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)
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)
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)
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)
Earlier this evening, I finished reading Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris. It's the second installment in her "Harper Connelly" series, featuring a main character who can sense/locate dead bodies and tell how they died.

Harper and her stepbrother, Tolliver, have traveled to Tennessee so that Harper can demonstrate her strange ability to a group of college students who are studying an anthropology course on "experiences outside the box". Both the skeptical professor and his students are stunned when Harper is able to stand on graves in an old cemetery and say how each person died. However, it's Harper who is stunned when one grave contains two bodies, and the most recent is of a young girl, whom Harper had tried (and failed) to locate eighteen months earlier.

Once word gets out that the missing girl's remains have been found, Harper and Tolliver find themselves at the epicenter of a media storm and a police investigation. Everyone considers it too great of a coincidence for the girl to have turned up where Harper was going to give a demonstration, even Harper and Tolliver agree on that. They are contacted by the girl's family, and they soon find themselves caught up in family dynamics and drama, all of which may lead to the killer.

An interesting, gripping story. Harper and Tolliver had their own secrets from one another, one of which was revealed, and the other, concealed. In a way, it was disheartening to see them lose some of their blind faith in one another. I was able to suss out the killer fairly early, but learning the how and the why was still fascinating.

Favorite lines:
♥ Death is a fundamental human necessity; a solitary passage into the unknown.
♥ You can't be said to have any worries if your fingernails are the center of your universe...

Very good read, five hearts!

chez_jae: (Books)
Friday, I finished reading Rest in Pieces, which is the second book in the "Mrs Murphy" mystery series by authors Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown.

When handsome, single Blair Bainbridge moves to Crozet, VA, the local busybodies want to match him up with newly divorced Mary "Harry" Haristeen. However, when fresh body parts are located in an old graveyard on Blair's new property, excitement shifts to the crime and the possible identity of the victim. Later, the torso and then the head are found, each discovery more gruesome than the last. Harry's pets, Mrs Murphy and her sidekick, Tee Tucker, are anxious to protect Harry and to sniff out more clues. Once another murder victim is found and a third man from Crozet goes missing, the race is on to find a killer before anyone else is harmed.

Very entertaining story. I liked Blair, and it was fun to renew acquaintances with characters from the first book. Even the pets are amusing! I figured out who dunnit and why early on, but I still enjoyed reading along to the conclusion.

Favorite lines:
♥ "Give me that back, you striped asshole!"

I may have yelled something similar to Dweezil a time or two!
♥ Nothing sadder on this earth than a human being without a cat.

Superb! Five hearts!

chez_jae: (Books)
Since I was off-line yesterday (for the most part!), I took the opportunity to rock through Hellhound by Nancy Holzner. It's part of her "Deadtown" urban fantasy series.

When Deadtown's zombies begin attacking humans, it results in an escalation of tensions between paranormals and humans. Vicky believes the attacks are demon-fueled, and she suspects her nemesis, Pryce, is behind it. When she contacts her Aunt Mab regarding her suspicions, Mab immediately flies to Boston to lend a hand in what promises to be a supernatural battle.

In the meantime, Vicky is worried about her werewolf boyfriend, Kane, who made a fool's bargain with the Night Hag. The full moon is fast approaching, and this time, Kane will be turned into a Hellhound. As if that wasn't bad enough, the Night Hag has pledged to send her hounds after Vicky.

When Vicky and Mab learn that the white falcon of Hellsmoor, which is the current host to the soul of Vicky's father, can kill the demonic Morfran, they realize he is the falcon of prophecy. Too bad that the Night Hag wants the falcon for her own.

As with all of the books in this series, there was quite a lot going on. Various subplots weaved together to form the story. Again, Vicky had family issues to deal with on top of trying to stay alive and keep both Kane and her father out of the Night Hag's clutches. It was also a testament to the strength of love, both the love Vicky and Kane have for one another, and the love between Vicky's parents. I was thoroughly engrossed, and it was difficult to set the book aside.

Favorite lines:
♦ If you've never gotten a disapproving look from a holier-than-thou zombie you haven't really lived.
♦ "I couldn't let a little thing like death keep us apart."

Fabulous, five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
In spite of having an interview today, I still managed to read Murder, She Barked, by Krista Davis. It's the first book in the "Paws & Claws" mystery series. Yet again, another series I have several books in and hadn't read any. Yikes.

