The Paris Homicide Series by Frédérique Molay

 

Paris Homicide

I love the gritty psychologically driven Scandinavian crime novels and they led me to reach out for a broader view of European Crime.  Let me tell you, it isn’t all gritty, but that doesn’t mean you have Ms. Marple in the library sipping tea either.

Paris, oohhh, Paris, with the tragic history and all of those romantic spots…Just like any modern city, there are murders there too, fictional and otherwise. In comes, Frédérique Molay, and her creation, Chief of Police Nico Sirsky.

The three part (so far) Paris Homicide series has opened my eyes not only to real-life Paris, but to the interesting way that La Crim’ investigates murder. I say interesting, because the mechanisms and procedures are different from what we are used to here and that adds to the intrigue of the plots for non-native readers.

The plots kept me reading as well. The 7th Woman features a killer of women, Crossing the Line starts with a freaky message secreted away in an odd body part, and City of Blood plays havoc with modern art at the site of a former massive slaughter-house with is now Parc de La Villtte, a world-class cultural center.

Nico Sirsky is different in that he isn’t really some tragically flawed alcoholic with decades of self-imposed wreckage behind him. He has a past just like we all do, the same with sad events, but it doesn’t define him like many fictional crime fighters. He is a good compassionate guy, who is very good at his job, with a teenage son, and a relationship in bloom. He’s multi-dimensional not for his bad habits, but because one can relate to him.  He’s a shift from the norm and really a breath of fresh air because of that.

So, if you want to see more of Paris and how they fight crime, not be afraid of turning the lights out at night, and yet still want some murder in your reading….check out Frédérique Molay, and her work, The Paris Homicide Series.

Check out the review at The Bowed Bookshelf

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Skeletons Still Not in the Closet

Skull from the yard

I keep my skeletons out all year in spots to spook nosy guests. Be warned if you ever come over and snoop that white canister on the bathroom shelf or move back the leaves of a fern. (although why you would be messing with a fern is beyond me)

There are still a few books that scared me so badly that I waited to catch my breath before I reviewed them. Not that I stop reading horror or ghost stories just because Halloween is over, no way, but I know that many do.

Imagine a dark and stormy night and you’re cuddled up with an herbal tea in your favorite chair, the fire is toasty, no one else is home, the wind howls and you pick up…..

Horro Stories

 

 

This is such a classic that it would be great to read from every year even if the subtitle makes you giggle a bit. Think about it, there just aren’t that many authors whose surnames start with “Ho” and that subtitle implies that the volume just covers that specific grouping. It doesn’t. Full of short stories that are old favorites (Poe, I am pointing at you) and a whole bunch that are new, I suggest that you keep the lights on. Naw, for the best, edge of your seat chills, turn them off and read by candle light or use your Paperwhite Kindle.

P.S. There are 29 stories in this and it feels like so much more. The forward is really worth reading as well.

Horror Stories edited by Darryl Jones, 510 pages, published October 1st 2014 by Oxford University Press

 

 

 

 

 

Are you old enough to remember the 1987 movie Mannequin staring Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall? Synopsis-cute guy falls in love with mannequin and gets a job there so he can chill with her when the store is closed, she comes alive and they have a Horrorstorbeautiful relationship, at night, in the store. That and the fact that I thought it would be so cool to stay in a store over night are the only things that stuck with me. My never-had-a-job-before rear thought that it would be “cool” to hang out in a store at night. Wow, kids are naive. Fast forward a few years and I fell asleep on a pile of scarecrows while doing inventory at Michael’s in the middle of the night. Good times.

Anywho, it was a fun fantasy then and that is part of what made Horrorstor so alarmingly scary. The book takes something that we can all relate to in one way or another, an Ikea knockoff, and turns it into the scariest haunted building you have ever visited.  A lot of it is tongue in cheek with the random Ikea-like descriptions of must-have house wares and that serves to make it more insidious.  I don’t care that it is supposed to be a bit funny or that it is a lightly masked commentary on our materialistic culture; I will never ever open up a cabinet in any store again without thinking of the book. And Ikea? Fuhgeddaboudit!

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix, 243 pages, published September 23rd 2014 by Quirk Books

 

 

 

File this under: Sometimes the remaking is just too much remaking.

Remember when they remade Psycho shot for shot? I was bored out of my mind; did you get through it? The Fall isn’t shot for shot, bThe Fallut it is a retelling of a treasured favorite from a treasured favorite author. That’s a lot to live up to and it is important to mention that if this gets younger folks to appreciate Edgar Allan Poe, it’s all good. However, if you grew up reading Stephen King and Poe like they were oxygen? This one might be okay if you get it from the library and that is still wouldn’t have helped me.

Bethany Griffin’s The Fall is a complete redo of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher.  It isn’t updated to a modern setting, just cleaned up to add a bit more YA and make it easier for many more to read. While Usher has never been one of my favorites, I do know it well and mea culpa, I set the bar too high. It isn’t Griffin’s fault at all.  This isn’t even the first treatment of Poe that she has done so she must be doing it right for her audience. (I haven’t read the others and therefore can’t judge) The problem was that I thought I was her audience and I was wrong.

If you have never read Poe, abandoned it due to it’s less than modern language, or have a teen that you would like to introduce Poe to, may I present…

The Fall by Bethany Griffin, 420 pages, published October 7th 2014 by Greenwillow Books

 

 

All three of these spooky reads were provided by their publishers and that, obviously, doesn’t mean that they had any hand in these thoughts.

