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My Progress:

12 / 30 books. 40% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:

28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

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23 / 50 books. 46% done!

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23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

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48 / 50 books. 96% done!

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40 / 52 books. 77% done!

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27 / 40 books. 68% done!

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10 / 25 books. 40% done!

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12 / 26.2 miles. 46% done!

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26 / 100 books. 26% done!

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64 / 104 books. 62% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

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43 / 52 books. 83% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

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69 / 165 books. 42% done!
Thursday, December 13, 2018

Opener to Popular Mystery Series A Bit Ho-Hum

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As a midwife in turn-of-the-century New York City, Sarah Brandt feels as if she's seen it all.  Still, when she comes across the strangled corpse of a 16-year-old girl while attending to a new mother in a shabby boardinghouse, she's stunned.  Not only because of the brutality of the murder, but also because she knows the victim.  Alicia Van Damm is the daughter of a prominent, wealthy family—a family with whom Sarah is acquainted.  What was Alicia doing in the squalid tenements?  How did she end up both pregnant and dead?  

The Van Damms fear nothing more than a scandal.  Sarah, however, can't bear to let the brutal killing go unpunished.  With the help of Frank Malloy, a taciturn police detective, she takes it upon herself to investigate the crime.  The more she digs, the more dangerous her life becomes.  Can Sarah find Alicia's killer before the murderer finds Sarah?  It's a prospect that's looking more and more unlikely ...

Murder on Astor Place, the first installment of Victoria Thompson's popular Gaslight Mystery series, is an atmospheric, engrossing novel.  It gets points for a vivid setting and for an interesting heroine, who's both brave and determined.  Frank is not as likable; perhaps that's why I felt no real chemistry between him and Sarah.  The plot of Murder on Astor Place is unoriginal and a bit slow.  I saw the big reveal coming from miles away.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed this novel overall.  I didn't love it, so I'm not sure I'll continue with the series.  Lots of readers love the Gaslight Mystery series, which will reach 22 installments in 2019, so I may give it another chance.  Or not.  We'll see.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a bit of the Below Stairs mysteries [Death Below Stairs; Scandal Above Stairs] by Jennifer Ashley)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought an e-copy of Murder on Astor Place from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Sad, Depressing Family Secrets Novel Another Meh Read for Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Sixty years ago, during the summer of 1935, 6-year-old Emily Evans went missing from her family's vacation home on an isolated Minnesota lake.  The disappearance of her "pet" broke Emily's mother, who kept vigil at the lake ever after.  Emily's older sisters, Lilith and Lucy, remained in Minnesota as well.  Now, six decades later, Lilith has died and Lucy is about to follow.  Before her death, she writes down the real story of what happened to Emily in a notebook.  She hides it for Justine Evans, her grand-niece, to find in the lake house which she is set to inherit. 

To Justine, the dilapidated vacation home represents a new start for her and her girls.  Fleeing an abusive boyfriend, she needs a place to hide and heal.  A remote lakeside cottage should make an idyllic spot for doing just that, but Justine's facing a long, cold winter in a crumbling home with only a strange old man for a neighbor.  Soon, her sullen 11-year-old daughter becomes obsessed with the story of Emily Evans.  That's just what Justine needs, especially with her greedy mother swooping in to "help," her old boyfriend looking for her, and her just trying to keep her little family together.  

The lake house has seen too much tragedy and sorrow.  Can Justine break the chain?  Can finding out the truth behind Emily's long-ago disappearance help the ghosts of the past move on so that Emily's descendants can look to the future with hope and joy?

The Lost Girls, a debut novel by Heather Young, tells an atmospheric, compelling story about a loss that shatters the lives of all involved.  Its characters are complex and interesting, although few are truly likable.  The plot rambles along a bit, making the tale feel a bit loosey-goosey.  Overall, the novel is sad and depressing.  The Lost Girls interested me enough to finish reading it, but in the end, I found it to be kind of a meh read for me.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a little of The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough, although this novel is much darker)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a couple of F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of The Lost Girls from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
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