Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Silver Master by Jayne Castle

Silver Master

Author:
Jayne Castle
Narrator: Joyce Bean
Series: Harmony (Book 4)
Publication: Brilliance Audio (October 10, 2008; Berkley (August 28, 2007
Length: 8 hours and 33 minutes; 285 p.

Description: Fleeing a lurid scandal, matchmaker Celinda Ingram arrived in Cadence City desperate for a new start. Known for her strong para-resonator abilities, she is able to match up clients by reading their psi waves. It's this talent that sets her body tingling when security specialist Davis Oakes shows up at her office.

A formidable psychic himself, Davis is trying to track down a powerful relic that Celinda supposedly bought as a toy for her pet dust bunny. Trying to wrest the ruby red object from the suspicious duo nearly drains Davis of the energy he'll need to keep his growing desire for Celinda in check - and to keep her safe from those who will do anything to possess the relic...

My Thoughts: Celinda Ingram is a matchmaker who was forced out of Frequency after a scandal ruined her business. Now in Cadence, she finds that she might be in the middle of another problem. Her dust bunny Araminta encouraged her to buy a strange item from a local antique store. Celinda can feel its psy vibes but it looks like a red plastic handle from something the original settlers brought to Harmony.

The next thing she knows, she has drawn the attention of the police and also of Investigator Davis Oakes who want to know how the object - now identified as a relic stolen from the Guild museum - came to be in her possession. 

Celinda takes one look at Davis and realizes that he is the Mr. Perfect she's been looking for all her life. Only, Davis has just gotten out of a bad relationship and is determined to never again trust a matchmaker with his future. Besides, he is in the middle of rebuilding his career too. He spent two months in hospital after an incident with his own psychic talent.

Both Celinda and Davis have psychic powers that are really strong and really unusual. She is able to read the paranormal energy of others which are as distinct to her as faces or fingerprints. He is able to use silver light and also to use silver light to make himself invisible which has come in useful a time or two in his career as a private investigator. However, if he uses it for too long he risks falling into a permanent coma. 

Meanwhile, someone else is after the relic that Celinda bought for Araminta and is willing to leave a strong of bodies behind. 

This was a fun story with a really nice romance... and two dust bunnies. Besides Celinda's buddy Araminta, Davis has been adopted by Max. 

Favorite Quote:
His low voice rolled over her senses like a tropical ocean wave at night, darkly powerful and infinitely mysterious.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Monday, May 10, 2021

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 10, 2021)

 It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.


It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup.

Other Than Reading...

This week was another quiet one. 

I listened to the whole Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong. I had previously read and reviewed them all on this blog starting in 2014. It is a very different experience to hear them and to hear them back to back so that there was no chance of forgetting various plot threads as I am wont to do when there is a year or more between books in a series. 

I am currently listening to the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King but I am spacing them out a bit more. This week I am listening to the 4th and have also read my eARC of the 17th. 

I am still reading my June releases from my review stack but may finish them this week unless I decide to devote more time to Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. I have finished all my reviews on my May calendar. I am reading now for things that won't show up on my blog until the second week of June. 

With temperatures hitting the lower 50s for highs, I have not gone walking outside. I want 5 to 10 more degrees before that will happen on any sort of consistent basis. 

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • Visions by Kelley Armstrong (Mine Audiobook) -- I reviewed this one on my blog in August 2014.
  • Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong (Mine; Audiobook) -- I reviewed this one on my blog in August 2015.
  • Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong (Mine; Audiobook) -- I reviewed this one on my blog in December 2016.
  • Rituals by Kelley Armstrong (Mine; Audiobook) -- Finale of the Cainsville story. I reviewed this one on my blog in October 2017 and also on LibraryThing and Goodreads.
  • Ruby Red Herring by Tracy Gardner (Review; June 8) -- This is the first in a new cozy series starring a young art appraiser. This time there is mystery about a ruby she's asked to authenticate which leads back to the accident the claimed her parents' lives. My review will be posted on June 8.
  • Castle Shade by Laurie R. King (Review; June 8) -- This 17th adventure of Sherlock Holmes and his wife Mary Russell takes to two into Roumania in 1925 to solve a problem for Queen Marie. I love the characters and the historical detail in this series. My review will be posted on June 9.
DNF
  • A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams (June 8) -- I read about 15% of this psychological thriller before I decided to abandon it. I wasn't connecting with any of the characters and didn't care for the way the story was arranged. 
Currently
Next Week
Reviews Posted
Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

Box from Bloomsbury (May 3)

This was a total surprise. I haven't gotten any review books from Bloomsbury for years and stopped reading middle grade books when I retired in 2017.
New from Macmillan (May 4)

This is my fourth copy of this review book. I got the Kindle first from NetGalley. I got two print ARCs about a week apart. Now I've received the finished hardcover of the book.
New Review Books
New Audiobooks
  • Justice Hall by Laurie R. King (Kindle and Audiobook)
  • Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong (Audible to supplement Kindle copy)
  • Rituals by Kelley Armstrong (Audible to supplement Kindle copy)
New Kindle Books
What was your week like?

