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Showing posts from April, 2016

Whispers IV edited by Stuart David Schiff

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Whispers IV edited by Stuart David Schiff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 182 pages
Published July 1st 1983 by Doubleday Books
Source: Library sale


This is the 1983 anthology for the magazine "Whispers", a collection of up and coming horror short story writers. All the stories here are copyrighted 1982 with 4 of them being previously published in the magazine while the others were curated for this anthology exclusively. This was a very rocky read for me. I had read 4 of the authors before but hadn't even heard of the others. Several of the stories were great but the stories meandered on down from less than great, to ok, to more than one that was a zero-rated dud. But those great ones sure had something going for them because after all was said and done the stories surprisingly averaged out to a solid rounded-up four. A wild and crazy ride.

1. A Night on the Docks by Freff - Delightful story to open the anthology with! Taking place in a time long ago a village is suffe…

A Beauty by Connie Gault

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A Beauty by Connie Gault
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by McClelland & Stewart
Source: Review copy from Penguin Random House Canada


I enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read for me. I liked the characters and this was important as it is an entirely character driven book. The plot is fairly simple. Set during the depression, in Saskatchewan, a poverty-stricken 18yo girl leaves one evening from a town hall dance with a stranger in his Roadster. I really enjoyed the narrative technique which I found rather unique. Each chapter is titled after a town that the couple journeys through. First, we are introduced to a resident of the town and then Bill and Elena will cross paths with them. The glimpses of all these secondary characters are very intimate and while the "beauty" of the title is Elena we become attached to the others as well. The story meanders back and forth between the various towns until twenty years later in t…

Fatal Jealousy: The True Story of a Doomed Romance, a Singular Obsession, and a Quadruple Murder by Colin McEvoy & Lynn Olanoff

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Fatal Jealousy: The True Story of a Doomed Romance, a Singular Obsession, and a Quadruple Murder by Colin McEvoy & Lynn Olanoff
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by St. Martin's True Crime

Source: gift


An intriguing read about the life and crimes of Michael Ballard, a mass murderer, who killed four people at once and had one further convicted murder he had served time for, committed in his late teens. The authors give emotional character portraits of the victims through the words of family members which is a compelling technique and appreciated in a true crime novel. There is nothing sensationalistic in this portrayal of the case even though at times it does give a fair accounting of the nature of the violence. The authors do have an agenda though and I found that not to my liking; I prefer to read unbiased accounts of crimes. The authors set out to use this crime as an example of the need for parole reform in the state of Pensylvania. Th…

Goosebumps: Ghost Beach & Planet of the Lawn Gnomes by R.L. Stine

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Goosebumps
Ghost Beach by R.L. Stine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 119 pages
Published 1994 by Scholastic
Source: Thrift store

Goosebumps (#22)


Good One! Great classic ghost story. Like a typical Goosebumps, action from start to finish with cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. This has lots of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I had some ideas but must admit it kept me guessing until the end. The conclusion is a perfect shock ending. Not all Goosebumps are equal but this is among the great ones.





Planet of the Lawn Gnomes by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 154 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Scholastic
Source: Pawn shop

Goosebumps: Most Wanted (#1)


The "Most Wanted" series features favourite villains from the original Goosebumps series. Stine gives an author's introduction to the book and the series. I haven't read too many of them yet so didn't get the nostalgia value of meeting up with the Lawn Gnomes again th…

Inmate 1577 by Alan Jacobson

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Inmate 1577 by Alan Jacobson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ebook
Published July 19th 2011 by Premier Digital Publishing
Source: Purchased from Kindle Store

Karen Vail (#4)

It's been several years since I read book three in this series but it only took me pages to remember why I liked it so much. Karen Vail is a fantastic character, very sarcastic and not very likable but smart as a whip. She's an FBI Profiler called out to California to work on a serial killer case involving an unsub who tortures and violently rapes elderly women then kidnaps, kills and displays the husbands at tourist sites. Bodies are racked up faster than the coroner can get them to the morgue and the killer starts sending Karen personal texts. What's cool with this entry is it has tie-ins with the infamous 1962 Alcatraz escape and flashbacks every other chapter to the 1960s following a fictional inmate who is wrapped up with the historical characters and events. A fast-paced, action-packed thriller with twist…

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

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Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 15th 2014 by W. W. Norton & Company
Source: Purchased amazon.ca



