Genre: Mystery

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Oct 17

Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness #7)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness #7)Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #7) by Rhys Bowen
Published by The Berkley Publishing Group on August 6, 2013
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 295
Goodreadsfour-stars

As thirty-fifth in line for the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch may not be the most sophisticated young woman, but she knows her table manners. It's forks on the left, knives on the right, not in His Majesty's back.

Here I am thinking the education I received at my posh Swiss finishing school would never come in handy. And while it hasn't landed me a job, or a husband, it has convinced Her Majesty the Queen, and the Dowager Duchess to enlist my help. I have been entrusted with grooming Jack Altringham, the Duke's newly discovered heir fresh from the Outback of Australia, for high society.

The upside is I am to live in luxury at one of England's most gorgeous stately homes. But upon arrival at Kingsdowne Place, my dearest Darcy has been sent to fetch Jack, leaving me stuck in a manor full of miscreants, none of whom are too pleased with the discovery of my new ward.

And no sooner has the lad been retrieved than the Duke announces he wants to choose his own heir. With the house in a hubbub over the news, Jack's hunting knife somehow finds its way into the Duke's back. Eyes fall, backs turn, and fingers point to the young heir. As if the rascal wasn't enough of a handful, now he's suspected of murder. Jack may be wild, but I'd bet the crown jewels it wasn't he who killed the Duke.

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Heirs and Graces is the 7th in Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series, and I’m happy to say it continued in the vein of the 6th book, which I think was the best in the series so far.

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“Nothing more dangerous than an educated woman.”

Things I Liked

  • We got more of Darcy and Georgie together! This made me so happy, as I feel like Darcy was really in the background unnecessarily for several books.
  • Jack, the Australian heir, was a breath of fresh air to the stodgy British household of his grandmother. I loved it.
  • The mystery was one of those that was clearly a framing of another person from the very start, but I was really unsure of who I liked for the actual culprit until much closer to the end. I love mysteries like this, because it’s just not as much fun if you figure it out a quarter of the way through the book!

Overall 4/5 Stars

  • This was another solid addition to the series! Nothing spectacular, but a very enjoyable read with mostly characters we’re familiar with – which is exactly what I want out of a cozy mystery!

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Oct 10

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness #6)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness #6)The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #6) by Rhys Bowen
Published by Berkley on November 6, 2012
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 311
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars

She may be thirty-fifth in line for the throne, but Lady Georgiana Rannoch cannot wait to ring in the New Year—before a Christmas killer wrings another neck…   On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig.   So it’s a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village is like something out of A Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie, falls out of a tree dead.  On my second day, another so-called accident results in a death – and there’s yet another on my third.  Perhaps a recent prison break could have something to do with it…that, or a long-standing witch’s curse. But after Darcy shows up beneath the mistletoe, anything could be possible in this wicked wonderland.

Includes an English Christmas companion, full of holiday recipes, games, and more!

The Twelve Clues of Christmas completely rekindled my interest in this series! I was starting to debate whether or not I wanted to continue with this series after Naughty in Nice, which was lighthearted and fun but not much mystery or substance and nothing really progressed in the main plot. I’m so glad I kept reading! Book 6 was soooo much better. There was a real mystery in this one, and things kept happening at such a pace I could barely put it down and even though I had suspicions about the killer throughout the book I didn’t actually figure it out until about the last third.

Things I Liked

  • Darcy had some more page time! He and Georgie seemed to work things out a little better and I liked that.
  • Georgie is, per usual, trying to find somewhere to live and somehow to support herself and this time instead of the queen coming through with an “assignment,” she actually finds a job that suits both herself and the royal relatives. Her mother just happens to be nearby, being her usual flighty but charming self.
  • The murders – yes, more than one this time – just kept coming and getting stranger and…is it weird that I really liked that? 😛

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Thoroughly enjoyed this one, honestly, but some of it still felt a little unrealistic and a tiny bit corny. I think it’s really hard for cozy mysteries to avoid that entirely.
  • Georgie, for all her talk about wishing she was more experienced in the ways of the world and envying her carefree friend Belinda, is ridiculously straitlaced. I guess I shouldn’t be expecting anything else, given how careful she is to not bring any shame to the royal family, but still. Then again, maybe her character is written that way to keep the story’s romance in the “sweet” category.

