Book Review: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot, #1)The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Upon discovering my local library had the very first Hercule Poirot book, I had to read it, and I cannot say I was at all disappointed! I’m not the biggest fan of Poirot, not because I don’t like the mysteries, but rather because I’m not a fan of the ‘poor stupid everyone else’ thing that always happens in Poirot novels. Not sure why it never bothers me in Sherlock Holmes stories, but it does with Poirot.

However, this one had a far more interesting cast of characters than usual! I confess I don’t like the first person at all, but the way this one was so widely observing and less introspection, it didn’t bother me as much as usual. I enjoyed that this one went beyond just a mystery but on to multiple loose ends and mix-ups and turns after the police thought the murder was solved and found that it really wasn’t. This was just a really interesting mystery and one I really enjoyed.

If you’re a mystery fan who wants something a bit different in that the first person POV is not from the detective, but an observer, give it a shot!

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Book Review: Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie

Evil Under the Sun (Hercule Poirot, #23)Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel kind of shitty leaving a 3* review for this book, because I LOVE Agatha Christie, and this isn’t by any means a poor read, but I’m trying to be more critical of books in my reviews, so realistically I’d give it a 3.5 but alas, you can’t do that on here.

Evil Under the Sun is actually only the second Hercule Poirot novel I’ve read of all the Agatha Christie novels I have read, and the reason it gets a lower rating is just that it was too simple. That is to say, the mystery was never much of a mystery so much as it read like a police procedural where we only know as much as Poirot tells us. There were very few moments where we wondered, ‘ooh, what if X did it?’ because as soon as I started to suspect someone Poirot moved on with the story and dismissed them. I love mystery, but I love mysteries that give us more of a ‘whodunit’ feel than this one. This was more like observing rather than exploring, if that makes any sense.

That said, I really liked this one. I was a little annoyed throughout the book because of the way everybody seemed to blame the victim, but remembering the time at which this was written, it isn’t exactly shocking. It’s just my modern sensibilities were a little irked. However, I was happy with the surprise twist at the end not in the mystery but in Poirot defending the victim as being a VICTIM when everybody else said she met the end that her lifestyle naturally would end in. His little, “I never really agreed with you all that she brought this on herself” was very relieving. Makes it easier to swallow the casual victim-blaming that would be normal for the period.

All in all, it was a fairly quick read (I took a week and a half to read it but that’s because I am a terrible reader these days) and an enjoyable one. I can see this being the type of book perfect for the summer when readers who aren’t as lazy as I am can sit out on the porch or lay by the pool with a book and read for a few hours at a time.

I absolutely recommend this one, even though the rating seems like I don’t like it as much as I do.

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Book Review: Play Dead by Anne Frasier

Play Dead (Elise Sandburg Series Book 1)Play Dead by Anne Frasier

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Play Dead by Anne Frasier is an absolutely stellar mystery story that will entertain any reader who enjoys a good crime thriller. The lead character, Elise Sandburg, is an interesting woman with a compelling past that unfolds in an intricately interweaved sub-plot that never feels forced into the narrative. With a captivating cast of characters, all with intriguing stories and backgrounds, the mystery of a string of poisonings with a supernatural swing to things grows more and more gripping as the killings stir up deeper mysteries that could only take place in a book set against a backdrop of the haunting beauty of Savannah, Georgia.

This novel will thrill and ensnare even the most seasoned reader of crime thrillers with a deeply disturbing mystery that goes deep into the dark underground of Savannah and will chill you to the core. I cannot recommend this novel enough, because every time I thought I knew what was coming, the story was one step ahead of me, constantly making it clear that I had no idea what was really going to come next. The fantastic looks from the killer’s perspective will draw the reader into the disturbing mind of a psychopath that evokes suspense unlike anything I’ve read in years.

I would go as far as to put Play Dead on part with Silence of the Lambs when it comes to a good, solid crime thriller, and anybody who knows my reviews knows I do not give a book 5 stars lightly. This is the best book I’ve read in about two years and I am not even slightly exaggerating when I say that. I’m eager to read the rest of the series to see if Frasier can keep the momentum going, but even if she can’t, I will still appreciate this book as a standalone novel for what it is. Read it, I implore you!

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Book Review: Sub-Human

Sub-Human (Post-Human, #1)Sub-Human by David Simpson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In my first foray into this author’s work, I found myself not particularly impressed but still entertained by Sub-Human. Though this novel is nothing profound, and its writing is very average, I was interested in the world-building and somewhat intrigued by the descriptions of the crazy futuristic technology. I think the only place this one really fell flat for me was the characters. I honestly found myself not really caring either way about anybody, even the ‘bad guys’. I didn’t like nor dislike the protagonist. I didn’t care at all about his wife or her new husband. The AI is the character I felt the most attachment to, and he was the most clinically detached of all the characters.

However, maybe that’s what this story was meant to do. Maybe you aren’t supposed to feel for the people involved. Perhaps in a novel about AI, you are meant to view the world in the story through a pragmatic lens instead of an emotional one? My least favorite part was the first two trips into the (for spoiler reasons, let’s say) ‘past’. They felt unnecessary and distracting. Otherwise, I pretty well enjoyed the plot. Overall worth the read if you’re a fan of SciFi and aren’t crazy picky.

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Book Review: The Sculthorpe Murder

The Sculthorpe Murder (Detective Lavender Mysteries #3)The Sculthorpe Murder by Karen Charlton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another enjoyable installment in the Detective Lavender series. I must confess, I found myself feeling more like the first book with this one. Enjoyable, if predictable, mystery and very little connection to the characters, unlike book 2, where I felt a better connection to the characters. Though it is not as good as book 2, the mystery is very complex and fun, even if it’s a bit easy to guess what’s coming. That said, there were are few twists and turns that definitely caught me out, so again, NOT a bad book!

I would definitely recommend it to mystery lovers.

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Book Review: The Sans Pereil Mystery

The Sans Pareil Mystery (Detective Lavender Mysteries, #2)The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second installment of the Detective Lavender series was actually a less interesting mystery but a better book than the first. A woman is found dead and a twisty, turny, ever-changing plot that’s mostly predictable follows. The first mystery had a bit more MYSTERY to it, but this one was better written and a lot more in depth into the characters. Though I saw every twist and turn coming in THE SANS PEREIL MYSTERY, I actually cared about the characters more this time.

Unlike the first book, Lavender was more accessible and more easy to relate to as a real character. In this story, I found myself actually caring what happened to him. His personal struggles were heartfelt and I actually cared about Magdalena and his relationship with her. In the first book, I remember mostly only caring about Woodes and the side characters, but this time, I really cared about Lavender, Woodes, Magdelana, and even Teresa and Betsy. I feel like the author really found her groove in writing characters as people not as plot pieces for this novel, and it was a far better attempt than the first.

The mystery is interesting enough. All of the twists and turns are very clearly telegraphed along the way, so it isn’t an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it’s still worth reading. I was never bored, which is reasonable enough.

I would definitely recommend this one to others who like an easy read in historical fiction.

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New Goodreads Challenge for 2017!

It’s that time again, friends! It is a new year and that means….

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Yep, it’s that time again!

Last year, I managed to read 21 books (though 2 of them were short stories/novellas, so I really count it as 20) for my pledged 20 book goal! I started the year with a 12 book goal, but in February I binged a 6 book series, so I upped it to 20 for the rest of the year.

This year, I’m sticking with a goal of 15 books. That 20 book goal was REALLY HARD to meet for me, and that was with a 6-book binge in February. Hopefully this year the 15 book novel is a realistic goal. My problem is that I have a serious issue focusing to read. I used to not have any problems focusing, but I think I must’ve gotten adult onset ADD or something, because I cannot sit and read. I have to multitask all day long or else I go crazy. I read when I’m waiting for things. If I’m waiting for a table, I pull out a book. If I’m waiting for class to start, I pull out a book. And honestly, that’s the only time I read. So it can easily take me a month to read a 300 page book.

Hopefully, I can manage 15 books in one year. Oh my. Wish me luck!