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The Brutal Telling

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While this is the fifth entry in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, this is the first that I have read. I have to say that I was impressed with Penny's story. It takes a good author to tell the reader who the murderer is and then make them second guess whether they read it correctly for the rest of the story! The charactrer development is superb on many levels: the individuals, the interaction between the Surete Team and the town of Three Pines. It is a relief to read a novel that truly makes you shiver without any violence...Penny manages to keep the reader on the end of their seat wondering what people can do to each other not physically, but mentally. There are so many sides to a person and Penny hits on several of them throughout this book. An excellent mystery read that I highly recommend.
The Anatomy of Ghosts

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I was excited when I was notified I was going to receive an Early Reviewer copy of this novel; the premise sounded interesting and I love historical novels, especially mysteries. This book came close to meeting my expectations but it didn't quite go all the way.I actually liked the main character, Johns Holdsworth, even though others have found him a bit bland. I think what connected me is that people in 1780's society did tend to be on the more reserved side and, taking into account his situation, I thought it was plausible that he wasn't fully developed. The ending that was left unresolved was especially appropriate in my opinion. The other characters (who were not so burdened) could have used some flushing out (the book was 469 pages so there seemed to be plenty of time). I also thought the concept of privilege getting away with so much was a good one for this story and the author used it well without abusing it. The ending came up on you...after lulling you for the majority of the novel, the ending punched me in the gut. I also enjoyed many of the supporting characters.But there were some things that I didn't enjoy that much: as others have pointed out, the pace of the novel was very slow; if you're not into mysteries and historicals you're likely to have a hard time finishing this one because it takes quite awhile to get going. I also thought that the wrap up of the ghost angle became secondary which would have been fine except the beginning of the novel (and the title) lead you to believe that there is going to be more creepy, scary parts and that just didn't materialize; it faded away quietly until you read the end and wondered what happened to that part of the plot.If you're not a big fan of historical mysteries, this one will leave you a bit bored (if you reach the end) but for those of us who like this genre, this novel was very decent and I am going to pick up some more of Taylor's work.
The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein: A Novel

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There was a lot that I liked about "The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein" but I wanted to like it even more. Ackroyd does a great job of creating a cast of interesting characters, not the least of which is the title character. He is a likable person and even when strange things start happening to him, you don't question his narration because it is so simple and straightforward. Of special delight is Victor's relationship with his servant Fred.But the ending was abrupt and a bit too confusing. After being invested in Victor for 330 pages, his story cuts off in 20 pages with an ending that (I think) was supposed to be fairly obvious but to me came out of left field and wasn't flushed out enough. Maybe this was worked out in the final version (I had an Early Reviewer's copy).Overall, a good idea that was made into an interesting read. For those who like historical fiction and a bit of mystery thrown in, this book is worthwhile.
The Postmistress

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"The Postmistress" kept me reading and Sarah Blake's style is very good. I was very interested and invested in the story of Iris, Emma and (especially) Frankie.The problem is that they feel like 3 separate stories until the last 40 pages of the book. This disturbed the flow for me. Just about the time that I was really into Iris, it would flip over to Frankie with no transition. Frankie's radio broadcasts that made their way to Iris and Emma weren't enough of a connection to me.The ending was very disappointing to me. I really expected more closure and some light at the end of the tunnel.I think some of the minuses would be something Blake could work on in her next efforts. Overall, I think this book had several good things going for it and I would gladly read another book by Sarah Blake.
We Are All Zimbabweans Now

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James Kilgore's novel, 'We Are All Zimbabweans Now' is a very solid outing. The book went very quickly and was easy to become interested in.Ben Dabney is a likeable character and his journey is developed nicely. As a reader I could sympathize with his hesitation to let go of his fantasy notion of Mugabe and the appreciation he develops for the unseen fighters in the liberation.I also enjoyed the character of Florence. I found her take on revolution to be refreshing: knowing when to fight her battles and knowing when she had to let injustice go because fighting just wasn't worth it.There were two things that really bothered me: I felt that the high-level Zimbabwean revolutionary and goverment official acceptance of Ben was a bit far-fetched. It didn't seem plausible that all these people (including Florence) would take such an interest in an American research student with nothing to recommend him. I also thought the end came about too abruptly. 3 pages of Epilogue to wind up 2 years did not really do the ending any justice.Overall, a very enjoyable story with important lesssions about the people who make history, the importance of history in our lives and the responsibilities that come with recording historical stories.
Shake the Devil Off: A True Story of the Murder that Rocked New Orleans

