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Sunday, September 25, 2016

73) Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

The Blurb :

In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver.

Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.

My Thoughts :

I haven't read much in last couple of weeks and instead of listening to audio books I have been listening to music.  For some reason nothing appealed to me and also a book I was waiting to listen to doesn't seem to be available yet on audible so that put me off a bit.  Then I noticed a new Flavia de Luce installment was coming out and waited for its arrival.  Nothing like a bit of Flavia to get me busy listening to books again.

Now I basically listened to all the Flavia de Luce mysteries in one go sometime last year so this first time I have had to wait for a new installment.  The series is unique and funny with a wonderful main character who you can't help but love.  Flavia is too big for her boots, a nosy troublemaker and twelve going on thirty but she is also clever, amusing and entertaining.

After getting home from Canada, Flavia gets some bad news.  Her father is in hospital and despite the pull to go and see him, she is stopped from visiting by various reasons and excuses from others.  So Flavia does what only Flavia can do and finds a dead body and distracts herself with the murder investigation.  With Gladys helping and a bit of a support from Dogger and her new friend Mildred, Flavia goes about unraveling a mystery that has been around longer than she has.

Once again I was pulled into this postwar world that has only started to get some resemblance of the modern amenities that we take for granted of today.  Delighted by her naive but genius logic as she solves another mystery I couldn't stop myself from listening to just a little more every time I had the chance.  The talk of Steepholm, an island I have unfortunately never visited but saw nearly everyday growing up, made me a little homesick.  However this whole Britishness, even if from another part of history, makes me want to go home and visit.  The author just does a wonderful of job of capturing the place so well.

Anyway, well worth getting a hold of if you are a fan of the series.  If you haven't tried the series yet then think about doing so!  I didn't think I would like it at first but there is something special and addictive about Flavia de Luce.  Also I highly recommend the audio books as the narrator does a brilliant job of bringing the characters to life.  I couldn't even think about reading these.  I have been spoilt by the outstanding audio versions.

Now the wait is on for the next installment.  It should be another interesting one with the ending this eighth book left us with.  I feel for Flavia but I know she is strong.  I wonder if the author will ever jump ahead a little and give us an older version...I would love to find out what becomes of the youngest de Luce.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, September 24, 2016

72) Paint the Town Dead by Nancy Haddock

The Blurb :

Leslee Stanton Nix—aka “Nixy”—thought moving to small-town Lilyvale, Arkansas, would be about as thrilling as watching paint dry. But keeping up with her retired Aunt Sherry and her troublemaking housemates—collectively known as the Silver Six—has proven to be as exciting as it is exasperating.

To kick off the grand opening of their craft shop, the Handcraft Emporium, Nixy and the Silver Six invite Doralee Gordon to teach a gourd painting class. Doralee’s spirit gets squashed when her ex-husband crashes the class with his new fiancée, but things really get messy when the bride-to-be later turns up dead. Now it’s up to Nixy and the Silver Six to use their melons to find the killer—before someone else gets painted out of the picture...

My Thoughts :

It hasn't been a very productive couple of weeks in regards to my reading.  I have been in a bit of a slump and hopefully this wonderful book has pulled me out of it!  Because this is the first book I have managed to read in the last two weeks.  Nothing else has interested me, nothing else could grab me and I certainly couldn't be bothered to pick up anything else to read.  However when I realised that this second book in the new cozy mystery series by Nancy Haddock was out I suddenly felt like reading again.  Once again this author has brightened my day!

Now I know Nancy from way back when!  She wrote an amazing vampire series that I miss terribly!  So when her new cozy mystery series came out last year I was eager to start it and I remember enjoying it so much that I wanted to get a sequel a lot faster than the author can write!  Now that sequel is here and I nearly missed it.  I feel ashamed to say that even though I had it on pre-order it managed to get past me and lay in wait for a couple of weeks.  It was however worth the wait and I spent a nice few hours in bed curled up with it.

I needed a few chapters to get my head around all the characters.  After a year it is normal to have forgotten who is who.  Especially if you read a lot of books.  Once things were back into place I could start enjoying this wonderful sequel in a very unique and well thought out series.  It took a few chapters to get to the murder mystery but I have to admit that I was actually more interested in Nixy and everyone else anyway and enjoyed the chance to hang out before the sleuthing started.

