Book Review: The Haunted Heist (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #3) by Angie Fox

The Haunted Heist is the third book in the Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries series by Angie Fox. The first two books are Southern Spirits and The Skeleton in the Closet. While it is better to read the books in order, there are enough mentions of important past events that readers can catch up quickly. Although, it is such a fun, quirky series that I do recommend reading them all. 

Just because she can see the dead doesn’t mean Verity Long wants to spend her days hunting ghosts. Instead, she is hoping to land a marketing job at the local bank, until she finds her new boss dead in the vault. Even her ghost friend, Frankie, knows that's no way to start a career. Relieved to let the police take charge, Verity steps aside, bound and determined to keep her ghost sightings to herself. But when she learns the main suspect in the murder is a very crooked, very dead mobster, Verity knows it's up to her to solve the case. She teams up with her ghostly gangster buddy Frankie, as well as the irresistible and charming Ellis, as the three of them search haunted mob hideouts, hidden passageways, and historic cemeteries for the facts behind the heist of the century—and a modern-day motive for murder. Too bad uncovering the truth could very well make Verity the next victim.

The Haunted Heist is a fun romp through a ghost infested mystery. I like that the ghosts are varied and have just as many issues as the living characters. Verity is still struggling, she is trying to make ends meet but a vindictive ex and his mother do not help, nor does the fact that she is dating said ex's brother (kinda) and is afraid to move forward with much. When she steps up with a possible job offer everything is made more complicated with getting caught up in another murder mystery and losing the hope for a paying gig any time soon. Ghostly antics, dealing with the grief, trying to free Franky, and figuring out just what is going on with her love life are all weighing heavily on her mind and driving the story. There is so much for Verity to deal with, but she keeps moving forward with determination, humor, and concern for others. This was a fun read and kept me interested and entertain through the entire read.

The Haunted Heist is a fun cozy mystery that manages to include some significant character growth, humor, and move along some aspects of the larger story that flows through the series. This was a nice, quick read to escape from reality for a weekend. 

Book Review: Rosie the Raven by Helga Bansch

Rosie the Raven is a charming picturebook by Helga Bansch. In one raven's nest something strange has happened. When a clutch of eggs hatch, a pink girl emerges from one of the shells, along with her black raven siblings. Loving raven parents take their little Rosie just the way she is. In the beginning, Rosie tries to do everything her siblings do. She opens her mouth to receive worms from her parents, tries to caw until she is hoarse, and wildly flaps her arms in an attempt to fly. Rosie finally realizes she is different. Maybe she can’t caw or fly, but a world of discovery awaits her nonetheless.

Rosie the Raven is a wonderful picturebook that celebrates being yourself, and embracing differences. Rosie is very different from her parents and siblings, but that does not stop them from loving her. She tries to be like everyone else, and neighbors offer suggestions to help her with that goal. through it all, her family supports her and do what they can to help her be happy. It is only when she embraces her differences, and comes to appreciate what she has to offer, that she is really happy. The artwork adds a great deal of detail to the story and is lovely. The illustrations add to the humor, emotion, and mood to the story and really bring it to life.

Rosie the Raven is a wonderful book that readers of all ages can appreciate. It speaks to the wonderful opportunities individuality brings to the world, and how differences are not the most important part of any person, and only add to their being rather than detracting from it. 

Book Review: I Dream of Dragons by Ashlyn Chase

I Dream of Dragons is the first book in the Boston Dragons series by Ashlyn Chase. While this is the start of a new series, Chase fans will recognize the Boston location and several characters from the Strange Neighbors series. It can stand on its own just fine, but readers that are caught up on the entire reading list from Chase might see some of their favorite characters have a cameo here.

When Rory Arish and his two fiery dragon siblings are run out of their ancestral Irish home, it seems their luck has run out. That is until they arrive in Boston and find a paranormal-friendly apartment building. There is only one problem; Rory's new lair has simultaneously been rented to an infuriating woman who is as stubborn as she is beautiful and will not leave 'her' apartment matter how steamed he may be. Amber McNally is a down-on-her-luck flight attendant. She needs this apartment, and not even a fire-breathing dragon with his Irish charm and scorching good looks is going to scare her away. Holing up in their respective corners, a battle of wills ensues. Who will be the first to blink, or give in to their off-the-charts chemistry and decide to make this unorthodox living arrangement a little more permanent? 

