January 29, 2017

The Crossing Places | Book Review

The Crossing Places 
Dr. Ruth Galloway Mystery #1
Elly Griffiths

Originally published: 2009
This edition published: 2016

Quercus, pbk (format B), 314p.
ISBN: 9781786481863

A child's bones are discovered near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk coast, and the police ask local forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway to date them.  Are these the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years ago?

DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for this missing child.  Ever since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible.  He knows Ruth's instinct and experience can help him finally put this case to rest.

Then a second child goes missing, and Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she's getting closer to the truth...





 



After finishing Amy Snow, I really needed something with a bit of an edge to it. Luckily The Crossing Places also arrived in the mail and it was perfect to lift me out of the slight book funk I found myself in.

Dr. Ruth Galloway was such a refreshing character to follow. At almost 40, Ruth is single, overweight, intelligent, unconcerned about her appearance (to a certain extent), and is more into her work than relationships - oh, and she has cats! I really connected with her, and found her to be a refreshing main character. DCI Harry Nelson was exactly what you would expect of a book copper. He's rugged, authoritative, and determined to catch the murderer. I wasn't sure what to think of their one night stand (he's married with 2 almost adult daughters), and yet, they both treat the matter like it was one of those things, and let's move on. Unlike Harry's wife (of the lovely hair, trim figure and outgoing nature), Ruth seems to attract his attention regardless of her rather unconventional appearance (by today's standards). So although I usually don't like books with cheaters in it, I did enjoy seeing a non-typical protagonist attracting the attention of the stern DCI. There are a few other flaky secondary characters that orbit Ruth and Nelson, and I'm hoping they come back in future books as they were a great contrast for these two intelligent, driven professionals.

Of the mystery itself, I was rather intrigued as I do love a good mystery, and if it involves archaeology - even better! I won't rave on about the archaeology, but it plays a large part of the plot line - especially those letters that DCI has been receiving. I twigged to one person, then discarded them. However I was right, but the red herrings placed along the way did a good job of distracting me.

Will definitely be picking up the next books - in fact, I let my fingers do the walking and impulse bought the next two books in the series because Ruth's revelations at the end of The Crossing Places made it too irresistible to pass up. 


★★★★☆


That was my first impression of The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths.  Let me know below what you thought of the book, or please recommend a similar series ;-D

Until next time,

January 23, 2017

Gritty crime series




I posted this pic yesterday morning (Sunday in AUS), and even now I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about Buried Strangers.  It is full of tropes/themes that work great on the screen: corruption at the highest levels as well as the grass roots of the police force, forensic facilities that seem to be 30 years behind cutting edge technology used elsewhere, multiple POVs that you can follow, interesting - if horrific - crime to solve, potential romance between colleagues, numerous dodgy characters, and a central character like Chief Inspector Mario Silva that the whole shebang could revolve around.

However, in book form it just seemed to fall flat for me.  Don't get me wrong, Buried Strangers was well written with interesting characters, but killing children to steal organs for the black market? ... so not me.  Would I want to read any further books in this series?  I really don't know.  I've looked into it, and it seems that each centers on a pretty gruesome topic

"The whole collection is known as "The Chief Inspector Mario Silva Investigations". The books cover a vast array of subjects, including underage prostitution, organ theft, snuff videos, and much more." *

and I think that says it all!  I'd have to think really hard about it before I'd commit to another one as these topics sound truly disturbing to me.  I don't want to read about child prostitution or snuff videos.  I don't know who would read something like that for fun.  But, different strokes for different folks, right?

So those were my thoughts on Buried Secrets.  I didn't go into characters, plot points, etc., because it is more important that a potential reader is aware of the gritty nature of the books.  If you can't deal with these topics then I don't recommend you read the books as they don't shy away from their subject matter.  However, if a good gritty crime novel set within the seedy side of a corrupt police force seems right up your alley, then congratulations, this just might be for you ;-D

I hope this was in some way helpful.  Let me know if you've read any of the Leighton Gage books, and if you did - what did you think of them?  Would you read more?

