chez_jae: (Books)
2017-09-17 01:10 pm

Book 81, 2017

I've been lazy lately. Sometime last week, I finished reading A Ghostly Light, which is part of Juliet Blackwell's "Haunted Home Renovation" mystery series, featuring general contractor Melanie Turner.

Mel is excited when her friend Alicia hires Turner Construction to renovate one of San Francisco's historic lighthouses. Before work even gets started, however, Alicia's abusive ex-husband shows up at the site. He claims he's changed and wants Alicia back, but Mel is hearing warning bells. When the man tumbles down the lighthouse stairs and lands at Mel's feet with a knife sticking out of his chest, Alicia becomes the primary suspect. Now, it's up to Mel to find out who else may have wanted him dead, including the ghost of an abused woman who's known for pushing men down the stairs.

In addition to looking into the history of the lighthouse, trying to speak to its ghosts, running her business, and dealing with her rambunctious family and her new boyfriend Landon, Mel is invited to tour an old home for sale. While there, she gets an alarming sense of deja vu. Later, she learns that the house belonged to her great-grandparents, and her mother spent time in the home as a little girl.

The story moved along at a good pace, and it kept my interest. Once again, though, the killer turned out to be someone whom I wasn't given a fair chance to guess at, which disappointed me. Another thing that I didn't like was that I fully anticipated Mel would buy the house she felt so connected to. Instead, at the end of the book, Landon bought a house and asked her to move in with him. It wasn't really clear if he bought THE house, or simply A house. Part of me almost hopes he didn't buy the home that Mel was thinking about, because that would have been awfully manipulative. I don't know. The ending left me feeling frustrated, more than anything.

Favorite lines:
♦ Other than his humans, food was a priority for Dog. Food, and squirrels.

I love quotes about Dog!
♦ "Sometimes I lie awake half the night worrying about quark masses."

Overall, a wonderful story. Would have been worth five stars but for the aggravating end. Giving this one four:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-09-09 12:25 pm

Book 80, 2017

Thursday night, I completed the book Final Catcall by Sofie Kelly. It's part of her "Magical Cats" mystery series.

Kathleen's budding relationship with Detective Marcus Gordon seems to have fizzled out before it really began. He has become frustrated with her inability to keep her nose out of his cases, and she refuses to sit idly by when it's one of her friends that is suspected of a crime. To complicate matters, Kathleen's former fiance, Andrew, arrives in town, intent on winning her back. He claims he's changed and that he's still in love with her. Having him so near only serves to remind Kathleen that things were once good between them.

Mayville Heights is excited to host an acting troupe, who will be conducting a theater festival. Kathleen soon learns that one of the directors, Hugh Davis, can be abrasive. When she stumbles over his dead body, Marcus is removed from the investigation, because his sister is one of the prime suspects. Suddenly, the shoe is on the other foot. It's Marcus who can't quit poking into things, while Kathleen admonishes him to "let the police do their job". Although the story is written in Kathleen's pov, it's easy to see that both of them are coming to a new understanding of one another.

Of course, Kathleen's magical cats, Owen and Hercules, keep finding clues, which keeps Kathleen in the loop. Soon, the questions she's been asking put her in the killer's sights, and Kathleen's life is in danger.

I enjoy these books. I like that the author has the main character doing real things, not just "investigating". Kathleen goes to work, meets up with friends, attends her tai chi classes, and spends time at home with her cats. If I have any complaint, it's the fact that she can't seem to solve a murder without ending up in mortal peril herself, and getting injured in the bargain.

Favorite lines:
♦ "What's meant to be always finds a way to be."
♦ We were never, ever getting back together. I think I'd heard that line in a song.
♦ Nobody had cats like mine. Sometimes they really were like little people in fur suits. Manipulative little people.


Very good book, five stars!

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-09-05 10:22 pm

Book 79, 2017

I stayed at the office for lunch today, which allowed me to finish reading Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank. It's the first book in her "Nightwalkers" series.

The Nightwalkers are the nonhuman races, such as demons, vampires, and lycanthropes. Jacob is the Enforcer for the Demons, and it's his job to punish any of their kind who harm humans. On patrol one evening, Jacob saves Isabella from falling out of an open window. He has spent centuries alone, but he is inexplicably attracted to the small human woman. Jacob, Isabella, and the other Demons soon learn that Bella is actually a Druid--from a race of nonhumans who were supposedly eradicated by Demons. However, Isabella's research seems to indicate that Demons and Druids once worked closely together. Her newly formed bond with Jacob has awakened her own powers, making it clear she is Jacob's equal when it comes to her ability to eradicate errant Nightwalkers.

