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review 2018-10-15 07:41
Peachy Flippin' Keen
Peachy Flippin' Keen - Molly Harper

A short story about one of the cousins in the Southern Eclectic series, the coroner for Lake Sackett, Frankie McCready.  This story outlines the history behind the battle between her and an over privileged teen age boy who didn't get his way during a school trip.  This battle becomes a sub-plot in the longer novel Ain't She a Peach.

 

It's moderately amusing, but doesn't reach full Harper potential for laugh out loud gags, likely because of the short story format.  Still, it was an amusing way to spend a couple of hours in the car, and Amanda Ronconi does a fantastic job with the narration.

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review 2018-10-15 07:30
The Lost Carousel of Provence
The Lost Carousel of Provence - Juliet Blackwell

I've always enjoyed Juliet Blackwell's cozy mysteries, so once she started writing these stand-alone, general contemporary fiction stories, all set in France, I've made sure to pick them up.

 

I'm not sure this is going to be helpful to anyone but myself, but - and maybe because I don't read a lot of general fiction - I find these stories kind of weird.  Apparently, I'm a little genre-dependent because I'm never sure what the point of the story is.  I mean, I do; personal journeys, growth, blah, blah, blah, but I'm hard-wired to look for dead bodies, I guess.  Plus, the author uses multiple timelines and POVs in the France books, a device that generally drives me nuts.

 

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the story though; I did.  Blackwell captures France and I enjoyed the 'mystery' behind the carousel figure and the box inside.  I might have liked the secondary characters more than the main character, Cady, but chalk that up to personal tastes, as in, mine don't run towards broken characters.

 

As in the previous 2 stand-alones set in France, the romance is iffy, if non-existent.  This is a good thing; if Blackwell has a weakness, it's writing romance with any sexual spark (except the Witchcraft series, where the romance was very sparky).  There is a love interest here, and characters are getting lucky, but it's mostly an afterthought, with only an implied possibility of a HEA.

 

So, after all that rambling, I'll just say:  it's a good book.  It's a quiet, well-built, interesting story that I enjoyed escaping into for a few hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

 

(I feel weird not assigning this to a bingo square.)

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review 2018-10-11 09:05
A Lady's Guide To Etiquette And Murder (Countess of Harleigh Mystery, #1)
A Lady's Guide To Etiquette And Murder - Dianne Freeman

I bought this book at Barnes and Noble, just before going to Bouchercon, where Kensington was giving away free, signed copies, and the author was speaking on several panels.  Doh.  As luck would have it, I enjoyed the story enough that I don't begrudge the royalties the author earned from my lack of foresight in the least.

 

Lady Harleigh is just coming out of her one year's mourning following the death of her husband, the Earl who exchanged his title for her American fortune.  Throwing off the widow's weeds and fleeing from the in-laws who intend to bleed her dry of her private fortune, she settles in London with her daughter.  But someone has sent an anonymous letter to the police claiming she killed her husband, and a string of small jewel thefts from the ton put her on a different suspect list after she finds one of the stolen pieces in her purse after a party.

 

First things first - those who enjoy historical accuracy should avoid this book.  Not that the author didn't do her research; I don't know if she did or didn't as I'm not well versed enough in 1899 England to spot inaccuracies, but the narrative has a distinctly contemporary voice.  I also remember that Freeman was on an historical fiction panel I attended and she was not one of the sticklers for historical accuracy (I remember her sort of falling in the middle of the spectrum).  

 

But my historical ignorance was bliss in this case.  I just enjoyed the story for what it was: a fun mystery with strong female characters, a likeable romantic interest, and few, if any, TSTL moments.  it was also a very, very clever plot.

 

For those that like Rhys Bowen's Her Royal Spyness, this series has a similar feel, though a slightly more mature MC and less charming narrative.  It's a great start to what could be a very fun series.

 

I read this for my last square in Halloween Bingo: Darkest London.  Blackout!  

