Review: Slayer by Kiersten White

A fantasy set in the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Universe


by Kiersten White

Narrator: Madeleine Maby

Genre: YA Fantasy

Setting: Buffy Universe

Source: Audiobook, Library

Publishing Date: 2019

404 pages (12 hours)

Synopsis: Into every generation a Slayer is born…

Nina and her twin sister, Artemis, are far from normal. It’s hard to be when you grow up at the Watcher’s Academy, which is a bit different from your average boarding school. Here teens are trained as guides for Slayers—girls gifted with supernatural strength to fight the forces of darkness. But while Nina’s mother is a prominent member of the Watcher’s Council, Nina has never embraced the violent Watcher lifestyle. Instead she follows her instincts to heal, carving out a place for herself as the school medic.

Until the day Nina’s life changes forever.

Thanks to Buffy, the famous (and infamous) Slayer that Nina’s father died protecting, Nina is not only the newest Chosen One—she’s the last Slayer, ever. Period.

As Nina hones her skills with her Watcher-in-training, Leo, there’s plenty to keep her occupied: a monster fighting ring, a demon who eats happiness, a shadowy figure that keeps popping up in Nina’s dreams…

But it’s not until bodies start turning up that Nina’s new powers will truly be tested—because someone she loves might be next.

One thing is clear: Being Chosen is easy. Making choices is hard.

My Thoughts

Before I started the book I hadn’t realized the book was actually in the Buffy universe. That was something I really enjoyed. I liked the glimpses we got of Buffy and I liked that this book is mostly from the Watchers point of view. The book starts after the TV series ends, I think. (I haven’t watched any Buffy for a long time.) Might need to re-watch some of it since I really did enjoy it.

I thought this book had lots of promise. A watcher becomes a slayer! That sounds so great. I also liked the idea of hearing from the watcher side of things.

Too much angst

This book was a little too angsty for me. That’s why I don’t enjoy YA books very much anymore. I must confess I’m tired of all the teenage angst most of them have. I don’t mind reading about young protagonists, but I want some of the second-guessing themselves, constantly changing their mind and worrying about how they look all the time as well as the forbidden lovers trope kept to a minimum. This had a little too much of all that for me especially at the end. (However, this is more my problem than the book’s problem! But it is why I don’t read many young adult books.)

Characters don’t listen

I was also irritated when Nina wouldn’t listen to people. Sometimes you need to go your own way or follow your instincts, but if Nina had listened more and thought about things she wouldn’t have made some of the choices she did. Artemis, her twin sister, also irritated me by not listening to people—especially not listening to Nina whom she was supposed to love so much and whom Artemis had spent her life protecting. That was really irritating.

Bottom line

I listened to the audiobook and I thought the narrator did a good job. However, I probably won’t continue reading this series. It’s just not the series for me.

My Rating: B-
Narrator Rating: B+

Review: Bitter Rain by Shannon Baker

Bitter Rain by Shannon BakerBitter Rain by Shannon Baker

Series: Kate Fox #3

Genre: Mystery, police procedural

Setting: Nebraska Sandhills

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2018

313 pages

Synopsis: Old loyalties and lies collide with new secrets. Secrets someone is willing to kill to keep hidden.  

Despite Kate’s meddling family’s efforts to pair her off, she’s settling into single life as Grand County Sheriff. That is, until Deputy Kyle Red Owl’s sister disappears. Shocked by the harsh realities of rez life, and coming smack up against a Lakota-hating sheriff, end-of-world preppers, and a greedy liquor store owner, Kate fears the worst for the missing girl. 

Knowing she’ll always be an outsider when it comes to her good ‘ol boys world, Kate is more determined than ever to find the girl society has abandoned, but can she do it in time to save the girl’s life? 

My thoughts

I’ve read the books in the series and enjoyed them all. I love reading about the Nebraska Sandhills where cattle outnumber people…lol. Shannon Baker does a great job bringing that part of the country to life.

Lots has happened in this series

Lots has happened since the first book. Kate Fox is now divorced and has become sheriff. She’s slowly settling into that role though the three male sheriffs from the other counties in the Sandhills still don’t really accept her or want to recognize her as sheriff. They would rather that Ted the ex-sheriff and Kate’s ex-husband was still sheriff. One sheriff in particular seems to dislike her and tries to undermine her authority when possible.

