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review 2018-02-25 07:47
Telling Tails (Second Chance Cat Mystery, #4)
Telling Tails - Sofie Ryan

Meh.  Definitely not the strongest in the series so far.  Ryan had a Rear Window theme going on in the plot, and I'm not a fan of the trope, although I give her credit for using it as an effective device for bringing society's view of seniors, and how easily they're dismissed, into the book's storyline.


The mystery itself was obfuscated by both the question of whether or not a crime took place at all, and the lack of any clear motive until very nearly the end of the book.  By the time it's revealed that a crime did take place, it was pretty clear who had to have done it.


While I generally love the setting (I find the whole repurposing thing interesting), and I like the characters, I found Rose (the witness the maybe crime), in particular, a bit trying.  She was just a little too exaggerated.  There's a weird romance vibe going on in the series too; it's not quite a love triangle but the potential is obvious.  Meanwhile nothing but internal musing has been going on for 4 books and I'm tired of hearing about it.  One party of the triangle, Nick, seems to have zero chemistry with the MC and was a total ass in this book. Total. ass.


I'll read the next one on the strength of the author's other books, and how much I usually enjoy them.  Hopefully the mystery, at least, will be a better one.

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review 2018-01-20 20:45
Undercover Princess
Undercover Princess (Rosewood Chronicles) - Connie Glynn

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

There were good ideas in there, and I was fairly thrilled at first at the setting and prospects (a boarding school in England, hidden royals that looked like they’d be badass, etc.), but I must say that in the end, even though I read the novel in a rather short time and it didn’t fall from my hands, it was all sort of bland.

The writing itself was clunky, and while it did have good parts (the descriptions of the school, for instance, made the latter easy to picture), it was more telling, not showing most of the time. I’m usually not too regarding on that, I tend to judge first on plot and characters, and then only on style, but here I found it disruptive. For instance, the relationship between Ellie and Lottie has a few moments that border on the ‘what the hell’ quality: I could sense they were supposed to hint at possible romantic involvement (or at an evolution in that direction later), but the way they were described, it felt completely awkward (and not ‘teenage-girls-discovering-love’ cute/awkward).

The characters were mostly, well, bland. I feel it was partly tied to another problem I’ll mention later, namely that things occur too fast, so we had quite a few characters introduced, but not developed. Some of their actions didn’t make sense either, starting with Princess Eleanor Wolfson whose name undercover gets to be... Ellie Wolf? I’m surprised she wasn’t found out from day one, to be honest. Or the head of the house who catches the girls sneaking out at night and punishes them by offering them a cup of tea (there was no particular reason for her to be lenient towards them at the time, and if that was meant to hint at a further plot point, then we never reached that point in the novel).

(On that subject, I did however like the Ellie/Lottie friendship in general. It started in a rocky way, that at first made me wonder how come they went from antipathy to friendship in five minutes; however, considering the first-impression antipathy was mostly based on misunderstanding and a bit of a housework matter, it’s not like it made for great enmity reasons either, so friendship stemming from the misunderstanding didn’t seem so silly in hindsight. For some reason, too, the girls kind of made me think of ‘Utena’—probably because of the setting, and because Ellie is boyish and sometimes described as a prince rather than a princess.)

The story, in my opinion, suffers from both a case of ‘nothing happens’ and ‘too many things happen’. It played with several different plot directions: boarding school life; undercover princess trying to keep her secret while another girl tries to divert all attention on her as the official princess; prince (and potential romantic interest) showing up; mysterious boy (and potential romantic interest in a totally different way) showing up; the girls who may or may not be romantically involved in the future; trying to find out who’s leaving threatening messages; Binah’s little enigma, and the way it ties into the school’s history, and will that ever play a part or not; Anastacia and the others, and who among them leaked the rumour; going to Maradova; the summer ball; the villains and their motivations. *If* more time had been spent on these subplots, with more character development, I believe the whole result would’ve been more exciting. Yet at the same time all this gets crammed into the novel, there’s no real sense of urgency either, except in the last few chapters. That was a weird dichotomy to contend with.

Conclusion: 1.5 stars. I’m honestly not sure if I’ll be interested in reading the second book. I did like the vibes between Lottie and Ellie, though.

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review 2017-12-13 19:47
The Brutal Telling
The Brutal Telling - Louise Penny

The Brutal Telling takes us back to Three Pines to investigate the murder of a hermit. I continue to be on the fence for this series, but I like the narrator and I've become accustomed to his style, so I do enjoy listening to the books. 


The characters continue to become intriguing and I look forward to finding out what each new book brings. I liked this book marginally better than the others in the series as it took a  bit of a twist and didn't have the 'instant confession' at the end that the other books have had. 


The murder and events surrounding are just as unbelievable to me in this book as they have been in the others. It's hard to look past that when it's been that way in every book. Clever? Yes - but I'm ready for a dose of reality. I'm almost getting the impression the author thinks she has to create these elaborate murders to keep the readers guessing. But I'd argue there has to be a better way. Once in a while, the strange/unbelievable circumstances can be intriguing, but I think the old adage of 'too much of a good thing..." applies to this series. But I will keep listening -- for now.

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review 2017-10-27 18:32
The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #5) - Louise Penny

This one was fantastic. This book shakes things up in Three Pines when one of the characters we know and love (Olivier) is looking like a likely suspect in the murder of a hermit. Readers are given insights into Olivier and it was like finding out someone you have been hanging out with for a long time is a hired assassin. This book was definitely about how little white lies eventually become monstrous things you eventually cannot bear to be revealed. I also got a kick out of the fact that we don't really get the resolution to a lot of things revealed in this book, until book #6.


"The Brutal Telling" is a very long winding book that kept me reading with nerves the whole time. Chief Inspector Gamache is called in when a dead body is found at Olivier's bistro. Readers know that Oilivier is hiding something and it takes Gamache very little work to find out what Olivier is hiding. And it's some doozies. 


Gamache and his team are great and we get introduced to a new character, Paul Morin, that Gamache takes onto his misfit homicide team. Can I also say, that Jean-Guy (Armand's second in command) constant jealously of anyone new that can take Gamache's attention away from him is getting repetitive? Cause it is. He goes through jealous bouts about not knowing all that Gamache is thinking at every second of the day. 


The Three Pines residents are stirred up about revelations dealing with Olivier and the new residents who have taken over the Hadley home. The new characters, Marc and Dominique Gilbert plan on taken the home and turning it into a luxury spa. Due to the fact the spa may end up taking customers away from Olivier and Gaby's place the new neighbors have a lot of friction with each other.

We also have Clara make what looks like a fatal mistake with regards to her art career. Can I also say that her husband is terrible? Peter's jealously and attempts to ruin Clara (without her knowledge) are just off-putting. I hope she wakes up to what he is doing to her. I think Mryna (her best friend) gets it though. 

We get a lot of Ruth in this one and I actually enjoyed her. It just took 5 books. Ruth and her pet duck Rosa cracked me up.


The writing was top-notch. Even though I gave this 5 stars, I will say the flow was off here and there. There is a lot going on in this one. And honestly, based on what happens in book #5 I should have gone back and lowered a star on this one, but I am just going to keep my complaints about the series to date to my book #5 review. 


The setting of Three Pines seems more sinister in this one. Once we find out what Olivier has been up to and the new residents, along with the hermit's secrets, it feels like you don't know this place after 5 books. 


The ending felt anti-climatic to me and now I know why after reading the next book. Things felt unfinished in this one. 

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text 2017-08-04 00:58
The Brutal Telling - Louise Penny

I seriously did not see that coming.


God, I hope the library has the next installment available.

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