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Showing posts from 2017

Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Not A Sound is the sixth novel by Heather Gudenkauf.  It's the fourth novel by Gudenkauf that I've read and reviewed here on the blog.  Go here to find those reviews.

Two years after a hit and run driver left Amelia deaf and another woman dead, Amelia, a former trauma nurse and sexual assault nurse examiner, is still picking up the pieces of her life.  Still adjusting to being deaf and struggling with staying sober, Amelia is rebuilding her life after her depression and alcoholism caused her to lose her job, her husband, and her young stepdaughter.  Then Amelia discovers the partially nude body of another nurse, who was also a sexual assault nurse examiner and a former friend, in the nearby river on a morning paddle board excursion.  As Amelia's drawn into the homicide investigation, her life is upended and endangered as it never has been before.

When Amelia finally lands a part-time job data processing for the local cancer treatment center, she discovers mysterious gaps …

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

The Perfect Stranger is Megan Miranda's follow up to All the Missing Girls.  I read and reviewed All the Missing Girls back in January.  The Perfect Stranger differs in structure to All the Missing Girls which largely unspooled its story backwards.  While The Perfect Stranger follows a more traditional story structure, it is no less gripping.

After Leah Stevens torches her career in Boston in pursuit of the truth, a seemingly chance encounter with her former, post-college roommate, Emmy Grey, spurs the two women to move to western Pennsylvania.  Both women are in search of a fresh start and while Leah finds hers as a high school English teacher, Emmy flounders in nameless, nondescript, dead end jobs.  When a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Leah is found left for dead on the shores of the nearby lake, Leah soon realizes that her roommate has been missing for an undetermined length of time.  And Leah realizes that it is the beginning of the end of her fresh start because b…

Spiderman: Homecoming (Movie)

Miss Shayne returns this week with another movie review!

I'm a pretty big fan of Spidey. As big a fan I can be without reading the comics, that is. Unfortunately for me, I had just gotten used to Andrew Garfield as the poster boy for Spider-Man. So when I heard they were doing ANOTHER Spider-Man reboot, I didn't know if my heart could take it. Just how many Spideys must we toss aside until we get it right?!
Perhaps… no more.
Spider-Man: Homecoming follows the typical Spider-Man recipe, though there are some differences. Though Peter Parker's origin story is mentioned, we don't have to sit through the spider biteagain. The movie starts out with Parker on a trip to train with the Avengers under the cover of interning for Stark Industries. Upon his return home, Parker discovers some sketchy guys selling weapons that use alien technology, making them especially dangerous. Naturally, these weapons help some criminals do some pretty bad things. Peter Parker tries to balance h…

Looper (DVD)

Miss Shayne is back with a movie review!
Released in 2012, Looper stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis in a twisted sci-fi-esque movie. I am a big fan of movies such as these, and, as far as twisted films go, this movie is one of the better ones I have seen. Though it can be hard to follow, the ending is worth all of the initial confusion.
Time travel has not been invented yet, but thirty years in the future, it has. To keep things relatively clean, when the future mob needs someone whacked, they send them back in time to be killed by hired guns called "loopers." This is all well and good until the future mob boss starts to "close the loops" by sending back the loopers' future selves to be whacked. Unfortunately, the young loopers don't realize they killed their future selves until they see their payment is gold bars instead of silver.
Joe is one of these loopers who is trying to save up enough money to leave this lifestyle behind. Unfortunately for …

On Living by Kerry Egan

On Living is the second book by Kerry Egan, who is a hospice chaplain and graduate of Harvard Divinity School.  She lives in South Carolina.  This is a very readable, 'unputdownable' book.  For me the first two chapters were slow.  Once the third chapter started, which was the first chapter in which Egan shares one of the stories a former patient told her, I was hooked.

