The Eighth House is not a mystery in the "whodunnit" sense, but more of a suspense story enhancing the classic theme of good versus evil. Here, in Sea...moreThe Eighth House is not a mystery in the "whodunnit" sense, but more of a suspense story enhancing the classic theme of good versus evil. Here, in Sealy's debut, the stakes are higher and take on apocalyptic dimensions, mixing astrology with prophecy and turning upside-down the lives of a struggling new family.
In the first third of the story, we are introduced to Edward Hastings, an enterprising lad in turn-of-the-century New York who founds a successful brothel before he is of legal age and gains a notarious reputation. His untimely death spirals him down to a pact with the Devil, which offers Edward an avenue to vent anger left over from his mortal days while aiding the Devil in bringing about the ruin of civilization. Sealy offers an imaginative view of Hell and its residents (including the Devil's wife, interestingly named Angelica), not to mention Edward's detailed demonic training.
By the turn of the 21st century, Edward is enjoying his supernatural power and using and abusing it with relish. His one mistake comes from writing all of his plans down in a diary (coded with astrological charts and ancient languages), which is ultimately lost and bought at auction by a college professor. Aaron Jacobs presents said diary to his fiance, Terecita Ellis, as a gift. Guess what...she's an astrologer!
The second two-thirds of The Eighth House concern Edward's hunt for the diary and consquently for Terecita, who turns out to be more than an innocent participant, as she slowly comes to realize her role in preventing future cataclysmic events. Terecita's knowledge of astrology is focal in explaining the novel's events and action; though I have not had interest in astrology or prophecy beyond select books of the Old Testament, I nonetheless found interesting and entertaining how Sealy wove these concepts into what could likely become a favored story in the growing genre of "end times" books.
Ms. Sealy's debut is a compelling, suspenseful story that might even qualify as a romance (considering the great tension between Terecita and Aaron). She is also quite clever in setting up the story for a sequel, leaving the reader wanting more. Regardless of your views on astrology or any sort of divination, The Eighth House is good escapist fiction and a unique twist on a classic theme.
Morgan McRain is not a detective, but undoubtably she has seen enough episodes of Murder, She Wrote to know the basic routines of searching for clues...moreMorgan McRain is not a detective, but undoubtably she has seen enough episodes of Murder, She Wrote to know the basic routines of searching for clues and deducing the guilty party from a list of suspects. So when the office mate of a colleague is found dead and barefoot on her psychiatric couch--the victim of a very resilient pair of pantyhose--Morgan quickly shifts her therapy practice to the backburner, puts on her imaginary houndstooth cap and joins the hunt for the murderer, revealing in the process the seamier side of a few licensed professionals.
The Well-Heeled Murders could pass for a treatment of a politically-correct MSW script--had Jessica Fletcher been a lesbian with a life partner, daughter, and homosexual "brother-in-law"/nanny. However, the addition of a green detective, Sam Reynolds, with the hots for the male nanny (how convenient!) and a subplot involving the murderer's apparent shoe fetish and a tight-knit groups of swingers, and the story is given a twist of which would incite the envious natures of Aaron Spelling.
Morgan, having maintained some degree of civility with members of the exclusive swingers group (so exclusive it doesn't have a name) of which the victim was a member, agrees to assist Sam in tracking the killer, and eventually outshines the detective in both the brawn and brain departments. Hartman makes it clear that this is Morgan's case from the beginning--certain chapters even lend the possibility that Morgan is a bit more determined than the entire Portland, Oregon police force to catch the killer, and that Sam is just around to bounce off dialogue and flirt with the brother-in-law.
Hartman has the potential of creating an interesting mystery series with the Morgan McRain character--Morgan is witty, sensible, and has the same scrappy, down-to-earth charm that has endeared readers to the likes of Kinsey Millhone and V. I. Warshawski. Supporting characters--Morgan's partner and extended "family"--lend the warmth of a cozy home to which Morgan can regroup and bind any wounds earned from dangerous detecting. Whatever the person's sexual preference, the characters are portrayed as earnest people in a plot that holds up well. Well-Heeled is well-honed.(less)
Iowa must be taking a vacation from small-town crime interesting enough to a freelance writer, because Claire Maxwell is off to Florida in this second...moreIowa must be taking a vacation from small-town crime interesting enough to a freelance writer, because Claire Maxwell is off to Florida in this second installment of Lynn Wingert's mystery series. In Washed Up, Claire is on a research trip, gathering information on shark attacks for an article. She isn't in the Sunshine State for a day when she discovers just how much information is to be had.
