book review

Review: Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas BookstoreBook Review
3 out of 5 stars to Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, a new mystery and thriller novel set to release on June 13, 2017, by author Matthew J. Sullivan.

Why This Book
For all us readers, who wouldn’t love a book with such a title? And when you read the description, learning about a horrific murder from the past, a suicide in the present, and mysterious connections between all the characters, your intrigue and suspense spidey senses will climax. I found it on NetGalley and thought it sounded like a good debut author to take a chance on. And so, I requested it, got approved and dropped it into the reading schedule for this month… as it will be released to the general public in about 3 weeks.

Overview of Story
Lydia’s mother died during childbirth, and she was raised by a father who knew next to nothing about being a parent. Refusing the help from any other family or friends, he did his best to raise his daughter, making a few mistakes along the way. During her childhood, Lydia befriends Raj, whose parents own and operate a gas station & donut shop in their Colorado hometown. Lydia and Raj seem destined to be together in the future. When Raj and Lydia meet another young girl, the three try to maintain a friendship, but something disastrous takes place, changing the future of their lives.

Years later, Lydia works at a bookstore several towns away, but she no longer speaks with her father. One night, her friend Joey, a “BookFrog” released from prison for a childish prank that went wrong, commits suicide. He leaves behind a few clues and notes for her to find, which lead to Lydia finding something that connects Joey to her past and the vicious murder of her friend and her friend’s parents. Lydia begins to realize her own father may have been more involved than he’d led her to believe. Raj re-emerges in Lydia’s life after being absent for nearly twenty years, and together, they try to track down Joey’s biological family, in the hopes they can discover all the connections. And when they do, everything implodes on them.

Approach & Style
The story is told in past tense by a third person narrator, who follows Lydia around for most of the book. It jumps time frames from when she was about ten years old to the present, when she’s in her thirties. The primary story is discovering who murdered Lydia’s friend and her family, when Lydia was a child. It’s also about learning who Joey was and why he chose to leave clues for Lydia about both of their pasts. There are a few romantic elements between Lydia and her current boyfriend, as well as Lydia and Raj, her childhood friend who stirs up feelings again in the future. Woven into the story is the common theme of how the characters all love books throughout their lives.

Strengths
There are a lot of different connections between the primary ten (10) characters, and it keeps you wondering just enough to feel some suspense. The murder scene with the “Hammerman” is dark and grotesque, giving just enough to your imagination while revealing a few core details of the hammer’s physical and emotional impact. I loved the scenes when Raj and Lydia were children. I could see their friendship blossoming. I could sense the growth between them and away from one another when meeting new people. I liked the father / daughter relationship. I felt a little slimy with the friend’s mother who seemed to sleep around a lot before she was killed. Sullivan has great character descriptions and imagination. The people all felt real, usually through their actions and with minimal physical descriptions.

Characters
Lydia is the primary character. She’s strong-willed, but has had some issues with relationships throughout her life. I don’t think she was as flushed out as a character as she should have been. There were a few holes surrounding: (a) why she and her father stopped speaking, (b) why she ran away, (c) why hasn’t she had many relationships beyond the guy she’s currently dating. It almost feels like there are some missing parts of her life which could have led to the suspense of what happened all those years ago.

Joey dies almost immediately, so you don’t get enough time with him. There are a few scenes that will immediately draw you to him, but not enough to warrant seeing him as a tragic man. He’s suffered, and he suffers a lot more when you learn in the last few chapters what became of him in the days leading up to his death; however, I wanted a longer story to have a better understanding of his lonely life.

Lydia’s dad became a recluse too quickly, and I didn’t buy his “love” for one of the other characters. Needed more story and detail around this section. He felt like two different people when looking at where he began and how he ended up.

Open Questions & Concerns
Although the motive and the killer became obvious about two-thirds thru the book, I felt there were too many open holes. I thought there were other murders happening, which confused me as to why the killer murdered anyone but the ones whom (s)he had a vengeance against.

The time gap left too much to my imagination. I wanted to know what happened in Joey’s life and in Lydia’s life to turn them into who they became. There were some details, but I often was left to my own devices, which is not always a good thing!

The ending in the epilogue was weak. It should have explored more about the immediate after-effect of all the drama.

There was another hole (until the ending cleaned it up a bit) failing to truly cover why the person who knew what the killer had done never stepped up and said anything to the police afterwards. Even if (s)he was scared, this was one of those situations where the police could have protected him/her from the killer. It seemed too much like a plot device, especially given everything else that was going on.

Author & Other Similar Books
Although the author co-wrote another book, it’s his debut as a single author of a thriller and suspense novel. It’s a typical suspense novel, jumping around between time periods and characters, dropping clues about the murderer along the way. I cannot think of anything it directly compares to, but has strong elements of family and trust.

