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Friday, March 6, 2015

27) I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley

The Blurb :

Precocious Flavia de Luce — an eleven-year-old sleuth with a passion for chemistry and a penchant for crime-solving — is tucked away in her laboratory, whipping up a concoction to ensnare Saint Nick. Amid a blizzard, the village gathers at Buckshaw to watch famed Phyllis Wyvern perform. After midnight, a body is found strangled by film. Flavia investigates.

My Thoughts :

In my attempt to get up to date with the many series I have either started and not yet managed to continue or have started and somehow not managed to continue, I decided to keep going with the Flavia de Luce mysteries.

This fourth installment takes place over the Christmas holidays and for once the mystery, as well as the many characters involved, are all stuck at Buckshaw and can't leave.  A lovely twist that many a mystery has used in the past and not at all boring or unbelievable.

There isn't much point in me going into details about the cunning plot but will say that this was just as delightful and intriguing as the previous books.  Flavia is a quirky character of a girl who is at most times more intelligent than the adults in her life even if she can sometimes be a little naive.  This is a series you really have to try and then decide if it is something you will like.  There isn't anything else that comes close to being as unusual and brilliant than Flavia de Luce and her stories.

I can highly recommend listening to this book via Audible.  The narrator, Jayne Entwhistle, really brings Flavia to life and does a wonderful job portraying the characters.  Her Flavia almost always sounds like she is smiling to herself and makes the story even more fun.

The next book in the series will definitely be listened to soon!  I can't wait to see what other mysterious messes Flavia manages to get herself involved with.  She is a very clever sleuth who isn't just well gifted but also sees things from a younger perspective.

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Amberkatze's Book Blog

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Currently Readng & To Be read

My reading goals this year are going well.  I am ahead in my reading goal for 2015 and I am managing to make progress on some of my other goals.  How are you all doing?

Feel free to share your current reads and to be read books!

Currently Listening to :

This year I have decided to not only get some physical books off my shelf and read but also to catch up with the many series I either started and never got around to continuing or just haven't managed to keep up with.

The Flavia de Luce series fits this criteria perfectly and after listening to the first two books some time ago I am now making some real progress on the rest of the series.  I listened to book three the other week and I am already about a third of the way into this fourth installment.

There are so many reasons that this series is a great read.  It is funny, interesting and very unusual.  I love the intelligent Flavia and her ramblings.  She is a wonderful companion and I enjoy following her exploits as she gets revenge on her sisters and solves the murder mysteries of Bishops's Lacey.

I am certainly going to be catching up with this series quickly.  I am finding them to be quite addictive as the series and Flavia grow.

Currently Reading :

It might be a little premature posting about this being my current read because I haven't started it yet.  However it has been on my bookshelf for a long time and I have only heard good things about it.  So I am finally getting around to giving it a go.

Maybe you will see a review for this one soon but if you don't then it wasn't my cup of tea. Only time will tell!

The Dreaded 'To Be Read' Pile :

There aren't many ARC's on here anymore but I do have some waiting for me.  The release dates are for April and May so I am spending some time on other books this month.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

26) Catnapped by Elaine Viets

The Blurb :

The one thing celebrity Trish Barrymore and her no-account accountant husband, Mort, can agree on in their bitter divorce is shared cat custody. But when Mort is found brained by a mahogany cat tower, and Justine, their pedigreed Chartreux show cat, goes missing, Trish calls on Helen and Phil. Despite a ransom note from the catnapper, Trish is still the prime murder suspect in the eyes of the police. As they await the post-Mort-em, it’s up to Helen and Phil to find the feline filcher and let the cat out of the bag.

Discovering that Mort had some shady dealings within cat show circles, Helen goes undercover as an assistant for a woman who shows prizewinning Persians. But Phil is not buying Trish’s cat-that-swallowed-a-canary act—he thinks she might be staging the whole catnapping.

As Helen and Phil get deeper into a high-pressure world of primping, posing, and purring to collar a killer, they get caught up in a cat-and-mouse game where the stakes are literally life and death....

