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review 2019-12-29 17:20
The Daughter of Time (Inspector Alan Grant #5) - Jospehine Tey
The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey

First and foremost, I would just like to point out that I can't stand reading books out of order. I don't care if someone tells me books can be read as stand alone novels. If that were true, why would the book be included in a series to begin with?


People who know that I'm an avid historical fiction reader and that my favorite era is the Tudor-era have been telling me for ages that I need to read this book. I've had this book on my TBR for quite some times. However, I had to get around that "I have to read the other four books first" quirk. I have read the first Inspector Grant novel. I was incredibly let down. The idea that I had to read three more Grant novels before getting to the novel I really wanted to read became tiresome. This proved to be one of those times where maybe I just need to listen to people. 


Yesterday, Mother Nature was being especially moody in Minnesota. Law enforcement was recommending people stay put. My husband who will drive through the apocalypse even turned around and didn't go to work. That means it was bad. It wasn't the usual December dumping of a foot of snow. It was two to three inches of solid ice that had most of the state turned into a skating rink. There's a rather comical video of a school bus sliding sideways down a hill. 


The Daughter of Time was the perfect book to keep me entertained yesterday. My children certainly didn't need me. They got LEGOs for Christmas. I figure I have three more days before they are complaining about being bored. By that time, they should be back in school. 


Anyway. I can't remember the last time I finished a book in one sitting. This book was absolutely enthralling. At times it felt more like a play than a novel. I enjoyed the banter Grant had with all the players. I have read a few reviews were people were turned off by his level of snark. I had zero problems with it. It actually made things more enjoyable. His rant about Mary, Queen of Scots had me rolling. 


Tey's theory about the fate of the Princes in the Tower was hardly new for me. I still enjoyed the manner in which she presented it. The argument was compelling. If I didn't already have my own thoughts about what happened, I could easily be convinced to join her side. My book also included a hand written afterwords stating that Richard III was actually found innocent in 1984. I did not know that Richard III had ever been brought to "trial". I would have thought if anything, this would have occurred after his remains had been found. For anyone interested in seeing the trial play out, you can watch it here - http://www.josephinetey.net/Trial-of-King-Richard-III.html Minnesotans are being told to stay home again today. At least I have something to do now. 


Do I think this was the greatest crime novel every written? No. Mainly because I don't view it as a traditional crime novel. It's more a scholarly debate than anything else. Was it worth breaking my series rule for? 100%. Just don't expect me to make a habit of it. 

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review 2019-12-10 07:15
A Pie to Die For, A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery by Stacey Alabaster
A Pie to Die For: A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery - Stacey Alabaster

A Pie to Die For, A Bakery Detectives Cozy Mystery by Stacey Alabaster is about Rachael, a pastry chef who will do anything to protect her boutique bakery. I gave it four stars.


"I let out a little squeal as I brushed the foul, winged creature aside. 'Not today buddy, not today!' I watched it intently as it flew away, a tiny black dot disappearing into the fall sky, and was glad that I hadn't needed to swat the poor thing. I heaved a sigh of relief as I took the lids off my desserts and a sweet cloud of vanilla, chocolate, and coffee bean, all mixed together, hit my nostrils. That was the danger of serving food outdoors: flies."


I received a complimentary copy from the author. That did not change my opinion for this review.


Link to purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Pie-Die-Bakery-Detectives-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01D6ZVT78


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review 2019-09-29 04:10
Mr. Monk on the Couch by Lee Goldberg, based on the TV series created by Andy Breckman
Mr. Monk on the Couch - Lee Goldberg

This book takes place a few months after the final episode of the Monk TV series and is written from Natalie's perspective. Monk investigates a series of murders and meets a group of crime scene cleaners, who he views as kindred spirits, while Natalie feels compelled to learn more about the life and death of a man both Monk and Stottlemeyer say died of natural causes.