Final Thoughts
The book is worth a read. It’s a good mystery, full of drama and emotionally-crippling scenes. It’s got a little horror and some suspense. Think of it like a good piece of cake, but it’s a bit dry at times and is missing a little more filling that would have held it together before we devoured it. As a result, you’ve got some crumbs on the floor, a funny little taste in your mouth and a bit of a thirst to read some more. I like the author’s style and would definitely read another book by him, assuming the plots are tidied up a bit more and the ingredients are fully flushed out.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Book Review
4+ of 5 stars to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the 4th book in the “Harry Potter” young adult fantasy series, written in 2000 by J.K. Rowling. Although this one was close to a 5 for me, I think it’s enough to give 1 book in the series a 5-rating, which means this one will stay at a 4. But I still loved and adored the characters, the setting, the story, the themes… all of it! Rather than go into a detailed review, as we’ve seen too many of them (always fun to read tho!), I’m just going to chat a little bit about the parts that I enjoyed the most.

1. The selection of the 3 students to participate in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. It’s scary to think the schools condone putting the kids at such risk, but then again, I suppose they’d stop it just before anyone died or was hurt irreparably. To imagine the goblet of fire choosing one from each school, and then Harry’s name being cast as a fourth one… fantastic idea and approach. I felt the drama. And I loved having him put to the test mid-way thru the series… as he never seemed to be all that good of a student or a wizard!

2. The introduction of new characters in this one is intense. I loved all the folks at the various stages of the competition. To see feelings emerge for one another, to know they were going thru the same unrequited love and anger we all go through as teenagers. Was a good experience — I thought it was one of the more real aspects of the series.

3. The imagination for all the tournaments and the dance… fantastic. I wanted to be there watching it all happen. I can only imagine how it felt to write those scenes… knowing it would propel the characters forward in a very different path by the end. And to see the drama of how it all turns out.

I am feeling the need to re-read this series again soon…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Scarpetta

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Scarpetta Book Review
3 of 5 stars to Scarpetta, the 16th book in the “Kay Scarpetta” thriller series, written in 2008 by Patricia Cornwell. In this book, Kay takes an assignment in NYC, where she’s handling another crazy potential killer, but one who claims to have a connection to her — again. The past keeps creeping up in these novels… and sometimes it’s just too unbelievable. I enjoyed the book, and it’s better than the last few… but I’m being harder and harder on authors who write lengthy series. It has to be about more than putting out a book a year to make fans happy and to earn more money. I want depth. I need creativity. I want something new.

The good things about the book: lots of gore, detailed autopsy-type info, crazy loons for killers… it’s a good alternative to the norm of a cozy mystery or a historical fiction novel. I like how the books take me away from reality to a place I don’t believe exists, but I’m sure there are some people who deal with murderers like this every day. The other good aspect is the delving into cyber space. Given I work in technology, I love seeing all this stuff, assuming it’s well done. Sometimes it’s dummied down too much, sometimes it’s too detailed. Can’t make everyone happy all the time.

A decent book to read in the series, but still not back on track yet.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Plum Lucky

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Plum Lucky Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Plum Lucky, one of four “in-between” novellas in the “Stephanie Plum” mystery series, written in 2008 by Janet Evanovich. As if she didn’t have enough already going on, Evanovich released several short books in between the various series she’d been writing, this time linking together Stephanie and Diesel, from one of her other book series. And as if Stephanie didn’t have enough going on with Ranger and Morelli, now she’s lusting after a possible ghost man. Well… so are we all, so are we all…

Atlantic City becomes the focus in this holiday edition where Stephanie’s tracking down her crazy grandmother. The antics with Lula are fantastic. Add in a few other core characters and you’ve got the usual ride. I like these because they are shorter, easier to read in full in about 2 hours. It’s humor and wicked fun wrapped up in memorable characters. Less about the mystery and suspense, more about the laughs. It’s a nice break, but I do prefer the longer mysteries.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Daisy Miller

