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Saturday, April 19, 2014

38) That Touch of Magic by Lucy March

The Blurb :

Stacy Easter has seen better days. Being a librarian is a labor of love—if only paying her bills were half as much fun. What’s a single, bookish beauty in sleepy Nodaway Falls, New York, supposed to do?

To make ends meet, Stacy decides to develop her special…powers. Everyone can use a touch of magic now and then, right? Soon she’s got clients lining up to receive her signature potions—until a few of them go awry. Meanwhile, her own life has just taken a storybook turn: Leo North, the official One Who Got Away, is back in town.

Stacy’s best friends, Peach and Liv, are more concerned about the state of her heart than the side effects of a few rogue magic spells. But someone with dark intentions is crossing magical wires all over Nodaway Falls, and those closest to Stacy are at risk. Can Stacy conjure up a way out of this mess with her life—and maybe even her love life—intact?

My Thoughts :

I remember reading the debut book in this series, 'A Little Night Magic', and wanting to read more straight away.  However it seems the author or publisher didn't want us to have more until two years later.  'That Touch of Magic' was over due and when I saw it on Audible I decided it was worth a credit.  What made it more inviting was the narrator.  The same voice that does the Molly Harper books.  It is worth listening to this book for that talent alone.

Anyway, a two year gap is too long.  At first I couldn't remember anything about the previous book and decided I must have gotten it mixed up with something else.  The references to the previous story did little to jog my memory and in the end I went and looked up the first book and read the blurb.  Thats when the penny dropped, this book is from another POV.  Stacy was not the lead character in the last book but just a part of the story.  Things started to make a little bit more sense with the help of the blurb and this information.

Despite the slight confusion and memory loss I still liked the story and the paranormal element was somehow fun.  I wonder if I would have liked the story if I had read it because the narrator really did make this one enjoyable to listen to.  At some points the story dragged a little and I felt like Stacey spent a lot of time running around in circles.  By the end I was pleased with how things worked out and was happy that I had picked this one to listen to.

There were some minor problems I had with the story and some of the characters but I managed to turn a blind eye (or in this case, ear) to them.  Spoilers ahead : Stacey often mentions her lack of money but she always seems to have enough to waste.  She tells Leo on many times that she doesn't want him but easily, without any qualms, gets back together with him.  The whole Desmond night and how she seems to forget it so easily was weird.  Especially with everything he did.  Oh and Leo and his priesthood thing?  Ran off to join the circus would have been a better story.

I am hoping the author/publishers don't make us wait too long for book number three in the series.  I wouldn't mind visiting Nodaway Falls again and catching up with the magically community and seeing what other trouble they can get themselves into.  Nice read, definitely worth listening to and one of those feel good, giggle and enjoy stories.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

37) A Deadly Grind by Victoria Hamilton

The Blurb :

A Hoosier to die for?

When vintage cookware and cookbook collector Jaymie Leighton spies an original 1920s Hoosier brand kitchen cabinet at an estate auction, it’s love at first sight. Despite the protests of her sister that the 19th-century yellow-brick house they share in Michigan is already too cluttered with Jaymie’s “junk,” she successfully outbids the other buyers and triumphantly takes home her Hoosier.

But that night on the summer porch where they’ve left the Hoosier to be cleaned up, a man is murdered, struck on the head with the steel meat grinder that is part of the cabinet. Who is this stranger—and what was he doing on their porch? Does his death have anything to do with the Hoosier?

As the police struggle to determine the man’s identity, Jaymie can’t help doing a little digging on her own, accompanied by her three-legged Yorkie Poo, Hopalong. But in her bid to uncover the truth about the hidden secrets of the Hoosier, Jaymie may be the one who ends up going, going…gone.

My Thoughts :

On my cozy mystery binge I decided to finally start this series.  I actually have book number three on my Kindle to review.  It has been there for a while but I didn't know when I accepted the book that it wasn't the first in the series (don't you just hate it when that happens?).  So now I am trying to get hold of the previous books so I can read and review the third installment.  I don't like reading books out of order.

I have already read another book by Victoria Hamilton so I knew she wasn't a cozy mystery newbie.  However I think this book was her first cozy mystery because I have to say it felt like it.  There were little signs of first time clue grabbing and trying to make the plot more complicated that it should be.  I enjoyed the book a lot but there were times when I felt myself speed reading through some of the 'boring' parts.

