Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Silencing Sam

Title: Silencing Sam
Author: Julie Kramer
Published: June 22nd 2010 by Atria Books
Format: Hardcover, 335 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Riley Spartz #3

There are multiple plot lines unfolding in this book, and believe it or not, they do, somewhat, come together in the end.

When local gossip columnist Sam Pierce is found dead and local investigative journalist Riley Spartz is known to have had an angry dust-up with him, all fingers point toward her as the culprit. The problem, she did not do it and as she digs into his past, there are too many names on the chalkboard that could have. To add more complication, a headless corpse has shown up in town and someone is bombing the local wind turbines and those that have not been bombed have dead bats on the ground around them.

Minnesotans are usually a very nice bunch, but sometimes they can be pushed to their limit and that is where Riley finds herself. As she zeros in on the killer, her own life is on the line as she realizes what a news reporter will do for social media followers and ratings. Unfortunately, Riley does not want to play this game of cat and mouse. As the ultimate showdown takes place, Riley finds herself in the middle of what nightmares are made of.

As the last notes are played, if she had any questions about her future with ex-cop boyfriend Garnett, they may not have been fully answered, but at least he did get to meet her parents.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Among the Wicked

Title: Among the Wicked
Author: Linda Castillo
Expected Publication: July 12th 2016 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook; Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Kate Burkholder #8

Linda Castillo does not let the reader down. Even if the book starts slow, she always has a twist or two at the end that grabs the reader and does not let them go. She slowly winds the story through the people and places and when you think you might have it figured out, there is that last piece of the puzzle that is just waiting to fall into place.

Police Chief Kate Burkholder is asked to go to Roaring Springs, New York to investigate a death in an Amish community. Since she was raised Amish, she is the ideal candidate for this undercover assignment. She knows that inattention to detail and trusting the wrong people can turn things sideways quickly but that is not going to stop her. There are still 40 children in this community and if they are in danger, she needs to move quickly to move them to safety.

Fifteen-year-old Rachael Esh, a girl with many secrets, has been found dead. There is no plausible reason for this young girl to wander into the woods during the middle of a snowstorm mile from her home. Even more troubling, OxyCotin had been found in her bloodstream and even more perplexing is that she had recently lost a baby. No one in this tight Amish community will talk, and with Kate’s past, she is determined to find out what happened and bring either an answer or justice for this young girl who had no one else to speak for her.

There were some strange goings-on in this Amish settlement once Eli Schrock took over, but no one was talking and the fear is palpable. Establishing herself as a recently widowed woman looking for a new community that was adhering to the old ways, Kate was slowly accepted. Unfortunately, there were a few that did not trust her and knowing that she had only a short time to gather what she needed, she poked one too many beehives and what flew out was both unexpected and life-threatening.

What is amazing about this book is that the clues were there the whole time. Speckles and dots that were left like breadcrumbs leading to the final showdown and until you get to the end; you did not realize them for what they were.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Seeds of Deception

Title: Seeds of Deception
Author: Linda Castillo
Published: May 31st 2016 by Minotaur Books
Format: ebook
Genre: Fiction
Series: Kate Burkholder #7.5

Innocence is a hard thing to lose and when young Katie Burkholder has to decide between the story that her best friend is telling and one that the local bully and liar is saying, Katie’s world comes into a sharper focus. Things are not adding up in Katie’s mind and sometimes “the lines between right and wrong seemed crooked and gray”. She knows where her responsibilities lie, but sometimes it is best to let thing play out.

This short story does not add anything to the Kate Burkholder series; there are no deep secrets revealed or clarifications made. Maybe you can call it a slight glimpse into what helped to form Kate, but still, there is nothing new here.

Due take note that about half of this offering is Seeds of Deception with the balance being a sneak peek of her upcoming novel – Among the Wicked.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Dark and Stormy Murder

Title: A Dark and Stormy Murder
Author: Julia Buckley
Expected Publishing: July 5th 2016 by Berkley
Format: eBook, Paperback, 304 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing / Penguin Group (USA) for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: A Writer's Apprentice Mystery #1

When I first saw the cover of ‘A Dark and Stormy Murder’, I had assumed that it would be a cozy mystery. The cover art and title just gave off that feel. As I started the first chapter, with a preamble that at first I did not associate with the title, I soon realized that it was from a book that the main character and her mentor are writing together. A book that in ways parallels the life that Lena is living.

