October 10, 2012

Review: Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine

Halloween is just around the corner, and between cauldrons of candy and a deliciously cute new neighbour, Jaine Austen is struggling to resist her sweet tooth. But this year, her once humdrum neighbourhood seems to be handing out more tricks than treats...

When her faithful feline Prozac unwittingly scares to death a parakeet belonging to the neighbourhood's resident curmudgeon, Jaine finds herself knee-deep in toil and trouble. The cantankerous Hollywood has-been once played the part of Cryptessa Muldoon, television's fourth most famous monster mom. Now a bitter, paranoid old dame, Cryptessa spends her days making enemies with everyone on the street, and accidental bird killer Jaine is no exception. 

So when the ornery D-lister is murdered with her own Do Not Trespass sign on Halloween night, the neighbourhood fills with relief - and possible culprits. With a killer on the loose, Jaine hardly has time to fall under the spell of her yummy new neighbour Peter. 

As the prime suspect, she summons her sleuthing skills to clear her name and soon discovers that everyone has a few skeletons in their closets - and the motives for murder are endless. Could it have been Cryptessa's next door neighbours, the barracuda husband and wife realtors whose landscaping Cryptessa had bulldozed? Or the seemingly sweet old lady whose beloved dog was the object of Cryptessa's wrath? Or perhaps the crotchety actress was done in by her own nephew in a desperate attempt to get his hands on her money? As the masks come off, Jaine's search for sweet justice turns up more questions than answers. 

And just when she thought nothing could be scarier than her run-in with a tortuous Tummy Tamer, she closes in on the killer and learns the true meaning of grave danger...

My Thoughts: 
Death of a Neighborhood Witch is book eleven in the Jaine Austen Series. I've only read one other book in the series, Killing Bridezilla (my review) and didn't feel as if I was missing anything. It's so fun to read a clean and innocent cozy mystery every now and then and this one fits the bill.

Jaine is hilarious and the many different ways she justifies her over-eating and snack habit makes me giggle.  When you add in the many side characters like her gay neighbor who competes with Jaine for the hot guy that just moved in down the block, the busy-body across the street and Jaine's own snarky cat you get a well written murder mystery.

If there was any down-side to the book it was the fact that Janie was a suspect in Cryptessa's murder but didn't seem too worried about it. That kind of stayed in the back of my mind throughout the book and I just wish it was addressed differently. Other that that it was a great light read.

I recommend this for anyone who loves a well written cozy with fun side characters.

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October 7, 2012

Review: The Devil's Fan Club By Mark Kirkbride

Twisted twins meet a man at a nightclub who tempts them with the prospect of joining a criminal circle – yet there’s a catch.

Seventeen-year-old twins James and Louise meet enigmatic Nick at Hell nightspot. He's been questioned by police in the hunt for the serial killer terrorising West London and they suspect it is him. But he appeals to their rebellious natures by tempting them with the prospect of joining a secret society, the Devil’s Fan Club, and they are ripe for corruption. So even when they learn that members must commit a crime and theirs is the ultimate one, they are enthralled. Half-believing they’ve met him, they go over to the Devil’s camp. And rather than trying to catch a killer, they cover for one.

Yet while they yearn to join Nick’s club, the task is too dreadful to complete. The killer gets closer. And James fears Louise will be next.

But sometimes the most fertile breeding ground for evil is innocence...

Uncompromising, dark, irreverent, psychological thriller The Devil’s Fan Club taps into the midbrain, and stays there.

My Thoughts: The Devil's Fan Club is the perfect book to read around the Halloween season. It's seriously creepy. Not a scary horror book but a supremely devious book that makes your skin crawl.

This story centers around an extremely disturbed family. You've got the perfect storm living under one roof. There are the dysfunctional parents, a younger daughter that talks to an imaginary friend, a pretty and young nanny and the above mentioned twisted twins.

The story that follows weaves the characters in and around each other in the most diabolical ways with an ending that fits the story to a tee. Bravo Kirkbride!

Recommendation: I recommend this for anyone who loves a good psychological thriller.

October 3, 2012

Review: The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony


Lace is a thing like hope.

It is beauty; it is grace.

It was never meant to destroy so many lives.

The mad passion for forbidden lace has infiltrated France, pulling soldier and courtier into its web. For those who want the best, Flemish lace is the only choice, an exquisite perfection of thread and air. For those who want something they don't have, Flemish lace can buy almost anything-or anyone.

For Lisette, lace begins her downfall, and the only way to atone for her sins is to outwit the noble who know demands an impossible length of it. To fail means certain destruction. But for Katharina, lace is her salvation. It is who she is; it is what she does. If she cannot make this stunning tempest of threads, a dreaded fate awaits.

A taut, mesmerizing story, The Ruins of Lace explores the intricate tangle of fleeting beauty, mad obsession, and ephemeral hope.

My Thoughts:

The Ruins of Lace immediately captured my attention. The story is set in 16th-century France when lace was banned and follows the story of seven characters who were affected by it. Just from reading the blurb I was intrigued and the book did not disappoint. Anthony's well researched storyline pulled me in from the very beginning and I became so caught up in the story that I googled the banning of lace so I could read more about the real events regarding the ban.

I had strong feelings, both good and bad, towards several characters in the book. You know when a book makes you hate a character so much the author has done an amazing job.

I do have to admit the book has a very surprising ending though. I can't figure out if there will be a sequel or if the author just left those threads hanging for the reader to draw their own conclusions but I can honestly say that I hope it's the former.


I recommend this one for anyone who loves fully researched historical fiction.