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Sunday, April 24, 2016

32) Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

The Blurb :

Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I'm good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families--and kill every last Sinclair. What they don't know is that I'm on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I've got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…

My Thoughts :

Jennifer Estep has done it again!  Another amazing story!  I continue to be in constant awe of the original and exciting books that this author keeps coming up with.  There are so many Paranormal Urban Fantasy writers out there who are dredging up the same old ideas but Jennifer Estep continues to make up her own worlds with original and compelling magical aspects.

Anyone who has been following this series will be eager to read this third installment.  The cover is spectacular and the blurb doesn't give too much away but believe me this one is more action packed that both the books before it. It is also quite dark with a lot of death and destruction.  Things come to a head and you won't believe what happens.

I don't want to give anything away so I will keep this review short.  Read all of Jennifer Estep's books, including this series.  Don't let the term Young Adult put you off in anyway.  These maybe youngsters but they are living and fighting in an adult world.  If you love the paranormal then you will be blown away by the wonderful new monsters and magic that the author has dreamt up for this series.  Each book adds more depth and this third book is no exception!

A wonderful author with a great grasp on what excitement and adventure should be and how they can be made even more special with the right characters and unusual twists.  I can't wait for her next book and anymore after that, in this series or any of her others or even something new!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, April 23, 2016

31) Latte Trouble by Cleo Coyle

The Blurb :

It's Fashion Week in New York City -- and Clare's shop, the historic Village Blend, is the location of a prestigious insider's party for loyal customer and iconic designer Lottie Harmon, who is about to launch a collection of coffee-inspired accessories aptly named Java Jewelry. But the event, which is attended by the city's most zealous fashionistas, goes terribly wrong when a customer is poisoned and dies from cyanide in his latte.

A barista, who coincidentally was recently dumped by the victim, is arrested and charged with murder. But Clare knows in her heart that her employee is innocent and begins to investigate the people surrounding the enigmatic Lottie Harmon. When Clare uncovers a scheme to blackmail one of Lottie's business partners and then that partner suddenly turns up dead, she knows that there is trouble brewing.

My Thoughts :

For some reason I thought I was much further into this series than I really am.  This is only the third book but it feels like the fifth or the sixth.  Is that a good or a bad sign?  I am not sure.  The series is very well established and already boasts fifteen installments so this is obviously a good series.  Or is it?

This third installment was a little slow going for my liking.  The murder happened quite quickly but the investigation dragged on and on with little progress.  It wasn't until the last chapter or two that everything suddenly took shape and was revealed.  Maybe I missed the signs but I would have never figured out the motive before hand.  Now the killer I had picked up on pretty early,,,well at least I had my suspicions but the link between the two failed me.

While this kind of murder mystery has a nice surprising end with a twist in the tale there is no actual way for the reader to enjoy the sleuthing because it isn't helping you solve the mystery before protagonist.  Which is half the fun of reading cozy mysteries.

Anyway, this wasn't bad.  If you can get past Clare's coffee snobbish rants and encyclopedia moments then you can really enjoy the book for what it is.  A nice mystery with a lovely theme and a bunch of characters that are getting more and more interesting as the series progresses.

I will be checking out the next book sometime soon.  The audio versions are definitely worth listening to if you are a fan of audio books.  The narrator does a great job and does some nice voices for the characters.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, April 17, 2016

30) The Root Of All Evil by Ellery Adams and Elizabeth Lockard

The Blurb :

Cooper Lee has never been happier. She has terrific friends at Bible study, a great boyfriend in Nathan, and best of all, a new niece or nephew on the way. But storm clouds are gathering when a string of church robberies comes to Hope Street and an art teacher is found dead in what appears to be a robbery gone wrong. With Halloween approaching, Cooper’s beginning to think there are far more tricks than treats coming her way.

No sooner do she and her friends step in to help the police unearth a killer than they discover a con artist among their flock. Lost in a morass of confusing clues—and even more confusing signals from Nathan—Cooper’s not sure which way to turn. With the stakes so high, she sends up a prayer for some divine guidance, because Cooper knows that sometimes it takes the help of a higher power to bring down the lowest form of evildoer.

My Thoughts :

I am very behind on my reading and it showed when I went to read a review copy of a Hope Street Mystery and realised it was book five and I hadn't read book four yet.  So I found my copy of The Root Of All Evil and gave it my full attention.

