Saturday, March 25, 2017

What I Read in December 2016 Part I. . .

What I Read in December 2016 Part I. . .

Oh Say Can You Fudge (Candy-Coated, #3)Oh Say Can You Fudge by Nancy CoCo--Cozy Mystery

Summer season is in full swing and Allie has her hands full. In addition to running the hotel and fudge shop, she has volunteered to organize the island fireworks shows. When she discovers her pyro guy dead and the warehouse burned down, Allie knows her status on the island is about to become less than 0 if she can't come up with something ASAP. Then Mal discovers a series of fires believed to be arson and Allie is terrified the villain is coming after her next. With her loved ones around her and her super pup Mal, can she wait for the police to figure it out or should she help them before it's too late?

The mystery here is pretty lame. It's obvious who the arsonist is and the police really should have known that. The mystery is really whether to the arsonist and the murderer are one in the same and what the motive was. The answer may surprise you. It surprised me and I wasn't thrilled with the outcome. It was weird. The dialogue is completely insane. After "listening" to Allie's voicemail (we ALL know what the instructions are... no need to write "you have three new messages" etc. I wanted to scream! I was also incredibly annoyed with the room numbers constantly referred to as 3-oh-2. We can read it like that in our heads, thank you.

Allie's romance is heating up but in a sweet way. Trent is a swoony boyfriend even though he's Emily and Richard Gilmore rich. (Did I mention how the author keeps borrowing from Gilmore Girls?) Frances's romance is also super sweet.

We get to know Sandy better in this story and I think she would make a great main character. I find her more interesting than Allie, who is a bit single-minded in her fudge obsession. I liked seeing Allie with her parents and getting to know them better. I disliked Liz. She's always in the right place at the right time to spot a crime and she is responsible for nearly getting Allie killed. Her grandfather isn't in the book enough. He's so funny.

There are some quirky new characters here: Sophie, the island pilot. I don't know if I trust her entirely. She's an off-islander like Allie but without the family ties. There's also house painter Luke and his son, described as "good" frequently; Allie's neighbor at the photo studio and her son Oliver. They seem like a nice mother-son duo but the son probably has issues stemming from the nasty divorce. Finally, there's a new animal companion! Allie and friends find a pretty calico cat wandering around the hotel. Her story is just beginning but she already knows how to deal with Mal. I'm not a cat person so I could care less but she should add some funny animal antics to the story.

I want to keep reading the series just for Mal! She's so adorable and she knows it. I'm curious to see what crime she sniffs out next!

Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble (Miss Dimple Kilpatrick #4)Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble by Mignon F. Ballard--Historical Mystery

When Delia Varnadore returns to the store where her friend Prentice works with cold drinks and snacks, Prentice is nowhere to be found. Delia fears the worst but everyone else in town believes there to be a practical reason for Prentice's disappearance. Sadly, Delia's suspicions are correct and Prentice is found murdered with rose petals strewn across her body. Elderberry residents believe the killer was a serial killer from Atlanta, until Prentice's ex-boyfriend is taken in by the police. Miss Dimple suspects Clay is innocent and vows to prove it. The only witness to come forward is Hattie McGee, an eccentric woman who believes she is Scarlett O'Hara. How can Miss Dimple solve the case with so little to go on?

This mystery is really good. It kept me reading far too late. I pretty much figured out who the killer was early on but I wasn't positive and I just had to know why. I was mostly right about the killer but the motive went deeper than it would seem at first. Where the author really excels is in the historical details that make up the setting. I question the availability of soda and chocolate bars that late in the war, especially in such a small, rural town. Sometimes the historical details were a little unnecessary. I skimmed a lot at the end. There's also a lot of background on what was happening in Europe during this time- just after D-Day to fill in some plot for the younger women. That felt out of place even though I wanted to know what happened to the young men at war.

What I really really did not like in this book was a heavy petting scene early on. It's semi-graphic and completely threw me off guard because the other books were squeaky clean in regards to romance. I was also bothered by boys ogling girls' breasts. That wasn't necessary.

There are so many new characters in this story. Prentice, the victim, was a young woman on the brink of adulthood. She had hopes and dreams and was mourning the loss of her mentor. It was a real tragedy for a young woman to have her life taken from her just when she was about to experience life outside their small Georgia town. Prentice was raised by her aunt Bertie, a woman with a tragic past. I felt just awful for Bertie. She seems a little sharp-edged but she has experienced loss and betrayal so it's understandable she wouldn't be as warm and loving as Leola. Though Leola is dead already by the start of the novel, she's an extremely likable character. She was warm, caring, smart and a good friend. Clay Jarrett is Prentice's ex-boyfriend. I didn't care for him so much. He was selfish and whiny. We're told a lot that Clay loved Prentice and how hurt he was but we don't really see it in the flashback scenes. He's interested in her body but doesn't really support her dreams.

There are a couple of crazy "smothers" in this story. Clay's mother is a little too involved in her son's life, especially his love life. She would drive me crazy if she were my mother. Then there's Hardin Haynesworth Kirkland is one of those claw her way to the top people. She's not at all likable. She is also way too obsessed with her son. He's a grown man but she thinks of him as her little boy. Her life is intolerable but she won't make changes even though at this time she does have options. I didn't feel sorry for her at all.

The last two brand new characters are my favorites. I loved the eccentric Hattie. I felt bad that she had brain damage and couldn't live in reality but that's what made her so appealing. I love that she thinks she's Scarlett O'Hara and she knows where the Confederate gold is. The townspeople seem to tolerate her but only just. She is a comic/tragic figure. Delby O'Donnell is another tragic figure. Because he's the town drunk, no one cares much about him or believes the things he says. I kind of liked him and hoped for the best for him.

The war has one more year to go and the library has the next book in the series so I will probably read it this week.

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