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Queiter than Sleep and The Northbury Papers – Joanne Dobson

Quieter than Sleep: A Modern Mystery of Emily Dickinson (Karen Pelletier, #1)

From the Publisher:

Professor Karen Pelletier’s prime literary passion is poet Emily Dickinson – a passion she shares with her hotshot colleague Randy Astin-Berger. Heir apparent to the head of Enfield’s English department, the pompous Randy is the campus Casanova. That is, he was – until he was found strangled with his own flashy necktie. The last person to see Randy alive – and the first to find him dead – Karen knows she must solve the case before she becomes the prime suspect. But to do that, she must first discover the truth behind Randy’s final Dickinsonian discovery – a literary bombshell that may well have been to die for….

My thoughts:

This is a cute cozy mystery, and I’m a sucker for literary mysteries, so of course I had to pick it up. One thing that I do have to point out is the fact that reading this made me think of a 90’s TV show. The description of the clothing really brought that to mind. I like the perspective that the main character adds to the story, because she’s like an outsider looking in. She works on an Ivy League school campus, but she comes from a scholarship background and she brings that toughness with her into the story. I liked the mystery and the character development, but I do have to say that I found the main character a little annoying at times (maybe a little too whiny). Other than that, a good mystery to read on a cold and rainy day.

 

The Northbury Papers (Karen Pelletier, #2)

From the Publisher:
Teaching American women’s literature at New England’s prestigious Enfield College has shown Karen Pelletier just how cutthroat the world of academe can be. But nothing in her tenure has prepared her for the perils to come, as this bastion of higher learning throws open its doors to a cleverly calculating killer.

A battered copy of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre leads Professor Karen Pelletier to the long-forgotten novels of an obscure writer named Serena Northbury. When she decides to pen the author’s biography, she sets off a raging controversy. Everyone, from her esteemed colleagues to her tyrannical department head, regards Northbury’s nineteenth-century writings as trash. But when the intrepid researcher stumbles upon a treasure trove of Northbury’s papers—including what looks very much like an unpublished novel—Karen knows she cannot quit, for what could be more thrilling?

Unfortunately, someone takes exception to Karen’s penchant for digging up the past. Before long, she is the unlikely suspect in a homicide—and the target of an erudite killer who is poised to kill again.

My thoughts:

Another good cozy. This time the plot was a little more convoluted, and there were a lot more threads to keep track of (which kind of bugged me in some places), but the characters were still enjoyable. I had the same problem with the main character that I had in the last book – she tends to get whiny sometimes. I like how we get to see the day to day workings of a college campus, and that the literary part of the mystery did not take over the entire story line. There’s still room for character development in future novels, so I’m looking forward to reading the next one in the series.

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Angels and Demons – Dan Brown

Angels & Demons (Robert Langdon, #1)

From the Publisher:

Before The Da Vinci Code was broken, the world lay at the mercy of Angels and Demons. – Not very descriptive, is it? I found another goodreads description that was much more detailed, and much more superfluous.

It takes guts to write a novel that combines an ancient secret brotherhood, the Swiss Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, a papal conclave, mysterious ambigrams, a plot against the Vatican, a mad scientist in a wheelchair, particles of antimatter, jets that can travel 15,000 miles per hour, crafty assassins, a beautiful Italian physicist, and a Harvard professor of religious iconology. It takes talent to make that novel anything but ridiculous. Kudos to Dan Brown (Digital Fortress) for achieving the nearly impossible. Angels & Demons is a no-holds-barred, pull-out-all-the-stops, breathless tangle of a thriller–think Katherine Neville’s The Eight (but cleverer) or Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum (but more accessible).

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is shocked to find proof that the legendary secret society, the Illuminati–dedicated since the time of Galileo to promoting the interests of science and condemning the blind faith of Catholicism–is alive, well, and murderously active. Brilliant physicist Leonardo Vetra has been murdered, his eyes plucked out, and the society’s ancient symbol branded upon his chest. His final discovery, antimatter, the most powerful and dangerous energy source known to man, has disappeared–only to be hidden somewhere beneath Vatican City on the eve of the election of a new pope. Langdon and Vittoria, Vetra’s daughter and colleague, embark on a frantic hunt through the streets, churches, and catacombs of Rome, following a 400-year-old trail to the lair of the Illuminati, to prevent the incineration of civilization.

