Book Review – The Arrangements Boxed Set 1-3

Synopsis:

Book 1: The Final Arrangement

The Vulture is dead. The body of Quincy McKay’s nemesis and biggest competitor in the floral business has just been discovered in a casket at the mortuary, complete with flowers on the lid. Armed with only her Zombie delivery van, good intentions, and the business card of a handsome cop named Alex, she must find the killer, save the flower shop, and keep from ending up in the next casket. If she can dodge burning bushes, the plague of a polygamist ex, and her mother’s Mormon Mafia Spy Network, her life with Alex and her shop could become the perfect arrangement.

Book 2: Deadly Arrangements

All florist Quincy McKay wants is success in business, a happy family and the perfect romance with Alex Cooper, the hottest cop in the state. Not necessarily in that order, of course. Is that so much to ask? The trouble is, between Alex’s job and planning weddings, it’s getting harder and harder for Quincy and Alex to find any time to themselves. Every time the flames of passion ignite between them, someone or something shows up to fizzle the fire, including her meddling mother, her formerly absent father and even Elma, the handsiest waitress in the West. Wedded bliss is contagious in small town Hillside. Should be great news for Quincy, except that one groom is missing and another is the prime suspect. Hard for a florist to make a living that way, and even harder for her to stay out of the investigation, especially when the suspect is her sidekick, K.C.’s fiancé. Just when she thinks nothing else could go wrong, a ghost from Alex’s past comes back to haunt them both, which could keep them apart forever, if someone doesn’t kill Quincy first. She’s stumbled into the clues to solve the case of the missing groom and finds a corpse as well, proving that planning a wedding can literally be murder.

A Christmas Arrangement

It’s Christmastime in Hillside, but there’s a lack of holiday spirit for flower shop owner Quincy McKay. She’s in charge of the town festival and her shop’s open house, but her Santa’s a no-show and her flower cooler is on the fritz. To make matters worse, she’s learned her ex-husband isn’t as ex as she’d thought. Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, her boyfriend, hot cop Alex Cooper announces his parents are coming to town. Alex Cooper is the perfect man in Quincy’s book, but unfortunately his mother thinks so too. And no woman is perfect enough for her perfect son, but especially not the weird flower shop girl who works too much, can’t cook and who she catches kissing another man in the department store. And what’s this she hears about Quincy being married? Eleanor Cooper must help her son dodge a bullet (and not the kind from his job) during the romantic holiday season to prevent him from being ensnared in a regrettable relationship. Quincy’s dignity (of which lately she’s in short supply), her reputation, and every business in town are riding upon the success of the city’s Christmas celebration. If she can figure out a way to make it work despite failing equipment, helpers dropping out of the picture as fast as snowflakes in a blizzard, a troubling and inappropriate Secret Santa, and the possibility of arrest, she might win the respect of everyone in the town, but more importantly, Alex’s parents

D.S. Williams Review:

This boxed set by Annie Adams was entertaining, although in some places it did feel as if the ‘quirkiness’ of the characters was being hammered home a little to hard. I liked the main character, Quincy, but there were some times when I wanted to smack her around a little bit because she became overly frustrating. This boxed set includes three books, with the third one, centered around Christmas, being the weakest in regard to storyline.
The characters were numerous, and in that regard it was sometimes a little hard to keep up with who was who, especially in the first book when we’re meeting the characters all at the same time. I found by the third book it was less difficult to keep up with.
Overall, an enjoyable read, although certainly not something which will stretch the little gray cells overtly. There are some typos in the third book, but I didn’t see much wrong in the first two. I would consider reading more from this author.

Book Review: Vegas Run by Rachel Brune

42615866Vegas Run by Rachel Brune

Synopsis:

Retirement is not working out for Rick Keller.
Betrayed by a friend. Tortured by the agency he used to work for. A debt called in by an old adversary.
While Rick has been hiding in the north country, MONIKER has been building a supernatural army. This time when they call him in, they don’t need an agent — they’re eliminating the competition. No matter how fast or far he runs, it won’t be enough.
So this time, he’s going to burn them to the ground.

My Review:

Ms. Brune is an excellent storyteller, and she outdoes herself with this, the second book in the Rick Keller Project. The action comes fast and furious, with the reader taken along for the ride as Rick Keller finds himself in a whole new bucket of trouble.
With quick quips, non-stop action and a range of well-written and interesting characters, I would thoroughly recommend this book as a great read. Things don’t always work out well for Rick Keller, but his life is certainly never dull!

