chez_jae: (Books)
2017-07-23 12:17 pm

Book 75, 2017

About mid-week, I read the ebook Ghost Hall, which is the fourth part of the "Ghost Files" series, written by various authors. This one was written by Michelle Wright.

In this story, Monty and Ellen are sent to Belgium by a wealthy California real estate mogul. He purchased an old city hall there that is reputedly haunted. The fact that no workers stay for more than a day lends credence to the theory.

Monty would like to treat this as a romantic, all-expenses paid vacation, but Ellen knows they're there to work, and she keeps him on track. When they investigage the building, Ellen seems to be possessed by a strong, evil spirit that almost causes her to throw herself from the balcony. Now, they know they're up against something dark and malevolent. A ghost of a young girl appears to Ellen, and the numbers on her arm provide some valuable clues as to who, or what, may be haunting the hall.

SPaG in this one was horrible. At least twice, the author used the world "variable" when she meant to use "veritable", and it was a veritable nightmare to read. Another thing that annoyed me was Monty making some crack about Ellen's "time of the month". Turns out, it was Ellen's time of the month, and that somehow became a running theme throughout the rest of the story. WTF? I think we readers are all aware that characters in books fart, poop, pee, and menstruate. We don't need to read about it, ffs.

Favorite line: ...why is it always a marathon walk to the departure gate? Is it to weaken us so we all go quietly into the plane?

After the first book in this series was so spectacular, the rest have been spectacular fails, and this was the worst of the lot. Two stars:

**
chez_jae: (Default)
2017-07-22 10:30 pm

Book 74, 2017

My book reviews are lagging, due to storms keeping me offline. Guh. Anyway, at work on Monday, I finished reading my "work" book, which was Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett. It's the first book in the author's paranormal lite series, featuring voluptuous vampire, Gloriana St Clair.

Glory has been a vampire since she was turned in the 1500's by handsome Highlander Jeremiah Campbell, aka Jeremy Blade. Jeremy would like nothing more than to coddle, cosset, and protect Glory, but she wants her independence. Glory has opened a vintage clothing shop, called Vintage Vamp's Emporium. When a new vampire hunter bursts onto the scene, armed with technology that enables him to take out even old, powerful vamps, Blade insists that Glory move in with him so he can keep her safe. She scoffs at the idea, but a couple run-ins with Westwood have her feeling scared for the first time in her long life.

Now it's up to the vampires to band together and fight their common enemy, and Glory has a few tricks up her sleeve.

Fun story. It was lighthearted for the most part, but there were some sad scenes as well as some anxious ones. Glory was relatable, being a "modern" woman, as well as one who's more curvaceous than most heroines are portrayed as. It's obvious she loves Blade, but she is frustrated that he can't understand her need to make her own way. I will give him credit for at least trying to back off and give her space, even if his old, chivalrous manner demands that he simply pick her up and carry her off to safety.

Favorite line: Metrosexual to him would mean a quickie on a bus.

Not a genre I read much these days, but it was enjoyable, nonetheless. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-07-17 10:39 pm

Book 73, 2017

Last night, I finished reading Inspector Specter by EJ Copperman. It's part of the author's "Haunted Guesthouse" mystery series.

Innkeeper Alison's nemesis, Detective Anita McElone, comes to ask Alison for help. Although it pains her, because she doesn't believe in ghosts, McElone wants Alison to see if she can communicate with the ghost of her former police partner, who has died under mysterious circumstances.

Alison goes to Ferry's apartment, but he doesn't remember much about his death. However, he is able to provide information on cases he was working before he died, and Alison uses that as a starting point for her investigation. It would be simpler if she could talk to McElone, but the good detective seems to have disappeared, at least, according to her husband, she has. Now Alison must solve Detective Ferry's murder, find Detective McElone, and run her guesthouse, all while babysitting for her best friends' baby while they go away for a romantic cruise.

