The Stroke of Eleven

BOOK 1: The Beast of Talesend  by  Kyle Robert Shultz

BOOK 2: The Tomb of the Sea Witch

The Stroke of Eleven  description:

The adventures of Beaumont and Beasley are at an end.

The Council of Scions has finally caught up with Nick Beasley and his friends–and the sinister enchantress Madame Levesque has plans for them. Nick and Cordelia must solve an ancient mystery for her. Otherwise, Crispin and Molly will be lost forever.

The investigation leads Nick and Cordelia to the Castle of Basile, a bizarre place detached from space and time. Old friends are trapped there, and Nick and Cordelia are soon imprisoned along with them. Their jailer is the Fairy Godmother from the tale of Cinderella…who turns out to be far less benevolent than the storybook version.

A masked man offers to help–but can the White Rabbit really be trusted? What is Cinderella’s dark secret? And what will happen when the clock strikes twelve?

BOOK 3: The Stroke of Eleven   3 STARS

Like the other books, this was a new and rather dark twist on the fairy tales we know and love. After surviving on the run for so long, they’re finally captured. It’s interesting to be back dealing with the Council, as well as Nick’s dream Beast still coming in to play, and them finally questioning what really happened to Cordelia’s father. It helps to tie the stories together to develop this larger over arching plot, and not just a new case of the week. The building of the time loop, and how the world changes around them was fascinating, and practically apocalyptic. And while this is supposed to be about Cinderella’s real story, it was surprisingly more Beauty and the Beast than even the first book was. With the outfits, the song, and even living furniture making little debuts, which was rather charming. However, I found it ridiculous how the other magic users in the story kept ignoring Nick because he was just an ordinary guy, even if he is currently a beast. After all he’d done and the cases he’s solved, it felt like a rather strange turn of events to act like any idea he comes up with couldn’t possibly be worth their time. Also, while this story had so much to offer, and a lot of questions were answered, as well as plenty of plot lines that could build for more stories, it ultimately ended up being rather predictable. The “big reveals” were more of a confirmation of what you already knew. It was a good book, but just wasn’t on par with the previous stories. Even the whole sci-fi bit of Doctor Who style clockwork people and robots really tainted the normally magical aspect. Plus there were a lot of typos. It feels like Shultz may have rushed this story. I still do look forward to see what happens next, especially after that ending which really makes me wonder which Liddell was in that locked room.

Advertisements

The Last Days of Lady Cordelia

The Last Days of Lady Cordelia  by  Kyle Robert Schultz  description:

Lady Cordelia Beaumont is dying.

That’s what her mysterious nurse tells her, at least. Even worse, her magic powers have abandoned her, her friends are missing, and her whole world has completely changed. Everyone around her is insisting that magic and fairy tales aren’t real. Even the name of her city is different. She’s not in Talesend any more—she’s in a place called London.

Cordelia is determined to return to her own reality, but dark forces are working against her. An old friend may be able to help—but he doesn’t remember who she is.

Who are the Neverwolves? What is the secret of the Shadow Parallel? And how can Cordelia use magic to escape from a world where magic doesn’t exist?

BOOK 1: The Last Days of Lady Cordelia   4 STARS

Honestly this shouldn’t really be considered a series all on its’ own. It’s really just part of the regular Beaumont and Beasley series, like maybe BOOK 2.5, because it seems to pick up where The Tomb of the Sea Witch left off. Although it is taking place in a sort of other world, it wouldn’t really make sense without reading the other 2 books. However, it is a rather short story, but an interesting one that does promise a more intricate plot later on. I really loved the idea of the Neverwolves, and how this isn’t just some throwaway short story that can be easily done without. It’s a really good tale, and one that didn’t need to be a full book, but definitely makes me want more. The only thing is that it did need better editing. There were typos that could’ve been easily fixed with another read through. Regardless, worth the read and can’t wait for the next one.

