Saturday, May 16, 2015

On a Personal Note

All of you that have followed me, I thank you. With my life the way it is right now, maybe the way it has always been, I am not going to be able to continue on with my book blog the way I had intended. I just haven't been able to carve out enough time to even read one book a week, which was my first goal when starting this. So at the end of the current year, 2015, I will no longer post reviews here.

For the commitments I have made, I will honor them and post reviews as I am able to.

Again, I thank all of you and wish you all happy reading.

Looking Glass Killer

This book was one that was pitched to me through an organization that helps self-published authors with exposure to their books. I thought that it sounded interesting and worked it into my long list of books I wanted to read. This is book II in a series, I believe.
The main problem that I had with this book is that in some areas it read like a college lecture in mathematics or statistics. Floyd Merrell is a retired professor and this definitely reflects that. I think that in many areas it had a great deal of promise, but outside of the long passages on mathematics, it lacked in a great deal of content in respect to character development and plot.
Within the book, the main character Detective Lucia and her partner are trying to find a killer who taunts Lucia and seems to have a pattern with where the victims are killed. The problem is that most of the book takes place at the police station. Lucia and her partner Mike do visit the crime scenes, but outside of that there isn't a whole lot of action. Most of the dialogue revolves around them theorizing about sociopathic tendencies. Early in the book, within the first 20 pages, Lucia is already calling the killer "brilliant" and I did not see how that was possible.
Perhaps if I had read the first book I would have had a better understanding of Lucia's character, but I didn't even know she was from Brazil until almost 70 pages in. Even now as I write this, I am not certain that I could tell anyone who asked me much about any of the characters in the book with any specific detail. I think that I would have liked a little more detail and character development.
Some of the other issues were the constant references to Lewis Carroll, a tremendous amount of cliché phrases, and a lack of connecting the killer with Lucia. I found myself skipping through passages due to all of the mathematical explanations. I really feel that if some of that was cut out, more character development had been put in, and a few close call scenes between Lucia and the killer were created for more drama or climax that this would have been an amazing book.
Overall, I think that this book was okay. My main piece of advice for any self-publishing author is to get a good copy editor to help you out with issues in terms of grammar and storyline. If Merrell had done that and gotten some non-academic beta readers, some the issue mentioned above may have been resolved before publishing. It was a really good idea, just poorly executed.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
I was given a copy of the book by the author through Bostick Com.; I was not paid to do this review.

The Detroit Electric Scheme

This is another author that is going to be speaking at a writer's workshop I was thinking about going to this summer and he is an author from Michigan. I am always looking for authors to read from my home state and was naturally intrigued.
From the very beginning of the book I was hooked. I thought initially that I was not going to like the main character Will Anderson, but he grew on me as I progressed through the pages. DE Johnson definitely did an amazing job with character development as well as very diverse. It isn't easy to get a reader to connect with or even like a drunk, bitter main character accused of murder, but Johnson does it.
The historical aspect of the book was almost a character on its own. It was like I was back in the early 1900's Detroit on the verge of the electric automobile explosion. Sadly, I have never quite taken to Detroit and do not go there unless I have to, but this book made me see it in a different light. It would have been fascinating to see this town in its heyday and not the broken down city it is turning into. The description of the horse drawn carriages, night clubs, and train stations were spot on and I am going to look for further books by this author in the hopes to experience this unique view.
There is a little bit of romance in this book, but it is shrouded in darkness which I am okay with. I have never been one to enjoy a sweet romantic entanglement within the confines of a dark murder mystery and one of those would have been very out of place in this book. I think that Johnson's handling of this helped not only the story but helped with the main character as well. It humanized in a way that made him likeable where without it, Will probably would not have been.
Overall, I thought that this was a dark, wonderfully written historical fiction on the Detroit automobile race. If everything afore mentioned is intriguing to you, then you will definitely find this book entertaining and will probably want to read more from this author. If you are someone who does not like historical fiction or a rather dark piece, then you might want to skip this, but it would be a shame because of how great a story this is.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I borrowed this book from my local library and was not asked to write a review of this book.

State of the Onion

I was contemplating going to a writer's workshop this summer and this author is one of the individuals giving a seminar. Since I have a guilty pleasure of reading mystery books that also contain recipes, I thought that I would love this book finding yet another series to read through. But, unfortunately, I just did not find this book as fun as I was hoping.
One of the things that really irritates me while reading is if the main character, male or female, is completely ditzy and irresponsible with their crime solving actions. The main character here, Ollie, has both of those traits. I was hoping that my love to cook, and eat, would be enough for me to have a connection with her, but I was not able to find her interesting enough. That lack of connection was one of the main problems I had while reading this book.
The book itself is a very quick read and I was able to get through it in a few nights. Julie Hyzy does a good job with plotlines and it seems to have enough twists and turns to get you through. In the end though, I found it a little lacking in reality. An assistant chef at the White House takes down an assassin and then thwarts off several other attacks on her life while trying to find out who the murderer is. Something tells me that the White House Security would never have allowed her to muddle in national security issues and at some point she would have ended up in jail. That is just my own assumption and perhaps that would have made an interesting plot point in this story.
Overall, it was a good read. Not sure it has peaked my interest enough to read the rest of the series, but it was a good read nonetheless.
If you need a little more action and intrigue in your mysteries, then I would probably skip this one. If however a straight up cozy murder mystery is your cup of tea, then put on the kettle and give this one a try.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
I borrowed this book from my local library and was not asked to do a review of this book.