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review 2019-05-03 10:04
Water in the Well (Part 1)/Pick Your Poison (Part 1) by Zoey Summers
Water in the Well - Zoey Summers
Pick Your Poison: Supernatural Witch Cozy Mystery - Zoey Summers

Date Published: July 25, 2016 (Water); March 18, 2016 (Poison)

Format: Ebook

Source: Own Copy

Date Read: April 6-7, 2019

 

Blurb for Water in the Well:

 

Ciorsdan Fotheringham is a native of Glasgow, Scotland. In the year 1935, she works as a private investigator for the Blake Investigation Agency. One day, she is tasked with something of an unusual investigation. She has to travel out to a remote house in the country in order to discover who threw a little girl named Sarah McTavish down a well.

After the ordeal, Sarah is fighting for her life with a fever, dehydration, and malnourishment. Ciorsdan soon discovers that she cannot turn a blind eye to the girl’s suffering- nor at the perpetrator of so heinous a crime. With Sarah on the drink of death, the only choice for Ciorsdan is to back to Scotland and visit a doctor. There, she discovers more about the case than she bargained for...

 

Blurb for Pick Your Poison:

 

The small town of Carrick, in the middle of Ireland, is a big change for Ashling Butler, museum curator, fiddle-player and incurable puzzle-solver. Ashling comes back from England to take up a job in her childhood home. Visiting the North family’s estate, she discovers the murdered body of Rose Martin, part-time secretary in the County Museum. Encouraged, somewhat alarmingly, by the ghost of Lady Molly North, Ashling pursues the mystery of Rose’s death. She is helped along the way by her friend, Lucy; by Jerry Cassidy, the detective in charge; and by knowledge of plants – her own grasp of plant-lore and the more practical skills of the handsome but curt horticulturalist, Conor Foster. By the time she has uncovered the secrets that drove a murderer to kill again, Ashling is also presented with another secret – the identity of the third witch of Carrick’s legend.

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Review:

I am reviewing both of these stories under one post because they are VERY short stories that just begin the series. I downloaded both from the free section of the NOOK store.

 

Water in the Well was a depressive slog to get through even though it clocks in at a mere 34 pages and is only part 1 in a series that isn't published beyond this part. This is especially annoying given that plotlines are left hanging. Also, that cover is very misleading - the story takes place in the moors of the UK (I think Scotland but it could've been Yorkshire) but the cover shows a woman in a Stetson hat. Content warning for child abuse. 1 star for saving the child from the abuser.

 

Pick Your Poison is also part 1 of a series that hasn't published beyond part 1, but what a difference from the first story. This story was the perfect just as it is, so if this is the only part published, it is still a satisfying story. I love all the characters and the storyline, but I do have an affinity for witch origin stories. I would highly recommend this story if you are looking for some quick, light mystery and witches coming together. 4 stars.

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text 2019-04-07 14:43
Dewey Read-a-thon Master Post - Update #4
Saga Volume 4 - Brian K. Vaughan,Fiona Staples
Corned Beef & Casualties - Lynn Cahoon
Water in the Well - Zoey Summers
Mother's Day Mayhem - Lynn Cahoon
Pick Your Poison: Supernatural Witch Cozy Mystery - Zoey Summers

 

Update #4

Got half way through Saga volume 8 when the read-a-thon ended, but kept reading until the end of volume 9 - whoo boy that was a rough on my heart ending. I did meet my page goal and got caught up on two series I follow, so it was a good if half-assed participation on my part.

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

Update #3

Finished Water in the Well by Zoey Summers and then listened to two chapters of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson last night. Finished Pick Your Poison by Zoey Summers this morning while making breakfast for the kids. I'm so not meeting my time goal or pages goal this read-a-thon.

 

Going to knock out the Saga volumes, which should take me to the end of the read-a-thon, maybe I will also get the chance to get another chapter in The Twentieth Century done too. 

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

Update #2

Read for 5 hours. Started and finished both Tourist Trap Mysteries novellas, finished a chapter in The Twentieth Century while waiting for the husband to leave work. and read to the kids for a half hour (Where the Wild Things Are and Ballerina Rosie). Saving the Sagas for tomorrow morning when I have some sleep in me and can really lose myself in the storyline. Going to knock out a couple of the Zoey Summers short stories before heading to sleep. Getting up extra early with the husband as he was called in to come to work tomorrow a hour earlier, so I figured I can get a few hours of reading in before my Wild Things wake up.

