May 2024

Title & Author: Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree
Published by: Tor Trade
Pub Date: November 7, 2023
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 339
Date Read: 2024/05/19
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Spoiler-ish

The ending made me incredibly sad. I was going to read “Legends & Lattes”, but decided I would start with the sequel-prequel. Now that I know I will be leaving most of the characters behind, I have no interest in continuing (at least not for while), with the story-line.

Travis Baldree mentioned a mystery set in this world and I hope he goes back to the idea. I enjoyed the story and the coziness of it all. Just felt like Maylee deserved better.

 

Highlights
Chapter 16– Page: 115
“You know, there’s a lot of people out there. Lot of noise. I love what I do, love it every day, but none of us sees more than a tiny piece of all the world, like we’re lookin’ out a little-bitty window. And I saw you through mine, and somethin’ inside me said, ‘That’s somebody you oughta know.’ Simple as that.
-=-=-=-=-=-
Chapter 35– Page: 231
“Never trust a writer who doesn’t have too many books to read. Or a reader, for that matter,” said Zelia.
-=-=-=-=-=-

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      When Ruby rents a fully furnished apartment, she doesn’t expect it to come with the ghost of the previous tenant too. When her neighbor across the hall winds up dead, and the police dismiss it as a mugging gone wrong rather than a murder, she and her deceased roommate decide to investigate.

      I got this book through Netgalley and requested it primarily because of the cover and I wanted a mystery. It’s a decent mystery that was fun to read. I liked the main characters of Cordelia (my favorite), and Ruby. Ruby I thought at times was annoying, but I can’t explain why exactly. I think it was because she was so outgoing? Example, who in their right mind is gonna go to the murder victim’s work and interrogate his coworkers? What company would even allow this woman to walk on in and conduct an investigation in their break room. This is probably where I should say that this begins what I disliked about the book. Why in the world would all of Jake’s (the dead guy) coworkers answer this woman? She isn’t the police, she has no power or authority. There’s a bit later on when one of Jake’s girlfriends turns up at Cordelia’s and Ruby’s apartment to answer questions. What?! Why? Why would she do that. I can suspend my disbelief for ghosts, but I can not envision a world where a woman who seems to be so full of herself would travel to the apartment of some unknown woman to answer questions to help further along Ruby’s investigation. It doesn’t make sense.

      Also, this book has me wondering if everybody in Boston is obsessed with beer and drinking? Because I would have thought that no, of course not, but this book has every character (besides Ruby) asking for a beer. I’m surprised the author didn’t write in the bus driver as drinking on the job.

      I also liked some of the explanation on the ghost mechanics, like why ghosts don’t want to actually come in contact with a living person. That’s a great idea, make it painful for the ghost too. However, I did not care for the whole “if I believe it to be true, it suddenly is”. Need to make a whole garbage bag disappear, just will it to be so! Yet Cordelia struggles with floating, but can walk through the walls, and sink through the ground. I get that ghosts have magical abilities in a folklore sense, making things appear and disappear. I just thought explaining it away with simply thinking it’s true makes it true was a bit lazy. Furthermore, I would rather have not had it explained. Along with maybe a whole garbage bag disappearing. There has to be rules to this, right? If you can cover it with your ghostly hands it disappears, if you can’t wrap your whole body around an object it’s going to be visible. It’s just the way it is. I have read, watched, and listened to ghost stories, I’m a paranormal expert, 😛 Just kidding. I have no idea. But that’s just what I found annoying.

      Overall, I enjoyed reading it. I liked the story line. I loved Cordelia’s character and look forward to reading the next one in this series.

Thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the review copy. All opinions are mine.
Title & Author: A New Lease on Death by Olivia Blacke
Published by: Minotaur Books
Pub Date: Oct 29 2024
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Pages: 336
Date Read: 2024/05/07
Rating:★★★☆☆

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Tim Shelley / WCBU
This architect’s concept drawing dates to 1895.

      A little dive into the history of Peoria Public Library. Most of this comes from the book “Tomes of Terror“. I tried finding out more on the people themselves, but some of what is written in “Tomes of Terror” is just wrong and or I couldn’t find any information to support what was written. In those cases, I wrote out what I found and the source. Otherwise, take this story for what it is, a good legend.

      Peoria Public Library doesn’t look like a place that is cursed, nor does it look to be haunted. Something that looks fairly modern, it’s hard to imagine a place so juxtaposed from one that is typically imagined when it is reported to have as many as thirteen ghosts in residence.