An overturned car and a suspicious sheriff

At the beginning of this book Kate receives a late night phone call from a young woman who doesn’t identify herself. The woman indicates she needs help and is driving from the Indian reservation. Kate heads toward the reservation and just before she would leave her county she sees a stopped vehicle and a car rolled over off the road. The stopped vehicle is owned by the sheriff from the neighboring county. He’s the sheriff who seems to dislike Kate. He says he’s just gotten to the wreck and that the vehicle is abandoned. Kate thinks he’s acting suspiciously and doesn’t understand why he’s at the scene since this is in her county and nothing was dispatched about a wreck.

Each county in the Sandhills only has a sheriff and they share a part-time deputy who works on weekends. The deputy–Kyle Red Owl–is a military veteran with police experience, but he grew up on the local Lakota Indian Reservation and isn’t liked, trusted or respected by the male sheriffs. Kate hired him based on his experience and she feels he does a great job.

The reservation

The overturned car is Kyle’s sister’s car and she has disappeared. She just graduated from high school and has a college scholarship, but Kyle discovers that the last couple of months her grades were slipping and she was missing classes. Kyle and Kate investigate her disappearance and Kate learns a lot about life on the reservation she hasn’t known. Alcoholism and unemployment on the reservation; a town filled with liquor stores just two miles from the reservation; and hopeless and hostile Native Americans are just a few of Kate’s discoveries. There’s also a ranch that had been abandoned for several years, but now has a hostile and well-armed couple living on it. No one seems to know who they are, but they are close to where the overturned car was and that’s how Kate discovers them. She wonders if they’re involved in this mystery.

Kate’s family

The mystery was good in this book and didn’t turn out quite the way I expected. However, I didn’t like the distraction and irritation from Kate’s large family in this book. I felt they didn’t respect her as much as they should have. And though some of this is supposed to be funny I was more irritated than amused. I hope in the next book that they realize that Kate is a grown woman who is doing a hard job in a man’s world and that they give her more respect.


I still recommend this book though you should read the earlier books first. I plan to read the next book and am looking forward to it.

My Rating: B-

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!


Close Enough by Shannon Baker

Kate Fox #1.5

69 pages

This is a short story and it is short! It gives some background between book 1 and book 2. The first part is mostly background so we understand Kate’s feelings. The second half deals with the disappearance of a 10-year-old boy. It’s winter and snow is coming so searchers quickly assemble to try to find him. The wrinkle in the story is that Kate is running for sheriff against the current sheriff who is also her ex-husband. Election Day is close and the sheriff is getting points for quickly gathering the search party.

I like Kate and this series. The third book in the series was published recently and I found this short story when I searched for the new book which I bought at the same time as this short story. It’s not necessary to read the short story to understand the series, but it’s always fun to revisit this series.

Mini Review: Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Series: Keeper Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Setting: Canada

Published by DAW, 1998

Source: Ebook, purchased

366 pages

Synopsis: Claire Hansen, the Keeper, is summoned to the Elysian Fields Guest House to reseal a hole in the basement, which is literally an opening to Hell. The owner and monitor of the site disappears, leaving Claire stuck managing the place until the problem is solved. Her new employee, Dean McIssac, is a gorgeous Newfie who cooks, cleans, and lives the Boy Scout oath. Then there’s Jacques Labaet: very French Canadian, very sexy, very dead. Jacques is a ghost who wants to be the man in Claire’s life. Oh yeah, and there’s Austin, a talking cat with attitude: “I barely know you, but I’m assuming you’re human. I’m not saying this is a good thing, it’s just the way it is.” 

My thoughts

This is a quick, fun read. I enjoy Tanya Huff’s books and appreciate the different types of books she writes. The book has a lot of humor and I enjoyed much of that. This isn’t my favorite of the many books of hers I’ve read, but it’s still enjoyable.

The book reminded me a little of The Gale Women series by Ms. Huff. The first book in that series is The Magic Emporium. There is some of the same dynamic between characters in the books. However, I like The Magic Emporium better than this book. I probably will read the second book in the Keeper Chronicles series to see if I like it better than Summon the Keeper.

