Reading Overview – 1/8/18 to 1/14/18

  • Adult Fiction: 3
  • Adult Nonfiction: 0
  • Young Adult: 0
  • Children’s Fiction: 1

A Potion to Die For (Magic Potions Mystery #1) by Heather Blake – Yet another new cozy mystery series. The Magic Potions series is set in Hitching Post Alabama and follows the exploits of Carly Bell Hartwell (you must say this with a syrupy sweet southern drawl for full effect). Carly owns a genuine magic potions shop and is competing with her cousin – Carley is a white witch and her cousin is into hexes. There is a long-standing family feud over who rightfully owns the “special” magical ingredient that provides that special something to Carley’s potions. As the mystery begins we find Carley literally running from a mob of people…I started to not like this book right away. It paints the rural South in an unflattering light that I think is supposed to come off as poking fun in a light and fun way. I found it heavy-handed and most of the characters are so stereotypical, not much in the way of actual personality. Typical for the genre, there is an obnoxious but lovable parent (the mother in this book) and a father-daughter bond where the father uses the daughter to deflect the mother’s crazy. Also, for those who are easily triggered, the love interest is a former fiancee of the main character who she vocally is rebuffing, but internally (of course) melts at the sight of him. He, on the other hand, does not respect her boundaries and while I realize that the author is trying to create playful banter and portray him as a long-suffering love interest, this actions and dialogue come off as condescending (the female lead obviously needs a man to take care of her type stuff). All of their interactions set my teeth on edge. The setting and witchy flavor of the book is right up my alley so I will give the second book a try, but it’s unlikely that I will read this long-term based on what I have already read.

Bad Moon Rising (Pine Deep #3) by Jonathan Maberry – Bad Moon Rising is the concluding volume of the Pine Deep series and is set in the fictional town of Pine Deep Pennsylvania and takes place in the weeks leading up to Halloween. Maberry manages to strike a nice balance between info dumping, pacing (not too fast, not too slow), and keeping up the suspense for the reader as to how things will ultimately pan out. I actually liked all of the information provided by Jonatha on the history and probability of the baddies featured in Maberry’s novel. Good stuff and definitely a nice twist on what is typical for the genre. I gave it a solid four stars, I won’t go into detail as that would likely spoil the build-up for anyone who hasn’t read the first two novels.

The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (Nancy Drew #32) by Carolyn Keene –Another fun romp of a mystery for Nancy and her pals. I’m having a lot of fun reading through the series.

All Around Town by Mary Higgins Clark – Printed in 1992, the premise is severely dated and a bit heavy-handed (I feel like I am using that phrase a lot lately) focusing on memory loss (or memory repression), multiple personalities, as well as child abuse and abduction. These were all pretty common plot devices in the 80’s and early-mid 90’s. The main characters are two sisters, the younger sister having been kidnapped at age four and later recovered. The older sister a successful attorney (presumably out of guilt about her sister’s abduction) and the younger sister a college student. The mystery/thriller is kicked off fully when a tragic event happens after the obligatory backstory, putting the younger sister into a downward spiral that introduces several mental health professionals and taking off full force from there. What seems like one plotline quickly takes off in several directions, weaving together to tell the full story of what happened to the younger sister way back when. Overall, a decent plot and kept me interested until the end though it was fairly predictable. I gave All Around Town three out of five stars on Goodreads.

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Reading Overview – 1/5/18 to 1/7/18

Adult Fiction: 1

Adult Nonfiction: 0

Young Adult: 1

Children’s Fiction: 2

Death By Coffee (Bookstore Cafe Mystery #1) by Alex Erickson – This is the first book in a new (to me) series. I honestly can’t decide if the author meant this as a tongue in cheek poke at the cozy genre…if it is not, then it’s amazing that one author could put in so many of the common complaints about cozy mysteries that readers often discuss. I like the idea behind the book, I like coffee and I definitely like books. Combing the two sets a nice stage for a cozy mystery. Unfortunately, all the yucky is there – there are two obnoxious cats who are genuinely destructive and the one in the bookstore/coffee shop should NOT be there; the main character is pushy, lacks tact, and often hurts her cause more than is necessary; and the remaining characters (including her business partner) are flat and feel like caricatures of people. There are other things I didn’t like but those are the main issues. I will give a second book a chance because I like the idea behind the series, if it doesn’t pick appeal after a second book, I’ll take a pass on any remaining books in this cozy series. I gave it two stars on Goodreads.