If You Like…

…the Amelia Peabody series, or the Maisie Dobbs series, you’ll probably enjoy the Her Royal Spyness series as well!

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Oct 03

Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness #5)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness #5)Naughty in Nice (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #5) by Rhys Bowen
Published by Berkley Books on September 6, 2011
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 328
Goodreadsthree-half-stars

The national bestselling author of Royal Blood whisks her heroine away to the French Riviera for fun-and danger. Lady Georgiana Rannoch has once again been called into service by Her Majesty the Queen. This time she's sent to Nice on a secret assignment that's nothing to sneeze at-recover the Queen's stolen snuff box.

As much of an honor as it is to be trusted by Her Majesty, an even greater honor awaits Georgie in Nice-as Coco Chanel herself asks Georgie to model her latest fashion. But when a necklace belonging to the Queen is stolen on the catwalk, Georgie has to find two priceless items-and solve a murder. How's a girl to find any time to go to the casino?

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“Please don’t go and die on me, my lady,” she said. “If you go and die, nobody else will employ me, as you bloody well know.”

If you haven’t read the previous books in this series, they are very enjoyable cozy mysteries with a long-running plot regarding the main characters, and I highly recommend you start with the first book, Her Royal Spyness. 🙂 I apparently started up reviewing this series under the impression I had already posted reviews of the first three books, and I have not. Bad book blogger. I do have a review up of the 4th book, but that’s not very helpful…sigh. I will remedy that shortly, but it has been a VERY long time since I read those!

Things I Liked

  • Georgie seemed to come a little more into her own in this one, become a little less of the naive schoolgirl. I was happy to see her lose a little of her reserve, even if it ended up being a moot point.
  • Even though most of her family things of Georgie as an ornament at best and a useless nuisance at worst, the Queen somehow thinks the world of her and sends her off on these strange and sometimes exotic assignments…always “cracking” fun!
  • I love how Rhys Bowen brings actual historical figures into her books, like Coco Chanel in this one. Even though of course it’s still fiction, it’s fun to imagine them as they might have lived and acted.
  • We also got a little more of a glimpse into Georgie’s long-dead father’s life, in a rather SHOCKING reveal at the very end! Holy crap. I really hope something plays out of that in future books.
  • There were a lot of witty moments and in this one, which one expects from Rhys Bowen, but this story seemed to have more than the usual number of zingers.

How Binky could have plucked up enough courage to have created a first child with Fig is still a matter of speculation. Why he did it a second time indicates insanity in the family.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Can Darcy never give Georgie straight answers? I mean, he seems to like her well enough, why not trust her a little? And why does he keep showing up in these strange places and making her question his regard for her?
  • The mystery aspect seemed slightly lacking in this one, but I was interested enough in Georgia’s doings with her mother and her friend Belinda, and also the general atmosphere, to keep reading.
  • This one just seemed to flounder a bit. Still enjoyable, but without the best punch.

If You Like…

…the Amelia Peabody series, or the Maisie Dobbs series, you’ll probably enjoy the Her Royal Spyness series as well!

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Sep 24

Pawsitively Poisonous (Witch of Edgehill #1)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★

Pawsitively Poisonous (Witch of Edgehill #1)Pawsitively Poisonous on June 10, 2019
Genres: Cozy, Mystery
Pages: 201
Buy on Amazon
Goodreadsthree-stars

Amber Blackwood, lifelong resident of Edgehill, Oregon, has earned a reputation for being a semi-reclusive odd duck. Her store, The Quirky Whisker, is full of curiosities, from extremely potent sleepy teas and ever-burning candles to kids’ toys that seem to run endlessly without the aid of batteries. The people of Edgehill think of the Quirky Whisker as an integral part of their feline-obsessed town, but most give Amber herself a wide berth. Amber prefers it that way; it keeps her secret safe. But that secret is thrown into jeopardy when Amber’s friend Melanie is found dead, a vial of headache tonic from Amber’s store clutched in her hand.