I Dream of Dragons is a great weekend read. Rory and his sister have been falsely accused for theft by leprechauns and banned from Ireland. Amber is looking for a new home and a new start in life. When the two desperate renters clash over an apartment and more things get heated in more ways than one. I like that we also get a look at how Rory's sister settle in and the leprechauns search for the missing gold. This might be a fun, light hearted read with plenty of humor and hot moments. However, it is not simple. There is plenty going on and it kept me eagerly turning pages and looking forward to see what crazy thing was going to happen next. Supernaturals of all sorts, including ghosts and muses, keep things very interesting. I got a kick out of the book and am fast becoming a fan of Chase.

I Dream of Dragons is a fast and fun paranormal romance. I like that there were several interesting new characters introduced and I wonder where Chase will take the dragons and residence of the paranormal club from here.

Book Review: Diary of Anna the Girl Witch: Foundling Witch by Max Candee

Diary of Anna the Girl Witch: Foundling Witch by Max Candee is a middle grade to young adult novel. The book blends ancient folklore with a coming of age tale about a young witch on the brink of womanhood. Anna Sophia has always known she was different. She didn’t know just how different until now. On the eve of her 13th birthday Anna wonders about her past. She never knew her parents, and all she has to go by is an unbelievable fairy tale her uncle used to tell: that she was found as a baby, tucked among a pack of bear cubs in the wilds of Russia. To make matters even more complex, Anna has discovered that she can see and do things that no one else can. It’s only when Anna receives a letter from her mother that she discovers some of the truths about her past, and begins to uncover the possibilities in her future. As Anna continues to learn more about her secret abilities, she finds out that her neighbors are hiding something of their own: a plot to harm Anna and her friends. Can Anna Sophia use her newfound supernatural powers to stop them? Can she fight back, without endangering her own soul? And maybe, just maybe, is her own secret tied up with theirs?

Diary of Anna the Girl Witch: Foundling Witch is a coming of age story, wrapped up in a magical package. Anna is our orphan recipient of great power and a future that will surly include plenty of danger. She is a good girl, that sometimes finds herself in trouble despite her good intentions. She is missing her Uncle and wondering about her family when adventure comes to find her. The rise and powerful couple that adopts girls on a regular basis is interested in her, but she does not trust them and sees that there is something wrong among those they have adopted. She receives a mysterious package via her solicitor from her mother, and things only get strangers from there. A magical card, a strange carved hand, and the slow realization that she is a witch and so is most of her lost family. The adventure is solid and there is a nice, slow reveal of the details while still keeping the readers on their toes. I really enjoyed the pacing, it let me connect with Anna, and get to know some of the secondary characters as well. A well written story with nice inclusion of folklore, even when characters from those legends are not named as I would expect.

Diary of Anna the Girl Witch: Foundling Witch is the first book in a series, and I am glad that most of the series has been released and is available for me to read now. I am looking forward to following up on Anna’s adventures sand seeing what she discovers about herself and her family as she grows.  

Book Review: How to Wed a Warrior by Christy English

How to Wed a Warrior by Christy English is the second book in the Broadswords and Ballrooms series. The first book was How to Seduce a Scot, and while reading the series in order does give a better understanding of the characters, they can each be thoroughly enjoyed on their own as well.

When his wild spitfire of a sister makes a scene by drawing her claymore in Hyde Park, Highlander Robert Waters knows something must be done. To forestall the inevitable scandal, he hires widowed Prudence Whittaker to teach his sister how to be a lady, never expecting he'd become hungry for a few lessons of his own. Outwardly prim, Pru is adept at keeping would-be suitors at bay. She has to if she wants to keep her secret. But all the drab colors and careful manners in the world will not hide her abundant charms from this determined Highlander.

