The Dirt on Ninth Grave (Charley Davidson, #9)

The Dirt on Ninth GraveThe Dirt on Ninth Grave
by Darynda Jones
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9781250074485
Series: Charlie Davidson #9
Publication Date: January 16, 2016
Pages: 326
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Charley Davidson is living in New York City as Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she begins to realize she can see dead people, she’s more than a bit taken aback. Strangers who enter the diner where she works seem to know things about her…Then she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. An enemy that will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. And the diner’s devastatingly handsome fry cook, who vows to protect her even though he seems to be lying with every breath he takes. But in the face of such grave danger, who can Jane/Charley/whoever she is trust? She will find the truth even if it kills her…or the fry cook. Either way…

My personal health reality includes sleeping medications, so I rarely suffer from anything that could be called insomnia.  Except on very rare occasions when they fail, and last night they failed spectacularly – I never went to sleep.  I finally started to nod off when MT’s alarm went off and I briefly contemplated instigating a domestic disturbance.

The good news – I guess – is that I finished The Dirt on Ninth Grave in one sitting.  I was engrossed enough in the story to not want to put it down, but I’d have preferred not feeling like a zombie on toast today.

I definitely, thoroughly, enjoyed this book but I liked it the least of the nine books so far.  It was the amnesia thing.  We finally got to a place in the story arc where we had answers and a clear goal in site and then this book comes along and we’re temporarily rebooted to Charley not knowing anything.  I thought this would only last a few chapters… maybe half the book at the outside, but nope: Charley doesn’t snap out of it until the end.

I saved this book until The Curse of Tenth Grave was released because I’d read from several places that Ninth Grave ended on a cliffhanger.  I’ll argue this ending isn’t a cliffhanger though, because the action comes to an end; the story is paused.  A major story-arc plot twist is revealed, but it’s more a ‘how will this affect the arc’ twist, rather than ‘ohmigod is someone gonna die in chapter 1 of book 10?!?’.

…I think.  Thankfully, I have the next book sitting here waiting, so I can find out.  After I take a nap.

(I might use this book as the Book with a terrible cover Summer Book Bingo square.  It’s not objectively terrible, but I don’t like it.)


by Jane Austen
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 9781435127432
Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Pages: 228
Genre: Fiction, Literature
Publisher: Barnes and Noble


This was my “comfort read” for the Summer Book Bingo.  It’s a re-read, so there’s not much more for me to say than I’ve said before.  It’s Austen.  It’s brilliant.

I refrained from 5 stars only because it starts a bit slow and it’s not Pride & Prejudice, the standards by which I judge all my regency.  😉

On the Edge

On the EdgeOn the Edge
by Ilona Andrews
Rating: ★★★
isbn: 9780441017805
Series: Novel of the Edge #1
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
Pages: 336
Genre: Fiction, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace


I love the Kate Daniels series and the synopsis for this one sounded pretty good; a place where two worlds overlapped – an in-between space only certain people could live.  Intriguing.

But… no.  The writing is solid, descriptive, evocative.  But this is much more a paranormal romance than an urban fantasy and animal cruelty is just treated too casually for me; it’s not graphic, but it’s prevalent.

This is also a book that would lose a lot of readers in the first half, especially those with low tolerance for male posturing and non-consent (no rape, to be clear, just the whole ‘I will have you! crap).  Andrews’ here is a bit too clever for their own good (what is the proper pronoun usage for 2 people writing under 1 name?!?):  a lot of readers won’t have the tolerance to stick around and discover just how wrong perceptions are in the first half of the book.

Overall, I’m not sorry I read it, but I won’t read it again and I won’t read the second book (I think there’s a second book…).  I’ll stick with Kate and Curran.

An Inquiry Into Love and Death

An Inquiry into Love and DeathAn Inquiry into Love and Death
by Simone St. James
Rating: ★★★★★
isbn: 9780451239259
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Pages: 355
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical
Publisher: NAL / New American Library

Boy howdy can St. James write a ghost story!  I love this book; I woke up at 6.30 this morning and did nothing until I finished it and then I re-read a few passages just to make it last longer.

