Tag Archives: Mystery

Review: This Case is Gonna Kiss Me by Phillipa Bornikova

3 Oct

   4 out of 5 scoopers

This Case is Gonna Kill Me by Phillipa Bornikova
TOR (Sept. 4, 2012)
Trade: $14.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780765326829

Favorite Lines: “I hardened and pressed my hips against hm while reaching down to cup his penis. He shifted off to the side, and I couldn’t reach him. Then his fingers were probing deep inside, but it felt more like an examination, testing the level of moisture between my legs.

And then he entered me with one hard lunge. I gasped, but it wasn’t from pleasure. I opened my eyes. He hung over me, taking his weight on his forearms. His brow was furrowed with concentration, but his expression was blank. With hard thrusts of his hips, he drove deeper and deeper into me. I tried to match his rhythm, but he made no accommodation for me.

He shuddered and I felt him go limp inside of  me. There was no warm flow of ejaculation–of course there wouldn’t be with  a vampire, just a loss of  tumidity. I realized he had been concentrating to send the blood flow to his penis so he would stay hard. Once he’d banged me, he stopped trying. he pulled out, rolled off me, and swung his legs off the bed.” (p. 122)

What happens when The Firm meets Anita Blake? You get the Halls of Power—our modern world, but twisted. Law, finance, the military, and politics are under the sway of long-lived vampires, werewolves, and the elven Alfar. Humans make the best of rule by “the Spooks,” and contend among themselves to affiliate with the powers-that-be, in order to avoid becoming their prey. Very loyal humans are rewarded with power over other women and men. Very lucky humans are selected to join the vampires, werewolves, and elves—or, on occasion, to live at the Seelie Court.

Linnet Ellery is the offspring of an affluent Connecticut family dating back to Colonial times. Fresh out of law school, she’s beginning her career in a powerful New York “white fang” law firm. She has high hopes of eventually making partner.

But strange things keep happening to her. In a workplace where some humans will eventually achieve immense power and centuries of extra lifespan, office politics can be vicious beyond belief. After some initial missteps, she finds herself sidelined and assigned to unpromising cases. Then, for no reason she can see, she becomes the target of repeated, apparently random violent attacks, escaping injury each time through increasingly improbable circumstances. However, there’s apparently more to Linnet Ellery than a little old-money human privilege. More than even she knows. And as she comes to understand this, she’s going to shake up the system like you wouldn’t believe…

I’d never heard of Phillipa Bornikova when I stumbled across her recently released book This Case is Gonna Kill Me on Netgalley. After reading the blurb which stated it was The Firm meets Anita Blake I knew it wasn’t a book I wanted to more or less promise to review. It sounded interesting, but I waited for Bornikova’s book to appear at the public library and checked it out.

I can tell you right now that blurb is misleading. Yes, the heroine works as a lawyer at a firm and yes someone is trying to kill her. But it’s not the law firm. She is no Anita Blake. She doesn’t hunt paranormal creatures or have sex with every man she meets. Linnet is a healthy twenty something year old lawyer who was fostered within a vampire household. The reader meets her and her boss at the same time when Linnet begins her career as a lawyer at the vampire law firm (White Fang).

This Case is Gonna Kill Me is told in first person and set in the normal world with paranormal creatures like vampires, Alfar (fae) and werewolves. The heroine is human, but quickly realizes she is a small pawn being played with by paranormal beings. It’s not clear who her friends are, nor is it clear who her true enemies are. The only thing Linnet knows is that she needs to prove herself by closing a case which has been open for 17 years.

I had a blast with Bornikova’s book. It had a steady pace, was filled with action and made me wonder what else was going to come. There are so many directions the author can take the next book. Someone will want to get even, rescue will need to be pulled off and secrets hopefully will be brought to light. I will buy and read the next book in this series which promises me a mystery, legal thriller and hint of romance set in an urban setting with fantastical creatures.

Most of the ratings on Goodreads are positive; only two people rated the story one or two stars. What others are saying about This Case is Gonna Kill Me:

Vampire Book Club
All Things Urban Fantasy
My Bookish Ways
Seeing Nights


New TV Shows: Elementary

15 Jun

Like Sherlock Holmes?

Review: Tattooed by Pamela Callow

22 May

Tattooed by Pamela Callow
Harlequin/MIRA (May 29, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780778313021

Favorite Lines: “The love and the hate had never stopped, never changed, never gone away. For over half his life he had loved Kenzie Sloane. And for over half his life he had hated her for what she had done to him. But he had a plan. A plan that would bring them full circle.” (p. 10, e-galley)

She is obsessed with tattoos.

He is obsessed with her.

When a body is found on the outskirts of Halifax, rumors run wild about the victim’s identity. But tattoo artist Kenzie Sloane knows exactly who she is. They share a tattoo… and a decade-old secret.

