chez_jae: (Books)
Between yesterday and today, I read An Ice Cold Grave, which is the third installment in Charlaine Harris' "Harper Connelly" series.

Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver are summoned to the small NC town of Doraville to search for the bodies of several missing teen boys. Initially, it was thought they were runaways, but there have been too many, and the residents, along with newly-elected sheriff Sandra Rockwell, are beginning to suspect there's a serial killer in their midst.

Harper manages to discover the six missing boys, along with two others who were unknown. She is profoundly disturbed by the manner of their death, and she wants nothing more than to leave Doraville behind. However, as per usual, local police and state investigators want Harper to stay so they can question her further. When she is attacked, it becomes clear that the killer has no intention of going down without a fight.

Harper is called to another site that may be a dumping ground, but all she finds there are the bodies of tortured animals, and one very disturbed young boy. The cases seem unrelated, but Harper can't shake the feeling that she, and everyone else, have missed something important.

The story was so gripping that I stayed up until 2am reading, and I was tempted to finish it. I refrained, however, and finished it today. This book was darker than any of the others, and there is a surprising shift in the relationship between Harper and Tolliver. Some things I figured out early, and some still caught me flat-footed. I like that in a book!

Favorite lines:
♦ I felt like a rabbit one jump ahead of the greyhounds.
♦ I wasn't in the habit of feeling so sure about that, since I spent a lot of time with surprised dead people.

That line amused me far more than it should have!

Excellent! Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Thursday evening, I finished reading an ebook, A Haunted Murder by J A Whiting. It's the first book in the "Lin Coffin" mystery series.

Carolin (Lin) Coffin returns to Nantucket after the death of her grandfather, hoping for a new start in life. She buys a gardening/landscaping business, and she also works from home via her computer. Between her two jobs, she believes she'll be able to make ends meet. Lin's cousin Viv still lives on the island, and the two of them are excited to reconnect. Even their pets, Lin's dog and Viv's cat, seem happy to see one another again. Not long after Lin's arrival, however, a local businessman is murdered. Viv is a suspect, because she'd had words with Hammond, who was determined to buy her old, family home. To clear Viv's name, Lin begins looking into the circumstances of Hammond's life and death herself.

Since she was a child, Lin has been able to see ghosts. She thought she had suppressed the ability, but now the spirit of an 18th century gentleman keeps appearing to her. Lin figures out it's a distant relative of hers. She only wishes he could tell her who murdered Hammond.

The story was good. It wasn't exactly fast-paced, but it made for a decent, light read. SPaG was okay; I noted only minor errors. I did get annoyed at the author's insistence on referring to Lin and Viv as "the girls". They're young women, not children! She could have used their names, or simply referred to them as "they" or "the two of them".

Favorite line: For a good part of her life, she'd been all too familiar with the feeling of being alone.

I'll give it a four for now:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
Earlier, I finished reading The Ghost and Mrs Mewer by Krista Davis. It's the second book in her "Paws & Claws" mystery series.

Holly has decided to return to Wagtail and help her Oma run the Sugar Maple Inn, and she couldn't be happier. The Inn is filled to capacity for the town's Howloween celebrations, and most of the guests are part of the television crew the Apparition Apprehenders. Everything is going well until Holly's dog Trixie discovers a woman floating facedown in shallow water. Although the death is initially ruled an accident, both Holly and police officer Dave feel that there was foul play involved.

It seems there is no shortage of suspects, either. The victim, Mallory, had managed to get on the wrong side of almost everyone on the television crew, as well as Wagtail resident (and Holly's friend) Clementine. The question is, who had motive, method, AND opportunity?

As if a potential murder isn't enough to deal with, Holly's ex-boyfriend Ben comes to Wagtail, thinking they can just pick up where they left off. And, the man whom Holly secretly adores, childhood friend Holmes, has a fiancee awaiting him back in Chicago.

I enjoyed the story, but I wasn't completely engrossed by it, which is why it took a week to read. I blame part of that on the NHL playoffs, however. Ha ha!

Favorite line: "We can't blame everything we don't understand on the paranormal. I get that, which is why I find it all so fascinating."

