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Tag: "mystery"

Review: No Strings by Marc SaFranko

[ 2 ] January 26, 2015

no strings book coverReviewed by Rebecca Donatelli

One of the best parts of reading a book is going through the first few pages and immediately knowing if you are going to catch on, sink in and enjoy the ride. SaFranko’s writing style, his humor and sarcasm, comes to life throughout No Strings and even though I did not want to like Richard Martzen’s character, I inadvertently did.

Richard, a typical man who thinks he can go under the radar undetected, hatches a fool-proof love affair with Gretchen. Richard is bored and boring, lonely and has nothing better to do with his time other than create a new life outside of the one he has a responsibility to. He appears to have it all and when they say that “money can’t buy happiness,” Richard lives up to that. The problem with Richard’s plan is that Gretchen goes missing and a mess ensues, turning things deadly.

The book was a quick read for me, suspenseful and somewhat humorous. Richard is unlikeable but SaFranko’s writing style is quite the opposite. This is a classic story of not being able to have your cake and eat it too and who hasn’t wanted both before in life? I read that SaFranco had initially written this as a short story and eventually pursued it further to make it into a novel and I am so glad he did. If you are looking to be sucked in from line one, this is a great read.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Rebecca is passionate and insane, empathetic and aggressive, loud and predictable. She loves reading, writing, shopping and creating. She is what she is and it may not be what the world wants but it is what it is. Love.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Thomas & Mercer. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Murder on the Ile Sordou by M. L. Longworth

[ 4 ] January 19, 2015

murder on the ile sordou book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Murder on the Ile Sordou is the 4th book in the Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery series. I will say that it was a VERY French mystery. It would also fall under the cozy mysteries category. I think there was almost as much time spent discussing the food being served as there was on character building.

We meet most of the characters one at a time and get little glimpses into their past and who they are. Well, most of them anyway. Several are conspicuously left blank as a mystery, and are mostly described by how they are perceived by the rest.

Antoine and Marine, our protagonists, are off to have a nice vacation together at a newly re-opened high-class hotel on a small remote island off the coast of Marseille. The proprietors Max and Cat-cat Le Bon have just spent a small fortune refurbishing the place, much of it their life savings, and that of a couple investors. One of the investors is an old school chum of Antoine’s and is also there for the grand re-opening.

There was a limited but wide-ranging cast of individuals. A washed up actor, his trophy wife, and her teenage son. A retired school teacher, Marine’s best friend and an American couple. There was also the hired help who came from varied background. The innocent local girl, the ex-con, the hot dock boy plus a couple others. And lets not forget the crazy local who takes care of the historic lighthouse.

The actual murder took place fairly far into the book giving me a pretty good idea of who the victim was going to be–mostly because he was the one most readers would want to see die! There were several different suspects for several very different reasons. However, if you are paying attention it will appear pretty obvious who did it and even why. I didn’t consider this one a big mystery, but more of an interesting story of one man’s fate that he brought upon himself.

Overall, I found the writing to be very good. I enjoyed the story and I think it will appeal to many with its simple plot and focus on the food for each meal.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Oracles of Delphi by Marie Savage

[ 11 ] January 8, 2015

oracles of delphi book coverPlease join Marie Savage, author of Oracles of Delphi, as she tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

Enter to win a copy below – open to US residents only

Reviewed by Jessa Larsen

Althaia, her tutor, Theron, and her loyal servant, Praxis, are on a trip to Delphi in order to fulfill her late father’s last wish as well as to enjoy time away from her tiresome, neglectful husband. Unfortunately, the quest to discover exactly what her father’s wishes might have been has been interrupted by the discovery of a dead young woman on the alter of Dionysos, in the theater of the Sacred Precinct. The priests immediately accuse Theron, which cannot be true, or is it? Althaia soon discovers that his, previously unknown, twin sister is a rival priestess in Delphi, and she wonders what Theron’s true motives for arriving in Delphi at this pivotal time might be.

The trio soon finds themselves tangled up in a struggle for power that has been going on since the ancient times. A fight between the two most powerful oracles of Delphi, for control of ancient sacred grounds. As Theron’s past comes to the surface, Althaia finds herself torn between a man she thought to be like family and a potential new suitor by the name of Niokmachos, who may hold dangerous secrets of his own. Will love triumph? Does family mean more than blood relations? Althaia is on a quests to find out.

Oracles of Delphi is an impressive mix of murder mystery and Greek mythologies, with a hint of Egyptian mythology as well. It took me a minute to keep all the characters straight, but I tend to have that issue with complicated foreign names in general. Once I got the gist of who’s who, I was sucked right in. I love mythologies and am already familiar with a lot of the lore, but I think Oracles of Delphi is enjoyable for any reader who likes mysteries, whether they know the myths or not. It wasn’t over the top, but just enough to give depth to each characters and their potential motives.

Oracles of Delphi is the first book Marie Savage has written as a solo author; she has a few other titles as a collaborative author with her daughters under the name K. Makansi. I, for one, am glad to see her branch out on her own and hope to see more from Marie Savage in the future. Oracles of Delphi was amazing and I fully recommend it.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.

Review and giveaway copies were provided by Blank Slate Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison

[ 3 ] January 7, 2015

honeychurch hall book coverReviewed by Meghan H.

