Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1) Audio

Ms. Peters is a master, there is no doubt about it. An excellent story, very well written, but I tend to prefer her Vicky Bliss books over Ms. Peabody. Still, I enjoyed the audiobook enough to buy the next one in the series. The narration was outstanding, although the narrator made Evelyn such a whispery girl I wanted to smack her. Still, if you like audiobooks and you’re looking for a good old fashioned traditional mystery, I can recommend this one as worth the time.

Little Black Book of Murder: A Blackbird Sisters Mystery #9

Little Black Book of MurderLittle Black Book of Murder
by Nancy Martin
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780451415257
Series: Blackbird Sisters #8
Publication Date: August 5, 2013
Pages: 372
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Obsidian

Nora’s assigned to write a profile on billionaire fashion designer Swain Starr, who recently retired to build a high-tech organic farm with his new wife, Zephyr, a former supermodel. But before Nora can get the story, the mogul is murdered. And now her boss wants her to snap up an exclusive on who killed Starr before the cops do.

But solving this murder won’t be easy with a family as colorful as Nora’s. Mick, her sort-of husband, is associating with unsavory characters from his past. Her sister Libby is transforming into a stage mom for her diabolical twins. And Emma, the youngest Blackbird, is mysteriously kicked out of the house by Mick. Nora’s home life may be hogging the spotlight, but there’s also a matter of Starr’s missing pig, which just might be the key to solving this mystery and the way Nora can bring home the bacon…


I’ve been reading this series since the first book came out, How to Murder a Millionaire (Blackbird Sisters Mystery, #1), and I’ve been hooked from the start. I can’t think of one book in this series that I’d call weak, and Little Black Book of Murder, IMO, upholds the series winning streak.

I loved this book and it’s always great fun to catch up with the Blackbird sisters and their individual insanities. Libby is often a bit ‘too much’ but the author does try to expose us only in smallish doses, so it never wears too thin. I will say it feels a tiny bit like she’s recycling a plot device in this book with Gus chasing Nora and Nora finding herself pregnant – we’ve seen this before but Nora seems to be going in a different direction this time, so perhaps not.

The mystery plot of this one was a bit – odd. It ends a bit messy, but not. I can’t say much more without giving too much away, but it’s definitely not one of the pre-canned, pre-packaged plot lines so popular with a lot of cozy authors up until recently. There are a lot of players involved, but I never struggled to keep them all straight and there was only one thread left dangling – we never find out definitively who burned Nora’s barn – I think we’re supposed to take it as read.

I hope this series continues a bit longer, as I am genuinely attached to all of these characters and the world Ms. Martin has built. I’m not sure how I feel about Nora becoming a mother, as I usually don’t care for cozies that have a maternal protagonist, but I’m sure willing to find out!

If Bread Could Rise to the Occasion (Gram’s Cooking School #3)

A fun series, and this book was a fun read.  With each book bringing a new ghost with it’s own mystery, along with current day murder mysteries, the story lines stay fresh and interesting.

 

Taking place in an old wild-west town-turned-tourist destination known for being overly haunted by ghosts, it’s a fun setting. I like Bettes but will admit to having a hard time warming up to Grams – she doesn’t feel quite three dimensional to me. Or maybe I just don’t care for her personality. Jake is a great bff/sidekick and the romance with her old high school sweetheart is sweet. But the author has done something interesting; she’s managed to introduce a love triangle that really isn’t.

 

Now, I HATE love triangles, but this one, I get a kick out of it and the author has possibly created a sexual tension that can be kept going indefinitely throughout the series, without getting stale. Time will tell.

 

The murder mysteries were cleverly done (both of them) and well plotted. I didn’t have any idea until the end and it was a fairly good ending as well.

 

I look forward to more from this series. A genuine enjoyment to read.

