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review 2017-05-29 19:53
Shakepeare's Champion / Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Champion - Charlaine Harris

There's something rotten in Shakespeare... — Lily Bard was running from shattering memories when she moved to Shakespeare, Arkansas. Now cleaning houses pays her bills. Working out helps her heal. Still protecting her scars, she hides a hard body and impressive skill at martial arts under baggy sweats. And nobody knows how strong she is until racial violence has her looking behind closed doors for a killer -- doors to which a housecleaner might have the key.

When Lily uses her training in goju to help a black man jumped by white teens, she does it for justice...only to hear he's been abducted and beaten to death a few weeks later. Then a bodybuilder is killed at her gym. Both incidents jar Lily's need for security and refuge. Looking into closets, sweeping under rugs, she soon uncovers enough dirt to confirm that something sinister is growing in her adopted town. Getting involved could endanger her life. But Lily is seeing a new man and dreaming new dreams. And no one can make this strong woman run again.

 

  I would rate this book just a touch below the first book, maybe 3.5 stars, perhaps because I am now familiar with the setting and with Lily. I still like Lily a lot and she continues to surprise me. Harris introduced a love triangle at the end of the first book and I was anxious to get reading to see where it went. Boom! 
Lily dumps them both! Gotta like a girl who’s decisive like that. Plus, she’s no dog-in-the-manger. She is quite happy to see her exes move along with other women—quite different from Sookie Stackhouse, Harris’ other small town gal, who always seemed to resent any women that “her” men took up with after their break-ups.
(spoiler show)


It’s a treat to read about a woman who can protect herself and develop her strength to overcome past trauma. However, I’m a bit disturbed by her current love-interest, who also has a traumatic past, knows Lily’s situation, and seems drawn to her because of it. I will be interested to see if he lasts in the relationship for more than one book. I’m also hoping that Lily can come out of her hard, protective shell a bit more. At least in this book, she is starting to allow people into her life gradually, even if she has mixed feelings about it. There is true potential for this series to pass the Bechdel test.

On the other hand, after protecting her personal secrets in book one, all of a sudden it seems that everyone and their pet cat knows about Lily’s past in this book. Which is an uncomfortable situation if you’re still sensitive about the details (it seems Lily is, though it was no fault of her own) and you live in a very small community. Lily has been a discreet cleaning lady ever since she came to Shakespeare, but suddenly people are questioning whether they want someone “like her” to clean for them. Another way of blaming the victim, something we can read about in the current media.

An enjoyable sequel and I shall look forward to the next installment when I have the time to read it.
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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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review 2017-05-27 10:01
Evenly Bodies (Constable Evans, #10)
Evanly Bodies - Rhys Bowen

The Constable Evans Mysteries are slower paced than your average cozy; they have a similar atmosphere and pacing as M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth, but, in my opinion, much better written; less formulaic but just as quirky.

 

Evan Evans is happily adjusting to married life when an organisational shake up at work suddenly has him part of a major crimes task force with all new co-workers and a murder investigation.  In his quiet little village things are all shaken up too when a Pakistani family moves in and opens up a new shop.  Evan's wife Bronwyn befriends the daughter of the newcomers and, when the girl runs away to avoid an arranged marriage, Bronwyn is both enraged and accused of helping her hide.

 

For a book that was written 11 years ago, this is a heartbreakingly relevant storyline.  Bowen tackles all the hot button issues of today without really drawing any conclusions except that sometimes the right thing is not really the best thing.

 

The criminal plotting gets a bit overly convoluted towards the end; it feels like she got herself all snarled up at one point, but she gets back on track and the ending is rather breathtaking.  It's only really now hitting me that she went there in a cozy and managed to keep it cozy.

 

Bowen is undoubtedly a skilled writer and while this series doesn't have the high energy of Her Royal Spyness, it's still a great read.

 

 

 

 

 

Total pages: 210

$$:  $3.00

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review 2017-05-26 11:47
Dead in the Water (Mattie Winston, #8)
Dead in the Water - Annelise Ryan

I almost don't want to call this a cozy; the crimes committed are pretty vividly written, and although not graphic in a visceral sense, I found it emotionally so.

 

Mattie is feeling a little overwhelmed with wedding planning and child rearing when her best friend, co-worker and mentor has a severe medical crisis and another co-worker is one of three murder victims in a 24-hour span. 

 

Gone are the days of the early-series Mattie, the one that fumbled about in a sometimes painfully slapstick manner; she's a more confident, pulled together Mattie, even when she's struggling to keep it all together.  She's a great heroine: smart, independent, rational, and humorous.  Her romantic interest is an alpha male who does not try to control her in the slightest, but instead works with her.  Together they're a great pair to cheer on and the cast of supporting characters are all human and likeable.

 

The murder plotting was excellent and there are ties to cold cases and old history; my only complaint is that this is obviously part of a bigger over-arcing plot and I can't say I care much for those in the context of an on-going series.  A planned trilogy is one thing, but open-ended series have a tendency to get cancelled before the author can resolve that long-game plot, leaving their readers hanging.  I'm not saying that's going to happen here, but it's happened often enough to sour me on the concept.

 

I'm also annoyed that this series started in hardcover, switched to paperback and is now back to hardcover, but that's not the author's fault; I'm just grumping about it because it plays havoc on my shelves.

 

Looking forward to what happens next with Mattie and Steve.

 

 

 

Total pages: 344

$$:  $3.00

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text 2017-05-24 13:05
Blog Tour: Steve Wade Mysteries by Iris Wynne with Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Today’s stop is for Iris Wynne’s Steve Wade Mysteries. We will have info about the books and author, and a great excerpt from the book, plus a great giveaway. Make sure to check everything out and enter the giveaway.

