Review: Black Velvet by Steven Henry

Black Velvet by Steven HenryBlack Velvet by Steven Henry

Series: The Erin O’Reilly Mysteries #1

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural, K-9

Setting: New York City

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2017

224 pages

Synopsis: Erin learned a lot from her partner: stay alert, follow your nose, and once you’ve got your teeth in them, never let go. 

It’s tough working nights with the NYPD. The crime rate is high, the hours are terrible, and forget about a personal life. So when Officer O’Reilly and her K-9 Rolf switch over to the day shift, things are looking up. She’s even able to find time for a new boyfriend. 

But when the theft of a priceless painting from the Queens Museum leaves a fellow police officer dead, Erin and her four-legged partner find themselves dealing with dangerous criminals, sleazy art dealers, and obstructive detectives in a race to capture the killers…and just maybe bring closure to a 75-year-old crime.

My thoughts

This is the first book I’ve read by Steven Henry and I liked it. There’s already another book in this series and I plan to read it.

I like police procedurals and especially like ones that include K-9 dogs! Erin O’Reilly is a patrol officer for the NYPD and her partner is a German Shepherd named Rolf. Her dad was also a cop for NYPD so she knows what the job entails and she’s an enthusiastic and dedicated officer. She and Rolf work well together and trust each other. Erin gets a certain amount of obstruction from male officers which I think most women who have worked in a male dominated workplace will recognize. But she’s also respected by many of her fellow officers as well as her lieutenant.

While she’s on a date a robbery takes place and even though she’s dressed for a date and doesn’t have her gun she calls in the details and runs after the thieves. This leads her to get more involved in the case than a patrol officer normally would. The detectives whose case it is don’t appreciate her involvement and warn her to stay away from the case. Of course, she doesn’t listen and I thought that was the weakest part of the story. I thought neither the detectives nor Erin acted like professional police officers. I guess it was necessary for the story, but that bothered me.

I didn’t feel as much emotional connection with Erin as I would have expected. I think that’s because she didn’t show flaws or weaknesses that she had to work through during the course of the story. I hope I feel I get to know more about Erin in future books and that she shows some of her weaknesses as well as her strengths.

As a whole, I enjoyed the story. I liked reading about Erin and Rolf’s interactions, the characters in the story and the mystery though I did figure out who was behind the theft. I do want to read future books about Erin and Rolf.

My Rating: C+

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

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

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge hosted by the POPSUGAR website — A book involving a heist

Review: The Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis

the-merchants-house-kate-ellisThe Merchant’s House by Kate Ellis

Wesley Peterson #1

E-book, purchased

Setting: Devon, England

Mystery, Police Procedural

Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson’s first day finds him investigating the death of a young woman who may be connected to a kidnapped child. As the suspense builds, a strange parallel emerges between his case and the two skeletons found in the ruins of a 17th century merchant’s house. With stellar characterizations and sharp plotting, readers will find themselves completely swept up in this virtuoso mystery, the ending of which is as satisfying as it is shocking.


My thoughts

I love finding a new police procedural series! This reminded me a little of some of the Gemma James and Duncan Kincaid series where historical events affect current events in the story. Other than that this book is different from that series. This is the first in the series and was published in 1998. I like that over 20 books have now been published in the series.

Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson and his wife Pam transferred to Devon from London where Wesley will work in CID for the local police and Pam hopes to find a teaching job. They will also be closer to Pam’s mother in Devon.

The book sets up interesting arcs for future books in the series–Wesley’s wife determined to get pregnant and have a child by any means and racial tensions in the police station because of Wesley’s dark skin color. I look forward to future books to see what happens with Wesley and the various characters in the book. I would like to meet Wesley’s family in these books since they are all doctors. I get the feeling they were at least puzzled when Wesley chose the police force!