Saturday, May 8, 2021

ARC Review: A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver

A Peculiar Combination

Author:
Ashley Weaver
Series: Electra McDonnell Series (Book 1)
Publication: Minotaur Books (May 11, 2021)

Description: The first in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, set in England during World War II, A Peculiar Combination is a delightful mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and the author's signature wit.

Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more.

So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can’t resist. All goes as planned―until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police

Ellie doesn’t care for the Major's imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she's eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she's no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands.

My Thoughts: Ellie McDonnell is drafted into the British Intelligence effort when she and her Uncle Mick are caught trying to break into a safe in a supposedly empty house. British Intelligence in the person of Major Ramsey has a need for a safecracker. 

There is a scheme to substitute false plans and false intelligence to send to the Germans but first they need to recover the papers. Ellie is willing to do her bit for king and country but she really doesn't get along with Major Ramsey who seems unnecessarily rigid and secretive. 

The original plan goes awry when they find the safe empty and the body of the suspected traitor with his throat cut. Now they have to discover where the papers went and who is involved in the possible treason. Ellie finds herself attending a society party potentially filled with traitors along with Major Gabriel Ramsey. She's supposed to be his new girlfriend which is an uncomfortable situation since his old girlfriend is also at the party and is also one of the suspects. 

This was an enjoyable mystery with an interesting World War II setting. Ellie is an interesting character and so is Gabriel Ramsey. I look forward to further adventures.

Favorite Quote:
For not the first time since this dreadful war had started, I had the sensation that I was bound to people who might otherwise have been perfect strangers, that we were all connected by some invisible strings that pulled us together in ways we might never have imagined. 
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Friday Memes: A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver

 Happy Friday everybody!

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Beginning:
London
August 1940

We were going to get caught.

The alarming idea buzzed around inside my head like the menacing drone of an approaching Luftwaffe bomber, even as I tried to banish it. I had never had this sensation in the middle of a job before, and it was disquieting to say the least.
Friday 56:
"The major thinks I'm a society lady, born and bred," I said to Jerome Curtis in a whisper. "Uncle Laddy will be our little secret." Then I winked at him before I turned and followed the major inside.
This week I am spotlighting A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver. This debuts a new series and is a historical mystery. Here is the description from Amazon:
The first in the Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver, set in England during World War II, A Peculiar Combination is a delightful mystery filled with spies, murder, romance, and the author's signature wit.

Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is slightly outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing, Ellie's cousins Colm and Toby are off fighting against Hitler, and Uncle Mick's more honorable business as a locksmith can't pay the bills any more.

So when Uncle Mick receives a tip about a safe full of jewels in the empty house of a wealthy family, he and Ellie can’t resist. All goes as planned―until the pair are caught redhanded. Ellie expects them to be taken straight to prison, but instead they are delivered to a large townhouse, where government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: either Ellie agrees to help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints that will be critical to the British war effort, before they can be delivered to a German spy, or he turns her over to the police

Ellie doesn’t care for the Major's imperious manner, but she has no choice, and besides, she's eager to do her bit for king and country. She may be a thief, but she's no coward. When she and the Major break into the house in question, they find instead the purported German spy dead on the floor, the safe already open and empty. Soon, Ellie and Major Ramsey are forced to put aside their differences to unmask the double-agent, as they try to stop allied plans falling into German hands.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

ARC Review: The Last Scoop by R. G. Belsky

The Last Scoop

Author:
R. G. Belsky
Series: Clare Carlson Mystery (Book 3)
Publication: Oceanview Publishing; None edition (May 5, 2020)

Description: The scariest kind of serial killer—one you don’t know exists

Martin Barlow was Clare Carlson's first newspaper editor, a beloved mentor who inspired her career as a journalist. But, since retiring from his newspaper job, he had become a kind of pathetic figure—railing on about conspiracies, cover-ups, and other imaginary stories he was still working on. Clare had been too busy with her own career to pay much attention to him.

