Wednesday, November 30, 2016

REVIEW: Shades of Wrath

Shades of Wrath
Author: Karen Rose Smith

**I voluntarily read an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from Kensington Books via NetGalley. The opinions stated in this review are entirely my own.**

Caprice De Luca is a home-stager and interior decorator by trade, and an amateur sleuth by circumstance. Shades of Wrath is the 6th book in the Caprice De Luca cozy mystery series.

In this newest installment, Caprice is not staging a home for sale but offering decorating ideas for a mansion that has been donated to Sunrise Tomorrow, a local women's shelter. Her task is to offer decorating suggestions for the rooms so that women will feel comfortable and safe when they stay there. Shelter Director Wendy Newcomb is dedicated to providing a discrete, safe haven for abused women. Renovations on the old, dilapidated mansion have barely started when Caprice receives a strange call from the director regarding blackmail. When Newcomb's body is discovered at the mansion the following day, Caprice finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation.

This series does not have to be read in order. A reader could jump right in at book six and enjoy the story with no problem. There are a few minor character details from prior books in this series that would be helpful to understanding a few nuances, but nothing intrinsic to the plot.

I enjoyed this book! The mystery portion of the plot is clever and engaging. I don't know a lot about interior design, real estate sales or home-staging so I found the sub-plot details interesting. The sub-plot and hint of romance don't overpower the mystery. Caprice De Luca is a warm, engaging main character who works well with the supporting cast of characters in this cozy mystery.

This was the first book I've read in the Caprice De Luca series. I immediately added the prior books to my TBR list. Shades of Wrath was well-written. The characters are likable and the pacing was perfect. Overall, the book was an enjoyable evening read.

Karen Rose Smith is also the author of several romance novels. For more information on the author and her books, check out her website:

REVIEW: Haunted Is Always In Fashion

Haunted Is Always In Fashion
Author: Rose Pressey

**I voluntarily read an Advanced Readers Copy of this novel from Kensington Books via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.**

Although my idea of fashion is comfy sweats, a team jersey during football season and mom-jeans, I very much enjoy the Haunted Fashion Mystery series by Rose Pressey. The newest installment in this fun, quirky mystery series, Haunted Is Always In Fashion, just came out this month!

The basics: An author, Juliana McDaniel, contacts Cookie Chanel, owner of It's Vintage Y'all, because she is doing research on vintage fashion. They set up a meeting to discuss vintage clothing, but on her way to meet with Cookie, the author is shot dead in her car. Cookie is once again on the case with the help of her cat and ghostly buddies.

Haunted Is Always In Fashion is the 4th book in the Haunted Vintage series. I enjoy the quirky characters and humor of this series. Every book is fun to read! Cookie goes after murderers with the help of a cat who communicates through a Ouija board, a ghostly former socialite, and her spiritualist BFF. It's difficult for Cookie to appear sane to other people when she's talking to ghosts that nobody can see but her. Charlotte, the ghost of a snooty socialite that Cookie met in the first book, still hangs around and helps solve cases, while offering unwanted advice in other areas.

This is a charming, funny series. The mystery is always well-done with plenty of suspects and surprises. The background flavor of vintage fashion is always evident, but not overdone. Readers who aren't into fashion will still enjoy this series. I am completely uninterested in fashion, but this is one of my favorite cozy series. It's the humor and interaction between the characters that keeps me coming back to read the next book, not the vintage fashion tips.

It isn't necessary to read the series in order. There is enough background given in each book that a reader could jump in at any point in the series and still enjoy the book.

Rose Pressey is also the author of several paranormal romance series including the Rylie Cruz and Halloween LaVeau series. For more information on the author and her books, check out her website at:

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

REVIEW: Harry Potter & The Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Authors: J.K. Rowling, John Thorne, John Tiffany

I have to admit that I kept this book on my TBR shelf for several weeks before I worked up enough courage to read it. I love the Harry Potter series, and frankly I didn't expect to enjoy reading a screen play. Plus I'd heard rumblings about some of the characterizations in the book being disappointing for some readers. I wanted to read the book in the worst way....but didn't want to read it at the same time.

Finally, I took a deep breath and decided to not look at this book as a continuation of the series in any way. I made up my mind to think of it as it's own story with familiar characters.

