Sunday, 29 January 2017

My Bad Grandad (Mercy Watts Mysteries Book 7) by A.W. Hartoin (2017)

Publisher's Information

Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go to Sturgis. 

That’s what they say at the famous motorcycle rally. Is Mercy Watts a bad girl? Mercy doesn’t think so, but she’s going to Sturgis and things are about to go bad in a big way. 

When Mercy’s grandad, Ace Watts, heads to a reunion with his oldest friends, Mercy jumps at the chance to get away from her problems, but new problems await her at the rally. When a Vietnam vet dies, Mercy is expected to investigate. Despite her best efforts, she’s drawn into her grandad’s war with a string of deaths and a secret that the vets are intent on keeping no matter what. 
Mercy’s about to find out that a lie spoken fifty years ago can be used by a present day evil, and it’s not only stalking Sturgis, but the Watts clan itself.

My review 

I love this series and I couldn't wait to read My Bad Grandad but I was very disappointed in this latest adventure.
Chuck was missing from this book and his absence had a huge impact on my enjoyment of the story. I missed his alpha male attempts to help and protect Mercy during her investigations. There was no light flirtation, sexual frustration, cute little jealousies or silly arguments to lighten the mood. Instead, we get a pug, who gets treated quite badly in the name of comedy. I didn't particularly like the new cast of characters. There wasn't that same chemistry that the established characters have together. I liked Mercy's grandfather but I had no liking for Raptor at all and I couldn't see why she and Mercy had to be friends when they couldn't stand each other, just because they dormed together in college and their grandfathers were friends. She was a nasty character and I didn't warm to her at all.
I also missed Aaron in this book. He is practically invisible in this story; being relegated to the position of just someone who turns up with hot chocolate at odd moments.
I enjoyed the fact that Mercy is still making a splash in the rock work of DBD and I hope that continues as it provides plenty of scope for comedy and something for Chuck to get all hot and bothered about.
Despite my lukewarm reaction to My Bad Grandad, the Mercy Watts series has been fantastic entertainment up to this point and so I will look forward to the next release with as much enthusiasm as ever.

Thanks to the author for providing a review copy.

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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Blood of the Oak by Eliot Pattison (2016)

Product Description

The fourth entry in the Bone Rattler series advances the protagonist Duncan McCallum to 1765 and into the throes of the Stamp Tax dissent, which marked the beginning of organised resistance to English rule. Duncan follows ritualistic murders that are strangely connected to both the theft of an Iroquois artefact and a series of murders and kidnappings in the network of secret runners supporting the nascent committees of correspondence—which are engaged in the first organised political dissent across colonial borders. He encounters a powerful conspiracy of highly placed English aristocrats who are bent on crushing all dissent, is captured by its agents, and sent into slavery in Virginia beside the kidnapped runners. Inspired by an aged native American slave and new African friends Duncan decides not just to escape but to turn their own intrigue against the London lords.

Included in the novel’s cast of characters are figures from our history who have their own destinies to fulfil in the next decade, including Benjamin Franklin (writing from London), Samuel Adams, the early Pennsylvania rebel James Smith, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and, very briefly, a soft spoken militia officer named Washington. The Blood of the Oak takes a fresh view on the birth of the new American nation, suggesting that the “freedom” that became the centrepiece of the Revolution was uniquely American, rising not just from unprecedented political discourse but also from the extraordinary bond with the natural world experienced by frontier settlers and native tribes.

My Review                
I love historical novels and I have a keen interest in American history so I was delighted when I was offered this title for review. 
Pattison deftly weaves a fictional tale steeped in historical facts and Native American mysticism. The blood curdling violence in the story added to the suspense as it reflected the savagery that I associate with that time and place.
I found the story engaging from the beginning however the reader needs to take time time to appreciate the complexity of the plot and the intricacy of the clues dotted throughout. 

