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Sunday, June 26, 2016

49) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Blurb :


Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.


And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My Thoughts :

The Girl on the Train isn't the kind of book that I usually read and review around here but it was June's Book Club read and I am sure people will be surprised to know that I actually picked it.  There are no hidden vampires or witches in this one but there is a monster.  Just not the supernatural kind.  It is a book that I have heard a lot about and see all over the place and it fit into one of the book club topics.  So I decided to give it a try.  After all, a long time ago, I used to read this genre all the time.

I don't think you are supposed to really like any of the characters in this book.  Which maybe a little hard on some readers.  It seems there is always someone you are supposed to be rooting for.  However in this story it seems you are only supposed to have some kind of feelings towards the main characters.  I didn't get the impression that the writer really wanted you to choose a side or a favourite. If anything I think she purposely gave them all their different problems and failures to build up the suspense and keep you guessing about what really happened.

The story was very dramatically British.   I am sure some readers will find this affair and alcoholic filled mess extremely over the top.  However it isn't.  Except the murder, this all seemed to be a mix-up of many gossiped about events that anyone living in the UK will have heard about family, friends and friends of friends.  I admit this could have been an episode of Eastenders or Coronation Street but with less glamour.

At first the whole time and character changes really confused me but once I got into the story I found it easy to keep everything on track and understood why the author wrote it that way.  It added a lot of suspense to the story and it was nice to have all the bits and pieces come together slowly and fall into place at the end.  Even the addition of Anna's perspective, so late into the book, was a clever twist and showed how well thought out the story was.

What really struck me is that I have been that woman (or maybe girl) on the train. I remember always looking inside the windows, gardens etc as we went by on the train. I still do it now if I am not too busy reading. I don't think I ever went as far as to make up a story for a particular family or house but I definitely saw things on the side of the tracks and wondered who they belonged to and how they got there. I could understand and relate with Rachel's obsession even if it went to an extreme that was fueled by her problems.

I knew who the murderer was pretty early on. Or at least without the proper evidence I had a very strong feeling I knew who it was. However there were little pieces of the puzzle that I didn't see coming. Meghan's past, Rachel's determination and of course those moments towards the end with Anna.  In fact this was totally not the murder mystery I was expecting.  I really thought the person on the train was going to witness a murder and things would escalate from there.  Maybe no body is found even though she reports it, or she has to hide from the killer....anything but what this turned out to be.  I am not saying I am disappointed at how this actually turned out to be but it was a surprise.

There is a lot more I could say about this book but I fear I would give too much away.  I can only conclude that I enjoyed the book and it had me hooked until the end.  I am really glad I picked the book and finally read it. It also reminded me how much I used to like reading this genre and if I didn't have so much to read already I definitely would be looking for something else similar to read next.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, June 25, 2016

48) This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle

The Blurb :

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and while Shannon is delighted to be friends with not one but two handsome men, not everyone in town is feeling the love. After her elderly neighbor Jesse Hennessey fails to make his daily appearance at the local diner, Shannon swings by his place to check on him. Not only does she find Jesse dead—of an apparent heart attack—but she also realizes that his home has been ransacked.

Someone suggests that a thief was searching for a priceless necklace Jesse claimed to have retrieved from a capsized sailing ship, but Shannon doesn’t believe it. Everyone knows Jesse had a penchant for constructing tall tales—like the one about him having a hot new girlfriend. But his death is soon ruled a homicide, and shady suspects begin popping out of the woodwork. When another victim turns up dead, Shannon is convinced she must find the killer before someone else gets nailed....

My Thoughts :

This second Fixer-Upper Mystery was a wonderful book to listen to.  The narrator does a lovely job of pulling you into the story and I found myself grabbing my earphones whenever I could.  The location, the characters and the mystery were once again well written and interesting and I enjoyed going back to visit them all again so soon.

While the story and sometimes the writing is a little weak, this was well worth reading.  There was less construction talk which was nice in one way but sad in another.  After all this is supposed the Fixr-Upper Mystery series so there should be a little more of the Fixing!  Despite that the murders were interesting and easy to follow but the case was a nice and hard one to solve.

I had my suspicions but like Shannon I didn't put all the pieces together until she did.  Mainly because the author didn't give the reader all the facts until Shannon had them.  Which is a nice change.  I hate main characters who have all the pieces and still can't get the puzzle solved.  It is frustrating and not as interesting.

Looking forward to listening to the next installment sometime soon.  I know I read too many cozies but there are way too many good ones around.  Also this one showed some promise of becoming a little paranormal.  So maybe the series will get more ghostly!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, June 18, 2016

47) Tea Cups and Carnage by Lynn Cahoon

The Blurb :

The quaint coastal town of South Cove, California, is all abuzz about the opening of a new specialty shop, Tea Hee. But as Coffee, Books, and More owner Jill Gardner is about to find out, there’s nothing cozy about murder . . .

