No Saving Throw

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 May 2019

Member Reviews

No Saving Throw is the first book in a new cozy mystery series by Kristin McFarland. Released 19th May 2019 by Diversion books, it's 266 pages and available in paperback, audio, and ebook formats. 

The setup is similar to a bunch of other lovely cozy mystery series. The protagonist is the owner of a specialty niche retail shop, dealing with the stress of making rent, applying for grants, keeping the staff and customers in order and generally living the hectic life of a small retail owner. The difference here is that the shop isn't selling scones or knitting yarn, but dice, cards, books and gaming paraphernalia.

The main character is likable, female, intelligent and didn't rush headlong into situations which made me slap my forehead and groan.  The book is well paced and I didn't find my interest waning at all. It's about average length but the action moves the plot along. The author has a deft touch with characterizations but possibly falls a little short in the 'show don't tell' writing department. There's quite a lot of description instead of dialogue and character driven plot progress.  It doesn't detract much from the enjoyment of the book and I can think of more than a few authors who took at least a couple books to hit their stride.

I love it that this series is about gamers, geekery, and 'my' nerdy folks! I do also love knitting and B&B and library type cozies (bonus points for cats), but it's very refreshing to see a cozy series which isn't from the same cookie cutter. I'm looking forward to the next installments!

Four stars.
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This is a cute book that teen gamers will love. I enjoyed the nerdy geeky references and the easy to read plot.
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Enjoyed this book. Kept me interested all the way through. Would recommend to a fellow reader.  Love the cover.
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It was a good read. I enjoyed the writing style and didnt take too long to read. I would recommend it to others.
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This cozy mystery is filled to the brim with nerdy references & an interesting mystery.  I liked the main plot of this book, I enjoyed the setting of the gaming shop & the details about how the shop is run.  The story itself is very light and fluffy, I do think that it has a young adult feeling to it because of how simple the writing is.  There were a lot of characters involved, which kept me interested because the pool of suspects was so large, but at the same time I wish a few of the characters has been more developed.   The main character, Autumn, does have a bit more personality than the rest of the characters but I still would like to know her better.
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This is a shorter young adult book that teen gamers will love. Autumn runs a game store called Ten Again that caters to nerdy kids and adults that like role playing card games and online team challenges. When one of the gamers is killed she helps police officer Jordon realize it’s not a simple open and shut murder. This is book 1 in the new Ten Again series. I received a copy of this arc in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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You may be wondering exactly what a “saving throw” is, why Autumn Sinclair doesn’t have one – and why she needs one so very badly.

If you are familiar with role-playing-games like Dungeons and Dragons, you are already familiar with the concept of a saving throw. In those games, characters often stroll, walk, skulk or stride into danger – all of it controlled by rolls of multi-sided dice.

(All dice have multiple sides, the standard die you’re probably thinking of is a d6 – a six sided die.)

But if the person controlling the game so decides, the player may have the opportunity to roll a separate die to see whether or not their game-character, well, dies. That’s a saving throw.

Come to think of it, real life might be a bit easier if we all had a few chances to make a saving throw. Although loving this book is probably a bit easier if you didn’t need the above explanation.

Autumn is a business owner in her small community. The business she owns is Ten Again, an actually fairly successful gaming store. She’s just opened her doors this evening for what is supposed to be a multi-day, popular and profitable tournament for her store

Instead, tragedy strikes. One of her gamers, one of the members of her community, is killed in her building while the gaming event is going on. Pretty quickly, it looks like two of the other gamers are responsible for his death. And that a whole deck of really bad publicity is going to fall on the gaming community in general and Autumn in particular.

She’s completely right about the terrible publicity, the threats to her store, her community and herself. And while a bit far off about who really done it, she’s on the money about who didn’t, even if she has no clue about the whys and wherefores – at least not yet.

It’s up to Autumn and her friends to level-up their skills in detection and investigation before their game is over. Permanently.

Escape Rating B: No Saving Throw, the book, doesn’t need a difficult saving throw of its own. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a very twisty-turny little small town mystery. While it is extra special fun for those of us who have spent a lot of time on the geeky-nerdy side of the force, at its heart it’s basically a cozy mystery where everybody knows everybody else and where the long-standing relationships in the community provide a lot of the heart as well as a lot of misdirection on the path to solving the murder.

More than a bit of that misdirection is provided by the enmity between Autumn and Meghan. Autumn and Meghan are long-standing rivals, and have been since high school. Now in their early 30s, that rivalry has just added more depth as the years have gone by, moving from fighting over a cheating boyfriend to fighting over a potential renovation grant for the struggling mall that both of their retail shops occupy – at opposite ends, of course.

In the end, they’ll have to get over each other, and everything that has happened between them, to figure out who is using their feud to threaten both of them.

