Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Posted by on Oct 20, 2017 in 2 stars, 2017, Book Review | 4 comments

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeerAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
Format: Ebook
Series: #1 in the Southern Reach Trilogy
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 195
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

My Thoughts:
I bought this ebook when it was on a sale after hearing good reviews. Then I forgot I had it until I saw a trailer for the upcoming movie. After finishing a chunkster I wanted a short book to I decided to read this one.

The first half was exciting and kept my interest. I was enjoying the suspense and trying to guess what would happen next. Then the second half happened and the only reason I finished it was because it was so short.

The story went from thriller to just strange and began to feel repetitive. I wasn’t bothered by not having everything explained because I knew going in that this was the first book in a trilogy. I’ll have to look online to find out what happens because I don’t intend to read the other two books.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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May Day by Jess Lourey

Posted by on Dec 30, 2016 in 2 stars, 2016, Book Review | 0 comments

May Day by Jess Lourey
May Day by Jess Lourey

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Paperback
Series: #1 in the Murder by Month Series
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 211
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

A new threat haunts the streets of London…
Minneapolitan Mira James has been taking it easy since college graduation–too easy. Due to a dead-end job and a cheating boyfriend, the Twin Cities have lost their charm, and Mira decides to begin a new life in rural Battle Lake. Right away she is offered jobs as an assistant librarian and part-time reporter, and falls into an unexpected romance with a guy who seems to be the perfect man until he turns up dead between the reference stacks her tenth day on the job.

Anxious to learn more about the man who had briefly stolen her heart, Mira delves into the hidden mysteries of Battle Lake, including a old land deed with ancient Ojibwe secrets, an obscure octogenarian crowd with freaky social lives, and a handful of thirtysomething high school buddies who hold bitter, decades-old grudges. Mira soon discovers that unknown dangers are concealed under the polite exterior of this quirky small town, and revenge is a tator-tot hotdish best served cold.

My Thoughts:
I picked this one up because I needed a book with a month in the title for the What’s in a Name Challenge for 2016. I had seen and heard the author at a mystery writers and readers convention a couple of years ago and she was pretty funny.

Unfortunately this book wasn’t that good.

It was short. It let me check off the last title for the challenge.

I won’t be continuing with the series.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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Masked Ball at Broxley Manor by Rhys Bowen – Audio Edition

Posted by on Sep 13, 2016 in 2 stars, 2016, Audio, Rhys Bowen | 2 comments

Masked Ball at Broxley Manor
Masked Ball at Broxley Manor: A Royas Spyness Novella by Rhys Bowen narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Audio
Series: A novella prequel to the Royal Spyness series
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 1 hour, 14 minutes
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

A delectable prequel to the national best-selling Royal Spyness mysteries featuring Lady Georgiana Rannoch – 34th in line to the throne, and England’s poorest heiress. At the end of her first unsuccessful season out in society, Lady Georgiana has all but given up on attracting a suitable man – until she receives an invitation to a masked Halloween ball at Broxley Manor. Georgie is uncertain why she was invited, until she learns that the royal family intends to marry her off to a foreign prince, one reputed to be mad. When the prince, dressed as the devil, rescues her from an embarrassing situation at the ball, Georgie is surprised to find her unwanted suitor to be a dashing, charming man – especially when he pulls her aside and gives her the kiss of a lifetime. But as the time comes for the unmasking, Georgie’s rescuer vanishes and the party is thrown into chaos, making it clear that everything at Broxley Manor is not as it appears…

My Thoughts:
I have read the first book in the Royal Spyness series and listened to the second on audio. They’re fun light mysteries set in 1930’s London. This prequel was offered at one point for free through Audible so I downloaded it. I decided to give it a listen before I go on with the series.

It’s a prequel set several years before the first book and a short novella. It’s really not much more than an introduction to the main characters in the series. It doesn’t really add anything to the story for those who have read part of the series but the story itself is pleasant enough. It’s not really a mystery and it doesn’t really have the same feel as the full books in the series.

I was not a fan of the narration of this audio edition. I listened to Katherine Kellgren narrate the second book in this series and enjoyed the way she performed. In this novella however, I felt like she was yelling at me way too often. I don’t remember that from A Royal Pain so I’m not sure what was up. I fear I’ll be hypercritical of the narration in the next book in the series if I listen to it.

This novella is really not representative of either the series or the narrator so I’m glad I didn’t pay for it or spend a little more than an hour with it.

