Category Archives: Books in general

Serial Killer in Boston with Historical Tendencies

dying_breath

Vickie Preston survived an attack by a killer when she was in high school while babysitting. It was the first time she saw a ghost, but not the last. And it was her first encounter with Griffin Price, then a policeman.

On to present day, Griffin Price is now a Special Agent with the FBI unit known as the Krewe of Hunters. Griffin and his fellow agent Jackson are in Boston helping with the hunt for a serial killer known as The Undertaker.

Vickie, now a historian, becomes involved in the case when the killer mentions her by name in one of the notes sent to the police as clues to find the victims before their air runs out. Her vast knowledge of the history of Boston becomes a tool in the Hunters’ arsenal. And, she and Griffin meet again for the first time since that fateful night of her youth and are drawn together.

This is one of the best Krewe of Hunters novels that I’ve read. Heather Graham does a great job blending history and geography in the clues given to Vickie, Griffin, Jackson, and the police to solve. It makes the mystery even more fascinating. I was guessing at who the killer(s) were right up until the end.

Griffin and Vickie are both good characters. Vickie is a little more fleshed out than Griffin in that she has more details about her character in the book. As they work together to solve the mystery, they are drawn together as well. This leads to some sex scenes which are tastefully done. The mystery takes the forefront of the book. The romance is slightly secondary to it.

The paranormal mostly figures in with the ghosts of Dylan and Darlene. They are used as more as plot devices than people, but not overly so.

Overall, I give Dying Breath 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a well-written mystery with romance. I was guessing at who did it right up until the end.

Dying Breath by Heather Graham is #21 in the Krewe of Hunters series. It was released May 30, 2017 from MIRA.

My copy of the book was an ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and freely given.

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Review: Death Need Not Be Fatal

Death Need Not Be Fatal by Malachy McCourt with Brian McDonald is a memoir of sorts. It pulls from events in his life both tragic and humorous – sometimes both at the same time. And sometimes the humor only comes in retrospection.death_need_not_fatal

From the synopsis: “It seems the only two things he hasn’t done are stick his head into a lion’s mouth and die. Since he is allergic to cats, he decided to write about the great hereafter…”

I hadn’t read any of his previous books or his brother Frank’s books. So I wasn’t at all familiar with the subject matter he draws on most – their lives. You don’t need to have any familiarity with it though to enjoy the book and his stories.

As expected, much of the book focuses on deaths and how they have affected him. The last part of the book is something of a contemplation of his own death. He says, “Any day on this side of the grass is a good day.” And he talks about reading the “Irish Sporting Pages” – otherwise known as the obituaries. There’s more to it than that,

“I’ll try to keep the lies to a minimum, but I never let truth get in the way of a good story, and a lie is just a dream that might come true.” location 101 on my Kindle

So after a while, I wondered how much might be exaggeration. I decided to take most of it at face value.

Overall, it’s a good and interesting book. It has a conversational tone. It’s like he’s sitting there telling you the stories. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

Death Need Not Be Fatal was published May 16, 2017 by Center Street

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. My review is my own opinion and freely given.

 

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Discreet Retrieval Agency takes on new cases

teetotaledLola Woodby and her faithful companion and detective partner Berta are in desperate need of funds. They are living in Lola’s deceased husband’s love nest, but the rent will be due soon. They have placed an advertisement in the newspaper and agree they  must take the first job offered to their Discreet Retrieval Agency. Lucky for them along comes Grace Whiddle’s mother who wants to get a hold of Grace’s diary.

Lola and Berta go to a health farm to try and obtain the diary. Lola’s former brother-in-law is on staff there. They try everything they can think of to get the diary without getting caught including climbing in and out of windows like a monkey. The same night they are after the diary, Grace’s future mother-in-law is murdered at the health farm. Mrs. Whiddle fires Lola and Berta, but soon they have another case. They are hired to solve the murder by the husband of the victim. While it’s more dangerous than they would like, Lola and Berta agree they need the money desperately. Adventures follow as they work to solve the mystery.

Teetotaled is a good period piece cozy mystery. It takes place in the 1920s. There is a lot of humor and a touch of romance to go with the dangerous situations the women find themselves in. The plot moves along at a good rate.

Berta and Lola are fully realized characters. Many of the others are developed to a lesser degree, but their page time is shorter. Ralph is also back in this mystery providing most of the romantic interactions, but not all.

I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a well written historical cozy. It’s good light reading. I enjoyed watching Lola and Berta as they work to solve the mysteries that cross their paths. This is the second book in the Discreet Retrieval Agency series. It was released October 4, 2016 from Minotaur Books.

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

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“Backpacking Bridget Jones” Does Chile

destination_chileDestination: Chile by Katy Colins is book 3 in the Lonely Hearts Travel Club series.

Spoiler Alert:

If you haven’t read book one and two in the series, the reviews for book 3 contain at least one big spoiler. Just letting you  know so you can stop now if you want. The book can be read as a stand alone, but I’ve been informed that you can get a deeper understanding of the characters if you start with book one.

Review:

Georgia Green and her beau Ben are invited to travel to Chile to participate in a television program called Wanderlust Warriors. The program is to follow several couples who work together as they face challenges. The winning couple receives a nice amount of money, 25,000 pounds, to spend as they see fit.

