#ripxiii Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien

A fun cosy foodie mystery series set in an Asian mall in Ohio. The main character is a young woman working in her parents’ Chinese restaurant (thanks to a bad breakup, a lost job ie desperation and bills to pay). She delivers the mall owner’s usual lunch order only to find later that he had a fatal allergic reaction to the shrimp in it – where was his epipen? Who would want him dead? Lots of fun to read & I especially liked the setting!

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#ripxiii – Death Notice by Zhou HaoHui

An action-packed crime thriller set in China that sold more than 1 million print copies and is now published in English. The killer styles himself as an avenger of unpunished crimes, calling himself Eumenides & sending out death notices listing their crimes and date of execution. This is the first book in a trilogy has a complicated plot & sometimes stilted dialogue but it was a pretty exciting page turner!

I read this for RIP XIII

RIPXIII – Tangerine by Christine Mangan

I wasn’t expecting this plot line. I thought it would just be a more generic expat story and what attracted me was its setting – Morocco. Instead it has echoes of The Talented Mr Ripley, an obsessive friendship told in alternating viewpoints. Dark and twisted, this book was a bit uneven and I wish the women were more distinguishable and the Morocco setting utilized more. Still, a decent read. .

Unthinkable: What The World’s Most Extraordinary Brains Can Teach Us About Our Own

A science journalist’s interest in rare brain disorders takes her around the world as she meets people with lycanthropy, audio hallucinations, Cotard delusion or Walking Corpse Syndrome (ie thinking you’re dead). I listened to the audiobook, read by Thomson herself, & I felt all the earnestness and hard work that she poured into her research as well as her fascination for the subject.

#RIPXIII – Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike

Graveyard Apartment doesn’t bring on the creep factor early on. Instead it opens very much like a typical domestic story. A family moves into a new apartment. But this apartment so happens to be located next to a graveyard. Which is of course the main reason why it’s so affordable – and thus attractive to this young family buying their first home.

And it does seem pleasant enough at first, with some beautiful daphne flowers blooming, and even cherry blossoms bordering the graveyard. The family sets about getting routines down, like getting kindergarten uniforms for their daughter and meeting the neighbors. A couple of unusual things does happen, like their pet bird dies and there seems to be a strange image on the TV but nothing to ruffle feathers. That is, until their daughter gets injured while playing in the basement, and things start getting weird from then on.

Graveyard Apartment is rather slow-moving as horror fiction goes. It was originally published in 1986 and perhaps the pacing of the storyline reflects that.

But when it got going, it did get pretty creepy for me – but then I am a big chicken when it comes to horror fiction – and found myself wishing I weren’t alone at home (and I live in a very quiet neighborhood).

Would you live near a cemetery? I wouldn’t.

Recently read: Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

A middle grade fantasy filled with a hint of danger & darkness (Morrigan Crow is a Cursed Child, blamed for local misfortunes, doomed to die on her 11th birthday), plenty of charm & humour (a giant talking cat does the housekeeping). Also there are trials to get into the Wondrous Society and even after I’ve finished the book I still haven’t the faintest idea what the society is about, but I’d love to join it any day (where’s my invitation?)

Holiday reading: The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

A quirky book for holiday reading that was ultimately a bit disappointing. I really loved how it talked about music and the small community feel of the street. And I loved Frank’s devotion to his record store. It was charming at times but the plot line just took too long to get going and I never quite felt that “happy sigh” feeling when a good romance happens. So for me it’s a 3.5 ⭐️ read.