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Book Review

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death – a book review in 200 words

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

by Charlie Huston

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This has been on my to-be-read list for literally 10 years. I added it to Goodreads in 2009!

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death is about a crew of crime scene cleaners, but also so much more than that.

I want to say this is a fun romp, but it’s not really that. You see, the main character, Web, is a first class asshole. But he’s an asshole for a good reason. He’s an ex-teacher who’s been out of work for a year, getting less civilized each day. (Telling you the why of this will ruin the story, so I won’t.) He’s finally hit a rock-bottom of sorts and so, reluctantly, begins a career cleaning up after suicides and violent crimes. And then…a mystery, a turf war, a horrendous crime or two, and other life-changing exploits ensue.

In some ways, this is very different from what I usually read. It’s gritty and dark and very…bro. (I don’t really know how else to describe it.) But it was also interesting and enjoyable and humorous and a good read. So if you are looking for something a little different then what you normally read, you should give this one a shot!

Rating: 84/100

Buy this book at Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Never Tell – a book review in 200 words

Never Tell

(Detective D.D. Warren #10)


Lisa Gardner


Never Tell is the 10th book in the Detective D.D. Warren series and the 3rd book with Flora Dane as a POV character. The dynamic between Warren and Dane is fantastic; one is a great detective with a loving family who can’t help but do things a little outside the box. The other a tortured (kick-ass) young woman looking for revenge, but also for forgiveness.

The mystery in this book revolves around a pregnant woman who has probably shot her husband and most definitely his computer; the same woman who accidentally shot her father when she was 16. Coincidence? Her mother is a crazy person and her relationship with her husband was definitely not normal. She’s a brilliant mathematician but works as a math teacher in a public school. There’s some weird stuff going on here and Gardner unfurls all of the clues and reveals with skill.

Flora Dane’s story line is also advanced here, with a deeper look into her kidnapper’s nefarious activities.

The relationships Gardner builds between her characters are compelling, which isn’t always the case in a mystery series. Gardner writes great mysteries (police procedurals) with great characters and interesting story lines. Try her, you’ll like her.

Rating: 89/100

Buy it at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

The Ghost Bride – a book review in 200 words

The Ghost Bride

Yangsze Choo


Li Lan, a young Malayan woman, is approached with an offer to wed the recently deceased Lim Tian Ching, whose family is very wealthy. Accepting the offer rescues her father from further financial ruin and she will be set for life. Except, she will also be marrying the man who haunts and harasses her in her dreams. In an effort to exorcise Lim Tian Ching, she ends up on an epic adventure in purgatory.

I found the parts of the book set in the “real world” a little slow and Li Lan just a tad annoying. However, the peek into Malayan culture in 1800s Malacca was intriguing and the author’s narration of the audiobook a particular pleasure to hear.

Once the action moves into the realm of the dead, the story is fantastic. Ghosts, demons, dragons and all manner of strange creatures inhabit the dreamy, haunting world created by Yangsze Choo (based on Chinese folk religion). A murder mystery, and let’s say, unusual family drama, are also thrown into the mix.

So, if you enjoy weird, wonderful and completely enjoyable trips into fantasy worlds that just happen to be inhabited by ghosts and demons, then this book is for you.

Rating: 82/100

Buy it now at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

Verses for the Dead – a book review in 200 words

Verses for the Dead

(Pendergast #18)


Douglas Preston  and Lincoln Child


(Contains some slight spoilers.)

I realize that everyone has different tastes and just because I hate a book, it doesn’t mean that you will. Also, I appreciate authors for their hard work and the guts they have to put their work out there. But sometimes, a book makes me very angry.

Unfortunately, this book lacks any sort of cohesive mystery. My favorite serial characters are again absent. I am also severely disappointed in the fact that they chose to WRITE A LAST CHAPTER EXPLAINING THE ENTIRE CRIME instead of writing the actual clues into the book.

Preston and Child seem to understand that we will buy their Pendergast books regardless. Obviously, we all love Pendergast and hope that the next book in the series will be as good as the one that got us hooked. So, let me say this:

Authors, if you are bored with your characters, just stop writing them. Give us a book with a nice, going-away, this-is-the-last-you’ll-see-of-me story arc and we will grieve for a while and then thank you for it.

My god, I hope I can resist the temptation to buy the next in the series so I don’t have to experience this deep sense of disappointment again.

(Let me say though, the narrator of this audio book, Rene Auberjonois, is FANTASTIC as always, so I will need to listen to some of his others to now get my fix.)

Rating: 20/100

Buy this book (if you must) at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

Daisy Jones & The Six – a book review in 200 words

Daisy Jones & The Six


Taylor Jenkins Reid


Daisy Jones is young, wild and naturally talented.

The Six have worked steadily to get the success that is heading their way.

By chance, Daisy and The Six’s frontman, Billy, end up singing a hit song together and their respective managers decide that touring together is the best option for both.

What follows is rock-and-roll magic, except when it’s not.

Written as the transcript of a documentary film, the author’s newest book contains all of the usual plot points for a story about up-and-coming rock stars. Drugs, sex and partying. Riding the high of becoming famous. The dark places fame can take a group of people so closely intertwined. (And be warned, the probability that you will sob for two entire chapters is high.)