The used bookstore I bought this from had a bunch of Mr. Monk mysteries, and, if I remember right, I pretty much grabbed this one at random. I didn't realize it was the twelfth book in the series, and the second book set after the series finale. I'm extremely behind on the series - I can't remember exactly when I stopped watching, but I know I definitely haven't seen any of the episodes in the last two or three seasons.

Although I googled a few characters I was unfamiliar with (Monk's new psychiatrist, Lieutenant Devlin), I didn't feel like the gap in my Monk viewing hurt my reading experience much. I do think it helped that I started re-watching Season 4 of the TV series soon after starting the book. It got me in the right mood and gave me a reminder of what everyone looked like and how they tended to behave. I had somehow forgotten how self-centered and casually awful Monk could be. Yeesh. I'm glad the TV series reminded me of that before I got to the bit in the book where Monk crashed a group therapy session because he couldn't handle his brother suddenly having a sex life.

Parts of this book were perfect. The scene with Monk, Stottlemeyer, and the badly parked police cars was great, and I loved Monk's interactions with the crime scene cleaners. I'm actually kind of surprised that crime scene cleaning never came up in the show at all. Maybe too gross or gory to have on-screen?

Unfortunately, the book's various mysteries didn't intrigue me much. I figured out part of what was going on with Monk's murders well before it was revealed. The way Devlin and Natalie set their part up was interesting, at least, but I had a tough time believing that Monk would quietly allow himself to be involved, even if only a little.

Natalie's investigation into Jack Griffin's death bored me and, after a certain point, struck me as being a terrible idea. Although I appreciated her insights into the way Monk's way of doing things differed from regular detective work, it didn't make her painstaking efforts to track down where Jack Griffin's old photo might have been taken any less tedious. Ambrose and his new girlfriend/assistant Yuki got a few mentions, as they helped Natalie with her research, and Natalie spent some time evaluating her life and the sort of future she might have if she wasn't Monk's assistant. It wasn't necessarily bad, but I don't know that it was worth the amount of pages it took up.

I'm enjoying getting back into the TV series and will probably continue working my way through the seasons, assuming it stays on Amazon Prime long enough. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to read more books from this series. It did feel, at times, like reading an episode of the show, so it had that going for it.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2019-07-27 15:28
Detectives in Togas - Henry Winterfeld

Jules leva le doigt.
"Et pourquoi Rufus l'aurait-il fait? demanda-t-il. Il lui aurait été plus simple d'écrire directement sur le mur.
- Pas si simple que ça! répondit le maître. As-tu déjà essayé d'écrire dans l'obscurité?"
Jules ne sut que répondre.
"Ah! tu vois? fit Xantippe très satisfait. Toi, tu n'es même pas capable d'écrire correctement en plein jour!"

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review 2019-01-29 04:06
Second Street Station (Mary Handley #1) - Lawrence H. Levy
Second Street Station: A Mary Handley Mystery - Lawrence H. Levy

If you want a mindless, name-dropping, romp through 1880's New York City, this book is perfect. If you want something to whittle away the hours while watching the snow fall, this book is perfect. Will this book get you through the two days you are stuck indoors with your children while they temperatures drop to a feels like of -65 degree, no. For that you need wine. Lots of wine. And a book with substance.


Fortunately for me, I have dozens and dozens of books to get me through the next two days. My wine supply? Well, I might need some higher being interference.


Anyway, this book wasn't awful but it really wasn't great. The mystery gets lost in all of the names. The author clearly wants to impress the reader with his knowledge of America's new status as an industrial powerhouse. We are quickly introduced to people like J.P. Morgan, Thomas Edison, and Nicola Tesla. Somewhere in the middle of all the squabblings of the smart and the rich, there's a mystery where Miss Mary Handley has to prove she's just as good as the men. Mary does all of the things you would expect from a heroine trying to break down gender barriers. However, I will admit to be a little surprised by the mystery's outcome


Will I give the next book in the series a try? Probably. Only because it seems I'm going to have time on my hands. I'm also curious to see how many other names the author can drop into 300 pages. 

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