For one thing, Claire dives headfirst into a flirtaceous relationship with a local police officer, himself a victim of a shark attack and supposedly Claire's main resource of information for the article. However, when multiple bodies wash up on the shores of Miami Beach, alleged victims of shark attacks, Claire come to two conclusions: 1) There's a very hungry shark circling the waters; or 2) Something else "fishy" is happening.
As in Dead on My Feet, the reader is treated to Claire Maxwell's saucy tongue and yen for junk food. While some might think the romance between Claire and Lieutenant Chris Merrett a bit rushed, it does make for some good-natured dialogue. The revelation of the mystery's end comes as a complete surprise, as the story's build-up leads the reader to other theories, but all in all Wingert's series is improving.(less)
Ever try to do something you feel is the right thing to do, only to have the entire world jump up and grab for your throat in thanks? Amanda Hudson re...moreEver try to do something you feel is the right thing to do, only to have the entire world jump up and grab for your throat in thanks? Amanda Hudson receives worse treatment after discovering her company has been producing a faulty medical device, thus resulting in deaths nationwide.
Sacramento PI Kat Colorado becomes involved when Amanda's husband Jude hires her as protection. The plan works, for a while anyway. Just when it seems the harrassment of the Hudsons is over with the arrests of a few hired goons caught trashing their house, Amanda is found dead. The death is ruled an accident, but Kat, having become close to the Hudsons and itching with suspicion, thinks differently, and embarks on her own investigation which uncovers more than just a late do-gooder's crusade for justice.(less)
A short and quick read, as to be expected from a Kindle single. I've read a number of books about/by stand-up comedy, and of the "talk show wars," and...moreA short and quick read, as to be expected from a Kindle single. I've read a number of books about/by stand-up comedy, and of the "talk show wars," and this provides an informative bridge to "Late Night's" backstage. You hear pretty much from the writing staff, a few guests, and others, but neither Dave nor Paul. Maybe a bit overpriced for the length of story you get.(less)
I'll give Herbert credit for writing a second Dune book. I thoroughly enjoyed the original, and so many people regard it as a masterpiece in the genre...moreI'll give Herbert credit for writing a second Dune book. I thoroughly enjoyed the original, and so many people regard it as a masterpiece in the genre. It was an ambitious book that definitely deserved a better film adaptation (BTW, go watch Jodorowsky's Dune if you haven't already). Dune Messiah doesn't cover as much time as the first story, and to be honest it lacks something that made the first book so readable.
Much of Dune Messiah is spent with a host of supporting players plotting against Paul, and of Paul upset his mate can't conceive. Also, self-loathing. Paul's sister Alia gets much attention here, no doubt a big set-up for her role in Children of Dune, which is next on the TBR. You see potential for a strong female presence in a sci-fi, and in the end she's crying for a man. Eh.
As a Dune story, I liked it, just not as much as Dune.(less)
This is actually half of the book Full Dark, No Stars - a shorter version to tie-in with the A Good Marriage f...more4 to "A Good Marriage" and 2.5 to "1922"
This is actually half of the book Full Dark, No Stars - a shorter version to tie-in with the A Good Marriage film. I enjoyed "The Good Marriage" more than the companion story "1922." Where "Marriage" was a chilling character study of a wife dealing with a horrific discovery, "1922" - about a man who kills his wife to save his way of life - just dragged.(less)
Wow. We may assume we are a more violent civilization today, with school shootings and other heinous act...moreARC received from the publisher via NetGalley.
Wow. We may assume we are a more violent civilization today, with school shootings and other heinous acts, but the more I read about the late 19th century I wonder. This was the time of Henry Holmes, believed to be America's first serial killer, and now through this book I learn of Alice Mitchell's crime of passion. Alice loved a young girl named Freda Ward to the point of madness. Upon learning she'd never fulfill her dream of marrying Freda and spending the rest of their lives together, she killed Freda in a horrific public act with the intent of dying with her, thereby making that reality happen in a technicality. Alice + Freda Forever follows what is known about the courtship of this couple (unusual for 1892 Memphis, where the word "lesbian" didn't exist) and the sensationalism of the trial.
