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Showing posts from April, 2013

Valley of Ashes by Cornelia Read

Valley of Ashes is the fourth title in Cornelia Read's Madeline Dare series.  I've reviewed the three previous titles here on the blog.  Click here and here and here to see them.  As its predecessors did before, this latest installment picks up both later in the timeline (about a year and a half after the last book) and in a different locale than each of the others because for whatever reason, Madeline and her husband, Dean, are nomads who move every couple years.  Dean is often absent from much of the action in the story due to various business travels and as a result has remained a fairly one dimensional character.  In this installment we find out why he's away so much.  And it's because he's a verbal abuse spewing asshole of a husband who doesn't care one whit to lift a finger to help his exhausted spouse with the housework or childcare instead choosing to vaunt off on hours long bike rides on the weekends that he is home and not travelling in some far off p…

Miss Me When I'm Gone by Emily Arsenault

Miss Me When I'm Gone is Emily Arsenault's third novel.  Her first two were reviewed previously on the blog.  Go here and here to read about them.  Now that there are three I can see similarities--all three feature themes rooted in different areas of the literary world (there was the dictionary publisher setting in the first one, poetry appearing in a high school journal connected to a disappearance in the second, and the last manuscript and its research are the whole point of this third outing) and these last two also deal with themes of friendship and disconnection.  Neither of these latest two novels have settings as original as the first that was set in a dictionary publishing company whose stores of entries on index cards hid a decades old mystery.

After Jaime's old college friend, Gretchen, is found dead at the bottom of a treacherous, poorly maintained, concrete staircase, Jaime is asked by Gretchen's family to serve as unofficial literary executor of Gretchen&…

The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens

The Kingdom is the second installment in Amanda Stevens' Graveyard Queen series featuring Amelia Grey, the cemetery restorer who sees dead people.  I'd like to share a few random observations about the series in general before I get to the review.  First of all, why does Amelia always end up working for sketchy, ill fated broads who belong to insular, secretive groups?  Also it's nice that Amelia's adventures don't always include being reluctantly sucked into murder investigations that bring her into ill advised contact with haunted detectives.  Between all the secrets (including those carried over from the previous book regarding Amelia's origins)--Amelia's, her parents', the town's, the townspeople's, the Ashers'--that people are keeping from each other or from Amelia (or both), well, I just want to yell so spill it already!  Because let's be honest if Amelia's parents, specifically her father, had been more forthcoming with her re…

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is the spellbinding debut novel by Kat Rosenfield.  Technically it's young adult fiction.  But old adults will appreciate it too.

It's the day after Becca's high school graduation when the bruised and broken body of an anonymous, young girl is found on the edge of town.  It's been over a decade since the town's last homicide--a cut and dried affair, so to speak, in which the identities of both perpetrator and victim were known from the outset, requiring a minimum of investigation.  The new homicide, of an as yet unidentified young woman, is even more brutal, unsettling and bewildering, and it threatens to shake this small community down to its core and change it forever.

Becca's struggling during the summer after her graduation.  She's struggling, spinning out, spiraling out of control; her heart's broken, she's nauseous, she's gaunt and spaced out and is increasingly finding solace at the bottom of a wine bottle.  …

The Restorer by Amanda Stevens

The Restorer is the first novel in Amanda Stevens' The Graveyard Queen series that features Amelia Grey. The series takes its name from the nickname Amelia uses on her blog (I think).  Amelia has followed her father into the business of restoring old cemeteries to their former glories.  As a girl she assisted her father in his duties as caretaker of several local cemeteries; he taught her everything she knows about the research, techniques, hard work  and dedication that go into restoring long neglected or abandoned cemeteries.  Like her father, Amelia can see ghosts, and her father has instilled several rules in her life meant to preserve her safety and sanity: among them are never let them know you can see them and stay away from those who are haunted.  But her father has kept secrets from her and this knowledge has driven a wedge between father and daughter and could cost Amelia everything.

Having just taken on the major project of restoring the old and long neglected Oak Grove…

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

So it took a while to find another book to read.  I started and discarded several books for various reasons (main one being that the writing didn't hold my attention) before I finally settled into Heather Gudenkauf's third novel, One Breath Away.  I've previously read and reviewed her debut novel, The Weight of Silence.  I didn't read the novel between TWoS and OBA.  I just couldn't get into the story--something about a woman who's released from prison after doing time for a crime that she didn't really commit because she was covering for someone?  It was something along those lines.  OBA returns with a similar structure to TWoS.

Gudenkauf's writing effortlessly draws you into the world of her characters through chapters that alternate among the third person perspectives of a handful of characters integral to the drama taking place.  It is a story in which tensions mount and pulses race as the chapters progress.  My heart was definitely pounding as the…