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review 2017-06-08 08:52
Writing All Wrongs (Books by the Bay Mystery, #7)
Writing All Wrongs - Ellery Adams

I need the meh emoticon!  There are so many likeable aspects to this book, but the characters just fail to really hook me.  They're all so very placid, even when they're supposed to be angry or thrilled with happiness.  If the energy of a book could be graphed, this one's would be a flat line.


Saying that, the writing isn't bad; Adams is really good at writing a story if you're not a character driven reader.  The editing was crap, but I expect no better from Berkley; they totally screwed up a Native American myth early in this book by using the wrong names at the wrong points of the story.


The North Carolina history she incorporates into the story is by far the most interesting part of the book as a whole.  The murder plotting was a cool idea, but the ending was just tragic, making it difficult to find the wrap up satisfying in any way.  Generally this would get Adams bonus points (for going off the beaten path of the cozy formula) but I really did not like the ending.


I think this is going to be one of those series I'm going to wish the best to and part company; it's not bad for a cozy series at all, but it's just not a good fit for me.




Total pages:  274

$$:  $3.00

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review 2017-06-04 02:04
Paws and Effect (Magical Cats, #8)
Paws and Effect - Sofie Kelly

It does't sound good that my favourite character in this series is Fred the Funky Chicken, but it's true.  The other characters are all likeable in the best cozy-mystery way, but my heart goes out to Fred the Funky Chicken every time.**


I'm not going to pretend that this book isn't everything a modern cozy is; the magical cats pretty much give the game away.  But Kelly does't over-play that magical hand and doesn't try to hide the deux ex machina-like effect this has on her ability to plot her mysteries.  She also creates likeable, believable, characters that enjoy a reasonable amount of realistic conflict; some of which is resolved and some of it isn't.  


The murder plot was decent-ish.  I was side-eyeing the murderer for awhile but there weren't any puzzle pieces to play with, just one big whopper of a clue that solved the whole thing for everybody at once.  Or at least, for the reader and the MC; everyone else would need more proof, of course, thus allowing our MC to stumble into mortal peril.  A reader comes to understand this is the nature of cozies though, and at least this peril was believable.  Sort of.  (How did the murder find them??)


So Paws and Effect is everything you'd expect a contemporary cozy to be anymore, but better than most of the rest; a bit more solid and well written.  A fun, fluffy bit of fiction for lazy afternoons.







Page count:  315

$$:  $3.00

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review 2017-06-01 11:44
A Morbid Taste for Bones (Brother Cadfael, #1)
A Morbid Taste for Bones - Ellis Peters

Well, of course I liked it - mom is never wrong about mysteries.  The writing is great, which allows the story to go at a slower pace without being deadly dull.


Brother Cadfael is a Benedictine monk in medieval England and has come late to the cloistered, monastic life after a youth spent adventuring.  Content, he still allows himself to be recruited for a trip to Wales as official translator, on a quest to bring back the bones of a saint.  Receiving the consent of both the bishop and the prince it does't occur to monks that perhaps the village housing St. Winifred's bones might not be inclined to let her go.


The resulting murder was plotted well and the resolution kind of fiendish, really. Where is plotting like this nowadays?  I thoroughly like Brother Cadfael for his pragmatic outlook and intelligence.


My only quibble with the book is the errors in the catechism, but I'm left unsure whether Peters did this on purpose or out of ignorance. Saints aren't worshipped, they aren't to be revered; they're meant to serve as roll models and to offer intercession on behalf of one who asks for it.  As someone who has been called an idolator, I'm a little sensitive on this point.  I'm inclined to believe Peters did this knowingly, as there are at least two points in the story where the Welsh priest gently clarifies the difference, but the overriding narrative does nothing to definitively correct this misconception.


Putting this aside though, the book was good, more than good enough to make me want to read the next one.





Total Pages:  192

$$:  2.00

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review 2017-05-31 07:00
Walking on My Grave (Death on Demand, #26)
Walking on My Grave - Carolyn Hart

One of the weakest in the series, I think.  I liked the concept: preventing a murder taking place, but, well, for the first time, it feels to me that Hart has phone one in.


I don't think it's an exaggeration to say a full 30% of this book consists of the repetition of plot summary in the form of multiple POV introspections.  The reader with the weakest of comprehension skills would have found this overkill and I was quick to lose patience with it.  The ultimate solution wasn't all that stunning a revelation either; and the justification for one of the murders (they're trying to prevent one, but there are others) was weak and felt tacked on in order to up the body count.


Also, as a general, series-wide aside - I don't ever want to read about Max Darling being Joe Hardy all grown up, ever again.  Hart's editors should ban her from continuing to abuse this nugget; it's always shown up in every book, but in this book no less than 3 times.  Please let it stop.


I'm sounding a bit snippy, but after 26 books any author is more than entitled to have one book that fails to live up to expectations; it's probably statistically probable.  But I do have to wonder how much longer she plans to keep our daring duo going.






Total pages:  246

$$:  $3.00

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review 2017-05-28 08:36
Dead End Street (Museum Mystery, #7)
Dead End Street - Sheila Connolly

To start bluntly: this author's writing irritates me.  I've started and discarded two of her other series, because her MCs always come across belligerent and acerbic.  This series is sadly no different, but I keep sticking with them because she so perfectly captures all the ins and outs of running a museum (at least, it seems so to a reader who has never actually run a museum).  The stories are always interesting; enough to overcome my desire to throttle the MC.


Dead End Street, however, was not as good as the others.  It's aim is to tackle a concept, rather than a specific object or setting in history.  That concept is urban blight, neighbourhoods in decline, and neighbourhoods that have become urban war zones.  Lofty subject matter, and she handles it pretty well, I think.  Her approach from the standpoint of what role an historical society can play in rebuilding these neighbourhoods has a lot of merit.  Unfortunately, Nell is abrasive and almost unlikeable, and she kept saying her desire to help was white man's guilt.  Maybe her motivation is white man's guilt, but if so, it just makes her even less likeable - why can't she just want to participate in building up her city without the guilt?  Anyway, ignore me, it was just one more thing I found irritating.


These aren't typical mysteries; they seldom revolve around dead bodies, and when they do - as this one does - Nell doesn't investigate or figure much out.  Mostly it's about her being in the wrong place at the right time or vice versa, and putting facts together that make events clearer, although resolution usually comes of its own accord.


I say every time I read one of these books that I won't read any more of them, but then the next one comes out and I get sucked into wanting to spend time i the museum.  So - who knows?





Total pages:  297

$$:  $3.00

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