The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

I have been a Poirot fan for as long as I can remember, so of course I had to pick up The Monogram Murders. I have to admit I was disappointed. As a mystery, it was okay, if you can overlook the horrible  Scotland Yard detective Poirot has paired himself with, Catchpool. He's incompetent and spends way too much time dwelling on events in his childhood, on his weaknesses. The mystery, the way the murders are committed and how the bodies are laid out is interesting enough. There's even a nice little bit that confuses the time of death and the clues fit together well. The mystery itself could have been good, but it relied on the Poirot hook and in that it failed. Maybe give me an original character, or even a better sidekick and I would have felt differently. Poirot is just not Poirot. He's too Poirot, if that makes sense. It's like he's overly conscious of his own mannerisms and...
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Invisible City by Julia Dahl

I almost didn't get pass the first hour of this audiobook. Rebekah is young. The story is told in the first person and I had a tough time relating to her. I don't need to hear about her and her roommate's marijuana use, about her sex life, especially no details please. I understand that her mommy abandoned her, but she was like 6 months old at the time. Yes, I get that she has anxiety issues, but she dwells on everything - she's young, 22, only months out of journalism school and still relatively new to New York. I was going to tire of her quickly, but once the actual mystery kicked in it was a lot better. I will say the narrator had the perfect voice for Rebekah. It was like Rebekah was telling me the story. She did well with the other characters to, but she was best at Rebekah, which is how it should be in a first...
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Thursday’s Tale: Please, Malese! by Amy MacDonald

Today's Tale is a retelling of a story from Haiti. The back of the book explains that in Haiti, the trickster is known as Malese, derived from the French "malice". Sometimes Malese is evil and sometimes he is mischievous, but above all, he enjoys taking advantage of people, including his friends who can't seem to catch on to his cunning ways. This story was adapted from the original, "The Magic Island", written in 1929 by W.B. Seabrook This book is just pure fun. The pictures are gorgeous, simply drawn but full of vibrant colors. Malese tricks his neighbors into giving him everything from shoes to rum for a cake. The end up throwing him in jail for a month, but of course Malese is pretty sly. By the end, not only is he out of jail, but his neighbors are fixing up his house for him—for free of course. At first I thought it's kind of a shame that Malese never learns...
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The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

Now this was a good one. I already knew I liked Cormoran Strike, the detective, from his first outing, The Cuckoo's Calling. He's the same basic guy here. The publicity from that case has worn off a little, but business is going well, even if he's working mostly divorce cases or for rich guys he doesn't really respect. It's money. And we do get to see a bit of him working on the other cases, not enough to distract from the plot, but enough to remind us that he doesn't just have one case to focus on. Robin, his assistant, is starting to come into her own, we're learning a bit more about her, what she wants and what she's capable of. Then a plain, poor-looking woman, asks him to find here missing husband, author Owen Quine. He's gone missing after his latest, as yet unpublished, novel was leaked, a book that is going to make a lot of people bad. It's...
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Caught Dead by Andrew Lanh

I like this mystery a lot. Mysteries are often not only about the whodunit, but about the issues and cultures surrounding the case, and this one is as much about the Vietnamese community as it is about who killed Mary and why. The older Vietnamese, mostly immigrants, are trying to hold on to their culture, while their grown children are losing the connection to the traditional ways. Rick is not fully accepted by the community, but Hank, his sidekick, is and it is at Hank's family's request that Rick is investigating. The characters are the strong point of the book for me. Mary and her family are not rich, but her sister and her sister's American husband certainly are. The children, in their late teens and early 20s, are a mixed lot, mostly self-centered, unwilling to cooperate. In the end, though, greed and love are what it comes down to - and fear. Each has his or her own goals, secrets, and ambitions. For...
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Thursday’s Tale: Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman

Love, love, love this Halloween kids book! We read our copy so many times when Amber was young that it started falling apart. We went to the pumpkin patch this Sunday and while we were picking out our pumpkins, we had to repeat the catch phrase - "It’s big and it’s mine, but it’s stuck on the vine, and Halloween’s just hours away.” The rhythmic, repetitive text is perfect and I love the monsters. There’s the must have Halloween visitors, the witch herself, a ghost, a vampire, a mummy and a bat, but the story focuses on how they all end up working together. It's got a great message of teamwork and friendship. And then they all get to share the pie. A definite Halloween treat. It's a perfect read-aloud with plenty of repetition and rhyming and fun voices. Just then, along came a vampire. “Big pumpkin,” said the vampire. “It’s big and it’s mine, but it’s stuck on the vine, and Halloween’s...
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