 

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

Update #1

I'm not starting the read-a-thon until 4pm due to schedule conflicts. Here is my opening survey:

 

1)What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Brandon, Suffolk (UK)
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Saga Volume 9, just to know what everyone is talking about - although it may break my heart 
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzerella cheese with balsamic vinegar
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Stayed out late last night to go see a comedy show at the enlistment club on base. Early morning today, so definitely caffeine is in order
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Nothing, I think I have these read-a-thons down to what I like to read and eat and how I go about participating

 

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

Reading List:

1. Saga Volumes 4-9 by Brian K. Vaugn and Fiona Staples (volume 4 is a re-read to remind myself the story, then the rest is to get me current on the series)

2. The Maid's Quarters by Holly Bush (70 pages)

3. A New Life by Merry Farmer (92 pages)

4. Mail Order Cowboy by Maisey Yates (94 pages)

5. A Fresh Start in Holly Blue Bay by Cathy Blossom (94 pages)

6. Mail Order Majesty by Sara Jolene (92 pages)

7. Water in the Well (26 pages), In the Cards (31 pages), Pick Your Poison (36 pages), Founder's Night (29 pages), and Magic in the Swamp (34 pages) by Zoey Summers

8. Corned Beef and Casualties (Tourist Trap Mystery) by Lynn Cahoon (78 pages) - Done!

9. Mother's Day Mayhem (Tourist Trap Mystery) by Lynn Cahoon (65 pages) - Done!

 

Goals:

1. Post every three hours.

 

2. Read 750 pages.

              Stretch 1,000 pages

 

3. Read for 12 hours. 

 

 

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review 2014-09-07 15:37
Somebody tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead - Christiana Miller

New Review! SOMEBODY TELL AUNT TILLIE SHE'S DEAD by Christiana Miller, the first Toad Witch (yech) series mystery.

 

http://tinyurl.com/k3hj492

 

3.5-star fun, frothy lazy-Sunday #amreading and there's more full-figured witchy goodness out today! SOMEBODY TELL AUNT TILLIE WE'RE IN TROUBLE! just dropped.

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review 2014-08-06 20:37
Pulpy fun
Inspector Hobbes and the Blood - Wilkie Martin

Don’t you have those days when your brain just needs a break? I’ve been swamped this summer by the seriously un-fun Understanding Pathophysiology. After reading four or five chapters a week, there’s times when my brain craves a bit of shut-off, but my body isn’t ready to sleep.  That’s what television is for, right? And sports? But honestly, I’d rather read about silly people and needless danger than watch it, and that’s where Martin’s Unhuman series with Inspector Hobbes fits in. Well, Inspector Hobbes isn’t senseless so much as Andy Caplet is, the diffident reporter assigned to follow Hobbes. Think Sherlock Holmes with slightly more bestial tendencies and Lou Costello as Watson. Think modern English town with supernatural beings just trying to live their lives without harassment, whether its chomping on old bones or standing in a field thinking trollish thoughts. Think–dare I say it–puns.

 

Andy Caplet is a struggling reporter unexpectedly assigned to follow Inspector Hobbes, one of the fearsome successes of the local police force. The assignment is surprising as Andy’s most notable story to date was his unsuccessful attempt to do a piece on a show-winning hamster, resulting in nasty bite and an unflattering bit of press. Hobbes is focused an unlikely series of events relating to Mr. Roman, whose house was burgled, a violin stolen, and Mr. Roman subsequently found dead, apparently a suicide. When Andy follows Hobbes to the cemetery where Mr. Roman was found, he discovers a newly-opened grave and is almost victim to a ghoulish cover-up. It is the beginning of Andy’s introduction to the unhumans around him, and he decides to stick with Hobbes in hopes of an award-winning story. Perhaps even a book!

 

The basic premise of Inspector Hobbes is done well. The unfortunate Andy contrasts nicely to the enigmatic, powerful and intelligent Hobbes. Plotting moves quickly from event to event, establishing interesting characters along the way. Particularly entertaining was Mrs. Goodfellow, Hobbes’ live-in cook, housekeeper and friend, with her dental obsession and her tendency to tread quietly. I appreciated the the way Martin hints to the reader and Andy that something about certain characters may not be quite human, a much more enjoyable type of character development than the long-winded info-dump. Hobbes, of course, is the biggest mystery of all–what is he, exactly? And does it matter?

 

In truth, and in his own way, he’d looked after me. He was an enigma. He was a monster. He was a policeman. He was someone I out to be writing about.

 

Andy, being more of the anti-hero type, frequently leaps to the wrong conclusion, misleading himself and the reader. Although bumbling, he isn’t quite incompetent, and is sincere, so I found him more tolerable than in the second book, Inspector Hobbes and the Curse.

 

 

One of the few problems I had with the writing was what appears to me as a tendency to run-on sentences and excessive commas. It could just be my personal fondness for semi-colons and colons showing, but I did find it initially distracting. I think as the action picks up, the commas diminish–or else my mental filter blotted them out. An early example:

 

As I landed and turned around, the magazine fluttering to the carpet like a dying pigeon, the blood pounding through my skull, my shin bruised from a sharp encounter with the table, the old lady, standing by the sofa, gave me a gummy smile. Though I coulgh have sworn she did not have a single tooth left in her head, I thought a positive response was appropriate.

