Review: The Last Chance Matinee by Mariah Stewart 

I’m so glad I started this series! Allie and Des find out they have a half-sister… and the trio is required to cooperatively restore an old theatre in order to get their inheritance after their dad’s death. Restoring a theatre – what fun!

Watching the three characters learn about each other and grow in themselves was great. Steward develops the characters evenly, even though the story is told through Cara’s eyes. The introduction of Allie’s daughter shows Allie’s heart – at a point in the story I had just about had it up to here with her! And Stewart’s illustration of Des’s flair for fashion gives positive personality to this third sister – and adds another light, fun aspect to the story. 

I love how open Cara is to new friendships with her sisters and the small-town neighbors watching them restore the theatre. Reading the story from Cara’s viewpoint was an exercise in optimism, hopefulness and adventure. And as I sit here writing this, I’m thinking I really can’t wait for the next book … so I’m signing off and checking the internet for Book Two’s pub date. 🙂

-calliope 

Buy THE LAST CHANCE MATINEE

Review: Find Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt 

This is book three of a super cool series by Kate Hewitt. Even though you can read them as standalones, they’re each so good that I think you should read them all! 

I thought I wouldn’t like cool, haughty, richy-rich Harriet with the snotty daughter, but I did! Harriet fit herself right in to Willoughby Close, despite her own discomfort, for the good of her children. She made some missteps, screwed up a few things marriage-wise, and was more materialistic than I could stomach … but Harriet redeemed herself by showing heart and diving in to a journey of self-discovery and development. 

I so enjoyed Harriet’s adventures with her children, the elderly neighbor, and the family next door. I also appreciated Harriet’s time spent alone – where Hewitt showed the reader quite clearly Harriet’s struggles and growth.  Who knew I would come to love Harriet so much? And that after she changed she would be loved just as dearly by her family and new friends. 

I can’t say enough about Hewitt’s masterful development of characters. Applause from me for writing light stories with meaningful messages and big heart. 

Here’s the link to my reviews of all the books I’ve read by Kate Hewitt

-calliope 

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Review: The Ghost of Mistletoe Mary by Sue Ann Jaffarian

  
Jaffarian’s Ghost of Granny Apples Mystery series is ostensibly cute, but actually delves into some pretty heavy social issues. It’s always nice to have some substance, even when you’re expecting a cozy mystery. 

Jeremiah Jones is a former cop, current private investigator, who uses his extra sensory perception to communicate with spirits of dead people. One of those people is Granny Apples, who acts as a fly on the wall to help him catch bad guys. 

In this episode, Jeremiah tries to find a missing woman while helping the homeless, the down and out, and those trying to turn away from the criminal edge of society. 

You’ll read about a caring agency who helps people get back in their feet, a shootout led by drug dealers, a double-cross that almost seems legit, and the first step in healing for a few key characters. 

I enjoyed this gritty look at Southern California. I appreciate the blessings that people bestow upon those in need. Granny’s ghost provides some much needed comic relief, and lightens up an otherwise dark look at life on the streets. 

-calliope

Buy THE GHOST OF MISTLETOE MARY

Review: Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt

  
Ohmygoodnessilovedthisbook. 

Lucy has been living in Boston – the same city as her ĂĽberfeminist mother for the past two decades. With her egomania and focus on art, Fiona has managed to simultaneously  humiliate, neglect and drive away Lucy. So Lucy reaches out to her sister Juliet in the western Lake District of Cumbria, England. Juliet takes Lucy in, and there begins the roller coaster of estranged sisters, emotional numbness, putting on a happy front, and trying to find love in all the right places. 

Though it reads like chick lit, Rainy Day Sisters illustrates some heavy inner conflicts. Hewitt masterfully describes the mental anguish of the sisters and their love interests. Totally believable. Alex’s daughters were written well, also, from the sullen and reserved teenager to the perky and innocent primary-grader. Best of all were the townspeople of Hartley-by-the-Sea. They were quirky but not over the top. They developed authentically and I was just as interested in their stories as I was in Lucy, Juliet, Alex and Peter. 

I laughed and cried and sighed at the happily ever after… And then I ran to Amazon.com looking for the next one in the series. Which isn’t out yet. Because this one was just released. 🙂 But I was just so excited to hear more about the realistic, endearing, and lovely people in the HARTLEY-BY-THE-SEA. 

-calliope

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Review: Optical Delusions in Deadtown by Ann Charles

11830198Wow! What happened? I loved the first book so very much! This one? Meh…..

Again, I must stress, I don’t understand these stupid covers at all! I still look at them and think of something from “True Blood” or something along those lines….very different from what the books really are about….yes, there is a bit of paranormal in these novels….but they are only a tiny slice of plot…and even at that the main character is always questioning if it even exists….so readers should be warned, if they are looking for some bad arse kicking sexy momma going off killing vampires/werewolves/zombies well they really won’t find that here……just a mention of a ghost or two….

The first book centers around spunky and single Violet Parker and her attempts to support herself and her two children, whilst also trying to maintain her sanity as she deals with all sorts of trouble that only a spunky, single independent woman could get in to. It’s full of laughs and near misses and heart tugging moments that you have no chance of escaping without loving Violet and her children.