The theme was interesting enough.  I found myself looking up 'Hoosier' within a couple of chapters because I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.  I have to admit I wouldn't mind having one myself and quite like the idea of one of these vintage items standing in my kitchen.  It actually made me wonder where the author takes this series in the upcoming books because I don't know what other vintage kitchen items could be mixed up murder mysteries.

As for the characters, they were nice enough.  I don't feel like I really got the chance to get to know anyone else very well other than Jaymie and I found it extremely hard to remember that she was a lot younger than she kept behaving/sounding.  There is a lot of potential regular characters that I think could turn out to be very likable and interesting.  I think the next couple of books will have to build up the other cast to make this series more readable.

All in all this wasn't bad and I am looking forward to part two.  The location, history and details were a nice touch and it was obvious that the author put a lot of thought into making it all believable and real. Hopefully I will get to book two as soon as possible so I can move on to the third installment and finally review the book.  I love a good cozy and I think I have found another one to add to the ever growing list of ones I enjoy reading.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

36) Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

The Blurb :

Tricia Miles, owner of Haven’t a Clue mystery bookstore, is still settling into Stoneham, New Hampshire, the kind of town where everybody knows your name—and where everyone’s quick to lend a hand, even when murder is afoot . . .

The kinder folks of Stoneham might call Pammy Fredericks a free spirit. The less kind, a freeloading thief. Tricia has put up—and put up with—her uninvited college roommate for weeks. In return, Pammy, has stolen $100, among other things. But the day she’s kicked out, Pammy’s found dead in a dumpster, leaving loads of questions unanswered. Like what was she foraging for? Did her killer want it too? To piece the case together, Tricia will have to dive in head-first.…

My Thoughts :

After reading the first two books in this series I was ready to keep going.  I am in a cozy mood so this was the natural choice of series to grab for because I really enjoyed the previous stories.  However it seems that this series is getting very mixed reviews over on Goodreads and I am happy that I didn't read any of them beforehand because they really could make you hate this series.  I think people forget that this is a cozy mystery and is supposed to be over the top and sometimes unbelievable.  That is one of the good things about cozies.  Great plot but questionable themes, deduction processes and characters.

Unlike the cozy I read before this one, this series is really set in a bookstore and it features the said bookstore quite prominently throughout the story.  After two books in the series I really feel like my time in Booktown is a like a murder mystery weekend.  A short break and a fun murder mystery to solve.  I like Tricia, her cat and this time around her sister Angelica also made herself seem more likable.  However Ginny the bookshop assistant lost a lot of my respect and was like an annoying teenager who kept moaning and groaning.  I hope Tricia toughens up on her instead of making her life easier.

There are some aspects of this series that are starting to make me wonder.  Tricia seems to have enough money to throw around because she is extremely generous in some respects.  However when she really needs something she tries to save.  This is shown to us a few times in series and in this third installment it is practically pointed out to us with a big neon sign.  So what is the deal?  Rich or not?  Too generous?  I hope that Tricia doesn't give a certain person too much of her money.  Anyone who has/does read this book will know who I am talking about.

Anyway, the plot this time around was a little boring at first.  I didn't see how anything would fit together and I wasn't sure if the author knew either.  There were some characters involved who seemed to be a waste of time and there were other characters drawn in that changed the pace of the series somewhat.  A very weird mixture of change that seemed strange for a third book in the series.  It is like the author didn't think things would get this far and decided she needed to change aspects of the story to be able to keep the series going for another few books.

Despite all of this the story was still good.  Easy to follow and well worth reading.  I am happy to say I have the next two books in the series and with some of the events this book brings I am quite eager to see how things continue to develop.  Even for some of the characters who I think need a good slap ;)  Expect to see the next book reviewed very soon.  After all I have the next books in paperback and really need to get some paperbacks read and moving along.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

35) Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon

The Blurb :

In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store–Coffee, Books, and More–open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill’s elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily’s gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill–along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies.

Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit–especially if it gets her closer to South Cove’s finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she’s on the case–and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently.

