Friday, April 18, 2014

Mind Over Murder review

 Mind Over Murder (A Raven's Nest Mystery #1)

Mind Over Murder by Allison Kingsley is the first book in the Raven's Nest cozy mystery series set in small town Maine and featuring cousins Stephanie and Chloe Quinn.

Mind Over Murder had lots of potential with a bookstore featuring Poe paraphernalia and a healthy occult section as well as a touch of the paranormal with Chloe's extra sense, called Quinn Sense. Unfortunately, the execution did not live up to the potential.

As a mystery, Mind Over Murder was okay. I actually knew who the killer was as soon as the character was introduced - and Kingsley dropped enough clues even as she tried to implicate every other character in the book to keep me firm in my belief of the murderer's identity.

I wanted to like the characters but not one of them was someone I would want in my life. Chloe, who we are supposed to cheer for and empathize with, needs to grow up. She acts and reacts like a tween with her first crush instead of an adult woman who lived alone in New York City for eighteen years. She is also far too much of a pushover for my taste, wanting to keep everyone else happy even if she is unhappy.

Stephanie is even worse than Chloe. She is flat out a horrible person. Stephanie always wants everything her way, no matter how miserable that makes everyone else. She also says "we" a lot but means "you" - as in "We need to investigate" meaning "Chloe needs to investigate" - and she always has a lame excuse and an emotional manipulation to get Chloe to do what Stephanie wants.

The secondary characters also left a great deal to be desired. They were either completely flat or were complete caricatures. The creepy guy who used to own a candy store, the New York City transplant who is a man eating model that hates other women, the cute, single hardware store owner who conveniently wants Chloe. These people don't have personalities of there own in Mind Over Murder.

Over all, I was pretty disappointed in Mind Over Murder and will likely pass on the rest of the books in the series.

Synopsis


Cousins and best friends, Clara and Stephanie Quinn run The Raven's Nest Bookstore, where people go to find their most coveted reads. But they have no idea it's the psychically-gifted Clara who's reading them...

The bookstore has made an enemy of the town crier, Ana Jordon, who claims that the store's occult collection is "poisoning" the town's youth. Meanwhile, the store's number-one employee, Molly, has made no secret of her anger over Ana's antics. So when Ana is found dead, killed by the bust of Edgar Allen Poe sculpted by Molly, the evidence is stacked against her. And Clara must rely on her gift to make sense of this senseless murder...


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dangerous Curves Ahead review


Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison is the first book in the Perfect Fit series. The premise was great but I didn't love the characters.

I loved the idea of a romance novel featuring a fashionista who wasn't tall and skinny - a "real woman" so to speak. Ellis is a business owner catering to a customer base that isn't served by the traditional clothing retailers. She is intelligent, funny, and very loyal to her friends. However, Ellis is also too much of a pushover and Jamison's attempt to write Ellis as being perfectly okay with her weight and figure often comes across as Ellis being defensive and not nearly as okay as she is trying to pretend.


The hero, Michael, is someone who Ellis used to have a crush on but who slept with her sister - not exactly a forgivable offense to me but whatever.  Unfortunately, Michael sometimes seemed less intelligent than he should be given that he's a cop. He also expects Ellis to get over her issues but he certainly hasn't dealt with his own which is all too apparent throughout the book. Plus, he demands commitment from Ellis but isn't willing to give back the same kind of commitment. All in all, he's just not a guy I can think of as someone who should get the girl.

I did enjoy the secondary characters - Colin, Michael's Irish rogue best friend, and Cherri, Ellis's friend and retail help, as well as Ellis's sister who you just love to hate.

Overall, I can't say I recommend Dangerous Curves Ahead but if you don't mind uneven characters or romantic hero's who is neither romantic or a hero, you may enjoy this book.

Synopsis


Ellis Garrett is dumping her critical boyfriend, opening a plus-size clothing store, and starting a blog—all to spread the word that fashion shouldn’t require a size-two body, and happiness should allow for the occasional cupcake. Or two. But is indulging fantasies about her sister’s long-ago ex, the still-hunky Michael Edwards, biting off more than she can chew?

Mike must be losing his detective’s touch. He doesn’t recognize Ellis when he bumps into her at Size Me Up, and he certainly doesn’t remember his ex-girlfriend’s outspoken sister being so irresistible. Her curves are indeed dangerous—and so is her wit. Could it be that Ellis is his Perfect Fit? One thing’s for sure: Mike will make it his sworn duty to find out…



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cry Wolf review

Cry Wolf (Alpha & Omega, #1)

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs is the first full length novel in the Alpha and Omega series but you definitely should read the novella, Alpha and Omega, first or it is a little confusing.

I have been devouring this series compulsively - it's just addictive and that starts with Cry Wolf! The more I read about Anna and Charles, the more I want to read. The people and events surrounding them are always interesting and often dramatic but never seem to go too far, in the sense that it never seems over the top or eye roll inducing.