Very good, but perhaps not as enjoyable as the first book in the series. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
After reading one Mercy Thompson novel, I was compelled to dive into another. Last night, I read Fire Touched cover-to-cover. Good thing I have Good Friday off! This is the ninth book in Patricia Briggs' series about skinwalker Mercedes Thompson and her husband, Adam Hauptman.

Local police call on the werewolves for assistance when a troll takes up residence on a bridge over the Columbia River. Mercy and Adam are among the first responders, and they manage to take the troll down. However, they also find themselves giving sanctuary to a boy who is seeking shelter from the fae. By taking him in, the Columbia River Basin pack has made enemies of the fae, causing the leader of all North American wolves to repudiate them. On their own now, it's up to Mercy, Adam, and the rest of their pack to negotiate where they can and fight where they must.

Very compelling read. Not as action-packed as others, but there was more of pack dynamics, which I always enjoy. New, interesting characters were introduced, and former, secondary characters were fleshed out more, which I also appreciate. Through it all, the bickering and bantering between Mercy and Adam added a lighter note and provided some comic relief.

Favorite line: "Take happiness where you can," he said. "It seldom lasts--'course, neither does sorrow, right?"

Excellent book! Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
I began reading Night Broken Friday night, then spent most of Saturday reading the rest of it. The book is part of author Patricia Briggs' "Mercy Thompson" series. And yes, I'm woefully behind in the series.

When the ex-wife of Mercy's husband, Alpha werewolf Adam, calls seeking sanctuary from a dangerous stalker, Adam grants it. She's the mother of his teenage daughter, and he still feels responsible for her. Mercy has her misgivings, especially when Adam deems that the safest place for Christy to stay is in their home...which used to be Christy's home. Mercy isn't happy, but to show it would be to display petty jealousy, and she wants to prove she is above that.

In the meantime, a powerful fae has sought Mercy out, wanting to claim an equally powerful fae artifact that has attached itself to Mercy. The problem is, Mercy gifted the walking stick to her father, the Coyote of legend, and now she has no way to contact him to request it back. Inquiries lead her to another of Coyote's children, a man who's in prison for petty crime. Mercy is surprised to encounter another coyote shifter, and even more surprised when the man has a Vision that relates to Christy's stalker.

As Christy's stalker goes on a killing spree to reach her, he finds Mercy alone in her auto repair shop. It soon becomes apparent that he's not human, nor fae, nor werewolf, but something else entirely...something dark and dangerous and deranged. Mercy fights for her life, knowing her only hope is that help will arrive in time.

What a fantastic story! I love all of the books in this series, and this one continued in the same hard-hitting, fast vein as the others. Learning more about Mercy's "family" was fascinating, it was a sheer delight to connect with other, beloved characters, and I enjoyed meeting new ones. Even the villain/stalker was portrayed well, to the point that the reader could almost feel sympathy for him. Almost. This story was so engrossing that I picked the book up this morning and skim-read it again.

:D

Favorite lines:
♦ "Withholding cookies is world-class mean."
♦ "And as long as everyone is above the age of consent and has enough sense to be able to give informed consent, I could care less what anyone does in their own space."

Huzzah! Well-said!
♦ "Don't juggle porcupines."
♦ I was not going to say anything about the stupid lamb if only because I was certain he wanted me to say something about the stupid lamb.
♦ "Man with cat is one of my fantasies."


Excellent story, characterizations, dialogue, and I loved how the various subplots all wove together. Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I finished reading Haunted is Always in Fashion by Rose Pressey. It's part of her "Haunted Vintage" mystery series.

Vintage clothing shop owner Cookie Chanel is on her way to meet a woman who wants to interview her for a book she is writing on vintage fashions. Cookie is thwarted on the way by an accident, and she learns that Julianna, the woman she was to meet, was shot and killed in her car. When Julianna's ghost appears to Cookie, her "resident" ghost, Charlotte, insists that Cookie help solve the mystery of who murdered Julianna.

There is no shortage of suspects, from the odd man who comes into Cookie's shop in search of a vintage hat, to Julianna's eccentric aunt, to her sketchy boyfriend. In addition to speaking to various people who knew Julianna, Cookie also pumps her boyfriend, police officer Dylan, for information. She also gets clues from her cat, Wind Song, who uses a Ouija board to communicate. When Cookie starts getting too close to the truth, her shop is burglarized, and her own life is endangered.

