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InWonderlnd

InWonderlnd

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To Sketch a Thief
Sharon Pape
November Hunt
Jess Lourey
First-Degree Fudge - Christine DeSmet The least enjoyable book I've read in quite a long while. The main character was unlikeable, the other characters were less than caricature, and the mystery was a bore. The writing style began as spastic and veered into a guidebook featuring the best of small town Wisconsin. The descriptions were boring to read and seemed more like a lecture from a teacher that should have retired long ago. Background information was repeated but changed ever so slightly almost as though two rough drafts were pieced together as a finished product that no one bothered to edit, or the character was doing some revisionist history as the book progressed. I'm not even going to touch the way those with Aspergers were portrayed. The main character constantly made statements and assumptions without any foundation in the factual or real. In fact, every assumption and statement she made was based in delusion and self-serving self-absorption. There were actually moments I had to dig deep to remember the murder victim. I'm not going to bother writing a proper review and I would suggest you not bother reading
Dyeing Wishes - Molly MacRae

I have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to triangles, which is no surprise to anyone reading my reviews. They aren’t clever or interesting and the suggestion of one is enough for me to say no thanks to a burgeoning cozy series. I was wary with the first book in the series, but I loved just about every character. The one character I didn’t like is the same I have no patience for in this entry. I don’t find cleverly named abrasive police officer’s that makes free with misogynistic colloquialisms charming. I don’t believe two characters constantly locked in combative conversations is the breeding ground for romance, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I almost didn’t review this book because I was afraid the Book 3 teaser might negatively impact my rating, but I’m a big girl. The second entry in the series was just as enjoyable as the first. Kath is growing at a steady and believable pace. She’s a good character and I like her quite a bit. The supporting cast had some new additions in this entry, but I found the newcomers as welcome as the old and look forward to discovering more of their histories and backgrounds as the series progresses. The paranormal aspect is wonderful. I find Geneva an absolute joy and her mysterious past would be enough to delight me. Her banter with Kath is wonderfully written and one of the highlights of the series. There were multiple mysteries and I managed to figure out the solution to one or two, but the big reveal was still a surprise, which is exactly how I like my mysteries. I could do without Cole/Clod Dunbar. He’s abrasive and annoying to his brother Joe’s mysterious and enigmatic, in fact maybe a bit too much of an enigma.

I don’t find Clod’s aggressive banter with Kath even remotely enjoyable. If anything it pulls me out of the story long enough for me to sigh loudly and roll my eyes. It’s difficult to rebound from being painted the ass. Frankly, the less of him the better, which brings me to my increasing trepidation with the series, especially after reading the Book 3 spoiler. I’ll read the third, but if this goes three-sided on me I’ll drop it without hesitation and without looking back. I have to say a triangle is bad, but one that includes two brothers crosses the line from do not want into will not have. There are too many series waiting for me to discover to put up with the convoluted and the annoying. Having made that snap judgment I hope I’m reading the signs all wrong and this will be a series I can enjoy for the long haul.

