chez_jae: (Books)
Since it was storming this morning, I finished reading a book instead of getting online. The book was Grave Visions by Kalayna Price, and it's part of her "Alex Craft" urban fantasy series.

Alex is a grave witch, as well as a fae who is not aligned with any one court. All of the courts are vying for her, because she is a rare and vaunted planeweaver, who can meld realities. And, Alex has recently learned that, because she has no affiliation with a Faerie court, she is slowly fading away. She requests independent status from the Winter Queen, but nothing in Faerie is granted without a price.

Humans have been dying due to a new drug on the streets, called Glitter. When it becomes obvious that a fae is distributing it, while trying to undermine the Winter Queen, she tasks Alex with finding out who is behind the plot. If Alex succeeds, she will be granted independent status for a year and a day.

The assignment is difficult, because the shades of the dead humans are surprisingly weak, and when Alex tries to raise the shade of a murdered fae, she finds the woman's soul still trapped in her body. In the meantime, Alex's one-time lover, Falin, the Queen's Knight, has been ordered to keep an eye on her and return her to Faerie if Alex fades too far. The Queen may be a master manipulator, but she won't easily relinquish her dream of having a planeweaver in her court. Complicating matters is the fact that Alex is visited several times by her current lover, a soul collector she knows only as Death.

Fascinating story, as every one in this series has been. I enjoy Alex's spirit, even as her health is failing at an alarming rate. Her stilted dealings with her father are interesting, as are her interactions with her friends, both human and fae.

Favorite line: There were no Hallmark condolence cards with sympathetic phrases for when your wedding turned into a crime scene.

Very good, four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I stayed at the office for lunch today, which enabled me to finish reading Spellbound in Seattle by Garthia Anderson. It's a paranormal romance, and I probably bought it new in 2003, when it was published. Ahem.

The story was set in modern-day Seattle, but in a reality where magic, wizards, and witches are a fact of life. Petra Field, however, is the exception. She was born to powerful parents, but Petra has not a lick of magic to speak of. She moves away to escape her cloying, but well-meaning family, and begins to make a new life for herself. Petra's plans are derailed when the second-hand rug she bought develops a large splotch of blood that she cannot remove. She calls for magical help, and said help arrives in the person of dark, enigmatic wizard Vorador. Soon, Petra is caught up in the drama of trying to solve an attempted murder, dealing with her attraction to Vorador, and wondering why her cat just disappeared down the hole that magically appeared in her rug.

The story was charming and lively, with plenty of romance, snark, UST, and a mystery to unravel. Vorador cannot seem to concentrate around Petra, which causes many of his spells to misfire or backfire. Petra isn't sure she can trust Vorador, but she does know he's her best chance to get her rug, her cat, and her life back. The villain seemed too obvious at first, then other characters made me suspicious. The resolution was satisfying, with no loose ends left dangling. The humor was superb, and the book reminded me why I used to love reading paranormal romances.

Favorite line: Recent events had her questioning her sanity already, without adding a talking cat to the mix.

Very good! Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
After getting the bulk of my chores done this morning, I took the time to finish reading Skirting the Grave by Annette Blair. The book is part of the author's "Vintage Magic" mystery series, featuring vintage clothing connoisseur, fashionista, designer, and psychometric witch Madeira "Maddie" Cutler.

Maddie is being pulled in several different directions with running her shop, Vintage Magic, planning one sister's baby shower, and helping her other sister pull off a successful fund raiser. Now, she's agreed to take on an intern, and there's also the matter of her being torn between two interested, and interesting, men: FBI Agent Nick Jaconetti, and Detective Lytton Werner.

When Maddie goes to the train station to pick up her intern, she comes across the scene of a murder. The victim is identified as Isobel York, the woman Maddie was there to meet. However, later that evening, a woman appears at Maddie's door, claiming to be Isobel. Now Maddie is caught up in the drama of trying to verify live-Isobel's identity, as well as determine the identity of the dead woman. She is joined in this endeavor by Detective Werner and Agent Jaconetti, whose embezzling case seems to be intersecting with the murder. Maddie also gets some help from a trunk of vintage clothing that belonged to Isobel's grandmother, a tough, no nonsense woman who clawed her way out of poverty and will stop at nothing to see her sons succeed.