For the second time, I was disappointed by a book in this series. Pressey is a prolific writer, so I don't know if her train of thought jumps the tracks, or if someone else is doing a poor job of editing, or a combination of both. Once again, it seemed as if the author forgot what she wrote earlier in the story. For instance, Julianna is amazed by Wind Song's ability to communicate...twice. As I was reading the second such surprise, I was thinking, 'Wait a minute; didn't Julianna already see the cat doing this?' I flipped back a few chapters, and yes, there was Julianna, being astounded by the cat's prowess with a Ouija board. Also, Cookie had a lunch "date" scheduled with attorney Ken, but we, the readers, never heard anything more about it. Derp. Did you forget to write about it, Ms Pressey, or did it get edited out? Baffling and frustrating. To top it off, I found Charlotte's interference annoying again. She continues to harass Cookie into going here, following that person, talking to this person, etc. She doesn't appear to realize or care that Cookie has a life to live and a business to run, never mind the danger Cookie finds herself in. And, I found it completely confounding that Cookie neither thought to tell the ghosts to follow someone or check up on them, nor that either of them thought of it themselves. It's not as if the ghosts are bound to Cookie; they can go wherever they want, yet they never do anything useful. At all.

Favorite line:"Y'all are busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger."

Not happy with this one...two stars:

**
chez_jae: (Books)
Sunday was a lazy, relaxing day, and I read A Fright to the Death from cover to cover. It's part of author Dawn Eastman's "Family Fortune" mystery series, featuring cop-on-sabbatical and reluctant psychic Clyde Fortune.

Clyde and her boyfriend Mac are on their way to the airport to catch a flight to Mexico. It's a great chance for some fun, sun, and time to relax away from their families. Unfortunately, a blizzard cancels their flight and strands them at the same small hotel where most of their families are gathered for a knitting conference. Now they're stranded in the last place they'd rather be. As if that isn't bad enough, one of the owners of the hotel is killed. The local police have no way of reaching the scene of the crime, which means it's up to Mac and Clyde to take charge and try to solve a murder.

The story was good (obviously, since I read it in one day!), but it was probably my least favorite of this series. I don't think I care much for "closed scene" mysteries, wherein the characters are forced into close proximity and no one can leave. Clyde's Aunt Violet came across as a completely annoying, interfering busy body. I'm sure it was meant to be funny, but I found it irritating. Other than that, things moved along at a good pace, and the characters were well-rounded. It was difficult to figure out who killed Clarissa, because so many people seemed to have a good motive.

Favorite lines:
♦ "Lots of terrible bosses live through their employee's anger."
♦ "Oh, like those sweaters Mrs Weasley made in the Harry Potter books?"
♦ "Everyone likes to blame the cat, but they aren't always as mischievous as they seem."


Very good, overall. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
It took me several weeks, but today I finished reading the book I'd taken to work. It was My Loving Familiar by C J Card. The book was part of Jove's Magical Love line.

Isabel Gomez has sold her family's old trading post building to Cooper Adair, because she needs the money. Had she known ahead of time that Cooper planned to open a pharmacy, she never would have agreed to sell to him. Isabel has her own business of creating herbal remedies and beauty aids, and a pharmacy next door could ruin her. Deciding that the only way to get rid of the competition is to break up Cooper's engagement to wealthy, spoiled socialite Marcella Kent, Isabel puts her scheme into motion. She is aided in her endeavors by her old fairy cat, Grimalkin. What Isabel doesn't realize, however, is that Grim has his own agenda.

This was a sweet, fun story. I enjoyed the paranormal aspect of old Grim, who was more magical than his owner realized. It was fun to see how flustered Cooper became any time he encountered the brash and beautiful Isabel. Characters were three-dimensional, even the snooty Marcella, and I adored Isabel's friend, Dora. My only complaints are the vacillating points of view. Had it simply switched between Isabel and Cooper, that wouldn't have bothered me, but there were times the reader was getting Marcella's pov, too. I also thought the ending was rather rushed.

