Booklikes-opoly 2020; Pandemic edition / audit update #1

Given that I’m already behind on posts, it seems my decision to audit was a good one. After finishing Amethyst Dreams for square 6, I rolled a 7 and landed on the Robot square. I made a note of it on my RL board, and rolled again, getting aand landing on a Chance square:

I decided on Why Shoot a Butler? because I wasn’t in the mood for non-fiction, and it was on my TBR.  Which it shouldn’t have been, because I’d already read it, but never mind, I enjoyed reading it again.

Rolling again, I got a 5 and landed on the Cat Square, made a note and rolled again, getting a 6, which landed me on space 27.  For this one, I’m going to do a re-read again, but this time on purpose.  I’m choosing the anthology from Jimmy Buffet, Tales from Margaritaville, which feature a short story called Take Another Road, about a man named Tully Mars; it’s definitely a tale of a hero’s journey – if a somewhat eccentric one.

Murder in the Rue Dumas (Verlaque and Bonnet, #2)

Murder in the Rue DumasMurder in the Rue Dumas
by M.L. Longworth
Rating: ★★★★
Series: Verlaque and Bonnet Provencal Mystery #2
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Pages: 296
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Crime

The second in a (so far) 6 book series, this one started off much more slowly for me, as the author takes the time to set the murder scene, introduce the suspects, and hint at motivations before we ever hear from our two MCs.  I recognise the value of this, but I mostly find it tedious.

Once the body drops, the pace starts to pick up, albeit slowly, and Bonnet makes very few appearances until the last half of the book.  From this point on, I once again fell into Aix-en-Provence – and Umbria Italy! – and lost myself in the mystery, the setting and the characters.

The mystery plotting was very good, although I think Longworth could be accused of over-complicating it.  But I totally didn’t see that ending coming and when it came it was tense.

Murder in the Rue Dumas wasn’t quite as good as the first one, but it was still better than most cozies available now – it’s got a much more ‘traditional mystery’ feel and I can’t wait for book three to arrive in the post.

This was my Free Friday Read #5 and was 296 pages long.

Death at the Chateau Bremont (Verleque and Bonnet Mystery, #1)

Death at the Chateau BremontDeath at the Chateau Bremont
by M.L. Longworth
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780143119524
Series: Verlaque and Bonnet Provencal Mystery #1
Publication Date: June 28, 2011
Pages: 320
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Penguin Crime

Let me get the most egregious bit out of the way:  the editing was bad.  I’d go so far as to say no human being copy-edited this book.  Missing words, wrong words (it instead of is or to instead of so), words in the wrong order, and my favourite:

“She lingered under the shower, watching the hot water roll over her tummy, which was beginning to protrude a bit, down to her toes.”

If your stomach is protruding down to your toes, it’s probably protruding more than a bit.

And finally, I hate the word ‘tummy’ the same way so many hate ‘moist’, and it’s used a lot in this book.

But it was a delightfully great mystery in a more traditional, rather than cozy, style.  I had my doubts because frankly, I’d never heard of it or the others in the series and since it was a Penguin publication, I had to wonder why it didn’t seem to receive much in the way of marketing love.

Verleque is an ass; he comes from great wealth and has grand ideas about food and wine and cigars, while his ex, Bonnet is cheerful and kind and universally loved.  The death of Bonnet’s old childhood friend brings them back into each others’ orbits as Verleque investigates the death and relies on Bonnet’s connections and memories to sort out what happened.

This is not a book for anyone with a low tolerance of character building; a lot of the book (third person pov) is spent getting to know Verleque and Bonnet as individuals before seeing them work together.  What would feel like extraneous filler in other books seems necessary here to make Verleque sympathetic; he’s still a bit of an ass, but by the end it seems more understandable, and a great personal secret lurks in the background, presumably to be revealed in a later book.

The mystery was really well plotted; so many possible avenues, a killer I didn’t see coming and a not entirely neat and tidy ending.  And the atmosphere:  Aix-en-Provence – what is it about French countryside settings?

If you want a good, traditional mystery that spends time creating rich, complex characters, I definitely recommend this – but if you read digitally, maybe check out the ebook version in hopes that the editing debacle has since been corrected.


Page count:  311

$$:  $9.00  (location multiplier applied)

Secrets in the Mist

Secrets in the MistSecrets in the Mist
by Anna Lee Huber
Rating: ★★★
isbn: 9780997939620
Series: Gothic Myths #1
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Pages: 378
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: Brightstone Media

2021 Update:  I actually enjoyed this more the second time around, enough to give it a 4 star rating over the original 3.


Hmm… how to sum up my thoughts about this book?  Mostly, it needed a harsher editor.

I’m a huge fan of Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby series, and the writing in this is equally as good, but it’s just too long.  The story dragged for at least the first half of the book, and as Ella is a poster child for co-dependency, a situation that was played to the hilt, the reading was tedious at the start.

Once it got going though, the reading became much easier, even at times, exciting.  Huber never goes for the fantastical and cliched plotting choices, but still weaves an impressive story.  The ending felt a bit abrupt, but I can’t say that’s a fair call; I think I tried to anticipate how the end would happen, and being completely wrong is what felt abrupt.

I’m not sorry to have read it – it was a good story (and a good romance) – but it \ could have been a more amazing story with tighter editing.