3.5/5. I bought this after reading a couple of memoirs on the funerary and undertaking business wanting more about the cremation end. Plus I'm just very interested in death and funerary practices. The book was very interesting though did contain a lot of repeat information for me. The author spent an awful lot of time on embalming which I think I would need to be there physically to learn anything new at this point. Her details on cremation were by far the most interesting parts of the book as was the medieval death history which she majored in at college. She believes in western society going back to being comfortable with death and giving up on the pomp and circumstance of funerals. She believes there needs to be some sort of ritual one believes in surrounding a death ce…

Blood in the Soil: A True Tale of Racism, Sex, and Murder in the South by Carole Townsend

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Blood in the Soil: A True Tale of Racism, Sex, and Murder in the South by Carole Townsend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 232 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Skyhorse Publishing
Source: egalley via edelweiss


A good read if a bit unorthodoxly written for a true crime. This is the story of Joseph Paul Franklin, the man best known for shooting pornography king Larry Flynt, but he was a genuine serial killer by the time he added Flynt's shooting to his roster. The book is about Franklin but Flynt's shooting does take up a chapter and beyond that point can't help but become a major part of Franklin's life story. This was a totally fresh introduction to a serial killer for me as I'd not seen the movie made about Flynt some years ago. Franklin was a racially motivated killer, a brutally abused child who tried to find somewhere to belong. He first tried Christianity but could only settle on the Old Testament God, his hatred for Jews conflicted with that moving him on…

London's Glory: The Lost Cases of Bryant & May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit by Christopher Fowler

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London's Glory: The Lost Cases of Bryant & May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit by Christopher Fowler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ebook, 238 pages
Published March 29th 2016 by Alibi
Source: egalley via netgalley

Bryant & May (#12.5)


The book starts off with a couple of excellent short essays on why we like fictional crime stories as readers which are humorously spot on and also the author comments on his Bryant & May books. Next follows a cast of characters with ample descriptions which I found fantastic as a newbie to this series! The author introduces each story with a short backstory on where the idea came from. I love collections that take the extra effort to introduce each story as it makes the experiences well worth it for the reader. As I had never read the Bryant & May series before, I found this collection a wonderful introduction to them. References to their previous cases are made which will make reading these a different experience for a fan but as a newbie it o…

Winemaker Detective Mysteries #11: Tainted Tokay by Jean-Pierre Alaux

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Tainted Tokay by Jean-Pierre Alaux
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 181 pages
Expected publication: April 16th 2016 by Le French Book
orig French 2006
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Winemaker Detective Mysteries #11


Perfect as always! This series is always fresh, bringing us something new and different each time. Book 11 features Alexandre as a main character! She's been a member of Benjamin's staff since book 1 but has only ever been mentioned or appeared in a few scenes the entire series. This story has two concurrent plots and one of them featuring her and Virgile! Meanwhile, something completely different is in store for Benjamin with the introduction of some international intrigue as he and his wife take a trip to Hungary and get mixed up with a gang of identity thieves. I really had a blast with this volume in the series and found the information on the Hungarian desert wine, Tokay, fascinating. My favourite cozy mystery series.



A Mind of Winter by Shira Nayman

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A Mind of Winter by Shira Nayman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 332 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Akashic Books
Source: received a review copy from LibraryThing review program


I liked this book. I really didn't know what I was getting into when I started as the publisher's description of a "literary psychological thriller" gave me visions of something this is completely not. I was very smitten, though. The book is indeed literary and psychological but there is no thriller. There is a secret which is easily put together by the reader if not during, then certainly by the end of part one. I'd say the main theme here is misconceptions. Coming to your own conclusions about people and then acting upon those misconceptions without ever gathering the courage to face the truth until it's too late. This is historical fiction set a few years post-WWII (1951, to be precise) with some flashbacks to the war years. It's told from different narrative points of view…

There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron

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There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 293 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by William Morrow
Source: egalley via edelweiss


An intriguing mystery with well-developed characters. I almost want to call this a cozy but it isn't, not quite. The mystery was pretty easy to unravel but I found myself interested in the characters, especially the relationship between the sisters and their mother. As well as the side story of their aging neighbour. History plays a major theme throughout in many roles as main character Evie is an historical preservationist by trade and finds past places and stories crossing her path as she tries to deal with her mother's sudden terminal illness, perhaps murder. Not a thriller by any means but a pleasant page-turner, nonetheless. I'd certainly read the author again.