Now, it's up to the Demons to begin rebuilding their society by seeking out the same Druids they once persecuted almost to extinction. Along the way, Jacob and Bella must also contend with dissent among Demons, as well as the growing menace of human Necromancers, who have the ability to Summon Demons and pervert them until they transform into the Demons of human nightmares.

The world building was interesting. The prose was a bit purple. I used to lap that up, but these days, it leaves me feeling rather blah. I confess that I was a tad uncomfortable with Demons being the "good guys", even though the author portrayed them as noble.

Favorite line: She even had the requisite pair of cats.
OMG, I just realized that this is the last mention of Isabella's cats! What became of them?! *frets over the cats*
Least favorite line: "Eleven! Eleven years old?"
See? Stalked by eleven-eleven, even in the books I read!

A decent enough story. Main characters fell in twu wuv too quickly for my taste. Oh, and Isabella was allegedly a ravishing beauty, nearly 30, but still a virgin. Um, okaaaaay. Not that that's a bad thing, but I find it difficult to believe she could have been so gorgeous, yet never had a serious relationship until Jacob. Sheesh. Eh, giving this one four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-09-02 11:26 pm

Book 78, 2017

I took a trip down memory lane and read another Trixie Belden book. It was Trixie Belden and the Mystery of the Missing Heiress by Kathryn Kenny.

After the letdown from the last Trixie book I read, this was a refreshing return to old-school Trixie. She and her fellow Bob Whites learn that Jim may have an unknown cousin in Holland, and that the young woman has inherited a piece of property that is worth $150,000.00. Trixie and the gang head to the Bronx to meet up with Jim's cousin, only to learn she drove herself to Sleepyside. While they are in NYC, someone tampers with their car, delaying the Bob Whites' return.

Upon meeting Jim's cousin, Juliana, Trixie is less than impressed by her. She had pictured a sweet young woman, but they are confronted with someone who is aloof to the point of rudeness. Trixie tries to get along with Juliana for her friend's sake. In the meantime, another young woman turns up in Sleepyside, the victim of an accident. She has no memory, and the hospital staff call her Janie. Janie is a delight, and Trixie and the rest of the Bob Whites vow to help her find her family.

While it was painfully obvious where this was going, it was still fun to see the kids put two and two together. Of course, it can't be a Trixie Belden book without some danger. Janie accidentally falls over a precipice when the ground gives way beneath her, and the Bob Whites, headed up by Trixie, are the ones to save her. A mysterious figure menaces the Belden homestead, and Trixie thinks he meant to harm Janie, who has been staying with the Belden family. The ending was satisfactory, if a bit rushed.

Favorite line: "She's driving the recorder of deeds nuts."
That happens more often than you realize...

Good story, much better than the last one in the series. Four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-08-30 06:22 pm

Book 77, 2017

I actually finished this book on the weekend, but have not gotten around to reviewing it since.

*irons hands*

I read The Seventh Witch by Shirley Damsgaard. The book is part of her "Ophelia and Abby" mystery series.

Ophelia, along with her grandmother Abby and her adopted daughter Tink, travels to the Appalachians to celebrate Great Aunt Mary's 100th birthday. Ophelia hails from a long line of witches who have long called the Appalachians home. However, not everything in the small, mountain village is all sunshine and roses. Another witchy family seeks vengeance against Abby for something that occurred decades ago. It's up to Ophelia to uncover long-buried secrets and protect her family, all while butting heads with the headstrong Aunt Mary, who isn't ready to have her position as head of the family usurped by a young upstart like Ophelia.

The story had a lot of subplots woven in. Ophelia is meeting some of her family members for the first time, and while she finds most of them likable and charming, she and Great Aunt Mary seem to grate on one another's nerves. Ophelia has a run-in with the local "wicked" witch, a woman named Sharon Doran, her father and her daughter are sneaking off to map out ley lines, she's trying to figure out why her family deeded its most precious piece of property to the Dorans, and in the meantime, Ophelia discovers one of the locals, dead in his home, an apparent victim of the vindictive Sharon. As if that weren't enough to keep Ophelia busy, she encounters undercover DEA agent Ethan, whom she has met up with before back home in Iowa. Now, Ophelia has to worry about his safety, too, as he tries to make a case against the Dorans for a drug operation.

What's a witch to do?

:D

Fun story, a bit intense at times, but it was good to see Ophelia actually embracing her heritage instead of trying to deny it, as she was doing at the beginning of this series. This book was published in 2010, and I don't see that anything else was ever added to the series. That would be a shame, considering I've enjoyed the series, and things were just getting interesting between Ophelia and Ethan.

Favorite line: "Our magick is as old as the earth. We know things you can't even begin to understand."

Very good, five stars:

*****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-08-09 08:03 pm

Book 76, 2017

I was so discombobulated by my sister's visit that I have not had time to post this review...and it's a book I finished LAST Sunday. Guh.