5 stars

Book Review by D.S. Williams

140089Dead Over Heels by Charlaine Harris

Synopsis:

Part-time librarian Aurora ‘Roe’ Teagarden lands smack in the middle of a baffling murder case in the fifth murder mystery from #1 New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris
Roe never liked Detective Sergeant Jack Burns, but she never wanted to see him dead – especially dropped from a plane right into her own front yard. Luckily, even Lawrenceton, Georgia’s finest, know that Roe couldn’t possibly be in two places at once, so her name is crossed off the suspect list.
But then other strange things happen around Roe, ranging from peculiar (her irascible cat turns up wearing a pink ribbon) to violent (her assistant at the library is attacked) to potentially deadly (her ex-lover is stabbed). Clearly there is a personal message in this madness that Roe must decipher – before it is too late . . .

D.S. Williams Review:

This would be my least favourite of the Aurora Teagarden books, mainly because there doesn’t seem to be a legitimate reason for the characters doing what they do in this one. There’s lots of unrequited love/ex-lovers changing their minds/unexplained infatuations going on which frankly, at certain times in the book didn’t seem to make sense. And given that the vast majority of these situations revolve around our heroine, a bookish, wavy-haired, glasses-wearing married librarian – it just seemed a little odd to me.
Having said that, there was plenty of mystery going on, it just didn’t seem like really brilliant mystery in comparison with previous books in the series. I almost felt as if in this one, Ms. Harris was ‘phoning it in’ – making the plot suit where she wanted it to end up, and to hell with how that worked out on paper. Despite that, it was just strong enough to keep me invested in the characters, and wanting to find out who the culprit was in the murders.

3 stars

A Book Review

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Real Murders

by Charlaine Harris

Synopsis:

Lawrenceton, Georgia, may be a growing suburb of Atlanta, but it’s still a small town at heart. Librarian Aurora ‘Roe’ Teagarden grew up there and knows more than enough about her fellow townsfolk, including which ones share her interest in the darker side of human nature . . .

With those fellow crime buffs, Roe belongs to a club called Real Murders, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It’s a harmless pastime – until the night she finds a member dead, killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss.

As other brutal “copycat” killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects-or potential victims .

D.S. Williams Review:

I read these books a few years ago, and recently purchased them (in the omnibus edition) to reread. I will point out that unfortunately, my ebook was missing Chapter 15 of this first book in the series (I buy via Amazon but read with the Moon Reader app.).
Having said that, the story was as good as I remember, and I warmed quickly to the main character, Aurora Teagarden and the collection of characters who create the story with her. Ms Harris writes in first person, which I enjoy, and I found that the facets of Aurora’s personality were brought to life beautifully. The characters in these books are not the cardboard cutouts that are found in so many novels nowadays – in this case, the characters have flaws, idiosyncrasies and curious quirks to their personalities which make them three-dimensional and entertaining.
Aurora Teagarden has plenty of quirks of her own, but like most of us, she’d just trying to get through life one day at a time. With an interest in historic murders, Aurora is part of a local group named ‘Real Murders’ – a group with it’s own cast of quirky characters.
When those characters start turning up dead – their deaths styled to recreate famous murders from the past, Aurora starts to wonder if she’ll be a victim next – or get the blame for the murders.
The story moves along at a good pace, is thoroughly enjoyable, and an easy read. Aurora is easy to like, and her trials and tribulations were enough to keep me reading to the very end. Highly recommended.

4 stars

Book Review: Burned by A. Blythe

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Synopsis:

Life is good for globe-trotting supernatural agent Alyse Winters until she finds herself on the wrong end of a burn notice. Cuffed and cut off from her magic, Alyse is dumped in Philadelphia where her past is only too eager to catch up with her. Add a few supernatural murders to the mix with Alyse as the prime suspect and she’s ready to do anything to get her powers back…if she can survive being human long enough to clear her name.

D.S. Williams Review:

This is the first book I’ve read by A. Blythe, and I enjoyed it very much. The main character was a kick ass, gung-ho heroine, who finds herself in an extremely difficult position when her magical powers are snuffed out for some as yet unknown reason. This is the makings of the start of a series, in which A. Blythe has created some genuinely interesting characters, and in the main protagonist’s situation, some unique issue for her to overcome. I thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling, and A. Blythe’s first person writing style with a touch of snark was most entertaining. There were a couple of points during the story where I felt some pieces of information were being repeated unnecessarily, and where the pacing felt a little bit off, but it wasn’t enough to detract from the reading experience. I will definitely move onto the second book in the Magic Bullet series. Highly recommended.

