jim lavene

Book Review: Harrowing Hats by Joyce and Jim Lavene

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Harrowing Hats (A Renaissance Faire Mystery, #4)Harrowing Hats by Joyce Lavene

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s the final week in our readathon and I’ve just finished reading the fourth book in the Renaissance Faire Mystery series by Joyce and Jim Lavene — Harrowing Hats. As I’ve come to realize, each book gets better, but on the whole, I’m not an ardent fan of the series. I like some of the characters, the overall setting, and the general writing style, but there are too many aspects I didn’t like to make this a series I’d recommend to others. Part of me wants to continue to see what happens with Jessie, but it’s a big commitment to read the remaining 4 books. Perhaps I’ll change my mind in the future, but for now there are too many other series I want to continue to explore.

In Harrowing Hats, Jessie takes a job at a hat shop to continue her experiences preparing for her PhD program in Renaissance studies. She finds one of the three brothers who run the chocolate shop dead, then a few other crimes happen which make it look like her boss at the hat shop is responsible. It seems whomever she goes to work for is either found dead or accused of murder. Stay very far away everyone, or you might just find yourself a victim, too. 🙂

Jessie’s shenanigans with Chase are of the same sort. Sometimes they’re cute together. Other times, I want to strangle Jessie for the way she treats him. Occasionally, I want to bop Chase over the head for intentionally confusing Jessie or letting her harass him over it. These two… oy, if I were friends with them in real life, I’d drop them so quickly not even The Flash could stop me. Hopefully I got that reference right, as I’m not a huge superhero guy. I’d rather deal with amateur sleuths who charm me. 🙂

I’m glad I read a few of these books as it is definitely showing me the vast range in the cozy mystery genre. These are great for someone who cares less about the mystery and more about the setting. Hopefully others loved it more than me!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Cozy Mystery Readathon – Renaissance Faire Series (Week 4 – Harrowing Hats)

Quote Posted on Updated on

Our fourth and final book begins this week with Harrowing Hats. For general background and links to reviews on this readathon, you can find them here. Each week I’ll update the list of blogs who will be reading and providing reviews. Feel free to leave comments on the page, too! I finished reading the book while on a flight this week. I’m excited to hear from everyone.  Thank you for participating and sharing this week.

***

The voters have spoken… our winning book series to read in November 2018 is the Renaissance Faire cozy mysteries by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the last month to choose the category for the readathon, the authors and books series to vote on, and the suggestions to make this as fun as it will be. Since there are 8 books in the series, we cannot easily read them all in one month. We probably could, but there are many of us with other ARCs or pre-scheduled reads, so I think we should do 50%… essentially the first 4 books. Below is our schedule and the books:

 

 

 

In order, they are:

  1. Wicked Weaves
  2. Ghastly Glass
  3. Deadly Daggers
  4. Harrowing Hats

Given how busy everyone is, let’s just focus on getting them all read and reviewed in the month of November 2018. Read 1, 2, 3, or 4 books — however much time you have available. Our tentative schedule to post each review is:

  1. Wicked Weaves – Due 11/9
  2. Ghastly Glass – Due 11/16
  3.  Deadly Daggers – Due 11/23
  4. Harrowing Hats – Due 11/30

I’ll create the new pages and links throughout the next couple of weeks. For now, buy them or order them from your local library. If you have them already – awesome. I can’t wait to get started!

***

Based on last month’s poll, you voted to combine two of the options into a single approach for our November 2018 Readathon. The winner is: “Cozy Mystery Series.” Many thanks to all the voters and promoters for the readathon. I’m very excited to choose a series with 4 or 5 books that we can read all throughout November and post our reviews. Some of the suggestions may have more than 5, but we will only read the first 5. A few have less than 5, so we will just read 3 or 4 depending on what wins. I’ve also chosen authors I’ve never read before but have on my TBR.

November 2018 - Choose 4 Books to Read & Review (1)

You can choose your top 3 series to read.  The poll is open today through 10/12 (one full week). On 10/13, I’ll announce the book series with the most votes. We’ll have three weeks to buy or borrow the books and set the reading and review schedule. Links to the Goodreads description of the fist book are below the poll to help you choose.

