OK, that's it for me when it comes to T.S. Joyce's bear shifters. Sawman Werebear was the peak, and I should step away before I hate out of one-note eOK, that's it for me when it comes to T.S. Joyce's bear shifters. Sawman Werebear was the peak, and I should step away before I hate out of one-note exhaustion. Her worldbuilding is fun if nonsensical, and she has such fun set-piece scenes (the push-up contest in the second Saw Bears book!!), and the romantic arcs are almost exclusively focused on the fluffy fun stuff of romance (the fantasy of being loved, fitting into a community, no drama or doubt or zero need to work through feelings). But I really disliked the greater external plot in this book (and am not interested in that kind of bigger picture plot in this world), and the books and characters all a bit too much the same and too shallow for me to feel compelled to read more....more
I need to stop reading contemporary cozy mysteries. I keep trying, though, because I worry that it's internalized sexism that keeps me from liking orI need to stop reading contemporary cozy mysteries. I keep trying, though, because I worry that it's internalized sexism that keeps me from liking or appreciating them. But I'm coming to understand that I bristle at the constructed bubble of safety~ that the crime occurs in but doesn't actually threaten. It's not a fantasy I enjoy or believe in or find worthwhile, either in real life or in the world of the story. I find too much in the narrative that undermines it: the way protagonists undermine law or order in their own investigations; the way crime is not something that leaves a lingering effect on the community; the way victims are frequently people who are not missed, and so that allows the cast of recurring characters to get on with their lives until the next murder. And I get that cozy mysteries aren't meant to deal with any of that, that the crimes featured are specifically constructed to avoid touching cyclic violence or the systematic forces of poverty and racism that dominate the way people deal with the criminal justice system.
But I can't let it go. But I keep going back to cozy mysteries because I want to read less gore and less exploitation and sensationalism in my crime fiction, and because I want to make sure I'm not just being sexist in recoiling from a woman dominated subgenre.
I. Just. But nearly every contemporary cozy I read just whips me up into a hostile frenzy.
Magical, clue-finding cats? Yes, I'm down that. I like these cats and the magical digestive systems that allow them to eat tons of human food. I find that charming. I like them.
What's not charming? The librarian protagonist, when building a case to her detective boyfriend that she suspects someone could be a thief/murderer, includes in her reasoning that the person in question checked out "A Coffin for Dimitrios and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Eric Ambler and Agatha Christie. Mystery classics."
what. the. fuck.
In real life, I'd hope nothing short of the Patriot Act (and even THAT, but I recognize that the Patriot Act is law and whatever) would get a librarian to be that shitty to a) think reading mysteries makes someone suspicious (among other things, but SERIOUSLY), b) voluntarily and proactively violate a patron's privacy by--without court order, without the law enforcement office even requesting it--reveal to a law enforcement officer what a patron checked out.
Nothing. Cozy. About. That.
(Also, I thought the mystery was boring. The characters are all right if bland, the worldbuilding is nice, and I like the cats.)...more
I wish I knew ahead of time that this was an "issue book." Not recommended outside of YA readers.
The recommendation I got for this was that it was a pI wish I knew ahead of time that this was an "issue book." Not recommended outside of YA readers.
The recommendation I got for this was that it was a page-turner. And it was! Saeed's pacing was nearly breathless, and I kept reading, despite the fact that there is zero characterization to the protagonist (like, she has a boyfriend, a best friend, and a scholarship to accompany a stated but not demonstrated desire to become a doctor, aaaaand then no hobbies or interests, no personality traits, no interesting voice or engaging POV--just a brisk plot and one-dimensional plot-enforcing parents), that she's a clueless and empty vessel for Awful Things happening to her. In addition to the brisk pacing, the clear prose was the other strength I could identify. The story was straight-forward and unsophisticated, and indeed, the plot resolves with (view spoiler)[her being saved by her boyfriend and his father, like this book couldn't get more patriarchal...I didn't need Naila to suddenly transform into Stereotypical Kickass Teenage Rebel Female Protagonist, but I kind of wanted her to at least demonstrate more emotional depth. Or have a personality to begin with, really. (hide spoiler)].
