Yuletide Homicide by Jennifer David Hesse #BookReview

yuletidehomicideTitle: Yuletide Homicide
Author: Jennifer David Hesse
Series: Wiccan Wheel Mysteries #3
Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages
Publication Details: September 26th 2017 by Kensington
Genre(s): Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

It’s Christmas in Edindale, Illinois, and family law attorney Keli Milanni is preparing to celebrate the Wiccan holiday Yuletide, a celebration of rebirth. But this Yuletide someone else is focused on dying . . .
 
After years of practicing in secret, Keli has come out as a Wiccan to her boyfriend, and she feels like this Yuletide she’s the one who’s being reborn. But the Solstice is the longest night of the year, and Keli is about to stumble on a mystery so dangerous, she’ll be lucky to make it to morning.
 
Paired with her unbearably stuffy colleague Crenshaw Davenport III, Keli goes undercover at a real estate company owned by mayoral candidate Edgar Harrison. An old friend of Keli’s boss, Harrison, is being blackmailed, and it’s up to her to find the culprit. But the morning after the company holiday party, Harrison is found dead underneath the hotel Christmas tree. The police rule the death an accident, but Keli knows better—and she’ll risk her own rebirth to nab a missing killer.

 

Review

Yuletide Homicide is the third in a series of cozy mysteries with a fun, witchy twist. I hadn’t read the previous books in the series but it stood-alone pretty well, so I wouldn’t let that put you off.

The story centers around Keli, who is exploring her Wiccan faith, mainly in solitude, but as the novel unfolds she becomes more open about her religion and practices. The Wiccan element is just one small part of Keli’s life however – she’s a busy lady!

Keli is an attorney who seems to spend her time as more of an amateur sleuth than an actual attorney. Along with her eccentric colleague Crenshaw, Keli is thrust straight into a murder mystery when her boss asks her to find out who is blackmailing him. Not only does she discover who the blackmailer is, but she also finds his body.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a little bit silly in parts, and felt like one of those books that you have to take with a pinch of salt, but it was paced-well, written nicely, and entertaining. I love a good murder mystery, and this reminded me of the likes of Midsomer Murders, which I love.

I enjoyed the dynamic between Keli and Crenshaw, and think it’s great to have a regular, down to earth, Wiccan, protagonist. The only thing that annoyed me was that she wasn’t more ‘out’ and proud as a Wiccan, like it’s something to be ashamed of. It felt a little old-fashioned in its approach in that respect. Hopefully though, that’s all part of the overall series arc.

Yuletide Homicide was a nice alternative to all the festive romances out at the time that I read it. I hope I get to read more in the series in the future.

unicorn rating 4

Alone by Cyn Balog: Spotlight Tour, Review & Giveaway!

Welcome to my spot on the Alone blog tour

Alone tour1.jpg

About the Book

alone

Publication date:  November 7th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): YA, Horror

When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they’re not going back to the city…or Seda’s friends and school.

As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.

Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

Goodreads // Amazon

Excerpt

Sometimes I dream I am drowning.

Sometimes I dream of bloated faces, bobbing on the surface of misty waters.

And then I wake up, often screaming, heart racing, hands clenching fistfuls of my sheets.

I’m in my bed at the top of Bug House. The murky daylight casts dull prisms from my snow globes onto the attic floor. My mom started collecting those pretty winter scenes for me when I was a baby. I gaze at them, lined neatly on the shelf in front of my window. My first order of business every day is hoping they’ll give me a trace of the joy they did when I was a kid.

But either they don’t work that way anymore, or I don’t.

Who am I kidding? It’s definitely me.

I’m insane. Batshit. Nuttier than a fruitcake. Of course, that’s not an official diagnosis. The official word from Dr. Batton, whose swank Copley Square office I visited only once when I was ten, was that I was bright and intelligent and a wonderful young person. He said it’s normal for kids to have imaginary playmates.

But it gets a little sketchy when that young person grows up, and her imaginary friend decides to move in and make himself comfortable.

Not that anyone knows about that. No, these days, I’m good about keeping up appearances.

