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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

13) Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints by P.J. Brackston (Paula Brackston)

The Blurb :

Bavaria, 1776. When Albrecht Durer the Much Much Younger's Frog Prints go missing, he knows exactly where to turn for help. Gretel (yes, that Gretel), now 35 and still living with her gluttonous brother Hans, is the country's most famous private investigator, and she leaps at the opportunity to travel to cosmopolitan Nuremberg to take on the case. But amid the hubbub of the city s annual sausage festival, Gretel struggles to find any clues that point toward the elusive thief.

Even with the aid of the chatty mice living under her bed, the absent prints remain stubbornly out of view, and Gretel is forced to get creative in her search for the truth."

My Thoughts :

You may know P. J. Brackston as Paula Brackston the wonderful storyteller that gifted us such books as The Winter Witch and The Witch's Daughter.  Well if you wondered if she can write something other than the serious witch based stories then you will find your answer inside the first installment of the Brothers Grimm  Mysteries.

You can tell that Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints is going to be fun before you every start the story.  Look at that cover and title and then read the blurb.  There is so much promise and the author manages to deliver what is expected by way of a fun and fantasy filled cozy.  It is unusual and extremely entertaining!  I was hooked within the first couple of pages and couldn't put the book down.

The surprises inside this book are amusing and quite witty.  The author definitely took some time to plot out this well thought up twist on the Hansel and Gretyl story.  The addition of the German names and places are, if you know the language, delightful and the historical angle is not too over powering and fitting.  I managed to get engrossed in this one very easily and the characters and plot wouldn't let me go.

This is a book you need to try when you need cheering up or just want something that will bring on a giggle or two.  If you like Jasper Fforde's work then you will appreciate the style of this one and if you don't mind a little fantasy twist (there be talking animals for one) then you will also enjoy the magical details that are weaved into the story.

I am really looking forward to reading the next installment in the series and hope I will be able to pick it up soon.  This was a refreshing read and just the thing I needed to lighten up my reading and break the hard, cold and more darker books I have been reading lately.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, January 31, 2016

12) Night Study by Maria V. Snyder

The Blurb :

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana's has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia are safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.

Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he's quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he's been keeping secrets from Valek...secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander's mysterious plans, they realize it's far more sinister that they could have ever imagined.

My Thoughts :

I am a huge fan of Maria V. Snyder and was extremely happy to have Yelena and Valek return in the Soulfinder books.  Their story was far from being over and it is getting more and more complicated and interesting with each book.  I say complicated because I find it hard to keep up with everything and remember what happen in the previous books.  I could really do with a 'Previously on...' section at the beginning ;)

Despite my ability to remember all the details, I enjoyed this new installment as much as the others.  There are, as always, some challenging developments and interesting twists.  The plot is always captivating and the world the author has built to house her characters is always a pleasure to visit.

I can't wait for more from the series.  There are so many possibilities and outcomes for all involved and I am interested to see what the author has in store for them all.  Especially as the characters develop and grow.  Oh and we are not only talking personal growth here.  The amount of characters keeps growing too with some very surprising additions this time around.

Well worth checking out if you like Fantasy and magical elements.  This is a Game of Thrones on a smaller scale and no dragons.  A very well thought out world with so many wonderful aspects to be in awe of.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, January 30, 2016

11) Through the Grinder by Cleo Coyle

The Blurb :

Business is booming at Clare Cosi's Village Blend, until her female customers start to die. Lieutenant Quinn is convinced that someone has an axe to grind, and, unfortunately, his prime suspect is the new man in Clare's life.

Now Clare will risk her heart--and her life--to follow the killer's trail to the bitter end.

My Thoughts :

I started this series sometime last year and never got around to the second part.  The Coffeehouse series is a very well established series with already fifteen books under the name.  So I need to play catch up and that fits in with my Series Challenge for this year and also the fact that this one is a great listen via Audio book.

Now there is so much I like about this series.  The location is a huge pull for me.  I love New York and can't wait to visit the city again so the talk about all the districts and the history is wonderful.  I could listen to it all day.  Then there is the mystery plots.  So far they have been well thought out and interesting.  Keeping me guessing and not going too over the top.  The characters are also a nice bunch.  I am sure there is more to learn about all of them and I am looking forward to the many books ahead full of their stories.