Favorite line: "Being cruel is a lot more difficult than being kind."

Very good, even though I seldom read the paranormal romance genre any more. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I read the rest of File M for Murder by Miranda James. It's part of the "Cat in the Stacks" mystery series.

Assistant librarian Charlie is pleasantly surprised when his daughter Laura returns home. She's going to be teaching a semester at the local college,and Charlie is looking forward to spending time with her. The theater department has another returnee for the term--famous playwright Connor Lawton. Charlie soon learns that Lawton is an obnoxious ass, and even worse, Laura used to date him.

When Lawton is murdered and it's Laura who discovers the body, she at first is under suspicion for the crime, and later, her life is endangered after she removed a flash drive from Lawton's apartment. All of this leaves Charlie, as well as his cat Diesel, feeling extra protective of Laura. The flash drive reveals some interesting clues, and it's up to a reference librarian to figure them out.

The story involved more action than previous ones in the series, what with another murder taking place, and repeated attempts to harm Laura. I was a bit disappointed in the "prodigal child comes home" trope, but only because the author used it in one of the first books in the series, when Charlie's son Sean came home. Fortunately, I believe he only has the two children, so we shouldn't see any more of that in subsequent books.

Favorite line: "As long as it's over who needs a tense confrontation with a murderer?...They always seem a bit contrived in some of the books I read."
I agree! Bonus points to the author for a non-dramatic wrapping up of the case.

The book was likable enough, although not extraordinary. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
I finished reading Look Both Ways before bedtime last night. It's the third book in author Carol J Perry's "Witch City" mystery series.

Lee Barrett finds herself at loose ends. She no longer has a TV show, nor does she have any classes to teach over the summer. To keep busy, she volunteers to act as property manager for the three plays being put on by the local college. In addition, Lee has a new apartment to furnish. While scrounging for props, she can do a bit of both. When Lee purchases a beautiful old bureau, she learns it belonged to a woman who was murdered several years ago. The bureau has hidden compartments, which yield some fascinating ephemera from its previous owner. However, the woman's missing pink diamond is not one of the objects secreted away in the bureau. Someone seems to think it's there, though, as shortly after Lee buys the piece, the woman who sold it to her is murdered, and Lee's name and address have been stolen from the company that delivered the bureau. When Lee begins to see visions of both murdered women, she must decide whether or not to share her gift with her boyfriend, police officer Pete.

Very good story. I enjoyed how the past and the present paralleled one another. It was fun to read about Lee's adventures in antiquing, and I was happy to see her relationship with Pete progressing.

Favorite line: And why am I holding a conversation with a cat?

Charming! Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Earlier this evening, I finished reading an ebook, A Gift of Ghosts, which is the first in author Sarah Wynde's "Tassamara" series.

Physicist Akira Malone is hiding a secret--she can see and speak to ghosts. As a scientist, however, she makes her living with things that can be measured and researched and proven. Akira has convinced herself that ghosts are merely residual energy. She avoids them when she can, but that all changes when she accepts a job in the small town of Tassamara. Here, paranormal is the norm. The town is filled with psychics, and a medium in their midst isn't unusual. Akira is utterly astounded by the laid-back atmosphere she finds herself in. Akira rents a haunted home, and the car she leases is haunted by the nephew of her new boss, Zane Latimer.

For his part, Zane isn't sure he believes in mediums, even though he has abilities of his own. However, when Akira consistently proves herself, in spite of her own instinct to keep her talent hidden, he can't help but begin to believe in her, and to find himself attracted to her feisty spirit. The two of them begin a relationship, but neither is willing to commit, until Akira's life is threatened by a dangerous ghost...who just happens to be the spirit of Zane's mother.

This was a fantastic story, much better than a lot of other ebooks I've read. The characters were likable and relatable, including the many ghosts. Point of view switched between Akira and Zane, but it added to the story, rather than detracting from it. Akira is courageous in using her gift, even when she doesn't want to, because prior experience has shown her how dangerous in can be for her.

Favorite line: They'd fallen into conversation as easily as if they were old friends, talking about astronomy and science and Harry Potter.

