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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.

Book Review: How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive by Michael Bernhart

What an unexpected delight this was! I say unexpected only because it is book 3 of a 5-book series, and I normally have a rather die-hard rule about not reading series books out of order… When I read them out of order, I am generally disappointed because the story feels either flat or like I’m jumping in mid-stream; without the context and backstories, it is usually very difficult to get into the swing of a series when you join somewhere in the middle. Still, after a bit of back-and-forth on this point, I accepted the author’s explanation that I would be fine joining Max Brown in the middle of his series, and am very glad I did. True, there were a few points where I found myself pausing to reread a casual mention of backstory or previous adventures, but those points didn’t detract from the story at all but rather piqued my interest for the earlier books.

This is a family adventure. And a manhunt, and a treasure hunt, and a reminder that racism is alive and well in America (or at least it was circa the early 1990s, when the story is set). It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of adorable twins, and a history lesson about the surprising number of “lost” treasures scattered throughout rural Georgia. It is funny and scary and over the top, and an absolute delight to read as a result. Continue reading Book Review: How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive by Michael Bernhart

Book Review: The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz

“Something is wrong with me. I need. I very much need. I very much need to be dead.”


“There is a spider in my brain. It talks to me.”

Merciful heavens, but this was one hell of a ride… I love Dean Koontz – have for years. I recently rediscovered him after a somewhat lengthy (for me) break with Ashley Bell, and was reminded why he has long been one of my favorite escape authors. When I saw his latest was available on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to read it ahead of its release date. I have really never been disappointed by him. I know a lot of people have complained that a number of his books feel too similar, that there are tropes (like the oddly-smart and self-aware dogs that recur regularly) that he over-relies on, that he’s Stephen King Light. To all those people I simply say: Hush. There are similarities between some of his books, but I never found them derivative; ditto on the Stephen King comment. And I like the dogs. So leave Mr. Koontz alone and enjoy his books for what they are – deliciously dark, suspenseful, easy to read stories about things that go bump in the night, both human and not-quite-so-human.
Continue reading Book Review: The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz

Book Review: The Scarlet Coven by David Stuart Davies

“‘I’m for a gin and tonic,’ she said. ‘Can I tempt you?’
‘Indeed you can and I’ll have a gin and tonic as well.'”

You wouldn’t know it from the description as presented, but there are actually two delightful protagonists in this new book from David Stuart Davies (which looks to be the start of a fun new mystery series) – and they are NOT the two characters mentioned. Sure, Sam Finch is, as described, a detective-turned-writer. But his sidekick – and literal partner in crime, is not PI Patrick Murphy, it’s Finch’s wife Laura. Poor Laura doesn’t even make the blurb, but to me, she definitely helped make the story… You see, it’s Laura that turns this into a Nick and Nora Charles-esque mystery – and that was what both drew me in and held me.

There’s darkness afoot in 1930s New York, and without the light antic interplay between Sam and Laura, that darkness might have overwhelmed what turned out to be a very entertaining (and suitably dark) mystery. Continue reading Book Review: The Scarlet Coven by David Stuart Davies

Book Review: The Seventeenth Pocket by Hargus Montgomery

“The time for a question is when you think of it. There are receptors in the brain that are only active when you think of the question. If you don’t ask it, you lose the opportunity to change your brain, literally.”

This was an extraordinary book – and I’m delighted that it’s the first of (at least) two… It starts as a book about brain science as much as about death, but rather quickly morphs into so much more. I really enjoy learning other people’s thoughts on what comes next/life after death. I was a philosophy major; dialectics and big life questions have always fascinated me. Add in my lapsed-Catholic upbringing, which lapsed largely because of my propensity to ask too many questions that standard dogma either doesn’t like or doesn’t have answers for, and you have the makings of an obsession with the quest for answers… So, from the get-go, I was pretty hooked on the idea of this one simply because the concept of an afterlife spins me into paroxysms of delight. And when it’s a gloriously imagined, beautifully conceived, and well-crafted concept that happens to track with my own ideas (or at least my own wishes and hopes), you have a pretty solid recipe for success.

But this book is so much more than even that. Continue reading Book Review: The Seventeenth Pocket by Hargus Montgomery

Book Review: The Knowing by David Graham

I really wanted to like this one, but I just couldn’t get into it. The premise was great – as was the promise: mystery, supernatural elements, a book of secrets, MI5, a plot against the Royals… I liked the sample text well enough, but when I tried to dig into the larger book, I just found myself floundering. The teenage girls babble on rather inanely – I know that is the wont of teenage girls everywhere, but in a book I need a little guidance, maybe a roadmap or at least a street sign… Continue reading Book Review: The Knowing by David Graham



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