      To start off our story, we go to the 1830s, when Andrew and Mary Stevenson Gray lived in a two-story home in Peoria, IL. Life was seemingly well for them until Mary’s brother died, and her nephew came to live with them. He brought with him grief and little else, for he tended to associate with criminals and be of no use as a drunkard. He spent a good deal of time in jail and accrued a lot of fines and fees for lawyers.

      Eventually, the Gray’s were unable to pay the debts for their nephew and had used their mortgage as a means to pay their lawyer, David Davis (no wonder he turned out to be a crap lawyer with a name like that). And as this story goes on, Mr. Davis wanted his money and brought a lawsuit against them to foreclose on the mortgage.

      Mary kicks her nephew out and when his body is found later floating in the Illinois River she curses the land with “thorns and thistles, ill luck, sickness and death to its every owner and occupant.” 1

      The land gained a quick reputation for being haunted. Stories began that Mary’s nephew could be heard crying and begging at the front door. Caretaker’s for the property refused to work there. Because the public opinion was so against David Davis, he never actually lived there and the home abandoned. What a waste!

      It’s unclear what or how Mary and Andrew spent the rest of their lives, however there is a legend that states that on the night the house caught fire, the local’s saw the ghost of Mary in the flames, dancing and laughing as the house burned.

Gov. Thomas Ford

      The property then becomes the home of Gov. Thomas Ford, who was thought to already have been cursed prior to moving in.2 (Side note: dude went to Transylvania University… I’m being superficial here, but again, what a name.)3

      Within quick succession he lost his wife to stomach cancer, then died a few weeks after. Mrs. Ford died of cancer of the stomach October 12th, 1850, aged 38 years; and the Governor, then removed to the residence of Mr. Andrew Gray, already in the last stages of consumption, breathed his last on Sunday, November the 3d of the same year… 4

      According to “Tomes of Terror“, the property is then given to an ex-slave, Tom Lindsay. Lindsay had recently been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, and the son of his ex-master purchased a portion of the property and allowed him to live there.5 However, he wasn’t a slave and bought property himself, though I can find nothing on what property he bought.6

      The book “Tomes of Terror“, makes claims that Tom had a lot of issues living there, had to rebuild the home, and employing superstitious methods to live on the land peacefully. But again… the beginning of this section got it all wrong, so maybe there is no truth to this.

      Next up “Tomes of Terror” claims that many more property owners and their children died, but without any names I again couldn’t look it up, so I’ll just add it here, cause it makes for a spooky story.

      However, in the decades following Lindsay’s departure, several more residents of the property suffered a series of eerie fates. The first was a local businessman whose wife died tragically within the first year of the couple obtaining ownership of the property. The next was a banker whose wife died shortly after giving birth to a baby boy; the child died soon after. That same banker remarried and he and his new wife also had a boy. That boy, who suffered a bizarre affliction wherein he avoided warmth, was often found sleeping in the cold front hallway of the home in the depths of winter. He too, died. His mother’s grief and despair was so deep that she was sent off to Minneapolis in an attempt to recover her sanity. The next resident of the cursed site was a boarding room housekeeper whose son plunged to his death from a hot-air balloon, and whose daughter drowned in the nearby river.

      After the property was purchased to use as a library, Fred J. Soldan was appointed as head librarian. He was taken ill after a ride to Washington and returned with other members of the Peoria Bicycle Club in late October 1891 and died of pneumonia on November 5th at age 39.7

      E.S. Willcox was appointed next and twenty years later on April 6, 1915, died after being struck by a car.8

  1. Patterson Prowse died of a heart attack in the library, 1921.9

      Lastly in curious sudden deaths is Dr. Edwin Wiley. It is said he died in 1925 from ingesting arsenic, though that seems to be another legend.

      Sources:
1: Leslie, Mark. Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries. Dundurn, 2014.
2:https://www.pjstar.com/story/entertainment/local/2015/05/19/101-things-that-play-in/34529649007/
3:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Ford_(politician)#Death_and_legacy
4:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40193411?seq=4
5: Leslie, Mark. Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries. Dundurn, 2014.
6:https://www.peorian.com/history/history-news/local-history/2374-molly-thomas-lindsay
7:https://peoriapubliclibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/ppl-history-book.pdf
8:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40188815
9:https://peoriapubliclibrary.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/ppl-history-book.pdf

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