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Currently Browsing: mystery/suspense
Jan
17

Review: Trick Roller by Cordelia Kingsbridge

Review: Trick Roller by Cordelia Kingsbridge Trick Roller Author: Cordelia Kingsbridge Reviewer: B. Rating: A- What I’m Talking About: Three months after the Seven of Spades went to ground, Levi Abrams and Dominic Russo have made a lot of progress—professionally as well as personally. Dominic is training to be a private investigator, while Levi has his own apartment and is ready to put his last long-term relationship behind him for good. Best of all, though it’s still early, both men have begun thinking about a future together. But, with shadows from the past starting to gather, and a serial killer biding their time, Dominic and Levi discover that the real test is just beginning. After having enjoyed Kill Game, the first novel in the Seven of Spades series, as much as I did, I was really excited to jump into the second so soon. While there are some significant differences between the two stories, I found Trick Roller to be just as intriguing. This time, the Seven of Spades is a dormant factor for a good bit of the narrative—although we’re reminded throughout that they’re still out there waiting to pull the strings again—allowing us to get to know Levi and Dominic more comprehensively, including their triggers and tipping points, as well as some of the things that haunt them. Dominic and Levi’s journey from “enemies to lovers” has evolved into something much deeper by this point, as well. Though the heat between the two was evident before, it was tempered by their respective situations and a mutual agreement to “take things slow” in the wake of the abrupt demise of Levi’s last relationship. In Trick Roller, they not only dive headlong into the sexual attraction that’s been tempting them, but each has begun turning to the other for help and comfort above anyone else. I especially liked that they know which tells to look for before things go really wrong and are willing to intercede—even physically, if necessary—to keep one another from self-destructing. Compatibility between the two main characters aside, Trick Roller still has lots of suspense and crime-solving to maintain the story’s balance. Between a truly loathsome murder victim, blackmail, infidelity, robberies, false accusations, etc. there’s plenty of badness to keep Levi and Dominic busy at their day jobs. Add in the “independent investigation” they’re both doing on the Seven of Spades, and the plot advances at a pace that kept me reading well past when I’d planned to stop for a break....
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Jan
3

Review: Pressure Head by JL Merrow

Review: Pressure Head by JL Merrow Pressure Head Author: JL Merrow Reviewer: B. Rating: B+ What I’m Talking About: I was immediately curious about Pressure Head based on the premise alone: a plumber who has an affinity for water, uses his “gift” that causes him to be drawn to “hidden things” to find clues—and dead people. Tom won me over quickly, his funny (and often snarky) observations combining with his inability to keep himself out of trouble to make him a generally lovable character. As the sole narrator, his perspective did a lot to counter the more significant issues that I had with the other MC, Phil, and trusting Tom with his own choices made the romantic aspects of the story easier to accept as the narrative progressed. Despite such an intriguing framework and Tom’s winning personality, I never felt the same for Phil. While it is absolutely true that people change, and that Phil was right to apologize for his role in the worst parts of Tom’s past, his “second chance” got off to a bad start for me, some of those negative traits seeming to have stuck with him into adulthood. He is at once dismissive and controlling, and engages in some victim blaming that didn’t endear him to me. I understand the likely intent, though—we have to do better collectively to accept others as they are. I did like Phil more by the midway point, however, and it’s hinted that we’ll learn more about him in the future, which I’d like to see. Something that I enjoyed tremendously about Pressure Head was the cast of secondary characters, Tom’s best friend Gary and his new boyfriend Darren, most especially. These two are among my favorite characters ever, I think, and I was delighted each time they made an appearance—particularly during their post-service discussion outside a local church. Others, including Edith and Pip, also threatened to steal every scene they’re in, and allow Tom to shine even more as an incorrigibly charming flirt. And although theirs isn’t a comedic presence, Merry the vicar and Graham Carter are differently powerful entities that left a strong impression in their own right. Of course, the cats—Arthur and Merlin—have to be given their due, as well. What Pressure Head lacked in romance it made up for in the whodunit itself. It’s a mystery, after all, and Merrow serves up a good one here. Not overly complex, it doesn’t try too hard while being highly entertaining at the same...
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Dec
28

