Review: Dead and Breakfast by Kimberly G. Giarratano

Dead and Breakfast Book Cover Dead and Breakfast
Kimberly G. Giarratano

Despite living in Key West his whole life, 18-year-old Liam Breyer is a skeptic of the supernatural until a vengeful spirit, murdered fifty years ago, nearly drowns him in a swimming pool. Luckily help arrives in the form of pretty — albeit homesick — ghost whisperer Autumn Abernathy, whose newly-divorced mom has dragged her to the island to live and work at the Cayo Hueso, a haunted bed and breakfast.

Although they initially mistrust each other, Autumn and Liam team up to solve the decades-old mystery. But on an island where every third resident is a ghost, dealing with an unstable spirit has deadly consequences. If Liam and Autumn don’t unmask the killer soon, they’re likely to become Key West’s latest haunted attraction.

Review:

(Actual rating: 2.5 stars)

A free ARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

After finishing Dead and Breakfast, I confess to feeling a little underwhelmed. The novel started off strong, with intergenerational drama and a vengeful, violent ghost, but it was ultimately undermined by instalove, lackluster characters, and a way too convenient ending.

For the first several chapters, Dead and Breakfast does well. The action begins when Autumn Abernathy, one of the novel’s two protagonists, relocates to Key West with her divorcee mother to manage the Cayo Hueso Bed and Breakfast. Autumn, who has always been able to see and communicate with ghosts, soon discovers that the Cayo is inhabited by the spirit of a young Hispanic girl murdered in the 1950s.

The Cayo’s spooky resident isn’t your friendly Caspar-like ghost – she’s out for blood, and she’s fixated on Liam Breyer, the cute young handyman who does odd jobs around the bed and breakfast. Autumn and Liam join forces to try to resolve the ghost’s unfinished business before she ends up harming them and/or destroying the Cayo.

Dead and Breakfast will feel pretty familiar to those who’ve read Giarratano’s other works to date, which also focus on girls who can speak to ghosts and must try to discover how they died. One thing that differentiates this book from the others, though, is that the ghost in question is a badass. She’s not content to sit back and wait while Autumn investigates; she takes matters into her own hands in whatever ways she can, and she isn’t afraid to possess people or cause them harm. An aggressive, pissed off, violent ghost was a nice way for Giarratano to change things up.

Another thing I enjoyed about Dead and Breakfast was the setting. After reading this book, I’m dying to take a trip to Key West. The atmosphere, food, music, and culture seem like a lot of fun, and I’d love to attend a street festival, take a midnight ghost tour, or eat seafood from a roadside stand. I will say, though – for a book that’s set in one of the most haunted cities in America, featuring a B&B whose main attraction is supposed to be its spooky tenants, I expected to see a lot more ghosts than I did. There were only two, and that was kind of disappointing.

One of my biggest complaints about Dead and Breakfast was the romance. I didn’t mind the attraction that formed between Autumn and Liam, but the depth of it wasn’t realistic. I found it hard to believe that they’d developed such an all-consuming relationship in such a short time, falling so deeply in love that they were willing to sacrifice their goals and drastically alter their life plans. It felt out of character and majorly detracted from the book. Certain interactions felt melodramatic, too, like [START SPOILER]Liam’s drinking and his temper tantrum about Autumn leaving for college[END SPOILER].

This, plus the fact that the book wrapped up far too neatly (it was super unrealistic and didn’t do justice to the story or the characters) prevented me from being able to give Dead and Breakfast as high a rating as I originally anticipated. That said, I still have high hopes for the next Cayo Hueso Mystery book. Maybe I’ll get more of those ghosts I wanted as the series continues!

Review: The Lady in Blue by Kimberly G. Giarratano

The Lady in Blue Book Cover The Lady in Blue
Kimberly G. Giarratano

The Lady in Blue stole a car and fled Ash.
Out on Devlin Road she emerged from a crash.
She wandered the woods with her head dripping blood.
Then drowned in the river in water and mud.

All her life criminology student Liz Bloom has heard this rhyme, meant to scare young campers. When she’s about to take on her first cold case, Liz learns the eerie song is about her great aunt Lana. Liz isn’t big on studying, but she does have one advantage most criminologists don’t — she can speak to the dead.