Ellery Adams is a well known cozy mystery writer but this series is one of her older ones.  This fourth book however seems to be a newer addition to revive/continue the series and also has another author credited.  Now I can imagine why Ellery needs some help with this series, after all she has how many others she is busy with?  But I have to admit seeing another name made me very wary but it turned out fine.  I didn't notice another writer and the book felt just like the previous installments.

Many people would be put off by the so called theme of this cozy.  The Hope Street Church angle and the Bible study mention in the blurb may keep some fans away.  However I have to say that this series is not at all preachy or religious.  There are references now and again but this isn't in your face god and bible quotes.  Just a general theme, a location and some very nice characters to back things up.

This time around the mystery plot was a little dry but it was still interesting.  The smaller mystery going on at Cooper's workplace was a nice touch but easily solved.  Copper's sister was a nice diversion but Cooper's relationship angst was a little annoying.  The con woman twist was a nice plot thickening but the guy who outed her seemed to disappear from the story altogether and I don't even remember his name now.  I hoped he would play a bigger part in everything.

A nice read, a pleasant enough mystery and an interesting continuing story.  I am looking forward to seeing what book five brings to the series and wonder what trouble Cooper can get herself involved with this time.  Well worth checking out if you like this author.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, April 10, 2016

29) Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

The Blurb :

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

My Thoughts :

Since changing jobs there has been only one or two bad consequences and one is that while I only have a ten minute walk to work, I only have a ten minute walk to work.  Which means my audio book listening time has dropped dramatically.  I am trying to make up for it but this short book took me two weeks to listen to.  But it was a lovely two weeks of listening.

I have enjoyed every Sophie Kinsella book I have read and Finding Audrey is no exception.  While this isn't the usual Chick-it Romance that fans will be used to it does have very strong elements of these two genres.  However this leans towards Young Adult but deals with very grown-up situations.  It is also very amusing and heart-warming while also being an eye-opener and general chance to learn something you wouldn't normally know about unless it has happened to you or someone close to you.

Now I don't know how much research the author put into the topic at hand but it seems like she hit the nail on the head in most aspects. I am not saying that I know everything about it either but what I do know rung true here.  However I have to wonder why the author went with a young girl and didn't write this from the perspective of an adult.  Bringing awareness for the subject seems to be a huge reason for this book but I wanted more.

I loved Audrey right from the beginning.  Her dysfunctional family were realistic and funny.  I couldn't wait to see what happened and how things would end.  Although I found it annoying that the mystery of what really happened to Audrey was left unanswered.  A brave move but one I am sure upset some readers.  After getting to know Audrey so well and her letting us see everything it felt like she was keeping her biggest secret from us.

A wonderful read and a great listen.  I didn't really like the mother, father and brother having different narrators sometimes and then other times they had the main narrator.  It put me off at times and didn't really change the story or the impact it made.

Well worth checking out.  Don't be put off by anything, the subject matter, the YA, the fact it isn't something you wouldn't read, nothing....just try it and enjoy it.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, April 3, 2016

28) A Fatal Chapter by Lorna Barrett

The Blurb :

While out walking Sarge, her sister’s bichon frise, Tricia is led by the agitated dog to a man lying in a gazebo. She’s startled when she recognizes Pete Renquist, the president of the Stoneham Historical Society, who appears to be suffering from cardiac arrest. When Pete later dies in the hospital, the discovery of a suspicious bruise and a puncture mark on his arm suggests he may have been murdered.

Haunted by Pete’s enigmatic last words to her, Tricia begins to consider who had a motive to kill her friend. Did Pete take his flirting too far, only to have a jealous husband teach him a lesson? Or did he discover something in the town’s historical records that his killer wanted kept secret? Tricia is determined to get to the bottom of things before someone else becomes history…

My Thoughts :

The Booktown Mysteries have been a joy to read and I was really looking forward to reading the latest installment after reading the previous eight books practically one after the other.  However A Fatal Chapter wasn't the best of the series so far and wasn't up to the usual standards.  Maybe it was the lack of the Bookstore or it could have been the not so exciting mystery but this ninth book in the series wasn't the best of the bunch so far.

This may not have been the best installment so far but it is the book that sees some new additions in the form of a couple of babies.  It is also the book that finally confirms who I thought was the owner of the mysterious company that is buying up all of Stoneham.  If that isn't enough there is finally some closure as far as Bob is concerned.

However on the other hand Tricia moans a lot.  I was getting a little fed up of her going on and on about the bookstore and the insurance not paying up yet.   It was pretty annoying. The mystery isn't very compelling and the author makes a dramatic ending that happens extremely quick and at the last moment.