A Custom-Fit Crime - Melissa Bourbon I love this series, truly I do, but this entry felt slightly off. I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't enjoy it as much as the others. Too many periphery characters? Too much time away from the shop? Too many subplots? Too many cozies back to back? Too much Gavin? I just don't know. The main characters were all in fine form - the Cassidy women, Will, Gracie, and Hoss. The mystery solution was obvious, but in truth it seemed secondary to everything else that was going on in Bliss those few days. Maybe, that was the problem. The mystery seemed a subplot. It doesn't matter I'll keep reading this series because it is one that just gets it right - only a tiny bit less right this time.
Last Wool and Testament - Molly MacRae I enjoyed this book enough to buy the next in the series right away. Having said that I'm cautiously optimistic because I saw a triangle trying to take shape. Considering it's one of my biggest pet peeves I hope it never comes to fruition. I enjoyed the characters quite a bit and the setting. Kath's bumbling through the mystery, genuine emotion, and grief were well written. Her actions and choices led the plot, which allowed for the beginning character development a first in series needs. The supporting characters and the paranormal aspect were all welcome. The mystery kept me on my toes until the very end. I thought I knew the identity of our murderer. I was so confident I wondered why our protagonist couldn't see what I saw. I was wrong. I prefer it to the obvious solution. Now if only the shape doesn't take shape I can settle in and add a new series to my must read list.
How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran It had it's funny and laugh-out-loud moments. It had moments I didn't care for or about that seemed to go on for pages. I wouldn't read it again, but I don't regret reading it. It isn't academic discourse, but not everything needs to be, and being relatable is equally powerful.
Going, Going, Ganache - Jenn McKinlay Cozy mysteries require a certain suspension of belief and there's nothing wrong with that, but when reality rides in the trunk and melodrama steers the vehicle, well . . . I have a problem. Melodrama cannot be tamed by attempts at humor. Melodrama cannot be undone by epiphany. Melodrama is just bad. I'm tired of trumped up personal problems to extend subplots, to create false entanglements, and that are blindingly obvious. I saw what was coming before Mel woke up the next morning. I knew what was coming and where's the fun in that. There's no fun in that and there's never any fun in . . . well, I can't say without spoiling it for other readers, so I'll just quietly roll me eyes and sigh long and hard and think why. I've enjoyed this series up until now and I will certainly read the next, but its time to put some things to rest and find brand new subplots to explore and extend. I want character growth not reverse evolution. The mystery was a good one, but I hate when the "just there for this mystery" characters are more appealing and interesting than the ones that placed this series on my to buy list. I want grown women who act accordingly and not like some stunted twenty-something on the Bachelorette. I want better. I want what this series was just a book ago. If I were a person that read for plot over character then the mystery would have soothed me, but characterization and their attached subplots just annoyed me. I'll be waiting for the next entry.
Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street - Peter Abrahams Is it odd to say that it was the magic that ruined it for me? Here we have a ragtag group of kids who are thrown together by fate and on a quest for community justice. Sounds good right? Robin Hood meets Scooby-Doo it could have been, but alas not so much. I came across this novel on my annual internet search for news on the next in the Echo Falls series, but this seemed like it would be a welcome substitute. Again, not so much. The good - the kids acted like kids. They weren't self-aware adults in smaller bodies. They overlooked the obvious and took to their task with all the gusto that childhood brings. The bad - just about everything else, but the book scores and extra star for the dog and deliciously described food.
The Christie Curse - Victoria Abbott This was certainly a solid first in series, but I'm not totally sold. Jordan is certainly a likable enough lead, but she she'll need more depth to sustain a series. Vera and the Signora Panettone seemed as though the stepped out of the classic mysteries of old and I warmed to them quickly. The Uncles were a hoot, but the potential love interest/librarian was pure caricature. He was the stuff of fantasy, a blow up Ken doll complete with snazzy wardrobe. He lacked a discernible personality and he wasn't vital to the plot. What he brought to the story Jordan could have accomplished on her own. The plot was a little too long for what turned out to be an obvious solution. I was more fascinated by the mystery of Jordan's past than the one right in front of me, which is both good and bad. It's good because I'll be eager to resolve the mystery of Jordan's life, but bad because it means the book's main mystery wasn't compelling enough to hold my attention. I hope in the future more of the book will be dedicated to the search for rare books because in this one it really wasn't anything more than the story starter. My reaction is lukewarm, but I'll likely give the second book a try.
Buried In a Bog (A County Cork Mystery) - Sheila Connolly A horribly unlikeable protagonist ruins the sometimes lively secondary characters, setting, and mostly engaging though somewhat repetitive and slow plot. At one point Maura, our constantly negative main character, ponders on whether or not she is bitter. The answer is unequivocally yes. The book's narration would have you believe that Boston is a veritable hell on Earth filled with shallow and selfish people prone to criminal acts. Maura would have you believe that she has had the hardest of hard lives that there ever was with little hope for happiness or change. All of the negativity and overreactions on Maura's part were oppressive. There were moments when my mind sighed over her inner monologue and her outward actions. There was also a mystery and Ireland.
The Mark of Athena - Rick Riordan Less a review more a series of lists.

Love: Percy, Hazel, Leo, Frank, Nico, Reyna, Festus, Argo II, incorporation of Romans, minor gods/goddesses, quests, etc.