What I like

I like Claire Hansen and the idea that Keepers clean up messes made by holes torn in the fabric of the universe that leak evil. She comes from a magical family so she has known about keepers all her life. But most people outside their small community don’t know about them.

The evil trying to seep through the hole in the basement furnace room of the guest house is amusing, but determined. It tries to tempt anyone it comes in contact with, but because Claire has magic available it really wants to cause her to slip up and allow more evil through the hole.

Down in the furnace room, having spent the last few hours testing the binding, the intelligence in the pit rested. It would have been panting had it been breathing.

NOTHING HAS CHANGED, it observed sulkily.

. . . SHUT UP!

It also talked to itself.

Dean McIssac is from Newfoundland and has worked at the guest house for a while. He’s the cook and handyman and he loves to clean. A funny reversal of stereotype. Claire also notices he’s quite a hunk–even if he is younger than she is.

The ghost, Jacques Labaet, is very funny, but also a little sad.

And not so much

My main quibble with the book is that although I like cats, I don’t like cats that talk very much–especially when they try to be funny. Austin is Claire’s sidekick and helper and he has an attitude. I just didn’t like it very much.

My Rating: B-

Have you read this book or any others by Tanya Huff? What are your thoughts about her books?

Who done it?

This year I’m trying something different with the books I read. I’m not going to do a separate review for every book I read. I need to shake-up my blog a bit and this is one way I’ve decided to do it.

These are some of the mysteries I’ve read since the first of the year.

Real Murders and A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris (Aurora Teagarden series #1 & 2)

Audiobook, purchased, narrated by Thérèse Plummer

Charlaine Harris wrote a new book–Sleep Like a Baby–in this series last fall. I had considered rereading some of the mysteries she wrote before she started writing the Sookie Stackhouse series.

A new book in the Aurora Teagarden series was impetus to start with that series. I own most of the paperbacks in this series and had bought the audio edition of the the first book–Real Murders–which I listened to last fall. I like the narration of this book. I didn’t really remember too much about Real Murders or A Bone to Pick even though I had read them years ago.

Real Murders revolves around Roe Teagarden’s membership in the Real Murders Club. The members are interested in true crime–especially historical cases. Each member tends to specialize in a particular murderer and murders. It’s great fun until the members of the club start dying. The deaths resemble the murders of some of their favorite murderers.

I don’t like true crime so I found their pastime morbid and icky. I did enjoy reading about Roe and the rest of the characters as well as the mystery.

Rating: B-

Paperback, purchased

In A Bone to Pick the Real Murders Club has disbanded and Roe inherits an estate from one of the former members of the club. Inheriting the estate isn’t all roses, however. Roe has many questions. She not only inherits her friend’s house and money, but everything in the house including a skull which was cleverly hidden. Why did her friend leave her all this money and the house? They weren’t that close. Why is the skull hidden in the house? Where is the rest of the body. Did her friend kill someone? Why did someone break into the house?

I like this series. Roe is an engaging character and I like the Southern vibe. (I don’t live in the South. If I lived there that vibe might irritate me!) I like the fact that Roe moves along in her life from the first book to the second book. She embraces the fact that she has inherited an estate and uses that to change things in her life. I also enjoy many of the other recurring characters in the book.

An enjoyable, light read.

Rating: B


Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #5)

E-audiobook from the library, narrated by Clare Corbett


I’ve read three books in this series since the beginning of the year. It’s hard not to gobble them all up since I like this series so much. However, I want to space them out and really savor them! I’ve listened to a few books in this series and really like the narrations.

This book is mostly set in the north of England–in Blackpool–where Harry Nelson is from. Harry and his wife Michelle are there visiting their families. He also visits his old police friends and gets involved in their cases. He also realizes he and his old friends don’t have much in common anymore. It’s always hard to realize that you no longer understand old friends.

Ruth also travels north to investigate what might be King Arthur’s bones. One of Ruth’s old friends discovered the bones, but then died in a house fire. Cathbad comes along and helps take care of Ruth’s toddler daughter Kate. Of course, awkwardness occurs when Ruth and Kate accidentally meet up with Harry and Michelle Nelson.

