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Friday, November 25, 2016

Secret Santa for book lovers

Interested in a Secret Santa for books?

SantaThing is a Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

How it works
You pay into the SantaThing system (choose from $15–$50). You play Santa to a LibraryThing member we pick for you, by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else. If you sign up for someone without a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they like, so their Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.

Sign-ups close MONDAY, December 4th at 5pm Eastern. By Tuesday morning, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

Picking closes Monday, December 12th at 9am
Eastern. As soon as the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can.

» Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Review - Putting on the Witch

I have not read the first book in the series, but I did start with the second book Looking For Mr. Good Witch (click here).  In this book we find our "mature" witches attending Brian's fancy birthday a castle.

Author:  Joyce and Jim Lavene

Copyright: Oct 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Retired Witches Mystery series

Sensuality: Mild

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Cozy

Main Character: Molly Addison Renard, owner Smuggler’s Arcane Metaphysical shop and witch

Setting: Modern day, Wilmington, North Carolina

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

"With their coven’s spell book still missing, Molly and Elsie—along with their ghostly friend Olivia, her daughter Dorothy, and her boyfriend Brian—are all on edge, especially now that Dorothy’s infamously wicked father is back in the picture. So when they receive an invitation to an exclusive Witches Ball, the ladies jump at the chance to dress up and have some fun.

The castle locale is spectacular and the party is hopping, but the festivities come to a swift end when a member of the Grand Council of Witches is murdered. With the whole place on lock down, the coven is determined to find the cunning killer, even with an angry council and a real Spanish Inquisitor breathing down their necks."

I enjoy Molly for a main character.  She is a mature woman and a quiet force of nature (water element witch!).  Others in the cover include: Elsie is an outspoken, spunky, and rambunctious lady,  Olivia is a ghost who is short-sighted and a bit selfish, and Dorothy is a witch in training and Olivia's daughter, Brian is the newest member from a prestigious Grand Council family who rebels against his family.  The Grand Council is a bureaucracy of older, wealthy, and influential witches set in their ways.  Throw in a Dorothy's renegade dragon father, a shape-shifter posing as a cat given to Brian as his familiar, and a cursed "Witchfinder" from the infamous 1500-era Inquisiton for many surprises.  I thought Antonio de Santiago, the cursed Witchfinder, was the surprising breakout character of the book.

I enjoyed the attention to details, like Madam Tunis and her magical beauty shop.  The bulk of the story takes place in Fuller Family Castle that can only be reached by magic and where the participants are cloistered during the investigation of the murder.  This provided a feeling of isolation with a killer in plain sight among the attendees.  Molly uses her policeman husband's investigative knowledge garnered from many years discussing investigations, to assist the investigation of far more powerful witches.

The story moves along with the subplots of politics, manipulation, and subterfuge.  The pacing keeps up steadily with several twists.  The Climax was more procedural than thrilling, but worked well in the plot.   The wrap-up had it's own surprise to leave you wanting more.

The Retired Witches is a fun, quirky, and creative concept that takes witches to fun new levels and this novel is pure delight.

Rating:  Near Perfect - Couldn't Put it down. Buy two copies, one for you and one for a friend.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vote for Best Book of 2016

Goodreads, the bookworm's social media site, has open voting for the best book of 2016.  

Opening Round Nov. 1 - 6
Semifinal Round Nov. 8 - 13
Final Round Nov. 15 - 27

Historical Fiction
Science Fiction
Non Fiction
History & Biography
Science & Technology
Food & Cookbooks
Graphic Novels and Comics
Young Adult Fiction
Young Adult Fantasy
Middle Grade & Children's
Picture Books

Click here to check it out!

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Author Interview - Deborah Blake

Please welcome Deborah Blake, author of the paranormal police procedural book Veiled Magic (click here for my review).  I have also reviewed another of her books not discussed in this interview, Wickedly Dangerous (click here for review).

Where did the initial idea for Veiled Magic and Donata Santori come from? 
Believe it or not, it came to me in a dream. The short story that Veiled Magic was based on was something I dreamed from start to finish, and jumped out of bed and wrote in about six hours with no break. This has never happened to me before or since!

