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Friday, June 26, 2015

Review - The Royal Assassin

I reviewed the debut novel in this new series, The Vanishing Thief (click here),  the second book The Counterfeit Lady (click here) and was so fortunate to get an author interview (click here) as well.   But, in this book Georgia must go undercover again as an English tutor to a Princess, stretching her middle class world.

Author: Kate Parker

Copyright: July 2015 (Berkley) 304 pgs

Series: 3rd in Victorian Bookshop Mystery series

Sensuality: mild kissing and situations

Mystery Sub-genre: Amateur Sleuth, Private Investigator

Main Characters: Georgia Fenchurch, antiquarian bookseller and member of the Archivist Society

Setting: Victorian era - after 1851, London

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

The Russian princess Kira is engaged to the son of the Queen’s cousin. The Duke of Blackford is enlisted to protect the princess after her royal bodyguard is killed.  Blackford naturally asks for the Archivist Society's help, specifically requesting Georgia go undercover as the Princess's English tutor as preparation for her British wedding.

It is suspected that anarchists, an ongoing problem in Russia for the royal family, are England and attempting to kill the Princess and harm relations between Russia and England.  But Georgia discovers other motives at work.  When an unlikely new guard shows a ruthless side, it is obvious that everything isn't as it seems.

Georgia is a great character who is proudly middle class in a time period where class awareness drives the social order.  She faces some of her abandonment issues in this third outing.  Emma takes some risks as she and goes undercover among the anarchist's with Blackford's servant, Jacob. Duke of Blackford show more of his true self as he trusts Georgia and tries to mediate between Russian Princess and the Duchess who is housing the Russians.  Lady Beatrice Hereford is the Duchess housing the Princess and entourage, she has her hands full while in the early stages of pregnancy.  She is the breakout character in this book.  Count Farkas, the man who murdered Georgia's parents, makes a few appearances.

The plot is fast paced while still allowing for character's to be developed, along with a romantic touch here and there.  Several moments of surprise and other times of knowingwhat was coming gave a good balance.  The climax provided good action and a few thrills.  The wrap-up left a hint of a promise for interesting future for Georgia.

This series has consistantly provided entertaining stories with intrigue and excitement.  I eagerly await the next in the series.

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

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review - Snake Skin

This book received high praise from Steve Berry, Jeffery Deavers, Kathy Reichs, and Lee Childs. But it was RT Book Reviews claiming: Combine Dirty Harry with a loving wife and mother and you might end up with Lucy Guardino" that convinced me to read the first in this series.  See what you think.

 Author: C.J. Lyons

Copyright: May 2015 (Edgy Reads) 448 pgs

Series: 1st in Lucy Guardino FBI Thriller series

Sensuality: Adult subjects, some violence, and swearing

Mystery Sub-genre: Police Procedural/Thriller

Main Characters: Supervisory Special Agent Lucy Guardino, lead for Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement squad

Setting: Modern day, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Obtained Through: Personal purchase

Ashley is a very unhappy teen with parents that can't be bothered to notice her much,  who cuts herself. She manages to develop a friendship with Bobby in a computer game world.  Bobby and Ashley are supposed to runaway together, but a predator drugs her, abducts her, and proceeds to break her mentally to fashion his own version of a perfect "wife".  Lucy is assigned the case and just feels that Ashley isn't dead like everybody thinks.  Nor does she think Ashley just ran away like others suggest.  But this is a bad time for Lucy, her own daughter has a mysterious illness and she is torn between the time-limited search for Ashley and her own daughter.  Lucy has her hands full coordinating several agencies in the search, but is hampered even further by another team member who is having a torrid affair with a reporter who wants to get even with Lucy.  

Lucy is a very tough workaholic parent juggling a daughter and husband with the job. She isn't very emotionally available, so she has plenty of baggage.  Nick is her loving, stable, and long-suffering husband.  Megan, Her daughter was a somewhat whiny pre-adolescent. But she does show a loving side towards her mother occasionally which I appreciated.  Special Agent Zach Taylor is the Forensic Computer Tech guy on her team.  He is still green and enthusiastic and I can see his character getting a dose of reality in another book.  Don Burroughs is the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Major Crime's Squad who is a lecherous scummy guy with the unethical and vindictive journalist.

Pittsburgh doesn't stick out in the story much, but the barn where Ashley is held is creepy, really.  That was the best setting in the novel, utilized effectively.  Lucy comes off a bit too Jason Bourne-like when she survives a 5 inch metal shard in the back and has it removed and stitched with only local anesticia and goes right back to work. It's unbelievable whether guy or girl. That stretched the believability beyond normal bounds.  Otherwise, the concept wasn't too far of a reach with the large numbers of predators online now.  I do have to mention I was put off by how Lucy seemed to determine who the villain was in some flash of inspiration, when the reader simply didn't have enough clues to determine it.  That was a little too convenient and never fully explained.  The climax was tense and nail-biting suspenseful which was good and all the major story-lines are brought to a conclusion satisfactorily.

Overall this book accomplishes what a thriller's prime goal is, to take the reader on a thrill ride with barely time to catch your breath.

Rating: Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Because of the language and sensitive topic, you may wish to read a sample first.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Fill in Blank Game VI

Let's try another game this week. I am going to list partial titles and you try to fill in the blanks. All the books are by the same author which is a clue. At the end of the titles, supply who the author of those books was.

