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Saturday, November 21, 2015

115) Murder of a Botoxed Blonde by Denise Swanson

The Blurb :

A health spa complete with tofu turkey and "Dress for Sexcess" lectures is the last place school psychologist Skye Denison wants to spend Thanksgiving. But when her best friend, Trixie Frayne, convinces her to take a complimentary weekend at the new Scumble River Spa, Skye accepts her fate and prepares to be slathered, wrapped and roasted.

Then an annoying quartet that includes both Skye's mom and her ex-boyfriend's mother impulsively joins her for a girls-only holiday, and Skye wonders just how bad things can get. She soon finds out - when she's confronted with treatments only a masochist would enjoy, a diet plan fit for a Barbie doll, and a troublesome trespasser searching for a cache of jewels supposedly hidden in the spa seventy years ago. Worst of all, a famous former model turns up dead in the Miracle Mud bath. It looks like no one will be leaving the spa until Skye can identify which of the eccentric guests, pesky local protesters or sneaky treasure hunters is also a killer deserving of special treatment; in the county jail.

My Thoughts :

Murder of a Botoxed Blonde was my audio book this week and is the ninth installment in the Scumble River Mystery series.  I have been enjoying this series a lot over the last few months and have made great progress in catching up with the series which is eighteen books long.  So now halfway through, I finally came across one installment that I didn't particularly like.

It wasn't that this book wasn't good or interesting.  There was all the usual characters, a great murder mystery and some surprising twists.  However there were a couple of things about this one didn't sit right with me and make the book less enjoyable.  Thee Spa setting was a little over the top and unbelievable at times.  The Simon vs Wally aspect?  I like the change in Skye's relationship but Simon has totally gone weird.  Then there is the constant talk about her weight and clothes.  I thought she is happy with herself the way she is?  The references to expensive clothes from fashion magazines and the reoccurring food talk is really getting annoying.  

Still a great series and I am sure there are more good installments to come but this was finally the bad one in the bunch for me.  I look forward to the next part and am really eager to see what happens next in Skye's life but I really hope she doesn't go to the Spa again , that Simon becomes a thing of the past and that the author also stops having a problem with her leading lady being over weight.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

114) Murder at Redwood Cove by Janet Finsilver

The Blurb :

Bed, breakfast…and a body!

If it weren’t for the fact that she’s replacing a dead man, Kelly Jackson would love her new job managing the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast on the coast of Northern California. But Bob Phillips did plunge off the cliff to his death…and Kelly’s starting to think it may not have been an accident. Bob’s retired friends—The “Silver Sentinels”—are also on the case, especially when Kelly is attacked…and another body turns up. Kelly has her hands full with overseeing the B&B’s annual Taste of Chocolate and Wine Festival, but she’s also closing in on the killer…who’s ready to send Kelly on her own permanent vacation…

My Thoughts :

Murder at Redwood Cove caught my eye due to the lovely cover and I really knew I shouldn't even request a copy because I already have way too many review books on my pile.  However I like to give new authors a chance and am always interested to see how the writer has tried, and maybe managed, to make her cozy that little bit different.  There are already so many cozies out there and it seems to me that at some point the 'theme' is going to be one that has already been done.

So what was the twist this time around?  I can't really decide.  A bed and breakfast murder mystery isn't anything new and someone coming to take over for the manager isn't a long shot and was plausible.  Actually there wasn't anything overly special or memorable about this mystery that made it stand out from any others I have read.  Although on saying that it was still an enjoyable read.

The murder mystery was interesting enough and I had my suspicions about a certain character from the beginning and it turned out that I was right to be wary of them.  The story and characters were nice, the story quick and easy, there wasn't much I can give fault to but this was still missing that little something to make it stick out.

I will be checking out the next installment when it comes around.  Just because this one was a nice easy read.  While at first I thought I would get confused by all the different characters, I found that it was easy to keep up with everything and liked the concept of the close knit community and Silver Sentinels.  The Bed and Breakfast was a nice location and Kelly was a lovely leading lady.  I finished the book with a smile and look forward to going back to stay at Redwood Cove some day.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Monday, November 16, 2015

113) Thirty-Four and a Half Predicaments by Denise Grover Swank

The Blurb :

Rose Gardner hates seeing her normally flamboyant best friend Neely Kate struggle with depression. So when Rose stumbles onto a piece of evidence indicating her birth mother might have been involved in a crime, she does the one thing guaranteed to cheer Neely Kate. She convinces her friend to help her solve a mystery. Though their penchant for investigating has gotten them into plenty of pickles in the past, what can go wrong if they’re looking into a case that went cold a quarter of a century ago? But the deeper they dig, the more dirt they unearth.

While she’s busy unraveling the past, Rose must also reprise her role as the Lady in Black as part of her ongoing agreement with the king of the Fenton County underworld. In so doing, she discovers a mysterious enemy is intent on attacking her friends, and her assistant DA boyfriend might be next on the list.

