Tag Archives: cozy mystery

Review of Wisteria Witches, by Angela Pepper

I received an Audible credit from Angela Pepper to get the box set of the first three Wisteria Witches book. However, I’m choosing to review only the first here on the blog.

Description from Goodreads:

Zara Riddle moves to the town of Wisteria for a dream job as a librarian. She hasn’t even unpacked her moving boxes when she and her teen daughter, Zoey, are swept up in a murder mystery.

With all the ghosts and supernatural creatures around (Including a real hunk of a wolf shifter! Meow!) it’s a good thing the Riddle women are tougher than they look. Now, if only they could handle their new witch powers as well as they’ve mastered their sarcastic wit!

Review:

This didn’t work for me. Though I suspect it is a matter of taste over quality. There are some consistency issues, people knowing things they haven’t been told and such, and I thought the dialogue got too formal at times (especially considering how informal Zara is in general). But for the most part what bothered me wasn’t a matter of the book being bad, but of it being everything I dislike. 

I found Zara intensely annoying! Yes, I see that we’re supposed to think her Gilmore Girl cute. But I found her endless blather like nails on a chalkboard, all her constant media references trite, and her naiveté insincere. I felt like even the author thought her immature, often excusing the things she says by calling them juvenile, long-standing jokes between her and her daughter. The book falls short of calling anyone a poopy-head, but not by much, and only because it’s so committed to “ding-dong.” 

Calling Zara and her crew Mary-Sues would be an understatement. On the upside, the book is 100% clean, not even a curse word is uttered. On the downside, it means the book lacks any sort of grit. So much so that there is barely any tension. I was just this side of board for all of it.

Plus, the book takes a long time to pick up any kind of speed, spending far too much time on dinners and descriptions. (Hope you like adjectives.) Then, once it does, the mystery essentially solves itself off page, leaving the reader out of the action. 

Lastly, I disliked Tiffany Williams’ narration style. It fit the book really well, actually. And again, the quality is fine. But the places she emphasizes words and her tone, etc, just highlights the overly-sensitive, overtly clean aspect of the book, making all my annoyances stand out even more. 

Please don’t take the last few paragraphs as my having an issue with clean stories. I just don’t know a better way to describe the feel of it, like it’s been scrubbed of anything interesting and real. I guess that’s my base issue, why people complain about Mary-Sues in general, they don’t feel real. They’re too idealized to relate to and thus feel fake. 

I actually have the audio boxset of the first three books. I went into them with really high hopes. I’m all about cozy paranormal mysteries right now and the main character even has my same name. When you’re named Zarah, that’s not something you encounter often. I will challenge myself to give the next book a try. Maybe with the world building done the next book will be better for me. I was disappointed with this. But I can 100% see all the things that irritated me so being exactly what another reader will love. To each their own.

Where I prattle on a bit and review Southern Spirits, by Angie Fox

The other day I discovered Amazon’s Matchmaker. It tells you which of the ebooks you own have audible companions and what the price is. I’d known you could get audible versions of your kindle books at a discount, but I’d not found any convenient way to see which books were being offered. It was exciting to come across the solution and I went through my list and purchased several inexpensive Audible books.

I wish I didn’t have to aim for the inexpensive ones. I just read a blog post by Nora Roberts, in which she talks about readers who demand cheap books and how that devalues the work authors put in (among other things). Now, she was talking about people who take advantage and harass authors, not readers who look for a sale. But either way, my book budget is what it is and, while I utilize my library and buy books where I can (so authors do get some profit), I definitely don’t buy many at full price, utilize the free lists and keep an eagle eye on the sales. I feel guilty about it sometimes.

Outside of price, a side bonus of getting audio copies of ebooks I already have is that it’s also a great way to chip away at my very long TBR list. This year is turning into the year of the audiobook. I’ve listened to far more than I’ve physically read. This lets me listen to them without adding a new book to the list. It’s just a great solution for me.

So, onward and upward. The first of the Audible book buying binge books I listened to was Southern Spirits, by Angie Fox. I initially picked this ebook up as a freebie in 2016. I’m pretty sure it’s perm-free.

