Friday, January 31, 2014

Broken Music review

Broken Music

Broken Music by Marjorie Eccles is a murder mystery set in the aftermath of World War I Britain. It’s a cozy mystery but with the murder having taken place years in the past. Herbert Reardon, our detective, is determined to solve the murder despite its having been declared a suicide. 

Eccles does an excellent job of portraying the village and the era in Broken Music. It’s got a definite sense of place and time and is very vivid in that respect. I think fans of Downton Abbey would very much like Broken Music as it has the same sort of relationships portrayed as on the show. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Broken Music very much for a couple of reasons. First, it jumps around in time a great deal and that is something that regular readers of this blog will know bothers me. I’m fine with the occasional flashback but I want stories to be told mostly in a linear fashion. Second, I didn’t really feel anything for any of the characters. I didn’t particularly like any of them or hate any of them. If I don’t feel deeply about the characters, then I’m not invested in the story. Third, I want a murder mystery to be a murder mystery and Broken Music is more of a solved cold case being re-investigated rather than a murder mystery to me. 

If you don’t mind jumping around in time and are a fan of Downton Abbey, Broken Music just might be for you.


The year is 1919 and the population of Great Britain is still struggling to its feet after being hit by the atrocities of the First World War. Progress is slow, even in quiet spots like the village of Broughton Underhill, on the edge of the Black Country. Gradually soldiers return, wounds begin to heal, and people try to move on with their lives. Former police sergeant Herbert Reardon has returned to the village, determined to solve an old murder--a woman was found drowned in the lake when the war was just beginning.

However, as Reardon begins to investigate, it becomes clear that secrets still abound and lips are staying sealed. When Edith Huckaby, a maid from Oaklands Park, is found murdered in exactly the same spot, Reardon is convinced that the two cases are linked. As he endeavors to discover the hidden truth, his suspects and witnesses are painstakingly trying to rebuild their lives, in a world that has been changed and scarred forever.

Broken Music is a masterful portrait of the horrors of the front line and the anxiety of the home front, as the loves and losses of wartime Britain are woven together and the truth slowly dawns on a local tragedy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends review

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends

I suspect that many, perhaps even most, romance readers are like me in that they got their start in the romance genre by reading fairy tales. In fact, my favorite fairy tales (the cleaned up, kid friendly versions my parents let me read and watch) were the ones with a paranormal element - think Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty - which explains a lot of my reading choices as an adult :)

These days I like my romantic heroine's to be a little less damsel in distress and a little more independent and kick ass - which is why I enjoyed Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale so much.

Featuring Raven Queen, the Evil Queen's daughter, as the protagonist and a storyline teaching kids that they don't have to follow the path the world sets for them, Ever After High was a fun, intelligent, and well paced book. Obviously geared toward children, Hale kept me entertained and interested through the whole book and did so with a great deal of humor. I particularly enjoyed Madeline Hatter, daughter of the Mad Hatter and her quirky yet pragmatic view of the world and the people in it.

Interesting questions arise from the story - Can the next Evil Queen really be friends with the next Snow White? What happens to Prince Charming's younger brother? Is your future set in stone or are you master of your own destiny? - blending life lessons and fairy tale enchantment in such a way that kids won't feel like they are "learning" but that adults will appreciate.

If you enjoy fairy tales or have kids who enjoy fairy tales, I highly recommend Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends.


At Ever After High, an enchanting boarding school, the children of fairytale legends prepare themselves to fulfill their destinies as the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens...whether they want to or not. Each year on Legacy Day, students sign the Storybook of Legends to seal their scripted fates. For generations, the Village of Book End has whispered that refusing to sign means The End-both for a story and for a life.

As the daughter of the Evil Queen, Raven Queen's destiny is to follow in her mother's wicked footsteps, but evil is so not Raven's style. She's starting to wonder, what if she rewrote her own story? The royal Apple White, daughter of the Fairest of Them All, has a happy ever after planned for herself, but it depends upon Raven feeding her a poison apple in their future.

What if Raven doesn't sign the Storybook of Legends? It could mean a happily never after for them both.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book, Line, and Sinker review

Book, Line, and Sinker by Jenn McKinlay, is the third book in the Library Lover's series. The first two books are Books Can Be Deceiving and Due or Die. I've been enjoying this cozy mystery series more with each book.

I didn't guess the murderer in Book, Line, and Sinker so it was a good mystery. I enjoyed the growth of the various secondary characters, especially Chief Daniels, and feel that McKinlay's strength lies in her ability to write wonderful characters outside the protagonist. The new characters were entertaining and the returning characters were as interesting as I remember them from the second book. The Crafternoon Club members are still tons of fun and I often find myself chuckling when they are featured.

The pacing and action is well done and the historical aspect of the murder is fleshed out without causing the story to bog down. I like that McKinlay rounded back to a historical Briar Creek mystery that was discussed earlier in the series and brought it to a close with the solving of the current day mystery. That kind of attention to detail from book to book makes for a wonderful reading experience.

Seeing Lindsey's growth in Briar Creek, especially when her ex-fiancee shows up, was really fun. I especially loved the Lindsey and Sully relationship - right up until Sully turned into an idiot male.