Edgehill’s newest police chief has had it out for Amber since he arrived three years before. He can’t possibly know she’s a witch, but his suspicions about her odd store and even odder behavior have shot her to the top of his suspect list. When the Edgehill rumor mill finds out Melanie was poisoned, it’s not only the police chief who looks at Amber differently. Determined to both find justice for her friend and to clear her own name, Amber must use her unique gifts to help track down Melanie’s real killer. A quest that threatens much more than her secret …

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Pawsitively Poisonous is the first in a new series of cozy paranormal mysteries by Melissa Erin Jackson, and it’s a very quirky little trip through a town famous only for its obsession with cats! I was somewhat suspicious but intrigued by the premise, and the main character, Amber, sounded like a cool sort of person. 😉 Hehe. As of right now there are two books published in the series with a third coming out later this year.

Things I Liked

  • As I thought I would, Amber! She makes toys for kids, has an insatiable curiosity, and weird things happen around her. At least she can blame magic, mine is usually just sheer clumsiness.
  • What’s up with the sheriff’s intense dislike of Amber? I was super intrigued by it and it’s never entirely explained, so maybe in later books.
  • Amber’s cats are cute and hilarious and the author MUST have cats because they totally DO carry on conversations with their owners. All without ever saying a word.
  • I loved that Amber uses her magic to run a toyshop. It’s so cute, and sweet, and she seems to genuinely like kids.

Small Complaints

  • It’s so stinking short! As a result it really felt rushed. Only just over 200 Kindle pages. Why? I mean sure, it’s a super quick read but…so much left unexplained. I’m hoping for more from the next book!
  • Pretty predictable. The bad guys were unlikeable and “bad” from the very beginning. The “big secrets” were all your typical small town secrets, nothing truly earthshattering.

3/5 stars overall. I’ll be reading the next book as well, hopefully we get to go more in depth with Amber’s backstory!

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May 23

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell #4)A Dangerous Collaboration (Veronica Speedwell, #4) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by Berkley Books/Penguin Random House on March 12, 2019
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 323
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfour-stars

Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell is whisked off to a remote island off the tip of Cornwall when her natural historian colleague Stoker's brother calls in a favor. On the pretext of wanting a companion to accompany him to Lord Malcolm Romilly's house party, Tiberius persuades Veronica to pose as his fiancée—much to Stoker's chagrin. But upon arriving, it becomes clear that the party is not as innocent as it had seemed. Every invited guest has a connection to Romilly's wife, Rosamund, who disappeared on her wedding day three years ago, and a dramatic dinner proves she is very much on her husband's mind.

As spectral figures, ghostly music, and mysterious threats begin to plague the partygoers, Veronica enlists Stoker's help to discover the host's true motivations. And as they investigate, it becomes clear that there are numerous mysteries surrounding the Romilly estate, and every person present has a motive to kill Rosamund...

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A Dangerous Collaboration is the fourth in the amazing Veronica Speedwell mystery series by Deanna Raybourn! This is definitely a series you need to start at the beginning with, so if you haven’t already be sure to go read the first three books – A Curious Beginning (#1), A Perilous Undertaking (#2), and A Treacherous Curse (#3).

Warning: Possible spoilers for the first three books of the series, but not for this one!

I was really startled when I began reading this book! It starts off with Veronica leaving England – and Stoker – and going off with Lady Cordelia for six months overseas. SAY WHAT?!? You separated my darlings, WHY?? Very little page time is given to this six months, other than to say both ladies fell ill on the trip (but not deathly ill), and Veronica spent much time thinking about Stoker and her feelings and wondering why he didn’t write even though she had told him not to.

Eventually they return, and she and Stoker are so stilted and awkward, it’s like they had taken one step forward and about ten back. Before they even BEGIN to work this out though, as friends or professionals, Stoker’s brother Tiberius (introduced in the first book, gradually getting more screen time as the series goes on) bursts in on them and asks Veronica to go with him to an old school friend’s gathering on a remote island (*dun dun dun DUN*)…posing as his fiancee’. Needless to say…they all three end up going, and shenanigans ensue.

