The Other Daughter (by Lauren Willig)

Historical (1920s)

After her mother dies of influenza, Rachel stumbles upon a picture torn from the society pages of a magazine. It’s of her father, who she thought was dead, together with his daughter –– the eponymous other daughter. As an earl he has everything –– wealth, status and respect. All things she lacks.

She forms an uneasy alliance with Simon, a gossip columnist who is a society insider and manages to insinuate herself into the bright young things of London in the 1920s. But as she sets her plan into motion to confront the father who abandoned her, everything starts crashing down around her.


The Other Daughter is good…occasionally it’s brilliant but it still somehow managed to leave me feeling a little unsatisfied. The resolutions are painfully sparse and in some cases completely absent. You grow to love Olivia and Cece but they just disappear without so much as a ‘by your leave’.

Overall, it’s worth the effort but those few missteps tarnished an otherwise great book.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 8.51.33 pmOrange, Red. What it means: red-orange-yellow-guide

Spider’s Trap (by Jennifer Estep)

Urban Fantasy

Anyone who wants to control Ashland’s underworld needs to kill Gin Blanco, The Spider first. Gin has finally had enough of every two bit hood who wants to make a name walking into her BBQ Restaurant, the Pork Pit and attacking her. So without very much enthusiasm she has taken over the Underworld herself.

What follows is meetings, meetings, meetings, refereeing petty disputes between mobsters and as it happens, still having every two bit assassin gunning for her. Then, at one of her boring business meetings she finds herself the target of a very powerful metal elemental, and he doesn’t care how many of her friends he kills to get to her.

She once again takes on the role of The Spider and starts hunting down this new threat.


 
Jennifer Estep writes great urban fantasy and it’s getting much better as she develops as a writer. The last few books have in my opinion been the best in the series and Spider’s Trap is close to perfect. To be honest the only thing that didn’t really work for me was the romance, and I’m primarily a romance reader. I just don’t think it works for these books and perhaps a closing door, or crashing waves, or a train going into a tunnel would serve the book better.

Setting aside my desire for cheesy sex metaphors, I loved this book and am looking forward to the next one.

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.42.32 pmMany thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC

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This Heart of Mine (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance

After serving 17 years in prison for murder, all Phoenix wants is to have a relationship with the son she hasn’t seen since he was born. With that hope she returns to Whiskey Creek, the scene of the crime where the parents of the victim and her ex-boyfriend and father of her child still live. She knows there is no happy ending for someone like her –– all she wants is to be left alone, to get her life together and maybe spend a little time with her son.

When Phoenix was tried for murder, Riley was a witness for the prosecution. While she sat in the dock he hammered the nails in that left nobody in any doubt of her guilt. Now she is out and what he has been avoiding can’t be avoided any more. But it’s not long before he starts to wonder if she is the vicious murderer the whole town thinks she is.


This Heart of Mine is great contemporary romance. The Whiskey Creek series has been a little up and down for me –– some that have been mind blowingly good, others not so much. This is definitely one of the shining lights and I think it can take the title of my favorite in the series. I’d actually walked away from the series (very few series’ hold my attention for more than three or four books) but a good friend who doesn’t really like contemporary romance rated this one high and on her recommendation I picked it up.  It was worth it.

It will also work as a stand alone so no need to read the other seven just to read this.

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The Final Reveille (by Amanda Flower)

Cozy Mystery

Kelsey is the director of Barton Farm, a Living History Museum with a focus on life in the 19th century and the civil war.

When the arrogant nephew of the museum’s main benefactor is murdered on the grounds there is no shortage of suspects and considering Kelsey was seen arguing with him just hours earlier she is right at the top of the list.

With the help of a reluctant civil war re-enactor she sets about finding the killer and saving the farm.


There is a fair bit to like about this book. As far as cozy mysteries go it was unique enough to hold my interest. It didn’t redefine the genre but it’s the first book I’ve read with this particular setting. That said, it feels a little like a draft copy of a great book. I have a fairly high tolerance for spelling and grammatical errors (people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones), but it really got to the point where I was thinking the book needs a good editor. And the ending could have been much better.

So it’s a promising start to a new series but there were a few shaky moments. Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 8.51.33 pm

Orange, Red. What it means:  red-orange-yellow-guide

Bruja (by Aileen Erin)

Young Adult (Vampires / Werewolves / Witches)

Despite escaping from her coven, Claudia remains blood-bound to Luciana, the coven’s leader. She, along with a small group of witches who left with her, has found sanctuary with the werewolves but Luciana can still invade her dreams and the blood-binding makes it possible for her to take Claudia’s power.

Desperate to break the binding, Claudia travels to Peru in search of a mysterious and possibly extinct group of white mages but she finds herself facing witches even more evil than Luciana.


I loved this book. The characters are wonderful and the story is great. It’s like Claudia reaches out of the book, grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you through the pages. Honestly, I don’t give up sleep for very many books but I just couldn’t put this one down.

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Many thanks to Ink Monster & Netgalley for providing me with this ARC Yellow,

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Spotless (by Camilla Monk)

Romantic Suspense? 

Island is anything but special…at least that’s what she has always thought. Then March, a ruthless assassin shows up in the apartment she shares and her life will never be the same again. March is searching for a priceless diamond and he’s convinced she knows where it is. Even worse, he’ll do pretty much anything to finish the mission and she is well and truly expendable.

As they search for the diamond she learns things about her murky past she never could have imagined and with people even more brutal than March hunting her she finds herself reluctantly turning to him for help.


Assassins, 1995, (c) Warner Bros.

Assassins, 1995, (c) Warner Bros.

It’s not easy to define Spotless. Honestly, when I picked it up I was expecting a cute and quirky mystery. Fairly innocent and mostly harmless. That’s not this book. There is a bit of an edge to it that I found confronting at first. For a few chapters I really didn’t like the book at all (those who know me know why), but then it clicked –– I was thinking of it all wrong.

This book owes a lot to movies like Assassins, Heat, perhaps even The Bourne Identity. It really does feel like a great spy or heist movie…only on the page. When I made that adjustment, I found myself loving this book more with every page turn.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.12.41 pmMany thanks to Montlake Romance and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

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No Time Like the Past (by Jodi Taylor)

Science Fiction / Time Travel

Max and her team of time travelling historians return for another romp along the timeline. In this episode they visit St Paul’s Cathedral to salvage whatever they can as it’s crashing down around them. Then it’s on to 13th century Florence where the bonfire of the vanities is in full swing and a bunch of works by Botticelli have an appointment with the flames. Finally it’s to Thermopylae where they find themselves accidentally risking the timeline and possibly altering history. The Spartans can’t win, can they??


 

No Time Like the Past is great, it’s entertaining and fun…occasionally very funny. The one thing it isn’t is fresh. So while I enjoyed this book…yes I probably even loved it, I can’t help but think that the best is behind us. We’re not quite at the shark jumping moment just yet but it must be getting close.


 

Chronicles of St Mary’s Short Stories

For lovers of the madcap time travelling historians of St Mary’s there are three very short stories available in Kindle, E-Book and Audiobook versions.  At the time of this post, all three were available for free from audible.com so my recommendation is to get them from there.  They’re good, I just don’t know if they’re worth paying for.

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