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A Dark Dividing

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a dark dividing

 

A Dark Dividing by is Sarah Rayne is a gothic mystery spanning over 80 years.  It has a multiple POV, which jumps back and forth though time. The book introduces us to Henry, a down on his luck reporter to do an in depth article on a photographer, Simone Anderson. Henry’s article isn’t on her photography though but on her twin sister and mysterious mother.

The most interesting character was Charlotte, if the whole book had been about her I would have loved it. None of the people are really the main characters, its Mortmain House, an old workhouse and orphanage. All of the characters end up here at one point or another.  The scenes in Mortmain house are supposed to be most suspenseful and scariest but they just didn’t quite cut it.

It starts out strong but about halfway through I was just waiting for it to end. The last 50 or so pages drew me back in. There is supposed to be some horror in the story but when it appears it’s pretty mild. I’m disappointed I didn’t like this book more. It had great potential but it really couldn’t hold my attention.  This was the first book I’ve ever read by Sarah Rayne so I think I’ll give her another chance.

 

Trigger Warnings:

Slurs

Child Molestation

Rape

Sexual Assault

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Yes

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

 

 

 

 

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Not a Drop to Drink

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not a drop to drink

 

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis is about a dystopian future where water has become worth killing for.  The beginning of the book introduces us to Lynn and her mother, Lauren.  People always ask why I love young adult fiction and this is why. We have a female protagonist in a dire situation and she can take care of herself.  Lynn never knew her father and it’s just been her and her mother defending their pond. The pond is a clean source of water and one of the only consistent ones in the area. Lynn’s family has owned the land for generations and she and her mother are determined to defend it at all costs.

The beginning of the book reminds me a lot of The Road by Cormac McCarthy but less bleak. Just like the two main characters in The Road Lynn and Lauren have gone from house to house to grab whatever goods they can use.  There’s not a lot of action going on and we are introduced to the world that has formed with water becoming scarce. Lynn learned to shoot as soon as she was big enough to hold a gun, she and her mother take turns sitting on the roof sniping anyone that gets too close. When they’re not sitting on the roof they’re gathering water or food to store for the winter. Luckily for Lynn her mother was a big fan of National Geographic and understands the basics of living off the grid.

Like most young adult novels there is a little bit of romance but thankfully not the creepy stalker kind. Lynn does meet at young man but he’s not verbally abusive or manipulative. It’s a sad statement of our media that I find it refreshing that when a girl meets a boy he doesn’t treat her like crap and she doesn’t become a different person for him. The romance in this book also has the traditional roles reversed, Lynn can hunt and defend herself but Eli grew up in the city and doesn’t know the first thing about how to survive.

This book poses the interesting question what would you do if one day no more water came out of your faucets.  Reading how hard Lynn and Lauren work just to survive makes me eternally grateful for our modern day conveniences.

 

Trigger Warnings:

Rape

Sexual Assault

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

Yes

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

Death Without Company

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death without company

 

Death Without Company by Craig Johnson is the second book in the Longmire series.  This mystery starts when a local woman, Mari Baroja, dies at Durant Home for Assisted Living. This is also where Lucian, Walt’s mentor and former sheriff, lives. Lucian insists that Baroja’s death wasn’t the caused by old age and demands an investigation be opened. Walt, being the current sherif, is forced to figure out if Lucian is right or if Baroja died of natural causes. Walt is forced to unravel his mentor’s old secrets and those of Baroja, but don’t worry he still does it with his dry wit.

A nice addition to this story is Walt’s new dog, Dog. It’s a perfectly fitting name for Walt to give an animal; it fits better than Fido ever would. We were introduced to Dog in the first book, The Cold Dish¸ but Dog belonged to Vonnie Hayes. In the end of the last book after Vonnie committed suicide, Dog just shows up at Walt’s door and won’t leave.  They grieve for Vonnie together, in a way that no one else can.

The interplay between Walt and the other characters is what makes this series work.  A lone cop trying to solve a crime wouldn’t work in this world and thank god for that. Walt doesn’t get to pull stupid stunts and then we’re told how brave and wonderful he is.  When Walt does something stupid everyone that sees him tells how they feel about his recent antics. Henry, his best friend, and Moretti, one of his deputy’s, are fleshed out more but they keep their distinct voices.

If you have any problems with graphic abuse and sexual assault do not read this book. I repeat do not read this book. These acts are horrific and Johnson describes them in a way that makes you fully feel their weight.

I was nervous that the second book wouldn’t pull me in as strongly as the first one but I shouldn’t have.

Trigger Warnings:

Abuse

Sexual assault (graphic)

Rape (graphic)

Domestic Violence

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

What Angels Fear

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what angels fear

What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris is a historical mystery sent in London in 1811. The main character Sebastian St. Cyr is accused of a brutal murder of a young actress. Our hero, knowing he is innocent flees arrest and attempts to solve the mystery himself.

The mystery was enough to keep me engaged. I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was fairly early but I wasn’t sure how all the pieces would fall together and if Sebastian would be able to clear his name. All of the characters were well rounded and thought out. This is the first book in the series and we are not privy to all of the characters secrets yet. Besides the main mystery there are little tidbits here and there hinting at future plot lines. None of these hints felt forced and were tantalizing enough that I want to continue the series.