The story was fun, but not utterly engrossing. The plot seemed a bit convoluted, as Alison was dashing to and fro, trying to put the pieces together. Not helping is that one of her resident ghosts, Maxie, was acting even more odd than she normally does.

Favorite lines:
♦ There was a time when this sort of negotiation could have been done quickly and efficiently in a fraction of the time with actual conversation between the two parties, but technology had now advanced us to a point where a simple exchange could take half an hour.
♦ Babies are terrific audiences; they think the same joke is hilarious four thousand times in a row.
♦ If he'd been holding a stick and yelling something in fake Latin, he could have been one of Melissa's friends playing Harry Potter.


Not my favorite in this series. Only giving it a three:

***
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-07-11 07:03 pm

Book 72, 2017

Sunday night, I finished reading The Black Cat Sees His Shadow by Kay Finch. It's the third book in the "Bad Luck Cat" mystery series.

During the local Pumpkin Festival in Lavender, TX, Sabrina comes face-to-face with a woman who looks like they could be twins. Tia is an artist, in town for the festival. She has her young son Damon with her, along with their black cat, Merlin. Merlin looks just like Sabrina's cat, Hitchcock. The similarity in their appearance leads to some misunderstandings, especially when Sabrina is accosted by a man she doesn't know. It turns out that Tia and Calvin Fisher have butted heads before. When Fisher turns up dead, Tia becomes the prime suspect in his murder, and Sabrina is determined to prove her new friend is innocent.

In addition to trying to solve a murder, Sabrina is trying to work on her next novel, keep an eye on her feisty Aunt Rowe, dodge the sketchy attentions of a man who seems to be stalking her, and enter something in the baking contest. Now, to compound her problems, Sabrina's mother has shown up and would like nothing more than for Sabrina to return to Houston, where she belongs.

Well, there was certainly a lot going on! Fisher had no shortage of people who might have wanted him dead, which keeps Sabrina guessing. She also finds herself the target of Detective Patricia Rosales' wrath once more, simply because Sabrina is dating Game Warden Luke, whom Rosales has the hots for. There's also the mysterious appearance of Fisher's wife, who is convinced that her late husband gave something to Sabrina for safekeeping before he died.

Not my favorite in this series. Too many sinister characters, to the point that it was getting tedious. There was no resolution as to how or why Tia and Sabrina looked so much alike, and the motive for murder was weak and bizarre.

Favorite line:I hoped this trek didn't turn out to be some mysterious mission that only a cat would understand.

Good story, in spite of the drawbacks. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-07-07 11:22 pm

Book 71, 2017

On Wednesday night, I completed A Toxic Trousseau by Juliet Blackwell. The book is part of her "Witchcraft Mystery" series.

When Lily's familiar, Oscar, bumps into a woman in Aunt Cora's Closet, Lily is hit with a lawsuit. Hoping for a peaceful resolution, she goes to visit the woman in her vintage clothing shop, only to find Autumn Jennings deathly ill. Lily summons help, but Autumn later dies. When cause of death is determined to be poisoning, Lily finds herself among a short list of suspects. Eager to clear her name, she takes it upon herself to start asking questions of Autumn's neighbors and associates. The situation becomes murkier as Lily learns Autumn had no family, precious few friends, and that she'd recently acquired a supposedly cursed trousseau. Along the way, Lily encounters a strange dog walker, a sinister cupcake baker, and a dour homicide detective. At least she has her own friends to help, as well as her boyfriend, Sailor.

Good story, good pacing, and wonderful characterizations. Lots of little subplots were woven together, making the entire book more interesting as a whole. The only drawback in my opinion, was Oscar. He comes across as more of a petulant brat than a stable familiar for Lily.

Favorite lines:
♦ It really dilled my pickle...
♦ "Okay, any actual advice for my meeting the mayor, beyond wardrobe?" // "Don't mention eels." // "Eels." // "Or seesaws." // "Why on earth would I mention eels or seesaws?" // "Exactly."
♦ "I mean, I know I was the one who first suggested it, but I guess I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that the big showdown we're all so afraid of is with the cupcake lady."