The basics: Harry Potter's son Albus and Draco Malfoy's son Scorpius become besties at Hogworts. Albus feels like he can never live up to people's expectations of him because he is Harry Potter's son. Battling major teen angst and self-doubt, Albus decides to use a time-turner to go back in time to right a wrong, taking his pal Scorpius with him. And, as we all know, travelling around in time and changing events always has unexpected results. Chaos ensues.

It didn't take me long to get engrossed in the story, even with the screenplay format. And, I enjoyed it. I didn't love it....but I really enjoyed the story. It would be better seeing it performed on the stage rather than reading the lines and staging details, but I'm still glad I finally took the time to read it.

I'm not going to give any spoilers. Fans of the Harry Potter series will enjoy this book. But know beforehand that this is a play adaptation, and not a new novel. And it reads a lot like fan fiction. It's not a new installment in the Harry Potter series. It's....well, let's be's a way to keep the money rolling in on the HP franchise even without new books. As is the new movie that came out this week.

But that's ok. I gladly read the book. And I'm going to see the movie tomorrow with my son. Just recognize it for what it is going in.....and you won't be disappointed.

One observation that doesn't give any plot spoilers. I never expected to love a Malfoy.....but Draco's son was my favorite character in this book. :) That was a pleasant surprise.

Monday, November 14, 2016

REVIEW: Hard Day's Knight

Hard Day's Knight
Author: John G. Hartness

I enjoy urban fantasy with a touch of humor and  sarcasm. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and Simon R. Green's Nightside books are on my list of favorites. But Green completed the Nightside series and Butcher is currently in-between I went looking for something similar to fill the hole in my bookish heart.

Found it!

Hard Day's Knight is book 1 in the Black Knight Chronicles series. Jimmy Black and Greg Knightwood are vampires. They aren't exotically sexy and they definitely don't sparkle. In fact, they are two geeky guys that just happen to be undead. Greg is on a quest to collect every vampire movie ever made. And Jimmy has a tendency to make bad pop culture references. Yea, dorks can be vampires, too. And it's delightful! This book had me hooked the minute Greg crashed through a ceiling, sporting skin tight black spandex over his 240-pound rotund frame. He fell to the floor with a loud thump, then proceeded to fight with his cape because it flipped up over his head. Lovably dorky.

Despite their dorkiness, Jimmy and Greg do make a great PI team. In Hard Day's Knight, they try to protect a teenager from a witch's curse, only to discover children have been disappearing. The missing children are tied to an ancient evil that will be released into the world on Halloween. Jimmy and Greg only have a few days to prevent the end of the world, so they call on their friends to help. The future of humanity depends on two geeky vampires, a fallen angel who runs a strip club, a priest they call Dad, a witch and a police detective.

I enjoyed the humor and banter between the characters in Hard Day's Knight. It reminded me a bit of the sarcastically fun feel of the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne. But....I do have to add that the writing in this first book is not on the level of Butcher, Hearne or Green. There are a few plot inconsistencies, some awkward grammar, and a few plot threads that were never resolved. But, despite a few rough edges, this story is still a fun read and I will be reading more of this series. I look forward to discovering the antics Jimmy and Greg get up to next! The jokes and interactions between the cast of characters in this first book make up for the few writing issues. My guess is that each book will get progressively better.

I read this book as part of Modern Magic, a collection of urban fantasy. The anthology gathers 12 first novels in a variety of urban fantasy series.

There are five novels in the Black Knight Chronicles series so far, plus several novellas. Hartness also writes the Quincy Harker Demon Hunter series. Discover more about the author and his books on his website: 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

REVIEW: A Skeleton in the Family

A Skeleton in the Family
Author: Leigh Perry

Too often Cozy mysteries follow a predictable formula. Girl has cute job,finds body, meets love interest, solves mystery while being cautioned by police, gets romantically involved with love interest, the end. I love it when I find a series that totally explodes the formula and goes in a completely different direction. The Family Skeleton Series by Leigh Perry is one of those creative, completely enjoyable, breath-of-fresh-air cozy mysteries!