My Thoughts :

March is here and I going to use this month to get some physical books read.  Usually this must read author/series would have been on pre-order and bought on Kindle but for some reason the publishers insist on releasing this series in hardback for a high price.  Now I love this series but for the price of this hardback I can buy four paperbacks or Kindle books.  Guess what I decide to do!  So this was on my wishlist and I actually got a copy for my Birthday, way back when!  Now I finally got around to reading it.

As expected this was a great read.  I love the Dead-End Job Mysteries and this was just as good as the previous twelve installments.  This thirteenth story was a pleasure to read and I loved reading about the cats shows and other cat information.  It even led me to looking up some breeds and discovering what breed (obviously not fully) one of my cats is.  The research done for this book must have taken a long time and I think the author did a great job in this aspect.

The plot was strong and interesting.  There turned out to be two murders that Helen and Phil investigated and their hard work on the cases paid off as always.  It wasn't always easy and they hit a few walls now and again but despite all the little twists and turns they did a great job.  It was also nice to see the couple getting along so well but I do have to say I find it weird that they both still have their own apartments.  I should also think Margery would prefer them to give up one so she can rent it out for a higher price.

So this series continues to be a must read!  I enjoy each story as much as the previous one and love the different subjects the author weaves into her mysteries.  However one of the main reasons for coming back to this series time and time again is the continuing stories of the main characters.  There are always some surprising developments and I find their stories to be just engaging as the mysteries.

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Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Pre-Orders & Recommendations

I only just realised, a month too late, that I didn't post my Pre-order and Recommendations in February!!  However I don't believe that much has changed over the last month so this March posting should cover last month as well.

The "My Recommendations" widget lists the books I really enjoyed over the last month and I highly recommend you read. Of course there will always be something you don't fancy and there may even be an ARC or two thrown in there but you can quickly click over to Amazon and see what the book is about or when it releases.

The Pre-order list is exactly that!  A Selection of the books I have on pre-order. If you are looking forward to a certain book on the list you may want to go pre-order it yourself. It also gives you an idea of what books I am planning to read and which ones I really want so much that I order them in advance.  Some of the books on this list may already be on my Kindle because I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Copy.

Every month I try and update the lists and post them on the blog so you can all see they have been updated and what is on them.

Take a look at this months My Recommendations and Pre-orders! Let me know if you see something you like! Or maybe there is something you think I have forgotten!?

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

25) Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

The Blurb :

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, as Charles plans to buy Anna a horse for her birthday. Or at least it starts out that way...

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up—and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

My Thoughts :

The Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs is a spin-off from the Mercy Thompson series.  Charles is the Marrok's son and Anna is his wife.  Their relationship is a strange one and Anna's Omega abilities make her extremely special.  She is feisty but also quite timid while Charles is the strong leader with unusual social skills.  They fit together well but somehow come across as peculiar.

The plot took a while to really find the pace I am used to from this author.  While the first few chapters really set the scene and started the story off there was a bit of a dull moment before things really got interesting again.  It may just be my lack of enthusiasm for everything horse but the equestrian in-depth ramblings were boring and not of much use.  A few simple paragraphs about riding some different horses would have been enough.

Being in a different location was refreshing and visiting another pack, catching up with friends and the general back stories were nice and readable.  There were some good investigating skills which led to a very intriguing paranormal elements.  With a huge Fae plot mixed with some witchiness.  I enjoyed the general mystery plot but there were a few things that went too fast. I am sure I missed a few important connections towards the end which left me with some unanswered questions.

At the end of the day I have to admit that I prefer the Mercy Thompson series over this one.  This spin-off makes for a nice read while waiting for the next Mercy installment but it just isn't as fascinating.  The whole Alpha and Omega concept is interesting enough but Charles and Anna aren't as likable.  However this is a series worth reading if you are reading the other one.  It compliments the Mercy series well and opens up the world a little bit more.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

24) Dead Spots by Melissa F. Olson

The Blurb :

Scarlett Bernard knows about personal space: step within ten feet of her, and any supernatural spells or demonic forces are instantly defused—vampires and werewolves become human again, and witches can’t get out so much as a “hocus pocus.” This special skill makes her a null and very valuable to Los Angeles’s three most powerful magical communities, who utilize her ability to scrub crime scenes clean of all traces of the paranormal to keep humanity, and the LAPD, in the dark.