Wesley is immediately busy when he arrives at the station his first day on the job. A call has come in reporting a suspicious death. This death of a young woman who has had her face disfigured by the murderer makes her identification difficult. Before Wesley arrived in Devon a young child was kidnapped. Every police officer dreads a missing child case and though the case belongs to a different team the entire department knows the details of the case. As the book continues it begins to look as though the two cases may be linked–but are they really?

I also like the fact that Wesley has a degree in archaeology and has a friend in the area who is an archaeologist. That is an important part of this story. It will be interesting to see if Neil, Wesley’s friend, shows up in future books.

I enjoyed this first book. However, I thought the linking of the historical with the present day happenings was a little forced. Since this was the first book in the series that doesn’t bother me too much.

Will I read more books in this series or other books by Kate Ellis?

Yes! I want to read more about Wesley and the other characters in the book.

Have you read any of these books? How do you like the series?

Rating: C+




Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

missing-presumed-by-susie-steinerMissing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
Series: Unknown
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Cambridgeshire, England
Published by Random House
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: June 28)
–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.
368 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: At thirty-nine, Manon Bradshaw is a devoted and respected member of the Cambridgeshire police force, and though she loves her job, what she longs for is a personal life. Single and distant from her family, she wants a husband and children of her own. One night, after yet another disastrous Internet date, she turns on her police radio to help herself fall asleep—and receives an alert that sends her to a puzzling crime scene.

Edith Hind—a beautiful graduate student at Cambridge University and daughter of the surgeon to the Royal Family—has been reported missing for nearly twenty-four hours. Her home offers few clues: a smattering of blood in the kitchen, her keys and phone left behind, the front door ajar but showing no signs of forced entry. Manon instantly knows this case will be big—and that every second is crucial to finding Edith alive.

The investigation starts with Edith’s loved ones: her attentive boyfriend, her reserved best friend, and her patrician parents. As the search widens and press coverage reaches a frenzied pitch, secrets begin to emerge about Edith’s tangled love life and her erratic behavior leading up to her disappearance. With no clear leads, Manon summons every last bit of her skill and intuition to close the case, and what she discovers will have shocking consequences not just for Edith’s family, but for Manon herself.

Suspenseful and keenly observed, Missing, Presumed is a brilliantly twisting novel of how we seek connection, grant forgiveness, and reveal the truth about who we are.

Initial impressions

  • Interesting, but not exactly the book I thought it was going to be. I thought it was more police procedural. Ended up more thriller and psychological.

The story

  • Edith Hind is missing. A small amount of blood is found in her house. Her door is unlocked, cell phone, car and personal items are left behind.
  • When her boyfriend returns from a weekend away and finds her gone, he notifies her parents and the police.
  • A huge search finds no sign of Edith alive or dead.
  • As the hours, days and weeks go by and the police find no real clues to her disappearance the police believe she must be dead.
  • Where is Edith and is she alive or dead?


  • I don’t really enjoy thrillers or psychological mysteries which this book is more than it is a police procedural.
  • The book is told in a mix of present and past tense and from many points of view. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw is probably the main character, but we find out about the story from many others, too. At the beginning of each chapter the present tense aspect and switch in point-of-view jarred, but after a couple of paragraphs I got used to it. I think the author shows quite a bit of skill to write the book this way.
  • I found the story suspenseful and quite well-written.
  • It is more character study than mystery.
  • I don’t like Manon very well–which isn’t necessary for a book–though I like to connect with characters.
  • My favorite character is Davy, Manon’s partner. I like the way he views the world and how he see’s Manon. Though he certainly has his blind spots.


  • Manon is a mess during much of the book. She’s 39 years old, but she hasn’t learned some of the basics of working in a team in the workplace, let alone as a detective sergeant in the police force. And her personal life is a mess. She does some stupid things both professionally and personally.
  • I thought the end of the book ties up all the strings in this book much too easily. And I’m offended by one of the characters at the end of the book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • This isn’t really the type of mystery I enjoy. I think that’s at least part of the reason I didn’t like the book as much as other readers.
  • I did find parts of it interesting and suspenseful. However, this is not quite my chosen genre.