Overall, Book, Line, and Sinker is a solid addition to the series. For fans of cozy mysteries, I definitely recommend the Library Lover's series.


"Avast" in pirate speak means what?*

Answering tricky reference questions like this one provides plenty of excitement for library director Lindsey Norris. But when a shocking murder is committed in her cozy coastal town of Briar Creek, Connecticut, the question of who did it must be answered before an innocent man gets the book thrown at him...

Lindsey is enjoying her second year in Briar Creek as the library director, meeting with the crafternoon club, and happily dating tour boat captain Mike Sullivan. But when a salvage company arrives in town to dig up treasure buried on Pirate Island over three hundred years ago, the locals are torn between protecting the island and welcoming the publicity.   

In spite of the squabbling, Charlie Peyton, Lindsey’s downstairs neighbor, takes a job with the salvage company. But when Trudi Hargrave, the local tourism director who hired the company, is found murdered at the excavation site, Charlie becomes the chief suspect. To help him, Lindsey must do some digging of her own before the real killer buries the truth for good….


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Magic Strikes review

Magic Strikes is the third book in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and it is as fantastic as the first two books! With the extraordinary world building the series is known for and the expressive writing style, the Kate Daniels series is not to be missed by any urban fiction or paranormal romance fan.

Once again, I was sucked into the Atlanta of Andrews' magical world and Kate's newest and most dangerous problem so far - how to find out what happened to Derek and make sure it doesn't happen to any other Pack members. Only she has to do it without letting Curran find out!

The chemistry and byplay between Kate and Curran are phenomenal as always and Kate's ties to other members of the Pack are clearly growing deeper as the series progresses. Andrea, Kate's best friend and fellow Order of Merciful Aid employee, is along for the ride as well which makes for some interesting interaction with the Pack - but I won't say why so I don't spoil it for you :)

In Magic Strikes, the source of Kate's power is pretty much revealed - though Andrews' doesn't say it explicitly. The Midnight Games and the events afterword make it clear for those who hadn't figured it out from the hints in the earlier books. Additionally, Kate's trust in Curran grows significantly as evidenced by the evenst at the end of Magic Strikes. To me, it seems like Kate has come a long way in the three books because she barely trusted anyone to have her back at the beginning of the first book.

Simon makes another appearance in Magic Strikes - and he's as crazy and fun as always! I think he might be my favorite secondary character simply because you never know what he might do or say. Other new characters - ones we've heard of but not met and completely new ones - are introduced as the world Andrews' is building expands with this third book.

If you haven't read the Kate Daniels series yet, I can't recommend it enough!


Drafted into working for the Order of Merciful Aid, mercenary Kate Daniels has more paranormal problems than she knows what to do with these days. And in Atlanta, where magic comes and goes like the tide, that’s saying a lot.

But when Kate’s werewolf friend Derek is discovered nearly dead, she must confront her greatest challenge yet. As her investigation leads her to the Midnight Games – an invitation only, no holds barred, ultimate preternatural fighting tournament – she and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, uncover a dark plot that may forever alter the face of Atlanta’s shapeshifting community…

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Morgan's Fate review

Morgan's Fate by Dana Marie Bell is part of the True Destiny series featuring characters from Norse mythology. Morgan's Fate takes place directly after the events of the previous book, Howl for Me.

Given the title, it is no surprise that Morgan's Fate features Morgan, one of the twin sons of Thor and a Jotun, along with Skye/Skul, the Norn fate of the future. Skye has lost her memory and does not know who she is but she shows up to warn Logan and his family of impending danger because she still gets glimpses of the future. Morgan is determined to protect his family and Skye and avenge his father even as he struggles with his attraction to the forbidden Norn fate.

There is a lot going on in Morgan's Fate as usual with the True Destiny books - this series gets more complicated with every book and there are tons of characters with multiple names to keep straight. Just keeping track of who is related to who and how is mind numbing. As pieces of the prophecy of Ragnarok happen, Morgan and his ever growing family are trying to understand the prophecy and change the way they have always understood it.

Morgan's Fate features lots of action and several new characters make appearances - Sleipnir, another of Loki/Logan's children; Sif/Sylvia, Thor's ex-wife; Sigyn - Loki/Logan's ex-wife; and Adam/Frey, Jordan's father. The end of Morgan's Fate sets up the next book for Morgan's twin, Magnus.

As always, if you enjoy funny and action packed paranormal romance but are looking for something different, I highly recommend Bell's True Destiny series.


His Fate is finally in front of him…and he’s never letting go.

Morgan and Magnus Grimm return from their search for Skuld, Norn of the Future, only to find that she’s been living under their noses this whole time. Now that Morgan finally has the woman of his dreams within reach, nothing—not amnesia, not Odin, not even his father’s death—will prevent him from claiming the Fate he’s wanted for centuries.

Skylar Kincade is lost among these crazy people who swear that they’re the old Norse gods. But…there’s something that strikes a chord deep within her. Something from which the hot, redheaded Morgan wants to protect her.

But when the memories burst free, there’s no softening the devastating blow. For overstepping her bounds and changing their fates to save their lives, her powers were stripped away, leaving her as just another Norn.

