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review 2020-01-22 18:40
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen / Vicki Delany
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen (A Year-Round Christmas Mystery) - Vicki Delany

In Rudolph, New York, it’s Christmastime all year long. But this December, while the snow-lined streets seem merry and bright, a murder is about to ruin everyone’s holiday cheer…

As the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures, Merry Wilkinson knows how to decorate homes for the holidays. That’s why she thinks her float in the semi-annual Santa Claus parade is a shoo-in for best in show. But when the tractor pulling Merry’s float is sabotaged, she has to face facts: there’s a Scrooge in Christmas Town.

Merry isn’t ready to point fingers, especially with a journalist in town writing a puff piece about Rudolph’s Christmas spirit. But when she stumbles upon the reporter’s body on a late night dog walk—and police suspect he was poisoned by a gingerbread cookie crafted by her best friend, Vicky—Merry will have to put down the jingle bells and figure out who’s really been grinching about town, before Vicky ends up on Santa’s naughty list…

 

I tried to get ahold of this book for the Christmas season, but was way too late! But, since this author will be attending a conference that I will attend in August, I decided that I would read it anyway. I have previously read her Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries, so I thought it would stand me in good stead to see what else she had to offer.

Imagine my surprise then, when I felt like I was re-read the Bookshop Mysteries! There are so many details in common. The protagonists are both young women who moved away from small communities and returned, both of them have set up speciality shops, both have best friends who run bake shops, both re-encounter a man they used to date, both have dogs that they barely have time for, both meet an attractive man who has newly moved to the community, both of them discover dead bodies, both have a member of the police force that they don’t get along with, and neither of these women trust the police to fully investigate the deaths. That’s a lot of overlap.

Don’t get me wrong--I finished the book. It was good enough to hold my attention to the end, although I was pretty sure of the destination. There were details that were delightful. This one is set in Rudolph, N.Y., billing itself as Christmastown USA. The main character is called Merry of course and her father (born on Dec. 25) is Noel and he is a dead ringer for Santa Claus. Merry’s dog, a young Saint Bernard, is called Matterhorn (though she calls him Mattie most often). Delany shows talent in naming her characters although I raised an eyebrow when the BFF in this one was named Vicky!

I realize that if you enjoy a particular pattern, you will enjoy a repeat of it. Witness myself and my obsessive reading of Ilona Andrews’ writing. Those novels too repeat a formula over and over and I shamelessly enjoy them. So, if you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries, I have absolutely no doubt that you will enjoy the Year-Round Christmas Mysteries and vice-versa.

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review 2020-01-20 23:19
Invader / C.J. Cherryh
Invader - C.J. Cherryh

Nearly two centuries after the starship Phoenix disappeared, leaving an isolated colony of humans on the world of the atevi, it unexpectedly returns, threatening the stability of both atevi and human governments. With the situation fast becoming critical, Bren Cameron, the brilliant, young paidhi to the court of the atevi is recalled from Mospheira where he has just undergone surgery. Upon his return to the mainland, he Cameron finds that his government has sent in his paidhi-successor, Deana Hanks—representative of a dangerous faction on Mospheira who hate the atevi.

Haunted by the threat of assassination, Bren realizes his only hope may be to communicate with the Phoenix as the spokesman of the atevi—an action which may cut him off for good from his own species. Yet if he doesn't take this desperate action, he may be forced to witness the destruction of the already precarious balance of world power.

 

I am well and truly hooked on this series! Bren Cameron is such an understandable main character. I’ve struggled with non-English languages--specifically several undergraduate courses in Ancient Greek--which almost broke my brain. The necessity of doing math in one’s head in order to know which word ending to use would reduce me to jelly in no time.

This book picks up quickly from where the first book left off. There is a great deal of tension provided by Bren wondering just how well he understands the atevi society around him. The atevi seem to thrive on intrigue and when that is combined with the cultural differences and a complex language, this is a fearsome barrier to understanding.

Despite this, Bren seems to have made a very favourable impression with the atevi around him. He is packed into a suite next door to the current ruler, complete with a large staff who all vie to provide the best service, be the most useful, and just generally receive his thanks. Technically they are Damiri’s staff, but she mock-accuses him of trying to sweet talk them away from her. Plus, she lets us know, all the female staff are longing to get their hands on him! Ah, the allure of novelty!

Cherryh leaves us at a critical juncture, making me wish I had book three in my hand right this minute! However, I’ll have to wait until the library produces it from one of the branch libraries. In the meanwhile, I’ll work on other books in my reading queue.