On Living is a series of meditations on various themes in the life humanity lives as seen through the lens of counselling and supporting patients who are terminally ill and their families.  Egan often does not meet these people until they know they are in their final months or weeks and have begun hospice care.  Usually the meditation is predicated on the story or stories shared by specific patients.  These stories serve as a gateway to further meditation on a broader theme, such as salvation and change; identity; that there is kindness in the gray areas of life.

This is also a highly personal work as Egan uses…

A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward

A Deadly Thaw is the second novel in the DC Connie Childs series by Sarah Ward.  I reviewed the first book, In Bitter Chill, a couple weeks ago.  The third book, A Patient Fury, will be released in September.   Thus far each book revolves around a present day mystery that connects to a previously unsolved crime in the distant (or not too distant) past and Childs and/or DI Sadler twinge on to the sense that they're 'missing something' in the case file, such as some key piece of evidence, that will make all the puzzle pieces fall into place.  Both In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw exposed a dark and depraved secret that essentially broke the case wide open for the detectives.

In 2004 Lena Grey was convicted of and served time for the murder of her husband, Andrew Miller, having suffocated the man in the couple's marital bed.  Now over a decade later the newly dead body of Andrew Miller turns up in Hale's End, a local, long abandoned mortuary, having been shot dead b…

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

The Fifth Petal is the third book by Brunonia Barry.  I read and reviewed her first book, The Lace Reader.  Her second novel was The Map of True Places, and I read that one, but apparently I did not review it for the blog.  All of Barry's novels are part of The Lace Reader series.  They all take place in Salem, Massachusetts, and the third one features characters from the first two novels as well as new characters.

The setting in Salem is important to the story, and it couldn't be set any place else.  The rich history of a city still scarred by the infamous witch hysteria of 1692-'93 plays a distinctive, heavy role in the story itself.  And the history of the witch trials and their victims is as fascinating as the story.

On Halloween a trio of teen boys harasses Rose, Salem's resident "banshee" and outcast woman, and when a god awful shrieking starts, the ring leader of the trio falls dead.  Thanks to his connections to an influential family in Salem, the mo…

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Movie)

Miss Shayne returns with a review of a new movie in theaters now; it will be available to borrow on DVD from the library soon.

I absolutely LOVE the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. It is one of the reasons why, as a child, I would often tell people I wanted to be a pirate when I grew up. (And, if I’m being honest, I still tell people this.) The first two movies in this franchise are incredible, and it would be difficult to match the perfection achieved with them. However, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is still worth a watch.

This movie starts out by following Henry, the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. He is trying to find Poseidon’s trident which will undo the curse that binds Will Turner to the Flying Dutchman, along with every curse on the sea. To find the trident, Henry must first enlist the help of Captain Jack Sparrow, who Henry believes to be some kind of pirate legend. Henry eventually stumbles upon Carina Smyth, an intelligent woman of science. T…

Suspects series 1 & 2 (DVD)

By now you may have realized that I'm a sucker for a British TV show.  Period drama, Jane Austen adaptation, both of these or none of these, it doesn't matter.  I branched out recently into Australian TV shows when one of the libraries got Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries on DVD.  I'm currently watching the first season of that show.
Suspects is a British cop procedural drama; series one and two come in the same case.  "Filmed from an eye witness perspective," it also features improvised dialogue.  The latter makes the show feel like a reality TV show except it does not have in camera confessionals.  It's a gritty, realistic series that features brutal crimes; and, due to its improvised dialogue and eye witness perspective, it feels quite different from scripted dramas.
The show follows three detectives: Detective Inspector Martha Bellamy, Detective Sergeant Jack Weston, and Detective Constable Charlie Steele.  In the first season each episode is treated as…

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Miss Shayne returns this week with another review!  This title is new to teen collection at the library.
This book follows the individual stories of Juliet and Declan and how they become intertwined. Juliet’s mother recently passed away and to help cope with the sadness, Juliet writes letters to her mother and leaves them at her grave. One day, a letter is discovered by Declan, who is doing community service in the graveyard after getting drunk and crashing a truck into a building. Declan reads the letter, relates to what Juliet wrote, and writes a response. This begins an anonymous correspondence between the two.
When they are in school, these two don’t get along. Juliet is an artistic student who has had a hard time getting back into the swing of things since her mother’s passing, and Declan is an outcast who seems to only have one friend: Rev. Even though they run with different crowds at school, Declan and Juliet get along when they are writing anonymous letters to one another. I…