Finding out that the author got her start writing fanfiction was icing on the cake. Wonderful, five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Came home, finished reading The Witch's Grave, went out to feed the livestock cats, and now I'm doing my "book report"! It is part of author Shirley Damsgaard's "Ophelia and Abby" mystery series.

The story was rather bland, compared to others in the series. At a fundraising event, Ophelia meets a man she feels an instant connection to, only to see him get shot right in front of her. Although she only just met Steven, Ophelia feels compelled to investigate the incident, since local police aren't sure it wasn't simply a hunting accident. When someone takes a shot at Ophelia later, the police take notice.

In the meantime, Ophelia keeps having dreams hearkening to the era of WWII, about a young French woman named Madeleine. Abby believes Ophelia is dreaming of a past life, which may explain why she felt drawn to Steven.

Cue a bunch of following up on leads, more scares, more dreams, a few rituals to tap into her abilities, and voila! Personally, the dreams threw me out of the current story, and I hope it's not something the author explores further in future books.

Favorite line: I found it hard to imagine living in a place with no stars.

Not very impressed with this one--three stars:

***
chez_jae: (Books)
Was up until almost midnight last night, finishing Copycat Killing by Sofie Kelly. It's the third installment in the "Magical Cats" mystery series, featuring librarian Kathleen and her talented cats, Owen and Hercules.

After days of torrential rain, everyone in the town of Mayville Heights are sick of the weather. The library's parking lot is flooded, which means Kathleen can't work. She keeps busy helping her friend Maggie move items from the art studio's ground floor to the second level. On one such excursion, they find a body in the flooded basement. Jaeger Merrill was making a nuisance of himself, and someone may have silenced him for good. When another artist recognizes him as a former forger who was arrested and did his time, Kathleen can't help but think Merrill's past caught up with him. Fortunately, police officer Marcus is on the case.

When Kathleen and Marcus go out to feed feral cats at the rundown Wisteria Hill manor, Kathleen is drawn to the creek bank. The wet ground gives way beneath her feet, unearthing skeletal remains. Now, it seems that the local police have two crimes to solve, and Kathleen is right in the middle of both of them. With a little help from her cats, she starts working to unearth the clues that can lead to not one, but two killers.

I'm not sure I've read a mystery with two such different cases before. I couldn't help but think they must be connected. I like this verse and the town and its characters, so it was fun to revisit. Kathleen's attraction to Marcus moves along at a snail's pace, but I find that refreshing for a change.

Favorite lines:
♣ Not only do cats not get sarcasm, they don't get shameless bids for sympathy either.
♣ Even cats know stupid when they hear it.


Very good, four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I read the ebook Murder at the Circus, which is the second story in author Nancy McGovern's series about witch-sleuth Bluebell Knopps.

If possible, this one was even more inane than the first one. For one thing, the action jumps ahead a few years, rather than a few months. Bluebell is now comfortable being a witch, but she's still in training. One would think that after training for several years, she'd be competent at casting spells, but such is not the case.

Bluebell and her BFF Nolan go to the circus to meet up with a girl that Nolan is sweet on, and the girl's brother. Bluebell isn't looking forward to what is shaping up to be a blind, double-date, but she goes along for Nolan's sake. While at the circus, a performer runs into the Big Top, screaming that the circus owner has been murdered. It takes the police forever to arrive, giving Bluebell ample time to launch an investigation of her own. Because, you know, the police are always slow to respond to the scenes of a murder. Even after the police show up, no one discourages Bluebell, letting her take charge of finding a runaway suspect, and she is even allowed to bait the real murderer, because the police encourage civilians to help out like that all the time.

Favorite line: "Criminals never get away with their crimes for too long. One way or another, life will punish them."

Two stars, one for a nice try, and the other for a cute kitten.

**
chez_jae: (Books)
Finally finished reading Demons Not Included by Cheyenne McCray. It's the first book in her urban fantasy series, featuring half-Drow, half-human Tracker, Nyx.