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

Author info

  • Susie Steiner grew up in north London and studied English at York University, which is when she first fell in love with north Yorkshire, in particular the north York Moors national park, which was the setting for her first novel, Homecoming. Homecoming was published by Faber & Faber to critical acclaim in 2013.
  • She worked for national papers as a news reporter. She left reporting when her first novel sold.
  • Her second novel, Missing, Presumed, is a bestselling thriller with Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw at its heart. Missing, Presumed is based in Cambridgeshire. She worked closely with Cambridgeshire police during the writing of this and the next Manon book.
  • She lives with her husband and two sons in north London.

Reading Challenges

Arena by Holly Jennings

arenaArena by Holly Jennings
Series: Unknown
Genre: Science Fiction (Dystopia)
Setting: 2054
Published by Ace, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: April 5)
–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.
336 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier…
The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside…

Initial impressions

  • I really enjoyed the gaming aspect of the story.

The story

  • The beginning starts with Team Defiance losing for the first time in the RAGE tournaments–a virtual gaming league. Team Defiance has three women and two men on the team.
  • Clarence who put their team together makes Kali the Captain of the team. She’s the first female captain the league has had, but it appears he does it more for ratings than because he thinks she will be a good leader.
  • Then she discovers one of her teammates dead of a drug overdose. Soon he’s replaced and forgotten.
  • Team Defiance is in the loser’s bracket of the tournament and has to win every game to make it to the top and meet the winner of the winner’s bracket.
  • Kali wants people to know that addiction and drugs are a big problem in the virtual world, but the sponsors and heads of the teams don’t want to know about it anyone to know that ugly secret.


  • For some reason I thought this book was going to go in a different direction than it did!
  • The beginning of the book really drew me in.
  • I like the gaming aspect of the book. Of course, it reminds me a bit of Ready Player One.
  • However, in Arena players are pro athletes, because your skills carry-over into the virtual world. They use all their skills and physical agility in the virtual world. They are their own avatars. They feel pain and feel when they die in the virtual world. They wake up in the “real” world alive, but with the memory of pain and/or death.
  • The resemblance to elite sports today is well-done–both the good aspects (the joy and love of the game, the physicality of sports and competition) and the bad aspects (sponsors and team owners who control the players, the dangers of addiction).
  • I like that Kali gets back to her roots as a half Chinese gamer who grew up with Tao philosophy and books. That helps her overcome many of her problems.
  • With the help of other people including her team Kali slowly learns leadership skills and what is really important to her.


  • To me this seems more of a coming of age book…learning to grow up and to believe in yourself. That is what Kali has to do in this book. Even though the characters are older I felt it was more of a young adult book.
  • Kali is too perfect. Everything seems to work out the way she wants it regardless of what she does. Just seems too easy to me.
  • There isn’t a lot of world building in the book–just vague references to the cost of education, difficulty getting jobs. I get the idea of a dystopian future, but the people competing in the elite games are doing just fine.
  • During the book I kept expecting bad things to happen to Kali and her team…things they would have to overcome. Because so much money is involved I expected Clarence who put together the team to control the team more than he did. I thought there would be plotting behind the scenes. I guess I’m too cynical!
  • This book doesn’t really need to be science fiction or set in the future. It could as easily be set today. The only science fiction aspect is the total immersion in virtual reality.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  •  I think because I was expecting more adventures and plots I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I might have if I’d realized the theme of the book was more the importance to stand up for what you believe.

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

Author info

  • Holly Jennings’ debut novel Arena is set in the not-too-distant future and was inspired by a documentary about young adults striving to make it as pro gamers (professional video game players). Tired of so many people looking down on those who enjoy games, Ms. Jennings created a future where gamers are the ultimate celebrity athletes. Thanks to fully-immersive virtual reality, pro gamers compete in nationwide tournaments and build their skillsets in the real world by training in weapons and martial arts. I hope that Arena is the first of many set in this world. 