The mystery on the island was the most engrossing one in the series so far, in my opinion. After floundering through the first few chapters (seriously, everyone had emotionally regressed…it was so disconcerting!) I really got into it once things moved to the island. As Veronica (and Stoker…and Tiberius…) try to solve the mystery of what happened to Tiberius’s friends bride, they uncover more and more secrets. It was DELICIOUS!

In the interest of NOT spoiling anything, I won’t give any details, but by the end of the book I was very satisfied with the character progression once more. However, now I want more of Tiberius. He has become a character of interest. I need to see more of his bruised heart and soul…and I would be VERY interested to see if a woman who could handle him and his…proclivities…could be found!

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May 09

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)

Book Reviews 3 ★★★★★

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1)A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1) by Deanna Raybourn
Published by NAL/Penguin on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 337
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreadsfive-stars

London, 1887.

After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

“Mrs. Clutterthorpe, I can hardly think of any fate worse than becoming the mother of six. Unless perhaps it were plague, and even then I am persuaded a few disfiguring buboes and possible death would be preferable to motherhood.”

Review of a re-read! I actually read A Curious Beginning almost four years ago, when it first came out. I totally intended to buy the second as soon as it was available, but then it came out with a SHOCKINGLY mismatched cover and yes, I was that shallow. I’m really sad that I didn’t keep up with them (also, note: authors have no control over their book covers so it was really stupid of me to essentially “boycott” the second one just because of the cover, even though I totally meant to read it as soon as I could get over my dislike of the cover).

I recently got my hands on the next three (!!!) books in the series, and when I started the second one I realized that I remembered very, VERY little of the first book. So here we are! My enthusiasm for this book knows few bounds, as is best illustrated by HOW MANY TIMES I had to update my GoodReads status for it whilst reading.

And there’s more…click on the picture and scroll to the bottom of the GR review to see! LOL

Feels

The intrigue! The mystery! The secrets! The sexual tension! Ahem. Okay, I might be getting a little carried away. There aren’t really any punch-to-the-gut feelings that come along with this story, or at least I didn’t think so. It’s much more about the mystery surrounding Veronica, why so many people are suddenly interested in a young, unfashionably scientific woman. Stoker, with whom she is thrown together by chance, has a good many secrets that he is quite determined to keep hidden. He basically oozes bad-boy sexuality (in a Victorian sort of way), but actually has quite a soft heart.

“There are times when it is entirely safe to show one’s vulnerability, to roll over and reveal the soft underbelly beneath. But there are other times when pain must be borne without a murmur, when the pain is so consuming that if you give in to it, even in the slightest, you have lost everything.”

The banter is what really makes this book come alive. I laughed out loud SO many times – and not because the SITUATION itself was funny, or far-fetched. Veronica and Stoker just constantly throw one-liners at each other and it’s hysterical. The sexual tension grows and grows throughout the book and I was totally there for it! I was a bit non-plussed at the “ending,” but it made me all the more excited for the next installment. View Spoiler »

Plot

Since this is a mystery, it’s not possible to say MUCH without giving it away. But, it revolves around Veronica and the circumstances of her birth, and why people appear to be either trying to kill or kidnap her. The details aren’t ever especially gory, but it doesn’t quite feel like a cozy mystery to me, either. I’m vaguely reminded of the Amelia Peabody series, but with more sizzle.

Setting

Victorian England, with all the trappings that come along with that era. However, this is probably NOT the book or series for you if you are a stickler for details. The physical details seem fairly accurate, but Veronica is a very independent lady and quite the free-thinker, not just with regards to her whole-hearted pursuit of science but in her “dalliances.” I find it very hard to believe there would be someone in this setting who wasn’t completely ostracized from society…though perhaps I just haven’t studied the right history. I did thoroughly enjoy the scientific aspect of the book, and found myself Googling the scientific names of various butterflies to see what exactly she was looking at!

4.5/5 stars. Half a star reduction was for what I felt was a fairly common plot – not an unenjoyable one, but any means, but a twist could have been nice too. 😉

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Jan 03

Review of The Midnight Witness

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review of The Midnight WitnessThe Midnight Witness (Louise Rick #1) by Sara Blaedel, Mark Kline
Published by Grand Central Publishing on October 23, 2018
Genres: Modern, Mystery
Pages: 281
Goodreadsfour-stars

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
Sara Blaedel returns with another thrilling novel in her series featuring homicide detective Louise Rick--a strong-willed police investigator perfect for readers of Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag, Tess Gerritsen, or Jo Nesbo.