Sometimes the mood in this book is bittersweet and a number of things change for a number of the characters in this book. The suspense kept me listening as fast as I could!

Rating: B+


The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway #6)

E-book, purchased

This book continues some of the events which happened to characters in the last book. I like that we learn more about a number of continuing characters throughout these books. They change during these books as well as the main characters. Lots happens to some of the characters in this book.

I like the way Elly Griffiths ties the historical aspects of her books into the present day aspects. She makes them very relevant to her story.

This was a difficult book for me since children are in danger. I don’t like that kind of suspense very well. However, this is a good mystery and I did enjoy it. Still one of my favorite mystery series.

Rating: B


Dead Man’s Fancy by Keith McCafferty (Sean Stranahan #3)

Trade paperback, purchased (bought in the Country Bookshelf in downtown Bozeman, Montana when we took our road trip last fall)

Sean is an interesting character. He’s originally from the Northeast, but moved to Montana after his marriage failed. He has discovered he fits in so much better than he did in the Northeast. He’s been a fly fisherman since he was a child and he did some private detective work where he lived before.

He’s also an artist so in Montana he sets up a studio where he paints, but also advertises his detective services. He gets a few cases as well as selling some paintings. He meets Sheriff Martha Ettinger during his first investigation–The Royal Wulff Murders. Martha shows up in all the books and the books have a police procedural vibe.

The books revolve around fly fishing and Montana. Each book is named after a named fly tie which has something to do with the murder. I like that aspect. The author is a wildlife writer for outdoor magazines and does a great job with not only the mysteries, but also with the fly fishing aspect of the books. I like reading about the outdoors and fishing. I grew up in Oregon and spent lots of time with my parents camping, hiking and fishing. Other people might not enjoy the fishing aspects of the books so much.

This book has lots of aspects to it. The tension between environmentalists and ranchers as well as wolf lovers and wolf haters. A woman searching for her missing sister. And just who was the missing woman? There are so many contradictions to her. Dead Man’s Fancy has lots of twists and turns which I enjoyed. It’s hard to know exactly what is important and what isn’t.

Rating: B+


The Armada Boy by Kate Ellis (Wesley Peterson #2)

E-book, Purchased

I recently reviewed the first book in this series–The Merchant’s House.

The mystery of the murder of a WWII American veteran keeps my interest and I find the detective team interesting.

I’m still not completely convinced yet about the archaeology aspects of these books. I do like the excerpts written by a character in this book at the beginning of each chapter talking about the “invasions” in this part of England which tie the Armada invasion with the WWII invasion of American soldiers. Even though the American were allies they completely disrupted life in this part of the world as  the Armada survivors might have done. The American allies weren’t always seen as a positive influence during or after WWII.

I really like the contemporary portions–the mystery and characters make for a good story. I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series.

Rating: B-


Have you read any of these books? How did you like them?























Borrowing Death by Cathy Pegau

borrowing-deathBorrowing Death by Cathy Pegau
Series: Charlotte Brody Mystery #2
Genre: Historical Mystery
Setting: Cordova, Alaska Territory, 1919
Published by Kensington
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: June 28, 2016)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
210 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: Suffragette and journalist Charlotte Brody is bracing herself for her first winter in the frontier town of Cordova in the Alaska Territory. But the chilling murder of a local store owner is what really makes her blood run cold. . .

After three months in Cordova, Charlotte is getting accustomed to frontier life. She is filing articles for the local paper–including a provocative editorial against Prohibition–and enjoying a reunion with her brother Michael, the town doctor and coroner. Michael’s services are soon called upon when a fire claims the life of hardware store owner Lyle Fiske. A frontier firebug is suspected of arson, but when Michael determines Fiske was stabbed before his store was set ablaze, the town of Cordova has another murder to solve.

Her journalist’s curiosity whetted, Charlotte begins to sort through the smoldering ruins of Lyle Fiske’s life, only to discover any number of people who might have wanted him dead. As the days grow shorter, Charlotte’s investigation turns increasingly complex. She may be distant from the trappings of civilization, but untangling the motives for murder will require plumbing the very depths of Charlotte’s investigative acumen. . .

