Cheryl R. (Spuddie) - , - Reviews

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23 Shades of Black  (Filomena Buscarsela, Bk 1)
23 Shades of Black (Filomena Buscarsela, Bk 1)
Author: K. J. A. Wishnia
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 12/10/2005
Helpful Score: 4


It's been awhile since I read a new series that I can actually rave about, that's better than just "okay." This is that series. It's about a NYC policewoman named Filomena Buscarsela. She's Ecuadoran born and is just a "lowly" patrol cop, playing the game and jumping through the hoops she needs to jump through so she can make detective. Her coping mechanisms aren't always the best and her life is a bit of a mess, but she's a very likable human being. The writing style sucked me right in to the story and I found this book very hard to put down. Excellent!


Affinity
Affinity
Author: Sarah Waters
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 6/9/2007
Helpful Score: 2


Historical fiction set in 1870's London in which Margaret, a lonely woman approaching 30, becomes a âLady Visitorâ in the women's ward at Millbank Prison and befriends one of the inmates who is a spiritualist who holds séances and the like. It's a tale of ghosts, grief and longing, with a wicked twist that I should have seen coming but didn't. Quite similar in some ways to one of Waters' other works which I've read, so I was not as gung-ho about this one as I might have been had I read it first


Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate (Agatha Raisin, Bk 13)
Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate (Agatha Raisin, Bk 13)
Author: M. C. Beaton
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 66
Review Date: 9/25/2007


Thirteenth Agatha Raisin book in which a new man comes to down to perk up Aggie's flagging interest. The curate sent to help out Rev. Bloxby is a nearly perfect, angelic looking man who has the locals flocking to church every Sunday. Some people can see through his guise and refer to him as "slimy" but Agatha is smitten and accepts an invitation to dinner at the home of an elderly parishioner where Tristan, the curate, is being housed. When he turns up dead the next day, guess who's thrown headfirst into the fray? With her usual "Watsons" Roy Silver and Sir Charles Fraith out of the picture, Agatha's new neighbor John Armitage, the author of detective stories, helps her investigate. Enjoyable visit to Carsely, and in this one, Agatha seems to show her soft side a bit more.


Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came (Agatha Raisin, Bk 12)
Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came (Agatha Raisin, Bk 12)
Author: M. C. Beaton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 70
Review Date: 7/26/2007
Helpful Score: 2


Twelfth in the series set in the village of Carsely in the Cotswolds and featuring amateur sleuth Agatha Raisin. In this book, Agatha takes an extended holiday to Robinson Crusoe Island and begins to work through her disappointment over her failed marriage. When she returns to the village, rain and flooding await, and when Agatha sees the body of a young girl she'd encountered at her beauty parlor a few days previously floating down the bloated river, she has a new mystery to occupy her time. As usual, she runs afoul of the police, who admonish her to leave the detecting to the professionals. A new neighbor moves into James' old cottage next door, and he's a detective fiction writer. Agatha staunchly makes up her mind to be totally uninterested romantically, but accepts his friendly offer to help her investigate. A typical enjoyable light read in this series, and I did not guess the killer until close to the end which was a nice surprise.


Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam (Agatha Raisin, Bk 10)
Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam (Agatha Raisin, Bk 10)
Author: M. C. Beaton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 71
Review Date: 7/24/2007
Helpful Score: 1


Tenth Agatha Raisin mystery in which Agatha, once again fleeing Carsely to try to escape the memory of her beloved James who is still away, ventures off to rent a cottage in the little Norfolk village of Fryfam. It's not long before Agatha's out of sorts, a murder has occurred and she's tangled up right in the midst of it. Meanwhile, little mysterious lights keep appearing in her garden, and the neighbors, a superstitious lot, attribute them to "the fairies" since this is such an 'old country' and all. Of course, Agatha's not buying it. A typical, light enjoyable Agatha Raisin book.


Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell (Agatha Raisin, Bk 11)
Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell (Agatha Raisin, Bk 11)
Author: M. C. Beaton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 82
Review Date: 7/14/2007
Helpful Score: 1


Eleventh book in this cozy British village mystery featuring the curmudgeonly, incorrigible Agatha Raisin. In this book, Agatha and her beloved James settle down to married life, but they're finding it not so smooth going after they return from their honeymoon. When James forbids Agatha to take the temporary PR job she's accepted promoting a new line of boots for a local company, it's the last straw and she moves back to her cottage next door and throws herself into her job. Meanwhile, James is seen out and about with Melissa Shepperd, a woman that he had relations with before marrying Agatha. When Melissa turns up dead and James goes missing, he becomes the first suspect in her death. When days and then weeks go by with no word from James, Agatha and her friend Sir Charles set out to find the killer. Enjoyable, typical book in the series, a light and predictable read.


Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist (Agatha Raisin, Bk 6)
Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist (Agatha Raisin, Bk 6)
Author: M. C. Beaton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 79
Review Date: 6/9/2007
Helpful Score: 2


Agatha Raisin cozy mystery #6, this one set in Cyprus where Agatha has gone in search of James Lacey, her ex-fiance. Before long the bodies start dropping and Agatha gets herself involved in attempting to help the police solve the murders. Sometimes I really want to slap Agatha, but at other times she seems a bit like every woman and you can't help but sympathize.


Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death (Agatha Raisin, Bk 7)
Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death (Agatha Raisin, Bk 7)
Author: M. C. Beaton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 90
Review Date: 6/9/2007
Helpful Score: 1


#7 Agatha Raisin in which she comes out of retirement to work for a local company that is going to bottle and sell water from an ancient spring in nearby Anscombe. When Agatha finds a dead body at the fountain where the spring is channeled through, publicity is bound to soar. The dead man is the parish council chairman, who would have had the tie-breaking vote in deciding whether the council supported the water company's efforts, but did his death really have anything to do with the council, or with something in his personal life? Well, you-know-who is going to snoop around and find out, of course. This one starts heading a bit backwards on the annoying, whiny Agatha front, pining for her boring neighbor James again. Still, there is something I really like about her and can't give up yet!


Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden (Agatha Raisin, Bk 9)
Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden (Agatha Raisin, Bk 9)
Author: M. C. Beaton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 84
Review Date: 7/29/2007
Helpful Score: 1


#9 Agatha Raisin mystery. With the bald patches on her head from the last book barely growing in, a humiliated Agatha is off to the seaside town of Wyckhadden to recover away from James Lacey and her friends in Carsely. In the cold off-season, she almost has the place to herself except for a few elderly permanent residents at her hotel. When one of them recommends that she visit the town witch for a hair-growing potion, Agatha decides to try it. Of course, when the witch is killed later, she regrets her decision and is once again mixed up in police business. Light, quick read. For some reason I find it quite easy to laugh at Agatha with all her worries over aging, beauty and catching a man whereas if it were some other character I'd just be annoyed. The elderly folks featured in this book were all delightfully characterized, too.


Alias Grace
Alias Grace
Author: Margaret Atwood
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 247
Review Date: 6/8/2007
Helpful Score: 5


Reworking and fictionalization of a real historical event/person, about Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant maid who was convicted along with a male servant in the same household of killing her master and the housekeeper, who was also the master's paramour. This took place near Toronto, Canada in the mid-1800's. Partly told about Grace, partly told about a psychiatrist interviewing Grace extensively many years after the fact. Interesting story, but I found it quite draggy and drawn-out in some places and found myself muttering, âget ON with it, already!â many times. Yet the story itself was interesting enough to keep me reading, and I'm not sorry I finished it.


All Shall Be Well (Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James, Bk 2)
All Shall Be Well (Duncan Kincaid / Gemma James, Bk 2)
Author: Deborah Crombie
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 63
Review Date: 8/1/2007


#2 Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James Scotland Yard mystery in which Duncan's neighbor Jasmine dies, at first presumably a natural death from lung cancer. But a few things don't sit quite right in Duncan's mind and when a friend of hers mentions that at one time Jasmine had approached her about doing an assisted suicide when the time came, Duncan requests a post-mortem. By the time the results come back (massive overdose of morphine), other things have cropped up making Duncan and eventually Gemma wonder if it might be murder rather than suicide. Very enjoyable read, so much so that I did something I don't very often do--I proceeded directly to the next book in this series!