Georgia Thackery's family has a skeleton in its closet. Literally. Sid is a skeleton, but he walks, talks and loves his family. He came to life one day when Georgia was a little girl and in danger. Sid has lived hidden in the family home ever since.  Now Georgia is a grown woman with  a college-age daughter. She moves into her parents' house while they are on sabbatical. Not only does she have the stress of being an adjunct professor at the college where her parents are tenured, she also has to hide Sid from her daughter while helping her favorite bone dude discover his past. Georgia finds that investigating Sid's murder can be a dangerous undertaking. But she is bound and determined to help Sid discover his identity and find out who killed him.

This mystery was such fun to read! I found myself rooting for Sid and Georgia, while hoping the daughter would somehow discover Sid and love him as much as her mother does. The backstory of the relationship between Sid and the Thackery family was believable and fantastic at the same time. I enjoyed Georgia as a main character. She is a nice person with a bit of a feisty edge brought about by family issues, job stresses and life mistakes. Her issues are things we all find ourselves dealing with in mid-life. The academic setting is interesting, and adds to the atmosphere of the story. The mystery is perfectly paced, with just enough subplots to round out Sid's backstory and his present day place in the Thackery family.

All in all, a great mix of humor and mystery. The paranormal edge of the story (it isn't exactly normal for a family to have a sentient skeleton hidden in their home) was not overdone but perfectly presented as a part of normal life for the family.

There are three books in the Family Skeleton series. A Skeleton in the Family is the first. The series unfortunately was a victim of the recent purging of many cozy mystery books from Berkley Publishing. But, Perry has announced online that she has found a new publisher and the series will continue! Sid lives!

To discover more about Leigh Perry and her books, visit her website:

Saturday, November 12, 2016

REVIEW: Magic Unveiled: An Anthology

Magic Unveiled: An Anthology
Various Authors

Magic has many facets. Sometimes good. Other times evil. A blessing. A curse. Humorous. Frightening. This collection gathers nine supernatural stories that differ in style and tone, bringing together the many faces of magical, supernatural power.

Always a fan of magical tales, I was so excited to delve into this collection. I brewed a pot of tea, curled up on the sofa with my cat, and spent the evening in the fantasy world created by this collection of magical stories.

I was not disappointed! As with any anthology, I liked some of the stories better than others. But, all in all, this collection was an enjoyable, quick, read.  It was a nice dose of magic on a fall evening.

The stories included are:

Gypsum Jane's Inkscapes by H.M. Jones. A tale of a man in mourning and a visit to a supernatural tattoo parlor. Jones' story masterfully weaves a tale that blurs the boundary between this world and the after-life. I loved this story!

The Black Dagger Gods by Alesha Escobar.  A gang of Gods ventures forth to discover who murdered one of their own. Rogue deities. Fading power of the old Gods. And a guardian tied to both men and gods. Awesome story with a lot of action.

The Isis Enigma by Samantha LaFantasie.  Young witch Audrey's college life is interrupted by a dream that leads her on a journey to discover her family's magical legacy and starts her on a quest to free an imprisoned goddess.  This was a coming of age story with a magical twist.

Unusual Suspect by Ronovan Hester. Detectives investigate the death of a woman who was host to a  Hell Soul. A tale of possession with a new twist!

Journey to a New Home by Jayme Beddingfield. A child's drawing takes her on a magical walk with her ill mother. This was a hauntingly beautiful story, my favorite in this collection.

The Dark Ones by Samantha LaFantasie and Keith Goodno. Anna discovers that some relationships are dysfunctional and toxic for a reason.

Three Wishes by Alice Marks. Always be careful what you wish for.

Blackwing by Devorah Fox. A handyman finds a pencil that just might change his life. This story made me, as a writer, happy in my soul. :)

Mirror Me by Raven Oak. A mirror that reflects a little bit more than just the truth.

All in all, an enjoyable short story anthology!

**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this story anthology from Creative Alchemy, Inc via NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.**

Friday, November 11, 2016

REVIEW: Boy Meets Witch

Boy Meets Witch
Author: G.A. Rael

**I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.**

24-year old Harper Adams relocates to Cold Creek, Vermont to escape a troubled past. This isn't the first time she has tried starting over, only to have her past as a faith healer and possible arsonist ruin her attempts at starting over. This time, Harper wants things to be different.  Unfortunately, as her herbalist talents and healing skills become known around town, it seems history might be doomed to repeat itself. A militantly atheist veterinarian and other quirky residents of the town plus a shape shifting demon soon have Harper realizing that she isn't going to escape her fate or her magical powers quite so easily.

