I recently read a mystery novel that I thought was quite good. It was recommended by several friends, and since I enjoy romantic suspense it didn't take much to convince me to read this novel. And I quite enjoyed it!

Series: Aaron Falk, #1 
My Rating: 4 ❀'s
Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Add to Goodreads

I had no idea how grisly this novel would be, and I'm glad to say it wasn't too graphic. It is about a murder/suicide, which is grisly, but such a case it usually open and shut. Why something like that happens is not always clear however, and the parents of Luke, the killer of his family before he ended his own life, ask his childhood best friend to poke around to find out if it wasn't someone else who ended the lives of their only son, his wife and son.

Aaron is reluctant, being hated in his old hometown. Although never arrested or charged, most people in the town believe he murdered a local girl when they were both in their teens. He isn't welcome in Kiewarra, and he knows it. He's not a murder detective, his police experience being more a book cooker, and finding financial criminals.  Still, he feels it owes it to Luke's family and starts poking into things. And things don't add up.

I enjoyed how this story unraveled, and I have to say, I wondered if the death of Ellie, wasn't connected to what happened to Luke and his family. I was drawn in from the opening pages and this was certainly a hard novel to put down. I kept wanting to read just one more chapter to see if the characters would unearth answers, but it always seemed as though more questions were being raised.

And how this story ended--I never saw it coming. I was totally surprised. And horrified. Was it a crime of necessity? Of desperation? I don't know. It saddened me terribly though, as much as it stunned me, which gave me something to think about, though I still don't know how I feel about the killer. Sad, disgusted, horrified, and yes, angry. But that emotion pales beside the others as I can't make sense of this crime.

Which means this is one well written, gripping novel that I enjoyed and would recommend to anyone who loves a good book.

Happy Reading,
Jewels
I have loved every single one of the Graveyard Queen novels, and I am so sad that this wonderful series has ended. I hope to do a re-read of the series very soon. The last novel in the series, The Awakening followed two very creepy books, and I had no idea what to expect from this book except that it would blow me away just as all the others had, and I was not disappointed.

Series: The Graveyard Queen, #6 
My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Add to Goodreads

What I have loved about this series is the paranormal element. The idea of ghosts and otherworldly beings is not all that unbelievable after all. We have all been afraid of things that go bump in the night, and I believe that is what worked so well for this series. It was entirely believable while being so very other as well. So my hat once again goes off to this author for drawing us into a world that is so vividly portrayed.

In this novel, Amelia is once again set upon by a ghost, this time a ghost child who seems to be somehow connected to Amelia's own past and family. And here in this novel, I feared more than ever the danger Amelia was facing from the Conge. I didn't know anymore than Amelia did who to trust and how those two plot points--the ghost child and the Conge--were connected, but they certainly seemed to be. And where did Devlin stand in the midst of all this mystery? On the side of the evil Conge, or on Amelia's side? I was always on the edge of my seat as I read this novel. I wished that Amelia could ignore the past, the ghost child, run somehow from the Conge, but all of it was so interconnected that Amelia could not escape.

I don't want to give too much away in this review, but I loved the way the stories were interwoven, and how they unraveled at the end, laying to rest a lot of questions, resolving problems and granting the readers a series end that is entirely fitting. Amelia seemed driven to unearth the truth despite the obvious dangers, and by pursuing the truth, seeking to put the ghost child to rest, Amelia also confronts the dangers facing her from the Conge. I was a bit taken aback by how it all played out, but while I was surprised, I came to realize it was a pleasant surprise and the ending these characters and stories needed.

An utterly devastating series, one I adored from beginning to end.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Happy Reading,
Jewels

One of my reading goals this year was to get to longer novels that I've had on my reading list and that always get pushed back because romance novels are always so much more...alluring and quick to read. But I found this novel on audio, and that suits me perfectly so I spent several days listening to China Dolls by Lisa See.

