Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review: Cocaine Blues

Cocaine Blues (Phryne Fisher #1) 

By Kerry Greenwood
“Her heart was beating appreciably faster, and she took more rapid breaths, but she was enjoying herself. Adventuresses are born, not made.” 
― Kerry GreenwoodCocaine Blues
I absolutely adore Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - the show. I'm afraid this is one of those rare times when I can honestly say the book *wasn't* better. 

There was much more detail to the mystery in the book - obvs - though the first episode did follow the plot fairly closely (book #1 = episode #1). The main problem I had with the book was that I never managed to connect to the characters. I made an instant connection with the characters on the show, even immediately shipping various pairings (Dot and Hugh 4eva!). Of all the characters in the book, I felt most drawn, of all people, to Bert. If I could have mustered up enough interest to ship any characters in the book, it would have been Phryne and Bert. For anyone who's watched the show, this sounds like crazy talk. But Hugh didn't exist, Dot was a bit harsher, and Jack was kinda dumb (and barely present). 

So there you have it. Watch the show. If you loved it, learning about its origins is interesting, but a little boring. At least it's a super quick read.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Book Review: Secondhand Spirits

Secondhand Spirits (A Witchcraft Mystery #1) 
By Juliet Blackwell
*** 1/2
"I don’t want to be seen as a scary freak anymore.” And with that I dropped a freeze-dried bat into the bubbling brew." ― Juliet BlackwellSecondhand Spirits
While not exactly a Halloween title - the story takes place in March - it still seemed like an appropriate book for the season. Secondhand Spirits is an enjoyable cozy mystery with strong paranormal elements. Witch Lily Ivory wants to settle down a bit and make a home for herself, maybe even some friends, and begin a new business selling vintage clothing in San Francisco. But she's not able to keep her witchy ways quiet for long, as she gets involved with what appears to be a supernatural kidnapping AND a murder.

The mystery was strong - I only started to suspect who the Bad Guy was towards the end. I do like a bit more humor/snark in my cozies, but this one had a lot of heart and great supporting characters. Oscar is my clear favorite, obvs: Lily's new gargoyle-esque familiar who turns into a little piggy so the muggles don't freak out. 

Bonus: anyone who enjoys vintage fashion will love the descriptions of the clothes Lily sells in her shop.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Halloween Book Review: Shutter

By Courtney Alameda
“My people are condemned to wander this eternal twilight” 
― Courtney AlamedaShutter
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book. There were a few things the characters did that bugged me (Why do characters always keep vital information to themselves? SHARE WITH THE CLASS, PLEASE.). Mostly I think this would fit into horror-lite. It wasn't incredibly scary, but there was plenty of gore. I honestly think if this was made into a movie, I would have been unable to watch it. As it was, I had no problem reading the story...well, I wasn't keen on reading it right before bed, mostly because it was just a dark story, not because it needed to be put in the freezer.

My biggest problem with this book was that I just wasn't in the mood for it. October has been a very finicky reading month for me, and I've picked up and put down several books. So I probably would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't been in such a reading funk.

Pros - no love triangles, cool friend relationships, and a romance that began before the book (so there's some element of history there - no instalove). Also, cool world-building.

Cons - occasional teenage obnoxiousness (see above re: sharing vital information), bad-dad, and partial open-ending without confirmation of a sequel.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Review: Cast In Honor

Cast in Honor (Chronicles of Elantra #11) 
By Michelle Sagara
"Do these cracks look strange to you" she asked. "What cracks?" Which answered that first question. "You know, when I first started training with the two of you, we had normal cases." Michelle Sagara, Cast in Honor
When our story opens, Kaylin and Crew are trying to get to the point where they can go on the hunt for Nightshade, who disappeared in the last book. But an investigation changes everything; and it turns out the investigation has more than a little to do with Nightshade.

We get to see more of some old characters, like Ybelline and Moran, and we're introduced to new characters Gilbert and Kattea, both of whom are pivotal to the investigation. And in the process, we learn just a bit more about Ravellon and the Shadows that abide there. Because of these new characters, and the mystery at the heart of this story, this entry in the Chronicles of Elantra felt a little different than the previous books. It added to the world building of the series, but it felt more removed from the overall story arc than the the last few books. 