This book was an enjoyable, quick read. I liked Rael's depiction of the demon character Locke as likable yet untrustworthy and dangerous at the same time. The demon can take human or cat form. As a cat he is beautiful. His sleek white fur and blue eyes make him hard to resist.  As the owner of two white kitties, I had a hard time thinking of a demon in that form, but I can understand why Rael made that choice. A demon would would have a hard time making any deals with humans if they were completely abhorrent. Harley distrusts Locke and rightfully so, but finds herself petting him and allowing him to sleep on her bed in cat form, because, well, who can resist a fluffy white cat?

The romance plot was basic formula -- troubled woman relocates to a town where she is not really accepted. She meets attractive male 1 who seems to hate her,but warms to her over time. Male 1 exhibits jealousy over bad-boy Male 2.  Inserting magic, a troubled past, discussions of belief in God or atheism, angels, and a demon cat added the paranormal trappings to this light romance.

Boy Meets Witch is the first book in The White Cat Chronicles. This first book introduces the characters and sets up the action for subsequent books in the series. Boy Meets Witch will be available November 17th, with Trial by Fire soon following in December.

Fans of light paranormal romance will enjoy this book. I definitely want to read the second book in the series to find out what happens next!

Rael is also the author of Wolf Daughter, a paranormal tale about werewolves.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

REVIEW: Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White
Author: Melissa Sweet

*I voluntarily read an advance reader's copy of this book that I won on The opinions in this review are honest and my own.*

I was completely amazed by the wonderful artwork in this book! Every page is just gorgeous! Not to mention that E.B. White is one of my favorite authors of children's books. I read each page with joy and have only great things to say about Melissa Sweet! Her art is beautiful, and the biography was well written.

However....  (I didn't want there to be a however, but there is....)

As an adult, I see this book as a wonderful biography of a favorite author. But, the book is meant for children ages 7-10. I don't see this as a book that kids of that age range would want to read. It's too long, and discusses a lot of things they just won't comprehend or enjoy such as a chapter on Strunk and White's Elements of Style. Some of the book is geared to the target age range -- the explanation on how a manual typewriter works with illustrations is awesome! But portions of the book would just not appeal to a 7-year old. I think this book would be better for middle school aged kids who have advanced to reading longer books. As an adult, I adore this book! But at a grade school library, I think this book would see very little time off the shelf. I think it would see much more success targeted to 6th-8th grade students. The artwork is not childish and older students would be a better fit for the length and content.

I want to read more by this author! I was overjoyed when my copy of this book arrived in the mail! And I was not disappointed. It was a joy to read and visually appealing! Such beautiful, creative and appropriate illustrations!

Some Writer? Some book!!

Melissa Sweet is also the author/illustrator for The Right Word: Roget,  A Man and His Thesaurus, The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audobon, and Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of the Macy's Parade. For more information on the author, her books and her art check out her website:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

REVIEW: Borrowed Crime

Borrowed Crime
Author: Laurie Cass

Librarian Minnie Hamilton and her Bookmobile Cat, Eddie, return in this 3rd book in the Bookmobile Cat Mystery series.

Let's just get this out of the way first thing:  I love this series. It ranks right at the top of my "must read'' list of cozy mystery series.

Why? Minnie is an endearing main character. She is a mix of funny, emotional, sweet and feisty. Her almost irrational fear about her boss Stephen discovering she brings her cat along on Bookmobile days just makes me smile. Eddie is an awesome cat and has his fans waiting to see him at each Bookmobile stop. His constant kitty-speak "mrr'' in reply to Minnie (or "MRRRR!!" if he wants attention right now) is just awesome. Eddie is all cat. He isn't portrayed as magical, paranormal or anything other than Minnie's best buddy, who also has a knack for finding clues or helping Minnie as she works to ferret out a killer.

