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Monday, July 21, 2014

82) Magic City : Recent Spells

The Blurb :

Bright lights, big city... magic spells, witchcraft, wizardry, fairies, devilry, and more. Urban living, at least in fantasy fiction, is full of both magical wonder and dark enchantment. Street kids may have supernatural beings to protect them or have such powers themselves. Brujeria may be part of your way of life.

Crimes can be caused (and solved) with occult arts and even a losing sports team's "curse" can be lifted with wizardry. And be careful of what cab you call - it might take you on a journey beyond belief! Some of the best stories of urban enchantment from the last few years is gathered in one volume full of hex appeal and arcane arts.

My Thoughts :

Anyone who follows my blog and reads my Currently Reading posts will know that this book has been defeating me for weeks.   I started reading the book one day and got to the halfway mark and had to take a break.  The book is nearly 500 pages thick and it doesn't matter if you read it on a Kindle, the book still feels heavy after a while.  I should have gone back to this one straight away and just got it over and done with but I wasn't enjoying it very much and kept putting it off.  After weeks of conveniently forgetting about this one I finally sat down with it and practically sped read the remaining stories.  There isn't anything very magical about this Magic City anthology if you ask me.

I am constantly being tricked into reading anthologies.  Despite hating the majority of these compilations I still get pulled in by the big names on the covers.  Who can pass up some short stories written by your favourite authors?  There is a chance that the story relates to that amazing series you have been following.   Could there be a new series in the making just because of this short story?  The possibilities of an anthology are endless and there are always some authors involved that you always wanted to try and some you may love and have never heard of before.  Nothing to lose?  Except a few hours of your life/reading time.

Now not all the stories in this book were bad.  Some were good.  It was just really hard to get through the bad ones because there were more of them.  That isn't to say that everyone would hate them.  I am pretty sure there are people out there who read this anthology and gave it a wonderful review.  I am not one of those people and I feel sorry for all the writers involved because I can tell they made an effort.  It can't be easy putting together a short story and being limited to what would usually be a couple of chapters in a full length novel.

The concept was lost on me but the start of each story began with the location of the tale and what kind of magic would be involved.  I didn't find this very helpful but it was a nice touch.  The first installment was by Simon R. Green and it was a good start.  It gave me hope that this would be a nice selection. However the next five stories were ones I could have skipped.  Nice ideas but they were either rushed or tried to be to extravagant.

Patricia Briggs saved my faith in the book with her 'Seeing Eye'.  I have been a fan of the author for years and wouldn't mind seeing her open this story into a series.  The next three stories were ok but nothing to write about.  They kept me reading and I was at the halfway mark and took that dreaded break.  With only two great stories so far you can understand the problem I had going back to this one.  Luckily the next story was a good one and I kept reading till the end.

'The Arcane Art of Misdirection' by Carrie Vaughn was an interesting read.  I got a little confused along the way but it all worked out in the end and I liked it.  It was unusual and felt like a prequel for something else.  Maybe the author will be taking us to Vegas more often.  The rest of the stories in this anthology were not to my liking.  Little known authors and stories that didn't grab my attention.   There were two more stories worth pointing out though.  They were worth reading.

'Kabu Kabu' by Nnedi Okorafor was a little crazy but kind of fun to read.  I knew what would happen in the end but that didn't stop me for going along for the ride in this gypsy taxi.  I won't be looking to read anything else by the author but this story is definitely one of the better reads in Magic City and deserves a mention.  

Most likely the best read in the book and one of the biggest names on the cover was 'Curses' by Jim Butcher.  I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't visited this series for a good couple of years and really need to get back into it.  This short story not only made me kick myself for not reading the series more often but it also reminded me how great the series is.  Harry Dresden rocks and this story did too.  I may just be a little biased because of the Welsh references in the story but it was enjoyable and I am going to dust off my Harry Dresden books asap.