The story line was certainly intriguing, with not just a pair of twins (Isobel and her sister Giselle), but their cousin, Payton, who could pass for them. Maddie keeps getting visions from the grandmother's clothing, which may provide clues to current events. She is at once pleased and dismayed to be the target of two men's interest, but I confess I didn't like that particular subplot. It felt like she was leading them both on to bolster her own ego.

Favorite line: "...I'm like a cheerleader for my own life choice."

Good book, with plenty of humor to dispel the more morbid parts. Four stars:

chez_jae: (Books)
I stayed up a bit late last night, but I finished reading Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs, which is part of her "Mercy Thompson" urban fantasy series.

On a late night run to the local convenience store, Mercy's SUV is deliberately struck, and she is kidnapped from the wreckage. Things go from bad to worse when Mercy realizes that her abductor is none other than the so-called Lord of the Night--the most powerful vampire in Europe, if not the world. Also, Mercy learns she is in Italy, and that she is too far from home to be able to communicate with her Alpha husband, Adam.

Adam, in the meanwhile, is furious and frantic to get Mercy back. Bonarata, the Lord of the Night, wants to negotiate, and Adam selects a small team of paranormals to jet to Italy with him, including the Mistress of the local vampire seethe, a powerful witch, and a goblin.

Mercy, however, isn't waiting around to be rescued. She engineers her own escape, after shifting into her coyote form, and she stows away aboard a bus, in the luggage department. The bus deposits Mercy in Prague, where she has a new set of problems: she doesn't speak the language, she has no money, and oh yeah, she has no clothes. With help from friends old and new, as well as some guilt-ridden theft from the luggage, Mercy manages to get a message to the pack back home, and she seeks out the local Alpha to request sanctuary.

In Italy, Adam is growing ever more frustrated, as is his inner wolf. All he wants to do is kill someone, but instead, he's forced to use tact and diplomacy, which are not his strong suits. It's all he can do to keep his people alive and not start a war between werewolves and vampires.

When Mercy is forced to flee once more, she encounters other werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and the most powerful spirit in Prague. It may prove to be an ally, but then again, this spirit may have its own agenda.

The story was fabulous and engrossing, but it reminded me of an earlier book in this series, River Marked, in which Mercy and Adam are apart from the pack. One of the main reasons I love these books so much is because I enjoy reading about the pack bonds and their interactions, and I felt cheated out of it in this story. In addition, point of view kept switching from Mercy (first person) to Adam (third person), with another character thrown in willy-nilly as well. Then, to top it off, the timeline was inconsistent, which the author warned for up front. Frankly, I think she could have arranged her chapters so that they were in chronological order, but that's just my opinion.

Favorite lines:
♦ A powerful vampire who knew ASL and unself-consciously watched Scooby-Doo.
♦ I'd lived with magic my whole life--and not in a happy Harry Potter sort of way, either.

Scooby Doo and Harry Potter references, for the win!

Although I enjoyed the story, enough of it annoyed me that this is getting four stars instead of five:

chez_jae: (Books)
Wednesday evening, I finished reading Spinning in Her Grave by Molly MacRae, which is the third installment in her "Haunted Yarn Shop" mystery series.

Kath Rutledge and her fellow TGIF (Thank God It's Fiber) knitters are excited to be participating in Blue Plum's annual Blue Plum Preserves festival, celebrating an old feud over livestock--The Blue Plum Piglet War. When a promoter asks Kath if he can place a reenactor in the second floor of her yarn shop, the Weaver's Cat, to fire blank rounds as the reenactment rushes by on the street, Kath declines. In the meantime, she and her employee, Ardis, are trying to find a way to delicately decline the "help" being offered by one of Blue Plum's most obnoxious citizens, Reva Louise Snapp.

On the day of the festival, Kath and Ardis and some of their spinners are working in a tent, when actual shots ring out from the Weaver's Cat, killing Reva Louise. Because one of the TGIF members was Reva's half-sister, the group soon finds themselves getting involved in the investigation. Kath butts heads several times with arrogant local cop Deputy Cole Dunbar, whom she privately refers to as Clod Dunbar. She'd really like to see more of Clod's brother, Joe, whom she's tentatively trying to begin a relationship with.

