February 28, 2023

2.5 stars for "Literary Murder: A Critical Case"

Literary Murder (Michael Ohayon, #2)Literary Murder by Batya Gur
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I admit I'm an American Jew who has no familiarity with modern Hebrew poetry, but I don't think that's entirely my excuse for merely skimming the interminable 25-page first chapter of “Literary Murder: A Critical Case” by Batya Gur. I assume the author is trying to introduce all the characters, but a short list of them at the beginning (like many novels do) would at least would have let me look up who was who. Thankfully, this being a murder mystery, the plot speeds up after that as we get one victim in chapter two and the next in chapter four. Then the plot thickens as we learn that there's a connection between the two victims and that: 1] some of the possible suspects can't account for where or what they were doing at certain times, and 2] neither of the victims can either. Unfortunately for me, there were more boring literary digressions that slowed down the investigative plot considerably. The ending was well thought out, but this novel should have been at least 100 pages shorter. Yet I couldn’t skim too much for fear of missing the important clues. I doubt I’ll read any more of this author’s murder mysteries.

Posted by maggie at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2023

4 stars for "R is for Ricochet"

R Is For RicochetR Is For Ricochet by Sue Grafton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first listed to the audio version during a round trip to Arizona. The reader was excellent and did all the various voices well. But my previous complaint about murder mystery audiobooks, that it's not easy to go back to check on a clue that I'd missed, raised its ugly head here too. Thankfully I was able to get the print version from my local library when I returned and learn what I needed to know. So far I've been reading Sue Grafton's alphabet series in order, and I must warn readers that R is for Ricochet is crafted differently than the earlier books. To quote Kinsey's epilogue, "In the passing of life, I'm usually the heroine, but occasionally I'm simply a minor character in someone else's play." But I found the plot interesting, and because I saw The Laundromat, a 2019 film starring Meryl Streep about the Panama Papers, I understood the financial chicanery involved in money laundering, shell corporations, and offshore banking. I liked how Kinsey rekindled a relationship with an old flame. In fact this novel could have been subtitled "R is for Romance, because there are also the two love affairs of secondary characters that do not end so well.

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Posted by maggie at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2023

5 stars for "World Starts Anew"

The World Starts Anew (The Star and the Shamrock #4)The World Starts Anew by Jean Grainger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed The World Starts Anew more than Book 3. I especially appreciated how expertly Jean Grainger reintroduced the many characters from Books 1-3 without TMI, and how she kept so many plot balls in the air without dropping them. I was impressed at how well she integrated the scandal of abusive Irish "mother and baby homes" [google it] that came to light in the early 2020's. Of course I liked the happy ending that tied up so many loose ends. I feel sad because this is the final book of the "Star and Shamrock" series, however I recommend reading the series novels in order.
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Posted by maggie at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2023

1st vs 3rd person POV

Someone on the r/writing subreddit asked: "I've thought a lot about how I want to write my stories, and I'd like some opinions on POVs! For me, first person feels more like a diary or like you are the character, which in some cases, can be perfect; but other than that, it sometimes feels out of place. I find that writing in first person, however, can be a lot easier on expressing their thoughts or emotions. I tend to write in third person more, to me, it makes a lot more sense that (unless the book is a diary etc) you're reading the character's story. Although, writing thoughts or feelings can be a bit harder without the right wording. So what is everybody's else's thoughts? Do you prefer to write/read in first or third person?”

My reply: “I'm not sure if you mean do I prefer reading books written in the 1st-person POV vs 3rd-person POV or writing my characters in 1st-person POV vs 3rd-person POV. The advantage of 1st POV is that the reader gets to know the protagonist intimately and is more likely to identify with them. A disadvantage is that the reader only knows what the character knows. 3rd-person POV is much more common, and easier to write. If the author wants to impart a bunch of information from various sources, then 3rd-person POV is the way to go, but it's imperative to make sure readers knows whose head we're in. Of my 7 novels, only two of them are 1st-person POV. My most recent novel, The Choice: A Novel of Love, Faith and Talmud, is 3rd-person POV, but I only get into the heads of the two main characters.”

Posted by maggie at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2023

Schum sites JTA article

Those of you who follow me may recall (or may have missed) my posts about my 2022 visit to the 3 medieval Schum cities (Speyer, Worms and Mainz) located on the Rhine. It was an amazing, and powerful, experience to walk in Rashi's footsteps and see where he studied in his youth almost 1000 years ago. Now these cities are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Read more in tis excellent JTA article.

Posted by maggie at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)