Before I even start this review, I want to say that Hailey Lind is in my top 5 favourite mystery authors. In the last book Annie Kincade decided to go into business with the shady, yet charming Michael X Johnson, a crony of her Grandfather’s and also an ex(?) art thief, much to the dismay of her landlord/semi-love interest Frank. It starts out with Annie and her friends discovering a body set up to look like the Death of Marat painting in the exclusive and male only Fleming Union Club where she was doing some restoration.  After finding the body, she was ejected from the club for going into unauthorised areas (ie everywhere by the servants quarters) and being a woman.

Someone was trying to sell a fake Gaugain and the insurance company wanted her help to confirm the fake as well as track down the original, while Frank wants her to ask around regarding a missing bronze.  Of course with her family background, she soon knew who was the forger of the Gaugain and it was only when her Faux Uncle Anton is found suffering from arsenic poisoning that Annie decides to start investigating. I love everything about this series, Annie is a wonderful character and the perfect mix of light and shades that makes her pop out of the page – she is funny, sarcastic, fiercely loyal and one of those people who you would love to be friends with.  We also get to see more of Mary and Brian in a hilarious scene in a club. Of course I enjoyed the book, that goes without saying!  I found myself totally immersed into her world, cemented with continuous plots that run throughout the series, as well as different elements of the mystery story.  Absolutely brilliant! The author has her own website where you can read excerpts of the books and also read more about her other alter ego as Juliet Blackwell who writes paranormal mysteries which also has excerpts too.

Ari owns a knitting shop, ‘Ariadne’s Web’, and this is where the first body is discovered strangled with some handspun yarn, spun by her best friend Diane. Eventually Josh the new detective clears her as a suspect and reluctantly concedes to work together to find the murderer.
As the dead bodies pile up, she discovers that her patterns have been sold online, but is it connected with the deaths? Her life is also made a little more difficult thanks to her irritating ex husband and issues with her young daughter.

This was a well written book that had consistent and swift pacing, making it an enjoyable page turner. There is a large cast of characters which helped the mystery bed to down and hid the murderer. I also liked the connection between Ari, Joel and Diane. As a knitter, I enjoyed the knitting and spinning references too, as well as the descriptions of the shop and contents. I did have an inkling of who the murderer was, which was a little disappointing.

From what I understand, the author has primarily written romance books and it was clear that murder mysteries were a departure. I wasn’t entirely sure that she knew much about knitting and in particular online pattern sharing and selling, as there seemed to be some inconsistencies. All in all, this was a fun cozy mystery which also had the bonus of some knitting patterns as an added extra. All in all this was a great book and an interesting start to a series, which I will look forward to reading.

Geared for the GraveThis is the first in  the Cycle Path Mystery series. Evie, an ad exec, finds herself on Mackinac Island after volunteering to help Rudy’s ailing bike hire business (who was also laid low with a broken leg) with the hope that as Rudy is her boss’s Dad, she might finally get her hands on her long awaited promotion.  Not on the Island for 12 hours, she finds herself face to face with her first bead body – Bunny the local Grande Dame. With Rudy framed for the murder and her promotion speeding away from her, Evie decides to channel Miss Marple and figure out who the murderer is.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, you were taken on a romp around the island, complete with bikes, horses, hit men, and lock picking.  Not only that, but like every small community, it was rife with scandal, internal squabbles and infighting, as well as committees and festivals to promote the tourist industry.  In short, Mackinac is a law unto itself, so when Evie, the Pied Piper of trouble turns up – the residents of Mackinac Island are happy to join in and fan the flames.

I thought that the map of Mackinac Island was a stroke of genius –  there was a lot of rushing about to different parts of the island, and it was useful to pin point where everyone was. In fact, it would have been great if it also contained where the main characters resided/worked.

One of the things I love about murder mysteries is that you can pick up clues and play along, and with this book, the cornerstone clue was lobbed in just after the murderer was revealed, so it would have been fun if there was a sniff of it earlier instead of when it was all over and done with, but that is only the tiniest of criticism and better than figuring out who the murderer was three chapters in!

All in all, this was a great book, it definitely seemed to be laying the ground for more adventures on the island and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

Duffy very kindly sent me a copy of this book for a fair and unbiased review – thank you!