Holly Miller has just lost her job, her boyfriend's ex is trying to re-enter the picture, and now she's received a call from her grandmother's best friend that Oma needs her. Holly drops everything to rush to Wagtail, VA, and the pet-friendly inn that her Oma owns there. Along the way, she picks up a dog, and witnesses a fiery explosion. Holly arrives to find out that her Oma was injured in a hit-and-run that killed the person she was with. It doesn't take Holly long to realize that Oma may have been the killer's intended target. When another person in town is murdered, Holly struggles to find a connection. In the meantime, her boyfriend proposes to her via text, then has the nerve to show up with his ex in tow, someone tries to steal Holly's new dog, she reconnects with an old crush, and her Oma seems to be keeping secrets.

I enjoyed the story. Lots of twists and turns to the plot. Characterizations were wonderful, although there was one smarmy person who gave me the willies, and one woman who needed a beat-down. I even enjoyed reading about the many pets in the story.

Favorite line: was a well-known rule that all diets were off during road trips.

Good book, and I'm glad I have more to read. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Stayed up too late last night finishing Blood Bath & Beyond by Michelle Rowen. It's the first book in her "Immortality Bites" mystery series, but it features a main character who was first introduced in an earlier, paranormal romance: Bitten and Smitten.

Sarah Dearly is still getting the hang of being a vampire. Fortunately, her fiance Thierry is a master vampire, and she can learn from him. When Thierry takes a job from the Ring, whose purpose is to keep vampires on the straight and narrow to avoid outing themselves, Sarah accompanies him to Las Vegas. Thierry's first job is to confront a child vampire/beauty pageant contestant. It seems simple enough, but once they arrive, they learn that a serial killer has been draining victims of blood, a la a vampire. Thierry encounters someone from his past and they have words. When the other vampire is later murdered, it's Thierry who is the main suspect. He sends Sarah home to keep her safe, but Sarah refuses to go. She ditches at the airport and heads back to help her man.

The story was lite and fun, with just enough danger tossed in to keep it from being nothing but fluff. I had to admire Sarah's determination to help Thierry, even though the poor girl seemed to careen from one dangerous situation to another, full-tilt. In a sense, there were two mysteries to solve: that of the serial killer, and that of Bernard's murder. One was resolved in a satisfactory fashion, the other, not so much.

Favorite line: Right now, I was so far down in the dumps that the raccoons had arrived and were starting to sniff around.

Fun story. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I just finished reading Marked fur Murder, which is the third book in Dixie Lyle's "Whiskey, Tango & Foxtrot" mystery series.

Foxtrot's boss, ZZ, is hosting another of her famous salons, complete with the requisite cast of unique characters. One of the guests is the sister of Foxtrot's boyfriend, Ben, and when Anna is murdered on the estate, Foxtrot vows to find out who did it. There are no shortage of suspects, but another guest, who also claims to be a Thunderbird, like Ben and Anna, says it's the ancient, supernatural enemy of Thunderbirds who is responsible. When people report seeing a large, rainbow colored serpent on the grounds, Foxtrot is convinced it's the physical form of the supernatural beast. Now, she just has to prove it, and catch a killer.

I had trouble getting into this book. There was really too much going on, to the point of being confusing. After I'd gotten used to only Foxtrot and Ben being able to communicate telepathically with Whiskey and Tango, now several other people could, too. The story was funny and exciting by turns, but I find it difficult to describe the plot, because it was all over the place. Ben was acting like an ass for most of the book and needed a good dope slap, while the other Thunderbird was more of a thundercunt and needed a punch in the face. Apparently, Foxtrot is attracted to musician Keene, although she takes pains not to act on it, but it seemed like the author was setting up a break up between her and Ben.

Favorite lines:
♦ "My boss doesn't just embrace change, she kisses it. With tongue."
♦ "I know. Which means that admitting I know is a big no-no, in case what he knows isn't what I think he knows. You know?"
♦ "I'm so capable I should be wearing a cape."
♦ "Argh. It's a universal human term loosely translating to, 'I'm overwhelmed and frustrated, somebody make this stop.'"
♦ ...Argh also acted as a universal beacon, drawing even more trouble your way. It was the wounded wildebeest of epithets.
♦ "Oh, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse rode through about an hour ago, but they just needed directions. Apparently they aren't supposed to show up here until next week."

A tad disappointing, for this series, but still very good overall. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Yesterday, I powered through Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs. It's the fourth installment in her "Alpha and Omega" series, about mated werewolves Anna and Charles.

For one, Charles and Anna are taking a trip for pleasure, rather than for work. When they go to visit an old friend of Charles' in Arizona, they arrive in time to rescue the man's daughter-in-law and her children. The woman, Chelsea, is under a fae compulsion to kill her children and then herself. Charles Changes her to save her life. Soon, they are embroiled in a case involving a missing child, and the investigation leads them to realize that the most recent girl is just one of many, going back for decades, in the area. Charles and Anna lend their special talents to the investigation, working with an FBI agent, whom they're familiar with.

