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The Girl Who Played Go
Shan Sa, Adriana Hunter
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Malcolm Gladwell
Someone: A Novel
Alice McDermott

Zig Zag girl

The Zig Zag Girl - Elly Griffiths

Brighton, 1950, variety shows are on the way out, magic shows not as popular as they had been, television soon to make its appearance. After the war Edgar wanted to make a difference in people's lives so though he was expected to return to Oxford, he decided instead to become a policeman. When a body is delivered to the station in pieces, it becomes Inspector Edgar's case, a case that will bring him to Max Memphisto a famous magician and a man that Edgar served with in a secret unit called the Magic Men.

The atmosphere of this novel is authentic and wonderful. So much about magic shows and the theater, even knowing that a magicians greatest friend is misdirection did not help me solve this case. I did have a few ideas but I guess I am just not clever enough. The characters are colorful, Max and Diablo alternately amusing or melancholy. Secrets from past, clues to follow left by the killer, murders done in ways mimicking magic acts, all leaving a trail, but remember red herrings and misdirection. The historical details are an additional bonus, all helping to immerse the reader in both this case and the time period.


A brilliant start to what I hope is a new series, by Galloway.

Gold, Fame, Citrus

Gold Fame Citrus - Claire Vaye Watkins

The American Southwest has completely run out of water. The new ocean covering vast areas is now made of sand, mountains are sandstone, and Californians who once came for fame, gold or citrus are now called Mohave. Many moving Eastward are taken to relocation camps, but not all leave. Luz, once known as baby Dunn, a poster child form failed conservation movement is one. She meets Ray and forma while they live in an abandoned stars mansion, until they misappropriate a child and want a better chance at life.


I finished this a while ago and am still shaking my head. What have I just read? Wildly imaginative or prescient, original and devastating. A cult like leader who is a dowser and his followers in the desert, a haven or a threat? What a brilliant concept this book is, even to the point where Watkins manages to come up with new supposed insects and animals that are living in this new sand ocean, adapting and changing to thrive in their new environment. But are they real?  There is so much to this book, descriptions and feelings, almost a hallucinogenic mind game with characters who change and evolve Prose that is brilliant or sometimes seems overwritten but to great effect. So incredibly addictive and immersive.


ARC from publisher.

Slade House

Slade House: A Novel - David Mitchell

Magically (and creepily) delicious. Loved every minute of this one, just wish I has read it closer to Halloween. Not overtly scary, yet what is accomplished in this short novel did send a few shivers my way. So many lines can be taken in more than one way, little humorous tidbits scattered here and there. A haunted house but so much more, original and brilliant in its own way. Actually this will make a good book for re-reading, which is just what I will do.

ARC from publisher.

Fortune Smiles

Fortune Smiles - Adam Johnson

Short stories seem to have once again surged in popularity, if one is to go by the many that have been published this year. Seems more and more novelists are either turning or returning to this form. I have never read Johnson's novel so this is my first experience with his writing and it was a successful one. Some of these stories were exceptional, but there really wasn't one I didn't like.

The themes of technology and imprisonment are a common theme among many in this eclectic collection. How we live with, how it can interfere or how we can use it for solace. Imprisonment in ones' own body, in a communist regime or in an actual prison also covers three of the stories. In the title story the author returns to North Korea to tell the story of three asylum seekers in South Korea. They have escaped for various reasons, the twist is that one of them misses North Korea and wants to go back. If he will, why and how he will is the story.

All in all am very good collection, super writing and a wide range of locales.

ARC from NetGalley.

The Wtich of Bourbon Street

The Witch of Bourbon Street - Suzanne Palmieri

Yes, some of this novel was very predictable and yes, some of the lines were a bit corny but this was the prefect beach read. I mean you have the Sorrow Family, a family said to be witches and to have mysterious powers and then Bourbon Street and a crumbling down mansion with a mysterious past. On top of that you have a long past mystery of a whole family, at that mansion, that was found dead, a missing child, and a current family that is as strange as they are interesting. The pat will affect the present in pressing ways and finally the truth of what happened cannot be denied. Loved every inch of this novel and could have read on. Butt like all good things it ended and so did my beach vacation.

The drowned boy

The Drowned Boy - Karin Fossum

So glad that Fossum has decided to return to the Inspector Sejer series. In this one he becomes involved in the case of a drowned 15 month old boy with Down Syndrome. Although on the surface the death looks accidental, something just doesn't sit well with the mother's explanation.  Enter, Carmen, the nineteen year old mother, who seems to view everything with rose colored glasses. Added to this is that in her father's eyes Carmen can do no wrong. Nicolei, the father of the boy sees things differently, he is seriously grieving.

