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text 2018-12-11 00:38
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review 2018-12-10 00:16
24 Festive Tasks: Door 7 - Mawlid, Book
Candy Cane Murder - Leslie Meier,Laura Levine,Joanne Fluke,Suzanne Toren

Well, let's just say that none of these three ladies is anywhere near Donna Andrews's league when it comes to cozy mysteries, plotting, character creation, dialogue, and a writer's craft in general.  And if I thought Joanna Fluke's entry was disappointing (mediocre plotting and dialogue, character responses that felt forced / didn't make sense, and one of my no-go TSTL behavior tropes as the "big reveal" cue (though I have to hand it to Fluke, the setting and overall scene of the final confrontation with the murderer was inspired)), I'm sorry to have to say that Leslie Meier's contribution did even less for me -- you could scratch off the Hallmark sugar coating with a shovel, virtually NONE of the characters' actions and responses bore even the slightest semblance of realism,  and she managed to make 1980s rural Maine come across as more backward than it probably was even in the 1940s and 1950s (while also looking more dripping-with-saccharine-style-homely than any Norman Rockwell picture -- and for the record, I like Norman Rockwell.  Or at least I like his Christmas pictures.)

 

Laura Levine's entry fared a bit better (I'd call it the book's highlight if such a term were appropriate for a muted glow in the midst of two seriously dulled lights); at least she took me right back to L.A. inside my head and the plotting was halfway decent.  But her story seriously suffered from an overabundance of quirky characters, not-very-subtle hints at the MC's padded waistline and her resolutions to do something about it (in which she predictably fails on every single occasion -- and yes, I know this actually is an L.A. thing; been there and would have bought the T-shirt, too, if I'd found it funny then, but the last thing I want is to have this sort of fad jammed up my nose with a sledgehammer in a book) -- and an equal overabundance of wannabe hipster slang and coloquialisms ... everything from repeated exclamations like "ugh!", "oh golly!" and "drat!" to "bet my bottom cupcake" (and yes, even there she goes again with the calorie stuff).  Oh, and the MC's conversations with her cat and said cat's female-Garfield act got old pretty soon as well.

 

Oh well.  If nothing else, this has made me appreciate the consistently high quality of Donna Andrews's writing even more -- I'll happily be returning to her for my cozy contemporary Christmas mysteries (I just hope she'll reliably continue to produce them for the foreseeable future).

 

I may try some of the recipes included in this book eventually, though.

 

Since the audiobook I listened to has a green cover, I'll be using this as my book for the Mawlid square.

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review 2018-12-09 16:43
Dragons and more dragons, but...
Sunshine in the Dragon's Heart - Jaime Samms

I have to say these dragons are not like the rest...

 

I love dragons...we all know Karen loves dragons so when I saw this one...well, my little dragon brain said...Ooooohhhh!!!! What's this...dragons...me wants! Plus Jaime Samms... an author that writes a damn fine story. So, yep, I was all in before I even read the story and oh yeah, before I forget it's set in northern Ontario!!! And ironically that's where I was when I read this one.

 

So let's start with Sunny. He's not a dragon, just a mere mortal like the rest of us and although it's been a year since his parent's died...he's having a hard time dealing with things. It's with his sister's help that he moves to northern Ontario hoping that being with nature and away from all the pitying looks of the people he knows back in the concrete jungle will allow him to begin to heal from the loss of those he loves most.

 

I liked Sunny. He was grieving but his character wasn't whiny or annoying and I guess having lost my own parents I understood his feelings. While most of this story is between Sunny and Emile (he's our dragon...or at least the main one). 

 

Emile was probably the most unique dragon, I've encountered in a while...actually let me clarify...not just Emile but the dragons in this story in general are unusual and not presented in quite the same way as dragons are generally presented to us...not so much so that I was left thinking...'What the hell? These are not dragons...nope if was more of a 'well this is an interesting take on dragons and magic in general...me likey! 