It's a dramatic story, and it's a sad story, and it reflects something that really happens. But it was bland and flat.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm still trying out cozy mysteries. I wouldn't really recommend this one for the mystery aspect--there's not much to puzzle out or wonder about, theI'm still trying out cozy mysteries. I wouldn't really recommend this one for the mystery aspect--there's not much to puzzle out or wonder about, the answers are all pretty painfully obvious, and omg Nancy Drew wannabes, don't record private conversations and bug people's houses and then take your evidence to an FBI agent even if he's a friend arghhh!!!--but I actually really liked all the bureaucratic details about running a museum (the one in the book is sort of a museum/library/historical society combination). I can see the "exposition about a career/hobby/etc." appeal of cozy mysteries, I think, but I'm struggling to find ones where the mystery aspect keeps me wondering or shines interesting light on being human.
Connolly's writing itself wasn't bad, so I might still try her books again. ...more
A contemporary cozy that I actually kinda liked, even with all the twee. Usually with cozies I'm irritated by the stupid ways the sleuth finds clues aA contemporary cozy that I actually kinda liked, even with all the twee. Usually with cozies I'm irritated by the stupid ways the sleuth finds clues and usually breaks laws in doing so. Aside from one headdesk moment of "Let's follow a bad guy we think has been trying to hurt me and see what he's up to!", I was okay with Kathleen's detecting, mainly because it involved "And then my magical cat walked through a wall and fetched me something that turned out to be an important clue!" (seriously, multiple times seriously), and compared to the normal dumb-ass justifications found in cozies, I was totally, absolutely, and sincerely on board with magical, clue-finding rescue cats. So maybe I might like supernatural cozies? We'll see....more
I was hoping for something more emotionally wrenching, like Neurosurgeon...and Mum!. Not much emotional conflict here, not much need for emotional groI was hoping for something more emotionally wrenching, like Neurosurgeon...and Mum!. Not much emotional conflict here, not much need for emotional growth from either character, but a lot of medical filler (I know, that's what this line IS; it feels like its purpose is to demonstrate the protagonists' competence, but it comes across as boring exposition and lectures about good health habits) and a lot of travelogue-ish stuff (which, don't get me wrong, I kind of love that and Hardy is very good at it, but in this book, at least, it didn't have a real or specific impact on developing the characters or their relationship).
So. A going-through-the-medical-romance-motions book. Bland and not compelling, but at least I didn't want to wring the character's necks because they were mature and professional. Just not at all interesting enough to make the book worth it.
Oh, yeah. Also, the book didn't feel very contemporary. The characters are young, but their idea of personal ads for an online dating site felt like something out of the 80s newspaper ads. A big fuss was made about the hero not telling the heroine when he'd return from a trip--telling her a day later, instead--in case his flight was delayed (the delayed flight being very specifically the detail the hero focused on, not any other part of his travel plans that could conceivably be delayed), because he didn't want to worry her--can't she just look up your flight number on the Internet, dude, and know when to expect you, then? It was just contrived and didn't feel like actual young professionals in 2015....more
I think I've hit the point of diminishing returns when it comes to Agatha Christie mysteries, unfortunately. I've caught on too much to how she constrI think I've hit the point of diminishing returns when it comes to Agatha Christie mysteries, unfortunately. I've caught on too much to how she constructs her ambiguities and who is to be immediately eliminated as a potential culprit (view spoiler)[(anyone with a recognized motive, it seems like) (hide spoiler)], I've grown bored with the vintage "I think this is supposed to be romantic for the time, but it's kinda creepy" aspects, and I'm done with trying to ponder how illegitimacy~ factors into characters' worldviews. I wish I could return to the "omg AMAZING how did she do that??" feelings I had when first reading Christie (like with A Murder Is Announced and A Carribean Mystery--I'm still wild about how I was absolutely gobsmacked by how well and how fairly I got played whilst reading the latter, particularly). ...more
Further adventures in confusion at how in the world Kate Hardy's books are categorized. And at least this is a Harlequin Presents Extra and not a straFurther adventures in confusion at how in the world Kate Hardy's books are categorized. And at least this is a Harlequin Presents Extra and not a straight-up Harlequin Presents! But until the characters slept with each other (which was fairly late in the book), I thought this could have been from the Harlequin Romance line, it was that sweet & light and veered far from dramatically emotional tension. Also, the title is super ridiculous for this book; the British title of Breakfast at Giovanni's at least matches the story's upbeat, flirtier tone.
