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Sunday, October 11, 2015

99) Pane and Suffering by Cheryl Hollon

The Blurb :

To solve her father's murder and save the family-owned glass shop, Savannah Webb must shatter a killer's carefully constructed fa├žade. . .
After Savannah's father dies unexpectedly of a heart attack, she drops everything to return home to St. Petersburg, Florida, to settle his affairs--including the fate of the beloved, family-owned glass shop. Savannah intends to hand over ownership to her father's trusted assistant and fellow glass expert, Hugh Trevor, but soon discovers the master craftsman also dead of an apparent heart attack.

As if the coincidence of the two deaths wasn't suspicious enough, Savannah discovers a note her father left for her in his shop, warning her that she is in danger. With the local police unconvinced, it's up to Savannah to piece together the encoded clues left behind by her father. And when her father's apprentice is accused of the murders, Savannah is more desperate than ever to crack the case before the killer seizes a window of opportunity to cut her out of the picture. . .

My Thoughts :

I have been trying desperately to stay away from debuts.  I have so much to read and taking on a new series is really not helping the upward struggle of my really high to be read mountain.  However there are just some books that catch your eye.  Pane and Suffering was one of those books.  Maybe I should try and stay away from Netgalley so I won't be tempted by the pretty covers that lead to interesting blurbs that lead to requesting books to review!

Anyway, Pane and Suffering looked promising and I decided to give it a chance.  There were a few aspects that made me click that 'review' button.  First were the references to Florida and Seattle.  I have read some pretty good books based in Florida and I have been to Seattle so my mind did a little dance.  Secondly the glass aspect was something new.  It is a pretty and different craft that I know very little about and reading all these cozies is a learning experience.  Thirdly the codes sounded like fun.  Not just your everyday normal mystery but something with a little more depth.

My reasons for picking up the book weren't the best reasons but they were ones that had me trying this new series.  The location didn't feel like Florida at any time in the book I often forgot about it.  Seattle was mentioned more than Florida but then again story was based in Florida.  The glass aspect was interesting but I don't think I learnt very much from this book.  The author did go into some depth about the process but I had no idea what it all really meant.  A glossary of some of the terms could be found at the end of the book but it was too little too late.  The codes were also very interesting and a very important part of the plot but it wasn't too impressive.

I liked Savannah and the other characters in the book and loved the idea of the glass shop and classes being taught.  The British style pub next door and the community feeling was nice and I hope the author expands on this in future books.  However on many aspects I think the author was trying too hard.  The Glass, the codes, teas, beers, geocaching etc there was just too much going on.  It felt a little like she was trying to show off....or at least Savannah was trying to show off.  It was all too much too soon.

The police side of the investigation was frustrating and I wonder why the author felt she had to have such a weird storyline to make things so slow.  It was annoying for Savannah and for the reader.  Also annoying was the 'will she or won't she stay' when it was pretty obvious from the first page that she was staying.  Otherwise this wouldn't have been the first in a new series about the Webb Glass Shop.  That mystery was solved easily.  The murder mystery wasn't and it kept you guessing till the codes were broken.

While I seem to be a little overly negative about Pane and Suffering, I am in fact happy I read it and will actually recommend it.  It had some faults but for a debut that is nothing unusual.  The series looks like it could be really good and I was left with the 'I want to try more' feeling. I would definitely give the next book a try and look forward to seeing what the author does with the series.  It is well worth giving this one a try and checking out what this new author has to offer.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Friday, October 9, 2015

98) Murder of a Pink Elephant by Denise Swanson

The Blurb :

When Skye Denison's brother forms a band called Pink Elephant, the town goes wild-maybe too wild. First, a groupie turns stalker, seducing the band members one by one. Then, one of the Pink Elephants winds up murdered. Who's to blame? Everyone seems to think it's the drummer-and now Skye has to clear her brother's name.

My Thoughts :

Another installment in the Scumble River Mysteries and once again a great listen!  I am really enjoying this series and am itching to listen to the next part but managed to stop myself and listen to something else.

The mystery was well written as always although I put a lot of the pieces together before Skye did.  However, as with Skye, I only got the final pieces of the puzzle when she did.  A style that I like about these mysteries.  While most of the clues are easy to put together there is always a little bit left out, that 'Ah' moment when it really becomes clear.

As always I am enjoying the on-going story of Skye and the regulars in Scumble River.  I like the way Skye thinks and find her job interesting.  What really makes this series fun is the fact that it is 'old'.  Set in a time where mobile phones are still not a big thing but computers are starting to be a 'thing'.  The internet was even mentioned in this installment and it is amusing to visit the world how it was.  Always looking for a phone ;)

Looking forward to the next book and the next twelve!  I am sure this series isn't going to take long for me to catch up with because the audio versions are really well read and easy to listen to.  Well worth checking out this series if you are a cozy fan.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Monday, October 5, 2015

Currently Ready & To Be Read

Well I have nearly reached my 100 books read aim for this year with still over two months to go.  It actually surprises me that I have read so much despite not really reading, in my opinion, a lot.

I haven't been feeling so good lately so my reading has suffered a little.  Plus my to be read pile got all messed up again when I came across a couple of review books I hadn't read in time for their release dates so I am playing catch up again!

Currently Reading :

This book released this week and I haven't started it yet.  It is next up after I finish another review book.

I love Kelly Armstrong and look forward to checking out this book.  The blurb says it is two brand new tales so I hope they really are new.  However the page count looks like these two tales are pretty long.

Hope to have this one read by the end of next weekend.  I have way more time to listen to books than sit down and read them this year.

Currently Listening To : 

I have gotten really addicted to this series and seeing as I am really behind I have no problem listening to another.  I would probably binge the whole series if it wasn't for some other books I have that need to be listened to.

The Scumble River series is long running and pretty old.  This is the sixth book and I think there are about eleven more I need to read to be all caught up.  It is really amusing to pick up this series and have everyone looking for phones because mobiles are a big thing yet.  There are other quirky aspects in there too and I am enjoying a little look back to the past.

Pretty sure this book will be finished by the middle of the week, if not sooner.

The Dreaded 'To Be Read' Pile :

There are so many books on this list that are not getting read!  Why?  Arrgggh!  Frustrating!

I haven't really updated the list but not a lot has changed.  I need to do a bit of cleaning up this month!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

97) The Scam by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

The Blurb :

Nicolas Fox is a charming con man and master thief on the run. Kate O’Hare is the FBI agent who is hot on his trail. At least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality, Fox and O’Hare are secretly working together to bring down super-criminals the law can’t touch. Criminals like brutal casino magnate Evan Trace.

Evan Trace is running a money-laundering operation through his casino in Macau. Some of his best customers are mobsters, dictators, and global terrorists. Nick and Kate will have to go deep undercover as high-stakes gamblers, wagering millions of dollars—and their lives—in an attempt to topple Trace’s empire.

It’s a scam that will take Fox and O’Hare from the Las Vegas strip, to the sun-soaked beaches of Oahu’s North Shore, and into the dark back alleys of Macau. Their only backup—a self-absorbed actor, a Somali pirate, and Kate’s father, and an ex-soldier who believes a rocket launcher is the best way to solve every problem. What could possibly go wrong?

My Thoughts :

The fourth installment in the Fox & O'Hare series was one of the better ones.  Maybe I am just used to the characters now or maybe I understand the con better with each experience, whatever the reason, I liked The Scam more than I thought I would.

My other experiences with this series have also been good but I was a little curious about how the series would continue and if it could continue to have that spark that was there in the first couple of books.  I also wasn't sure if I could put up with Evanovich's usual style of 'should she or shouldn't she' with Fox & O'Hare's relationship.  However it may turn out that Goldberg is a good influence on her or is just writing more of the book than she is.

The con this time around was as elaborate as the previous ones with a personal aspect slipped in to keep things interesting.  Once again the con takes the reader around the world and shows them a side of life that is usually reserved for mobsters and terrorists.  If the side the authors are showing is a true picture of what really goes on is not for me to comment on but it makes for great reading and comes across as realistic.

While this series could sound serious and more thriller than cozy mystery, it does have that air of mystery and definitely has the humour and hint of romance that a cozy usually has.  While the humour isn't the constant laugh out loud kind it is a subtle giggle kind.  The romance is part of the humour and isn't too in your face but very present and underlying.

I like the characters and enjoy the situations they get themselves into.  Over the last four books I have gotten to know them all pretty well and look forward to meeting up with them again.  Especially after the cliffhanger ending that the book left me peering over hoping to find at least one more chapter.  It seems the authors have some good ideas that will keep this series from getting boring and will have the readers coming back for more.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Thursday, October 1, 2015

96) Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart

The Blurb :

Cherry Tucker’s in a stew. Art commissions dried up after her nemesis became president of the County Arts Council. Desperate and broke, Cherry and her friend, Eloise, spend a sultry summer weekend hawking their art at the Sidewinder Annual Brunswick Stew Cook-Off.

When a bad case of food poisoning breaks out and Eloise dies, the police brush off her death as accidental. However, Cherry suspects someone spiked the stew and killed her friend. As Cherry calls on cook-off competitors, bitter rivals, and crooked judges, the police get steamed while the killer prepares to cook Cherry’s goose.

