Awesome Authors #19: Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan

Image Credit: AZ Quotes

I hadn’t thought about Lois Duncan in years!


Born in April 1934, she was the oldest child of professional magazine photographers. Raised in Pennsylvania at first, her family relocated to Florida, where her parents became circus photographers. She played in the woods and read. Duncan started writing and submitting manuscripts to magazines at age 10. She sold her first story at age 13. After graduating from high school in 1952, she enrolled in Duke University. However, she dropped out the following year to start a family with the man who became her first husband, Joseph Cardozo.

Her writing career continued throughout the 1950s, publishing over 300 articles for various magazines. Her first novel, Love Song for Joyce, was published in 1958. In the early 1970s, she was hired to teach journalism at the University of New Mexico, after living in Albuquerque for nearly 10 years. While teaching, she enrolled in classes at the university. She earned her B.A. in English in 1977.

Married twice, Duncan had five children. Her youngest daughter, Kaitlyn, was murdered in 1989. After her daughter’s death, Duncan’s writing shifted to lighter fare, particularly children’s picture books.

Her 1966 novel, Ransom, received an Edgar Allen Poe Award. She was the recipient of the American Library Association (ALA) Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1992. In 2014, she was awarded the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Duncan died on June 15, 2016. She was 82. Although the cause of death was not disclosed, her second husband, Donald Arquette, noted his wife had suffered several strokes in prior years.


Killing Mr. Griffin (1978)

Book cover with a black-and-white marble pattern, showing the title of the novel centered in red, and blue skull and bones at the bottom right

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’m pretty sure this is first book of Duncan’s I read. Every book written by her, I borrowed from Russell Memorial Library in Chesapeake.

Summer of Fear (1976)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I don’t remember reading this one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I did.

The Third Eye (1984)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

This one absolutely freaked me out. I don’t think I picked up another book by Duncan for at least six months after this.

Don’t Look Behind You (1990)

Don't Look Behind You.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I don’t remember reading this one, but I want to. It’s set in Virginia!

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1973)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

I didn’t make the connection between the book and the film adaptation (1997) until years later.

Chapters: My Growth as a Writer (1992)

Chapters My Growth as a Writer.jpg

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I’ve always been interested and intrigued by authors and their memoirs or autobiographies.

Who Killed My Daughter? (1992)

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

Being such a fan of true crime, this book is already climbing toward the top of my next TBR list.


What about you? Have you read any of Lois Duncanโ€™s works?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Book Review #70: “Bonfire”

Bonfire

Image Credit: Goodreads

I bought this book from Barnes & Noble for two reasons: (1) The cover, and (2) The author! Known recently as Marvel’s Jessica Jones, I admire Krysten Ritter in many respects. I wanted to see how she wrote a book!

To be completely honest, I nearly DNFed this book around the 50-page mark. It was a good story, but I felt it was moving really slowly. The world-building was good, the characters were good, but it felt like it was moving at a snail’s pace.

One of the things that kept me going was Ritter’s use and creation of fantastic, realistic imagery and scenery. Wow! I felt like I had been dropped straight into Barrens, Indiana, and walking beside Abby Williams, the MC.

I’m glad I stuck with the book, though. It got better. I can’t exactly pinpoint when it got better, but the pace did pick up, and it felt like a rush after that. This book is part mystery, part legal thriller, part psychological thriller. I wasn’t expecting all of that when I started the book!

In terms of characters, Abby reminded me so much of Erin Brockovich, but where she is returning home to investigate the seemingly-stellar company that’s put her hometown on the map and revitalized everything. Seeing her attempt to navigate past relationships with her father, and former classmates, was really interesting.

There wasn’t a huge twist, per se, but I know I didn’t see it coming. I audibly gasped when it struck me between the eyes, as I was reading it on the page. Ritter weaved several story lines together so well, and entangled multiple characters.

I felt Abby was slightly gaslighted, in a way, because she started to believe she was truly crazy, and couldn’t tell fact from fiction. It was tough for me to keep up with and navigate the stories of 10 years prior and her present, but I feel like Ritter did a good job, overall. I was hooked, and couldn’t put the book down at the very end. She also divided the chapters really well, and the flow was great.

It’s not my favorite book in the whole world, but I’m glad I read it. It’s going on my bookshelf. I look forward to see what she writes next.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚

Book Review #69: “All The Missing Girls”

All The Missing Girls

Image Credit: Amazon

It took a long time to get to this place, let me tell you!

This book was originally a Christmas gift from Al in 2017. I first started reading it in the summer of 2018, and then abandoned it about halfway through.

However, abandoning it started to bother me several months later, so I committed to pick it back up. Finally, after about a month of effort, I finished it!

Part of the reason I abandoned it at first was due to the story structure. Told in reverse, Miranda presents quite a complex set of characters, all trying to piece together the reasons why certain events occurred ten years prior.

The main character, Nicolette, known as Nic, was hard for me to grasp at first. She appears likeable, but as you get deeper into the story, it gets muddled and messy. Almost all of the characters have darkness in their pasts. Some, in their present, too.

On the surface, it’s a mystery story. Everyone in Cooley Ridge, or mostly everyone, is trying to find out what exactly happened to Corinne Prescott ten years earlier. Is she dead? Is she still missing? What the hell happened to her?

Then, just as mysteriously, Annaleise Carter vanishes off the face of the Earth. Everyone is a suspect. And Nicolette is at the center of it all.

This was not my favorite book in the world. It was a good idea, a decent mystery. Once I finished reading it, I started to better understand why I originally abandoned it. Nicolette was a tough main character for me, and it was almost too much trying to keep up with everyone else in her world. There were too many people involved in the story, and it got muddled and confusing from the first chapter. And maybe that was part of the point? To make it confusing to add to the story.

However, I’m glad I stuck with it. Miranda did a good job building the world of Cooley Ridge, and made the past and present blend together well. At the same time, I feel like she tried to accomplish too much in one novel, her debut for adults. I felt exhausted after just 1-2 chapters in a night, and struggled to read more than that in one sitting.

If you’re a fan of suspense and solving mysteries, this is a good read to try when you’re on vacation, or wanting a different book to read. Other than that, it’s a challenge for me to recommend it higher.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth ๐Ÿ™‚