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review 2018-06-14 21:35
The Valcourt Heiress (Medieval Song #7) by Catherine Coulter
The Valcourt Heiress - Catherine Coulter

What a fun ride this book turned out to be! I don't know how I came in possession of it but I have had the book on my physical book shelf since we lived in California and never felt in the mood for a medieval. So it gathered dust until I was making a list of books for the Ripped Bodice Bingo and saw that this book would be good filler for a square (the "Pre-Renaissance" box). On a whim I started the book and was immediately engrossed in the story involving a second son inheriting a mid-size keep that was left in almost ruins, a runaway heiress, a wannabe sorceress who is the heroine's mother, dubious "natural" deaths of relatives, the stupidest villains in all of England, several kidnappings, and just King Edward enjoying the real life drama of his citizens while thinking of the value of the coins can help him squash the Welsh and Scottish uprisings. 

 

A lot is packed into this story line, but the developing romance between Garron of Kersey and Merry (the heiress in the title) was actually real and I rooted for them to get their HEA, whatever that looked like. He didn't really notice her until she mentioned her preference for making lists to help with big projects (like restoring a mid-size keep to its' former glory), then he was like "hey! you seem like a decent person to have help me" - no pants feeling at first, theirs was a meeting of the minds and intentions. Merry to her credit had major administration skills, as she was running things over at Valcourt until the death of her father, plus she didn't mind doing menial labor, like making soap or milking Eric(a) the goat, while also advising Garron on the political situation outside the walls of Wareham. 

 

A highly entertaining read.

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review 2018-06-13 01:23
Harry Potter - A Journey Through A Histo... Harry Potter - A Journey Through A History of Magic - LIBRARY BRITISH
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a gorgeous book!

I am always hesitant about buying Harry Potter books outside of the ones J.K.Rowling actually wrote. When I was a kid, I collected everything HP, but as an adult, I've become more picky (probably because I have to spend my own money now). There are just too many Harry Potter-related books to possibly have all of them.

I saw this at my local library and was interested. After reading three pages, I immediately ordered my own copy. 

It is a beautiful book. The book shows various items featured in the British Library exhibition, "Harry Potter: A History of Magic". While I wish I could visit the actual exhibition, this is the next best thing.

The book includes artwork from the new illustrated editions of the first three books by Jim Kay, various historical items related to witchcraft on display, original drafts of part of the HP books handwritten or typed by J.K.Rowling, and much much more.

This is a great edition to any HP fans library.

While there are tons of amazing pictures in this book, I wouldn't recommend it for kids because it is so long and text-heavy. I think it is more appropriate for pre-teens and beyond. There are a few fun experiments and activities included, which may appeal to children, but I think it is a bit lengthy for them to enjoy as a whole.  

Amazing book. It is so fascinating and beautiful and splendid. Truly spell-binding. I loved it. 
 
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review 2018-06-12 23:06
One to Watch by Rachel Amphlett
One to Watch - Rachel Amphlett

Note: This is Book 3 but it works fine as a stand alone.

This series keeps getting better and better. I am impressed. Detective Kay Hunter continues to grow in depth and the plot is tighter and a little more complicated than the last book. There’s also a bigger mystery that we get small pieces of in each book.

Sophie Whittaker starts off dead so we only get to know her through the people she’s left behind. It seems everyone loved her… or did they? She comes from a prominent family and the police are pushed to make an arrest right away. But our clever Kay questions whether they truly have their murderer.

One of the things I really liked about this book was how Kay’s team with their immediate boss Sharp really gel together. They have common goals and a very unreasonable manager. Kay has been missing that camaraderie that she had a few years ago before some evidence went missing and Kay was suspected of ‘misplacing’ it.

This missing evidence continues to be part of this bigger mystery that stretches across all 3 books. Don’t worry! If you haven’t read the previous books, all the pertinent info is nicely repeated in this story. Kay finds some very disturbing things related to this and she decides she finally has to trust someone else besides her husband Adam. Yay! I love how this is developing.

OK, back to Sophie. Her prominent family has agreed to an engagement to the son of a local wealthy businessman even though Sophie is only 16. Then there’s this interesting Chastity Vow that has strong Christian undertones. Various characters react differently to this. I definitely agreed with Kay and Kariss. It was definitely an interesting wrinkle in the investigation.

Toss in some black mail, plenty of hidden secrets, secret lovers, and a looming financial disaster, you have plenty of suspects. One to Watch is a thoroughly riveting tale! 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Alison Campbell is a perfect Kay Hunter. She sounds analytical and hard when she needs to but can also be that loving wife and good friend. Campbell was great with all of Kay’s emotions in this story. Most of the characters sounded distinct but some of the young men did sound like women from time to time. There were no technical issues with the recording. 4/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Rachel Amphlett. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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review 2018-06-12 22:55
Hell to Pay by Rachel Amphlett
Hell to Pay - Rachel Amphlett

Note: This is Book 4 in the series and it definitely works best if you have read the first 3 books.

