Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Death House Doll

Death House Doll (Prologue Crime)Death House Doll by Day Keene
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When Mike Duvall promised to look in on his dying brother's wife and son, he had no idea he'd find her on death row. Can he clear Mona's name and find out where the diamonds are she supposedly stole?

This is the tenth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.

Daye Keene put out one of my favorite early Hard Case Crime offerings, Home is the Sailor, so when I found this as part of my Kindle Unlimited Experiment, I had to try it. With the covers, Prologue Books looks like the Hard Case Crime of e-books, right?

Not if this book is any indication. This was one of those books where I didn't much care what happened by the halfway mark. The main character and his insta-love for his dead brother's wife didn't wash with me, making the rest of the book have to work hard to redeem that first impression. It didn't. It's like when you've made up your mind to dislike someone and they couldn't redeem themselves if they created a time machine and offered to let you test it out.

The writing itself was good and pulpy, though. Keene knows how to turn a phrase, even when his plot is a cliche-ridden yawnfest. By the end, though, I didn't care about what really happened with Mona and the jeweler.

I'm not giving up on Prologue Books but this was really average. It was about as good as one of the weaker books in the Hard Case Crime series. Two stars.

Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $52.12.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Kindle Unlimited - Day 11

So, today is the eleventh day of my Kindle Unlimited trial experiment.  My savings is nearing $50.  However, my enthusiasm for the whole experiment is waning.  The selection is still the issue.  I'm finding that it's more stuff that I'm willing to read rather than stuff I'm dying to read.  It's like going to a buffet and finding nothing you hate but none of your favorite foods either.

I made an oath to do this damn experiment so I'm going to keep pushing forward.  However, also like a buffet, I feel comfortably full and am not sure I want to fill another plate just to maximize the experience.

It doesn't help that I've been suffering from reading burnout the past few months.  Since joining Goodreads, I've read more books per year than I ever have.  Maybe it's time to cut back to one book per week and focus more on writing and other pursuits.

Jack & Mr. Grin

Jack and Mr. GrinJack and Mr. Grin by Andersen Prunty


When Jack Orange's girlfriend Gina goes missing, he soon gets a sinister phone call from a man that sounds like he's constantly smiling, Mr. Grin. Mr. Grin has Gina and Jack has 24 hours to find them. In the mean time, Mr. Grin is going to have some fun...

This is the ninth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.

This is my fourth Andersen Prunty novel and my favorite so far. Jack & Mr. Grin is a psychological horror novel about a man racing the clock to find his girlfriend and the psychopath that is holding her hostage. Complicating things is that Mr. Grin seems all-knowing and people who Jack encounters wind up with a brand on them and get possessed with psychotic rage and try to kill him. Not to mention Mr. Grin repeatedly calling him.

Around the halfway mark, the book was so hard to put down it was as if it was stapled to my hands. Jack manages to figure out where Gina might be held and things get pretty bizarre. It reminded me of the story of Orpheus a few times.

I wanted to love this book but I only wound up liking it quite a bit. Jack had a case of the stupids a few times, like wondering if Mr. Grin had supernatural powers late in the book despite all the supernatural things that had already occurred. Also, there were a few too many unanswered questions about Gina and Mr. Grin. Other than that, it was an easy four star read for me.

Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $49.09.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway

Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian HighwayClaire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When her ex-boyfriend is murdered, Claire DeWitt goes on the case. But what does it have to do with the other case she's working on, The Case of the Missing Horses, or one from her past, The Case of the End of the World? And is there enough cocaine in the San Francisco area for Claire to find her ex-boyfriend's murderer?

This is the eighth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.

In the second book in the series, Claire DeWitt continues being the world's greatest detective. This time, Claire's mission is a much more personal one. As she digs through Paul Casablancas' past, she also confronts her own, when she and Tracy were looking for a missing girl in Brooklyn when they were teenagers.

As with the previous book, Claire uses unconventional methods like dreams, tarot cards, and copious amounts of cocaine to keep things going after she exhaust conventional methods. Who knew clues like a missing guitar and poker chips could snowball like they did. Once again, Claire proves she's the World's Greatest Detective.

She also proves she's just barely skating along the border of genius and insanity, getting more self-destructive as the case progresses with her cocaine and pain pills. The case from the past in Brooklyn gives us a glimpse of how Claire got to where she is today.