You are on the honor system playing this, try completing this without the aid of the internet.  In a few days I will fill in the blanks and you can post how many you got right in the comments.  I did this in a very low tech sort of way :-)

1) A _________ for Death

2) A ________ to Murder

3) A __________ Justice

4) __________ and Desires

5) The _______ Tower

6)  The Murder _____

7) ___________ Causes

8) The ________ Patient

9) Death in ______ ________

10) Cover Her _______

The Author of all these books is _____ _______

1) A Taste for Death   2) A Mind to Murder  3) A Certain Justice  4) Devices and Desires  5) The Black Tower  6)  The Murder Room  7) Unnatural Causes  8) The Private Patient  9) Death in Holy Orders  10) Cover Her Face  and the Author of all these books is PD James.
PLEASE ASSIST ME in this one time deal.  Please join my Thunderclap campaign (click here) no money, just one minute of your time.  Thank you.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Review - Wickedly Dangerous

I am reviewing a new-to-me series that takes an old Russian myth for a modern twist on a paranormal investigator of sorts.   It is unique and fresh, see if this is of interest to you.

Author: Deborah Blake

Copyright: Sept 2014 (Berkley) 352 pgs

Series: 1st in Baby Yaga series

Sensuality: Sex scene - be warned

Mystery Sub-genre: Paranormal Amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Barbara Yager, Poses as an herbalist and researcher

Setting: Modern day, clearwater County on East Coast somewhere

Obtained Through: Personal purchase

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, this series portrays Baba Yaga like the Dread Pirate Roberts, a title that is bestowed on a witch raised to assume the mantle.  Babas keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world and the "otherworld". They are fierce witches who you don't want to cross.  Barbara Yager, raised to be a Baba since she was rescued from a Russian orphanage by the previous Baba, poses as an herbalist and researcher.  She travels where she is called upon, with her dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream.  She also has a motorcycle and wears black leather.

Barbara, or Baba is summoned to find a missing child.  Turns out three children have gone missing where only a few seconds give an opportunity for abduction without leaving a trace. Barbara believes it is something "otherworldly" that is abducting the children. To complicate matters, the community is in an uproar over a hydrolic fracturing (fracking) company barging in and pushing its agenda on the small town, so emotions are running high and an outsider isn't very welcome.  Barbara has never been interested in human males much, until she meets...the local sheriff Liam who is desperate to find the children before another goes missing and sparks fly. 

Barbara/Baba has two sides to her personality, a "kick-ass rather than reason" side and a sensitive side that empathizes with others. In this story her human side, that she had buried as the Baba, is challenged to connect with people.  Sheriff Liam McClellan is likeable and slightly damaged and can't stop thinking of Barbara.  There are three dragons who aid the Babas in human form: Mikhail Day is dressed all in white and blond hair, Gregori Sun is dressed in red leather and Asian, and Alexei Knight is a giant man dressed all in black. They each ride a matching motorcycle and are fearsome.  Chudo-Yudo is a small dragon disguised as a large pitbull dog who is Barbara's companion.

This has some good world-building as the "otherworld" is described and the cause-and-effect relationship between the this world and it add tension to the story.  The plot is well done, providing a serious motivation for the kidnappings and many interferances to ratchet up the tension.  This keeps the pages turning. 

The climax was unique and well thought-out.  All loose ends are tied up and Barbara must decide what she wants from her life after this.  The next book will involve another Baba in another part of the U.S. so this is a complete book in itself although it piques the interest for the next Baba tale.

An old Russian myth is breathed new life and given a modern spin. Barbara Yager makes a determined and fearsome investigator seeking out the kidnapper of three children.  This story takes paranormal and leaves out the typical for dragons and other mythical creatures to come out and play. 

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it, it had a good grip on me! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list

Father's Day Wine Deal: Use coupon code AFDADGIFT15 when ordering a gift and we’ll include three bonus gifts on us: Our 25th Anniversary Wine and Recipe Guide, a $25 Wine Credit he can use to reorder favorite wines, and a bonus bottle of $24 Cabernet. Good thru 6/30 (click here)

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - June 2015

It is the first Monday of the month and time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival.  Now on to this month's blog carnival.  Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review / Legal

Booking Mama‏ reviewed The Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel

Carstairs Considers reviewed 14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Booking Mama‏ reviewed Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Caught Dead Handed by Carol J. Perry

Carstairs Considers reviewed Musseled Out by Barbara Ross

FUOnlyKnew reviewed Bubba Done It by Maggie Toussaint and shares "Bubba Done it, but which Bubba?"

Girl Lost in a Book reviewed Anything But Civil by Anna Loan-Wilsey

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Filet of Murder by Linda Reilly

Carstairs Considers reviewed One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O'Neil

Girl Lost In A Book‏ reviewed Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Toured to Death by Hy Conrad

Carstairs Considers reviewed The Final Reveille by Amanda Flower

Girl Lost in a Book reviewed From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins

Thriller/Suspense /Intrigue Fiction Book Review

Booking Mama‏ reviewed Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll


 Author Interview

Mysteries and My Musings had Guest Post by Linda Reilly

Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers interviewed thriller author Marilynn Larew

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

to all the wonderful bloggers who contributed to the carnival.  Keep them coming and let's keep this carnival going. 

Let's make next month's Carnival even better. For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your posts go here.  

Father's Day Wine Deal: Use coupon code AFDADGIFT15 when ordering a gift and we’ll include three bonus gifts on us: Our 25th Anniversary Wine and Recipe Guide, a $25 Wine Credit he can use to reorder favorite wines, and a bonus bottle of $24 Cabernet. Good thru 6/30 (click here)

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