Nyx is one of several paranormal Trackers that help protect New York from the more unsavory paranormal elements. When some of her fellow Trackers are killed by demons, while human liaisons are being abducted, it's up to Nyx and her partners to put an end to the chaos. She worries that her human coworker, Olivia, may not be able to hold her own against demons, and Nyx is also concerned for Adam, the human liaison in her territory, whom she would like to get to know better. To complicate matters, the Proctor of New York, Nyx's friend and sometime-lover, Rodan, saddles her with an unknown helper, a man named Torin. Nyx dislikes him, but she can't quite get a handle on why.

By putting together clues found at the various crime scenes, Nyx and the others discover that a master Demon is intent on opening a portal to unleash hell on earth. Now it's up to Nyx to put her life on the line to save not just New York, but all of humanity.

The story was interesting. Nyx's character was a bit baffling. At times, she was a bad-ass warrior, and other times, she came across as a whiny chit. I guess I can forgive that, based on her relative young age. At least she didn't fall into bed with sexy, infuriating Torin. That would have made me gag. I didn't like that Nyx's "working gear" consisted of leather pants and a leather corset. Seriously?! The author is a woman, and she still had her female character togged up like any straight man's wet dream, because, of course, we women are only concerned with showcasing our assets, rather than going for comfort and practicality. Good gravy.

Favorite line: I swear, if I had been drinking my Starbucks today, it would have gone up my nose.

Kind of on the fence with this one. Hm. I'll give it a three for now:

***
chez_jae: (Books)
I've been so busy that I haven't had time to post about the book I finished on Thursday. Sheesh.

The book was Catch as Cat Can, which is part of author Claire Donally's "Sunny and Shadow" mystery series.

A shop selling fresh fish has opened next door to the small tourist/travel office where Sunny works. Her cat Shadow is sufficiently intrigued that he hitchhikes to town with Sunny a few times to mooch fresh fish from the owner, Neil Garret. When someone is murdered in Neil's store, Sunny learns that he's been in a witness protection program, and now the Feds are in town, and Sunny's boyfriend, Chief Investigator Will Price, is also on the case. Neil's alibi is shaky, and he becomes a suspect, but Sunny doesn't believe he'd harm anyone. Her old, investigative journalist instincts kick in, and she soon becomes embroiled in the mystery.

Good story, although the author didn't provide any information to allow me to connect the dots until quite late in the story. Boo on that!

Favorite line: Sooner or later, you'll have to go to sleep. And then, when you least expect it, I'll jump on you.
That was the "thoughts" of Shadow, the cat!

Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
Just now finished reading Last Wool and Testament by Molly McRae. It is the first book in her "Haunted Yarn Shop" mystery series.

Kath Rutledge is rushing home to Blue Plum TN for the funeral of her beloved grandmother, Ivy. She barely makes it to the service in time, because she was stopped for speeding by local cop Cole Dunbar. She is set to inherit the yarn shop her grandmother owned, along with Ivy's house. Still flummoxed by her grandmother's death, Kath is dealt one traumatic blow after another. First, she learns that Ivy may not have owned her small cottage, she can't get inside to go through her grandmother's belongings, but someone else has, as it's been broken into at least twice. With nowhere to stay, Kath is offered the use of the caretaker's cottage at Homestead, only to learn the previous tenant was murdered there, and that Officer Dunbar thinks her grandmother killed old Emmett Cobb. On top of that, Kath reads a letter from Ivy telling her that she's a witch. No one knows what became of Ivy's cat, Kath can't find the birthday gift her grandmother had made for her, Officer Dunbar continues to anger her at every turn, her lawyer is cautioning her to lay low and stay quiet, her grandmother's meddling twin cousins, the Spiveys, seem to pop up at the most inopportune times, the cottage where she's staying at is haunted, and someone tries to break in while she's there, and oh yeah, two more people end up dead.

*stops for breath*

Needless to say, there was a lot going on, almost too much. Most cozies involve a murder, of course, but this one seemed to keep piling them on. Kath doesn't know whom to trust, and she suspects she's losing her mind, since no one else can see the wailing woman haunting Emmett's cottage. I enjoyed the story, but some of the characters needed a brick to the face. That's good writing for you, though! The author created some truly loathsome characters. I had it all figured out early, only to find that I didn't. Ha ha! I will say this, though--if Kath had ended up falling for Officer Dunbar after the way he treated her, I would have burned the book and refused to read anything else by this author. Fortunately, Kath harbors only an intense dislike the man she begins referring to as "Clod Dunbar".

