My #bookreview rating system – an explanation.

Out of 5 stars – 5 being super awesome…

5/5 – is damn near impossible. Examples – ‘Ender’s Game’, Jim Butcher’s ‘Changes’, Harry Harrison first 3 ‘Stainless Steel Rat’ series

4/5 – Legitimately thought out mystery/plot. Intriguing characters. Solid story with believable ending that kept me reading into the wee hours of the night.

3/5 – You wrote a story and the grammar was decent. It has a plot that is basic and complete. Gold star for you.

2/5 – You didn’t get this edited by a professional…did you? Your dialogue hurts me to read it. Your grammar could make angels weep with pain. Odds are, I didn’t finish your book.

1/5 – I didn’t finish it. That bad.

 

If I can’t finish your book, it’s almost always an automatic 2/5. Grammar and editing issues – 1/5. I’ll read just about anything, even contemporary romance, with an honest eye.  Even if your story is awful, I won’t trash your hard work – that’s just mean, but I will tell you what I found wrong with it in hopes that it helps with your future work or editing of said book.

 

I’m not paid for my reviews. What’s the point?

 

 

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Book Review: City of Devils by @JustinSRobinson

Justin Robinson – Goodreads, Twitter, and CaptainSuperMarket.com
 

 

 

cityofdevils

Justin Robinson

World War II was only the beginning. When the Night War ravages America, turning it into a country of monsters, humans become a downtrodden minority. Nick Moss is the only human private eye in town, and he’s on the trail of a missing city councilor. With monsters trying to turn him – or, better yet, simply kill him – he’s got to watch his back while trying to find his man. Or mummy, as the case may be.

 

Once, it was the City of Angels. But now, Los Angeles is the City of Devils…and Nick has a devil of a job to do.

 

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This book was hilarious. Set in post WWII, and apparently after monsters began walking Earth, you have the only human private detective in Los Angeles, trying to earn his cheddar and stay alive. A beautiful dame, because aren’t they all, comes into his office and asks him to find her missing husband. The same husband that the police (made up of werewolves/wolf men) think she murdered. It is as simple as that and kinda not.

Zombies, shape-shifting doppelgangers, pumpkin-heads, gremlins, witches…you name it, it walks the streets trying to turn the surviving humans left on Earth, and while dodging being turned, poor Nick, our trooper of a detective who can’t manage to smoke like a proper detective and is constantly having his manhood questioned, is trying to find a doppelganger actress’ missing mummy husband. He meets a variety of monsters, some helpful, some kinda not, and discovers more than just a mystery behind a missing councilman mummy in a convenient marriage with an illustrious actress.

I enjoyed the main character Nick’s point of view and dialogue – in what could be sometimes drawn out, his hilarious and often ill-timed offended tone breaks up the monotony of what is actually a pretty good, but simple mystery. It did seem to be a little bloated with filler, but I did enjoy reading about Nick and his constant avoidance to being turned into what is slowly becoming the ‘norm’ in the 1950s Hollywood scene. Genuinely interesting, very funny, and detailed for a strange slice of time in a world that is already pretty strange.

I definitely want to read the rest of Justin Robinson’s catalog of books. Giving ‘City of Devils’ a solid 4 out of 5 and highly recommend it.

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Perfect Victim (Paula Mitchell P.I.) by @JanSChristensen

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perfectvictim

Blurb:

A few days after Sylvia Leominster is murdered, private investigator Paula Mitchell interviews Sylvia’s fiancé in their small-town Rhode Island jail. Warren Wade’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon, he has no alibi, and Sylvia broke up with him the night she was killed. After another young woman friend of Sylvia’s is bludgeoned to death, Paula is dismayed when the police keep Warren in jail. They claim the second murder could have been committed by a copy-cat and remind her Warren’s fingerprints are still on the weapon that killed Sylvia.

