Buy, Borrow, Bypass: August 26, 2013

fear in the sunlight by nicola upsonFear in the Sunlight by Nicola Upson

Mystery novelist Josephine Tey is spending her 40th birthday in the resort town of Portmeirion with Alfred Hitchcock and crew, taking a holiday while they film a movie adaptation of one of her books. Then someone is murrrrderrred. Twenty years later, someone else is murdered on the set of another Hitchcock film. Coincidence?!

Hitchcock and Tey involved in a murder mystery is an awesome set-up for a book. Unfortunately, in my opinion Upson squanders it. Judging by this novel, if Upson has ever seen a Hitchcock picture or read a Tey mystery—which I doubt—she gained absolutely no lessons on how to write OR tell a story while doing so. Fear in the Sunlight is boring, full of inaccuracies in regards to Hitchcock, and Tey is hardly even in it! This book might work if you’re not a fan of either Tey’s or Hitchcock’s work; if you are, stay far away. You’ll be more entertained by watching grass grow.

Verdict: Bypass

 

 

the suicide shop by jean teuleThe Suicide Shop by Jean Teulé (translated by Sue Dyson)

In our dystopian future, the world is such an awful place that suicide is a common occurrence. Fortunately, there’s the Suicide Shop! Motto: “Has your life been a failure? Let’s make your death a success!” Run by the determinedly grim Tuvache family for generations, the Suicide Shop provides creative and fool-proof ways to go into that good night. Or at least it does until the arrival of the Tuvache’s youngest and bizarrely optimistic son changes everything.

If I had to describe The Suicide Shop in one sentence, it would be The Addams Family meets Amélie. Since I love both of those movies, I adored The Suicide Shop; and if you still haven’t completely let go of your inner goth, you probably will, too. This charmingly gruesome book is all about what really matters in life: human connection. The story loses focus near the end and the conclusion doesn’t fit in with the theme of the book, but for the most part this short novel is a perfect balance of very dark, cynical humor and warm fuzziness.

Verdict: Buy. At $1.99 for the eBook, it’s not only an entertaining read but a bargain.

 

 

secrets and lords by justine elyotSecrets and Lords by Justine Elyot

It’s 1920 and Edie, a London girl with a secret that’s obvious to everyone, arrives at the stately Deverell Hall. As the new parlormaid, Edie is so bad at her job they not only keep her on but promote her to Lady Deverell’s personal maid! Being the snoop that she is, Edie quickly finds out there’s something rotten in Denmark Deverell. Meanwhile, Deverell’s rakish heir, Charles, is determined to seduce her. Will Edie be able to resist Charles’ tractor beam of masculinity and preserve her precious virginity????

This is the silliest book I’ve read in a while. It’s basically Downton Abbey fan fiction. You got your Lady Mary, your socialist chauffeur, your gay footman. What you don’t got are the characters we actually like from Downton, like badass Bates and Lady Violet. Edie is an idiot whose actions never make any sense whatsoever, and she spends most of the book either skulking around bushes, worrying about her virginity, or going into random expositions about how horrible it is to be poor and/or a woman. I will say the author did her homework into the time period, but I’d rather have a good story and characters with actual motivation than historically accurate descriptions of how to clean ormolu. Also, the ending was really dumb.

Verdict: Bypass

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