Doll Factory
August 19th, 2019 by diane92345

A Doll Factory is the location of this fascinating look at Victorian life through the eyes of both a budding feminist and a serial killer.

Iris is an aspiring artist painting doll faces at Mrs. Salter’s Doll Emporium in 1850s London. Mrs. Salter is a harsh taskmistress especially when in the throes of her legal drug addiction. Iris is by all accounts beautiful except for a skewed collarbone which never set correctly when broken during her youth.

Iris has a brief encounter with Silas, a taxidermist fascinated with “curiosities” such as Iris’. Silas becomes obsessed with Iris and vows to have her.

The Doll Factory has something for everyone. It is a romance, a mystery, and historical fiction. The best part is it is a story of a nascent feminist working against society’s beliefs of a woman’s place. I enjoyed this take on a Victorian serial killer thriller. I think you will too if you like historical fiction. 4 stars!

Thanks to Emily Bestler Books, Atria, and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Hidden Things
August 19th, 2019 by diane92345

Suspenseful heist thriller where Hidden Things don’t stay hidden forever.

When fourteen-year-old Carly is attacked in her house, the police post video from her home’s security system hoping someone will recognize her attacker. While it only takes 44 views to find her assailant, the video has now spread far and wide on the internet generating millions of views. While happy that Carly’s attacker is behind bars, her stepfather is in trouble in two areas. First, his family didn’t know the security cameras were in the house. Worse, the attack video shows a small fragment of a famous stolen multi-million dollar painting on the wall.

Engrossing look into high-end art theft and its aftermath. Hidden Things keeps its reader at a high level of suspense while propelling them forward to the excellent conclusion. This book is recommended to anyone looking for a thrilling ride through the illegal art trade. 4 stars!

Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
August 18th, 2019 by diane92345

“One day we shall all be nothing but corpses.” That day is today for Big Foot in Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead.

There is no love lost between neighbors, Big Foot and our narrator, Mrs. Duszejko. Big Foot was a thief and just an overall unpleasant person. So why does Big Foot’s only other neighbor, Oddball, move the body and change its clothes after Big Foot is murdered?

More like a fable or a dream than a mystery, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is very good at getting what is trying to achieve. However, this book is only recommended to literary fiction fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to Riverhead Books and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Literary Fiction, New Books Tagged with: ,

Death in the Covenant
August 17th, 2019 by diane92345

Seamlessly blending the history of Mormonism with a present day police procedural, Death in the Covenant is a fascinating look inside a secret world.

Heber Bentsen is a beloved pillar of the Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormon) church. As a counselor to the church president, he is investigating a hidden church agenda. A loss of young men in the church has led to 1.5 young women for each young man. Could the perfect solution be reinstating polygamy?

When Heber is killed in an auto accident, foul play is not suspected. However, the autopsy reveals he was killed by a rock to the head and no rock was found at the scene. His longtime family friend, and former LDS member, Abbie Taylor, investigates the crime.

As someone who watches every special on plural wives, both modern and historical, I loved Death in the Covenant. I learned many details about the Latter Day Saints’ beliefs. But it was the mystery itself which will force me to read earlier episodes in this series. It is a twisty ride into an unfamiliar culture. Just when you think you have it figured out, pow, the plot shifts abruptly in another direction.

Overall, this is an excellent police procedural tackling a subject I’ve never seen in a mystery before. Please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong. I highly recommend it. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Thirteen
August 16th, 2019 by diane92345

What a great hook for a thriller! A serial killer is one of the Thirteen people on a jury and a former con man is working for the defense team.

Luke is a killer. Today, he is killing a lookalike so he can become a juror on a high profile murder case. Famous movie star Bobby is accused of murdering his movie star wife and her security guard while they were together in bed mostly unclothed. Bobby is a great actor but he is also the only person seen entering the home on the security camera footage. He also appears to have waited three hours to call 911. How will former con man Eddie help powerhouse defense attorney Rudy Carp prove Bobby’s innocent? How does a one-dollar bill folded into a butterfly found in the security guard’s mouth fit in?

Talk about perfect timing. I read this while waiting to be selected for a jury on a murder trial. (I was kicked off by the defense on the second day of voir dire.) It did make me think more about my fellow jurors than I usually do.

The next best thing to being a juror in real life is reading this book. Thirteen makes you the fourteenth member of the jury and the fourth member of the defense team. The plot is engrossing and compels you to read late into the night.

I highly recommend this book for both thriller readers and mystery solvers. Even though the who is known from the beginning, the why is the intriguing mystery to solve here. 4.5 stars!