Thanks again, and until next time...
 



Citation
* Leighton Gage. (2016, August 30). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:41, August 30, 2016

January 21, 2017

Where has the month gone?



It's seems like just last week when I was wishing family and friends "Happy New Year!", and now it's already three weeks into January and I'm only just getting around to updating my reading.

A lot has been happening on the reading front.  I set my GR challenge goal to 100 again.  A nice round number that I know I will reach.  I've still got books limping in that were ordered in early December - with still one, no two, tardy packages still to arrive.  I really do need a whole new bookshelf system as multiple bookcases aren't coping (and I can only have so many in a room!) that I'm considering going to a bracket system so I can use up the whole wall, not just where a bookcase can fit.



So far I've gone through nearly 30 books (with updates on GR still to come), and have also discovered a few new authors such as G.M. Malliet's Max Tudor series (thanks to Katie Howe for the recommendation), Elizabeth Peters Vicky Bliss series, and a few stand alone authors such as Sarah Maine, Anna Romer, Josephine Pennicott to name a few.  Will definitely be trying to find more by all these authors in the coming months.

Have been reasonably restrained with my thrift shop purchases (only had one go at the 3 stores in town) and picked up a few books.  Great find was a Robin Paige cozy mystery book - that turned out to be book 9, but it was still good - and a beautiful vintage copy of Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

January has also been the month of the heatwave here in QLD, Australia.  It's been amazingly hot, and I've even had to put the A/C on a few times so the cats and I didn't melt.  As you can imagine, hot weather is not conducive for tapping away at a keyboard for hours in a hot stuffy room - nor is it the best weather for having to mow your ¼ acre block! {for my efforts I ended up with strained ribs and unable to move for a few days}  Today we've had a little bit of a reprieve and the overcast weather is wonderful ;-D

Well, that's my amazingly quick update for now.  Will be posting book pics in the near future of all my bookmail (already on my IG feed), and an upcoming list of my must have pre-orders for the next few months.

Until then my lovelies,
 

November 12, 2016

November madness


Foggy start to the day (5:30am)

Already it's been a weird, mad, insane month.  The weather is absurdly hot for November where I live.  It's already been up to 35°c (95°f), which is about 7 degrees above average, and so hot and dry!  At the moment it's overcast, and yet I'm sitting at the computer with the window open and a desk fan on - and yet when I woke up this morning there was fog everywhere!  Hoping for thunderstorms to try and relieve some of this heat.

Then, to add insult to injury (so to speak), I awaited the results of the US Election.  That was the biggest load of crap!  I can't believe that they would elect a completely unqualified individual, who not only had the backing of the KKK (wtf!), but also has a hate-on for minorities, women, immigrants (seriously, doesn't he realize that his ancestors were immigrants once?!), and anyone in the LGBTQ community.  He also sees nothing wrong with assaulting women as he's rich and powerful and that makes it ok.  And this is the president America would rather have than a qualified and educated woman.

On to a different topic as that just makes me mad/sick when I think about it.


Okay, now on the book front it's been a much more exciting month.  I have once again given in to temptation and bought waaaay too many books online.  I've already received a chunk of them, but there are still 16 books I'm waiting for in the mail - sixteen!  How did this happen?  Okay, I know how it happened, but where did my self control go?  Obviously it's been on an extended vacation somewhere... most likely on Harmony playing with the dust bunnies.

So to help me curb my over enthusiasm of late, here is a list of what I've bought (and still waiting for!) so that I can look at it when I feel the urge to splurge...


Evelina, Howards End, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Far From the Madding Crowd, Vanity Fair, Tom Jones, Ethan Frome, Wives and Daughters, Doctor Thorne, The Small House at Allington, The Warden, The Way of All Flesh, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Night Walks, Conspicuous Consumption, Heart of Obsidian, The Arsene Lupin Omnibus, Melmoth the Wanderer, A Natural History of Dragons, The Castle of Otranto, In A Glass Darkly, Christine, The Magicians Guild, Cast in Flight, The Burning Lamp, Archangel's Heart, The Eyes of the Dragon,  The Name of the Wind, Making It Up As I Go Along, Maskerade, Moving Pictures, The Mystery Woman, and finally The Dragon Griaule, not to mention the 10 or so books I've picked up from the local thrift shops!


