Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Skeleton in the Closet (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries, Book 2) by Angie Fox

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

When Verity Long stumbles upon a dead body in the middle of the library, she's placed smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation, and in usual Verity fashion, she's quite determined to get to the bottom of things. With help from her ghost pal Frankie, along with the hunky deputy sheriff Ellis Wydell, Verity visits the "other side" to talk to the library ghosts who may hold some clues as to who killed poor Darla.

But there are no straight answers, and the clues she finds leads her deeper into a mystery that places her in the path of someone who'll go to any lengths to hide the truth. Can Verity and her friends emerge unscathed before the murderer puts an end to them as well?

Like the previous titles in this series, this book was light-hearted and fun with a good dose of mystery. Verity has a joie de vivre that is positively contagious. I would LOVE to hang out with this girl! All the other characters are interesting and well developed as well. I'm looking forward to see how the relationship between Verity and Ellis progresses in future books... and what sort of trouble Verity manages to get herself into next. :)

Thank you to Angie Fox, Season Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, March 25, 2016

REVIEW: A Ghostly Gift: A Southern Ghost Hunter Novella by Angie Fox

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

This was a cute little cozy mystery short story that takes place between books 1 and 2 of the Southern Ghost Hunter Mystery series.

Verity Long can see ghosts, talk to them too thanks to the help of her ghost friend Frankie. Not that she asked for such a disturbing gift—it was simply something she inherited when she inadvertently dumped Frankie's urn out on her rosebushes. But since ditching Sugarland's golden boy at the altar, Verity's graphic design business has taken a hit and she has to take what she can get in order to keep a roof over her head. And if that means helping to clear a ghost from the local antique shop, then so be it.

Verity is extremely funny and likable, as is Frankie the ghost. Together they make for a bit of comic relief in this fun little cozy mystery. Though the story was quite short, it felt complete nonetheless, just a short little detour between the two full size books. I'm looking forward to starting book two, The Skeleton in the Closet, next.

REVIEW: Manners & Mutiny: Finishing School Book the Fourth by Gail Carriger

My Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Another awesome read from Gail Carriger! I am sad to see this series come to an end. But fortunately, there's the whole Parasol Protectorate series I haven't yet read, of which this is a spin off, so I won't have to bemoan the lack of reading material from such a wonderful author, one who has easily become one of my favorites.

In this final installment of the Finishing School series, Sophronia is determined to put a stop to the Picklemen's dastardly plans once and for all. With a little help from her dear friends, Sophronia hurlies and obstructs her way around the airship, discovering secrets, taking out the enemy, and proving she's a true mistress of espionage!

I fell in love all the characters in this series. Yes, even those we're not supposed to like so much *cough* Monique, Preshea *cough cough*. Sophronia—so smart, determined, and headstrong—finally confronts her true feelings for former sootie Soap, and it's everything you wish it to be! A heretofore unknown secret is discovered about Agatha, one that proves she's a much better intelligencer than her friends believed. Dimity's strengths are put to the test, Monique actually becomes an ally, and even Pillover bravely steps up.

If you love the steampunk genre, mixed in with some young adult fantasy, and appreciate good writing, then this is a series you should not miss. Love, love, loved it! <3

Monday, January 25, 2016

REVIEW: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

The KonMari Method of decluttering is quite simple when you think about it—simply remove from your home any items that don't spark joy. Yes, I realize that may sound a bit oversimplified but the logic behind it is thus: if an item is no longer bringing you joy, it has reached the end of it's usefulness and you should let it go without regret or guilt. You do this for all your items starting with clothes, then moving on to books, then papers, then miscellany, saving mementos for last. If you tidy completely in this fashion, following her advice, you need only do this once and clutter should never infringe on you again.

I haven't yet put the advice from this book into practice yet but am very much looking forward to doing so this week. I also picked up the companion book Spark Joy which expands on some of the frequently asked questions and includes illustrations for folding and storing, and which I'm reading now. I will update this review after I've more thoroughly begun the process.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

REVIEW: The Conquering Dark: Crown & Key, Book 3 by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith

My Rating: 5 out of 10 stars
Synopsis from the Publisher:
The Crown and Key Society face their most terrifying villain yet: Gaios, a deranged demigod with the power to destroy Britain.

To avenge a centuries-old betrayal, Gaios is hell-bent on summoning the elemental forces of the earth to level London and bury Britain. The Crown and Key Society, a secret league consisting of a magician, an alchemist, and a monster-hunter, is the realm’s only hope—and to stop Gaios, they must gather their full strength and come together as a team, or the world will fall apart.

