Tag Archives: good read

Review: Santa Clawed, by Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown

Santa ClawedFrom the Jacket Flap:

As Harry well knows, there’s hardly a place on earth cozier than Crozet, Virginia, at Christmastime. The snowflakes drifting lazily down, the soft glow of the winter light, the sound of old carols in the streets … even cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter get into the spirit, battling ornaments and climbing the holiday tree. In fact, it’s this year’s tree that Harry and her husband, Fair, have gone to fetch when they find the one they’ve chosen grimly decorated with a dead body.

The Snapshot Review

What I Liked: Mrs. Murphy, Pewter and Tucker are as fun as ever; Crozet, Virginia, is as cozy as ever; and the snow and lights and merry-making add up to a Christmas-y feel, in spite of the murders. The mystery is a good, solid one. And the illustrations by Michael Gallatly are lovely.

Not Thrilled With: Unlike previous Mrs. Murphy mysteries, the characterizations just aren’t quite there. Dialogue in particular is a bit clipped.

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: A fun read for Mrs. Murphy fans, though readers new to the series should make sure to check out a previous book in the series, too.

Read the Full Review of Santa Clawed

Review: Not in the Flesh, by Ruth Rendell

Not in the FleshFrom the Jacket Flap:

Searching for truffles in a wood, a man and his dog unearth something less savoury – a human hand.

The body, as Chief Inspector Wexford is informed later, has lain buried for ten years or so, wrapped in a purple cotton sheet. The post-mortem cannot reveal the precise cause of death. The only clue is a crack in one of the dead man’s ribs.

The police computer stores a long list of missing persons. Men, women and children disappear at an alarming rate, something like 500 every day nation-wide. So Wexford knows he is going to have a job on his hands to identify the corpse.

And then, only twenty yards away from the woodland burial site, in the cellar of a disused cottage, another body is found.

The Snapshot Review

What I Liked: Sitting down with Wexford and Burden again; the subplot which, as often happens in Rendell’s Wexford novels, deals with a complex socio-cultural issue, one which Rendell handles well.

The “But”: Plot was predictable; characters not as finely detailed as in previous Wexford novels.

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: Wexford fans are always thrilled with a new Wexford novel, but this one isn’t quite up to par with previous ones. Still, very readable.

Read the Full Review of Not in the Flesh

Review: The Cruellest Month, by Louise Penny

I was bitten by the book review bug earlier this year when I started writing some guest reviews at my friend Ann-Kat’s blog, Today I Read. Now that I have my own book review blog (thank you to all the book bloggers I’ve been reading for their inspiration, and Ann-Kat for her encouragement), I thought I’d link to the reviews I wrote at Today I Read, so there’s a sort of continuity.

I’m a big fan of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache novels. Here’s a “Snapshot Review” of The Cruellest Month:

The Snapshot Review

What I Liked: Well written mystery; the Three Pines setting is wonderful as always; enjoyed meeting all the old familiar characters again; Gamache remains as likeable as ever.

Disliked: The entire Arnot subplot. It really strained my credibility; I couldn’t see the crimes involving Arnot happening without national outrage and the initiation of a full-scale government inquiry, making the attacks on Gamache’s reputation difficult.

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: Read the two previous Gamache mysteries first (Still Life and A Fatal Grace) so you’ll fall in love with the setting, the characters and Penny’s writing. If you’re already a fan, the book is still good read.

As you can see, it wasn’t my favourite out of the three Inspector Gamache novels; the background plot just didn’t work at all for me. Aboriginal rights and issues fall within federal jurisdiction in Canada, and given the extent of the crimes involved in the subplot, it was difficult for me to believe the whole case wouldn’t have resulted in a formal federal inquiry. Despite this, I still enjoyed the mystery part of the novel, and am looking forward to new Inspector Gamache mysteries from Louise Penny. Ms. Bookish’s Rating: B: Good Read ?

Click here to read my full review at Today I Read.

Review: Casting Spells, by Barbara Bretton

Casting SpellsFrom the back cover:

Sugar Maple looks like any bucolic Vermont town, but when the tourists go home, it’s a different story – inhabited as it is with warlocks, sprites, vampires, witches, and an ancient secret. And I know all about secrets. I’m Chloe Hobbs, owner of Sticks & Strings, a popular knitting shop where your yarn never tangles, you always get gauge … and the knitter sitting next to you comes out only after dark.

