Murder

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: 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: If There Be Thorns

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If There Be Thorns Book Review
3+ of 5 stars to If There Be Thorns, the third book in the “Dollanganger” series written in 1981 by V.C. Andrews. After the first two books, I didn’t think you could keep the thrills and suspense going in this series, mostly because one family can only endure so much torture over the years. Surprisingly, I actually found I liked a large part of this book; however, it was a bit excessive and drawn out at times. The story, told from the perspective of Cathy and Chris’ kids, continues the saga of the torture from a wicked grandmother and mother, combining religious beliefs and family values. And it’s got a Gothic ending to keep readers enthralled the the concept of “payback’s a bitch!”

I love the series because it pushes the envelope. This one explores the theme of adoption, when two half brothers explore and learn who their fathers were and who they thought they were. Cathy and Chris are siblings, yet they are in a relationship and raising two kids. Jory and Bart are examples of good and bad growing up in a loving household, but tortured by the past. When Cathy and Chris’ mom re-enters the picture, you know something bad is gonna go down. And it takes one of the boys on a trail of vengeance. Mostly unrealistic, the books take you on a little jaunt into the wild imaginations of a tortured family who have done nothing but brought on their own destruction. Yes, some of them are innocent; some cross a line not really intending to harm anyone else. Others are truly out to instill pain, and some are just ill. Finding the balance among the different family members is good entertainment. There really aren’t any lessons in these books… just pure drama.

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.

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Review: F is for Fugitive

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F is for Fugitive Book Review
3 of 5 stars to F is for Fugitive, the 6th book in the “Kinsey Millhone” mystery series written in 1988 by Sue Grafton. In between a cozy mystery and a traditional mystery, this series toes the line with its strong and serious private investigator, Kinsey, based in California during the 1980s. In this one, she takes on a case close to 20 years old, trying to collect as many details as she can from the family who has hired her. But they won’t tell her everything… and it’s about their son who murdered his girlfriend, but really says “I didn’t do it.” Of course he didn’t, and that’s why Kinsey agreed to search for the truth. But when she falls prey to some lies, she has to decide how much money is worth her own frustration. A good book in the series, not one of the best ones, but certainly not one of the less fun ones. Has some shock factor. Takes Kinsey out of her normal Santa Teresa homestead. The family she deal with are a bunch of loons, which of course makes for a few very funny pages.

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: Black Notice

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Black Notice Book Review
3.5 of 5 stars (rounded up due to the topic in the book) for Black Notice, the 10th book in the “Kay Scarpetta” thriller and suspense series, written in 1999 by Patricia Cornwell. For me, this was a transitional book in the series, not so much from good to bad, but in the terms of who Kay Scarpetta is and what happens with the people in her life. If you are still reading the series, or think you will, don’t read the next few lines… then skip ahead to the next paragraph where it will be spoiler free. *** SPOILER *** Kay has lost Benton… and she needs to re-evaluate her life. Knowing what happens later in the books, and thinking about what we learn in this one and the previous one, I really questioned what Cornwell was doing in the series… and if it was just too many directional changes *** SPOILER END ***

So… the best part about this book is that there is the possibility of a werewolf. No… Cornwell didn’t delve into fantasy, but there is a disease that could make someone look like a werewolf and that’s where we go in this installment. Rather than cover the actual details of the story… think about the amount of effort and work Cornwell had to put into this book in order to write this story. It’s highly focused on extreme medical conditions, takes you across the continent, involves shipping procedures, politics, FBI investigations. This is not a normal everyday writer’s story… Cornwell may have a few downs in some of her books, but you can never question her ability to write a good story and to put the effort into surprising her fans. She excels in this area, and this book is one of those reasons for me. You don’t want to stop turning the pages and will end up reading it in one rather long sitting, just to understand what this werewolf thing is all about!

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: Blood Shot

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Blood Shot Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Blood Shot, the fifth release in a mystery series of 20 books (and still counting), written by Sara Paretsky in 1988. I stumbled upon this thriller and suspense book series during college, upon coming across some of the bright yellow, red and purple covers. After catching my attention, I gave them a chance and then devoured several in a row in the first few years to try to catch up. The main character, VI Warshawski, is a tough female private investigator in Chicago, a fictional character resembling no person I’d ever met before. In this book, VI goes back to the dangerous streets she grew up on to help a childhood friend find the father she never knew; the friend’s mother is dying which leaves a big hole in her life. VI, reluctant to help, gives in and starts an explosive path into history, uncovering crimes among the big business world, including toxic chemicals and the lengths people will go to keep some information secret.

For those new to the series… this is a really great set of “modern day” PI detective books with a strong female lead. For the most part, VI is quite likable; however, it takes a little getting used to. She’s tough, a bit rude and direct, and often fails to realize she’s holding herself back from being open-minded. In the first few, I thought… no one like this exists. Please forgive me, I was a naive 20 year old from the suburbs who thought all people were generally friendly. VI’s a different kind of friendly. If you’re on her good list, she’ll take a bullet for you. Seriously. And she has. But if she’s on your bad list, you might get some acid thrown in your face. OK, maybe not that bad, but you get the drift. The fun part part about these books is they were right in the beginning of technology’s rapid growth on the detection front. Cell phones and computers were just becoming common in the hands of regular people. See was still using coins in a pay phone and an answering service. I can’t imagine waiting for your service to tell you you had a message. Wow! But makes you realize how much harder she had to work to solve her crime — natural talents and ingenuity. Good one to sample from the series.

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