Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review: The Last Mrs. Parrish

The Last Mrs. Parrish The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was better than The Silent Wife, though eerily similar. Yes, overall, it turns out to be the same "twist" but there are enough differences that both books can be appreciated on their own merit.

I see that many readers dislike both female leads in this novel but I was rooting for Daphne from her first appearance. A gripe I have is about the male characters - could you pigeon hole a gender any further? They're either psychotic narcissists (Jackson) or spineless jellyfish (Gregg). Even men are deeper than that.

Another complaint I saw was the sexual and emotional abuse being too graphic. Are you kidding? There is barely a paragraph dedicated to each instance and the number of instances can be counted on three fingers. In my opinion, if you want to highlight that type of abuse, that degree of glossing over or using the topic for shock effect is nearly worse than using it as a plot crutch. I see no trigger warnings needed.

4 out of 5 stars is my vote just because I save the 5 star reviews for the ones that blow my mind and keep me thinking about them for weeks afterward.

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Review: The Walker on the Cape

The Walker on the Cape The Walker on the Cape by Mike Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Walker on the Cape (Sgt. Windfower Mystery #1)
by Mike Martin

*This first portion is specific to GoodReads, not Audible.com or Amazon.com/Kindle*

I'm sorry but I have to call out Goodreads or whoever entered this audiobook there because as you can see above, the title character is spelled W-i-n-d-f-o-w-e-r not WindfLower (or it was as on the date of this review). I noticed that it was an odd but perhaps clever opportunity for the author to go a bit off the reservation with something as simple as a character's name to set his aside from hundreds of other detective series. So... when I began listening and heard the Sgt.'s name pronounced WindfLower, I was thinking, shame on the narrator, that's a big mistake. But it is NOT the fault of the narrator and before you know it, I, as a reader, am thinking more about that discrepancy than what is happening in the story I'm listening to. That is something I think, I, as an author, might be fairly perturbed about.

Beyond that, I thought this story was.. cute. I know that's probably not what the author wants it described as but that's where I am. The townsfolk were quirky and fun, perfectly fleshed out for their role in the plot. Sgt. Windflower felt, to me, like your second choice for prom date but not your "ugh, if no one else asks me I'll go with...". I just didn't really care about him personally, beyond his role in the mystery. The mystery the plot is surrounded by was not necessarily tightly spun but it was enough where I wanted to know the ending. And speaking of the ending, I will admit I thought it was deeper than I expected. In fact, overall, the entire thing felt deeper than its individual parts - meaning that I found the characters to be so so, the mystery level to be so so, peripheral plots to be so so... And in the end, when I sit to think about The Walker on the Cape, I definitely cannot say I hated it. I have many friends I would recommend the book to.

*Something it did take me a while to get past - the Canadian accent of the narrator. I am quite sure it is perfect, but I'm a Southern American and I'm not sure two dialects could be more different than American South and Newfie.

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Review: Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker

Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker by Warwick Gleeson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You had me at homicidal aliens... Okay, not really. Usually that is a phrase where I would be lost, actually. Then I spotted Oz in the title and couldn't resist. Note: I craft my overall impression and subsequent review very much around my first impression with the title, cover image, and summary of a novel and how that either differs wildly or is right in sync with my experience reading the book and feelings afterward regarding the story/book. There things along the way that can alter that impression, like egregious editing errors, moronic characters and/or a plot that goes nowhere or way off the grid of even fictionalized reality.

Beyond nefarious aliens, sorcerers and witches abound - as would be expected from an Oz based narrative - though Piper is hardly a Dorothy, in my opinion. What I mean by that is, I found Dorothy to be weak and annoying in The Wizard of Oz and in Piper Robbin and the American Oz Maker, Piper is anything but weak. I mean, Dorothy defeated the witch by accidentally spilling water on her. That's not the heroine of a story for me. Piper is, simply put, a badass.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Review: The Chemist: A Cale Van Waring Adventure

The Chemist: A Cale Van Waring Adventure The Chemist: A Cale Van Waring Adventure by Janson Mancheski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Chemist: A Cale Van Waring Adventure
by Janson Mancheski

Okay, that opening scene? Brutal. The rest of the book, also a little brutal, though in other ways. These characters felt brutally one dimensional - but somehow it worked here. Several aspects of the plot were brutally unrealistic - and yes, I know, its fiction and therefore all unrealistic but 'super criminals' in novels don't work for me any more than 'super cops' do. No one can pull all of that off that flawlessly.

The Chemist is a rather long novel, weighing in at 479 pages. I am usually the one complaining a book isn't long enough so I have no complaint here but people do love their 'quick reads'.

Somehow all of those negatives came together to form a pretty taut thriller that I didn't hate and would probably recommend to select friends.

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Review: Garry's Upside-Down Adventure

Garry's Upside-Down Adventure Garry's Upside-Down Adventure by Karin Vardaman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Look no further for a fun, wickedly smart children's book for bed time, car rides or any free time. Karin Vardaman has written this fun adventure for intermediate readers about Garry the Gargoyle leaving his UP world to explore the DOWN. Page after page filled with gorgeous, vividly detailed illustrations by Paisley Hansen, Garry's Upside Down Adventure is sure to grab the attention of even those young ones who are most determined to not enjoy reading a book.

The glossary at the back of the book is a brilliant feature for this reading level, when vocabulary can expand so quickly and easily with little more than exposure. I don't know where Vardaman and Hansen met but together, they have created a world and characters that are perfectly ripe for a series every bit as successful as Llama Llama or Pete the Cat. My own kids are too old for this but I have 2 nieces who are going to LOVE Garry!

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