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is the first book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie that I've read.  Adichie has written several award winning, best selling novels and a short story collection.  When one of Adichie's friends writes to ask how to raise her daughter feminist, A Feminist Manifesto is the resulting compilation of fifteen suggestions for how to accomplish this task.

Dear Ijeawele is very much a manifesto for how Adichie lives and thinks as a feminist; it's a codification of her own personal feminism in addition to being a primer on feminism, the ways in which society and the world conditions, raises, views, and treats women differently from men, and gender justice issues.  It is both thoughtful and thought provoking.

Adichie's fourth suggestion begins with a warning regarding Feminism Lite or what I would still call subtle misogyny masquerading as feminism and concludes with the point that society has conditioned us to view power as m…

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

In Bitter Chill is the debut novel by Sarah Ward; it's the first book in the DC Connie Childs series.  I didn't realize this was the start of a series when I started reading it.  Just as when I read and finished The Dry by Jane Harper, I didn't realize that too was the start of a series.  I'm not sure how I feel about starting more book series.  But then the book series that I followed, I haven't been reading anyway, so maybe it's time for some new book series.  This series is set in Derbyshire, England.  And while the prologue didn't really grab me, once I read the first couple chapters, I was sucked in.

While there is a mystery in the present day story, it's very much tied to an unsolved kidnap from 1978.  The present day chapters are sparsely intercut with chapters that flash back to 1978.  Were it not for the kidnap case in 1978, there wouldn't be a present day mystery to solve.

In 1978 when Sophie Jenkins and Rachel Jones are kidnapped one mor…

The Widow's House by Carol Goodman

The Widow's House is Carol Goodman's 12th novel.  I've read all except for her three YA novels (Blythewood series) and the literary fiction novel that precedes this one, River Road.  I've reviewed most of them for the blog, and if you click this link, you can read those reviews.  Many of Goodman's novels have a literary theme or connection.  In this novel the main characters are writers/novelists, one of whom is a former composition professor at the local college while the other two are his former students.  This is a creepy, atmospheric, suspenseful mystery.  Goodman's story sucks you in from the beginning right through to the tense, pulse pounding ending.  It's a page turner that you won't want to put down.
Jess Martin is a famous writer, whose follow up to his stunning debut is about a decade overdue.  Clare is his wife, an equally talented writer, who has given up writing in order to take a steady job as a copy editor for a publisher.  The Martins a…

Get Out (Movie)

A Series of (Un)Fortunate Reviews' guest reviewer, Miss Shayne, has returned for the summer!  Her first review of the summer is for the movie, Get Out, which will be released soon on DVD.
Get Out directed by Jordan Peele is a mystery/thriller movie about Chris, an African American man, meeting his girlfriend Rose’s parents at their country estate for the first time. Upon arriving, Rose’s family seems unaccustomed with how to act around African Americans, so their conversations with Chris seem forced. At first, Chris assumes they are just trying their hardest to make him feel comfortable, but because they are hyperaware of his race, they go overboard.
Things start to get even stranger when Rose’s brother insists on having a physical MMA-style fight with Chris while eating dinner. Chris also notices the other African Americans that work for the family act strangely. To top things off, Rose’s mother insists on hypnotizing Chris in an attempt to get him to quit smoking. Chris refuses,…

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry is the debut novel by Australian writer Jane Harper.  Set in Australia, it's an expertly written mystery that doubles as a tense coming home novel.  Compared to the last book I read, Everything We Keep, The Dry features much stronger, organic writing.