Book number 349 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2020-01-07 23:58
Memory / Lois McMaster Bujold
Memory (Vorkosigan Saga, #10) - Lois McMaster Bujold

Forced to abandon his undercover role as leader of the Dendarii Mercenaries, Miles Vorkosigan persuades Emperor Gregor to appoint him Imperial Auditor so he can penetrate Barrayar’s intelligence and security operations (ImpSec). Simon Illyan, head of ImpSec and Miles’ former boss, is failing physically and mentally, and Miles sets out to find out why -- and who, if anyone, is behind Illyan’s rapid decline.

 

I always enjoy the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, but this is the best book in the series so far in my opinion. I’ve always been entertained by Miles’ forward momentum, his dual roles as Lord Vorkosign and Admiral Naismith, and his willingness to plunge into danger with only a skeleton of plan. This is the book when Miles grows up and becomes a much better human being.

The book begins with Miles making a very serious error in judgement and being removed from his Imperial Security position by Simon Illyan, the head of ImpSec. Now, Lord Vorkosigan must find out who he is when he’s not pretending to be someone else. When something bad happens to Illyan, it is Miles who steps up to the plate and convinces the Emperor to let him investigate. This installment may not have interstellar travel or gun fights, it has a more “spy novel” vibe.

I wonder if Bujold became tired of the military type adventures and decided to change Miles' life course? If so, I highly approve and I can hardly wait to read the next book in the series.

Book number 346 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2020-01-07 23:37
Autopsy of a Boring Wife / Marie-Renee Lavoie
Autopsy of a Boring Wife - Marie-Renée Lavoie

Like a Québécois Bridget Jones’s Diary, Marie-Renée Lavoie’s Autopsy of a Boring Wife tells the hysterically funny and ultimately touching tale of forty-eight-year-old Diane, a woman whose husband leaves her and is having an affair because, he says, she bores him. Diane takes the charge to heart and undertakes an often ribald, highly entertaining journey to restoring trust in herself and others that is at the same time an astute commentary on women and girls, gender differences, and the curious institution of marriage in the twenty-first century. All the details are up for scrutiny in this tender, brisk story of the path to recovery. Autopsy of a Boring Wife is a wonderfully fresh and engaging novel of the pitfalls and missteps of an apparently “boring” life that could be any of ours.

 

Although I read a fair amount of Canadian literature, I fall short in the category of French Canadian fiction. This was a delightful example of that category and reminds me that I should seek out more such books. The translation was extremely well done. I really only became aware once, when Diane asked her neighbours if they watched American television--that isn’t on the translator, it just reminded me that watching foreign programming is a much bigger deal in Quebec than in the rest of Canada.

Both of my sisters have divorced and I couldn’t believe how much of Diane’s dialog could have been excerpted directly from our phone calls! One of my sisters, like Diane, seemed to believe in the “magic of being married,” that it would somehow bring her husband back. It didn’t, for which we are all very thankful. I never married, so I never had to go the divorce route, but I did have once break-up which caused me to be volcanically angry. Diane restricts herself to destroying the house with a sledgehammer and pushing furniture out the second story windows. I think that would be very satisfying. I’ve always considered going to flea markets to buy cheap crockery to smash when necessary--somehow I’ve never got around to it. Probably because I know that I’d be the one who had to clean up after the event was over.

I’m glad I asked my mother when she was still alive if she was disappointed that I had never married or produced children. She looked at me a long moment, then said, “You’re the happiest one of my children. Don’t change.”

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review 2019-12-31 06:35
Look Alive Twenty-five (Stephanie Plum, #25)
Look Alive Twenty-Five - Janet Evanovich

I knew my slump was abysmal when it took me two weeks to finish this book.  I'm still slumping big time, but at least I managed to finish it before the end of the year.  I'm marking this as an accomplishment, as my attention span is worse than Lula's at the moment.

 

Speaking of Lula, she was my only irritant in this book; her sandwich making 'genius' stretched the boundaries of believability more than her wardrobe usually does, and speaking of her wardrobe, kudos to Evanovich for making me laugh out loud - hard - with the scene in the deli where Lula's fashion choices prove incompatible with waitressing.  I haven't laughed that hard since Grandma Mazur shot the turkey.

 

Otherwise, it was a standard Plum novel, albeit with more Ranger time, which I appreciated.  Wulf from the between the numbers novels played a weird cameo part, and the book ended in something of a cliffhanger/lead-in to book 26, which is something new for Evanovich's novels.  I tend to dislike these in general, though not enough to get het up about it.

 

Sad to say this will realistically be my last read for the year 2019, ::sniffle::.

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