However there are a few things about this series that have me wondering if I want to continue but are so far only a slight annoyance.  For instance, Claire is a coffee snob of the highest order.  Now I love coffee and it is interesting to hear some of the stories but her constant ramblings are quiet unnecessary.  The other element of the series so far is that the author doesn't seem to like her main character.  Claire has had to go through some really horrible things already.  With this second book really being quiet nasty.  Maybe it was part of a bigger plan but I was pretty shocked.

I look forward to listening to the next books in the series.  Maybe at some point things will turn around and I will totally love this series or decide to give up on it.  Only time will tell but until then this is a nice cozy series that has a lot going for it and must have something special because it has been going for over 10 years.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, January 23, 2016

10) Extra Credit by Maggie Barbieri

The Blurb :

Alison Bergeron has her doubts about hosting a birthday party for her twin stepdaughters, seeing as it'll include all of her new husband's ex-in-laws. Still, she's a good sport, and everyone has a great time, especially the girls, who receive $10,000 from their estranged uncle, Chick.

The girls' father, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford, and Christine, his ex, think the gift is too much. When Crawford swings by Chick's apartment to return it, he finds Chick dead, with roughly $250,000 stuffed in his mattress. The death is ruled a suicide, but Christine isn't convinced, and even Alison can't help but admit that there must be a lot more to Chick's death than meets the eye.

My Thoughts :

Well I am finally finished with this series and I am really glad to see the back of it.  The first couple of books were good and the middle of the series wasn't bad but the last couple were really over the top, repetitive and slightly annoying.  While there were some nice characters and an interesting setting, this series wasn't one of the better cozy mysteries I have read and I only finished up the series because I was already so far in and hoped things would improve.

This time around the plot was very thin and definitely not any of Allison's problem.  She still managed to play a huge roll though and it was a very thin piece of a connection that left me very annoyed at the author.  The usual kidnapping angle, a connection to Allison's place of work and of course another fight with her best friend were included once again.  With the typical 'I know where this is going' in relation to Max's behaviour and Allison's new student which of course the leading sleuth doesn't seem to notice even though it is starring her right in the face.

A slightly frustrating series that I wouldn't have finished if it didn't have something good about it.  I don't think I will be recommending it but if you see any of this series in a bargain bin somewhere or pick up a copy in a second hand store, then you may want to give it a try and see what you think.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

9) A Ghoul's Guide to Love and Murder by Victoria Laurie

The Blurb :

M.J., her boyfriend Heath, best friend Gilley, and the rest of the Ghoul Getters crew are back home in Boston. Their new film’s a monster hit, and a museum is getting in on the action with a special exhibit of supernatural artifacts. Unfortunately, Gilley—whose mind is engaged with wedding plans—donated the dagger which keeps the demon Oruç locked in the lower realm. Before M.J. can recover the bewitched blade, there’s a murder and a heist at the museum, and the dagger is stolen.

Now Oruç, having already killed once, is coming for M.J. and Heath, and the demon is bringing with him some fiendish friends from M.J.’s haunted past. She and the other Ghoul Getters are in for a devil of a time. M.J. may even need to recruit a certain psychic friend from Texas to help stop the paranormal party crashers from turning Gilley’s wedding bells to funeral knells...

My Thoughts :

Let's start this review with the bad news.  This is the last in the series.  When I heard the news I was quite upset at the prospect of the series ending but here is the good news.  The series ends nicely.  The fans will be happy and Victoria Laurie did good by her characters.  So despite the sadness I feel to see this great series come to an end I am happy because the ending is one the fans can accept and maybe even enjoy.

I don't want to give much away about the plot but it is a fast paced and scary one.  There are an insane amount of spooks and there is murder and mayhem all the way.  Everyone gets hurt at some point and there are some twists and turns that make things even harder on the Ghost Hunter team.

Some characters from the earlier books in the series make an appearance and there is even a new one who made me wish there would be more books, just to see more of her.  There is a notable lack of the 'team' outside of M.J, Gil and Heath but I guess they had already done their bit in the previous books and didn't need to come back for the last hurrah!  However there is some Cooper appearances in this one.  Anyone who is a fan of Laurie's Psychic Eye Series will appreciate the crossover.

A great read, as alway, and a well thought out plot.  I did like the ending but would have liked a little epilogue with a little look into the future.  Just to make sure everyone is as happy as I assume they will be.  It is a little hard to let go of these characters but I think this is going to be a series that I revisit sometime in the future.  It was a great one and I hope the author will be brining out something new to replace this series asap!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, January 17, 2016

8) The Dirt on Ninth Grave by Darynda Jones

The Blurb :

In a small village in New York lives Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she's more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is scalding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.