Aided by her friends, her cat Argyle, and her resident ghost Geneva, Kath begins to sort out the threads of the crime, which puts her in the sights of a killer.

A likable story. I would have liked to have seen more of Joe and less of Clod. Reva Louise made an excellent murder victim, because I wanted to kill her myself before someone beat me to it. Ha ha! One thing that disappointed me is that Kath has yet to embrace the legacy that her Grandma Ivy told her about--that of being a witch. Kath still digs her heels in and refuses to consider that she has any special powers, even though she is able to read people by touching clothing they have worn or are wearing.

Favorite lines:
♦ She might kill her and call it an act of Piglet War.
♦ "For some reason, those deep-fried pickles don't look appetizing without background music."
♦ "Murders are extremely rude, and murderers are people who have lost all sense of propriety, either in the heat of a moment or somewhere else along their wicked way."
♦ ...he could lend comfort with his fur and his purrs...
♦ "Okay, I am on this like a cat on catnip."
♦ "I'm on it like cat fur on black pants."
♦ "If a librarian and her friends set out to knit one thousand hats between January first and December thirty-first, and if they aren't hit by a freight train driven by Curious George going east at fifty miles per hour, how many hats have they knit by the middle of July?"

I admit, I have too much love for quotes about cats and pickles!

Very good, five stars!

chez_jae: (Books)
Last night, I polished off Witch Inheritance, an ebook by Sonia Parin. It's the first in the "Mackenzie Coven" mystery series.

Alexandra Mackenzie has tried to dodge her responsibilities as a witch, even going so far as to renounce her powers. However, everything changes on her 25th birthday, when her responsibilities to her coven are thrust upon her once again. Aided by her cousins, Mirabelle and Catherine, Lexie travels to the UK to see what is afoot in House St James. The head of the house is behaving oddly, as are all of the family and guests, and even the butler. Lexie begins to act out of character, too, and she soon learns that the very atmosphere of the house is causing the inhabitants to believe that all is well in their happy little world. When the head of the house dies, it's up to Lexie to find out who, or what, killed him and to protect the next in line. Unfortunately, it's not going to be an easy task for a witch who has spent years denying her own powers.

The story was more cute and light than anything. SPaG issues were a bit annoying, as were some of the plot points. Still, it was an enjoyable read.

Favorite lines:
♦ "I'm lodging a complaint with the Self Absorbed, High and Mightily Presumptuous Council of Hags."
♦ She'd wanted to create fond memories of her high school years, to attend a regular school and not the Mackenzie version of Hogwarts.

Neither great, nor terrible. Giving it an average rating:

chez_jae: (Books)
Sunday night, I finished reading Murder Go Round by Carol J Perry. It's part of her "Witch City" mystery series, featuring reluctant scryer Maralee "Lee" Barrett.

Lee's Aunt Ibby convinces her to go to a storage auction, and they end up bidding on and winning the contents of a locker. Among the items are a samovar that Ibby spotted and coveted, some old doll dresses, a carved carousel horse, a Cuckoo clock, and some nesting dolls. Shortly after their win, Lee and her boyfriend Pete take the horse to a local man to restore. That evening, the man's shop is broken into, Lee's horse is broken apart, and a man has been murdered outside of the shop.

Lee can't help but think the murder is related to the contents of the storage locker, but police officer Pete isn't so sure. Aided by her aunt, her cat, her best friend, and her visions, Lee begins putting the pieces together, and what she finds is that the current crime may have ties to a bloody part of Russia's history.

This was a great story. There was so much going on, and I loved how all the clues added up, one leading to another, until the mystery was solved. For once, the identity of the killer was fairly obvious throughout the book, but there was still the matter of proving it and discovering the reasons behind it.

Favorite line: "Books and magazines. Papers and ink. You love the printed word. Kindles and Nooks have their place, but they don't have that smell."

Enjoyable! Five stars:

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)
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)
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)
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)
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?


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)
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: (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: (Default)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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:



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