Brown seems as much juggler as author–there are lots and lots of balls in the air in this novel, yet Brown manages to hurl the reader headlong into an almost surreal suspension of disbelief. While the reader might wish for a little more sardonic humor from Langdon, and a little less bombastic philosophizing on the eternal conflict between religion and science, these are less fatal flaws than niggling annoyances–readers should have no trouble skimming past them and immersing themselves in a heck of a good read. “Brain candy” it may be, but my! It’s tasty. –Kelly Flynn

My thoughts:

I should mention that the only reason I read this book was because I needed a book set in the Vatican for a reading challenge.  I barely managed to finish it.  I don’t know that much about the Catholic church, but even I could tell that the author made some glaring mistakes.  Same thing when it comes to what he wrote about CERN.  If you use a real religion, as well as real places in your writing, in my humble opinion you should research them a little better.  The story also seemed rushed, most of the action happening in the course of 4-5 hours.  There was just something off about the way that he wrote his action scenes, and I just can’t quite put my finger on it other than say they felt too rushed.  The story line wasn’t believable at all, and the characters fell flat.  Since there is really nothing positive that I can say about this book, I’m going to stop here.  It wasn’t my cup of tea.

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The Hanging Tree – Bryan Gruley

The Hanging Tree

From the Publisher:

WHEN GRACIE McBRIDE, the wild girl who had left town eighteen years earlier, is found dead in an apparent suicide shortly after her homecoming, it sends shock waves through her native Starvation Lake. Gus Carpenter, executive editor of the Pine County Pilot, sets out to solve the mystery with the help of his old flame and now girlfriend, Pine County sheriff deputy Darlene Esper. As Gus and Darlene investigate, they can’t help but question if Gracie’s troubled life really ended in suicide or if the suspicious crime-scene evidence adds up to murder.

But in such a small town it’s impossible to be an impartial investigator—Gracie was Gus’s second cousin; Darlene’s best friend; and the lover of Gus’s oldest pal, Soupy Campbell. Yet with all the bad blood between Gus and Gracie over the years, Gus is easily distracted by other problems. His employer is trying to push him out, the locals are annoyed that his stories have halted construction on a new hockey rink, and Darlene’s estranged husband has returned to reclaim his wife.

When Gus tries to retrace Gracie’s steps to discover what happened to her in the eighteen years she was away from Starvation Lake, he’s forced to return to Detroit, the scene of his humiliating past. And though he’s determined to find out what drove Gracie back home, Gus is unprepared for the terrible secrets he uncovers.

The second book in Bryan Gruley’s irresistible Starvation Lake series, The Hanging Tree is a compelling story about family and friendship, sex and violence, and the failure of love to make everything right.

My thoughts:

I won this book as part of the First-Reads program on Goodreads.  It is the second book in the Starvation Lake series, but I think that you can also read it as a stand alone.  I didn’t read the first one, and I didn’t feel like I was missing anything but I definitely want to pick up the first book in the series though.  This was an interesting and fast-paced mystery, with a good cast of characters (even the ones I didn’t like), and the author didn’t make me cringe when I was reading about hockey (a sport I know nothing about).  Very enjoyable read overall.


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The Nimble Man and Tears of the Furies – Christopher Golden and Thomas E. Sniegoski

The Nimble Man (The Menagerie, #1)

From the Publisher:

Behind the façade of a stately Boston brownstone, The Menagerie marshals their last defenses. Together, they will confront the minions of utter darkness, who have already begun their quest to resurrect the most malevolent of the fallen angels–whose wrath against mankind knows no bounds.

My thoughts:

This is a good start to a series.  We have a cast of unlikely heroes, led by none other than Arthur Conan Doyle, and a very good story.  This book has everything, vampires, shape shifters, demons, ghosts and hobgoblins.  The story is intriguing and fast paced, the characters are intriguing (I can’t wait to read the rest of the books in the series just to see their development and back story), and it made me laugh out loud in several places, while it was serious in others.   And the best thing about it, it reminds me of my favourite comics I used to read as a child.  Really enjoyed this one.


Tears of the Furies (The Menagerie, #2)

From the Publisher:
Meet the Menagerie–as hodge-podge a mix of other-worldly beings as anyone can imagine. But a sorcerer, a scientist, a sixteen-year-old demon, and the others all have one thing in common: a hunger for justice–no matter what the cost.

My thoughts:

The second installment of the series takes us to Athens, where the menagerie is investigating why men and women are turned into stone.  One of the things I really like about this series is how the authors take classic myths and they put a different spin on them.   I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil the story, but I can say that this installment introduces us to the queen of the Gorgons, and that during the course of the story the team makes a foray into hell.  The main reason I like reading series is because I like to see the character development, and this one doesn’t disappoint.  Interesting plot, good cast of characters, fast paced story – a good choice overall.