The Blood of the Oak has received many 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I am in the minority with allotting it 3 stars.
It is a lengthy book and I found the language style used, although reminiscent of the period, quite difficult and tedious to read. It slowed the pace of the novel for me which meant that I lost interest in various places along the way. I understood and appreciated the literary references e.g to Shakespeare however I could never fully immerse myself in the story as I had to work harder to process what I was reading. The long list of characters from various backgrounds and allegiances was also a challenge as I had not read the previous books. I think I would have had a better connection to the story and the characters if I had started from the beginning.

Purchase Link


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Beneath the Coyote Hills by William Luvaas (2016)

Product Description

Beneath The Coyote Hills explores the influence of choice and chance in our lives. Do we control our own destiny or is it dictated in part by mysterious forces beyond our control?
Tommy Aristophanos is a luckless man, a homeless freegan, fiction writer, and epileptic, who is haunted by grotesque "spell visions" and by his abusive father who returns, quite literally, from the dead. When Tommy’s fictional creation, wealthy and successful V.C. Hoffstatter, emerges from pages of the novel Tommy is writing to harass him–repossess his home and fire him from his job, leaving him homeless–plucky Tommy fights back. Hoffstatter believes that we author our own destiny, while Tommy’s many reverses and his ailment teach him that we control far less than we imagine. He endures attacks by vigilante thugs, marauding coyotes, and by a criminal organ transplant ring in Kosovo that steals one of his kidneys. In the book’s final narrative twist, we are left wondering who is the true Pygmalion–Tommy or Hoffstatter?


Beneath the Coyote Hills was a book I just had to read in one day. It is a fast paced, unique and unusual story; one I refused to put it down lest I lose sight of the 'real' world Tommy inhabits and the fictional one he creates as the line between the blurs.
The story jumps in time from Tommy's childhood to his life in the present day as well as dipping into the fictional world of V.C. Hoffstatter. 
It sounds like it might be confusing for the reader however, impressively, it is presented in such a logical way that it all makes sense, although it does make you think! 
The twist at the end took me by surprise and I found myself pondering the story and its characters long after I had finished it.
The merging of the two worlds made compelling reading and I was fascinated by the whole idea of people's existences being dependant upon the stroke of a pen and the whim of the author. 

Purchase Links

Amazon UK / US  

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Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Lucky Hat Mine by J.V.L. Bell (2016) Narrated by Nancy Wu (2016)

Publisher's Information

A recipe for true love or murder? Ingredients: one Southern belle, one Colorado gold miner, a wife wanted classified, and a fainting goat. Let simmer.

What's a Southern belle to do in 1863? Wife-wanted ads are always risky business, but Millie Virginia never imagined she'd survive the perilous trip across the Great Plains to find her intended husband in a pine box. Was he killed in an accident? Or murdered for his gold mine? Stuck in the mining town of Idaho Springs, Colorado territory, without friends or means, Millie is beleaguered by undesirable suitors and threatened by an unknown assailant. Her troubles escalate when the brother of her dead fiancé, Dominic Drouillard, unexpectedly turns up.

Dom is an ill-mannered mountain man who invades Millie's log cabin, insists that his brother was murdered, and refuses to leave until he finds the killer. Compelled to join forces with her erstwhile brother-in-law, Millie discovers the search for Colorado gold is perilous, especially with a murderer on their trail.

The Lucky Hat Mine interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with frontier legend and lore making for an arousing historical murder mystery.


I really enjoyed this historical mystery-romance. It is a clever tale of greed, murder and suspense with a good dollop of romance and humour. 

I liked Millie and Dom. I found their banter and all their little arguments to be quite funny in places. I listened to the audio book and the humour in the pair verbally sparring came across very well. Millie was adorable every time she protested against being called Red.
The side characters were also well written and provided much amusement. The darker, dangerous characters were menacing enough that the suspense and intrigue had me on the edge of my seat right to the end. I felt the danger that Millie and Dom were in but I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't stop to ponder on who their adversary was. 
I loved the romantic aspect of this story. For me, it was the perfect blend of romance and suspense. It was subtle and full of humour as the pair got to know each other. It took a second seat to he drama going on around them and the pace felt realistic.

This was a great book and would certainly look out for more by the author.

I listened to the audio book and it was narrated very well and was very easy to listen to. I would recommend the audio version for those who like audio books. 