Shop owner Kathi Corbin says she came to South Cove to get away from her estranged family. But is she telling the truth? And did a sinister someone from her past follow her to South Cove? When a woman claiming to be Kathi’s sister starts making waves and a dead body is found in a local motel, Jill must step in to clear Kathi’s name—without getting herself in hot water.

My Thoughts :

The Tourist Trap Mysteries have been a favourite of mine since I came across the first one a couple of years ago.  It is one of those series that doesn't leave you waiting around for a year until a new installment comes along and has a lovely variety of characters that you look forward to visiting again.
Tea Cups and Carnage is the seventh book in the series and although the murder mystery in this book is a little weak and distant, it was still interesting enough to keep me reading.  However there could be no murder mystery and I would of still kept reading because I just love the location, people and general feel of everything else in the series.

The series is well written and interesting but the mystery solving is getting a little too distant.  I understand that Jill is supposed to stay out of things, which she actually does pretty well, but I wouldn't mind her getting a little bit more involved or even see her relationship gather some speed.  All the characters are nice and all play their parts well.  It is always fun to see where the story is taking them too.

I am really enjoying this series and can't wait to see what happens next.  Things are constantly evolving in the town of South Cove and I look forward to every visit.  The lack of waiting is definitely a positive factor for this series and always keeps the people and previous stories fresh in my mind.  I can always jump straight into a Tourist Trap Mystery without feeling lost or confused.  No need to try and remember anything.  It is all there because the last installment wasn't that long ago.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, June 11, 2016

46) Checked Out by Elaine Viets

The Blurb :

Wealthy socialite Elizabeth Cateman Kingsley has hired Helen to find a missing John Singer Sargent painting, owned by her late father. After his death, many of Davis Cateman’s books were donated to the Flora Park library, and his daughter suspects the small watercolor—worth millions—was tucked away inside one of those dusty tomes.

To search the stacks, Helen applies for a position as a library volunteer and discovers the library director has a catalog of complaints—from a mischievous calico cat named Paris to the mysterious disappearance of various items that some of the more imaginative staff are attributing to a ghost haunting the building.

While her husband Phil sticks his neck out to find a missing necklace, Helen is on her own with no one to lend her a hand. When a dead body turns up in a parking lot, it appears someone is willing to go to any lengths to keep the treasure in the library quiet. Now Helen is bound and determined to find the killer as well as the painting—before she’s taken out of circulation herself.

My Thoughts :

This is one of my favourite cozy mystery series but as I have moaned about many times over the last few years, it is also not one I can pick up on release day.  Well I could but the cost of the book is always three times the price of a normal novel.  Even the Kindle version is highly priced.  I love the series but I can't justify buying a copy when it releases when I could buy three books for the same price.  I just hope that the author actually gets the money!   Anyway, I usually add the new releases to my wishlist and hope to get a copy for Christmas or my Birthday and at some point a copy of this latest release did find its way into my possession.  However a new installment is about to release so I am nearly back at square one, so to speak.

Another great cozy that is well thought out and interesting.  It wasn't my favourite of the series but it wasn't the worst.  This time around I felt that Helen was acting a little more dramatic than usual and I have to wonder if she is getting a bit too cocky.  Of course this did end up to be murder at the end of the day but she was sounding a little crazy now and again.

I really love Elaine Viets books and miss her Mystery Shopper series.  I hope this series will continue for a few more books but I also look forward to Helen getting a nice happy end.  She has been through a lot and despite being better off she still, I feel, deserves something more.

Looking forward to the next installment.  It is on my wishlist and my Birthday is coming up!  So fingers crossed!!!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, June 5, 2016

45) Once Upon A Crime by P.J. Brackston

The Blurb :

Gretel (yes, that Gretel) is now 35, very large, still living with her brother Hans, and working as a private investigator. The small, sleepy town of Gesternstadt is shaken to its pretty foundations when the workshop of the local cart maker is burnt to the ground, and a body is discovered in the ashes. It is Gretel who notices that the cadaver is missing a finger.

At first, she does not see this as significant, as her mind is fully focused on a new case. Not that she wouldn’t far rather be investigating an intriguing murder, but her client is willing to pay over the odds, so she must content herself with trying to trace three missing cats. It is not until she is further into her investigations that she realizes the two events are inextricably and dangerously connected, and that the mystery of the missing cats will lead her into perilous situations and frightening company.

