Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: The Red Tree

The Red TreeThe Red Tree by CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The audiobook was just mesmerizing and I don't know if that's a function of the reader or Kiernan's lyrical writing. I can't say I can make sense of this work, but I don't regret listening to it.

I will say, though, that the very end of the book (no spoilers here), where the voice switches to another person/characters, didn't make sense to me. Maybe it refers back to something earlier in the book that I've forgotten. And it's only because of that ending that I'm giving this 4 stars instead of 5. Yes, I realize that I might have missed the point because I'm not a sophisticated enough reader, and you might read the book and find it resolves well or is unresolved in a pleasing manner, but this is just how I reacted to it.

Still, there's no doubt that Kiernan is a powerful writer with a strong imagination.

(P.S. Speaking of imagination, there's something about the tree and the otherworldly part that reminds me of King's Lisey's Story.)

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: The Pale Horse

The Pale HorseThe Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted to read this because of the paranormal plot (alleged witches are cursing people to death). Much to my surprise, considering when the book was first published (1962), Christie does a good job of presenting the paranormal aspect and doesn't fall into the trap of blaming it all on the devil. A good read.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: A Vision in Velvet (A Witchcraft Mystery #6)

A Vision in Velvet (A Witchcraft Mystery #6)A Vision in Velvet by Juliet Blackwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this series for the well-researched paranormal plots. If you've ever read much on the supernatural or studied history of magic and witchcraft, you'll find Blackwell's stories believable in that context. She gets it right.

And on top of that, her skill as a writer of a cozy mysteries series is excellent, though there were two places in this particular book where I could see things too clearly before she revealed them. (Usually I can't.) Violence is off-camera, so to speak, but not so far off-camera that you can't feel it at all.

This book involved a mystery with ties back to the Salem Witch Trials. Normally I wouldn't pick up a book with that tie because it's so often based on biased accounts of the trials that stated that all of those persecuted were devil worshipers when in fact many were innocents who were falsely accused due to mass hysteria. I don't want to reveal any details, but Blackwell picks a believable thread from that era, if you pardon the pun. That is, just because most of those accused at the trials might have all been innocent, there was still evil around.

As others have noted, you can start anywhere in the series without being lost. Blackwell gives you just enough background so you know who the characters are or what events happened in the past.

I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by Xe Sands. She's amazing, and voices the characters well. I hope she continues to narrate this series.

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Sunday, September 07, 2014

Book Review: Someone Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead

Somebody tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead (ToadWitch, #1)Somebody tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead by Christiana Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like your paranormal believable, definitely give this book a try. The level of authenticity in the beliefs and actions of the characters is excellent. Great job!

I listened to the audiobook version. I loved the voices of the main character (Mara), Lizette, and Aunt Tillie. I had a problem with the two gay male characters (too queenish) and the British accent of one of them, but that doesn't mean everyone will. They just don't sound like the gay and/or British men I know.

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Friday, September 05, 2014

Book Review: The Cat Who Saw Red (The Cat Who series)

The Cat Who Saw Red (Cat Who... #4)The Cat Who Saw Red by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

People who know me would assume that I picked this book up because of the cats. Actually it was recommended as a good example of a cozy and just happened to contain cats.

The "Cat Who" mystery series actually starts with The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966) -- this book is number 4 -- so I didn't have much background on how the cats developed or communicated their talents, but having met many a Siamese cat (and their human servants), I had absolutely no problem accepting the premise.

Written clearly, with deft humor, and increasing tension, it was a pleasure to read.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Book Review: Tarnished and Torn (A Witchcraft Mystery, #5)

Tarnished and TornTarnished and Torn by Juliet Blackwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another well-crafted, action-filled mystery where traditional homespun magic is pitted against darker forces. We learn more about Lily Ivory's relationship with her father and what has happened to Sailor. (I hope that's how you spell it -- that's one disadvantage of listening to audiobooks; you don't know how to spell the characters' names.)

The magic in this episode is exciting and unusual, involving a Mayan fire demon, Xiuhcoatl. Blackwell skillfully blends in her research without making you bored.

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