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Let's Talk About Books

An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading. 

Currently reading

File M for Murder
Miranda James
Evil Under The Sun
Agatha Christie
Progress: 30/213 pages
SPOILER ALERT!

One Was Lost

One Was Lost - Natalie D. Richards

Okay, time for a proper review. 

 

One Was Lost follows Sera as she and three others - Jude, Lucas, and Emma - are stranded in the woods on a school campout. When they wake up with cryptic words written on their arms and their supplies shredded, it's made clear someone is following them and wants them dead. What was supposed to be a simple backpacking trip soon turns into a fight for survival with a lot of teen angst. 

 

Overall it was a fun book. There was suspense and I enjoyed trying to unravel the mystery. There were a lot of parts where I didn't want to stop reading due to how intense parts of it were, such as with the bears. Sera was a good main character and I liked watching her react to things. In particular, she felt real in her reactions. Like, freaking out when she sees a finger? That's totally what a normal person would do and I like that Richards went for making her normal rather than trying to make her this steely badass like some other writers might. 

 

The biggest flaw to the book is it felt very drawn out. Like, when you actually look at the events, not much actually happens. Most of the book is either the teens arguing or Sera dealing with her sexual frustration over Lucas. By the time I finished the book, I realized just how hollow the story really was. 

 

Similarly, while the mystery wasn't horribly constructed, it wasn't developed as much as it should have been. The identity of the bad guy wasn't totally out of left field but the method they were employing didn't make as much sense. It reads like Richards knew who she wanted her antagonist to be and just thought we could put it all together. The problem with this is we didn't get to know the antagonist well enough to recognize the significance of all the events. They can be linked together, it's just by a very feeble thread. 

 

Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. It's a cotton candy read and really more about Sera's relationship with Lucas than an actual mystery. But if you go in knowing that and your expectations are appropriately adjusted, I think you'll enjoy it. 

One Was Lost - Natalie D. Richards

At work so the full review will have to wait. It’s all right though. Not spectacular but all right.

The Whale Wins Again

It - Stephen King

Gonna have to put this one on hold again. The loaning library wants it back and a bunch of people are requesting it. I COULD abuse my powers to renew it but I just don't have the time right now. One day I will slay it. One day. 

Ghostland

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

I can't decide if I was mis-sold on this book or not. It was about what I expected to read, I suppose, but not in the way I expected to read it. I dunno. I feel a little cheated but can't quite put my finger on why.

 

Ghostland is an exploration of American history through some of the countries most haunted locations. Houses, hotels, graveyards, and even whole cities are discussed because really, if you look hard enough, everyone has a ghost story to tell. Locations discussed include The Winchester Mystery Manor, Danvers Mental Hospital, Gettysburg, and the entire city of Detroit. It's definitely a different way to look at American history, especially if you're interested in the paranormal.

 

I think the biggest reason I feel cheated by this book is it did end up being more of a review and critique of American history than a book about haunted locations, which was what I expected and haunted. Some chapters, mainly in the beginning, were what I expected. For example, I found the chapter on the Winchester Mystery Manor fascinating due to it going quite in depth into ghost stories and the spiritualist movement while also discussing their historical significance. That to me was exactly what I wanted to read. An annoyingly large part of the book though was more like, "slavery is bad" and "ghost hunters are ridiculous." I'll talk more about that in a moment but it was not at all what I wanted to read. 

 

This book was really interesting. It explored a lot of aspects of American history I was unaware of and when it did connect to ghost stories it was incredible. For example, in one chapter we learn how ghost stories in part inspired the formation of the KKK in that early members pretended to be specters of fallen soldiers to scare the newly emancipated slaves. That's something I never learned in history class. 

 

There were some chapters that even if they weren't connected to ghost stories per say the history was presented in a new way that was fascinating. I particularly liked the chapter on haunted asylums since, even though the ghost stories were few and far between, Dickey a) didn't demonize psychology the way many people I know do when criticizing past practices and b) explored a completely fresh angle of the haunted asylums: why they were built they way they were. As a psych graduate I find the thought processes behind their architecture fascinating and I'm glad Dickey focused so much on that element, rather than just going "lobotomies are bad" and leaving it at that. 

 

Also worth noting is the fact that Dickey explores ghost/creepy stories that don't always make it into the mainstream. I was particularly pleased to see that he included the stories of Elisa Lam and the history of the Cecil Hotel as well as the Lalaurie Manor in his explorations. 

 

The biggest critique I have of this novel is that Dickey comes across as being incredibly full of himself throughout the entire thing. His writing style came across very much so like those "I, an Intellectual" memes and it was obnoxious. I think what got me the most is he came across as VERY disparaging of ghost hunters and tourists. His condescension towards those groups was unbearable. Judging only by the way he writes, he reminds me of the bullies from my English classes who never hesitated to inform you of how enlightened they were and how beneath them you were for not being as enlightened. That was definitely not what I signed up for and it made getting into the book very difficult. 

 

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars. The book has a lot of interesting information, but the author gets in his own way with his ego. Would recommend for those interested in haunted history but check it out, don't buy it. 

 

Final thought: You can disagree with something without being a dick about it, Colin. 

Bingo Update

If we're just going by called squares I'm close to having a Bingo. XD Petsitting this weekend and I have Saturday off so hopefully I can get myself to do a lot of reading then. 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

The Snowman - Jo Nesbø

Okay, home and cozy so time for a review!

