Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Pamela Kopfler: Better Dead

In the first in a new series and debut novel Pamela Kopfler shows what happens when the dead aren't willing to leave you alone:

Holly is toasting to her new found freedom with the sudden death of her husband. She does not want to sound insensitive but Burl checked out of their marriage many years ago (with a red head) and she would have filed for divorce if he was still alive. But Burl did leave a few things behind, massive debt, spending all their money and now his spirit. Burl was refused at the pearly gates as he has unfinished business in this world and it centers around Holly's B&B business Holly Grove. Holly is about to find out that while she may have known some of Burl's secrets at the end, she did not know all and some of his secrets could get her killed as well.

This was better than I expected it to be. I'm not one that reads cozy mysteries that often (okay I cannot remember the last time I read one), but needed a book for a square in Halloween BINGO so that is how I came across this book. I did not know that this was a debut novel till I looked up information about Kopfler. That right there shows that this book was well written, the story was well thought out, flowed well and had some interesting characters from the ghostly to the living. The mystery was fairly straightforward, but I think that Kopfler did a good job at keeping the reader guessing (I was able to figure out the smugglers) but Kopfler used the B&B to her full advantage with the list of suspects. So for an easy, cute and cozy mystery read I was pretty hooked.

Holly is a true southern woman (or what I picture one to be, I personally do not know any) where everything is about family, history and sticking with your roots. This is why she is so attached to Holly Grove and will do anything to keep it. She makes several reference in to the book about the long line of women in her family who have done everything they can to keep Holly Grove. Holly is determined, stubborn, smart and makes a mean mint julep (see end of book for instructions).

While I knew there was going to be some sort of love interest going into this book (no not between Holly and ghost Burl), I appreciate that Kopfler had the attraction there between Holly and Jake but did not over due it. This allowed Kopfler to plays up the history that Holly and Jake have and with a lot of the unanswered questions between them.

One of the best parts in the book was the interaction between Holly and Burl. It was quite entertaining to have Holly hash everything out with a ghost, especially when she is the only one who can see him. This creates an interesting dynamic when Holly is not by herself. And poor Nelda, Burl takes a real liking to haunting her and her response is pretty epic with all the voodoo she can muster.

This is not my typical read, but I did enjoy the characters that Kopfler created and the story overall. While I may have been able to figure out the mystery, Kopfler reminded me that sometimes you just need an easy read to change things up from the dark and gritty stories I prefer and with that i'll be looking for more books by Kopfler.

Enjoy!!!
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Victoria Schwab: City of Ghosts

In the first in a new series Victoria Schwab takes the readers past the Veil and into the City of Ghosts:


Cassidy Blake's parents have a different job, they are The Inspectors a ghost-hunting team, who writes books about some of the most haunted places in the World. But Cass is the one that really can see ghosts, in fact her best and only friend is Jacob. He was the one that saved her from a terrible drowning accident and he has been with her since. When The Inspectors head to Edinburgh, which is drenched in history, Cass finds herself surrounded by ghosts and struggling to control entering into the Veil. When Cass meets Lara she realizes there is more to her power than just entering the Veil, she has a purpose. Lara warns Cass that ghosts can be dangerous too and to watch out for the sinister Red Raven who has been haunting the Veil around Edinburgh. She is looking to cross over to the human world at any cost.  


This is the first book that I have read by Schwab and it will not be the last. I really enjoyed the story, having a young but still relatable main character (And I write that as an adult), also she is not yet boy crazy so that really helps as well. The book is not too long and moves at a fairly fast pace, I was wondering where Schwab was going to take the book as I think at the beginning there is no clear direction but overall I'm satisfied with where Schwab took Cassidy and Jacob. Schwab really plays up  how ironic it is that Cassidy's parents are ghost hunters and not being able to see ghosts and Cassidy who has that ability to see them keeps that information from them.

Although Cassidy is 12 years old in this book, I never felt like I was reading about a 12 year old. Yes, she talks about comics with her ghost "sidekick" Jacob but a lot of her thought processes fell more adult. Really I feel like Jacob acts more like a preteen that Cassidy ever does in the book, though I'm just guessing about Jacob's age as we do not know much about him other than his appearance. I hope in the future we get more of Jacob's backstory.

