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Book Review: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

October 23, 2016 Leave a comment

Book Review: The Kind Worth Killing by Peter SwansonSummary:
On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the mysterious Lily Kintner. Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. But their game turns dark when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done. Lily, without missing a beat, says calmly, “I’d like to help.”

Review:
You know from that description that this is going to be a thriller. I was fairly certain it would be in the vein of Gone Girl, and it certainly was.

This book takes you on a delightful rollercoaster of emotions. It’s hard to determine precisely who to root for because they’re all just so darn despicable. In a way, you’re kind of glad that they’re taking things into their own hands amongst themselves because then society won’t be burdened by dealing with it ourselves. On the other hand, there’s certainly an aspect of “look how off the rails things get when we let just any individual decide who deserves what.” That said it’s never heavy-handed. It has more of a delightful sneaky glance into disastrous lives ala a murdery Lifetime movie.

The plot is kept moving forward and twisty and full of surprises partially through alternate viewpoints (more than two). This is a technique I really enjoy when done well, and it was done quite well here. The transitions felt smooth and natural. Never cheap.

I also must say as a New England local that the author got both the logistics and the vibe of multiple New England locations right, everywhere from the ritziest Boston neighborhoods to central Massachusetts towns to rural Maine. If you want a true sense of the area and can handle some murder, definitely pick this up.

I’m not sure how I feel about how the book ended, which is what kept me from loving it. I knew where it was going by about two-thirds of the way through, and I just don’t think it was as smooth as the rest of the book. That said, I do think it ended at the right point in time (with the particular plot it was telling). It left me perfectly satisfied, unlike quite a few thrillers lately.

If you’re still looking for a quick Halloween read, pick this one up. It’ll keep you up and on the edge of your seat waiting to see who comes out on top.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Library

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Book Review: Livin’ Lahaina Loca by JoAnn Bassett (Series, #2)

March 7, 2015 1 comment

Book Review: Livin' Lahaina Loca by JoAnn Bassett (Series, #2)Summary:
It’s Halloween, and Pali Moon, Maui’s wedding planner, is happy to be back to planning a normal wedding after her adventures earlier in the year.  Even if she’s being sent out on Halloween night to Lahaina to look for a bridesmaid who’s gone missing.  Pali expects to find her drunk and lost, but what she finds instead is her ponytail in the backseat of her car.  Cut off.  Pali is very worried about the missing bridesmaid, but no one else–not the bride, groom, or even the police–seem to care.  When she starts getting threatening messages, Pali decides it’s up to her to figure out just how much danger the bridesmaid is in.

Review:
This second entry in this near cozy-style mystery series finds the reader again following a wedding Pali is planning gone criminal.

Perhaps some would expect every entry in a mystery series about a wedding planner to involve some wedding going haywire.  I suppose that’s fair, although personally I would prefer the source of the mystery to be a bit more shaken up.  Something like maybe Pali’s neighbor in the business district going missing, and Pali having to still manage to plan a big wedding while investigating the missing neighbor.  However, I can see how some readers would enjoy the predictability of “wedding gone awry” as a mystery plot.  In fact, it’s probably a mystery niche I was previously unaware of.  Potential readers should know, though, to expect the “wedding gone awry” plot from this series.

Even if readers are ok with the “wedding gone awry” idea being brought back in the second entry, how it goes awry could perhaps be executed a bit more uniquely.  In the first book, a groom is missing.  In the second book, a bridesmaid is missing.  The mystery would read quite differently if, for instance, the bridesmaid winds up dead at the bachelorette party, and Pali has to help clear the bride’s name in time for her wedding.  That at least wouldn’t be a missing person all over again.

That said, the reason behind the missing bridesmaid, and the plot that goes along with it is quite different from the first book.  Once the reader gets past the first 1/3 of the book or so, things definitely do start to develop differently.  The plot particularly surprised me at the end, again, in a way that seemed plausible and logical.  I just wish the beginning had been more unique.

Pali’s characterization continues along the same way as the first book.  If you liked her in the first, you’ll like her here.  If you didn’t, you won’t.

The romance plot is also quite similar to the first book.  Pali is still waffling between two men and doing a rather bad job of handling it in an adult-like manner.  Again, if you enjoyed the romance in the first book, you’ll enjoy it here.  If you didn’t, you won’t.

The setting is still as lovely as in the first book.  Hawaii and its culture are beautifully depicted.  It’s easy to feel swept away to Hawaii when reading this book.