How to Wed a Warrior is a nice historical romance full of interesting characters. Pru is a determined woman, looking to make her own way without attracting the attention of the members of her old social circles. Hiding, as chaperon dressed in drab ill fitting dresses seems the best way to go about it.  However, she did not count on attracting the interest of a charismatic highlander that cares nothing about social acceptance or reputation. Nor did she expect to like him, or become such good friends with her new charge. There is tons of action, lots of moments of humor or discomfort for the major players, and a few plot twists just to keep readers on their toes. A fast and fun read with great characters- just what I was looking for too shake me out of a reading slump.

How to Wed a Warrior has well written characters that I enjoyed and frankly would love to meet. There is a nice balance of sweet, sexy, and scary moments to keep interest high and pages turning. 

Book Review: The Inn Between by Marina Cohen, Sarah Watts

The Inn Between is a middle grade novel written by Marina Cohen, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Eleven-year-old Quinn has had some bad experiences lately. She was caught cheating in school and her little sister Emma disappeared while walking home from school. She never returned. When Quinn's best friend Kara has to move away, she goes on one last trip with Kara and her family. They stop over at the first hotel they see, a Victorian inn that instantly gives Quinn the creeps, and she begins to notice strange things happening around them. When Kara's parents and then brother disappear without a trace, the girls are stranded in a hotel full of strange guests, hallways that twist back in on themselves, and a particularly nasty surprise lurking beneath the floorboards. Will the girls be able to solve the mystery of what happened to Kara's family before it's too late?

The Inn Between is a slow building story that takes readers on a unexpected journey. A road trip turns odd and dark when an unexpected stop at an inn starts and even stranger journey for two friends. Quinn is still struggling with self blame and the related stressors from her sister's disappearance. A final trip with a friend and her family to say goodbye is a bittersweet escape. However, the inn is creepy and so are many of its occupants. At first Quinn thinks she is the only one that sees the oddities around her, but soon more people are disappearing and Kara is along with her on the mission to figure out just what is going on. I will admit that I had a feeling as to what was going on briefly after the arrival at the inn, but the slow reveal and conclusion was so well done that there was still plenty of suspense and heartfelt moments to make the read more than worth my time.

The Inn Between is a thoughtful, sometimes creepy, but very poignant read. I think those dealing with trauma or loss will particularly see bits of themselves in the story, but that everyone can get something valuable from the read and enjoy it. 

Book Review: Playing Passion's Game by Leslie Davis

Playing Passion's Game by Leslie Davis is a contemporary romance. Trent Williams’s entire world revolves around her love of gaming. She has little time for romantic distractions and prefers instead to be with her closest friends who, like her, live for the thrill that comes from a competition well played. Happy in her job, seemingly content with her life, Trent still finds herself haunted by the past that threatens to keep her alone forever. The self-imposed solitude she places on her heart only leaves her all too aware of just how lonely she is. All work and no play in her executive job forces Juliet Sullivan to search for a different direction in life. Disillusioned by it all, Juliet is desperate to seek out new horizons. When Trent unwittingly comes to the rescue of her younger sister, Juliet immediately finds herself drawn to Trent’s silent strength and undeniable charm. Now the new direction Juliet so desperately desires seems intent on leading her straight into Trent’s arms.

Playing Passion's Game is a wonderful read. As I expected from the author, both Trent and Juliet felt very real. They each had their faults, fears, and fallibilities just like the rest of us. Even though some stereotypes were touched upon, the majority of the time it was done in a way that pointed out the expectations of others, and the reality. I think readers that enjoy well written characters and realistic stories will find themselves completely caught up in the story. Honestly, the characters are people that I would love to hang out with and know in real life. The fact that the main characters are lesbians is more of a side note- the romance, characters, and struggles they face are so real that it was organic. The difference between an author that truly knows their characters and how they feel, and those that write to fill a niche market or for the love of money rather that the story is clear. Davis is obviously a writer that loves what they are writing, rather than writing to follow the money. Which will hopeful help them continue writing and find success- because I want more!