Enjoyable, as with the others in this series. Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-07-04 12:54 pm

Book 70, 2017

Since I didn't have to work today, I stayed up late to finish reading Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews. It's part of the authors' "Kate Daniels" urban fantasy series.

When Kate and her fiance, former Beast Lord Curran, learn that their friend Eduardo is missing, they launch an investigation into his disappearance. Visiting the scene of Eduardo's latest assignment finds them battling a magical creature, which morphs into something else after they kill it. Now they must find out who has been sending creatures to attack a seemingly innocuous neighborhood in the suburbs.

In addition, Kate and Curran, who are trying to formally separate from the Pack, keep getting drawn into Pack drama and politics, and at the same time, they learn the Guild, which employs mercenaries to keep Atlanta safe, is falling to hell. To top it off, Kate's father, an amoral demigod who may or may not want to kill her, has invited her to dinner.

Fabulous story! Plenty of exciting battle scenes, great characterizations, sub-plots that weave together, trauma and angst, and just enough levity to keep it from being completely dark.

Favorite lines:
♦ Not my circus, not my undead monkeys.
♦ "Kate, get in the car." // "Maybe you should growl dramatically. I don't think I'm intimidated enough." // "I will put you in the car." // "No, you won't."
I love how they bicker!
♦ "Does everybody think I'm an asshole?" Curran asked. // "Only people who know you or have met you."
♦ "So you sneaked up behind him, startled him by speaking, and when he turned around and saw a six-hundred-pound talking lion, you showed him your teeth?" // "I don't think that's what happened," Curran said. // "That's exactly what happened, Your Furriness."
♦ Curran and horses didn't get along. He thought they were unpredictable and untrustworthy, and they thought he was a werelion.


Another awesome installment to this series--five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-07-01 09:17 pm

Book 69, 2017

This afternoon, I finished reading Telling Tails by Sofie Ryan. It's part of her "Second Chance Cat" mystery series.

Sarah's friend and employee, Rose, takes it upon herself to deliver a purchase to a customer. She ends up in the hospital, after being struck on the head and falling unconscious. When Sarah rushes to the hospital to visit her, Rose claims she saw their customer's dead body being dragged through his home before she was knocked out. It's an incredible tale, and Rose gets her dander up when she feels no one believes her. She enlists the aid of her fellow senior citizens to investigate. Sarah is dragged into the investigation once again, as is her rescue cat, Elvis. The man's wife claims he cleaned out their bank account and left her for another woman. Now the question is, did someone murder him, or did he fake his own death?

Characterizations were well done, even Elvis, and the plot was convoluted and interesting. I would have enjoyed the story more, however, if Rose hadn't acted like a petulant child. I guess the best way to indicate you're angry at your friends for wondering if you're a doddering old woman is to act like a spoiled brat by throwing them out of your hospital room and refusing to speak to them. I like feisty old ladies in stories, but not when they behave like precocious, sullen toddlers. I'm also not liking that the author seems to be waffling now on a love interest for Sarah.

Favorite line: "Sometimes people make a commitment and they mean it when they make it, but after awhile they find out they just don't have what it takes to keep it."

Still a little perturbed with Rose in this one, but I'll give it a four:

****
chez_jae: (Default)
2017-06-27 07:02 pm

Book 68, 2017

Stayed up too late last night to finish reading The Good, the Bad, and the Witchy, which is part of Heather Blake's "Wishcraft Mystery" series.