Fifth Grave Past the Light (Charley Davidson #5)

Fifth Grave Past the LightFifth Grave Past the Light
by Darynda Jones
Rating: ★★★★★
isbn: 9781250014405
Series: Charlie Davidson #5
Publication Date: July 4, 2013
Pages: 339
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Love love love this book. Love this whole series. Ms. Jones has a unique ability (IMO) to take a very dark subject matter (or matters) and make it bearable to get through it. Charlie has had every bad thing thrown at her in this series, and they are all written graphically, and without holding back. Normally, this would cause me to run rapidly in the opposite direction, but she also writes with such compassion, humour, and scathing wit. I find the latter helps me get through the former.

The mythology(?) of Charlie’s world comes together in this book and I was totally sucked in – and relieved that what she’d been led to believe about the future was inaccurate. Questions are answered in this book, in between solving murders and other mysteries. I can’t wait to see what happens with all of these people coming together: Cookie, Uncle Bob, Garret, Quentin, Reyes, Sister Mary Elizabeth. Charlie is getting herself a gang. As for Reyes and Charlie, well damn. Hot damn. Literally. Just taking these two and their relationship into consideration, this is by far the best book of the series so far.

Thank you Ms. Jones, for writing a story/series I can lose myself in, and come out of, grinning like a fool.

Heirs and Graces (A Royal Spyness Mystery #7)

I want to say right up front that I truly think after The Twelve Clues of Christmas (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #6), which was just absolutely superb, any book was going to feel pale in comparison. Such was the case for me with this book. But – I truly feel it only suffers by comparison, as I can’t find a single thing to say to the negative about Heirs and Graces.

 

I really enjoy the recurring characters in this series: Georgie is sweet, naive and correct, while maintaining a firm hand and a steel backbone; no simpering or sniveling going on here. Belinda is the scarlet woman, the best friend that keeps Georgie in the present. And Darcy is the divine love interest with an air of mystery surrounding his super secret work life. No irritating, annoying characters (except Fig, and she’s a bit player that doesn’t always make appearances in the books and was blissfully present-in-name-only in this book).

 

The plot of Heirs and Graces was good and the characters surrounding the plot were colourful enough to keep my attention. I was surprised by the ending – it was an excellent plot twist and though it doesn’t seem right to say, it made me laugh. Such a creative twist, with a tip of the hat to old murder mysteries.

 

A thoroughly enjoyable entry to a very solid series.

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson, Book 5)

Silver BorneSilver Borne
by Patricia Briggs
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780441018192
Series: Mercy Thompson #5
Publication Date: April 4, 2010
Pages: 342
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace

Mercy is smart enough to realize that when it comes to the magical Fae, the less you know, the better. But you can’t always get what you want. When she attempts to return a powerful Fae book she’d previously borrowed in an act of desperation, she finds the bookstore locked up and closed down.

It seems the book contains secret knowledge—and the Fae will do just about anything to keep it out of the wrong hands. And if that doesn’t take enough of Mercy’s attention, her friend Samuel is struggling with his wolf side—leaving Mercy to cover for him, lest his own father declare Sam’s life forfeit.

All in all, Mercy has had better days. And if she isn’t careful, she might not have many more to live…


This was my favorite book of the series until the last fifth or so the time spent in Elphame and that only because fae is my least favorite of the supernatural, I think. Still, this was an excellent read and I loved it. I really enjoyed the time spent on developing Mercy and Adam’s relationship, the pack, and definitely on Samuel. This book felt a lot less high-intensity than the ones before it in many ways, and I appreciated the break.

I can’t say a whole lot about the plot beyond what’s written on the back cover without going spoilerish. As I mentioned above, not a fan of the typical fae mythology – although I really like Zee and the way the author weaves the truth behind the fairy tales into this series. I just prefer them more when they aren’t taking center stage and this book – at least the last half, they are definitely center stage.

I have the next one on it’s way to me now and I can’t wait to read it.

