All The Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

All The Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn
All The Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn

Title: All The Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn
Scored a: C+
Status: Finished!


Found this book as a recommended other when I was purchasing The Dollhouse Murders. And while I don’t regret buying this book, and would still do it if I knew what I know now about it, I couldn’t give it a very high score.

Plot: A brother and sister are staying at their grandmother’s B&B for the summer. They decide to pretend to be ghosts to bring more business and in the process wake up the real ghosts.

The problems with this book was one minor thing and one major thing.

The minor was whenever it would delve into referencing real things, like Harry Potter, or the Murder at the Vicarage it stood out like a sore thumb. In fact, the Murder at the Vicarage scene, where a woman purchases the book, is overly long and makes no sense in the context of the story to even be there for that amount of space. I mean, I’m a big fan of that book, but it was odd. Coupled with the fact that previously in the same scene there was a heavy bit of foreshadowing that is immediately forgotten by the rest of the book and never comes to pass, bits like that were just out of place.

The big problem? The conflict and suspense runs out two thirds in, when it’s announced exactly what’s going on and how they’ll solve it and after that it’s just a by the numbers conclusion. There’s a final fight, but it’s not an unexpected one in the slightest.

I did like the characters, and for the most part the writing was an easy read. I don’t regret buying this, that’s for certain. It was good for a little ghost story to read at three am.

There’s a lot of children ghosts in this story who met very bad ends, so if you dislike the deaths of children, give this a pass. If you don’t mind ghost children and a very wicked villain, give it a go.

Warning: A teddybear dies. But it is sufficiently mourned.

A Skeleton In The Family by Leigh Perry

Title: A Skeleton In The Family by Leigh Perry
Scored a: C+
Status: Finished!

Cover of A Skeleton In The Family by Leigh Perry
Cover of A Skeleton In The Family by Leigh Perry. Don’t let the oddly photoshopped cover fool you, the akito doesn’t solve any crimes.

Plot: Georgia Thackery’s family has a skeleton. He’s named Sid and he can walk and talk. And it turns out he might have been murdered.

I’m going to start off with what I didn’t like, so I can end this review on what I did like.

I didn’t like how with the exception of her daughter, every lady character was presented as very adversarial to the main character, or just straight up jerks. One redeemed herself near the end, but the the lack of sympathetic lady characters made this book a very hostile read. It got to the point where I wasn’t even surprised when it was a man and a woman with the same goal in a scene, the woman was almost cartoonishly harsh while the man written as reasonable, despite what the narration said he was like after.

This and the final playout of the mystery knocked this down to a C+, but if these aren’t a problem for you I fully recommend this book. It has a lot going for it.

I hear she has another book coming out soon, and I hope the same issue isn’t present in it because I do plan to get it.

It was especially on my mind, as (look down a post to here) I had read If These Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell where the trend I’d noticed in her book of sympathetic women continued.

Now, for what I liked! I liked the main character (Georgia) loads, I really liked her relationship with her daughter, and Sid was great. I enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery (the ways they came up with for finding out clues were ingenious) and the story moved along at a healthy pace.

Sid and Georgia’s interactions were fun. I could see why the two were so attached to each other, and the things they noticed about their lives were nice touches.

As I said above, I’m planning on buying the next one because I wanna see what happens next to the characters.

Thus continues me reading through all the haunted cozies.

The City & The City

Title: The City & The City by China Mieville
Scored a: C+
Status: Unfinished due to mishap

Cover of The City & The City
Cover of The City & The City

The City & The City was a book I was very eager to read, because the concept sounded great. Two cities occupying the same space? And the book delivers on the idea. The bits and pieces I saw of the cities before the Mishap was just what I was hoping for.

Unfortunately, I only saw bits and pieces. Mieville’s characters proceeded to get in the way of the world over and over. This wouldn’t have been so bad if the characters had been fun in some way, or at least interesting, but they were ciphers. Stick figures who kept standing in front of the shot you were trying to take.

And then, of course, I accidentally lost the book and can’t bring myself to buy a new copy to finish it. So I guess I’ll never find out how the murder mystery turned out, which is a shame. I’m also sad I didn’t get to enjoy the cities if Beszel and Ul Qoma as much as I would have liked.

When I was talking about my problem with the book before the Mishap with my friend, she told me she’d had the same problem with other books of his. Great worlds, not so great characters. Another friend assured me Mieville was really nice, but that didn’t quite explain the problem with the book.

So much for making this book 41 on my 100 books of winter.

Currently working on: All Creatures Great And Small by James Herriot, and Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. Both of which involve a lot of animal care, but I don’t think Herriot gets anything combat worthy from his efforts, unless you count all that cow shit he gets covered in.


The two covers of Spellbinder by Helen Stringer

This is a book I picked up because of the cover. See the first one? It’s quite nice. When I got the ebook version for easier reading, it had a new cover, the second one. Note how generic it is. Unfortunately, the second cover was the accurate one.

There was a somewhat interesting story hiding in Spellbinder by Helen Stringer, but it was overshadowed by the author’s inability to dole out information properly (the main method seemed to be that instead of saying something useful/expositiony, the people talking would get incredibly irritated, I am pretty sure the word ‘irritated’ appears in this book around five hundred times, and refuse to speak more) and near the end it all got a little frayed. There was a set up for a sequel but I couldn’t be bothered.

I will say, this would have made a pretty good video game.

Okay, the plot is: Belladonna Johnson’s parents died in a car crash, but she still lives happily with their ghosts. One day all the ghosts in the world disappear and it’s up to Belladonna to find out what happened.

I liked the premise, not so much the final execution. I think of the characterizations had been better (everyone seemed generally angry all the time) I would have enjoyed this book a lot more. I don’t regret my time reading it, but I can see how it could have been much better.