In 1920’s England, Oxford student Jillian Leigh’s uncle Toby, a renowned ghost hunter, is killed in a fall off a cliff, and she must drive to the seaside village of Rothewell to pack up his belongings.

Almost immediately, unsettling incidents—a book left in a cold stove, a gate swinging open on its own—escalate into terrifying events that convince Jillian an angry spirit is trying to enter the house. Is it Walking John, the two-hundred-year-old ghost who haunts Blood Moon Bay? Was Toby’s death an accident?

The arrival of handsome Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken leaves Jillian with more questions than answers. Even as she suspects someone will do anything to hide the truth, she begins to discover spine-chilling secrets that lie deep within Rothewell… 

If you’re a horror or psychological horror lover, pass this review right on by; this book is a cream puff in comparison to your regular fare, but for the rest of us, this is truly an old-school, spooky ghost story with a mystery and a romance (oh the romance…).  There’s nothing gothic about the story, but I keep thinking of the old gothics anyway, for lack of any better comparison.

I probably should have gone 4.5 stars because Jillian goes through an improbable – neigh, impossible – number of physical calamities to still be standing upright.  Or breathing, really.  But the story was just so good; I was sucked in so thoroughly that I was willing to overlook her superhuman regenerative powers.  Inspector Merriken was incentive enough to spur on a rapid recovery.

Ok, anything else I say beyond this point would just be repetitive gushing.  I loved this book; it gave me exactly the experience I hope for every time I start a new story and I’ll be looking for more of this author’s work.

Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)

Marked in FleshMarked in Flesh
by Anne Bishop
Rating: ★★★★½
Series: The Others #4
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 416
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: ROC Hardcover


Well, obviously I loved this one. I almost went the whole 5 stars, but I was able to put it down when I finished and not just start re-reading it, so I figured it must be lacking something.  Let’s call it ‘not enough Tess’.

But honestly, I had some fears over this one because surely the author couldn’t keep on writing books this consistently good; surely there had to be a weakling among the litter?  If there is, it hasn’t yet been written.  Once I started it, I didn’t want to put it down.

That’s all I’m going to say, because I don’t want to spoil it for those that haven’t read it yet.  But yes, it is well worth the read.

Fire Touched (Mercy Thompson #9)

Fire TouchedFire Touched
by Patricia Briggs
Rating: ★★★★½
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Publication Date: March 4, 2016
Pages: 342
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Ace

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Maybe my favourite of the nine books so far.  It was fast-paced, a little bit breathless and everybody pulled their heads out of their… and started acting like a unit instead of a roomful of kids hyped up on too much birthday cake.

Fire Touched took a page of out Zee’s book of philosophy and played no games; there weren’t any sly plots on the side, no melodramatic angst, no misapprehensions or misunderstandings.  It was a welcome change to have a story where Mercy and Adam worked together from beginning to end.  I loved that Zee got a lot more page-time and I think it might be a little wrong how much I liked Baba Yaga’s character.  These two and Margaret’s cameo made up for the absence of Samuel and the small bit with Bran (although I loved this scene, with Charles playing invisible chorus).

I’d have liked to have known more about Aiden’s power (how it works) and his past, although I did enjoy learning a bit more about Underhill and, I don’t know if the author intended this or not, I liked the allegory of mankind’s treatment of Earth.

At the end of the book, I had a feeling it lacked a very small something, but on thinking about it, I think that’s more about my expectation of side plots and melodrama (because let’s face it, that’s pretty much SOP in most books) going unfulfilled than anything of substance actually missing.  I went 4.5 stars because as much as I really enjoyed the plotting, the writing and the characters, fae politics just aren’t that fascinating to me, and that’s purely personal taste.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Briggs does next.

Eighth Grave After Dark (Charley Davidson, #8)

Eighth Grave After DarkEighth Grave After Dark
by Darynda Jones
Rating: ★★★★½
isbn: 9781250045652
Series: Charlie Davidson #8
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Pages: 293
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Charley Davidson has enough going on without having to worry about twelve hellhounds hot on her trail. She is, after all, incredibly pregnant and feeling like she could pop at any moment. But, just her luck, twelve deadly beasts from hell have chosen this time to escape onto our plane, and they've made Charley their target. And so she takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can't get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. Of course, if hellhounds aren't enough, Charley also has a new case to hold her attention: the decades-old murder of a newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows of the convent.

