I recently received, and tried to read, a couple of ARCs from Netgalley.
One of these was James William Brown’s My Last Lament,
the other, Alyssa Maxwell’s A Pinch of Poison.
I was unable to finish either of them, not necessarily because they were bad – they just weren’t for me.
James William Brown’s tale is epistolary, a format I generally dislike. You meet Aliki, a lamenter, which is basically a person who professionally laments. You can read about them in Classical Greek works – at the funeral, you’ve got your coffin, your pallbearers, and your grieving women, who cry/scratch their faces/pull out their hair (aka, lament). Aliki has been approached by one of those young, ambitious educational people, who are seeking a PhD and need juicy subject matter to force themselves to write their thesis about. This chick wants to know about lamenting, and has provided Aliki with a tape recorder, since initial meetings were not very forthcoming (and also, it’s a tape recorder, which must be wicked cheap these days since everyone can just record on their smart phones now). But Aliki doesn’t want to talk about lamenting. She wants to lament on behalf of herself, on behalf of her village, which she witnessed nearly torn asunder by the awful World War II.
That is, unfortunately, all that I know. I did not get very far in this novel, because while the tape recording makes sense (a woman who makes her living by vocalizing grief will, of course, choose an oral, rather than written, method, to vocalize her own), I just generally don’t like epistolary novels. And this one was no exception. I am a fan of the subject matter, and think that if you do not have the intense hatred for epistolary novels that I do, you should most definitely give it a try.
Alyssa Maxwell’s story is a mystery, set in the early twentieth century, and is the second book of a series in which a “lady” named Phoebe and her “maid” Eva since mysteries and talk about the plight of women. Phoebe’s all “Oh no, I’m supposed to find a husband and take care of the house, but all I really want to do is put myself in danger, get my maid in trouble, and flirt poorly with this guy I will obviously get married to and take care of his house later.” Eva’s like “I’m totes fine with being a maid. I’m good at it. I fucking LOVE it. But really, secretly, I don’t love it, which is why I’m trying to Sherlock Holmes my way through some local murders with my mistress, hoping that this will somehow get me out of my servants role. Also, I’m going to pretend I don’t like this constable guy, even though I’m obviously totally into him and I’m going to marry him and take care of his house and lose my role of lady’s maid that way.” Also, there are annoying schoolgirls, the headmistress dies, and I don’t really care who committed the murder. A mediocre mystery. But some people like those.
Those are two books that I could not finish recently. What about you? Did you pick something up, hoping to love, or at least like, it, and become sorely disappointed? Let me know the last book you Could. Not. Finish. below!
Tape recorder image: J.smith at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
One of the publishers at Netgalley was kind enough to allow me an advanced reader copy of K.C. Held’s Holding Court.
A short, YA mystery about Juliette, a teen with “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome,” which means she often randomly blurts out phrases that seem illogical and odd, but are actually prophetic.
Juliette lives in an odd town, the kind where when your mother leaves to be an antiques guru in Europe, and you can get a job in a castle that had been brought over from Europe, purchased from the original American procurer by a man who wants to pretend to be Henry the Eighth.
But her crush, Grayson Chandler, works there, and she needs some cash to get a car.
Unfortunately, her first day at work, Juliette stumbles across a dead body, and isn’t sure anyone believes her. Desperate to prove she’s telling the truth, Juliette flexes her Sherlockian skills as she makes money, gets terrified, and gets much closer to her crush than anticipated…
Overall, I thought this story was entertaining and fun. It’s a quick, light read, and long before the story has wrapped up, you know how it’s going to end. Yet the author is having fun, and the result is a fun read. I recommend this novel if you are looking for a light beach read.
Have you read any enjoyable beach reads lately? Let me know in the comments below!
Deerstalker cap: By Cyril Thomas [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I received an e-galley of this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Ready for my honesty?
It was… okay. As far as concepts go, creating a geeky detective to appeal to the voracious fans who are both geeks and thriller fans is a smart one. I get what the author is trying to do. As far as the execution of the novel goes, it is… spotty.
The storyline is ridiculous and zany. Parts of it work, parts of it don’t. The ending of this novel is what saved it from a two-star rating. I was interested enough in finding out where the author was going with his multiple plotlines to continue reading, and I found myself chuckling. The ending is descriptive and ridiculous and crazy and just plausible enough to keep me happy. The middle – again, touch and go. Generally vaguely boring.