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review 2018-10-10 22:39
The Brightest Fell / Seanan McGuire
The Brightest Fell - Seanan McGuire

Things are slow, and October "Toby" Daye couldn't be happier about that. The elf-shot cure has been approved, Arden Windermere is settling into her position as Queen in the Mists, and Toby doesn't have anything demanding her attention except for wedding planning and spending time with her family.

Maybe she should have realized that it was too good to last.

When Toby's mother, Amandine, appears on her doorstep with a demand for help, refusing her seems like the right thing to do...until Amandine starts taking hostages, and everything changes. Now Toby doesn't have a choice about whether or not she does as her mother asks. Not with Jazz and Tybalt's lives hanging in the balance. But who could possibly help her find a pureblood she's never met, one who's been missing for over a hundred years?

 

 

Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.

Here I am, eleven books into the October Daye series, still enjoying it immensely. This is one of the books which is tough on Toby—she learns that hard, hard lesson that we sometimes have to learn. Your family doesn’t always have your best interests at heart. Sometimes you have to lean on your friends, lean on them hard, and trust your own instincts and abilities.

People can surprise you—Simon Torquill certainly plays that role in this book. Simon was put to sleep for a century in the last book and Toby is forced to bargain to have him awoken before the elf-shot has worn off. He’s not her choice of confederate, but her mother Amandine has left her no choices. McGuire makes a pretty good case for not judging our competition until we have spent some time with them.

It seems that everyone gets hurt in some way in this installment—May & Jazz are ripped apart, Tybalt is imprisoned, Raj has to assume the responsibility of the Kingdom of Dreaming Cats, Sylvester must allow something that will enrage his wife, Simon must save his daughter, The Luidaeg must put up with a constant parade of intense fae folk through her formerly isolated home. Toby gets pulled back towards humanity and must find a hope chest to return herself to her new Fae normal.

These books which contain the difficult choices and make Toby work with people she would normally avoid often end up being the most powerful in the series and this book is no exception. At the end, there is no question that she still has far to go, but we pause to let everyone rest & regroup. I’m next in line at the library for book number 12, Night and Silence, but it will probably be a couple of weeks, giving me time to rest and consider too.

 

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review 2018-10-10 22:13
The Ghost in the Glass House / Carey Wallace
The Ghost in the Glass House - Carey Wallace

In a 1920s seaside town, Clare discovers a mysterious glass house in the backyard of her new summer home. There she falls in love with Jack, the ghost of a boy who can’t remember who he was before he died. Their romance is a haven for her from the cruel pranks of her society friends, especially her best friend, Bridget, who can’t wait to grow up and embark on romances of her own. As Clare begins to suspect an affair between her mother and Bridget's father, she retreats to the glass house. But that haven begins to crack when she realizes that Jack has lied to her about his name . . . From a dazzling and fearless new voice comes a shimmering story full of wonder and mystery, in a world where every character is haunted by lingering ghosts of love.

 

I read this book to fill the Ghost Stories square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

I found this story to be somewhat reminiscent of Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree (or maybe it should be the other way around, since this was published before The Lie Tree.) I think it was a combination of a main character who is starting to question a parent’s choices and the time spent in the cave by the sea, complete with perilous journey to get there.

Strangely, it also reminded me of Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls, with the frenemy relationship between Clare and her BFF Bridget. Clare is a bit like Kate, with her desire to find true love and Bridget is a lot like Baba, longing to experiment with life, excitement, and boys.

Many people say that teenage girls become obsessed with horses when they are looking for a safe outlet for their love and attention. Clare hasn’t got a chance of finding a horse to lavish her care upon, but she finds Jack, the ghost boy in the glass house behind their rented summer home. What could be safer than a ghost for a first real relationship?

Not as strong nor as well written as either The Lie Tree or The Country Girls, it is still a pleasant story and I wouldn’t hesitate to offer it to a young adult.

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