Wishcrafter Darcy Merriweather is asked to help plan a grandiose birthday party for Floracrafter Harriette Harkette. Harriette is celebrating her 80th birthday, along with her prize-winning black roses. When the cake delivery is late, Darcy goes outside to check for the bakery's van. She stumbles across the body of Michael Healey, who was meant to be delivering the cake. Michael used to work for Harriette, and when his ghost imprints on Darcy, she is compelled to help solve his murder. Soon after Michael's death, some of Harriette's contemporaries are also attacked, and everything seems to indicate that Harriette is behind it. Darcy, however, feels that Harriette is being set up, and she sets out to prove it.

Fun story, lots going on, what with the murder, the attacks, a festival in town, the disappearance of Aunt Ve's cat, Harriette's unknown fiance, and the fact that one of Darcy's friends seems to have attracted a secret admirer. I am liking the slow pacing of Darcy's romance with police officer Nick, but I am finding Aunt Ve's stunts to be a tad tiring. Another thing I don't really like is that Wishcrafters can't be photographed; they appear washed out in any photo. I guess it bothers me, because it's only Wishcrafters, and not any of the other magical crafters, who can't be photographed. It makes no sense.

Favorite line: Her hopes had risen higher than a kite in a windstorm.

Other than the minor aggravations, this was an enjoyable story. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-06-21 06:21 pm

Book 67, 2017

Just finished reading Ghost Fire, which is the third installment in the eseries "Ghost Files". This one was written by Eve Paludan. Once again, this author failed to live up to the first book in the set. At least this story remained firmly in Monty's first person pov.

Monty and Ellen are in Venice, CA to celebrate their anniversary. On the trip, Ellen wants to visit the art gallery of a former professor of hers, whom she was close to as an undergrad. When they arrive at the gallery, Ellen immediately senses a foreboding presence. It's a poltergeist, and it has been setting small fires all over the gallery. Diego, Ellen's former professor, is at his wit's end. The gallery is scheduled for its grand opening in only a few days, and he asks Ellen and Monty to help. Monty can't help feeling resentful, but Ellen can't say no.

They soon learn that, in addition to the poltergeist, there is the ghost of a horse, along with an evil chupacabra spirit that is killing animals in the area. Ellen and Monty are aided in their quest by a psychic cab driver, a former nun who paints dead people, and a family who creates art from organic material, including animal bones.

The story had its moments. It was exciting, although almost too much so. The author tried to create banter between Monty and Ellen, but she fell short of the lively discourse from the first book. The writing was somewhat unsophisticated, and I actually found the mental telepathy between Ellen and Monty to be distracting.

Favorite line: I'm sure that Dr Seuss could have written a rhyming book about all of the girl stuff in a Sephora store.

This was a mix between exciting and disappointing. Average score:

***
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-06-14 11:01 pm

Book 66, 2017

Tonight, I finished reading First Grave on the Right, which is the first in author Darynda Jones' series about Charley Davidson: PI, smart ass, and grim reaper.

Charley was born a reaper, which means she can see, speak to, and even touch dead people, and it's her job to move them on. Some, however, have unfinished business, and that's where Charley's PI license comes in handy. When three attorneys from the same law firm are murdered on the same night, it's up to Charley to find out who had them killed and why.

In the meantime, Charley has been having wicked hot dreams of a mysterious, nocturnal lover...one who reminds her eerily of a boy she met when she was a teenager. As Charley works the attorneys' case, she's also trying to figure out what became of Reyes. What she uncovers, in both cases, is bigger than anyone could have imagined.

Loved this book! Charley is smart and funny and brave to the point of foolish. In spite of her status as a grim reaper, she doesn't seem to have any special powers, at least none that she knows of. A select few people know about her abilities, although no one knows the whole truth. My only complaint about the story is that, once again, I was treated to the tired trope of a woman who is literally unable to function when confronted by a hot and dreamy hunka hunka burnin' love. Seriously?! If I wanted to read that shit, I would have read 50 Shades of Abusive Relationship. Aside from her inability to function around Reyes, there's also the fact that, when they met as teens, he threatened to rape her. Be still my heart! *shakes head* In spite of this major annoyance, the rest of the narrative made up for it.