My second order of business each day is hoping that he won’t leak into my head. That maybe I can go back to being a normal sixteen–year–old girl.

But he always comes.

He’s a part of me, after all. And he’s been coming more and more, invading my thoughts. Of course I’m here, stupid.

Sawyer. His voice in my mind is so loud that it drowns out the moaning and creaking of the walls around me.

Seda, honey?” my mother calls cheerily. She shifts her weight on the bottom step, making the house creak more. “Up and at ’em, buckaroo!”

I force my brother’s taunts away and call down the spiral staircase, “I am up.” My short temper is because of him, but it ends up directed at her.

She doesn’t notice though. My mother has only one mood now: ecstatically happy. She says it’s the air up here, which always has her taking big, deep, monster breaths as if she’s trying to inhale the entire world into her lungs. But maybe it’s because this is her element; after all, she made a profession out of her love for all things horror. Or maybe she really is better off without my dad, as she always claims she is.

I hear her whistling “My Darlin’ Clementine” as her slippered feet happily scuffle off toward the kitchen. I put on the first clothing I find in my drawer—-sweatpants and my mom’s old Boston College sweatshirt—-then scrape my hair into a ponytail on the top of my head as I look around the room. Mannequin body parts and other macabre props are stored up here. It’s been my bedroom for only a month. I slept in the nursery with the A and Z twins when we first got here because they were afraid of ghosts and our creepy old house. But maybe they—-like Mom—-are getting used to this place?

The thought makes me shudder. I like my attic room because of the privacy. Plus, it’s the only room that isn’t ice cold, since all the heat rises up to me. But I don’t like much else about this old prison of a mansion.

One of the props, Silly Sally, is sitting in the rocker by the door as I leave. She’d be perfect for the ladies’ department at Macy’s if it weren’t for the gaping chest wound in her frilly pink blouse. “I hate you,” I tell her, batting at the other mannequin body parts descending from the rafters like some odd canopy. She smiles as if the feeling is mutual. I give her a kick on the way out.

Despite the morbid stories about this place, I don’t ever worry about ghosts. After all, I have Sawyer, and he is worse.

As I climb down the stairs, listening to the kids chattering in the nursery, I notice the money, accompanied by a slip of paper, on the banister’s square newel post. The car keys sit atop the pile. Before I can ask, Mom calls, “I need you to go to the store for us. OK, Seda, my little kumquat?”

I blink, startled, and it’s not because of the stupid nickname. I don’t have a license, just a learner’s permit. My mom had me driving all over the place when we first came here, but that was back then. Back when this was a simple two–week jaunt to get an old house she’d inherited ready for sale. There wasn’t another car in sight, so she figured, why not? She’s all about giving us kids experiences, about making sure we aren’t slaves to our iPhones, like so many of my friends back home. My mother’s always marching to her own drummer, general consensus be damned, usually to my horror. But back then, I had that thrilling, invincible, first–days–of–summer–vacation feeling that made anything seemed possible. Too bad that was short lived.

We’ve been nestled at Bug House like hermits for months. Well, that’s not totally true. Mom has made weekly trips down the mountain, alone, to get the mail and a gallon of milk and make phone calls to civilization. We were supposed to go back to Boston before school started, but that time came and went, and there’s no way we’re getting off this mountain before the first snow.

Snow.

I peer out the window. The first dainty flakes are falling from the sky.

Snow. Oh God. Snow.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. I’m a huge fan of YA Horror , as regular readers will already know, and I wish there was more of it. So when a new one comes along it makes me happy. And Alone wasn’t a disappointment.

The success of Alone for me was all about the creepy old hotel that had been used as murder mystery venue. It provided such a perfect setting, with lots of red herrings. There were also lots of twists and turns, and I definitely didn’t see a few of them coming.

I wasn’t completely won over by Seda, the protagonist (and less so by her mother!) but it didn’t bother me as much as it has done in the past. I was still invested in the story, and although I never quite trusted her as a character, I still wanted Seda to come out of it alive!

Alone also struck me as a story that would make a great teen horror film. I don’t often think that when reading because I enjoy the medium of novels so much (obviously), but I couldn’t help but picture it as a horror movie on this occasion.

