Monday, September 29, 2014

Deborah Harkness Series

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)
I started with the first book in this series due to a recommendation from my local library and I could not wait to read the next two.
For me, this series has been the best one that I have read and I am a little sad that I do not have another book to read. All the characters in the book are so wonderfully rich and developed that it felt like I knew them all personally. What was unfortunate was that in the last book everyone was brought back, which was a little overwhelming. There were so many characters that if I had not read the books so closely together I don't know if I would have been able to remember or keep them all straight. Even though Diana and Matthew are the main characters, my favorite was Gallowglass. I wish that he was more of a focus in some of the books...or better yet, maybe Harkness gives him his very own series. I truly fell in love with him throughout the series.
One of my pet-peeves is when the Point of View changes and this last book in particular, has a tremendous amount of it. I am not sure how many, but it must have been upward of three POV shifts. It really should stay in either 1st or 3rd person instead of jumping around. Some of the shifts seemed a little unnecessary and could have been cut down.
Some of the plot choices seemed a little haphazard and like they were created last minute to try to tie everything up. I thought that the choice to make all the creatures, including humans, related seemed a little bit of a copout. It is so much more fantasy driven if they stayed separate and independent species. One of the things that I loved the most about the series was the wonderful view on magic and that the darker side of vampires were shown. There are not many unique takes on magical creatures these days and it seemed like this book had a slightly new vision. How the "Blood Rage" topic was resolved was a little anti-climatic. I won't say too much on the subject since I do not want to give any spoilers a way, but it seemed like it could have been handled a little differently. The other odd thing was the Book of Life itself. I am still not certain what it is or what it does exactly. Again, I can't say much more on the subject because of spoiling the plot, but it seemed slightly strange.
Overall though, I loved all the rich history and the research that went into developing these books. The most important thing for me as a reader is to become invested in the book to the point that I feel like I am experiencing everything the main characters are. Harkness did an amazing job of this. I was sad that it ended and I wanted so much to go back in time to meet Christopher Marlowe and maybe even Shakespeare.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys magic and the world of creatures in general. If you do not like to be immersed in magical fiction, then I would suggest passing on this series, but it would be a real shame to do so.
Rating: 4 out of  5
I borrowed these books from my local library; I was not asked to give a review.
The images were taken from Good Reads.

The Blackberry Pie Murder

Blackberry Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen, #17)
I have read a few of these of books in the series and it pains me to say it, but I was a little bored with this one. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have an addiction to reading and to cooking. The things I love the most about these books are all the wonderful recipes that I sprinkled within their pages. There is one in the book that creates a wonderful little bacon wrapped egg  breakfast muffin that sounds absolutely delicious.
In this particular book, Hannah finds herself in jail for murder and the issue is not resolved by the end of the book. That fact alone will be why I read the next book. I did not get any closure and I need to see how that plays out. I suppose her mother's marriage to Doc has got me curious as well, since she has had trouble letting go of creative control with regard to well....everything. I love how sassy she is and how Hannah is completely the opposite. Reminds me a little of my mother and myself.
Outside of all of that, I felt that this book was just following a pattern and there weren't any twists or turns. I knew who the killer was rather quickly, which killed the suspense right away. Hannah still has not grown in respect to romance with Norman and I am wondering why he even bothers with chasing her anymore. Something drastic needs to happen in the next book to keep my interest or sadly, I will not be reading any more books in the series.
For all of those reasons I would only really recommend this book to die hard Hannah Swensen Mystery Fans. Anyone else who is thinking about starting this series should start a few books back and not with this one.
Rating: 2 out of 5
I purchased this book at a local bookstore; I was not asked to give a review of this book.
The image was taken from Good Reads.

Murder at Westminster Abbey


This was recommended by my local library and because I am quite fond of Queen Elizabeth, this piece of historical fiction seemed like an interesting read. I found out while reading it that it is the second book in the series, but I do not think you needed to read the first one in order to enjoy it.
In this book, Amanda Carmack has made the mystery sleuth a musician within Elizabeth's court. The relationship between Kate, the musician, and Queen Elizabeth seemed rather unlikely and I had a hard time fully buying into it. Toward the end, it was hinted at that the relationship that Kate has with the royal family may be more than what it appears, but will not say more on the matter to keep from giving away a potential spoiler for future books in the series. Carmack's characterization of Kate and even the Queen, was rather disappointing to me. I do enjoy a strong female lead, but there just wasn't anything interesting or unique about Kate. She could have been any musician from any court at the time.
Overall, I think that the pacing might have been off a little and it seemed to drag in places. Since it is historically based, it was very interesting to me on that front. But outside of all the research that was put into the book, the story seemed rather, well, boring. It was a nice twist that individuals with red hair like Queen Elizabeth were being killed, but outside of that there was nothing unique. Even the murderer was someone I had suspected a little ways into the book and I was not really surprised when it was revealed. The other issue that I had was the language that was used. There seemed to be certain words and phrases that were repeated over and over, which made the dialogue rather dull after a third through. It would have also been nice if the romance between Anthony and Kate, which was eluded to starting in the first book, would have progressed a little. That might have helped with the story as a whole.
I think that this was a nice cozy mystery in which there is some wonderfully rich history woven into the fiction. However, I am not certain that I will go out of my way to read the next book in the series or even go back for the first. I needed a little something more within the pages of this book to keep me interested and sadly it was not there. Maybe in the next book Carmack can try to insert some of Queen Elizabeth's wit and humor. That would definitely make it feel less dry.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommended to anyone who enjoys historical fictions with a mystery twist. If you do not enjoy the  Elizabethan Age, then I would suggest skipping this book.
The image was taken from Good Reads. I borrowed this book from my local library; I was not asked to do a review of this book.

Death on Eat Street

Death on Eat Street
I was given this book as a gift for my birthday this summer. My mother-in-law knows how much I love to cook and this book does have some recipes strewn in with all the fictional murder mayhem going on. The title didn't really stoke my curiosity, so the book sat on my shelf for a few months before I finally cracked the cover.
Some of the things that I enjoyed about the book was the strong leading lady that J.J. Cook created. I am a sucker for a book with a strong female character and Zoe certainly is that. She is determined to make it on her own without the help of her wealthy family in the food truck and restaurant business. The fact that she had a cat named Crème Brulee and that he was an incredibly fat opinioned cat, was hilarious. Although I have to say I am more of a dog lover. Sometimes the character did seem a little cliché, but I did enjoy her growth over the course of the book none the less. It probably had something to do with the fact that I connected with her on some level. If I wasn't in the position that I was at right now and had a little more courage, I would definitely be in the food business.
In fact, I thought that most of the characters were well written. My only complaint is that sometimes the actions of some of the characters were a little hard to believe. I am a parent and I know that at some point I am going to want my kids to do what I want with their lives and not what they are attempting to do. However, I would never resort to kidnapping my own child, which is what Zoe's parents did. I also would not suggest that they need to marry someone that they do not love just for appearances sake.
Other than that, they only other thing I can say is that the book on the whole felt a little too cozy I guess. There wasn't a certain 'je ne sais quoi' and it felt a little flat at times. I wish that there was just a little more spice within the pages to help the story along. With all the wonderful in the South and with all the amazing techniques on how to cook, I felt that the authors of the book missed a few wonderful opportunities to be creative. It could have been something simple like how the victim is killed that would have given it a little more flare than it ended up having.
I think that anyone who likes cozy mysteries and loves food, then they would enjoy this book. If you are someone who doesn't like to cook and only likes take out, then I would probably skip this book.
Rating: 3 out of 5
I was given this book as a gift and was not asked to give this review.