Initial impressions

I enjoyed this mystery set in the Alaska Territory though I did have a few problems with it.

The story

  • The story continues from the first book with Charlotte living in the Alaska Territory in Cordova.
  • Charlotte works as a journalist for the town newspaper.
  • She’s excited that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (giving women the right to vote) is being ratified by the states. (Twenty states had ratified the Amendment.)  Charlotte is interested in women’s rights as well as other political issues.
  • The hardware store in town burns down and someone inside the store dies.
  • Charlotte is at the scene of the fire so she can write about it in the town paper.
  • An arsonist has been setting fires around Cordova though nothing as big as this. Did the arsonist set the fire?
  • Charlotte feels she needs to figure out who set the fire.


  • I love the time period and the setting in the Alaska Territory.
  • The descriptions about using hot lead to set the type for the newspaper are fascinating.
  • I like that Charlotte writes unpopular articles in the newspaper. An article about the prohibition of alcohol and the harm that could do brings out the angry temperance movement in Cordova.
  • I like the mystery. There are twists and turns and everything and everyone isn’t always happy with the outcome.
  • A beautiful cover–though Charlotte is dressed a little too fancy for the Alaska Territory.


  • It would have been better if the members of the temperance movement weren’t stereotypes. There are valid points on both side of the alcohol issue–though prohibition didn’t work.
  • I felt Charlotte trades too much on her friendship with Deputy Marshal Eddington.
  • I’m not sure what happened in book 1, but Eddington doesn’t show himself in the best light in this book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I haven’t read the first book in the series, but was able to enjoy this book. I do think I might have appreciated this book more if I had read the first book.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

From Cathy Pegau:

  • “Writing was not the career path I chose when the time came. I thought the arts, while enjoyable, was not the way to make a living. So I went into science. Wildlife biology, to be exact. Yep, plenty of prosperous biologists wandering about in the woods, you know. Obviously money was not high on my list of job perks. But I enjoyed the course work (how many college students can say THAT?) and managed to get short-term positions for a few years. It was fun, hard and sweaty work, and gave me the chance to see and do things I wouldn’t have if I had chosen accounting or even writing. Like get lost in the woods overnight. But that’s another story.
  • I got engaged, then married–to a scientist, assuring perpetual financial uncertainty. We lived in Oregon for a while, and when he was offered a job in Alaska we jumped at it. So, now we live here with our kids and critters and the occasional moose strolling through the yard. I can’t afford therapy, so I write. I want to do what I want to do, so I write. I want my kids to know that pursuing dreams is important, so I write.”

Reading Challenges

Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace

envy-of-angels-by-matt-wallce“Envy of Angels” by Matt Wallace
Series: Sin du Jour #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy novella
Setting: New York City
Published by, 2015
E-book, purchased
225 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?

Welcome to Sin du Jour – where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.

“Most important rule of working here,” he tells her. “Just when you think you’ve got a handle on how fucking sick the universe’s sense of humor is, it goes and tells you an even dirtier joke.”


At some point the ground beneath their feet disappears and all four of them are slipping through.

The entire world has become a child’s playpen.

There’s no bottom.

Initial impressions

  • What a fun, strange book!

The story

  • Lena and Darren are unemployed cooks, because they’re blackballed in NYC.
  • They have to find something soon or they’re going to have to go outside of NYC.
  • They get an opportunity to work for at least a week with an iconic chef.
  • Sin du Jour is a private club that caters to demons. Lena and Darren don’t know demons exist or anything about Sin du Jour before they start working, but they find out!


  • It’s ironic and satiric and even silly sometimes. Just a lot of fun!
  • This was a little like watching a reality TV cooking show–maybe Hell’s Kitchen–if there were demons!
  • Funny, but also some horror vibes to the story as I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen.
  • Written in present tense–gives an immediacy to the story as though it’s happening right now. Also the story is told with detachment toward the characters. I didn’t feel very close to them so I felt every character was in danger. That really works for this story.