But Simon Archer, the Crown and Key’s leader and the last living magician-scribe, has lost his powers. As Gaios searches for the Stone of Scone, which will give him destructive dominion over the land, monster-hunter Malcolm MacFarlane, alchemist extraordinaire Kate Anstruther, gadget geek Penny Carter, and Charlotte the werewolf scramble to reconnect Simon to his magic before the world as they know it is left forever in ruins.

Unfortunately, my interest in this trilogy began to wane significantly, as evidenced by the 3 months it took me to read, by the time I reached this third and final book in the trilogy, but seeing as I received it to review and I'd already read the first two, I was compelled to finish.

Although there were a few new revelations to drive the story forward, it came across to me as more of the same thing I read in the previous books. The action scenes seemed to drag on too long; they were too descriptive and wordy, and my mind started drifting before I was through. It seemed like 75% of the book was devoted to these highly detailed fight scenes and it really got tiring after awhile. Perhaps the story had just run it's course by the time the authors got to this third book, and by that time there was nothing new to add to the story but fight, fight, fight!

When compared with The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels, another action-filled steampunk series, Crown & Key just doesn't measure up.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/Del Rey Spectra for providing me with a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

REVIEW: The Undying Legion: Crown & Key, Book 2 by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith

My Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

A deluge of black magic is sweeping through Victorian London. It began with a single ritual murder in a London church. But that one murder has turned into many, and as the dead begin to rise and walk the streets, magical scribe Simon Archer knows he has to hunt down the necromancer behind all this dastardly activity and put an end to it.

Joining forces with the lovely alchemist Kate Anstruther, monster hunter Malcolm MacFarlane, and brilliant engineer Penny Carter, the team battles an unrelenting army of powerful gods, demi-gods, demons, and walking dead. I was happy to see the young werewolf Charlotte joining in on the action and playing a more prominent role in this book too. And Malcolm, warring with his own inner demons, as he struggles to accept Charlotte into the group was a poignant glimpse into an otherwise rough and gruff man.

This series reminds me a bit of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris, though I actually like the latter series better. In Crown & Key, it feels like there's too much unnecessary narrative during the action scenes, slowing things down so it doesn't feel quite as fast or punchy. I found myself losing focus a few times because of that and had to go back and reread. I don't really think this minor criticism however should detract from what is otherwise a really good series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/Del Rey Spectra for providing me with a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

REVIEW: The Shadow Revolution: Crown & Key, Book 1 by Clay Griffith & Susan Griffith

My Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

It's Victorian London and Simon Archer is a scribe, a magick practitioner that uses runes and tattoos to focus his magical energy. Posing as a handsome rogue playboy to infiltrate society and hide his abilities, he and his mentor Nick Barker, attend a society ball to discover more about the pesky werewolf problem plaguing the city. While at the ball, the striking headstrong alchemist Kate Anstruther catches Simon's eye. He is intrigued at her boldness and willingness to jump in to help. Come to find out, Kate's sister Imogen is embroiled in a sinister plot devised by these very same wolves. Accordingly, the two team up, and along with partner Nick and new acquaintance Malcolm MacFarlane, a fierce Scottish monster hunter, the four are a force to be reckoned with.

I thoroughly enjoyed this start to the Crown & Key series. The action was intense with werewolves, magic, alchemy and mad science all playing a role to make this steampunk urban fantasy speed along at breakneck speed. All this action was delivered with a slight detriment to other aspects however, that being character development and world building as other reviewers have mentioned. Not that I found it completely lacking in those departments, but it was enough that I never fully embraced any one particular character. Since this is an ongoing series however, I can only hope that many of these aspects will be further expanded upon in the upcoming books in the series which I look forward to reading soon.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/Del Rey Spectra for providing me with a copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, April 27, 2015

REVIEW: The Diamond Conspiracy: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

My Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

OMG this was the best one yet! The introduction of time travel to the mix, and the way the author handled it, was simply superb. I felt like I was in an episode of Doctor Who, a favorite series of mine to be sure.

There were new characters introduced, and the alter-ego of other characters revealed... but I cannot say more lest I spoil it for you. Simply know that even if you were slightly disenchanted by the previous novel as I was, this one takes it to 11!

As agents of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, Eliza D. Braun and Wellington Books have faced their share of danger, blowing things up and barely escaping with their lives. But now, the nefarious plans of an evil doctor is set to bring the British Empire under his control, and with the help of the Queen, eliminate all the Ministry agents standing in the way. Can Eliza and Wellington survive when the entire Empire is out to get them?