Tag: Small-Town USA

REVIEW: Amanda Flower’s A PLAIN DISAPPEARANCE, Or The Hammer and the Mouse

A Plain DisappearanceIf there’s one thing Miss Bates can say about the occasional cozy mystery series she follows, it’s that they remind her of a favourite autumnal sweater. Heather-green wool, hand-knit from Scotland, she’s waiting for that October chill to don it and walk the red- and gold-leaf-strewn streets of her native city. Thus is Amanda Flower’s Appleseed Creek series now that Miss Bates has read the latest and third volume: comfortable, familiar, endearing. It’s also lovingly written and in keeping with the sympathetic conventions of the cozy. On the other hand, it suffers from the bane of any series: familiarity breeding contempt … and the particular bane of the cozy, the reader’s increasing difficulty to sustain belief in the viability of that many people murdered in a small town and our heroine’s bad/good luck in consistently finding the bodies!  Continue reading to learn what Miss Bates thought of Flower’s latest

REVIEW: Julia London’s HOMECOMING RANCH, Or “Where They Have To Take You In”

Homecoming RanchIn Robert Frost’s poem, “The Death of the Hired Man,” a wife convinces her husband to allow their former “hired man” to stay with them, though he’s “ditched” them in the past and can’t work as he once did. She argues that home is “the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Their farm is the only place he’s ever been valued, or felt useful.

Julia London’s contemporary romance, Homecoming Ranch, is centered around the idea that one comes home when one recognizes home not only as a place of blood ties, but belonging. The hero and heroine answer the questions: “Where do I belong? Where am I needed? What is important?” Their HEA is not a narrow world of two, but extended family, community, and nature. Don’t mistake London’s Homecoming Ranch, however, as a story sombre and serious; Miss Bates spent four hours non-stop reading this novel … alternating between snorty guffaws and sniffy sobs. This novel fulfilled that most difficult of tasks in the romance writing world, to create a beautifully written story that is highly entertaining, deeply moving, and utterly believable. Continue reading for more of Miss Bates’s thoughts

MINI-REVIEW: Amanda Flower’s A PLAIN SCANDAL, and Wherein A Little Malaise Sets In

A Plain ScandalLong before Miss Bates was ever a spinster, she read all the Pippi Longstocking books she could get her hands on. It was with a nostalgic smile that she read Chief Greta Rose’s assessment of our romance heroine and amateur sleuth, Chloe Humphrey, in Amanda Flower’s first Appleseed Creek cozy mystery, A Plain Death, “You’re like the Pippi Longstocking version of Nancy Drew.” Our red-haired geek girl and wanna-be detective continues to eavesdrop, interview, investigate, and fight for truth, justice, and the Amish way in Flower’s second cozy mystery, A Plain Scandal. In this case, she’s in pursuit of the culprit who is cutting off the beards of Amish men and Amish girls’ long hair … until these nasty shenanigans turn to murder, the murder of a successful young Amish man, Ezekiel Young. Continue reading for a rare look at a surprisingly succinct Miss Bates

REVIEW: “And Now For Something Completely Different,” Amanda Flower’s A PLAIN DEATH

A Plain DeathFor some time now, Miss Bates had a hankering to read outside of her contemporary and historical romance comfort zone. She wanted to read an Amish-set romance, but didn’t know enough about the sub-genre to select an author or title. She’d read about Amanda Flower’s Appleseed Creek series in USA Today and thought this might be her gentled way in, thought she’d pay a call and linger for a spot of tea. Miss Bates is leery of the cozy mystery’s cuteness and catness, having consumed tons of these before embracing romance wholeheartedly. Once assured that there was a strong romantic element woven into the who-done-it, she gave Flower’s first Appleseed Creek, Amish-set, inspirational, cozy mystery a try. With some misgivings aside, smack, smack, like trying a new food, she uttered, “me like”. Continue reading about Miss Bates’s foray into Amish country