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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

77) Basket Case by Nancy Haddock

The Blurb :

There isn’t much crime in Lilyvale, Arkansas, but local authorities have their hands full with Ms. Sherry Mae Stanton Cutler and her housemates—a crafty group of retirees who’ve dubbed themselves the Silver Six. But when Sherry Mae’s niece, Nixy, arrives to keep them in line, Lilyvale also plays host to a killer.

When Leslee Stanton “Nixy” Nix gets the latest call from Lilyvale detective Eric Shoar, she knows it means trouble. There’s been another kitchen explosion at her Aunt Sherry’s farmhouse, and the dreamy-voiced detective has had enough. If Nixy doesn’t check on her aunt in person, the Silver Six could become wards of the court. But the trouble Nixy finds in Lilyvale is not at all what she expects.

The seniors are hosting a folk art festival at the farmhouse, featuring Sherry’s hand-woven baskets, when land developer Jill Elsman arrives to bully Nixy’s aunt into selling the property. When Jill is later found dead in the cemetery, Sherry is suspected of weaving a murder plot, and it’s up to Nixy and the Silver Six to untangle the truth.

My Thoughts :

I came across author Nancy Haddock a few years ago when I read her series about vampire Cesca Marinelli.  After the series finished I was always on the look out for new work from the author.  Therefore I really enjoyed her short story in the Entangled anthology.  Medium Rare was a little different from the Oldest Vampire series but I loved the cozy mixed with the paranormal and hoped that the author would keep going in this direction.  So when I heard about Basket Case I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.   I was excited! There was no paranormal twists involved but I love a good cozy and the blurb looked and so did the cover.

At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like the story and started to worry.  I was a little conflicted about Nixy and didn't warm to her straight away.  However when she got to Lilyvale and really started to get involved with things I finally started  to like her and when I met the other characters I knew I was going to love the book.   Together with the location and the other little bits and pieces this turned out to be a very nice cozy experience.

Plot wise this may turn out to be slow going for some cozy readers.  There is enough happening at the beginning of the book to keep you interested and reading but it takes some time before an actual murder takes place.  Now not all cozies need a body to be a good mystery but it is expected!  Despite the late arrival of that angle the whole Jill Elsman business made for good reading and it was interesting to see what she was up to and why.

The main characters include the Silver Six, who are a wonderful group of retirees that give this new series its name.  It takes a little time to get used to them all and tell them apart but they are lovely characters who you know have a lot of stories to tell and will definitely manage to get into more trouble in the future.  Another main character, Detective Schoar was, like Nixy, not someone I warmed to straight away but when the plot got deadly he started to show a different side that I liked.  I am sure he also has some tales to tell!

What made this first in the series extremely likable is you could tell there is more to come.  It was obvious there are more stories to be told involving these characters.  The author builds up a lovely setting and fills it with nice people while making sure you feel at home.  There is always a lot to take in when you step into a new series but the writer guides you the whole time and leaves you looking forward to your next visit.  

A big thumbs up for this new series.  It will be interesting to see what others think of Basket Case when it releases in September.  I know I am eager to visit Lilyvale again and am really keen to see what the future brings for the Silver Six, Nixy and Det. Schoar.  

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Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, July 25, 2015

76) The Veil by Chloe Neill

The Blurb :

Seven years ago, the Veil that separates humanity from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil's Isle.

Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she’s a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil. Claire knows that revealing her skills would mean being confined to Devil’s Isle. Unfortunately, hiding her power has left her untrained and unfocused.

Liam Quinn knows from experience that magic makes monsters of the weak, and he has no time for a Sensitive with no control of her own strength. But when he sees Claire using her powers to save a human under attack—in full view of the French Quarter—Liam decides to bring her to Devil’s Isle and the teacher she needs, even though getting her out of his way isn’t the same as keeping her out of his head.

But when the Veil threatens to shatter completely, Claire and Liam must work together to stop it, or else New Orleans will burn…

My Thoughts :

Chloe Neill is one of the good Paranormal Urban Fantasy writers that you always want more from. So despite being behind on the Chicagoland Vampire series I couldn't resist requesting a copy of this 'first in a new series' when I saw it.  The blurb sounded good and the cover was of the usual quality.  I just hoped that I hadn't made the wrong choice by taking on another series.

The good news is that The Veil was definitely worth reading.  It wasn't a mind blowing wow read but it was unique and exciting.  There are no resemblances to Merit so don't even go looking and there isn't even a mention of vampires so make sure you aren't going to be all upset when this isn't what you expected.  The Veil is something completely new and once you get into Devil's Isle it is pretty hard to leave again.