The second book leaves a lot of questions unanswered, paving the way for the third and final book. Who is the one leaving copies of Detection for people to find? How was it Claire and her friends were the only people to read the Cynthia Silverton books when they were kids? And who was it that cliffhangered Claire's ass at the end of this book?

The writing, as with the previous book, is superb. It reminds me of Megan Abbott and George Pelecanos writing a Nancy Drew mystery. I enjoyed this one slightly less than the first Claire DeWitt book but it was still a great read. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $48.10.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kindle Unlimited - 5 Days In

So far, I've enjoyed my Kindle Unlimited experience.  The service appeals to my status as a cheapass when it comes to buying e-books.  So far, I've "saved" $38.11.  That's pretty damn good.  I haven't run into any hiccups yet and I wish they'd revamp the lending library and use the same interface as Kindle Unlimited rather than making you go to the Kindle store using your Kindle.

My only concern is still the selection.  As I've said before, I've found 30-ish books I'm interested in, not counting the back catalogs of Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake, and Prologue Books, which I never heard of before starting the KU trial.  Beyond crime books, however, I could see the well running dry for me in a month or two unless they beef up their offerings.

Since I want this post to have a bit more substance, here are some books I've picked out that are available through Kindle Unlimited that I intend on reading.

  1. Clockers by Richard Price
  2. Boy's Life by Robert McCammon
  3. Claire DeWitt and the Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran
  4. Shield and Crocus by Michael Underwood
  5. Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand
  6. Jack and Mr. Grin by Andersen Prunty
Note: My calculations were off.  This should have been Six Days in.

Sow

SowSow by Tim Curran


Richard is convinced his pregnant wife Holly is possessed and carrying something unholy within her womb. Does it have something to do the centuries old account of a witch she'd been reading about or is Richard simply going out of his mind?

This is the seventh book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.

With the rise of the e-book, the novella is making a comeback as a viable form of writing. Tim Curran is pretty damn good at using that form.

Sow is a revolting tale of a man and his bedridden, pregnant wife. As the pregnancy progresses and she continues changing, it quickly becomes apparent that things aren't exactly kosher. It plays on the fact that men can never know what it's like to be pregnant and runs with it.

I just mentioned the tale is revolting. As far as I knew, it's the only time I've ever felt nauseous from something I've read. Holly's transformation is disgusting, especially during the later stages. The book didn't end quite like I wanted it to but it was pretty apparent early on that it wasn't going to be a joyous pig roast at the end.

The DarkFuse novella series continues to knock them out of the park. I'm really glad this was a novella and not a full length book since I don't think I could have stomached much more. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $38.11.

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Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

Claire DeWitt and the City of the DeadClaire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran


When prosecutor Vic Willing goes missing in post-Katrina New Orleans, Claire DeWitt comes to town to find out who killed him. Can she put her personal demons aside long enough to find out?

This is the sixth book in my Kindle Unlimited Experiment. For the 30 day trial, I'm only reading books that are part of the program and keeping track what the total cost of the books would have been.

This is one of those books that's going to be really hard to do justice to in a review.

Claire DeWitt is the greatest detective in the world and a very unconventional one. Her bible is a book called Detection by renowned French detective Jacques Silette, a confusing and contradictory philosophical tome that is either a work of genius or utter insanity.

If George Pelecanos' Nick Stefanos learned his methods from Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently and was female, the result would be a lot like Claire. Rather than relying on conventional methods, Claire supplements them with intuition, dreams, the I-Ching, and a cocktail of alcohol and mind-expanding drugs. City of the Dead reads like a vision quest at times.

The combination of philosophy and the wreckage of post-Katrina New Orleans do a lot to raise this above a lot of similar detective fiction involving missing persons. The setting is a character unto itself.

Claire's background is explored in dreams and flashbacks, revealing how she became the world's greatest detective, starting with solving mysteries with her two friends when she was just a teenager, having found Detection in a forgotten dumbwaiter in her parent's dilapidated mansion. Lots of dark things are only hinted but you get the feeling Claire has been to hell and back several times.

The case was suitably serpentine and while I had an idea what happened to Vic Willing, I was in the dark about the particulars for most of the book, which I love in a mystery. The whole thing reminded me of Twin Peaks a bit in its strangeness.

I've made the book sound really dark but it's not. Claire's sense of humor keeps the book from descending too far into the darkness despite the horrors she uncovers.

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead is one of the best books I've read all year. Five out of five stars.

Current Kindle Unlimited Savings Total: $35.12.

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