Bookish Reflections – December 2020

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…

In a nutshell

December saw a lot of activity at Sammi Loves Books with nine reviews in total being posted on the site, which must be a record for me…It sounds like one, at any rate 😉

With another Festive Reads Fortnight complete, some of the reviews for which rolled over from the previous year, this Christmas-themed reading challenge and it’s subsequent page is now up to date.

In my last round-up post (November 2020), I mentioned I was going to attempt to not review absolutely everything I read in 2021. Instead, I’m going to be more selective about my reviews going forward, and move towards focusing on review requests and book blogging. I think this will lead to me reading more and worrying about keeping up with the reviews a lot less, so my aim is to trial this for a few months and see how things go.

I have also posted my “Very Informal Classic Reads Book Club Challenge” for 2021 – a list of 12 classic books, one to be read each month, in an attempt to read more of them.  It was surprisingly difficult to narrow the list down to just 12, but I did it, and I’m looking forward to reading them all, though I’m especially looking forward to Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon and the re-reading The Epic of Gilgamesh.  For more information or to have a look at the list, you can find the page under the “Themes and Challenges” tab on the menu, or follow this link.

Speaking of challenges, I completed a number of self-set ones in 2020: The Basic Book Review Challenge where the aim was to review 52 books over the course of the year, my A-Z Review Index Challenge where I hoped to be able to list at least one review under each section / letter of the index, and my Read, Review, Rehome challenge, which worked out so well I actually lost count of the final numbers…

For 2021, I am challenging myself to read more over the course of the year – I aiming for 60, though I do not intend on reviewing them all.  I am also hoping to complete the challenge I set myself in 2019 (the Sammi Loves Books Reading Challenge) where I still have 4 challenges to go.  I’ve already mentioned my 12 classic reads for 2021, but there is one more challenge I am planning on continuing with: my Read, Review, Rehome, as I still attempt to thin out the number of books in my home.  The target for 2021 is going to be higher than 2020, at 35…we shall see how well I do…

If any writers / poets / authors / etc, would like to be interviewed as part of Afternoon Tea at Sammi Loves Books check out this page for more information, FAQs and an index of all the previous interviews.  If you’ve any questions, please do get in touch at: sammicoxbooks@gmail.com

To keep up-to-date with what I’m reading and reviewing, find me on Facebook and Goodreads.

Books I’ve reviewed

Other Book-Related Posts

  • None

Favourite read(s) of the month

  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis and The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D. James

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • None – woohoo!

Books I’ve downloaded

  • None

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • Once again, not very much…

November’s “Read and Review” Goals*

  • Agatha Raisin and The Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton
  • Agatha Raisin and The Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
  • The Gift of The Magi by O. Henry
  • A Strange Christmas Game by Charlotte Riddell

* Light blue = review posted | Blue = review not posted | Black = did not read / review

What I’m reading in January

  • The Voyage of The Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
  • The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian
  • The Island of Dr Moreau by H. G. Wells

Basic Book Review Challenge 2020

To post (at least) one book review a week, to reach a target of 52 over the course of the year. – COMPLETED! YAY!

Month started at: 39 / 52

Month finished at: 53 / 52

Sammi Loves Books Reading Challenge 2019

I’m revisiting this challenge I started last year, to complete the challenges I missed. I’ve completed the following challenges from the list this month:

  • #3: a book set in a place you’ve lived / visited – A Strange Christmas Game by Charlotte Riddell

Total challenges completed in 2019: 8 / 20

Total challenges completed in 2020: 8 / 12

Total: 16 / 20

You can find the complete list of challenges here.

A to Z Review Index Challenge

  • Completed

Read, Review, Rehome

Goal: 20 | Total so far: 25+ / 20 * Completed *

  • Agatha Raisin and The Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton
  • Agatha Raisin and The Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton
  • Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis
  • Agatha Raisin and The Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton
  • plus a big bag of books I put together over Christmas, including duplicate copies, books that I’ve read in the past but have held on to for some reason, as well as books from part-way through a series when I’ve not even read the first book yet…this put the numbers significantly over my goal for the year – WOOHOO!

