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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 2018-10-11 03:51
Not a Drop to Drink
Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis

 

Lynn was nine the first time she killed to protect the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink.

- first sentence

 

I couldn't wait to see how this one would end. It is the story of a young girl raised in the wilderness by her mother. In this world, water is more than scarce. The only water Lynn and her mother have comes from their pond and they will do anything to defend it. Her mother taught her not to trust anyone and to be entirely self-reliant. But how long can they survive this way?

 

I enjoyed the wild west feel of this one. I loved Lynn and enjoyed watching her mature and adapt emotionally as the book progressed. Her life is full of struggles and the constant threat of death, but Lynn is strong and she doesn't give up. There was a devastating event towards the end that I totally didn't see coming - it was tough.

 

Apparently, there is a "companion book",  In a Handful of Dust, that I look forward to reading after Halloween Bingo concludes.

 

I read this one for the Doomsday square:

 

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review 2018-09-27 23:11
In a handful of dust there is not a drop to drink...my doomy doomsday pick
In a Handful of Dust - Mindy McGinnis

 

 

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~BOOK BLURB~

In A Handful Of Dust

Mindy McGinnis

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A dangerous disease strikes the community where teenage Lucy lives. When her adoptive mother, Lynn, takes Lucy away from their home and friends in order to protect her, Lucy struggles to figure out what home means. During their journey west to find a new life, the two face nature's challenges, including hunger, mountains, and deserts.

 

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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An interesting follow-up to Not A Drop to Drink, while I didn't like it as much as the first installment, I did like it…I'm just not completely on-board with that ending.  Overall, a sadness hangs over the whole book…that never really dissipates with the ending, like the Author set out to make a series that puts the dis in dystopian.  She did have some interesting developments in this journey from Ohio to California…some I've never seen the likes of before.  One, in particular, was jaw-dropping.

 

This second book is from Lucy's pov instead of Lynn's, as it is in the first book.  I was sad that Cassandra Campbell wasn't the narrator, I really liked her, but a different narrator was the best way to keep a distinction between their voices.  

 

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~MY RATING~

4STARS - GRADE=B+

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~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

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Plot~ 4/5

Main Characters~ 4/5

Secondary Characters~ 4/5

The Feels~ 3.8/5

Pacing~ 4.3/5

Addictiveness~ 4/5

Theme or Tone~ 4/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.5/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 4/5 Cliffhanger~ Not really.

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Book Cover~  I like it…

Narration~ 3.7 for Allyson Ryan, she did grow on me, eventually.

Series~ Not A Drop to Drink #2

Setting~ From Ohio to California

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

I'm using this for Doomsday Square in Halloween Bingo 2018

 

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review 2018-07-02 21:58
4.5 Out of 5 "world gone dry" STARS
Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BOOK BLURB~

Not A Drop To Drink

Mindy McGinnis

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Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water. 

 

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty or doesn't leave at all.

 

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

 

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

 

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

 

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~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~

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I've seen this book many times while looking for something else to add to TBR, and I've skipped over it.  I think that was due to the fact that it centered around a shortage of water.  Maybe, I find that premise too likely to happen in actual life.  Anyway, this fits a reading challenge I had going on, so I was like…WTH might as well try it out.  So happy that I did…because Not A Drop To Drink is a very well done dystopian.  There are 4 reasons I believe this to be true…

  • Despite being the first book in a duo, the ending of this has closure. 
  • The narration was subdued but excellent. 
  • The romance is only a splash and sweetly done. 
  • The world-building and explanation for how the world became this way, was impressively done. 

 

Overall, I should've read it long ago, because I really liked it.

 

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~MY RATING~

4.5STARS - GRADE=A-

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Plot~ 4.5/5

Main Characters~ 4.7/5

Secondary Characters~ 4.5/5

The Feels~ 4.3/5

Pacing~ 5/5

Addictiveness~ 4.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 4.3/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 5/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.8/5

Originality~ 4/5

Ending~ 4.3/5 Cliffhanger~ Not really, but there is a second book.

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Book Cover~ It's stunning

Narration~ 5 by Cassandra Campbell was fantastic!  A new favorite.

Series~ Not A Drop to Drink #1

Setting~ I'm not sure, near Lake Erie…maybe

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

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review 2018-03-04 00:00
Not a Drop to Drink
Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis 4.25 stars

This has been on my TBR list for a while, and when I saw that it was at the library, I borrowed it. I’ve read one other book by the author, Given to the Sea, and I still have mixed feelings about that one. The world-building made for a repulsive setting, but the writing was compelling and I couldn’t put it down. Not a Drop to Drink also has a grim setting, but I enjoyed this book much better. It’s a tight, fast read, one I read in just two sittings. And the more I think about it, the more I liked it.

Lynn has spent her entire life protecting the pond on her property. Along with her mother, she mercilessly shoots anyone who dares to approach their water source. In a world with severe water shortages, water is everything. Because their pond is fed by spring snow melt and rain, a dry season is disastrous for them.

After her mother is killed in a terrible accident, Lynn is on her own. Taught to survive by her mother, she rides out her grief, and then gets back to the business of staying alive. It’s all she’s ever known. When Stebbs, the man who lives on the property next door, approaches her, her whole life changes. She doesn’t have to do this alone, and not every stranger is an enemy. But when a group of men sets up in a town nearby, Lynn is in danger of having everything she possesses stolen away from her.

I loved Lynn. She has no idea how to trust, and her mother’s paranoia has kept them both isolated. When Stebbs asks her to check on the people living near the stream, she reluctantly agrees to go and see if they are still there. If not, she’s to bring back whatever they have left behind, and split it with Stebbs, in payment of him watching the pond while she’s gone.

What Lynn finds is a small family struggling to survive in the wilderness. Starving, Eli, a boy about her age, begs her to take Lucy, a young girl, back with her. Lucy has a better chance of surviving with Lynn. Eli is struggling to keep his sister-in-law alive, and they don’t have enough food to go around. Reluctantly, Lynn agrees, and her whole outlook on life changes after this one, awkward encounter.

At first, Lynn, like her mother, is distrustful of strangers and possessive of what’s hers. Mainly the water in the pond. The water is life. Without the water, they would be dead. She jealously protects her water source, and has never felt remorse dropping intruders with her rifle. But after meeting Lucy and Eli, and after getting to know Stebbs, she starts to develop a conscience, and wonder if it’s really necessary to kill everyone who approaches the pond. She begins to understand the value of friends. And she starts to want better for Lucy than sitting on the roof, waiting to shoot the next person who steps foot on the property.

I wish there was more world-building, but like Lynn, the reader’s world view is extremely limited. With no electricity, no safety, and no guarantee of survival, defending what one has is everything. Not a Drop to Drink is a gritty tale of survival, and it was one I had a hard time putting down.

Grade: 4.25 stars
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