 

While magic is probably the part of fantasy that has the widest range of interpretation I really liked how it was dealt with in this one and most of all the fact that for me it was shown with two different aspects there was the magic that belonged to one side of the fold (other stories call this the veil or the fade...it's basically the barrier between the world of the mundane...humans and the world that contains the creatures of magic) and then there's the magic as it manifest on the other side of the fold. 

 

'Sunshine in the Dragon's Heart' is about what happens when the barrier between the two worlds is crossed and the magic from the world of fantasy meets the magic from the world of man. 

 

I admit that in part how easily I was drawn into this story was because...dragons!!! they're a favorite of mine so of course I wanted to read the story, but I can also say with a certainty that just because there were dragons didn't mean the story being good was guaranteed. Sad to say I've read some not so great dragon stories, but this one isn't one of them. While I was admittedly a bit confused at the beginning I just had face and continued to read and sure enough as I read things fell into place for me and my tiny bit of confusion over a couple of things was easily sorted out and I was left having read a very enjoyable story about a man, a dragon and the magic of love.

 

So maybe, this wasn't quite a 5 star read but still a very enjoyable and different story that I would recommend to anyone looking for a story that's different and has dragons, magic and love...one really large salamander named Glimmerglass, brownies, sprites, dryads and one really awesome sister.

 

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An ARC of 'Sunshine in the Dragon's Heart' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-12-09 15:06
Review: "The Silent City" (The Rifter, #8) by Ginn Hale
The Silent City - Ginn Hale

 

~ 4 stars ~

 

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review 2018-12-09 14:08
Let's go back in time...imagine...
The Faller - Daniel De Lorne

it's 1912 and Charlie Young is working as a timber faller in the forest of southwestern Australia trying to earn enough money to escape his family and get to London, England where he can start his life over again. He’s not working in the safest of places for a young man with his proclivities during the early 1900’s…he’s working with men who are ‘brash, bigoted and brutal’… homophobic. But there’s one man among them who’s not like this…Jack Tapper isn’t like the other men…he’s quiet and keeps to himself, works hard and Charlie sees a gentle side to him…a side that makes him wish…

 

Charlie chooses to remain behind at the camp for the holidays in the hope that he can maybe get some more logs cut earning him extra money and getting him to England as soon as possible. What Charlie doesn’t realize is that he’s not the only one staying behind in the camp…his gentle giant is also there.

 

It’s during these days alone that Charlie and Jack get to now each other and grow closer leading their fledgling friendship to bloom all the deeper and stronger. It’s only too soon that the other men return to camp and bring with them mistrust and accusations.

 

What ‘The Faller’ wasn’t was a light and fluffy holiday story, but at the same time it was a well-crafted story that drew me in giving me a setting in a time frame that I was easily able to visualize. The story is given entirely from Charlie’s perspective and while it would have added to things to have some of Jack’s perspective given the length of the story for me it would have felt a bit overwhelming to have to take in the perspective of two people during such a short read.  Undoubtedly for me, my favorite part of the story were the few days that Charlie and Jack spent together alone in the camp getting to know each other…becoming friends and lovers. It was a sweet and poignant time made even more so by the cruel and harsh behaviour of men during that time and especially upon their return to the camp.

 

While the part that kept this from being a stronger read for me was the ending. I was left wondering exactly what became of Charlie and Jack whether they remained in Australia, made their way to England. For me the ending was a possible HFN and it’s a bit of a personal preference thing but when it comes to story endings, I like something a bit more clear cut. I admit this is a holiday story so of course a nice happily ever after or a strong happy for now leaning towards an HEA would be my first choice but in general I can even handle a ‘not so great’ ending as long as the big questions are dealt the ending of this one just felt vague and maybe an epilogue or some kind of 6 months or 1 year later type note would have felt better.

 

*************************

 

A copy of ‘The Faller’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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