Miss: Grover and Rachel

Want More of: Echo, Ella, the girl Annabeth was before she became Percy' s girlfriend

Growing weary of: Annabeth, all the my boyfriend statements, all the my girlfriend statements

Still giving a chance: Jason (he could use some of his sister's personality)

Don't like: Piper (I've tried)

Hate: the need to pair everyone up, the idea that all of these teenagers have found forever and ever love (I dare Riordan to breakup all the couples that don't involve Hazel)

Can't wait for: House of Hades
Wave Good-bye - Lila Dare I'm having a hard time believing this series entry was written by the same person who authored the previous three books. When did Grace become so pathetic, so whiny, so unlikeable, and frankly so idiotic and devoid of self-respect. What happened? It seems like a complete personality transplant. This book was difficult to finish and I considered relegating it to my "Do Not Finish Ever" digital shelf, but I thought this can't possibly continue. Grace became slightly more palatable as the book progressed, but so much damage was done to her character.

A character who thinks so highly of her physicality and exterior, and Grace does it often enough, should try to cultivate a strength of character and self-worth to match. It's rather sad that a woman who actively allows herself to be treated as a disposable blow-up doll would harp on the physicality of a successful woman.

The mystery was serviceable, but incredibly anticlimactic. The mystery was certainly not enough to make up for a transformed Grace, a domesticated Marsh, and all the dizzying subplots. Sam was a welcome addition, but he was the only one. The major subplots where basically resolved in the predictable happy ending way one would expect.

A few days ago I was debating between starting this or another book, obviously this won, but in the words of the Grail Knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I chose poorly.
Chance of a Ghost - E.J. Copperman I'm ready for the next. I want more. Those may be simple sentences, but they say it all. The series lead is relatable, fully formed , and grounded. The same is true of all the other characters, the living and the ghostly. The plot is solid, heartfelt, and humorous.
Die Job  - Lila Dare Hate triangles. Hate static triangles even more. Love the characters, love the mystery, love the writing, but did I mention I hate triangles (what's in D.C. should stay in D.C.).
The Future of Us - Jay Asher, Carolyn Mackler Highly unlikeable and unsympathetic female protagonist who lacked the ability to apologize or see her own flaws made the second half of the book almost unbearable. When she finally did see the error of her ways the character was beyond any hope of redemption, plus her eureka moment came on too suddenly to be believable. The idea held a great deal of potential, so it was unfortunate to watch it turn into a standard angst filled teen romance novel weighed down by problems with characterization and unfulfilled promise.

Mackler has delivered quality work time and time again, so I'm not sure what hampered this effort. Asher wrote a compelling novel in his own right, but it also had problems creating a likable and sympathetic female lead. However, in Asher's case the plot and his lead male protagonist more than made up for that flaw, but sadly here it does not. I look forward to future novels by both of these talented writers, but perhaps not together.
Sisterhood Everlasting - Ann Brashares I wish I hadn't.
Buzz Off - Hannah  Reed I've been rather hard on cozy mysteries lately and I didn't know if it was me or if it was the books I was reading. I've been so disappointed lately giving three stars because there is no two and a half. Anyway, I've decided it was the books because Buzz Off kept me reading and when I closed the book I left eager to read the next entry in the series. It struck the right chord with me, not a perfect chord, but solid and entertaining. In honor of Story's bullet points, though they seemed to have struck a nerve with some, I've decided to use them to highlight what I liked and what I didn't.

PROS:

* I enjoyed Story immensely, save her dense and childish behavior during a particular subplot.

* I thought many of the secondary characters were interesting, fun and well developed (Stanley, Grams, Carrie Anne, Holly, P.P. Patti, etc.)

* The writing was engaging and kept me involved.

*Bravo for making me care about a character I never met. There came a point when I wished I'd had the chance to meet Manny, all credit goes to the aforementioned engaging writing.

* The setting was wonderfully described, vivid and clear.

* No a whiff of the dreaded love triangle.

* I loved learning more about bees, I didn't think I would, but I did! Again, credit goes to the writer, it felt more like someone saying, "Hey did you know . . ." rather than the lecture portion of a class on differential equations.


CONS:

* The mother is totally unlikeable, entirely one-note and lacks a single redeeming quality, which makes her every appearance after the first one or two a pain. I just wanted her to be quiet and reading her tiresome tirades, judgments and assumptions was just too too much. Less of her in the future would make me happy.

* The ridiculous assumption Story made about Carrie Anne went on far too long and made Story seem rather dense, which she is not. There was nothing that made me believe what she believed so rather than coming off as a secondary plot it seemed more a forced aside than an actual roadblock.

*The book was slightly too long, though I imagine that is always the case once the reader has solved the mystery.


Looking forward to Mind Your Own Beeswax.