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 — Debut Novel

The rest of the short reviews from 2015

I’ve finally finished all my reviews for 2015 with these last six shorts. Three of these are short stories, one is a book of short stories and the other two are novels. I have two science fiction, three fantasies and one contemporary fiction. These are very short snippets of reviews…lol. At least I have a post about them which makes me happy!

“Earth and Fire” & Earth 2788 by Janet Edwards

  • Earth and Fire” is a prequel novella. It’s a story about Jarra when she learns to fly a plane (takes place before the trilogy Ms. Edwards wrote). I enjoyed the glimpse into Jarra’s life before the books began. Grade: B
  • Earth 2788–Eight prequel short stories about some of the characters in the trilogy who come from the colony worlds. I really enjoyed reading about how these characters ended up in the class with Jarra. Grade: B

Chasing Christmas Past: An Airship Racing Chronicles Short Story” by Melanie Karsak

  • Another short story–this one very short (only 30 pages)–but I thought it was a fun story that gave me a flavor for what the series is about. I haven’t read anything else by this author, but this science fiction steampunk has fun characters in an interesting alternate world. Grade: B

Magic Stars” by Ilona Andrews

  • A short story set in the Kate Daniels world about Derek (a shifter wolf) and Julie (Curran and Kate’s ward) both of whom we’ve seen grow up while reading the Kate Daniels books. Both are very likable characters so it’s fun to read a story about them. I loved this! Since this is listed as Grey Wolf #1 (and Kate Daniels #8.5) I’m hoping there are more stories about Derek and as well as Julie. Grade: A-

Radiance by Grace Draven (Wraith Kings #1)

  • I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. It’s a fantasy romance and was a lot of fun to read. The characters are enjoyable and the story is good. I recommend it! Grade: B+

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.

  • This book made me cry. I have to admit I didn’t like it very well. I had trouble finishing it. I don’t like sad books. I can find enough to cry about in real life.
  • I listened to the audiobook and thought the narrator was great, but I thought the book was one sad scene after another. And I felt my emotions were manipulated some of the time. Grade: C+

Have you read any of these books? What’s your opinion?

2015 Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Audiobook Challenge
  • New Author Challenge
  • TBR Pile Challenge

Hot Toy by Jennifer Crusie

toy-story-by jennifer-crusieHot Toyby Jennifer Crusie
Series: None–part of an anthology
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Setting: United States
Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks, 2006
Paperback, purchased
104 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: Get ready for a holiday season you’ll never forget with three of today’s most sensational writers who know what every woman wants for the holidays. You’ll believe in Santa all over again with these seductive stories from:
Mayhem ensues under the mistletoe as a determined shopper grabs the very last hot toy action figure off the shelf, only to find herself plunged into the middle of a real-life spy game–in the arms of a sexy secret agent. . .

Above her, Madonna cooed “Santa Baby,” the ancient store speakers making the carol to sex and greed sound a little tinny. Whatever had happened to “The Little Drummer Boy”? That had been annoying, too, but in a traditional way, like fruitcake. She’d be happy to hear a “rum-pa-pum-pum” again, anything that didn’t make Christmas sound like it was about getting stuff.

Initial impressions

  • Not my favorite story by Jennifer Crusie. Too short for both a romance and a suspense plot.


  • This has the trademark Jennifer Crusie humor. I always like her humor.
  • The romance in the story isn’t my favorite, but I still like it.
  • Trudy meets Nolan a college professor she dated, in a toy store, on Christmas Eve where she’s looking for the popular toy of the year for her nephew. Of course, the toy sold out months ago.
  • Trudy is irritated Nolan never called again after their last date. However, it turns out Nolan is looking for the same toy as he’s a collector. Then a former research assistant of her professor father shows up and they all go on a wild goose chase to try to find the toy.