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Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading – Maureen Corrigan

Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books

From the Publisher:

“It’s not that I don’t like people,” writes Maureen Corrigan in her introduction to Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading. “It’s just that there always comes a moment when I’m in the company of others, even my nearest and dearest, when I’d rather be reading a book.” In this delightful memoir, Corrigan reveals which books and authors have shaped her own life, from classic works of English literature to hard-boiled detective novels, and everything in between. And in her explorations of the heroes and heroines throughout literary history, Corrigan’s love for a good story shines.

My thoughts:

I absolutely love Fresh Air and Maureen Corrigan’s book reviews.  That’s one of the reasons I picked up this book.  Well, that and its title.  I’m not usually a sucker for titles and covers but this title made me burst out laughing, and I have to say that I totally identify with that statement.  I also love books about books.  I found this book a little disjointed though.  Something about it just didn’t flow right for me.  Other than that, I liked it.  I love the fact that she loves hard boiled mysteries.  I liked how she makes the reader feel like they received an invitation to meet her family.  If this books was more about the love of books and reading, and less about analyzing books I would have given it more points.  Since she is a book reviewer though, I understand her predisposition to take books apart.  There were also too many spoilers in this book.  Now I’m not sure if I want to read some of the books mentioned, even though I’m not usually bothered by spoilers. Overall, I wish this was a little more memoir and less lit. crit., but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

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They Found Him Dead and A Blunt Instrument – Georgette Heyer

They Found Him Dead

From the Publisher:

It is the morning after wealthy Silas Kane’s sixtieth birthday party – a celebration that brings to light a number of familial controversies. When Kane he is found dead at the foot of a cliff, the assumption is that he simply lost his way in the fog and fell by accident. But the subsequent death of his nephew and heir and threats on the life of the third Kane, the newest heir, raises obvious suspicion, and the redoubtable investigative skills of Superintendent Hannasyde prove critical once again.

My thoughts:

Lots of things going on in this mystery.  Long list of suspects, lots of quirky characters (of course), lots of action, great dialogue, and typical British dry wit, all wrapped up in the traditional English country setting.  Oh, and let’s not forget the humour provided by the youngest character.  I liked a lot of the characters, and even the ones I didn’t like I found entertaining.  Good mystery overall.


A Blunt Instrument

From the Publisher:

When Ernest Fletcher is found bludgeoned to death in his study, everyone is shocked and mystified: Ernest was well liked and respected, so who would want to kill him? Enter Superintendent Hannasyde who, with consummate skill, begins to uncover the complexities of Fletcher’s life. It seems the real Fletcher was far from the gentleman he pretended to be.

My thoughts:

I know that Heyer is the queen of eccentric, self-absorbed characters, and this book certainly proves it.  It is also laugh out loud funny.  I have to say that I guessed who the murderer was quite early in the book, but that didn’t detract from the mystery for me.  The dialogue is superb, as always.  The detectives also play a center stage role all throughout the book, and they are not overshadowed by the rest of the quirky characters.  If you love ridiculous situations and ridiculous characters, this is the mystery for you.


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Blood Cross – Faith Hunter

Blood Cross (Jane Yellowrock, #2)

From the Publisher:

Jane Yellowrock is back on the prowl against the children of the night…
The vampire council has hired skinwalker Jane Yellowrock to hunt and kill one of their own who has broken sacred ancient rules-but Jane quickly realizes that in a community that is thousands of years old, loyalties run deep…

With the help of her witch best friend and local vigilantes, Jane finds herself caught between bitter rivalries – and closer than ever to the secret origin of the entire vampire race. But in a city of old grudges and dark magic, Jane will have to fight to protect both sides, even if no one will protect her.

My thoughts:

This book started off strong (or maybe I should say that the series started off strong), but in the end it did not really deliver.  I really hate it when something is billed urban fantasy, and then it transforms into paranormal romance.  I don’t mind it if the author decides to throw in a romantic aspect as long as it doesn’t take over the story.  When it starts taking center stage, I get a little ticked off because that’s not why I picked up the book in the first place.  If I wanted something fluffy to read, I would have picked up something fluffy.  The only thing that saved this book for me is the fact that it’s not all fluff.  Okay, rant over.  I really like Faith Hunter.  I loved her Rogue Mage series, and when I picked up the Jane Yellowrock series I was hoping to see the same kind of world building and characterization.  I have to say that I like the setting, and I liked the plot line for the first book in the series.  This installment though left a little to be desired.  Too many tangents and way too many things going on – it was a little hard trying to keep track of everything at one point, the romance took over the storyline towards the end, and the main character was just morphing into another one of those tough as nails heroines that are so prevalent in the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre that she lost some of the appeal.  The world building was still interesting, and the overall story was still interesting enough that I will pick up the next one in the series.  But if Jane transforms into another Anita Blake, that will be the last book in the series that I’ll read.

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