The Clue of the Velvet Mask (Nancy Drew #30) by Carolyn Keene – Nancy, along with Bess and George are out to solve yet another mystery. No surprises, a good, satisfying read in my quest to read the entire series.

The Ringmasters Secret (Nancy Drew #31) by Carolyn Keene – Same as above. I just have a soft spot of Nancy Drew (and the Hardy Boys) despite their many flaws. 🙂

Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard – Young Adult Fantasy. We return to Mare Barrow and the world she lives in at almost the same point that the first book ended. Despite being extremely trope-y, I find something appealing about this world and the people in it. I didn’t find much to be surprised about in this reading, but I’ll continue on to the third (and probably fourth) volume to see how the series develops and then concludes. I gave it a solid three stars, entertaining, but nothing ground shaking.

Death Al Dente (Food Lovers Valley Mystery #1) by Leslie Budewitz – This is another new to me cozy mystery set in Jewel Bay Montana, a food lover’s paradise. The main character is in business with her mother in a grocery store in a tourist town that focuses on local and regional organic/sustainable foods and beverages. The cozy feel of the village reminds me of the close community of the Wishcraft series. I enjoyed the world, but toward the end, I was kind of tired of all the food descriptions and it began to seem like eating anything but organic foodie bliss makes one a terrible person. Overall I liked the characters, though I did find the main characters mother to be annoying and unnecessarily secretive. The author goes out of the way to point out how closely knit the family and community are, but the actions of this character don’t support that. Truthfully this is a 2.5 to 3 star read for me but I feel like the series has potential and I will continue reading.

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Reading Overview – 1/1/18 to 1/4/18

Adult Fiction: 4

Adult Nonfiction: 0

Young Adult: 0

Children’s Fiction: 0

I read a very surprising (to me) nine books last week, the breakdown can be seen above. It consists mainly of cozy mysteries as that is where I feel drawn in my reading right now. I am enjoying quite a few new (again, to me) series. Now, on to a brief description of my recent reading:

Silent Partner (Alex Deleware #4) by Jonathan Kellerman – I enjoyed the first book quite a bit, unfortunately, as I am moving forward in the series, I am finding less and less to like about both Alex Delaware and the series itself. I am noticing that Kellerman’s descriptions and attitudes toward female/gay characters are a little outdated and feel like they are often stereotypical and a bit misogynistic. In this fourth installment, Milo was mostly absent and I felt that the “mystery” itself was unnecessarily convoluted and the descriptions of Delaware’s old love interest went above and beyond, beating the reader over the head with how beautiful and sexual she was. Their relationship/sexual encounters were overly graphic, bordering on soft-core porn. I was left feeling completely unsatisfied with this novel. I will continue with the series because I’ve been assured by someone who knows my reading preferences well that the series really is good and gets much better. I will give it two or three more books, but if it doesn’t get significantly better, I am going to let this series go.

Knit One, Murder Two (Knitting Mystery #1) by Maggie Sefton – A knitting themed cozy mystery set in Colorado. The main character is an accountant on leave from work, who returned to take care of her murdered Aunt’s affairs. On a scale of 1-10 in how many tropes a cozy mystery has for the genre, this one is around a 6 in my book – it does have an obnoxious dog that doesn’t obey but it doesn’t receive too much space in the book. I hope that it stays that way for the rest of the series. I appreciate animal lovers and that they are often part of cozy mysteries, but I feel like most of the animals that become showcased in these books are animals I would want nothing to do with. So far no love triangle (big bonus points for that), though it does have an old love interest with potential (typical for the genre). I found myself annoyed by the use of the word tweaked for teasing behavior, it took me out of the dialogue several times. This is a personal peeve, not something that I’ve seen in a lot of cozies. I loved the gaggle of characters introduced, it’s varied and I’m looking forward to getting to know them all better later on, though the level of connection between all the characters seemed to build very quickly and without much reason. I’ll read a couple more in this series, but if the writing and plot do not improve, I’ll have to let this series go. I gave it two out of five stars on Goodreads, it’s almost a three, but not quite.