  • There’s not a lot of world building. I hope there’s more world building in the next book, because this world has lots of promise.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • The second novella was published in January and the third one is coming out later this month.
  •  Since 2015 has been publishing novellas from a number of authors. I really like that they are doing this. I can try new authors and read authors I already like in a shorter version which means I can read more new fiction!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Reading Challenges

  • 2016 Goodreads Challenge
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy Bingo Reading Challenge–hosted by the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog– Sci Fi Fantasy Humor

Admiral by Sean Danker

admiral-sean-dankerAdmiral by Sean Danker
Series: Evagardian #1
Genre: Science Fiction (military sci fi)
Setting: A small inhospitable planet
Published by Roc, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: May 3)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
320 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: “I was on a dead ship on an unknown planet with three trainees freshly graduated into the Imperial Service. I tried to look on the bright side.”

He is the last to wake. The label on his sleeper pad identifies him as an admiral of the Evagardian Empire—a surprise as much to him as to the three recent recruits now under his command. He wears no uniform, and he is ignorant of military protocol, but the ship’s records confirm he is their superior officer.

Whether he is an Evagardian admiral or a spy will be of little consequence if the crew members all end up dead. They are marooned on a strange world, their ship’s systems are failing one by one—and they are not alone.

Initial impressions

  • A good start for a new military science fiction series. Lots of action, creepiness and mystery as the story unfolds.

The story

  • Four people wake up on a ship on a strange planet. Three of the people are just graduated into the Imperial Service. The fourth person–the narrator of the story–is the last to wake and is in a sleeper unit identifying him as an admiral.
  • He seems much too young to be an admiral and the trainees are suspicious. He’s surprised himself. He doesn’t seem to remember who he is, but he’s surprised he’s an admiral.
  • There are lots of questions. And they need to work together to find the answers, but they’re suspicious of each other.
  • They discover the crew is dead, but they’re not really sure how they died.
  • Then they discover they might not be alone on this planet.


  • Lots of questions and mystery. Where are they? Why are they there? Who is the main character? How did the crew on the ship die?
  • The story is absorbing and full of action.
  • The story is told in first person, but we still don’t know whether to believe the main character.
  • We’re given hints about the world we’re plopped into and for the most part that’s fine. We learn more as we go along.
  • I liked the creepiness of the story as it slowly dawns on the four people that they aren’t alone on this planet.
  • The ship and planet they are on are very strange and even stranger as the story continues.
  • We find out a little about the Evagardian Empire and I’m looking forward to finding out more about it!


  • The ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I guess that’s okay for the first book in a series.
  • Even though we get the narrator’s first person point-of-view he’s not a reliable character. We don’t know who he is even after it seems he remembers.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I want to read the next book. I want to see if some of my questions are answered!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Reading Challenges

  • 2016 Goodreads Challenge
  • Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge–hosted by Falling for YA
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • New Release Challenge–hosted by Lexxie at Unconventional Book Views and Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My!
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy Bingo Reading Challenge–hosted by the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — Military Sci Fi

Silenced in the Surf by Kate E. Dyer-Seeley

silenced-in-the-surf-by-kate-e-dyer-seeleySilenced in the Surf by Kate E. Dyer-Seeley
Series: Pacific Northwest #3
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Portland, Oregon and Hood River on the Columbia River in Oregon
Published by Kensington, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: March 29)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
304 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: Covering a windsurfing competition should have been a breeze for reporter Meg Reed, but with a killer in the curl, she’s headed for rough waters…

Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge is the windsurfing capital of the world, and Meg is stoked to cover the King of the Hook event for Portland’s Northwest Extreme magazine. Before the competition gets under way, Meg has a chance to try some windsurfing on her own. But when the current sweeps her downriver, she spots a body snagged on the rocks. The dead man is Justin Cruise, aka Cruise Control, a celebrity windsurfer and not exactly a nice guy. It’s soon clear his death was no accident, and Cruise had no shortage of enemies. As Meg dives right in to discover who wiped out the windsurfer, she’ll need to keep her balance—or she too may get blown away.

Initial impressions

  • I love the setting of the book in the Columbia Gorge. The author did a great job bringing it to life.

The story

  • Meg works for Northwest Extreme Magazine and travels to Hood River to cover a windsurfing competition.
  • During a windsurfing lesson she is swept downriver and ends up finding a body on rocks along the shore.
  • It looks like the death could be accidental, but the windsurfer had lots of enemies.