But the author so deftly writes about these characters that you forget the entire thing’s fiction. I often went to Google people and places only to remember this was entirely made up. I really wish that I could hear the songs of Daisy Jones & The Six. They must have been amazing!

A Taylor Jenkins Reid book is now an absolute must-read book for me going forward. You should probably try this book to find out why.

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 95/100

Buy it now at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones – a review in 200 words

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones


Micah Dean Hicks


What a deeply strange and compelling book about a dying town haunted by its inhabitants, both living and dead. Jane is possessed, her brother is possessed, her mother is possessed. Her father is so damaged that he cannot be possessed. The town, from its buildings to its machinery, is overrun with ghosts. The only place that can still be considered operating in any capacity is the pig-slaughtering factory on the edge of town.

There is so much to this book. It’s about family and regret and relationships and change and resistance to change and prejudice and longing and love. I feel like I need to re-read it just to get the meaning of everything contained within. BUT it’s also just a really good ghost story, unlike any I’ve read before. You can either enjoy it as an allegorical tale or as a straight-up horror book.

I would be interested to know what you thought of this book. Did it have any special meaning for you or did you read it as a straightforward book about a haunting? If you’d like to go read it quick, I’ll wait here for you so we can discuss.

(A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 92/100

Buy it now at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

The Silent Patient – a book review in 200 words

The Silent Patient


Alex Michaelides


Full disclosure, I knew the huge twist (and bad guy) in the story before I read The Silent Patient.

Therefore, it’s difficult for me to tell you if the ending will surprise or not. I can tell you that I started the book because I was curious about all the hype and didn’t think I’d bother to finish it. And…I ended up reading the entire thriller in one day. I also really enjoy books set in a mental institution of any kind, so this story was in my wheelhouse from the get-go.

If you don’t already know the premise of this book, a well-known artist kills her husband and immediately goes silent. No communication of any kind. Not even to defend herself – because did she really kill the husband that she adored and doted on? Most of the story is told by the new doctor who believes he can cure the artist and make her speak. (Messiah complex, anyone?) Pretty simple premise, really. But the execution is interesting and there were still enough little surprises that I didn’t mind knowing the ending. If you haven’t read it already and you are a thriller fan, than what are you waiting for?

(A preview copy of this book was provided by the publisher.)

Rating: 80/100

Buy it now at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

A Guide for Murdered Children – a book review

A Guide for Murdered Children

by Sarah Sparrow


This book IS about a very difficult subject, so I realize there will be some who find this a no-go immediately. If you can get past your immediate reaction of “ew, murdered children” – you will enjoy this book!

Willow (Dubya) Wylde, the quintessential broken cop, is drawn into a world where murdered children inhabit the bodies of recently dead grown-ups for the sole purpose of seeking revenge. (Children in adult bodies? Awkward and hilarious.) Dubya has some innate psychic abilities he has spent a lot of time suppressing – leading to alcoholism and other self-damaging behaviors. But it is the disappearance of a brother and sister that ends up focusing his energy and gifts.

Plotwise, there is a train through which the children travel in the ether; a Porter to help said children; AA-style meetings for the adults and children who are sharing a body; and of course, the guide for murdered children. I feel like that is just about all I can tell you about the plot without spoiling it for you. Except that there are lots of murdered children and equal amounts of gore and very bad people.

There have been mixed reviews about this book. I feel like if you pick up a book with the title, A Guide for Murdered Children, you have to know what you’re in for. It will probably help readers if they realize there is a lot of catching up to do to understand the world the author has built, similar to reading a fantasy novel. (If you hate fantasy/sci-fi for this reason, probably skip this book.) You have to trust the author’s vision until you are able to fully understand what is happening.

I think that Sparrow was brave to trust her instincts with this story and she deals with a difficult subject matter with a lot of respect. I found the book well-written and creative. Kudos to you, Sarah Sparrow.

Rating: 80/100

Buy it now at Barnes and Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

The Broken Girls – a book review in 200 words

The Broken Girls

by Simone St. James


The Broken Girls by Simone St. James is a well-written, fast-paced, thrill-soaked ride told in (at least) two timelines.

The book opens with a young girl being followed by someone or something in the very dark on a deserted road. Who is she? Where is she? When is she?

In 1950, four troubled girls (Katie, CeCe, Roberta and Sonia) are staying at Idlewild Hall, a home for the worst troublemakers. Each has a secret that slowly unfolds as the pages are turned. Each secret is worse than the last.

In 2014, local journalist Fiona cannot let her sister’s murder go. She can’t sleep and she can’t leave the small town where the unthinkable happened. Her sister’s murder has stopped time for both herself and her father until Fiona hears rumors that Idlewild Hall, the site of the murder, is being renovated.

Woven into all of this (as though it was not enough!) is the threat of a visit in both timelines by Mary Hand, the resident woman in black and the ghostly creature who supposedly haunts the hallways, classrooms and grounds of Idlewild.

Between the two timelines, murders, disappearances and strange happenings abound. What a fun and utterly readable book!

Rating: 92/100

Buy this book when it comes out (today! 3/20) at Barnes & Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

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