Bookish Reflections – November 2020

A monthly round up of all things bookish at Sammi Loves Books…It’s my attempt at becoming more accountable in my reading and reviewing habits…


In a nutshell

My main focus for November was NaNoWriMo, so posting around here went a little quite.  However, I did get a few reviews written in November, even if I didn’t get around to posting them all until the first few days of December. Surprisingly, my level of reading didn’t slow in November as it usually does when I’m concentrating on NaNo, so there is as always, an ever-growing pile of books awaiting to be reviewed here…

On my list are a couple of Christmas reads from last year, which I didn’t get around to reviewing, as well as some new Festive reads for 2020, because Festive Reads Fortnight begins on 11 December. If anyone has any Christmas or wintry themed book recommendations I would gladly hear them.  Also, any author out there with a Christmas / winter-themed book / collection / poetry pamphlet etc, who would like to have their work reviewed on Sammi Loves Books, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can find all the information regarding Review Requests here. Ignore the “Currently Closed To Review Requests” status; I’m closed to general requests at this time but not Christmas-themed reads.

As we draw towards the end of the year, naturally my mind turns to my plans for this site for 2021.  I am thinking of starting a Classic Reads Book Club or Reading Challenge.  If anyone would be interested in joining in, please do let me know, and I can finalise and share the book list.

I am also thinking of moving away from reviewing absolutely everything I read (because it is getting a little exhausting, and I’m struggling to find the time to keep up with it).  Instead, my focus here would be on review requests and book blogging, with more informal posts about what I’m reading, planning on reading, and what I’ve been enjoying.

If any writers / poets / authors / etc, would like to be interviewed as part of Afternoon Tea at Sammi Loves Books check out this page for more information, FAQs and an index of all the previous interviews.  If you’ve any questions, please do get in touch at: sammicoxbooks@gmail.com

To keep up-to-date with what I’m reading and reviewing, find me on Facebook and Goodreads.

Books I’ve reviewed

Other Book-Related Posts

  • None

Favourite read(s) of the month

  • The Mezzotint by M. R. James

Books I’ve bought (or been given)

  • None this month – woohoo!

Books I’ve downloaded

  • None

What I’ve been reading on Wattpad

  • My reading time has been limited to physical books recently rather than ebooks / digital books to help reduce my screen time…

November’s “Read and Review” Goals*

  • A handful of M.R. James short stories (Halloween Reads 2020)
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • The Shakespeare Secret by J.L Carrell

* Light blue = review posted | Blue = review not posted | Black = did not read / review

What I’m reading and reviewing in December

  • Agatha Raisin and The Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton
  • Agatha Raisin and The Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
  • The Gift of The Magi by O. Henry
  • A Strange Christmas Game by Charlotte Riddell

Basic Book Review Challenge 2020

To post (at least) one book review a week, to reach a target of 52 over the course of the year.

Month started at: 39 / 52

Month finished at: 45 / 52

Sammi Loves Books Reading Challenge 2019

I’m revisiting this challenge I started last year, to complete the challenges I missed. I’ve completed the following challenges from the list this month:

  • No new challenges have been completed since August 😦. I can see this challenge rolling over into 2021…

Total challenges completed in 2019: 8 / 20

Total challenges completed in 2020: 7 / 12

Total: 15 / 20

You can find the complete list of challenges here.