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Life is But a Dream by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Life is But a Dream by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Life is But a Dream Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #2 Genre: Mystery with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio I was eagerly waiting to see what happened next with Marlow and Sage.  Life is But a Dream was just as fascinating, gripping, and alluring as The Gingerbread Man.  This Nursery Rhyme Suspense series is one I’m glad to have picked up. The novel begins four months after the previous book.  Sage is still not coping well to the death of Tegan.  However, in an effort to assuage her brother’s concerns, she attends a support group for those suffering from depression.  But that is not the only thing she is struggling with: she has started having strange dreams that include Marlow – the geeky boy she barely met one night after Tegan died.  The worst though is when the drowning nightmares start and begin to come true in reality. I am enjoying these science fiction bending mysteries. After the alternate universes in the previous novel, I was interested in seeing what would happen in this novel.  Ms. Strauss does an excellent job of misdirection while leading us to who, the why, and the how.  Still it is a bit “out-there” but this X-Files-esque mystery is gripping and entertaining.  The dream connection between Marlow and Sage is fascinating.  Though we never truly understand why, it is interesting to wonder how it started and by whom.  I secretly suspect that more than just reality jumping occurred for Marlow, he had to be touched and altered in some way by his experiences in the previous novel.  Maybe this ability to connect in the dreamscape is one of them? Another aspect I enjoy is the romantic tension between Marlow and Sage.  There is no denying the attraction between them, though like many young adults/new adults, the timing isn’t right.  Not to mention that Marlow is the nice guy…and nice guys do not finish well when the lady in question is young and idealistic.  Over the course of the story, I enjoyed how close Marlow and Sage become and yet the distance that is created.  I’m curious as to see what happens next in their burgeoning relationship. The dual narrators continue to strengthen and enhance the novel.  Though we have more than just Marlow and...
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Dec
26

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards Today we have a special #audiobook review. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: One Was Lost Author:  Natalie D. Richards Narrator:  Vanessa Johansson Audio Listening Speed: 1.25x Series: Standalone Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Young Adult Source: Tantor Audio One Was Lost is a very gripping thriller-suspense mystery with a hint of romance.  I enjoyed this chilling tale, enhanced by the narration. Sera is a high school senior who signs up for a fun hiking/camping trip.  This is a mandatory requirement for seniors, they must complete a “mission.”  It varies from working at a homeless shelter to this wilderness trip.  Sera is talked into the trip by the school’s organizer, a teacher named Mr. Walker.  Six students and Ms. Brighton (another teacher) make up the group.  However, right at the beginning of the trip, the group is split while trying to cross a river during a storm.  Mr. Walker along with Sera, Lucas, Jude, and Emily are able to cross while Ms. Brighton and two other students are left on the other side.  They decide to camp for the night and reconnoiter in the morning.  However the morning brings a ravaged camp, a seriously ill Mr. Walker, and a strange tattoo on each of the students: Damaged, Deceptive, Dangerous, and Darling. One Was Lost is entirely told from Sera’s perspective.  When she wakes the next morning with her belongings missing or destroyed and the word “Darling” on her arm, Sera thinks it is some strange prank.  She doesn’t realize that it is the first strike in the countdown.  It doesn’t help that Sera does not know the other people in her group well, except for maybe Lucas.  Her brief romantic interlude with him has left her cold.  She fears romance and love ever since her mother fell in love with someone else, leaving her and her father.  Lucas is tattooed with “Dangerous” which furthers Sera’s distrust.  Yet, Sera wants to try to figure out not only how to get out of the wilderness, but also who is seemly hunting them and why. I was thoroughly engrossed in this young adult thriller/mystery suspense.  The little bit of romance sprinkled in added depth and help to keep Sera off-balance.  I enjoyed the twists and turns in the plot.  The story is far more complicated than it seems and though there are plenty of clues, it was not easy for me to figure out until the end.  Though the story is indicative of some other lost in the...
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Dec
21

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Gingerbread Man by Lee Strauss

