Agatha Christie Readathon: The Murder at the Vicarage

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Time for our fourth, and final book for the month, a quick reminder…..

The awesome Jay Cudney is hosting an Agatha Christie Readathon! The plan is simple. We have a week to read one of Christie’s fabulous novels and we post a review at the end of the week.

My approach to this Readathon

I am new to Agatha Christie, and I am also embarrassed to admit that! She is such a well known author, yet I have waited 5 decades to read her classic mysteries. What make this admission even worse for me, is that this is my favorite literary genre! When Jay launched this readathon, I saw it as an opportunity to right a horrible wrong in my life (too bad Jay can’t fix all of those!😢 )

These stories have been discussed, reviewed, studied and examined by minds far greater than mine. You can find many a brilliant, detailed and thorough review in numerous places. So, rather than focus on the storyline, I would like to take some time to discuss my thoughts on each of the novels. I suppose this is my chance to have a book club discussion without the actual book club meeting. Dang, I will miss the wine and cookies 🍷 🍪 !

Now, onto the review!

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Synopsis:

Agatha Christie’s

The Murder at the Vicarage

A Miss Marple Mystery

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

 

The Murder at the Vicarage is the first of Agatha Christie’s “Miss Marple” series. As such, it made perfect sense that the story would revolve around the Vicar, who’s home in which the murder took place .

The story is slow to begin as the characters, of which there are quite a few, are introduced to the reader. As this is a small town, or village, everyone is overly involved in one another’s business. It took some time to understand those intimate relationships and to describe the crime in detail. However, once the true investigation begins, the story moves at a quicker pace.

The story is told from the Vicar’s point of view and he is somewhat of an amateur sleuth himself. Indeed, it seems the actual authorities are rather blind to a number of clues and important inferences, which makes me wonder how they got their jobs in the first place!

While the professional investigators are searching for the easiest explanation, the Vicar and Miss Marple are looking for the answers that makes sense, given the facts they have. This is made all the more complicated by the busy bodies and gossip hounds which cloud the facts by withholding information and elaborating details that may or may not be real. Ultimately it is “old Miss Marple” that sees through the deceptions of the culprits and weaves the fragmented truths together.

I do wish that this had been the first of the Miss Marple stories that I had read. I feel this was a great introduction to her character and her keen sense of observational powers. I can completely buy into her position as a supporting character, turned hero at the end when she is the one who puts it all together. I would expect that, as the series continues, Miss Marple would have a greater involvement in solving the future mysteries that seems to be in abundance in this tiny community. Having already completed “The body in the Library”, I do know that the series does not play out that way. Still, I do recommend “The Murder at the Vicarage” as a clever example of Agatha Christie’s excellent writing style!

Thank you Jay, for expanding my literary boundaries! So glad we went on this journey together my friend 😊💕!

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Watching Glass Shatter: A Book Review, A Conversation and Breaking News!

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Welcome, to the Watching Glass Shatter Blog Tour!!

Today we celebrate the debut novel by James J. Cudney

 

 

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Book Review

Watching Glass Shatter

James J. Cudney

4.5/5 stars

Most first time novelists will keep their story simple and the number of characters to a minimum, in order to manage the task of development and continuity within the narrative. This strategy makes perfect sense and has been successfully employed, many times, by young writers looking to produce a strong, first effort.  Numerous moving parts can be difficult to pull off even for seasoned writers, so many debut novels will be lacking a particular depth, or breadth, within the story itself.  James J. Cudney boldly ignored that safe path and crafted a story full of colorful, flawed and relatable people who have, not only their own demons to wrestle, but issues to resolve that affect the future of their entire family.

Watching Glass Shatter revolves around Olivia, the proper and controlling matriarch of the Glass family who, until the death of her husband, has been under the assumption that all was well with her five sons and their respective families. The sudden and unexpected death of the beloved Ben, husband and father of the Glass clan, throws the presumed perfect family into an uncertain future, one that neither the sons nor Olivia are prepared to handle. What will become of the family business and legacy? How will Olivia move on without her husband of 40 years? The reading of Ben’s will only presents more problems as two mysterious letters are bequeathed to Olivia, and she alone controls the power held within those pages, knowledge that will forever change the dynamics of the Glass family. She has some tough choices to make regarding the son Ben speaks of in those letters. Which of her 5 sons will have his world come crashing down?