If Sebastian were a lady everyone who reads this book would have call him a Mary Sue, but he’s not a lady.  Men can be obscenely perfect but the ladies can’t, if you think I’m wrong, apply the standards of a Mary Sue to Batman. Sebastian has super awesome hearing and eyesight, so awesome he can almost see in the dark. His hearing is so good that he can hear whispers in another room. I kept waiting to find out he was part demon or something but nope just a human with some super awesome senses.

pshhhhh

Sebastian is wounded emotionally from a bad breakup that caused him to sign up to fight France. When he returns he is more damaged than before. Sebastian is the tired hero that keeps insisting that he’s “no hero” and everyone just nodding their heads and smirking. To keep Sebastian in line he’s given a little helper in the form of a street child named Tom.  He surprises Sebastian more than once with his resourcefulness and perceptiveness. Tom is adorable and street smart, he definitely adds to the story.

Next time I’m in the mood for a historical mystery I’m going to have zero qualms about picking up the next book in this series.

Trigger Warnings:

  • Rape
  • Necrophilia
  • Animal abuse mention
  • Gore

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No.

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)

The Cold Dish

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the cold dish

 

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson is the first book in a series, that introduces us to Walt Longmire, a sheriff in Absaroka County, Wyoming. The first paragraph grabs you and drags you into Walt’s world of local drunks and small town politics. You’re introduced to a cast of characters that are equally fleshed out, from the woman, Dorothy, who runs the café near the sheriff’s department to Henry Standing Bear, a Cheyanne Indian and Walt’s best friend. You aren’t just reading about Wyoming you’re there; you can see the mountains and smell the fresh air and maybe just that faint hint of animal manure (you are in rural Wyoming).

The book series has the writing and the characters to entice readers who prefer vastly different types of books. My father and I (who up until this point have never read the same book and enjoyed it) have been devouring this series as fast as we can.  My father is a fan of westerns and grew up watching The Lone Ranger; this book does have a white law man and Indian friend, just without the 1950’s racist undertones (Tonto being played by a white guy). Calling it 1950’s racism is actually a bit unfair, in the new Lone Ranger movie Tonto is still played by a white guy.

Walt and Henry each bring their own strengths to the story, and while there is some mystic Native American stuff, it’s more focused on Walt’s perception of it. Henry, thank god, is not a magical Indian. Having served in Vietnam, Walt doesn’t have the taste for unnecessary violence and frequently forgets his gun when he takes it off. Even though Walt isn’t a fan of violence, you are never given the impression that he is not a rough and tumble kind of guy. Walt is the kind of man that will always give you the chance to stand down, not because he can’t fight, but because he’s seen the damage violence can cause and would rather not be the cause.

I have always pretty much hated any sort of western and only started to read the series because I saw the first season of the show Longmire, which is based on the books. The books I love are the ones with witty dialogue and consistent characters; this book has both those things in spades. One sentence you’ll be reading some sad, horrible, or otherwise dark discovery and the next one will have you laugh out loud.  Henry and Walt have the easy camaraderie of two people who have known each other for decades and their conversations are one of my favorite things in the book, its where most of the great one-liners are.

Who wouldn’t I recommend this book to? My grandmother. I know, I know, “But I thought this book was good for all sorts of readers?” You’re right I did say that and that is true, unless you don’t like women who swear. My grandmother doesn’t even like it when people say damn, not alone when people say fuck and not just once, but multiple times. The woman in question, Deputy Victoria Morretti, is a direct and clever transplant from Philadelphia. She’s one of my favorite characters, I love her for all the reasons my grandmother wouldn’t. Morretti isn’t concerned with bringing culture and class to the wilderness, she was a tough cop in Philadelphia and she’s a tough cop in Absaroka County. She isn’t trying to be one of the guys and won’t take shit from anyone who is foolish enough to give it to her.

 

Normally I would be wearier of reading a book written by a white man that includes a cast of characters, of a historically marginalized race but Mr. Johnson by all accounts has done his homework. Henry Standing Bear is based on a real life friend of Johnson’s, a Mr. Marcus Red Thunder. Johnson lives in Wyoming and his ranch abuts to both a Crow and a Cheyenne reservation, where he has many friends. I always breathe a sigh of relief when a person who writes about Native Americans has actually met them.

Since this book is a mystery book, I won’t go too far into the plot. The story starts with the discovery of a dead body by a local farmer. The phone call about the body is where I knew this story wasn’t going to be boring, the man who discovered the body asked Walt if while he was on his way over he could grab some beer. Walt is a caregiver, as soon as you enter his county you’re his responsibility. This isn’t in a macho, “I know what the best thing for you way”, it’s the “do you have a place to sleep, if not I have a spare bed” kind of way.  Knowing this and small towns, the idea that someone would ask the sheriff to bring them beer isn’t too far off the beaten path

The mystery takes you through the county and introduces you to the area, all its beauty, and the quirks that go with being in the middle of nowhere.   This book is an entertaining read while providing insight into the people and the land of Wyoming.

 

Trigger Warnings:

  • Sexual assault
  • Rape
  • Suicide

Does it pass the Bechdel test?

No

Final Rating:

gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)gold-star (1)