Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

Description (from cover):

'Sophie Kinsella returns to her beloved Shopaholic series with Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) newly arrived in Hollywood and starry-eyed. She and her two-year-old daughter, Minnie, have relocated to L.A. to join Becky's husband, Luke, who is there to handle PR for famous actress Sage Seymour. Becky can't wait to start living the A-list lifestyle, complete with celebrity sightings, complete with celebrity sightings, yoga retreats, and shopping trips to Rodeo Drive. But she really hopes to become a personal stylist--Sage's personal stylist--if only Luke would set up an introduction. Then, unexpectedly, Becky is offered the chance to dress Sage's archrival, and though things become a bit more complicated, it's a dream come true.

Red carpet premieres, velvet ropes, paparazzi clamoring for attention--suddenly Becky has everything she's ever wanted.

Or does she?'

My thoughts:

I have been reading this series since it began many years ago. As always, I enjoy reading these book and love Becky's character. She is absolutely a remarkable and memorable character. She is quirky and funny and I always find myself laughing at her antics. She is so gullible, yet she has such a good heart. It seems that Becky and Luke have been traveling the world in this series and this book finds us in the middle of Hollywood. If you know anything about Becky, can you just imagine her in Hollywood? With celebrities on every corner and shopping all over, this seems like Becky's dream come true. Becky is determined to fit it and make her mark on Hollywood as we have all come to expect from her and it is no less than amusing.

This is "chick-lit" at its best. I have always turn to Sophie Kinsella or her other pen name, Madeline Wickham, for a good and fun read. How could one not love Becky's character and her knack for finding disaster and drama. Becky is trying to fit in in Hollywood, while Luke is all business as usual. We find her making friends with celebrities and trying to pursue a career in styling Hollywood's biggest stars. Of course, nothing ever goes as planned and soon Suze, Becky's best friend and her dad are staying with them in Los Angeles. 

It seems that this series never gets old and this book is not any different. It was a quirky and fun read that had me reading late at night. The ending leaves the reader begging to know more, but alas, we have to wait until the next release. I hope that comes soon as it seems that there is a big time gap between book releases in this series. But when it does come out, I am sure to be just as amused and entertained as always by this author. I do recommend that you read this series in order as there is a lot of back story that someone new to the series might miss. And why would anyone want to not read more books featuring Becky?

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  Shopaholic to the Stars
Author:  Sophie Kinsella
Series:  Shopaholic #7
Publisher:  The Dial Press
Publication Date:  October 21, 2014
Pages:  497
Genre:  Fiction
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.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: A Barricade in Hell by Jaime Lee Moyer

Description (from cover):

'Despite the grief of losing her parents in the Great Quake, Delia Martin has been blessed with money, privilege, and all the trappings of happiness that a young woman could ever want. In spite of this, there is a deep sadness that surrounds Delia, for she has been gifted (or some would say cursed) with the ability to peer across to the other side. Since childhood, her constant companions have been ghosts. She used her powers and the help of those ghosts to defeat a twisted serial killer terrorizing her beloved San Francisco. Now it's 1917--the threshold of a modern age--and Delia lives a peaceful life with police captain Gabe Ryan.

That peace shatters when a strange young girl starts haunting their lives and threatening Gabe. Delia tries to discover what this ghost wants as she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding a charismatic evangelist who preaches pacifism and an end to war. But as young people begin to disappear, and audiences display a loyalty and fervor not attributable to simple persuasion, that message of peace reveals a hidden dark side.

As Delia discovers the truth, she faces a choice--take a terrible risk to save her city or chance losing everything.'

My thoughts:

I enjoyed the first book in this series Delia's Shadow so much that I was overly excited to get my hands on the newest addition to the series. Delia's Shadow was one of my favorite reads last year and I had high hopes for this one. I will state early on in this review, that I thought that this book wasn't as good as the first one. I still enjoyed this one, but it just lacked the punch that the first book had. Delia is once again drawn to ghosts and to helping her husband solving murder mysteries. She cannot help it when a ghost of a young girl threatens her and her husband, but to get involved. Nevertheless, Delia has a great band of friends that assist her and keep her safe. But is one truly safe from ghosts and demons and such dark entities? 

Gabe has a new murder mystery on his hands and it all leads back to a pacifist that has been holding rallies in San Francisco. However, when crossed this lady is a force to be reckoned with. She is cunning, smart and not afraid to do harm to make sure that things go her way. Gabe is trying to bring her down, however, she always seems to have the upper hand. Delia and her friend, Isadora, spend a lot of time trying to assist Gabe but they are taking the paranormal route. They both use their finely tuned senses to discover ghosts and demons and learn just how deep and dark evil really is.