A young woman is found strangled in a park, and a male journalist has been killed in the backyard of the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen.

Detective Louise Rick is put on the case of the young girl, but very soon becomes entangled in solving the other homicide too when it turns out her best friend, journalist Camilla Lind, knew the murdered man. Louise tries to keep her friend from getting too involved, but Camilla's never been one to miss out on an interesting story. And this time, Camilla may have gone too far...

Emotionally riveting and filled with unexpected twists, THE MIDNIGHT WITNESS is a tour-de-force from international phenomenon Sara Blaedel.

The Midnight Witness pulled me in quickly and, barring anything totally off the wall happening, has hooked me for the remainder of this series. I had never read anything in the “nordic noir” genre so I was really eager to see how this would work for me, and it did not disappoint. I felt a kinship with Louise almost immediately, one adrenaline junkie to another.

Suddenly she felt it. All morning she’d been worried it wouldn’t show up.
The rush.
The energy came like a wave, a familiar feeling that usually came on at a crime scene. It was like an injection, adrenaline shooting up her body and into her chest, ending with her scalp prickling. She was ready.

Louise lives for the rush, but it’s a pleasant perk to her main goal of getting justice for the victims of crime and their families. I really liked the balance of focus on her job and the details of all the workings of the homicide unit with the time spent with her friend/family relationships. I think there was a lot of setup in this book, as in many first-in-a-series books, and we don’t get to see much of Louise’s back story at all so I’m hopeful that will come more in the sequels.

The story behind the murders here was less compelling than I really wanted it to be, and I was much more interested in the murder of the young woman in the park than that of the journalist. Still, about halfway through I started talking to the characters – a sure sign to myself that I’m invested in the story. I really enjoyed Louise and Camilla’s friendship, even while I wonder what kind of trouble a murder detective can get into by being friends with a reporter.

Whenever I read mysteries, I try to form a theory as early in the book as possible. I take notes so that I know exactly where I was in the book when I formed my idea of who-dun-it. My theory kept changing in this one – as soon as I would settle on one suspect, something else would happen and I’d be off on a rabbit trail again. It was great fun. I didn’t guess the true murderer until about 20 pages before it was revealed, so huge props to Blaedel on that.

4/5 stars. This is definitely different than most other mystery or thriller books I’ve read. It’s not a thriller – the pace is slower, and it’s less gory. There are SOME details of the murder but nothing too extreme. It’s also not a cozy mystery – too analytical for that. I guess it’s most similar to the Sherlock Holmes type detective novels, but it has more layers of personal relationships in it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Louise Rick series and Sara Blaedel were brought to my attention by the awesome blog Crime By the Book, and I am so excited to have a new detective series to follow.

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Dec 10

Book Tour and Review of The Fog

Book Reviews, Book Tours 1 ★★★½

Book Tour and Review of The FogThe Fog (A Berry Springs Novel) by Amanda McKinney
Genres: Modern, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
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Goodreadsthree-half-stars
two-half-flames

Former Marine turned ballistics expert, Wesley Cross is known around town for two things, his rugged good-looks and cocky attitude—until he finds his ex-girlfriend lying in a puddle of blood in his basement. The scene screams setup, but the discovery of a rare gem and a puzzling autopsy suggests the murder goes much deeper than that. Wesley will do whatever it takes to clear his name, including calling in a notoriously headstrong—and sexy—scientist.

While most little girls were playing dress up, Gwyneth Reece was digging in the dirt collecting bugs. Now one of the top forensic entomologists in the country, Gwen reluctantly accepts a job from a pushy cowboy and travels to the small, Southern town of Berry Springs. Heavy storms are brewing, and when she’s forced to check into the creepiest hotel she’s ever seen, she instantly regrets her decision to help out the former Marine.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Fog is the 4th in the Berry Springs series by Amanda McKinney, and can be read as a standalone. I flew through this little novella (at 225 pages it makes for a quick afternoon or before bed read) and am considering picking up the other three at some point!