A to Z Review Index Challenge

  • Completed

Read, Review, Rehome

Goal: 20 | Total so far: 21 / 20 * Completed *

  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • The Shakespeare Secret by J.L. Carrell
  • Plus, 3 books I read ages ago and / or no longer wish to keep (Evermore by Alyson Noel, Odin’s Wolves by Giles Kristian, Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl), a Sweet-shop recipe book, and a knitting book

Book Review: Lake of Dreams by Crispina Kemp

My thanks to Crispina Kemp for providing me with a copy of Lake of Dreams in return for an honest review…

Lake of Dreams is the second book in The Spinner’s Game series by Crispina Kemp.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Enchanting and magical, this historical fantasy series goes from strength to strength. The characters, setting and story kept my attention from the very beginning and did not let up until the last page. A fantastic read.  Highly recommended! 5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Powerful visions… but can their dreams reveal the truth of Kerrid’s fantastical origins?

In the first book of The Spinner’s Game, Kerrid explored and developed her powers, gained a glimmering of what she might be, discovered the source of the accusatory voice, and worked to transform her status to that of a genuine shamanic wise-woman, able to enter the Spinner’s Otherworld Web. At the last, the Spinner tasked her with the eradication of Neka, the snake-demon. To do this she must understand the cause and the source of their Asaric nature.
The eldest of Gimmerin’s Asaric brothers also wishes to discover this source. But to join his quest Kerrid must gain the approval of all the brothers, hindered by Gimmerin’s repeated efforts to undermine her, and the strange pull she feels to the second-born brother, Jiar.

A unique and captivating story of a tapestry unravelling.

Set in the between-time, when hunter-gatherers turned to settled agriculture, when spirits and demons morphed to gods, the five books of The Spinner’s Game takes Kerrid’s story across continents and weaves through ages fraught with floods and droughts to become the prototype of our most ancient myths.

Favourite Quote

They had been boys, they hadn’t had to cling to their lives. They could be wolfmen, farfooting, a convenient cover for running away.  She’d been a girl, to be wed or be dead.

(From Lake of Dreams by Crispina Kemp, chapter 7)

Review

First, I love the book cover.  The colours – that ice cold, crisp morning blue – really draws me in, making me want to read this book.  And that tiger…amazing! I like the chosen text too: A quest from frozen wasteland to lake-bed slumbers…Can their dreams reveal the truth?

I read and reviewed the first book when the whole five-book series was first published earlier in the year (you can find that review here).  I loved that book, and as I’ve previously mentioned, having beta-read the whole series, I fell in love with the characters, the story and the setting.  So you can imagine how happy I was to be offered the chance to review book 2 (if you can’t, I was very, very, very happy!).

Lake of Dreams sees a change of location for Kerrid, leaving behind the village of her husband, Gimmerin, to trek northwards  to the frozen lands where his brothers are waiting for him to join them.  And, although Kerrid is not invited, it is her and not Gimmerin, who insists they go.  Their welcome is to be as frosty as the world beyond their hide-and-bone dome…

Kerrid is growing in strength and knowledge in this instalment, and with both of those comes an increase in power and understanding.  She has a lot to contend with, from the jealousy and possessiveness of her husband to the open hostility of some of the brothers.  Then there are those who don’t necessarily like her, but desire her.  Mixed in with all this, there is genuine love too, a connection that goes beyond explanation and comprehension, but one that cannot be ignored.

As for the Uissids, these brothers are funny and chaotic and difficult and impossible to manage, but their interactions – with Kerrid and each other – make for compulsive reading.  To find the understanding and knowledge of their origins, and to complete the task given her by The Spinner, Kerrid must somehow make them accept her but how can this be done when there is so much conflict? Kerrid’s journey of learning does not only see her tread the paths of a wise-woman in the otherworldly web, as she must also learn to navigate and overcome the obstacles of the living.   After Kerrid, my favourite character would have to be Jiar…

One of my favourite parts of the book was the descriptions.  I loved how the landscape came to life, I could see it clearly, imagining it as if I was there.  Then there’s the mythology, and the ancient history, the references to early cultures…Lake of Dreams is indeed a rich and rewarding read.  It’s the sort of story I can easily get lost in, and quite happily so. There is a lyrical quality to the prose that I just find enchanting and magical.

