Winter of the Gods in more than one way

winterofthegodsIt’s winter for the gods in more ways than one in the second book of the Olympus Bound trilogy. Literally, it’s winter. It’s Christmas season in modern-day New York City. And, things are looking bad for the Greek gods who have taken refuge there. Someone is out there sacrificing gods in what appears to be the manner of a cult. Selene and Theo are once again sucked into the investigation.

And what’s worse, perhaps, is that Selene suspects that it is one of her family members who is doing the sacrificing in order to regain power. Who can she trust?

Two of Theo’s close friends get involved in the research for the case. They turn up a lot of information. And a lot of it is given to the reader. For me, there was just so much information at one point that it slowed down the pace of the book. The rest of it was pretty action packed.

The mystery itself is well done. It’s hard to figure out who is responsible for the deaths.

The characters of Selene and Theo were well done. The problems portrayed in their relationship are logical outgrowths of one being immortal-ish and the other one being pure human. And, I liked the addition of Hephaestus as more than a minor character.

Overall, it was a good book. I gave it 3.5 stars. I liked it, but I had trouble with the amount of information at that one point in the book even though it was obviously well-researched information. There was just so much of it. I would recommend this book for people who enjoy Urban Fantasy and fictional accounts of the Greek gods. I am looking forward to the final book in the trilogy. I want to see what will happen next for Theo, Selene, and the rest of the Olympian pantheon.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Sam Clair: Snarky Editor and Sleuth

cast_of_vulturesSam Clair is a mild-mannered book editor, girlfriend, daughter, friend, and reluctant sleuth. She has a wickedly sarcastic sense of humor that she doesn’t always express out loud, but we are privy to it in her thoughts as the story progresses.“(It is, tragically, still illegal to force people to buy books at gunpoint. I don’t know why this kind of restriction is allowed to remain on the statute books.)” – location 31 on my Kindle

Viv is one of Sam’s neighborhood friends. Viv’s friend and neighbor Dennis has gone missing. Logically this means that Sam and she must break into his apartment to see if this is a planned absence or perhaps something more sinister. After yet another in a series of neighborhood fires, Dennis is found, but there are many questions still.

Much goes into trying to solve the mystery of Dennis’s disappearance from her making phone calls to shadowing one shady character at the market for clues. And it would appear that someone isn’t that happy about her interference. Things escalate and Sam’s life is at stake.

I enjoyed reading this book. The characters were mostly well drawn and interesting. I read this as a stand-alone but probably would have gained something by reading it as part of the series. I loved Sam’s snark. And the mystery was well done. It builds slowly from the disappearance of Dennis to Sam’s life being in danger from all of her snooping. As the mystery deepens, it gains momentum. By the end, I was reading fast to find out what would happen next.

Overall I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s well written with interesting characters. The mystery itself is well done. Don’t be put off by this being the third book in the series. This can be read as a stand-alone and enjoyed. Some depth to some of the characters could probably be gained though by reading earlier books in the series.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Grim Reaper and PI – Charley Davidson at Your Service

first_grave_rightThe one New Year’s resolution I made that I am likely to keep is to read more books that have accumulated in my TBR pile. First Grave on the Right is the first of these. It was originally released in 2011 by St. Martin’s Press.With her eleventh book, Eleventh Grave in Moonlight, out in the series this year, it seemed like a good time to check out Charley Davidson and her universe.

Charley Davidson is a fairly unique individual. She is a private investigator and a grim reaper. Charley is a fun, spunky, and sarcastic heroine. She would probably object to using the word spunky to describe her, but she is definitely “courageous and determined” if maybe occasionally reckless.

As part of Charley’s gifts as a grim reaper, she can see and communicate with dead people. Most of the dead move on into the afterlife fairly smoothly, but some have unresolved issues that they seek to resolve with help from Charley. In this case, there are 3 lawyers that are murdered. They have unresolved issues in that they all have something they want to be communicated to the beloved they are leaving behind and that they want to see whoever killed them put behind bars. As if that wasn’t enough for Charley, she is having sensual nightly visits from an entity she knows as Reyes.