Descriptions of Books

Cindy Blackburn – Cue Ball

Betty Hechtman – Yarn Retreat

Nancy Atherton – Aunt Dimity

Ellery Adams – Book Retreat

Julia Buckley – A Writer’s Apprentice

Avery Ames – A Cheese Shop

Nancy Martin – Blackbird Sisters

Kate Carlisle – Fixer-Upper

Bailey Cates – Magical Bakery

Alice Kimberly – Haunted Bookshop

Heather Blake – Wishcraft

Jim & Joyce Lavene – Renaissance Faire

Lorna Barrett – Booktown

Jana DeLeon – Miss Fortune

Lea Wait – Mainely Needlepoint

Laura Childs – A Tea Shop

Krista Davis – Domestic Diva

Daryl Wood Gerber – Cookbook Nook

Eva Gates – Lighthouse Library

Betty Webb – Gunn Zoo

Leslie Budewitz – A Spice Shop

Kelly Lane – Olive Grove

Laura Childs – Scrapbooking

Book Review: Deadly Daggers by Joyce and Jim Lavene

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Deadly Daggers (A Renaissance Faire Mystery, #3)Deadly Daggers by Joyce Lavene

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s the third week of our cozy mystery readathon on my blog @ This Is My Truth Now and we’re reading Deadly Daggers, the third book in the Renaissance Faire series, by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Based on my read of the first two books, I was still apprehensive going into week three. I did like this book a little more than the last two, but the same issues that concerned me earlier continue to occur. Perhaps it’s the style from 10-15 years ago versus today, or that the sub-genre was exploding with a multitude of themes in the early/mid 2000s, but something just seems rushed and ‘off’ with this series.

It’s 100% clear the authors can write and are well experienced in the Renaissance. I like these aspects of the books, but I’m not a fan of the randomness and the disconnected scenes that jar me from just relaxing in the read. If those were fixed, it’d be a solid 4-star series all the way. But looking at it from an overall perspective, the good parts only balance out the bad parts and leave me with a mediocre feel for the books. I’ve been told other series by these authors are better, so I might give them a chance in the future.

In this caper, the character of Daisy was great. She’s a strong woman who takes no prisoners and fights for her rights. When she appears to be the villain, she tells the cops to look elsewhere and stop bothering her. Go Daisy! I wish Jessie had some of these characteristics. She’s a strong protagonist, but she falls way too weak in her knees when Chase is around. She waffles between anger and immaturity, but when she’s focusing on the crimes, she’s got a dynamite head.

I hope book 4 keeps things on the up and up, but I’m worried, ma, I’m worried!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Cozy Mystery Readathon – Renaissance Faire Series (Week 3 – Deadly Daggers)

Quote Posted on Updated on

Our third book begins this week with Deadly Daggers. For general background and links to reviews on this readathon, you can find them here. Each week I’ll update the list of blogs who will be reading and providing reviews. Feel free to leave comments on the page, too! I finished reading the book while on a flight this week. I’m excited to hear from everyone. I’ve updated the pages with reviews from Jaymi @ Orange County Readers and Carla @ Carla Loves to Read! Thank you for participating and sharing this week.

***

The voters have spoken… our winning book series to read in November 2018 is the Renaissance Faire cozy mysteries by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the last month to choose the category for the readathon, the authors and books series to vote on, and the suggestions to make this as fun as it will be. Since there are 8 books in the series, we cannot easily read them all in one month. We probably could, but there are many of us with other ARCs or pre-scheduled reads, so I think we should do 50%… essentially the first 4 books. Below is our schedule and the books:

 

 

In order, they are:

  1. Wicked Weaves
  2. Ghastly Glass
  3. Deadly Daggers
  4. Harrowing Hats

Given how busy everyone is, let’s just focus on getting them all read and reviewed in the month of November 2018. Read 1, 2, 3, or 4 books — however much time you have available. Our tentative schedule to post each review is:

  1. Wicked Weaves – Due 11/9
  2. Ghastly Glass – Due 11/16
  3.  Deadly Daggers – Due 11/23
  4. Harrowing Hats – Due 11/30

I’ll create the new pages and links throughout the next couple of weeks. For now, buy them or order them from your local library. If you have them already – awesome. I can’t wait to get started!

***

Based on last month’s poll, you voted to combine two of the options into a single approach for our November 2018 Readathon. The winner is: “Cozy Mystery Series.” Many thanks to all the voters and promoters for the readathon. I’m very excited to choose a series with 4 or 5 books that we can read all throughout November and post our reviews. Some of the suggestions may have more than 5, but we will only read the first 5. A few have less than 5, so we will just read 3 or 4 depending on what wins. I’ve also chosen authors I’ve never read before but have on my TBR.

November 2018 - Choose 4 Books to Read & Review (1)

You can choose your top 3 series to read.  The poll is open today through 10/12 (one full week). On 10/13, I’ll announce the book series with the most votes. We’ll have three weeks to buy or borrow the books and set the reading and review schedule. Links to the Goodreads description of the fist book are below the poll to help you choose.