Overall, this mystery has a plot that starts quite similar to the plot in the first book but that is saved by a drastically different ending and reasons behind the missing person.  The main character and romance continue to be a bit ho-hum, but if readers enjoyed them in the first book, they will enjoy them here.  Recommended primarily to those who greatly liked the first book in the series.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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Previous Books in Series:
Maui Widow Waltz, review

Friday Fun! (October: Orchards, Hay Rides, Motorcycles, and Hiking)

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment
Copyright Amanda McNeil. Image of a hay ride down a country road surrounded by fall colors.

One of my film shots from the orchard of the hay ride going by us.

Hello my lovely readers!  Happy Halloween!

We had a rather oddly warm October here in New England right up until this week.  Which was ok by me because a) cheaper heating bills and b) more motorcycle rides and outdoor activities.  A particularly nasty cold has been going around the city, and unfortunately both myself and my partner caught it.  I wound up having cold symptoms for two weeks.  Since I started focusing on health a few years ago, it has become rare for me to have a cold for more than a few days to a week.  This one knocked out pretty much everyone who got it.  I am pleased to say it is finally gone, but it definitely put a damper on some of our activities this month.

In spite of the doom cold, I still managed to get out and enjoy fall!  My partner and I took a motorcycle ride out to Western Mass to go to an apple orchard.  Since we were on the bike, we didn’t buy bunches of apples (also, we get lots from our CSA anyway), but we did drink cider, eat cider donuts, take a hay ride, and do some old-fashioned film photography.  My bf bought me a sardine can film camera recently, and I am enjoying starting to get into this photography thing.  The orchard was the perfect place to try out my first roll. 🙂  The hay ride was also fun, as were the apples we picked to eat on our walk.

I also go to go for an old-fashioned hike on some state land with my bf and a friend.  It was so so much fun to scramble up rocks again and be out in the fall colors up close.  We had a lovely picnic with curry egg sandwiches and the salad I made that I mentioned in yesterday’s review.  Then when we got off the trail, I warmed up with a salted caramel latte. Yummm

I hope you all have a lovely Halloween tonight! My plan is to go to the gym then have dinner and a scary movie at home with the bf. The perfect Halloween celebration for this introvert. 🙂

Friday Fun! (Welcome, Fall!)

October 5, 2012 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  It is finally fall in lovely New England. If I was forced to pick, I’d choose fall as my favorite season, although winter would come in a very close second.  I might not feel this way in other areas of the US where there is no leaf changing or crisp autumnal weather or orchard season.  But here all of these awesome things exist, so yayyyy!

Things I love about Fall, in no particular order:

  • Cooler weather, which means I don’t immediately look like I ran a 5k when I step out my door
  • Fall fashion, particularly knee high socks! And denim jackets! And getting to wear my hair down periodically!
  • Also my hair no longer looks like I stuck my finger in a light socket.
  • Pumpkins!
  • Pumpkin. Spice. Latte. (with soy)
  • Pie
  • Fall leaves
  • Kicking fall leaves
  • Hiking in the woods
  • Hot chocolate
  • Spiked hot chocolate
  • Giant pots of tea
  • The perfect weather for snorgling
  • Gourds
  • Pie
  • Did I mention pie?
  • Squash dishes
  • Slow cooker season!
  • Long hot baths
  • Halloween!
  • Related: horror everywhere. Oh how I love horror.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg in everything
  • CIDER for the love of fsm, I almost forgot cider.

I had a long weekend this weekend, which was partially a reward to myself for making it through what I have been told are the toughest two months in medical academic libraries’ calendar year and also partially to spend some time with my bf who just got back from a two week trip abroad.  🙂  Many things on this list were covered, including pumpkin spice latte and pie.  We made an apple pie together with apples we got from the orchard ourselves, and it was amazingly delicious.  Special thanks to my daddy for sharing his pie crust secrets.

As for the blog, you may have noticed that my most recent read was actually four books in one, and you really should check it out particularly if you are a scifi or 1950s American culture fan.  That slowed the reviews down a bit, but I have this new rule where I won’t kick myself over my book numbers being lower because I read a long book (or two. or three!).  Big books shouldn’t be left on the sidelines purely for being big. 😉

Happy weekends and happy fall, all!

Book Review: Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

October 12, 2011 5 comments

Evil jack-o-lantern.Summary:
Every year the people of the town lock their boys aged sixteen to nineteen in their bedrooms for five days without food then let them loose on the night of Halloween for the Run.  The October Boy, a living, breathing scarecrow stuffed with candy and topped by a jack-o-lantern head, will try to make it to the church by midnight.  Whatever teenage boy stops him is the winner and is allowed past the Line to escape from town.  Pete is determined to win this year, but not everything about the Run is as it at first appears.