So, First Grave on the Right is mostly a mystery with paranormal influences. The mysteries are solved with help from her assistant Cookie, her uncle who is a detective, and a dead gangbanger who has turned to helping Charley out.

There is also a touch of romance in the books because of her growing relationship with Reyes. She is desperate to know more about this “man” who has been visiting her nightly in her dreams. This becomes one of the mysteries she must solve.

The book is loaded with Charley’s sarcastic humor. Most of the time she knows when to stop, but occasionally she just can’t help herself.

“My calculations- allowing for a 12 percent margin of error, based on the radius of the corresponding confidence interval and the surgeon general’s warning – concluded that they probably didn’t stay behind for tacos.” (p.53)

I once signed up for an anger management class, but the instructor pissed me off.”(p.58)

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is an award-winning debut for Darynda Jones and I really enjoyed reading it. I needed something light to read, and this fit the bill perfectly. You will probably enjoy this book too if you like to read mysteries with a heavy dose of paranormal and a smidgen of romance.

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History, Mystery, and a touch of Romance

fifthpetalThe story opens in Salem, Massachusetts Halloween 1989. A group of women is gathered together to consecrate the ground where the hangings of the accused witches in 1692 took place. Then suddenly they are attacked. There are 2 survivors. One is a 5-year-old young girl who was hidden by one of the women in some briars. The other is one of the women that the girl calls Auntie Rose aka Rose Whelan – the leader of the event.

Callie, the young girl, has no recollection of the event, but she has a scar on the palm of her hand in the shape of a rose from holding onto the rosary that Auntie Rose gave her so tightly while she was hidden. Rose appears to have lost her mind as a result of the attack and claims that it was a banshee that attacked and killed the young women collectively known as ‘The Goddesses.’

Salem, Massachusetts 2014, 25 years later to the day, Rose is again implicated in an attack. This time on a young boy – a bit of a hoodlum. There are no marks on his body, but she was present when he died. She claims the banshee did it again.

John Rafferty, chief of police of Salem, finds himself in a position where he believes that Rose had nothing to do with either incident. He decides he must reopen the cold case of The Goddesses’ murders.

Most of the book is from Callie’s point of view, but a fair amount is also from Rafferty’s point of view. Callie starts to have vivid dreams of what happened in the past and shares these with Rafferty. Meanwhile, Rafferty goes through legal channels and old evidence trying to solve the cold case while he waits for a cause of death of the boy.

It’s mostly Callie’s story. And she gets involved with local old families. One member of which is responsible for triggering some of her most vivid dreams.

There is history, mystery and a touch of romance in The Fifth Petal. I read the first book in this series, The Lace Reader, a while back. It was a good book, but not as good as The Fifth Petal. Brunonia Barry’s writing seems to have improved in the time between the two books. You can read The Fifth Petal without having read The Lace Reader and still enjoy it. Truthfully, I remembered little of the first book. Towner and Rafferty were both characters in the first book and have roles in this one as well – Rafferty a little more so than Towner.

There are some things that you might consider either paranormal or magical realism elements. There is the ability to see the future by reading lace that is mentioned. And there is the way that Towner, Callie, and some of the other people seem to know things before they happen or are said by people. There is Callie’s use of musical therapy for healing. And finally, there is the question of the banshee. Is she real?

Overall, it’s a good book. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It’s well written. The mystery is good. The inclusion of the history is a plus. The author tells some of what is real vs pure fiction in the acknowledgments. I may have enjoyed it more because of the history in it. The 1692 events in Salem have always interested me. I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery with a few possibly paranormal elements and a touch of romance. If you like Salem and its history, then you will enjoy it even more.

The Fifth Petal was released January 24, 2017 from Crown.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Varied Nightmares

nightmares_datlowThings that go bump in the night? Sure, but so much more than that. The stories are varied and run the gamut from horrifying to creepy to don’t turn your lights off scary. There was even a retelling of sorts of Hansel and Gretel. And don’t forget the zombies.