4 stars

My Review of Hungerstorm by Amber Kallyn

Hungerstorm (Heart of a Vampire, #2)Hungerstorm by Amber Kallyn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m enjoying this series by Amber Kallyn, although I did take a while to get through this one, but that did involve moving house in the midst of it all. Hungerstorm continues the Heart of a Vampire series from where the first book left off, focusing on the vampire King, Jordan and his feelings for the human he has changed into a vampire, Dalia.
I enjoyed the interaction between the two main protagonists, and the story was a good continuation of the seeds which had been sown in book one, leading us further into a continuing story arc which was entertaining and kept my attention.
The ‘good’ guys are good, but have enough character flaws to make them seem realistic, and the ‘bad’ guys are definitely bad, but given reason to be so.
My only criticism would be some typos and spelling issues which stood out particularly to me as I’m an editor, but they weren’t enough to detract from the story Ms Kallyn is writing, and I have now commenced book three.

View all my reviews

Book Review: Three, Four… Better Lock Your Door by Willow Rose

51Ve+6ojq5L._SY346_Three, Four… Better Lock Your Door

Synopsis:

It was supposed to be a night of fun, pleasure, lust and pain for Susanne Larsen when she agreed to meet with a stranger from a S&M chatroom. She met him for dinner that later led to casual, anonymous sex at the hotel room at the local inn.

But someone else showed up in the room and suddenly it was no longer a game.

Zeeland Times star reporter Rebekka Franck and her photographer Sune are covering the case for the newspaper and soon they find themselves deeply involved in a story of terrifying horror and ugly secrets.

D.S. Williams Review:

This is the second book in the series, and I have to admit, I’m feeling a little bit ambiguous about the series at this stage and I’m not sure if I will continue reading them. Ms. Rose picks up the action two years after the first book’s events take place, and a new serial killer is stalking the streets of Denmark, murdering in a supposedly random manner, and Rebekkah Franck in reporting the story… and with the help of her photographer Sune outsmarting the police in regards to catching the killer.
Once again, I have to point out that Ms. Rose would benefit greatly from a proofreader/editor. I suspect English is not her first language, and consequently, there are a great deal of syntax and spelling errors, which mar the overall reading experience. Having said that, the pacing is quite good, and the story does hold the reader’s attention… but in a great many sections, I experienced a sense of sameness with the storyline, in comparison to the previous book. Especially with regards to the main character of Rebekka Franck, who is supposedly in her late thirties, but her decision making at times can seem somewhat immature.
As another reviewer said, Ms. Rose has set this story two years after the first one, and yet there seems to be no change in the behaviour/demeanour of the main characters. They haven’t shown any maturity, either in development or behaviour. I found myself frustrated at times in the way the characters approached the situations they found themselves in and questioned their decisions, which is never a good situation to find myself in as a reader.
I will move on to reading other books in the meantime, and will whether I will continue reading the series after reading some other reviewers thoughts.

3 stars

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Book Review: Stolen Chaos by A.C. Nicholls

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Synopsis:

For twenty-eight years, Keira Poe has defended Chicago against creatures of the night. Armed with an array of magic weapons known as ‘magicards’, she is always eager to show trouble to the door. But when one of those cards is stolen by a ruthless mage, there’s nothing she won’t do to get it back.

In order to succeed, Keira – along with her cowardly, middle-aged faery – must follow the trail of carnage. Stopping for a battle at every turn, any hope of locating the thief only gets slimmer… until she meets Jason; the handsome shifter with a chip on his shoulder, and the only help she will get.

The war between the monsters grows greater than ever. Caught in the middle of it all, Keira must pick a side and stick with it, or risk losing her magic forever, along with anything the mage chooses to destroy.