As plots go this was very good.  A nice story with enough happening to keep me interested and some great world building got me hooked within a few chapters.  I was eager to find out where the author was taking things and what other cool new surprises she had up her sleeve.  As it turned out things continued to get even better as the story progressed with the magic and paranormal elements shining through and impressing me.

The characters were a different matter though.  It seems the author used all her energy on the great world building and didn't put enough into the people living in it.  Claire was open enough but I didn't really feel like I got to know her that well.  Also I couldn't accept the fact that she was twenty-four years old.  I think the author had a problem with this too because it was mentioned every now and again like a reminder.

Liam and the others were ok but they didn't feel like they were going to be staying till the end of the book.  I could have said goodbye to them at any time and wouldn't have cared if a completely new bunch of people appeared and took their place.

The world that Chloe has created in this new series is very special but I felt like I was still missing some pieces of the puzzle.  I got the impression that the characters weren't telling me everything I needed to know and I yearned for the Veil to open and more paranormals to appear.  Also I was completely confused about how the rest of the world was doing.  Why are these people suffering?  Why can't they get better goods etc.  Surely the rest of the world is ok?  Maybe I didn't take this information in properly?

Teething problems aside this was a strong series debut and a great concept.  I am looking forward to reading more about Claire, the Veil and Devil's Isle.  The seed has been planted and I am going to watch it grow.

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Amberkatze's Book Blog

Friday, July 24, 2015

75) Magic and Macaroons by Bailey Cates

The Blurb :

For magical baker Katie Lightfoot, the only way to beat the Savannah summer heat is to whip up some cool treats for the Honeybee Bakery’s patrons. But when a meeting of the spellbook club is interrupted by a stranger collapsing on the floor of her shop, mumbling something about a voodoo talisman, Katie drops everything to begin investigating.

Her search for answers quickly leads her into a dangerous blend of Savannah’s infamous voodoo queens, a powerful missing charm—and a deadly witch who seems to be targeting the city’s magical community. And with the case getting hotter by the second, Katie will have to work fast to track down the talisman and the killer before the timer runs out…

My Thoughts :

The Magical Bakery Mysteries are always on pre-order and I was very excited to find this one on my Kindle last week.  During my small vacation I picked this book up many times and enjoyed a chapter or two but only managed to finally sit down and read the rest today.

There isn't too much progress in the on-going story in this one.  Or at least it didn't feel like there was.  In retrospect there were a few things that happened as Katie tries to find out what happened to a person she has been looking for in previous books.  With the mystery revolving around this person and also having ties to some other people from her circle of friends and family.

I don't want to give anything from the plot away so it is hard to write anything more than a yay and a hooray!  Another installment, another great read and some wonderful cozy paranormal excitement.  This is just what your Summer reading needs and also what any cozy lover will want to check out.

As always I am looking forward to the next Magical Bakery installment and hope that Katie manages to solve another mystery and find out more about her abilities.

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Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, July 19, 2015

74) Spider's Trap by Jennifer Estep

The Blurb :

Keep your friends close but your enemies within stabbing distance.

One important lesson I’ve learned in the assassination business is that to be the best you have to roll with the punches. Now that I’m queen of Ashland’s underworld—by default, not by choice—a lot more punches are being thrown my way. But I suppose that’s the price of victory for taking down some of the underworld’s top dogs. Good thing I have my Ice and Stone magic to help me survive my volatile new position. Just when I think things are finally settling down, someone tries to murder me during a hush-hush underworld meeting. But the real surprise is how strangely familiar my shadowy assailant seems to be.

My job is to maintain order among killers, crooks, and thieves, and soon I’m embroiled in a bloody game where the ability to keep secrets could be the greatest superpower of all. My enemies have all sharpened their knives and laid their traps, waiting for me to fall. But this Spider weaves her own webs of death…

My Thoughts :

I have arachnophobia but there is one Spider I love!  Gin Blanco.  Lately I find myself leaning more and more towards cozy mysteries but the Elemental Assassin series always manages to pull me back into the world of Paranormal Urban Fantasy and remind me why I ever read anything in the genre in the first place.

Spider's Trap is the thirteenth installment and definitely not an unlucky number for the author.  She once again managed to excite and entertain me with another addictive story that I couldn't face putting down for even a minute.  Jennifer Estep is on a winning streak and after all this time she is still writing stories that thrill and please.

There is everything inside Spider's Trap that fans have come to expect and adore.  Fights, traps, plans and lots of physical hurt.  The only question is who, what and why?  Once again those questions are answered and they are nowhere near the same as the previous twelve books.  This series continues to be original and surprising.

Jennifer Estep has trapped me in her web of amazing world building and exceptional story telling long ago and as the story keeps going I become even more addicted.  The twists and turns the on-going story takes just flow along so smoothly.  I can't help but feel invested in Gin's life and the lives of the other characters that have all made such an impact on reading enjoyment.  The final chapter promises more to come and I can't wait for the next book.  The last chapter also made me sigh in relief as I realise there is still more of Gin to come.