Maggie For Hire by Kate Danley

A great book to start off the new year! Amazon descriptions can often be a hit and miss affair but when I saw “WARNING: This book contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed with caution.”
Well, sign me up!

Maggie is a magical tracker, now going it alone after her Dad disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She can easily travel between our world and The Other Side, where every fairy tale and mythical creature you’ve ever thought of are hanging out. Her job is to track the reprobates and general baddies who have illegally skipped over to our world for nefarious reasons, and bring them back – usually kicking and screaming.
From the first sentence, you are immediately immersed into a fight between Maggie and a vampire. It’s only when he seems to get the upper hand that Killian the elf appears – to whom Maggie becomes begrudgingly indebted to. To clear the debt, she has to agree to save the world from vampires. Simple.

Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book (and have re-read it several times since I bought it in March).   Maggie is a brilliant, well rounded, character who kicks ass on a daily basis, and swears like a sailor on leave. As well as being kick ass, Maggie has a vulnerable side; she is wracked with guilt about her Dad and the consequences that led to her family moving to the Other Side. What’s more, she is standalone character – there isn’t a male romantic interest or some kind of romantic triangle; she stands on her own merits.
I feel that this is a particularly important feature, as so many urban fantasy books have lead female characters who are not only ‘incomplete’ without a male partner, but almost lacking because of it. All of a sudden a man comes along and automatically completes her, becoming the key to fulfilling her as a woman and the story. Maggie is her own woman. She is fulfilled, powerful and while she does have flaws and weaknesses, they are hers – and hers to fix and grow in spite of them. She doesn’t need to rely on a man’s presence to erase them.

The other thing that I really liked was that Danley covers things that are often overlooked in traditional urban fantasy books. For example, Maggie wears a neck protector which makes perfect sense. How many books with vamps in them have you read and thought ‘why the hell isn’t there some kind of neck guard for vampire hunters ?’ if you have a predator that keeps on going for your neck, of course you’d protect it, leaving it out just seems to be inviting trouble.

The other characters are equally as interesting. Killian is as ‘Other side’ as Maggie is ‘normal’ with peculiar turns of phrase and working for an elf Queen. I loved little details, like how he took ‘human dialects 401’ at University.  It’s these touches that I really enjoy. Maggie’s family are packed full of awesome too. Her Mum is a psychic and lives on the Other Side, where she reads tea leaves; while her twin sister is Maggie’s polar opposite, living in this world with no magical talents. Most mothers have their own brand of psychic ability when it comes to their children, but one who can read tea leaves must bring its own special chaos – and it does!

This book was an absolute joy to read. I found it very well written, with lots of little details which means you can still find fresh things to enjoy when re-reading it.   The characters are a delight too. I loved Maggie’s irreverent attitude, especially when it came to Killian – who is clearly God’s gift to ladies and used to it. I have been reading a lot of books recently and this has stood head and shoulders above them. Of course I ended up reading the whole series (reviews to come) and wasn’t disappointed. So, go ahead and get a copy – at the moment it is free too!

Crikey, it’s been a while.  2014 has been kicking my ass.  However, with everything falling around me, there was one thing I could always rely on – my books. During long nights, when my body was falling apart, and when I just wanted to escape my brain and the pain in my heart, books were, and still are, my life line.  Soon I was whisked off to small towns in the US where an underestimated woman was revealing a murderer; or in Chicago falling in love with Harry Dresden; or kicking ass with the awesome Maggie MacKay as she battled beasties; or a sewing circle of friends unpicking local murders; or chuckling along with Abby as she tries to curb her swearing while kicking ass for the government with her psychic skills …

In the first 4 months of the year when sleep was almost impossible, I’d ‘chain read’ books during the night – as you can imagine I’d read a lot of books!  So I ended up reading more and more free and nearly-free ebooks and with that, exploring more of the mystery genre, spreading into sci-fi, crime and even steam punk.  It broadened my horizons from my bed.

Read all the books!

So often the free or nearly free ebooks are dismissed or criticised, but I saw them as gifts.  Writing books aren’t easy, and it’s not like the writer has the author gnome pop by while they are asleep, root about in their head and write up a book (spell checked of course) ready for them to find in the morning.  I was also acutely aware of how much time, energy and effort went into making these books, which made me appreciate them even more.

