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Search tags: Cozy-Mysteries
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review 2017-11-18 05:42
Grace to the Finish (Manor House Mystery, #8)
Grace to the Finish - Julie Hyzy

I always enjoy Julie Hyzy's mysteries; as a writer, she doesn't burn a series out with a spectacular book or two, with mediocrity dragging the remaining books down.  Her writing, character development and plotting are even and steady and her series' arcs are a slow burn, rather than a flash in the pan.

 

Grace to the Finish was actually slightly less about the murder mystery (although that was good too), than it was the resolution to a series long arc concerning her sister.  Hyzy's solution was clever, if a little bit convenient.  The actual mystery was ok, but less a puzzle for the reader to solve than the narrative of the mystery's solution.

 

With cozy series one can never be sure if the titles aren't a indication of the series' status, so Grace to the Finish could very well be the last book; if so, it ends in a pretty good place without a lot of loose threads left dangling.  But if there's a ninth book, I look forward to it with pleasure.

 

Book themes for Las Posadas:  Read a book dealing with visits by family or friends, or set in Mexico - Grace has to deal with her sister's return and a visit from her long absent Aunt.  These two are major players in the plot.

 

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review 2017-11-08 09:41
Grave Errors (Witch City Mystery, #5)
Grave Errors - Carol J. Perry

When you read enough books in one genre, you start to get a feel for the different styles of different publishers, and I've definitely read enough cozies to recognise patterns.  Kensington, for instance, tends to publish authors with creative stories and strong characters, but are almost always too light-handed with the editing.  Just enough to notice it but mostly not so bad you can't enjoy the story anyway.  

 

Grave Errors is a good example.  Lee is a strong, independent, likeable female protagonist with intelligence, who has an unwelcome gift for scrying that she can't control.  Instead of going all woe is me! she takes steps to deal with it.  She gets along with all the other characters and isn't TSTL.

 

The book (and series) has no love triangles, just a nice, subtle sub-plot romance that makes Lee's involvement in mysteries feasible and lends an additional air of well-adjustedness.  The story is set in Salem Massachusetts, which lends its atmosphere to a variety of plots.  And finally, the mystery is decently plotted.  Even though I think it was pretty obvious who the villain was from almost the start, the story behind the motive was, to me, so much more interesting. 

 

But man, this could have been so much better if it had been more tightly edited.  Small things, like red-lining blue-lining* the author's tendency to mention Pete's (the BF) discomfort with Lee's visions every time she tells him about one.  There were at least 6 visions in this book, and I'd gotten a clear idea of Pete's discomfort with them after the first 2.  

 

At one point she refers to a hurricane heading their way named Penelope, with top sustained winds of 60mph.  Storms aren't categorised as hurricanes until they reach a sustained wind speed of 74mph.  I get that as a Florida girl, that's something I'm going to pick up on more than a lot of readers, but it's a simple google search - you don't even have to leave the results page to find it.

 

I'm not trying to discourage cozy readers from reading this - it's a good story and I really enjoyed it.  But at a time when I feel like most cozies are turning into completely vapid crap, Kensington shows so much promise, publishing stories that are both cozy and interesting to readers that value intelligence in their fiction.  If only they weren't quite so stingy with their red blue* pencils.  

 

*Editors actually use blue pencils.  I did not know that.  But I googled it.  ;-)

 

I read this for Task 1 Calan Gaeaf:  Read any of your planned Halloween Bingo books that you didn’t end up reading after all, involving witches, hags, or various types of witchcraft.

 

(I originally said in my status update I was going to read this for Dios de Muertos, using my Book Holiday Joker card, but then realised it totally fits the Calan Gaeaf category without burning the Joker. Duh.)

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review 2017-11-05 12:51
Computer Dates with Animals, Con Men and Murder
Mission Impawsible - Krista Davis

We are back in Wagtail and the town is hosting an event to meet the "perfect" match using a computer-generated match with a matchmaker and the people's pets. People are supposed to fill out the forms truthfully, but many fudge the truth (or downright lie) and then Macon makes a match for them. The problem is that two of the participants have mothers who are overprotective and they both are fighting to find someone. A psychiatrist who professes that love is not a true thing and that feelings for animals is neurotic shows up and insults people. He is known for being a horrible psychiatrist that is very controlling and not very caring of the patients. 