Do you need to read the first book in the series, The Spinner’s Child, before reading this? Good question.  I would say, ideally, yes.  That story is wonderful in its own right, and it will ensure you understand Kerrid’s backstory and who the people are around her.  However, is it absolutely necessary? Probably not, as the author does a great job of providing you with the information you need to know without burdening you with it.  I believe if you choose to begin the story here, you will be able to follow it.

Although the book is not short, I managed to finish reading it within a couple of days, so hooked was I on the story.  Every time a free moment appeared in my day, I would sneak in an extra chapter’s worth of reading…

The third book in the series is The Pole That Threads, and I am looking forward to reading and revisiting it, tremendously 🙂

Rating


You can find Lake of Dreams on Amazon and Goodreads.  Connect with the author, Crispina Kemp, by visiting her website.

Book Review: We All Die In The End by Elizabeth Merry

My first review for Indie Only Month 2020 is Elizabeth Merry’s collection of interconnected tales, We All Die In The End. My thanks to Elizabeth for providing me with a copy of the collection in return for an honest review. 

 

You can find my Afternoon Tea interview with Elizabeth Merry here.  We All Die In The End can be found on Amazon and Goodreads.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Perfect summer reading if you enjoy real-life styled tales, some light, some dark, all compelling, evocative and well-written. A fantastic read. 5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

This is a diverse collection of interlinked stories set in a small, seaside town in Ireland. Some of them verge on the macabre; others deal with abusive relationships and many of them are grim. But there is humour here too – although it is dark humour.

There’s Sadie, avoiding her mother’s advice:
“Sadie said nothing. She trimmed the fat off the kidneys and the liver, her fingers curling away from the soft, red slither and she held her breath against the faint smell of blood. Madge lifted her walking-stick and rattled it against the leg of the table.”

And poor, wee Andy, struggling with a teenage girlfriend and their baby daughter:
“Andy felt the unhappiness grow in his chest again. It was heavy and he fought against it. No, he said to himself. No. He held his arms up and out in front of him and made soft, crooning, engine noises.”

And then there is recovering alcoholic, Arthur:
“So, I watched Lydia and waited for some bloody nuisance of a child to come screeching after her but no child came. Well, that didn’t make any sense but then Lydia stopped and I saw her speak to the doll. Oho, Arthur, I said to myself and I threw down the cigarette. Oho, I said, what’s this? What have we here?”

Just a couple of the strange and interesting characters in this ebook available on Amazon Kindle.

Favourite Quote

What does it matter?  What does any of it matter?  We all die in the end.

(From We All Die In The End by Elizabeth Merry)

Review

I really enjoyed reading this collection of nineteen interconnected short stories. I loved how a mention of one character in one story sets up another story, in a very loose, roundabout sort of way as the stories themselves are all separate.  It gave great fluidity to the book, and once I started reading I found it very difficult to stop.  The stories were compelling and addictive, and the characters so well-devised that I found myself gripped, wondering where the next story was going to go. The connections between the characters come in the form of family ties, friends, neighbours and work colleagues, giving a cross-section of the population of a small Irish coastal town.

A wide variety of topics and themes are covered: infidelity, the struggles of young parents, crime, mental health issues, religion and spiritualism, dreams and first kisses, sadness, manipulation, regret, guilt, love, fear…There’s a little bit of violence in a handful of the stories, and adult themes and bad language gets a mention a few times as well, but there is nothing graphic and it’s not overused.  It adds to the stories rather than detracts from them, and I think it is always worth pointing that out.

As I’ve already said, all the characters have depth and authenticity.  It doesn’t take long for the author to present the reader with fully-fleshed people, and it is the thoughts and emotions of these people that bring these stories to life.  The author has a great grasp of people and captures wonderfully the two faces of an individual – the one they show to the world and their real self.  And it is the secret side of themselves, what they think, what goes on in their homes once their doors are locked and curtains closed that ensure the reader keeps reading.  Not everyone we meet is likeable, not everyone we meet is nice.  There are characters with ugly personalities and brutal ways, but there are others just trying to make it through the day or realise their dreams.

