My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was looking forward to reading this because it was set in Lily Dale, New York, sister city to Cassadaga FL, where I used to live. Both are spiritualist villages which means the people there hold a belief if talking to Spirit, those who have passed over and psychic readings among other things. This is important to the plot. This was more of a 3.5 read but I rounded up mostly because of Lily Dale.
Bella is dealing with the double blow of losing her teaching job due to budget cuts and losing the love of her life to cancer. She’s traveling from her former home with her young son, Max to Chicago to move in with her cold, judgmental mother in law who thinks she’s unfit to raise her son (we have no idea why other than maybe she’s one of those who think no one is good enough for her son types). On the way to a camp ground no one has ever heard of, they come across a pregnant cat and later when they break down in Lily Dale many many miles away there’s the cat whose owner is dead.
They meet Leona’s next-door neighbor, one of the Lily Dale psychics who tells them Leona has accidentally drowned. She offers Bella and Max to stay the night in Leona’s bed and breakfast. Before she knows it, Bella is drawn into running the B&B as Leona’s guests begin to arrive for Lily Dale’s summer programing.
And this about where the story falls apart as a mystery (one of the reason it’s not a true 4 star read for me). We don’t know there is a murder until halfway through the book, so we have 150 odd pages of non-mystery. It’s mostly made up of Bella’s grief and her complete lack of understanding and belief in spiritualism which is fine, but it got very repetitive as is her constant desire to leave (the only thing stopping her is the car)
Once they suspect Leona’s death isn’t an accident, we get the mystery and we also get a lot of Bella not making great choices. She volleys back and forth being suspicious of everyone then changing her mind at a drop of the hat. It’s not endearing. I wanted to like Bella more. I didn’t hate her, and I would read the next one in this series.
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The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Vol. 4 by Yoshiki Tanaka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This had a lot of politics and action, almost too much of it in some ways. I’m not a giant fan of endless fights and even less of politics. The scarred villain has a good bit of character development. He becomes vaguely sympathetic and his motives clear (important for a villain).
One of the more interesting bits happened when Arslan and company killed a slave holder, only for him to learn that some slaves like their masters and that it wasn’t as clear cut as he thought. I’m not saying slave holders are good but in history, sometimes it’s not just as easy as saying ‘you’re free’ and in the end leaving them homeless with nowhere to turn. It’s much more complicated so there are realistic nuances to the story. He thought they'd rejoice not understanding they know nothing else and would need help.
There are a lot of characters in this so it’s easy to get lost. The art is lovely.
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