I’m also a sorcerer’s daughter – a single sorcerer’s daughter with Sugar Maple’s future in her hands, which means the whole town is casting spells meant to help me find Mr. Right. Who’d have guessed I’d find him in Luke MacKenzie, a cop investigating Sugar Maple’s very first murder? Bad news is he’s 100 percent human, which could spell disaster for a normal future with a paranormal woman like me – in love, in danger, and in way over my head.

The Snapshot Review

I Liked: The knitting shop! I don’t knit but it sounds just like a place I’d like to be, so cozy and comfortable. I also enjoyed Sugar Maple, the town, and the assorted weird secondary characters were great fun, too.

Not Thrilled With: The story started off with a discrepancy that bothered me throughout; some minor inconsistencies and not fully developed characters also prevented the story from really taking off for me.

Ms. Bookish’s Very Quick Take: A pleasant-enough, fun read.

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Review: Death Perception, by Victoria Laurie


The Gamble of a Lifetime

It took a while for Abby’s FBI agent boyfriend, Dutch Rivers, to accept her psychic gifts as the real deal. But these days he knows better than to question Abby’s visions. So when his cousin Chase is kidnapped after a bloody shoot-out in a Vegas alleyway, he agrees that her clairvoyant skills could be invaluable, and they both catch the next flight to Sin City.

Abby’s inner eye insists that Chase is still alive, but nothing else about the case adds up – especially Dutch’s reluctance to involve the FBI. On top of everything, Dutch is battling a mysterious illness, and Abby keeps having disturbing dreams that predict his death. Dutch wants Abby to promise that if the investigation goes south, she’ll head home to safety, but when the chips are down, Abby won’t fold without a fight.

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: Death Perception is a fun paranormal mystery. While the mystery itself is quite serious, the book veers toward the light-hearted side, which is a nice combination when you’re in the mood for a good mystery but you want something fun, too. I enjoy novels where the protagonist has a support network that she calls on; this is one such novel, and it made the read all the more fun for me. There were a few things I didn’t like, but these were minor and didn’t seriously affect my enjoyment of the novel. The solution offers a bit of a twist, and the mystery itself is complex enough to lead you through the book at a good speed.
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Review: Doppelganger, by Pete Hautman and Mary Logue

From the jacket flap:

Scrolling through a missing-children website, Roni Delicata gets the shock of her life. Staring back at her from the screen is a face that looks just like her fellow crime-solver Brian Bain, who was adopted as a baby. At first Brian scoffs at the resemblance, but then he realizes his parents have never really talked about his early childhood – could he actually be the missing kid?

As Roni and Brian piece together the mystery behind Brian’s adoption, other people emerge from the shadows of the past, and Brian’s parents still aren’t talking. Suddenly Brian is not just a detective on the caes – he’s the key to a mystery that everyone is after.

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: Doppelganger is the third book in the Bloodwater Mysteries series, and the protagonists, Roni Delicata and Brian Bain, are as likeable as ever. It’s a fast-paced story, filled with danger and excitement, and the solution to the mystery itself is satisfying. I wasn’t as happy with the overall conclusion to the book, though. Still, for children who love mysteries, Doppelganger should prove to be a fun and exciting read.
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Review: Bones to Ashes, by Kathy Reichs

Ms. Bookish’s Quick Take: I find it hard to resist a Kathy Reichs’ book, even though I’m not particularly enamoured with her style – I find the gothic, damsel in distress mode just a little bit annoying. But her plot lines are always so interesting, and I never have any doubt that she’ll hold my interest with surprise twists all the way through. Bones to Ashes didn’t let me down in this respect, but there is one particular scene, near the end of the book, which took my credibility and stamped it all to shards and pieces … It was extremely hard coming back to the rhythm of the book after that. See below for the full review.

From the back cover:

The discovery of a skeleton in Acadia, Canada, reawakens a traumatic episode for forensic anthropologist Temperence Brennan: Could the young girls’ remains be those of Évangéline Landry, Tempe’s friend who disappeared when Tempe was twelve? Exotic, free-spirited, and slightly older, Évangéline enlivened Tempe’s summer beach visits … then vanished amid whispers that she was “dangerous”. Now, faced with bones scarred with inexplicable lesions, Tempe is consumed with solving a decades-old mystery – while her lover, detective Andrew Ryan, urgently needs her attention on a wave of teenage abductions and murders. With both Ryan and her ex-husband making surprising future plans, Tempe may soon find that her world has painfully and irrevocably changed once again.

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