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Gingerbread Man by Lee Strauss Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Nursery Rhyme Suspense series Gingerbread Man Author:  Lee Strauss Narrators:  Reba Buhr & Roger Wayne Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Nursery Rhyme Suspense #1 Genre: Mystery with sci-fi elements, New Adult Source: Tantor Audio On a whim, I picked up Gingerbread Man, the first book in the Nursery Rhyme Suspense series.  I was intrigued by the premise and was not disappointed! The story is a mix of a detective drama/mystery and a bit of science fiction to it.  It reminds me a bit of the movie Frequency or maybe The Lakehouse.  That being said, it was reminiscent but truly a unique tale.  Without giving anything away, Marlow is tested as he works to discover what is going on and who the killer is.  Teaming up with Sage, the roommate of his online crush, they race the clock as they try to stop a serial killer. It’s difficult to discuss the novel without giving anything away.  However, I really enjoyed the dual narrators.  With the way the plot twisted and turned, it really helped to have two narrators to convey which point of view is being expressed (as it switches), as well as helping to anchor the plot.  It was especially helpful as I got a little confused at first (along with Marlow) when his online date showed up after being murdered.  The dual narrators added a depth to the story and enhanced my enjoyment as the plot wove itself around. I was fascinated by this thrilling novel.  I enjoyed the mix of science fiction elements blended with this young adult suspense. Though, technically only one murder is solved, I wonder what happens next. It is also interesting to see what will happen, if anything between Marlow and Sage. I eagerly look forward to listening to the next novel in this series. My Ratings: Story: B+ Narration: A Overall: A- About the Book: When that cute chick you met online is murdered – but shows up for your next internet meeting anyway. Marlow’s just a regular geeky college freshman with little to no experience with girls, so when he has a semi-flirtatious chat with a cute girl online, it’s almost more than his nerves can handle. Then the girl is brutally murdered. Or is she? Marlow finds himself teamed up with intelligent and savvy Sage Farrell, a girl so far out of his league he feels blinded in her presence...
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Oct
19

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Familiar Motives by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: Familiar Motives by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries Familiar Motives Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: 1.5x Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #3 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I continue to enjoy the Witch’s Cat Mystery series.  The combination of Ms. James’s words and Ms. Arsenault’s voice create a delightful Mystery audiobook a la Hallmark. This latest whodunit was gripping and fun. Though I’m starting to fear that Anna is a long lost relative of Mrs. Fletcher and no one should want to be near her (okay, this horribly dates me but I loved Murder She Wrote as a child), Anna’s genuine kindness more than makes up for the murders that seem to occur around her.  In this book, Anna’s veterinarian is unfortunately murdered while cat-sitting the town’s famous feline: Ruby (aka Attitude Cat), the spokes-cat for the Best Pet Store cat food, treats, toys etc. line.  Unfortunately Anna and her friend (and fellow coven sister) Kenisha find Ramona’s body but are unable to find Ruby.  Between Ruby’s owners bitter custody battle, Attitude Cat’s publicist’s strange behavior, and Ramona’s own witch family’s strangeness, it was a guess who was the murderer and why. I enjoyed how the story twisted and turned.  Though I was able to narrow down the why, the exact who was a surprise for me this time.  I liked how Anna was better at following rules and being safe during this investigation.  It was fascinating to watch and learn how difficult it is for Kenisha to be both a witch and a police officer.  She has to toe the line between the unexplainable truth and proof in the court of law.  I felt Anna was better at keeping her feet on both sides of the line and ensuring that Kenisha wasn’t left on the sidelines by the coven.  The relationships of the women are just as strong an element in this series as the clues.  It all contributes to the coziness of this mystery series.  Not to mention the slow burning romance between Anna and a certain young bartender. I feel that no one but Ms. Arsenault could narrate this series.  Her voices and personality truly bring the characters (both human and furry) and this world in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to life.  I enjoy the audio so much, I prefer to listen to this series, rather than read it. I eagerly look forward to the...
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Sep
20

