Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Secret Ingredient of Wishes

The Secret Ingredient of WishesThe Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rachel Monroe has a secret. Well, two related ones, really: she can make wishes come true, and when she was 10, she accidentally wished her brother would get lost. Which he did. Permanently. Now no one remembers he ever existed except for Rachel, and she spent years in therapy because of it. That one careless moment shattered her family, and ever since then, Rachel has been doing her best to hide from her ability. She thinks she has succeeded until the day she accidentally grants the wish of her best friend's daughter to have a unicorn--or a pony with a party hat on its forehead, anyway--and Rachel decides to flee in order to protect those she loves.

Magic isn't so easily evaded, however, and Rachel soon finds herself out of gas in the small town of Nowhere, North Carolina, taken in by an eccentric old woman who can bind secrets by baking them into pies and who is harboring secrets of her own. She meets new friends, gets a job, and is starting to fall in love with the next door neighbor. For the first time in her life, Rachel begins to feel at home, which is a good thing, because the town won't let her leave. Not the townspeople--the Town itself. Since she can't run away again, when word of her wish-granting secret gets out, she has to come to terms with her ability in order to avoid continuing to live a life of fear and guilt.

This is a good choice for fans of Sarah Addison Allen, as it had a similar feel and concepts (semi-sentient fruit trees, anyone?). There were quirky and engaging characters, a charming town, and magic in the air. A delightful read, to be sure.

It would make an excellent book club selection--there were so many times I wished I could discuss this book with someone! For example, does anyone else feel like there should have been more significance to the poisoned plum tree--how it got poisoned and what might have happened when it was ripped out? Or Rachel's family photo--I was surprised Rachel didn't use it as proof both with her parents at the time of the accident as well as with Ashe when the truth about her brother came out.

This book also made me want to eat pie. Lots of pie. Sadly, the ARC I received from Bookbrowse/the publisher in exchange for my honest review didn't include any. *sigh* Ah well.

For readers' advisors: character, story, and setting doorways were all strong. There is a fair amount of swearing, which didn't bother me but might bother some people (things like "damn" and "bat-shit crazy"). Some kissing, touching, and removal of a shirt but no actual sex scenes. No violence.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cat Trick

Cat Trick: A Magical Cats MysteryCat Trick: A Magical Cats Mystery by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Several of Kathleen's friends and acquaintances are involved with putting on the upcoming food tasting event organized by former Mayville Heights resident Mike Glazer. The goal is to bring tourism dollars to local businesses, but Mike is rubbing everyone the wrong way and feathers are ruffled all over town. When one of Kathleen's cats discovers Mike's body inside one of the big tents, there are almost too many suspects to choose from. As usual, despite Detective Marcus Gordon's request for Kathleen to stay out of his case, she gets involved anyway and, predictably, gets hurt, in more ways than one.

I do enjoy listening to this series during my commutes, but I am totally on Marcus's side here: Kathleen has GOT to learn to trust him! I have no problem with her doing a little investigating on her own; I just grind my teeth and holler at my stereo every time she drags her feet on sharing what she's learned. It's so frustrating! When will she ever learn that holding back NEVER ends well?

This book is pretty sedately paced most of the time--it's more about the relationships than the action--which is completely fine with me, in theory. I just wish it wouldn't be "two steps forward, three steps back" with Marcus and Kathleen. There is finally a kiss! And then a big fight. *sigh* Yes, she did call him (last) before heading out the door to prevent a suicide and later to confront the killer. It's not enough, though. Marcus can tell she lacks faith in him, and it ruins their budding relationship (for the time being).

For readers' advisors: character doorway is primary. No sex or swearing, and the only violence was some arm-twisting.

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Copycat Killing

Copycat Killing (A Magical Cats Mystery, #3)Copycat Killing by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been raining so much in Mayville Heights that buildings all over the small town are flooding. When Kathleen Paulson and her friend Maggie stumble across the body of mask-maker Jaeger Merrill floating in the basement of the artists' co-op, Kathleen suspects he didn't slip on the stairs and drown by accident. Since Maggie recently argued with Jaeger about the future direction of the co-op, Kathleen fears Detective Marcus Gordon will believe Maggie killed him, and she vows to find the real killer. Jaeger turns out to have a shady past, so Kathleen begins investigating who knew about it.

Kathleen is FINALLY starting to do the sensible thing and call Marcus when she discovers something or figures something out, but it's taking her an unreasonably long time to learn that Bad Things Happen when she doesn't do it right away. And it's taking ridiculously long for her to learn to trust that he will do his job well by following the evidence and isn't actually out to railroad her friends. Honestly, what is her hangup? They are never going to be able to advance their budding relationship if she doesn't learn to have more faith in him!

I did enjoy the story, despite my frustration with the main character(s). I'm looking forward to the next books in the series.

For readers' advisors: character doorway is primary. The pace is fairly leisurely. There is no profanity, sex, or onscreen/graphic violence.

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