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review 2018-04-19 11:29
Dead Calm (Mattie Winston, #9)
Dead Calm - Annelise Ryan

With the exception of one book, this has always been a strong series; it started off a bit slapstick, as the MC, Mattie, had one Stephanie Plum-like disaster after another, but this was quickly tamped down and the humor became much more subtle.

 

I started off impatient with Dead Calm because there was an obscene amount of info dumping going on at the start, far more than usual.  I was just about getting fed up when I remembered that the last book left off in the midst of a larger murder mystery (not a cliff hanger though) and this was the author's way of picking that story up and continuing with it, while also introducing new murders to be solved in parallel.

 

Once I got past all that, it was great; the murder mystery confined to this book was excellent and boy, I did not see that end coming.  The larger story arc was wrapped up beautifully too; nobody trying to be heroes and unrealistically saving the day, but justice prevails nonetheless; I like that Mattie and Hurley recognised that the case was bigger than their capabilities, and I thought their solution clever and realistic.  A smaller sub-plot, concerning an alien skeleton found on property Mattie and Hurley are trying to build on, started off silly but the solution was heartbreaking and touching.

 

This is just a good book (aside from the info dumping; it was necessary, but annoying).  I enjoy reading a mystery that involves true investigation, collecting the evidence and putting things together to build toward a solution. I hope Ryan can keep it going.

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url 2018-04-19 05:00
Author Of The Month - J. Scott Coatsworth - Week Three

Join us as we continue our celebrations for this fantastic author! 

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review 2018-04-18 15:52
Just One Damned Thing After Another / Jodi Taylor
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor

Behind the seemingly innocuous façade of St Mary's, a different kind of historical research is taking place. They don't do 'time-travel' - they 'investigate major historical events in contemporary time'. Maintaining the appearance of harmless eccentrics is not always within their power - especially given their propensity for causing loud explosions when things get too quiet.

Meet the disaster-magnets of St Mary's Institute of Historical Research as they ricochet around History. Their aim is to observe and document - to try and find the answers to many of History's unanswered questions...and not to die in the process. But one wrong move and History will fight back - to the death. And, as they soon discover - it's not just History they're fighting.

Follow the catastrophe curve from 11th-century London to World War I, and from the Cretaceous Period to the destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria. For wherever Historians go, chaos is sure to follow in their wake....

 

This is the most enjoyable time-travel romp that I’ve ever read! I had great fun following the boisterous and sometimes explosive adventures of Madeleine Maxwell, as she joins the St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research. The book ends up being something that is hard to categorize, although I’m pretty sure that stores will stick it firmly on the Fantasy shelf. But there is mystery, intrigue, romance—you name the genre.

I am always delighted with fiction that includes dinosaurs, so the time travel to the Cretaceous was absolutely perfect for my tastes. As Miss Maxwell says, “You put dinosaurs and people together, you always get screaming.” Apparently she has seen at least one of the Jurassic Park movies!

I chose this as my time travel selection for my 2018 PopSugar challenge, but I will definitely be continuing on with the series. I love the patchwork of genres, the British sense of humour, and the adventure.

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review 2018-04-18 15:40
Corvus / Harold Johnson
Corvus - Harold Johnson

Eighty years have passed since flash floods, droughts, and tornadoes ravaged the North American landscape and mass migrations to the north led to decade-long wars. In the thriving city of La Ronge, George Taylor and Lenore Hanson are lawyers who rarely interact with members of the lower classes from the impoverished suburb of Regis and the independently thriving Ashram outside the city. They live in a world of personalized Platforms, self-driving cars, and cutting edge Organic Recreational Vehicles (ORVs), where gamers need never leave their virtual realities.

When Lenore befriends political dissenter and fellow war veteran Richard Warner, and George accidentally crash-lands his ORV near the mountain-sheltered haven of a First Nations community, they become exposed to new ways of thinking. As the lives of these near-strangers become intertwined, each is forced to confront the past before their relationships and lives unravel.

 

The author of this book will be coming to the annual When Words Collide conference here in Calgary in August. I try to read at least one book by each of the guests of honour before the conference and since I am a birder, how could I resist a book called Corvus?

I really enjoyed the book—Mr. Johnson is a talented writer. I loved how many threads he managed to weave into this story, everything from Aboriginal issues to climate change to poverty issues. He also painted an intriguing and rather grim view of the future. I loved his Organic Recreational Vehicles, developed from birds—swans, ravens, hawks, etc. One of the main characters, George Taylor, purchases a Raven ORV and true to Raven’s mischievous nature in Aboriginal tradition, George is taken on some unexpected adventures.

Some of Johnson’s themes are really overt—there are a couple of places where I was dismayed with the bludgeoning of the reader with his opinions (even though I agree with them). That prevented this from being a higher rated read for me—your mileage may vary.

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review 2018-04-18 09:02
The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche (Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery, #7)
The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche - M.L. Longworth

A departure from the format of the first 6 mysteries, I had doubts at first (as always), but it's possibly one of the best in the series.

 

Longworth tells this story from two angles, a few months apart.  One is set over a dinner in NYC, between an editor and a world famous, Nobel-level author, ostensibly discussing the possibility of the great man's newest book, a memoir.  But over dinner, at the editor's prompting, he tells the story of events that took place 3 months previously, in France.  The second angle is set 3 months back in time, focussing on Verlaque, Bonnet and Paulik as they find themselves in the middle of events as they unfolded.

 

The events surrounding the author's purchase of the Bastide Blanche are the culmination of several past events and include haunting, gaslighting, kidnapping, and a missing woman.  Verlaque and Bonnet each delve into different parts of the house's  - and the author's - histories to try to untangle the mess of events.

 

Longworth created a story to get lost in; one of those where I should probably have liked some of the characters a lot less than I did.  It was well plotted, bringing an end that even though it was foreshadowed early on, was both unexpected and tragic for almost everyone.  My only complaint was a sketchy resolution concerning the house's history; the reader gets enough to fill in the broad strokes, but I'd have liked to have known how much of the legend was real: was anyone buried in the basement?  (not a spoiler, btw)  But I did particularly like the ending, the editor's advice to the author; yes, there was a mercenary aspect to it, but truth, redemption and justice won too.

 

An excellent cozy series that isn't anything like cute and fluffy, but rather intelligent and well-written, and one that seems to be getting better as it goes.  

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