Lawyer Kate Lange remembers Kenzie Sloane. The former wild child was part of the same crowd that attracted her little sister, Imogen, before her death. Now Kenzie needs her help. And Kate needs answers.

But there are others who know about the tattoo and its history. And one of them is watching Kenzie’s every move, waiting for the perfect moment to fulfill a dark promise that had been inked in her skin.

C over art: I like the cover, but not for this book. The tattooist (Kenzie) is covered in tattoos, but there is one tattoo that is mentioned on the neck. It is not tribal art. It is a raven. (Even if it were tribal art, it would need to cover the bird.) So now I want to know: who is on the cover of this book?

I did not realize Pamela Callow’s Tattooed was book three in the Kate Lange series. I should have researched the author before picking up the book. It would have saved me some confusion and irritation when I felt like everyone but me knew what had happened in the past. I was late to the story which picked up several months after the events of book two, Indefensible.

The story is told from the third person and follows many different people including: a prison inmate, tattooist, lawyer and detective. The merry-go-round of characters kept the story rolling and it kept me guessing about one character’s true personality. I had certain expectations of Kenzie. Those opinions changed as I read her thoughts and what others thought about her. At the end of the book I wondered about people in general. Like do people change? What lengths would one go to keep her status? Can a good person do bad things and remain a decent individual?

I didn’t have answers at the end of the book, but I did have a firm grasp on who I was dealing with. I understood the characters and feel like this book is one that changes the series. Why? Well, there is a matter of Kate’s romantic interests being divided between two men. That is firmly dealt with in Tattooed. An event which molded Kate is delved into and while it wasn’t completely put to rest, it was addressed.

Tattooed is a thriller with bits that remind me of a police procedural. It has twists and made me wonder about events that happened in previous books. It was also a nice diversion and immersed me in a small town recovering after suffering the attention of a serial killer. However, it didn’t pique my interest enough to follow Kate in the next book.

Review: Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane

12 May

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane
Random House/Del Rey (March 27, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780345527509

Favorite Lines: “I chose you,” she managed, choking out the words in a strangled, warbly sounding whisper. “I chose you, I chose you all but I chose you, I love you soo much and I chose you–” (p.300, e-galley)

When Chess Putnam is ordered by an infamous crime boss-who also happens to be her drug dealer-to use her powers as a witch to solve a grisly murder involving dark magic, she knows she must rise to the challenge. Adding to the intensity:Chess’s boyfriend, Terrible, doesn’t trust her, and Lex, the son of a rival crime lord, is trying to reignite the sparks between him and Chess.

Plus there’s the little matter of Chess’s real job as a ghost hunter for the Church of Real Truth, investigating reports of a haunting at a school in the heart of Downside. Someone seems to be taking a crash course in summoning the dead-and if Chess doesn’t watch her back, she may soon be joining their ranks. 

As Chess is drawn into a shadowy world of twisted secrets and dark violence, it soon becomes clear that she’s not going to emerge from its depths without making the ultimate sacrifice.

Sacrificial Magic is hands down my favorite book in Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghost series. It hits so many emotional buttons while managing to keep the action flowing that I couldn’t put it down. Once again Chess is battling her inner demons and questioning her worth when she is dragged into what may be the beginning of a possible gang war. On one side is her lover, the other side a former lover.

There are so many layers to Sacrificial Magic. A deep look into Chess and Terrible’s (one of my favorite urban fantasy men) relationship is taken. We get to see some of Chess’s childhood where an understanding into her inability to trust can be gleaned. New characters are introduced and the plot just continues to get deeper and darker.

Through moments where I wanted to smack Chess and pages where I cried and wiped snot on my sleeve, I fell further into Kane’s Downside world. It’s no place I’d ever want to visit in reality, but the pain and the hope of Chess possibly finding salvation hold me in thrall. There is more to the Downside world than a drugged out, damaged heroine.

Each book revolves around some type of mystery that Chess needs to solve. Sacrificial Magic is no different. In it, mysteries set in different sections of Chess’s world become entangled threatening to expose some of her secrets. For example, she needs to debunk a haunted school set in her ex-lover’s gang territory, solve a murder in her current lover’s gang territory and discover what befell a former Church debunker.

I do not recommend readers beginning the series with this book. This series is progressive. Each books builds upon the events of previous books and I can’t wait to get my hands on Chasing Magic (book 5) which is due to be released in June 2012.

Review: The Prophet by Amanda Stevens

8 May

The Prophet by Amanda Stevens
Harlequin/MIRA (April 24, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9780778313397

Favorite Lines: “But I could already feel the exchange of energy, the stealthy siphon of my warmth as Devlin unwittingly replenished his life force with mine. One of the ironies of falling for a haunted man. My haven protected me from his ghosts, but hallowed ground couldn’t shield me from him.” (p. 230, e-galley)

My name is Amelia Gray.