In 1955, Lana Bloom was an eighteen-year-old beauty with Hollywood dreams who fell in love with a stranger. When Lana died in a bloody car crash, all signs pointed to the mysterious man who was never seen again.

As Lana unravels the details surrounding her last week of life, the tale she weaves for Liz is one of desire, betrayal, and murder. But if Lana can’t identify her killer, not only will a murderer escape punishment, but her ghostly form will cease to exist. And Liz will have failed the most important assignment of all – family.

Review:

(Actual rating: 3.5 stars)

There’s something about a good ghost story that’s impossible to resist. We’ve all listened to a friend spin a spooky tale as we sat entranced with goosebumps on our arms and pleasant shivers down our spine. We’ve all recited the rhyme about Lizzie Borden and her axe, or chanted the “Bloody Mary” mantra in a darkened room, waiting with bated breath for her spirit to come shrieking through the bathroom mirror. For better or worse, there’s something alluring about mysterious, tragic stories that makes you want to know more.

In Kimberly G. Giarratano’s fictional town of Ash, the ghost story of choice is that of the Lady in Blue, a teenage girl who died on her prom night, supposedly murdered by her lover. Little do the town’s residents know that the Lady in Blue is more than a legend – her ghost really does haunt the town, and will continue to do so until she either brings her killer to justice…or fades into oblivion.

Criminology student Liz Bloom is one of the only people in town who can see the Lady’s ghost, and she’s determined to help the Lady track down her murderer so that she can finally find peace and move on. With Liz’s assistance, the Lady slowly begins to piece together the events leading up to her death.

Back in the 1950s, before her murder, the Lady in Blue’s name was Lana Bloom, and she was the darling of Ash. Gorgeous, popular, and beloved by all, Lana led a charmed life – or so it seemed. In reality, the pressure to be perfect – the obedient daughter, the doting girlfriend, the beautiful prom queen – left no room for Lana to be herself. Every time she tried to voice an opinion or forge her own path, someone stepped forward to push her back towards the “acceptable” route. And eventually, one of those someones killed her.

My favorite aspect of The Lady in Blue, hands down, was the authentic 1950s feel. The pages are peppered with slang like “necking” and “skedaddle” and nicknames such as “kitten” and “dollface.” When reading a scene in a beauty parlor or a description of a housewife retrieving her cigarettes from a decorative case, I felt like I had actually stepped back in time. Giarratano does a great job of portraying the social norms of the era, subtly but clearly demonstrating how different the world was just 60 years ago. For the first time, it really struck me how limited options were for women back then, how trapped they were by cultural expectations. It was a time in which no one batted an eye at teenagers getting married right out of high school, a time when young women were expected to dream of nothing more than being a dutiful wife and mother, when it was normal for girls to not know how to drive a car. This book made me infinitely grateful to be alive today and not in the 50s, poodle skirts and malt shops aside.

Something else that I really enjoyed was Giarratano’s writing. She has a smooth, pleasant style that is lovely without being showy or distracting. Her use of similes and other literary devices are spot-on, too. Here a couple of my favorite examples:

“I might’ve been a Bloom by name, but unlike the plants in my yard, I couldn’t flourish here. My mother, whether she meant to be or not, was like a black canvas laid down to smother the weeds.”

And:

“I heard Henry say, ‘You caught the best-looking girl in town’ as if I were a prized trout ready to mount to the wall.”

Now, on to the one part of the story that didn’t quite work for me: the romance. I like to fall in love along with the characters in the books I’m reading, and that just didn’t happen here. This is largely due to the fact that the romance develops much too quickly. When Lana meets Andrew, a soldier who seems to appreciate and understand her more than her own family and friends, it makes sense that she’s intrigued. What doesn’t make sense, though, is how quickly she becomes comfortable with him, comfortable enough to not find it weird that he’s always turning up wherever she is, lurking in her backyard or at the house where she’s babysitting. Lana barely knows Andrew, yet she instantly feels a connection with him and can’t stop thinking about him. It didn’t ring true to me, and this was the main reason I couldn’t give the book a full 4 stars.

In fairness, The Lady in Blue is a novella rather than a full-length novel, which doesn’t provide as much page time for a meaningful, believable relationship to develop. Still, I really would have liked to have gotten to know Andrew more, to fall for him the way I fell for Danny in Grunge Gods and Graveyards, Giarratano’s debut novel.