Murder in Little Shendon

Murder in Little Shendon  by  A.H. Richardson  description:

MURDER IN LITTLE SHENDON Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens – not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead – it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

BOOK 1: Murder in Little Shendon   3 STARS

This book has an interesting premise, and a mystery that enjoys its’ share of twist and turns. The cast of characters are varied, which helped move the story along. It’s failings, though, begin with the setting. I’m not really sure when it is. The further you get in the more you can figure it’s some time right after WWII, I’m guessing, but it was rather odd not having an exact way to know. Which is even more strange, considering how factual the style of writing is, for it to not give you this one fact that would help create the image of the world better in your mind. And yes, the writing style was very matter-of-fact. You meet a person and the author gives you a detailed description of their looks along with little habits they might have and their level of intelligence all right off the bat. It’s a lot of tell and very little show. You don’t really get other characters perspectives of whoever you’re dealing with. It makes for a rather one-dimensional view, because the author just tells you exactly what is happening in a straight forward manner that can make it almost monotonous. They hang up the phone, they let their hand linger, they think about the conversation and then they turn to do whatever action they’re about to do. It’s very precise, but it’s not exactly the sort that brings things to life. And in being precise, Richardson also gets repetitive. Information that is in no way important will be repeated ad nauseam, and after a while it just feels like filler to stretch the story out. An okay book that could’ve done with better editing, and a little livening up.

Rosehead

Rosehead  by  Ksenia Anske  description:

Misunderstood and overmedicated, twelve-year-old Lilith Bloom finds the prospect of a grand family reunion decidedly dull… That is, until she discovers that the rose garden surrounding her grandfather’s Berlin mansion is, well, completely and utterly carnivorous. Armed with Panther, her talking pet whippet, and the help of the mute boy next door, Lilith must unravel the secrets behind the mysterious estate, all while her family remains gloriously unaware that they are about to be devoured.

Rosehead  2 STARS

In many ways this reminded me of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. Where it’s only Lilith and Ed who see the truth of the sinister garden and her grandfather, while all the adults are oblivious and think the children are lying, and toss in Lilith’s use of “big words” and you can’t help but see the similarities. In most ways this really reads like a Young Readers book. It’s fun and fanciful with a possibly murderous garden and talking dogs, and it’s kids saving the day. However, it’s almost like Anske isn’t sure if she wants it to be for young readers or adults as she delves into topics that seem a bit too mature and out of place for the tale. Such as Lilith’s parents putting her own medications and arguing over what they see as a mental disability. It’s practically borderline abusive. Then the talk of suicide and so much death. Even how Lilith talks, while it’s nice for her to sound intelligent for her age, it’s off putting how much she just doesn’t sound like a kid at times. What ultimately dropped it stars was in part the typos, which aren’t too many, but they’re noticeable. And the somewhat repetitiveness of the characters going over the same ground again and again, both figuratively and literally. But more so, it’s basically solved from the get-go, there’s no real build, there’s no spooky hints to create a sense of mystery, it’s more about Lilith knowing what’s really going on and everyone thinking she’s completely insane. It makes it a bit frustrating to get through.

Dirk Gently and Getting What You Deserve

This is no more a spoiler than a trailer for the next episode of Dirk Gently. Unless you haven’t finished season 1, in which case you may hesitate to read what I have to say.

The season 1 finale of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has everything falling apart for basically everyone who survived to the end of the season. One of the biggest things to happen, though, was that Todd Brotzman got Pararibulitis. This is a fictional nerve disease that causes hallucinations that feel real and causes an immense amount of pain for the person suffering from it. It’s a disease that runs in Todd’s family, in fact his sister Amanda already had it before he did. A lot of people have talked about this ending as seeing Todd getting the disease as punishment, namely because of the song that plays at the end. First Things First by Neon Trees.

You are never gonna get
Everything you want in this world
First things first
Get what you deserve

I mean someone gets a disease and then a song goes on to say “Get what you deserve” that definitely sounds like a punishment. But I don’t at all believe this was true. Even before seeing season 2, it just didn’t make sense. First off, it runs in his family, so the odds are he would get it eventually anyway. Secondly, he gets this after he’s righted all his wrong. By the end he has come clean and told the truth to Amanda about having previously faked having the disease to get money. He has saved the world and Lydia by stopping the soul swapping bad guys. He has even come to believe in Dirk and is choosing to follow him and help him solve future cases. Why, after everything, would he then be punished?

It is true that Todd himself sees it as a punishment, but as we go further into season 2 it’s obvious that it isn’t. If Todd didn’t have Pararibulitis then he wouldn’t have had that episode right in front of Sheriff Hobbs, who then wouldn’t have found the pill bottle left behind with his info, which then wouldn’t have led to Todd, Dirk, and Farah getting arrested. This is ultimately a good thing, because that keeps them in this town where the weird stuff starts happening, and it gives them a new set of people who are now willing to help, and not turn them in to Black Wing, who is hunting them.