But one night Scarlett’s late arrival to a grisly murder scene reveals her agenda and ends with LAPD’s Jesse Cruz tracking her down to strike a deal: he’ll keep quiet about the undead underworld if she helps solve the case. Their pact doesn’t sit well with Dash, the city’s chief bloodsucker, who fears his whole vampire empire is at stake. And when clues start to point to Scarlett, it’ll take more than her unique powers to catch the real killer and clear her name.

My Thoughts :

This book/series has been on my wishlist for a long time.  I finally picked up the Audible version and decided to listen to it straight away.  After the first few chapters I knew I had made a mistake.  A huge one.  I should have read this series much sooner!

It was a little confusing at the beginning but once I managed to get the lay of the land I found myself being caught up with the story.  The idea is fresh and unusual mixed with some of the usual paranormal urban fantasy content.  Scarlett is an amazing, likable, clever and strong character and not one of the annoying female leads who always keep messing up and then still save the day.  Scarlett puts in the hours and works hard.  She thinks before she leaps and she the kind of person you want to be friends with.

The story was well written and the plot kept me guessing.  There were a few things I figured out before Scarlett did and there were also a couple of twists that I saw coming.  I liked the story being told by both Scarlett and Jesse.  He is a strong character and it was nice to see things from his perspective as well.  There were a few little bits of the story that left me a little annoyed.  Either because they weren't explained or didn't go into enough detail.  There were also a few points where I think the characters make pretty big leaps to connect things but maybe I just zoned out while listening.

Wonderful cliffhanger ending to this one!  It made me extremely happy that I already got hold of the second book.  However I will make a short pause and listen to something else.  This is a great start to what I hope will be a great series.  Strong characters, interesting story and some great paranormal twists and turns.  Despite kicking myself for not reading this earlier I am, in a way, happy I did wait because now I don't have to wait too long to listen to the next installment.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Currently Reading & To Be Read

I am feeling pretty good about my reading progress so far this year.  Actually the last few books I have read have been great reads and I am really enjoying myself.  I hope it stays that way!

Feel free to share your current reads and to be read books!

Currently Listening to :

This book had been on my wishlist since it released a few years ago.   I had heard only good things about it and was desperate to start reading it.  I finally had a copy and couldn't find the time to read it but then noticed that because I owned the Kindle copy I could get the Audible version way cheaper than the normal price.  I decided to grab it and give it a go in Audio format.

Well I am kinda kicking myself for not reading or listening to this one earlier.  I am really enjoying it and already downloaded the second part.  I haven't been reading as much Paranormal Urban Fantasy as I would like for various reasons but Dead Spots has reminded how great the genre can be.

I think I am over halfway through this one so a review will be coming along soon.  I just hope the rest of the story is as good as the part I have already listened to.

Currently Reading :

This is the fourth installment in the Alpha & Omega series and it is due out at the beginning of March.  I was lucky enough to get an ARC and I started it yesterday.  So far so good but now the work week has started I am definitely not going to be able to give this one the attention is needs or deserves.

Of course I prefer the Mercy Thompson series but this spin-off is just as interesting and well written and also fits into the other series perfectly.  In a way the two series blend together but go off on their own tangents.

I am only about 20% into the book but I am already enjoying it.  I will definitely be trying to read this one as much as possible during the week but I doubt I will finish it till the weekend.

The Dreaded 'To Be Read' Pile :

There are a few books on this list that are ARC's I try and read these before the release date but sometimes I don't mange it!

I have quite a few books that are just not making it to the top of the pile!

Some of these books are ones I intend on reading asap but new releases or reviews keep taking over.