My Thoughts :

I love cozy mysteries and am definitely in the cozy mood at the moment.  So apologies in advance if things get a little too cozy over here ;)

Guidebook to Murder caught my eye on Netgalley and I decided to give it a go.  With the leading lady owning a book/coffee shop I couldn't resist.  Plus the cover looked warm and inviting.  However right from the beginning the story managed to veer away from the bookstore.  It wasn't the main theme in the plot and it was only mentioned in passing.  The main location in this first in a new series is the house that Jill inherits from an elderly friend.  So if you are all hyped up on the book angle promised by the cover then maybe you will get some bookstore murder in the sequel because this one is more about home renovation that book selling.

But wait!  The location and theme may not be what I expected but in the end it didn't matter.  It was still a good cozy mystery and it turned out to be a great read.  I liked Jill, enjoyed getting to know the town and the people there, I thought the mystery was well thought out and exciting and the relationship between Jill and Greg was fun to read about.  Actually this book met all the cozy mystery requirements and despite being a little too over the top in some aspects (I thought all the inheritance/money aspect a little too easy peasy) I am very much looking forward to another installment.

So if you are looking for something new, look no further.  This cozy is worth the time.  Hopefully this series will continue to build some nice roots for Jill and also some interesting cases for her and Greg to get involved in.  Although I don't understand why the series is called 'Tourist Trap' but maybe that will become clear later down the line?  Didn't have much to do with tourists but I will be on the look out for the sequel.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

34) The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas

The Blurb :

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

My Thoughts :

I was a huge fan of the Veronica Mars TV series and helped Kickstart the film that came out last month.  So when I saw there was a book coming out and the audio version was being narrated by Kristen Bell there was no decisions to be made about if I was going to get a copy and in which format.  I actually pre-ordered this one and made sure my previous audio book was finished so I could just move straight over to this one.  I was really excited.

And rightly so!  Why hasn't there been any Veronica Mars books before now?   This actually would have been a great second move or a new episode.  There was everyone you expected and everything you could expect.  Lots of a great twists and turns and some amazing getting in trouble 'Veronica style' scenes.  Sassy, nosy and persistent Veronica doing her famous P.I thing is not only exciting and fun but it interesting and thrilling.

The plot was great in this one and it kept me and Veronica guessing for a long time. There was only one thing wrong with this book and that was the lack of Logan.  For anyone who has seen the movie you will know where he is because this book takes place a few months after the film.  There was a couple of moments of Logan but it wasn't enough but any Team Piz members will be disappointed.  He doesn't make an appearance.

I really hope this is the first of many more Veronica Mars books.  For any fans this is the icing on the cake after the movie and for anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of finding out who and what Veronica Mars is because they are bookworms, will have the chance to check her out on paper.  However I highly suggest the audio version.  It is just like watching a new episode but you get to imagine the picture yourself.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

33) Rabbit Trick by Alex Hughes

The Blurb :

When the cops call me in the middle of the night, I know it's bad. One of their own is dead, strangled in her car by a professional killer, and it's up to me, telepath consultant extraordinaire, to pull the rabbit out of my hat and solve the case. Only this time I'm not so sure I can.

Homicide Detective Isabella Cherabino is breathing down my neck. The dead cop's partner is too. And now, the worst--there was a five-year-old kid in the car, a kid no one can find.

My Thoughts :

Writing short stories can't be easy.  Fitting so much into a small amount of words must be harder than writing a full length novel.  However some authors manage it very well and Alex Hughes is one of them.  Rabbit Trick was not only well written, interesting and addictive it also managed to pack a punch.  For anyone who hasn't already tried this series it is definitely a place to start and get a taste of the goodness this author has come up with.

The Mindscape Investigations is one of my favourite series to read in the last couple of years.  The third book has just released and I can't wait to get hold of a copy.  This novella reminded me just how original and wonderful this world is.  The futuristic element isn't my usual cup of tea but the mystery and character building more than make up for that.  This is a well thought out concept and I can't wait to see what happens next.

This short story also had two 'chapters' added to the end from what I can only assume are new works coming from the author.  The first one piqued my interest but the second one didn't really grab me as much.  I will definitely be on the look out for them though as this author has already proved she can write an amazing story.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Author Guest Blog : Alex Hughes

I am a huge fan of the Mindscape Investigations and have read all the books so far.  So of course when author Alex Hughes contacted me and asked if I would like to be a part of her Blog Tour for Marked, I couldn't say no!  