Very soon Gretel finds herself accused of kidnapping Princess Charlotte, twice locked up in the cells at the Summer Schloss, repelling the advances of an amorous troll, strapped to a rack in Herr Schmerz’s torture chamber, and fleeing a murder charge. With dubious help from her brother (whose scant wits are habitually addled by drink), she must prove her innocence, solve the puzzle of the unidentified corpse, and find the stolen cats before they meet a grisly end.

My Thoughts :

So let's start this one with how Goodreads confused me completely by listing this book as #2 in the Brothers Grimm Mysteries when it is indeed the prequel of Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints. If I had known this I certainly would have read the books in the correct order but in the grand scheme of things it didn't make much of a difference. Also this prequel isn't your typical novella prequel but a normal sized novel and it also didn't ruin the story.

Now let's go onto how funny and inspiring this series is. Paula Brackston is well known for her serious and incredible Witch books but this fantasy filled cozy mystery series is completely different! There's a lot of humour weaved into this interesting twist on the good old Hansel and Gretel tale from the Brothers Grimm and for any German speakers some cute language usages as well. Granted this prequel didn't make me laugh as much as Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints but the mystery kept me intrigued and most of all it kept me reading until the end.

I look forward to reading more in this series. It is something different with historical twists and lots of fantasy. It makes for very light reading and the story flows really well with some very funny characters and amusing situations. Well worth checking out and a must read for fans of the author.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Friday, June 3, 2016

44) Murder Most Frothy by Cleo Coyle

The Blurb :

Clare Cosi’s new friend, millionaire David Mintzer, has an offer no New York barista could turn down: an all-expenses-paid summer away from the sticky city. At his Hamptons mansion, she’ll relax, soak up the sun, and, oh yes, train the staff of his new restaurant. So Clare packs up her daughter, her former mother-in-law, and her special recipe for iced coffee—for what she hopes will be one de-latte-ful summer…

Soon, Clare tends the coffee bar at her first Hamptons gala. But the festivities come to a bitter end when an employee turns up dead in David’s bathroom—a botched attempt on the millionaire’s life. Thanks to the Fourth of July fireworks no one heard any gunshots, and the police are stuck in holiday traffic. Concerned for everyone’s safety, Clare begins to investigate. What she finds will keep her up at night—and it’s not the java jitters....

My Thoughts :

I am having a difficult love/hate relationship with the Coffeehouse Mystery series and fear that it will continue.  This fourth book in the series didn't do much for the love side of the relationship but for some reason I can't stop myself from being interested in the next installment.

Clare is a highly annoying character with conflicting views on so many things and she constantly manages to get on my nerves with her condescending manner.  This combined with her snobby attitude about everything coffee related makes her really hard to like.  Don't even started on her investigations with she stumbles through like an elephant in a minefield.   How she hasn't gotten herself killed or even badly hurt is beyond me.

This is a series that really makes me wonder if the author likes the main character or if she really wants her to come across as this annoying woman who I wouldn't usually give the time of day to.  However I really have to wonder why the series is already so long and doing so well.  There is obviously something about it because I don't think I can keep away either.

Listening to this series definitely helps because I am very sure that I wouldn't have finished reading this if I had read the physical version.  I will be checking out more of the series even though I don't know why I would want to.  There isn't anything very positive I can say about any of it but I still find myself wanting to listen to more of the series.  It is a true mystery!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, May 29, 2016

43) Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine

The Blurb :

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

My Thoughts :

I don't know what I expected from Ink & Bone but it definitely wasn't what I got.  A follower of Rachel Caine, I couldn't miss the beginning of a new series but the blurb was already slightly off putting.  However I got a copy and I finally got around to reading it this weekend.

Everything was confusing from the beginning.  It was hard to follow how the world that Caine has invented really works.  Books are good? Bad?  I wasn't sure what the point was but after about a fifth of the book I started to understand what this world was like but I still didn't quite understand everything.

There is a lot of new jargon that was lost on me for most of the book and I didn't feel like everything was explained to a high enough level to really enjoy the obviously brilliant concept that the author has come up with.  Despite my problems following every single piece of the puzzle I did find myself quite engrossed in the story and eager to see what happened.

You can tell when an author has put substantial effort and research into a book when you realise that one of her characters names actually translates to 'Writer' which fits to the story extremely well.  However it made me wonder if I should take things personally as a Welsh person living in Vienna when in this world the Welsh are hated (or loved? another thing I wasn't sure of) and Austria doesn't exist anymore.

All in all this was a nice strong start to a series that is more complicated than it is enjoyable.  I won't say I will not continue the series but I do know that this is definitely a series that needs to be read close together.  I think the longer you leave between installments, the harder it will be to keep the facts straight and understand everything that has happened and is happening.

Amberkatze's Book Blog