Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: A Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan-Wilsey

Description (from cover):

'Traveling secretary and dilettante detective Hattie Davish is bringing her talents to a small New England town whose wealthy residents have more secrets than they do money...

When Hattie Davish's job takes her to Newport, Rhode Island, she welcomes the opportunity for a semi-vacation, and perhaps even a summer romance. But her hopes for relaxation are dashed when she learns that members of the local labor unions are at odds with Newport's gentry. Amidst flaring tensions, an explosion rocks the wharf. In the ensuing turmoil, Mr. Harland Whitwell, one of Newport's most eminent citizens, is found stabbed to death, his hands clutching a strike pamphlet. All signs point to a vengeful union member bent on taking down the aristocracy, but Hattie starts digging and finds a few skeletons in the closets of the impeccable Whitwell mansion. As she strikes down the whispers spilling out of Newport's rumor mill, she'll uncover a truth more scandalous than anyone imagined--and a killer with a rapacious sense of entitlement...'

My thoughts:

This is the third installment of the Hattie Davish mystery series and it is quite the entertaining read. I couldn't put this one down. The author creates another well-rounded mystery that is suspenseful and intriguing. I love Hattie's character as she is humble, a working woman, but she has a sense of right and wrong and she seeks out justice not just for murder victims, but for people who are down in life. Hattie's character has a wonderful and caring heart, but her inquisitiveness seems to get her in trouble. She can't help but stumble over dead bodies and leave well enough alone. She is smart and determined to find justice for everyone at no matter the cost. 

Hattie's employer, Sir Arthur, is unexpectedly called back to England for an ill family member when they arrive in Newport for the summer season. Sir Arthur's wife has no need for Hattie's services, so she arranges for Hattie to be a society madam's social secretary. Hattie soon finds herself out of her depths as she is not used to arranging parties and social events. However, due to Hattie's determination to do her job well, she soon learns and finds herself right in the middle of society gossip. When another society madam's husband is found dead, her employer asks Hattie to do some snooping. Of course, Hattie is eager to please her new employer and begins investigating the murder. She has to navigate society and class, labor strikers, and servants to discover who is responsible.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. I have to say it is probably my favorite in this series so far. I really like the way the author has developed Hattie's character and I am anxious to read the next one. I love the mixture of suspects and clues that the author gives to the reader and it kept me guessing until the very end. I will be hosting a stop on the A Deceptive Homecoming blog tour on August 1. A Deceptive Homecoming is the next book in this series and I cannot wait to read it and find out what happens next for Hattie. Make sure that you come back to see what I think about that book. If you love historical mysteries, then this might be a series that you should check into.

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  A Sense of Entitlement
Author:  Anna Loan-Wilsey
Series:  Hattie Davish Mystery #3
Publisher:  Kensington
Publication Date:  June 24, 2014
Pages:  336
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Review: A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady

Description (from cover):

'A thrilling, beautifully written mystery debut that brings Victorian Dublin vividly, passionately to life, drawing readers on a gripping journey of murder and intrigue.

In the 1880's the Dublin Metropolitan Police classified crime in two distinct categories. Political crimes were classed as "special," whereas theft, robbery, and even murder, no matter how terrible, were known as "ordinary."

Dublin, June 1887: The city swelters in a long summer heat wave, the criminal underworld simmers, and with it, the threat of nationalist violence is growing. Meanwhile, the Dublin Castle administration hopes the celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee will pass peacefully. Then, the mutilated bodies of a man and child are discovered in Phoenix Park and Detective Sergeant Joe Swallow steps up to investigate. Cynical and tired, Swallow is a man living on past successes and in need of a win. With the land war at its height, the priority is to contain special crime, and these murders appear to be ordinary--and thus of lesser priority. But when the evidence suggests high-level involvement, and the body count increases, Swallow must navigate the treacherous waters of foolish superiors, political directives, and frayed tempers to solve the case, find the true murderer, and deliver justice.

Written by the former editor of The Irish Times, A June of Ordinary Murders is an accomplished, atmospheric debut that captures the life and essence of Dublin in the 1880's and introduces an unforgettable new sleuth.'