Favorite lines:
♦ Death via extreme pleasure was a serious concern. The prospect led to the following dilemma: Do I seek help or buy drinks all around?
♦ He had a wrinkled suit, round-rimmed glasses, and mussed hair that made him look part young-wizard-we-all-know-and-love and part mad scientist.
♦ I went down like a drunken cowgirl trying to line dance to Metallica.
♦ ...I stormed into my apartment...then rummaged through my entertainment center to lay out all my exorcism equipment. I kept it in my entertainment center because exorcisms were nothing if not entertaining.
♦ It was hard being such an utter disappointment to the woman who'd raised me, but gosh darn it, I gave it my all.
♦ "Because at this point, my sanity is all that I have. Well, that and a breakfast burrito."


Super funny; I could have quoted the entire thing! I can't wait to read more in the series. Five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-06-11 10:53 pm

Book 65, 2017

Spent a portion of the day reading Ghost Soldier, which is the second installment of the e-series "Ghost Files". This one was written by Evelyn Klebert.

Well. I could tell the author changed. The characters remained the same, but she didn't write them with the same panache as the previous authors. It began in first person pov again (Monty's pov), but a few chapters switched to third person pov to follow Ellen. Just, no.

While on vacation in New Orleans, Monty and Ellen are asked to come to a military base to investigate an allegedly haunted house. Ellen is taken aback at the sheer level of activity in the home, and her reticence makes Monty nervous, too. Ellen learns that there is an entity that is entrapping and feeding on the energy of other lost souls, and it's up to her and Monty to break the hold the creature has over the others.

This story was more creepy than the first one, and I missed Monty's wit. Klebert tried to keep both characters in-character, but she fell short. Still, the plot was engrossing, and I liked how Monty and Ellen worked together.

Favorite line: When I become the last hope, the odds aren't always so good.

In a word, disappointing. Three stars:

***
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-06-11 01:58 pm

Book 64, 2017

Stayed up late last night to finish reading Cat Trick by Sofie Kelly. It's the fourth book in her "Magical Cats" mystery series.

The residents and businesses of Mayville Heights are hoping to convince Legacy Tours to add their town to its listing of vacation packages. It should be a lock, considering local-boy-turned-big-city-big-shot, Mike Glazer, is back in Mayville, representing Legacy. However, he's no longer the affable young man he used to be. Instead, Glazer is abrasive, and it seems everyone in town has a run-in with him. It's shocking, but not surprising, when Glazer turns up dead.

This time around, Kathleen promises herself, and her beau, Detective Marcus Gordon, that she will not interfere in the murder investigation. However, Kathleen finds herself drawn into the middle of it when both of her cats begin nosing around, and some local residents ask her to "look into it". Working at the library puts Kathleen in a position where she can subtly ask people about their dealings with Glazer and what he was like before he left town years before. All she finds out is that he used to be well-liked, but that almost everyone had a bone to pick with him over his recent dealings. Kathleen can't help but think there's something she's missing, and it may not be tied to the town of Mayville Heights at all. In the meantime, her meddling strains her relationship with Marcus, leaving Kathleen to wonder if she should renew her contract with the library when it's up, or if she should just return home to Boston.

The book was engrossing, and the pace moved along. I always enjoy reading about Kathleen's day to day life, in conjunction with her sleuthing. Her cats are utterly adorable, and it was nice to reconnect with familiar characters. My only complaint is that I don't feel I (as the reader) was given a fair chance to figure out who the murderer was.

Favorite line: "Could we just keep the doors locked and maybe stay here and eat muffins all morning?"
That gets my vote!

Very good story, with likable characters. Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-06-09 07:27 pm

Book 63, 2017

Over the course of two evenings, I read the ebook Ghost College by Scott Nicholson and JR Rain. It's the first in a series, but subsequent books appear to be credited to different authors. I don't know if that means they'll follow the same characters (in a round-robin format) or if the next books will branch out in different directions.