Overall, Alone is a fast-paced, compelling read which I couldn’t put down. There were some great twists and unique elements, and now all I want to do is go on a murder mystery weekend. Maybe not one quite so realistic though…

 

Meet the Author

Cyn Balog photo

Cyn Balog is the author of a number of young adult novels. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at http://www.cynbalog.com.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

 

If you’d like me to promote your book, please get in touch via the email on my contacts page 🙂

30 Days of Horror #14: Cruel Summer #HO17 #30daysofhorror

30daysofhorror

Join me for 30 Days of Horror in which we spotlight one horror book every day until we reach Halloween!

I’m almost half way through my 30 day challenge and there’s still so many books I want to highlight. Today’s choice was my first time reading this particular author, and I recently finished my second. It’s YA. It’s Horror. I love it when my favourite things come together.

cruelsummer

Available in paperback & ebook, 321 pages

Published August 1st 2013 by Indigo

A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Janey was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer.

Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…

Goodreads // My Review

bookdepo

Have you read it? What did you think?

Up Next on Horror October:

Week #2 Wrap-up

Weycombe by G.M Malliet #BookReview

icon-bookreview

weycombeTitle: Weycombe
Author: G.M Malliet
Series: N/A
Format: Digital ARC, 360 pages
Publication Details: October 8th 2017 by Midnight Ink
Genre(s): Mystery
Disclosure? Yep! I received a free, advanced copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads 

bookdepo

From award winner G.M. Malliet, a tale of murder in the haunts of England’s privileged

Weycombe is the chocolate-box village of everyone’s dreams. For American Jillian White, a gated life of pleasure and comfort with her titled English husband was a fantasy come true.

But the murder of a local estate agent mars the village’s so-pretty surface. Are people actually dying to live in Weycombe? Jill investigates, piecing together clues along the snaking paths and winding lanes of her adopted village. She knows truth has many versions, depending on who is doing the telling. And that few can be trusted in Weycombe, where nothing is as perfect as it seems.

Review

I was completely in the mood for a nice cozy mystery in a luxurious setting when I picked up this book last weekend, and I got it in spades.

Weycombe is a place where people dream of living; a beautiful, idyllic village running along the river Thames where houses can only be afforded by the mega rich. It’s also a place where everybody knows everybody’s business, and if they don’t, they do their best to find out! This turns out to be a bit of a problem when one of the villagers, the incomparable Anna is found lying dead in her brand new running shoes. Village gossip has just been kicked up a notch.

Our protagonist is Jillian, an American, the forever ‘outsider’, who is in a failing, loveless marriage and out of work. Jillian is the one who discovers the body, and needing something to occupy her, she takes it upon herself to find out as much as she can about Anna’s secretive life, and the mystery of her death.

I really enjoyed this book, but it won’t be for everyone. It’s quite a traditional, ‘old school’ type mystery that unfolds very slowly. At first, I enjoyed the slow pace of it – perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon – but at some points I did drift away from the story and wished there was more to keep me focused.

Weycombe is a good whodunnit. The large cast of characters are interesting, and all have different secrets and flaws. It kept me guessing just enough, but it was a bit of a struggle to get to the end to be honest.

The main thing I loved was the setting. I’m intrigued by the dynamics and social politics of village life, which always works great for a murky mystery.

The main thing that didn’t work for me, however, was Jillian. I could relate to parts of her character, but I never fully warmed to her. And I thought the link between her being unhappy (and not having much going on in life at that moment) and her deciding to investigate a murder was a bit of a stretch. Her background of working in media seemed to be the author’s reason behind her thinking she was qualified to act detective. Hmm.  I know that regular folk sticking their noses into an investigation is a common thing in mysteries, but it didn’t feel very genuine on this occasion.

Overall, Weycombe is a classic murder mystery with lots of intrigue. If you’re looking for a gentle whodunnit to while away the weekend, give it a try!

unicorn rating 3

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top books recently added to the dreaded TBR pile. #TTT

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.

This week the topic is… Top ten books recently added to your TBR pile.

Well, this is a nice, easy topic, although I have been buying more books recently so it’ll be hard to choose just 10.