Descriptions of Books

Cindy Blackburn – Cue Ball

Betty Hechtman – Yarn Retreat

Nancy Atherton – Aunt Dimity

Ellery Adams – Book Retreat

Julia Buckley – A Writer’s Apprentice

Avery Ames – A Cheese Shop

Nancy Martin – Blackbird Sisters

Kate Carlisle – Fixer-Upper

Bailey Cates – Magical Bakery

Alice Kimberly – Haunted Bookshop

Heather Blake – Wishcraft

Jim & Joyce Lavene – Renaissance Faire

Lorna Barrett – Booktown

Jana DeLeon – Miss Fortune

Lea Wait – Mainely Needlepoint

Laura Childs – A Tea Shop

Krista Davis – Domestic Diva

Daryl Wood Gerber – Cookbook Nook

Eva Gates – Lighthouse Library

Betty Webb – Gunn Zoo

Leslie Budewitz – A Spice Shop

Kelly Lane – Olive Grove

Laura Childs – Scrapbooking

Cozy Mystery Readathon – Renaissance Faire Series (Week 2 – Ghastly Glass)

Quote Posted on

Our second book begins this week with Ghastly Glass. For general background and links to reviews on this readathon, you can find them here. Each week I’ll update the list of blogs who will be reading and providing reviews. Feel free to leave comments on the page, too! I read the book early as I have a few other ARCs coming up this month to finish over the next few days. I’m excited to hear from everyone!

Also, I’ve been out of town and offline for a few days.  I’m trying to find any reviews to link for the readathon for the first book (or this one). I might miss them since I can’t catch up on everything… please send your links so I can update the readathon page. Thanks!

***

The voters have spoken… our winning book series to read in November 2018 is the Renaissance Faire cozy mysteries by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the last month to choose the category for the readathon, the authors and books series to vote on, and the suggestions to make this as fun as it will be. Since there are 8 books in the series, we cannot easily read them all in one month. We probably could, but there are many of us with other ARCs or pre-scheduled reads, so I think we should do 50%… essentially the first 4 books. Below is our schedule and the books:

 

In order, they are:

  1. Wicked Weaves
  2. Ghastly Glass
  3. Deadly Daggers
  4. Harrowing Hats

Given how busy everyone is, let’s just focus on getting them all read and reviewed in the month of November 2018. Read 1, 2, 3, or 4 books — however much time you have available. Our tentative schedule to post each review is:

  1. Wicked Weaves – Due 11/9
  2. Ghastly Glass – Due 11/16
  3.  Deadly Daggers – Due 11/23
  4. Harrowing Hats – Due 11/30

I’ll create the new pages and links throughout the next couple of weeks. For now, buy them or order them from your local library. If you have them already – awesome. I can’t wait to get started!

***

Based on last month’s poll, you voted to combine two of the options into a single approach for our November 2018 Readathon. The winner is: “Cozy Mystery Series.” Many thanks to all the voters and promoters for the readathon. I’m very excited to choose a series with 4 or 5 books that we can read all throughout November and post our reviews. Some of the suggestions may have more than 5, but we will only read the first 5. A few have less than 5, so we will just read 3 or 4 depending on what wins. I’ve also chosen authors I’ve never read before but have on my TBR.

November 2018 - Choose 4 Books to Read & Review (1)

You can choose your top 3 series to read.  The poll is open today through 10/12 (one full week). On 10/13, I’ll announce the book series with the most votes. We’ll have three weeks to buy or borrow the books and set the reading and review schedule. Links to the Goodreads description of the fist book are below the poll to help you choose.

Descriptions of Books

Cindy Blackburn – Cue Ball

Betty Hechtman – Yarn Retreat

Nancy Atherton – Aunt Dimity

Ellery Adams – Book Retreat

Julia Buckley – A Writer’s Apprentice

Avery Ames – A Cheese Shop

Nancy Martin – Blackbird Sisters

Kate Carlisle – Fixer-Upper

Bailey Cates – Magical Bakery

Alice Kimberly – Haunted Bookshop

Heather Blake – Wishcraft

Jim & Joyce Lavene – Renaissance Faire

Lorna Barrett – Booktown

Jana DeLeon – Miss Fortune

Lea Wait – Mainely Needlepoint

Laura Childs – A Tea Shop

Krista Davis – Domestic Diva

Daryl Wood Gerber – Cookbook Nook

Eva Gates – Lighthouse Library

Betty Webb – Gunn Zoo

Leslie Budewitz – A Spice Shop

Kelly Lane – Olive Grove

Laura Childs – Scrapbooking

Book Review: Ghastly Glass by Joyce and Jim Lavene

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Ghastly Glass (A Renaissance Faire Mystery, #2)Ghastly Glass by Joyce Lavene

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

November is the Renaissance Faire cozy mystery readathon on my blog @ This Is My Truth Now. We’re in our second week with the second book in the series by Joyce and Jim Lavene with Ghastly Glass. Anyone is welcome to join…. we’re reading the first 4 books in the series and posting our reviews each Friday. I link them together on my blog’s dedicated page so we can all review and comment. You can read any number of books you want in the series, too. Let’s get on to my review of Ghastly Glass.