  • I grew up in Oregon so this book was great fun to read. I’ve seen the windsurfers on the Columbia River. I’ve never done that myself or wanted to. I’m a little like Meg before she got her job at Northwest Extreme magazine…lol.
  • I haven’t read the other books, but was able to follow along just fine. However, I think reading the earlier books is a great idea!
  • There is an ongoing story arc that sounds like it started in the first book. Meg’s father who was a reporter working on a story was murdered. The murder was never solved and Meg is trying to discover what happened.
  • There are funny parts and some scary parts and even one I can think of which is both: when Meg gets a windsurfing lesson, is carried away by the wind and current, can’t get the sail up and falls off the board several times–funny and scary both.
  • A beautiful cover!
  • I like the way the author describes Hood River and the windsurfing scene and all the people who descend on the little town. Not everyone in town likes all the windsurfers and tourists. I like all the brewpubs visited during the book!


  • The end of the book didn’t feel like an end. I have a feeling the next book will start about where this ended.
  • The mystery part of the story isn’t quite complete either. Of course, in real life everything isn’t tied up in a neat bow, but I wonder if that will wrap-up in the next book also.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • Book 4 in the series–First Degree Murder–is scheduled to arrive on shelves in December 2016.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series for Kensington Publishing, featuring a young journalist, Meg Reed, who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a gig writing for Northwest Extreme. Only Meg’s idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.
  • She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you can find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub. Better yet—all three.

Reading Challenges

The Fine Art of Murder by Emily Barnes

the-fine-art-of-murder-by emily-barnesThe Fine Art of Murder by Emily Barnes
Series: Katherine Sullivan Mystery #1
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Setting: Edina, Minnesota–now a suburb of Minneapolis
Published by Crooked Lane Books, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: Feb 9)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
304 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: Former Police Chief Katherine Sullivan has been called brilliant, brave, compassionate, and quirky, but after decades of crime fighting, this resilient grandmother with an artist’s soul is discovering that retirement can be just as deadly as being on the job.

When Katherine returned to her hometown, her only thought was to comfort her recently divorced daughter. That was before a young woman was found murdered on the estate of the town’s richest family. Now, in order to track down the killer, Katherine must uncover the generations of secrets that at least one person as already killed to protect in this charming and smart series debut, The Fine Art of Murder.

Initial impressions

  • I like the characters in this book a lot. The mystery is interesting, but ultimately it is the characters who drew me in.

The story

  • A mansion with stolen artwork hidden somewhere in its walls (maybe some originally stolen by the Nazis). An intriguing premise.
  • Stolen artwork–rumored in its walls–some of it perhaps artwork originally stolen by the Nazis.
  • A young woman who works there is murdered and Katherine is asked by her attorney daughter to investigate.

The merits

  • I like Katherine Sullivan–especially since she’s an older protagonist. She’s a former police chief, widow (her husband was also a police officer and killed in the line-of-duty) and a strong, capable woman. I also really like her interactions with her daughter and her two grandchildren.  I also like the fact she has reinvented herself in retirement–moved to the Southwest where she’s now an artist.
  • I don’t have any personal experience with Asperger’s Syndrome, but the author seems to do a good job portraying Cameron–Katherine’s grandson.
  • I like Katherine’s remembrances into her past–for example, at the beginning of the book when she’s flying to her former hometown in Minnesota and thinks to herself that she used to buy new outfits to fly and now she sees a girl wearing purple and yellow pajamas!
  • Ms. Barnes is strongest in her characterizations. I felt I knew some of these characters.
  • I like how Katherine’s daughter Lizzie is portrayed. I feel her anger toward her ex-husband and her difficulties as a working mom are realistic.
  • The mystery is interesting and I like the art angle. Katherine’s reasons for helping her daughter are realistic and Katherine is able to reach out to one of her best friends and a former police officer who opened a security firm when he retired for help with the investigation.
  • Katherine’s friend, Nathan has an engaging group of people working for him. I really enjoyed getting to know all of them and hope they will be in future books.