 

Holly is still working at her grandmother's inn and loves being there. "The Ben" is coming up to the inn again for the weekend, he has requested a dog to "try out" and is shocked when the dog is not what he imagined it would be. He wants a small dog that is calm, showing just how much he doesn't know about dogs. He is trying to convince Katie that they belong together. Holly's grandmother does not like Ben and has signed Katie up for the matchmaking. When her match shows up, she states that she didn't sign up and then finds out about her grandmother's actions. Eventually, John and Katie go out together and as they are walking, her dog finds the body of the psychiatrist, but he has no identification and has a letter from Holly's grandmother in his pocket. To confuse things, when the real person shows up, Holly's grandmother is confused and admits to Holly that she was trying to find someone for herself. 

 

While all this happens, Zelda's ex-husband, Hank shows up and starts causing problems, too. Dave is trying to do his best, but he suspects Holly and Zelda of murdering Hank, he thinks that Hank murdered the psychiatrist and the confusion continues. 

 

All of this just pushes Holly and Zelda into trying to find the true murderer so that neither one is charged and the real person is caught and brought to justice. 

 

Fun story and a fast read (running out of time on the library loan). I did find it hard to put down and was getting testy with all the interruptions (kids) because I wanted to finish this book. Wagtail seems like a place that I would love going to visit, but I don't think I would take my cats with me, my dog, yes, but my cats, no. 

 

 

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review 2017-11-02 20:56
Catering, Book Signing and Murder
Spells and Scones - Bailey Cates

Lucy, Ben and Katie are catering a book signing for a self-help guru, Dr. Dana, at their business neighbor's bookstore. As the author arrives, there are a few people who have shown up to contest that the guru is what she says she is. Her "Radical Trust" philosophy has proven detrimental to many relationships. Her sister and her husband help to usher her to the back of the store when it seems all that were present to get an autographed copy of her book have been taken care of. She is found laying on the floor with a scent of almonds. 

 

The woman accused of the murder turns out to be a witch and Mungo's former owner. She had stopped practicing magic and was divorced following the advice of Dr. Dana. Mungo convinces Katie to help her and prove that she couldn't have murdered Dr. Dana. As Katie delves into the mystery she finds many other suspects, including Dr. Dana's sister, husband, a bar owner and his wife. 

 

Fun read. Declan and she are moving closer to being together and have been together for a year. Steve has returned to town and has broken ties with his father and the Dragohs. He is also wanting to be with Katie again. 

 

 

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text 2017-11-02 04:13
DNF for disbelievability
Last Chance for Murder (Lisa Chance Cozy Mysteries) (Volume 1) - Estelle Richards

Chapter 1

It's 687 miles from Hollywood, California, to Moss Creek, Arizona. On a day with light traffic, no construction, and a driver who doesn't have to pull over every few miles to cry, the drive takes about eight and a half hours. Crying and driving, Lisa Chance took twelve hours on the road home to Moss Creek.

Richards, Estelle. Last Chance for Murder (Lisa Chance Cozy Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Locations 18-21). Kindle Edition.

 

Moss Creek is a fictional place.

 

Lisa's route from Hollywood, per the next two paragraphs of Chapter 1, goes through Needles, CA, and Kingman, AZ.  Following that route, Holbrook, AZ is 561 miles from Hollywood.  Driving another 120 miles in just about any direction from Holbrook puts Lisa Chance in the middle of the Navajo Nation or national forest.  Where, then, is this Moss Creek town?

 

 

The author has lost my trust in three paragraphs.

 

When an author chooses to set a story in a "fictional" town in a real state, the details matter every bit as much as when the story is set in a real town, maybe even more so.  The author has to make the reader believe this place could exist, even though it doesn't.

 

Most readers aren't going to care that Moss Creek, Arizona would probably be a lot less than 687 miles from Hollywood.  Most readers aren't going to care that there are very few towns in the middle of the Navajo Nation, or the middle of the Coconino National Forest.  Is Moss Creek in the White Mountains near Springerville?  What's this town of Moss Creek like? 

 

Later, the reader learns that Moss Creek is only an hour's drive from the Grand Canyon.  No mention of the National Park boundaries.  Lisa Chance and her friend just drive up to "the Grand Canyon overlook favored by locals."

 

Now the author has taken us in yet another direction.  If not all the way to Holbrook, did Lisa Chance's route from Hollywood only go to Flagstaff before veering off into the hinterlands?  Is the author aware that there are still reservations outside the national park boundaries? 

 

I know, I know, I know.  It's so damn nitpicky.  But when I read a book, I want to be totally lost in it. I want to believe in it.  If I can't believe in the setting, how can I believe in anything else?

 

I would be the same way if there were something about the character that pushed my willing suspension of disbelief beyond its limits.  But if the author loses my trust, how can I trust anything else she writes?

 

Other readers will probably love this story.  They may even believe in it.

 

I can't.

 

Most readers won't care, and won't notice.  But I care and I noticed.

 

 

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