And that is only back over what I've bought since the 14th of last month!  I've recently had a real thing for Penguin English Library books as you can probably tell from the list above (titles in blue).  Most of them are for next years reading challenge I'll be setting for myself, and I'll be starting to collect a few of the Penguin Great Ideas as well, again for another challenge.

When all my books are in I'll have to put them all on a table somewhere and take a group picture, so to speak, just to show you the actual size of my recent bookmail.  Where the hell am I going to fit all of these books?  Looks like I'll just have to buy another bookcase ;-D

Oops, just glanced out the window and it looks like there is a storm on the way so I'm going to have to quickly post this update and get off the computer.  Like I said earlier, this weather is nuts!

Until next time,
 

November 5, 2016

GWTW Update



Oh, where do I start with this book?  In the beginning I found the language used by the slaves, talking about other slaves as well as the poor white folks, to be offputting to say the least.  And Scarlett?  She is such a manipulative, conniving, schemer that I really did have to pull myself up at times when I would go off on a tangent about her behaviour.  Little Miss Hot-pants is only 16 years old.  Marriage fodder during those times, but still... not sure what to think of her as a person.  Scarlett's almost pathological need to be the centre of attention - the prettiest girl in the county, having the tiniest waist, having all the men attend to her - just got annoying.  By the third chapter I was ready to consider that perhaps GWTW was not the novel for me and DNF it and move on.

But then I realised that Rhett still hadn't blessed us with his presence, and I was itching to find out what would happen when Scarlett finally did get her face-to-face meeting with Ashley Wilkes.  Oh, it was glorious!  Not only did she burn her bridges there (she slapped him but good!), but she found out what the other girls thought of her, and the old saying that eavesdroppers never hear any good was definitely true in Scarlett's case.  Mortified and humiliated, she nearly did a runner, but instead made a far worse choice when she happened to come across Charles Hamilton (a suitor of her sisters, or friend?) and he asks her to marry him, and she says yes on a whim.

Now, two chapters was all I was going to read last night, but on discovering this little nugget I couldn't help but continue.  What happens next made me feel sorry for Charles, and Wade - trying not to spoil stuff here - and Scarlett's attitude towards Wade didn't endear her to me at all.  I might have felt sympathy for her after she get's that letter regarding the death of Charles, but her uncaring attitude and emotional detachment is just hard to understand.

So I ended up finishing Part One of GWTW in my quest to find out what happened.  Hopefully Part Two will be a little more compelling and less involved in backstories (such as the 21 pages on Gerald and Ellen's lives, and then how Gerald and Ellen met and married was just waaaay too long.  Three pages would have sufficed!).

Thinking about how much I disliked the book to start with, I will give Margaret Mitchell credit for creating a character that you know is bad news, and will create havoc in peoples lives, and yet you still want to continue reading - even if it is only to see it all blow up in their face, which my motivation for reading.

Progress as of this morning.  I'm nearly out of tabs, people! ;-D


UPDATE

It's now Saturday, 5th November, and before I upload this post I wanted to let you know what's been going on in my reading battle with GWTW.

Yesterday I read about 50 or so pages, and I was feeling okay about the story.  The war was still ongoing, more men that Scarlett had known from childhood were being called up to fight - even as the General was retreating more land to the Union - and Scarlett had suffered the loss of the Tarleton boys.  Rhett was being a pain, and had ostracized nearly all of polite society in Atlanta.

Then I woke up early this morning, and by the time it was light enough to read I thought I'd only finish the next chapter and be done.  But noooo, I read until 9:38am (about 4 and a bit hours), and am now on p.522.  Scarlett has returned to Tara only to find her world turned upside down.  Her beloved mother is gone, and she is now in charge of Tara, fighting to keep mouths fed, and prepare for the future.  Rhett has been MIA for over a year (I think), and Melly has had her baby, Ashley finally returned, and once again Scarlett has tried to get him to admit that he loves her - only for him to admit it and rebuff her advances.