When his childhood friend, Luke Hadler, butchers his family and then kills himself, Aaron Falk, now a successful federal agent, returns to the rural, farming town that literally ran him and his father out in the middle of the night over a decade ago.  Aaron is determined to stay for the funerals and be gone the next morning.  Meanwhile, the only people welcoming him home are the parents of his deceased friend Luke and his childhood friend, Gretchen, who is now a mother herself.  The whole town, save for the handful of residents who have moved there in the interim since the Falks departure, makes it clear that Falk is not welcome and regards him askance while the Deacon family openly regards him with hostility, only too happy …

Crimson Peak (DVD)

Crimson Peak stars Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, and Uncle Bobby from Supernatural (a.k.a. Jim Beaver).  This is a suspenseful, dark, Gothic, horror movie.  While there are some scary ghosts thrown in for good measure, the meat of this story is a twisted family drama crossed with a serial killer thriller set in 1901.

Edith Cushing is a feisty lady and aspiring writer living with her father in upstate New York just after the turn of the century.  However, the family's idyll comes to a brutal halt shortly after Edith crosses paths with and falls for Sir Thomas Sharpe, a British baronet seeking capital in the U.S. for some contraption he hopes will revolutionize red clay mining or some such.  Sharpe travels with his sister, Lucille, who at first appears distant and cold.  Time reveals Lucille's distance to be something subtly off--and slightly more sinister--with her character.  Right from the get Edith's pa knows there's something not …

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

So many things to say about this book, you guys.  So. Many. Things.  I was conflicted while I was reading this book because on the one hand if some soap opera drama went down, this review was going to be one long rant.  On the other hand if nothing happened, then I would have been disappointed because I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop in this novel from the second chapter.   And if nothing ever dropped, I would have felt cheated.

I'm just going to warn you now.  I may sound like an unhinged bookworm in this review because of the drama that goes down in this book.  If you watch a lot of soap operas or telenovelas or if you read a lot and have an overactive imagination, then many of the plot developments will be predictable but no less polarizing.  The epilogue, you guys, is a big, fat, heartbreaking cliffhanger.
Everything We Keep is Kerry Lonsdale's debut novel.  It's been out a while, and I think Lonsdale may have already released her second novel by n…

Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer

Pennsylvania One Book. Every Young Child. is an annual campaign that "encourages adults to read daily to the young children in their lives and to engage children in conversations and experiences around the story and illustrations."  These practices help develop early emergent literacy skills in babies and young children and provide a deeper reading experience for the child.  The campaign runs in April of each year, and each year a new title is selected.  This year's title is Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer.  You can go to for more information on the campaign, this year's title, and to see titles from previous years.  You can also access a 64 page activity guide, a fun guide, rhymes, songs, and more under the Resources tab of the main menu.
While Micha Archer has previously illustrated other books, this is the first book she has both written and illustrated.  Archer is a former kindergarten teacher who has traveled the world.  Her artwork is inf…

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

I've previously read and reviewed six of Sharon Bolton's novels when she was writing and publishing under the pen name S. J. Bolton.  You can click this link to see those reviews.  Among those novels were three stand alone novels and three novels that are part of the Lacey Flint series (there's a fourth Flint novel and another stand alone novel that I haven't read yet as well as another stand alone novel that will be published soon).  Little Black Lies is a return to form for Bolton in that it's a stand alone book after four Flint novels.  Bolton also harnesses the use of a unique setting as character Little Black Lies much the same way she did for her first three novels.  Little Black Lies is a tautly written, highly suspenseful story that will keep you guessing through its final pages.

Little Black Lies is set in the Falkland Islands, an archipelago located three hundred miles off the coast of Argentina.  While the islands are under British sovereignty, Argentina…

Love & Friendship (DVD)

Ya'll know I love a good Jane Austen adaptation.  So when I spotted a trailer for a new, previously unadapted novella by Austen, you know I had to see it.  Love & Friendship is the film adaptation of the novella Lady Susan written by Jane Austen around 1794; however, it was not published for nearly seven decades.  Kate Beckinsale, perhaps the best known actor in the film (at least to American audiences), plays Lady Susan Vernon.