The basics: In Borrowed Crime, just as Minnie starts to panic about finding funding for the Bookmobile, the problem becomes even more serious. A volunteer along on a Bookmobile run is shot to death outside a gas station. Suddenly the library is being sued for negligence. Plus, the library board might terminate Minnie's employment and shut down the Bookmobile. Minnie is on the case once again, working to discover if the shooting was a mere hunting accident or murder.

The mystery portion of the plot was well written and paced. There are some interesting subplots and changes in the main characters in this third installment of the series. No spoilers! :) I can't wait to read the next book to see what happens to all my favorite citizens of Chilson, Michigan!

There are five books in the Bookmobile Cat Mystery series. A sixth book is scheduled for publication in July, 2017.

For more information about Laurie Cass and her books, check out her website:

Monday, November 7, 2016

REVIEW: Crime and Poetry

Crime and Poetry
Author: Amanda Flower

The concept of a bookshop being magical is not a big step from reality for me, as I consider them magical places already. :) Amanda Flower's new Magical Bookshop Mystery series takes it a step further, creating an enchanted bookshop where the books choose the reader. What else could you expect from a bookshop that has a tree growing inside it? How cool is that??!!

The basics: Violet Waverly rushes back to her hometown believing her grandmother is ill, only to discover her grandmother just wants her to take over the family business, Charming Books. At first Violet just wants to run back to Chicago and resume her academic life, but is soon pulled into a murder mystery. Grandma Daisy's friend is found dead in front of her home clutching a book of Emily Dickinson poetry he purchased from the shop the day before. He's been strangled with Grandma Daisy's scarf. So, Violet stays to help clear her grandmother of any suspicion in the murder and learns more every day about the magic that surrounds Charming Books.

And, charming is the operative word here. This story was just....charming. I enjoyed the characters, the concept and the plot. The mystery was well-paced, the characters believable, and the magic was endearing. This is a fun, light, magical cozy mystery!  I loved the idea of magical spring water, and the tree that gives Charming Books its magic. It made me wish I could visit to discover which books the shop would choose for me!

Crime and Poetry is the first book in the Magical Bookshop Mystery series. The second book in the series, Prose and Cons, will be published December 6th. I can't wait for the second book! I enjoyed the first book so much, I immediately pre-ordered the new book!

Amanda Flower is also the author of the Appleseed Creek mystery series. Discover more information about the author and her books on her website:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

REVIEW: Pet in Peril

Pet in Peril
Author: Marie Celine

**I received a copy of this upcoming book from Severn House via NetGalley in exchange for a fair, honest review**

Gourmet Pet Chef Kitty Karlyle is finally seeing some success. Her new television show, The Pampered Pet, has 3 episodes completed and she's awaiting her first paycheck to help her ailing finances. According to her bestie and roommate, Fran, it isn't only Kitty's finances that are hurting. Her pets, Fred and Barney, are depressed. Following a trip to a pet psychologist, Kitty takes her pets and her friend on a vacation to a swanky pet spa. Her producer decides to film the next episode of The Pampered Pet on location at the Little Switzerland Resort and Spa for Pets.  The trip goes downhill from there after another spa guest is strangled in his room, and Fran becomes the prime murder suspect.

Pet in Peril is the third book in the Pet Chef Mystery series. This is the first book in the series that I have read, but I was able to jump right in and enjoy without any trouble. The mystery is well-paced, with plenty of humor and quirky fun. With gourmet pet chefs and doggie psychologists in the mix, how can you not have a zany, good time?

I like Kitty Karlyle as a main character. She has an unusual job, but works hard to be able to continue doing what she enjoys. The supporting characters complement Kitty perfectly. I think Fran was my favorite character in this book. She is sassy and not afraid to voice her opinion, even when she's a murder suspect.

As with most cozies, the plot really isn't all that realistic, but I don't read cozy mysteries for a dose of real life. It's more fun to read about LA Celebrity pet chefs and murderous mayhem at an upscale pet spa. The cover art is absolutely darling -- what a cute dog!!

The mystery plot was a bit predictable, but fun. All in all, an enjoyable quick read! I will definitely be reading more of this series!

This book will be published by Severn House on December 1st. Pet lovers and cozy mystery enthusiasts will definitely enjoy this book!

Marie Celine is a psudonym for author Glenn Meganck. He also writes under the name J.R. Ripley. For more information on the Pet Chef books, check out Meganck's website: