After leading a globe-trotting, itinerant life for years, Lily Ivory has finally settled down to run a vintage clothing store in the Haight-Ashbury diAfter leading a globe-trotting, itinerant life for years, Lily Ivory has finally settled down to run a vintage clothing store in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. She's making friends and enjoying the quirkiness of the area that helps camouflage her own powerful talent for witchcraft. Then one day, a child is kidnapped and a client dies under mysterious supernatural circumstances. Despite her reluctance to get involved and reveal her talents, Lily can't let the evil go unchecked, and she dives head first into a paranormal battle to save the little girl from La Llorona.
The first book in this cozy mystery series felt more like an urban fantasy where the main character happens to solve a suspicious death and save an abducted child. I liked it once I got used to the idea that it wouldn't be as lighthearted as either of Heather Blake's magical cozy mystery series--this series has a more "realistic" depiction of witchcraft, with detailed recipes for brews, spells, charms, etc.
The budding romance angle was appealing to me--I like Max and think the relationship could work if he softens his stance on the (non)existence of magic. I do not like the character Aidan, the male witch. He seriously creeps me out, not the least of which due to his unnatural charisma. I hope future volumes of this series reveal more of his secrets--I feel sure he's got nefarious ulterior motives.
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary. There are a few mild swear words and a couple of creepy-atmosphere scenes, but no sex or graphic violence. It is a cozy mystery, but it feels a little darker (or perhaps more serious?) than other cozies, even other cozies featuring some type of magic or witchcraft. Fans of the TV show "Charmed" would most likely enjoy this series....more
Just as things are getting back to normal at Java Jive, the Nashville coffee shop Juliet Langley manages for her best friend Pete, Juliet's neighbor iJust as things are getting back to normal at Java Jive, the Nashville coffee shop Juliet Langley manages for her best friend Pete, Juliet's neighbor is killed and one of her employees (the neighbor's roommate) goes missing during her shift. Juliet and Pete are determined to find her before she ends up becoming the next victim. Ryder's recent promotion to homicide detective complicates his on-again/off-again relationship with Juliet.
I liked this one MUCH better than book #2. Except for the love...rectangle(?) that drove me nuts. I still hate that Ms. Fardig wrote herself back into a mess instead of developing Juliet and Pete's long-standing-but-suppressed love for each other. Their attempts to date other people will never be successful if they are too cowardly to explore the possibilities of a meaningful romantic relationship with each other first. And once they give their own relationship a chance, there will be no need to date anyone else anyway!
At least the secondary characters were more consistent and logical. I suspected the plasticized Dr. was fishy early on, so thankfully the big reveal wasn't as out of left field as in the previous book.
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, character secondary. There is plenty of swearing, but most of the sex happens off-screen. There is a bit of violence, but it's not too graphic....more
Corene grew up as a princess in the royal court of Welce, believing she had a decent chance of becoming the next queen. When that changes, she is leftCorene grew up as a princess in the royal court of Welce, believing she had a decent chance of becoming the next queen. When that changes, she is left without direction or purpose and decides to make a big change to demonstrate her independence. Stowing away aboard a ship headed for Malinqua and a chance to become a queen there by marrying one of the empress's three nephews seems like a grand adventure...until she realizes the current ruler is playing a mysterious game of her own, and the visiting princesses competing for the throne are more like pampered hostages than guests. Still, the chance to reinvent herself gives Corene the opportunity to make close friends--something she's never really had before. Along with Foley, her steadfast bodyguard, Corene and her new friends must uncover the secrets hidden by members of Malinqua's court if they are to survive the struggle for succession.
Corene wasn't my favorite character in the first two books, although she definitely grew on me as Ms Shinn developed her character and gave glimpses of the hurting girl beneath the spoiled behavior. She really gets her chance to grow up and shine in this volume of the series, though! Her impulsive behavior at the beginning definitely fit with the developmental stage of an older teenager, but by the end of the story, I kept thinking she was older than her chronological age.
Interestingly, none of the primary characters in this book has magical abilities, unlike in the two previous volumes. This makes for a different feel to the story. Not better, not worse--just different.
For readers' advisors: character and setting doorways are primary, story and language strong secondary doorways. Sharon Shinn is a master of world-building! The 3 mild swear words--2 in the same sentence--are the reason I hesitate to mark this book as "clean reads." There are strong elements of romance and murder mystery, although not enough to label them as either of those genres, especially romance since the story would remain even if the romance between Corene and Foley were removed. Book #3 in this series starts off at a leisurely pace that intensifies as it progresses toward the suspenseful climax. Despite the entire book taking place outside Welce, it still should be read in series order so as to fully understand and appreciate the history and context. ...more
Marley McKinney came to the tiny coastal town of Wildwood Cove to spend a couple of weeks running her Cousin Jimmy's restaurant while he recuperated iMarley McKinney came to the tiny coastal town of Wildwood Cove to spend a couple of weeks running her Cousin Jimmy's restaurant while he recuperated in the hospital. When he is murdered right after returning to town, Marley struggles to help the police uncover the culprit without becoming the next victim.