All She Was Worth
All She Was Worth
Author: Miyuki Miyabe
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 7/24/2007
Helpful Score: 1


Japanese mystery about a police detective currently on medical leave and a private investigation he undertakes for his nephew, whose fiancee has disappeared after an argument they had. The investigation leads Honma into the murky world of excessive credit card debt, bankruptcy, identity theft and murder. Very enjoyable read--I always like getting immersed in the culture of a different country and enjoy the authenticity that an author who is a native of that country provides. The mystery was also very intriguing, and I liked the main character a lot. Unfortunately, I believe the author doesn't write series books, just stand-alones, but I enjoyed this enough to seek out more by the same author even though I probably won't be meeting the main character again.


Alone at Night (A Mars Bahr Mystery)
Alone at Night (A Mars Bahr Mystery)
Author: K. J. Erickson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 5/5/2009
Helpful Score: 1


#4 (and as far as I can tell, the last) in the Mars Bahr police procedural series set in Minneapolis. This book tells a case that Mars & Nettie are working on as part of the Cold Case Unit, this one investigating three unsolved convenience store abductions from years previously. The one that intrigues and haunts Mars is the one where a body was never found, having occurred 19 years previously when a seventeen-year-old student named Andrea Bergstad disappeared from the isolated, rural One Stop where she was about to finish her shift.

There were precious few clues even back then, and Mars heads back to Redstone Township to talk with the then-sheriff, Sig Sampson, to get a better feel for the case. Of course digging in the past can often dredge up things that someone doesn't want brought to light, and it's not long before Mars believes there is a present-day tie to the case that might be dangerous for anyone looking to discover what really happened to Andrea.

This was an excellent entry in the series, although I have mixed feelings about the ending. I wonder whether the author knew this would be the last book--though with several things not resolved, I can't help but think not. It always saddens me when a series that I started out being slightly ambivalent about begins to blossom and then just drops off the face of the earth just as I'm getting truly addicted to it. I keep hoping there will be more.


Already Dead (Joe Pitt, Bk 1)
Already Dead (Joe Pitt, Bk 1)
Author: Charlie Huston
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 90
Review Date: 7/28/2007
Helpful Score: 2


First in the Joe Pitt paranormal mystery series, with Joe being a Rogue Vampyre, trying to stay out of the clutches of various warring Vampyre Clans. A renegade, badass Vampyre with an un-stellar past and an attitude that I loved. When a new threat, brain-eating zombies, comes on the scene, Joe tries to track down the carrier of the Zombie virus at the same time as he's trying to locate the missing daughter of a highly-connected woman--highly connected, as in, friend of the Coalition Vampyre clan, though not a Vamp herself. Sounds like trouble, right? Right. I loved this book and found it exceedingly difficult to put down. Definitely not your typical "paranormal" book--no chick lit here, and much more badass than Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series.


Amagansett
Amagansett
Author: Mark Mills
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 67
Review Date: 7/24/2007
Helpful Score: 7


Historical mystery set in coastal NY after WWII. This book was a slow starter; I nearly gave up after 40 or 50 pages, but I'm glad I didn't because at some point I found myself totally sucked in and the book got very difficult to put down. Story of a young socialite found drowned off the coast of Long Island, hauled in by two fishermen when her body became tangled in their nets. The medical examiner lists it as an accidental drowning, but Deputy Hollis has a feeling that she didn't die of natural causes although there are no overt signs of foul play. He's ordered to leave the case alone but investigates on his own. Told from the perspective of Hollis as well as Conrad Labarde, one of the fishermen who found the body. Lots of flashbacking and backstory explanations which did get a little tedious and distracting over time but on the other hand, also helped to really flesh out the main characters.