Cloche and Dagger (A Hat Shop Mystery #1)

Usually I save my 5 star ratings for cozies that are a joy to read and offer something a bit different – unique (or not often used) plot devices, a deeper level of writing, really creative twists or settings. Cloche and Dagger didn’t really offer any of these pluses, but it was such an outstandingly fun read with such likeable characters, I couldn’t possibly have given it anything less.

 

For me, Ms. McKinlay wasn’t going to go wrong with a setting in Notting Hill, London. Consider that box ticked. The characters were each written so well, that they immediately presented themselves in my minds eye so I almost never struggled keeping characters/suspects straight in my mind (about 10 seconds asking ‘which one’s Andre and which one’s Nick’ was about it).

 

I am already crushing on Harrison – if Scarlett doesn’t want him, I’ll take him. We don’t get much time with Viv, but it’s clear she’ll be quirky and fun and I really like Fee. And thank you, thank you, thank you, for NOT introducing some awful, hateful caricature of some nasty cow put there to make everyone’s lives miserable.

 

The plot was nicely done – the first mystery presents itself on page 3(?) with Viv’s disappearance. The actual murder doesn’t come along until about 1/3 of the way through the book, which allows the author to introduce the setting, the people, etc. with the backdrop of Viv’s absence keeping things interesting. Once the murder does occur, it’s a good one. I had a suspicion throughout, but was never sure, until the end.

 

Ms. McKinlay has yet to write a series I don’t love (we won’t bring Josie Bell into this) and I think my rankings are going to need a reshuffling – Hat Shop, Library, Cupcakes. I was genuinely disappointed to have come to the end of this book and I can’t wait to read more (especially with the hint of paranormal at the very end – ooooh!).

Biting Bad: A Chicagoland Vampires Novel #8

My favorite of the UF/PF series I read, and Biting Bad was excellent. It felt a bit like Christmas, having everyone together and getting along; no dramas between Merit and Ethan, Mallory back to being a main character, Catcher back – the gangs all here!

 

I’m certain I’ve said this in every review for every book in this series, but the character writing is just excellent. Dry wit, sarcasm, excellent timing, all make the dialogue just flow beautifully, and reading about the Chicagoland vampires is like being there with them. I have such a detailed image of Cadogan House, Grey House, Little Red – even Merit’s parents house (well, until her mom redecorated).

 

A lot was happening in the plotlines of this book: riots, political strife, family interference, McKetrick. But I never had any trouble following anything that was going on; the story flowed smoothly and once I picked it up, I didn’t put it down again until I was finished (Thank goodness it was a Saturday!). As one thread of the overall story arc is resolved, another one starts to unravel, taking us into the next book. I cannot wait.

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson Series #4)

Bone CrossedBone Crossed
by Patricia Briggs
Rating: ★★★½
isbn: 9780441016761
Series: Mercy Thompson #4
Publication Date: January 26, 2010
Pages: 309
Genre: Urban Fantasy

As a shape-shifter with some unusual talents, Mercy’s found herself maintaining a tenuous harmony between the human and the not-so-human on more than one occasion. This time she may get more than she bargained for.

Marsilia, the local vampire queen, has learned that Mercy crossed her by slaying a member of her clan—and she’s out for blood. But since Mercy is protected from direct reprisal by the werewolf pack (and her close relationship with its sexy Alpha), it won’t be Mercy’s blood Marsilia is after.

It’ll be her friends’.


I was prepared to dislike this book, as the synopsis didn’t sound all that interesting to me, but the author did an excellent job defying my expectations.  I was dreading the whole aftermath of the last book, but found myself admiring the way she handled Mercy’s recovery. I also dreaded the whole vampire-revenge storyline, but the plot-twist was excellent! I genuinely enjoyed the first 80% of the book. The part I liked the least was the end, which, I suppose, wasn’t written to be liked. Ms. Briggs does evil well. However, she gets points for not dragging the ending out so very long and I liked the way everything wrapped up quickly and satisfyingly. I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.