hlmauera: (Default)
For several years it seemed every book I read contained some aspect of fantasy or supernatural. But the last year to 18 months, that particular genre has held no interest for me. Then this weekend, on a whim, I watched episodes of Blood Ties and True Blood. I have to say, as heroines go, I much prefer Sookie to Vicki. I mean really, how many times can Vicki go into a situation she knows is over her head without any sort of real protection, at night when her eyes are weakest and expect to survive or be rescued? She's supposed to be this tough ex-cop but she's incredibly stupid when it comes to her own safety. I don't mind a strong female roll but there is a difference between stubborn/strong and just plain stupid. Sookie may be naive, but she learns, and quickly at that. So while the southern backwoods environment and her stupid brother annoy me to a painful degree sometimes, I'd rather watch an intelligent heroine. I haven't read either series of books so I don't know how true to the written character either heroine is but I'm not much inclined to read The Blood Ties series based upon the TV series, even though I've read a couple of Tanya Huff's other books and enjoyed them immensely.

I think I stopped reading the genre because they were too dark and moody at a time when I felt I had enough stress in my life and wanted my reading to reflect a lighter, maybe happier, world in which problems are actually solvable(hence the cozy mystery kick). Perhaps the fact that I can enjoy this genre again, at least in moderation, means my stress levels have decreased a bit.


Jun. 15th, 2008 09:39 pm
hlmauera: (Tower)
Graduation is over; the reception's behind us. Time to worry about the move. But not today. Today I read a book.

I haven't had much time to read but I've picked up a couple new authors and thought I should update y'all on my thoughts.

Earlene Fowler Benni Harper series:
Interesting. A little cynical, a little lonely. The main character, Benni Harper has lost her husband in a drunk driving hit and run. The story is mixed with her emotions dealing with the death of her husband. I enjoyed the first two books, the mysteries seemed well written but sometimes I had to go back to follow the logic. The emotional play of Benni dealing with her late-husband's family, her grandmother and aunt, and all of the friends that she shared with her husband were heartrending and yet often very funny too. Add in the new detective's interest and his error of sitting in her husband's chair and it's all very human. I'll keep reading.

Diane Mott Davidson Goldilocks catering:
The main character in this series is a caterer raising a pre-teen son and dealing with her abusive ex living in the same town. She gets along with her ex-in-laws although her mother-in-law is an alcoholic. Actually, alcoholism and addiction is a theme in the first book. The inclusion of the recipes was bit disruptive since they were thrown in wherever they were used and didn't wait for any logical break in the story. In the first book Goldy's catering business is shut down when someone is poisoned at a party she caters. As her only source of income, Goldy is desperate to solve the mystery of the poisoning so that she can reopen. This desperation leads Goldy to do some really stupid stuff. She's careless and reckless and I found myself being a little impatient with her. I want to read the second book to see if she is a bit more logical without desperation making her stupid. This book is a bit dark and deals with some pretty difficult issues- teenage angst, sexual abuse, battery, addiction and divorce.

Joanna Fluke Hannah Swenson myseries:
Hannah Swenson owns a cookie shop that has become the hub in a small town. Her brother-in-law is a cop who, in the first book is trying to make detective. Her mother is constantly trying to set her up with some eligible male so that she won't hit the dreaded 30 without being married. Her sister is a co-conspirator and ali. Hannah has no love interests at the start of the book but things start heating up towards the end. This book made me smile. If Hannah did some foolish things, it fell under the category of "It seemed good at the time." While this book also had a few serious topics, spousal abuse and addiction, they were dealt with in a sensitive manner without taking over the book. I am looking forward to continuing with this series.

Laura Childs Tea Shop Mysteries:
Theo owns a tea shop in the historic district of Charleston. She employs a tea connoisseur (Drayton) and a lovely young baker(Haley). The three of them keep things lively and humorous. Drayton is an older gentleman and belongs to the historic society. He left a high paying job in hotel management to come to the tea shop to blend, brew, and teach about teas. Theo and Drayton use their contacts in the historic district to gather leads. When Theo runs out of leads, the tea shop crew tries to set elaborate traps for the felons but aren't always successful. Detective Tidwell adds to this mix a delightfully dour personality. And although neither Theo nor Detective Tidwell really like each other, they find mutual respect and an advantegous collaboration. I find the characters engaging, the environment enchanting, and the mysteries interesting. I'll keep reading this series.


Mar. 14th, 2008 06:05 pm
hlmauera: (Happy Baby)
I read the second Deborah Donnelly book and I've discovered a trend that I dislike a lot. It's part of the irony but the wedding planner has lousy luck with men. And not just normal stuff- really horrible. And the author always seems to end the book on that note. I don't know if I'll read the 3rd book.

On the other hand, I read the first three books in Monica Ferris' needlecraft Mysteries and really enjoyed them. All three were in one compendium and it was way too easy to just keep reading. They are similar to the Maggie Sefton knitting mysteries but the main character is older and not as strong. There is wonderful character development in her stories and I'll keep reading them just to watch the people. One thing I'm finding disturbing about this series is that it takes place in a very small town...so how many evil characters can you actually have in one town? And since gossip seems to be the specialty of the residents, how come more people don't know about the evil amongst them? Still it's been fun.