The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Bk 1)
The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Bk 1)
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 183
Review Date: 7/29/2007
Helpful Score: 9


First in the Bartimaeus fantasy trilogy. Story of a London ruled by magicians, where 'commoners' (non-magic folk) are despised, and magicians are all-powerful. Political intrigue abounds around the story of one twelve-year-old apprentice magician, Nathaniel, and the demon he summons, Bartimaeus. Having devoured every book in his master's study and being far beyond what a magician of his age should be, Nathaniel gets cocky and makes a big mistake that twists his life into channels he never dreamed of. Excellent story, well-written, and very enjoyable. I know some folks weren't crazy about the footnotes (which add some dry humor to the story) but I loved 'em!


Anansi Boys
Anansi Boys
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 187
Review Date: 8/1/2007
Helpful Score: 5


Modern fantasy book about Fat Charlie Nancy--who is not fat, but was so named by his now-deceased father. After his father's funeral, Charlie finds out that his father was actually a god, the trickster spider god Anansi. Not only that, Charlie learns he has a brother who is a demi-god. Spider comes into his life a few days later and Charlie begins to kick himself for ever being curious about him. In a few short days, Spider has gotten him in trouble at work, hauled in by the police, and has stolen his fiancee. I loved this book! Gaiman has such a creative spirit and a wicked, wacky sense of humor that comes through all throughout the book. A funny story that disguises real life lessons and deep things to think about in the humor and ridiculous imagery. A-plus!


An Antidote for Avarice (Isaac of Girona, Bk 3)
An Antidote for Avarice (Isaac of Girona, Bk 3)
Author: Caroline Roe
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 7/14/2007
Helpful Score: 1


Third in the Isaac of Girona historical mystery series set in 1534 Spain and featuring a blind Jewish physician and his family. In this book, Isaac has been ordered to accompany the Bishop to Tarragona, where he is attending a Council of Bishops. Since Judith, Isaac's wife, has a sister in Tarragona that she wishes to visit, she and Raquel, their daughter and Isaac's assistant, also accompany the retinue. Much adventure awaits them on the trip including the discovery of a badly beaten and tortured young man along the roadside. There is also news of a murdered Friar, and the party themselves being set upon by bandits. Steeped in political and religious intrigue and plots, I found that aspect of the book rather wearying at times and couldn't quite remember who was whom and what position they took on this or that issue. Despite that, I did figure out the mystery ahead of time. But I enjoy Isaac and his family and household and this book was a good entry in the series.


Archangel
Archangel
Author: Robert Harris
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 22
Review Date: 11/4/2005
Helpful Score: 5


If you like Russian spy novels, you'll love this! A suspenseful thriller set in modern-day Russia, the book centers around the existence of an oft-rumored but never found journal kept by former Russian leader Joseph Stalin. Scholar "Fluke" Kelso, a Sovietologist in Russia for an academic conference, gets drawn into a twisted plot when he meets someone who believes he can tell Kelso where this legendary journal is hidden. A sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat ride, with many surprises, I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it.


Armageddon's Children (Genesis of Shannara, Bk 1)
Armageddon's Children (Genesis of Shannara, Bk 1)
Author: Terry Brooks
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 38
Review Date: 7/28/2007
Helpful Score: 2


First in a new fantasy trilogy, a modern-day (actually futuristic) fantasy that takes place about 80 years after the events in Angel Fire East, Brooks' last 'Word and the Void' trilogy book. Earth is now a total wreck--polluted, scorched and corrupted beyond measure, with few surviving humans, now a vast desert wasteland littered with the detritus of the fall of civilization. Demons and once-men roam the earth, killing and enslaving what few humans remain as mutants scavenge on the remains. Two Knights of the Word struggle on trying to keep them at bay, and one of those, Logan Tom, sets off to find the gypsy morph that Nest Freemark gave birth to decades ago. Absolutely wonderful story and book, I am really looking forward to the next in series and will be collecting this series in hardcover for my Keeper shelf.


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