I am the Graveyard Queen, a cemetery restorer who sees ghosts. My father passed down four rules to keep me safe and I’ve broken every last one. A door has opened and evil wants me back.

In order to protect myself, I’ve vowed to return to those rules. But the ghost of a murdered cop needs my help to find his killer. The clues lead me to the dark side of Charleston—where witchcraft, root doctors and black magic still flourish—and back to John Devlin, a haunted police detective I should only love from afar.Now I’m faced with a terrible choice: follow the rules or follow my heart.

The Prophet is book three in Amanda Stevens’ Graveyard Queen series and so far is scheduled to be followed by an additional three books. It returns the reader to the creepy world introduced in book one, The Restorer.

The ghosts in Stevens’ world are leech like. They feed on human energy and only some people can see them. The heroine, Amelia, was taught to ignore ghosts when she was a child, but began breaking the rules after meeting a detective named, Devlin. I never understood Amelia’s interest in the detective, but it’s back in full force in The Prophet.

I’ve got to tell y’all that The Prophet is my least favorite book of the series primarily due to Amelia’s interest in Devlin. I don’t like her unhealthy obsession with Devlin and really don’t get her lack of self-preservation. She seems to have a death wish and it interfered with my ability to enjoy The Prophet. I think Michele at GoodReads put it pretty good when she said, “Amelia’s grating personality, her annoying, repetitive inner dialogues, and her inactions when it mattered.”

Despite my irritation with the Devlin/Amelia relationship story line I found myself enjoying parts of the book. Never enough to make this a book I’d read again, but I wanted answers and I got some. Mysteries surrounding Devlin’s deceased wife and child and semi-solved, places visited in book one were re-visited and a “power” was discovered. There is definite fallout from the events of The Prophet to come in future books. I’m just not interested enough to read them.

Movie Trailer: The Raven

7 May

Have you watched The Raven? Do you plan to watch it? I think I’m gonna pass as it seems a bit too horror movie for me.

Review: Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones

1 Dec

Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones
St. Martin’s Press (Aug. 2011)
Hardback: $21.99; ebook: $9.99
ISBN: 9780312360818

Favorite Lines: “I locked the door behind me, essentially leaving the son of Satan in my apartment. Alone. Annoyed. And quite possibly sexually frustrated. A niggling in the back of my mind had me hoping I didn’t make him angry. I would hate for him to catch my bachelorette pad on hellfire.” (p. 48)

When Charley is rudely awakened in the middle of the night by her best friend who tells her to get dressed quickly and tosses clothes out of the closet at her, she can’t help but wonder what Cookie’s up to. Leather scrunch boots with a floral miniskirt? Together? Seriously? Cookie explains that a friend of hers named Mimi disappeared five days earlier and that she just got a text from her setting up a meet at a coffee shop downtown. They show up at the coffee shop, but no Mimi. But Charley finds a message on the bathroom wall. Mimi left a clue, a woman’s name. Mimi’s husband explains that his wife had been acting strange since she found out an old friend of hers from high school had been found murdered a couple weeks prior. The same woman Mimi had named in her message.

Meanwhile, Reyes Alexander Farrow (otherwise known as the Son of Satan. Yes. Literally) has left his corporeal body and is haunting Charley. He’s left his body because he’s being tortured by demons who want to lure Charley closer. But Reyes can’t let that happen. Because if the demons get to Charley, they’ll have a portal to heaven. And if they have a portal to heaven…well, let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. Can Charley handle hot nights with Reyes and even hotter days tracking down a missing woman? Will Cookie ever get a true fashion sense? And is there enough coffee and chocolate in the world to fuel them as they do?

If you like the idea of a female Grim Reaper, you’ll love Darynda Jones‘ Charley Davidson series. Second Grave on the Left combines humor, passion and mystery into a delightful roller coaster ride which ends with an OMG exclamation.

Do not skip book one thinking you’ll start the series with book two. While the story recaps the highlights of First Grave on the Right, it in no way is a substitute for it. We learn about Charley, her family and friends, her love interest Reyes, as well as the world in which they live in book one.

This book, Second Grave on the Left, showcases Charley’s friendships, gives a better look at her family life and of course heats the pages with scenes filled with the drool worthy son of Satan. Set only one week after the events of book one, Charley is still reeling from discovering Reyes is the son of Satan when her best friend seeks her help finding a missing friend. While she investigates a series of deaths, Charley gets a little help from an incorporeal Reyes. His human body is being tortured by demons and he plans to let it die. Reyes wants Charley to let him go. When that doesn’t work, he is brutally honest about the lengths he will go to prevent his father from entering heaven. His honesty makes him more attractive to me and Charley’s reaction to it proves she is in for the long haul. She would do anything for him–even things he might hate her for.