My thoughts:

It took me a little while to get into this book. The first half, I felt was a little more of a background and research for the reader and the second half is the actual thrill ride of a mystery. I did like this book, I just wish the beginning had a little more of the excitement that the second half had. It took me a while longer to get through the first half then it did the second and that bothered me a little. Overall, I thought that this was a well-researched and exciting read. I rarely read historical mysteries set in Ireland and it was a change of scenery for me. I like the political tension that wove through the time period and each page of the book and it really lent an excitable air to the book. The Dublin Metropolitan Police were on edge with nationalists and Fenians trying to make a political stand and it didn't help that members of the royal family were making an appearance in Dublin.

This book starts off with Detective Sergeant Swallow arriving at the scene of a brutal murders of a man and a young boy. The bodies are heavily mutilated and in a disastrous state and it lands on Swallow to discover what exactly happened. Swallow sets out on his murder investigations and soon discovers that there is a whole lot more going on then what meets the eye. He has to deal with corrupt police officers and politicians as well as underworld crime gangs. It seems that no matter what avenue Swallow decides to act upon, he always hits a road block or snag along the way. When it seems that he is getting nowhere, a clue breaks the case wide open and the chase is on.

Overall, I thought that this book was a good debut. I am hoping that there will be more of Swallow in the future as I enjoyed his character and the setting. I think that the author did a fantastic job of creating a scene for the reader and it really drew me into this book. I am hoping that this is the beginning of a new historical mystery series, because it is definitely one that I would love to continue reading. I enjoyed that this was something a little different for me and I can only hope that more books are soon to follow. Update: This is the beginning of a new series. It seems book #2 in this series, The Eloquence of the Dead will be released in the Spring of 2016. Cannot wait to read it!

Overall Rating: 4

Title:  A June of Ordinary Murders
Author:  Conor Brady
Series:  Joe Swallow Mystery #1
Publisher:  Minotaur Books
Publication Date:  April 21, 2015
Pages:  400
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Blog Tour Stop & Review: Name of the Devil by Andrew Mayne

Description (from cover):

'In this electrifying sequel to the crowd-pleasing thriller Angel Killer, magician-turned-FBI agent Jessica Blackwood must once again draw on her past to go up against a brutal murderer desperate for revenge at any price.

After playing a pivotal role in the capture of the Warlock, a seemingly supernatural serial killer--and saving the FBI's reputation in the process--agent Jessica Blackwood can no longer ignore the world she left behind. Formerly a prodigy in a family dynasty of illusionists, her talent and experience endow her with a unique understanding of the power and potential of deception, as well as a knack for knowing when things are not always as they appear to be.

When a church congregation vanishes under mysterious circumstances in rural Appalachia, the bizarre trail of carnage indicates the Devil's hand at work. But Satan can't be the suspect, so FBI consultant Dr. Ailes and Jessica's boss on the Warlock case, Agent Knoll, turn to the ace up their sleeve: Jessica. She's convinced that an old cassette tape holds the key to the mystery, and unraveling the recorded events reveals a troubling act with far-reaching implications. The evil at work is human, and Jessica must follow the trail from West Virginia to Mexico, Miami, and even the hallowed halls of the Vatican.

Can she stop a cold-blooded killer obsessed by a mortal sin--or will she become the next target in a twisted, diabolical game of hunter and prey?...'

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this author's Angel Killer even though this is typically not the type of book that I read. I like to stay with my cozy mysteries and historical fiction, but this author is quite impressive. I really like this series as I feel that I am always in for a treat. I will say that I didn't enjoy this one quite as much as the first one, but nevertheless, this was a fun and exciting read. Jessica Blackwood is back again. She's got another crazy serial killer that is using religion to find the victims. Is there some sort of supernatural demon on the loose or just a deranged killer? It is up to Jessica and the rest of the FBI team to discover what exactly is going on. Unfortunately, for Jessica this killer has some high connections that might get in her way.

I like the way that this author writes. He uses Jessica's past and the present to weave together a story that leaves the reader wanting more. I was on the edge of my seat a lot with this book and I hardly ever wanted to put it down. I really like the way that the author created this series and made his main character a little different from the norm. Yes, Jessica is an FBI agent, but she has a past in the magic show realm and comes from an illusionist dynasty. Jessica uses her FBI training and her nonconventional magical training to track down murderers and help save the world one day at a time.