This was my Free Friday Read for BLopoly and it was 378 pages.

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight (Charlie Davidson, #11)

Eleventh Grave in MoonlightEleventh Grave in Moonlight
by Darynda Jones
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9781250078216
Series: Charlie Davidson #11
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Pages: 310
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

My entire life can be summed up in one sentence:
“Well, that didn’t go as planned.”

A typical day in the life of Charley Davidson involves cheating husbands, errant wives, missing people, philandering business owners, and, oh yeah...demons, hell hounds, evil gods, and dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. As a part time Private Investigator and full-time Grim Reaper, Charley has to balance the good, the bad, the undead, and those who want her dead.

Now, Charley is learning to make peace with the fact that she is a goddess with all kinds of power and that her own daughter has been born to save the world from total destruction. But the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished forever to the darkest corners of another dimension. With the son of Satan himself as her husband, will Charley be able to defeat the ultimate evil and find a way to have her happily ever after after all?

Darynda Jones is quickly becoming the second author alive for whom I’d go out of my way to have a conversation with.  Folded into a zany, quirky, funny urban fantasy series is some deeply well thought out theology; hidden amid the rapid-fire one-liners, Jones tackles head on the issues of God, free-will, and why He “allows’ pain and suffering.  And she doesn’t take it lightly, and she doesn’t go for easy answers or glib reasoning.  She’s successfully mixed silliness and the very opposite of silliness and I’m a little bit in love with her for pulling it off.

Eleventh Grave… clears a lot of the ongoing questions up, and I’d go so far as to say it brings the major story-arc to a close.  The climatic scene was so shattering, the resolution was almost an afterthought.  This is by no means the end of the series, as far as I know – there’s still a lot of questions unanswered so it had better not be.

It was mostly excellent but my complaints are twofold:  The first – we don’t find out what happened to Strawberry Shortcake’s brother.  I hate unresolved stuff like that.  Second:  I have to preface this with the disclaimer that I’m not a prude.  Sex scenes don’t bother me in the slightest, but Jones went a little too far for my comfort in one of the scenes here.  It wasn’t that it was deviant in any way, but after 11 books I feel like I’ve come to know Charlie and Reyes; like an invisible, unacknowledged member of the gang.  And yeah, I’d rather not know as much about Charlie and Reyes as I got from that scene.  At one point it stopped being sexy and started being really awkward.   On the flip side, she wrote a hell of a homage to When Harry Met Sally in another scene.

Awkward sex aside, I’m with Jones and Charlie until the wheels fall off.  I’d say until hell froze over but apparently, that’s a thing.


Page count:  310
$$:  3.00

The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay

The Matchmakers of Minnow BayThe Matchmakers of Minnow Bay
by Kelly Harms
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9781250070616
Publication Date: August 9, 2016
Pages: 280
Genre: Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Lily Stewart has reached a crossroads in her life. Her painting career hasn't taken off, her best friend has changed beyond recognition, her relationship is a constant disappointment, and now she can't keep up with the rising cost of living in the city. With no one to turn to, Lily is forced to move from her beloved apartment, but while packing she comes across a piece of mail that had slipped to the back of her junk drawer: a letter detailing further action needed to finalize the annulment of a quickie Vegas wedding. From ten years ago!

Lily decides it's time to gather up the pieces of her life, and the first item on her list of things to fix is that annulment... but you can't just send a text ten years later reading, "Hey BTW we are still married." This is something that must be addressed in person, so Lily decides to track down her husband - the charming, enigmatic man she connected with all those years ago.

Ben Hutchinson left a high-profile dot-com lifestyle behind to return home to his family and the small lake town he loves, Minnow Bay. He's been living off the grid with the express purpose of making it hard to be found—so the last thing he expects is a wife he didn't know he had making her presence known.


I don’t normally draw parallels, but think Mary Kay Andrews, or Jennifer Crusie minus the purposeful hilarity, and you have a good idea of what The Matchmakers of Minnow Bay is going to deliver.

Lily is one of those artists who has the potential to make it big, but she’s a doormat; a cheerful, I-just-want-everybody-to-be-happy, doormat.  Normally I’d have tossed this book aside because I don’t like reading about doormats, but Lily never wallowed, so that during the clueless stage of the story the irritating bits washed over me.

While packing to move out of her apartment, Lily stumbles across a 10 year old notice from Nevada telling her the annulment she applied for is incomplete.  She’s been married to a guy she can’t even remember for a decade, and of course she’s feeling all her shortcomings, so determines to go to Minnow Bay to apologise in person and fix things.  This is when she has her “I’m a doormat” epiphany, and while her turnaround is a work in progress, her wry humor about herself and the way she owns up to her shortcomings made it easy for me to relate to her and like her more than I normally would.

Added to her likeable qualities are the characters of Minnow Bay, all of whom are poster-small-town-perfect and quite a lot of them the kind I wish I had for neighbours.  Colleen and Jenny’s antics trying to keep Lily in Minnow Bay are funny and Simone is acerbic but hilarious.

I thought the writing really readable and I easily finished it yesterday afternoon and evening; it’s not a long book and the engaging narrative sucked me in.  I’m not sure I’d say it’s worth the sticker price, but it’s definitely worth the used bookshop price (in hardcover) and I thought it was a fun read, perfect for the mood I was in.


Total pages: 280
$$: $3.00