Working with her best friend who often hires Paula to investigate cases and who is Warren’s lawyer, Paula searches for answers. Paula and  her computer guru lover narrow down the suspects to the victim’s friends. The group is led by a mesmeric young man with political ambitions. Paula doesn’t trust him, especially when she learns that all of Sylvia’s friends have lied during her interviews. At the preliminary hearing, some answers begin to emerge. Paula zeros in on the killer and sees firsthand how friendship and loyalty can be used for personal gain. With Warren’s freedom on the line, she has to find a way to capture the real killer. But in doing so, she doesn’t realize she’s putting herself and her own best friend in danger.

First in a series featuring Paula as a feisty private investigator.

 

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I’m usually not a huge fan of female main characters, and I’ve mentioned this before, but I am the first to admit when one doesn’t fall into the ‘helpless waif’ or ‘overtly bitchy yet sexual’ category, and is actually worth a damn. Jan Christensen’s private detective, Paula Mitchell, with her somewhat dark past, but decidedly pure of heart despite what men tend to represent in her life, is a good example of how to write a decent and strong female heroine. It’s a relief, really, to be able to sit down, read a book, and not be annoyed with the character. It’s a relief and it doesn’t happen too often.

 

A young woman is killed and her ex-boyfriend (ex as in literally just broke up with him barely an hour before) is accused of her murder. I think the title should have been ‘Perfect Suspect’, rather than victim – the odds and clues are stacked up against Warren Wade, the ex-fiance’ of Sylvia Leominster, almost perfectly.

 

You first meet Paula Mitchell dealing with the stereotypical pug-faced detective as she tries to have her first sit-down with Warren. Not quite optimistic of Warren’s alleged innocence, she begins to gather clues. You meet Sylvia’s friends, irritatingly young and arrogant for a gaggle of 22ish year olds, and almost kind of incestuous in their steadfast claim to be such ‘good friends’ since grade school. There is the leader, the bitch, the jealous single-white-female bff, the bad boy, the idiot boy, and the butt-boy (so to speak). All average in their stereotypical roles, but they fulfill them, nonetheless.

 

Paula has to navigate the friends, the family, her boyfriend Steve, her trust issues with men, her best friend – Warren’s lawyer, her own dark past and betrayals. Really, I enjoyed the book and its twists and turns. Some clues a little more obvious than others, the ending isn’t really a surprise, but it is a satisfying and realistic conclusion.

 

I’ll be honest, it’s hard to get a 5 out of 5 stars from me, but I do give this one a solid 4 stars for clever writing, a solid plot, and no-lose-ends ending. I am really looking forward to Volume II and another Paula Mitchell case and highly recommend this to any mystery fan.

 

 

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Miami P.I. (A Roy Findley Detective Story #1) by @ZaneOwenYates

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miamiPI

 

Blurb:

 

Miami, Gold Coast Australia, is the back drop for this action packed, old style detective series, set in a modern fast paced world down under.

 

Roy Findley is a smart mouthed ex-cop turned Private Investigator, standing up for the little guy and taking a beating for his trouble.
He’s a cross between Magnum P.I. and Starsky and Hutch. With his Elvis hair, stylish Hawaiian shirts, fast cars and a touch of romance, he’s all class.
In this the first book in the Miami Series, Roy goes up against a local drug ring, a crooked land developer and half the cops in town.
~

 

 

It’s not Miami, Florida. Let’s just be clear about that. It’s not a bad thing, it just confused the  poop out of me. However, despite the geographical difference, I really did enjoy this mystery.

 

Roy Findley is your typical private detective. An ex-cop, alcoholic (because you’re never an ex-alcoholic, you’re one forever), 50 year old nice guy with absolutely nothing to lose. Well, nothing that he couldn’t replace at Kmart in under 35 minutes. He is the savior of the elderly, charmer of the medically inclined, surrogate father to his dead partner’s cop-daughter, and reoccurring hospital resident.

 

It starts with a dame. Well, it starts with a punch to the face, but there is always a dame, and after tying up a troubling case for an elderly couple refusing to sell their goldmine oceanfront property worth tens of millions, said dame walks into his second office (a bar, little cliche), and asks Roy to find her possibly philandering husband. With a wad of cash, it doesn’t take him long to realize said cheating husband is in serious trouble. So with multiple attacks on his life, his elderly couple friends’ lives, and his adopted cop daughter’s life, he gets to the bottom of a seriously dangerous organization located in their small little city.