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Daisy Miller Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Daisy Miller by Henry James, a story about a free and unattached American girl who is spending some time in Europe after being removed from American society for some time. She unwittingly defies the moral code of European society, never realizing it until the very end when she dies. All throughout the story, “Daisy does what she likes, responds to what she likes. To the world around her she is a young girl, an American girl, she represents a society and a sex. She is expected to be what she appears-whether that is an innocent girl or a fallen woman” (Allen 337). In America, Daisy was free to roam about, flirting occasionally with the men. Once she enters Rome though, her behavior with a “dubious native [is] in defiance of the system of curfews and chaperons which [the society] holds dear” (Dupee 298). James sets up the plot of the story by having Daisy run into a man who is also an American transplant. Frederick Winterbourne, a kind free-spirited and unemployed gigolo, has lived in Europe for quite a few years searching for an older, rich woman to marry. When he meets Daisy, he is immediately intrigued by the “pretty American flirt” (James 102). Once this connection is established, Daisy’s innocence becomes the focus of the text. In the very beginning, “when contrary to the code of Geneva, [Winterbourne] speaks to the unmarried Daisy, he wonders whether ‘he has gone too far.’ . . . When he attempts to classify her, she undermines all of his stuffy and inapplicable generalizations. He decides that [Daisy] may be ‘cold,’ ‘austere,’ and ‘prim’ only to find her spontaneous and as ‘decently limpid as the very cleanest water’” (Gargano 314). Daisy and Winterbourne have now established their relationship at this point; They are attracted to one another and would like to go and see the Chateau de Chillon. When Winterbourne asks her to go with him, Daisy says, with some placidity, “With me?”. Winterbourne responds by respectfully inviting her mother along also. However, after the flirtatious exchange between the two, “[Daisy] didn’t rise, blushing, as a young girl at Geneva would have done” (James 103). The process in which Daisy loses her innocence begins here.
However, James’s short story is told from the perspective of Winterbourne, which overshadows the true story of Daisy’s innocence. Readers see and understand Daisy’s actions through Winterbourne’s eyes and actions. After Winterbourne leaves town to care for his aunt, he and Edna find their way back to each other. However, Winterbourne is non-committal to Daisy because of her flirtatious behavior with him and other men. Nevertheless, Daisy is not alone when they meet up this time. She is dating an Italian man named Giovanelli, who is obviously only after her money. Daisy continues to see Giovanelli, but she also spends some time with Winterbourne. Society begins to see that she is involved with both of these two men, quite intimately apparently. Daisy’s mother thinks she is engaged to Giovanelli, but Daisy is also seen out with Winterbourne every once in a while. F. W. Dupee remarks that when society is “judging [Daisy’s] morals by her manners, they imagine the worst and they ostracize her. They are wrong” (Dupee 299). However, “all the chattering tongues of Rome do not bother Daisy. She knows that Winterbourne, the one person whose opinion she values, believes in her innocence and chastity” (Buitenhuis 310). Daisy later focuses her thoughts on Giovanelli, and ignores Winterbourne even though he has always believed in her innocence and cared for her.
After losing track of Daisy for quite some time, Winterbourne runs across her at the Colosseum in Rome. The Colosseum was known to be a place where young lovers would go to experience passion and love. Daisy and Giovanelli are standing in the arena when Winterbourne notices them. Winterbourne tries to leave without making his presence known, but Daisy sees him. He asks her if she is engaged to Giovanelli, and Daisy tells him that she is. Winterbourne, at this point, believes that Daisy is nothing but a flirt who toys with men’s emotions for her own self-interest. It was also very dangerous for one to go near the Colosseum at such late hours because it was common for people to catch Roman Fever, a form of malaria. When Winterbourne tells Daisy this, she seems to hardly care at all about getting sick, and her actions even lead the readers to believe that she is going there purposely. Daisy’s actions appear suicidal. Winterbourne is concerned and he “not only expresses his concern for her health so recklessly exposed, but [by doing so,] he also lets her see that he has lost faith in her purity” (Buitenhuis 310). Shortly after, Daisy takes ill and begins to die. On her death bed, she can only think of telling Winterbourne that she really is not engaged to Giovanelli, who skips out on her once she gets sick.
Daisy eventually dies from the Roman Fever. It seems as though “Daisy dies because she cannot be fitted into any European scheme of things” (Allen 337). At this point, “[Winterbourne] realizes too late that he could have loved Daisy, and that Daisy could have loved him” (Buitenhuis 310). It is sad that it has to come to this, but society binds women to the strict standards of what they can and cannot do. If Daisy was in America, she would have gotten away with her behavior, but she was in Europe. European culture expects women to conform to specific standards. Just as Daisy is expected to live by the customs of Europe, so is Edna Pontellier from Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Cat Who Lived High

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The Cat Who Lived High Book Review
4 of 5 stars to The Cat Who Lived High, the 11th book in the “Cat Who” cozy mystery series written by Lilian Jackson Braun in 1990. For fans of the series, this one’s a real treat. Qwill heads back “Down Below” to investigate something back in Junktown, where he formerly resided (sort of) prior to the Pickax Klingenschoen inheritance. It’s a good cross between the two places… but Braun takes it a step further, tricking fans into believing she’s killed off Qwill in this book. It’s a bit of a nightmare for us fans, but in the end, the spoiler is, he’s alive… which is not a spoiler at this point because you know the series goes on for at least another 15 books. But the fun and humor associated with the whole situation is quite amusing. It’s a fun change of pace that should delight readers with a little sarcasm to pickup the pace in the books.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews

Review: The Merchant of Venice

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The Merchant of Venice Book Review
3 of 5 stars to The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. My review is an excerpt from a paper I wrote on appearance versus reality in Shakespeare’s plays. In many of William Shakespeare’s famous plays, reality was not quite what it appeared to be. Instead, it was a rather warped appearance that someone molded in a specific way for a particular reason. Reality has been altered in Shakespeare’s plays often by characters who have been known to lie, scheme, and create facades, just so that they could be with the ones they love. When fate intervened in this type of a situation and created an obstacle between the true loves, Portia, the main character in Merchant of Venice, disguised herself as a lawyer to free her love, Bassanio, from the evil Shylock’s clutches. She also altered reality by disguising herself to her husband so that she could see what their wedding rings meant to him. However, this deception, although intended for good purposes, usually ended in disaster. It just goes to show that honesty is always the best policy. Never deceive fate by changing reality, and interpreting [from it] a new appearance that you want other to see.

Portia had already been through an appearance vs. reality problem when it came to her potential suitor’s choosing of the caskets. They could choose from gold, silver, and lead. The first two appeared to be wonderful gifts from God, but in reality, the most worthless one, the lead, turned out to be the best coffin to pick. If you did, like one person did, you would win Portia’s hand in marriage. Luckily, the first two gentleman chose the wrong casket, and then when it came time for Bassanio to choose a casket, he chose the correct one. Thus, it lead to the marriage between Portia and Bassanio. Bassanio’s best friend Antonio, however, was in need of dire help. Portia decided to help her husband’s friend Antonio. Antonio had borrowed money from a man named Shylock to back Bassanio’s ships in the waters nearby. However, the ships never came back to port, and so Shylock wanted his money back from Antonio. The agreement that was made was that Shylock was due one pound’s flesh if he didn’t receive any money. Bassanio didn’t want to let his friend Antonio die from his debt, either. Eventually, Portia and her lady-in-waiting came up with a plan to disguise themselves and become a doctor and his clerk. This plan again alters reality to suit her own purpose. She needed to help her friend Antonio, so she put on a new appearance. She played the doctor who told Shylock he had permission to take his flesh from Antonio, but he best be careful not to shed any of Antonio’s blood during it, because that is illegal. Also, they revealed the Venetian law that states if any foreigner kills a Venetian, all of his money is to be taken from him. Shylock gives in and decides not to take his flesh from Antonio. In the end, Portia’s trickery and deceit works, but still, she had to disfigure the state of reality that Venice was in because she wanted to help her husband Bassanio.

Similarly, Portia decides to put on another disguise to test her husband’s loyalty. She again plays with the appearance of things and creates a false appearance like Juliet did in Romeo and Juliet. Portia, as the doctor talks to Bassanio about being paid for having saved Antonio’s life. Bassanio tires to give her money, but she refuses saying that all she wants is the ring on his hand. Bassanio thinks back to when it was given to him. Portia had said “I gave them with his ring, which when you part from, lose, or give away, let it presage the ruin of your love, and be my vantage to exclaim on you” (3.2.171-174). Bassanio had given her his word that he would never take it off. Well, after Portia, as the disguised man, chides Bassanio for keeping it because his woman told him to, Bassanio hands over the ring. When he later returns to Portia, she notices that his ring is gone and yells at him for it. She thinks he doesn’t love her and is reckless. All the while, Portia has set this whole game up to test her husband. Portia’s plays with reality for the fun of it really. She wants to be sure of her husband’s love for her, but she has no right to alter her appearance and trick him. He is a man of equal measure to her and everyone else.

Portia and Bassanio end up fighting about the loss, but Bassanio ends up vowing never to get rid of the ring again after she tells him what she did. She is constantly switching back and forth from reality, to her perception of it, to the perception she gives to others of reality that she eventually almost messes up the entire situation. Portia wasn’t altogether truthful with her husband with what she did. If she had been though, he would not have given the ring away. Therefore, by playing with the views others see of reality, particularly her husband’s, she tempts fate. If she had never done anything, her husband Bassanio and her wouldn’t have fought and they would have lived happily ever after. However, she doesn’t. They end up talking about it and forgiving each other, but surely there will always be doubt in the back of their minds about what the other is up to. Bassanio may wonder if she is just playing games with him, and Portia may wonder if he will really hold onto the ring for next time. Leave well enough alone and let fate and reality take their course rather than warp the appearance of things for your own purpose.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews