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Monday, July 28, 2014

84) The Devil's in the Details by Kimberly Raye

The Blurb :

Jess Damon, Houston's hottest wedding planner (and reformed succubus), is working for the bride from hell, literally. Her mother is the queen of evil, the princess of darkness, Satan herself, and she's getting married. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, Mommie Dearest thinks Jess is only in the wedding business to hook up with hot groomsmen, not to find true love. If she knew her man-eating daughter had gone soft, there would be hell to pay. Making matters worse, hunky demon hunter Cutter Owens just rolled into town, determined to vanquish the devil once and for all and he wants Jess to help him do it.

Now, on top of wrangling florists and sweet-talking caterers, Jess must outfox the world's sexiest demon hunter and save her mom from oblivion. But can she do it without revealing her true identity? Or devil forbid falling in love?

My Thoughts :

Kimberly Raye's 'Dead-End Dating' series was a great read and I have been checking in on the author periodically to see if she had something new in the same style coming out.  This one came out a while ago but it is one that I snapped up pretty quick after its release but for some reason it kept falling down to the bottom of the 'to be read' pile.  I finally made an effort to get to it and read it in one day.  Exactly what I was expecting from the author and a great new series start.

If you read Kimberly's last series you will remember how funny Lil was and how madcap her life got.  Well in this new series you have the same craziness but it all has to do with demons and weddings instead of vampires and dating.  I enjoyed this from the very beginning and was sucked into the arrangements for the weddings and all the other various plates Jess was balancing.  There were good characters and a nice plot with a strong paranormal presence.

Any fans of Molly Harper's work will find a friend in this author.  Her style is similar and the paranormal/cozy mystery/comedy mixture really works well.  Some laughs and giggles are dotted throughout the book and I didn't find it difficult to get into the whole demon concept.  Well worth trying out if you like the fun and witty ones.

I hope this will become a series.  There was an excerpt of book two at the end but I can't see anything on Amazon yet.  So I will once again keep checking in on this fabulous author and hope that I don't miss anything good!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

83) Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich

The Blurb :

Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti, was caught selling a lot more than used cars out of his dealerships. Now he’s out on bail and has missed his date in court, and bounty hunter Stephanie Plum is looking to bring him in. Leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. Even Joe Morelli, the city’s hottest cop, is struggling to find a clue to the suspected killer’s whereabouts. These are desperate times, and they call for desperate measures. So Stephanie is going to have to do something she really doesn’t want to do: protect former hospital security guard and general pain in her behind Randy Briggs. Briggs was picking up quick cash as Poletti’s bookkeeper and knows all his boss’s dirty secrets. Now Briggs is next on Poletti’s list of people to put six feet under.

To top things off, Ranger—resident security expert and Stephanie’s greatest temptation—has been the target of an assassination plot. He’s dodged the bullet this time, but if Ranger wants to survive the next attempt on his life, he’ll have to enlist Stephanie’s help and reveal a bit more of his mysterious past.

Death threats, highly trained assassins, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s wild bucket list. A boob job and getting revenge on Joe Morelli’s Grandma Bella can barely hold a candle to what’s number one on the list—but that’s top secret.

My Thoughts :

The Stephanie Plum series is one of those books I found in the local library before I really knew what I wanted to read.  So many books on the shelves but this one popped out (they used to have brighter interesting covers) and I took a chance on the author I had never heard of before.  I remember buying all the books available in the series within a couple of weeks of reading that first book and since then I have followed Stephanie through all of her adventures.

Twenty-one installments and nothing much has changed.  This isn't a bad thing but it also isn't a really good thing.  You know that Stephanie's car is going to blow up at least once, Lula is going to get into some very weird trouble, Grandma will be causing havoc at the funeral home and Ranger will be saving Stephanie's butt while Morelli plays cop.

There are so many expectations that, after all these years, it is slowly becoming a little boring.  I still want something to happen.  Something big.  Stephanie getting pregnant, her sister turning up again and leaving her the kids to look after, Marrying one of the guys while drunk....anything!  Just something different and shocking because the life of Stephanie Plum is still the same as it was 21 books ago.

Once again there was laugh out loud moments and it was nice to be back in Trenton (I only spent a few minutes in the train station while passing through but it looked nice enough) with all the usual suspects and a few more to make things interesting.  There were some nice location changes this time around with the adventure taking Stephanie and Ranger to New York City and Atlantic City.  Otherwise it was much of the same.

I keep following the series because it is amusing, different and addictive.  I will keep following it until it ends and always look forward to the madcap comedy this series offers while solving various weird and interesting crimes.  It is a series I now follow via Audible and have to give the narrator big kudos because she does an amazing job.  She is the same voice that lends her skills to the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones and the books are worth following just because she is narrating them.

If you haven't had the pleasure of spending time with Stephanie Plum then make sure you do sometime.  Despite my moans and groans there is always a good plot and lots of giggles.  Well worth reading and one to seriously think about listening to.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

To Be Read & Currently Reading

Sorry for the silence this week but a combination of technical problems and lack of time and energy kept me away.  The computer is off having an operation and while I have other options, those options are all slow and/or frustrating to use.

It is Saturday and I have more time to struggle (and it is turning out to be a struggle) with the older computer and finally post something.  I hope to get some more posts up over the next few days!

Currently Reading :

This book has been on my Kindle for a long time and was actually a review book.  I just didn't know that it was the third in the series and really wanted to read the previous books first.

Now I have read the first two books I am eager to get this one read.  I have been enjoying the series and I hope this third part will be no exception.  I wonder what trouble Jaymie gets herself into this time!

Currently Listening :

I came across this book while browsing Audible.com and it looked like it could be a fun cozy mystery.  I was excited to see it had a paranormal twist so of course I couldn't resist it!

The story is really good so far and I am enjoying it a lot.  The narrator is good and is also the narrator for the Sookie Stackhouse books, Women of the Otherworld series and many more.  So I am enjoying this even more because the book is nice to listen too.

The Dreaded 'To Be Read' Pile :

There are a few books on this list that are ARC's I need to read and review but because they don't release for another couple of months/weeks.

Last week a few new releases I had on pre-order appeared on my Kindle!  I have already read a couple of them but I still have a couple on my pile.  It is really hard not to just read the new books and forget the rest of the 'To Be Read' Pile!

Hot ButtonMemory ZeroThe Midnight Witch

Death by the DozenPortrait of a Dead GuyQuick Study

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!