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Search tags: MbDParanormalCozy
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review 2018-12-12 08:40
A Gift of Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney, #19)
A Gift of Bones - Carolyn Haines

My first Christmas mystery of the season, and it's from one of my favorite series.  It was pretty good.

 

My personal observation about long-lasting series is that authors have a tendency to go bigger and bigger with each book.  Usually it's the plots that try to outdo each other, but sometimes, as in this case, it's a certain theme, or themes.  The Sarah Booth Delaney series has a very strong underlying theme centered on the power of love, family and friendship, and these themes have become more ... urgent?  as the series has progressed.

 

I'm not complaining - I love this series - but while I enjoyed the book thoroughly as I was reading it, it felt a tiny bit saccharide afterwards.  

 

Oh, and in this one the plot was definitely out there.  And way too overly labyrinthine.  I'm not sure it really worked, to be honest.

 

But I love the characters whole heartedly, and Zinnia Mississippi comes alive.  It might have been a 3.5 star read, but I've been quietly stewing for years about the Coleman story line, and it's finally come good in this book - that bumped it 1/2 star.  Overall, a solid read, that went by fast.

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review 2018-09-25 09:28
Marigolds for Malice (Enchanted Garden, #3)
Marigolds for Malice - Bailey Cattrell

The series name implies a cutesy factor in these stories, but thankfully, there isn't.  Even the brief mentions of fairy houses the MC has throughout the garden have a more mysterious, spooky edge to them.

 

While getting ready to open their town's historical museum, the Greenstockings (women's business organisation) finds a sealed up butter churn they believe is a time capsule.  During the opening ceremony, they find a number of items from the gold rush days, including a rather sizeable nugget.  Later the night, the local historian is murdered in the museum with all the items stolen - except for the nugget, which had been taken by the police to the bank.

 

While the mystery goes in unexpected and interesting directions, the murderer was telegraphed by the author from their first appearance, so the ending held no surprises for me.  It didn't keep the story from being interesting though; the plant lore sprinkled throughout, and the solid female friendships, as well as the low key romance, all held my attention and kept me reading.  There were some bits that didn't work so well here and there; parts that felt awkward, as if the editor added them to 'zest' the story up, but they were mercifully brief.

 

An enjoyable read by a reliable author; I always look forward to the new release notices for these books.

 

I read this one for the Murder Most Foul square in Halloween Bingo

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review 2018-07-14 23:49
It Takes a Coven (Witch City Mystery, #6)
It Takes a Coven - Carol J. Perry

I generally enjoy the books in this series, and I should have enjoyed this one more; it had elements designed to appeal to me, like a murder of crows (collective noun not crime), an old spell book that won't burn, whose 17th century owner's ghost wants back, a current string of crimes that may or may not be connected to modern day Wiccans.  Stolen art.  

 

For the most part, I did enjoy it, but there was just a little something missing.  It could very well be my mood; I'm still displaying shades of slump now and again.  This may have affected my engagement with the book.  It could also be the wedding planning bit that's tangentially a part of the plot.  Or the egregious number of continuity errors the editor didn't catch; something I don't remember this series suffering from before.  

 

Mostly, I think, that MC just wasn't quite focused enough to really involve the reader in the story.  She had all of these intriguing things happening to/around her but for the most part, never involved her.  The exception are the visions she had throughout the story, usually whenever she looked at a reflective surface.  Her acceptance of them in this book was a relief, and I enjoyed these scenes a lot, as they imparted information about the mysteries.

 

It was a good story though, even though I keep rambling on about the nit-picky stuff.  It held my attention while I was reading it and I was interested in seeing the mystery solved. 

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review 2018-06-24 06:05
Lowcountry Bookshop (Liz Talbot Mystery, #7)
Lowcountry Bookshop - Susan M. Boyer

There aren't many series left I look forward to, but this one is always satisfying.  Lowcountry Bookshop wasn't the strongest of the bunch, but still an enjoyable way to escape.

 

Liz and Nate are hired by an anonymous client, through their attorney, to prove a local mail carrier (Poppy) innocent of a hit and run perpetrated during a massive rainstorm.  This construct felt, for much of the book, forced, as though Boyer couldn't make it work any other way, but by the end, the anonymity makes complete sense and adds an additional layer of complexity to the plot.  By the end, it's only the revealed guilty party that doesn't really mesh with the story; as a lover of mysteries I have come to expect all aspects of the mystery to share context, but as Boyer writes it, it's likely a lot more realistic.  There's a plot twist but too many aspects of it are telegraphed early to be shocking.

 

Where the book shines is with any scene involving Liz's family.  Hand to god, I wish the Talbots were both real and part of my life.  I rarely laugh so hard as I do when I'm reading about what Liz's daddy is currently up to. 

 

The only really true let down in the book was sloppy editing; in the past Henery Press could be counted on for solid editing and proofing but lately standards have slipped.  Hopefully it's just a temporary indication of a growing business, and I still look forward to the the next Liz Talbot book.

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review 2018-05-20 06:08
Charmed Bones (Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery, #18)
Charmed Bones - Carolyn Haines

They can't all be winners, but man, this one was extra-disappointing.

 

I don't care for romance for the sake of romance, but I do enjoy a good sub-plot, if the characters have chemistry and it's well written.  Many books ago, Sarah Booth had an almost-romance with a character, and I was hooked on their dynamic, and bummed when it didn't work.  Then after many, many books and many other romantic interests, I finally got my wish; sadly the joy was dinged by one of the most badly edited stories I've seen on paper in a long time (not being a reader of self-published books).

 

This could have been an amazing story: witches, spells, poisonings, there's-something-in-the-woods, huge claw marks on doors, old houses with secret rooms and tunnels, and my favorite romantic interest back in the saddle.  But if this story wasn't rushed to press, it was definitely neglected by management; major re-writes took place and nobody followed up with proofing to check for continuity.  The results include characters who explicitly remain behind only to suddenly be participating in conversation, and Sarah Booth commenting on kicking the bad guy, giving him a limp, when she never actually kicked him.  Unfortunately, these are just the two I remember - there were others, including a scene where characters change mid-paragraph).

 

Continuity errors aside, the plotting was a little bit of a mess too: too much going on and not tightly enough written, so the reader really has no hope of following events.  To be fair, Sarah Booth struggled too, so maybe this was deliberate and I just don't care for the device.  I also don't care for the plot twist at the end; it's the second time in as many books where it's been used, and it leaves me feeling played.

 

If not for the characters, whom I love (although I'm over Tinky and her baby angst), and the familiar landscape of Zinnia, the rating for this would be so much lower.  It's obvious that Haines didn't phone this in: nobody just phones in a plot as convoluted as this, but her editors and Minotaur screwed her and her readers by printing this half-finished effort.  And that's tragic; Haines is worlds better than this and after 17 books, readers deserve better.

 

Here's hoping #19 reflects previous efforts, and 18 is just an aberration.

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