The build up with Moran at the beginning of the book didn't really take off, as I expected it to. I have to assume that Moran's story will be coming up in the next book or two. As we haven't delved into the Aerian culture the way we have with other Elantran races, I'm anxiously awaiting that story line. 

As always, I loved this book and I can't wait to get my hands on the next!

**I received an Advanced Review eGalley of this title from NetGalley**

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Book Review: Indexing

Indexing (Indexing #1) 
By Seanan McGuire
“When you’re late in a fairy tale, people wind up dead. And not true-love’s-kiss, glass-coffin-nap-time dead. Really dead, the kind of dead you don’t recover from.” 
― Seanan McGuireIndexing
Police procedural meets Grimm Brothers. In the fairy tale justice system, memetic incursions are considered especially dangerous. In the Real World, the dedicated detectives who defend Happily Ever After are members of an elite squad called the ATI Management Bureau. Beware of their stories. Chung Chung.

Indexing is the story of a team of agents who investigate memetic incursions - where fairy tales invade the real world. Seems it happens more often that you'd think. Nice girl with a dead mom, stepmother and two stepsisters? She's ripe to turn into a 510A "Cinderella." Despite Disney's best efforts to subvert the grimmer aspects of the original tales (pun intended), fairy tale incursions rarely have an HEA. 

It took me a while to get into the story, but it wasn't long before I became *involved*. This story was written as a serial - new chapters added on a regular basis, rather than a full book offered all at once. I didn't read it in installments, thank heavens, as I'm not sure I could have handled that. But the story definitely would have worked in that format. I just have no patience. 

This was a cool story and a new twist on old fairy tales. Recommended.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Book Review: Beastly Bones

Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) 
By William Ritter
“I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.”
Another great novel by William Ritter. Beastly Bones was a lot of fun to read and the beast in the title was particularly cool. Abigail Rook and R.F. Jackaby are great characters and I loved that Abigail got a chance to explore a dream of hers in this book. 

As much as I loved the first book in this series, my main issue with it was the weak-ish mystery. It was fairly obvious who-dun-it, though the why and what of it all remained unknown until the end. In Beastly Bones, the mystery was much more solid and a bigger puzzle began to unfold towards the end that I can't wait to dig in to. 

I'm totally loving this series and highly recommend it. 

**I received an Advanced Review eGalley of this title from NetGalley**

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: Nimona

Story and art by Noelle Stevenson

“Halt you villains! Unhand that science!”
― Noelle Stevenson

From Goodreads:
The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it "a deadpan epic."

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

From Me:
Oh my word I loved this book! The story takes place in a sort of medieval, magical land that has refrigerators and pizza delivery and dragons. The story is heartfelt and I may have teared up once or twice, while at other times I struggled to hold in my giggles since I was reading it over lunch at work.

The art is fantastic and the story is lovely. I read a library copy, but this one is going to have to go permanently on my shelf.
Highly recommended. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Review: Day Shift

Day Shift (Midnight, Texas #2) 
By Charlaine Harris

A fun follow up to Harris's Midnight Crossroad. This time around the focus is on Manfred and Olivia as the primary voices, and Joe as a secondary voice. (I kinda love that there's no single main character in this series - Manfred takes the lead, but the other characters seem to be getting their own chance to take focus from book to book.) 

Things are changing in this unchanging little town and nobody likes it. There are several mysteries for our characters, some of which aren't revealed at the end. What was revealed was more about the characters, namely who and what they are. While I enjoyed the mystery, what I really loved about this installment was getting to know the characters better. I can't wait to find out more about them and see what happens next to their little town, because clearly something is coming.

In my review of Midnight Crossroad, I commented on how various characters and references were made to Harris's other series. The only reference I hadn't caught in the first book was to Sookie Stackhouse's world. Well, Day Shift is chock full of Sookie references, and they aren't even little minor ones. I love that we're getting a new series and a new set of stories, but I also like that I don't have to completely leave those past worlds behind.