My main problem with this book was that far too much of the relationship arc relied on not being honest with how they felt, that the sudden reversal/fix of this at the end didn't strike me as trustworthy/believable. I mean, granted, a beautiful rendition of "This Nearly Was Mine" is probably the closest thing to magic that exists in the real world, seriously, so mad props for that, but I didn't buy that suddenly these two would be communicating 100% with each other.
The family stuff, especially Gio's, was also just Not-For-Me. The fantasy of being accepted and immediately loved by a giant, close-knit, always-in-each-other's-business loving family doesn't appeal to me, and I'm skeptical of its rosy portrayal in romance novels, and I worry for the person marrying into that. I found the treatment of Fran's family strange, too. Okay, so she suffered low self-esteem comparing herself to them and she's not close to them, but in the final pages, we find out that they all love her so much and they're Stepford-ly wholesome and now she knows they've all loved her all along and all it took was her boyfriend forcing her to take him to visit them? Ummmmmm. Nah. No, thanks.
I did enjoy the characters and their banter, and I think Hardy does such a good job with grounding the seduction-y and sexy scenes very specifically in who the characters are....more
Some interesting elements here, but the combination of egregious insta-love and zero character development didn't make for a satisfying story, even ifSome interesting elements here, but the combination of egregious insta-love and zero character development didn't make for a satisfying story, even if the external plot was resolved in an interesting way....more
There was just enough world-building to be interesting but not nearly enough character-building, because I was left uncomfortable with the ending andThere was just enough world-building to be interesting but not nearly enough character-building, because I was left uncomfortable with the ending and unconvinced that it'd be a happy ending....more
Lots of interesting pieces, but there was zero consistency in tone, and I really, really, really dislike the "family-in-law pressures a woman into staLots of interesting pieces, but there was zero consistency in tone, and I really, really, really dislike the "family-in-law pressures a woman into staying with a guy" angle....more
I was expecting all that racism to be purposeful for narrative purposes; I found that it wasn't. If you're going to make me sit through repeated descrI was expecting all that racism to be purposeful for narrative purposes; I found that it wasn't. If you're going to make me sit through repeated descriptions of a brown person as simian and chimpanzee-like (especially when the same POV also refers to aliens as human), at least use it to spark some sort of thematic turmoil or maybe even a self-realization on the part of the protagonist. Don't make me sit through that shit for nothing.
I should be the universe's easiest sell when it comes to mixing religion and science fiction, but the story was tedious and the main character too much of a dumb-ass to cultivate an interesting story. I'd rather have the aliens' stories, or the stories of the other USIC employees, who despite (view spoiler)[being unemotional, asexual ascetics (hide spoiler)] were more interesting than Peter. I did think the long-distance relationship between Peter and Bea was more engagingly and movingly portrayed than the stuff on Oasis, but jfc when I read science fiction, I need a protagonist more nuanced than this, preferably one with more brain activity than this one.["br"]>["br"]>...more
Quick, fluffy, and predictable, but sometimes I need to read something that is basically mainlining a package of Pixy Stix with a side of mocking BritQuick, fluffy, and predictable, but sometimes I need to read something that is basically mainlining a package of Pixy Stix with a side of mocking British aristocrats....more
We have had Aunt Maria ever since Dad died. If that sounds as if we have the plague, that is what I mean.
Creepy and gloomy. Neither the plot nor the w
We have had Aunt Maria ever since Dad died. If that sounds as if we have the plague, that is what I mean.
Creepy and gloomy. Neither the plot nor the worldbuilding cohered for me, but I liked the relationships between Mig and her brother Chris and her mother, and the sickly sweet Aunt Maria was a despicable if flat villain....more