Even though I wasn’t loving the romance in The Lady in Blue, I do still recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, interesting read with beautiful writing and a charming protagonist. I think it would be especially good for those who are interested in mysteries or ghost stories but are looking for subject matter that’s not too heavy or dark.

A free ARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Click here to read my interview with Kimberly G. Giarratano and enter for a chance to win a copy of The Lady in Blue!

The Lady in Blue: Giveaway and Interview with Kimberly G. Giarratano

Around this time last year, I participated in a blog tour for Grunge Gods and Graveyards, Kimberly G. Giarratano’s debut novel about a girl being haunted by the ghost of her high school crush while trying to solve the mystery of his murder. The book features solid writing, a tragically romantic love story, and a swoon-worthy male lead, but it was a relatively minor character that really sucked me into the book. This character, known as the Lady in Blue, was the spirit of a girl who’d been killed in the 1950s on the way to her senior prom and had been haunting her hometown ever since. Although the Lady in Blue didn’t get a ton of page time, I found her fascinating and wished I could have learned more about her backstory.

And then, lo and behold, I got an email several months later from Kimberly. She gave me beautiful, wonderful, spectacular news: she had written a spin-off of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, and it was all about the life – and death – of my favorite ghostly prom queen.

Kimberly is here with us today to introduce this new book, talk about plans for her next series, and discuss all things ghostly. She’s also giving away an electronic copy of The Lady in Blue to one lucky reader, so make sure to sign up for a chance to win at the end of this post!

About The Lady in Blue

Book cover for The Lady in Blue by Kimberly G. GiarratanoThe Lady in Blue stole a car and fled Ash.
Out on Devlin Road she emerged from a crash.
She wandered the woods with her head dripping blood.
Then drowned in the river in water and mud.

All her life criminology student Liz Bloom has heard this rhyme, meant to scare young campers. When she’s about to take on her first cold case, Liz learns the eerie song is about her great aunt Lana. Liz isn’t big on studying, but she does have one advantage most criminologists don’t — she can speak to the dead.

In 1955, Lana Bloom was an eighteen-year-old beauty with Hollywood dreams who fell in love with a stranger. When Lana died in a bloody car crash, all signs pointed to the mysterious man who was never seen again.

As Lana unravels the details surrounding her last week of life, the tale she weaves for Liz is one of desire, betrayal, and murder. But if Lana can’t identify her killer, not only will a murderer escape punishment, but her ghostly form will cease to exist. And Liz will have failed the most important assignment of all – family.

Interview with Kimberly G. Giarratano

Welcome to Angela’s Library, Kimberly! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What would you like readers to know about you?

As to be expected, I love to travel and go on haunted city tours where I walk around the city and hear ghost stories. I’ve done these tours in Rome, Italy and Key West. I want to go to Gettysburg and do this, but I can’t take my kids – they’re too little to scare. I also love cemeteries and graveyards. When I was a kid, and someone died, my grandma would take me on a tour of the cemetery and tell me about my relatives who were buried there. I always found it so interesting. There’s so much history in cemeteries. I’m always fascinated about the people who are buried there. What were their lives like? How did they live? Where are their descendants? Do they visit? I’m always thinking of story narratives.

Summarize The Lady in Blue in one sentence.

A beautiful 18-year old ghost recounts her murder in an effort to uncover her killer.

Book cover for Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G. GiarratanoThe Lady in Blue is a spin-off of your debut novel Grunge Gods and Graveyards. What made you decide to return to the fictional town of Ash to tell the story of its long-time resident ghost?

I had always intended to write the Lady in Blue’s story because there was no way I was going to be able to fit her narrative into Grunge Gods’ story arc. Also, Lana’s history is interesting because of the time period in which she lived – the 1950s. In addition, readers were asking me to expand on her story. I felt like I couldn’t NOT write this book. To me, the series wasn’t complete until I told Lana’s story.

Everyone reading this post has probably heard at least one ghost story told around a campfire, whispered in the dark at a slumber party, or circulated as part of local legend. In your opinion, what is it that makes ghost stories so pervasive and appealing?

I think everyone likes to be haunted. There’s something to be said about the dead not being done with us.

If you were able to see and talk with ghosts, who would you want to be haunted by and why?

