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Search tags: Cozy-Mysteries
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review 2018-05-20 20:43
The Book Stops Here
The Book Stops Here - Kate Carlisle

Brooklyn complained that she was running out of work and her friend, Ian, tells her about being a specialist on "This Old Attic" that helps people learn about the things they have and how much they are worth. Her first book is an old friend to her. It Frances Hodgson's "The Secret Garden" and she values it for more than the woman thought it would be worth. Suddenly after a blurb on the local tv news, she is being hunted by some very large men who want the book. Also, the host of the show is under attack by a stalker and some of the attacks on him have put her in danger. Derick is afraid for her safety and starts trying to stay close to her. Her new friend and neighbor, Alexandra, is also afraid and teaches her some things she can do for herself to keep safe while these men are trying to get her. 


Fun story, there were moments that I was laughing out loud and other places where I felt that something was off, but the story did have me guessing until the end. 


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review 2018-05-20 06:08
Charmed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery, #18)
Charmed Bones - Carolyn Haines

They can't all be winners, but man, this one was extra-disappointing.


I don't care for romance for the sake of romance, but I do enjoy a good sub-plot, if the characters have chemistry and it's well written.  Many books ago, Sarah Booth had an almost-romance with a character, and I was hooked on their dynamic, and bummed when it didn't work.  Then after many, many books and many other romantic interests, I finally got my wish; sadly the joy was dinged by one of the most badly edited stories I've seen on paper in a long time (not being a reader of self-published books).


This could have been an amazing story: witches, spells, poisonings, there's-something-in-the-woods, huge claw marks on doors, old houses with secret rooms and tunnels, and my favorite romantic interest back in the saddle.  But if this story wasn't rushed to press, it was definitely neglected by management; major re-writes took place and nobody followed up with proofing to check for continuity.  The results include characters who explicitly remain behind only to suddenly be participating in conversation, and Sarah Booth commenting on kicking the bad guy, giving him a limp, when she never actually kicked him.  Unfortunately, these are just the two I remember - there were others, including a scene where characters change mid-paragraph).


Continuity errors aside, the plotting was a little bit of a mess too: too much going on and not tightly enough written, so the reader really has no hope of following events.  To be fair, Sarah Booth struggled too, so maybe this was deliberate and I just don't care for the device.  I also don't care for the plot twist at the end; it's the second time in as many books where it's been used, and it leaves me feeling played.


If not for the characters, whom I love (although I'm over Tinky and her baby angst), and the familiar landscape of Zinnia, the rating for this would be so much lower.  It's obvious that Haines didn't phone this in: nobody just phones in a plot as convoluted as this, but her editors and Minotaur screwed her and her readers by printing this half-finished effort.  And that's tragic; Haines is worlds better than this and after 17 books, readers deserve better.


Here's hoping #19 reflects previous efforts, and 18 is just an aberration.

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review 2018-05-18 12:47
Sprinkle with Murder
Sprinkle with Murder - Jenn McKinlay

This is book one in the series and I used the audio to get it started and to finish (I am knitting socks) and I really wanted to read, but I needed to work on the socks and drive my kids to different things. 


It was a fun read/listen. Mel and Angie have opened a cupcake bakery (why cupcakes? Because you feel better about buying a cupcake over a whole cake) and have run into some issues. 


1. Their competition keeps driving by the store and doing things to try and ruin their business. Olivia runs her own bakery selling cakes, cookies, and cupcakes and she spends the day driving back and forth past the shop. When their friend and financier's fiancee is found murdered by Mel, she uses it to help push her own business forward. 


2. Their friend, Tate, is a wealthy man who is engaged to an evil, pushy woman who makes everyone unhappy. Mel and Angie don't like her at all, but Tate wants them to make the "cake" or cupcakes for the wedding. But she wants a contract that won't allow them to use anything that has been made before and cannot be used ever again. It seems she has done this to all the people working on her wedding (the dress and the photographs). She claims other people's work as her own and makes them sign contracts that are unfair and hard to break. 


3. Tate's fiancee is found by Mel the morning after her cupcakes are delivered by two of her assistants (not Mel's assistants). Mel was ordered to arrive early to discuss changes and does not respond to the calls and knocking of Mel. Mel is originally looked at as the suspect because she made the cupcakes and arsenic was found in a cupcake, but none in the bridezilla. Then it is believed that Tate murdered her. Mel feels that she needs to find the truth and get the real murderer arrested. 


The story was fun and there were recipes at the end. I think the only thing I found was that I knew by the middle of the book who had murdered the bridezilla and that at one point I think I heard that she used oil instead of butter to make her cupcakes moist, but then the recipes use butter over oil (keep in mind I listened and read at same time) and I didn't have time to go back and look to see if that was the way it was written. 



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review 2018-05-18 08:48
Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything
Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything - Nancy Martin

I enjoyed this as much as I did because I really love Nancy Martin's writing, her Blackbird Sisters series was one of my all-time favorites.  Unfortunately, it ended after the last book and even though the title of this one had me raising my eyebrows, I thought, why not?


Story wise... meh.  It didn't quite work, mostly because the twist at the end felt like an afterthought, bringing the whole story to an unrealistic conclusion.  The romance aspect didn't quite work either - the chemistry was there, but the manufactured obstacle's resolution lacked emotional sincerity; I was left wondering why it even existed at all.


But I did love the setting, the characters and the writing, which made it easy to lose myself for a couple of hours, so no regrets.  Mostly, this book felt like an accomplished writer experimenting; stretching her boundaries.  Not up to snuff, but not a waste of time, either.

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review 2018-05-17 06:12
A Magical Match (Witchcraft Mystery, #9)
A Magical Match - Juliet Blackwell

I debated between 3.5 and 4 stars; there's the whole boyfriend-in-peril trope being used, and the mom angst, but both ended up being sort of minimal to the story, and the idea of a doppelgänger was just too interesting.  Bonus points for possibly the weirdest use of silverfish ever.


The plot was less focused than Blackwell's usual fare, but it was still an enjoyable few hours and that's pretty much the sum total of my expectations for cozies.  A fiendishly good murder plot is a bonus, and this one lacked that, but great characters make up for a lot.  

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