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Buy links

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Virgin of the Wind Rose: A Christopher Columbus Mystery-Thriller by Glen Craney (2014)

Publisher's Information

While investigating the murder of an American missionary in Ethiopia, rookie State Department lawyer Jaqueline Quartermane becomes obsessed with a magical word square found inside an underground church guarding the tomb of the biblical Adam.

Drawn into a web of esoteric intrigue, she and a roguish antiquities thief named Elymas must race an elusive and taunting mastermind to find the one relic needed to resurrect Solomon's Temple. A trail of cabalistic clues leads them to the catacombs of Rome, the crypt below Chartres Cathedral, a Masonic shaft in Nova Scotia, a Portuguese shipwreck off Sumatra, and the caverns under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Intertwined with this modern mystery-thriller, a parallel duel is waged:

The year is 1452. One of the most secretive societies in history, Portugal's Order of Christ, is led by a reclusive visionary, Prince Henry the Navigator. He and his medieval version of NASA merged with the CIA scheme to foil their archenemies, the Inquisitor Torquemada and Queen Isabella of Castile, who plan to bring back Christ for the Last Judgement by ridding the world of Jews, heretics, and unbelievers.

Separated by half a millennium, two conspiracies to usher in the Tribulations promised by the Book of Revelation dovetail in this fast-paced thriller to expose the world's most explosive secret: The true identity of Christopher Columbus and the explorer's connection to those now trying to spark the End of Days. 


A riveting mystery-thriller choc full of suspense, intrigue and adventure.
I found the dual stories to be equally enthralling and I was impressed by how the author wove the two stories together and linked them across two time periods.
The amount of research that went into this book is astounding.  The historical aspects are cleverly written in a clever way and without reading like an academic text. The author manages to weave fact, fiction and conspiracy theories together in a fun and entertaining way.
I got completely immersed in both the historical and contemporary story lines.
The contemporary story is full of adventure and very fast paced.  Jacqueline travels to different countries as she solves codes, follows clues whilst dodging attempts on her life. She also gets a little help from Elymas, an antiquities thief. I liked Elymas more than Jacqueline. I wouldn't have minded if she was simply a person of faith but she came across as too much of a religious nut for my liking and I didn't really connect with her in any emotional way. Elymas was more of an attractive character. He is mysterious and swoops in at opportune moments. His sense of humour and constant teasing of Jacqueline made him a very likeable character.
I really enjoyed the flirtation and lighthearted banter than went on between the pair. It lightened the mood of a story full of historical research and complicated codes. Their fast paced adventure kept me turning the pages and entertained right to the end. 
There were plenty of twists and turns and the closing chapters also brought a few shocks and surprises.

This was a great read. Thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy.

Purchase links

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Fine Dining: A Trudie Fine Mystery, Book 2 by Gale Deitch (2014) Narrated by Kirstin James (2015)

Publisher's Summary

Trudie Fine's romantic dinner with Detective Daniel Goldman is cut short by a gruesome murder. When her good friend, May Dubois, is discovered sitting by the body of her dead brother, holding a bloody knife, the case seems as cut and dried as sliced okra. From the start, however, Trudie believes in her friend and sets out to prove May's innocence. But if May isn't the killer, who is? Taking over as temporary manager at May's New Orleans-themed restaurant to do some sleuthing plunges Trudie into a jambalaya of dangerous waters.

Audio length: 6 hrs and 17 mins 


A brilliant series

What I love most about this series is that the author doesn't limit the action and suspense to a big finale at the end of the book. Trudie gets into all kinds of dangerous situations throughout the story which makes it very exciting to read and listen.
I also love the way Trudie expresses herself through food metaphors. She is a really sweet, funny, and true to life kind of character.
I love the romantic entanglements she gets herself mixed up in and how a little bit of competition keeps Daniel and Trudie on their toes!

I like the expressions and tone of voice Kristin James uses for the different characters. I can imagine the characters better because they sound so real. There were also a couple of emotional and tear jerking moments in the story which were performed very effectively.

Purchase Link