Hexes and Hemlines (Witchcraft Mystery #3) by Juliet Blackwell – The third volume of the Witchcraft Mystery series follows the relatively new San Francisco transplant Lilly Ivory taking on yet another murder investigation. This time out she finds herself trying to help out her friend and shipmate’s son-in-law by looking into the mysterious Serpentarian Society. Despite being a murder mystery, these books are light and easy to read. Like Knit One, Murder Two, I am wondering if I should continue with the series. Overall it’s okay, but I feel like the author is beating the reader over the head with the fact that Lilly is a witch and that this IS a witchcraft mystery. Also, she seems to be incredibly naive about her choice of mentor – I know the author is building to something with all of the trepidation and mystery she is pumping into their interactions. I have mixed feelings about Oscar (the pig/gargoyle familiar) and I still don’t like it when authors put animals in shops where they do not belong (animals DO NOT belong in places of business unless that business actually caters to pets – pet shops, pet groomers, etc.). I am interested to see what happens with Sailor in future installments. I hope my peeves with this series don’t start to overshadow what I do like about the series. I gave it three out of five stars on Goodreads.

Some Like it Witchy (Wishcraft Mystery #5) by Heather Blake – The fifth volume of the Wishcraft mysteries series returns to Darcy Merriweather and the business she owns with her aunt in the Enchanted Village ( a part of Salem, MA). There are still a few things I don’t like about this series (like the girl on girl hate over a man) but overall, I get a kick out of these and I like the world building. Light and fun, this fifth book finds Darcy trying to solve the murder of a neighbor (two houses down from As You Wish), a recluse with ties to a decades-old diamond heist. This volume in the series brings back all the old favorites in the village (and Darcy’s posse) and introduces a few new characters. A solid 3/5.

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Grateful & Thankful

9 January 2018

Today I Am Thankful For:

  1. Walking in the Sunshine
  2. Time to Read
  3. Mucking About with Paint & Paper

10 January 2018

Today I Am Grateful For:

  1. Trying out a new recipe – vegetarian steak sandwich (mushrooms)
  2. Delicious Dinner!
  3. Short but lovely conversation

11 January 2018

Today I Am Thankful For:

  1. Warm Coffee on a Crisp, Cool Morning
  2. Planning/Plotting Session
  3. Thinking (happily) To Myself, THE MIGHT ACTUALLY WORK!

12 January 2018

Today I Am Grateful For:

  1. Organizing & Culling
  2. Long Chat with My Neighbor
  3. Getting the Internet Fixed

13 January 2018

Today I Am Thankful For:

  1. Shepherd’s Pie (Veggie Version)
  2. A Good, Deep Sleep
  3. Long-Term Planning

14 January 2018

Today I Am Grateful For:

  1. Time to Enjoy a Lazy Afternoon
  2. Finishing a Book
  3. Amazon Delivery Sorted Out

15 January 2018

Today I Am Thankful For:

  1. That I Figured Something Out
  3. Knitting
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Grateful & Thankful

7 January 2018

Today I am Grateful For:

  1. Organizing some closet space in Liam’s space
  2. Prepping for a big reorganization in my space
  3. Sorting and “finding” things I’d forgotten about

8 January 2018

Today I am Thankful For:

  1. To-Go breakfast and decent conversation
  2. Time to finish reading a cozy mystery
  3. Just right afternoon temps and warm tea
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Grateful & Thankful

6 January 2018

Today I am Thankful For:

  1. Brewing up some creative ideas
  2. Knitting on my big project
  3. Feeling the Happy
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Grateful & Thankful

4 January 2018

Today I am Grateful For:

  1. Cranberry Juice
  2. Hot Water
  3. Whipped Cream
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