Description from Goodreads:

When out of work graphic designer Verity Long accidentally traps a ghost on her property, she’s saddled with more than a supernatural sidekick—she gains the ability see spirits. It leads to an offer she can’t refuse from the town’s bad boy, the brother of her ex and the last man she should ever partner with.

Ellis Wyatt is in possession of a stunning historic property haunted by some of Sugarland Tennessee’s finest former citizens. Only some of them are growing restless—and destructive. He hires Verity put an end to the disturbances. But soon Verity learns there’s more to the mysterious estate than floating specters, secret passageways, and hidden rooms. 

There’s a modern day mystery afoot, one that hinges on a decades-old murder. Verity isn’t above questioning the living, or the dead. But can she discover the truth before the killer finds her?

Review:

Shallow, but a perfectly passable bit of fluff. It was readable, entertaining and I liked the main character just fine. I did have a bit of trouble believing she’d have taken all the blame and financial penalty of calling off the wedding and not told anyone the horrible things her ex did. And the fact that the new love interest was so involved with the ex’s family really marred it for me. How would that work? Really? And it’s worth noting that the blurb calls hims “the town’s bad boy,” but he’s an ex-Marine cop. About as far from bad as you can get in a cozy, paranormal mystery. All in all however, I’d read more by Fox and Tavia Gilbert did a fine job with the narration. 

Review of The Library, the Witch, and the Warder (Washington Warders #1), by Mindy Klasky

I’m on vacation this week, so my posts might not be regular. But I read a book and a half on the way here and I have internet connection at the moment, so, I’m taking advantage of it and posting a quick review or two.

I won a copy of Mindy Klasky‘s The Library, The Witch, and the Warder (Washington Warders) (Volume 1) through LibraryThing.

Description from Goodreads:
Former warder David Montrose has a problem. Or two. Or three.

He’s been fired from his job protecting the witches of Washington DC. Now, he’s stuck working a dead-end job at Hecate’s Court while he tries to redeem his reputation and put his life back together.

Which would be a decent plan if things weren’t so…complicated. His new boss is a tyrant. His father says he’s disgraced the family name. And instead of sympathizing, his best friend is trying to drag him onto the front lines of an all-out supernatural war.

Just as David gets a glimpse of the elusive work-life-magic balance, he’s summoned back to warder status. His unexpected new charge is a captivating witch who possesses the strongest powers he’s ever seen. David already has enough on his plate. How can he possibly juggle work, warfare, and warding Jane Madison?

He’d better figure things out soon. Jane’s safety—and all of magical Washington—depends on him!

Review:
This was fluff, but enjoyable fluff. Don’t go in expecting anything heavy or substantial, but just float along for the ride. Klasky has a fun writing style and I found myself liking all the characters. Though I did find some of it cheesy and cliche (the black cat familiar named Neko, the pocket protector/smudged glasses/bad fashion sense/pudgy antagonist), though I think some of that might have been purposeful on Klasky’s part, playing with tropes.

This is labeled a cozy mystery, but with it’s magic element I think it’s a sort of urban fantasy, though not gritty enough to actually carry the title. For those looking for urban fantasy bordering on paranormal romance, look elsewhere. A warder and his witch is a platonic relationship, so no romance here (maybe later in the series going by the clues dropped, but not in this book). But I didn’t feel denied. I like the way things turned out.

Lastly, this is apparently the flip perspective of Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft. Meaning it’s the same story from the male lead’s perspective, while GGtW is from the female lead’s perspective. This is normally something I dislike. Who wants to read the same story twice? But in this case I can see how it might work. Jane’s situation is only a small part of what David has going on in this book. Honestly, if a quarter of the plot focuses on her I’d be surprised. So, there is plenty the reader doesn’t see of Jane. I actually have GGtW. I think I picked it up as a freebie. So, if I ever get around to reading it, I’ll update this review. But in the mean time I don’t think the two would feel too redundant and The Library, the Witch, and the Warder doesn’t make me want to avoid it.