Playing Passion's Game might have a slightly corny title, but like the other books I have read from the author I quickly found myself lost in the story and caring deeply for all the characters. I adore the author, and will continue reading whatever they release. I am eagerly waiting for more! 

Book Review: Max at Night by Ed Vere

Max at Night is a picturebook by Ed Vere. Max the cat (who we met in Max the Brave) returns, and this time he is getting ready for bed. Max is sleepy, and it is past his bedtime. However, after he gets ready for bed and begins saying goodnight to those around him he notices the moon is missing. He journeys to say goodbye to the moon, because he cannot go to sleep without bidding the moon goodnight.

Max at Night is a fun adventure with an adorable kitten in the lead role. Max wants to say goodnight to the moon, but that is easier said than done. He climbs higher and higher in search of the moon. The story and illustrations come together to tell the heart warming story of this little kitten in search of the moon, and offers the knowledge that the moon could have heard him no matter where he was in order to prevent young readers or listeners from attempting bedtime delays using the same type of tactics. This is a smart combination of fun and wit that will keep parents and children happy.

Max at Night is a sweet and fun bedtime book that will stand up to multiply reads. 

Book Review: Rocked by Love (Gargoyles #4) by Christine Warren

Rocked by Love is the fourth book in the Gargoyles series by Christine Warren. The previous books are Heart of Stone, Stone Cold Lover, and Hard as Rock. I have not read them all, but I think readers that have read the series in order, or at least most of the books, will get more from the series than those that pick up this book as a stand alone. While the romance here is fine on its own, the larger story arch will not make much sense to newcomers.

Kylie Kramer knows that she's putting her life in danger when she decides to investigate her friend's mysterious death. What she doesn't know is that she's being watched over by a powerful protector, a rock-hard savior who draws her into a world that no mortal woman can imagine. As the strongest of the gargoyles, Dag is sworn to destroy the demons that threaten Kylie's world before returning to his stony slumber. But the burning desire she ignites in him is even harder to fight-an all-consuming force that, once unleashed, can never be tamed. As their passion grows, so do the ranks of a demonic army plotting to take over the earth. When the ultimate battle begins, Dag and Kylie must face some demons of their own-to carve out a love that's stronger than time.

Rocked by Love is a nice addition to this series. As usual, I am very fond of the characters, both major and minor. Kylie is a smart and capable woman, still able to be cowed by her grandmother who is a force of nature. Dag is a powerful hero, with a decent ability to take Kylie's feelings into account rather than pushing the alpha male vibe too hard. The complications of the battles with demons and the larger story from the series is very important here, and I think readers new to the series might miss some of the excitement here because they are going to have to play catch up. My only real issue with the book is with Kylie's speech patterns. I know some Yiddish, in fact I thought I knew more than I apparently do. Like Dag, I regularly had no idea what Kylie was saying, it occasionally was frustrating but I did get over it by the end of the story. The big climax of the book was very well done, and brought together the skills of the main players, particularly Kylie, to the forefront. I liked the twists that were included and the promise of more to come.

Rocked by Love is a quick moving story that moves the larger story arch of the series forward significantly. Fans of Warren and the series will be very happy with this read, and be as eager as more for more. 

Early Book Review: I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur by Heath McKenzie

I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur by Heath McKenzie is a picture book scheduled for release on May 17 2016. More than anything in the world, one little boy wants to be a great big dinosaur. And he's in luck! A great big T. Rex shows up to teach him how to stomp and roar just like a dinosaur. But dinosaurs aren't so great at soccer or video games. Maybe being a little boy isn't all bad?

I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur is a fun and colorful picture book about exploring the world and being exactly who and what you want to be. I brings home the message that it is wonderful to explore all the possibilities and options around us, but we will be happiest when we are ourselves, no matter who or what that might be. I really loved the colorful and fun illustrations, showing or young boy and dinosaur exploring different activities and generally having fun. It was a fun read with a great message that did not feel forced or overbearing, which is something that often turns me off picture books with a particular message.