I am a huge fan of mysteries. They are so much fun to read, and a great way to exercise those “little gray cells.” Whenever I find one that peaks my interest, I grab it up. Murder at Honeychurch Hall was one of those books.

The first thing that caught my eye about this book – after the title – was the cover. The author really took great care when she had this created and the detail is incredible. There’s a small dog, a brick path surrounded by gardens and, in the background, you can see Honeychurch Hall. (It wasn’t until I was actually reading the descriptions of the house in the book that I noticed the boarded windows and scaffolding.)  The cover really got my attention and made me very curious about the mystery that would come in the pages.

This was definitely an enjoyable read. The characters were a lot of fun to get to know, especially Kat and her mom, Iris. The people that lived on the property and in the home were really interesting as well – and well written. I felt like I knew them all when I was done with the book. There were several little mysteries going on as well as the big murder, which made reading the book even more fun. The secrets everyone was keeping from each other, plus the twists and turns of the mysteries, kept me on my toes–and made it very hard to put the book down. I ended up reading the second half of the book all in one night, staying up until well after 2am wanting – no, needing – to finish and find out what happened. I had some ideas about how the book would end but the actual conclusion…let’s just stay that Ms. Dennison really had me stumped. This is the first of a series and I can’t wait to be able to read book two.

My favorite character was the young boy, Harry.  He was awesome – the kind of kid I would love to hang out with myself – and I really liked the bond that him and Kat had and how quickly they took a liking to each other.

My least favorite character was Kat’s boyfriend but I don’t honestly think I was supposed to like him. The author did a great job writing this character.

The mother and daughter team were great – and in some ways reminded me of my relationship with my mother – but sometimes the way they treated each other really got on my nerves. They did grow, however, as the story went along and that helped me like them more.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Review: Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

[ 4 ] January 3, 2015

die again book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Homicide detective, Jane Rizzoli, and medical examiner, Maura Isles, have arrived at the latest crime scene and are greeted by a crime scene worthy of the king of the jungle, including claw marks on the victim’s body. But, due to the manner in which the corpse was left, it has been determined that only a sinister monster could have taken the infamous big-game hunter, Leon Gott, and left him hanging like one of his own trophies. Did Gott piss off the wrong animal rights activist? Or perhaps the renowned hunter eventually became the hunted?

As Rizzoli and Isles examine the crime scene, they soon realize that Gott is not the first victim and, if they can’t find the killer, he won’t be the last. Based on hunches and incredible instincts, they slowly link this recent murder to a slew of unsolved homicides across the country, including a cold case file in Africa from six years ago when a group of safari tourists fell prey to a killer in their midst. Maura and Jane wonder if the killer has found a new hunting ground and are working on a plan to lure him out of the shadows, before someone else gets hurt.

I didn’t realize, until after reading the snippet on the back of this book, that the TNT series of Rizzoli & Isles was based on a series of novels. I have to admit that the fact made me cringe a little and I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Die Again as much as I did. That being said, I may or may not have to indulge and see what I think of the TNT version of this fabulous duo.

I love a good detective thriller that can actually stump me and Tess Gerritsen did just that. And not only did I get a great thriller but it was also clever and subtle in its big reveal, leaving me surprised and satisfied with the conclusion. I hate when the big “twist” just smacks you in the face and loved that the one in Die Again treated me well. As I mentioned before, I don’t watch the TNT series, but I’m curious enough to possibly check it out. Either way, I definitely want to pick up another novel in the series and have some more adventures with Rizzoli and Isles.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Random House. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr

[ 13 ] January 2, 2015

unquiet bones book coverPlease join Mel Starr, author of The Unquiet Bones, as he tours the blogosphere with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Enter to win a copy below – open to U.S., Canada and Great Britain!

Reviewed by Caleb Shadis

The Unquiet Bones is the first book in the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton and the next six books are already written! I think that is great news and have already put the next two on my wishlist. I also  received the seventh book, The Abbot’s Agreement, to review and it was just as good as the first. So I have high hopes for the intervening five!

Hugh Singleton has a couple older brothers and as such is expected to go out into the world and make his own way. He is smart so his first idea is to join the church and study. But by a twist of fate, he is given a book on medicine and decides to study to become a surgeon instead of a priest. He even travels to Paris to learn the latest techniques and theories.

Hugh uses up the last of his allowance from his father’s estate to learn and get back to England. He sets up shop on a street in Oxford and scrounges for enough to keep himself fed. He has just enough income to keep his belly and his landlord happy until one day he witnesses an accident in the street out front–a noble gets his thigh cut badly from a servant’s horse rearing.

After fixing up the noble, Hugh tells him that in a few weeks he will remove the stitches. He also advises him to watch for specific signs that would require his immediate attention. The wound heals well and when Hugh travels to check up on his patient, he is offered a position in the local village. He is honored and readily accepts. Hugh is soon given the opportunity to prove his worth; when a skeleton is discovered in the castle cesspit Hugh is tasked with investigating.

I thought this was a very well written book and I really enjoyed reading it. For those that have read Sister Fidelma I think these books will fit right in. There is less history and law but still a great story and a pretty good mystery. It’s also hard not to like Hugh de Singleton as the modest hero of the story.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided by Mel Starr. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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