Review:
This short book reads like a campfire story.  I kept finding myself wishing I was huddled up around a campfire reading it out loud to my friends.  The narration style is decidedly written that style.  The style of a whispered urban legend or a campfire ghost story.

I don’t know what possessed Partridge to name this book Dark Harvest, when while I was reading it I definitely thought of it as The October Boy.  Plus, Dark Harvest is a common name whereas The October Boy is not.  The title is definitely one of the weakest points of the book.

Basically this story is an allegory for every teenager who ever felt trapped in a small town.

You remember how it feels, don’t you? All that desire scorching you straight through. Feeling like you’re penned up in a small-town cage, jailed by cornstalk bars. Knowing, just knowing, that you’ll be stuck in that quiet little town forever if you don’t take a chance.  (page 41)

That desire and drive as a teenager to get the heck out of dodge is palpable in the book.  Similarly, the disillusionment as you realize as a teenager that adults are not perfect and do not know it all and maybe even lied to you.  It’s a nice allegory for both of those emotions, but it is not a perfect one.

I felt too many questions were left unanswered at the end of the book.  Perhaps that wouldn’t bother some readers, but it bothered me.  There’s this huge mystery of The October Boy, but while we get some answers, we are left with some questions hanging.  I was hoping for more from this book.

Overall, this is a fun, quick horror story told in an intimate, urban legend style.  Due to its themes, it will work best for teenagers, but adults who vividly remember those emotions will probably enjoy it as well.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Better World Books

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Friday Fun! (Restaurant Work, Updates)

October 7, 2011 3 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  It’s been a crazy week on the blog with everything from the Nigerian Lit Reading/Reviewing Project to white trash zombies to a smack-down with a rude author. Phew!  And that was just one tiny part of my life, lol.

This was my first full week working my new part-time job at the restaurant.  Due to the new schedule, I can only do the gym 3 days a week instead of 5. I was worried this would lead to me losing ground on my get fit challenge, but that is clearly not to be the case.  My restaurant shifts involve running around like a chicken with my head cut off for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, and if anything I’ve seen my metabolism increase from more expended energy.  And that’s just the regular shifts!  I’ve also had shifts involving “guerilla marketing” or what my co-worker calls “menu bombing.”  If you live in a city, you know what this entails.  Running around residential neighborhoods leaving menus in mailboxes, on porches, and on cars.  I had no idea how many steps are on Boston porches until I climbed them for two hours. Holy shit, Batman!  It was like getting paid to do the stairmaster.  (If you can’t tell, I’m happy about this).  I love my part-time job!  Plus they feed me dinner most shifts.  Since it’s a healthy restaurant, that means free healthy food, yay!

The classic fall New England weather is here, which means crisp air and frosty mornings.  Halloween decorations are up all over the city, and I clearly need to start work on figuring out my Halloween costume.  My co-worker last night suggested I could pull off being Lara Croft, and I absolutely LOVE the idea, so I’m thinking that may be it.  But shhh, don’t tell!

I’m really hoping to finish up the first draft of Tova Gallagher 2 this weekend, so I can get to editing my zombie book!  I can’t wait to get more of my writing out to you guys.  Be sure to check in tomorrow for the discussion of the next book in The Real Help Reading Project (it’s my favorite that we’ve read so far).

Tonight I’m doing yoga and hopefully seeing some friends.  Happy weekends all!

Friday Fun! (Busy Week, Happy Halloween)

October 29, 2010 2 comments

Oh boy what a busy week it’s been!  It was great to get to see Team Unicorn last Saturday night, even though not all of us could be there.  The pizza was yummy, and Kristi’s apple cake was absolutely scrumptious!  We played Apples to Apples, and it was great to see how well (or not well) we all knew each other.  On Sunday E and I took our friend Nina out for her birthday to an excellent Thai restaurant.  All of the food was simply amazing.  My appetizer was this goat cheese, walnut, and grape pate.  It was to die for.  Then for my main course I had lemongrass tofu with jasmine rice.  And our drinks!  They were so fabulous.  My first one was a gin drink and came with this cucumber garnish.  Then after that we all had blackberry sours.  I think I may have found my new favorite girly drink, haha.

The beginning of my week was full of grad school.  I finally went to a full session of class healthy enough to participate.  That was good!  Then I had a big paper to write, which was what most of my time was spent on.  Last night, I went out for live music and karaoke with my friends.  Nina and I sang Poker Face, and it was awesome.  I have 1 paper, 2 projects, 2 handouts to design for my students, 1 cataloging assignment, and TAing online until the second week of December between me and graduation.  I can’t wait!  But I’ll definitely be busy in the meantime.

I hope you all have super happy Halloweens, no matter how you decide to celebrate. 🙂