Part of the fun of this one was that I thought I knew whodunnit – only to discover that I was completely off base. And that successful misdirection makes the a-bit-too-neat typing up of all the little mysteries definitely worth playing – or reading – toward.
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When I saw this book on Netgalley I immediately wanted to read it. The main character owns and runs a gaming store, and there were lots of nerd references in many genres. (I personally really like that it's a female too, and that both males and females are represented as loving to play.)

No Saving Throw has a lot of the familiar cozy mystery elements, but instead of tons of references to food, or quilts we get references to nerd culture. 

When a customer is murdered during a gaming event, Autumn wants to find out the culprit and clear her store from suspicion. She has a good group of friends to help.

I liked that Autumn wasn't stupid, and (mostly) involved the police where appropriate - which is one of my pet peeves about many cozies. I also LOVED that there wasn't a love triangle. The mystery was good, and it took me at least awhile to figure out the answer.
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Autumn is home after earning her MBA and owns a gaming store in a mall.  The store "Ten Again" specializes in LARPs (Live Action Role Playing) and Autumn is making a good existence and is looking into getting a grant will give her some room to breathe.  However, when a gaming night sponsored by the store finds a young person dead then all bets are off.  The police arrest some of her store employees and Autumn sets out to prove them innocent.  Her best friend Jordan is a police officer so that helps and her gamer friends all jump into the mystery.  This was a definitely a world and terminology that I was not familiar with coming into this story.  I did enjoy this story and Autumn.  She is a good main character who has heart and spunk.  I would definitely pick up the next in the series.
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A different mystery, this is set in a gaming store.  The owner is trying to win a grant, as is another storeowner, who is dating her ex.  Throw in a dead body, and you have a really great mystery, and a great set of characters.  Hope there will be more in this series.
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Cozy Mystery With Role Playing Games
This fun cozy mystery has role-playing games at its epicenter. Much of what was said and references made sailed right over my head. That did not take anything away from my enjoyment of the story. The story has a good plot and a good cast of characters. The mystery has lots of good angles and a surprising ending that I never saw coming. Very good book! I received this ARC book for free from Net Galley and this is my honest review.
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What a delightful, amusing and unique little tale “No Saving Throw” by Kristin McFarland was! It is a cozy mystery novel with a difference - it is set in the world of gaming.

‘Ten Again’ is a tabletop gaming store that attracts nerds of every kind and nurtures a community that the owner, Autumn is pretty proud of—a community that also keeps her business afloat. And now that Autumn is in contention for a grant, ‘Ten Again’s’ future is looking brighter. However, audacious Autumn has some quirky friends and some surprising problems. As the problems get worse, she has to get solving.

Then one of Autumn’s gamers is mysteriously murdered. With everyone in the mall as a suspect and accusations flying, Autumn is going to have to do some sleuthing of her own to save her shop and her gamers from a fate more dangerous than having no saving throw.

Kristin McFarland’s story is engaging and fast-paced. Although I did not find it laugh-out loud-funny it still had a highly comedic aspect for me in parts. I don’t think you need to be a computer geek to enjoy this novel, but I do think it helps! 

If cozy mysteries are one of your favoured genres and you fancy one with a bit of a twist then I highly recommend “No Saving Throw.”

Thanks to NetGalley, Diversion Books and the author, Kristin McFarland for my complimentary copy of No Saving Throw. My honest review is entirely voluntary.
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No Saving Throw:  A Ten Again Mystery
By Kristin McFarland
Diversion Books
May 2019

Review by Cynthia Chow

Seeing vampires and space aliens run around the Independence Square Mall is not an unusual experience for Ten Again tabletop gaming store owner Autumn Sinclair.  She doesn’t enjoy mediating between players who claim to have been unfairly assassinated due more to being obnoxious than their strength levels, but Autumn loves making her store a safe place for her nerdy customers.  It’s also why Autumn is so distraught when she learns that one of the Live Action Role Players is found murdered during a vampire quest, stabbed with two holes in his neck and thrown off a balcony.  Two of his fellow LARPers are quickly questioned in the death, making Autumn fearful that the hysteria and deaths once blamed on Dungeon & Dragons will be directed towards Ten Again.

Autumn had felt that her chances for a business grant were in jeopardy even before the death, and she worries that media reports will pressure from the mall owner will force her to close entirely.  When her best friend, White Lake Police officer Jordan Hansen, is taken off the case due to her connection to Autumn, the game store owner is forced into doing a little discreet breaking-and-entering and espionage in order to uncover an additional motive for the death.  Complicating the investigation is that one of the witnesses not only is in competition with Autumn for the grant, but that Meghan Kountz was the Mean Girl who tormented Autumn all through high school and is currently dating her ex-boyfriend.  It looks as though Ten Again’s curse jar will be filled with a lot of bills before Autumn manages to fight her way to the truth.