But no one can outrun their past, and the more lies that swirl around her—even from her new and trusted friends—the more disoriented she becomes, until she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. A force that absolutely will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. But that doesn't help in her quest to find her identity and recover what she's lost. That will take all her courage and a touch of the power she feels flowing like electricity through her veins. She almost feels sorry for him. The devil in blue jeans. The disarming fry cook who lies with every breath he takes. She will get to the bottom of what he knows if it kills her. Or him. Either way.

My Thoughts :

I actually got a copy of this book to read and review months before it released.  However I couldn't bring myself to read it because I absolutely love listening to this series.  It may actually be the best series ever to listen to on audible because the narrator is just amazing.  I waited and waited until the release date and despite having a free copy already I bought the audio version.  That is how cool this series is to listen to.

Anyway, I will admit to having a moment of 'what the...?' when I started listening to this one.   I had completely forgotten how the eight installment ended and it threw me for a couple of minutes.  Then everything came flooding back and I, unlike Charley, remembered and I settled in to one of the best installments of the series.

The sarcasm, the wit and the laughs were all there.  Charley may not  remember who she is but she is still the same old Charley character wise.  It was the usual fun and games with all the cheek, mouthiness and profanity that the series always offers.  There was madness, mayhem and a little magic.  There was enough paranormal goings on keep the fans happy and the heat went up more than once...if you know what I mean! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

I loved the plot for this one.  It kept it fresh, it made it all new and was more of a reboot or upgrade.  This series has always managed to keep things unique and new but the author took things to a whole new level in this ninth part and she did a wonderful job of making sure not to bore us fans who already knew all the stuff that Charley couldn't remember.

Everything, as always weaves together to make a thrilling story that is hard to put down.  As all the pieces fall into place you can't help but get excited but at the same time you know things are coming to an end and that the wait for another new piece of the bigger puzzle begins again.

As always, the narrator was exceptional and as usual there were some great quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  This is a series that stands out and always leaves me wanting more.  I can't wait to see what happens next and look forward to seeing how the story will keep twisting and turning.  Lovely cliffhanger Darynda!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, January 16, 2016

7) Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

The Blurb :

Harper Connelly has what you might call a strange job: she finds dead people. She can sense the final location of a person who's passed, and share their very last moment. The way Harper sees it, she's providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living - but she's used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech. Traveling with her step-brother Tolliver as manager and sometime-bodyguard, she's become an expert at getting in, getting paid, and getting out fast. Because for the living it's always urgent - even if the dead can wait forever.

My Thoughts :

Charlaine Harris is one of my favourite cozy mystery writers.  Her Sookie Stackhouse series was my first find and then I read her Lily Bard series.  Aurora Teagarden was next and ten years ago when the Harper Connelly series started I remember pre-ordering it. I have revisited all of the series over the years via Audio book but the Harper Connelly series was somewhat hard to get hold of.  The first in the series didn't seem to be available for a long time and I didn't want to listen to them out of order.  So when Grave Sight finally popped up I knew it was time to check out the series again.  After all, shock and horror, it has been over ten years since it released!!!!

Harper Connelly was struck by lightening and can now feel the dead.  She feels their remains and can see the cause of death.  With no other skill set available to her she has turned this ability/curse into a paying job.  She finds the graves of lost people who have passed on.  She doesn't find it morbid or cruel because she is bringing closure to all concerned but some people don't see it that way and her career choice can cause some trouble.

Brother Tolliver travels with Harper and is her manager/bodyguard.  Although they are not blood related they have been through more than enough with each other and have a special relationship that even they aren't quite sure about sometimes.  There is a lot of history between the two and throughout the series the other siblings come into play as well.

Now I read this years ago and remembered the general concept and plot. When I started listening to the book I even had some 'Oh yeah' moments as my memory was jogged about certain aspects.  However as things progressed I realised how much I had forgotten.  It made revisiting this book even more fun because, for instance, I couldn't remember how it ended or how they solved the mystery.

This is a great series and I can't wait to read (listen) to the others again.  It is a great way to have some Charlaine Harris time while waiting for the new installment in the Midnight Series and the narrator for Grave Sight was very good.  If you haven't already tried this paranormal cozy then I suggest you do!  Unique, well written and exciting this is on par with all of Charlaine's other series!

Amberkatze's Book Blog