  • The suspense part of the story seems very unrealistic and just didn’t work for me. I wish there had just been a sweet romance especially with such a short story.
  • Trudy’s sister doesn’t have the right toy for her son so Trudy has to go out and fight the crowds on Christmas Eve to try to find the “it” toy of the year?? And when she can’t find it the sister insists she keep looking??? I don’t think so.

hot-toyAnd a few thoughts . . .

  • I bought the paperback when it came out, but hadn’t read it. Now I’ve read Jennifer Crusie’s short story, but not the other two.
  • A new edition of just Ms. Crusie’s short story was published in October.

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

Author info

  • Jenny Crusie is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of twenty novels, one book of literary criticism, miscellaneous articles, essays, and short stories, and the editor of two anthologies for BenBella Press. She lives in a small cottage on a small lake in New Jersey, surrounded by deer, bears, and dachshunds, where she often stares at the ceiling and counts her blessings.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • TBR Pile Challenge–hosted by the Bookish blog

Santa 365 by Spencer Quinn

santa-365Santa 365 by Spencer Quinn
Series: The Chet and Bernie Mystery Series
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Arizona
Published by Atria Books, 2015
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: Nov 24, 2015)
–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.
47 pages
Grade: C
Synopsis: Santa doesn’t just deliver gifts—he takes them too!—in this delightful holiday e-short featuring New York Times bestselling sleuths Chet and Bernie.

He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. This year, jolly old St. Nick knows Bernie has been sleeping on preparations for a special Christmas celebration with his son Charlie. Enter Plumpy Napoleon, fresh from a short stint in prison, to save Bernie from the naughty list. Plumpy calls his latest business plan “Santa 365.” For a small fee (that only gets bigger), he’ll fill your life with holiday cheer, including elves, a festive party, gifts, and even a Christmas tree delivered right to your front door. Bernie signs on for the full yuletide experience. But after the blowout holiday bash, Bernie and Chet the dog discover one of Santa’s helpers helped himself to more than Christmas candy. The intrepid duo sets out to find the sticky-fingered perp and reclaim the stolen goods. Add in a surprise visit from Bernie’s mom, two elderly sisters seeking their own brand of justice, and an elf with a stocking full of secrets, and you have a Christmas mystery that only Chet and Bernie could possibly unwrap.

Initial impressions

  • This is a very short story and I was confused during much of it.


  • Since I haven’t read the other books in this series I’m giving this story a bit of a pass thinking I might have enjoyed it and understood better if I had read some of the books.
  • I did like what I saw of Bernie’s friends and family.


  • I didn’t understand why Bernie would do business with Plumpy Napoleon who just got out of prison.
  • This was too short to develop the story.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I have the first book in this series so I thought this would be a good way to try the series. However, I think I might have understood this story a little better if I had read one of the books in the series.

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

Author info

  • Spencer Quinn lives on Cape Cod with his dog Audrey, and is hard at work on the next Chet and Bernie adventure.
  • Spencer Quinn is a pseudonym of author Peter Abrahams.

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge–hosted by Amy @ A Bookish Girl
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog

The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Putney, Beverley, Bourne, Rice, Cornick, Elliott, Gracie & King

the-last-chance-christmas-ball-by-Mary-Jo-Putney, et al.The Last Chance Christmas Ball by Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, Joanna Bourne, Patricia Rice, Nicola Cornick, Cara Elliott, Anne Gracie, Susan King
Series: None
Genre: Historical Romance
Setting: Great Britain, 1815
Published by Kensington
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: Sep 29, 2015)
–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: C+
Synopsis: Christmas 1815. Upstairs and downstairs, Holbourne Hall is abuzz with preparations for a grand ball to celebrate the year’s most festive—and romantic—holiday. For at the top of each guest’s wish list is a last chance to find true love before the New Year…

