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Monthly Archives: September 2016

National Library, Vienna, Austria

Oh Happy Day–love this gorgeous library!

Wicked Wunderful

National Library, Vienna, Austria

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Faithful–a tale of overcoming the past

Faithful

by Alice Hoffman

faithfulRecently I have read a number of cozy mysteries and commented on the sacrifice of character development to the attentions of a multi-threaded plot. As a reviewer I need to evaluate a book based on genre expectations. Just as I don’t expect an apple to taste like an orange, I should not expect a cozy mystery to have the same characteristics as a book in the wider class of “novel.”

Faithful by Alice Hoffman is a novel categorized by Simon & Schuster, its publisher, as Women’s Fiction. While I agree that women tend to be more interested than men in following stories of regeneration of damaged individuals, I think many men would appreciate this book as well. It centers on Shelby who is driving when an accident occurs that puts her best friend into a coma. To summarize this story into that one sentence makes the book sound trite, and it is anything but trite. With excellent character development, the novel draws the reader into Shelby’s world of pain and confusion as she struggles to survive a past she can not change.

It is important to participate in Shelby’s pain and the ups and downs of her journey as close to first hand as possible. Therefore, I provide no specifics that would interfere with the relationship of the reader to Shelby. The number of other characters in the book is limited as Shelby holds others at arm’s length, but they are interesting and sufficiently developed according to the part they play in Shelby’s story. Hoffman’s descriptive powers are good–both of physical setting and emotional climate. Her sensitive and realistic treatment of difficult events and her plot development make Faithful a novel worth reading and recommending. It is due for publication on November 1, 2016.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Lethal Lifestyles–so many characters!

Lethal Lifestyles

by LynDee Walker

lethal-lifestylesI read and really enjoyed Cover Shot, the fifth cozy in the Headlines in High Heels Mystery Series.  Therefore, I looked forward to reading Lethal Lifestyles, the sixth book in the series by LynDee Walker, which is scheduled to be published on September 27, 2016.

I have one problem with Walker’s latest book, and it is a difficulty that sneaks up on many cozy mystery writers. There are so many minor characters, either possible suspects or helpful sidekicks to the sleuth, that few are well-developed enough to be memorable.  For once, I was very glad to be reading an e-book so I could search quickly for the introduction of the various characters and thus identify their roles.  At first I thought the fault was mine.  Late in the book, however, a character named Chad contributes an important clue via a text message to his wife.  In searching the name, I confirmed that Nichelle, our crime reporter in high heels, had in fact contacted him earlier in the book, but the reader is given no information about his relationship to Nichelle’s good friend, Jenn.  This was probably the most egregious example.

While this overabundance of characters is a problem in Lethal Lifestyles, it is also indicative of what makes this book a really good cozy mystery–an intricate plot with lots of puzzle pieces to keep the reader interested.  The story centers around the wedding of two of Nichelle’s co-reporters.  Nichelle, as maid of honor, is acting as a wedding planner for the couple and wants the wedding to be perfect.  Unfortunately, a man is found dead at the site of the rehearsal dinner, and the groom is implicated.  Nichelle has one week to clear the groom’s name by finding the murderer.  Clues that are reasonable go off in all directions.  The author brings it all together with a very surprising ending.

I do recommend Lethal Lifestyles if you enjoy cozies.  In addition to great mystery elements, you will find humor and romance.  The only mystery remaining to me is how Nichelle manages to do all that sleuthing in an assortment of stilettos and one good pair of wedges.  It makes my feet hurt just to think about it.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Pink Champagne Life–witty, autobiographical “must read”

My Pink Champagne Life

by Meredith Shafer

my-pink-champagne-life

My Pink Champagne Life is an autobiographical work by Meredith Shafer who tries to celebrate all the big and little events that shape her life.  The story touches on her first marriage and divorce, but focuses mainly on her marriage to Mr. Wonderful and on her blended multi-cultural family.  I rarely read a book twice, but I probably will read this book again.  It sparkles with wit and offers wisdom based in real experiences and a love of God.

Shafer pulls no punches about her life as she describes, often with tongue in cheek, what life is like in the (Mother) Hood—from the creativeness of her kids to the craziness of trying to juggle being a military wife, mother of four, public speaker, author, and lawyer who works from home directing a foundation.

With superlative turn of phrase, she injects humor into the telling of the messiness of everyday  life and how God has carried her through.  Shafer shares how God has molded her character through the good times and the bad.  I wish this book had been around when I was a young mother.  It will be an encouragement to women who want to be their best for God, who want to come to God without their Sunday mask on, ready to trust God to bring about changes in their lives.

Shafer has written another book which should hit the shelves on November 15, 2016. It is entitled Mad Cow: a PTSD Love Story.  If you don’t want to wait until then, you can connect with the author on her website www.meredithshafer.com to buy it directly.

Michelangelo’s Ghost–a good cozy in which I expand my cultural awareness

Michelangelo’s Ghost

A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery

by Gigi Pandian

Michelangelo's ghostMichelangelo’s Ghost is an interesting cozy.  The mystery is good and the characters and setting took me out of my comfort zone, which is good in this case.  Jaya Jones is a history professor in San Francisco.  She is attractive, feisty, petite, intelligent and adventurous.  As Jaya is of Indian and American descent, like the author herself, the book has many authentic references to Indian culture and foods.

In her pursuit of the killer of her former mentor, Jaya, accompanied by her successful brother Fish and his exotic girlfriend, travels to Italy to trace the Renaissance roots of an art find that the mystery is centered around.  The little known artist has connections to  India and possibly to Michelangelo.

There are twists and turns to the plot, characters who are not really as they present themselves, and a good tying up of loose ends. I recommend this book and am interested in reading others in the series.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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