What I liked about the first book in this new series: *It was set on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula. *The story was interesting, with a few twists and turns.
What I didn't like: *The budding relationship between Marley and her former crush, Brett, felt too obvious and artificial. *The dilemma of whether to stay in Wildwood or return to Seattle would have been much more convincing if her life in Seattle didn't sound so lonely & unfulfilling. *The writing felt very amateurish in many places. Ms. Fox's editor should have helped her tighten her language and eliminate the zillions of repetitions (& variations) of the phrases "spinning thoughts" and "filled my mind." For example, on page 2 of chapter 3, there is an entire paragraph listing questions that Marley is thinking about, followed by a completely unnecessary one-sentence paragraph stating, "Those questions circled around and around in my head." Thank you, Captain Obvious! Removing that extraneous sentence would make the story flow much better, and this is just one example of many.
Bottom line: The series has promise, but it needs more polish.
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, setting secondary. It's a cozy mystery, so a couple of kisses but no sex, graphic violence, or profanity.
I read an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review....more
Business is pretty good at the coffee shop Juliet Langley manages for her best friend Pete Bennett, until Juliet stumbles over the body of Pete's girlBusiness is pretty good at the coffee shop Juliet Langley manages for her best friend Pete Bennett, until Juliet stumbles over the body of Pete's girlfriend in the tent/booth Java Jive was to staff at a benefit race that morning. When Pete is arrested for murder, Juliet goes on the offensive, determined to clear his name, despite repeated admonitions from her boyfriend, Detective Ryder Hamilton, to stay out of it and let the police do their job. Not listening to him nearly costs Juliet her life.
The second book in the series got off to a rocky start with me when the main character cracked a potty joke worthy of a 12 year old boy in the first scene. Yet we're to believe Juliet and Pete are adults?
I'd hoped it would get better, but I read for character, and I was stunned by the choices Ms. Fardig made between the first and second books in her series. For example, she wrote herself back INTO a corner with the Juliet/Pete/Ryder love triangle, which made no sense. At the end of book #1, Pete and Juliet finally get together and begin to acknowledge that each has been pining for the other for a dozen years, yet two months later when book #2 begins, they've long since broken up and agreed to be "just friends"? For real? No. Finding that navigating a romantic relationship while maintaining a professional one is harder than they thought, OK, but giving up and resuming previous patterns of behavior? No. And Pete picking right back up with his stuck up, bitchy, jealous (ex)girlfriend? HUH?? Also, NO. We're supposed to believe he would rather date someone who treats people, including him, like garbage instead of his best friend who he's been head-over-heels in love with for over a decade? Seriously? No.
So many of the things Juliet says and does in this book are downright idiotic. I had a hard time rooting for someone so immature and lacking in impulse control. The Redheaded She-Devil concept was at least funnier in the first book. This time around I found myself gritting my teeth and wishing she would grow up and think things through for a change.
The secondary characters in book #2 also lack internal consistency. It felt to me like Ms. Fardig started writing the book one way and then couldn't figure out who the killer was and so forced her characters to contort in order to come up with an ending. Particularly the unexpected twist near the end that revealed the murderer--my jaw dropped, and not in a good way.
I did appreciate the section of the book set in Nashville's Centennial Park, as I was just there earlier this summer and visited the Parthenon replica, so I could picture those scenes much more vividly than I would have been able to in the past. I also enjoyed the glimpse into Ryder's past as he took Juliet to the Christmas tree farm.
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary. There is a ton of swearing, but usually pretty mild as swearing goes. The sex and most of the violence happens off-screen....more
Rachel Monroe has a secret. Well, two related ones, really: she can make wishes come true, and when she was 10, she accidentally wished her brother woRachel Monroe has a secret. Well, two related ones, really: she can make wishes come true, and when she was 10, she accidentally wished her brother would get lost. Which he did. Permanently. Now no one remembers he ever existed except for Rachel, and she spent years in therapy because of it. That one careless moment shattered her family, and ever since then, Rachel has been doing her best to hide from her ability. She thinks she has succeeded until the day she accidentally grants the wish of her best friend's daughter to have a unicorn--or a pony with a party hat on its forehead, anyway--and Rachel decides to flee in order to protect those she loves.
Magic isn't so easily evaded, however, and Rachel soon finds herself out of gas in the small town of Nowhere, North Carolina, taken in by an eccentric old woman who can bind secrets by baking them into pies and who is harboring secrets of her own. She meets new friends, gets a job, and is starting to fall in love with the next door neighbor. For the first time in her life, Rachel begins to feel at home, which is a good thing, because the town won't let her leave. Not the townspeople--the Town itself. Since she can't run away again, when word of her wish-granting secret gets out, she has to come to terms with her ability in order to avoid continuing to live a life of fear and guilt.
This is a good choice for fans of Sarah Addison Allen, as it had a similar feel and concepts (semi-sentient fruit trees, anyone?). There were quirky and engaging characters, a charming town, and magic in the air. A delightful read, to be sure.
It would make an excellent book club selection--there were so many times I wished I could discuss this book with someone! For example, does anyone else feel like there should have been more significance to the poisoned plum tree--how it got poisoned and what might have happened when it was ripped out? Or Rachel's family photo--I was surprised Rachel didn't use it as proof both with her parents at the time of the accident as well as with Ashe when the truth about her brother came out.