If you really like thrillers that will keep you up late at night dying to know what happens next, then this is most definitely the series for you. I cannot get enough and I am anxious to see what is in store for the next mystery. I like these books because they are different and psychological in a way and make you think outside the box. Another well done book from the creative and engaging Andrew Mayne.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Name of the Devil
Author:  Andrew Mayne
Series:  Jessica Blackwood Mystery #2
Publisher:  Bourbon Street Books
Publication Date:  July 7, 2015
Pages:  432
Genre:  Mystery/Thriller
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

He's a magician, a paranormal illusionist, an inventor and an unapologetic prankster. He’s been one of magic’s best kept secret. Andrew Mayne started off on a promising career in magic as a teenager when he became the second youngest illusionist to ever embark on a world tour (The first one being another upstart by the name of David Copperfield).

During his tour he performed in resorts, on luxury liners and exotic locales around the world. Five years later, at the ripe old age of twenty-three, he decided it was time for a career change. Bored with putting beautiful girls into boxes only to be cut in half, the sequins and the other clich├ęd trappings of magic, Andrew decided to call it quits on anything that was beginning to look like a normal career in magic.

Although an established performer at the top of his career, there wasn’t a place for the kind of magic Andrew really wanted to perform. To his booking agents chagrin, he decided to delve behind the scenes and see what kind of boundaries he could push.

This has been a stop on the Name of the Devil book tour presented by TLC Book Tours. Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour!

Tuesday, July 7th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, July 8th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, July 9th: 5 Minutes For Books
Friday, July 10th: Ace and Hoser Blook
Monday, July 13th: Bibliotica
Tuesday, July 14th: Girl Lost in a Book
Wednesday, July 15th: Priscilla and her Books
Thursday, July 16th: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies
Monday, July 20th: Always With A Book
Monday, July 20th: Mystery Playground
Tuesday, July 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, July 22nd: Why Girls Are Weird
Thursday, July 23rd: Bibliophilia, Please

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through TLC Book Tours and Edelweiss. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Description (from cover):

'The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird become both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior--to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.'

My thoughts:

This book is one of my favorites ever. With Harper Lee's new book, Go Set a Watchman coming out tomorrow, I wanted to reread this book and reacquaint myself with this work as it has been quite a couple of years since I have read it. I love this story because it shows how the innocence of childhood knows no boundaries, no color and most of all, no hate. I find it ironic that this book is once again in the news in a time where racial tensions are so rampant. This book is based on racial tensions in the South and it really hit home for me personally due to all the issues with race in the news today. It was interesting to see how a book set 80 years ago shows the same racial tensions that we face still everyday. Of course, times have changed somewhat and now people have rights that were previously denied to them, but race is still a huge factor today.

This book is told by Scout Finch, a nine-year-old girl living with her brother and father in a small Alabama town. Scout is aware of her surroundings but doesn't understand really what is going on around her. She is thrust into the spotlight when her lawyer father, Atticus Finch, is appointed to represent a young African-American man who has been accused of rape.  This is the story of how race turns people Scout and her family have known their whole lives into strangers. While the circumstances of this book might be hard for some people to swallow, I think this is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It goes to show that when we are young, we have no prejudices or preconceptions of people and who they are based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. If only we all had the mindset of children when it came to these matters, I feel that the world would definitely be a better place.

I am a paralegal by trade and while I enjoy legal thrillers, this book isn't one. Of course there is the courtroom drama, which is somewhat what I remember this book for, but this is about how people and things influence our biases and how we treat people differently due to those thoughts. This book has opened my eyes once again to how I should view the world and the people who are in it. No one chooses to be who they are, but they are what and who they are and we shouldn't judge people based on that. This book is truly one of those books that is life changing and will leave an impact not only in your mind, but within the depths of your soul.

Overall Rating: 5+

Title:  To Kill A Mockingbird
Author:  Harper Lee
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date:  October 11, 1988 (Reprint)
Pages:  384
Genre:  Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Review: The Final Sacrament by James Forrester

Description (from cover):

'One secret will be his undoing...