A chance meeting beneath the mistletoe, a stolen glance across the dance floor—amid the sumptuous delicacies, glittering decorations, and swell of the orchestra, every duchess and debutante, lord and lackey has a hopeful heart. There’s the headstrong heiress who must win back her beloved by midnight—or be wed to another….the spinster whose fateful choice to relinquish love may hold one more surprise for her…a widow yearning to glimpse her long-lost love for even one sweet, fleeting interlude …a charming rake who finds far more than he bargained for. And many other dazzling, romantic tales in this star-studded collection that will fill your heart and spice up your holidays…

Initial impressions

  • The Last Chance Christmas Ball is a ball held every year for the last 50 years. Of course, this is just the name the bachelors who come give the ball, because Lady Holly is something of a matchmaker.
  • Most of the stories are second-chance romances where the main characters already know each other and for one reason or another separated. Many of the men were soldiers and fought Napoleon and the French. That war is now over.
  • As is often the case with an anthology I like some stories better than others.

The stories:

  • “My True Love Hath My Heart” by Joanna Bourne–C+
  • “A Scottish Carol” by Susan King–C
  • “Christmas Larks” by Patricia Rice–C+
  • “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Mary Jo Putney–B
  • “Flames Dance” by Cara Elliott–C
  • “A Season for Marriage” by Nicola Cornick–C
  • “Miss Finch and the Angel” by Jo Beverley–B
  • “Mistletoe Kisses” by Anne Gracie–B-


  • As I state below I didn’t connect with most of the characters in these stories. However, a few of the stories had characters I like and remember:
    • Roxanne (Roxie) from Mary Jo Putney’s “In the Bleak Midwinter” is a memorable character. She’s self-confident, owns and runs her own property and a colorful character.
    • Lady Holly is a character in all the stories and the reason the Last Chance Christmas Ball happens. She’s an out-spoken old lady, has many godsons and goddaughters and is liked by all of them.
    • Clio Finch is Lady Holly’s companion. There’s mystery about her so that makes her interesting. Her story is “Miss Finch and the Angel” by Jo Beverley. The angel in the story is Lord Gabriel Quinfoy. He’s an interesting character and I like their story.


  • Most of these stories just didn’t capture my attention. Perhaps because of the length of the stories I didn’t connect with most of the characters.
  • The ball takes place after Christmas and there really isn’t a lot about Christmas. In a few of the stories the characters gather holly and mistletoe to decorate houses and sometimes they sing some Christmas carols. However, I didn’t feel immersed in these stories as I want to when I read Christmas stories.
  • Also even though the characters are invited to the Ball many of them don’t actually get to the Ball or if they do that happens days after they meet and fall in love.

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I chose this book because I usually enjoy short stories set at Christmas and I’ve read and enjoyed books by Jo Beverley, Anne Gracie, Mary Jo Putney and Joanna Bourne.
  • I don’t read very much romance these days so part of my reaction to these stories may very well be me not enjoying romances very much anymore. Others may enjoy these stories more than I did.

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

Reading Challenges

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge

Review: The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey

the-bloodboundThe Bloodbound
by Erin Lindsey
Series: Bloodbound #1
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Published by Ace, 2014
E-book, purchased
368 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…

A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.

Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.

But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…

He was not afraid. He would be surrounded by friends and allies. He had always been surrounded by people who loved him, ever since he was a child. Strange, then, that he should feel so utterly alone.


“. . . What do you suppose his Domain is like?”

“Hell is full of crows that peck at your eyes, and heaven is an everlasting tournament of verbal jousting and improvised comedy. You never stumble over your words, and everyone laughs at your jokes.”


  • I like the first part of this book better than the rest of it.
  • I like the military, strategy and battle portions of the book.
  • Alix is a good character in her military role, but her romances undermine her authority as a military leader.
  • I did like that Alix is honest with Liam and finally with Erik.


  • The romances.
  • The Epilogue is unnecessary.

