Reading Challenge 2021, Part Seven

I’d hoped to finish reading a fourth book this month, but family medical issues got in the way. Anyway, here are the three mysteries I read since my last set of book reviews:

Murder at Elm House by Helena Dixon
A Miss Underhay Mystery, Book 6
When a wealthy friend of Kitty’s grandmother is admitted to a rehabilitation facility to recover from surgery, Kitty and Matt are brought in to investigate what the woman insists are suspicious happenings. At first, it seems that she’s imagining things, but when patients and employees meet untimely ends in quick succession, they begin to take the claims more seriously. I enjoyed the adventure, although Kitty’s actions seemed a bit reckless at times. The villain, when exposed, wasn’t particularly a surprise, but the resolution to this story was full of action. Especially enjoyable is the development of the romance between Kitty and Matt. The overall series mystery hasn’t been solved yet (we still don’t know what happened to Kitty’s mother all those years ago), so there will be more to come, and I’m looking forward to it. Book Eight is due to be released in October!

Toucan Keep a Secret by Donna Andrews
A Meg Langslow Mystery, Book 23
I realized it had been a long time since I’d indulged myself in one of Donna Andrews’ bird-titled cozy mysteries, so I borrowed this one from my local library. I’ve loved reading the books in this series since I first discovered them many years ago. Meg Langslow is a blacksmith by trade, but she has a knack for discovering dead bodies and then assisting the local police chief in finding the killer. In addition to being wife to theater Michael, a theater professor, Meg is the mother of energetic twin boys, daughter of a society matron and the town coroner, and granddaughter of a world famous nature expert and owner of the local zoo. She works part time for the city offices, and assists the very pregnant rector at Trinity Episcopalian Church. All of this comes into play when Meg finds a body in the columbarium when locking up the church after a heated board meeting. I truly enjoyed revisiting the eclectic residents of Caerphilly, and the mystery was a joy to read.

Banana Cream Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Hannah Swenson Mystery, Book 21
I decided to check out another cozy mystery author I hadn’t visited lately. I’d read several of the Hannah Swenson murder mysteries several years ago, so I figured I’d revisit the series to see if anything had changed. There are now twenty-eight books in this series about a cookie shop owner in Lake Eden, Minnesota. I’d stopped reading the series for much the same reason that I grew tired of Stephanie Plum – the protagonist, Hannah, couldn’t make up her mind between two very eligible men in her life, and she kept making the same misguided choices. But upon discovering that Hannah had actually married someone (and it was neither of the two prospects from before), I figured maybe things had changed. While the story had a few interesting minor characters, I was a little disappointed with several things. First, Hannah seems quite naive about some things. It’s hard to believe she runs a business, because she seems clueless about so much, and she spends so much time agonizing about inconsequential things. She had no idea how to retrieve her voicemail or read her text messages. And when someone gives her a recipe that includes beer, she spends several minutes in the grocery store wondering which one to buy, because she doesn’t know what a lager is. Second, it seems that she knew her husband since college, but she doesn’t seem to know much about him. She spends time during her honeymoon wondering if maybe they should have discussed things like finances and having children – not something I’d expect from a strong female protagonist. There were other things that really had me shaking my head. I was really disappointed, and when I checked out reviews, I discovered I wasn’t the only one. The murder is solved, but the book ends with a cliffhanger, so I ordered the next book from the library to see how that pans out, and to find out if Hannah gets any smarter.

About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page:
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8 Responses to Reading Challenge 2021, Part Seven

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    I appreciate the honesty of your review of Banana Cream — being aware of those flaws certainly steers me away from that title.
    The heroine in the Toucan story sounds so incredibly BUSY — in so many different responsibilities & interests — that I might find it too exhausting to read. LOL
    The various goings-in at Elm House sound like they might interest me quite a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I can imagine you would enjoy the series written by our mutual friend Helena Dixon (aka Nell Dixon). Meg Langslow is indeed a busy woman, which is probably why I like her so much. I especially enjoy the secondary characters in the series. I am nearly finished with Book 22 in the Hannah Swenson series, so you’ll find out next month whether or not my opinion improved.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know many Fluker fans and I have read one, and started another, of her books. I can’t say that those two impressed me greatly, although the Christmas one wasn’t bad, (obvious, but not bad). The other two sound up my alley. Oh, even if I read every day for hours, I’d never get through my TBR list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      That’s one of the reasons I started posting my reviews. I kinda feel obligated to read so that I’ll have something to say!


  3. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Thanks for the reviews. Toucan Keep a Secret sounds good to me.


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