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

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

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

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

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

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

That line amused me far more than it should have!

Excellent! Five stars!

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

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

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

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

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

I'll give it a four for now:

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

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

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

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

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

Not happy with this one...two stars:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*stops for breath*

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

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

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

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

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

It went a bit pear-shaped from there.

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

Spoilers, ahoy! )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥♥♥♥
chez_jae: (Books)
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!

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chez_jae

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