Monday, June 29, 2020

Peter Swanson: Eight Perfect Murders

The latest book from Peter Swanson shows that what you post on the internet can come back to haunt you:

When Malcolm Kershaw first started working at Old Devil's Bookshop he was in charge of the online blog and one of his first posts were books that contained what he believed to the books with perfect unsolvable murders. However, Malcolm gets a huge surprise when an FBI agent enters his bookstore to question the list that he made. She is convinced that someone is using his list to get away with murder and it seems that she is not the only one interested in Malcolm, the killer is out there watching him, knows his history, his secrets. To protect himself Malcolm has to find the killer before he makes his way through the list and exposes everything Malcolm has worked hard to achieve.

STOP!!!!! If you are planning to read some of the great mystery reads from some of the greats just STOP and not read this books as there are spoilers to all of these book:
1. The ABC Murders
2. Strangers on a Train
3. The Red House Mystery
4. Malice Afterthought
5. Double Indemnity
6. The Drowner
7. The Secret History
8. Deathtrap

So even if just one from above is on that list read it first before you read this book. I wish I had known going into this book which books he was talking about and while the narrator does warn of spoilers you don’t know the books until you're already invested in the book.

This is the second book that I have read from Swanson (first book was Her Every Fear) and this book far exceeded the first book that I read by him. The stories are completely different, which I appreciated, and I just found this book way more interesting in main character and story. This is the first bookstore murder that I have read in a long time and I really enjoyed myself. There were a few muddy points along the way, mainly with the FBI/Malcolm dynamic in my opinion (their interactions just seemed odd, almost forced. I know that Malcolm is roped into working the case by the FBI but it was the writing that felt forced) but I really enjoyed the story and it will keep you guessing until the end. I personally did not see all the twists and turns that Swanson throws at you so that always gets bonus points from me. 

I think one of my favourite part of the book is the narration of the book. I like that it is told from only Malcolm's point of view. This works for this book due to the fact that he is the expert in the books from the list. You as the reader also get to know Malcolm really well and the kind of character he is, as well as learning that he has more than one secret in his life and you as the reader are not only trying to solve the murders but also Malcolm's secrets as well.

While this book is extremely clever from start to finish, does it bring anything new to the Mystery genre? No, but it is a good read from start to finish, I just wish is hadn't ruined some books that I had not had a chance to read yet.

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Kiersten White: The Guinevere Deception

Kiersten White brings the reader to the tale of King Arthur, but this is not quite the tale you know:

Princess Guinevere comes to Camelot to wed a stranger, King Arthur, but she feels likes she knows him for Merlin has told her much but not quite enough at the same time. You see this Princess Guinevere is an imposter, she has been sent to Camelot to help protect King Arthur from the magic that was thought to be banished has returned. Now Guinevere is tasked with not only becoming Queen, but hiding her magic as she does her best to protect Arthur and Camelot from unseen dangers and people. However, Merlin had a habit of not telling her everything and some of the deceptions he kept have deadly consequences.

I really enjoyed this book and different adaptation of King Arthur that White decides to take. I will admit that I only know the basic story behind this tale so beyond the basics I am not well versed into the entire story and how much liberty she takes with it, but personally I'm okay with that. I like that White modernized the tale I know but kept it in medieval times feel of a world and did not attempt to bring it to the present or future, I think it would have been strange for what White wants to accomplish in this book. I also like that she took liberties with some of the characters as well, for example Guinevere is not the true Guinevere but the imposter, hence one of the deceptions within the book. I also loved the twist with Lancelot as well.

Guinevere is an interesting character, women but also a teen as well. She very much knows her duties and her magic and has lots of confidence in herself for the most part, but she is unsure how to interact with others. The only relationship she has had is with Merlin, so entering into a relationship and eventual arranged marriage with Arthur she does not know how to handle the emotions that she feels. This is also true when there is another Man who also has interest in her, she does not know what she feels and how to handle the emotions. This is also compounded as the more she uses some magic, some of her memories are taken away from her, so she cannot always rely on her mind. Wish I knew more about Guinevere's magic and what she is able to do, but what we see so far in this book is very interesting.

I will admit that this book is a little slow to start as White sets up the world and Guinevere as a character, but it does pick up the further you read into the book. I look forward to picking up the next book in the series.

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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Kim Michele Richardson: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Kim Michele Richardson takes the readers to a small town, where it is one woman's desire to bring the joy of books and reading to the people of Troublesome Creek:

In 1936 in Troublesome Creek, KY lives 19 year old Cussy Carter, who is last female with the rare Blue People Ancestry. She only has her Pa to keep her company so she decides to join the Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky. Riding across the treacherous mountain ranges rain, shine or snow to deliver books to her patrons, she is determined to win them over and show them the amazing information and world that books can bring people. The more she visits and the farther she travels she slowly creates a network of friends. But hardships are part of Cussy's life and even though she makes many gains with her patrons, many people in Troublesome Creek see Cussy as problem, devilish for her blue skin and would stop at nothing to sure her of her "problem".