The relationship between Anna and Charles is an interesting read because the two characters are so different and each have their own issues that need to be overcome. Charles is an alpha and an enforcer, not exactly an emotionally available guy, plus he's several hundred years old. Anna is in her twenties, has only been a werewolf for a few years, and was severely abused during that time. However, as an Omega, Anna is learning about her place and her power now that Charles has told her what she is. For his part, Charles wants to protect Anna but is trying hard not to smother her or scare her.

Add in Anna meeting the members of Charles' pack, a witch with evil plans, and a new werewolf haunting the mountains near the pack's home, and you get a novel with a fast paced plot and a lot of emotional turmoil. Cry Wolf has a little bit of everything - action, romance, plot twists, beautiful location, and fantastic characters.

I highly recommend the Alpha and Omega series by Briggs but definitely read the novella, Alpha and Omega, before reading Cry Wolf.

Synopsis


Anna never knew werewolves existed, until the night she survived a violent attack... and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she'd learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. Then Charles Cornick, the enforcer—and son—of the leader of the North American werewolves, came into her life.

Charles insists that not only is Anna his mate, but she is also a rare and valued Omega wolf. And it is Anna's inner strength and calming presence that will prove invaluable as she and Charles go on the hunt in search of a rogue werewolf—a creature bound in magic so dark that it could threaten all of the pack.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Blood Sisters review

Blood Sisters:  The Women Behind The War Of The Roses

Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the War of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood is an interesting look at the female historical figures of a fairly famous period in British history.

Historically known as the War of the Roses between the York and Plantagenet lines who vied for the throne of England, the term wasn't used during the period in question. Blood Sisters focuses on Margaret Beauford, Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth York, Anne Neville, and Margaret of Burgundy - mothers, wives, and sisters of the men vying for the throne and who are the more usual focus of historians.

Blood Sisters is an interesting book, not only because it focuses on people who were instrumental but have since largely been ignored, but also because Gristwood is very frank about speculating and informing readers there are simply things we can never know for sure as documentation does not exist any longer, if it ever did.

Historians often portray the royal women as powerless or corrupt but Gristwood simply shows that they were real people with real lives who made the most of their station in life while not being allowed to rule in their own right - even those who were queens - but who were by no means powerless.

Blood Sisters is a well written account of the lives of women that haven't been fully explored in such an even handed way previously and one that any fan of the pre-Tudor and Tudor eras should definitely read.

Synopsis


From best-selling historian, Sarah Gristwood comes the true story behind Philippa Gregory’s recent novels – the women who gave birth to the Tudor dynasty. It is a fiery history of Queens, the perils of power and of how the Wars of the Roses were ended – not by knights in battle, but the sinewy political skills of women.
 

The events of the Wars of the Roses are usually described in terms of the men involved; Richard, Duke of York, Henry VI, Edward IV and Henry VII. The reality though, argues Sarah Gristwood, was quite different. These years were also packed with women's drama and – in the tales of conflicted maternity and monstrous births – alive with female energy.

In this completely original book, acclaimed author Sarah Gristwood sheds light on a neglected dimension of English history: the impact of Tudor women on the Wars of the Roses. She examines Cecily Neville, the wife of Richard Duke of York, who was deprived of being queen when her husband died at the Battle of Wakefield; Elizabeth Woodville, a widow with several children who married Edward IV in secret and was crowned queen consort; Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, whose ambitions centred on her son and whose persuasions are likely to have lead her husband Lord Stanley, previously allied with the Yorkists, to play his part in Henry's victory.

Until now, the lives of these women have remained little known to the general public. Sarah Gristwood tells their stories in detail for the first time. Captivating and original, this is historical writing of the most important kind.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Long Live the Suicide King review

SuicideKing_AaronRitchey_Cover

I don't generally read YA but when Aaron Ritchey, who I met at RT, contacted me with a fantastic pitch for his new YA novel, Long Live the Suicide King, I couldn't say no. I'm actually really glad I agreed to read the book because it was very different than what I expected.

My problem with YA is that every time I break down and read a YA book, I find the characters whiny and rather unintelligent. Most of their problems are because they are self-absorbed and make stupid choices. While Jim (JD) Dillenger certainly makes a lot of stupid choices, he is definitely not stupid and he is not whiny. Some of the other characters were stupid and whiny, but as it is Jim's head we are in for the duration of the book, that isn't as big of a deal.

If you are expecting a book called Long Live the Suicide King to be depressing, you'd be very wrong. This book is, in fact, hysterically funny. I sincerely hope that Ritchey intended the book to be as funny as it was because I laughed as I read most of it. That's not to say that the topic isn't serious or that there were not very serious moments in the novel - there were - but Jim, for all his suicidal depression, doesn't seem to take anything very seriously and can make fun of himself right along with everything else in his suburban life.

