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Search tags: MbDHistoricalCozy
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review 2018-02-10 09:25
Miss Dimple Suspects (Miss Dimple, #3)
Miss Dimple Suspects - Mignon F. Ballard

The books in this series are hard to describe.  They're both a tiny bit twee and interesting studies of small-town America during WWII.  I pick one up every once in awhile when I'm jonesing for a Homefront setting.

 

The mystery should have been better for me; it had the right elements: reclusive artist murdered, and paintings gone missing, but it just failed to hook me.  I love the characters though (except Miss Dimple; she's a little too Mary Poppins for me to really like her); Charlie, Annie, Virginia... they're all of their time and fun to read about.   And I really appreciated Ballard's choice of innocent suspect:  a Japanese American woman freshly graduated from medical school, forced to hide after her family in California is sent to a 'relocation camp'; she was acting as the artists companion/nurse when the murder occurred.  Ballard uses the story to spotlight the horrible situation these American citizens found themselves in because of their heritage, something I don't see written about very much. 

 

Generally, not a bad book; I enjoyed it enough, but I didn't love it.  

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review 2017-12-08 22:25
Death Comes to the School (Kurland St. Mary Mystery, #4)
Death Comes to the School - Catherine Lloyd

I caught a cold a few weeks ago that I thought I'd kicked to the curb after only 4 days, only to have it come raging back a week later in the form of a cough that will. not. die.  I've sounded like a barking seal for the last 8 days and yesterday, to add insult to injury, I got a skull cracking headache, too, leaving me feeling like every time I coughed I was going to end up like those people in the X-files, whose brains exploded out their ears.

 

So even though I have 3 other books currently going, I needed something very easy on both my brain and my eyes.  Death Comes to the School was a perfect fit with it's on-the-large-side-of-average typeface and it's very familiar backdrop and characters.  It allowed me to forget for a time about the icepack wrapped around my head and the cough lozenges that have stained my tongue purple (black elderberry). 

 

The story starts off 3 years after the last book;  why don't authors of series do this more often?  It makes everything that happens so much more believable; rather than have a village of death, you're backdrop is just a village where normal stuff happens.  Anyway, the murder happens fairly quickly, to a school teacher nobody liked, and it happens rather oddly, with a hat pin in her neck and a pen in her eye.  From this point, the author has a bit of fun twisting the character stereotypes of the time around and using them to her advantage.  The mystery plotting of the book is really very good, although the motivation tie-in at the end was a tad weak.

 

The character angst though, I could have done without.  I really like Robert and Lucy, both individually and together but this book ... this book turn them into cardboard cliches, all because Lucy has yet to produce an heir.  This is an historically accurate issue; childbirth was a treacherous business and entailments created situations where entire villages depended on one poor woman to produce a son.  I get that.  But the whole emotional miscommunication thing that bogged down this story was stupid; for two characters that talked and argued about everything incessantly in the first three books, the whole "doesn't she want me?" "he doesn't desire me anymore, I'm a failure" let's-not-talk thing was just annoying.  

 

There was more to like than not, though, and as a nice bonus, the book takes place during Christmas, so it was seasonal too!  This has been a solid series so far and I'm already looking forward to the next one, which will undoubtably continue to revolve around heirs and spares, but hopefully without all the silly angst.

 

Book themes for St. Martin’s Day: Read a book set  before the age of electricity. 

 

 

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review 2017-08-21 11:20
On her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service (Royal Spyness, #11)
On Her Majesty's Frightfully Secret Service - Rhys Bowen

There is no getting around that these books are the very definition of cozy; they're also charming in a way that endears them to even a thoroughly unromantic soul such as mine.  And while the focus of the series is an overall sweetness and innocence, Bowen occasionally slips edgier tragedies in that makes them all the more heartbreaking.  I think Bowen manages to capture perfectly a certain naiveté at a time in history when the world was at a tipping point, before everyone found out how truly evil humanity can be.

 

This eleventh book is a good example of this, even though the mystery itself wasn't quite as finely crafted as some of her others.  Anyone who has read the series will be thoroughly at home with Georgie and Belinda (another one!), Darcy and Fig.  And Queenie was left behind in this one - YAY!  This time Georgie is in Mussolini's Italy and there are dodgy goings-on at a house party the Queen has sent Georgie to, in order to spy on her son and that hussy Wallis Simpson.

 

I guessed the murderer early on (too much page time) but the story never failed to keep me amused, and there was a scene between Georgie and a German soldier that purely broke my heart for it's sweetness and naiveté.  

 

The ending for Belinda's story line was just way too convenient, in the way these story lines always are, but in spite of that, I'm happy to see it wrapped up and I'm looking forward to the next book - may the fates keep Bowen from turning it into a wedding-in-peril story.

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review 2017-07-29 06:23
A Most Novel Revenge (Amory Ames, #3)
A Most Novel Revenge - Ashley Weaver

Well, that was almost a Greek tragedy.

 

1930's England and Amory's cousin begs her by letter to join a house party at the Lyonsgate Estate; the first house party the estate has seen since a tragic weekend 7 years prior and with the exception of Amory and her husband, it's the same roster of guests.  They've all been brought back together by one woman who is determined to rake up all the secrets of the past and what really happened on that 'lost' weekend.

 

The series started with Amory estranged from her playboy husband, but instead of taking the obvious route - divorce and future romantic entanglements - the author brings Amory and her husband Milo back together for reconciliation.  Frankly I didn't think I'd like it and she sure didn't do much to sell Milo's legendary charm to the reader.  But three books in and I've warmed to Milo and find I don't mind him sticking around at all.

 

The plotting was amazing, frankly.  I never had a hint of where she was taking this story until the very end and when I read it, had to do a double take to make sure I'd read the right name.  I don't often trot out comparisons, but really, this was a mystery worthy of the era it's set in; very Christie-esque.

 

I rated it slightly lower than I usually would for such an outstanding mystery because the pacing was a bit slow; I never got bored or distracted, but neither did I feel antagonistic about being interrupted.  I might, upon further consideration, up it to 4.5, but for now it's a very, very solid 4 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

Total pages: 349  (qualifies for x3 location multiplier)

$$: $12.00

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review 2017-06-27 06:42
Come Hell or Highball
Come Hell or Highball - Maia Chance

Prohibition era; Lola's husband dies of a heart attack and she discovers he wasn't as rich as she'd thought.  She and her cook Berta are without house and home, and while hiding out in her husband's heretofore unknown love nest in the city, agree to retrieve a film reel for one of her late husband's mistresses.  Thus begins what is supposed to be a madcap and hilarious adventure into mystery and mayhem.

 

Eh.  Either I was off my game or the book was.  Nothing struck me as madcap so much as it did silly (and there's a subtle difference, in my opinion).  Lola failed to elicit much sympathy from me, her mother was annoying in all the wrong ways, her brother in law unrealistically meddlesome (he kept trying to gaslight Lola) and Berta was sorta weird.  The romantic tension that was supposed to exist between Ralph and Lola was absent.  The mystery plot was all over the place; incredibly complicated, and hinged on unknown information until the very end.  

 

Now that I've beaten the poor book to death, for all that it wasn't a bad read.  It kept me entertained enough to keep reading, it just didn't hook me, or bond me to the characters in any way that will result in my desire to read any additional books in the series.  Which is a shame, because I do love the Prohibition-era setting.

 

 

 

 

 

Page count: 307

$$: $6.00

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