You know how they have bloopers for movies and TV shows? There are times that I would like to post some of the bloopers for my writing. I laugh so hard at some of the spelling errors, typos, and complete butchering of the language. I don’t need auto-correct to embarrass myself, no sir.  Have you had any good ones lately?

 

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The Barter by Siobhan Adcock

the barter

Move over Rosemary’s baby, The Omen, and The Exorcist and now we have The Barter on the Horror/Suspense bus. When I was a kid, my dad and I got into scary books by some really great authors. Now, I wasn’t scared, no creepy idea why. My daddy was a whole ‘nother story. He would be jumpy  for the next few days. Bad me, it was the one and only time that I could scare the crap out of him for a change. Then there was the time that he read Salem’s Lot, it had made him stay up all night to read and he was trying to play it off, but it was quite obvious terrifying him. (sorry, got off on a family scary but good memory)

Anywho, being that it has been an eon since I have read a tension-building ghost story, it took me a minute to get into the book…and then I couldn’t put the darn thing down. We flip back and forth to from two mothers, one current day and one about 1900. Two mothers that are forced by circumstances that they can’t explain to make a trade for their baby’s life. The problem is, they don’t know what to trade or what the consequences will be.

This was a slow, drip by cold drip down you back as it built the tension and there were times that, honestly, I just wanted to get to the end. I guess you could say the suspense was killing me.

Grab it for Halloween!

The Barter by Siobhan Adcock

  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0525954228
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (September 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • ASIN: B00INIXNPA

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The House At The End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

Cover.House at the End of Hope St.large

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag

Imagine a time in your life when everything has fallen apart and you are wandering aimlessly, wondering what your next step should be when you come upon a house that you have never known before that somehow calls to you.

(side note: My love of architecture often means that I am drawn to homes and buildings that I have never noticed before, even when my life is going great, so this whole idea isn’t far-fetched for me)

Keep imagining….you go up the walk and before knocking on the door it opens and standing there is someone you have never met before, but she has such a motherly welcoming nature about her that you find yourself entering.

The woman, Peggy, ushers you into the kitchen as you walk by walls dripping with framed photographs of famous women from the past, including Florence Nightingale. The house seems alive, charming you and breathing life into everything at the same time.

You continue to stare at the portraits that blanket even the walls of the kitchen. Peggy says, “They’ve all lived here, at one time or another.” Still stirring the milk at the stove, Peggy speaks without turning around. “They came to the house, just like you, when they’d run out of hope.”

Our main character, Alba, has indeed run out of hope and while we won’t find out exactly why until later in the story, her feeling of being lost is palpable. Peggy invites her to stay after letting her know the rules of the house; she has 99 days to turn her life around and then she is out. Alba agrees to the rules, thinking that she has nothing to lose.

That is the start of The House at the End of Hope Street and while I may be, deep down, the most cynical person that I know, I was thoroughly charmed by van Praag’s book. The house gives subtle hints and objects to the residents in hopes of steering them in the right direction and we get to know all four of them well as the story develops.

Honestly, my hard heart is tempted to label this chick-lit (sorry if that offends you and it usually turns me off too), but it was…well….hopeful and while I doubt there is a magical house like that near where I live, I found myself longing for one. Having been through my own 100% life upheaval in the last year and a half, I could really relate to the residents emotions and their struggles between their hurt hearts and giving life another chance.

It might just be the personal timing, but this is one of my favs so far this year. It wasn’t life changing, but I no longer feel like the only one that is lost and it gave me some courage to keep at it.

 

The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel by Menna Van Praag

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 25, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0143124943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143124948

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A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator by Robert G. Pielke

TheTranslator

This is the second book in the wonderfully fun trilogy so be sure to check out my review for A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor.

Time travel is messy when you really start to ponder it. You can’t change the past so much that you end up not being born because then you wouldn’t be there to travel back and make that change. Then there is the scary possibility that you change something bad and end up creating a whole new (and bigger) problem.

Time travel is also incredibly hard to write. The author has to explain those possible paradoxes and pitfalls without confusing the reader and getting so muddled that the prose ends up like a dog chasing his tail.

Big Note Here: You really must read the first book, The Visitor, before reading this one or you will be dazed and confused. Some books in a series stand alone, not this alternate history/sci-fi baby.

The Translator- When we last left, our somewhat fearless time traveler, Edwin Blair, had managed to bring Lee and Lincoln together to capture the Pests instead of fighting the battle at Gettysburg that we all know. Problem is Blair doesn’t know what to do from here.  He knows that some of the nasty Pests have to be left alive, but how? And just how are he and Lincoln supposed to calm the outrage, fear, and newly invigorated rebellion of the South? Blair is also dealing with a fading memory because of all of the changes he has caused and the headaches are nightmares.

Pielke does a great job of steering both his characters and the reader through the perils of time travel and once again leaves me dying to read the next book.

If you love the Civil War, enjoy alternate history, and are open to a quirky dash of time travel, The New Birth of Freedom is definitely  worth checking out.

A New Birth of Freedom: The Translator by Robert G. Pielke

  • Paperback: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press (2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1611605423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611605426

 

I was thrilled to get this book by being part of the Tribute Books Tour.

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