Once again I can only keep recommending this series.  Jennifer Estep is definitely one of my top three favourite authors and The Elemental Assassin Series is in my top three favourite reads.  One day this series will come to an end but until it does I will keep on pre-ordering or begging for ARC's.  This is a must read series and not to be missed.  Oh and when it does end I will be reading this series over and over again.  It is just too good to only read once.

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Amberkatze's Book Blog

Saturday, July 18, 2015

73) Thirty-One and a Half Regrets by Denise Grover Swank

The Blurb :

While Rose recovers from a broken heart, she finds herself at odds with her sister—and business partner—Violet. Rose buries herself in her landscaping work, but becomes worried when her employee and friend, Bruce Wayne Decker, goes missing.

In the meantime, Fenton County assistant D.A., Mason Deveraux has been patiently waiting to begin a relationship with Rose, but she realizes she needs to confront the demons of her past before she can embrace a new future. She needs to find out the truth about her birth mother.

But her past isn’t her only demon. An undercurrent of tension has been spreading through Henryetta, Arkansas since drug lord, Daniel Crocker’s arrest six months ago. Still, she’s not prepared for a nightmare come true: Crocker’s escape from prison. Crocker carries a grudge and he’s determined to make Rose pay, but he plays a game of cat and mouse, forcing Mason and the Fenton County Sheriff’s department to hide Rose on her birth mother’s farm. But will it be enough to save her?

My Thoughts :

I was really enjoying this series but had to take a break.  Not because I really wanted to but there were no more installments available on Audio and I hate switching from the audio version to the physical reading of a series.  If it is just a short story, ok.  However if I am already into a series Audibly I find it really hard not to keep to that format.  So when I saw the rest of the series appear on Audible I was really excited but then noticed there was a new narrator.  Oh no!  One of the worst fears of any Audio book listener is the narrator being changed in the middle of a series.  You are used to the voice, know it and have spent hours with it.  No one else can fit those shoes!  But for once things turned out good.

So my first few minutes of listening to the new narrator was spent wondering if it was ok to like her.  Yes it took a few seconds of it sounding weird because it wasn't the voice I associated with the books but I have to say I liked her pretty much from the get go.  She sounded younger and less prim and proper.  She sounded like Rose.  A round of applause to everyone who had anything to do with that change.  It was worth the wait!

Now as for the story.  Amazing!  Another great installment in what has become one of my most favourite audio series.  The series is perfect to listen to and it isn't hard to keep track of who is who or what is what.  The story is always engaging and you can't help but love the characters and enjoy all the relationship problems or joys.

Family, friends and romantic interests are one reason for checking out this series but the well thought out plot and mystery is another.  A huge shout out has to go to the 'visions' Rose has which makes this series slightly paranormal and just even more interesting.  A twist that keeps the story from being your normal everyday cozy mystery.

I think the main attraction to this series has to be Rose herself.  While you may not like some of her ideas and actions or disagree with the decisions she makes, her story is something you can relate to on  so many different levels.  Maybe because you have had that weird relationship with your family.  Maybe you got mixed up in crap you didn't want to be involved in while just trying to be nice and help.  Whatever the reason there is a little of Rose in everyone and I can't wait to see how her story continues.

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Currently Read & To Be Read

The weather has been too Summery here and I am fed up of the heat.  I am a Summer child but it isn't my favourite season.  However there is one good thing about it (except my Birthday) and that is time off work.  My holidays start next week and I really want to make a huge dent in my to be read pile and get some paperbacks read!

Currently Listening to :

I have taken a bit of a break from this series.  Firstly because I was listening to the books and there were no more installments available on Audio and then secondly because they changed the narrator.

So I finally started this fourth part and have to say that the narrator hasn't made a difference.  At first it was a little weird because I was used to another voice.  However I have to say the new reader fits Rose much better.

Really enjoying the story and love the new narrator.  Should be finished with this one very soon!

Currently Reading :

The Elemental Assassin series is one of my top ten favourite reads and Jennifer Estep is one of my favourite authors.  So I am always happy to get an ARC copy of her upcoming releases. While I want to rush and read the newest edition I also want to wait and savour it.  Not want it to be over...

So finally a couple of weeks before the release I am allowing myself to read the next release.  Mainly because I am going to be on holiday and I can spend a day curled up reading it.  No need to take a break, do chores or anything else.  Just reading!  I can't wait!

The Dreaded 'To Be Read' Pile :

As I mentioned, there are some ARC's that need my attention ASAP and there are some books on this pile that really need to be read before they are too dusty to even find!