This book also made me want to eat pie. Lots of pie. Sadly, the ARC I received from Bookbrowse/the publisher in exchange for my honest review didn't include any. *sigh* Ah well.
For readers' advisors: character, story, and setting doorways were all strong. There is a fair amount of swearing, which didn't bother me but might bother some people (things like "damn" and "bat-shit crazy"). Some kissing, touching, and removal of a shirt but no actual sex scenes. No violence. ...more
Jane Hayes hasn't had much success in the boyfriend department--she's been dumped a dozen times over the years, sometimes quite painfully. She takes rJane Hayes hasn't had much success in the boyfriend department--she's been dumped a dozen times over the years, sometimes quite painfully. She takes refuge in her favorite movie, Pride and Prejudice. (The real one, a.k.a. the BBC version starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.) Fantasy men like Mr. Darcy don't let you down like real men. Even so, she's reluctant to claim the inheritance left to her by her Aunt Carolyn: an all-expenses paid 3-week trip to Austenland in the UK where she'll live as Jane Austen and her characters did.
Jane eventually decides to make the most of her vacation, using it to immerse herself in her fantasy, thereby putting it to rest forever. Despite having sworn off men forever, Jane finds herself teasing the irritating Mr. Nobley, one of the male actors, and snogging Martin, a handsome gardener, and realizes she not only isn't ready to give up men, she likes the new freer Jane, who isn't so obsessed with finding The One. However, in a world where everyone's playing a role, how do you know what's real and what's not?
I saw and loved the movie a couple of years ago, not realizing it was based on a novel. I did enjoy reading the book, although I think I actually like the movie a little bit better, despite how closely the movie follows the novel. (I usually prefer the books!) It is a good beach read type of book--light and often humorous.
My younger self could really relate to Jane, although my current self wishes someone would smack her upside the head and remind her that there isn't anything wrong with being single, especially when the alternative is accepting a bad relationship like a needy ninny. In most respects, Jane is successful, and I wish she could SEE that and be more self-confident (ironically a trait that would almost certainly attract a better mate for her). My favorite part of the book was actually witnessing Jane rediscover her joy as a painter. I wish more authors would write stories about people who are happy, confident, and single. It can be done! The best romance authors often tell stories about characters who enjoy their lives and then happen to meet and fall in love with someone.
For readers' advisors: character doorway is primary. There is virtually no swearing and only kissing/making out (no sex). No violence, other than a small tussle in the airport....more
Sweet story of a bear cub experiencing the colors of his world with his mama by his side. My toddler asked me to read it over and over and over and ovSweet story of a bear cub experiencing the colors of his world with his mama by his side. My toddler asked me to read it over and over and over and over....more
FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare has been hunting down the elusive con artist Nick Fox for three years. She's almost 87% sure she's located his latest scFBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare has been hunting down the elusive con artist Nick Fox for three years. She's almost 87% sure she's located his latest scheme, and she is determined to catch him this time. Kate believes Nick is pretending to be Merrill Stubing, wedding planner for the King of Hostile Takeovers and his sexy fiancee. Question is, will she get permission to raid the wedding before Nick's crew makes off with the valuables? Or will Nick glide past her team yet again?
Turns out I'd already read this novella, but listening to it was just as fun and took less than an hour--perfect for commuting. Mostly it's a quick chase story that plays in the mind like an action movie (only with fewer bullets and no car crashes).
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary. No sex or violence. Don't remember any swearing, although there might have been a stray "damn" somewhere or something similar. As suspense/action stories go, this one is light and humorous....more
Super-duper short story. The entertaining tale of one of FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare's many attempts to capture con artist extraordinaire Nick Fox--Super-duper short story. The entertaining tale of one of FBI Special Agent Kate O'Hare's many attempts to capture con artist extraordinaire Nick Fox--one that failed by just a whisker. This one is set in old town Seattle, and is particularly fun for anyone who's taken their Underground tour. Easily readable in just a few minutes. Available online only: http://www.evanovich.com/books/the-caper/.
For readers' advisors: story doorway. Very fast-paced, quick read for fans of the Kate O'Hare/Nick Fox series. No sex or violence, and the only swearing is "Holy crap!" ...more
The follow-up story to The Quiltmaker's Gift, this picture book tells how the quiltmaker transformed from an unhappy, sheltered rich girl to a generouThe follow-up story to The Quiltmaker's Gift, this picture book tells how the quiltmaker transformed from an unhappy, sheltered rich girl to a generous woman who lives alone on a mountain sewing beautiful quilts for the poor.
The illustrations are gorgeous and captivate my toddler, making it one of her favorites to read over and over. The story is lovely overall, although I find myself making snarky mental comments about the plot holes (for example: if everyone in the town was rich, did that include the myriad servants, and if so, why didn't they quit?). There is a lot of text, which makes it better for older children, so most of the time I use the pictures to tell an abridged version of the story at bedtime.
Themes: generosity, poverty, animal helpers, use your life...more