Added from Netgalley:

The Silent Songbird ~ Melanie Dickerson: I shouldn’t have requested this book because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it read and reviewed by the pub date (today!) but I just couldn’t resist. I really fancy an epic historical YA. The opening line of the synopsis had me instantly…I mean castles =  DONE. “Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost”

The Girl Who Saved Christmas ~ Matt Haig: You should all know by now that I love Christmas, and festive reads. I’ve wanted to read Matt Haig’s books for ages so this one was also impossible to resist.

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily ~ Rachel Cohn & David Levithan: I didn’t even know this book was on the cards until I saw it on Netgalley. I loved Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares so I’m thrilled that these authors have got together once again for a sequel. This time, Dash and Lily’s brother have just 12 days until Christmas to cheer Lily up after her grandfather became seriously ill. Can they recapture the magic of Christmas in New York for her?

Shock and Awe ~ Simon Reynolds: This book chronicles the legacy of glam rock from the seventies to today and as such will heavily feature my hero, David Bowie. I don’t often read non-fiction, but I’m really looking forward to this one.

Recently Bought:

The Red Eye Box Set ~ Various: This set of four YA Horror books from Stripes Publishing arrived at the beginning of October. I’ve already read one of the books, Frozen Charlotte and really loved it so I hope the others are as good too.

A Christmas Party ~ Georgette Heyer: I picked this up from a charity shop recently. ‘Tis’ the season for…Murder‘ is the perfect tagline that enticed me.

City of Dark Magic ~ Magnus Flyte: I bought this book in an English bookshop I found in Prague. It sounds amazing.

“Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.”

Six of Crows ~ Leigh Bardugo: This arrived just this week. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Borrowed:

The Rest of Us Just Live Here ~ Patrick Ness: It’s Ness. I don’t have to say much more. Other than perhaps my shame that I haven’t read it yet.

Koko Takes a Holiday ~ Kieran Shea: I think I can safely say that this will be my first ever Cyberpunk book. It sounds mad, in a good way. My friend Dora enjoyed it and passed it on to me.

Have you read any of these? What should I go for first?

 

 

Book Blitz: Mirror Image #BookPromo

Welcome to another book promo on Lipsyy Lost & Found. The wonderful Xpresso book tours have arranged the blitz and giveaway for this new chilling thriller. Check them out if you haven’t already, and keep reading to find out how to win a signed book and a $10 Amazon Gift card.

Mirror Image by Michele Pariza Wacek


Publication date: May 27th 2016
Genres: Adult, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Which would be worse, knowing that your dead sister has come back to life and is now a serial killer or that someone else is the killer….and that person is you?

Six months after Linda’s sister Elizabeth killed herself, Linda has finally gotten her life back to some semblance of normalcy. Until a killer appears who is stalking men … a killer who resembles Elizabeth … a killer who seems somehow familiar to Linda.

And, to make matters worse, Steve, her old high school crush and now a detective, is assigned to this case. He’s asking Linda all sorts of questions, questions Linda couldn’t possibly have an answer to.

There’s no reason for him to be investigating Linda. She couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this.

Could she?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

hen Elizabeth was born, her mother knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hospital had made a mistake.

It had been a difficult pregnancy. Marie spent most of it in bed, nauseated, uncomfortable, exhausted. She barely kept anything down, subsisting mostly on tea and saltine crackers. When the time came to deliver, the doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section, so she wasn’t able to actually watch the birth.

She couldn’t explain it, but the first time the nurses presented her with Elizabeth, she refused to even hold the baby. “There must be some mistake,” she insisted.

“There’s no mistake,” the nurses said, their approach firm and no-nonsense.

Blond and pale, Elizabeth looked nothing like the other dark haired members of the family. But it was more than that. Elizabeth felt wrong. Marie sensed it every single time she looked at Elizabeth, touched Elizabeth, smelled Elizabeth. The baby was alien to her. Elizabeth was not her baby.

But she could do nothing about it. Her husband hadn’t seen the birth. He had refused to attend any of his children’s births. The nurses kept assuring her that no one had made, could possibly have made, a mistake. So Marie had little choice but to bring her home.

