Book Review: The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns!

Book Review: The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns!

Cozy Mysteries are a genre that I am convinced I will love but honestly haven’t read a lot of beyond Charlaine Harris. I’ve somehow managed to collect quite a pile of them but the one that I wanted to start with, so much that I put is on my list of 27 books to read this year, was The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns. It was a good decision!

The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns

The small town of North Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan is about to have a new mystery bookstore. But before the first customer can browse its shelves, the store’s owner is suspected of her own murder plot

The thing that made The Plot is Murder stand out to me was that there’s a book being written in the book. Its two mysteries for the price of one. I’ve never experienced this before, it’s been one of those things that just hasn’t crossed my orbit. But, our main character Samantha is writing a historical romance mystery while dealing with the body in her back garden and I found it fascinating. I found myself waiting for the next chapter of Samantha’s book while also wanting to know the whodunit in Samanthas life. Burns balances both really well and, at least in my opinion, manages to make the historical mystery feel like it was written by Samantha rather than by her. 

And I really liked Samantha as a writer! She takes parts of her life and puts them in her fiction, big things and little things, like a character who knits a lot while she thinks much like her grandma’s friend. And at one point another character starts reading her book and she gets nervous and doesn’t want to know what they think, but does. I think a lot of readers who also write will see themselves in her.

Now, this book is only 250 pages and contains two mysteries. You don’t get a lot of time with our historical characters but I’m plot-driven as a reader generally and I liked that the time spent with Samantha was more based on her, her life and her murder, and the time spend in 1938 England was mostly about who killed a guy at a party with a dash of romance. In the next book, Samantha is writing a sequel with the same characters, as well as dealing with another murder, so there’s plenty of time to get to know the residents of Wickfield Lodge if you wanted.

Then there’s the old ladies in Samanthas life. I’m a sucker for a book that doesn’t act like life ends at 30 and everyone older than that is relegated to the role of mother or old man with wisdom to impart. Samantha’s Nana and her friends from the retirement home are a blast, think Golden Girls but if they were gossiping about who would kill a man. 

The only thing that made me pause was the brief mention of suicide and some negative opinions about it. But apart from that The Plot is Murder sticks to cozy mystery conventions with no graphic images of violence or sex. 

Am I going to keep reading this series? Probably! These books are hard to find in the UK and it’s my first real foray into cosy mysteries of this type so I’m going to prod around a little more and see what I can find, but I’m keeping an eye out for Samantha and V.M. Burns. You can find The Plot is Murder on Hive and Amazon*.

Strange how acute your hearing became when you were waiting to be murdered.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Re-Read Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins!

Re-Read Review: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins!

When the news of the prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, came out I knew I wanted to re-read the original Hunger Games trilogy. It’s been six years since I first read the trilogy and they were really important in my journey of becoming a reader again and book blogging! My original reviews were.. sparse, and very much about my emotional response which is perfectly valid, I just wanted to do a bit of a deep dive into what makes these books so dang good in my opinion. So!

Contexts of Reading

I remember reading this series for the first time really vividly. Not so much the actual story, because I definitely forgot most of the plot points in the past six years. But my life surrounding reading this. I even remember the song I was listening to on repeat at the time. And I think that it’s really interesting that in however many years until I read this again, I might remember things like being in lockdown, playing a lot of Animal Crossing and working really hard at my last university essay. I think only a special kind of book can effect me in this way. I’ve re-read books before and mostly it’s just remembering bits of the story.

The Writing Style

I’ve mentioned a couple times this year that I’ve been struggling to read lately because I’m so focused on the act of reading. However, Collins writing style is so unique and crafted to be bare-bones that it’s incredibly easy to read. There’s no info-dumping or huge chunks of thinking, you’re just in Katniss’s head and immediately in the action. The story is left open just enough that your own thoughts and feelings can fill the gap. I thought that the pacing on the second and third books was a little weird, but by Mockingjay, I was locked in and finished it incredibly quickly.

The Epilogue

I’m not a big fan of epilogues in general. As a reader and an attempting writer, I prefer it when the ending happens and what goes next is left to the imagination. If you want the main character to live happily ever after, you decide what that looks like. But I do like the epilogue in this case, because I think that considering how much she mentions not wanting kids because they’d have to play in the games, it was important to see Katniss no longer have that fear. Plus, Collins got to talk a little about how best to teach younger generations about bad things.

The Messages

The Hunger Games trilogy are political books. Oppressed people hating other oppressed people instead of their oppressor, revolutions galore, people being used as pawns in a game they don’t understand. I mean- very applicable to almost every age of humanity.

Marking my books

I like to keep my books pretty neat and unmarked in general. I use sticky notes to mark them up for reviews and bits of writing I like. But this time I decided to underline, in pen! Mainly because I know these books are going to stick around on my shelves. I don’t have any immediate plans to re-read them, maybe I’ll wait another six years, or more, but when I do- I’ll get a little snapshot into this read and what stood out to me, and I think that’s pretty neat.

Do you re-read a lot? What is your favourite book to re-read?

Book Review: The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler!

Book Review: The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler!

Books about books are my favourite thing. My favourite cosy mystery protagonist is a librarian. My favourite romance is set in a novel-writing class. I read book blogs daily. Plus, I’m an English Literature student so I spend a lot of time reading critical journals. The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler* is right up my street because it’s a book chock full of passion about books. 

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead. So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from shelves.

These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favorites, including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world. This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening, and entertaining guide.

I’ve been reading this book for a long time (I started in 2017!). It’s a book where you could dip in and out of with ease. But sitting down for a good long session didn’t quite keep up the charm. So, ironically, I put it to one side and kind of forgot about it until I was doing a declutter. I finished it that day.

You can tell that a lot of work went into the original articles that this book is based off and it pays off. Each author has a neat little biography and the essays were easy and interesting reads. While I raised an eyebrow at some being considered forgotten, I’m sure V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic haunts many a millennial, it would be impossible not to get excited about the books and the history and reading in general!

Obviously people have different tastes so a book of 99 authors is sure to include some, or many, that I don’t find interesting or recommendable. I wouldn’t personally have chosen to include the overtly racist authors or the prosecuted sex-offender. It felt like Fowler wanted to mention these because he did the research when really these authors could just stay forgotten. Plus, I understand that publishing is, like almost everything, a male-dominated field. But I needed for there to be more diverse choices. It stands at about a quarter female, and very very white.

Overall though, I found myself with a list of authors books to add to my TBR. Some of my picks are From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron, a novelisation of his experience in the run up to D-day. The Wooden Overcoat by Pamela Branch, purely from the description as a mix of P.G. Wodehouse and Ladykillers. Whatever I can find by Lucille Fletcher, a noir suspense writer who seems irritatingly out-of-print. The Dr. Thorndyke detective stories by R. Austin Freeman sound like a more to-my-taste detective stories from the time of Sherlock Holmes. And Eleanor Hibberts vast historical fiction repertoire under the pen name Jean Plaidy.

If you’re like me and you feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of current releases, or publishing trends mean that your preferred style is out at the moment, I think this is a really interesting way to refresh your TBR. You’re sure to get caught up in passion for books if you pick this up.

Waterstones | Amazon | Hive

Do you have a favourite forgotten author? Or someone who deserved to be a classic?