I also read Killer Hair, the first book in the Crimes of Fashion series by Ellen Byerrum. It is also quite amusing. The series is set in Washington DC where no one has any fashion sense and helmet hair is de rigueur. The main character is a reporter who has been placed on the fashion beat because her predecessor dies at her desk and the boss sees her sitting alone in the office and figures she'll do. But she's good at it, with a love of fashion, especially those of the 40's, even if she doesn't quite love writing about it. Her column, Crimes of Fashion (also included), skewers the residents of DC with abandon but her eye for "nuances" gets her involved in solving a murder. This series is gritty and funny.
hlmauera: (Happy Baby)
I read the first Deborah Donnelly book, Veiled Threats, last night. It was very good but had a lot of really personal betrayal. I hadn't realized how remote the heroic characters were from their my nemesis in the other books until this book showed me how close they could be. The premise of the book is that the heroine is a bridal consultant with her own full time business. You see the nitty gritty required of a bridal "General contractor". She gets involved in the mystery because she cares about her brides. She gets scared and confused and her friends tell her, "I can't be involved in this; I have children and this is too dangerous for both of us!" She is very human and very likable. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book.
hlmauera: (Happy Baby)
I've been on a silly mystery kick for the last little while. Here is what/who I have discovered:

Donna Andrews- Meg Langslow mysteries
This young lady has a family that would drive a saint to drink but it's tremendously funny. Her father is a doctor who gets into all sorts of trouble trying to get involved in the investigations of the murders that occur in their area. Her uncle is a crime scene analyst who just happens to be more comfortable in a gorilla suit. Her cousin has a pet duck named Duck who goes broody in all the wrong places. There is a delightful bit of romantic comedy as well. The first book is Murder with Peacocks and Meg is trying to be the maid of honor in three weddings that are taking place within 2 weeks of each other. Oh and the brides, all seem to think it's her job to make thing go right. I love these books; they always make me laugh.

Mary Daheim- Bed and Breakfast mysteries
Carrie loaned these books to me. When we meet our heroine she's a 50 something lady trying to make a go of running a bed and breakfast out of her old family home. Her late husband ate himself to death. The love of her life, ran off on the eve of their wedding and got married in Vegas...but that was a very long time ago. Her cousin, is her regular side kick and together they make every effort to wrangle their mothers without going insane. The first book is Just Desserts. This series is notably more cynical about life, men, and human nature. However, I have enjoyed the sarcastic humor a great deal.

Kate Collins- Flower shop Mysteries
The female lead is a law school drop out who has purchased a flower shop and loves what she does. However, she has a habit of, dare we say, meddling. Her meddling leads her to big trouble when she gets involved in a murder. The series starts with Mum's the Word. I enjoyed the characters but had a hard time believing anyone could be quite that meddlesome and in someways stupid. I will read the second book because I got involved with the characters and then I will reassess. At this point, this seems to be my least favorite series.

Rhys Bowen- Constable Evans series.
A lot of good humored fun while still an interesting mystery. The series takes place in Llanfair, a Welsh village in the mountain country. The focus is a young copper named Evan Evans(Yes, he curses his parents naming preferences daily). Evan is the fourth of the Evans in the village, Evans-the-Meat (butcher) and Evans-the-milk, Evans-the-Post and now he is Evans-the-law. The presents of a young bachelor in a village provokes some rather amusing feminine wiles. The author has delightful characters with very human foibles. The first book in the series is "Evan Above" and yes all of the titles are some sort of pun on the hackney equivalent of 'Evan.

Hailey Lind- Art lovers mysteries.
This is an interesting premise: the heroine is a young lady who's artistic genius led her to paint an perfect copy of the Mona Lisa at a very young age, for which she is lauded. At 17, another copy lands her in a Parisian jail as a forger. Now 20 something she's struggling to overcome her reputation as a forger in the art world. Her strength, is that, as a former forger, she's an expert at deciphering fake from original. In the first book, Feint of Art, a $15 million purchase for the museum is a fake but everyone who knows it turns up dead, save her. The book is fast paced and wild but still believable. She gets caught frequently when doing stupid things and there truly is no honor amongst thieves. At points the action becomes overwhelming but it was a fun book all around.

Elizabeth Peters- Amelia Peabody Mysteries
Marian turned me onto this series which starts in the late 1800's and progresses forward. These mysteries are about an outspoken woman in her early 30's who in the first book, views herself, by the time's standards, as firmly on the shelf. She is everything a proper Victorian lady is not and proud of it. With her newly acquired fortune she decided to take herself to Egypt to see all the things she's only studied about. She rescues a young lady along the way and they head off to Egypt. By accident, they discover a love of archeology and some interesting companions. Miss Peabody is caustic to those she disdains but also quite warm hearted. She is a thoroughly lovable character. The series starts with Crocodile on the Sandbank. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series (And Marian I did find Curse of the Pharaohs and the Mummy Case at the used book store)

I already posted about Maggie Sefton's Knitting Mysteries. I enjoyed the first one a great deal and I'm forcing myself to read the other authors before I pick up the second book)

I also picked up the first book(s) in a couple of other mystery series, but haven't yet gotten to them:
Monica Ferris- Needlecraft mysteries (1. Crewel World)
Ellen Byerrum- A Crime of Fashion (1. Killer Hair)
Maddy Hunter- A Passport to Peril (I haven't found the first one yet but the main character is accompanied on her trip by her transgendered ex-husband Jackie. It sounds like a romp)(1. Alpine for you)
Michele Scott- Wine Lovers mysteries (1. Murder Uncorked)
Robin Paige- Victorian Mysteries (1. Death at Bishop's keep)

So... that's my reading in review.

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