 

The Snowman follows detective Harry Hole as he tries to figure out who is killing women and building snowmen. A weird connection but one that exists and becomes more and more sinister as the story goes on. Harry must decide who he can trust, figure out who is lying, and maintain his sobriety before the Snowman claims the one victim Harry cares about most. 

 

As a mystery, I liked this one quite a bit. I predicted who the Snowman was fairly easily and wouldn't say I was surprised by any of the big revelations, but the smaller details really impressed me. For example, the significance of the third beheaded chicken. Seeing how all the little details came together to form the big picture was really fun and the climax of the story was very satisfying. I had a hard time putting the book down and in fact only did so to pick up Sean Bean and make her cuddle. So from a mystery perspective it was awesome. 

 

As a book, though, I wasn't a big fan. I find Nesbo's style overstuffed. As we say in my family, you ask him the time and he tells you how to build a clock. There were so many parts of the book that were just so dull to me since they were just description or overstuffed story telling. There were also many parts that were like, why is this important? Which, to Nesbo's credit, almost everything in the book was used at some point later in the story and so it was important. It was just a pain in the ass to read, which is obviously not something I care for. There was also a lot going on and it became difficult to keep track of characters sometimes. 

 

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Nesbo can craft an awesome mystery, he just needs some work on the storytelling aspect. 

 

Final thought: Reading the book does make me very excited for the movie coming out next week. Michael Fassbender is a perfect choice for Harry and I think this is one of the cases where it will make a better movie than book. JK Simmons is an odd choice for Støp though. So we'll see. 

 

 

The Snowman - Jo Nesbø

I'll review this fully but I wasn't too thrilled with it. I'd say it's a great story but with less than fun execution. Does make me very excited for the movie though.

Attention!

 

This is Sean Bean. She is the runt of the litter of fosters my mom just got, four in all. I love her. 

 

That is all. 

Reading progress update: I've read 236 out of 550 pages.

The Snowman - Jo Nesbø

I'm hoping to finish this by the end of the week. It's not bad but it's dragging. I'm ready to be done.

Reading progress update: I've read 17 out of 1090 pages.

It - Stephen King

This book is something of a whale to me. I'm ready to conquer it.

Reading progress update: I've read 67 out of 336 pages.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

I'm debating not finishing this one. It's not bad, but with Halloween Bingo I'm not sure if it's where I want to put my reading energy, especially since it's not as interesting as expected. I have time so I guess I'll just wait and see.

Cozy Mystery Suggestion

If anyone is looking for a cozy mystery for Halloween Bingo or just because and you want to support a fellow Booklikes member, check out Demon Spirit, Devil Sea. Its the second in Charlene D'Avanzo's Mara Tusconi clifi mystery series. I haven't read it myself, but as many of you know I do social media for Charlene and am always happy to recommend it. 

 

Also if you read it, please review it on Amazon. Either of her books really. Pretty please. :D 

 

It's available for Kindle here: http://amzn.to/2xYKkGI

 

If nothing else, it's a bingo square! Just saying! 

Bingo Update

Only 2 'staches on the board so far. Have some ideas for strategizing though. 

 

 

 

Read + Called

Cozy Mystery: Murder Past Due

In The Dark, Dark Woods: The Ritual

 

Currently Reading

Murder Most Foul: The Snowman

Haunted Houses: Ghostland - Technically nonfiction but it's haunted houses so hey!

Classic Horror: In the Mountains of Madness 

Murder Past Due

Murder Past Due - Miranda James

From the comments I've been getting, quite a few of you have read this book so I'll keep it brief. 

 

Murder Past Due follows library archivist/amateur sleuth Charlie Harris and his trusty sidekick Diesel as they try to solve the mystery of the murdered mystery writer. Trouble is, Godfrey Priest is disliked by the majority of people in town and the suspect list just seems to keep growing. Can he solve the crime before his young boarder, Justin, is wrongfully arrested? Will Diesel ever get the head pats he so desperately wants?!!!

 

Silliness aside, I really liked this one. It's probably the most solid cozy mystery I've read. The plot was focused and there were a lot of clues leading throughout the story. It was a lot of fun to read and see what surprising twist lay ahead. The who-done-it made sense and didn't feel cheap at all. Overall this is just a really nice, really solid mystery. 

 

Diesel is, of course, my favorite character. In my opinion he's the best character in the book. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. On the one hand, should a cat really be outshining all the other characters? On the other hand, is it possible for a cat NOT to outshine everyone else?

 

My biggest critique is sometimes the dialogue, specifically the character's speech patterns, drove me nuts sometimes. For example, the way Justin called his mom "Mama" every time. Just felt weird for an eighteen year old to do. I speed read through Peter's scenes because I just couldn't stand the way he talked. I give James credit for really giving her characters unique voices, I just wish she made it more realistic because it did get very obnoxious. 

 

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars, amended from the 4 stars earlier. It's a great book, little cheesy, but it has a cat and is just really cute. 

Murder Past Due - Miranda James

At work so the review will have to wait. Overall though a very fun and enjoyable cozy mystery.

Reading progress update: I've read 10 out of 550 pages.

The Snowman - Jo Nesbø

Let's do this.