When Martin Barlow is killed on the street one night during an apparent mugging attempt gone bad, it seems like he was just an old man whose time had come.

But Clare—initially out of a sense of guilt for ignoring her old friend and then because of her own journalistic instincts—begins looking into his last story idea. As she digs deeper and deeper into his secret files, she uncovers shocking evidence of a serial killer worse than Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, or any of the other infamous names in history.

This really is the biggest story of Martin Barlow's career—and Clare's, too—as she uncovers the path leading to the decades-long killer of at least twenty young women. All is not as it seems during Clare's relentless search for this serial killer. Is she setting herself up to be his next victim?

Clare Carlson is perfect for fans of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone and Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski

My Thoughts: Clare Carlson feels guilty when her old mentor Marty Barlow is murdered. He wanted them to get together but she was always too busy. She has a full-time job as the news director for television Channel 10. He was retired but still doing some investigations. He said he had the story of a lifetime; she still couldn't find the time.

After he dies, Clare begins to look into what Marty was investigating. First off, she finds he was looking at some buildings in New York City that have a number of problems. She finds that there is mob involvement and that the Manhattan Attorney General might be letting things go on. After all, Terri Hartwell is taking the political world by storm and is likely the next mayor of NYC. 

But there's more. As she looks through Marty's computer files, she discovers a hidden file which seems to indicate that there is a secret serial killer who has been killing women for more than thirty years. It all began with a murder of a 17-year-old girl in a small town in Indiana. 

Clare brings Marty's file to one of her ex-lovers named Scott Manning who now works for the FBI. She's still in love with him but he has gone back to his wife and is trying to rebuild their relationship. Clare is noteworthy for her difficulty with relationships. After all, she has been married and divorced three times and has any number of other short term relationships in her past. 

Besides her current investigations into Marty's investigations, Clare is also dealing with a media consultant who wants to make Channel 10 a better news organization and also with the on-again-off-again romance of the two main evening news presenters. 

To add even more drama, Clare is meeting with the daughter she gave away for adoption shortly after her birth when Clare was a college freshman. Linda Nesbit is now 27 with a husband and daughter of her own. As a child, she was kidnapped and Clare's coverage of that case earned her a Pulitzer. She followed the case again when the child, now known as Linda, was found again. She keeps meeting with Linda under the guise of doing a follow-up article. She hasn't confessed that she is actually Linda's birth mother. 

The story is broken into sections which each deal with a part of this whole story. It is told from Clare's first person point-of-view. I enjoyed solving the mystery along with Clare and liked Clare as a character. I enjoyed seeing behind the scenes at news gathering organizations and seeing the changes that the internet and social media has made to the business. 

I recommend this story and the first two in the series to fans of fast-paced stories. 

Favorite Quote:
Marty used to say no story ever works out exactly the way you expect. "You pull on a thread at the beginning, and you see where it takes you," he told me once back when I was a young reporter at that newspaper in New Jersey. "Sometimes it takes you places you don't want to go," Marty said. "But that's what being a journalist us all about. Following the facts, no matter what. And then you report the story, you report the facts, whatever they turn out to be. That's the job of a journalist."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

ARC Review: A Trail of Lies by Kylie Logan

A Trail of Lies

Author:
Kylie Logan
Series: Jazz Ramsey Mystery (Book 3)
Publication: Minotaur Books (May 11, 2021)

Description: A Trail of Lies is the third in the Jazz Ramsey mystery series from national bestselling author Kylie Logan.

Jazz Ramsey is just getting used to the idea that her on-again-off-again beau, Nick, might actually be a permanent fixture, when she gets an alarming call in the middle of the night from his mother, Kim: there’s a dead man in her backyard. Kim has a long history of drinking and a vivid imagination, so when Jazz’s human remains detection dog, Wally, finds no evidence of a body, Jazz thinks she can breathe easy.

But when the body of a middle-aged man, Dan Mansfield, is discovered in a nearby park, and a photo of Nick and his mom is found in his pocket, Jazz has to admit that something isn’t adding up. Kim claims not to know who Dan is, but the cops find out soon enough: he’s a recently paroled convict who served thirty years for murder. And when Jazz traces his crime back to a bar fight with an antiques dealer, she ends up with more questions than answers.

Meanwhile, no one wants her poking around―not Nick’s mom, nor the Motorcycle-riding ex-con she connects to Dan, nor Nick himself, who seems worried about Jazz’s safety, but also about what she might find. But Jazz has never been one to take no for an answer, and she won’t give up now―even if it means risking her own life.