Cudney weaves the story lines of these many characters together brilliantly. The first few chapters are a lot for the reader to absorb as each new family member is introduced, but soon you will find yourself wondering what will happen next to Olivia and her sons Caleb, Teddy, Ethan, Matthew and Zachary, as Cudney draws you further into the Glass family dynamics. The cliffhangers are well timed, as is the overall pace of the story. There is no dull moment, there are twists and turns and unexpected, even tragic, revelations.

Watching Glass Shatter is the first effort for James J. Cudney and his writing will only elevate as he evolves into a more seasoned story teller, and I can’t wait for his next  publication. I highly recommend Watching Glass Shatter.

Book Purchase

  • Available in both electronic form (PDF, MOBI or ePub) and physical form
  • Buy @ Amazon

 

A Conversation with the Author

James was gracious enough to answer some questions that I had after finishing the book. I wanted more time with the Glass family, so much had happened and a few of the unresolved issues were niggling at my brain!

Q: Where did the inspiration come from for the characters in the Glass family?

A: “Completely made up as I am an only child…I am detail oriented, so I just kept pushing myself to think of relatable people we all knew on some level.”

I then began asking very specific questions to which James answered quite honestly.

I wanted to know more about the contents of the second letter and its impact on the other family members.

Will the Glass men resolve their problems or will they go off course again?

Has Olivia really changed her controlling ways or does she fall back into her old habits?

And, so many more! I can’t include them here as they are huge spoiler alerts and I am not going to ruin the story for anyone! However, I did mange to get some news out of him that he will allow me to share now, with you!

BREAKING NEWS:

James will be publishing a sequel to Watching Glass Shatter!!! The timeline will be announce in early 2018!

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Now we will all get to see what happens to the Glass family, thank you James!!

 

 

 

Be sure to follow James on the rest of his blog tour by clicking here for daily post updates.

 

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More fun ways to support James!

Giveaways

  • Jina @ Author Inspiration is hosting a GIVEAWAY for a free e-copy of the book. Feel free to share her post; you can see the guidelines and enter here.
  • I will announce a Goodreads Giveaway free signed physical copy available for entry from 11/10 thru 11/30.

Goodreads Debut Author Award Nominations (By 11/5)

  • If you want to vote for Watching Glass Shatter in the Goodreads Choice 2017 Book Awards, the book is eligible for many categories, including as a write-in vote for ‘Debut Goodreads Author.’ You can vote here for Round 1 by 11/5 by scrolling to the bottom and entering in Watching Glass Shatter, then clicking Submit.

Favorite Character Poll

  • Enter the poll to choose your favorite character thru 11/20. You can choose from all the major family members or submit your own write-in vote.

Subscribe to Newsletter

  • Subscribe to my newsletter to receive special content and plans for 2018.

 

I am sure you will all join me in congratulating James on this tremendous accomplishment! 

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Netgalley Book Review: The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book Review: Netgalley

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The Wife Between Us

Greer Hendicks, Sarah Pekkanen

4.5/5 stars

 

When Netgalley suggested that I would like The Wife Between Us based on my preferences and past reviews in the Mystery & Thrillers genre, I thought how predictable. Another novel about cheating, lying and infidelity, haven’t I read this so many times before? Then I took a look at their description that read

A novel of suspense that explores the complexities of marriage and the dangerous truths we ignore in the name of love.

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.

You will assume you are reading about a jealous wife and her obsession with her replacement.

You will assume you are reading about a woman about to enter a new marriage with the man she loves.

You will assume the first wife was a disaster and that the husband was well rid of her.

You will assume you know the motives, the history, the anatomy of the relationships.

 

Assume nothing.

I was intrigued so I dove into the story of Vanessa, the wife who had been cast aside, Emma, her replacement and Richard, the man at the center of it all. The first third of the story moved along well and I was definitely interested in these characters but I felt that all my prior assumptions were well in place and had yet to be challenged. For all practical purposes this appeared to be the story of a jealous wife. Still the authors expertly conveyed Vanessa’s pain, which was so palpable and relatable, that I wanted to know more about how her marriage fell apart. I was sure that my review would have to contain a warning to those who have suffered the deep ache and torment of infidelity in their own lives to, perhaps, steel oneself in order to read this intensely accurate portrait of betrayal that Vanessa had to endure. But, as the description above promised, the narrative takes a dramatic and unexpected twist in Part II of the novel. Although I felt this was slightly clumsy and a tad awkward in execution (perhaps that was the intention of the authors?) it was nonetheless extremely effective and totally unexpected.

