The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston
I really like many aspects of this book. Xanthe is an antiques dealer who can “hear” certain pieces telling her their story. She discovers one piece that causes her to travel back in time and ties her to an angry ghost who is looking for her daughter’s name to be cleared of a crime. My issue with this book is that it seems a few great ideas (time travel, ghost, magical realism) were laid on top of not-so-great details.
Xanthe’s ability to hear pieces is a pretty big part of the beginning of the story, and her life, but once she time travels it isn’t really mentioned again. I would think that once she is back in time there would be so many pieces trying to tell her their story.
When the ghost contacts Xanthe and tells her that if she doesn’t help her daughter she would kill Xanthe’s mom, she just says “okay” even though she doesn’t want to and starts planning how to help. Uh, why? If I were her I would have been trying to find a way to get rid of that ghost rather than do something that I really didn’t want to do. I won’t go into detail due to spoilers, but I also wasn’t happy with the outcome of what happened with the ghost’s daughter.
Xanthe also seems to have men falling all over her (a love interest in both times) and she can sing. So she’s a talented woman with no backbone.
Despite having a lot of issues with the book, I wanted to stop reading it but I didn’t. It’s definitely a light and fluffy book with not a lot of substance, so if you like magical realism and kind-of love stories and need a book, you might like this one.
Chase Darkness with Me by Billy Jensen
I found out about Billy Jensen through the podcast My Favorite Murder talking about him and due to his help in finishing I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. I knew that he was a crime journalist but didn’t really know anything more than that, and this book goes into fascinating detail about how Billy uses social media to identify and catch murderers. If you like true crime or any of the above mentioned things, you will love this book.
The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden
This is the follow-up to The Bear and the Nightingale and the second book in a trilogy. Instead of choosing between a convent or marriage, Vasya decides to travel south with her horse and see the world. I think my favorite thing about these books is that they are what I guess one might call mid or medium fantasy- a step up from magical realism. I love the pagan spirits and Morozko, the frost demon. Vasya kicked a lot of ass in this book but I didn’t agree with several of her actions. I think it boils down to her not taking the time to listen when someone is trying to tell her something. Other than that, I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading the final book in the series.
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind
This is a delightfully weird and creepy book. Grenouille is born with a perfect sense of smell. It is so good that he doesn’t need his sight to move, he can smell obstacles in the way or the path he needs to take, and he catalogues every scent he has smelled and can call on them at will . He’s also a sociopath and the scent of two particular girls consume him. The book takes us from his birth and through his journey of smelling where he travels in France. It gets a little slow in the middle, but for being a translated book written in 1985 set in the late eighteenth century, it is a real treat. I have an extremely high tolerance for the horror genre and this one successfully weirded me out and fascinated me. This must have been a really fun book to write.
In the Woods by Tana French
Mysteries are hit-or-miss for me; I’m not a fan of general mysteries but I do love a good cozy. Tana French’s books are extremely popular so I thought I’d give this one a try and see if it changed my mind about them. I generally enjoyed reading it and once I hit about the halfway point I didn’t want to put it down, but it didn’t leave me feeling any different than when I picked it up. I like books to change or shift a little something and when they don’t it feels… pointless. If you’re someone who likes mysteries this one may be for you.
When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll
I am quite torn over my review of this book. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful- I’m a big fan of Emily Carroll. My one issue with the art is that the woman who comes to the castle is slim until page 14, when she is suddenly fat. This makes no sense.
The story does seem to be an erotic horror fairy tale that is mostly interesting but does not completely make sense. Overall, I’m not a fan of this one and definitely recommend Through the Woods instead.
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
I came to read this book in a round-about sort of way. I’m a huge fan of Amanda’s husband, Neil Gaiman, and the things I learned about Amanda before reading this book made them seem, to me, an unlikely match. Basically, and without going into detail, I had an extremely low opinion of her. Eventually I listened to a podcast episode (or two? can’t remember) where she was a guest and I thought it was really good; I wanted to hear more.
So I read The Art of Asking to better understand someone I didn’t like (If only this were an option for everyone we encountered in life). I still don’t like or agree with everything Amanda does, but I have come to know her as an extremely loving and accepting person, a great storyteller, a talented audio book reader, and a heck of a creative person. I think this book is for everyone: If you are already a fan, there’s no reason not to love this book, and if you’re not a fan or don’t know who Amanda Palmer is then take a shot at getting out of your comfort zone and learn a few pointers on how to be a compassionate human being.
Small Kingdoms & Other Stories by Charlaine Harris
I’ve loved pretty much every book Charlaine Harris has come out with (and they take up the bookshelf space to prove it) so I was excited to see a new book with a new-to-me character. Small Kingdoms & Others Stories is unique because we are introduced to Anne DeWitt through four small, wonderfully written short stories. Anne is a high school principal and was formerly, under a different identity, a training instructor for survivalist assassins (there’s no clear title for what they train but this seems like a close guess). Anne’s past invades her present and we see it play out over these stories. Another great story by Charlaine Harris.
I was given a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
Even though I finished the book, I had an issue with pretty much everything that went on in it. I don’t have any first-hand experience with what it’s like to have a family member who has been convicted of one of these crimes, but as a fan of true crime I get the impression that generally the family of the serial killer/murderer/rapist/molester is not held accountable because usually these people know how to hide what they are. In this book, Gina, now Gwen, has had to take on multiple identities and move herself and her two kids all over the country to hide from the witch hunt that is following her. This seems… very unbelievable. She also goes online daily to see what the “trolls” are posting about her and her kids, is fanatic about keeping tabs on her kids 24/7, and they all have burner phones they switch out regularly. She won’t tell her mom where they live but she trusts some guy she has never met on the internet who helps her get new identities. Gwen also frequents a shooting range so she is able to protect them with firearms, but it is clear to me that the author doesn’t know much about shooting ranges because she got a lot wrong. Two examples are that Gwen didn’t put ears on until she got to bay she would be shooting from and the owner of her local gun range, Javier, was not carrying while he was working at the range. I don’t understand any of the decisions Gwen made in this book so it made for an extremely frustrating read. I will definitely not be reading any more in this series.