Review: Death Shall Come by Simon R. Green

Review: Death Shall Come by Simon R. Green Death Shall Come Author: Simon R. Green Reviewer: Gikany and Una Rating: A What We’re Talking About: Gikany and Una discovered Death Shall Come by accident.  We thought we were picking up a new series by Simon Green (we love his Nightside and Secret Histories series).  It turned out to be the fourth book in the Ishmael Jones series.  It is awesome! Although you need not read the first three books, Gikany did and Una got through the first two.  You can easily jump into the series with Death Shall Come, but why would you?  This series has all of the wit, horror and sublime banter that we love in Green’s other books. The mysteries are gripping and not always what they appear. In this installment, Penny and Ishmael are summoned by Ishmael’s boss, the Colonel, to his father in-law’s estate to ensure the protection of the Colonel’s wife.  What befalls is a fascinating murder with a suspect that was quite the twist.  When you think you have this one figured out, trust us, you don’t. The overarching plot line of Ishmael’s background is intriguing. Although he is not human, Ishmael has no idea where he came from or who he really is.  It is compelling how he chooses to be human.  His interactions and mannerisms could give him away and yet, they just add to his odd character.  We enjoy how Penny both humanizes him is also Dr. Watson to his Sherlock. This is truly a fun series. Gikany and Una thoroughly enjoyed Death Shall Come.  This relatively new series is a wonderful balance of murder mystery and urban fantasy with a sci-fi twist. We loved Ishmael and Penny’s witty banter as they sleuth out the clues and find the culprit – hopefully before the body count gets too high.  If you enjoyed Green’s previous books or if you are looking for a classic mystery with a modern twist, this is the series for you!  We eagerly await the next mystery! Our Rating:  A, Loved It About the Book: Ishmael Jones is faced with a dead body and a missing mummy in this highly entertaining, genre-blending mystery.  Death shall come on swift wings to whoever desecrates this tomb …  Ishmael Jones and his partner Penny have been summoned to remote Cardavan House, home of the world’s largest private collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts, for the unveiling of George Cardavan’s latest acquisition: a bone fide Egyptian mummy.  When a...
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Jul
27

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: By Familiar Means by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: By Familiar Means by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries By Familiar Means Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: 1x Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #2 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio By Familiar Means is another delightful read in the Witch’s Mystery Cat series.  I enjoyed the continuing journey of Anna as she learns more about her heritage, her abilities and the community of Portsmouth. The novel begins a few weeks after the conclusion of the previous novel, A Familiar Tail.  Anna is settling into the house she is renting along with the coven of Portsmouth.  She is excited that her Grandma BB is coming to visit her.  What makes this so momentous is that her Grandma hasn’t been back to her home town since she left during a town-wide feud.  As Anna is looking forward to this visit, she is also looking forward to a new job painting murals at a new coffee shop in town. However, as things did in the previous book, things do not quite go as Anna anticipates. I love how much Grandma BB brought to the humor and character development of Anna.  It was fascinating to watch old wounds begin to heal and people come together.  Anna has a truly unique group of friends around her in Portsmouth.  I especially enjoyed seeing that Alastair has friends of his own as well.  The little bit of romantic thread that is developing is also a delightful side element to the overall story.  I’m really enjoying following Anna. She is a caring and vibrant character and I look forward to watching her grow in Portsmouth. Though like the previous novel, the “who” of the “who-dun-it” was simple to figure out, there were other twists that added to the revealing of motive and such.  I really enjoyed how Anna investigated this one; not quite as reckless as before, but just as impulsive.  It was interesting that the magic can and does seem to affect Anna, possibly increasing her impulsiveness.  There are several different threads being woven nicely together; the mystery, the family/friends drama, the romance, and Anna’s own growth in her heritage.  I find this series absolutely enchanting and enjoyable.  I now understand the term cozy mystery.  Again, it’s something I can enjoy without worrying about my kids listening with me in the car. I enjoyed Ms. Arsenault’s performance a little more this time around.  It could be...
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Jul
13

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Familiar Tail by Delia James