There was one incidence in this book where something happens, but then the author never really cleared it up. I am wondering if that was intentional or not. It might play out in the future in this series, but I am still curious as to what happened and why it was never concluded. This was a good read, but I highly recommend reading the first book in this series as there is a lot of back story that the author decides to not cover. I feel that if you read this book first, that you might be a little confused as to the characters and their pasts. Overall, an enjoyable read, but not as good as the first one.

Overall Rating: 3.5

Title:  A Barricade in Hell
Author:  Jaime Lee Moyer
Series:  Delia's Shadow #2
Publisher:  Tor Books
Publication Date:  June 3, 2014
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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith and Lisa Falco

Description (from cover):

'From Steve Hockensmith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, along with tarot expert Lisa Falco--comes a new mystery filled with twists, turns...and tarot!

Much to Alanis McLachlan's surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother's tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died. With help from a hunky cop and her mother's live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through bogus tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother's clients. But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards...and the secrets surrounding her mother's demise.'

My thoughts:

Alanis' character in this book is not the typical cozy mystery character who is all for justice and keeping everyone safe. Alanis is cocky, self-sure and uses her past to determine just who killed her mother. She is surprised to learn that her mother has passed away and left her an inheritance. Alanis didn't speak to her mother for many years and when she learns that she has inherited The White Magic Five and Dime in Berdache, Arizona, well she is curious to say the least. Her mother was a force to be reckoned with when she was alive as she was a notorious con-woman. Alanis can't help but to use what she has learned from her mother to help her solve the mysterious murder of her mother.

I enjoyed this one mainly because the main character was so different and unique from typical cozy mysteries. I will say that it was interesting to learn about tarot and how people can interpret the cards to determine someone's future. As far as a mystery goes, it was just okay. Nothing really too exciting and just an okay debut novel. I have read this author's other book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls and hated it, so I was surprised that I did enjoy this one.

It was interesting to read a cozy mystery that has a different sort of main character, however, this one needed something a little more to make me really like it. I most likely would continue with the series and am curious to see how the author plans to take the series forward. Here's to hoping that the next one is a little more entertaining to read.

Overall Rating: 2.5

Title:  The White Magic Five and Dime
Author:  Steven Hockensmith and Lisa Falco
Series:  Tarot Mystery #1
Publisher:  Midnight Ink
Publication Date:  July 8, 2014
Pages:  336
Genre:  Cozy 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.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review: The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan

Description (from cover):

'It takes more than a lurid legend to scare off the League of Literary Ladies...

For Halloween, the Literary Ladies have chosen to read Washington Irving's spooky classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with its infamous headless horseman. But South Bass Island has its own headless legend--of a Prohibition bootlegger named Charlie "Sleepy" Harlow. Decapitated by rival rumrunners, Harlow appears once a year in spectral form to search for his noggin.

This October, the Elkhart Ghost Getters (EGG) have returned to the island. The group claims that they have film footage of Harlow's ghost, and are determined to get more. They're staying at Bea Cartwright's B and B, but it's Kate Wilder who isn't happy to see them after they trashed her winery last year. When the EGG leader turns up dead, Kate becomes the prime suspect, and the other League members need to scramble to crack the case.'

My thoughts:

I seem to be a little behind with Christmas right around the corner and here I am reading a Halloween-themed cozy mystery. Oh well, story of my life. I typically do not read holiday themed mysteries near the actual holiday that is featured, so this should be no different for me. But at least it is technically still Autumn, so I did actually get the season right. This book is the third installment of the League of Literary Ladies mystery series and I have to say, unfortunately, I enjoyed the first two books better. What drew me into this series in the first place was the fact that the main characters were forced by the local magistrate to participate in a book club. It was the fact that the book that the main characters were reading really played a big role in the actual mystery of the story.

This book does have some references to the Irving classic, but I really didn't enjoy this one as much as its predecessors. Usually, these books have more interaction at the actual book club meeting and there really wasn't that much of that happening in this one. I will say that I really did enjoy the legend and history of Sleepy Harlow as he was a rumrunner during the Prohibition era. I love that time period and it was interesting to see how the author incorporated research into that time period into this novel. However, when it comes to the actual murder and conclusion, well let's just say it's not really a surprise. I had a good hunch that I knew the solution well into the beginning of this book and I ended up being right.