From the beginning, Georgia and Ben aren’t quite on the same page although they seem to be getting along swimmingly. They work together days at their travel agency and spend their down time together as well.

The circumstances Georgia faces over the course of the story are reminiscent of things Bridget Jones might encounter from the scene in the airport bathroom to the camping scene and many in between. One reviewer has referred to Georgia as the “backpacking Bridget Jones.”

It’s not all laughs. Like any good story, it has its highs and lows. It has conflict, resolution, and character growth. There are elements that increase suspense and make you wonder what the ultimate ending of the book will be. Will Georgia and Ben’s relationship survive the organized chaos of this competitive trip?

I know the review has been a little vague, but I didn’t want to give out many spoilers.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s well written and entertaining. If you enjoy romantic comedies, then this might be a good book for you.

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

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You Can Catch More Flies with Honey

vinegar girlKate Battista is feeling stuck. Stuck in her job where she is an assistant teacher for a preschool class adored by the students and frequently in trouble with the parents because she is honest and slightly inept socially. Stuck at home where she takes care of the household duties for her eccentric, widowed father and obnoxious teenage sister.

Now, Kate is in a pickle. Her father feels he is close to a breakthrough in his research and his assistant’s visa is about to expire. Father cooks up a scheme for Kate to marry Pyotr so he can stay in the country. He expects Kate to just go along with it, but of course she doesn’t. How could she just agree to marry a stranger? Her father says, “We can fix that.” And arranges for Pyotr to come by the house and see Kate. Besides being eccentric, her father shares one thing with Pyotr and Kate – they are all socially a little awkward. Will Kate agree to marry Pyotr? Would it be for in name only or would it be more? Will he come to love and value her for her honest and sometimes sharp tongue?

This is a reworking of The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare. Instead of multiple suitors, Kate has the one. And her tongue while acidic, isn’t quite as bad. As I read it, I could picture it happening more in the middle of the twentieth century than in the 21st. It has a good pace to it. There are humorous moments and plot surprises as well.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a relatively short novel. It makes a good summer read. I would recommend it for people who enjoyed The Taming of the Shrew or any of its variations. But, you don’t have to be a fan of the tale to enjoy the reworking. This book was released June 21, 2016 from Hogarth.

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

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Another Delicious Mystery in the Tiki Goddess Series

hawaiiFiveUhOhHawaii Five Uh-Oh! by Jill Marie Landis is a humorous mystery featuring the lovely group of mostly older ladies called The Hula Maidens and the crew from the Tiki Goddess bar trying to track down an art thief and murderer on the island of Kauai.

Kiki, the leader of the Hula Maidens, is recently out of the mental hospital and still feeling the strain of her recent attack by Alphonse the monkey. She is suffering from PTMD – post-traumatic monkey disorder. Meanwhile, a big shot director from the mainland is welcomed to Kauai by his neighbor with Em and the Tiki Goddess staff catering the event. While the party is going on, some seriously expensive paintings he has in his home are stolen. Kiki  gets the idea that trying to solve this crime will help her overcome her PTMD. Roland, a police officer and Em’s love interest, asks them to stay out of it as usual, but of course, they get involved.

The Hula Maidens are a delight as they try to solve the mystery with their schemes and find time to perform. Roland and Em’s romance simmers with promise. Louie, the owner of the Tiki Goddess bar, is ever present making up new concoctions and legends to go with them. At the end of the book, you can find recipes for some of the cocktails as well as for some of Kimo’s ono (delicious) food.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. Hawaii Five Uh-Oh! is a fun read. It’s even better if you like Hawaii. Either way, the book is a good read with a mystery, some comic relief, and a touch of romance.

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

 

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Thinning the Herd “B” Movie Worthy

ThinningtheHerd

Thinning the Herd by Adrian Phoenix reads a bit like watching a “B” movie. There’s nothing wrong with that. It was a fast, fun read.

Our hero, Hal Rupert, is a dogcatcher by day or night depending on his schedule. In his free time, he works to keep the citizens of his fair city safe – both one shapes and shapeshifters. He especially likes to make certain his fair Desdemona, who works at Hot Topic and has nicknamed him Creep, is safe. Honestly on that point, he initially comes across as a bit of a stalker. His shapeshifting friends, Galahad and Nick, work with him to keep the city safe.

Hal becomes aware of the fact that some of the hippies and fortune tellers have been disappearing. As the plot progresses it becomes clear that Hal is pretty handy with a catch-pole. Every hero has to have a weapon of some sort, the catch-pole is Hal’s weapon of choice.

There is some doubt in the beginning that Hal is anything more than fantasizing his abilities and role in the safety of the city. I also had a little trouble suspending disbelief at his ability to communicate with animals and shapeshifters in animal form, like Doctor Doolittle.There is just no explanation for it.

That being said, I enjoyed the book. I liked the characters. It was a fun read. I liked watching the character of Hal grow some under the pressures he encounters. I found myself picturing a younger Bruce Campbell playing the part of Hal.

If you are looking for a quick read and enjoy “B” movies, you will probably enjoy this book. I give it 3 stars out of 5. Thinning the Herd was published January 4, 2016 by Pocket Star.

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

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