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review 2017-04-20 07:30
Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause (Miss Dimple, #2)
Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause - Mignon F. Ballard

 Set in small-town Northern Georgia during WWII, this series gives a great sense of time and place; it reminds me a lot of that old TV series Homefront (early 90's?).


As for the mystery though, it was o.k., but overly-convoluted.  If Ballard had been able to structure it differently it would have worked a lot better, but as is, it's more than a little hard to follow.  A skeleton is discovered during a school outing, the money from a bond rally goes missing, the town slacker goes missing, Miss Dimple's landlady is getting mysterious notes and someone is shot during the follies.


There are a lot of characters in this book and, told in third person, from the POV of several of them, the first few chapters felt like a hot mess - I couldn't keep anybody straight.  Even after they sorted themselves out I never felt entirely confident about who was who as the POV shifted - I had to remind myself often about how someone was related to everyone else.  Each chapter starts with the internal dialogue of one of the characters, but it's never the same one, and they all remain unnamed.  This is likely done on purpose because it's the criminal, but when it wasn't, it became overly confusing.


The author kept using rifle and shotgun interchangeably; for someone who knows the difference, this is a big deal: a rifle shoots a single bullet at a time; a shotgun shoots a single shell full of tiny bullets (called buckshot) that spray outwards soon after exiting the barrel.  So, when a shotgun was reported missing, but later someone was shot and had a single bullet wound, it messed with the plot and my head; until the terms were used interchangeably again and it became obvious what was going on, I thought there were two weapons.


Still, I enjoyed the story and the characters.  The series is "Miss Dimple" but really the mystery solving is a team effort on the part of the women holding everything together while the war rages on.  At the end it becomes clear that there are several threads of mischief running through Elderberry at the same time, but really, I stuck around to see if Will would show up for Charlie one last time before being shipped off.





Page count: 262
Dollars banked: $3.00

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review 2016-12-06 05:28
Death Comes to the Fair (Kurland St. Mary Mystery, #4)
Death Comes to the Fair - Catherine Lloyd

Not quite the slump breaker I was hoping for, but not a bad little mystery either.  The novelty the main characters had in the first novel has worn off (reasonably enough) and the author is left with the tried and true: killing off the villagers.  From the sounds of this village, they may deserve it.


This book stumbled for me because a great draw is the chemistry and banter between the two MCs and they were kept apart quite a bit and their adventures when they were together lacked that certain something I enjoyed before.  A well known, loathsome villager gets what's coming by the end - which is great! - but there's this giant hole at the end where we miss out on the reaction of at least one significant character whose life is directly affected by the outcome of events.  That felt weird to me; the author couldn't spare a few more pages to flesh that out?


But there was still a lot I liked about this cozy; I enjoyed it more than most of what I've been reading lately.  It held my attention and the setting felt like an old friend.  Given my general grumpiness lately, I'll take that and be thankful for it.

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review 2016-08-26 09:16
Crowned and Dangerous (Her Royal Spyness, #10)
Crowned and Dangerous: A Royal Spyness Mystery - Rhys Bowen

In just about any other cozy series, this one would be a 4 star read, but Bowen has set her own standard rather high, and this one comparatively speaking, doesn't quite match up.


My biggest beef with it was the oh so worn out trope of weddingtus interruptus, followed by the even worse "we can never be together again; I'm only thinking of you" cliche.  I get that she's trying to string this romance out as long as possible but I expected better from this author.


Even still, the read was a lot of fun; you can't help love these characters and in this adventure Bowen even gets me to warm to Queenie, the living embodiment of TSTL.  We get an up close and personal introduction to Darcy's family and a visit to the ancestral castle in Ireland.


The mystery was, so-so.  I think it was sort of obvious who the players were but not how the story was going to come together.  The author notes at the end what is historical fact and what she's taken liberties with and turned into (slight) fiction.


All in all a pleasant way to while away the afternoon.

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review 2016-05-06 02:09
Wouldn't it be Deadly?
Wouldn't It Be Deadly - D.E. Ireland

Disclaimer:  I've never seen My Fair Lady although I'm thoroughly familiar with the premise.  This means I can't accurately comment on how accurate the authors' representations of the characters are.


So saying, there was a lot to like about this book:  the writing was smooth, the pacing consistent and the mystery plotting was excellent.  Everything about the book held my attention... until the last scene.  It started out well enough, but slowly became eye-rolling; after a brief interlude of plausibility, it freight-trained straight into slapstick, where the authors outdid themselves and pushed straight on through to ludicrous.  If their editor cared about them at all, he or she would have ripped out and shredded all the pages after the secondary character, Roz, stepped out of the washroom.


There's a second book, but I don't feel the least compelled to read it; the idea of the authors trying to best themselves makes me cringe.

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review 2015-12-17 23:18
Christmas at High Rising
Christmas at High Rising - Angela Thirkell

A small collection of short stories that Thirkell wrote for various publications during her career.  Approximately every other story was about the cast of characters in High Rising and set in Barsetshire; most of them featured Tony, Mrs. Morland's incredibly obnoxious youngest son.  It's clear as crystal that child is going to grow up to be a pompous wind-bag.


A Private View, was my least favorite of the stories; I'm not quite sure what the point of it was as the story ended without any resolution at all and it included some incredibly distasteful racial slurs.


Christmas at Mulberry Lodge was a sweet story, written as though Thirkell is telling a story to children.  As I was reading it, I thought I might read it to my nieces when they arrive for the holidays.  Until I got to nearly the end and thought again.  Didn't like the ending.  At all.


The last story is A Nice Day in Town and I thought it was close to brilliant.  This story takes place much later; WWII has begun and rationing of everything has set in.  The author did a brilliant job making me feel the weariness and frustration and mourn what England was reduced to while the fighting raged on, yet she still managed to end the story on an optimistic note.



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