My Thoughts: Jazz Ramsey is looking in on her boyfriend Nick's mother Kim while Nick is on a task force when she gets a panicked call in the middle of the night from Kim saying that she killed a man and his body is in her backyard.

Kim is skeptical. After all, Kim is an alcoholic who sometimes sees things. However, she heads over and checks things out and is unsurprised to find that there is no body in Kim's backyard. After calming her down a bit she goes home but returns the next day with her cadaver-dog-in-training Wally to let him give the yard a onceover. There's still no body!

When the body of Dan Mansfield is found in a nearby park, Kim is sure he's the one who was in her backyard. This time Jazz borrows a trained cadaver dog to make one final check and hopefully reassure Kim. But the dog does alert. There was a body in the backyard. 

Now Jazz has to discover if it is the same body that was found in the park and, if so, what was he doing in Kim's backyard. Kim assures Jazz that he doesn't know the man but Jazz has seen an old photo of him in a stack of photos and Kim's table and Dan was carrying a old photo of Kim and Nick in his pocket. 

Jazz finds herself in a perilous situation when trying to find out what happened long before when Kim knew Dan before he went to prison for murder. She wants to know why he looked Kim up when he was finally paroled. Someone is looking for something and it has to have its roots deep in the past.

I liked Jazz's persistence and desire to find answers. I also liked the information on dog training. There were a few really interesting dogs in the story including Jazz's new dog Wally. Fans of semi-cozy mysteries will enjoy Jazz's third adventure. 

Favorite Quote:
But then, George was closing in on eighty pounds. He had a tendency to slobber, and if he liked someone, really liked someone, George leaned into that someone--hard. In an effort to demonstrate his undying devotion, he'd been known to known down more than one person.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

ARC Review: City of Dark Corners by Jon Talton

City of Dark Corners

Author:
Jon Talton
Publication: Poisoned Pen Press (May 11, 2021)

Description: Phoenix, 1933: A young city with big dreams and dark corners

Great War veteran and rising star Gene Hammons lost his job as a homicide detective when he tried to prove that a woman was wrongly convicted of murder to protect a well-connected man. Now a private investigator, Hammons makes his living looking for missing persons―a plentiful caseload during the Great Depression, when people seem to disappear all the time.

But his routine is disrupted when his brother―another homicide detective, still on the force―enlists his help looking into the death of a young woman whose dismembered body is found beside the railroad tracks. The sheriff rules it an accident, but the carnage is too neat, and the staging of the body parts too ritual. Hammons suspects it's the work of a "lust murderer"―similar to the serial strangler whose killing spree he had ended a few years earlier. But who was the poor girl, dressed demurely in pink? And why was his business card tucked into her small purse? As Hammons searches for the victim's identity, he discovers that the dead girl had some secrets of her own, and that the case is connected to some of Phoenix's most powerful citizens―on both sides of the law.

My Thoughts: This mystery set in Phoenix in the 1930s stars Gene Hammons who was a homicide detective until he lost his job when his efforts to free a wrongly convicted woman came into conflict with a well-connected, powerful man. Now he's a private investigator trying to make a living in the midst of the Great Depression.

Gene served in World War I, even lied about his age so that he could enlist with his older brother, and came home with bad memories and trouble with loud, unexpected noises. He managed to build a very successful career in the Phoenix police department. He's most famous for finding the University Park Strangler who left a trail of young female bodies in a nice part of town.

When his brother calls him to a crime scene, Gene gets involved in trying to find out who murdered a beautiful young blonde, dismembered her, and left his business card in her purse. He's pretty much alone in his investigation since the powers that be don't want any more bad publicity for Phoenix which would damage their role as a tourist destination.

Gene and his girlfriend news photographer Victoria Vasquez soon find lots of hidden secrets surrounding the murder victim Carrie Dell. The story is filled with corrupt cops, mob exports from Chicago, and local criminals from a variety of ethnic groups. The language is contemporary to the times and jars a little on our more sensitive current nerve ends, but the story is compelling and fast-paced.

Fans of historical mysteries will enjoy this story which is larded with real life characters including Barry Goldwater. It paints a vivid picture of life and crime in 1930s Phoenix, Arizona.

Favorite Quote:
On the bottom floor was the lobby to the Valley Bank & Trust, the strongest such institution left in Phoenix. The lobby looked like the high temple of money, with soaring ceilings, Art Deco carvings, sleek hanging chandeliers, and walnut teller counters and benches so beautiful they made me feel every inch the imposter. It was almost enough to make you trust banks again.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.