This story was wonderful. It's told in first person pov by skeptical ghost hunter Monty. He and his wife Ellen use a two-pronged attack when conducting their investigations. Monty relies on his technology, while Ellen is "sensitive". Monty doesn't really believe in ghosts, but he does believe in his wife, whom he adores. Their banter throughout was one of the best parts of the story. Monty and Ellen are called to investigate a small, religious college, where staff and students have been hearing voices, seeing shadows, and finding objects moved.

Ellen quickly connects with a young girl named Sophia, and Monty's instruments fail when the batteries are drained. When Ellen convinces him to act as a conduit to allow Sophia to communicate with them, Monty finds himself in a battle between good and evil, as he and Ellen try to save Sophia from the man known as the Dark Master.

This was a fun, engaging story. Even though it was short, Monty and Ellen are portrayed well, and I loved that Monty had so much faith in Ellen, despite the fact that he didn't experience the things she could.

Favorite lines:
♦ But this was also Southern California, where there were only two seasons: Oscar season and everything else.
♦ Middle age is hell, old age will probably be worse, and after that...well, we'll all find out when we get there.
♦ Me, I tended to ignore higher callings, because they entailed responsibility, and all I wanted was the next round of chocolate pancakes.

A man after my own heart!

Loved this one, and I am looking forward to reading the rest! Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-06-06 07:39 pm

Book 62, 2017

Just finished reading Nightshade for Warning by Bailey Cattrell. It's the second book in her "Enchanted Garden" mystery series.

Elliana "Ellie" Allbright is delighted when her half-brother Colby shows up in Poppyville unexpectedly. Also unexpected is Larken, the girlfriend he has in tow. Ellie quickly warms to Larken, and when the Larken is accused of murder, Ellie takes it upon herself to prove the other woman is innocent. She has no shortage of suspects, as journalist Blake Sontag made enemies far easier than he made friends.

A tract of land that Sontag owned with his sister seems to be at the crux of his murder. Ellie thinks that if she can find out who wanted to buy it, then she would know who was furious when Sontag took the property off of the market. When her line of inquiry strikes too close to a killer's home, Ellie becomes the next target.

Woven throughout Ellie's investigation is her long-distance relationship with Ritter, and new, developing feelings for Spence, a photographer who accompanied Sontag to town to do a feature on Ellie's tiny house. This author seems to like giving her female leads two handsome hunks to choose from (Cattrell also writes the "Magical Bakery" mystery series as Bailey Cates). I enjoyed the book. Ellie is an engaging character, as are other returning characters. I find myself cheering for Spence in the romance department. Ha ha! The story contains a paranormal thread, as Ellie is able to use her intuition or empathy to discern what will most benefit the customers at her aromatherapy shop.

Favorite line: "I'm bruised but not beaten!"

Very good, would certainly recommend. Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-06-04 12:11 pm
Entry tags:

Book Meme

I borrowed this from the library of [profile] tanyareed!

1. Hardback or Paperback? Paper, because they're less expensive and easier to store.

2. Borrow or Buy? Buy, because I like to re-read favorites. Those books that aren't "keepers" get donated.

3. Fantasy or Sci-fi? I've always loved fantasy and never been fond of sci-fi.

4. Love-triangle or Love at first sight? Both tropes are annoying, in my opinion.

5. Wall shelves or Bookcases? Bookcases, lots of them!

The rest below the cut )
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-06-03 10:43 pm

Book 61, 2017

Earlier this evening, I finished reading the ebook Deadly Intent, which is the first book in author Kate Allenton's "Linked Inc" series.

Quinn Thatcher and her sisters have formed a company called Linked Inc, which enables them to use their psychic abilities to help others. Quinn can see and communicate with spirits. The ghost of a Scotsman badgers her until she agrees to collect a precious jewel from his grave and return it to the Menzie Clan in Scotland. Quinn plans to deliver the jewel and return home. She arrives to find Collin Menzie and his friend, Ian McDougall, reenacting their clans' infamous battle over the missing gem. Quinn marches into the fray, hands the emerald off to Collin, and sweeps off again.