Elizabeth was different, always — strange. Marie hated to use that word about any of her children, especially her youngest, but she could find no other word to describe her. Elizabeth was strange. Period.

From birth, the baby kept quiet. Rarely fussed. Hardly cried. She started talking at six months, much earlier than the rest of her children, and started forming full sentences at just over a year old.

She spent most of her time alone or, once she learned how, reading. In fact, Elizabeth remained such a quiet child, Marie could easily forget about her. It made her nervous. Elizabeth was too quiet.

Even her scent was all wrong. Babies smelled warm and sweet, of milk and talcum powder. Elizabeth’s scent reminded her of meat just beginning to

spoil: thick and rotten.

But there was something else wrong with Elizabeth, something more serious than her near silence, her behavior, her scent. Even more serious than that alien feeling, which Marie had tried to dismiss as simple post-partum depression, although it never did go away entirely.

When Marie was really being honest with herself, which didn’t happen often, she could admit what really disturbed her most about her daughter.

Her eyes. Elizabeth had silver eyes.

Not always. Most of the time they looked gray. But sometimes, they changed to silver. Occasionally, Marie even thought she could see them glowing, like a cat’s. Especially at night. There Elizabeth would be, lying on her back, perfectly quiet in her crib, her eyes strangely open, shining faintly in the darkness. Marie would tell herself that Elizabeth’s eyes merely reflected the nightlight in a bizarre fashion. After all, none of her other children’s eyes ever glowed. But it still didn’t make her any easier to face, late at night, as silver eyes stared at her from the darkness. They seemed so old, so ancient. Eyes that had seen thousands of years and hundreds of lifetimes. Those eyes peered out from her newborn’s face, watching her every move, strangely calculating, full of adult understanding and knowledge. She felt afraid, if she were being honest … all alone in the room with those peculiar silver eyes watching, watching, always watching.

Nonsense, she reassured herself. Surely, she could not be afraid of her own infant daughter! What would her husband say? Plenty probably, and most of it with his fists.

Still, she found herself checking on Elizabeth less and less. She argued with herself: Elizabeth didn’t fuss much anyway. Marie didn’t need to check on her so often — not like she did with her other, noisy, “normal” babies.

Her other children. Such a joy they were, her four boys and other girl — Peter, Mark, Mike, Chad and Linda. All healthy, regular children, with coarse dark hair, brown eyes and a little bit of baby fat on their bones. They looked the way children should look, the way her children should look, like their parents. But more importantly, they acted the way children should act — loud, boisterous, rough, needy. Marie loved them for it, loved how she couldn’t get a moment’s peace when they played together. Even when their play turned to fighting, she still preferred it to Elizabeth’s silent, eerie presence.

But Marie loved Elizabeth, too. Loved her fiercely, with the same passion she felt for her other children. Marie knew she did. She told herself she did, time and time again. The fact that she felt relief when Elizabeth wasn’t around meant nothing. She just needed time away from her children, after all. Almost all mothers welcomed the time they had away from their constant, children-related responsibilities. It didn’t mean she loved them any less. It didn’t mean anything at all.

Meet the Author

When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly.

As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life. She became a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional materials for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.

Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (in fact, she just published her first novel, a psychological thriller/suspense/mystery called “The Stolen Twin” and her second novel “Mirror Image'” is set to be published in May 2016) plus, she is also the author of the “Love-Based Copy” books, which are a part of the “Love-Based Business” series and cover both business and personal development.

She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Angel of Vengeance by Trevor Munson #BookReview #VampFic

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Title: Angel of Vengeance
Author: Trevor Munson
Series: N/a
Format: paperback, 239 pages
Publication Details: February 1st 2011 by Titan Books
Genre(s): Fantasy; Crime; Vampires
Disclosure? Nope, it was a gift.

Goodreads // Purchase

“NO WOMEN.  NO CHILDREN. NO INNOCENTS. THOSE ARE THE RULES…IT’S HOW I LIVE WITH MYSELF, SO TO SPEAK”

L.A.-based Private Eye and vampire Mick Angel has been hired by a beautiful red-headed burlesque dancer to find her missing sister. But the apparently simple case of a teenage runaway is soon complicated by drug dealers, persistent cops, murder, and Mick’s own past.