All in all this was a mixed bag.  I rarely come across an anthology that I give a glowing review to but with so many different authors, ideas and styles it is hard to find a collection that fits together well and is going to be worth reading all the way through.  A fifth of Magic City is great where as the rest is so so.  If you see more than five authors on the list that you really love then take the chance but do expect to be disappointed by the rest.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

81) Obsession, Deceit and Really Dark Chocolate

The Blurb :

Sophie Katz's relationship with the irresistible and occasionally insufferable P.I. Anatoly Darinsky is on the fritz when a friend recruits Sophie's investigation skills to decode her possibly two-timing husband's strange behavior. When Sophie shows up in a short, red cocktail dress and her friend's hubby winds up dead, the loveable would-be sleuth can't help but take on the job.

Suddenly plunged into a crazy world of campaign mudslinging, dirt-digging and cover-ups, Sophie begins to uncover some pretty dirty secrets indeed- involving a conservative congressional hopeful's involvement in the Furry community, a group of people who dress up in mascot-size stuffed animal costumes. Sex and politics, wouldn't you know?

Way in over her head as usual, Sophie reluctantly-or not-so-reluctantly- enlists the help of her two-time sidekick and ex-Anatoly. Together they set out to determine who killed Eugene and why, and in the process can't resist falling for each other-again?

My Thoughts :

I have neglected this series for a long time and a novella I read before Christmas made me want to pick this series back up again.  After all I have a couple of the paperbacks on my bookshelf gathering dust.   However it has taken me till now to pick the next in the series up and that was only because my Kindle was out of juice and I needed something to read.  This was the book on top of my paperback 'to be read' pile and I got stuck in without thinking much about what I could remember about the previous books in the series.

The story seemed familiar and as things progressed I picked up on the who was who and what was what from the previous two books.  I vaguely remember the plots and even though I must have read the previous books a few years ago I had no trouble catching up.  Things got interesting very quickly and I was drawn into the whole mystery and found myself wanting to solve the crime before Sophie did.  She is a likable character but I felt the need to beat her to the finish line

There was a bit of a political aspect to the whole story and that left me a little lost.  One thing I haven't been able to get to grips to is US politics and how everything works.  I understood that two of the characters were up against each other in some kind of vote but the rest went over my head.  Despite the boring circumstances of the crime (the politics) I still ended up enjoying the story and especially liked the furry twist.
Sophie Katz is a more together version of Stephanie Plum.  She has a good career, apartment, money and her stuff doesn't get blown up.  She is amusing and funny like Plum with some more intelligence thrown in for good measure.  She has some helpful friends who are just as weird and wonderful as she is and only has the one, very mysterious, guy in her life.

All in all I am glad I picked this one up and I have now added the next in the series to the 'to be read' pile.  It seems the series is already over and I will make the effort to get this series finished this year.  I need to do a good clear out as far as my dusty books are concerned and finish some of the series that I have failed to get back to over the last couple of years.

Well worth trying out if you like a good mystery.  This is pretty cozy but not over the top like some of the themed cozies out there.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

80) Better Homes & Hauntings by Molly Harper

The Blurb :

When Nina Linden is hired to landscape a private island off the New England coast, she sees it as her chance to rebuild her failing business after being cheated by her unscrupulous ex. She never expects that her new client, software mogul Deacon Whitney, would see more in her than just a talented gardener. Deacon has paid top dollar to the crews he’s hired to renovate the desolate Whitney estate—he had to, because the bumps, thumps, and unexplained sightings of ghostly figures in nineteenth-century dress are driving workers away faster than he can say “Boo.”

But Nina shows no signs of being scared away, even as she experiences some unnerving apparitions herself. And as the two of them work closely together to restore the mansion’s faded glory, Deacon realizes that he’s found someone who doesn’t seem to like his fortune more than himself—while Nina may have finally found the one man she can trust with her bruised and battered heart.

But something on the island doesn’t believe in true love…and if Nina and Deacon can’t figure out how to put these angry spirits to rest, their own love doesn’t stand a ghost of a chance.

My Thoughts :

I have never read a Molly Harper story that I didn't like and Better Homes & Hauntings may not be the best of her work so far but it was still an enjoyable and fun read.  With the usual witty and lovable style, this stand alone book was a pleasure to listen to due to the narrator who reads all of Molly Harper's books.  I am not sure if the book would have been as good just to read but the Audio book version was definitely a winner and I loved every minute of it.