What else can I say without giving the whole plot away?  I can only recommend you try this series out!  It's a great cozy mystery and has so many cute and interesting things going on.  This book even saw the arrival of some fascinating pets (even though as an Amber and as a cat person....well it was weird being the dog!) and of course the whole craft shop angle is not only fun but inspiring. I can't wait for more and look forward to visiting this lovely town again and finding out more about the secrets it holds and the people within it!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, September 11, 2016

71) Immortal Nights by Lynsay Sands

The Blurb :

Abigail Forsythe’s life hasn’t been easy lately. Still, if there’s one thing guaranteed to take her mind off an empty bank account and abandoned dreams, it’s a naked man locked in a plane’s cargo hold. A very big, incredibly gorgeous naked man. And when instinct prompts her to free him, Abigail must rely on this stranger for survival…a stranger who leaves her thrumming with need every time they touch.

Tomasso Notte knows he’s found his life mate in Abigail. Now he just has to hold on to her. They’re miles from civilization, hunted by his kidnappers. Abigail has no idea of Tomasso’s abilities, or of how intensely pleasurable their unique connection can be. But he’s about to show her, beginning with one wild, hot, immortal night…

My Thoughts :

I haven't read much the last couple of weeks and I haven't even got an audio book on the go either.  So I needed a book to read that I knew would grab me and keep me hooked and I knew just what book to pick.  Immortal Nights is the twenty-four book in the Argeneau series and was, just like every installment that came before it, a pleasure to read.

Fans of the series will know that the immortals are not really vampires but the descendants and survivors of Atlantis.  The nano technology they have in their blood keeps them healthy, young and can heal nearly any injury.  Lovers of the series will also know the rules the Immortals follow and how hard it is for them to find a life-mate.  If you have read any of the books you will know that the general story repeats with all this information.  Boring?  No!  The author makes each story feel new, and unique while the story is always individually tailored to the immortal and life-mate who are the center of each installment.  It is a recipe that has worked all these years and one that doesn't seem to be going bad any time soon.

This time around we get to follow Tomasso's tale which is nicely entwined with that of Dante, his twin brother.  His story was told in the previous installment and the on-going story continues with Tomasso and joins up with Dante's.  The on-going story slowly progresses in Immortal Nights and there is even a nice cliffhanger but the general plot doesn't make too much headway which means more Argeneau books to come.  I can't wait for the next part of the story and look forward to another romantic, action packed paranormal delight.

Lynsay Sands has a gift and hopefully she will keep using it.  This series has come a long way and I hope there is still a lot more to go.  The Argeneau's are entertaining, exciting and inspirational.  I love delving back into their world and always hate to leave it.  Hopefully the wait for number twenty-five won't be a long one and it won't be the last one.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, September 4, 2016

70) A Story To Kill by Lynn Cahoon

The Blurb :

Former English professor Cat Latimer is back in Colorado, hosting writers’ retreats in the big blue Victorian she’s inherited, much to her surprise, from none other than her carousing ex-husband! Now it’s an authors’ getaway—but Cat won’t let anyone get away with murder…
The bed-and-breakfast is open for business, and bestselling author Tom Cook is among its first guests. Cat doesn’t know why he came all the way from New York, but she’s glad to have him among the quirkier—and far less famous—attendees.

Cat’s high school sweetheart Seth, who’s fixing up the weathered home, brings on mixed emotions for Cat…some of them a little overpowering. But it’s her uncle, the local police chief, whom she’ll call for help when there’s a surprise ending for Tom Cook in his cozy guest room. Will a killer have the last word on the new life Cat has barely begun?

My Thoughts :

I have been enjoying the Tourist Trap Mysteries a lot so when I saw that the author, Lynn Cahoon, had another series coming out I couldn't wait to try it.  A Story To Kill may have a not so spectacular cover but the contents definitely make up for it.  It seems that the author has managed to come up with another interesting and unique cozy series with another set of great characters to get to know.

