Monday, August 21, 2017

REVIEW: Dog Dish of Doom

Dog Dish of Doom
Author: E.J. Copperman

Kay Powell is a theatrical agent representing animal actors. Her biggest client is Bruno, an intelligent and talented dog. His owners, however, leave much to be desired. They are annoying. Irritating enough that Broadway Director, Les McMaster, wants it written into the dog's contract that he doesn't have to deal with Trent and Louise. Just as Kay is feeling optimistic that Bruno will be cast as Sandy in the new revival of Annie, his owner Trent is murdered. His body is discovered face-down in Bruno's dog dish with a rather large knife sticking out of his back. Between her parents holding auditions for a senior citizen center show in her living room and a client's owner dead in a water bowl, Kay is not having the best week. When it appears that Bruno might be somehow central to the motive for the killing, Kay steps in to investigate, with the help of her parents (despite her vehement objections to their involvement, of course).

This book is a great blend of humor and light-hearted, cozy mystery. I absolutely adore Kay's parents. They are hilarious and really add to the flavor of the book. Kay is a great main character. She's funny, intelligent, and manages to handle chaos quite well. I guess you have to handle chaos if you represent animal actors!

This is a great start to a new series! Dog Dish of Doom is definitely full of E.J. Copperman's usual wit and humor. I always end up laughing out loud when I read one of Copperman's books. Always an enjoyable story!

E.J. Copperman is a pen name of author Jeff Cohen. He is the author of several series, including the Haunted Guesthouse series and the Asperger's Mystery series (which Copperman/Cohen co-writes with himself -- yes, he co-authors a book with himself...love it!) For any reader who likes well-written, humorous mysteries, I recommend any of his books. For more information on the author, check out his website: http://www.ejcopperman.com/



Sunday, August 20, 2017

REVIEW: The Vessel of Ra

The Vessel of Ra
Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Lucy and Octavia are born into the Klaereon family. For centuries their family has been bound to a contract to fight demons imprisoned in the abyss by King Solomon. At birth, a demon attaches to each child born to the family, acting as a familiar or companion until the child's 16th birthday. On that day, a battle ensues. If the Binder wins the battle, the demon is returned to the abyss to be summoned only for magic or, if evil, the demon can be banished. But if the Binder loses the battle, the demon takes control, using the Binder for its own purposes.

Lucy is seen as weak. Octavia is strong. The family is afraid that Lucy will lose her fight with Ra, and that the demon will be free to unleash its evil on the world. So, Octavia is trained to kill her sister on the day she is to battle Ra. Things go horribly wrong however -- Octavia is possessed by Ra and Lucy is murdered. Lucy comes back from the dead, determined to save her sister from the clutches of Ra.

This book is exciting and interesting! At the beginning, I had a bit of a difficult time figuring out what was going on and why....but as the story unfolds and more details revealed, I was totally hooked! I don't want to reveal too much of the plot in this review so there aren't any spoilers. All I'm going to say is that the plot, characters and setting of this book really impressed me. Very enjoyable fantasy novel!

The cover art is gorgeous! And the colored illustrations inside the book were awesome, too! This book will release from Curiousity Quills Press on September 12, 2017!

The Vessel of Ra is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. I can't wait to see how the rest of this series unfolds! For more information on the author, check out her website: https://cathschaffstump.com/

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Curiousity Quills Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

Bout of Books 20!

I haven't participated in a read-a-thon for more than a year. It's time! I am slowly getting crushed under the huge TBR of review books I have accumulated....and it's time to clear some out! So, in the interest of clearing out the tbr and enjoying some great books, I'm in for Bout of Books 20!

I don't enjoy those high pressure hurry and finish read-a-thons where people post they've read 40 books and listened to 25 audiobooks in the first 24 hours -- not humanly possible people! So I enjoy Bout of Books...it's just a fun time, with lots of people talkin' about books and enjoying themselves!

Still time to join up before things get started on 8/21/17! Join us!

 Bout of Books 20

REVIEW: Death Shall Come

Death Shall Come
Author: Simon R. Green

In this 4th Country House Murder Mystery, Ishmael Jones and his lady side-kick, Penny, travel to the Cardavan House. The Cardavan family has the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world. Held under tight security, the collection has a new exhibit -- the mummy of Cleopatra. Not the Cleopatra of Marc Anthony fame....the first Cleopatra....a much earlier ruler lost to time. Ishmael's boss, The Colonel, is married to Chloe Cardavan. He asks Ishmael to accompany him to the house for the unveiling of the mummy. The trip isn't because The Colonel believes in the curse attached to the mummy, but because he feels George Cardavan might be involved in underhanded dealings to acquire his antiquities. He wants Ishmael to pose as an antiquities expert so he can get a feel for the goings on at the family estate and protect the family from harm if George is in over his head.

After the mummy is revealed, the deaths start. The Cardavans are being picked off, one by one. Are they being stalked by a reanimated mummy? Or is the killer simply a crazed human being?

I love this series! Every book is seriously creepy and different enough to keep the adventures fresh and interesting. Death Shall Come is a quick read at just over 150 pages -- but Simon R. Green sure packs a lot of action into such few pages!

I like how Ishmael and Penny work so well together. Where one is weak, the other is strong. Penny isn't afraid of Ishmael's....peculiarities.....and he is quite happy with her human-ness. I liked the plot of this book -- who doesn't love a scary mummy tale? I'm glad I read this during the day time and not at night! Lots of action, suspense and horror.....just a fun creepy read!! This series has not disappointed me yet!