No vampires or werewolves are involved in the making of this new release and it is the ghostly variety of paranormal that the author offers us this time around in the form of a good old haunting.  The characters are brought together on an island to renovate an old mansion belonging to the Whitney family.  The premise was a good one and it worked and didn't seem stupid while the location had the makings of a good horror movie.

There are a few scary moments in this book but the characters are fun and interesting enough to keep the goosebumps away but have you giggling as the story progresses.  The whole story flows nicely even if I did get slightly confused about the amount of time the book covers.  There are references to weeks passing and there is an obvious time lapse due to the work done/finished but it was hard to feel it as the story progressed and it felt like everything took place in a couple of weeks.

Of course there was a romance angle to this novel and it was pretty obvious from the start.  There was no doubting who was going to end up with each other but the mystery of how it would happen was what keeps you reading.  Also the ghostly mystery of the house and family was intriguing enough to keep me going till the end and I have to say I really liked the way it all played out.

All in all a great read or in this case listen that any Molly Harper fan will enjoy.  It is a stand alone so anyone who hasn't read anything by this author may want to try it and she if they like the style.  However this isn't the best representation of Molly Harper's work but it still earns a huge applause from me.  I enjoyed it and would listen to it again and would even like to meet some of the characters again sometime.

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Contest Reminder!

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Author Belinda Boring was here on Amberkatze's Book Blog with her Savage Possession Tour!

Did you enter the contest?  

There are a few things up for grabs and the contest ends in just under two days!   Go check out the contest here and make sure you enter before the time is up!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Author Blog Tour & Giveaway : Belinda Boring

A big welcome to my author guest Belinda Boring!  I haven't had the chance to try any of her books but they look like they aren't anything like her surname!  Make sure you check out the giveaway!

Savage Possession - Belinda Boring
Book 5 of The Mystic Wolves series

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Growing up, Darcy knew that life would be filled with challenges and tough decisions, but none so difficult as the one that would alter her future forever. Given the choice between losing Mason or becoming a vampire, Darcy risks the overwhelming threat of insanity, and places her destiny, her hopes and dreams, in the hands of Devlin. When she survives the conversion and shows how truly strong she is, everyone thinks that the worst is behind them. It’s time to get back to normal - or their new normal - and live happily ever after.

But danger still lurks within the shadows - both in Woodside Hollow, the supernatural community, and within Darcy. Even though she looks fine, she seems “altered” to those closest to her, something beyond the expected consequences of her dual nature. With reports of dark rituals and blood sacrifices being performed, the Council has their hands filled trying to solve that mystery, leaving Mason scrambling to find out what’s wrong with his mate.

Will the imbalance warring within Darcy eventually settle, or will her decision to become part vampire-part werewolf lead to a SAVAGE POSSESSION?

Purchase for only $2.99


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"Savage Possession was totally unexpected. 
The twists and turns had me on my toes not wanting to put it down.
Some parts showed another darker and sinister side to the mind of Belinda Boring.
I highly recommend this installment of The Mystic Wolves!!"

~ Lisa Markson, I Pimp My Authors.

"Wow! Just WOW! Savage Possession had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.
This jaw-dropping, eye-popping latest installment in the Mystic Wolves series is simply epic."

~ Raquel Auriemma, Roc n' Read

Book #1 is FREE Grab it now to start the series!


Already dying to read Book #6 Darkness Unleashed!?
Available for Pre-Order:

About the author

belindaA homesick Aussie living amongst the cactus and mountains of Arizona, Belinda Boring is a self proclaimed addict of romance and all things swoon worthy. When she's not devouring her latest read, you can find her celebrating her passion for books on her blog The Bookish Snob.

With all that excitement, it wasn’t long before she began writing, pouring her imagination and creativity into the stories she dreams. Whether urban fantasy, paranormal romance or romance in general, Belinda strives to share great plots with heart and characters that you can’t help but connect with. Of course, she wouldn’t be Belinda without adding heroes she hopes will curl your toes.

Surrounded by a supportive cast of family, friends and the man she gives her heart and soul to, Belinda is living the good life.

Monday, July 14, 2014

79) Bowled Over by Victoria Hamilton

The Blurb :

Vintage kitchenware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton has been estranged from her high school best friend Kathy Cooper since they were teenagers, but she never knew what turned Kathy against her. After fireworks at a Fourth of July picnic, Jaymie discovers the body of her former friend in the park. On the ground nearby is Jaymie’s own Depression-era glass bowl, broken in two.