Bearing all this in mind, I decided that I’d like to include self published ebooks in this blog, not only to review them, but to talk about issues that concern them.  I’ve always realised that as a prolific reader, that recommending books and writing reviews is part of loving books in general. However for this new generation of ebooks, it is even more important that there is *vocal* support for authors.  I have been reading a lot of author books and it seems that people speaking up can make a difference, as many series have been stopped simply because there wasn’t enough interest.

So as well as my murder mystery books, which I will always love; I am just expanding things a little more.  If you know of any books or authors I should try – drop me a line or comment and let me know.

So here is something new – an excerpt from the book Front Page Fatality by LynDee Walker front page fatality.  Are you sitting comfortably, then I shall begin.

Jenna was still giggling twenty minutes later when we climbed out of the car by the river side a few miles south of the city. She was positively giddy from being forced to accompany me to an accident scene. Well that, and tequila.

I tried to look severe as I ordered her to do her best to appear sober and avoid making me laugh when I was supposed be working, but her twinkling eyes and eager grin reminded me of a little kid with a Toys “R” Us gift card, and it was damn near impossible to maintain decorum while I was looking at that.

“Yes, ma’am.” she slurred, proving my point as she offered me a weak salute and then winced when I giggled. “Oops. Sorry. I’ll try to be less funny. Damn you, Jack Daniels.”

“You were drinking margaritas, honey. Wrong label.” I chuckled as I tucked her arm into mine so at least she wouldn’t fall. I knew I had no chance of getting her to stay in the car.

All the emergency vehicles had made it difficult to get the car within field-goal range of the crash site, and the flashing red and blue lights made the natural beauty of the riverbank unnaturally eerie. The shredded boats still burning on the black water in the distance didn’t look promising for a happy ending.

I canvassed the fringe of the emergency personnel for Aaron, but it was hard to even distinguish the policemen from the firefighters in the strange half-darkness so far from the accident scene.

The blond head bobbing just above most of the crowd, however, I knew instantly.

“It can’t be,” I muttered, even as I recognized the butter-colored polo I’d seen twice that day already.

“There you are!” Parker said when I caught up to him. “This is a madhouse. How do you ever get any work done at one of these things?”

“Hey, Parker.” I stared, still unable to come up with a single logical reason for his presence. “I’ve never been to anything like this before. Boats don’t usually blow up on the James. But I’m about to find a cop and see what’s going on. Forgive my manners, but what are you doing here?”

“I know a little about what happened.” He grimaced. “The coach got a call during my interview after the Generals game. The little speedboat belonged to Nate DeLuca, one of our pitchers. I don’t know the details, but it hit a Richmond PD boat. Like you said, there was an explosion. The fire department is searching the river and the banks on both sides, but they don’t think anyone survived. After I called in my sto- ry, I came to see for myself what happened to DeLuca. I’m going to write a feature on him for Sunday. He should’ve been at the ballpark tonight, but he had friends in town, and since he wasn’t pitching, the coach gave him the night off.”

“Sweet cartwheeling Jesus. Let’s go see what else we can find out,” I said. “Kiss your Saturday goodbye, Mr. Columnist. You’re going to be at the office tomorrow.” And so was I. So much for my leisurely weekend.

I turned to dive back into the crowd in search of Aaron and mid-whirl, I noticed Jenna standing there, still and surprised. Her eyes were doing that white-all-around thing again.

“People died out there?” she squeaked.

I patted her hand. “You want to go back to the car?” “No.” She squared her small shoulders and gripped my arm a little tighter. “I want to go to work with you.”

I turned back to Parker. “Grant Parker, this is my friend Jenna Rowe. This wreck crashed girls’ night. She drank too much tequila, but she’s very excited to see the glamorous world of journalism up close.”

“The best way to do that is after too much tequila,” he said.


So, what do you think?   If your interest has been piqued by our crime reporter, pop along to Amazon and find out what has happened!

Find out more at LynDee’s website

Dr. Angela Hunter is an archaeologist and works with her Dad in Mississippi retrieving Indian artefacts.  She is asked to look into an ancient codex that could help unlock the mystery of the Mound Builders who had no written language.