Overall, I would probably say that this is my least favorite in the series so far. I enjoyed the others in this series, but this one really didn't stand up to the usual that I have come to expect of this series. Of course, me being the optimist that I am, I am always hopeful that the next book will be better. I'm curious to see what is the next book that the author will base her next installment on and where the author is going to take her characters. I didn't enjoy this book as much, but I still like the series and can't wait to see what comes next.

Overall Rating: 2.5

Title:  The Legend of Sleepy Harlow
Author:  Kylie Logan
Series:  League of Literary Ladies Mystery #3
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  October 7, 2014
Pages:  304
Genre:  Cozy 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, December 2, 2014

Blog Tour Stop & Review: Spell Booked by Joyce and Jim Lavene

Description (from cover):

'Once upon a time in Wilmington, North Carolina, three witches ran a curio shop named Smuggler's Arcane. But as the years passed, their magical powers started to fade--leaving them no choice but to conjure up a retirement package...

Double, Double Toil and Trouble...

Before they could blink their eyes or twitch their noses, Molly, Elsie, and Olivia somehow become eligible for AARP. But they can't fly off to Boca Raton just yet. First they must give up their magic, recruit and train three new witches, and pass on their cherished spell book.

They've barely begin to consider potential practitioners when Olivia winds up dead and their spell book is stolen. To honor their friend and reclaim their spells, Molly and Elsie are about to go wand-to-wand with a dangerous young witch more powerful than the trio was in their prime. And this time they're going to need more than magic up their sleeves...'

My thoughts:

I love witches and magic, so any book that features witches is one that I am sure to love. I love everything about witches. Something about their history and the fact of the unknown of magic, draws me in every single time. The things that make me think about witches are brewing spells around a cauldron, a witch's hat, a familiar and and a finely attuned sense of nature and magic. Since I can remember I have loved books about witches and magic and if you combine that with my love of cozy mysteries, well it's like a triple threat. These authors have to be some of my favorite cozy mystery writers. I have met them in person, they are so sweet and approachable, yet they write a fantastic mystery. I find myself being drawn over and over to all of their books and simply cannot get enough of their writing style.

This book was a blast to read. I loved the characters and the setting. I am very familiar with the Wilmington area having just spent some vacation time there this summer and it was nice to see some familiar locations popping up in this book. I also liked how the authors spun the whole witch thing in this book. This book doesn't focus on witches creating spells and using magic in their everyday lives. The witches in this book have reached their golden days and their magic is waning. They want to retire and pass on their magical legacies, but they have to find witches that are deemed worthy of them. It was a nice and unique spin on witches that was pleasant to read about.

Molly, Elsie and Olivia have been friends since forever, practicing magic and working at their shop, Smuggler's Arcane for years. Olivia is suddenly murdered, and Elise and Molly are shocked beyond belief that they have lost someone so close to them. They are determined to discover their friend's murderer at any costs. Unfortunately, the meddlesome Witches' Council doesn't seem all that interested in helping, yet they seem to want to impede their investigation. If you are looking for something a little different and unique, yet utterly entertaining, then please do not pass this one up.

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  Spell Booked
Author:  Joyce and Jim Lavene
Series:  Retired Witches Mystery #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  December 2, 2014
Pages:  304
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble


About the Authors:

Joyce and Jim Lavene write bestselling mystery fiction. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family, Quincy, their black cat, Stan Lee their tabby and their rescue dog, Rudi. You can visit them at their website www.joyceandjimlavene.com.



This has been a stop on the Spell Booked Blog Tour hosted by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours. Make sure that you make a stop on all the tour sites as the authors have a very special giveaway. They are giving away a handwritten grimoire of spells, a print copy of Spell Booked, a willow wand, and a velvet bag to carry it in. Every stop will have some clue words in each post that can be put together they make a Witch’s Spell. To enter the giveaway readers will have to collect all the words and put them all together on the giveaway entry form after the last stop. Good Luck everyone!!



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

Monday, December 1, 2014

Review: Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James

Description (from cover):

'New York Times bestselling author Miranda James returns to Athena, Mississippi, with an all-new mystery featuring Miss An'gel and Miss Dickce Ducote, two snoopy sisters who are always ready to lend a helping hand. But when a stressed socialite brings murder right to their doorstep, even they have trouble maintaining their Southern hospitality...