The story was tense and fast-paced, as Anna and Charles race to recover the missing girl and eliminate a dangerous Fae. Compounding their troubles is the fact that the newly-Changed Chelsea is also witchborn, making for a volatile combination of wolf and magic. The actions scenes were well done, as was the characterization. The subplot of why Charles and Anna were in Arizona was that he meant to buy her a horse, and his friends raise Arabians. There was a lot of horsemanship and riding and conformation in the story, as well as a horse show.

Favorite lines:
♦ "But that is the dual gift of love, isn't it? The joy of greeting and the sorrow of goodbye."
♦ Sure, it was serious business, but humor in the face of evil robbed evil of some if its power.
♦ "I find it somewhat reassuring that I'm not the only one who feels like I should be running around shouting, 'Where's the script? Where's the script? If only I had a script, I'd know what the freak I'm supposed to be doing.'"

Love this series, and this book was no exception. Five stars!

chez_jae: (Default)
Started reading Ghost of a Potion last night, and I finished it today. It's the third book in Heather Blake's "Magic Potion" mystery series.

On the eve of Halloween, Carly Bell Hartwell only wants to hide herself away. This is the time of year that ghosts rise from the grave, seeking help to cross over before the end of All Souls' Day. Carly once had a bad experience with a less than wholesome spirit, and she wants nothing more to do with ghosts, preferring not to use her witchy talents to help them. Unfortunately for Carly, she is expected to attend a gala costume ball at a recently renovated mansion. When a member of the historic preservation society is murdered at the party, his ghost appears to Carly. Now she must help Haywood cross over by solving his murder. As if that weren't enough, the primary suspect in the crime is Patricia Jackson, mother of Carly's boyfriend, Dylan, and the woman who has made it clear she doesn't want Carly as a daughter-in-law.

Now, Carly has two reasons to find out who killed Haywood: one, to help him cross over, and two, to score points with both Patricia and Dylan. She begins by questioning other members of the historic preservation society, uncovering sins and secrets of the past and a blackmail ring that goes along with. In addition, other ghosts latch on to Carly, multiplying the number of tasks she has to complete in a limited amount of time.

I think this is my favorite in the series so far. Carly is getting more of a backbone in her dealings with not only Patricia, but also her own mama. It was interesting to follow along as she unearthed clue after clue and tried to piece them together, and it was heartening to see her warm to her task of helping ghosts cross over. I confess that I had no idea who the culprit was until the reveal. Clever! Also, the very end of the story was quite poignant, and it had me wibbling a little.

Favorite lines:
♦ "Well slap me nekkid and sell my clothes!"
♦ "Let's see if he has an alibi before we go killing anyone. And really, I should get first dibs."
♦ "Sometimes people make certain choices and think they need to live with those decisions, not realizing that they have the power to make another choice altogether."
♦ "Lemon makes me thirsty, and this music is making me stabby."

Very good! Fun and lively characters, a nifty mystery, and plenty of feels. Five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
Just completed Coveted by Shawntelle Madison. It's an urban fantasy, and it appears to be the first in a series featuring Natalya "Nat" Stravinsky, a werewolf with anxiety issues.

Nat once had the world by the tail, but OCD and anxiety attacks have conspired to keep her down. She lives alone, away from her pack, she works at an antique shop, and she compulsively buys Christmas decorations. In short, Nat is a hoarder with no social life.

When Thorn, her former boyfriend, returns to town, and the local pack is being attacked by a rival pack, Nat decides she needs to return to therapy. There, she meets Nick, a white wizard, who has his own issues with hoarding. In addition, Nat's friend Aggie comes to her, looking for a place to stay while dodging her match-making father. At first, Nat finds it difficult to adjust to having someone else in her home and touching her things. It doesn't help that the rival pack seems to have targeted her for extermination, and the local alpha, Thorn's father, is willing to throw Natalya to the wolves, in a manner of speaking. The Alpha banishes Nat from the pack's territory, but she isn't willing to go without a fight.

This was a different urban fantasy from the usual. Nat was a repressed and anxious individual, and it was sometimes painful to read about how she was nearly overwhelmed by her own compulsive behavior. There's a definite spark between Nat and Thorn, but he is now betrothed to another. To me, Nick seems a better match for Nat. I enjoyed meeting some of the other quirky characters from her supernatural therapy group, including a Muse who lived in fear of the crazed writer who was looking for her. Ha ha!

Favorite lines:
♦ "I have to go stuff crazy into a can."
♦ I could see the local paper now: Crazed Woman Brings Down Burglar with Hoards of Holiday Cheer.
♦ "You look like a cat beat your ass as comeuppance for everything dogs have done to them."

Intriguing premise, and I hope to find more books of Nat's adventures.

