Writings: January Reading List & Reviews by Beth Bowser

Novels by Paige Shelton, Seanan McGuire, Cate Conte, and Bailey Cates January Reading & Reviews Click here for a printer friendly version of this page

To begin 2021, I picked up To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton. It's the first of a new Cosy Mystery series for her, The Dangerous Type series. Cosy mysteries are my guilty pleasures as they are easy, fun, and I don't have to think too much! So I'm always on the look out for new ones! In this story, the main character is the grand daughter of the owner of The Rescued Word, a typewriter repair shop and also repair old books and sell items such as fancy paper stock and pens. There were quiet a few added mysteries to the novel, which didn't add to solving the main mystery which was disappointing. It was a bit slower than what I'm used to for Cosy Mysteries, but that's not bad in and of itself. Many many explanations that didn't seem to be necessary, but it was still enjoyable overall! It's based out of Star City, Utah and has a very old timey feeling to it which is not selling point for me. I do kind-of live in a more old-timey city now, but I've lived all over the country so the old-timey setting doesn't work for me :( Final warning, I enjoyed the reading of this book, but to fellow mystery readers, if you like mysteries where you can figure out how the baddie is before you read the reveal, you are very unlikely to be able in this book...

For my second selection, I grabbed Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue, the first in the October Daye series. This book ends up being a mystery like the previous novel, it's just definitely not of the cosy variety. October is a half-fae which seems to be altogether a bad thing. She can see the Fae, is treated horribly by them and also has to hide her ears and odd colored eyes if she holds down a normal human job. Very early on, we find she had a husband and a child and an investigative career working for a full blooded Fae. She gets trapped in a pool for a decade and written off for dead. Maybe that is why she always felt a little dead to me. When you've been a fish for a bunch of years, how long is normal to come back to being a human? I liked the premise and plot quite a bit, but I have always disliked reading when the main character is always losing, being beat up, etc and this story is more of that. Her only way of winning is when full Fae help or she gets help from more half-bloods. She acts kinda stupid and never asks for help either when she has to know she needs the help, ugh! I still mostly liked the novel although it was darker than I thought it would be. McGuire doesn't hide away from her characters mistakes! Will you like it? If you like mysteries, you may as there's definitely a mystery! If you like fantasy, there is quite a bit of fantastical creatures you may or may not have heard of before! You may not like it you dislike depressing novels or want human&Fae interaction. Humans are basically not present in this novel.

My third choice was back to a traditional cosy mystery in Witch Hunt by Cate Conte. The main character, Violet, is the owner of crystal shop living in a remote smaller city. She recently lost her grandmother and is alone now except for friends, being that her father died a few years ago and her mother walked out on her family was she was young. Then there is a murder! That is what this novel is anyway, right? Gotta be a murder, but Violet is considered to be suspect #1 as her the murder victim had a very loudly public fight the other night. The book does have paranormal elements to it coming to us in the form of magic and witches. Witches in this novel are a different race and Violet is one of them! It is very refreshing that the author writes are a much more normal person, refusing to accept the fact that she's a witch until she absolutely has to. I honestly love everything about this book! It is one of the best Cosy Mysteries I have read in a long time! It's very fast, full of quirky characters, and fun! Even better, I loved that the chapters are small and easy to devour super fast! If you like cosy mysteries and/or fantasy involving witches, pick this up! You'll enjoy!

Since I was on a kick all month with Cosy Mysteries, I grabbed a suggested book by one of you for my last pick this month which is Brownies and Broomsticks, the first in the Magical Bakery Mystery series by Bailey Cates. In this novel, our main character, Katie Lightfoot, is a cook who is tired of her hohum bakery position in Ohio but leaps at the chance to become the head cook at new a bakery in Savannah, Georgia when her Aunt and Uncle ask her to join them there. Very quickly the required murder happens and Katie's Uncle is the prime suspect! Good thing she has powers, right? ;) She, like our previous main character, doesn't believe that she is a witch, but she gives in and accepts her witchiness pretty quickly. The novel has the annoying moments that all Cosy Mysteries have, where things just easily fall into place for the main character and she can cause any kind disruption she wants with at worse a slap on the wrist from the cops. But I went into reading this knowing that was going to be the case, so I'm not upset! I did not care for a few of the scenes that seemed like they skirted the edges of sexual assault. I felt there were a few times where she may have been spelled by a fellow witch to be attracted to him, but the book never explained her instant attraction to my satisfaction. She finds a cute scotty puppy dog and, while she originally wants to drop him off at the local animal shelter, she never goes there! It's another good fast enjoyable read like the previous! Please keep the book suggestions coming!!