Favorite line: "You're haunting my car? You can't do that. This is a rental!"

Likable heroine, intricate plot, excellent characterizations, ghosts, and cats. Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I read a short ebook novella, Dying to be a Star by Sarah Kelly. It's the first in a series featuring witch-in-training India Kirby.

The basic plot was that India's friend Amy got a catering gig for a C-List singer, who was trying to make a big comeback. Amy enlists India's assistance. During the course of the party, the hostess/guest of honor, Onyx, dies.

It went a bit pear-shaped from there.

Without knowing how Onyx died, the police arrested Amy on suspicion of murder, because she delivered a drink to the woman. Of course, that's when India decided she needed to get involved to clear her friend's name. Plus, India has an "in" with the local police, her "we're just friends" friend Xavier. And...the plot unraveled from there.

Spoilers, ahoy! )

So, yeah. Premise was unoriginal, execution was terrible, characters were two-dimensional, and the author lacked any concept of police procedures. Plus, the plot point of India being a witch wasn't explored in any depth. Mostly, it consisted of her communicating telepathically with her mentor, Luis.

Favorite line: ...she heard the Scooby Doo gang deliberating.

Deserves about 1 1/2 stars, but I'll give it 2 for the Scooby reference.

**
chez_jae: (Books)
This working girl stayed up too late last night to finish Midsummer Night's Mischief by Jennifer David Hesse. It's the first in the author's "Wiccan Wheel" mystery series.

In addition to law, attorney Keli Milanni also practices Wiccan. She's in the closet about that to friends and family both. However, when a client of hers passes away, and a valuable antique book is stolen from the woman's home just days later, the family blames Keli for not exercising due diligence. With her job on the line, Keli may need to tap into her magical abilities to find the culprit.

There are no shortage of suspects, most of whom are related to Keli's client. When Keli finds herself falling for Wes, her client's grandson, her investigation begins to clash with her personal life. As Keli gets closer to uncovering the truth, she receives threatening messages, warning her to mind her own business. Keli has no intention of backing off. With her faithful sidekick, Farrah, several contacts in the area of rare books, and her faith to guide her, Keli is determined to locate the stolen book and save her job.

This story was light-hearted and fun, for the most part. I thought Keli took some risks in her quest to uncover the truth. Characters were well-done, and the plot moved along. I got a little tired of reading about her vegan diet, however. I did appreciate that the mystery involved a stolen item, rather than a murder. We need more mysteries like that!

Favorite line:
♥ "Coworkers," I replied. "Muggles."
♥ "Well done, Scooby Gang. And then what? Do we rig up a giant fishnet?"

Gotta love a book that includes both Harry Potter and Scooby Doo references!

I'm waffling between a three and a four here. I'll go with four, because the mystery was a unique premise.

♥♥♥♥
chez_jae: (Books)
I read an ebook novella last night, A Ghost in the Store, by Gillian Larkin. It's the first installment in her "Ruby & Nessa" ghost hunters series. It was short enough that it almost feels like a cheat to include it here, but hey, it was chaptered. Ha ha!

The story opens with Ruby dragging her younger sister Nessa along with her on an investigation in a grocery store. It's reputed to be haunted, and Ruby and Nessa do see the ghost of a young woman there. After doing some research, they learn the store was built on the site where a home for unwed mothers once stood. They go on to check church records and learn the woman's identity and her tragic story. From there, it's a matter of helping Mary cross over, but Mary has some unfinished business.

Nothing exrtaordinary about the story. It was a cute, light, fun read. Editing was good; characterizations were two-dimensional, but that may change as the series progresses. There is some friction between the sisters, which seemed to have been resolved too easily, but oh well. One thing that bothered me is that Nessa twice made a crack to Ruby about coloring her hair to get rid of the gray, and then we learn that Ruby is only 28. WTF?

Favorite line: "...she's always been two pork chops short of a barbecue."

Okay story, three hearts:

♥♥♥

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chez_jae

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