Rating
2 stars 2/5 for the book

2 stars 2/5 for the narration

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Murder Buys a T-Shirt by Christy Fifield

Posted by on Aug 25, 2016 in 2 stars, 2016, Book Review | 0 comments

Murder Buys a T-Shirt by Christy Fifield
Murder Buys a T-Shirt by Christy Fifield

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Series: #1 in the Haunted Souvenir Shop series
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 266
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Glory Martine has inherited her uncle’s Florida souvenir shop, one stuffed with collectibles, mementos of times gone by–and ghosts–who, like her customers, refuse to let go of the past. But things take an even more unexpected turn when a local football hero dies far too suddenly and suspiciously. Now, Glory has to uncover the truth before someone makes her history…

My Thoughts:
I picked this one up because I needed a book with an article of clothing in the title for the What’s in a Name Challenge. I read a several cozy mystery series but hadn’t heard of this one. I figured it was worth a shot to read the first in the series.

It was OK. Nothing spectacular and seriously just OK. I liked it enough to finish it and to find out if my guess about the killer was correct. It’s a fairly average cozy mystery.

The main character was nice enough and she has friends who are fun and funny but it just never all came together enough to make me eager to turn the pages.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters – Audio Edition

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in 2 stars, 2016, Audio, Book Review, Elizabeth Peters | 2 comments

Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters narrated by Barbara Rosenblat

Genre: Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: Orginally 1973, this audio edition 1993
Length: 7 hours, 21 minutes
Narrated by: Barbara Rosenblat
Source: Purchased

The Book
From the publisher:

A missing masterwork in wood, the last creation of a master carver who died in the violent tumult of the sixteenth century, may be hidden in a medieval German castle in the town of Rothenburg. The prize has called to art historian Vicky Bliss, drawing her and an arrogant male colleague into the forbidding citadel and its dark secrets. But the treasure hunt soon turns deadly. Here, where the blood of the long-forgotten damned stains ancient stones, Vicky must face two equally perilous possibilities. Either a powerful supernatural evil inhabits this place . . . or someone frighteningly real is willing to kill for what Vicky is determined to find.

My Thoughts
I read and adored Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series. I listened to the entire series and all but the first couple were narrated wonderfully by Barbara Rosenblat.

It’s been a while since I finished that series and after my last audiobook I wanted something light and not too long. It was time to finally give Peters’ other series a try. I knew the Vicky Bliss series was quite different from Amelia Peabody but I’ve heard from friends that it’s fun.

I wasn’t expecting a lot but it’s pretty obvious that this book is from the author’s earlier days of writing mysteries. It’s the first in this series and was written even before the first Amelia Peabody book.

It’s really not all that good. The mystery is convoluted and the characters aren’t all that likable. Even Vicky borders on annoying here and there. I was glad I had the audio edition because I have no idea how to pronounce all the German names and locations.

I generally enjoy Barbara Rosenblat’s narration but this was really just average for her too. Even the production as a whole seemed average with too much mouth noises and paper shuffling.

Knowing the author’s history and that this was such an early book I’m willing to not give up on the series. I’m willing to write this off as a misfire. I’ll give the second book in the series a try some time but if that isn’t much better I won’t listen to any more.

Rating
2 stars Rating 2/5 for the book

3 stars 3/5 for the narration

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Watchmen by Alan Moore

Posted by on Mar 15, 2016 in 2 stars, 2016, Book Review, Comics, Graphic Novel | 6 comments

Watchmen by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons

Watchmen by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons

Genre: Superheroes, Science Fiction
Format: Graphic Novel, TradePaperback
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: 2005 (this edition)
Pages: 334
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

It all begins with the paranoid delusions of a half-insane hero called Rorschach. But is Rorschach really insane or has he in fact uncovered a plot to murder super-heroes and, even worse, millions of innocent civilians? On the run from the law, Rorschach reunites with his former teammates in a desperate attempt to save the world and their lives, but what they uncover will shock them to their very core and change the face of the planet! Following two generations of masked superheroes from the close of World War II to the icy shadow of the Cold War comes this groundbreaking comic story — the story of The Watchmen.

My Thoughts:
As a fairly recent reader of comics and graphic novels this is one that I have not read. It’s fairly well known as a classic and a critically acclaimed graphic novel. It was one of those books that I felt like I should read because it’s considered a landmark in the world of comics and graphic novels.

I enjoyed the retro look if it. I also liked the alternate history aspect and the way real events were slightly altered yet still familiar. The story does a lot of jumping around in time and there is a story within the story that someone is reading throughout the book. It’s more than a little challenging to keep track of the timelines and story but a bit of strategic googling helped.

The history of the superheroes in most cases is that of normal people without superpowers donning costumes and alternate identities. They weren’t all good all the time though. For a variety of reasons, the superheroes are outlawed and now it appears that they are targets of someone with a nefarious plan.

It’s not a quick read because the story is complex. The artwork is so densely packed with detail it was definitely one of the reasons I needed to take my time with this one. Most of the panels are small but filled with important elements of the story.

I didn’t love it. I’m not even sure if I liked it. I’m glad I read it mostly for it’ place in comics and graphic novel history, but it sort of felt like an assignment and I was ready to move on before I was done with it. I think the only reason I did finish it was because it does have an important place in publishing history. I’m glad this was not the first graphic novel that I read.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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