Things I Loved

  • Gwyneth is described as having sexy BROWN eyes. Hell yes, let’s have some love for a shade that isn’t blue!
  • Gwyneth is also scientist and a damn good one. Love that she has a career and goals and is doing whatever it takes to reach them. Wouldn’t mind reading more about her background, and Wes’s for that matter!
  • Believable vendetta against Wes. I was kind of worried about this being something silly, but it wasn’t.
  • Atmospheric – yes please. I happened to read this on a rainy day, which was just PERFECT for the last part of the book…made it seem very real. Remind me to never check into a hotel during a storm. Yikes.

Small Complaints

  • Predictable – well, it’s romantic suspense. If you didn’t end up with what you were expecting you’d be disappointed, yes? Still, there were a couple parts that – as far as the forensics – made me roll my eyes because I thought the “big discovery” was SO obvious.
  • I thought the insta-attraction was a little much, as well as just HOW FAST they progressed…but again…how else are you going to bring everything to a conclusion in such a short book?
  • Wes was a little over the top dominant in some ways. It was annoying. At least our girl Gwyneth was there to straighten his ass out. 😉

3.5/5 stars. This is an enjoyable, fast read if you want a little romantic action and a little suspense!

2.5/5 flames. There’s attraction and action, and Wes is great and all, (and I did LOVE that while he is very attracted to Gwyneth, she’s not described as having a supermodel body), but it just didn’t quite do it for me. They’re a cute couple but I guess I wanted MORE of them, more depth!

 

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Author Bio:

Award-winning author of romantic suspense and mystery, Amanda McKinney wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning murder mysteries peppered with steamy love scenes, and include the BERRY SPRINGS SERIES and the BLACK ROSE MYSTERY SERIES, with many more to come.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook

 

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Dec 25

Book Review: Hercule Poirot’s Christmas

Book Reviews 0

Book Review: Hercule Poirot’s ChristmasHercule Poirot's Christmas (Hercule Poirot, #20) by Agatha Christie
Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers on September 17th 2007
Genres: Mystery, Cozy
Pages: 271
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Goodreads

Simeon Lee has demanded that all four of his sons and their wives visit the family home for Christmas. But the cantankerous patriarch has anything but a heartwarming family holiday in mind when he announces that he is cutting off his sons' allowances and changing his will. So when the old man is found lying in a pool of blood on Christmas Eve, there is no lack of suspects. Hercule Poirot suspends his holiday sorting through the myriad of suspects and motives to find the truth behind the old man's death.

As it’s December 25th, it seems very appropriate to review Hercule Poirot’s Christmas today! Of course helped by the fact that I read it over Christmas Eve. 😉 Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, I hope this holiday season has found you surrounded by light and love.

It’s no secret that I love Agatha Christie’s works. I read the majority of them when I was in my last years of high school and first couple of years of college, so it’s been awhile. I fully intend to re-read and finish reading the entirety of her work at some point…but as always, there are SO MANY books just clamoring for attention! Anyway, as this one was sitting on my shelf and it was almost Christmas, I thought it was perfect timing for a re-read. Especially since, no matter how I tried even after reading the synopsis – I could not remember a damned thing about the resolution of the plot. Not a thing. Hehe.

Sidenote on a pet peeve of mine: Christie’s novels are NOT historical novels. While to modern readers they appear so, when they were originally published – in this case, December 1938 – they were modern detective novels.

All the Hercule Poirot novels can, in my opinion, be read as standalones. That said, this is considered (at least by GoodReads) to be the 20th Hercule Poirot novel. As such it definitely will appeal MORE to those who have already become attached to the little Belgian detective. To my knowledge he is the only repeat character in this book.

As the title would lead you to expect, the plot centers around Christmas. A crotchety but very rich old man “invites” all of his children to attend him during the holiday, and as so often does during family gatherings, tempers flair. As Hercule Poirot observes,

“Families who have been separated throughout the year assemble once more together. Now under these conditions, my friend, you must admit that there will occur a great amount of strain. People who do not feel amiable are putting great pressure on themselves to appear amiable! There is at Christmas time a great deal of hypocrisy, honorable hypocrisy, hypocrisy undertaken pour le bon motif, c’est entendu, but nevertheless hypocrisy!”