Let me back up a bit. A friend wondering if she would be interested in working as a personal assistant contacts Lena London, a recent college graduate with no employment leads on the horizon. What her friend used as the final bait was that it was for Camilla Graham, a Gothic Mysteries author that Lena has idolized since her teen years. Packing up everything she owns, including her cat, Lena quickly head off to Blue Lake, Indiana and an adventure that adds suspense and romance to both the lives of Lena and Camilla.

Certain parts of the book are rushed and others seem to dawdle and become repetitive. All the basic plot lines are included: a body, a detective, a bitter recluse, a house with a secret, a town that has already make up its mind, confronting a murderer, making new friends and suspecting others, knocking down brick walls to get the answers, and last but not least, what book would be complete without love interests?

Everyone seems sinister in a Noir type novel. This killer ‘was as invisible as a mailman or a telephone work; he was background music’ (I loved that quote). For being a laid back kind of small town, there sure is a lot going on since Lena arrived and seems to have stirred up a hornet’s nest of activity. As Lena and Camilla brainstorm their novel, they cannot help but to reflect on the goings on in Blue Lake and thus take it upon themselves to solve both the mysteries of Graham House and jump into the middle of the disappearance of Victoria West.

I loved how I had thought that I had the whole thing figured out. How names seemed to be obvious and yet, that was not the answer, Julia Buckley still had a couple of secrets up her sleeve. By the time that the story was winding down, I found myself hoping that this would be a new series. It appears that I will not be disappointed. I could not find a publication date for the next book, but I do hope that it is not too far off.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I Let You Go

Title: I Let You Go
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Published: May 3rd 2016 by Berkley
Format: ebook, Hardcover, 369 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing / Penguin Group (USA) for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

I have always disliked how some people call books rollercoaster rides. So, when I found myself comparing this book to a rollercoaster I had to laugh at my own hypocrisy. Literally, for the first half of this book you are on the long uphill journey wondering when you are ever going to reach the peak and then BOOM, you are plunging down into the first turn, that though you are expecting it, will still hit you by surprise.

I do not know how I can tell you about this story without giving away all the glorious details. It is a story within a story, the characters are not who you think they are. They are interrelated in ways that you did not expect or for that matter see coming. I cannot say that you will love any one character, but there are definitely some that you will hate less than others.

When a character says that prison is preferable to the life that they are currently leading you cannot but wonder how much mental and physical torment a person can take. Repeatedly, you will find yourself saying “oh”. It is gutting, it is brutal, and sections are written with such honesty that you feel the emotions dripping from the pages. You will find yourself sneaking in reading time at work and at others times reading with your hand over your mouth so as to not gasp out loud.

When I started this book I could not understand all the hype, by the end, I could not understand why more were not talking about it. The title has a multitude of meanings and though this book might lose many readers with the slow start, those that remain, will have a book that stays with them for a long time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Ghoul's Guide to Love and Murder

Title: A Ghoul's Guide to Love and Murder
Author: Victoria Laurie
Published: January 5th 2016 by NAL
Format: Paperback, 332 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Series: Ghost Hunter Mystery #10

Victoria Laurie obviously saved the best for last. In the beginning pages, the author lets the reader know that this will be the final book in the Ghost Hunter’s series. For me, the books have been a bumpy ride. Some I have loved and others did wear on my nerves. What started out as a rag tag group resembling Scooby Doo characters, turned into a group that not only put their lives on the line for the sake of their clients but also went beyond due to their commitment to each other.

Ms. Laurie brings back the whole gang in this book, and by whole gang, I mean the creepy's that they banished in the previous nine books. Oruc, Hatchet Jack, Sly the Slayer and even the Grim Widow make reappearances. Abby Cooper and her sister from Laurie’s Psychic Eye series are present and of course, Abby’s psychic ability lets M.J. Holliday in on a little secret that will change the direction of everyone’s lives forever.

M.J. and Heath’s futures have changed drastically since the last book, they have just returned from a vacation afforded to them due to a movie distribution deal surrounding a location shoot from their Ghoul Getters series. M.J., Heath and Gilley will not have to work again, but that does not mean that their lives will be simple. Upon arriving at home, they have come to learn that Gilley has “loaned” Oruc’s dagger to the museum that is hosting an exhibit for the movie premiere. He swears that all precautions had been taken, but what ensue, no one could have predicted. It appear that this ghost busting team have enemies both of this world and not.

This was a good-bye book. Victoria Laurie gracefully said good-bye to her beloved characters, she tied up their past and let the readers in on their futures. Unlike other author’s that just walk away and leave characters dangling, Ms. Laurie presented this book as a neat bow and allowed everyone that final look into the lives of these memorable characters.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The House on Mermaid Point

Title: The House on Mermaid Point
Author: Wendy Wax
Published: July 1st 2014 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series: Ten Beach Road #3

This was not my favorite book within the series. Other than the ladies, the new characters did not entice me. I guess that I had loved Max and his story from Ocean Beach so much that I was hoping for more of the same.

Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deirdre are back with a new Do-Over adventure. This time, it is the home of “William the Wild” Hightower an 80’s rocker with long standing reputation for drugs, alcohol and women. It also turns out that Maddie had quite the teenage crush on him.

Times have not been kind to William and he is kicking and screaming when it comes to letting this group of women turn his home into a Key West Bed and Breakfast for the reality show ‘Do Over’. Once Maddie had gotten over her teenage stammering, she took full control of William and the sparks began to fly. This whole dating thing might be new to her, but a good southern woman is not going to let a little male testosterone get in the way of a job that needs to be done.

The television show is still teetering and their input from the production head is coming to a volatile climax. Each of the women has decision to make in regards to their personal lives, but what the reader does know is that they are resilient. They have made it this far and they will continue to fight for what they believe in.

I was very disappointed in the ending. Granted, William is embarking on the life that he wants and Maddie has finally cut the cord on her marriage, but what happened with Deirdre was a redundancy of a previous book. Though it was meant to be a shocker, and it was surprising, at the same time, it was a safe turn.

The characters are all embarking on new roads in their lives and I do look forward to where they will go next. They have the confidence, now they just need their next opportunities, and as a team, they can accomplish anything.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Tea Cups and Carnage

Title: Tea Cups and Carnage
Author: Lynn Cahoon
Expected Publiclation: June 7th 2016 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
Format: eBook, Paperback, 192 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Kensington for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: A Tourist Trap Mystery #7

I do not know where to begin with this. Cozy mysteries are supposed to wrap around a murder - nothing gruesome, just a body. Within Tea Cups and Carnage, the body does not appear until a third of the way through and then it is only an inconsequential pause. Jill Gardner seems more interested in a missing bank deposit and staffing her coffee annex during a festival than her usual dead body in a small coastal town shenanigans.

As Jill said, “just because it was a stranger that lay in the morgue, didn’t mean someone from South Cove hadn’t been involved” and so begins the newest Tourist Trap Mystery installment. With festival workers and bikers, the body could be the result of any number of things, but Jill had decided that she was not going to get involved. Leave that up to boyfriend Greg. He is the resident detective and with his work force, they can figure this out. She has more important things like her aunt’s recent mishap on the street, missing money, staffing issues, friends with secrets, unexpected encounters, a new shop opening – just to mention a few things happening in the last two weeks.

Choppy and with continuity issues, this book was very superficial. There are parts thrown in here and there that might spark your curiosity, but as a whole, this book fell in the boring ranging. All the usual characters are there and Jill is still eating endless amounts of cheesecake while Greg is continuing to coming across as the clueless detective that is always one-step behind his girlfriend.

I am not sure if this series has run its full course, but without some heavy-handed changes, it should be close. The last couple of books have lost their spark, and to me, it appears that Lynn Cahoon has also lost interest in her characters.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Shattering Crime

Title: A Shattering Crime
Author: Jennifer McAndrews
Expected Publication Date: June 7th 2016 by Berkley
Format: eBook; Paperback, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Group (USA) for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book
Series: A Stained Glass Mystery #3

This series is going downhill very quickly. What started as a charming series with Georgia returning to Wenwood and her grandfather after she had lost her job and her fiancé had moved on to other opportunities, to stumbling into this mess where she cannot decide if the murder du jour is more important than the antics of her animals is beyond frustrating.

Georgia has no intention of playing Nancy Drew Girl Detective, but when David Rayburn dies in close proximity to her, it appears that she has no choice but to stay on the sidelines and help prove that her friend Rozelle had nothing to do with it.

Of course, it is not a typical cozy without a love interest or two and in addition to her animals, her mother and most recent stepfather appearing for a visit, her two part time jobs and her stained glass business, a little murder to solve, and now poor Georgia has to decide on which man to hitch her wagon to. This is ridiculous.

As the story wanders down every left turn that it comes to, the reader is still trying to figure out the main plot. Personally, thinking that it should be the murder, I was left befuddled as to why it was even mentioned with all the other outlying issues taking up most of the book.

If this series continues after the third book, some heavy focus is going to be needed for these characters. By the end, I found myself not caring one iota about any of them and why Rayborn had died. The ending was thrown together and felt like the author had just brushed off her hands and said, “thank goodness that is done”. Put Review Here***

Wednesday, June 1, 2016