I haven't gotten a copy of Marked yet but I will be getting one real soon and I can't wait to read it.  I loved Clean, Sharp and the novellas (review for Rabbit Trick coming tomorrow!) and I am sure that the third Mindscape Investigation is going to be just as good if not better than the first two.

Enjoy the guest blog and make sure you check out the books.  I was pleasantly surprised by them and love the characters, original concept and the great mysteries.  

Guest Blog

Character Interview with Kara
A blog post by Alex Hughes

As part of the blog tour for Marked, I’ve been subjecting Mindspace characters to difficult job interview questions to see how they’ll react. This time, it’s Kara’s turn—if you remember, she’s Adam’s ex-fiancĂ©, a woman who plays by her own loyalties. (Interview questions taken from CareerBuilder’s list here.)

A: Hi Kara, thanks for agreeing to meet with me.

K: It’s Ms. Chenoa, thank you. And when the Guild Council asks me to meet with someone, I give them whatever attention they need. What can I do for you?

A: Ms. Chenoa, I’m doing a detailed psychological study of certain individuals for a (mumble mumble) project. I’d like to ask you some detailed questions that may get a little personal, and I’d like you to answer them truthfully.

K: I’ll do what I can, but you must keep in mind that I’m in a delicate position as the Guild attachĂ©. Often there is only so much I can say.

A: I understand. Let’s start with the first question. How would your best friend describe you?

K: I can see what you mean about the personal questions. Well, I would say my best friend would describe me as intelligent, poised, competent, and well able to handle my political position within the Guild. She would also probably also mention my family, which is significant in position in the Guild on both my mother’s and father’s side. I have voting rights through both lines. 

A: That doesn’t seem like a very personal description.

K: It’s the best description available to the public. What else would you like to know?

A: What would you say are your two greatest weaknesses?

K: My sense of priorities is constantly changing due to my official and family position within the Guild. Sometimes the changing priorities offends people. Sometimes people don’t understand the decisions I make. But they are always the best decisions I can make at the time with the information that I have. I don’t see anyone else doing better.

A: Your second weakness?

K: I have a relatively short range for a teleporter. So I have to push longer and train harder to get the same courier distance. It’s just as well that I’ve been moved to a desk position. There are others better suited to that kind of work, and with my family I’m in a good position to navigate the political situation with the normals. I’m more used to politics than many others would be.

A: You realize you didn’t give me any actual weaknesses that I couldn’t have found out from official Guild statistics.
K: Did you have another question?

A: Sure. How do you alleviate stress? All people in high-powered jobs such as yours have stress.

K: Thank you. I enjoy a bubble bath and a glass of wine at the end of the day. I also enjoy skiing with my mother’s family in the Swiss Alps. My husband and I try to make it out at least twice a year to see them. It’s good to get away from the office and experience the snow and the family.

A: I see. Two more questions. What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?

K: You have to give a solid, precise, clear answer when a question is given. If people ask why, it’s important to give them as much of your reasoning as is practical to share. If they continue to ask, keep giving them the same precise, clear answer as your original. Eventually they will learn to accept it or go over your head.

A: That’s not conflict.

K: Isn’t it? I’ve had good success with the tactic. 

A: (sighs) You’re really not going to open up to me are you? Fine, one more question. Tell me a time when you had to go above and beyond to get a job done.

K: Well, the most recent publically-available instance was… 

A: You don’t have to stick with the public. Really. 

K: With respect, I can see you writing things down. I’ll stick to the public, thanks. Do you want me to answer or not?

A: Go ahead.

K: Adam Ward called me out of the blue. I successfully liasoned with him and the police department he was working for. Unfortunately, the killer that he and his department were tracking was a Guild member. This made it politically difficult for everyone because of the Koshna Accord rules. But, since everyone was willing to talk and no one wanted a man killing people willy-nilly, I managed to work out an agreement between both sides. As far as the above and beyond piece goes, they had difficulty apprehending Bradley so I agreed to teleport Adam to the location where he was hiding. Since this was a Guild facility, I then had to obtain Council permission for the police to arrive and apprehend. It was many days’ work at considerable personal cost, but Bradley was ultimately punished as he deserved. We were all pleased.

A: Thank you.

K: Are we done? I have a great deal of work to do, as I’m sure you understand.

A: (sighs) Yes, I’m done.

The Author

Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. 

Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

The Blurb


Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.

When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.

Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death.

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