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Monday, February 8, 2016

15) Murder on Wheels by Lynn Cahoon

The Blurb :

The food truck craze has reached the charming coastal town of South Cove, California, but before Jill Gardner—owner of Coffee, Books, and More—can sample the eats, she has to shift gears and put the brakes on a killer . . .

Now that Kacey Austin has got her new gluten-free dessert truck up and running, there’s no curbing her enthusiasm—not even when someone vandalizes the vehicle and steals her recipes. But when Kacey turns up dead on the beach and Jill’s best friend Sadie becomes the prime suspect, Jill needs to step on it to serve the real killer some just desserts.

My Thoughts :

This series is turning out to be such a great read!  Six books into the series and I am really hooked.  I love the characters and the setting plus the mysteries are always really interesting.  Another huge plus is that the author/publisher doesn't make you wait a year for a new installment.  With a new book every six months the Tourist Trap Mysteries are turning into one of my favourite cozy mystery series.

This time around the food van comes back into play and there is a bit of geocaching and some drought problems.  As things progress it was nice to find the regulars continuing their story while murder and mystery once again surrounds them.   There were some new developments with Jill's aunt and the workers in the bookstore with a few other little bits and pieces of storyline popping up here and there.

There are a couple of things about this series that I am wondering about.  For one I hope the whole Misson Wall thing gets cleared up soon.  I am beginning to think that the author doesn't know what to do with  that storyline.  Then the relationship between Jill and Greg has also raised many questions for me.  They spend so much time at her place but he doesn't have a key.  They never spend any time at his place and it isn't mentioned.  I wonder if this is going to get resolved.  After all he wants to have a gym in her shed but they aren't totally committed to each other.  It is all a little weird and contradicting but maybe that is how it works for them and that's ok too.

Definitely a series worth investing time in.  A great strong concept with some really good mysteries so far.  I look forward to the next one and hope this series gets a nice long run.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, February 7, 2016

14) Copycat Killing by Sofie Kelly

The Blurb :

Everyone thinks their cats are special—but Owen and Hercules have powers that go far beyond an adorable look or an irresistible purr. Along with their owner, librarian Kathleen Paulson, they have an uncanny instinct for solving crimes...

It's been raining cats and dogs in Mayville Heights. The small town's been deluged, and now the local artists' co-op is on the verge of flooding. Kathleen has been up all night helping her friends move their creations to the safety of the upstairs studio.

The artwork survives, but when controversial mask maker Jaeger Merrill is found drowned in the co-op basement, Kathleen questions whether the death was accidental. After she discovers the artist was using an assumed name, she realizes she can't actually assume anything about him. With the help of handsome detective Marcus Gordon—and her cats' extraordinary powers of detection—it's up to Kathleen to unmask a killer.

My Thoughts :

The Magical Cats Mystery series has been on my shelves for years.  I managed to read the first two books somewhere along the way but the series has been constantly ignored.  Attempts at getting back into the series have been foiled by review books and addictions to other series.  So when I saw this one on Audible I knew what I had to do.  It was time to get back to the kitties and Audible once again helped rescue me!

I will start off by saying I love the concept, I love the characters and the location is quite nice but the Magical Cats angle, isn't, like the series name would make you believe, a big factor in the story or plot.  Sure the kitties have some 'powers' but I didn't really associate them being a big part of the mysteries this book covered and the solving of the crimes.  It was a cute little twist but not as prominent as I expected or remembered it to be.   So to conclude the cat concept is a little disappointing but maybe in later books it gets more paws on...

However despite the lack of kitty sleuthing I did enjoy the story and plot.  There were actually two murder mysteries with one being an older case and the other happening in the present time line of the story.  The plot was well thought out and both mysteries were nicely tangled into the on-going story and general cast of the series.  A good cozy read and a series that is definitely worth checking out.

The Audible version was a delight to listen to although there were times where I thought the narrator was a little slow.  It wasn't annoying or anything but I did think she could have told the story a little faster.  On saying that, I am looking forward to the next installment and will be keeping to the Audio versions because otherwise I fear I will never catch up with this series.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

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