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review 2018-10-15 07:30
The Lost Carousel of Provence
The Lost Carousel of Provence - Juliet Blackwell

I've always enjoyed Juliet Blackwell's cozy mysteries, so once she started writing these stand-alone, general contemporary fiction stories, all set in France, I've made sure to pick them up.

 

I'm not sure this is going to be helpful to anyone but myself, but - and maybe because I don't read a lot of general fiction - I find these stories kind of weird.  Apparently, I'm a little genre-dependent because I'm never sure what the point of the story is.  I mean, I do; personal journeys, growth, blah, blah, blah, but I'm hard-wired to look for dead bodies, I guess.  Plus, the author uses multiple timelines and POVs in the France books, a device that generally drives me nuts.

 

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the story though; I did.  Blackwell captures France and I enjoyed the 'mystery' behind the carousel figure and the box inside.  I might have liked the secondary characters more than the main character, Cady, but chalk that up to personal tastes, as in, mine don't run towards broken characters.

 

As in the previous 2 stand-alones set in France, the romance is iffy, if non-existent.  This is a good thing; if Blackwell has a weakness, it's writing romance with any sexual spark (except the Witchcraft series, where the romance was very sparky).  There is a love interest here, and characters are getting lucky, but it's mostly an afterthought, with only an implied possibility of a HEA.

 

So, after all that rambling, I'll just say:  it's a good book.  It's a quiet, well-built, interesting story that I enjoyed escaping into for a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

 

(I feel weird not assigning this to a bingo square.)

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review 2018-09-29 00:33
Give Up the Ghost ★★★★☆
Give Up the Ghost - Juliet Blackwell

I was worried that this series was headed toward a death spiral after finishing the prior book, but other readers encouraged me to keep on, and I’m glad I did. This may be the best one yet. Mel is back to her usual acerbic self, she’s 

shaking off that boring romance with Mr. Too-Perfect-To-Be-Plausible, 

(spoiler show)

and she’s back in San Francisco reveling in historic, but not ancient, architecture. The ghosts are a lot more fun, too. I’m glad, because this has so far been the only cozy mystery series that I’ve enjoyed enough to keep forging ahead with. It’s even been worth spending Audible credits on.   

 

Audiobook, via Audible. The performance by Xe Sands is as enjoyable as ever. I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Cozy Mystery: a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.

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text 2018-09-27 16:01
Give Up the Ghost - 49%
Give Up the Ghost - Juliet Blackwell

This seems to be a more complex plot than usual for this series, but I'm enjoying it much more. 

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review 2018-09-23 05:59
Keeper of the Castle ★★☆☆☆
Keeper of the Castle - Juliet Blackwell

First an explanation: This would have been another comfortable 3 star entry into the Haunted Renovation series, but I had to knock off a star because it made me mad. The one fictional trope that really chaps me is the mean-spirited nurse who inserts herself as a pointless barrier between patients and families, ruthlessly enforcing visiting hours and providing little to no actual care to the patient. And in this one, the author has “Nurse Ratched” not only kicking visitors out for no reason, she spends time reading fiction when she’s supposed to be caring for her critically ill ICU patients. And this is actually what supposedly makes her a more sympathetic, approachable human?!? Nope, nope nope.

 

I really enjoy this series, and I was really happy that this one was available to me on audio, because Xe Sands is a perfect fit for the MC, reading with a wry humor and seemingly genuine affection for the characters and story. The mystery itself was promising, with the setting moving outside of San Francisco for the first time. Since the ghosts were tied to the stones of a medieval monastery, the historical timeframe was new, as well. I appreciate that the author is keeping the series from settling into a rut of sameness. But the Nurse Ratched caricature cost it this time.

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Murder Most Foul: Any murder mystery. In this story, a city building inspector is murdered by someone dropping a 60lb bag of mortar on his head. Ouch.

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review 2018-09-21 03:14
Home for the Haunting ★★★★☆
Home For the Haunting - Juliet Blackwell

This is the first book that I've read in this cozy mystery series that wasn't on audio. I miss Xe Sands, because she always provides a terrific performance. But I'm happy to report that I enjoyed this 4th book in the Haunted Home Renovation series just as much even without the audio.

 

The MC's "why would anyone find ugly old me attractive" shtick is still annoying, and I'm still unimpressed with the romance, but there is enough fun stuff for this book to rise above those irritants. We get to meet Mel's super-annoying, super-girly sister, we get some new friends and the return of some old friends, and I especially liked getting to know Mel's frenemy Inspector Crawford a little better. We get a couple of new homes from different styles and periods with plenty of loving description.

 

The mystery is well developed and I was teased with lots of clues and red herrings to sift through. Whodunnit was one of my suspects, but not my favorite, so the reveal worked for me. Oddly, this is the first book where we spend very little time with the dead. The ghosts give little more than a cameo appearance in this book, and I missed them a little.

 


eBook version, borrowed from my public library.

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Amateur Sleuth: this mystery will have a main character who is not a member of law enforcement. The MC, Mel Turner, owns a construction company but somehow finds herself in the midst of a murder mystery, recent or ancient, at every job site. Naturally, she usually manages to solve it before the cops do.

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