Second Grave to the Left is a mixture of mystery and paranormal with a sprinkling of romance told in the first person from Charley’s POV. It’s snarky, bloody and satisfying. The whirlwind of action includes old school gangsters, fake FBI agents and a ghost in a car all of whom vie for Charley’s attention. It never becomes overwhelming or distracting though.  The next book, Third Grave Dead Ahead, will be released in February 2012.

Review: Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo

22 Jul

Breaking Silence by Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books (June 2011)
Hardback: $24.99; ebook: $11.99
ISBN: 9780312374990

Favorite Lines: “You fucking bitch! I wish I’d killed you, too!” (p. 294)

The Slabaugh family are model Amish farmers, prosperous and hardworking, with four children and a happy extended family. When the parents and an uncle are found dead in their barn, it appears to be a gruesome accident: methane gas asphyxiation caused by a poorly ventilated cesspit. But in the course of a routine autopsy, the coroner discovers that one of the victims suffered a head wound before death—clearly, foul play was involved. But who would want to make orphans of the Slabaughs’ children? And is this murder somehow related to a recent string of shocking hate crimes against the Amish?

Having grown up Amish, Kate is determined to bring the killer to justice. Because the other series of attacks are designated hate crimes, the state sends in agent John Tomasetti, with whom Kate has a long and complex relationship. Together, they search for the link between the crimes—and uncover a dark secret at work beneath the placid surface of this idyllic Amish community.

Book three in Linda Castillo’s Kate Bukholder series, Breaking Silence, is awesome. I read the book in one sitting and despite never having read the first two books had no problem.

The series is set in Painter’s Creek, Ohio, right smack dab in Amish country. The story is told in both third and first person. While in third person the reader gets into the mind hate crime perpetrators and other secondary characters. When the story is told in first person, we are watching events unfold through Kate, the heroine’s eyes.

At first the story seems to be an open and shut who dun it; find out who is committing hate crimes. As the thriller gets underway, we see new evidence that indicates more is going on than meets the eye. The author doesn’t give away much, but I’ve got an evil mind and figured out a particular person’s involvement in the Amish homicides.

If you’re like me, you’ll be saying, “Oh, my God!” as the story unfolds.

I enjoyed the variety of ways Castillo showcased the Amish. They weren’t just separatists. They were friendly and hostile. Some had technology while others did not. And that while being shunned was not a good thing, it didn’t mean the same thing to every Amish family.

I had a problem reconciling myself to not knowing Kate or her lover, John’s back stories. Things are hinted at, but it takes a while to figure out why the crimes are affecting Kate and John so much. Sure they are brutal, but the intense personal investment they make, especially Kate, wasn’t revealed until the end of the book. Those familiar with the series probably knew why, but I didn’t. I’m sure they were discussed in the previous two books: Pray for Silence and Sworn to Silence. Obviously it is my problem and not a failure of the author and it really didn’t bother me too much.

Buy it or Skip it? Buy it. It’s a thriller filled with small, engaging twists. You may think you know what’s going to happen, but in the end you might be shocked. I can’t wait to hear what y’all think about it.

In the meanwhile check out what others are saying about Breaking Silence:

S. Krishna’s Books
Lesa’s Book Critiques
Miss Lynn’s Books & More

Review: The First Victim by J.B. Lynn

17 Jun

The First Victim by J.B. Lynn (Hate the cover. Love the story.)
Carina Press (June 2011)
e-book: $4.99
ISBN: 9781426891748
Excerpt: Click here.

Favorite Lines: “He couldn’t wait to play with them. But not yet. It wasn’t time. Soon though. Right now there was another girl he wanted to toy with. He was putting the finishing touches on their playroom right now. The walls had been soundproofed. No one would hear her scream. The tools were laid out. Waiting for when he was ready for them. The brand-new clothes he’d bought to dress her up i had been washed in rose water. Crushing them in his fist, he raised them to his nose. They smelled so good. Not as good as she’d smell though.” (p. 41 e-ARC) Continue reading

Review: South of Salem by Janni Nell

25 May

South of Salem by Janni Nell
Carina Press (May 30, 2011)
e-book: $4.99 (66,000 words)
ISBN: 9781426891670

Favorite Lines: “”The Sir Galahad Award for Honorable Treatment of Women.”

I didn’t ask whether he was serious. I could tell by his expression that he was. Curious, I asked, “Who are the other nominees?”

“Henry the Eighth, Caligula and Jack the Ripper.”” (p. 108) Continue reading