 

It’s a little slow in some parts, but holds true to the mystery end with intrigue, action, adventure, and a telling mystery with a not-too-hard to figure out twist at the ending. For Roy’s first foray into the detective book world, I enjoyed this one. Wasn’t too long winded, interesting characters, lots of charm and humor, with some serious bad luck on Roy’s part. Solid 4 out of 5 for storytelling and heart, with 5 being stellar and a little more meaty plot/mystery. Definitely recommend this one.

Eye Spy by Jenna Mattison – Book Feature @goddessfish

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Website: http://jennamattison.net/

Available at Amazon

 

Book Review by ROz:

 

Jenna Mattison writes with a quirky, funny style that kept me engaged through the entire story. You get to see into the life of a woman in denial. After 20 years of marriage, after giving up her life, her mother’s expectations, and pretty much her identity, her friends pull her aside and tell her they think her husband is cheating on her. Liza’s reaction.

 

What? No way.

 

Well, yes way. Liza begins her new life after kicking her husband to the curb, taking up with an ex-cop with a spy shop, and delves into a mystery she is unwittingly pulled into. I enjoyed the banter and between the main character and Jack, the Bogart speaking sleuth. He picks her up, helps put her back together, and is easy on the eyes, to boot. There is the initial attraction that gives way to much more, but I did get a little put off by the ease of which this not-quite-divorcee manages to land men, left and right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a healthy dose of confidence is liberating, but I think the story gets tied up with her emotions, rather than actually having a mystery. There is one, but it kind of peters out and literally climaxes on a single page, much like a horrible blind date. To be fair, it is very well written, very clever in its humor, but the mystery gets left out of the fun.

 

I’d recommend the book for a quick, fun read. As far as being a ‘mystery’ – it doesn’t really have enough substance to call it that, but I did enjoy it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

BLURB:

When Liza Radley realizes it’s cheatin’ season and no self-respecting detective’s gonna spy on her husband for the $800 and change she has hidden in a plastic soap dish, she does what any normal transplanted Georgia Peach would do–she becomes a private eye. While downing her fourth maple-glazed curbside, Liza discovers “Eye Spy”, a shop for the self-motivated sleuth in the heart of Boston. Inspiration strikes and she enters the world of Jack Parella, the owner/operator who talks like Humphrey Bogart but with a Southie accent and is more than willing to train Liza in the ways of amateur sleuthing, while simultaneously infuriating and titillating her. Though Liza starts the journey intending to rebuild her crumbling suburban life, she finds herself thrust into a fiery mystery as head of “Crimes of the Heart Detective Agency” with Parella by her side. Thus our dynamic duo is primed for their next adventure.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Excerpt:

 

All men cheat. At least that’s what I’d always heard but I never believed a word of it.

Until today.

I’m Liza Radley, I live in a two story gunmetal grey house near the end of a cul-de-sac. Bernie and I couldn’t afford actual cul-de-sac status six years ago when he started his practice here in Andover. Since then we’ve built our lives together brick by brick but now I find myself rifling thru his underwear drawer on a Thursday morning wondering if some young wolfette is trying to blow our house down.

Or blow my Bernie for that matter.

I mean, it’s not like I actually suspect him of the big A, but over breakfast my three best friends staged the suburban version of an intervention and now that the dirty little thought is lurking I can’t resist committing cardinal sin #1 from the Bad Wife Handbook. Snooping. Plus I want to prove the girls wrong and show them that my Berns and I are still in happily wedded bliss. Okay maybe not bliss…but I don’t know if bliss is even possible after 10 years of marriage so let’s just say we’re content in a frozen-lasagna-sex-once-a-month-with-the-lights-off sort of way.

 

JennaMattisonAUthorpic

Jenna Mattison

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Mattison started her career in Chicago appearing on television and radio.  She founded founded Cheshire Smile Productions, bringing to life and penning her first feature film FISH WITHOUT A BICYCLE, a festival winning coming of age comedy which was directed by Brian Austin Green.   “Fish” is now available on Netflix. Mattison also wrote Cheshire’s second release THE THIRD WISH now available at Blockbuster and distributed by the Hallmark Channel.