My Rating: ❀'s
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Add to Goodreads

I had read a novel by Lisa See before, that book being Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which was very good women's fiction (in that it dealt with women's issues and history) and I loved that novel. So I was expecting this book to draw me in just as much, to paint a world that was foreign and yet, one I could relate to as well. However, I have to say, I was disappointed with this book. It's set shortly before, during and then after World War II and it deals with three women who are friends--but unusual friends, friends drawn together by circumstance and these women are nothing alike. Sometimes you wonder if they are really friends. It was difficult for me to picture these women's lives, dancing in nightclubs, seeking fame, being utterly American and yet, being other as well. The experiences were interesting, the story was interesting but yet, I couldn't make connections to these characters. And some of their choices struck me as self serving, selfish and I couldn't help but call their motivations into question. For me, it was like these characters were not entirely formed. I couldn't understand where they were coming from.

Another reason this novel doesn't sit well with me is because I expected by the end that these women would have learned something from one another, that their bond--friendship--would be solidified by something and become much deeper and more meaningful. However, I did not see that happen. And it seemed that the end, they went their separate ways but still remained bound together, but how, I did not understand, other than their shared history and fame. Somehow, it didn't strike me as enough. They seemed like friends more fractured and it called into question their closeness.

The writing was good, if the narration switching between the women was at times abrupt, the story was engaging, but it lacked in feeling in this reader's opinion.

Happy Listening,
Jewels


Marie Force''s The McCarthys of Gansett Island series is a sweet, contemporary series that is a lot of fun to read. I remember totally loving the first book, and so far there isn't a novel in this series that I have not enjoyed. The stories are usually focused, the characters well matched and I just like the feel of this series; the setting and easy pace of the writing seem to go hand in hand.

Series: The McCarthys of Gansett Island, #4
My Rating: 4 ❀'s
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Falling for Love did not disappoint. I was intrigued by the possibility of Grant and Stephanie as a couple in the third novel, and very curious to know more about Stephanie. I have to say, I wasn't expecting her to be so sassy! I love sassy heroines. She is also sweet too, and her sad past and story remind us that life is not always fair, or just or kind. But, sometimes life throws us pleasant surprises as well. And these two are certianly a pleasant surprise for one another.

I will say, I was concerned about how much page time the past couples, Mac and Maddie, Joe and Janey and an upcoming couple, Laura and Owen were getting. It drives me nuts when previous characters/couples start taking over a novel, and in some series, I have ended up disappointed and frustrated because of this. I thought that might be happening in this novel, but in the end, Grant and Stephanie got the focused story and solid romance that they deserved. So I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved) myself.

While I think this novel was well focused, and the heroine and hero adorable together, I have to say the story was wrapped up rather quickly. Happily, and sweetly, but quickly. I would have liked the resolution to be a bit more fleshed out--maybe an epilogue was called for? Regardless, this was a nice addition to the series and I have to say, I'm eager to read the next book to discover what Laura's happily ever after will be.

A sweet, solid romance, it's an easy breezy read that will leave a smile on your face.

Happy Reading,
Jewels
Adored in Autumn was the last novel in the Seasons series by Jess Michaels. I had been looking forward to Felicity's story very much, seeing as her past was filled so much pain and had affected those around her so very much. I had no idea what to expect, and I think I might have expected something a little different...but this novel certainly was a nice wrap up to the series.

Series: Seasons, #4
My Rating: 4 ❀'s
Genre: Historical Romance
Add to Goodreads

The story centers around finding a coded book that will reveal Felicity's secret. She killed her husband when he was trying to murder her in a fit of rage. And murder her he would have, he was already a very abusive husband. Just reading the one scene he was in was enough to paint his soul as black in my eyes. Felicity's brothers are determined to find the book that contains the secret and destroy it, and to do so they call in the help of a childhood friend and playmate, Asher.

Enter our hero. A son of a lowly servant, now raised in society, but a man who still feels as though he is not enough. That he has a certain place, and although he still has strong feelings for Felicity and it's evident that she has strong feelings for him, he can't see them getting past this plain fact. Never mind that he helps her learn how to trust again--and the main person Felicity needed to learn to trust was herself--he just isn't sure they can break the barriers that stand between them. I have to say, Asher kinda annoyed me with this line of thinking. He was a fair minded, kind man otherwise, and I like how solid a character he was, level headed and gentle, but this stuff about deserving or not deserving drove me a bit insane.

Nevertheless, we have a HEA--with a surprise for Celia and Rosalinde--and I liked the way Felicity stood up to Asher and let him know he was her choice, and fought for them. It was all after he had seen the light, but it was good for Felicity to lay it out there and I liked that.

I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Happy Reading,
Jewels