Ellen Datlow is an excellent editor. I believe she is a sort of expert in short story quality and in horror from her many years of editing the Best Horror of the Year series among other things. Authors included in the anthology are (in order of appearance): Mark Samuels, Gene Wolfe, Brian Hodge, Kaaron Warren, Lisa Tuttle, Gemma Files, Simon Bestwick, Nicholas Royle, Margo Lanagan, Steve Duffy, Laird Barron, Stephen Graham Jones, Reggie Oliver, Ray Cluely, M. Rickert, John Langan, Anna Taborska, Livia Llewellyn, Dan Chaon, Robert Shearman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Garth Nix, Nathan Ballingrud, and Richard Kadrey.

As with most anthologies, I didn’t like all the stories equally. Some were better than others for me. A few I was puzzled as to why they were included. There was one story that used incest as an important part of the story. That one I could have done without entirely. It just wasn’t for me.

My favorites were: How We Escaped Our Certain Fate by Don Chaon, and the last 3 stories in the anthology. It was almost as though the best were saved for last, but the stories were arranged chronologically in order of year of publication. Datlow says of the stories included: “Consider them a guide to some of the best short story writers currently working in the field of horror fiction. And in this volume specifically, a good representation of the excellent horror that was published between 2005 and 2015.”

Overall, enough of the stories were satisfying for me to give the anthology a 4 out of 5 stars rating.

Nightmares: a New Decade of Modern Horror was released November 1, 2016 by Tachyon Publications.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Killer Clown

send_in_clownsSpending an evening or even a few hours at a haunted house venue is not Ellison Russell’s idea of fun. But, her daughter has broken curfew and in the 1970s neither one has a cell phone for tracking her down. Her last known whereabouts were at the haunted house. So, Ellison goes in and gets the surprise of her life when a clown collapses dead on her and another one seems to be fleeing the murder scene. Ellison muses, “I’m not sure what it says about me that I have a homicide detective’s home number memorized…”as she calls Anarchy Jones for assistance.Who killed the clown? What was the motive? Ellison finds herself drawn into the case further and further in spite of her best attempts not to do so.

Ellison has a good sense of humor that is evident in her thoughts and conversations with other characters in the mystery. She feels that Mr. Coffee and her father are the only two men who haven’t let her down. And still, she finds herself in a little bit of a love triangle. At one point her date is hauled off for questioning in the case by the Detective Anarchy Jones. Both men would like to see her stay out of the mess, but she keeps getting drawn back in.

Romance is more of a subplot to the murder. Ellison’s best friend is also dating someone new. And there is a further subplot of someone stealing and selling antiques.

It might sound like there is a lot going on. Honestly, though, it’s really the right amount. The author pulls it all together seamlessly. I really enjoyed the book and all of its parts. I especially enjoyed Ellison’s sense of humor and independence.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. The mystery is well written and well paced. You can guess along with the rest of them who did it before the revealing. There is just the right amount of romance and subplot. And Ellison has a good relationship with her daughter that reminds me a little of the relationship Claire Malloy has with her daughter in the Joan Hess books. This novel can be read and enjoyed as a standalone, even though it is the fourth book in the series. I did go out and buy the first book when I finished this one. Send in the Clowns became available October 25, 2016 from Henery Press.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Well, bless her heart!

deader_homesWell, bless her heart! Verity Long is stuck with Frankie, the ghost of a 1920s gangster and is trying to make the best of it by becoming a paranormal investigator. Neighbors have been dropping by with casseroles and to gawk at her ever since this became public knowledge.

Now, Verity is desperately in need of funds for basics and to fix up the house where she and Frankie live. She agrees to take on a case at the oldest mansion in town, Rock Fall. Frankie is miffed at first that she agreed to it without consulting him. Then once he cases the joint, he gets scared and refuses to go inside.

The case ends up being twofold. What happened to the family that was living there – was it really a curse? And where did the Egyptian treasure go that was in the house? Her boyfriend Ellis, a deputy sheriff is anxious about her going into the home especially after she has a frightening experience there. Will Verity be able to solve the mysteries and help the ghosts to find peace? Will Frankie help her or be a hindrance? Will Ellis ever pick out curtains from among Verity’s choices?

This is a good, paranormal mystery. It’s well written, especially the characters of Verity and Frankie. The pace is good. There is just a touch of romance. I enjoyed the humor in the story. And there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Deader Homes and Gardens by Angie Fox is #4 in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mystery series. It became available October 11, 2016.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

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