Happy Reading :) 

 


 

The Missing Mah Jongg Player

Book 1

 

 

Steve Wade is an ex-cop with an ex-wife and girlfriends he could never commit to. Now he’s a private investigator known for his knack in solving crimes. This handsome private eye never has a problem finding customers. His newest case involves five frantic Mah Jongg players who are in search of one of their players who disappeared after meeting a man on an Internet dating site. Wade is reluctant to take the case, believing it to be just another woman not wanting to be found. But the Mah Jongg players are insistent that Marilou did not vanish on her own. In the meantime, they organize a Valentine’s speed-dating gig inviting all the suspects who dated Marilou in an attempt to find her. As he watches the dinner play out he begins to realize she may not have gone willingly when all the suspects are before him. He even hires his sometime drop-dead gorgeous girlfriend for the event to lure the culprit out into the open. Steve just hopes no one goes home with a potential killer. Wade has to work fast as the case begins to unravel when lies and betrayal become evident and the truth of what happened to Marilou becomes clear. Will he be able to find the suspect before they choose another victim? This may be his biggest challenge yet.

 

 

 

 

Buy Link

 


The Missing Housewife

Book 2

 

 

Steve Wade is an ex-cop and now private investigator. His reputation for solving crimes is growing. His newest client is a man charged with a murder he says he did not commit. The convict's sister has evidence that the person he supposedly murdered is alive and living somewhere in Shanghai after an old classmate of hers sees a double of the murdered victim while touring parts of Asia. Is the murder victim, a woman, really alive and the man charged with her murder innocent? Steve does not know what to think. Should he believe a convicted killer who was once a drug addict living on the streets? Steve however does not want an innocent man to spend the rest of his life in jail. It's a dilemma he must think through and to try to prove the convicted murderer's innocence.

 

 

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

 

Excerpt for ‘The Missing Housewife

She had left her group and her husband in order to go to the Peace Hotel washroom which was one of or perhaps even the nicest washroom she had ever seen. Its decor was all black and white marble with gold faucets matching the gold chandeliers along the walls that lit the room. Each toilet had its own cubicle and a shiny black door. American style—no hole in the ground—to every tourist’s delight. And that is when she saw her. Connie stared at the woman beside her who was washing her face. A ghost from the past; a woman who was ostensibly dead four years ago. She blinked back at the woman a few times. She hadn’t seen her in over ten years. She had known her since childhood which was embedded forever as a memory. And Connie Stern’s memory was exceptional. She was the type of person who never forgot a face. The woman beside her was tall and slim. Her hair, once a shiny dark hue, was now peppered with gray. But those eyes were the same, an unusual dark green that glowed like emeralds. That was her trademark along with her natural beauty. She was the second child of a famous music producer from Toronto. His five beautiful daughters had lived in Rosedale, one of the wealthiest areas in Toronto. The youngest three were from another marriage, but they all lived together in harmony with the second wife, or so the story goes. If that was Patricia Gold, she would be in her forties and the woman across from her was definitely that age. Her attractiveness was gone, though, after years of living on the street. It had been a surprise in the community, to say the least, when she left her husband and children in search of drugs. Connie could not believe it when it happened. She had known Patricia well growing up and never saw a sign of it, of the unhappiness or the addiction to drugs. She did know, however, that Patricia wanted to be thinner so she could model. She glanced at her again. The woman glimpsed back at her briefly as she washed her hands. Connie thought of Patricia's husband, whom she knew in high school. He was popular and could pick any girl he wanted. When they married, she and Patricia were no longer friends which always happened in a big city. Different universities, new jobs, and location changes all caused people to make new friends. Nevertheless, they were the perfect couple, everyone thought. Connie always had fond memories of her. Connie put her hands in the dryer, peering over at the woman again. She remembered one of the last times seeing her. It was years ago when she and her own husband were walking their kids in strollers when Patricia and her husband drove by and asked them for directions to the nearest park. Their children were sitting in the back seat, silently staring up at them. It was only Connie who had recognized them but said nothing as her husband rambled off the directions. Too much time had passed for either of them to say anything. Everyone looked different with age anyway. Still, she never forgot a face. Another time, she had seen her at a bar midtown, around Yonge and Eglinton. Connie and two of her friends had decided to go out on the town without kids or spouses, like old times. She hated it though, missing her husband and children, and was just as happy to be home with them. Let the singles have the single life, she had thought. But she did see Patricia Gold there, all dressed up, looking lovely, holding a drink with another old friend who Connie also knew in high school. Her friend was a runner and to this day would be seen running down Avenue Road as if the devil was trying to catch up to her. And that was the last time she saw Patricia, until now, that is, if it was her. She held her breath. “Patricia?” The woman looked up and turned to her with a frown. “Patricia Gold, is that really you?” The woman’s green eyes opened wide along with her mouth. She stared back for a second and then ran out of the washroom, leaving Connie staring back at the swinging door. Connie put her hands down on the white granite sink and wondered, of all things, if the sink was real gold, gold plated or just painted gold. The chandeliers flickered and her reflection staring back at her in the mirror looked flushed and confused. Did she see a ghost or was it a double? She did what the other woman did and rinsed her face. She was wrong—she had hoped—and shook her head trying to ignore what had just happened. She would continue her vacation and carry on as if nothing had happened.

 

 

 

 
Iris Wynne is a book lover, a day dreamer and a hopeless romantic. She is a writer of cozy mysteries with an element of romance. She is a mother of two girls and in her spare time she dog walks, plays golf in the summer and of course grabs a game of Mah Jongg whenever she can.
Iris lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband. Her children live on their own and her parents are relieved to receive a text message from them now and then.
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