As both situations reach a boiling point, Rose must face the possibility that certain secrets were meant to remain buried and not even her special talent can get her out of every predicament.

My Thoughts :

I have been looking forward to listening to this seventh installment in the Rose Gardner Mysteries for a few weeks now.  I am practically all caught up with the series with the eight book already out this month but not yet available on Audio.  I have to admit that I had completely forgotten the majority of what happened at the end of the previous book and it shocked me to find Neely Kate in such a bad place.  She has always been a joy to spend time with and it made the book a little dull without her usual mouthy attitude.

Despite the duller tone to this installment there was a lot of action, revelations and twists.  If you haven't read the previous books then you really don't want to start here.  You also need to make sure you read the novellas in between to get the full picture.  There are some little bits and pieces you learn in those short stories that make the full length novels even more interesting than they already are.

I find myself not liking Rose as much as I used to.  I don't know what has made me find her slightly annoying but it may have something to do with her friendship with Skeeter Malcolm.   Things have been very interesting between them and it was thrilling to see what unfolded as far as the Lady in Black was concerned.   However in this book Rose had a chance to get out of her dealings with him and she didn't take it.  I couldn't totally agree with her reasoning and thinking and it left me feeling disappointed with her.

There are so many secrets in this series that it is getting a little confusing.  However in this installment we finally find out more about Rose's real mother and why she got killed.  This however opens up even more questions and problems, something that keeps the series alive but it is also making things a little heavy.  There isn't any fun and laughter and things are getting bleaker and bleaker.  I miss that little touch of lightness the series had at the beginning.

Don't be put off by my ramblings.  I am totally and utterly addicted to this series and can't wait for the next installment to come out on Audio.  The author has already done some nasty cliffhanger endings during this series but this one was a worrying one.  A confusing one.  A wow! one.  I am actually contemplating getting the Kindle version of the next book but I just love listening to the series and it wouldn't be the same.

The paranormal aspect of this series, Rose's visions, are in full force again in this book and she is starting to use them to help her on many levels.  I only wish she would use them more in other situations and more often.  I am sure they would have helped her see what was happening around her and stopped her from making so many mistakes.

This is a series you really need to check out if you enjoy cozies and don't mind getting tangled up in a web of so many stories and mysteries that you can't see the next twist coming.  Everything is somehow related and the deeper the series go the more incredible the story gets.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, November 15, 2015

112) Ghost of a Potion by Heather Blake

The Blurb :

With all the ghosts that haunt her at this time of year, Carly doesn’t exactly rush to celebrate Halloween. Even a costume ball organized by her boyfriend Dylan's mother, Patricia Davis Jackson, holds little allure. But to please Dylan, who wants peace between the two women, Carly reluctantly agrees to go.

Gossip around town is that architect Haywood Dodd plans to make a big announcement at the party. But before he can address the crowd, he’s found dead with Patricia standing over him, holding the murder weapon. Anxious to clear Patricia’s name and perhaps broker a truce with her, Carly would love to use her snooping skills to find the real killer. Only she has bigger problems to deal with—ghosts are flocking to her for help, including a very persistent Haywood Dodd…

My Thoughts :

I have so many new releases (well actually they aren't new anymore) on my Kindle but I just don't seem to be getting around to them very often.  Audio books are so much easier lately and review books keep me too busy but this weekend I decided to ignore everything else and picked something new form a favourite author of mine.

Heather Blake is one of the best paranormal cozy writers out there.  She has been keeping me happy for a few years now and I love her ideas and adore the mysteries she weaves.  This latest potion mystery wasn't all about the potions but as the title suggests, ghosts.  Carly being about to see ghosts for a few days was an interesting concept and well thought out.  If there is anytime of year that the dead could be seen it would be the days around Halloween.

Of course the murder mystery was also interesting and was a joy to try and unravel.  It kept me guessing till the end despite managing to put some of the pieces together before Carly.  When the murderer was revealed it was a little shocking but made complete sense.  I couldn't believe I missed the clues and it reminded me why I love this author so much.

Paranormal and cozy is a great combination and Heather Blake it mixing it up really well.  I can't wait for another installment in this series and any others the other is writing.  She has a great talent and I love her work.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

111) Murder of a Real Bad Boy by Denise Swanson

The Blurb :

Still recovering from breaking up with her boyfriend and alienating half the people in town, Skye Denison has sworn off men—but she hires sexy contractor Beau Hamilton to renovate the old house she inherited. After all, who can ignore his qualifications? Golden hair, bronzed chest, muscular thighs—he’s just too good to be true.Sure enough, he has a reputation for conning the ladies. But before the not so na├»ve Skye can fire the hunk, he turns up dead. Since even bad boys deserve justice, Skye has to juggle more than a passionate police chief, a cagey brother with a secret, and a possibly haunted house. She’s got a killer to catch.

