M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Bodies Can Show Up in Strange Places in Soft Mysteries

    Decided to indulge in some softer mysteries this week. After tossing a couple cozies on the trade pile, I ended up with a historical: Lou Jane Temple's The Spice Box.

   My reward was seeing several inches of wall underneath the picture hanging over three to-read piles. It's still white. I was beginning to wonder. [Who knows? Gremlins might have snuck in and painted it a different color.]

   The Spice Box focus's on the Irish experience in New York City of the 1860s ... where a former street rat, Bridget Heaney, is achieving her ambition to become a chef when she is employed by a prominent Sephardic Jewish department store owner. Things turn south when she finds her employer's son's body in the dough box [a large cupboard where bread dough is put to rise]. The book was off and strolling through enough twists and turns to make the story line interesting, if somewhat unbelievable.

   Yeah. The book sometimes felt anachronistic, but is readable. More and more women were breaking out of their "little women" stereotypes. I don't think I'm being insensitive, but the protagonist felt a little too modern to my expectations. I also thought the sub-plot of searching for her long missing sister felt like an after thought and the renewed relationship between the two sisters rushed. But it did bring the book to an end and threw a sop to the cooking theme of the mystery.

   Never heard of Lou Jane Temple before, but she has quite a few books under her name, released by a major publisher. Guess she sold a few even though she hasn't garnered as many reviews as other popular mystery writers. The book was published in 2005 so she operated in a different environment than today. So, I'm guessing there was a copy editor checking for facts so my feelings about anachronisms may be off the mark.

   The plot line was better developed than the characters. Other than the main character, not enough of the other characters had enough quirks to round them out. But they did their duty in carrying the plot along. Can't complain too much.

   Recommended, +/-. Some of the history bothered me, and I kept waiting for the characters to break out of their stereotypes. But I was too lazy to check the background or just too busy. Still, the book kept me reading. I give it a pass since the other two books I started ended up on the trade pile without getting finished.

Read excerpts and some unhappy reviews at Amazon and B&N Nook.

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Interesting Links

   Folklore has writers needing coffee like vampires need blood. "Ilona Andrews" of the Kate Daniels urban fantasy series blogged about her coffee troubles recently, The Keurig Quit. Must say she reinforced my perceptions of the machine...besides the fact they're expensive to use unless you get those little re-useable containers to old the coffee like some cheapskates I know.

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My Writing Rut

   On the Run has another chapter down ... at least until I start revising. Amazing what concentrating on dialog can do to speed my writing pace. Of course, the setting and tags limp along or are absent, but I guess something has to be sacrificed in the name of speed. Tried to get those mended over the week-end, but too many extraneous things happened. Of course, I could stop editing was I write ... but ideas keep popping into my head about the characters as I write.

   Sounds like I make more excuses for slow writing than actually writing.

   Still, haven't gotten to my website. It must be feeling as much an orphan as Bridget Heaney. Maybe next week.

   Still, haven't gotten to any of my short story outlines...

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