This, of course, threw Scarlett into another tissy of sorts.  It couldn't have come at a worse time since exorbitant taxes have been levied against Tara, and the 'white trash' daughter of the family that gave Typhoid to the O'Hara's has come calling with her husband (Tara's former overseer who was fired) and they make trouble.  Scarlett, in a real mood now, decides in a moment of madness that she just needs a man with money to fix the problem.  So with a new goal in site, Scarlett is determined to marry Rhett (once she finds him) in order to save Tara.

I had to stop here because I could see another doomed marriage on the horizon - and not to Rhett I'd wager! - as Scarlett soldier's forth in her battle to save her beloved home.  In the meantime, Ashley is having pangs of guilt at the thought that he's driven her to this - like he drove her into Charles arms - and I don't know if he and Melly, and the still nameless son, will even stay at this point, or move on?

I'm curious to know what happens - and how she can screw up her life so royally at times, and I think that this book is growing on me as I am starting to want to read ahead, follow Scarlett on her disasterous journey into the post-civil war years - and yet I still don't like her!  But I can understand why this was adapted for film as it is promising to be an epic story.

So those are my thoughts on GWTW.  I'd like to know what you thought of Scarlett?  Let me know in the comments ;-D

Until next time,

November 1, 2016

Archangel's Heart here!




So I had planned on rereading A Discovery of Witches today, in honour of Halloween and all, but when I walked up to the post office to get my mail, there it was - one of my most anticipated releases of 2016, Archangel's Heart!

My fingers were itching to open this puppy and start reading, but I managed to curb my excitement until I got home... and here I remained until I finished the book about 2 hours ago.

I loved it!  Even though it wasn't a long book (only about 381p.), I flew through it as I wanted to know if Elena uncovered the truth about the vampire in her lineage.  This is the story I've most anticipated ever since it was mentioned in Archangel's Consort.

The story was great, the characters were both amazing - even the baddies - and I now have to wait at least another 10 months for more.

Will definitely be doing a review once I've had a day or two to think about it, so be sure to check in again soon for that.

Hope your Halloween reading was as much fun as mine, and until next time,



October 30, 2016

October Wrap-up

October has been a good reading month.  


As you know, I started Gone With The Wind earlier this month.  While I don't read it every day, I have made a little bit of progress and am 152 pages into this behemoth.  If you want to know what my thoughts are so far CLICK HERE.  I will say that if I had the option, I would have prefered to read this with a book buddy.


While I have added GWTW to my Goodreads list, I have not added any of the Arcane Society and Rainshadow Island series books I've been devouring to the list.  Why?  Because I decided that I would only add new books to my Goodreads Challenge otherwise I would be forever adding and updating progress on the numerous books I reread every month.  I am a huge rereader, and love to go back into the worlds, with characters I enjoy - who have fun adventures.  For some reason October has been the month of the Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle) marathon.  I find these books to be quick, fast paced and fun - especially the books set on Harmony as I adore those fuzzy little dust bunnies!







Then there is this months book purchase extravaganza.  Yes, I spent waaay too much money at Book Depository this month.  I'm still waiting for about 10 books to come in the mail - yes, 10! - and have already received another 13 in the post since the start of the month (I hadn't counted until now!), as well as bought a further 4 books at my local Big W (only place to buy new books in town), and 6 used books.

OMG, I am a complete and total book tart!

Please let me know in the comments what your most extravagant book month was (so I don't feel like it's only me who does this!) ;-D

Until next time,

October 13, 2016

GWTW: problems already



Last night I finally picked up Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, and let me tell you that even though I've only read the first chapter, I foresee stormy reading weather ahead.


Yes, only 21 pages in (in my edition), and yet to start chapter 2, and I am surprised to say that I'm not sure if I'll be finishing this book.  I don't think I've ever said that before - at least not so soon - about a book.  So far the characters, Scarlet, Stuart and Brent, are all insufferable, and the twins 'darkie' body-servant, Jeems, is just as biggoted as his white masters in the way he looks down his nose at the slaves from smaller landholders.  


