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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.

Book Review: The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa

This was a wild, weird read – in a good way but also in a confusing one… I met the author via GoodReads after a comment revealed that we had a mutual admiration for the indomitable Shirley Jackson. That led to him mentioning his own book – which is definitely in the SJ vein. Like Ms. Jackson, Barsa blurs the lines between reality, perception, and imagination – and he does this with his own flair, which I enjoyed. There were times I felt a bit lost though – the story travels through perspectives and time, and I occasionally felt like I needed a signpost to help me stay on top of things…

The pacing was also a little uneven for my taste – I would be utterly enthralled for dozens of pages, then feel like I was plodding through a handful until it picked back up. This was unsettling and left me feeling a bit off-kilter – although in hindsight, that may have been the point. This is a tale that is decidedly unsettling and off-kilter, after all, and the format may have been designed to reinforce those feelings. If so, it did a damn good job – I was a little creeped out (and then eventually a LOT creeped out) through much of the book. Continue reading Book Review: The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa

Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips by Erin Johnson

This is such a fun and cute series, and it has really surprised me with its depth in the past two books… Imogen the Baker is a delight. She is spunky and curious and genuine and would do anything for the family she’s made for herself – and possibly even for the only biological family she’s discovered she has. In this latest installment, she finds herself organizing a prison break-in and break-out at the “request” of Horace, the brother she never knew she had. The hijinks are, as always, thick on the ground – or in the air, as the case may be. This time the team finds themselves in the Air Kingdom, and it proves to be as creative and marvelous a setting as the Water and Fire Kingdoms before it. Imogen’s plan to sneak into the ultra-secretive Carclaustra Prison is silly and brilliant in equal measure, like all the best heist plans, and its execution goes along with the requisite number of unexpected hitches, glitches, and witches that readers have come to expect from this delectable series. Continue reading Airships, Crypts & Chocolate Chips by Erin Johnson

Book Review: The Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King

This is one of my all-time favorite Holmes spin-off series. In Laurie R. King’s oh-so-capable hands, the Great Detective is handled brilliantly – and his wife and co-conspirator, Mary Russell, is one of my favorite heroines in fiction. She is sassy, brilliant, and holds her own more than admirably as she matches – and shares – wits with her husband, Sherlock Holmes. It is extra impressive that King has managed to run this series well into double-digit books with so few missteps (the Pirate book aside) and with so many original and unique mysteries that cross so many borders (thematically, sociologically, geopolitically) and are consistently so entertaining. Continue reading Book Review: The Island of the Mad by Laurie R. King

Book Review: Full Moons, Dunes and Macaroons by Erin Johnson

This is such a cute series – I’ve reviewed all the books so far (you can search for them under Erin’s name in my Google bar above). I really like the baking angle and the Four Kingdoms world-within-the-world, and the characters are a fun blend of personalities and quirks that work well together. All that said, this book felt more political drama (albeit supernaturally so) than cozy mystery, and as such, wasn’t my favorite of the series…

The drama is heating up in the Water Kingdom, and with Prince Harry’s pending nuptials throwing Imogen into a tizzy, I expected a little more romantic hijinks and a little less oppressed-population-fighting-for-freedoms… Continue reading Book Review: Full Moons, Dunes and Macaroons by Erin Johnson

Book Review: Sharp by Michelle Dean

I am fascinated by the “early” woman thinkers – those women who developed a reputation for intellectual rigor and originality in a time (the early 1900s) when such domains were considered the exclusive property of men. I was familiar with nearly all of the phenomenally talented women in this collection – some more than others – but had no idea of the details of most of their lives, and was fascinated to see how the developed intellectually, creatively, and in their perspectives toward art, politics, and their place in the world. Continue reading Book Review: Sharp by Michelle Dean



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