book review: locked rooms (mary russell #8)

Locked Rooms (Mary Russell, #8)Locked Rooms by Laurie R. King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars – This re-read reminded me why I so loved this series when I was a teenager. I started reading Mary Russell’s story in highschool, and devoured the new books when they came out. Somewhere around the 6th or 7th book I lost interest, and I’ve ended up several books behind.

I found that in this series, the romantic tension between Russell and Holmes was most enjoyable in the first and second books, before they get married. (And in Oh Jerusalem, which is set between the first and second books).

This is the eighth book in the series, and I really enjoyed it. We get a lot of Mary’s history, and most of the book involves her coming to terms with the accident that resulted in the deaths of her parents and little brother. She’s been shelving those memories, and certain others, to the back of her subconscious for the past ten years, but events in this book conspire to make her face them, and come to some startling realizations surrounding her past.

The camaraderie between Holmes and Russell is great, and I did enjoy that part of the book was told from the third-person so we could get Holmes’s perspective, and watch both of them make their discoveries independently. Adding Dashiell Hammett to the mix of characters was a neat touch as well.

Overall the mystery wasn’t all that hard to solve, but I had read this before (I’m almost certain) so much of the story kind of echoed in my mind as I read. I found the pacing to be just right; it didn’t slow down too much that I wanted to put the book down too often.

I’m looking forward to catching up with the rest of this series soon!

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book review: bellman & black

Bellman & Black: A Ghost StoryBellman & Black: A Ghost Story by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, I read an ARC of this book while at the cottage this summer, and was waiting to post my review until closer to the publication date. I saw it in the bookstore last week, so I figure it’s about time.

The only thing is, I can’t actually remember what I wanted to say. Oops.

Okay, here’s what I do remember: for the first 3/4 of this book, yawn. Seriously, I kept flipping pages (well, I read this electronically, so I was actually pressing buttons but still) and thinking to myself “when is some action going to take place??”

For some reason I had it in my mind that this was a story about magicians. The title just made me think of magic, and also the cover. I thought the raven pictured there might be a magician’s aid or something. Anyways, I think that they added the “: A Ghost Story” portion to the title after I had already read it. But even if I’d known it was a ghost story, for the first major part of the book, no ghosts!

So it was leaning towards being a 2 star read for me. When Bellman opened the store, and all the stuff with his daughter being ill was going on, the book did take a turn for me and became more interesting. By the end, I did enjoy it. I especially liked the little blurbs about birds, and the collective nouns for them. But I’m weird and like knowing collective nouns. The last segment from the perspective of the bird was cool.

Overall, I can’t quite remember why I gave this 3.5 stars, so a more accurate rating would probably be 3. Because if it didn’t have staying power since I read it in August, it’s obviously not one of my favourites.

If you’re wondering whether to read this book, as long as you don’t mind a really slow pace and not much action, I’d say give it a try. You might like it!

Thank you to the publishers, who via NetGalley provided me with this advance copy for review!

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book review: under the dome

Under the DomeUnder the Dome by Stephen King

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sweet sassy molassy this was a long read. (That phrase is one I stole from Secret Pizza Party)

Anyways, the most surprising thing about this book, for me, is that I actually teared up at the end. I was really not expecting that. Another thing I wasn’t expecting was that I’d be rooting for a religious crackpot meth addict. Live and learn.

I started reading this book after having already watched several episodes of the TV series. What I found when I started, which anyone both reading and watching will already know, was that: the TV show they made is NOT like this book very much at all.

Within the first hundred pages or so, a bunch of characters I was still seeing in the show had already died. So that was a bit different. Once I accepted that the book was not going to neatly parallel what I was seeing on TV, I set out to enjoying this story on its own merit.

The basic plotline, a small town in Maine getting unexpectedly sealed in by a mysterious Dome, wasn’t that crazy to me – I’m already a huge fan of the GONE series, which also features a Dome. The best part of this book was trying to figure out why this had happened, and how the people of Chester’s Mill could possibly survive it.

There was a lot of small-towny descriptions, and people just generally towning around. I found the pacing to be fairly steady throughout, with spurts of dramatic shoot-outs and other gruesome deaths showing up every once in a while. Gory descriptions abounded, as did some quite frankly disgusting details about dead bodies and the pieces thereof. Thanks Stephen, haha. I suppose I knew what I was getting myself into, so I can’t complain. But I can say: gross.

I actually liked the way the narrative was laid out. Omniscient, so we could have everyone’s varied perspectives (including Horace, the corgi), and sometimes the removed perspective of an observer outside the story. I enjoyed the bits of narration where the author addressed the reader, asking us to observe with him a particular scene. I liked the random bits of humour interjected- like when one character asked another if they’d seen the movie The Mist. The dialogue was also fairly realistic.

Overall, though it was a long, slow read (and it put me 8 books behind in my reading challenge – gah!) I did like the book. Thankfully there’s resolution in the end, so you don’t end up having read 1000+ pages and not finding out what actually caused the Dome. It wasn’t what I was expecting at the beginning of the book, but I do feel that things were explained well, and made sense in the end. And yes, by the end of it all, damned if I wasn’t crying for Ollie Dinsmore and Sloppy Sam.

If you’re enjoying the TV series, or just think the idea of a small town trapped under a Dome might be interesting, I’d recommend giving this book a try. 3.5 stars overall!

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under the dome: thoughts so far

At almost exactly halfway through Stephen King’s massive Under the Dome, I have a few observations to make so far.

  • apparently when they decided to make this book into a TV series (I started watching this before getting into the book) the only things they decided to keep from the book were: some characters’ names, and the dome. Seriously people, a ton of the TV show characters were already DEAD within the first 100 pages of this book. What the? 
  • but, I am really enjoying the way the book’s unfolding. It’s nice to be surprised, and not just “oh yeah, I remember this from the TV show” while reading.
  • there are some GROSS descriptions. Am I surprised? No. It’s Stephen King. I wasn’t expecting lovely descriptions of the smell of freshly baked cookies. But still – the guy can be GROSS. Especially in describing dead bodies, and the odors thereof.
  • so far, even at the halfway mark, there is no indication of  what caused the mysterious dome. Will we ever find out? I’m not sure if I’d like an ambiguous ending, but I’ll have to wait and find out.
  • BIG JIM is pretty much exactly the same as in the show. They actually cast that guy really well, I feel. 
  • pink stars ARE falling in lines. That is all. (haha)

Wish me luck finishing this by Friday, which is when I have to return the book to the library, unless I’m able to renew it for another few weeks. I’m 3 books behind my Goodreads reading goal for the year, and I blame this book being so long!!