While I was prepared to dislike Scarlet, the fact that I'm only just starting this book and actively disliking the characters, the stereotypes, and the language (see above quote) as well as the tone used does not bode well for completing this massive story before the end of the year.

I know some people love this book, and I'm hoping that once I get a few chapters in, and become used to the rhythm of the text, that the story will improve enough that I can enjoy parts of it.  However I'm not holding my breathe!  I know that in Mitchell's time that segregation was still a huge issue, and the Civil War was still within living memory, but fast forward 80 years and the sensibilities of many people is a total 180° to those held by the majority a century ago.

I just don't know.  So these are my first impressions of Gone With The Wind.  Let me know in the comments whether you loved it - or not? - and why.  I'm curious to see what everyone else thinks about this book and it's themes and use of language.

Until nex time,

October 9, 2016

Done! At Betram's Hotel


Unlike most months where I procrastinate about starting my Miss Marple title, I actually picked it up on the 1st, and had it finished by the 2nd of October!  Shocking, I know ;-D

I was really surprised that I found this book better than the adaptations, as the final three books in the Miss Marple series are not generally the TV adaptations I go to when I need a Miss Marple fix.  This gives me hope that the final two books, Nemesis and The Sleeping Murder, will not be boring, or annoying (as I found The Murder at the Vicarage to be!).

Since I'm still not spending much time online (this is only the third time I've booted up the computer since I moved!) it will be a while before I begin to post a few reviews on what I've been reading for the past couple of weeks.  Fingers crossed that I can upload something else in the next week or so.

So until next time, my lovelies...

October 2, 2016

It can't be October already!

Seriously, I can't have been in this house for almost a month!  There are still boxes stored in the garage and stuff spread out throughout the house with only a vauge idea of where they will finally go - and I'm freaking out about the hours of unboxing and decorating that need to be done before Christmas.  So with that deadline foremost in mind, I fired up the desktop and put on a movie and spent most of this morning in the spare room trying to bring a little bit of order to what will be the 'library' and sewing room.  It was so messy that I nearly twisted my ankle trying to get past the boxes that had been conveniently dropped just past the door and forgotten.  It's now nearly 1pm and I'm quiting for the day so I can go grab some lunch and either continue reading my October Miss Marple, At Bertrams, or (most likely) whack in a season of The Vampire Diaries and veg out for the rest of the afternoon.

Looking out over the farmland behind my place!

On the reading front, I finished my September Miss Marple in a few hours.  Enjoyed it more that I thought I would, but I can't believe how much the Miss Marple TV adaptations play fast and loose with the source material.  I'm down to my final three books for the year, and while some books were adapted quite closely - others... only vaguely.  Hopefully in the future the BBC will remake all the Marples in the style of And Then There Were None as that was beautifully designed and filmed.


Apart from these two Agatha Chrisite's, I have only started reading the All Souls Trilogy as October means Halloween Reads is back on again.  Like the LOTR trilogy for fantasy fans, I think this has become a yearly reread around this time of year.  I love the way the story unfolds over the trilogy, and while I don't think it ended with all my questions answered, I do love reading A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night.

Couldn't resist these gorgeous Halloween Jack-o-antern lights!

Luckily my first lot of Book Depository orders have arrived at the new address.  One is a bind up of the first two Aunt Dimity books that I ordered last month only to have the order cancelled and refunded as they were out of stock of this very book.  However, when I saw it recently I ordered it again and managed to get a copy! (It's now out of stock again).  The final book in the Kylie Chan series arrived as well, can't believe that Black Jade is the final time we'll see these characters.  Thankfully there are nine books in the series that I can reread any time I get the urge to see Emma and Xuan Wu, but still, I'll miss them.

Still having trouble finding all the books I'd like to read soon as the bookshelves are a total mess (and I won't be unpacking any more 'book' boxes until I get the current mess under control), so I'll go with whatever strike the Halloween spirit in me.

Until next time,