With her fingerprints all over the bowl and a troubled history with the victim, Jaymie suddenly finds herself at the top of the list of suspects. Did the killer intend to frame her for the murder? If so, she is ready to mix it up, because solving crimes is vintage Jaymie Leighton…

My Thoughts :

A long time ago, so long ago that it is embarrassing.  I saw a book up for review that I wanted to try and requested it.  It was a book by Victoria Hamilton's Vintage Kitchen Mysteries.  Now what I didn't know is that the book I requested was the third book in the series and within a few pages I realised I was ruining the series if I didn't read the books in order.  So I decided to get hold of the first two books and catch up quick.

Unfortunately I didn't catch up as fast as I hoped to and it is only now that I have finally managed to read the second book in the series and still have that third installment waiting for review!!  The worst thing about all this is that I am really enjoying the series so far.  Despite not really understanding anything about the vintage kitchenware or the recipes the characters are nice, the location interesting and the mysteries are well written.

Bowled Over is the second installment and the whole way through I was putting pieces together a little quicker than Jaymie.  I even knew who the murderer was but I wasn't quite sure how it all fit together.  I enjoyed coming across the clues as they appeared.  Some of which Jaymie didn't notice until later but that added some excitement to the story and stopped her from being a perfect know it all.

Anyone looking for something new in the cozy mystery genre should give this series a try.  The concept is unusual and maybe like me you aren't really interested in the Vintage Kitchen angle.  However it is a nice little twist and doesn't take over the whole book.  It is makes for interesting reading and maybe you will learn something along the way or get a kick out the whole thing.

Now I hope to read the third book within the next couple of weeks and finally send in my review (if I still can!) and hope that the next installment is as good as the first two so I can give it a big thumbs up.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

78) Fatal Fortune by Victoria Laurie

The Blurb :

When police show Abby surveillance video of her best friend and business partner, Candice Fusco, shooting a man in cold blood, she can’t believe her eyes. And when the cops tell her they think the victim has ties to the Mob—and perhaps Candice does too—she can’t believe her ears. Surely there is a logical explanation. But Candice is nowhere to be found.

Abby decides the only way to find out the truth is to go to Vegas herself—which may be the biggest gamble of her life. Once in town she begins to uncover a rigged game of dirty double-dealing where the stakes are no less than life and death. And if she’s not careful, Abby can forget about ever leaving Las Vegas...alive.

My Thoughts :

The Psychic Eye mysteries were one of the first, if not the first, cozy mystery series I started reading with a paranormal twist.  The twist isn't a huge one and there are no things that go bump in the night but a psychic who is the real deal and keeps getting mixed up in all sorts of trouble.  Fatal Fortune is the twelfth book in the series and things have developed a lot of the years.  So much has happened and Abby has gone through some strange and unusual events over the span of the series and things don't ever get boring.

Fatal Fortune is the newest installment and I of course had it on pre-order.  However this is another series that is horribly expensive of late.  With the price being nearly twenty dollars when most other new releases only cost five to six dollars.  So I did have a little battle with myself before pressing the pre-order button over on Amazon.  I was ready to pass this one over and wait for it to get cheaper but I have been following this series/author for so long and I can't resist.  Maybe that is what the people who set the prices are hoping for...

Things start off fast and furious in this new book.  A call in the night has Abby rushing off to do a favour for her best friend.  This leads her to being in possession of not only message from a murder suspect but also a folder of information that obviously has something to do with the murder but Abby can't make heads nor tails of.  Abby has to keep quiet about a lot of things as the story progresses and she finds herself lying to the people she loves and also the FBI.

This is another great mystery filled with twists and turns that keep the reader guessing to the end.  You think you have it figured out and then something comes along and makes you doubt everything.  The psychic angle has always been interesting and I really like the concept even after all this time.  The series has me hooked and it will be staying on my pre-order list despite the cost.  I look forward to reading more in the series and am really excited to see where the author takes Abby and the rest of the characters as the series keeps progressing.  Well worth reading!

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