I actually think about this often. I want to be visited by my dad’s paternal grandmother. She died an old woman, but she was an interesting figure. She survived pogroms in the Ukraine. She emigrated through Ellis Island. She lived in tenements in the Lower East Side. Her husband disappeared off the face of the earth – he may have been a bootlegger. I want to interview her and find out about who she was. There’s so much history in my family and I know none of it.

The Lady in Blue is set in the 1950s, with each chapter named after a song from that decade. The same is true in Grunge Gods and Graveyards as well, but with songs from the ’90s instead. What role has music played in your life and why is it important to you?

I’m a teenager of the 1990s, so in that sense, alternative music represents my youth. For me, listening to a Tori Amos song makes me feel like I’m 17 again and reminds me of the person I used to be. I think I read somewhere that your music tastes are formed in your teenage years – which makes sense. I still listen to Radiohead, Tori Amos, and U2, but I’m more inclined to listen to the olders albums from my teenage years, rather than the new stuff.

One of my favorite things about The Lady in Blue is its authentic 50s vibe; the vocabulary, clothing, and social norms in the book paint such a clear and fascinating picture of what it would have been like to live in the 1950s. How much research did you have to do to bring this era to life on the page?

I don’t know if I can quantify the amount of research I did, but I did a lot of work. I read books set in the 50s and I purchased an actual text written in the 50s for teenagers. I bought a book that was all about 1950s clothing. I also crowd-sourced my Facebook friends. Often, I’d jump on Facebook and ask people to name cigarettes their parents smoked. My friend, Georgene, gave me a detailed description of a 1950s movie theater. My dad described how to drive a stick shift for a 1950s car. My author friend, Elizabeth, read my manuscript and clarified some 1950s expressions. For some reason, I have a fascination with the 50s and it’s nice to be able to talk to people who lived in that time period – they’re my primary resources.

Do you have a favorite 50s saying or slang word? If so, what is it?

I don’t have a favorite slang word, but I did learn the expression, “don’t have a cow,” originated in the 50s and not on The Simpsons, like I thought it did.

In addition to writing, you also review books for School Library Journal and BookPage. Have you read anything recently that you highly recommend?

I reviewed Under the Painted Sky by Stacey Lee several months ago for BookPage and I really enjoyed it. Set in 1849, a Chinese-American girl and a runaway slave, who are fleeing the law, meet a trio of friendly cowboys. It’s a feel-good read and the author does an amazing job of making the reader fall in love with the characters. I also read an ARC of Lauren DeStefano’s middle grade book, A Curious Tale of In-Between, which was spooky, ghostly, and all those things I love. If you want a fun, page-turning YA mystery, I suggest Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor. If you love historical YA mysteries, I loved Dianne K. Salerni’s The Caged Graves. And if you want beautifully written, compelling historical fiction, read The Hollow Ground by Natalie S. Harnett. *I used to be a librarian; so offering up book recommendations is in my DNA.

What can you tell us about your next writing project? Can we look forward to more mysteries / ghost stories in the works?

YES! My next YA mystery, Dead and Breakfast, will be out this fall. Two seventeen-year-olds must solve a sixty-year-old murder before a malevolent ghost destroys a family-owned bed and breakfast. It’s set in Key West, Florida, which is one of ten most haunted cities in America. If anyone wants to be notified when the book is released, feel free to sign up for my reader club: http://eepurl.com/bn21-X.

Dead and Breakfast is the first of a three-book series. I’m hoping the entire series will be out in summer 2016. Then I’m embarking on a new series, which is a mash-up of Veronica Mars and My So-Called Life. I hope to release the first book in late 2016.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Kimberly! We hope to see you back again soon!

About Kimberly G. Giarratano

KimPhoto of Grunge Gods and Graveyards author Kimberly G. Giarratanoberly G. Giarratano, a forever Jersey girl, now lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. A former teacher and YA librarian, Kimberly adores Etsy, Jon Stewart, The Afghan Whigs, ’90s nostalgia, and (of course) everything YA. She also speaks Spanish, but is woefully out of practice.

Kimberly always dreamed of being a published author. Her other dream is to live in Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.

You can visit her blog at kimberlyggiarratano.com or tweet her @KGGiarratano.

Giveaway

Kimberly has generously offered to give away an e-book copy of The Lady in Blue! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win. This contest is open internationally.

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Check back later this week to read my review of The Lady in Blue!

Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

The Clockwork Scarab Book Cover The Clockwork Scarab
Colleen Gleason

Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood. And when two society girls go missing, there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The stakes are high. If Stoker and Holmes don’t unravel why the belles of London society are in such danger, they’ll become the next victims.

Review:

When I first heard of The Clockwork Scarab, I was thrilled. After all, what’s not to like about a story of the female relatives of Bram Stoker and Sherlock Holmes? The answer is a boring protagonist, stilted dialogue, and the darn Victorian sense of propriety.

The Clockwork Scarab came really close to being a “did not finish” for me. I was all set to return it to the library after reading just a few chapters, but curiosity got the better of me regarding a certain romantic prospect in the book. I started reading bits and pieces of the remaining chapters to get to the juicy parts. As a result, The Clockwork Scarab ended up being more of a “skim through the boring bits to find mention of the sexy Cockney-accented thug” than a true “DNF.”

The bones of The Clockwork Scarab are promising. There’s a mystery involving dead debutantes, midnight excursions to the British Museum, and enigmatic connections to Egyptian goddesses and artifacts. There are also secret societies, high-class parties, and undercover missions requiring elaborate disguises. The problem is that my eyes started to glaze over every time Mina Holmes narrated a chapter.

As the niece of Sherlock Holmes, Mina possesses an acute power of observation, a piquant curiosity, and keen intelligence. Unfortunately, she also possesses a very stodgy voice. She comes across as very dry and clinical, and there are times when she’s a snooty know-it-all. It got to the point, about 100 pages in, where I simply skipped Mina’s chapters in favor of Evaline’s more exciting ones.

An unfortunate consequence of this is that I missed a lot of important stuff. For example, I eventually realized that there seemed to be a time travel element in the plot, but by that point I’d come too far and didn’t care to go back and re-read to try to figure out why this Zach from the 2000s was important or how he ended up in the 1800s. I did recommence reading Mina’s chapters toward the very end of the book (I wanted to see how the mystery was solved, after all), but it’s obvious I lost a lot along the way.

I realize this is a really ridiculous and unfair way to read a book, but what can I say – I was bored. My options were to read it in bits and pieces, or not read it at all.

Another motivation to skim rather than reading carefully from cover to cover was the formal, prim way the characters spoke. I’m guessing this was Gleason’s attempt to sound historically accurate, but I apparently don’t have much tolerance for Victorian speech, which strikes me as stuffy and contrived. I don’t have a lot of patience for Victorian propriety, either. Don’t let that man see your ankles, ladies! Don’t touch his hand without wearing gloves! I know this is true to the Victorian era, but I need a little more raciness to hold my interest in a book.

That’s not to say A Clockwork Scarab was all bad. As I mentioned in the beginning, there was a potential love interest, Pix, who was exciting enough to prevent me from returning The Clockwork Scarab to the library unfinished. I’ve always been fond of rascals, charmers, and men who are too clever for their own good, and Pix is all of these things. My favorite parts of the book were the scenes where he and Evaline kept ending up in compromising positions. Well, those scenes and one in an opium den…and that’s because Pix was in that scene, too. Shirtless. Yum!

Besides Pix, something else I liked about this book was Mina and Evaline’s desire to prove themselves. The two girls are very different from one another, with very different strengths, and each has her own fears and self doubts. For Mina’s part, she isn’t as pretty as Evaline and is self conscious about things like not fitting in among high society, not being invited to parties, not having any gentlemen who want to dance with her, etc. Evaline, Mina’s foil, is very pretty and popular, and unlike Mina she does receive invitations to attend social functions and dance with handsome men. For her part, though, Evaline wants to prove to Mina that she’s intelligent and doesn’t have to rely on Mina to be the “smart one.” The girls’ insecurities make them much easier to sympathize with.

There might be many more appealing aspects of The Clockwork Scarab that I missed by not reading the entire book. To be on the safe side, you might want to take my review with a grain of salt and read this book for yourself.

Review: Insanity by Cameron Jace

Insanity Book Cover Insanity
Cameron Jace

After accidentally killing everyone in her class, Alice Wonder is now a patient in the Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum. No one doubts her insanity. Only a hookah-smoking professor believes otherwise; that he can prove her sanity by decoding Lewis Carroll's paintings, photographs, and find Wonderland's real whereabouts. Professor Caterpillar persuades the asylum that Alice can save lives and catch the wonderland monsters now reincarnated in modern day criminals. In order to do so, Alice leads a double life: an Oxford university student by day, a mad girl in an asylum by night. The line between sanity and insanity thins when she meets Jack Diamond, an arrogant college student who believes that nonsense is an actual science.

