Tag Archives: cozy mystery

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Book Review: Murder at the UFO Festival, by Kaja Fivecrows

I picked up a copy of Murder at the UFO Festival by Kaja Fivecrows as an Amazon freebie.

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“Having only one husband? In this economy?”

34-year-old Alexandria Bellecourt runs her small-town Oregon bed & breakfast like a well-oiled machine, with her severe, harsh husband Grayson in charge of finances and her warm, friendly husband Greg in charge of promotions.

But all this organization goes down the toilet during the annual UFO Festival. Alexandria doesn’t realize that hidden among the psychics, aura readers, and alien abductees, one of her guests is an abrasive skeptic with a lot of enemies. After he threatens to expose her other guests as frauds, he gets stabbed in the back, seriously disrupting brunch.

Her bed & breakfast is suddenly plunged headlong into a murder investigation, and Alexandria has a lot on her plate already, like why isn’t the guillotine working for her husband Greg’s amateur play and why does her husband Grayson have a suspicious amount of combat skills for an accountant?

When the rest of her guests start getting targeted one by one, Alexandria is going to have to go undercover at the UFO Festival to find out who the culprit is. Can she and her husbands discover who the murderer is before getting targeted themselves or, even worse, getting a bad guest review?

my review

This was OK. I enjoyed it well enough. I did, however, find the characterization shallow. The reader is not given anywhere near enough background on the characters or their situation to feel satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them, Grayson especially. But they are cardboard cutouts more than fleshed-out characters.

While the mystery was entertaining, I rather suspect the story of how Grey, Grayson, and Alexandria met and evolved into the throuple we meet here would be a more interesting story than what the reader is offered in this book, which would be fine if that book existed. But as far as I can see, it doesn’t, which means the reader feels its lack. Further, I quibble that this doesn’t qualify as Why Choose as there is no choosing involved. The throuple is established and comfortably married before the book even starts. Maybe that’s just me, though.

Lastly, the merging of cozy mystery and an attempt at spice didn’t really work. The sex scenes felt shoehorned in and often out of place. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that this was written as a cozy mystery, and the author later added the sex scenes to try and catch a broader audience. All in all, I’d read another, but it isn’t topping a favorites list.
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Book Review – Witch Myth: Wildfire, by Alexandria Clarke

I picked up an Audible code for a free copy of Witch Myth: Wildfire, by Alexandria Clarke. The cover looks Christmasy, even if the blurb doesn’t. So, I’d meant to read it over the Christmas break but never got around to it. So, I listened to it on Twelfth Night as I took the Christmas decorations down.

witch myth widfire audio cover

When a 16-year-old girl disappears from her hometown without a trace, stumping the local police force, the only person who has any hope of finding her is her older sister, Kennedy. The siblings share an otherworldly bond, which leads Kennedy to the peculiar, deserted town of Yew Hollow. Kennedy soon uncovers a coven of witches, a tragic secret, and something that she never knew about herself. When her number one priority is her little sister’s safety, Kennedy’s decision to stay in or leave Yew Hollow is the hardest one she’ll ever make.

my review

As I said, I picked this up because the cover made me think it was a Christmas story. But it isn’t. It’s set in October and ends long before December. I suspect that if I took the time to look, I’d find that this isn’t the cover the book always has, but that the author changed it to catch the seasonal readers. I feel a little manipulated by that, if I’m honest. (Of course, doing that would require figuring out the naming convention of having two books…maybe series…named Witch Myth and even Witch Myth: Wildfire, explicitly. I’m confused.)

I thought this was ok. Not fabulous, but not complete trash either. But I wouldn’t call it a cozy paranormal mystery. Paranormal, yes. Mystery, yes. But there is very little cozy to be had. So, don’t go in expecting anything the cover or subtitle leads you to expect. Yeah, still feeling a little manipulated over here.

All in all, I liked the characters, and the writing was mechanically fine. But the story feels like a spin-off, the characterization is on the simple side, and the book ends on a cliffhanger at exactly the point it feels like the actual story (as opposed to all the setup) looks to actually be starting.

witch myth photoLastly, the audio production and narration were only OK. Several words were oddly pronounced. Let me rephrase; a lot of words are mispronounced. And there is the occasional noticeable blip in the smoothness of the narrative, where you could tell it has been spliced together. Both of these yanked me out of the story when they happened.

So, all in all, not a real winner for me. But mostly, it just didn’t catch and hold my attention. I think those who like the genre will enjoy it.

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Book Review: Petals and Poison, by Jess Dylan

I won a paperback copy of Petals and Poison (by Jess Dylan) through Goodreads.

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Sierra Ravenswood has embraced her role as owner of Flower House floral shop and companion to her former boss’s pet, Gus the Corgi. Sierra’s team are enjoying their new jobs too. At least until everyone realizes their lack of experience might be contributing to their lack of customers . . .

Sierra decides they need a change in luck, so she creates a special window display featuring lucky bamboo and auspicious flowers. It seems the new arrangement has worked when the shop is flooded with customers the next day, including a van full of college students on a horticulture club field trip. Unfortunately, Sierra doesn’t notice that the students’ distracted professor has gone missing until Gus’s urgent barking leads her to the storeroom – and the body of the unfortunate professor.

With folks now referring to Flower House as “Poison House” and suspects galore, Sierra fears her new business is doomed before it has a chance to get off the ground. Determined to reverse course and see justice served, she sets out to solve the crime and change her luck once more.

The Flower House is no place for shrinking violets.

my review

I made a joke to my husband while reading Petals and Poisons that I’m quite capable of cozying up to a mystery now and again, but I really wish a ghost (or something) would show up. I am much more a fantasy reader than a cozy mystery reader. But I entered into Petals and Poisons with optimism. There’s a dog in it, after all.

In the end, I thought it was cute. I couldn’t guess, between the suspects, which would turn out to be the killer. And I liked the budding romantic subplot. However, I also found it odd that Sierra and crew were able to go about investigating, as they did, with no push-back from the actual police for interfering. I also thought the ending felt rush. It wrapped up so fast, once the killer was revealed. Further, I feel like Dylan allowed the reader to care about them, there at the end, and then just abandoned them to their fate. I wanted to know what happened to them and to hope there was a somewhat happy ending for them in the future. (I’ve actually written one in my head for them.)

All in all, I enjoyed it well enough for being outside my normal generic comfort zone. But hey, I maybe got my wish. There were some maybe ghosts.

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Petals and Poison by Jess Dylan

Bibliophile and Avid Reader: Petals and Poison, by Jess Dylan