My Thoughts :

This is the second book in the Cherry Tucker Mystery series but the fourth book I have read.  You see I read the third and fourth books first and then went back to the first two.  A silly thing to do but sometimes review books are offered/look very good and you don't know or are not informed that the book is not the first in the series.  I have fallen into this trap way too often!

Anyway, I am finally up to date with the series and even though I read these in the wrong order I don't think it made a huge difference.  To be utterly honest I had forgotten the details of the on-going story despite remembering the mysteries.  So there wasn't much for me to get confused about.  I knew who all the characters were and felt very at home with the location and general feel of the series.

This installment came across as slow.  I am not sure if the narrator was purposely slow but I felt she  could have sped up a little.  It all felt very drawn out and it was frustrating and off putting at times.  The mystery was also a little slow but then again I thought it was pretty obvious right from the beginning what had happened.  The when the details came out about the various suspects I also thought it was obvious who had committed the crime.

Cherry came across as slightly annoying in this book in regards to her art work.  I really just wished she would just get her painting done and stop using the excuse of not having a model.  I admit I am not an artist and know nothing of their process but to me it came across as procrastination.  

Still Life in Brunswick Stew was a nice mystery but a poor audio book.  I don't think I would have ever gotten around to getting up to date with this series unless doing so via audio so I am not saying it was the worst but I definitely wouldn't recommend listening to the books.  I think reading them is more fun.  And this series is certainly fun and quirky.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, September 27, 2015

95) About a Vampire by Lynsay Sands

The Blurb :

With immortal good looks and scorching charisma, Justin Bricker has yet to meet a woman he can't win over. His potential life mate should be no different. But instead of falling into his bed, Holly Bosley runs away and ends up mortally wounded. To save her, he has to turn her. And then Bricker learns the shocking truth: Holly's already married.

Holly wakes up with a bump on her head, a craving for blood, and a sexy stranger who insists they belong together. She needs Bricker's help to control her new abilities, even as she tries to resist his relentless seduction. Choosing between the world she knows and the eternity he offers is impossible. But Justin is fighting for his life mate—maybe even his life—and he'll break every rule to do it.

My Thoughts :

About A Vampire is the 22nd book in the Argeneau series and while you may read that and think 'wow the series must be getting old by now', I am here to tell you that it just keeps getting better!

There are always certain aspects of an Argeneau novel that you can rely on.  There will be immortals made, a life mate will be found and there is definitely going to be some sex scenes.  While you can expect all of these three things happening in every book two questions remain unanswered.   How will all come about?  and who will be involved?  The answer is the exciting part of some amazing stories that keep me coming back for more.

Each story seems familiar but no two are the same.  The author manages to come up with new situations, people and challenges that made each story different and special.  Fans of the series have been waiting for Bricker's story and it is just as original and exciting as the other previous twenty-one books.  Less violence that is some of the previous books and not a lot of mystery this time around but the romancing and decisions involved that dominate this story are fun and interesting thanks to Lynsay's wonderful writing style.

If you haven't read any of the books in this series then you really need to give at least one book a go.  I remember thinking I would hate the series when I picked up the first one, many years ago, but I was addicted within a few chapters and haven't missed an installment since.

Going to give these a go? Make sure you start at the beginning because even though each book is told from another characters perspective, the characters from previous books do pop up in other books.  That means you may come across some spoilers if you don't follow the right reading order.

Already a fan?  Make sure you get this one as soon as possible!  It releases this week and is worth adding to your Argeneau collection.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, September 26, 2015

94) Murder of a Barbie & Ken by Denise Swanson

The Blurb :

In search of a social life in Scumble River, Skye Denison has revently joined the GUMBettes-the ladies auxiliary of the men's Grand Union of the Mighty Bulls. Now she and her boyfriend Simon hobnob with the upwardly mobile professionals in town. But when a seemingly perfect couple is murdered, Skye discovers that success doesn't equal survival...

My Thoughts :

My fifth visit to Scumble River was just as interesting as the previous four.  This series may be a little old and I am definitely far behind in the story, but it is very well written and very addictive cozy mystery series.

This time around there are some interesting developments in the on-going story when Skye gets a house guest who knows Simon very well.  There are also some little advances in her relationship with Simon but nothing dramatic.

There isn't really anything new to say about this book or the series that hasn't been said already.  This book is thirteen years old and there are many more for me to catch up on.  So all I will say is that this is a solid series, well worth reading if you haven't already and definitely worth listening to if you like audio books.

I am looking forward to the next installment and will most likely start listening to it very soon.  Yes it is already on my device!

Amberkatze's Book Blog