 

Lionsgate’s FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY, based on a true story of Jewish gangsters set in the 1970’s starring James Caan, Paul Sorvino, Edward Furlong and Jeffrey Tambor was also produced and written by Mattison.   Most recently Jenna has written a TV movie called COMMITTED, which wrapped production this spring to premiere on television this fall. Her novel The Tree Of Jesse is a romantic religious thriller and will be released this spring, available worldwide. Mattison next novel is Eye Spy the first in a comedic romantic suspense series available this summer.

 

Jenna will be awarding one digital copy of Eye Spy to a randomly drawn commenter at every stop.

 Please leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy!!

 

Website: http://jennamattison.net/

Available at Amazon

 

A Cruise to Die For (Alix London Mystery) by Aaron Elkins

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Blurb:

This should be the cushiest job Alix London’s ever had.

The second Alix London mystery finds the art restorer in a world brimming with idle luxury, spectacular locations, and deadly intrigue.

Surrounded by art and wealth and the sun-drenched Greek isles, she’s aboard a sumptuous mega-yacht with no responsibilities save the occasional lecture to the guests of her temporary employer, Panos Papadakis, one of the world’s richest men. But there’s a catch: Papadakis has long been suspected of being at the center of a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme and Alix is actually there as an undercover operative of FBI special agent Ted Ellesworth, a member of the Bureau’s Art Crime Team. They hope Alix can gather the inside information they need to finally put the cagey Papadakis away.

Alix’s exposure to the enormous wealth of high-end collectors and the shadier aspects of the art trade—the avarice, naked greed, and ingenious scams—somehow brings her closer to her charming, “reformed” rogue of a father, and helps crystalize in her own mind just where she fits into the mix.

Moguls, murders, a forged Manet, and the Albanian mafia all play a role and send this pleasure cruise into brutally dangerous waters.

Set on the Aegean—Homer’s fabled “wine-dark sea”—with stops at enchanted islands where ancient legends still live, A Cruise to Die For delivers a witty blend of suspense and mystery, as well as an insider’s take on the contemporary art world and its eccentric characters. It’s all served up with the style and sophistication with which Charlotte and Aaron Elkins have rewarded mystery readers for the past 30 years.

 

~

 

I love a good mystery. Seriously, I almost get giggly when I sit down to read one. The thrill of trying to experiencing a murder, being given the clues, and watching the main character put the pieces together for a grand ending. I love it. LOVE IT. Sadly, I did not get any of the thrill reading this book.

 

I always thought it was a hard and fast, cardinal rule with mysteries that the murder be within the first few chapters. You need something to grab you, yes? That jerk on your sleeve, blunt-force trauma to the back of your head. Something? Anything? A stabbing, even. No one died, in fact I wasn’t even sure what the ‘mystery’ was in this book until literally HALF WAY THROUGH IT. I was disappointed. Yes, I learned quite a bit about the differences between Manet and Monet, Impressionists, both the ‘father’ of their style. I learned a little about the art theft world and ‘fractional investments’, but I didn’t get a corpse until over halfway through the book. In fact, I had to skim past it.

 

The book was well written, and for that I was thankful – even for an ‘uncorrected proof’ copy. Sadly, I didn’t really care for the main character Alix London, daughter of notorious art-forger, but talented in her own right. She has the uncanny ability to spot a fake. No real reason why, she just can.

 

Uh, ok.

 

I wasn’t impressed with her sort of sidekick Ted, the undercover FBI agent and their awkward romance. I’m not a huge fan of partners jumping into bed – the Moonlighting Effect is a frigid beast. Their bantering was, at best, average. Personally I skimmed 3/4s into the end and surprised to find that 2 people died in the LATTER half of the book. One was killed earlier, but it was never said outright till after that halfway point. Sadly, I’d give this book 3 out of 5 stars for being a complete story, just not a very good one.

 

 

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