Overall, Long Live the Suicide King is a very solid novel that addresses some serious issues in a not so serious tone that makes it both readable and interesting and I would recommend checking it out.

Synopsis


Seventeen-year-old Jim “JD” Dillenger knows exactly how his miserable suburban life is going to play out. At least drugs added a little chaos to his life, but after almost losing his soul, JD knows he has to quit. Now clean, he figures he has another sixty years of boring life followed by a meaningless death. JD decides to pre-empt God by killing himself. However, once he decides to die, his life gets better, more interesting, and then downright strange. New friends, a possible romance, and donuts, lots of donuts.
Once the end is in sight, every minute becomes precious.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Indigo Dawn review



I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Indigo Dawn by Elle J Rossi which I devoured on my first free day.

Indigo Dawn is the first full length novel in the Josie Hawk Chronicles, a series I've enjoyed from the first novella. Josie is a complex and interesting character and reading about her makes me want to know her. She is smart, honest, dedicated, and has very deep feelings which she hides behind attitude and sarcasm. Josie's past is revealed in bits and pieces as the series progresses and the unfolding picture makes her actions and reactions completely understandable. And if Josie couldn't kick my ass without breaking a sweat, I'd try to take Keller home with me :)

From the first page, Indigo Dawn is pure action. The poor characters just can't catch a break! As soon as they put out one fire, another pops up and they have to race to deal with it. This makes the book flow well and makes it a fairly fast read. The action also allows Rossi to paint a picture of the characters' interactions and personalities organically. Rather than descriptions of Alec, Grant, and the others, you learn who they are by their own voices and by their actions in the middle of all the drama. I have to say I'm very much looking forward to a book for each of the team members!

The Josie Hawk Chronicles are set in Nashville and Rossi does a brilliant job of transporting readers to the city but at the same time she builds a new, supernatural world that makes it a Nashville different from the one we know. It is both familiar and alien in the best possible way.

The ending left me wanting more and wanting to know what will happen with the supernatural world that Josie and the gang inhabit. I highly recommend the Josie Hawk Chronicles and particularly Indigo Dawn to any fan of fantasy and paranormal stories with strong characters and lots of action.

Synopsis

 
Vampire Lust and Pixie Dust.
 
Josie Hawk is a Huntress. A killer devoted to protecting the humans of Nashville from the shadows that lurk in the night. But the shadows are gaining ground.
 
When an infamous pixie tricks Josie into a drug-induced nightmare, Josie envisions the death of her vampire lover, Keller O'Leary. Was the vision a threat ... maybe even a promise? But from whom?
 
Desperate to track down the source of the toxic psychedelic pixie dust, Josie kicks and punches her way toward the truth. But her efforts backfire, provoking a deadly attack at Wolfie’s—the bar Josie co-owns with her sister-in-arms, Sage.
 
Tag. You’re it.
 
Haunted by the threat to Keller, Josie scrambles to outwit her elusive opponent before the deadly game escalates and claims more lives. But in saving Nashville, will Josie lose those she loves?
 
Or will she be too late to stop the deadly game of tag?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cover Reveal - Indigo Dawn by Elle J Rossi

Last week, I posted a fantastic interview with Elle J Rossi and promised the cover of Indigo Dawn...well, here is the gorgeous cover for the e-book version. The book will be available in both e-book and print formats next week! Additionally, the e-novella Alabaster Nights, the story of the first time Josie and Keller met, is available for free at Amazon this week so check it out and then grab Indigo Dawn on the 25th - you won't be disappointed!

Drumroll...the cover of Elle J Rossi’s INDIGO DAWN, coming out 25th March with Moon Rose Publishing! Josie Hawk and Keller O’Leary are back in full force in this continuation of the Josie Hawk Chronicles, kicking the ass of every dark creature that stalks the night in Nashville.

  
Vampire Lust and Pixie Dust.

Josie Hawk is a Huntress. A killer devoted to protecting the humans of Nashville from the shadows that lurk in the night. But the shadows are gaining ground.

When an infamous pixie tricks Josie into a drug-induced nightmare, Josie envisions the death of her vampire lover, Keller O'Leary. Was the vision a threat ... maybe even a promise? But from whom?

Desperate to track down the source of the toxic psychedelic pixie dust, Josie kicks and punches her way toward the truth. But her efforts backfire, provoking a deadly attack at Wolfie’s—the bar Josie co-owns with her sister-in-arms, Sage.

Tag. You’re it.

Haunted by the threat to Keller, Josie scrambles to outwit her elusive opponent before the deadly game escalates and claims more lives. But in saving Nashville, will Josie lose those she loves?

Or will she be too late to stop the deadly game of tag?