Dare. I'm just in like with this sweet novella. Nothing too objectionable, but also nothing too memorable.

Eliza Cade is being held back "in society" so her sisters can find suitable husbands. Ok, nothing weird there, but (gasp) there was a scandal way back when she was 14, and her parents are afraid she might tarnish her sisters' chances. Eye roll, but probably was a thing back then.

Enter Harry Wright. He's got a bad reputation all-around, and he happily wears the bad boy mantle. Harry, I'm on to you, though. And so is Eliza. We know you are hiding a heart of gold inside.

Tessa Dare writes unconventional, smart heroines and strong but loving heroes, and I love both of those things so I will keep reading her books. 3 stars.

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Review: Buried in a Bog

Buried in a Bog Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We are off to Ireland with Maura to visit her grandmother's village to fulfill her dying wish. This book was ok despite Maura, who I found to be a huge bore and a bit rude.

She hops on a plane with little notice and even less thought and is welcomed with open arms by these lovely people. She thanks them by being surly, suspicious, and kind of dense, tbh. But you can tell exactly where this is going because it's book 1 in a series. You know she's going to stay in Ireland, you know there will be a love triangle (even though it's barely hinted at in this one, I'm kind of a cozy expert, so sorry to future spoil you, friends). The mystery ends up making sense in the end and the setting is quaint with some strong supporting characters so I'm in for book 2 at least.

3 stars and you'll probably want to book a trip to Ireland, bog bodies and all.

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Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Last Mrs. Parrish The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow - terrible people doing terrible things. This was hard to get through in places. I was left vaguely unsatisfied at the end.

Amber is an awful, conniving person. You can see that from the beginning. Her thoughts, her actions, it's all bad. You are meant to hate her and not feel any sympathy because she gets what she deserves. She's after Jackson Parrish, and she worms her way into his life through his wife, Daphne. We get to see the story first through Amber's eyes, then through Daphne's. Part three wraps a bow on the saga but fell a little short to me.

Definitely worth the read, but not the best book I've read this year. If you like books about hateful people doing hateful things, you'll like this one. A bit of a slow start, but it will be worth it if you stick with it. 3 stars.

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