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Book Review: Tomes, Scones & Crones, by Colleen Gleason

I received a copy of Colleen Gleason‘s Tomes, Scones and Crones through Netgalley.
tomes scones and crones

At forty-eight, Jacqueline Finch has a nice, easy life with few responsibilities: she’s been a librarian in Chicago for twenty-five years, she doesn’t have a husband, children, or pets, and she’s just coasting along, enjoying her books and a small flower garden now that she’s over the hill.

That is, until the Universe (helped by three old crones) has other ideas.

All at once, Jacqueline’s staid (and boring) life is upended, and the next thing she knows, she’s heading off to Button Cove to start a new life as the owner of Three Tomes Bookshop.

The bookstore is a darling place, and Jacqueline is almost ready to be excited about this new opportunity…until Mrs. Hudson and Mrs. Danvers show up. Somehow, the literary characters of Sherlock Holmes’s landlady and Rebecca deWinter’s creepy and sardonic housekeeper are living persons who work at the bookshop (when they aren’t bickering with each other). Not only does Jacqueline have to contend with them—and the idea that people regularly eat pastries while reading books in her store!—but the morning after she arrives, the body of a dead man is found on her property.

Things start to get even more strange after that: Jacqueline is befriended by three old women who bear a startling resemblance to the Witches Three from Macbeth, an actual witch shows up at her bookshop and accuses Jacqueline of killing her brother, and the two women who own businesses across the street seem determined to befriend Jacqueline.

And then there’s the police detective with the very definite hot-Viking vibe who shows up to investigate the dead body…

The next thing Jacqueline knows, her staid and simple life is no longer quiet and unassuming, and she’s got crones, curses, and crocodiles to deal with.

And when a new literary character appears on the scene…things start to get even more hairy and Jacqueline is suddenly faced with a horrible life and death situation that will totally push her out of her comfort zone…if she’s brave enough to let it.

After all, isn’t forty-eight too late for an old dog to learn new tricks?

my review

Writing a review for a book that you can objectively say isn’t bad, but that you didn’t particularly enjoy is difficult. The writing and editing in Tomes, Scones and Crones is fine. The pacing seems fine. The character development seems fine, etc. I even really appreciated a 48-year-old heroine and the ‘claim the power of your later life’ moral of the story.

I just didn’t especially enjoy the book. I didn’t care for Jacqueline, found her largely unpleasant. I thought the literary device of having the crones discuss everything as a means of relaying it to the reader was annoying. Plus, their meddling would be infuriating. The romance is only hinted at. The villains were so villainous as to be caricatures, even down to evil = ugly simplicity.

And I found something vaguely ick- inducing about Danvers and Hudson being literally reduced to their jobs. It goes a long way towards undermining the theme of women (even/especially older women) are full, empowered individuals to then have two female characters pulled from literature to function as housekeepers and housekeepers only, they disappear when not keeping house. Thereby erasing any further importance or potential they, as individuals, might hold.

This was structurally sound and will probably shine for a lot of people. It was a flop for me.

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Other Reviews:

Tomes, Scones and Crones by Colleen Gleason (ARC)

traitor of the black crown

Book Review: Traitors of the Black Crown, by Cate Pearce

I received a copy of Cate Pearces‘s Traitors of the Black Crown through Netgalley. In a completely unrelated turn of events, the book was later featured on Sadie’s Spotlight.

COVER - Traitors of the Black Crown

Three women will betray the black crown. A Knight. A Duchess. A Queen.

Raena Schinen narrowly escaped when the Queen’s guard murdered her entire family. If Raena’s survival is exposed, she’ll be next. For fifteen years Raena has hidden as a male Knight, “Sir Rowan”, consumed by her vengeful desire to assassinate the Queen.

The moment Raena is close enough to exact her revenge, she is unexpectedly exiled to a foreign land. There she serves the common-born Duchess Aven Colby, whose suspicious kinship with the Queen further threatens Raena’s delicate secrets.

Just as they become united in a common goal to curb a looming invasion, unexpected heat and romance blossoms between “Sir Rowan” and Aven. The peril demands they set out on a journey to form clandestine political alliances, risking the Queen’s wrath, and drawing Raena and Aven closer together.

But no one in the kingdom could have imagined the sinister foe rising from below the surface. In order to save themselves and those they love, Raena, Aven, and the Queen must recognize who are the oppressors and who will unite against the Black Crown.

my review

I’m going to go with “OK” for my reaction to this book. It’s OK. I’m not saying it’s only OK, but rather that it is OK. I’m not out here shouting from the rooftops how great it is. But I also was never tempted to DNF it and I won’t call it anything less than OK.

But it was slow, with a plot that spreads out like a flood plain. Never gone, but never starkly defined by a notable riverbank either. It’s wide and placid. But it is also full of some relatable characters (though the villains aren’t particularly nuanced, if I’m honestly), an interesting world, political intrigue, and nice writing.

I will complain, though, about the ‘could have been resolved with a conversation’ conflict. Granted, it’s on a national scale here, instead of a romantic relationship scale (which is where you normally see such things). But it’s still the underpinning friction of the whole novel.

All in all, I’d read another Pearce book, but I don’t think I’m in a hurry to get the sequel to Traitors of the Black Crown.

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Other Reviews:

Book Review: Traitors of the Black Crown by Cate Pearce

Traitors of the Black Crown – Book Review

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Book Review: Bishop’s Crossing, by Don Mewha

I received a copy of Don Mewha‘s Bishop’s Crossing through Netgalley. bishop's crossing

The dark streets of New Orleans come to life in this riveting Urban Fantasy! Fans of Jim Butcher, Constantine, and Tales from the Nightside will adore Bishop’s Crossing!

A failed priest gets pulled back into the occult world that he left behind when his daughter shows signs of mystical ability. He reconnects with his former team to track down the missing daughter of the Voodoo King of New Orleans while he’s hunted by a fanatical member of the Church.

my review

I’m almost 100% sure that this is a first book in a series. In fact, I’m almost 100% sure it’s Mewha’s debut book. I say almost because it feels SO much like it isn’t. I cannot tell you how many times I returned to Goodreads checking and re-checking there isn’t a previous book. A large part of the plot is basically getting the gang back together. And it felt SO much like I should know the gang that I was completely thrown off and out of the story.

Outside of feeling like not a first book, I generally enjoyed this. I liked Bishop and his merry band of misfits. I liked the mystery and the world Mewha created. I did think things felt a little sketched out, with lots of running here and doing this or that, but not a lot of getting to really know characters or settling into a complex plot. Threats seemed to pop up and disappear, only to be replaced by another feeling equally as random.

I read an ARC, so I can’t speak to editing. But the writing is quite readable. This might not top a favorites list, but I’d be happy to read another in the series.

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