Collin, however, is determined to find out more about the mysterious American beauty and how she came to be in possession of the emerald. There's also the matter of an age-old curse on his family that Quinn's presence has set into motion.

When Quinn's pilot becomes deathly ill, she is forced to stay in Scotland longer than she wanted to. She reluctantly agrees to become a guest in Collin's ancestral home, where she learns that her part in events, both past, present, and future, has already been foretold. Quinn and Collin must join forces to find out who has tried to harm Quinn, as well as lay the curse to rest.

A very interesting read. I was quite taken with it. Quinn is feisty and smart, and she has no qualms about taking Collin to her bed. What she didn't count on was falling in love with him.

Favorite lines:
♦ The sound was as loud and annoying as a foghorn mating with a tornado siren.
♦ "It's dangerous to stand between a woman and dessert."


Will definitely read more in this series! Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-05-29 10:23 pm

Book 60, 2017

Having the day off afforded me the opportunity to read an ebook novella, Murder of a Werewolf, by April Fernsby. It's the first story in the "Brimstone Witch" mystery series.

Cassia Winter is stuck in a soul-sucking job, a boring apartment, and a manipulative relationship. Even her cat, Stanley, seems depressed and morose. Unable to see her suffer, Cassia's Gran tells Cassia that she's a witch--they both are. Cassia doesn't believe her Gran at first, but gradually, childhood memories of playing in Brimstone begin to resurface. Cassia learns that the Winter witches have long investigated crimes in Brimstone, and she learns that her Gran is involved in a murder investigation. A werewolf, who initially seemed to have committed suicide, was instead murdered. When someone attacks Gran, it's up to Cassia to accept the mantle of the Winter witches and take up the investigation.

Cassia meets some odd people and creatures in Brimstone, including werewolves, elves, and the beautiful butterflies that act as messengers. She also reconnects with Luca, her childhood friend, who is now a handsome man. Cassia isn't sure what she's doing, but she knows one thing: she's not going back to her humdrum life again.

This was a fun, lite story. The narrative was simplistic, but not in an aggravating way. Rather, it made for a nice, light, afternoon read. Cassia was a likable heroine, and I enjoyed meeting other characters. Some things, which seemed obvious at first, turned out to be a surprise, but other things were not fully resolved. Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable read.

Favorite line: Did cats become morbid?

The talking cats were my favorite part! Good story, and I'll certainly read more. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-05-29 10:54 am

Book 59, 2017

I took advantage of my 3-day weekend to read Broken Soul by Faith Hunter. It's part of her urban fantasy series, featuring skinwalker Jane Yellowrock.

With a looming visit from a delegation of European vampires in the future, it's up to Jane to help Leo, the Master of the City of New Orleans, beef up security at vampire Headquarters. Everyone involved seems to think this meeting is a prelude to war, and tensions are high. Jane, however, has bigger issues. A being made of light seems bent on attacking her, she's being tailed wherever she goes, and Leo's former primo, George (whom Jane affectionately calls Bruiser), seems bent on seducing her. Worse, Jane's inner cat, Beast, likes Bruiser.

This particular book was less engrossing/gripping than others, but it featured much more in the way of vampire history, Jane's abilities, and more from Beast. While I enjoyed and appreciated that, it still took me all weekend to read. Had it been a "normal" Jane Yellowrock book, I probably would have knocked it all back on Saturday. The battle scenes weren't as intense, due to Jane's newfound ability, but they were still gory and exciting in an edge-of-your-seat manner. It was interesting to see how carefully Bruiser courted Jane, as well as to witness Leo's jealous rage over it.