The descriptions of the town, especially down by the sea (the beach, the pier, the harbour) and the pub, are so clear and evocative that I could easily imagine them as I worked my way through each story.  Indeed, the whole town felt very real, I could picture the different houses and flats, and the different rooms within each, quite clearly.

The tension of some of the situations some of the characters find themselves in is palpable, and some of the twists that unfurl aren’t predictable but make perfect sense for the characters they happen to.  In essence, these stories are about people; they’re not real, but they could very easily be, and they serve to remind us, we don’t really know other people as well as we sometimes think.  A fantastic read.

Rating

ARC Book Review: The Spinner’s Child by Crispina Kemp

The Spinner’s Child is the first book in the soon-to-be-released series The Spinner’s Game by Crispina Kemp.

My thanks to Crispina Kemp for the ARC of this book in return for an honest review. The Spinner’s Child, and the rest of The Spinner’s Game, will be available from 21st March 2020 from Amazon, and is currently available for pre-order.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

The Spinner’s Child is a fantastic, enchanting read. Wonderfully written, it’s a highly imaginative historical fantasy, filled with engaging characters, captivating locations and a gripping storyline. Recommended! 5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Spliced with dark material, sprinkled with the mystical. Join Kerrid’s journey through the timeless first days… and into the Spinner’s Web

Cursed, friendless and shunned, fraudulent seer Kerrid, born of a fisher-hunter clan, holds two beliefs. That in her psychic abilities and exuded light she is unique, and as Voice of the Lady she’s exempt from an arranged marriage. Both convictions are shattered when nine boats arrive from the east carrying the ancient Chief Uissinir who wants her for his wife, and five of his sons who emit lights and share tricks like her own. Forced to make an unwise judgement, a trail of death follows.

Questions plague her. Why does she dream of babies dying? Why does a voice in her head taunt her: Suffer the loss, suffer the pain? And what is she that no matter how lethal the wound, she does not die?

What is she to kill with a thought?

Favourite Quote

She prayed to the Lady of the Hills, to her sons and First Woman too, She prayed for deliverance from the end envisaged by Breathman Bargli. Any decision, please; any doom other than eaten by cats.

(From The Spinner’s Child by Crispina Kemp, Chapter 3)

Review

I was lucky enough to beta-read this book (the whole series, in fact) and instantly fell in love with the characters, the story and the setting.  So, naturally, I was keen to read and review the ARC when given the opportunity to do so.

The Spinner’s Child is the first instalment in a five book historical fantasy series. Highly imaginative and epic in every sense, it tells the story of Kerrid.  This first book covers her childhood through to the first years of her becoming a woman.

Kerrid is a wonderful main character.  I connected to her very quickly, and at times, was brought to tears by things that go on around her.  My! Things are not easy for her. Her relationships, even to her mother and father, are never straightforward.  As her journey of self-discovery progresses, she is faced with ever more complex issues and her fate isn’t often in her own hands.

Then there are the questions to which she must find the answers.  Who is she? What is she? Why is she different?  It is this search for answers that motivates her, even when things seem bleak, showing a strength of character I greatly admire.

Other characters I liked were Sarat – of course!  I can see how his crafting abilities must have seemed like magic to those uninitiated in their process and his interactions with Kerrid were sweet. There was also Breathman Bargli…a wise and sensible man with such a kind heart.

The world-building is fantastic.  You can clearly see where the author has researched meticulously.  The knowledge and descriptions of cultures and societies, settlements, handicrafts and textiles are rich and detailed, but there is no overloading of information.  The language and terminology adds an extra layer of authenticity and helps to bring this vibrant setting to life.

However, it is the mythologies and spirituality, but especially the “feast fables” that captivated me the most. These stories within the story are really interesting, and harken back to a time when lore and explanations of what was, what is and what will be, were to be found in easily recognisable tales, ones that were simple to recall and to repeat. These are the first stories and those that told them, the first storytellers.