Add to that the still unsolved murder of her father, the strange behavior of her husband, and Charley's tendency to attract the, shall we say, undead, and she has her hands full...but also tied.

I knew (sort of) how this one ended and had put off starting it until the release of the ninth book was closer, but actually it’s not quite as cliff-hanging an ending as I was expecting.

I love this series; I love the humour, the snark, and the inclusion of a lot of old Christian mythology.  I like the way the author conveys the horror of bad things happening without making the reader wallow in it.

Eighth Grave After Dark is both the culmination and the deepening of the overall story arc.  We have the ultimate family reunion in addition to the cold and hot cases Charley is trying to solve.  Reyes becomes a bit more human too, if you’ll excuse the expression.  The author’s depiction of hell brought to mind scenes from Constantine and were incredibly effective.

The ending is … ok.  It’s a neat and tidy way of getting around what might have proven problematic in future plots, but it works for me.  I’m very much looking forward to the ninth book.

The Haunting of Maddy Clarie

The Haunting of Maddy ClareThe Haunting of Maddy Clare
by Simone St. James
Rating: ★★★★★
isbn: 9780451235688
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Pages: 330
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Publisher: NAL / New American Library


I put this book on my ‘maybe’ list well over a year ago and then promptly overlooked it for ages.  I even gave up and removed it from my lists altogether because I figured if I hadn’t bought it yet, I wasn’t really interested.

A recent review here on BL highly rating it brought it back to my attention at the same time I received a coupon from my favorite online bookseller so I just ordered it.

Jeez am I glad I did.  I loved this book.  This book hit all the right buttons for me: it was scary without being terrifying; it had great sexual tension (I am not going to call it ‘romance’ because there wasn’t any romancing going on, but it was intense); it had a great plot and interesting characters and it was well-written.  The writing style reminded me of authors of the past, particularly Phyllis Whitney.

My only complaint is now I’m suffering from a book hangover – right before I leave for a long weekend at the beach.

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell, #1)

A Curious BeginningA Curious Beginning
by Deanna Raybourn
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 9780451476012
Series: Veronica Speedwell Mystery #1
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Pages: 339
Genre: Fiction, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: NAL / New American Library

What can I say?  I really liked this one, it’s an excellent start to what I hope will be many equally interesting adventures.  Ms. Raybourn nailed the characters, imo: Ms. Speedwell is my personal historical heroine; I love her history and the way she owns her choices, and Stoker is Sebastian Gage, v2.0.  He’s still fiery, vitriolic, dark, mysterious – but he’s not a disrespectful jackass.

As a few of my friends have said before me, I could have done without the traveling circus and not missed it; I get that the author needed a setting, a motivation, an excuse to give Stoker and Speedwell the chance to learn more about each other and some of their secretive pasts, but the circus thing just doesn’t interest me and that’s the only reason this book ‘only’ got 4 stars instead of 4.5.

The ending was bold.  Really bold.  Ms. Raybourn truly made Veronica the most dangerous person to the UK in a subtle, glorious and inspired way.  I’m a little disappointed that it seems we’re going to be subjected to an over-arcing villain in the series, but I suppose I can’t have everything.  I can’t wait until book 2 comes out to see what happens next.

NB: I’d have taken the money.  😉

The Dark Enquiry (Lady Julia, #5)

I finished this on Sunday, but sort of forgot to follow up with a review; I’ve since read another book and I’m in the middle of one, neither of which are historical and the details from The Dark Enquiry have all gone a little fuzzy.

I liked it; better than The Dark Road to Darjeeling, but it wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped it would be.  From the synopsis I rather figured the paranormal aspect would be more central to the plot and it wasn’t central at all.  Brisbane is still keeping secrets from Julia, but at least Julia has more or less stopped running around trying to solve mysteries behind his back; they reach a state of mutual respect for each other that was sorely lacking in the last book.

The plot was weird and the murderer came out of nowhere – at no time was the reader given the information needed to identify the culprit, until the denouement scene with Julia. It made for an exciting ending though.