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review 2017-04-16 17:30
The Semester of our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn
The Semester of Our Discontent - Cynthia Kuhn

Series: Lila Maclean #1


I guess this book was okay, but I found it kind of condescending and not nearly as tightly-told as it could have been. There were a lot of extraneous details that the author though should be included to flesh out the characters but that didn’t do much for the story and I didn’t really think they were necessary.


The police were made to look like imbeciles. I’m not sure if that was the intention. There were also quite a few melodramatic plot elements that I had to raise an eyebrow at.

e.g. secret societies, daggers with symbols, the bad guy confessing while threatening to kill everyone…

(spoiler show)


It probably didn’t help that I came off another cozy mystery that I thought held together a lot better even though there were still some elements that I suppose I could have taken exception to (A Pint of Murder by Charlotte MacLeod).


I’m not sure whether I’ll read the next book since MbD wasn’t impressed. It won’t be high on my list, anyway.


I’m giving it an extra  half star because the feminist themes in the book have merit although I don’t think they were presented in a particularly interesting manner or utilized as well as they could have been.


Various sources have the page count for this book ranging from 213 to 246 pages, so I’m going to count is as the 201 to 400 pages ranges, or $3 for booklikes-opoly. This brings my bank to $25. I’m counting this book for square #17, cozy mystery. It’s tagged as that on GR, so I think it counts. MbD will probably back me up on the genre too.

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text 2017-04-16 15:24
Reading progress update: I've read 63%.
The Semester of Our Discontent - Cynthia Kuhn

Oh ho, so the murder victim was a creepy stalker guy. Just how old was he, anyway? He must be ancient for him to have been able to influence someone's tenure appointment back then. Actually, just how many tenure track positions are there at this university?


And why exactly are these educated women not outright calling him a misogynist? Is the reader not expected to know the word?


At least this book is short.

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review 2017-04-16 08:59
The Art of Vanishing (Lila Maclean Academic Mystery, #2)
The Art of Vanishing - Cynthia Kuhn

Good, but not great; I thought the first book showed a lot of potential because I liked the setting, I liked the characters and I liked that the author wasn't trying to make everything cute.  It exceeded my expectations, which have, admittedly, been lowered dramatically by the dreck published en masse the last few years.


What I liked about this, the second one:

*  It's a mystery, but not a murder mystery.  This isn't uncommon in the mystery genre, but it's not mainstream either so it feels fresh.


*  The continuation of a narrative that doesn't feel overly melodramatic: Lila is just trying to get through her days.


*  No TSTL stuff.  Lila isn't running around trying to act like Nancy Drew and interrogate everyone; she just pays attention and thinks.


* I liked the plot twist; when I read it I started to think "same old, same old" but she did something a tiny bit different that really didn't matter much in the scheme of things, but again, gave it that tiny bit of freshness.



What wasn't so great about The Art of Vanishing

*  What's up with this trend of needing to have an over-the-top nasty nemesis?  How is it that in the current age of anti-bullying authors seem so hot to include cartoonish bullies in every book?  And Lila gets two of them - two nemesis (nemesii?) is surely two too many.


*  Love triangle setup.  'nuff said.


These are short and I think, better written than most of what's out there currently.  I hate the cliche of the love triangle but I'll give it one more book to see if - hopefully - the author is just dangling it there as a red herring.



Page count: 216
Dollars banked: $3.00

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text 2017-04-16 03:23
Reading progress update: I've read 8%.
The Semester of Our Discontent - Cynthia Kuhn

Is some snappy dialogue really too much to ask for? It seems like older books paid more attention to that sort of thing.


Honestly, this book seems flat so far. And frustrating.


And I can't decide whether Archer was playing dumb or just is dumb (part of the frustration was that whole "canon" exchange). I don't appreciate being explained at.



The detective made some more notes. “What do you mean by tradition?”
“A single literary tradition. The idea that there are only certain writers who deserve to be studied—mostly ‘dead white men.’”
His head snapped up. “Is that a joke?”
“No,” I said, blushing. “Just…unfortunate terminology, given the circumstances.”
Archer stared at me. Hard.
I tried to explain. “It’s shorthand for privileged treatment in the canon—”
“Cannon? As in Revolutionary war?”
“No, C-A-N-O-N. A list of the texts which, over time, people have come to see as the most important.”
“As in Shakespeare?”
“Yes, and Milton, Coleridge, Dickens, and so on. Primarily males—hence the phrase ‘dead white men,’ which is used to challenge the idea that only they had something significant to offer and that time was the only way to measure worth.”
The detective blinked rapidly. “Did you just say ‘hence’?”
I nodded.
Archer sighed and tilted his head slightly. “Where is this list kept?”
“It isn’t officially written down anywhere. But when you meet a colleague who subscribes to the idea of a fixed canon, you can tell.”



Sigh, sigh, and double sigh.

(spoiler show)


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text 2017-04-16 02:54
Reading progress update: I've read 4%.
The Semester of Our Discontent - Cynthia Kuhn

So our book starts off with a meeting between our heroine, Lila, and her boss that should probably have resulted in a report to HR.

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