I’m not sure that I like Dahlia Moss, and I am not into gaming enough to comment well on the kingdom of Zoth, the on-line game-world in which Dahlia does much of her detecting. I will say, from what I understand about the gaming world, I am surprised Dahlia didn’t run into more misogyny during her visits to this world, particularly since she didn’t focus on being any good at the game.
One of the things that I really liked about this novel, is that it occurs in St. Louis, a city I know little about, other than that it’s pretty dangerous. Although I’m not sure how well the author knows the city, particularly since I have merely driven through the city on the freeway, myself, and also because the author forgot which city his story occurs in at one point, and has “Detroit” listed.
Since I am reading an e-galley, this misstep might be finished in the final copy. There were a lot of minor mistakes that I hope are corrected before this book is released on October 20th.
Would I recommend this book? Whether or not I think you would like this book is dependent on what sort of reader you are.
*If you are a grammar nerd who freaks out at typos and the occasional poorly written sentence (no judgment, by the way… I tend to manually correct my physical books), then probably not. While many of the mistakes I encountered could be fixed in the final copy, there were enough mistakes that some have probably eked into the final copy as well.
*If you are a gamer who likes to tear him- or herself away from the computer every once in awhile to read gaming related literature… sure. I think the storyline might be entertaining, and there are likely some small, inside jokes I completely missed because I am not a gamer and don’t hang out with them too often myself.
*If you are an avid reader who just LOVES a good book, about anything, anytime, anywhere. Books, books, book! Then no. I don’t think that this book is so great that you can’t miss reading it.
*If you are an avid mystery fan who loves a good mystery novel… no. While this book is being marketed as suitable for fans of Veronica Mars, Dahlia Moss is no Veronica Mars. And the mystery aspect of this book will likely keep you reading, but it’s not really written very well for a mystery.
*If you like books that are crazy for the sake of being crazy, regardless of silly things like “logic” or “reality” creeping in… then YES. I think you might like this book, and you should definitely give it a try.
*If you are looking for a light “beach read” that won’t make you think too much, will be at least vaguely enjoyable, and about which you are free to forget the plot the instant you close the book… then YES. You should read this book.
In other words, not terrible, not great. I don’t regret reading it, particularly since I derived so much enjoyment from its’ ending. I very much doubt I will read it again, but I think it will appeal to many readers, while failing to appeal to many other readers. Yet no one knows what kind of reader you are better than you, so hopefully, regardless of the type of reader YOU are, you found this review helpful.
You know that spark you get, sometimes, when you walk past a hitherto unknown stranger? Where your eyes lock, and your pulse quickens, and your lips pull up into a small smile as you think to yourself I want to be with that person…
..and then you meet that person, and their smile is cute, their talk is witty, and before you know it, you have a significant other…
But then, after those first hunger pangs have been satiated, you realize that this person you thought was so amazing is actually kind of boring and dull and bad in bed?
And you realize, that spark you felt upon locking eyes with this person lied to you, and now you need to end this relationship so you can sob into a pint of ice cream before putting yourself together to meet the true love of your life?
That’s sort of how I felt reading John Locke’s novella Promise You Won’t Tell?
Part of a mystery series featuring spunky detective Dani Ripper, Locke’s work starts off as a ridiculously compulsive read, with quirky, quippy dialogue that proceeds at a fast pace and barely makes sense. This description may not sound like a compliment, but it is. I loved the zaniness of the story, the liveliness of its’ characters, and rubbed my hands with glee as I thought to myself I will never know where the hell this story is going… It’s fun, after all, sometimes, to read a mystery that is… you know… a mystery.
… But then, the actual plot for the novella started, and immediately, the novella became less interesting. First, there is the subject matter of the novella, which sounded like it might be intriguing, but really, was just a constant reminder that a lot of men suck and as a result, a lot of girls get really hurt. I could go into further detail about some of the specific problems associated with the multiple molestation issues dredged up in this short work, but that would involve a lot of spoilers, so I will just point out that there is a lot of molestation in this book.
Ultimately, Locke’s book starts off strong, which in essence creates a promise which, unfortunately, Locke fails to deliver. Locke’s writing starts off so strong, and there are brief moments of ridiculous, sheer insanity that show glimpses of what Locke’s work could be… of what, to be frank, I want it to be. Perhaps some of Locke’s other work is more coherent, delivers a consistent level of quality and sensibility. Or perhaps Locke’s future work possesses these qualities, and this work is a stepping stone onto bigger and better things. I definitely wouldn’t write Locke off completely because of this book, I just don’t know that I would recommend it.
Have you read this novella, or had a similar experience with your reading? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!