Thanks to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Trust Me When I Lie
August 16th, 2019 by diane92345

Trust Me When I Lie shines a harsh spotlight on true crime television series like Netflix’ Making of a Murderer while also containing a twisty mystery.

Jack Quick is the creator of a true crime television series in Australia. The series digs into the kidnapping and strangling death of Eliza. By the finale, it has proven to the public that Curtis, the man convicted of the crime four years earlier, deserves a new trial. When Curtis is subsequently found innocent and freed, Jack wonders whether he helped a guilty man.

While there is a mystery to solve, Trust Me When I Lie is mainly a screed against the media retrying criminal cases in the press. The book shows that the media often has differing goals from the law. Entertainment, and subsequently high ratings, are the reason why true crime tales selectively present the facts. My issue with that belief is that prosecutors and defense attorneys do the exact same thing. Because I didn’t buy the whole premise of this book, I didn’t enjoy it much. Even the twisty ending seemed forced. 3 stars.

Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

Twisted at the Root
August 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Gideon is brutally murdered in his own home in Twisted at the Root.

The only person at home at the time is Gideon’s husband, Rashad. Rashad insists in his innocence but is found guilty at trial. When additional evidence is found four years later, Rashad is retried. He asks for his original attorney, Ray, to defend him again. After accepting, Ray hires his PI daughter, Jane, to find the real killer.

Twisted at the Root disappointed me. I didn’t find the characters engaging. The pacing seemed slow. It might be because this is the first I’ve read in this ongoing series. If so, I wouldn’t recommend this book as a good entry point. However, if you are already a series fan you will probably enjoy this one too. 3 stars.

Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

And Then They Were Doomed
August 15th, 2019 by diane92345

And Then They Were Doomed is a fun little pastiche of Agatha Christie tales.

Zoe has a recently deceased mother who was ostracized by her entire family after giving birth without a husband in sight. Zoe is also a little person and a writer of author biographies. Since she is currently working on a book about Agatha Christie, she is not surprised to be invited to speak at a webinar series about her. She is surprised when she arrives there to a remote lodge stranded by a storm in the remote Michigan woods. No one is who they claim to be. The two people running the conference are named after Christie characters. There is a statue featuring children on the dining room table that slowly loses children as people disappear. What is really happening here and how can Zoe escape with the bridge flooded and the telephones not working?

And Then They Were Doomed is a fun ride through Christie lore. Both book plots and the author’s real-life are called out in the plot. Zoe is a great character. I’m hoping to see more of her in subsequent tales. However, the unbelievable ending just ruined the book for me. Plus while frequently calling out Christie’s “overwriting” as a bad thing, this book is guilty of it too. Even with those flaws, the book is worth the read. 4 stars!

Thanks to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

A History of Art in 21 Cats
August 14th, 2019 by diane92345

From ancient Egyptian tomb art to modern day graffiti and YBAs, A History of Art in 21 Cats describes and illustrates the principles of 21 different art movements.

Each movement includes a cat illustrating the different characteristics of the art. Many of the cats replicate a particular painting. Though the Warhol soup cans selling “Kitty” that frame the pop art movement cat are rather ironic. Each chapter also includes a one-page summary setting the time and place plus two pages explaining how each kitty represents famous artists’ work.

Using cats to show the differences between art styles is a painless way to learn some art history. You might also get some ideas for your own art project. A History of Art in 21 Cats would make a perfect gift to the budding school-age artist. It would also spark some conversation as a coffee table book. 5 stars!

Thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Aquaman Vol 1: Unspoken Water
August 13th, 2019 by diane92345

Aquaman Vol 1: Unspoken Water is Aquaman and his universe’s origin story.

Like traditional mythology, Aquaman’s universe is full of angry, vengeful gods. First, there was Father Sea and Mother Salt. They had a perfect marriage in the world’s seas. Unfortunately, their children, though fully grown, solved their problems in a childishly violent way. But Mother Salt fought back.

First, the Wonder Woman and then the Aquaman movie are box office hits. Mythology is popular again. You can’t simply be a rich millionaire trying to combat crime in a mask anymore. I’m sure the other popular comic book company’s movies also had a lot to do with the mythos trend.

Mythology’s creation stories have certain elements that are all present here. That might he why they all seem so similar. If your story is the first to be read, it seems original and fresh. Aquaman Vol 1: Unspoken Water doesn’t feel like either, unfortunately. The artwork, while effective, is also not particularly original and has a Game of Thrones’ feel to it.

Overall, this book is a good choice for Aquaman fans. For others, it is an okay way to spend a few hours but maybe not worth seeking out. 3 stars.

Thanks to DC Comics and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Graphic Novel, New Books Tagged with: ,