At first, I will admit, things didn't seem like they were going to be that good.  The couple of chapters were a little off and while I can see what the author was trying to do, it just left me a little confused.  If I hadn't already read her Tourist Trap Mysteries, I may have just given up on this one within the first few chapters.  The jumbled information, leaving important information for later and the general mystery about Cat's circumstances was not welcoming.  Luckily I kept going because the rest of the book was worth it.

Now the plot was a little twisty but the story was well thought out and I managed to follow it with no problems.  I have to say I had a inkling who the murderer was but it was fun to go through the paces and get to know Cat, her friends and the other characters.  Also there was always a hint of a much bigger mystery which actually turned out to be a cliffhanger.  Even though I was already interested in more from this series I have to say this sealed the deal for me and I knew I would be back for more.

It is a shame that this book didn't get a nicer cover,  I don't usually focus on covers when I write reviews but this one really doesn't do the book justice and doesn't even give you a feel for the great story hidden inside.  This was a great cozy mystery and it deserved a better cover with more effort.  This looks like some kind of stock photo off the internet.

Anyway, well worth checking out.  Great debut in the new series and I am looking forward to more.  The author manages to change her style a little and make A Story To Kill feel completely different to her other series.  Actually it felt like she has evolved her style which made this book feel more mature and somehow better than her other series.  Can't wait for more!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, September 3, 2016

69) Unraveled by Jennifer Estep

The Blurb :

As the current queen of the Ashland underworld, you would think that I, Gin Blanco, would know all about some secret society controlling things from behind the scenes. I might be the Spider, the city’s most fearsome assassin, but all my Ice and Stone elemental magic hasn’t done me a lick of good in learning more about “the Circle”. Despite my continued investigations, the trail’s gone as cold as the coming winter.

So when Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, gets word of a surprising inheritance, we figure why not skip town for someplace less dangerous for a few days? That place: Bullet Pointe, a fancy hotel resort complex plus Old West theme park that Finn now owns lock, stock, and barrel. At first, all the struttin’ cowboys and sassy saloon girls are just hokey fun. But add in some shady coincidences and Circle assassins lurking all around, and vacationing becomes wilder—and deadlier—than any of us expected.

Good thing this assassin brought plenty of knives to the gunfight …

My Thoughts :

It is a great week in the reading world because the newest installment in the Elemental Assassin Series was released.  Unraveled is the 15th book in the series and there can be no way that this series will ever get boring.  I don't think I could ever give any book in this series a bad review.  This has got to be one of my all time favourites and I don't think I ever want to see this one end.  Ever.

Another installment filled with the characters I have come to know so well and love.  Once more there is a great plot with the on-going story developing, twisting, evolving and making progress.  Gin has been through so much and her strength and determination continue to leave me in admiration of her even if she is only a character in a book.

The story this time around focused on the revelations made in the previous book and even though Gin gets that little bit closer to finding out the truth, once again it is snatched away from her.  She does get some answers but there are always more questions.  However the progression isn't boring or annoying. You just find yourself even more invested in Gin's future as well as all the others who are along for the ride.

Jennifer Estep does it again.  She really can't stop this series from being amazing.  I dread the day it will end and only take comfort in the fact that I can then finally read the whole series again.  Yes I could do that now but it isn't done yet.  It isn't over.  It won't be over until the assassin of Ashland puts away those knives forever.  Hopefully it will a while.

One of the best Paranormal Urban Fantasy series out there.  Unique, exciting and compelling this is a must read, a pre-order and a devour in one sitting kind of series.  I look forward to the next installment and anymore that come along.  I also can't wait for anything else this author releases.  She has a talent and style that I can't get enough of.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

68) Spells and Scones by Bailey Cates

The Blurb :

When the bookshop next to the Honeybee Bakery hosts a signing for a Savannah radio celebrity's new self-help book, magical baker Katie Lightfoot is happy to provide some delectable desserts. A big crowd has turned out for the event, curious about the book (and maybe to sample some goodies), but the final chapter comes too soon for the author when she is found dead at the event.

The prime suspect is Angie Kissel, a former witch whose familiar was once Katie’s own terrier, Mungo. Katie is at first hesitant to help, afraid of losing the little dog who has become so important to her. But after a little nudge from Mungo himself, Katie decides to try to conjure up the real killer—before Angie gets served...