This series keeps getting better and better. I really enjoy Kay Hunter and in this book she has the chance for a bit of well-deserved vengeance. In the previous 3 books, there has been this over-arching mystery that hasn’t been a part of the main mystery to each individual book. Well, now all those little bits have come home to be a part of the big main mystery in this novel. It’s been a delicious slow burn and Hell to Pay was worth the wait.

Kay’s team really pulls together to go after the Albanian crime lord Dimitri.  Alas, someone higher ups pull rank and they are pushed to a secondary, support role by this new jerk, DCI Harris. He’s not quite the same cut of cloth as DCI Larch (who’s always tearing someone apart), but he definitely has some issue with Sharp (Kay’s boss). So, right here in this one paragraph, we have all the people who are causing Kay headaches (minus Sharp).

Even though Kay’s husband Adam has to be out of town for a veterinary convention, her co-workers have her back. Barnes and Gavin and Kariss (fellow detectives) and her immediate boss Sharp all know her personal beef with Dimitri. They take turns making sure Kay doesn’t go Lone Wolf. I’ve really grown to love these secondary characters, especially Gavin.

The story was the perfect balance of action and detailed sleuthing. Both are important for closing the case and Kay’s team gets that. Harris and his team – perhaps they need a refresher on how to play well with others we well as proper police procedure. As if nailing Dimitri isn’t enough work, Kay’s team as this inter-departmental feuding going on. It was all well done; I never got bored because there was always some new obstacle for Kay to take on.

The ending had a good solid punch even as it opens up the door for perhaps another long running mystery, this one concerning one of Kay’s coworkers. All told, 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Aliso Campbell did well with this book. Her male voices were much better, each being distinct and almost always masculine. Campbell is still an excellent Kay. I loved how she handled all the touch emotions in this book. There were no recording issues. 4/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Rachel Amphlett. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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review 2018-06-12 21:01
Review: Call to Arms by Rachel Amphlett
Call to Arms - Rachel Amphlett

Note: This is Book 5 in the series and works mostly fine as a stand alone though is best read as part of the series to get the most out of it.

This series continues to deliver! This time Kay Hunter has a cold case to investigate. She’s been on medical leave since the events of the previous book. Now that she’s back, she’s been stuck on desk duty while her boss, Sharp, is on suspension pending the outcome of a formal internal investigation. Kay and her team think that’s all bull and want to do everything they can to get their boss back. But first Kay needs Larch’s blessing. She and Larch have never seen eye to eye. I really started to form an attachment to Larch in this book, seeing the more human side to him.

About a decade ago, there was a motorcycle fatality that was ruled an accident but Sharp has always suspected there was more to it. Now Kay and her team dig out the old reports and start re-interviewing friends, coworkers, and family of the dead man (Jaime). Everyone agrees that Jaime was an excellent motorcyclist but the weather was bad that night and even the best can make a fatal error. I did think this was the one weak spot in the story. The stats don’t sugarcoat motorcycle fatalities and sometimes the driver simply makes a fatal error. However, no one on Kay’s team really takes this possibility seriously and so they were predisposed to find another cause. They do spend some time mulling over wildlife or debris on the road, saying that if it had been a rabbit, they would have found the carcass on the side of the road. As if no predators might come along and make off with it…. Anyway, this one little weak spot didn’t ruin the book for me.

Jaime’s parents (Michael and Brigit?) still live on the family farm. His twin sister Natalie is nearby as well. He worked for the military so Kay and her team dig into his activities and discover a surprise! The more they look into this matter, the more it looks like someone put the pressure on to rule Jaime’s death an accident.

Towards the end, Kay is hot on the trail of one of the bad guys and she and another cop enter a house with just their wits and expanding batons. Yep. Now if I hadn’t recently watched Hard Sun and seen just how efficiently vicious a trained person can be with an expanding baton, I would have called Kay a twit for going into an unknown situation without some more serious hardware.

The end of the story had me raising a pint for Kay and her team. I’ve come to really enjoy this series and this book is another worthy addition. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Alison Campbell has turned out to be a good pick for this series. Her performance needed a little polishing with the earlier books but with this one she has given a great performance. She’s the perfect Kay Hunter. All her characters have distinct voices and her male characters sound masculine. Campbell also does a great job with all the emotions in this tale. There were no recording issues. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Rachel Amphlett. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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