This is a slow paced, psychological twisty novel. Is Carmen telling the truth or could a more nefarious purpose have been her intent? Good story about the secrets people hide, how those with little or no conscience can make their way through life with nary a blip. How will evidence be found, if in fact Carmen is lying? What is the truth and what is a lie, and how can we tell the difference? Very interesting case and well mixed with the private health travails of Sejer.

ARC from publisher.

Beautiful Bureaucrat

The Beautiful Bureaucrat: A Novel - Helen Phillips

I just finished this and am still not sure of what I read. A fever dream, a hallucination, possibly a nightmare, maybe all of them? All I know is that I started reading this and was hooked, wanted to find out what was going on.

Josephine and Joseph move to the city from the hinterlands where they were unable to find jobs. At first in the city things do not seem much better, but than miracle of miracles they both find jobs. Josephine, hired by someone whose face she cannot clearly see, a face that seems like no face gets a job sitting at a desk inputting numbers into a Database. Boring pink walls, strict rules, anfew if any co-workers that she can see, though she eventually makes the acquaintance of one. Stacks of files daily, ennui sets in, the only saving grace her husband Joseph and the few surprises he provides. But than she begins questioning what she is inputting and from there, well that is the rest of the story.

Wildly inventive, strange and inviting all at once, this is so different from what I usually read that I am still thinking about it.  Novella length, more than a novel but it contains quite a bit in a small package. Am still shaking my head, though I have to admit this might not appeal to some like it did for me.

In the dark places

In the Dark Places: An Inspector Banks Novel (Inspector Banks Novels) - Peter Robinson

Another series that I have read since the beginning, though that really isn't necessary because this book would be fine if read alone. I did, however, find out that I missed one which I now must go back and read. Don't quite know how that happened. Anyway in this installment three different incidences, with three different teams investigating all come together by books end. A stolen, very expensive tractor, blood in an unused warehouse and a missing young man send the team scrambling for answers.

Love the character of Inspector Banks, he is so interesting, his children though he doesn't see them often enough, loves classical music and relished his solitude though he is at present dating a woman younger than himself. In this case he is not front and center, it is more Annie's and Winsome's case, the women take the lead. Good case, the last 10% of the book the most exciting, had me holding my breath at times. One warning: after this book if you are not already, you might just becomae a vegetarian. Think abattoir.

ARC from publisher.

Pretty is

Pretty Is: A Novel - Maggie Mitchell

Two twelve year old girls are kidnapped, found and rescued, this is their story . The novel follows the girls kin the future as well as filling in their back stories. Separated after they were released the girls grew up to follow two very different paths. The story is narrated alternately by each of them. Why did one of the girls go with the kidnapper willingly? Why did he choose these two girls from different parts of the United States? Why did they identify so much with their kidnapper?


Interesting concept, Stockholm Syndrome, kidnapping, in parts a book within a book and yet the pace was unbelievably slow. Seemed like there was much more filler than there needed to be. Also wasn't altogether sold on the ending and I finished with many questions unanswered. A good novel that I thought could have been better.

ARC from Netgalley.

Harriet Wolf's

Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders: A Novel - Julianna Baggott

A wonderful book about mothers and daughters, their complicated relationships and how easy it is to misunderstand each other. Three generation of women, Harriet, who has died had written a series of six best selling books, there is a rumor that a seventh exists. Professors, scholars and book, aficionados the world over are anxiously waiting for it to surface.

Eleanor her daughter who has made many mistakes, holding tight to her daughter Tilton after letting Ruth run away at sixteen. Interesting characters all the story is told by each character in alternating chapters. It is Harriet's story that I loved the most, of course her story is from the missing seventh book. Even the side characters are diverse and add much to the story. Some of these characters and places throughout the novel actually existed.

I could tell, how much the author loved these characters and it helped me love them too. Flawed for sure but all hoping for something better. Loved Tilton and her unique perspective of the world and her family. By books end I felt as if I had melted and I am very glad I read this book.

ARC from publisher.

The Child Garden

The Child Garden: A Novel - Catriona McPherson

 I know this author writes the Dandy Gilver series, but I am not a big cozy reader, so my first experience reading her was the novel [book:As She Left It|16249308]. I loved her writing style in this standalone and loved it in this novel as well. She manages to combine an eeriness, some follklore and superstitions with some amazing characters and many elements of the traditional mystery.