Favorite lines:
♦ Call me a lover of slasher porn, but some dudes just deserved to lose their heads. Both of them.
♦ New beginnings often started with the broken bits and shattered pieces of the old.
♦ "Religion as a political entity is always horrible."


In spite of the deviation from the "norm" (for this series), I really enjoyed the book. Five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-05-26 07:54 pm

Book 58, 2017

I recently finished reading an ebook: Smoke by Val St Crowe. It's the first installment in the author's "Slayer Chronicles".

Clarke Gannon makes her living by slaying rogue dragons. It pays well, and she needs the money to help take care of her sister, who is an addict. When Naelen Spencer, a wealthy dragonshifter, shows up and wants to hire Clarke to help him find his sister, she turns him down at first. She kills rogues; she doesn't locate missing dragons. Naelen won't take no for an answer, and he continues upping the ante until Clarke agrees. She can use the money to get her sister into rehab.

What promises to be a tough job becomes worse when Naelen insists on accompanying Clarke in the search for his sister. He's an entitled playboy who is clueless about navigating the seamy underworld that his sister was drawn into. Aside from that, Clarke is reluctantly attracted to him, and Naelen is bent on bedding her. Complicating matters is her on-again-off-again lover, Logan, who flits in and out of the narrative. Clarke and Naelen track his sister to a vampire's lair, where she is being held under a compulsion. Dragons are supposed to be immune to magic, but this vampire has some tricks up his sleeve.

The story wasn't great. Naelen came across as juvenile in every sense of the word. Clarke at least had a good head on her shoulders, but I was disappointed in how difficult it was for her to refuse Naelen's hamhanded advances. Throughout this story, she managed the feat, but barely. I am so done with (supposedly) strong female leads who can barely think when the hunky male lead is all up in their hamster ball. The two of them bumbled from one lead to another on their quest to find Reign, including an overnight excursion with an unconventional family. I saw no reason to devote so much of the narrative to this side-venture. In short, a blah, plodding story with no world-building whatsoever, an ass of a male lead, and no real resolution at the end.

Favorite line: And when someone's relying on you, it changes something in you. Makes you braver.

Two stars:

**
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-05-19 08:15 pm

Book 57, 2017

I brought my work book home on Tuesday and finished it that evening. It was Falling Upwards by Kassandra Sims. I've been doing a lot of book culling the past year or so, but for some reason, I continued to hang onto this one. I'm glad I did!

Neva is a businesswoman on a trip to Wales, when she meets a strange young man in a pub. March is intense and gorgeous and seems strangely fascinated with Neva. The feeling is mutual, as she continues to dream about him even after she returns home to the States. Neva's carefully ordered life begins to unravel, and she follows a compulsion to drive to her grandparents' property and dive into the pond. She emerges into a world not her own. Here, animals talk, including the crow who tells her to remove all the steel she is wearing, and the stag who tells her she must fetch two locks of hair. Neva eventually encounters March, and she soon finds herself on a quest to save him from a cyclical curse.

Along the way, she meets giants, a surfer dude who may or may not be a god, and King Arthur. Neva isn't sure what she's supposed to be doing, but she does know she's finding March more and more difficult to resist.

This was a magical story in every sense of the word. The author's descriptions were lush and vivid, and I admired Neva's spirit and determination. She is alternately drawn to March, yet aggravated by his secretive ways. Characters were well-drawn, including those who merely flitted through the narrative. Therefore, it was truly disappointing that the ending of the book seemed so rushed. It was as if the author grew tired of writing it and simply wanted to finish it. Neva and March both deserved better than that.

Favorite lines:
♦ She felt like she'd walked onto the set of a soap opera and hadn't been handed a script.
♦ If a crow talked to you, you at least owed it to the universe to respond.
♦ Only family can take you from pleased to pissed in one sentence.


I really loved this story, up until the last chapter. There was resolution, but it felt like I missed that chapter or something. Would have given this a five, but it gets a four-star review instead.

****