As Part II progressed and morphed into Part III of the story the twists kept coming, right up to the final page and I found myself altering my initial proclamation. Whereas I previously had concern for survivors of adultery and may have warned them to wait for the pain to lessen before reading The Wife Between Us, I now realize, if you have been at the loosing end of an affair, then you should, and need to read this book! I love the ending and the feeling I was left with as I imagine how the lives of all three characters would unfold as they move forward.

I absolutely recommend this book and hope to watch the movie someday, as I believe it would make a great suspense story, akin to Gone Girl. This story will take you places you had not thought of and will leave you thinking, “What just happened”? That is the most I can ask of a good book!

Netgalley Book Review: Enigma, by Catherine Coulter

It has been quite awhile since I did a book review, and this is not the normal self-help, midlife crisis tome I usually post in this category. However, I did read Enigma from my Netgalley shelf and felt like it was worth sharing the review with you good people. Please let me know if this is something you would, or would not like to see, in the future as I will be penning more reviews for Netgalley in the Mystery & Suspense genre. Thanks!

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Book Review Netgalley

 

Catherine Coulter

Enigma (21st in the Savich & Sherlock series)

3.5/5

 

I have been reading the Mystery & Suspense genre for 30+ years and it is still by far my favorite category. I enjoy the puzzle that is laid out by the author, tempting the reader to figure out what information is important and how the story will unfold. The downside to having read such a large sample size of this sector is that very little surprises me anymore. The plot twists are generally anticipated, the foreshadowing is upfront and fairly blatant and common themes are oft repeated. All the above applies to my experience with Catherine Coulter’s latest installment of her FBI Thriller series, Enigma. I was drawn to this novel for two main reasons. First, I have read Coulter’s previous works and found them to be entertaining and secondly, any cover with a DNA molecule grabs my attention. I am a molecular biologist and am often curious as to how the author will handle some of the more complicated and nuanced details with respect to genetics and disease.

Enigma opens with a hostage situation where an apparent mad man has entered the home of a pregnant woman, Kara Moody, and holds her against her will. While engaged in a stand off with the local police, FBI Special Agent Dillion Savich manages to single handedly save Ms. Moody setting up the first of the common themes I mentioned earlier. The audience learns that Agent Savich is not just merely an agent but a super hero with extraordinary skills, and of course the head of the local police department feels threatened by his innate talents and they do not get along in the face of Savich’s incredible negotiating skills and expert marksmanship. The old feds vs local cops, is the first of our common themes shared by most of the novels in this genre. The abduction appears to be just a peripheral event but the savvy reader knows that this will be woven into a larger storyline as the novel unfolds.

In parallel to this occurrence a high profile inmate has orchestrated an escape during a prison transfer. He is, of course, exceptionally cunning, manipulative, violent and attractive. This sets up the need for a special team of brilliant, and attractive agents to track this monster, forming the basis of the next common theme: everyone is exceptionally smart and beautiful. Of course two agents are selected to work together for the first time to track the madman in the heavily wooded and remote forest. The agents are about the same age, both have a strong and complementary skill set, are single and one is male and the other a female. Convientlty setting up the next common theme: Will they or won’t they?

Quickly we learn that Kara Moody and this young man are pawns of, you guessed it, a grander more sinister game. Which is orchestrated by a brilliant, yet evil genius with apparent unlimited wealth. Common theme number four: the bad guy always has unlimited liquid assets at his evil genius disposal.

Both story lines are compelling and Coulter weaves them together brilliantly. The cliffhangers from one chapter to the next are expertly crafted, and I enjoyed learning the fate of each beautiful, talented, brilliant character. One such transition occurred in chapter 11 which took me by surprise. An unexpected plot twist that I did not see on the horizon! Another area that Coulter excels at is constructing strong female roles in high-ranking positions, which I do appreciate. I was particularly fond of Kim, the teenager as she was a pleasant change of pace in the storyline.

As for the human genetics component, it was hit and miss for me. Yes HLA genes are contained on the human chromosome number 6, but a single inversion event would not explain the toxic tolerance by the systemic response. More importantly, it would most likely not be inherited in the offspring, which is why a parent is often not a suitable organ donor for their own child. There is no amount of evil genius, or disposable income that could make this happen! And, I don’t believe that hardened experienced FBI agents would be sitting around, after what they had just endured, and have a politically correct discussion on the merits of DNA testing like the one that occurred in the novel.

Common, predictable themes and nitpicky genetics aside I do recommend this book! I was entertained and surprised once. That means it was well worth my time and money.