Author Coe delivers a fascinating history of this murder, nationally-known for its time, that allows for sympathy for everyone involved without making excuses for Alice. Of course, in a time where same-sex attraction is dismissed as "hysteria" - the catch-all diagnosis for any "woman problem," you may wish friends and family could have understood enough to lend some support before any violence happened. That Alice seemed more invested in the relationship than Freda, though, suggest an eventual outburst on her part.
I liked this book and recommend it to anybody interested in historical crime. It's a shame no further correspondence or personal interviews exist in order to give more depth into the people involved.(less)
I enjoy small-town contemporary series, and having read through Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek books I picked up on this...moreARC received from the publisher.
I enjoy small-town contemporary series, and having read through Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek books I picked up on this one because of the similarities (also set in small town California, focus on pairing two singles determined not to get deeply involved with someone). Here, a partner in a sports agency - Taryn - is wooed right off the bat by a partner in a bodyguard service - Angel. From the first page you think the heat will sear the town, but you get a slow build that eventually puts the couple in a number of interesting, and sometimes amusing, situations.
They flirt, all the while dealing with their separate personal demons. Angel wants to mentor teenage boys and inadvertently volunteers to lead a troop of young girls in a service group similar to Brownies. Taryn is a fashion plate, and must show proficiency at camping to win a client. Each relies on the other to help, and the agreed-upon affair turns into something more.
I hadn't realized this was the thirteenth book of the Fool's Gold series. I usually don't hop into a series this far into the game, but I liked that the story stood apart enough that I didn't get lost. It's a sweet romance with a few spicy moments that flows very well.(less)
It's rare that I have found a recent work for this blog that isn't a rock star memoir. While Glyn Johns had a very brief career as a singer (...more3.5 stars
It's rare that I have found a recent work for this blog that isn't a rock star memoir. While Glyn Johns had a very brief career as a singer (with modest success in non-English speaking Europe), he is known more as a producer and engineer. He had the great fortune of being present at the creation of many now-legendary albums. Can you imagine hearing Led Zeppelin for the time ever, before the records are even pressed? Johns has this enviable place in history, and when you pick up Sound Man you might expect a vivid portrait of 60s and 70s rock as it evolved and how the people who created the sound lived.
You do find it, to some extent. As Johns explains in Sound Man, he came to music with the intent of singing and performing when circumstances led him to the engineer's booth and kept him there for better part of four decades. This book, though, is more technical than dramatic, with Johns focusing less on his personal life (and therefore his relationship with many of the players) in favor of the mechanics of recording music. If you'd prefer to know the equipment and recording methods used to create Let it Be and Sticky Fingers you struck gold. If you want eyewitness accounts of groupies and candy bar urban legends...sorry. At best, you'll receive hints of behavior in the studio and notes on personalities Johns liked and disliked. He doesn't seem afraid to call out a unpleasant person or his opinion of how Phil Spector's "puked all over" Let it Be.
If the science behind recording music fascinates you, you will enjoy Sound Man. You won't find any more personal insights on your favorite musicians that can't be read elsewhere, but the light personal touches and style of the book make it easy and interesting to read.
I liked this book. Mid-20th century settings are a favorite, and I liked the idea of a story set in the time before Hu...moreARC received from the publisher.
I liked this book. Mid-20th century settings are a favorite, and I liked the idea of a story set in the time before Hurricane Camille with the tempestuous weather complementing the struggles of the Blake family. The style and characterizations reminded me of Fannie Flagg's earlier works, and like Flagg's formula I had an idea of how the story would progress as I read on. However, the strong characters like Sis and Sweet Mama made the book worth reading.(less)
I picked up this title because I don't see too many fictionalizations of the early Stuarts, particularly James I and his heirs. While the subject and...moreI picked up this title because I don't see too many fictionalizations of the early Stuarts, particularly James I and his heirs. While the subject and certain parts of this book interested, I found the pace plodding at times and Elizabeth's characterization off-putting. Yes, it sucks to be a female born to a king where your best lot in life is a decent marriage, but I got this sense of whining that stayed throughout the narration. Also, there seemed to be a bit of "Flowers in the Attic" subtext, if you get my drift. Of course, this is the early monarchy, so that might have been steeped in fact.
This was a book I could easily put down and come back to reading after gaps in time. If you like historical fiction you may be interested in it.(less)