Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Review: The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel


Series:Standalone
Genre:Thriller/Mystery/Crime
Published by:Quercus
Publication date:6/3/2014
ISBN13:9781623651671
Pages:168
Format:Digital Review Copy
Source:Edelweiss


Synopsis

"The Murder Farm" begins with a shock: a whole family has been murdered with a pickaxe. They were old Danner the farmer, an overbearing patriarch; his put-upon devoutly religious wife; and their daughter Barbara Spangler, whose husband Vincenz left her after fathering her daughter little Marianne. She also had a son, two-year-old Josef, the result of her affair with local farmer Georg Hauer after his wife’s death from cancer. Hauer himself claimed paternity. Also murdered was the Danners’ maidservant, Marie.

An unconventional detective story, "The Murder Farm" is an exciting blend of eyewitness account, third-person narrative, pious diatribes, and incomplete case file that will keep readers guessing. When we leave the narrator, not even he knows the truth, and only the reader is able to reach the shattering conclusion.


My Thoughts


The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel is a little piece of fiction (168 pages) that is based upon a true story of an unsolved rural murder that occurred in Bavaria in 1922. Creepy is not the word! I lived on a farm until I was 11 years old and have been freaked out in the past by the eerie isolation that living on 100 acres in Western Maryland can bring with it, but it compares nothing to the overwhelming isolation that Andrea Maria Schenkel describes in amazingly stark detail.

The brutality of the murders and the prayers interspersed between the different sections of third-person narrative and first-person recollections caused a shiver to run down my spine. I felt chilled even though I was reading this in a hot bath and then snuggled down under all my blankets on my bed. Goose bumps dotted my arms. The wine in my glass didn't even help to warm me up. I was cold from the inside out.

The utter desperation of the murderer made me feel sad for them. Yes, I did just say that. So upset of how the beast of evil took them over and made them into something other than human, they just couldn't reconcile it with themselves that they were capable of such horror. The ending really speaks of the murderer's desperation with what they had done.

This book is a testament to how great psychological thrillers/suspense should be written. I have read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and some of her other works along with Paula Hawkins' The Girl on the Train and none of them made me feel like The Murder Farm did. Anything that you read that makes you feel such emotion is definitely worth the chill and the goose bumps.


Thanks for coming by,
Amy

Friday, March 18, 2016

Book Review: Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs by Mary Jane Hathaway



Series:Jane Austen Takes the South #2
Genre:Romance/Christian
Published by:Howard Books
Publication date:7/8/2014
ISBN13:9781476777528
Pages:336
Format:Digital Review Copy
Source:Edelweiss

Synopsis

Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at The Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother and their aging antebellum home. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brooks' misgivings and throws herself into the project. 

Brooks struggles to reconcile his parent's very bitter marriage with his father's devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. She's a friend and he's perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isn't for men like Brooks and they both know it until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back? 

Featuring a colorful cast of southern belles, Civil War re-enactors, and good Christian women with spunk to spare, Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs brings the modern American South to light in a way only a contemporary Jane Austen could have imagined.


My Thoughts

Emma, Mr. Knightley and Chili-Slaw Dogs by Mary Jane Hathaway is a modern retelling of Miss Jane Austen's Emma. I do really enjoy reading retellings because you get to see some of the many different possibilities that a really good story can take under a different author. I tend not to read romance books besides Miss Austen's works, but I'm glad that I picked up this one. I am not an overly emotional person, at least that's what I tell myself. However, I felt warm and gooey inside when Caroline and Brooks, both so utterly clueless, just stumble and crash into walls on their way from best friends to something more. Just super cute, but not in that sickeningly, gagging type way, basically I didn't almost throw up from all the gushing. A very clean cut read, no over sexualization, just a good old romance, that I think even Jane herself would have approved of propriety wise. Caroline and Brooks' romance is very subtle and refreshingly absent is foul language and over complicated relationship issues. I would recommend it to anyone that loves a cute romance that blossoms out of years of friendship, however if you are looking for a tear off each others clothes type of romance this book is not the book for you. There is also two recipes in the back to try out and that lead me to thinking a lot about how Miss Austen would feel about chili-slaw dogs? Do you think she'd be horrified by them or love them? I personally like my hot dogs on a pretzel roll smothered in liquid cheese, but I see a chili-slaw dog tasting in my future. I have a feeling it will be divine!

Thanks for coming by,
Amy 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Review: The Body in the Woods by April Henry


Series:Point Last Seen #1
Genre:YA Mystery
Published by:Henry Holt and Co.
Publication date:6/17/2014
ISBN13:9780805098525
Pages:263
Format:Digital Review Copy
Source:Netgalley



Synopsis

In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.


My Thoughts

Three teenagers on Portland Search and Rescue Team come across the body of a girl, who is close to their own age, while out searching for a lost autistic man and the way they view the outside world will never be the same again. Things unravel quickly in this book, so even though there are some slow parts for the most part there is always something going on. The big climax is a little closer to the end then I'm used to, but there is not a lot of fluff in this story so the aftermath of the climax is only 10 pages long, just enough to see what happened to everyone. Oh and did anyone else think Bran's sudden relationship with Alexis in the end was beyond weird, he gives me the creeps, maybe in another book in this series we will find out he is a killer or abuser or something. Just seems to weird of a coincidence.

Thanks for coming by,
Amy

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Book Review: Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve


Series:Standalone
Genre:Children's Middle Grade Fantasy
Published by:Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication date:7/22/2014
ISBN13:9780385387880
Pages:208
Format:Digital Review Copy
Source:Netgalley

Synopsis

When Oliver’s explorer parents go missing, he sets sail to find them with some new friends. There’s a grumpy albatross, a nearsighted mermaid . . . even a living island! But the high seas are more exciting and strange than Oliver could have imagined. Can he and his crew spar with sarcastic seaweed, outrun an army of sea monkeys, win a fabulous maritime fashion contest, and defeat a wicked sea captain in time to save Mom and Dad?
 
For early chapter book readers who are ready for something longer, the Not-So-Impossible Tales are packed with silly humor, action, and larger-than-life fun.


My Thoughts

Oliver just wants a normal life instead of the one his explorer parents fill with adventures at every turn and he's finally getting what he asked for. Well, that is until his parents get kidnapped by an island, yes I said island, sea monkeys, and a power hungry kid. Full of imagination and seawigs (what's a seawig you ask? well guess you'll have to read it to find out) this book is brilliantly cute. Perfect for kids 7-10, depending on individual reading ability, this chapter book has imaginative and engaging paragraphs and amazing illustrations to go right along with it. Highly recommend!

Thanks for coming by,
Amy