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Along the Saltwise Sea by A. Deborah Baker
The Biograph Girl by William J. Mann Break the Chains by Megan E. O'Keefe
Cheddar Off Dead by Korina Moss and Erin Moon (Narrator)
The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon
Cryptid Club by Sarah Andersen
Curtain Call by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Illustrator)
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney and Stephanie Racine (Narrator)
Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay and Allyson Ryan (Narrator) Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden
Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon and Susan Boyce (Narrator)
The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs
A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette and Melanie Carey and Paul Bellatoni (Narrators)
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
Leviathan by Jason Shiga
The Liminal Zone by Junji Ito
Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) by Carrie Jones
Manor of Dying by Kathleen Bridge and Vanessa Daniels (Narrator)
Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott and Karen White (Narrator)
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie and Hugh Fraser (Narrator)
On This Airplane by Lourdes Heuer and Sara Palacios (Illustrations)
The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman and David McPhail (Illustrations)
Primordial by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino (Artist) and Dave Stewart (Artist)
Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette and Karissa Vacker
Sophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim and Annie Q (Narrator)
The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner and Jeremy Holmes (Illustrator)
Tumble by Celia C. PĂ©rez
Unseen Magic by Emily Lloyd-Jones
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

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The Biograph Girl: 12/20/22

The Biograph Girl

The Biograph Girl by William J. Mann is about a man who ends up interviewing the first movie star and learning about her incredible life, and then how he profits off her. The blurb makes is sound more interesting, describing: "a wild roller-coaster ride through the 20th century, led by a sassy, chain-smoking 107-year-old actress named Florence Lawrence." Oh how I wish that were true.

The novel opens with a banger. Florence is in the morgue staring at the body of a woman who could be her doppelgänger. She's going to switch identities with the corpse, essentially faking her own death so she can leave the rat race that is Hollywood.

But then we flash-forward to 1995 to a retirement home. In comes the actual main characters to interview an old man. Unfortunately he died in his sleep after breakfast. So instead the nun introduces him to 107 year old Florence. The problem is the main characters are entitled Boomers on the cusp of being Gen-Xers.

I really hoped the novel would spend most of its time on Flo's life. As in, I hoped the annoying present day folks would be a framing device showing up only briefly as narrative punctuation like the grandfather does in The Princess Bride. No luck.

Nor is there any sense of a timeline for Florence's life. Things rock back and forth from before faking her death to afterwards. The things she reminisces about seem thematic. On the one had we get the experience of listening to a dotty old lady (even though she's described as whip-smart). On the other hand, there's nothing in the way of segues between scenes or between different moments in time.

One star

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