My trip to Stoneham wasn't as nice as the previous visits but it was still worth reading.  The series has always been good and of course there is always going to be one that doesn't make you go wow.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

27) Breach of Crust by Ellery Adams

The Blurb :

Ella Mae LeFaye’s delicious pies are still drawing long lines—as well as the attention of Beatrice Burbank, president of the Camellia Club, a philanthropic organization comprised of high-society Southern ladies from the charming and affluent town of Sweet Briar, Georgia. To ensure the success of their centennial dessert cookbook, Bea hires Ella Mae to teach the tasty tricks of her trade to the club’s members at their annual retreat. Eager to work on new recipes for customers with food allergies and dietary restrictions, Ella Mae readily agrees.

But when Ella Mae finds Bea’s body floating in Lake Havenwood, she wonders what she’s gotten herself mixed up in. Someone certainly wanted Bea to eat humble pie, and the retreat offers no shortage of unsavory characters, including Ella Mae’s longtime nemesis, Loralyn Gaynor. Ella Mae definitely doesn’t need magic to tell her she must find the killer before someone else gets panned.

My Thoughts :

I will start off this review by saying that I really love this cozy author.  She has some amazing paranormal cozies under her belt and also some great regular cozies too.   I have enjoyed all of her books so far and I actually have a couple more of her books on my to be read pile that need my attention.  However I picked this one to read first because I have always enjoyed the series.

This time around I have to say I wasn't as impressed as I have been with the previous books.  I wasn't too happy with how the last installment ended but this latest release (which comes out next week) wasn't my favourite so far.  There was a severe lack of the magical and a very dragged out mystery that wasn't very exciting.

While I did enjoy reading more of Ellery Adams work I have to say that the Charmed Pie Shoppe Mysteries are not turning out to be what I hoped.  The first few books were excellent but now the series seems to be taking a weird turn.  Despite having a lovely ending, some lovely characters and a nice location, Breach of Crust fell short of my expectations and I feel sad having to write not so positive review.

A nice read but not as good as some of Ellery's other books.  Make sure you check out this installment if you have been following the series.  Maybe I didn't enjoy it but that doesn't mean nobody else will.  Also make sure you check out some of the books by this author.  She can write a great cozy and they all prove that.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Monday, March 28, 2016

26) Paths of the Dead by Lin Anderson

The Blurb :

When Amy MacKenzie agrees to attend a meeting at a local spiritualist church, the last person she expects to hear calling to her from beyond the grave is her son. The son whom she'd only spoken to an hour before.

Then the body of a young man is found inside a neolithic stone circle high above the city of Glasgow and forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod is soon on the case. The hands have been severed and there is a stone in the victim's mouth with the number five scratched on it. DI Michael McNab is certain it's a gangland murder, but Rhona isn't convinced. When a second body is found in similar circumstances, a pattern begins to emerge, of a killer intent on masterminding a gruesome Druidic game that everyone will be forced to play . . .

My Thoughts :

Many years ago on a trip to Edinburgh I dragged my guy into every book shop and sale I could find.  This was before I got a Kindle and I remember my suitcase being very full and heavy.  Anyway, while in one of those bookshops he came across a display for this series.  There were only three books available back then and they were on offer 3 for 2.  He pointed me in that direction and said something like 'This is something for you' and I read one of the blurbs and saw the offer and decided to take them.  The mixture of the Scottish location, forensic theme and my guy actually suggesting a book for me factoring in to my decision.

What a great decision it was.  I owe my guy big time because this series is amazing.  It doesn't fail to surprise, shock and thrill me.  The characters are like old friends and the author describes the locations so vividly that I could swear I have actually been to Glasgow.  The plot is always so well thought out with some exciting and scary story lines.  These are stories that you can't believe to be true but have to wonder how much reality is woven into them.  I think the answer would be the scariest thing of all.

If you like dark but thrilling mysteries that come across more as realistic than far-fetched then this is a series for you.   A series that definitely needs to be read in order and offers not only a scary insight to the streets of Glasgow but offers a wonderful look at some of the other more beautiful places too.

 In this tenth installment there are some lovely twists and turns that affect the regular characters even more than the previous scrapes and tumbles.  I can't wait to see what happens in the next part.  If it wasn't for all the books on my to be read pile I would already be reading the next installment.

Amberkatze's Book Blog