 

As a side note, although I love paper books, this might be one to read on e-reader. Martin has a tendency to sprinkle a number of English idioms–and by English, I mean country-cultural specific words. And, speaking of abuse of the English language, there’s a story about Hobbes’ stuffed grizzly bear:

 

The bus knocked him into a music shop, where his muzzle became entangled in an antique stringed instrument that suffocated him. And so my sad tale ends, with a bear-faced lyre.

 

It was fun and entertaining–and didn’t mention molecular biology once. A perfect beach read, if you should be so lucky as to have time at the beach.

 

Thanks to Julia at The Witcherly Book Company for providing me a copy to review. Which, of course, was not contingent on my actually reviewing it.

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review 2014-07-28 03:28
Known Devil.
Known Devil - Justin Gustainis

With Hard Dark, I had the impression Gustainis was having fun. Enjoying the hell out of himself, in fact, and the enthusiasm translated to an entertaining read. This time, the writing feels forced, rote instead of fun. World-building, characterization and writing all left me left me wishing I had picked up my academic reading instead.

 

The third installment in the Occult Crimes Unit series begins in a local diner where Detective Sergeant Stan Markowski and his partner, Karl Renfer, are having a coffee break–or blood break in Karl’s case. Karl’s musings on the latest James Bond flick are interrupted by a pair of elves holding up the patrons.  The elves are behaving like strung-out drug addicts, but everyone knows supernaturals can’t get addicted to drugs, with the exception of those pesky goblins and their meth problem. Unfortunately, Renfer and Mark are about to discover a new drug that works on supes has made its way to Stanton. Before they can follow-up, they’re diverted to a mass shooting where members of a local vampire crime family are permanently dead, murdered by an out of town gang moving in on their territory. A supernatural drug, a local gang war, and the growth of the local Patriot Party all add up to trouble. Could they possibly be connected?

 

As a bit of background, while there isn’t anything new or surprising about the world Gustainis has created (unless you count the alternate history that includes Steinbeck writing Of Elves and Men), it’s been largely serviceable world-building.  Normally, if world-building isn’t particularly unique, I focus on character or plotting, but alas–the same cut-and-paste from genre tropes is apparent. Stan Sipowitcz as detective. Impaired but recovering relationship with daughter as well as partner. New drug moving into the city causing gang war. Supernatural discrimination. Not-so-shadowy figure who wants to incite a cultural revolution. Stan’s willingness to be jury and judge with lawbreakers.

 

I wasn’t offended by Detective Stan’s flirtation with the judgmental side of defending his city. I was, however, offended by the facile characterization–and read absolutely no political implications in my complaints–which relied on copy-n-paste anti-immigrant Tea Party description into the anti-supernatural Patriot Party. Ditto the insertion of every Italian mob stereotype you might remember from Godfather-knock-offs into the vampire mob family (“the devil you know…”).

 

Even more concerning is the general awkwardness of the writing. Take this fragment from a discussion between Markowski and Castle, the head of the supernaturals:

 

“‘It may surprise you, detective, but I also have read the works of Mister Ian Fleming. Mostly, I regard them as light entertainment, but sometimes, as in your present example…’ The fingers were drumming again, softly as tears falling on a coffin.

 

Or the awkward justification where Markowski admits he lied to his fellow officers, lied to a gang leader, but is willing to tell the police department he was lying if he needs to turn in the gang leader (dizzy yet?). Then the  transition after Markowski helpfully summarizes his reasoning and plans for the reader his adult daughter:

 

She swirled the remaining liquid in her mug and studied the little whirlpool that resulted. ‘This cop stuff gets pretty complicated sometimes, doesn’t it?’
‘Yeah, but it’s nothing that a master detective like your old man can’t handle.”

 

Yes, I suppose “this cop stuff” is complicated when you are an author and need  your character to behave in an uncharacteristic way, but don’t want to re-write everything you’ve done so far.

 

Then there’s a weird scene thrown in where the department witch does some sympathetic magic, so she kisses our lead.  I’d accuse Gustainis of being a bit of a sexist, since the few women characters are only accessories to our lead–except that virtually all the characters are one-note, so it’s hard to say it’s a female-only issue. It is worth noting that when females do appear, Markowski has a definite preoccupation with their sexuality (including his daughter’s, ew).

 

Quite honestly, I was bored reading, never a good sign. The only reason I didn’t quit was that then I’d have to read three chapters of Study Guide for Understanding Pathophysiology. It was the worst of both worlds; the guilt of procrastination coupled with annoyance at an unsatisfactory diversion. Perhaps I was trying to outwit myself, by selecting a book that would help me study? I like to think so, but I’m afraid I might just be witless.

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