Simon R. Green is the author of several sci-fi/fantasy series including the Nightside series. For more information on the author and his books check out his website: http://simonrgreen.co.uk/

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Severn House via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**


Saturday, August 19, 2017

REVIEW: Mask Of Shadows

Mask of Shadows
Author: Linsey Miller

Sallot Leon is a thief. But Sal wants more from life. After robbing some nobles, Sal finds an announcement that there will be an audition to replace The Opal, one of four powerful assassins that work for the queen. They are represented by four jeweled rings the Queen wears on her left hand - a Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst and Opal. But, auditions to be part of The Left Hand are fights to the death, and only those who prove themselves worthy can participate.

I enjoyed the action in this book. The plot was exciting, and kept me reading. The pace was on target -- fast enough to keep the action going, yet suspenseful enough to add some urgency to things. I also enjoyed reading a book with a nonbinary MC. Sallot is gender fluid, but that was not a main, forced focus of the plot. It's part of the character....part of who Sallot is. The character isn't portrayed as melodramatic or conflicted about life. The book isn't written like the MC was an added "hey look I'm adding in a diverse character!'' forced plot point. WOOT!! That made me extremely happy. I felt that it was done perfectly. Better than other books I have read that seem to want to toot horns and march around trying to prove they are publishing a diverse book. This book is diverse, but not at the cost of the plot or focus of the book. It was a natural part of the character. Loved it!

My one issue with this book is......it has been done before. The plot, that is. There are so many stories about fight-to-the-death tournaments -- Hunger Games being the main one that popped into my head. It's one trope that really has been done to death. I really wanted the plot to be something new and fresh....something to wow me. But, it really is sort of a re-working of things I've already read. A mix of that, and a bit of this.....nothing new. I was a bit disappointed. Not that the action, characters and story weren't good -- this is a good book. I just wanted something, anything really, that jumped out at me as belonging only to this story. Besides Sallot being nonbinary, the rest was pretty much recycled.

So, I'm really middle-of-the-road on this one. I enjoyed it. I thought the MC was outstanding and well done. But, I am left a bit disappointed. That, however, is just my opinion.....many others really love the plot and don't share my feelings. So, read the book and form your own opinion.

This is Linsey Miller's debut novel. A second book is due out in 2018. I'm definitely going to read the second book to see how the plot and characters progress!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Sourcebooks via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.**

Friday, August 18, 2017

REVIEW: The Spirit of Grace

The Spirit of Grace
Author: Terry Lynn Thomas

Sarah Bennett returns home to her father's house after spending most of a year in a mental asylum. She has no memory of the night her mother died after falling down the stairs at Bennett House. Some believe that she killed her mother, but Sarah knows she didn't. She hopes coming back home might jog her memories and help her remember what happened that fateful night. Unfortunately, she finds immediately on her return that home just isn't the hospitable place it used to be. Sarah is shocked to find that her father has remarried, and her stepmother obviously doesn't want Sarah in the house. When another family member is murdered, suspicion once again falls on Sarah. She knows she has to remember what happened to her mother and prove she isn't a murderer twice over. Her investigation brings to light the identity of the murderer, but also some closely guarded family secrets. Soon, Sarah finds her life in danger, and she must fight to finally clear her name.

I listened to the audiobook version of this first novel in the Sarah Bennett Mysteries series. The audio version is narrated by Lillian Yves. Her voice is pleasant and easily understood, and she read at a moderate pace. I have partial hearing loss and sometimes have difficulty understanding female narrators, but I had no problem understanding this audiobook. A very enjoyable experience!

The Spirit of Grace is well-written and suspenseful -- a great start to a series! Sarah Bennett is a strong female character. She finds it difficult to re-establish family relationships and life in general after a year in an asylum. She steadily gains strength and confidence in herself as the story progresses, and fights to regain her life. She faces family secrets with courage, and doesn't let shocking developments weaken or defeat her.

All in all, an enjoyable ghostly suspense tale! There are 3 books in the Sarah Bennett Mysteries series. I definitely plan to read them all -- I already have book 2 waiting in the wings for me to post this review!

For more information on Terry Lynn Thomas and her books, check out her website: http://terrylynnthomas.com/

**I voluntarily listened to a review copy of this audiobook on Audible.com. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. **

REVIEW: The Lighthouse Keeper

The Lighthouse Keeper
Author: Lily Night

I'm always on the lookout for a good ghost story. The premise of this story definitely intrigued me. An artist, Laura Carlisle rents a cottage on the sea. Soon she starts seeing a mysterious girl in white who seems somehow tied to the lighthouse up on the nearby cliff. The lighthouse is being renovated by new owner, Ben Winscombe. Turns out Laura and Ben are both seeing the ghost. Trying to discover the identity of the spirit, they uncover a tragic tale of deceit and murder, hidden for decades.

The Lighthouse Keeper is a quick read, at 68 pages. The story is interesting and I enjoyed it, but it needs editing. Repeated words and phrases, typos and some flow problems need just a few tweaks to improve its readability. But, the few rough spots did not hamper the story. It's still a spooky, interesting read! As a lover of almost all things ghostly, I have more positive feelings about this story than negative. The second half of the book where the suspense really started coming to a head was better written, and really sucked me into the story.

The characters could have been a bit more developed, but in a quickly developing ghost story this might hamper the quick, exciting suspense of the plot. In this instance, I think the story was more important than the characters.....so I wasn't looking for missing detail.

All in all, an enjoyable story. The ending is perfect. This would be a 4-star novelette if it had some professional editing. Just needs some tweaking in places. Great premise, and nice suspense in the last half. I'll give it a strong 3 star rating.

Lily Night is also the author of Elixir, a vampire story set in Las Vegas. For more information on the author and her books, check out her website: http://www.lilynight.com/

**I voluntarily read an advance readers copy of this story provided by BookBuzz.net via NetGalley. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.**