Listen Up! #Audiobook Review: A Familiar Tail by Delia James Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to… Audiobook Reviews: Witch’s Cat Mysteries A Familiar Tail Author: Delia James Narrator: Elise Arsenault Audio Listening Speed: Series: Witch’s Cat Mystery #1 Genre: Urban Fantasy / Cozy Mystery Source: Tantor Audio I am delighted that I picked up this audiobook, A Familiar Tail.  On a whim, I thought I would enjoy a story that blends mystery with magic.  Overall I really enjoyed both the story and the narration and can’t wait to listen to the next Witch’s Cat Mystery. Though the story was a tad sluggish in starting because Anna was slow in getting into the magical pool, I enjoyed learning along with Anna about Portsmouth and especially the local witches’ coven.  What first began with Anna going to visit a friend for a little bit, turns into a huge life changing event.  Anna was a mostly carefree spirit, able live her gypsy-esque life as an artist while hiding her vibe ability.  Until this fateful visit, when she discovers her family’s roots, a persistent cat, and a murder mystery only it seems she can solve.  It seems Anna is descended from a magical family, and this vibe (her ability to perceive events that occurred or will occur in a particular space) is a gift of heritage. I really enjoyed the detective bumbling of Anna as she tried to figure out who killed the local witch.  Though it was somewhat easy to figure out the “who,” the motive was elusive until the end.  I did really enjoy how Anna thoughtfully progressed through her investigation.  The plot was gripping, and I found it difficult to stop listening.  I also enjoyed that this was an audiobook I could listen to while in the car taking kids to school.  It’s akin to watching my beloved Hallmark Murder and Mysteries, nothing graphic or too mature for little ones to see or hear.  In fact, my son enjoyed asking questions about Alastair the cat. The coven members and Anna’s friend, Martine, are all wonderful supporting characters.  Each seems unique and added their own energy and support to Anna’s investigation and new found roots.  But Alastair, the cat, was my favorite supporting character.  Though he cannot talk, I really enjoyed how he communicated with everyone, especially Anna.  Ms. Arsenault did a fabulous job in portraying Alastair’s personality and communicative skills. Speaking of the narration, I did like Ms. Arsenault’s performance. Though some voices blended a bit, making it...
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Jun
20

Review: At His Mercy by Shelly Bell

Review: At His Mercy by Shelly Bell At His Mercy Author: Shelly Bell Reviewer: VampBard Rating: C What I’m Talking About: While At His Mercy held promise for me, I struggle with many issues while reading it. I honestly try to leave my ‘editor eye’ out of it when I review a book. It’s…difficult, at best. I overlook typos, usage, and misplaced punctuation all the time. I mean, ARC copies can quite possibly be sent out prior to final proofreading. I know how the publishing industry works. But I struggled with this ARC. Next, a romance title can’t be all about sex scenes. While they’re a nice ‘frosting on the cake’, it can’t be the drift-from-one-sex-scene-to-the-next type of story or that makes it flat-out erotica. While we’re told that there was a veiled romance element in this title, I didn’t actually witness it myself. /soapbox. Okay. A solid Dominant/submissive relationship takes time to establish. If it’s a one-night stand, that’s one thing. However, jumping into a relationship without knowing the other person is just bad form and completely unsafe. I mean, Isabella didn’t let anyone know where she was going!!! For all she knew, Tristan was some psycho wack-job—she’d picked one before, who’s to say she didn’t pick one again? Isabella ranks up there in my Too Stupid to Learn heroines, and I didn’t feel a bit badly at the end for her. /off soapbox Tristan, for being an experienced Dom, is incredibly stupid. There’s lots of reasons, but listing them all would be spoilery. Lastly, there were plot inconsistencies. I can overlook a few here and there, but there were entirely too many going on—so much so, that I actually had to flip back in the book to make sure I wasn’t crazy several times. After all, there couldn’t be THAT many of them in the book, right?!?! Wrong. While I’m really intrigued by the premise for this title and the subsequent title(s), I think I’ll pass. My Rating: C, Finished It – Liked some, didn’t like some About the Book: Angel in his arms . . . Devil at her heels  One last, no-strings night of indulgence. That’s all Tristan wants before he begins a much-needed new chapter in his life. Instead he finds an innocent angel in pink who brings him to his knees. Isabella is done hiding from the world . . . and her haunting memories. Discovering courage in the arms of a perfect stranger, she finally lets go and sheds...
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