Monday, September 30, 2019

Review: The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

The Stone Circle (Ruth Galloway, Book #11)
by Elly Griffiths
Release Date: May 7th 2019
2019 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Kindle Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-1328974648
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters telling him to 'go to the stone circle and rescue the innocent who is buried there'. He is shaken, not only because children are very much on his mind, with Michelle's baby due to be born, but because although the letters are anonymous, they are somehow familiar. They read like the letters that first drew him into the case of The Crossing Places, and to Ruth. But the author of those letters is dead. Or are they?

Meanwhile Ruth is working on a dig in the Saltmarsh - another henge, known by the archaeologists as the stone circle - trying not to think about the baby. Then bones are found on the site, and identified as those of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared thirty years ago.

My Thoughts
The Stone Circle is the eleventh entry in the Ruth Galloway series and while I enjoyed it a lot better than the previous entry in this series, I have to say I am getting really sick of the threesome thing happening between Nelson, Ruth, and Michelle, Nelson's wife.   And no, it's not a sexual thing between them, but an affair that has been dragging its feet for way too long.  And I am not giving away anything by mentioning this, even if you are new to the series, as the dilemma meanders its way through everything in the book, and everything is now out in the open, and has been for many books now.  I'm sorry, but it's had its day in the sun, and now it's time to move on: either Nelson stays or he goes.

I have read every book in this series and while I loved the character development in the earlier books, I am truly not seeing it as much now simply because I feel like all the characters are in limbo, and waiting for something to happen between Ruth and Nelson.  I still enjoy the camaraderie between them and love how Nelson kind of lives in the past and has a hard time accepting newer technologies and newer ways of doing things, but he was learning there for a while which was interesting for his character.  And while I get how protective he is of Kate, does he really have a huge say in how Ruth raises her and what she does?  He does have another family already and sometimes I want to strangle him because he can seem so domineering.  I understand he is fearful that he might love Kate, and Ruth, to someone else or she may move away, but it's really her decision as she is not involved with him.  To someone who is new to the series, this may come across as judgmental but having read all the books and having to deal with this issue in EVERY book it does get old rather fast.

The mystery in this one was very interesting and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  It actually took me a little while to figure out who the murderer was as I bought into some of the red herrings, but eventually I caught on. I love it when an author, whose work with which I am familiar, can do that to me.  And as always, it's the archaeological perspective that has always drawn me to these books.  And I have to say, I love where Ruth lives.  How beautiful and remote it must be!! And Cathbad, dear Cathbad, love that character.  So interesting!!  The author's writing style has a way of grabbing you and making you feel like you are right there.  I do think it would help if you were familiar with the earlier books for this one as it does mention a much earlier situation and how that event shape people and their futures. It just might make more sense.

The Stone Circle was a rather interesting book and I really felt like it went back to its roots to what made this series so rather interesting.  The archaeological perspective woven around events is always fascinating and the history lessons are interesting.  I've already spewed my thoughts about Ruth and Nelson and Michelle so I won't go there again, but please do something about that situation.  Otherwise, this was a good, riveting mystery, one that I would definitely recommend.
Saturday, September 14, 2019

Review: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets
by Molly Fader
Release Date: July 16th 2019
2019 Graydon House
Kindle Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-1525834240
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

It's been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Pennsylvania hometown on the shores of Lake Erie.

But now, with their mother's ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what's been lost over the years: for Delia, professional dreams and a happy marriage, and for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame--and best of all, each other. 

My Thoughts
The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets was a book that I enjoyed quite a bit and thought the author did a fantastic job with the setting and the descriptions.  I liked the characters and how they interacted with each other and while the ending was okay, I just thought it seemed off from the rest of the novel.  A good novel about family and working through issues though.

First of all, I really loved Lindy as a character; she was my favourite. I would have been quite happy had the whole book been about her, her life, and dealing with her own issues.  Because the story was split four ways, I really feel like I didn't get Lindy's full story nor was her personality allowed to shine quite as much as it could have.  Frankly, she was the interesting one in this story.  It's not that I didn't like the other characters, but Delia, despite her issues, was kind of...I'm not really what she was, but I didn't really find her character all that interesting.  And I think it's just the way she was portrayed by the author as there was so much going on in Delia's life that it should have been fascinating.  Plus, she was dealing with post-partum depression, something I don't think was developed as much as it could have been.  Don't get me wrong though, I liked the characters, I just felt there was more that could have been told.

I did think the author did a great job with the story though, unveiling the story line slowly and letting the reader figure out what happened all those years ago.  I do feel however, that the reasons for Lindy leaving for so long were rather weak.  I was expecting this big build up and when I discovered the why, I was a bit disappointed. I get that families can have huge issues over the smallest things, but for Lindy to avoid Delia all these years seems a bit out of place for what actually happened. I also get that people cope with trauma in many different ways, but you'd think a strong support system would have been much better than just running away.  For whatever reason, I just felt like the reasons were flimsy at best and didn't really seem to fit the personalities of the characters that were developed for the first two-thirds of the book.  Plus, I really liked the way the characters interacted with one another, so the big reveal was a bit of a letdown.  I just really enjoyed their relationships in this book.

The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets definitely had the potential to be a fantastic book as the relationships between the characters was interesting and fun.  I liked how the author dealt with Lindy and Delia's mother's failing health as their care and sympathy was so nice to see.  The little habits that sisters tend to develop over the years don't really disappear so it was nice to see the author reflect that in this book and I really enjoyed those 'trip down the memory lane' scenes.  Although I wish the reasons for the difficulties between the sisters had been somewhat different, the book was still good and I do recommend it to anyone who is interested in contemporary fiction featuring sisters and relationships. I am looking forward to reading her next novel, The Bitter And Sweet of Cherry Season, when it is released in June.