So it is, and in typical Christie fashion from the very beginning of the writing we are unsure who we can trust and therefore suspect everyone except Hercule Poirot himself. In the very beginning, the hairs start to raise on the back of the reader’s neck as various characters make very suspect statements. Everyone seems to incriminate themselves somehow. Add to that certain people start quoting Lady Macbeth and suddenly it’s not just the reader who doesn’t trust anyone!

Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him? – Macbeth

For such a short book, the characters are remarkably drawn out. None of them are flat, though some are recognizable as types from Christie’s other books. Even the side characters and ones that we suspect, have a vulnerable side that makes the reader second-guess any suspicions.

He said, “I see.”
She said sharply: “What do you see?”
He answered: “I see that you have had to be a mother to your husband when you would have preferred to be a wife.”

The hair-raising feeling does die down about two-thirds of the way through the book. I’m guessing perhaps Christie didn’t want to make a holiday book TOO terribly bloody and creepy, perhaps? Really though I was just SO CONFUSED I didn’t know what to think, right up until the end. And then of course once the reveal happened, everything had been staring me right in the face.

Overall, 4/5 stars. I would have liked a bit more of the skin-crawling, hair-raising bit, but it was still a fantastic book!

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Dec 20

Book Review: The Sense of Death

Book Reviews 0 ★★½

Book Review: The Sense of DeathThe Sense of Death by Matty Dalrymple
Published by William Kingsfield Publishers on November 30th 2013
Genres: Cozy, Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 326
Goodreadstwo-half-stars

Ann Kinnear has created a peaceful existence at her cabin in the Adirondack woods. But the calm is shattered after Philadelphia socialite Elizabeth Firth is reported missing. With few clues and fewer options, detective Joe Booth calls upon Ann's spirit sensing abilities to help solve the mystery. With Joe and her brother Mike, Ann attempts to uncover what Elizabeth's husband may be hiding beneath his cloak of wealth and privilege. As Ann is drawn deeper into a web of lies and betrayal, she realizes she may be racing against time to keep herself from disappearing too.

So, in full disclosure, when I requested this from Netgalley I totally misread the publication date. Why is a book published in 2013 even still on Netgalley, anyway? I was actually approved (shocking…or not), so I read it anyway because if I didn’t it was going to make my review percentage even worse! How’s that for motivation? ANYwho, behold my review of The Sense of Death!
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The Sense of Death is a first novel, and while it’s an enjoyable cozy mystery – it shows. There are several things about the styling of the story that I didn’t care for, but in the end Ann’s character was one with which I could sympathize (even if I don’t sense spirits). The place descriptions are good. The premise is intriguing. I liked Ann and her relationship with her brother. I personally am intrigued by the idea of spirits or ghosts and the possibility of communicating with them, and I enjoyed how the author used the idea in the book.
It was very disappointing to have the who-dun-it of the story revealed in the first couple of chapters. Takes the mystery right out of it, takes the suspense away, and almost made me DNF it…but then there were more Ann chapters and I was more interested. A lot of the plot honestly seems very far-fetched, especially in the end. I was constantly reading with one eyebrow raised in skepticism. The plot is also a very common one in murder mysteries, but I guess there are only so many. While the deterioration of the culprit is believable, I didn’t feel the motivation was convincing. Also, there are several chapters AFTER the climatic event, most of which were unnecessary.
The author struggles with POV. Even though it’s written in 3rd person throughout, it’s mostly limited 3rd person with random bits of popping into another minor or even walk-on character’s head. That part was very jolting and annoying.
The old telling vs. showing that interferes with a lot of writing is EXTREMELY present. There are entire chapters of almost nothing but backstory, paragraphs going on and on and Ann’s childhood or past experiences. Don’t just TELL us how she felt, SHOW us! At a few points showing was successfully accomplished, but then it would lapse right back into a monologue of info-dumping and it was just a struggle to read.
All that said, I still enjoyed the book. I’m undecided about whether or not I will read the second one. I was going to rate at 2/5 stars until the climatic chapter, and a certain event that actually brought tears to my eyes.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.
two-half-stars

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