This book? We hardly have even a glimpse of her children. Much of the book is spent with Violet trying to win over Doc…or at least getting him into a bed…..whilst at the same time she is playing best mate to her friend that fancies herself in love with Doc as well. At no point does she come clean.

Her dedication to being independent and her children that I so admired in book one really seems to take a back burner in this installment. Yes, you can be single, have kids, and fancy a man….yes, you can even sleep with said man…..but I felt that the entire novel was more focused on that then even the mystery in this novel….

I almost felt like I was reading some Janet Evanovich novel….and not a very entertaining one at that….

again….such a let down after book number one….

sigh…..

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Optical Delusions in Deadtown by Ann Charles

Review: Gathering Prey by John Sandford

23281640If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times…Sandford is the absolute master of dialogue. This latest edition to the long running Davenport series is no disappointment in terms of dialogue. The banter between the characters leaves me chucking at times and feeling like I am right there as part of the group. I’ve never experienced any other writer than can nail it so completely. Maybe it’s the sarcasm that pops up from time to time that I relate to so well….

First all, I’ve been an avid and yea….perhaps a rabid fan of John Sandford since the 80’s. I’ve been with Lucas from the very start and I have read them all. I marvel at how Sandford continues to keep this series exciting and fresh after all these years. I have watched Lucas grow up and mature. I don’t even mind anymore that he’s with Weather (I never felt she was a strong enough character for Lucas from the start). I don’t even mind that his hair has grey in it…or that he’s now in the over 50 club. He’s still relevant!

If I am to be honest, I love this series even more now then I did when it first began. It’s just gotten better in more ways than one…

Just as we start to feel that Lucas is getting bogged down in his job…well, Sandford fixes that. We see some hints of conflict between long time characters that spell lots of changes in not just Davenport’s professional life, but perhaps his personal life as well.

Sandford has also been prepping us for more of Lucas’ daughter…really, since she was first introduced in Naked Prey….but in this installment, Letty really comes to shine and we continue getting glimpses of the young adult she is becoming.

The ending of the book didn’t disappoint. I won’t bore you with the plot summery….If you’ve read Sandford, you already know there’s going to be some very bad people who Davenport is going to be tracking…This novel had more than it’s fair share….but from the very start you can sense that the feelings of dissatisfaction, boredom, and aggravation that Davenport has been feeling for his job has got to come to some sort of head. Lucas once again sets off in what can only be called “Davenport style” and off on his own to do what needs to be done. It’s who he is. It’s what I often miss from the older books. So often (as in real life) politics and endless bureaucratic barriers are there to tie Davenport’s hands and prevent him from doing his job in a timely fashion. Not this time….

The ending….well it doesn’t leave me feeling worried….or fearing for the next book. I am excited. I can’t wait to see what happens. It not only opens up this series to endless new possibilities, it also does the same for Sandford’s other series that centers around Virgil “F” Flowers….

Bring, it Sandford….I’m ready!!!!

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Gathering Prey by John Sandford

Review: The Samaritan by Mason Cross

21566238oh dear….I’m not sure what happened here…I LOVED the first book in this series. This one? Meh…not so much….

We still are dealing with Carter Blake….We are still wanting to find out more about Blake and his past….we are allowed once again to see bits and pieces….He’s still in the same line of work….finding people that don’t want to be found….so why didn’t I like this one as much as the first?

A couple of things….First we know Blake was part of some top-secret government black ops that very few people played a part in and even fewer knew about…however, once again, Blake stumbles across someone from this operation. It was too much like the first book.

Another thing…..we are left, yet again, with secondary characters that are playing a major part in the story and yet we aren’t given much insight into them. I hardly think one paragraph explaining the controversy around the main detective qualifies…especially since it her were her POV we saw the most of during the novel…

The way the story jumped around from one POV to another for the first 80% was also distracting….and it might be poor editing that will hopefully be fixed once released, but the flashbacks that the Samaritan had…well….they didn’t flow right….there was no stopping point where the present met the past…it made for a very awkward reading experience..at least a space between paragraphs was needed….

Finally….we didn’t even get much of Blake until the end of the book….just a little bit here and there….Carter Blake is the one who makes this series!!!! Yes he is a mystery….but FFS, he should be playing a major role throughout the entire novel…not just at the end…..and it’s been proven in the past that he is known by the FBI and certain elements just didn’t add up at the end with the bit FBI players involved….

Am I let down by this novel? Yes….it felt choppy and unedited….it wasn’t smooth at all….do I still look forward to the next in the series? Hell yes….Carter Blake is a great character. I still think Mason Cross has a great opportunity to make him a household name. I just hope in the next novel that he expands and doesn’t expect the reader to believe that such a small secret operation has team members that are always running into one another…it’s a very large world out there…I think Cross is safe to look outside this small circle for someone who Blake can hunt….it might even make it more interesting and show his skills if it a complete unknown….

Just my thoughts…

Until next time….

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now The Samaritan by Mason Cross