1566: When religious tensions, political intrigue, and personal vendettas collide, nothing is sacred. Driven by revenge and zealotry, Catholic rebels kidnap the family of William Harley, Clarenceux King of Arms and herald to her majesty.

In exchange for his wife and daughter's release, they demand the one document that has the potential to topple Queen Elizabeth and thrust England into civil war. The Final Sacrament test the bonds of Clarenceux's love and loyalty. Will he sacrifice queen and country to save those dearest to him, or will he left them die at the hands of his enemies for the good of the nation?

The final novel in Forrester's thrilling trilogy highlights the adventure and spiritual struggles of Elizabethan England and delivers a dramatic conclusions to the Clarenceux saga.'

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy Sacred Treason  and The Roots of Betrayal so I have to say that I was a little disappointed in this book. I was most disappointed in the outcome, but I understand why the author had to end it that way. I like William's character and it was nice to read this book to conclude the trilogy. I will say that it's best to read the books in the series in order and around the same time as the others. It was a little hard for me to get into this one because it has been a while since I read the other books in the series. At times I felt a little lost and struggled to remember what had happened previously in the other novels in the series. It wasn't a bad read, I just highly recommending that you read everything close together as I feel that it would have made a lot more sense to me.

This is the third book in the Clarenceux trilogy and it was a nice ending. I appreciate the author's writing style as it is sort of a historical thriller. It was interesting to see how everything turned out for the characters and while I hate to see a good series end, it still was fun reading. The author does a fantastic job of creating a historical thriller rich in detail and history. I particularly enjoyed the author's afterword about writing historical fiction. It really made a lot sense to me as I read a lot of historical fiction and opened my eyes to the struggles of a historical fiction author. The part that disappointed me the most was the ending and the fact that this book wasn't as fast paced as its predecessors. This one dragged on a little and didn't really start picking up until the last part. I felt that the other books hit the ground running and I was little disappointed that this one lacked that aspect.

Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed this series and recommend it to lovers of Tudor fiction. It was nice to read something a little different and it opened my eyes to a whole different side of historical fiction. To be honest, I usually tend to read female historical authors and it was a nice breath of fresh air to read something different for once. I say give this series a shot, just read them in order and one right after the other. I think because I didn't it made it a little harder for me to enjoy this one as much as the other two.

Overall Rating: 3.5

Title:  The Final Sacrament
Author:  James Forrester
Series:  Clarenceux Trilogy #3
Publisher:  Sourcebook Landmark
Publication Date:  October 22, 2013
Pages:  496
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Blog Tour Post, Review & Giveaway: The Case of the Dotty Dowager by Cathy Ace

Description (from cover):

'Meet the Women of the WISE Enquiries Agency. The first in a new series...

Henry Twyst, eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth, is convinced his mother is losing her marbles. She claims to have seen a corps on the dining-room floor, but all she has to prove it is a bloodied bobble hat.

Worried enough to retain the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency--one is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English--Henry wants the strange matter explained away. But the truth of what happened at the Chellingworth Estate, set in the rolling Welsh countryside near the quaint village of Anwen by Wye, is more complex, dangerous, and deadly, than anyone could have foreseen...'

My thoughts:

I really tried my hardest to like this book and I just couldn't get into it. I didn't like the characters, the plot was horrific and it was some of the most spastic reading that I have read in a while. I tend to love English mysteries, but this one was a disaster. I hate to say it because I did sign up for this blog tour and I really wanted to like it, but I cannot lie and I do not do so on this blog. This blog is a safe haven for my opinions on the books that I personally read and while others might disagree, that is not my purpose here. I write this blog to share my experiences while reading a book and while it might not appease other people, I don't write this blog to sugarcoat anything. Anyways, let me get off my little soapbox. 

I found this mystery to be farfetched and chaotic. The chapters are never in the same person's point-of-view and go back and forth between the characters. I got that because you are dealing with a bunch of different characters, but sometimes it just didn't flow well or even make sense to me. The mystery was weird and ended kind of strangely. I would have liked to have seen more interaction with the characters and actually solving the mystery and less of other nonsensical stuff that the author felt I needed to be aware of. This was hardly anything like I thought it would be and I felt that it is something that I most likely will not continue with. 