Now this book may seem like a fantasy to begin with as the main character Cussy, aka Bluet, is blue skinned, but assure you this book is based upon a rare condition known as Argyria and is caused when silver builds up within the body. The skin will appear blue especially the places that get the most sun exposure. Now that we have determined this book is not a fantasy one, I just have to say, I Loved this book. It was a great story centered around Cussy and her just trying to live her life the best she can as a Blue but also trying to spread the amazing ability of reading to those who are unable to get to town to read or need help learning to read. You get to see throughout the book the amount of lives that she touches, changes and how just delivering books, any type of books, she has made those people's lives better, and Cussy relishes each time she is able to achieve this.

Cussy is a beautiful character, strong in both mind and will, she tackles so many obstacles through her life, and only makes herself better for it. Even when she gets beaten or is afraid she gets back on her mule each time she makes sure to get the books to those she knows will bring the people joy. She is selfless throughout the book, and though her Pa may not like it, it is who Cussy is.

This book truly highlights the racism that people experience for being different, and in this case a different color. Cussy is seen as inferior to those around her, and that her blueness must be caused by something unnatural or devilish (this is what one character believes and believes he can beat it out of her). There is heartache after heartache, test after test in this book by the white characters and Cussy's amazing character shines through it all. Honestly, you think more cannot go wrong for her and yet there is always a new low that other people can sink to in order to put people down. Unfortunately, there are many points within this book where the same rhetoric is used today or some of the same beliefs, maybe not toward the Blue people as it is a known medical condition, but towards people of color and visible minorities.

I really enjoyed this book and the story that Richardson weaved with the research she has done on Argyria disease as well as the book providers of this time. I highly recommended this book, it is a amazing story.

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Friday, June 5, 2020

Grady Hendrix: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

Grady Hendrix takes readers to Charleston, where a quiet suburb is about to get the most unexpected visitor: 

Patricia Campbell gave up her love of nursing in order to have a family and support her husband in his career choices and now she feels like that she does not have much of a life outside of her house. This changes when she joins a book club with other mothers and wives from Charleston and they have one big obsession, true crime and mystery books. However, mystery is about to come to Patricia's house when a new neighbour moves up the street, Patricia is attacked outside her home and children begin to go missing from the poorer neighbourhood are going missing. Are all these events related or has Patricia been spending too much time reading books for her book club, one thing is for sure she did not the answer she was expecting.

This is the first book that I have read by Hendrix and I am excited to check out some of her other works as I liked this book, even though it wasn't quite what I expected. When I started seeing reviews for this book as a great horror novel I expecting it to be more horror and less details of a southern wife's life at home. So the book does start out slow as we get to know Patricia and why she is so unhappy with her life, and her striving to find a way to change that, this is actually an aspect or theme throughout the book. I really do wish there was more slaying vampires and less debating whether or not Patricia is crazy, mixed in with doing some house work and talking about husbands. There is a bit of detective work that is done by Patricia but it is disjointed throughout the book especially with the time jump.

Patricia is a house wife who tries to do it all and I hate to say it but she is portrayed as a typical house wife who is looking for a little bit of spice, adventure, mystery, something in her life. This is what leads her to the book club but also what leads her to befriend the new neighbour who moves down the street. Patricia is a strong character and a great mom who really puts everything she has to keep her house in order and protect her children, so you cannot not like her. Does she makes some not so smart choices, sure but we are all human after all (well most of us, as you never know as this book highlights). As this book is told from Patricia's point of view we only get to know the other characters, mainly those from the book club, from her point of view but they are all fairly similar.

I liked Hendrix's take on the Vampire was very traditional blood thirsty and preying on the unsuspecting and weak. I like the hussel that he takes from town to town, it was just unfortunate for him that some people live a long time too. It really is an art that he had perfected. It was interesting to also watch what ailments the Vampire has and how he gets around them, as well as his strengths, the last scenes are really horrifying (enjoyed every minute of it).

I know that Hendrix was going for a 90s feel in this book but I felt like it was set in the 50s as it seemed that all of the women were house wives and were expected to take care of their house, children and husband. None of the characters worked outside of the home, which I believe was more of what happened in 90s (even in the south) plus all the housework etc, and there is really no mention of the technology of the 90s that makes me think this is the time period its based in. Not going to say that all that house cleaning doesn't come in handy, but the book just lacked the 90s feel to it.

Although this was not quite the book I was expecting, I still enjoyed the ride that Hendrix takes the reader on. This book is well written, well thought out and the horror scenes that do occur are downright frightening. Looking forward to checking more out by Hendrix.

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