The flaws

  • The book is written in first person so we only know Katherine’s thoughts. And I feel she is a little too perfect, but I like her a lot!
  • I kept waiting for more of a twist at the end of the story. It was a little flat at the end for me.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I enjoyed this debut mystery and look forward to what happens in the next book. I wonder if Katherine is going to return to the Southwest and the stories will continue there? Or does she come back to Minnesota to solve her mysteries. There is a whiff of romance in Minnesota!

Author info

  • Emily Barnes lives in Clarksville, MO. An artist herself, she has published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. (Info from Crooked Lane Publishing)

Reading Challenges

Mystery Reviews


I have a few books I read in 2015, but didn’t get reviewed. I’ve decided to group them together in three or four posts. Mysteries come first!

A Man of Some Repute by Elizabeth Edmondsona-man-of-some-repute-by elizabeth-edmondson

  • A Very English Mystery #1
  • Published 2015, 306 pages
  • Historical Mystery–England, 1953
  • I really enjoyed this mystery. I haven’t read too many books written in this time period.
  • Real events are the background for this historical mystery. Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess defected to the Soviet Union in the summer of 1951. They were both part of what later became known as the Cambridge Spy Ring because they were recruited in the 1930’s when they were at Cambridge. More people were ultimately accused as more evidence came to light. Kim Philby defected to the USSR in the early 1960’s. It still isn’t known (publicly at least) how many spies there might have been–but at least five.
  • The main character in this historical fiction mystery–intelligence officer Hugo Hawksworth–wounded on a secret mission and now assigned to desk duty. His job is to read through personnel files and see if he finds anyone else besides Maclean and Burgess who might be Russian spies. He isn’t very happy with this assignment, but has little choice because of his injury.
  • He is the guardian of his teenage sister and together they are staying at a castle in the country near where he is working. The Earl who owns the castle disappeared one night during a snowstorm seven years earlier. Soon after Hugo arrives the Earl’s bones are found under the flagstones of the castle chapel. Hugo (and his sister) and the Earl’s niece begin investigating the case.
  • There’s a hint of romance and the characters are interesting. The mystery is well-done and I recommend this book especially is you like historical mysteries set in an unusual time period.
  • Grade: B+

Murder Fir Christmas by Joyce & Jim Lavenemurder-fir-christmas-joyce-and-jim-lavene

  • Christmas Tree Valley Mysteries #1
  • Published 2015, 202 pages
  • Contemporary Mystery–small Tennessee town
  • I enjoyed this mystery a lot, too. When I picked it up I was afraid it might be a little “cutesy.” But it wasn’t. I thought it was well-written and I especially liked the main character–Federal Wildlife Agent Bonnie Tuttle.
  • She arrives in Tennessee where she grew up to take over from another wildlife agent who is retiring. As soon as she arrives she and the agent she will replace are called out to an island fire to help rescue animals. While on the island the retiring agent is murdered.
  • Bonnie must juggle the new job, new people to work and interact with while investigating a murder, helping her mother who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and helping run the family Christmas tree farm. She has a special gift with animals, too! And she has to deal with the reasons she left home in the first place. It all sounds like a muddled mess! But it works!
  • A lot to deal with, but even though this is a short book, it didn’t feel too short. I do hope to read another book in the series. I want to find out more about Bonnie and the people in this book. The mystery is pretty good, too. There’s a hint of romance in this book, too. I like the Christmas aspects of the book, too.
  • Grade: B

Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N.A. Grangerdeath-in-a-red-canvas-chair

  • Rhe Brewster Mystery #1
  • Published 2013, 216 pages
  • Contemporary Mystery–small Maine coastal town
  • I liked this mystery, but it’s not my favorite of the three.
  • Rhe Brewster is a nurse in this small town and she finds a dead body at the end of her son’s soccer game. Her brother-in-law is the sheriff and he asks her to help investigate. Rhe’s husband is quite unhappy about this and I didn’t find him very likable. I also didn’t find it likely that a sheriff would ask a nurse to help in an investigation. By the end of the book they made it more formal, but I still don’t find it very likely. I did find the mystery interesting.
  • Grade–B-

2015 Reading Challenges

  • Goodreads
  • Cloak and Dagger Challenge
  • New Author Challenge
  • TBR Pile Challenge

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them?