And it seems more punishment is coming down: one of Logan’s children is missing. Skye is determined to do her part to make it right—by journeying all the way to Valhalla to meet a fate from which Morgan may not be able to save her.

Warning: This novel contains explicit nookie on a kitchen table, graphic
language in one or more dialects, and a Fate worth living for.

Monday, January 13, 2014

In Rides Trouble review

In Rides Trouble by Julie Ann Walker is the second book in the Black Knights Inc. series and is an okay action oriented romance.

The set up for In Rides Trouble was fairly obvious in the first book, Hell on Wheels, and unsurprisingly features Frank, aka Bos,s and Becky, mechanic extraordinaire. Frank is a clear alpha male - he has to be to head up the team of special ops - but Becky is not in any way a subservient or even shy female. They butt heads hourly it seems - but they both like it that way.

Frank, however, has massive issues with the age gap between the two and that's why he refuses to give in to what is obvious to everyone around them - that they belong together. It's a fairly ridiculous excuse but he has issues from his past so I was willing to overlook that especially once it is fully explained. However, Frank betrays Becky in a pretty heartless way although not in the way the reader is led to believe throughout the book. That kind of betrayal - and it was a betrayal - was not acceptable to me from one half of the romantic lead couple. Also, it throws Becky completely out of character because it is the ONLY time she comes across as a doormat instead of a strong, independent woman. It just didn't fit with the rest of her character at all. Between the betrayal and the character incongruity, my opinion of this book dropped from good to barely okay.

There are a number of new characters introduced and future books set up within In Rides Trouble including Angel and Snake, two characters who seem quite interesting and it is only because of them that I will continue to read the series. Hopefully, going forward there will be no more unforgiveable betrayals and characters will be completely congruous.


Rebel with a Cause
Becky "Rebel" Reichert never actually goes looking for trouble. It just has a tendency to find her. Like the day Frank Knight showed up at her door, wanting to use her motorcycle shop as a cover for his elite special ops team. But Becky prides herself on being able to hang with the big boys-she can weld, drive, and shoot just as well as any of them.

Man with a Mission
Munitions, missiles, and mayhem are Frank's way of life. The last thing the ex-SEAL wants is for one brash blonde to come within fifty feet of anything that goes boom. Yet it's just his rotten luck when she ends up in a hostage situation at sea. Come hell or high water, he will get her back-whether she says she needs him or not.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Shades of Gray review

Shades of Gray is a novella by Katie MacAlister featured in The Undead in my Bed anthology. As of this writing, it is not available as a standalone e-book.

While I enjoyed Shades of Gray, it seemed like you really need to read other books in the Dark Ones series because there is a lot about the world MacAlister built that is not explained in the novella - I could mostly figure it out and I understand the space constraints of a novella require a lot to be left out but a brief explanation of the world and the different supernatural entities would have been nice.

Gray and Noelle are funny, entertaining, and interesting characters. The development of their relationship, brief though it was, didn't feel rushed or unrealistic. Noelle was a character who refused to put up with any nonsense no matter how old Gray was and while she tried to be understanding and patient, mostly she just made him keep up with her.

Shades of Gray had lots of action and some crazy secondary characters like Miles and Nosty, who is a ghost. The secondary characters made the novella seem fuller and richer despite the length.

All in all, I enjoyed the novella and would recommend Shades of Gray to anyone who enjoys a funny vampire romance and is looking for a quick read.


A TV crew is filming a paranormal reality show on the grounds of an imposing old Czech Republic estate. But the electric passion behind the camera is what’s out of this world. When Noelle, a Guardian, meets vampire Grayson, who has roamed for three centuries, she awakens an aching hunger in him that only her touch can relieve. . . .

Monday, January 6, 2014

Alabaster Nights review

Alabaster Nights (Josie Hawk Chronicles)

Alabaster Nights by Elle J Rossi is the first novella in the Josie Hawk Chronicles although it was published after Crimson Beat, which was originally published in the Celtic Tapestry anthology but is now available as a stand alone e-book.

I adore Huntress Josie Hawk and vampire Keller - I mean really, who doesn't love a guy with an Irish accent?? - and their relationship is fascinating. So I was very excited when Elle decided to write a novella showing how Josie and Keller first met and give us a glimpse into Keller's mind.

Josie is my favorite kind of female character - she's tough, she's sarcastic, she's smart, but she's also kind and protective of those she sees as hers, in this case all the humans in Nashville. In Alabaster Nights, Josie isn't sure what to make of Keller even as he falls hard and fast for her. The dichotomy of the two characters thoughts is compelling and makes for a fun read.

After reading Crimson Beat, I had a lot of questions about Keller but many of them are answered in Alabaster Nights. Seeing his struggle with the darkness inside him and his reaction to Josie show why he does what he does in Crimson Beat.

If you enjoy the Kate Daniels series, I highly recommend the Josie Hawk Chronicles. I suggest reading Alabaster Nights and then Crimson Beat despite the publication order.


A Vampire with a soul. A Huntress with a knife.
In Nashville, Blood equals Power.
Will one taste of Josie Hawk cost Keller everything?