About Erin Lindsey

  •  This is the first book by Erin Lindsey. She also writes the Nicolas Lenoir fantasy mystery series as E. L. Tettensor.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I really enjoyed the first part of the book, but gradually realized I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I got to the end of the book. I’ll have to decide whether to read the next book. I wish the author had left out the romance or at least not put in so much . . . maybe waited for future books.
  • I’ve mentioned in the past I don’t like very much romance in my fantasy or science fiction.
  • I have the first book in the Nicolas Lenoir mystery fantasy series so I plan to read that. I don’t think it has romance in it like this book does so I may like it better.

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

  • 2015 Goodreads Challenge
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • Ultimate Reading Challenge–hosted by the Popsugar blog (a book with a love triangle)
  • COYER Winter Reading Challenge–hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading (Christmas gift)

Review: A Killer’s Christmas in Wales by Elizabeth J. Duncan


A Killer’s Christmas in Wales
by Elizabeth J. Duncan
Series: Penny Brannigan #3
Genre: Mystery (cozy)
Published by Minotaur Books
Library book
274 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: As the townsfolk of the Welsh valley town of Llanelen settle in for the snowiest winter in twenty-five years, an American stranger arrives. Harry Saunders charms the ladies, one of them in particular: Evelyn Lloyd, the town’s former postmistress, who was left comfortably off after the death of her husband. After Mrs. Lloyd invests a good deal of money with him, Harry goes missing, as does her money. His body is soon discovered outside the walls of Conwy Castle, and Mrs. Lloyd is implicated in the murder.

Although Penny Brannigan and her business partner, Victoria Hopkirk, are busy overseeing the grand opening of their new spa, that doesn’t stop Mrs. Lloyd from desperately seeking Penny’s help to prove her innocence. It’s quite possible that Harry made other enemies while in Llanelen and Penny’s investigation unfolds while she juggles her work at the spa, her growing relationship with Detective Inspector Davies, and the Christmas window competition that she signed up to judge.

She was not bothered that he would recognize her even if he did turn around. He hadn’t paid much attention to her when they’d met in Evelyn Lloyd’s home, today she was wearing a hat, and as she had learned a long time ago, women her age are almost invisible to the rest of the world.


“. . . If we can find the time to read at all, we are looking for a book with well-developed characters and a complicated plot that still promises to be a fast, easy read. We have learned to be multitaskers. We talk on the phone while we draft an e-mail. We eat and text while we drive.

“So I would ask you on this beautiful Christmas morning to consider those three wise men who made that journey to Bethlehem two thousand years ago and . . .”

Penny’s attention drifted away. She shifted in her seat and gazed slowly around the church.


  • I like the Christmas details in the book.
  • I picked this book up because it was a Christmas book and was on a display at my library. The cover was cute and caught my eye. I didn’t know where the book fell in the series and it didn’t really matter for the mystery that I read the third book first.
  • I like the setting in Wales. Not too many contemporary books about Wales.
  • I like Penny and Victoria, but didn’t get enough of them in this book. I might like the relationship between Penny and Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Davies, but didn’t see them together very much. We don’t get his point-of-view. Again, this might just be because it’s the third book in the series.


  • The beginning is a little slow.
  • I am puzzled about who Dorothy Martin is. She appears in one scene, gives Penny some helpful advice and goes on her way. It just seems too convenient. She comes into the book like someone the reader should know, but I didn’t! She and Penny seem to have immediate rapport, but she’s only on two pages of the book?!
  • Penny is in a relationship with a policeman, but I felt it was more convenience so she could ask questions and get answers.
  • It may just be that I started with the third book in the series, but I didn’t feel there was a lot of characterization. I didn’t really feel I knew the characters other than Evelyn Lloyd and Florence who were the focus of the first half of the book.
  • Some parts of the mystery seem to come out of left field and others aren’t really followed up.

And a few thoughts . . .

  • I felt the first part of the book went on for too long. I was a bit bored, but even though there were problems with the book and the mystery I read the second half quickly. I will probably try another one by the author and see how I like it.
  • I gave the book a C+, because I did like the second half of the book quite well.

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

  • 2014 Goodreads Challenge
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog