I originally read this book when I was in sixth grade, and at the time I followed along with what my mom always did when she'd start reading a book—shI originally read this book when I was in sixth grade, and at the time I followed along with what my mom always did when she'd start reading a book—she'd read the last chapter first. I'm not sure why she did that, though she's long since passed, so I can't ask. But this is the book that finally broke me of the habit. That's because, like most Agatha Christie novels, the entire plot and whodunit is revealed in the last chapter. Kinda kills the mystery when you know what's going to happen.
Fast Forward to a few weeks ago. I decided to read this again as I had completely forgotten the specifics over the years. So I figured that I'd finally have a chance to be surprised by Ms. Christie, which I was. Amazingly, though I sometimes watch various versions of her books on film or tv, I haven't seen a
She certainly loves to toss in a red herring to throw the whole thing off, and this one actually surprised me, though I love how twisted the killer is, in the end. *mini spoiler* I found the first person account of the murders at the end absolutely delicious; much more entertaining than how it was presented in the rest of the book. I think it was how she captured the villain's voice so well and gave the murderer such a complex yet realistic deviousness that I was enthralled.
Sadly, while I enjoyed the mystery, her writing style isn't something that pulls me in—except for that last chapter. So it gets four stars because her plots and mysteries far outshine most mystery writers today or possibly ever, but I just couldn't get into the writing itself as much as I'd hoped. Perhaps one of her Poirot or Miss Marple stories would be a better fit. Or I'm happy to enjoy her work in the numerous television or film renditions of her work.
*For those wondering what about her style I didn't connect with, it was the dialogue, and especially dialogue tags that killed me. Plus, the omniscient narrator had us hopping around eight or so different heads, which kills the intimacy readers usually get when it's just one or two characters that we're following closely. But it is the mystery for which Christie is known and what she excels at, so I'll give her a pass. ;)...more
Yeah, there's no way I could not read this after learning that Cheryl Strayed is the voice behind Dear Sugar. If she writes a book-length work as wellYeah, there's no way I could not read this after learning that Cheryl Strayed is the voice behind Dear Sugar. If she writes a book-length work as well as she does her columns, then it's sure to be incredible....more
There is a certain type of book that I seek every time I'm at the library or bookstore, a kind of story with a qualitOriginally posted at Libri Ago.
There is a certain type of book that I seek every time I'm at the library or bookstore, a kind of story with a quality I can't quite describe but will pulls me in so completely that I get lost in their worlds. There's something in them that calms me when my life is full of stress and I just can't deal with any more of it.
It's somewhat tricky to explain what kind of book fits my criteria; instead I'll offer a list of titles that encompass it:
Now there are many more books with this same feel, but discovering stellar examples can be tough. So many times an upcoming book will sound like it has the same qualities but ends up lacking the essential elements that so appeal to me. (Don't ask me what they are, as I have yet to figure out exactly what draws me to them.)
One very long intro later, we get to the heart of the review: Touch of Power launched itself smack dab onto this list and is one of the best books of this type that I've read in quite a while. It probably isn't too surprising, considering her Poison Study made the list several years ago. In all honesty, I like this one so much more than Poison Study, which is saying a lot.
The basic premise is this: A horrific plague decimates the populace of Avry's world, leaving survivors beleaguered and wary of another outbreak. Avry is a Healer, and while normally this would be a good thing, people blame the Healers for causing the plague and take to executing every Healer they find.
With practically nowhere to hide, Avry is constantly on the move. Without getting into too much detail, she ends up the captive of a band of rogues who drag her across the world to have her heal someone. Adventures, danger and romance ensue.
It isn't the plot that's so incredible about this book; it's the world-building. My favorite has to be the giant lilies that can swallow a man whole. While there are two varieties, there is no way to tell them apart: the Peace Lily is a beautiful sight while the Death Lily is a danger to every creature that wanders by. I found it fascinating to see how the Lilies and other unique elements developed and added to the story.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed this book, even though I read it through the night and finished bleary-eyed at 5 am. That's probably another indicator of how much I liked Touch of Power.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy....more
The premise sounds good: 24-year-old Kat, a massage therapist who also happens to be aOriginally posted at Libri Ago.
Enchanted Destiny by Rayka Mennen
The premise sounds good: 24-year-old Kat, a massage therapist who also happens to be a witch, has only three weeks to find and marry her soulmate, or she loses her magic forever. In her family, the women have special powers, but also a destiny that includes saving the life of the man they'll marry. Convincing Jake that he's her soul mate and they have to get married in a matter of weeks is a completely different matter.
While the light tone of this story is enjoyable, I didn't ever get fully drawn into The world just wasn't developed enough for me to really get into the story. There's so much about her family that wasn't explored, about Jake's life and friends, about how an extended family of witches coped in a world that largely doesn't believe in destiny, fate, or magic. Because of that many of the secondary characters feel flat.
Despite all that, I did feel pangs of worry near the end of the book that things wouldn't magically work out at the end. The ending won't be much of a surprise to frequent readers of romances, as it follows the well-worn path of contemporary romances.
Honestly, Enchanted Destiny is a nice, enjoyable book, but it didn't grab me enough, nor was the delivery original enough to make it memorable. For those looking to while away an afternoon with a pleasant story, this is a good choice.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of the book....more
Sorry, no rippling teen werewolf abs or sparklepire foes in this tale. Just a good old-fashioned story of a reporter ouOriginally posted at Libri Ago.
Sorry, no rippling teen werewolf abs or sparklepire foes in this tale. Just a good old-fashioned story of a reporter out to debunk an urban legend.
I love that a modern story involving a werewolf can be categorized as a contemporary realistic book. Realism FTW! I'm so ready for the paranormal phase to be over and get back to the good old-fashioned ghost, monster, and urban legend stories. I prefer to outrun scary creatures, not date them.
Before getting to the heart of the review, I do have one confession to make*: I have a large weakness for stories involving reporters and/or editors from small-town newspapers, or from big papers sent to small towns. It has to do with some of my college-hood dreams. I majored in journalism, later working as a reporter and then an editor at a large metropolitan newspaper. Honestly, I'm still a reporter at heart. Even now I get all squiggly inside thinking about how much fun it'd be to spend a few years working at a small-town newspaper.**
So when I saw that Cry Wolf incorporated a) a big-city reporter coming to a small-town to investigate an b) urban myth in the form of a werewolf, with a c) romance likely to develop, I was a goner. Absolutely perfect.
That said, it was a nice story on the merits of the writing and characters as well. I'll admit I don't have many nitpicks, but probably more so because I got lost in the story. Which, honestly, should be the goal of every writer.
It's a fun read, with a romance that feels rather realistic (including sexy bits, if you're at all concerned about that), and a kitten. How could it not be good when there's a rescued kitten? I don't think it's possible.
Joking aside, I liked this book. Four stars to the author for an enjoyable ride. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys light, fun romances with a touch of mystery.
*I mention this now because there is a very good possibility that other books of this nature will cross the pages of this blog, and fairly soon. There are a couple of them winking at me from my TBR pile. Those little minxes.
**It'll have to be a small one since most of the big ones are going kaput. Or being handed over to untrained bloggers, but I won't get into that. *tries not to grumble*
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy!...more
Before the paranormal romance craze, the concept of this book would have seemed utterly bizarre: in Victorian EnglandOriginally reviewed at Libri Ago.
Before the paranormal romance craze, the concept of this book would have seemed utterly bizarre: in Victorian England, the daughter of an Egyptologist and one of the mummies he brought back from Egypt fall in love. (Plus accidental murder, kidnappings, and Queen Victoria being tossed in the Thames River.)
Now, there are other zombie love stories floating around, but when The Professor's Daughter was originally published in France in 1997, it was a completely novel idea. The reason it works? The simply gorgeous illustrations by Guibert convey so much emotion, especially the beginning, when the pages were illustrated in Sepia tones.
The colors actually shift as the book progresses. The changes have meaning within the story, so I won't describe it here, but Elizabeth Bird shared an excellent review (much better than mine, actually) that explains why.
My favorite of the illustrations is on page 11. For some reason, the composition and colors strike me as being near perfect, even if there is a mummy wearing a suit in it. I would honestly hang a print of it on my wall, I find it so fascinating. It might require some explanation for visitors, though.
The storyline itself is rather bizarre, but combined with the illustrations—and a good dose of suspended disbelief—it transcends the stereotypical comic or graphic novel to become a piece of literature. I heartily recommend buying The Professor's Daughter, even if only to gaze at the lovely images....more
One of the best things to come from the recent glut of paranormal and dystopian novels is the trend of taking history oOriginally posted at Libri Ago
One of the best things to come from the recent glut of paranormal and dystopian novels is the trend of taking history or the present world and shifting it, ever so slightly, so that one small change affects nearly everything down the line.
While, yes, there have been plenty of books in the past that did something similar, I'm seeing it more frequently and in fascinating ways. Take, for instance, Dead on the Delta. What if a disaster at a chemical plant in Louisiana tainted the bayou, causing the little fairies so small that no one can see to mutate into insect-sized blood-sucking pixies of death. And then there are the invisible people. How could I not buy a book with that kind of premise?
Things get even more interesting as the author builds this world around Annabelle Lee, a drunken med-school dropout who is one of the few people immune to fairy venom. While everyone else is holed up inside iron-clad towns and armored cars—iron keeps the fairies away, and a single bite makes a normal person either insane or dead—she gets to go out into the swamp and do all the dirty work. Yay for Annabelle? Not quite.
It's a good story and very entertaining. I'm eagerly anticipating the second book, Blood on the Bayou, which is due out in March 2012. But while the story captivates, it's the richness and thought the author put into this world that amazed me.
The disaster that sparked the mutation happened before the arrival of Katrina. Almost glanced over as back story are details of Annabelle working exhausting hours to recover and identify the bodies left in the hurricane's wake. Again, she is one of the few who can withstand the fairies, and so she must do the worst jobs because there is no one else.
I can't do justice in describing the details the author incorporates, often in passing as though it were natural that killer fairies had taken over much of the Southern US. I will just suggest that you read it yourself if you want to better understand what I mean.
Dead on the Delta gets 4 stars from me because it didn't quite feel as extraordinary as a 5-star book should, but there plenty of things to make this highly recommendable. ...more
When I started into this book, I was expecting a fun, light read like Jane Austen's Emma. Oh no. I got Wuthering HeightsOriginally posted at Libri Ago
When I started into this book, I was expecting a fun, light read like Jane Austen's Emma. Oh no. I got Wuthering Heights. While Wuthering Heights is a great book, its moody and near-violent overtone doesn't lend itself well to the label of "romance." Indeed, it could be considered the antithesis of romance, with the anger and revenge of the lovers destroying their lives and those around them.
That's why I was somewhat surprised with the dark turn of the novel about a third of the way in. The flap copy doesn't really give an indication of what this story is. By the time I realized where things were going, it was too late for me to stop. I was already hurting for the main characters, and I had to know that things would turn out okay.
It's not a bad book at all; my problem is that I was emotionally unprepared for what I got. Let's just say that I stayed up until 4 am to finish the book because I honestly felt sick to my stomach with what was happening, enough that I couldn't fathom sleeping until I got to a good resolution.
In the end, things worked out, which saved the wall from having my Kindle chucked at it. It also saved the book and the author from landing on my list of I-hate-this-book-so-much-because-it-sucked-all-the-happiness-out-of-me. Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure is the only book to occupy that space so far. I'm really hoping to leave it that way.
To sum up: it's a good book, but it's also a dark and emotional read. Know that before going in, and you'll likely appreciate the story. Just don't expect a light romance novel cause you aren't gonna get it.
Thanks to NetGalley and Carina Press for a review copy of the book....more
It's a love-hate relationship for me. I love reading spooky tales, but I hate how scared I get after reading them. I'veOriginally posted at Libri Ago.
It's a love-hate relationship for me. I love reading spooky tales, but I hate how scared I get after reading them. I've been known to scare myself witless after reading ghost stories. Oh, I'm fine while reading; it's afterward when I have to turn out the lights and every noise or shadow shifts into its true nightmaric form that I huddle shivering under the covers.
No, I'm not a 12-year-old girl. I'm a grown woman who's been doing this with scary books since she was 12. You'd think I'd have outgrown it by now, or at least given up reading the scarier ones. You'd be wrong.
So what is it about Anna that had me eagerly anticipating a frightful night hiding under the blankets? Here's the basic premise: a teen ghost hunter kills the dead who kill the living. The ghost of a murdered girl tears apart anyone who enter her house. Then the kicker: The ghost spares the life of the ghost hunter, even while killing others around him. Mystery? Yup. Intrigue? Oh, yeah.
To say that the story is creepy would be putting it mildly, but that's not what makes this book so fascinating. From the horrifying first encounter with Anna, the story progresses from mystery to secrecy, and, yes, even to romance. Anna is a fully fleshed-out character (badum-ching!) who becomes increasingly complex as the story progresses. I have to say, she was my favorite part of the book.
I honestly didn't get as scared as I thought I would, but that's a good thing because I stayed up much too late finishing it. One straight shot through the whole book. It really was that good.
The rating was docked half a star because I might have over-hyped it in my mind a bit, leading to a tiny bit of disappointment, but not enough to ruin how much I enjoyed it overall. (I'm probably hyping it a bit too much here, too. Oops.) I'm hoping that the sequel (Yes!) will deliver that last half star to make this an incredible series.
For an author's debut, this is very well done. I'm definitely keeping an eye on Kendare Blake. There are delicious frights to be had in future books, if Anna Dressed in Blood is any indication.
Note: For those who are sensitive to language and violence, this has both. While it's aimed at YA readers, I'd suggest it's better suited on the older end of that spectrum....more
As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for a good ghost story, even when it scares the schnikeys out of me. The Restorer is one of those creepily good stories that goes for the perfect chilling factor.
Book one in the Graveyard Queen series (doesn't that just sound so awesome?) introduces us to Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. These aren't Casper-friendly ghosts, either. These are scary, wet-the-bed nightmarish ghosts, so Amelia has held to her father's edict to never let ghosts know she can see them. She's done a good job—until now.
How could a ghost story get even better? Add in genteel Southerns entrenched in secret societies and sacrificial murders, plus a handsome potential love interest with a mysterious past, and you've got a realistically fright-worthy read.
While this book is published by Harlequin, it focuses more on the mystery than the romance, which I really appreciated in this story. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance copy. ...more