The story alternates between Angela’s progress and an Aztec family in the 1300’s.  I don’t know much about this time or the area, but what I do know is that it is very bloody.  In fact the description of the live sacrifice of a young girl who thought that she was going to get married tested my gore limits.  It is this incident that prompts a judge to go against the tradition of human sacrifice and instead offers his own blood.  Unfortunately the community doesn’t like this and not helped with his son’s behaviour, they are forced to go on the run where they settle in Migaduha (Cahokia Mounds in Illinois).

It is a very clever way to proceed with the story, but I did find myself wanting to skip the details about 1300 Aztecs to learn more about what is going on with the rest of the story.  This could be because I don’t really have as much connection (or interest – sorry) with this time periods and long descriptions about Aztec sports didn’t really do it for me.

Back in modern time, Angela is forced to work with Franklin Oettendorf, her former professor and lover and the handsome workaholic Joseph Edgewater who is a head honcho of a secret Native American society.  Of course Franklin is bad news, more concerned with his own fame and career path, and using anyone and anything that gets in his way.  In the end he gets his comeuppance when it turns out that the codex is actually a curse.

It is clear that this book has been researched in depth and even if the subject matter is a little difficult for me, I respect the author for putting in the hours.  There weren’t that many twists with the ending, the good guys won and the bad guys were quashed, but it certainly left the reader wondering what would happen in the next book.

This book was sent to me as part of Elle Marie’s virtual tour in return for an honest and fair review.


There has been a lot of discussion about the new Charlaine Harris book, Dead Ever After, especially since the plot ending was prematurely revealed.  I have read all the Sookie Stackhouse books,but more out of sheer bloody mindedness than enjoyment.  I had planned to collate my notes for the outstanding reviews, but I simply don’t have the spoons or the inclination to edit and re-edit when there are so many better books to review.  So instead, here are some final thoughts on the whole shenanigans.

I believe that there is an unspoken agreement between the author and reader.  The author creates amazing characters and as the reader, we get to love them as much as the author does – with that there comes a bond of trust.  We trust that the author will do right by those characters and as long as that happens, the reader will forgive a multitude of sins right until the very end.

However, I also understand that inspiration is not a bottomless well and there are some times when characters have come to their natural end… or the author just gets bored with them.  This seems to have happened with Harris, who made no secret that she wanted to kill Bill off halfway through.  This was at the same time that True Blood started; a double edged sword creating an even bigger fan base while she was falling out of love with the characters.

You need to remember, that there is a new type of reader who grew up reading the Harry Potter books.  They expect the author to do right by the characters.  Sure, some may get killed, but it’s OK because the author loves the characters and has a *plan*, we just need to trust them.  These readers not only buy the books in hard back edition at the highest price as soon as they are released, but they watch the TV series and buy everything from the t-shirts to the perfume. They also suspend their criticism.  They forgave Harris for countless mistakes, the glaring continuity errors, rambling plot lines, the repetitive Debbie Pelt nonsense, and the weird personality changes of all the characters.  They truly believed that Harris would do right by them and that Sookie and Co. would get the ending that they deserve.

She didn’t.

For the last eleventy books Harris had been flipping the bird at her fans.  She could have been worthy of their trust and created a great final book that negated all of the shitty plot lines and errors (and if she didn’t feel that she could, she should have damn well got someone to help her).  In turn, these fans would have read her other books and stayed with her for the rest of her career.  Instead she has alienated them, not only with a book that seemed to lack any kind of passion, but also by letting down the characters too.

I don’t think that the uproar in the Sookie Stackhouse community is simply because Sookie ended up with Sam, but because the ends were tied up in such a lacklustre way.  People feel cheated because they were, and now they are having an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ moment, realising that the previous books were just as disappointing.  Readers don’t need to be treated like they are stupid, nor do they want to be mugged off.  All they wanted was for there to be a decent ending for the characters that they have grown with and loved.  That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