This is a fun and original new series that makes the most of the gamers and nostalgic setting.  It’s refreshing to think that there still are people who prefer to compete in face-to-face competitions rather than online videogames, although hopefully there are usually less-fatal results.  Autumn’s loyalty to her gaming customers is admirable, and while she really hopes that Meghan’s the murderer Autumn’s practical enough to suspect everyone.   Readers will find themselves empathizing with Autumn, who finally found herself happy being a successful business owner and a nerd and has been able to encourage others to be more open with their inner geeks.  The mystery is thoroughly compelling and steers towards a surprising and exciting conclusion, one that challenges the suspense levels of the most adventurous video games.  This debut mystery introduces readers to a world filled with likable characters who show admirable growth and development, and whose enthusiasm for gaming is contagious.
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No Saving Throw by Kristin McFarland is the 1st book in A Ten Again Mystery series. I really enjoyed reading this book.  The mystery was very interesting.  I would have enjoyed this book more if I was a gamer, but I still enjoyed it.  

I reviewed a digital arc provided by NetGalley and the publisher.  Thank you.
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No Saving Throw is a cozy mystery set in the nerdy world of Dungeons & Dragons. If the D&D term “No Saving Throw” is unfamiliar, it means you can’t roll the dice to prevent or mitigate the awful thing that just occurred. Also, it means this book may not be a good choice for you.

Autumn is the owner of a gaming store especially role-playing ones like Dungeons & Dragons. When a gamer dies, Autumn decides to protect her gaming friends, and her store’s reputation, by finding the murderer herself.

No Saving Throw’s setting in high school makes the book seem very young adult. Descriptions of scenes are scant and similar to Adventure games like you enter a dark room. For old school nerds like me, it was fun to spot the old television, movie and game Easter eggs. The mystery was easy to solve—but not Scooby Doo level easy. I wanted to understand the core group’s motivations, which were only here almost as an afterthought. Since this is only book one of a planned series, I hope that issue will be addressed in the next book. If you are into gaming or just can’t stomach another knitting or bookstore cozy, this book will be a pleasant read. 3 stars!

Thanks to Diversion Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Kristin McFarland
No saving Throw 
This book is mostly about gaming which I am not into , some of the wording I didn’t understand, but saying that I did enjoy the story line and mystery . I sort of guessed who the killer was near the end.
Many thanks to Diversion Books and Nettgalley for advance copy for honest review.
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In book One of the Ten Again Series, McFarland introduces the reader to the world of gaming.  Autumn speaks to us in first person, sharing her insights as a gaming shop owner in White Lake, a town in rural Wisconsin. 

The book opens with a frenzied scene, involving LARP's, RPG vampires, a draft for Spellcasters,  a shop filled with a hundred preteens plus a creepy guy in a suit brandishing a letter opener.  Presenting a calming influence is Jordan, Autumn's best friend since elementary school.  She is now the first black woman on the White Lake Police Force, an irony she enjoys sharing.  The galloping pace and rollicking banter set the tone for this debut mystery. Further complicating Autumn's life are Meghan and Craig, two thirds of the high school triangle that is still a part of Autumn's painful memory.  However,  Autumn is not a shy daisy.  Rather she is protective of her customers, and is willing to take a stand against perceived injustice.  A reader unfamiliar with the world of gaming will still appreciate the turns and twists of this murder mystery. 

Full disclosure: I received an e copy from netgalley and Diversion Books in exchange for an unbiased review.  Thank you for the opportunity.
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This likeable mystery has a fun setting- a fantasy, Dungeons and dragons type game store called Ten Again.  I was never sure if that was some gaming reference or if you were supposed to feel ten years old again when you went into the store!

The book opens with a bang on a busy Friday night at the store- an eagerly anticipated new edition of a tournament card game is being released, and the vampire LARP ( live action role-playing) group is gathering to start their adventure.  Soon enough, a 
sweet geek is dead, and the female owner of Ten Again, her two employees, and her cop best friend are on the case.  

I never played any games like DnD, but I was able to understand everything and thoroughly enjoyed the references to Buffy, Veronica Mars, and other pop culture icons.  This is an enjoyable read that doesn't follow all the usual tropes.  I hope this is the beginning of a series.

I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley and chose to review it of my own free will.  All opinions are my own.
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A very good cozy! I enjoyed the unusual setting, the cast of characters and the plot.
The book is well written, the character fleshed out and the mystery keep you guessing till the end.
I look forward to reading other books by this author.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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I was looking forward to this new series being a Tabletop Board gamer myself. But, when I started reading, I was highly disappointed.  
The writing was off, no character development. I didn’t care for any of the characters. The reason why the killer killed someone made no sense. 
I wish the author took more time with character development and did more research on nerds in the gaming community. 
Thank you goes out to Netgalley and Diversion Books for providing me with an advanced digital read. The opinions expressed on this review are my own.
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