My Thoughts :

I am making up for lost time with this series and I just can't keep away from Scumble River.  I am already up to book eight and at the rate I am going I am pretty sure I am going to be all caught up within the next couple of months.  I am really making myself listen to another audio book in between each Scumble River Mystery but it is getting harder and harder to keep to that rule!  I don't know what it is about this series that makes it so addictive but I am really hooked.

This time around there are some new developments in Skye's love life.  Although there were hints at this in the last book and a nasty cliffhanger, it wasn't sure where Skye would be in this next book.  So this installment is interesting enough due to the ups and downs in Skye's private affairs without the murder mystery.

Skye, as usual, gets involved in the murder of a local.  This time she is even a suspect.  As the case unfolds it seemed pretty obvious to me who the murderer was but I was sure what motive that character had.  It was also clear to me what Skye's brother was up to and with whom....and I am pretty sure I know what a certain 'cheater' was up to as well.  I was slightly disappointed in Skye's long lasting search for her cat.  I thought she would have figured that out sooner.  I certainly had.  Anyway, this is still a great read and another great story.

I am really enjoying the audible versions of this series and highly recommend listening to the series if you like Audio books.  The narrator does a great job and I really have to wonder if I would enjoy the books as much as I do if I was reading them.

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

110) Fangs for the Memories by Molly Harper

The Blurb :

How did Andrea and Dick Cheney fall in love? Join Half-Moon Hollow’s favorite couple for a trip down memory lane—to a time when Mr. Wainwright was newly dead, Jane Jameson was a newbie vampire, and a budding paranormal romance was not yet uncorked…

Half-Moon Hollow’s supernatural social event of the season—Zeb’s Titanic-themed werewolf wedding—is coming up, and Dick Cheney (not that Dick Cheney!) needs a date. But Andrea’s had enough of clever, handsome, and rakish to last a lifetime, and Dick Cheney is certainly not the sort of man you bring home to mom (not that Andrea’s deadist parents are speaking to her ever since she dropped out of college and became a blood surrogate.) Shameless, relentless, roguish, with a Stetson-worthy swagger, a naughty sparkle in his eyes, and a constant smirk—oh, and fangs—no, Dick is the last person (er…vampire) Andrea wants to date.

But the infuriatingly irresistible man who lives quietly on the edge of a criminal underworld knows exactly what he wants, and once he surprises Andrea with a thrilling hot and dirty kiss behind the paranormal bookshop, she knows what she wants too: Dick. All it takes to ignite their unconventional courtship is a near-undeath experience that confronts Dick with a choice between turning Andrea, losing her forever, or tapping into his countless shady resources).

My Thoughts :

It was a special week for Half-Moon Hollow fans!  Not only did we get a full length novel but there was also a novella released about how Andrea and Dick got together.  A story that I am sure many a fan has been waiting for.

However I have to say it fell a little short.  This short story was a welcome addition to the series but to be honest I wanted Andrea and Dick to get a nice full length story with all the wit and charm I am used to and not this short tale.  I didn't feel it did them justice and it was all over before it began.

Yes this is well worth reading if you are a fan but expect to be slightly disappointed.  It was a nice read but it certainly wasn't everything I was hoping for.  Although maybe it wasn't a good idea to release this short story so close to the full length new release.  I was on such a high from reading The Single Undead Moms Club that this was a lame dessert.

An amazing series that I will always pre-order but release the novellas in between full length books because then they taste much sweeter!

Amberkatze's Book Blog

Sunday, November 8, 2015

109) The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston

The Blurb :

Something Wicked This Way Comes...

A year after her husband's sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat's death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her - a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she's near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.

On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.

In her own time, Tilda's grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake's ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each other's, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren's prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more.

My Thoughts :

I have enjoyed many a book written by this author and am kicking myself because it took so long for me to get around to reading The Silver Witch.  It was a fantastic read, sometimes melancholy but then mostly uplifting.  Full of magic and mystery this was just how I remember Brackston's earlier novels to be.  Historical, exciting and Welsh.

The story of The Silver Witch twists and turns and is told from two perspectives.  One in the past and one in the present.  The link is obvious to the reader earlier on but the reason and explanation is reason for reading.  The story is compelling and interesting with a lovely setting.  The background is well researched and impressive.  I loved every moment and couldn't put the book down.  I was hooked from the beginning.

Actually the book made me want to pack up my things and head home to Wales.  The author brings out such a beautiful side of a land I grew up in but obviously haven't even begun to experience.  The details are vivid and obviously first hand.  You can really get a sense of the present Wales as well as that of the past one.  Everything is well thought and it shows.

The plot is sometimes slow and sometimes a little too fast but the story itself is so intriguing that it makes no difference to the wonderful reading experience.  I am not a lover of historicals but this author really makes everything come to life and twists the history to make it all so interesting.   I look forward to her magical aspects and can almost believe it is all true.

Paula Brackston is one of my favourite authors and while I don't always get to her books straight away I always enjoy them immensely.  They are different to the usual paranormal books I read but they are always a joy and a lovely trip home to Wales.

Amberkatze's Book Blog