If Todd didn’t have the disease he wouldn’t have had an episode at the same time as Amanda, who is now showing that the disease in connection with the Rowdy 3 actually gives her powers. Them both having an attack at the same time allows Todd to figure out where Amanda actually is.

Todd didn’t deserve to be punished. He deserved to have help, he deserved to find his sister, and he deserves to be part of the team that stops the terrible things that are happening in this town. Pararibulitis is making that happen. It’s all connected.

More than that though, in real world terms, when real diseases are contracted it’s hard to see the silver lining. Sometimes maybe there just isn’t one. But sometimes there is. I recently read an article about Michael J. Fox, and he talked about how he wasn’t exactly happy to have Parkinson’s disease, but that his having it has been a good thing. He’s been able to bring attention to the disease in ways others haven’t. He’s been able to help raise money and get awareness to where they’re working on a cure for it. Because of who he is, having this disease has brought about a lot of good.

Nobody wants something bad to happen to them. It’s hard to see how it could be good given that we call it “something bad”. But sometimes those bad things do actually happen so other good can come of it. Instead of looking at it as a punishment, maybe we should look at it as we deserve to have this obstacle to overcome so we can come out stronger and more capable than ever.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker description:

‘Alone with the dead! I dare not go out, for I can hear the low howl of the wolf through the broken window’

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing deeply into questions of human identity and sanity, and illuminating dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

Dracula   5 STARS

You know that scene in a horror movie when it gets dark and ominous music begins to play and you know that at any moment the killer is going to suddenly appear and murder everyone in a horrible fashion. That intense build up, and the anxiety of wondering exactly when you’re going to be scared, because you already know it’s coming. That’s this entire book. I had to take breaks at times to read some short stories that were a bit lighter, because the unnerving fear for the characters, as we the reader know what’s happening, could be a bit much at times. However, it’s easy to see why this is a classic, and how it has inspired others to delve into the dark world of vampires. Though, considering I’ve mainly read paranormal romance, it’s a bit disconcerting to see how the original was so completely evil. The vampires in this are soulless, not misunderstood, and kill children and anyone that gets in their way without remorse. More so, it’s incredible all the powers they are given, not just immortality and strength, but real mystical sort of powers, that I wish hadn’t been pushed off to the side in the other stories I’ve read. Beyond all of that though, I don’t believe I have ever come across a story written in this style, and it was this style that really made the tale such an intriguing one. Sure there have been plenty who have done rotating first person, but this is told in pieces of people’s diaries, the letters they’ve written to others, and even newspaper clippings. You’re getting the events after the characters have experience them and have pondered over them, as they try to understand what exactly is going on. Because of this you get to see how it all slowly melds together, and what each character really is thinking, and a much more personal aspect of the story that allows you to really feel for each of them as if these were actual historical letters that someone has stitched together. And I do so hope people were ever like this, this goodness and bravery and the way in which they talk so passionately about everything. It’s really a wonderful book. Though I would advise getting a version that has footnotes to explain certain things. Such as words that are no longer used in this way. As well as some of things that are referenced. I’m sure you could easily enjoy this book without such, but it was rather nice to have.

The Silkworm Book vs Show

Strike

After The Cuckoo’s Calling diverged from the book as much as it did, I really didn’t know what would become of The Silkworm, a book which was even better than the first. Upon hearing it would have only 2 episodes when at least Cuckoo had 3, my expectations dropped even further, for this book was far more complicated than the first. However, while it definitely doesn’t follow the first book from beginning to end in the same manner, it did keep the important parts and simply melded events into a more efficient manner. While Strike might have got different information from the same person at different times, they instead would have it happen in one conversation. And of course the things the characters would’ve simply have been thinking about and worried over are brought out in conversation in different ways, so that the viewers could get hints of the same issues the likes of Strike and Robin were dealing with.

Though I find it strange they still find a reason to do silly things like change names. Michael Fancourt from the book is now Andrew Fancourt in the show. I’d really like to know the logic behind such changes. Yet that’s a small complaint that can be overlooked, even if it’s strange. I think the most interesting part is how they did flashes of what one would be envisioning while reading Bombyx Mori, and if you recall what it was about you can imagine how disturbing it would be. But they did it in a way where you get the idea of how twisted the book is, while not overdoing it. Though they definitely didn’t shy away from the grisly murder scene.