Review:

A free copy of this book was received from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

If you enjoyed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll, chances are you’ll get a kick out of Insanity.

Alice Pleasance Wonder is a patient at Radcliffe Lunatic Asylum in Oxford, where she’s been imprisoned for two years after causing the deaths of her boyfriend and all their classmates. Shock therapy and heavy doses of medication have caused Alice to forget her past, but she’s been told that as a child she got lost one afternoon and later returned insisting she’d been in the Wonderland from Lewis Carroll’s storybooks. The only other things Alice knows about herself are that she’s terrified of mirrors, loves her potted Tiger Lily, and occasionally suffers from hallucinations of talking flowers and creepy white rabbits. She longs to recover her memories and is given a chance to do so by an unlikely source: one of her fellow inmates.

Professor Carter Pillar is a wily, hookah-smoking psychopath who has murdered multiple people, bears a resemblance to the riddle-spouting caterpillar in Lewis’ stories, and has a knack for slipping in and out of the asylum at will. “The Pillar,” as he’s known, believes Alice is THE Alice and approaches her with a bargain:

“I can make you remember amazing things[…]. Like who the Red Queen really is. Why she chopped off heads. Who the Rabbit really was. Where the real rabbit hole exists. What a raven and a writing desk really have in common. Why Lewis Carroll wrote this book[…]. Basically, I can tell you who you really are.”

In exchange for this information, The Pillar demands Alice’s help in tracking down and stopping another serial killer: The Cheshire Cat. Together, Alice and The Pillar spend their nights locked in the asylum and their days investigating the Cheshire’s murders.

At first, the hunt for the Cheshire is exciting. The cat is aware that the two are on his tail (ha – get it?) and toys with them, leaving puzzles and riddles for Alice and The Pillar to solve. Through these riddles the readers learn fascinating facts about Lewis Carroll and the inspirations for his Alice stories, such as how the Cheshire Cat got his name. There are encounters with reincarnations of the White Queen, the Duchess, and the Reds from the stories, and there are fun references to a “raven-colored” writing desk, Carrollian words like “brillig” and “frabjous,” and interesting logic puzzles such as the ones Carroll included in his literary works.

These nods to Carroll and the fun insight into his stories were what I enjoyed most about Insanity. Unfortunately, the puzzles taper off as the story progresses, and the characters I really wanted to meet – the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen, Tweedle Dee and Dum, etc. – never made an appearance.

Characterization and tight plotting fell by the wayside about halfway into the book, replaced by seemingly random plot points and appearances by characters who had no good reason to be in the scene other than to serve as a convenience or, in some cases, an inconvenience. The second half of the book just felt sloppy. There were lots of spelling and grammar mistakes, and the characters’ motivations and actions didn’t seem to be as firmly grounded as in the beginning. There was so much focus on silliness and madness – obtaining a useless, unnecessary Certificate of Insanity, making goofy proclamations to crowds of people, gallivanting around being mad and merry – that the book felt fluffy and lost a lot of the appeal and tension that it had at the start.

This isn’t to say I don’t appreciate whimsy and silliness. Whenever Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland are involved, you know there’s going to be a hearty dose of nonsense; after all, Carroll is the man who wrote passages like:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Still, nonsense needs to be backed up by believable characters and a strong storyline, which were missing towards the end of Insanity.

Although the second half of Insanity may not have lived up to my expectations, the first half was good enough that I’m willing to give the sequel, Figment, a shot. The references to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass definitely piqued my interest, and I’m eager to see what’s next for Alice Wonder.

To wrap up this review, I’ll leave you with the parting gift of a couple of great quotes from the book:

“So how is [this date] going to be?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean who’s going to pay? English way, we split the check. American way, I pay the check. French way, probably you pay the check. Carrollian way, we eat mushrooms and drink tea in a house we break into.”

And:

“Let go of me,” I say as a I pull away.
“Wow, you’re good at squeezing yourself away from a man’s arms,” he looks admirably at his empty embrace.
“You haven’t seen me with a straight jacket.”

See why I liked this book? 🙂