Mick must learn the hard way what every vampire should know – nothing stays buried forever. Especially not the past.


THE NOVEL THAT INSPIRED THE TV SERIES MOONLIGHT.

Review

I didn’t even know this novel existed until I received it as a gift. I fell in love with the TV show Moonlight the moment I saw it, I mean Alex O’Loughlin…hello! I was so sad that they cancelled it after the first season. 😦

This book was published after the series, but was the inspiration behind it. There are a lot of differences of course, but it has the same dark humour and noir, old school detective vibe, which I loved.

The main difference however, was the lack of the Beth character. I really enjoyed the author’s notes (who also penned the series) in which he explained the changes they made for the screen and I totally agree with them. This book did need a romantic element. And it did need a female lead in Beth that the protagonist’s evil ex-wife just couldn’t fill.

Without this, what we’re left with is an interesting vampire story mixed with an average crime story. I enjoyed it, but I wanted more. So much more! It definitely felt like the introduction to something bigger…it was all a bit brief.

I’m really glad this book exists though, if not just to remind me how much I loved the series. It’s made me want to watch it again RIGHT NOW. Well, it has been a while….

unicorn rating 3

Ahem…I’ll just leave this here…

alex

[Out Tomorrow!] A coffin and pleasant pheasant sandwiches: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6) by Alan Bradley

cover35827-mediumBishop’s Lacey is never short of two things: mysteries to solve and pre-adolescent detectives to solve them. In this New York Times bestselling series of cozy mysteries, young chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce once again brings her knowledge of poisons and her indefatigable spirit to solve the most dastardly crimes the English countryside has to offer, and in the process, she comes closer than ever to solving her life’s greatest mystery–her mother’s disappearance. . .

How have I never come across Alan Bradley or the Flavia de Luce books before now? Seriously, I have been missing out.

I’ll be honest, I knew nothing about this book when I requested it. I fell in love with the cover and was intrigued by the synopsis. I didn’t realise it was book 6 in a series, but it turns out that it really didn’t matter. (WIN!)

***Slight Spoiler Ahead***

Flavia de Luce is an 11 year old with an insatiable desire to solve mysteries and the strange going-ons in her picturesque English village of Bishop’s Lacey. I fell in love with her instantly. She’s witty, tenacious and doggedly independent with a fiery, yet caring spirit.

At the beginning of this installment, Flavia and her father are at the train station for the long-awaited return of her mother. Her mother has been missing for over 10 years, which was a mystery in itself. Unfortunately, it’s also a mystery that will remain unsolved for the time being as Harriett de Luce arrives home in a coffin. At the same time, a man is pushed onto the tracks and killed but no one seems to have witnessed anything, and Winston Churchill is whispering about liking pheasant sandwiches! Somehow these things are connected.

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches was such a fun read. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book with such great imagery and humour. She may be 11 years old, but Flavia can see the world ‘as a mixture of paints, or fluids, in a spinning centrifuge’, she can describe someone’s expression as ‘a photographic negative of his soul’ and when the shit hits the fan she just wants ‘to curl up like a salted slug and die.’ 😦 I get the feeling that Flavia feels isolated by her own age (or lack there of), and the stiff upper-lip of the middle-class life she was born into.

Despite not finding the actual mystery of the book all that thrilling, I couldn’t help getting swept away with the characters. I loved that Flavia has a chicken called Esmerelda and a bicycle called Gladys but could whip up a fatal poison in a matter of minutes.

Think Young Sherlock Holmes meets Veronica Mars and you’re there. I’m off to find the first 5 books now. Tally ho, jolly good show!