Another great book for fans of Charlaine Harris! Recommended.

**I received an Advanced Review eGalley of this title from NetGalley**

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review: Seven Kinds of Hell

Seven Kinds of Hell (Fangborn #1) 
By Dana Cameron
“I felt the shame of unleashing the Beast only until I was washed in a flood of righteousness...As I stepped out of my cheap black China-doll shoes, I felt elegant, sleek, graceful. The wind ruffled my fur.”  ― Dana CameronSeven Kinds of Hell
Take everything you know about vampires and werewolves and toss it out the window. Go ahead and toss it, I'll wait.

Dana Cameron's Fangborn world is made up of vampires, werewolves, and oracles, and they are completely different from anything I've read or watched. And they're FASCINATING! I'm particularly intrigued by Dana's vampires - which can turn into giant, colorful snake-creatures. Seriously, how cool is that? (Ok, maybe less cool if you have a snake-phobia. Fortunately for me they didn't turn into giant spiders.)

The story follows Zoe, a young woman pursuing an education in archaeology, who spent her life on the run from her father and his family. Her mother believed they were some kind of mafiosi, and they shuffled from place to place over the years to keep them at bay. Now Zoe is an adult, her mother just passed away, and it looks as though her father's family has finally caught up with her. Oh, and either she's insane, or she can turn into a werewolf. (Spoiler Alert: she's not insane...)

You'd think this would be enough of a story - woman on the run trying to stay a step ahead of her werewolf family, but noooo, Dana turns it up a notch by adding an international artifact hunt, mythology, several baddies of human and non-human nature, and various allies and enemies with Zoe trying to figure out which is which. 

This story subverted ALL of my expectations and gave me a book so far beyond what I could have hoped for! I gave up trying to figure out what could possibly come next after the first few surprise twists. And to top it off, Dana is a real-life archaeologist, so when she gets into aspects of that field, it's truly fascinating (or at least it was to me, who at one point thought I wanted to become an archaeologist - see my review of Lives in Ruins for more info about that). 

Bonus: I haven't traveled much, and what I *have* done took place over 10 years ago, but the characters traveled to places that I've seen in the flesh, and that was awesome for me. I've seen the ruins at Ephesus, and I've shopped the streets of Kusadasi (where I was proposed a random fella outside a shop), and I've wound my way through the twisty alleyways of Mykonos. Luckily my trip didn't involve any murders or vast conspiracies...

Double Bonus: I had the chance to meet Dana last month at my library's annual Book Fest and she is super nice, incredibly funny, and wicked awesome. If you ever have the chance to hear her speak, take it!

Seven Kinds of Hell was such a cool book. There's a lot too it, but it's one helluva ride! Highly recommended.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Book Review: Pocket Apocalypse

Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid #4) 
By Seanan McGuire
“Hello,” she said. “Have you heard the good word of Wadjet, Protector of Egypt and great snake of the Milky Way?” 
― Seanan McGuirePocket Apocalypse
The fourth book in the InCryptid series had me on edge! The danger-level in this particular book seemed more intense than in previous installments. Normally I'd pick up a book in this series with the general assumption that the leads would live and there'd be a standard, if open (due to it being a series), HEA. I did not have that assurance as I read this story! Alex and Shelby head to Shelby's home in Australia after learning about a werewolf outbreak. In McGuire's world, werewolves are diseased - with a rabies-like virus - that makes them crazed killing machines. There will be no romantic interludes with these creatures. As they investigate the beastly menace, Alex also has to deal with Shelby's family, who pretty much hate him on sight as he's 1) an outsider, 2) a Price, 3) a grandson and cousin to a cuckoo, and 4) dating their daughter/sister.

The Aeslin mice, my favorite anthropomorphized characters since...ok, maybe ever, provide much needed levity, as everything else was stressing me out! They are basically the best. Despite the levity and all the madness and mayhem, there's one particular death that I'm still bitter about. Seanan, you know what you did!

I loved this book and I love this series. I can't wait to see what Verity's been up to in the next installment! We're going to a TV dance competition! HAIL!

Artwork by Kory Bing. Image taken from