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I was very interested in the first two-thirds of this book. I became invested in Zack's story and wanted to learn more about the factors contributing to the crime. The last third of the book fell far short of what I was expecting. It felt as if the last third of the book should have been mixed in the with the first part. By the time I finished reading the statistics and "explanation" behind Zack's troubles and crime, I had almost forgotten about him. There was a serious downturn in momentum. Since I'm reading an "Early Reviewer's" edition, it could be that this was worked out in the final product. One never got the feeling that PTSD and Katrina recovery were flushed out as much as they could have been. Either Mr. Brown couldn't give enough time to both topics or they should have been in two separate books. In the end, there were some very captivating parts of the book and I was espcially interested in the author's move to New Orleans but the last portion of the book did not live up to the build-up and there were many unanswered questions and avenues.
Following Polly: A Novel

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Following Polly was a good summer read even though it takes place in winter.The mystery seemed to be more of a secondary story to Alice's (the main character) tendencies to, well, follow Polly...and a bunch of other people. And here's what bothered me about the book. The following/stalking part of the story made me pretty uncomfortable because there were a good number of things that I liked about Alice but this was predominant and creeped me out quite a bit. That normally wouldn't be an issue since not all narrators are likable, but you really had to like Alice in order to be in sync with the rest of the story and, especially, the humor. I never felt like the reason for her tendencies were fully flushed out enough for me to connect with why she did this again and again. Without this connection sometimes I was feeling like Alice's hobby that was supposed to be sinister but endearing was just plain sinister.I did like her Mother's advice at the end as to a change of career!With the following Polly angle, Alice's pursuit of the killer, her new relationship with Charlie, the Charlie's Dad arc and Jean the Best Friend...sometimes the story seemed a bit crowded for 300 pages. But overall I enjoyed it and would recommend it for a good 'beach' or 'airplane' read.
Three Bedrooms, Two Baths, One Very Dead Corpse

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I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers program. There were several things that I liked about the book but there are some areas that can be developed more fully.The main detraction was the jagged flow of the story and the narrative. I'm not sure if this will be corrected in the final version but for the copy that I had, it was a bit distracting. There was also some character development that could have been better; I was interested in several of the main characters but they were a bit one-demensional. It was highlighted over and over how much Amanda and her ex were soul mates which left me to wonder why they would get a divorce in the first place (sexual preference aside).I really enjoyed the snappy dialogue and I thought that the main character, Amanda, was engaging and I was rooting for her...which is always important. Also, the plot of having a murder occur in a 'House for Sale' was fun and a welcome change.I would read the next book in this series but the repetive plot and holes in the characters would need to be worked on in order for this series to be viable long term.
Two for Sorrow: A New Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey

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Although this is the first I have read of the Josephine Tey stories, it is actually the third in the series; after reading this one, I was sorry that I didn't read the others first. I enjoyed the story very much and feel it would have been better if I had read the earlier books to have all the back story (there were just a couple points where I was a bit confused and wondered what had happened earlier).The story got off to a bit of a slower start but by a quarter of the way through I couldn't put it down and read the last 300+ pages in one sitting. Being a big fan of murder mystery, it was nice to have character development along with some plot twists. Upson's story has a lot to offer: the usual crime procedural with some love and real-life crime involved as well. Sometimes things got a bit too philosophical and off-track but just about the time I started to sense it, the story moved along. Since this is an Advanced Reader's copy it could be different in the final version. My favorite characters were the investigators Penrose and Fallowfield, which may not have been the author's intention, but it was nice to have an interest in more than just the title character (although sometimes it felt a little like an Archie Penrose mystery instead of a Josephine Tey mystery).Josephine is writing a fiction book based on a true crime and I couldn't help wondering if her process was really what Upson's process was as she put the book together. It was another interesting avenue that I don't see very often.Overall, I liked the book and will be going back to the first two books in the series to fill in the blanks.
Live to Tell: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel

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Before starting this book, I hadn't read the previous D.D. Warren stories. After reading this book, I'm very interested in returning to the beginning and checking out the others. I found this book to be very engaging and it kept me guessing (and a bit freaked out) until the very end. The dialogue throughout is crisp and almost a bit comical at some points. You get the full range of emotions in this outing with D.D.Gardner does a great job writing a story with an interesting and original premise: entire families murdered by the patriarch which seem open and shut murder-suicides but that become more complicated once other connections become obvious.The only slight negative is that I found D.D. Warren herself to be the least interesting of the characters and a bit too bald in her personality make-up at certain points; however, it might be that reading the earlier novels would fill in some of the blanks. It was refreshing to see so much emphasis put on the supporting characters so that the ending made sense and it didn't seem like Gardner relied upon D.D. for all the action during the story.Gardner weaves 3-4 different stories at once and while this can easily become confusing or one story doesn't get developed enough to make sense, she does a great job here of making each story interesting and just connected enough so that it doesn't feel like she's off in left field at any point. Her ending delivered and was a great end to a clever plot.I highly recommend this book!
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