Last week, I mentioned that I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book, Wicked Weaves. It had some good elements, but it was disconnected and repetitive in parts. While much of the repetition seems to be gone (not all), the disconnected parts are still present in Ghastly Glass. Part of me wonders if it might just be the duo’s writing style as it’s very blunt when it happens. The narrator comments on all the happenings around the Renaissance Faire; for instance, we could be ending a scene where the main character, Jessie, is doing something and she runs into people along the way. We hear one-liners about various performers and apprentices, Renaissance-Faire settings, et al. It’s good knowledge, but it’s just dropped in, in a way where I can’t tell if it’s part of the plot or background. And it will name drop so much that I can’t keep track of who is who. While it’s awesome for building the whole world in the books, it can be a tad frustrating for someone trying to also focus on the mystery.

In some parts, even the writing is stilted and awkward when these disconnections happen. Random lines (I’m paraphrasing) like “Death just walked by on stilts. Were they real? He looked taller.” The character of ‘Death’ wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the immediate pages before nor in the pages afterward. Just a random drop in. Okay, I’ve vented enough… while it can be jarring, it isn’t enough to say I wouldn’t want to read more in the series. If I hadn’t committed to it for the blog, I probably wouldn’t read another one, but since I agreed to 4, I will read them all and put on a positive spin wherever I can.

For instance, they do have a really fun and cool setting. I love hearing about all of the different side acts in the Renaissance Faire, meeting the performers and learning their history, watching the relationships develop between characters, etc. I also liked the mystery in this one as it was definitely a shocker. I wonder if I re-read it, would I notice the hints along the way? That’s always a good way to feel at the end of the book… so kudos to the authors for building that connection for us readers. In this caper, the actor playing Death is killed, then Jessie’s boss where she’s apprenticing, Roger, is attacked. We met him in the first book, so I felt closer to him than any newbies. Chase is back which provides a cute love story for Jessie.

Next up is the third in the series, Deadly Daggers… we read and review week of 11/17… come join us!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Wicked Weaves by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Posted on Updated on

Wicked Weaves (A Renaissance Faire Mystery, #1)Wicked Weaves by Joyce Lavene

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s the 1st week of our November 2018 Cozy Mystery Readathon featuring the ‘Renaissance Faire Mysteries’ by Joyce and Jim Lavene. Followers on my blog picked this series as our group buddy read, and we settled on the first 4 books in the series. First up is Wicked Weaves… let’s get into the review:

Prior to someone suggesting this series, I knew very little if anything about it. I liked the concept and thought it might present a good backdrop for a mystery series, but I worried it could get overdone with too many books in the series. I was intrigued that it was written by a writing duo, a husband and wife. I was also surprised to see it took place in South Carolina as I’d like to spend more time there, too.

I love Medieval Times / Middle Ages and the growth that occurred after they came to an end. The Renaissance was a time of great art, beauty, learning, and creativity. With a year-round fair and village, there are so many opportunities to learn ranging from basket-weaving, the focus of this book, to glass-blowing, which I believe is the focus for the next book. Not only did I learn some techniques and botany, I felt immersed in a cool culture with lots of fun settings, scenes, and ideas.

The caper is relatively simple with a minimal amount of possible suspects. While there are a few of the employees at the Renaissance Faire who might have had a connection to the deceased, there is also the wife, the brother, the brother-in-law, and the nephew / adopted son. With so much focus on the setting, I felt the characters weren’t described as well. I couldn’t connect with anyone including the main character herself (although I did like her side story romance). The amateur sleuth is a smart ~30ish woman who teaches at a college during the year and works summers at the fair. She’s a little vanilla for me, but there were some scenes that showed more potential, like anything having to do with her brother (mischievous one) or the bailiff (resident hottie). Given there are tons of books, I’m sure these aspects will grow better in the next one.

This book highlights why the cozy mystery world has a vast range of options. There are ones where the mystery is important, but there are also several where it’s all about the setting. This was about the setting, and I’m okay with that. We had little knowledge of the victim, and the revelation that he was the husband of the suspected killer was just very quiet and ordinary. It was the cliffhanger ending for a chapter, but honestly, I didn’t understand it. Had the next chapter not clearly said they were married, I wouldn’t have gotten the connection. This happened a few times in the book… where what I felt should’ve been a pop moment was more like background noise. If the setting and culture in the book were bland, too, I probably would give up on the series.

That said, it’s the actual Renaissance Faire components kept me interested and intrigued. I could ignore the redundancies, confusion, and lack of vibrant characters purely because I wanted to understand how this world operated. I look forward to the next book but really hope the mystery and the characters grow stronger. It was an okay to good read for me — nothing that stood out as something I’d recommend quite yet. Let’s move on to book two now… who’s ready for some Ghastly Glass?

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.