Love & Friendship has a fast-paced plot and quick, smart dialogue.  At times because everything and everyone, it seems, is moving so quickly it can be hard to follow just what machinations are going on or how events are transpiring.  And the characters' connections serve up some confusion right off the top of the movie, but more on that later.

Lady Susan Vernon is a conniving, manipulative widow whose social reputation is in tatters at the outset of the film due to a romantic liaison with the (married) master of Langhorne where Lady Susan and …

Insanity by Cameron Jace

Our guest reveiwer, Miss Shayne, returns this week with a new review!

This semester I am taking a class called Research in Literary Studies. Before you get too bored, this class is strictly on everything Alice in Wonderland. We started by reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland spinoffs inspired by the original book, and watching several Alice films. I then had to choose a book that was based on the original Alice in Wonderland and write a report on it. I’m grateful I got to pick a book to read this semester because I’m often forced into reading literature that I don’t care for, but this book was a bad choice.
I decided to read Insanity by Cameron Jace. In this story, Alice Wonder has been in a mental institution for the past two years. Two years ago, she accidentally killed everyone in her class. She doesn’t remember that incident or anything she did before being admitted into the asylum. The only ray of light in her life is the tiger lily she is allowed to keep…

The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney

I remember I came across The Day I Lost You by Fionnuala Kearney sometime last year before it was published, and I had to wait months for its release.  Kearney is a British writer, and this is her second novel.  I haven't read the novel that preceded this one, but from what I read of the blurb and the first few pages, both novels deal with similar themes.  Secrets and infidelity (and probably a secret love child thrown in for good measure to make everything extra messy) figure prominently in both novels.  The Day I Lost You is an engrossing read with a side of suspense--as in who's the baby daddy and will the main character bite the bullet and finally get it on with her bff now that they're both single at the same time?

It's been ten weeks since Jess's daughter, Anna, was swallowed by an avalanche in the French Alps while on holiday, and, without a body to bury, every day has been a dark struggle to keep her head above water.  The only thing that's keeping Jes…

Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Missing Pieces is the sixth novel by Heather Gudenkauf and the third Gudenkauf novel that I've read.  I previously read and reviewed her debut novel, The Weight of Silence, and her third novel, One Breath Away.  Gudenkauf has another novel on the way in May called Not a Sound.  Gudenkauf consistently delivers gripping, engrossing thrillers, so I'm looking forward to Not a Sound in May.  So I read Missing Pieces, and I had opinions (lots of opinions) before I was even through the second chapter.   But I'll get to those later.

When Jack Quinlan's beloved Aunt Julia takes a fall and ends up in the hospital, Jack and his wife Sarah fly back to the small town in Iowa where Jack grew up and that Jack has endeavored to leave behind forever.  As soon as they arrive Sarah can tell that something is off with the family.  There are strange family dynamics.  There's tension between Jack's cousin Dean (Julia's son) and Jack's sister, Amy, who found Julia at the bott…

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

Frozen Charlotte is the third novel written by Alex Bell who has seven books to her name, some of which belong to the horror genre.  Frozen Charlotte, a young adult novel, is a creepy, strange, mysterious ghost story.  It is a terrifying read for much of the novel especially once the reader intuits just what is actually afoot regarding one of the characters.

Following a frightening and bewildering incident with a ouija board cell phone app in a cafe, Sophie's best friend, Jay, drowns in a freak biking accident on the way home.  Dealing with her grief over Jay's death and determined to find out exactly what happened that night, Sophie travels to the Isle of Skye to stay with her uncle and cousins, Cameron, Piper, and Lilas, over vacation while her parents go on a long planned trip to California.  By the end of the novel this inciting mystery will be eclipsed by the story of the disturbing evil that is source of the nail biting horror.

Sophie fears she and Jay unleashed the ghos…