I hate that I didn't like it because this is something that falls right into my type of reading. I go gaga over English mysteries and I thought that this book was something like that. Yes, it does take place in the United Kingdom, but that's about all I enjoyed. Definitely was majorly disappointed in this book all around and I just don't know if I have anything at all to say that I enjoyed about it. I utterly hate when this happens as I know how much a book is the heart and soul of an author. I wanted to like it, I really did, I just couldn't.

Overall Rating: 1

Title:  The Case of the Dotty Dowager
Author:  Cathy Ace
Series:  WISE Enquiries Agency Mystery #1
Publisher:  Severn House Publishers
Publication Date:  July 1, 2015
Pages:  224
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Born and raised in Swansea, South Wales, Cathy is, like her heroine Cait Morgan, now a Canadian citizen. “Cait’s Welsh Canadian, as am I. They say ‘write what you know’, so a short, plus-sized Welsh woman, who’s quite bossy, fits the bill! But Cait and I are not one and the same: she’s got skills and talents I don’t possess, and I’m delighted to say that I don’t usually encounter corpses wherever I go! I’ve also chosen to burrow even deeper into my roots by creating a new cast of characters in the WISE women who come from all four corners of the United Kingdom and work in a uniquely British setting – a ducal estate set in the rolling Welsh countryside of the Wye Valley in Powys, where I spent a good deal of time when I was young.”

With a successful career in marketing having given her the chance to write training courses and textbooks, Cathy has now finally turned her attention to her real passion: crime fiction. Her short stories have appeared in multiple anthologies. Two of her works, “Dear George” and “Domestic Violence”, have also been produced by Jarvis & Ayres Productions as “Afternoon Reading” broadcasts for BBC Radio 4.

This has been a stop on The Case of the Dotty Dowager blog tour hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Make sure you stop by all of the other stops.

July 6 – A Chick Who Reads
July 7 – Girl Lost In a Book
July 9 – Jane Reads
July 10 – Back Porchervations
July 12 – Brooke Blogs

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

Description (from cover):

'London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own seances after leaving a final message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead--at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot sake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie's uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues--a force determined to bury the truth and whoever seeks to expose it...'

My thoughts:

I sometimes like to read books that feature ghosts and the supernatural. I have read a couple of the other books by this author and when I came across this one, it sounded interesting. I will say that I was left a little disappointed. At times I felt confused and that the story was rushed. The ending was a little confusing and seemed to be thrown together at the last moment. Overall, I enjoyed the writing style, just the plot was a little spastic towards the end. I thought that this was going to be more of ghost story, but it really wasn't. It features Ellie Winter who is a psychic who is solving the murder of her former friend and rival, Gloria Sutter.

Gloria was well-known as a psychic with real powers. She had numerous well-known clients and was quite successful. Right before Gloria was murdered, she sent a cryptic note to her former friend and psychic rival to help solve her murder should anything happen to her. Of course, by the time Ellie receives the note, Gloria is dead by the hands of a silent killer. Even though Gloria and Ellie had their ups and downs, Ellie feels that she owes it to Gloria to help try to hunt down her killer and seek justice for her one-time friend. Ellie starts to investigate and then is joined by handsome psychic investigator, James Hawley. Hawley and Ellie have a tumultuous past and they must put aside their differences to help solve a heinous crime.

I was disappointed in this book. I enjoyed the author's book An Inquiry Into Love and Death and enjoyed it so I guess I was expecting something along that caliber. I won't say that this book was horrible, because it was an easy read and drew me in at first, but the ending was so jumbled and rushed that I really felt that it didn't make a lot of sense. I was expecting somewhat a different ending and was a little shocked as how scattered everything was. I am curious to see how others felt about the ending of this book and wonder if they thought that it made sense or left them confused like I felt?

Overall Rating: 2

Title:  The Other Side of Midnight
Author:  Simone St. James
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  NAL
Publication Date:  April 7, 2015
Pages:  336
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was selected from the library by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.
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