What attracted you to this middle ground of paranormal and police procedural? 
Honestly, that was just the way the story came to me.

What do you and Donata have in common? How are you different? 
Well, we both have long dark hair, a smart-ass attitude, and we are witches. But she definitely has better luck attracting men!

In literature (other than your own), who is your favorite character and secondarily, who is your favorite paranormal character? 
I love Alanna, the teenage protagonist of Tamora Pierce’s first quartet. My favorite paranormal character is Harry Dresden, by Jim Butcher.

What are you currently reading?
I’m actually reading two different British contemporary romances (they’re my “comfort food”), but I’m about ready to start reading The Brimstone Deception, by Lisa Shearin, who is one of my favorite paranormal authors.

What's the one thing a reader has said that you've never forgotten and perhaps found startling? 
That my books have helped them get through a difficult time. I’m amazed and touched when someone says that.

If your Donata Santori series were to be made into a movie, who would you cast in your top character's roles?
For Donata herself, I always envisioned Yancy Butler (Witchblade). I’d love to see Alex O’Loughlin as Peter, and I’m open to suggestions for Magnus. (I envision him as looking much like model Gabriel Autry.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Thank you Ms. Blake for that interview.  I have a new appreciation for Peter and Magnus now!!

Check out all of Deborah's fiction books here.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review - Tangled up in Brew

I jumped on this new series because of the interesting premise of a lady brew-master.  I reviewed the debut novel, To Brew, or Not To Brew (click here), and a guest post (click here).  The second in the series is out and I again jumped at the chance to review it.  Here is the second in the Brewing Trouble mystery series, see what you think.

Author: Joyce Tremel

Copyright: Oct 2016 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 2nd in Brewing Trouble Mystery series

Sensuality: G rated

Mystery Sub-genre: Cozy

Main Characters: Maxine “Max” O’Hara, Brewmaster and owner of The Allegheny Brew House

Setting: Modern day,  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

From the Book cover: "Brew pub owner Maxine “Max” O’Hara and her chef/boyfriend, Jake Lambert, are excited to be participating in the Three Rivers Brews and Burgers Festival. Max hopes to win the coveted Golden Stein for best craft beer—but even if she doesn’t, the festival will be great publicity for her Allegheny Brew House.

Or will it? When notoriously nasty food and beverage critic Reginald Mobley is drafted as a last-minute replacement judge, Max dreads a punishing review. Her fears are confirmed when Mobley literally spits out her beer, but things get even worse when the cranky critic drops dead right after trying one of Jake’s burgers. Now an ambitious new police detective is determined to pin Mobley’s murder on Max and Jake, who must pore over the clues to protect their freedom and reputations—and to find the self-appointed judge, jury, and executioner."

Maxine “Max” O’Hara has gumption balanced with a kind nature. Jake Lambert, former ice hockey player and childhood friend of her brothers is the romantic interest.  I'm not a romance novel fan, but this is so G rated as to be reminiscent of Nancy Drew with her boyfriend.  But my concern is now Max and Jake are dating, there is no spark or tension between them and seems they will be best buds with a kiss occasionally.  Max's father, Sean Sr., is a police detective that in this 2nd entry in the series is teamed with a young detective, Vincent Falk, who is out to make his reputation - at Jake and Max's expense.  Brothers Father Sean, the Catholic Priest, and Mike are protective and bit walk on roles. There are several colorful characters associated with the Festival as well that keep this interesting.  I was glad that rival breweries and brew pubs got along and Max was one of them.

Pittsburgh is given life with through the interesting tidbits that natives know and take for granted, excellent job there.  The plot is classic with the killer cleverly hidden in plain site. The pacing was effective, keeping me interested and made for a story I had a hard time putting down.  The climax had action and some heroism.  

I like the writing style and Max makes a unique heroine, but the Jake and Max chemistry from the debut was sorely missing which did impact the story for me.  Otherwise a solid mystery to delve into.  I liked the festival theme as the backdrop which bolstered the mystery.

Rating:  Very Good - I enjoyed it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

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