Monday, October 28, 2013


Ah, another Alex Grecian novel! I so enjoyed the first in his Murder Squad series, THE YARD, and I was delighted at the chance to read the follow-up. While THE YARD was a police procedural at the dawn of forensic medicine, THE BLACK COUNTRY is darker, and more of a thriller than a procedural. That said, it was quite entertaining. Inspector Day, Sergeant Hammersmith, and Dr. Kingsley are sent to a coal town in the Midlands, where three villagers are missing. The village, built over the mines, could literally collapse at any moment, making for a dark sense of foreboding over the whole book. Portrayals of Victorian life and coal-mining are gritty and unflinching, with a sense of despair hanging over the whole village. Day and Hammersmith have a charming relationship and Kingsley adds his cutting-edge science to the mix. I had difficulty putting this one down to sleep. Source disclosure: I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.


Allison: So an idea for a book blog name just popped into my head, and since WordPress lets me play on my phone without investing much time and energy, I started a book blog here: Nor Any Drop To Read. I am going to cross-post here for a while before deciding what I want to do, book blog-wise.


I could subtitle this review “I was so bored.” The premise was enchanting; the execution, not so much. Dr. Ben Stevenson, pathologist, is a small-town medical examiner, a very undemanding job until the first victim of a serial killer turns up, mutilated, and the second is a friend of his oldest son’s. The killer eventually begins taunting Stevenson, who fears for his family, yadda, yadda, yadda. You might think it is not easy to make a serial killer book boring. I knew I was in trouble when the first pages were from the point-of-view of Unknown Psychopathic Killer. This rarely bodes well in my experience. However, I gave the book the benefit of the doubt and soldiered on. After all, a small-town medical examiner is a favorite premise of mine, and the father struggling with his fears could be a fascinating psychological portrait. Could be. So, here’s where the book lost me. The crazily shifting point-of-view meant I never identified with any of the characters and I wasn’t invested in the outcome to begin with. Clunky foreshadowing and anvil-on-the-head hints meant that I was just waiting for the characters to finally catch up to me (sadly, I was not mistaken when I guessed the outcome early on). When they finally did catch up, the book dragged on for some time for no apparent reason, to an ultimately unsatisfying conclusion. I didn’t even care that the ending was unsatisfying, because, thank the literature gods, the book was over! Source disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The subtitle for this chapter/picture book is "A Safety Guide for Scaredies." If you're familiar with Scaredy Squirrel (and if you have a young child, you SHOULD be), you'll remember that Scaredy Squirrel is scared of EVERYTHING. Loud noises, surprises, germs. So, naturally, Halloween is TERRIFYING for him. He has put together this handy guide to surviving Halloween; he offers tips on safe trick-or-treating, non-scary costume ideas, a field guide to monsters, and more. The child who is apprehensive about Halloween will adore this tongue-in-cheek guide, and the parent who is apprehensive about Halloween will appreciate Scaredy Squirrel's rules that include having an adult check all candy before eating any.

Lilah's comments: Scaredy Squirrel is hilarious. This is a funny guide to Halloween, but he also has some really smart ideas! Like being careful when you cross the street and not using an ax to carve your pumpkin.

Mom's comments: I think this is a great book to read to nervous children who aren't sure what to expect with Halloween approaching. My almost-seven-year-old is on the young side for this one, but she still enjoyed it. When she was 3 or 4, it would have been perfect, since she's a bit of a scaredy squirrel herself. Scaredy Squirrel is loads of fun in his more traditional picture books, and he's fun in this "chapter" how-to guide as well. Lilah and I both enjoyed reading it; I just think that it could be a godsend for parents of younger, nervous children, as well as being fun and entertaining.

Source disclosure: I received an e-galley of this title courtesy of the publisher.