The author has a striking writing style, which I enjoyed.  The story is superbly crafted and perfectly paced, and I must mention the book cover: it captures the essence of the tale perfectly. And, a note on the formatting: the book is nicely laid out, includes a beautiful map of the area in which the story is set, and there are lovely graphics to be found on the title pages. Ebooks can often look plain and functional compared to print books, their only nod to aesthetics being drop caps at the beginning of chapters, so in comparison, this comes across as beautifully presented.

All-in-all, a splendid, enchanting read.  The second book in the series is Lake of Dreams, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it.  Highly recommended, especially to those who enjoy historical fantasy.

Rating

Favourite Books from 5 Years of Indie Only Month


For my first bookish-themed post for Indie Only Month 2019, I thought I would look back at some of my favourite reads from previous years.  I’ve been dedicating the month of July to indie authors and indie publishers since 2014, and from looking at the books listed below, the challenge has helped me to discover some great book series over the last five years…

Indie Only Month 2014

One of my favourite reads from Indie Only Month 2014 was Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland.  Self-published before attaining almost* every writers dream – getting discovered by a traditional publisher – this book introduced me to her work.

[* I say almost, because I’m aware there are plenty of indie authors out there who are not only happy remaining in control of their writer career, but who are also very success at it.]

You can read my review of Hollowland here.

Indie Only Month 2015

In 2015 I discovered Amber Lynn’s Avery Clavens series. For that year’s Indie Only Month, I read the first two books, Not In My Job Description and Just Another Day at the Office.  Here’s a quote from my review of Book 1:

The plot and subplots worked well and came together in spectacular fashion.

I remember bits and pieces from this series (most notably that, for some reason, I didn’t read the last book), but the quote above has persuaded me that it might be a good idea to go back and re-read it from beginning to end.

You can read my review of Not In My Job Description here, and Just Another Day At The Office here.

Indie Only Month 2016

It was during Indie Only Month 2016 that I read, reviewed and fell in love with the Earthen Witch books by Sarah Doughty, reading Just Breathe and Focus, and ensuring that the following Indie Only Month, I read the third book in the series, Listen.

You can read my review of Just Breathe here, and Focus here.

Indie Only Month 2017

2017’s challenge month introduced me to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Myrtle Clover mysteries, one of my favourite cosy mystery series.  Each year since, I have read and reviewed – and thoroughly enjoyed – one book from the series for Indie Only Month – as well as more throughout the year.  I can’t get enough of them!

You can read my review of the first Myrtle Clover story I read, A Body In The Backyard, here.

Indie Only Month 2018

From last year’s list, two stories really stand out: Not Famous in Hollywood by Leonie Grant, which was a thoroughly entertaining read, and Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons, a paranormal mystery that once it got going, I struggled to put it down.

You can read my review of Not Famous in Hollywood here, and Winter Prey here.

Book Review: The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton

The Case of the Bygone Brother is the first book in the Alex O’Hara series by Diane Burton

Summary (from Goodreads)

After taking over O’Hara Palzetti, Confidential Investigations from her dad and his partner, Alex O’Hara’s bottom line has taken a plunge. So when a femme fatale offers her the case of a lifetime along with a huge advance, Alex sees her finances on a definite upswing. But someone doesn’t want her to find the long-lost brother. Complicating matters is the return of Alex’s old heartthrob, Nick Palzetti. Is he really there just to see her or does he have an ulterior motive? The Lake Michigan resort town of Fair Haven is abuzz with the news that O’Hara Palzetti are together again.

Favourite Quote

While my cheeks burned at the memory of that unwanted kiss, I silently cursed my fair Irish complexion.  Genetics betrayed me every time.  “Knuckle-dragger is right,” I said.  “I guess you didn’t stay long enough to see me deck him.”

Review

This is an entertaining little read; romance, suspense, humour, danger…it has everything an interesting cosy mystery needs.

I liked both Alex O’Hara and Nick Palzetti.  She’s determined to make it on her own and is a right little miss independent, while he just wants to protect her and keep her safe.  So, of course, this creates a great deal of tension between the main characters.

The pace felt a little off (too fast) towards the end but throughout the rest of the book, the story moved along at a good pace.  There were enough plot twists and turns to keep me wondering what was going to happen next.  Fair Haven was the perfect setting for this story, with it’s small shops and people who know everyone else (and everyone else’s business).  There were a number of references, especially close to the beginning that were reminiscent of old-school detective novels, which I found charming.

The second book in the series is The Case of the Fabulous Fiance, which sounds just as entertaining as the first.

Rating

I read The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton via Wattpad

Book Review: Raining Men and Corpses by Anne. R. Tan

Raining Men and Corpses is the first book in the Raina Sun Mysteries by Anne R Tan.

Summary (from Smashwords)

When it rains, it pours … and this amateur sleuth may be in over her head.

Graduate student Raina Sun is trying to keep her head above water as the bills roll in when her dashing college adviser cons her out of several months of rent. Her quest to retrieve the money sets in motion a streak of even worse luck.

First, she stumbles on her advisor’s dead body and becomes a suspect in his murder. Next, the only man she’s ever loved reappears as the lead detective to the case. Raina’s having trouble interpreting his signals–does he want to reignite their passion, or just stay close to his prime suspect?

Her life careens further out of control when her grandma shows up at Raina’s postage-stamp-sized apartment, dragging a red suitcase and trouble of her own. As Raina summons her sleuthing skills, she discovers that when it comes to murder, there may be no place for an amateur.

Favourite Quote

Who wouldn’t want to spend time with the human embodiment of milk and cookies?

Review

What really caught my attention about this series were the fun covers and the light-hearted, murder-related names for the books. They looked and sounded entertaining; other titles include Gusty Lovers and Cadavers, Breezy Friends and Bodies, Barmy Darlings and Deaths, and Sunny Mates and Murders.  There was no way I was going to miss giving the first book in the series a try.  And of course, by this point I already had high hopes for this story…

What did I like about the book?  The main character, Raina, is from an Asian American background, which is very fresh and exciting, and rather unusual for cosy mysteries.  It was nice to read something so different.

What didn’t I like so much?  I found this book a little slow going, not because of the pace, but because I just couldn’t seem to get into it and when I did, it didn’t hold my attention for too long.  That being said, I was interested in finding out who murdered Holden (I had guessed who the culprit was), so carried on reading until the end.  I wasn’t really a big fan of many of the characters, the exception being Raina’s grandmother, Po Po.  She was fantastic.

Will I be reading the second book in the Raina Sun Mysteries, Gusty Lovers and Cadavers?  I’m not sure, although looking at its reviews on Goodreads, its average rating is higher than Raining Men and Corpses so I might succumb.  Have you read this book / series?  If so, what were your thoughts?

Rating

My rating: 2.5 / 5

 

I downloaded a copy of Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R Tan for FREE via Smashwords

What’s coming up at Sammi Loves Books…

As we move towards the end of June, the season of reading challenges approaches here at Sammi Loves Books. Yay!

July is Indie Only Month

August is Historical Fiction Month

And as always, I’m really excited! 🙂

Looking Ahead to Festive Reads Fortnight 2016

festive reads fortnight

I know it might seem a little early, but we like to plan ahead here at Sammi Loves Books.  Well…sometimes 😉

This year’s Festive Reads Fortnight begins on 11 December 2016.  I have a few stories that I have been putting to one side for this reading challenge, but I am always eager for more. 😀  If you have any recommendations or review requests for stories that centre on the Christmas / Winter Solstice period (no matter the length or genre, whether self-published, or posted on a blog or Wattpad, etc), I would love to hear from you!  Comment below or contact me through my ‘Contact Me’ page.

To see what I read for last year’s Festive Reads Fortnight, click here.

Can’t wait to hear from you!