Five stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I spent a good portion of the day reading The Thrill of the Haunt by EJ Copperman. It's part of the author's "Haunted Guesthouse" mystery series.

Business at Alison's guesthouse is slow, and her resident ghost, PI Paul, is moping for lack of anything to do. When a woman hires Alison to tail her husband, in hopes of catching him cheating on her, Alison reluctantly takes on the case, both for the income and to perk Paul up.

In the meantime, a homeless man in town has been murdered, and a woman from Alison's past insists on hiring Alison to investigate. The man, Everett, had been claiming in the days before he was murdered that he was being threatened by a ghost. The woman who hires Alison does so in front of a group of her cronies, in an effort to humiliate Alison and out her as the "ghost lady", all in retaliation for the fact that Alison uncovered the woman's own adulterous affair previously.

Alison is soon at her wit's end, trying to run a guesthouse, keep her guests happy, juggle two investigations, figure out how to keep her new boyfriend, Josh, from learning she can see ghosts, take care of her daughter, and stop one of her guests from doing an exorcism on the house. When the alleged mistress in the cheating husband case is murdered, Alison has two murders on her plate, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

My, there was certainly a lot going on! I felt sorry for Alison, who was being pulled in so many different directions that I'm surprised her head didn't explode. Her nemesis, Kerin, needed a punch in the face, and Josh became cool towards her when he sensed she was keeping something from him. The ending wasn't as satisfying as it could have been, because...

Spoiler Alert! )

Favorite line: Have you ever felt as if you were the slow-witted cousin at the Mensa family reunion?

Would have given this a five for its fast pace and intricate plotting. Instead, I'm knocking one star off for the aggravation:

chez_jae: (Books)
Just finished reading A Whisker of Trouble, which is the third book in Sofie Ryan's "Second Chance Cat" mystery series.

When Sarah agrees to clean out the home of a hoarder, in search of items she can sell at her shop, she and her cat, Elvis, come across a dead body. The victim was hired to appraise the deceased homeowner's wine collection, which turned out to have been fake. The homeowner's sister hires the Angels, a group of sleuthing senior citizens whose base is in Sarah's shop, to solve the appraiser's murder so that the sale of her brother's house can go forward. While the police are focusing their investigation in one direction, the Angels hone in on the wine scam, certain that the murder and the con are connected.

These stories are fun. I appreciate that they don't focus exclusively on the mystery. Instead, Sarah was seen running her business, socializing after work hours, and taking care of her cat. Her stepbrother, Liam, is back in town, and she spends time with him, especially after he gets roped into helping the Angels with a con of their own. Ha ha! I was able to suss out the killer, but it was interesting to see how other threads of the story tied into it.

Favorite line: Who was I to judge my brother's social life when I was sitting at home talking to my cat on a Friday night?

Marvelous! Five stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
Today, I finished reading Give Up the Ghost by Juliet Blackwell. It's part of the author's "Haunted Home Renovation" mystery series, and now I'm all caught up with that series. Yay!

Contractor Mel Turner is called to the scene...of a grand old Victorian that was gutted and modernized on the inside. Seems the renovations stirred up some angry spirits, and now the homeowners are unable to sell. They want Mel to restore parts of the home to appease the spirits, in accordance to what a psychic advised. The job isn't Mel's cup of tea, but she's horrified by what was done to the house, and she agrees to take on the project. She arranges to meet with the psychic, only to find the woman dead when she arrives at her apartment. On the scene is the psychic's distraught brother, Landon. Mel can't shake the notion that Chantelle's death is somehow connected to Crosswinds, the old Victorian.

In the meantime, Mel's friend Luz asks her to come scope out a rental house that some of her students were living in until a ghost scared them out of it. As a result, Mel finds herself investigating two separate hauntings in an effort to find some peace for the living. Along the way, she keeps encountering Landon, and Mel finds herself reluctantly attracted to him. Not helping matters is the fact that her boyfriend, Graham, is out of town on business. Mel is confused and guilty by her feelings for Landon, but it may not matter if she can't uncover a killer before she's the next victim.

Fun story, and with quite a lot going on. I appreciated getting to see more of Luz, as well as Tricia, another friend of Mel's. Mel herself is getting more confident in her ability to sense, see, and speak to ghosts. Not sure that I liked the fact that the author seemed to be pushing Graham out of the picture in favor of a new, shiny love interest for Mel.

Favorite lines:
♦ Dog, for his part, looked ready to figure things out. Or maybe he was hoping for a snack, it was hard to tell.

I like Dog's character!
♦ I'd known her for years, and she'd never tried to have me killed before.
♦ It was a phantom food fight and I was on the losing end.

Funniest scene I've read in ages!

Mel's love life is none of my business, so in spite of my misgivings about that particular plot point, this one gets five stars:



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