My Thoughts :

The sixth book in the Magical Bakery series was a pre-order of mine that I nearly forgot about.  Only when I was deciding on which book to read next did I come across this one hidden amongst everything else on my Kindle. Suddenly all my other reading commitments and deadlines went out the window and I had to start the latest installment in this magical cozy mystery series.

I wasn't disappointed, much.  There was a severe lack of magic, in my honest opinion.  I expected much more in the way of spells and general development in the magical aspect of the series.  However this book was more about sleuthing and I felt the paranormal twist wasn't as present as it could or should of been.  My opinion and maybe not one that other readers will agree with but for me it just wasn't enough.

However the plot was good, the mystery interesting and the development of the characters and the on-going storyline was excellent.  There were some nice surprises as well as some interesting twists with the end of the book bringing things to a nice happy conclusion.  Hopefully this wasn't the last book but if it was then I wouldn't be too sad.  Although I do believe that Katie has many a more stories to tell and it would be nice to keep visiting her and everyone else in this lovely magical series.

A must read for any paranormal cozy mystery lovers but definitely something that both paranormal and cozy fans will enjoy and appreciate.  Cute but not too soft. Yummy but not too over the top.  Serious without being too dramatic.  I really love this series and look forward to more reads from this author.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, August 28, 2016

67) A Crafty Killing by Lorraine Bartlett

The Blurb :

The last thing Katie Bonner wanted was to become the manager of Artisans Alley. But when her business partner, Ezra Hilton, is found bludgeoned to death, she has no other choice. Business under Ezra has been faltering-but was it enough to provoke someone to murder? Only Katie can find the answer.

My Thoughts :

Well August is nearly over and I haven't made much progress reading wise.  Apologies to authors who are waiting for me to review their books!  Maybe don't release in Summer when there are so many other things to do and holidays to be enjoyed!  I did however manage to squeeze in another audio book and because I didn't have any Audible credits I took one from my library that has been waiting for my attention!

I have enjoyed many a book by this author.  Lorraine Barlett's Booktown Mysteries (written under the name Lorna Barrett) is a favourite of mine and I am eagerly awaiting a sequel in the Lotus Bay series.  She has always had some great characters lined up and a great mystery.  So naturally I wanted to try the Victoria Square series and have to say I kept putting it off and this is why I ended up with the audio version.

Now while I love the two series I already mentioned I have to say I am left with mixed feelings about this debut in the series.  I had a very hard time envisioning what Victoria Square and Artisans Alley are supposed to look like.  Despite the descriptions I was left confused about the whole set up and couldn't place everything where it should be.  Which didn't help when following the plot.  This was strange for me because the author has left me with a very vivid idea of how her Booktown location would look and even, after only one installment, the Lotus Bay location.

Another problem I had with this first in the series was the amount of characters involved.  I found it really hard to keep track of the many people who were involved in the story.  I managed to keep the main few characters in check but I couldn't tell you who the others were, why they were involved and where they fit into the Artisan's Alley/Victoria Square concept.

The plot was actually mediocre and not very compelling.  I found I could follow it will no problem despite the location and character confusion.  However it wasn't the most exciting or interesting.  It wasn't bad enough to make me give up but I guess my expectations were higher or I am just used to a different style where this author is concerned.  It didn't feel like the same writer that I have come to like so much.

Despite my less than glowing review I am going to give the second book a chance.  Why?  Because I did actually like the main character and I think the concept shows a lot of promise.  The strength and determination Katie shows to get Victoria Square up to scratch is inspiring and I want to know how she does.  What I am not sure about is if I will listen to the next book.  This means it could take a long time for me to get around to the next installment but the narrator sounded like she had a blocked nose.  This made it sound like Katie was ill with a cold all the time and the other characters too.  It was pretty weird sometimes.  Not at all the quality of audio book I am used to.

In conclusion...not bad but not that good either.  This author has many other great books out there and I guess if you are a fan of her work and love cozies then you won't be able to stay away from this one.  However be aware that this first book in the series isn't totally on par with her other work.  That isn't to say it won't get better.  Who knows, the second part could surprise me!  Only time will tell.

Amberkatze's Book Blog