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from the Publisher/Author in exchange for an HONEST review. Many Thanks!
Title: The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches (Flavia de Luce #6)
Author: Alan Bradley
Details: Hardback, 336 pages
Publication Date: January 14th 2014 by Delacorte Press
My Rating: 4/5
If you liked this try: Look into my Eyes by Lauren Child

A Crime of Tennis Passion: Game, Set and Murder by Elizabeth Flynn

cover32711-mediumIt’s the first day of the tennis tournament at Wimbledon. And a dead body is lying on court nineteen. Newly-promoted detective inspector Angela Costello recognizes the dead man as the Croatian champion-turned-coach, Petar Belic. Double grand-slam winner, Petar was one of the best-known and best loved players of the modern era. Petar had a complicated life: an ex-wife who wanted him back; a girlfriend who didn’t want to let him go; a business partner with secrets. Then there was leading Brit Stewart Bickerstaff, not universally popular with his fellow players, whom Petar had been coaching. Little by little DI Costello, despite awkward and prickly colleagues, discerns a trail through the mass of information. Unfortunately she has no way of proving her suspicions. But a prime suspect has overlooked a vital detail …

If you haven’t noticed, I’m a massive tennis fan. ‘Oh but it’s so boring’ I hear you cry…err no, you are wrong! And strangely enough this debut crime novel by Elizabeth Flynn evoked in me that same thrill and anxiousness I get when watching an epic tennis match which makes me able to say just that..you are wrong. :p

Game, Set and Murder, as you’d imagine starts with a murder. We are instantly thrust into the mystery surrounding the body of tennis coach Petar Belic found dead on court 19 on the very first day of The Wimbledon Championships. Our protagonist, Angela ‘DI’ Costello is an intelligent, caring Detective in charge of running her very first murder case.

Costello is also a big tennis fan, which gives her an extra advantage in that she already has knowledge of the players and close affiliates, and she’s able to use the tennis-loving angle to get them all to open up and spill the locker-room gossip. However, she also has a hell of a lot to prove.

I absolutely loved this book. It’s a quick, easy read that has all the elements of a good traditional ‘cozy’ Detective Story. Despite not reading much of the genre lately, I’m a big fan of Crime Fiction, especially the simple structure of a closed circle mystery.

Game, Set and Murder is a classic closed circle mystery in some ways, although the circle of suspects is perhaps a little larger than usual and instead of a rambling mansion, the location is of course the Wimbledon Tennis club. One murder, one location, a bunch of suspects and one piece of the puzzle fed to us at a time until the big reveal.

It wasn’t the most exciting crime story I’ve read, but the pace was fast and the characters were interesting and suspicious in equal measure, making it an enjoyable read.

I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Costello and her husband, the Coroner. They were perfectly written, portraying a realistic, loving couple that gave the story a good grounding away from the investigation. And, being a tennis fan, I’ve been to Wimbledon numerous times and those details were pretty faultless.

Despite the fact that a murder had just taken place, this book made me want to head straight to Wimbledon. Elizabeth Flynn totally nailed the excitement and beauty of the place during those two weeks in midsummer, but I’m not sure if non-tennis fans would enjoy this as much. It’d still be enjoyable as a crime novel i’m sure, but perhaps not as captivating.

unicorn rating 4

Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from the Publisher/Author in exchange for an HONEST review. Many Thanks!
Title: Game, Set and Murder
Author: Elizabeth Flynn
Details: Paperback, 272 pages
Publication Date: Published October 18th 2013 by Lion Fiction
My Rating: 4/5
If you liked this try: A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

A Confused Werewolf in Pennsylvania: Hemlock Grove by Brian Mcgreevy

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An exhilarating reinvention of the gothic novel, inspired by the iconic characters of our greatest myths and nightmares.

The body of a young girl is found mangled and murdered in the woods of Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania, in the shadow of the abandoned Godfrey Steel mill. A manhunt ensues—though the authorities aren’t sure if it’s a man they should be looking for.

Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a foreboding biotech facility owned by the Godfrey family—their personal fortune and the local economy having moved on from Pittsburgh steel—where, if rumors are true, biological experiments of the most unethical kind take place. Others turn to Peter Rumancek, a Gypsy trailer-trash kid who has told impressionable high school classmates that he’s a werewolf. Or perhaps it’s Roman, the son of the late JR Godfrey, who rules the adolescent social scene with the casual arrogance of a cold-blooded aristocrat, his superior status unquestioned despite his decidedly freakish sister, Shelley, whose monstrous medical conditions belie a sweet intelligence, and his otherworldly control freak of a mother, Olivia.