It’s also a bit of a switch up how they’re making Matthew out to be so much more sympathetic and nice, when in the books he’s not exactly the best and often shows how little he thinks of her job and Cormoran. Of course if Galbraith goes against my wishes, and Robin and Matthew stay together, perhaps it’d be better to shine a good light on him. However, the biggest change there really was from book to show was the cutting out of characters like Pippa, which alters a lot of the story, and Nina, which wasn’t as big a deal. As well as diminishing Kathryn Kent’s role to barely a conversation. It makes it much less likely that you would get the little clues that lead to the killer. Even, if I’m being honest, I didn’t quite catch them until my second read through the book. So while I think the ending of the story does appear to come out of left field at you from the show’s point of view, altogether I think it was a much better representation of the book than the last episodes were.

The Cuckoo’s Calling Book vs Show

Strike

It’s no secret now that The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith is actually written by J.K. Rowling. Now anyone who read her Harry Potter books and then saw the movies know how well they were kept to the original novels, and so you might be surprised by how much is changed from the book to the TV show in this case. In some cases it makes sense to alter or cut certain scenes in order to get you the information you needed to follow this mystery, but not hear the same repeated information over and over. Also some things have to just be said since, obviously, we’re not in the characters mind like you are in the book. However, the fact that they made it into a TV show should’ve allowed them the ability and time to truly explore this mystery as it was meant to be. After all, a movie can reasonably only be so long, but a TV show can be rather long in length as well as have several episodes to continue the story.

Now there’s the fact that some have complained that the characters don’t quite look how they were described, but that’s not really something to worry about. Robin Ellacott, played by Holliday Grainger, is perhaps the best match there is out of the cast. Not only does she look as she was described in the story, the actress does a great job of getting across the barely contained excitement Robin felt at the opportunity to help a Private Detective actually solve a case. She’s fun and likeable, and does justice to the character. Oddly enough, they diminished her role in solving the case. Such as the fact she’s the one who figured out how to find Rochelle, rather than that scene of Cormoran stealing a file from a previous residence. Which also led to a rearranging of events that had him interviewing Rochelle before he went to Vashti, it’s no wonder she didn’t stick around for questioning, he wouldn’t even have known the right questions to ask. Which is further kerfuffled by the fact they completely leave off his main line of questioning, what was the blue paper Lula was seen with the day she died?

Speaking of which, Tom Burke, as Cormoran Strike, was a casting I wasn’t too happy about when I first heard of it. He’s not the looming giant that takes up too much space and has not too attractively described facial features topped with hair that was likened to pubes. However, Burke does a good job of coming across with a gruff demeanor that’s softened by the few self deprecating smiles. He makes you believe that he has a prosthetic leg in his movements, something they rather flaunt, which is as it should be considering it is an obstacle for him at times in cases where he might attempt to follow someone, or even just struggle to make it up stairs. Altogether his acting has brought the character to life. My one complaint really is that he does on occasion mumble so that it’s hard to understand what he’s saying. Regardless, the two main characters, and perhaps the most important considering they’re the ones that’ll keep popping up, do well. And luckily they didn’t feel the need to add any romance that wasn’t there in the book, and kept their relationship very professional, which is one of the things that I do so love about this duo.

The rest aren’t exactly too far off their marks, at least not enough to really change anything. Though strangely they renamed Kieran Klovas-Jones to Nico, even while they kept his story exactly the same. Then there is Lula’s boyfriend, Evan Duffield, who in no way looks the part of a pretty boy. Once again, his part is so small as to not really detract from the show itself.

However, I was surprised that some characters were cut. Those like John Bristow’s girlfriend, Alison, and DI Carver don’t really make much of a difference to the plot and it’s reasonable to cut characters like that so you don’t have too many cluttering up the show. After all a book has plenty of time to delve into a variety of characters, while a total of 3 hours of TV really don’t. Yet in the case of combining characters like with the actual woman Tony Landry was having an affair with and Tansy, it does cause a bit of an upset to the story for a number of reasons. Such as how Cormoran comes to discover some info and what really is going on in Tansy’s life. As well as they made Guy Some come off as playing the gruff and rude demeanor that was really more of how Freddie Bestigui was set up, especially with how they ended up being able to talk to Guy Some. Once more it was an unnecessary change, and greatly altered the story.