D.S. Williams Review:

This is the first book in A.C. Nicholls Cardkeeper Chronicles.  The book certainly had some merits, it was a new and refreshing take on urban fantasy, and I did complete reading the book and have to say I enjoyed it. The characters are interesting, and for the most part likeable, although I did struggle to develop any real connection to the main characters and didn’t develop the desire to care particularly deeply for any of them. Having said that, the characters did show development, and the pacing of the story and the story arc were interesting.
The main reasons for three stars?
1. The story is written in first person, and while this is usually not a problem to me, in this instance, there was an overwhelming amount of ‘me’ and ‘my’ in the writing, which got a little bit annoying. With a little forethought and greater consideration, I think A.C. Nicholls might have been able to cut back significantly on the usage of those words.
2. There are a few situations in which the wrong spelling of a word has been used, which detracted from the overall reading flow.
3. I found the character of Link a little bit confusing. From the very beginning, it was said that he was 5 inches tall, but there were a number of points in the story where Keira’s interactions with Link made this seem a little odd. For instance, Keira ‘wraps Link up in both arms’ when she’s hugging him… which seems a little extraordinary for a faery who is only five inches tall. That’s not much faery to use both arms on.
Overall, the story was entertaining, bringing new concepts and direction to urban fantasy and I applaud the concept… but would have like to have seen it executed just a little more smoothly.
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Book Review: Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders

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Synopsis:

This is not a book on how to write historical fiction. It is a book on how not to write historical fiction.

If you love history and you’re hard at work writing your first historical novel, but you’re wondering if your medieval Irishmen would live on potatoes, if your 17th-century pirate would use a revolver, or if your hero would be able to offer Marie-Antoinette a box of chocolate bonbons . . .

(The answer to all these is “Absolutely not!”)

. . . then Medieval Underpants and Other Blunders is the book for you.

Medieval Underpants will guide you through the factual mistakes that writers of historical fiction—both beginners and seasoned professionals—often make, and show you how to avoid them. From fictional characters crossing streets that wouldn’t exist for another sixty (or two thousand) years, to 1990s slang in the mouths of 1940s characters, to South American foods on ancient Roman plates, acclaimed historical novelist Susanne Alleyn exposes the often hilarious, always painful goofs that turn up most frequently in fiction set in the past.

Alleyn stresses the hazards to writers of assuming too much about details of life in past centuries, providing numerous examples of mistakes that could easily have been avoided. She also explores commonly-confused topics such as the important difference between pistols and revolvers, and between the British titles “Lord John Smith” and “John, Lord Smith” and why they’re not interchangeable, and provides simple guidelines for getting them right. In a wide assortment of chapters including Food and Plants; Travel; Guns; Money; Hygiene; Dialogue; Attitudes; Research; and, of course, Underpants, she offers tips on how to avoid errors and anachronisms while continually reminding writers of the necessity of meticulous historical research.

D.S. Williams Review:

Ms. Alleyn has created an excellent guide for writers who are working on a historical fiction – not only providing varied and interesting information regarding any number of historical eras, but also pinpointing some of the more common mistakes and misnomers we tend to believe about those eras.
I’ll admit to picking it up purely because of the title, which relates to a question I had regarding Medieval times, but the information Ms. Alleyn has included is varied and rich in texture and substance. I enjoyed the reading of the book, although I found some of the language a little repetitive and in some instances, felt as if I was getting hammered with the same message a few too many times. But overall I’d highly recommend this for any author who wants to ensure they aren’t making any rookie mistakes when writing their own historical fiction.

(And the answer to that million dollar question in the books title?  Women apparently didn’t wear underpants in medieval times!)

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Review of The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England

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Synopsis:

Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the 14th century. This text sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking the reader to the Middle Ages, and showing everything from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture.

D.S. Williams Review:

Some history books can be remarkably dry and boring, but not this one. Ian Mortimer has taken the world as it was in the fourteenth century and you, the reader, and brought the two together so that you’re enmeshed in that world as it was, walking the streets, meeting the locals, testing out their food and beds…

As a writer in the midst of writing a book with some medieval characters and elements, I’ve been searching for a book which is easy to read, easy to understand, and most of all, won’t have me falling of my perch in a deep snooze because I’m bored out of my brain. Mr. Mortimer’s book has been a great source of information and advice  to ensure historical inaccuracies are avoided.  No staid overview, in this case, you are immersed in the world as those living the fourteenth century lived it.

Mr. Mortimer has created a history book which can be read and enjoyed by just about anyone, not only did I learn a lot about the time period, but I got a distinct and well-rounded idea of what it was like to be there, living the life of a visitor to England during that time period.  The book is well-rounded, covering housing, dining, religion, entertainment, and medical treatment amongst others.

Thoroughly entertaining, filled with great information, and highly recommended for history lovers.

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