With the Mississippi sun beating down, An'gel and Dickce are taking a break to cool off and pet sit their friend Charlie Harris' cat, Diesel, when their former sorority sister, Rosabelle Sultan, shows up at their door unexpectedly, with her ne'er-do-well adult children not far behind.

Rosabelle's selfish offspring are desperate to discover what's in her will, and it soon becomes clear that one of them would kill to get their hands on the inheritance. Suddenly caught up in a deadly tangle of duplicitous suspects and deep-fried motives, it will take all of the sisters' Southern charm to catch a decidedly ill-mannered killer...'

My thoughts:

The Cat in the Stacks mysteries are quite popular in the cozy mystery world and when I learned that the author was going to be writing a new series, well I wanted to read it. I think fans who love the Cat in the Stacks mystery will really love this new series as it seems to tie in some of the characters from that series into this new one. It really makes me more intrigued and wanting to finally get around to reading that series as it sounds as good as this one was. I love An'gel and Dickce Ducote as characters. They seem like cute old ladies who just can't seem but to find themselves in the midst of trouble and chaos. Of course, their snooping and nosy behavior doesn't really help them stay out of strenuous circumstances. If I had to choose a sister that I liked the best, I would have to say that I really enjoyed Dickce's character. 

I really enjoyed An'gel's character as well, but Dickce's character seemed to intrigue me early on in this book. I like how she defers to her older sister in all things, but that she has a mind of her own and isn't afraid to share it and she doesn't live in her older sister's shadow. Both of these women are spitfires and can charm the heck out of someone. That's what being raised in the South can do. They open up their lovely home to an old sorority sister who has fallen on hard times. Little do they know, their one act of kindness sends them into a pickle of a mess. Soon they find themselves embroiled in a murder mystery and they are determined to rid their house of the killer and this toxic family.

I really enjoyed this book and had a really hard time putting it down. I was left guessing who the murderer was until the very end and I was overly pleased with the outcome. I can't wait to read the next one in this series as I really enjoyed Miranda James' writing style and her characters. James' sets out to prove that her characters may be of the older generation, but that they still got it and can solve mysteries just as well as their younger counterparts. I think that this book would be a fantastic read for lovers of the cozy mystery genre and that it will not disappoint readers at all. I really have to get around to reading the Cat in the Stacks series soon as I have a feeling that series will be just as good as this one.

Overall Rating: 5

Title:  Bless Her Dead Little Heart
Author:  Miranda James
Series:  Southern Ladies Mystery #1
Publisher:  Berkley
Publication Date:  October 7, 2014
Pages:  304
Genre:  Cozy 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.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Review: The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason

Description (from cover):

'Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you're the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood, so to speak.

And when two young society girls disappear--one dead, one missing--there's no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve a murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab.

The pressure is on, and the stakes are high--if Stoker and Holmes don't figure out why London's finest sixteen-year-old women are in danger, they'll become the next victims.'

My thoughts:

I don't typically read young adult fiction, but when I saw that this one was based on the characters of Bram Stoker's sister and Sherlock Holmes' niece, well I was instantly intrigued. I love everything to do with Sherlock Holmes and so a book featuring his logical niece, Mina, was an instant pull for me. I went into this book not knowing what to expect and I thought that the author did a great job of using Bram Stoker and Sherlock Holmes' characters and imagining how their family members might act. The author did her research and it really shows in these characters. I love how Mina was logically-minded like Sherlock is and how Evaline was in tune with vampires. I couldn't have imagined these characters being any different than they were.

I was a little confused as the author did use time travel and steampunk in this book. I was a little mystified by that aspect as I was thinking that this was a book set in the Victorian era based off the history of Sherlock Holmes and Bram Stoker. The author added her own little twists into and I am not sure if they really worked for me. As this book didn't really seem to be overly steampunk or Victorian, it was a weird mixture of both. I think that I would have preferred for it to have been either one or the other and not a mixture, personally. 

I did like the storyline and the ending was a little frustrating. I am overly curious as to see what is next for these two characters who have to struggle with the power their names hold. It was interesting to see how they struggled within themselves to discover who they were and that they were worthy of their heritages. I am curious to see how the next book turns out and I will most definitely tune in to see how it goes. Not something that I overly enjoyed, but it was entertaining enough to warrant a second chance.

Overall Rating: 3

Title:  The Clockwork Scarab
Author:  Colleen Gleason
Series:  Stoker and Holmes Novels #1
Publisher:  Chronicle Books
Publication Date:  September 17, 2013
Pages:  356
Genre:  Young Adult Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

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