The book was Literally Murder, and it's part of author Ali Brandon's "Black Cat Bookshop" mystery series, featuring bookstore owner Darla Pettistone and her cat, Hamlet.

After a video of Hamlet goes viral, Darla is invited to bring him to a cat show in FL as their special, celebrity guest. Anxious to escape a harsh, NY winter, Darla readily agrees. Her friend Jake goes along, officially to act as a bodyguard for Hamlet, and unofficially to visit her mother.

At the cat show, Jake is conked over the head, and someone gets away with Hamlet. When Darla and Jake go looking for him, Hamlet is found next to a dead body. There are no shortage of suspects, including animal activists, cut-throat competitors, and a condo association that is tired of the victim's bullying.

Not my favorite of this series. For one thing, I missed the atmosphere of the bookstore. I did suss out the killer long before anyone in the book did. Woot!

Favorite line: "If I can help bring world peace by looking like a total idiot, then that's the price I'll pay."

Not bad, but again, not my favorite in this series. Average score:

***
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)
2017-06-14 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 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)
2017-06-06 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)
2017-05-29 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)
2017-05-19 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.

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-05-14 01:55 pm

Book 56, 2017

Took me a week, but I finally finished reading Dyeing Wishes by Molly MacRae. It's the second book in her "Haunted Yarn Shop" mystery series. The book was interesting, but playoff hockey has taken a bite out of my time. Hee!

Kath and her new friends from the TGIF knitting group are visiting the farm of one of their members, for a workshop on dyeing fiber. While there, Debbie's sheep are acting strangely, and she and Kath go into the pasture to see what has the livestock all a'twitter. They come across the bodies of a young couple. At first, it appears to be a murder/suicide, but the young woman's mother, also a member of TGIF, wants Kath to look into it.

Kath is reluctant to get involved, but her fellow TGIF pals, along with her ghost, Geneva, all encourage her. In the course of investigating, Kath runs afoul of local deputy, Cole "Clod" Dunbar, as well as her interfering aunts, the infamous Spivey twins. Geneva is having difficulty separating the current crime from one she claims happened long ago, which leaves her in a ghostly funk. In the meantime, Kath has to name the cat who adopted her, try to find her grandmother's secret dye journals, and, oh yes, run the business she inherited from her grandmother.

The story was fun, and the pace was good. I found the ending to be somewhat confusing, but I did get to meet new characters and reconnect with familiar ones.

Favorite lines:
♦ "Mud, maybe, but these shoes don't do ewe poo."
♦ I was definitely still in the early, perplexed, "why me?" stage of being haunted.
♦ They were about as easy to catch as an explosion of grasshoppers.
♦ "Where cake trumps, hope lives."


Good, but not great--four stars:

****
chez_jae: (Books)
2017-05-07 11:36 am

Book 55, 2017

Apparently, I've been to busy to post here. I finished reading Murder at Monticello on Thursday evening. Ahem. It's the third book in the "Mrs Murphy" mystery series by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown.

Harry Harristeen and friends and residents of Crozet, VA, have been raising funds to help renovate Monticello, the former residence of Thomas Jefferson. When an archaeological dig at the slave quarters turns up a skeleton, the entire town is abuzz with speculation. However, after someone affiliated with the renovations is murdered, everyone's attention shifts to this current menace in their midst. Harry is convinced the two deaths, old and new, have something in common. Her pets, Mrs Murphy and Tee Tucker, launch an investigation of their own, in an effort to sniff out a killer before any harm can come to Harry.

I enjoyed this book, but not as much as I've liked others in the series. It's all written in third person point of view, which is fine, but in this book, the focus was not on Harry and her pets nearly as often as in previous installments. Even in third person pov, the action should center on the main character(s). This one seemed to jump around too much, although I can see that it helped set the stage for the climax, as well as providing some clues as to who dunnit.

Favorite lines:
♦ "We're all trying to do too much in too little time. It's all about money. It'll kill us. It'll kill America."
♦ "It's so easy to love animals and so hard to love people."
♦ The day you see, the night you hear.
♦ Pewter, furious, sat down and bawled. "I will not run. I will not take another step. My paws are sore and I hate everybody. You can't leave me here!"

Just like a cat!
♦ "Too bad humans don't have fur. Think of the money they'd save," said Paddy. // "Yeah, and they'd get over worrying about what color they were because with fur you can be all colors."
♦ "Who is more anti-Semitic than another Jew? Who is more antigay than another homosexual? More antifeminist than another woman? The oppressed contain reservoirs of viciousness reserved entirely for their own kind."

This book was written more than 20 years ago, and I am amazed at how it resonates today.

Good book, four stars:

****