Death Overdue – Allison Brook

death overdue cover

“Time to move on.”

I’m getting quite fond of the ‘cosy mystery’ genre, turning to these kinds of titles for easy and uplifting reads. I also love books set in libraries, so this sounded like a win-win.

Carrie Singleton is getting ready to leave her childhood town again and go back to her rootless existence when she’s offered a better role at the library where she’s been temping. One of her first tasks is organising a talk by a former police detective, one who’s now promising to solve the cold case he failed with fifteen years before: the murder of a local mother and library employee. However, it seems that the secret killer might be less than keen to let him have his say…

There’s plenty to enjoy reading this book, but in all honesty I can’t give it a very high rating. It’s a lot more ‘chick-lit’ and romance-based than I would have hoped, which could be fine, but alas that pushes the mystery and paranormal bits not only to lesser importance but to rather rushed and not-great written parts. The opening murder, for instance, seems very clunkily handled: a ‘I know I need this bit, but not quite how to write it’ feeling, which is a real shame.

There’s also the usual fluffy genre failing of the heroine’s too-perfect life falling into her lap. First it’s the near-perfect job – okay, that one comes with half an explanation. But then there’s the massively reduced rent on an amazing house, interested dishy men to chose from, family who spoil her endlessly, enemies made good, and heck – we can even squeeze a kitten in here because why not?! I didn’t even wholly like the main character, with her goth look so easily cast aside, murky reasonings for turning sleuth and quite frankly daft ways of stumbling onwards, and not-great treatment of other characters.

Still, it was easy enough to read and keep going with, despite the flaws. Perhaps the next in the series will be able to build on the strengths – an intriguing and helpful library ghost, for instance, or perhaps an explanation as to how this particularly library is so well-funded – and lose some of the fluffier failings.

NetGalley eARC: 336 pages / 37 chapters
First published: October 2017
Series: A Haunted Library Mystery book 1
Read from 6th-11th October 2017

My rating: 5/10

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The Year of Saying Yes – Hannah Doyle

“If I cock up the next few hours of my life then I’m going to have to admit defeat.”

I’ve definitely been in the mood for some light’n’fluffy reading (and viewing) of late, and the optimistic title of this caught my eye on NetGalley. I was expecting something of a cross between Yes Man and a self-help book – and after a bit of a shaky start, plus a giant dollop of Bridget Jones, I’d say that’s almost exactly what I got!

The opening wasn’t great – in fact, my heart sank as I thought I’d picked up ‘Bridget Jones’ Little Cousin’ or something. We find our main character, Izzy, prepping for her family’s New Year’s Eve party, bemoaning the amount of food and drink she’s consumed, and trying far too hard to attract the eye of her brother-in-law’s brother – pretty much the same thing she does every New Year *eye rolling*

Thankfully, it all get a little bit more interesting, although remains pretty predictable. The strength is in the likeable main character, Izzy, as she sets about undertaking 12 dares over the course of the year, designed to improve her life and make her more confident.

Biggest complaint would have to be how easy it all is. Izzy works for a magazine, so of course she’s got a team of makeup artists and free reign over the ‘fashion closet’ – oh yeah, and of course she’s a size 10, but manages to slim-without-trying into an eight, etc etc. There’s a transformation, but no effort. It’s more than a little grating at times. Likewise, when set some seemingly impossible challenge, events simply line up in a way that no mere mortal could ever have arranged *more eye rolling*

Still, it’s Izzy’s relationships – with men, with her friends and colleagues – that form the backbone of the piece, and that doesn’t always run quite so smoothly. And most of the transformations in her life are about attitude – and while this is fiction all the way, that was actually quite inspirational to read.

NetGalley eARC: 363 pages / 12 chapters
First published: 2017
Series: none
Read from 20th-28th August 2017

My rating: 7/10 – I’m probably going to have to stop saying ‘not my usual cuppa’, but a pretty good example of the fluffiest of genres

Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft – Mindy Klasky

girls guide to witchcraft cover

“They don’t teach witchcraft in library school.”