In thirteen books, Sookie showed very little growth.  She is still the same person who simply wanted to be normal.  Vampires not only allowed her to feel that, but showed her how to shield herself from other people’s thoughts (a fact that was dropped in and glossed over PDQ), so she really didn’t need vampires any more.  All she wanted to do (as we were told over and over again) was to lie out in the sun, make coffee, put her hair in a pony tail while wearing her Merlotte’s t-shirt. She stopped fighting for her relationship with Eric, in fact, I am not entirely sure that she fought for it in the first place; nor did she show any understanding of vampire politics or a desire to learn about it even when she was up to her armpits in it.  Her idea of growth was that ridiculous word a day calendar.  Ending up with Sam was obvious, but the lack of run up to the relationship was disappointing.  The fate of the vampires was secondary and many of the Eric fans would have been placated if there was more of an explanation and tidier ending.  Like many times in this series, Harris simply relied upon glossing over a lacklustre plot line.  I wouldn’t have put it past her to have tried a Dallas style ‘and it was all a dream!!’ ending.

It would have been better for the series if Harris had created 6 kick ass books that didn’t resort to rambling plot lines of repetitive details about Sookie’s day to day activities while she still liked the characters.  While I might not necessarily enjoy Laurell K Hamilton’s books, I respect her for saying that she wanted to hold off writing another Merry Gentry book because she felt that the character had come to a natural end.  This is how you respect your characters and readers.

So instead of spending best part of £10 on Dead Ever After how about these books.

Jim Butcher – The Dresden Files.  Harry Dresden is a wizard, it says so in his yellow pages ad.  He helps the police with any weird shit activity which involves vampires, witches, wizards and other creepy things.

Kim Harrison – The Hollows Series.  Rachel Morgan is a kick ass bounty hunter who has just handed in her notice so has a life expectancy of -5 minutes.  She ends up moving in with her vampire friend Ivy and Jinx the pixie and becoming an independent bounty hunter.

Ilona Daniels – The Kate Daniels Series.  Kate is a mercenary investigating the murder of her friend, rubbing shoulders with vampires and weres and scary things that go bump in the night

This book is light hearted, but it is not a light book.  It tackles many of the obstacles aspiring authors set up and blows them away with the kindness (and bluntness) of a friend.  There are writing exercises that help you face your fears and tear them down as well as help to clarify your plans.

A note of caution, if you don’t like swearing or feel the need to star out the offending letters of ‘bad’ words, then this book is not for you. Come on, the title should give you a clue!  As someone who is prone to the odd f-bomb myself, I found that the language used added to the experience.  Sometimes you need someone to tell you to cut the crap and own your shit – and this is the book for it.

After finishing the book and diligently going through the exercises I felt that I had a better grasp of what I wanted to write.  Sometimes you need someone to alert you to the obstacles you have unwittingly put up and this is what this book did for me.  I really enjoyed the style and would love to have cocktails with the authors, thank you ladies!

This is a new series and a spin off from the Chanse MacLeod detective books.  Paige isn’t your normal cozy mystery heroine; she drinks, gets lairy, swears like a trooper and is ready to kick some ass which was refreshing.  I like a character who can drop the f-bomb without wanting to star it out.  The only element that I wasn’t too keen on the fact that she likes to smoke pot, commenting on how it helped her with her creative process and writing her articles.  Maybe I am too conservative, but it didn’t really add anything to her as a character 😦

Paige is working for the Crescent City Magazine in New Orleans and is suffering from a stonking hangover after a particularly boring fashion event.  Unfortunately the person who she was supposed to interview, Marigny Mercereau, had been killed and now instead of conducting a fluffy interview, she has to find another angle for her story and can’t resist investigating.

It turns out that Marigny was short of cash and decided to write her memoirs and blackmail those who might not want to see their antics in print.  So, Paige sets out to interview members of the New Orleans fashion scene to dig up some secrets.  However the main clues to the murder came from a copy of Marigny’s book which she had emailed to Paige before her death.  The culmination of the mystery happened within a couple of pages; annoyingly there weren’t that many candidates for the murderer so it was fairly obvious who the perpetrators were.

As this is a spin off book from the Chanse MacLeod series, I did wonder if I was missing some of the elements by coming to this book cold.  We were introduced to a handful of her friends, most of whom seem to be from the previous series, as well as a long running plot about Paige’s past which will be interesting to find out more about.

This book was a pleasant read and I think that I’ll add the first Chanse MacLeod book to my ‘to-read’ list too.

I was sent this book as part of the CLP Blog tour

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