My rating: 2 of 5 stars
To be fair, maybe I would have liked it more had I read earlier books but I doubt it. Honestly, Angie is a very annoying character. She and her detective fiancée, Paavo, are in Arizona where he's originally from to meet the man who raised him and to meet a childhood friend, while Angie scouts of potential wedding venues. However, the childhood friend has been found dead, the lodge they are staying in doesn't seem to want them (not to mention the original owner is also dead and the deaths might be connected) and the new owners are looking to a) inherit b) a way to run Angie off and if they can't c) get her to help out as a cook in an upcoming town wide party.
I found Angie to be TSTL in too many cases, like telling her fiancé she can ride a horse when she can't (and nearly gets hurt). She follows a man she thinks doesn't like her out into the desert to some isolated cave. And those are just a couple of non-spoilery examples.
I got tired of her running around talking about all her designer (and highly expensive) clothing (though it was vaguely amusing that the incompentant policeman was fascinated by her fashion sense and oh, I really dislike cozies with dumb cops).
But I think what annoyed me most was that Angie was actually annoyed that no one would tell her things she thought they should so she could gather clues. Keep in mind these people are literal strangers to her. WHY would they confide in her? Again, it made her look stupid and spoiled especially when she has a melted down and is very rude to a popular local person because no one will tell her their secrets. I about stopped reading there and probably should have.
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Spellcast by Barbara Ashford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was one of my favorite books of the year. I really identified with Maggie in some ways (heck I've even been in or stage managed some of these plays and feel the same way about Carousel). Maggie has hit rock bottom in many ways, being downsized from her 'help center' job in NYC (I'm not even sure how anyone could live even in a shoebox apt like hers doing that work in that place, having also lived there myself).
Maggie runs away to Vermont (good choice) and stumbles across The Barn, a theater and spontaneously decides to audition. As the layers peel away we learn Maggie has acted before and her runaway father had been a small time actor as well. However, there is something unusual about this theater and all the people there in, Alex the musical director, Reinhart the stage manager, Helen and Janet who run the hotel that houses many of the actors, for free, Hal and his husband Lee who also work part time at the theater.
And then there's Rowan the enigmatic director, who casts people in the summer stock plays on the basis of what he thinks they need (i.e. what they can take away from it and use in their life). There is something special and different about Rowan (I did figure it out pretty early on but that took away none of the joy).
It's a love story, a story about families and losses. I loved it. It was magical in all the right ways. The ending was a bit too bittersweet for me but otherwise I really enjoyed it. I didn't want it to end and I didn't want to leave this theater.
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