At once a riveting mystery and a fascinating revelation of the grotesque and the darkness in us all, Hemlock Grove has the architecture and energy to become a classic in its own right—and Brian McGreevy the talent and ambition to enthrall us for years to come.

I feel like Hemlock Grove desperately wants to be Dracula (but y’know with Werewolves) when in fact it’s just one big mess. I finished reading this over a week ago and this whole time I’ve just been thinking what the hell WAS that!?’ I honestly didn’t know whether to rate it 1 or 5, it was that baffling.

Initially I appreciated the style, Mcgreevy was clearly trying to mimic the old school gothic lit of the past and give it a fresh going over, but it just didn’t work….I don’t think. The more I read the more I realised that his writing is so over the top and so laden with unnecessary symbolism that I had no idea what was going on, but I couldn’t stop. It was like watching a car crash.

For some reason I was interested in the story. The murders were brutal and gory (to my liking) and I enjoyed the ‘whodunnit’ element. Peter goes around telling everyone he’s a werewolf so obviously he’s prime suspect number one, even though no one really seems that bothered that he’s a werewolf, and I don’t really understand why they believe him in the first place because we don’t actually see any Werewolf action for most of the book. Or did I miss that? I honestly have no idea.

The other suspect is Roman. who’s a bit of a dick. That’s pretty much all I have to say about him, but I did like the dynamic between the two who then team up to discover the real truth about what’s going on. They definitely had some kind of homoerotic bromance going on, which kept me reading, obviously.

Shelley is a character who provides some Gothic Horror GOLD. She’s practically a giant with blocks on her feet, who is mute, glows demonically and is clearly supposed to be the Frankenstein’s Monster of the story. I think Shelley did work in that she pertains to the gothic atmosphere and provokes the questions ‘what/when/how/who’ but I don’t really understand how she fits into the ‘normal’ small town without people batting an eyelid. Odd.

I did really enjoy the setting though. The mystery and creepiness of the Biotech facility -which you can’t help but suspect is behind Shelley and the deaths – created an industrial, gothic feel to it which is new. Industrial Gothic…now there’s a genre we’ve been waiting for, no? The White Tower at least made the story plausible in that you can pretty much explain everything on scientific experiments, right?

I think that if McGreevy wasn’t concentrating so hard on nailing the Gothic Horror genre, and concentrated on just telling a good story that Hemlock Grove could be 100% better. But as it is it just seems a bit pretentious. The terrible grammar and inconsistencies made each sentence a chore. A CHORE. And the dialogue was just laughable.

Some of my favourite baffling lines:

She pulled Peter into a hug and kissed his cheek and gave his ponytail an annoyed jerk and harangued him didn’t he have a girlfriend to cut his hair.

So many things wrong with that sentence. WTF?

He pronounced ‘this’ in the phonetically correct fashion, but somehow it still rhymed with ‘us’.

???

‘Her Heart was a flicked mold of gelatin’ – What the hell does that mean???

A quality of thereness was missing from his face, his green eyes were windows to nothing. He was mercurial.

“Of course, minute as its impact may be in our physical universe, the fact of quantum entanglement is this: If one logically inexplicable thing is known to exist, then this permits the existence of all logically inexplicable things. A thing may be of deeper impossibility than another, in the sense that you can be more deeply underwater–but whether you are five feet or five fathoms from the surface you are still all wet.” You what now?”

Not to mention chapter titles such as ‘God doesn’t want you to be happy, he wants you to be strong’, Peter’s hierarchy of shit he can live without’ and ‘The most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off’. Brilliant.

So yeah, Hemlock Grove is entertaining in a way but so overwritten it’s hard to get to the actual story. I hope they did a better job with the TV series.

Details: Paperback, 319 pages. Published March 27th 2012 by FSG Originals. Thanks to Di for lending me this(I think)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Unicorns (I think)
Is it a keeper? It’s not mine, but err no.
If you liked this try: Dracula