While it’s not a bad thing to not necessarily know exactly what will happen next when it comes to a murder mystery, it does feel like this show hasn’t quite done the best it could to live up to the core of what really made the novel so wonderful. It felt rushed through, and at times it was as if they were just jamming the few characters they kept into random places to help make sense of the story that they’d chopped up and simplified perhaps too much. No there’s no need to have a similar conversation with one character to enforce facts that another character has already given us just to keep true to the book, but in a way they let characters give too much straightforward info that took away a lot of the ingenuity that makes Cormoran Strike such a wonderful detective, because of the truth that he’s able to dig out of the scattered and broken facts he’s given.

On its own it’s not a bad show as many a reviewer has established. I enjoyed it, and I’ll definitely watch whatever more is to come. However, in comparison with the book, it comes up a bit short, and that saddens me.

Sleeping With the Fishes

Sleeping with the Fishes by Mary Janice Davidson      description:

Fred is not your ordinary mermaid. She’s not blonde. She’s not buxom. And she’s definitely not perky. In fact, Fred can be downright cranky. And it doesn’t help matters that her hair is blue. While volunteering at the New England Aquarium, Fred learns that there are weird levels of toxins in the local seawater. A gorgeous marine biologist wants her help investigating. So does her merperson ruler, the High Prince of the Black Sea. You’d think it would be easy for a mermaid to get to the bottom of things. Think again.

fishesBOOK 1: Sleeping with the Fishes     4 STARS

Davidson has a knack for taking old ideas, like mermaids, and turning them on their head. Fred is about as un-Disney as you can get, but what makes her great is that she’s still somehow likeable. She wants everyone to leave her alone, and yet goes out of her way to solve the mystery of the toxins in the water. Mermaid aside, she’s definitely not your average heroine and that’s what makes this book so much fun to read. Plus, it’s not just about Fred, there’s her parents thinking of adopting, her friend, Jonas, who’s so secretly in love with Fred’s boss it’s adorable, and even her boss who just wants everyone to take her seriously. Even Thomas, the marine biologist, who is in love with Fred is a quirky fella that brings his own snark and humor to the equation. My one problem with the book is Artur, High Prince of the Black Sea. Mainly, I want to know how he even knew about Fred to suddenly find her, when she’d never made contact with any merpeople before. Also, he was just so over the top and out of touch with how humans work that it was rather ridiculous. I never understood how if they could mostly blend well, and do live on this earth, that they’re so ignorant of humans, and why he shames Fred for not letting everyone know she’s a mermaid, when clearly merpeople haven’t been going out letting everyone know they exist in the first place. It just didn’t add up for me. It wasn’t enough to ruin the book by any means, I still love this story and have read it several times, but honestly Artur just didn’t bring much to the table really.

Sleuthing with the Enemy

BOOK 1: To Trust a Wolf  by  Danielle Hardgrave

Sleuthing with the Enemy  description:

Somebody just stole a valuable artifact from the Helsen archives, and Annemette Helsen—a very pissed off werewolf—is going to make sure they pay for it.
There’s just one problem: Anna’s only suspect is the arrogant vampire prince, Jonas Weiss. He’s cocky, frustrating, and a little bit sexy. Okay, a lot sexy.
He also claims to be innocent, so the fact that she just broke into his home and attacked him is problematic.
And his price for keeping silent about the whole debacle? Downright devious.

BOOK 2: Sleuthing with the Enemy   4 STARS

This was far more developed than the first book, and you really get a good look into the set up of the supernatural world. We get a lot more of their lore, and how their governing systems work within their hidden community. While Helen and Rune do show up a bit in here, it’s really all about Annemette and Jonas, and I like how this is moving forward from the last book, and showing the significance of the bracelet from the first. Anna and Jonas have some clear chemistry from the beginning, but Hardgrave does a great job of really developing the characters and not just having them jump in together. Anna, especially, goes through a lot of growth in this story, and it really helps you feel for them. That being said, this book has its wonderful moments of hilarity. I found myself giggling and blushing on behalf of Anna with all the awkward situations she gets herself into. Altogether a great balance of action and humor. You should definitely be as happy as I was for Benji to show up again, and that mystery that continues to follow him has me dying to know more. However, there’s 2 big questions I have to ask. First, how is it that there aren’t any cops coming after Rune after that whole thing of Helen reporting him for theft and assault? Second, what the heck is a permie? I mean I get that’s their slang for regular human, but where did that term come from, because it sounds like something you’d call someone with a bad perm job. Would love some explanations. Hopefully it’ll come in the next book, which I will be snatching up as soon as possible.