This outing features a woman who becomes embroiled in a mystery, who done it when a friend from her earlier school days lands on her doorstep. So she investigates suspect by suspect, with some pretty coincidental discoveries. She is also the divorced mother of a seriously handicapped young man who is her top priority. Loved the trail she sets off on and also liked that though there are many people involved she takes them one by one. A good solid mystery and I certainly hope McPherson keeps writing her stand-alones.

ARC from NetGalley.

Church of Marvels

Church of Marvels: A Novel - Leslie Parry

When I first started reading this I found it hard to follow, four different story-lines and I was confused, couldn't figure out what was going on nor who was who. My advice is to just enjoy the story let it lead where it takes you, don't try to figure out where it is going. Eventually that is what I did and soon found myself feeling like I was in the dark underbelly of New York at the turn of the century. The atmosphere of this novel is very dark, a part of the city that is inhabited by baby sellers, children for hire, dog boys who clean out privies, opium dens, freaks of all kinds and a journey to the insane asylum. Not a pretty, clean spruced up city.

The characters though are amazing, full of depth, flawed and anguished, searching for a better life. Capable of great kindness and a great capacity for love. The twists, seriously did not expect most of them, couldn't have guessed for all the money. They kept coming, especially in the last third of the book, and I was amazed at the author who put this all together. Totally different from any other book I have read.

A very good read, though dark, be warned and some of the things are not easy to hear or read, though not horribly graphic. Found it memorable and am very glad to have read it.

Crooked Heart

Crooked Heart: A Novel - Lissa Evans

Hard to believe I could find a novel about the London Blitz and WWII both heartwarming and at times ironically humorous. But I did and much of this is due to the author and her wonderful characterizations. I quickly fell in love with ten year old Noel, a precocious boy of unknown origins who was being raised by his suffragette and eccentric godmother, Mattie.

Eventually he will be one of the children evacuated and taken in by a woman named Vee, who sees this as an opportunity to make some money.
What is wonderful about this novel is how they characters change and grow throughout the novel, some for the better some for the worst. Yes, there are bombs falling, deaths and accidents, thievery and lost people but for the most part, Noel and Vee, their exploits, and their growth, propel this novel.

Wonderful story about two people who find each other in an unusual time and in unusual circumstances.

ARC from publisher.

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Above the waterfall

Above the Waterfall: A Novel - Ron Rash

A rather simple plot compared to many of Rash's other books but filled with memorable characters nevertheless. Becky, her story is written in a kind of surreal style. She has had a tragic past, but is now the ranger at the National Forest and is the friend of an old landowner. C. J. came back to town to take a job and now finds that the job has disappeared, leaving him without support for his wife and sons. Barry, a young police officer who quits after a nasty meth bust. Can no longer bear to look at the damage and the worst that people can do to each other. And a sheriff, good friends with Becky, due to retire in a matter of days.

Rash's real genius, however, is in painting a picture of the landscape that is both beautiful and poignant. Every little detail, nothing too small escapes his notice. The love of land that he imparts to many of his characters. Simply wonderful.

Alternately he wrote one of the most in your face view of a meth addict, how they live, how little they care about anything but the drug. Such a stark contrast to the beautiful setting of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So many great quotes I could copy but this small line just touched me.
"As the storm moves on, rain trickles off the leaves like an afterthought." Simple but lovely.

ARC from publisher

Bulll Mountain

Bull Mountain - Brian Panowich

Clayton Burroughs is the only member of his family not involved in its crime network. He,instead became the Sheriff. His family had ruled Bull Mountain in Northern Georgia for generations first with moonshine, than marijuana and lastly meth. They are a hard people, not adverse to killing those who try to get in their way.

We learn something about each generation though most of the story takes place in the current one, with one brother dead and two facing off against each other. A surprise is thrown into the mix with the arrival of a federal agent, Agent Holly, and he will be the match6 that sets off the fire. He though has his own secrets, his own story.

This is a tightly structured book, suspenseful, intriguing and violent. A novel about fathers and sons, about money and expectations, retribution and revenge. If you have read Deliverance, you know not to wander around in the mountains, although this is set in a different
place it reinforces that viewpoint.

<spoiler> I think this is the first book I have read that almost every character has either shot someone, been shot or been seriously maimed.