Every once in a while I feel the need for some light reading – often while I’m slogging through something heavier – and recently I’ve been more inclined to dabble with genres I would previously had recoiled from in horror: namely, chicklit and paranormal romance. Yeah o_O

GGtW was an Amazon freebie I must have downloaded ages ago, attracted by the mix of magic and libraries. If I have to put up with some soppy girlie stuff along the way, so be it, right?

Jane is a librarian, and a bit of a mouse. I’m sad to say she actually does the whole removes-glasses-gets-haircut-becomes-hot (and fyi you do NOT start wearing contact lenses without weeks of pain!) over the course of the book (hardly a spoiler), but at least it’s through her own volition, more or less.

Viewed in the right frame of mind, it is actually quite nice to see her starting to like herself more and develop some confidence, as she is a bit sad at the start of the book, pining after her ‘Imaginary Boyfriend’ (her words) a year after being dumped by her fiance. She has the cheek to be a bit catty about her best friend’s military-like plan for churning through first dates, especially as bf is in the story mainly to be there every single time for our ‘heroine’.

Talking of, it’s not long before Jane discovers the collection of magic books in her new basement, summons a familiar by mistake, and goes on to have a few magical disasters over the course of the book. First mistake? Casting a love spell…! o_O

It’s hard to be wholly positive about this book, as it is utter fluff, but I confess I did rather enjoy it. It’s very daft, very VERY light reading, and exactly what I was looking for to balance the slog of the other tome I’m currently struggling with. Are there flaws? Of course – and a whole heap of cliches too!

Recommended? Urm, probably not to the tastes of anyone I know – although, I suspect y’all would be keeping this as a guilty secret anyway 😉

Kindle: 432 pages / 30 chapters
First published: 2006
Series: Jane Maddison book 1
Read from 25th June – 3rd July 2017

My rating: 6/10

The Undiscovered Goddess – Michelle Colston

“Stylish but Shallow: The upside is you have great taste. The downside is you’re completely shallow.”

When Holly gets the above result from a Cosmo personality test, it somehow hits her harder than the hundreds she’s taken before. And although she’s already started and discarded dozens of self-improvement schemes, this time she’s determined to stick to one, even if it involves death by yoga, herbal supplement-induced diarrhea, or – heavens forbid! – getting outside.

I confess, I picked this up and put it back down quite quickly some time ago – the opening is really not very enthralling. I couldn’t quite figure out if it was fiction (in which case I thought the opening read terribly!) or a non-fiction, in which case the style is a bit more forgivable: first person, confessional-type thing.

Sticking with it – one of my New Year’s resolutions being to finish stuff! – it quickly gets much better, and yes, it’s fiction. It turned out to be an amusing pastiche of self-help books, told through one woman’s journal as she works her way through a life-changing program. Holly, a housewife and mother of three, is living a self-confessed ‘perfect’ life, and yet so miserable she’s a borderline alcoholic with binge-eating issues and a possible child-neglect charge in her future. Likeable? Heck no. But, she is self-deprecating and funny enough in her journals that I didn’t utterly hate her.

Of course, there’s a massive element of wish-fulfillment going on here, and that runs the risk of being irritating. Holly suffers her fair share of disasters, of course, but you know exactly how this is going to work out.

And yet… I still really enjoyed the read! This is so not my choice of genre, but I was obviously in the mood for some light-hearted fluff. More, despite the utter hippy-tastic nature of the book-within-book, I couldn’t help but wish that I, too, could find a self-help tome to make my life that much shinier…! 😉

Rather disappointing that the author hasn’t written anything else, as she has an easy to read style – once you’re past those opening paragraphs, so stick with it!

NetGalley eARC: 327 pages in diary format
First published: 2012
Series: none
Read from 3rd-9th January 2017

My rating: 7/10