The Veil was an interesting concept in which ghosts, minus Jacob, live in our world but behind the veil that is why regular people are unable to see them. What I thought was a bit weird of the Veil was that it seems that most of the ghosts were from the 1800 other than one child ghost that Cassidy references. Just seemed a bit strange to me. Also I'm not sure hoe her parents have not noticed when Cassidy slips into the Veil only to reappear across town. I mean her parents at times seem a bit absentminded but not that much.


I really enjoyed this book, it was an easy read, simple story (it is a middle grade book) with some darker elements (I mean it deals with ghosts and death so those kind of had to be in there but no so much that it would scare a middle grade reader). It was fun to get to know Cassidy and see her find more purpose with her powers and I feel like the tour da City of Ghosts will be interesting to read about in the future.


Enjoy!!!
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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Stacia Kane: Unholy Magic



You will need to read the first book in this series Unholy Ghosts in order to understand Chess as a character, her relationships as well as the Church's rule in this world or BT (before truth).


Chess Putnam finds herself helping out the Black squad when she is poisoned, almost dies and that doesn't even count the murderous ghost wanting to kill her. Chess' next assignment should be a straightforward debunking of a celebrity's home but Chess' secret life threatens to get in the way. Prostitutes being killed in an extremely gruesome way in Downside and it's hurting more than Bump's profits. Someone is dealing in sex and the supernatural but that is just another day in Downside until murder is thrown in. It's not a turf war, even enemies are willing to work together to find who is responsible and all that responsibility is about to fall on to Chess.


Alright it was quite a few years ago that I read the first book in this series. I do not know why I did not pick up this book sooner. I re-read the review I wrote at the time and it was glowing, so really not sure, so with fresh eyes and opinions I started this series again and extremely happy that I did. This book was awesome. It had everything I wanted in an Urban Fantasy book; dark, gritty, magic, ghosts, a post apocalyptic feel to it and a great female lead who is not your norm. It had me glued to my seat to say the least.


Chess is a mess (sorry for the rhyme but she truly is). She is a drug addict that is mixed up with gangs, pimps and enforcers. She tries to hide all of this from the Church her employer and her "friends" at the church, as all these things will get her fired. On top of that to help pay her debts to Bump (the pimp) she uses her Church trained magic to help out with problems that are occurring in Downside. Chess is really hard on herself and most of this has to do with her childhood or lack there of. We get snippets of what Chess endured as a child and none of it was good until she was shown to have some talent for magic and could study at the Church. The church is her whole life but she risks it every day to keep her past demons at bay with her drug use.


I really appreciate that Kane does not shy away from Chess' drug use; her reasons for taking drugs, how often she gets high, all her money goes to it, her constant thought of how long she has before she comes down and what withdrawal symptoms that Chess experiences. All of these factors are not glossed over or downplayed in this book and I applaud Kane for not romanticizing Chess' drug use. Using the drugs is part of who Chess is in this series and while I hope she gets some help as I have grown attached to her as a character I do not think that she will.


I like that Kane has Chess focus on two different cases at once, as it forces Chess to choose sometimes between her habit and her work and also in both books I have read so far the cases are interesting. The Church case is a debunking one in which a celebrity claims to have a haunted house. While the case may have been a bit more straightforward and I was able to figure most of it out, it was still interesting (debunking in general is really interesting). The extremely interesting case is the one of the dead prostitutes that are occurring in downside, this also brings Lex and Terrible in close proximity of each other which Chess is trying to avoid at all costs. I was not able to figure out what was occurring in this case and lets say that Kane gets pretty creative with ghosts and magic for this one.


Kane has done a great job of re-piquing my interest with this series (like I said it was awhile ago when I read the first) and I find this book not only creative and refreshing as it combines ghosts and magic (I don't read enough ghosts books I think). I'm excited to pick up the next book in this series and one thing about waiting to so long to come back to this series is I don't have to wait :)


Enjoy!!!
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