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Search tags: Holiday-Fiction
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review 2017-12-27 08:43
The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries
The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries - Otto Penzler

I meant to write this up back on Christmas Eve, but this year the holidays have gotten completely away from me, which is sort of unexpected only because it's one of the less frantic holiday seasons MT and I have had.

 

Anyway - I've only read 6 of the stories so far, and 5 of them I've read previously in another anthology, but they've all been excellent, save 1 (A Visit From St. Nicholas by Ron Goulart; not badly written, I guess, but it didn't really feel like much of a story, either).

 

If you're into short stories and holiday reading, I'd recommend this one as a very worthwhile investment.

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review 2017-12-26 07:26
We Wish You a Merry Murder (Susan Henshaw Mystery)
We Wish You a Merry Murder - Valerie Wolzien

This is from an old series, published back in the late 80's / early 90's that I read when they were new.  At the time I was in my very early 20's and I vaguely remember that the writing was ok, but overall not very interesting.  I definitely wasn't the book's demographic at the time.

 

Recently, I saw this one for sale and snagged it wondering what I'd think of it now, all these years later and I'm happy to say it wasn't a wasted purchase; a mystery centering on 40-somethings, oddly enough, appeals to me more now that it did then.  

 

Susan Henshaw is a married, upper-middle-class suburbanite, desperately trying to get ready for Christmas while juggling her two teenaged kids and a mother-in-law that arrived a week earlier than planned.  Her best friend, Kathleen, is a former cop, newly married and in a much higher tax bracket, trying to negotiate a new town and social strata while dealing with a visit from her own mother.  Together they get involved in the mystery surrounding a murdered neighbourhood man whose body disappears right after it's discovered, leaving his ex-wife implicated in the crime.

 

It's a great mystery plot - really convoluted but in a way that makes complete sense at the end.  The writing is solid, too, although my recently purchased copy is an ARC, and absolutely riddled with continuity errors - I'd like to think they were caught before publication, but I did ding the story 1/2 star, regardless.

 

Were I ever to stumble across the other books in the series, I'd definitely snap them up; it's been so long since I've read them that I've forgotten all the pertinent details of the mysteries themselves.  It would be like discovering them all over again.

 

Book themes for Mōdraniht: Read any book where the MC is actively raising young children or teens.

 

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review 2017-12-23 10:20
Not a Creature was Purring (Paws & Claws Mystery, #5)
Not a Creature Was Purring - Krista Davis

I didn't realise I had another book in this series to read until it arrived the other day; nor did I remember it being a Christmas themed one.  One it showed up in my mailbox, of course I had to move it up the top of the TBR pile and get it read before Christmas.

 

In my post about her previous book, Mission Impawsible, I complained about the additional character and the emerging love triangle.  Now, I don't know if a lot of other people felt the same way or what, but this book neither included that character nor referred to him in any way.  Davis simply acted as though Mission Impawsible never existed in the Wagtail timeline, and as things end in this book, I doubt he'll be popping back up.

 

The mystery was much better plotted too, although the murder a horribly sad one, something not typical of cozies.  All in all, it was a very solid cozy read with lots of effort at Christmas spirit (the murder in this one makes it hard to feel like the effort succeeded).

 

Not sure if I'll use this for a festive square or not, but if I do, I'll update my post accordingly.

 

 

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review 2017-12-21 09:37
Seeds of Revenge (Greenhouse mysteries, #3)
Seeds of Revenge - Wendy Tyson

I like this series.  It's cozy but it's not silly or shallow.  The characters are all likeable and realistic, the MC isn't TSTL, and the author doesn't fool with silly love triangles or an evil nemesis. The mysteries are usually well-plotted too, although this one was not Tyson's best effort; the murderer was so obvious I was getting exasperated.  She makes up for it in diabolical-ness though, and I loved the part Becca's aunt plays in the mystery.

 

This was a Christmastime book I almost missed in my TBR pile, although there's not a heap of Christmas spirit.  It is set in the midst of a very, very snowy winter though so it makes it perfect for my Winter Solstice/Yuletide square. 

 

Book themes for Yuletide: Read a book set in the midst of a snowy or icy winter,.

 

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review 2017-12-19 09:22
A Cajun Christmas Killing (Cajun Country Mystery, #4)
A Cajun Christmas Killing - Ellen Byron

I wavered between 3.5 and 4 stars for this one, but ultimately I enjoyed the story and was able to lose myself in Louisiana for a few hours and that's enough for a solid 4 stars.

 

The book got off to a shaky start for me because it begins with someone leaving malicious reviews online for Maggie's parent's B&B.  Now call me eccentric if you'd like, but while I'm all in for a good old fashioned murder mystery, I'm completely turned off by malicious behaviour.  Mean with a motive, I can do; mean for the sake of being mean and I'm out.  Luckily, this thread was a thin and short one and once it was resolved, I enjoyed the story and the characters a lot more.

 

Byron succeeds with the mystery plot be virtue of making it so chaotic there was no telling who done what.  The resolution was a tad weak, but not amongst the top 50 worst denouements I've ever read.  

 

My only real complain about the book is that even though it takes place during Christmas and Christmas pops up here and there throughout the story, there's very little Christmas spirit.  But I find this to be true of most "Christmas" stories anymore, so I can't really gripe too much over it.

 

I'll definitely look forward to another Cajun Mystery.

 

Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.

 

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