Tag Archives: Mystery

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Overview

Title: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Mystery, Paranormal fantasy, Young adult
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2011

Thoughts

I’ve been trying to get through a few of the young adult books in my ever growing TBR pile at the moment. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer being one such novel. And, honestly, I was kind of expecting it to be fairly typical. Love triangle, hidden importance, overlooked girl that is actually beautiful and gorgeous. And it was that a little bit… but it also completely deviated from that form. By starting the tale with and then they were all dead…

I did take me a little longer to connect to Mara than some of the books I’ve been reading lately. Mostly because she wasn’t all that relatable for me. Normally if the lead isn’t super relatable, I don’t connect with her. But there was something about Mara’s love of family and determination to be a better person that made me genuinely like her. And now I want to find out what happens next in her story.

Where Mara managed to break the mould a little with her characterisation in young adult books, Noah was WSY too typical. Popular boy who notices the girl. Rich. Gorgeous. Knows the secret and isn’t as douche as he seems… I think I kind of want a male lead in a young adult book that ISN’T Mr. Popular… having said that, he’s not overbearingly stereotypical. Just not anything really unique…

The part that made me seriously love this novel was that final scene. The imagery that is so potent throughout just took my breathe away. It was well and truly terrifying. Dark. Twisted. And an amazing cliffhanger. I can’t wait to see where the character develops from here…

<- More Michelle HodkinThe Evolution of Mara Dyer ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster Australia

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

Overview

Title: City of the Lost
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Rockton #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2016

Thoughts

It took me a while to get through this book, not because it was easy to put down. But because it was just dark enough that reading it at night, before bed was not the greatest of ideas. So many twists and turns, and somewhat gruesome deaths filled these pages. And, just like all of the other books I’ve read by Kelley Armstrong, I freaking loved this.

Although Diana didn’t seem like the greatest of friends even from the beginning of this story, I was shocked at the depths of badness that she went to. I mean, her steady unravelling while Casey is able to find herself… it was horrible and a little heartbreaking. Also a little bit too familiar. Everyone has had a toxic friendship, and as someone who has recently said goodbye to one such friendship, it was a little bit eerie and too relatable.

Actually, this story had a few unexpected twists and betrayals throughout it. I spent the whole time trying to figure out just who the killer was, and it wasn’t until literally moments before the big reveal that I guessed it. Which completely doesn’t count as anticipation, because it was literally the moment that Casey puts it all together. I love those surprises, and I would love to go back one day and reread this, finding all of the clues that I totally missed. Having said that, I didn’t actually have any good guesses as to WHO the murderer was…

I loved everything about this book. It was absolutely amazing and fun and delicious. The idea of a town in which people are trying to disappear hide out is so very cool. And I love that it highlights all of the ways in which people are likely to resort to less-than-desirable behaviours if the rules of society are removed. It makes you stop and think about what social rules shape us.

<- More Kelley ArmstrongA Darkness Absolute ->

Image source: Goodreads

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Overview

Title: Every Heart a Doorway
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: Wayward Children #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: FaeFantasy, Mystery, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2016

Thoughts

This story was absolutely nothing like what I was expecting. It was kind of dark and twisty, without all of the feel good that I’ve been reading a bit much of in some of my young adult books. Plus, this was actually and truly about misfits. There are way too many YA stories which feature a “misfit” who is actually seriously cool. These kids aren’t. For that, I love them.

I’m always diving into tales of the fae. Tales that are a little bit uncomfortable and sweep you away to some incredibly unexpected places. What I loved about this is that a whole variety of alternate lands are featured. There’s not one doorway to go through, but a whole range. A different land for a different kind of person to fit in. It was nice that each of the characters in this story found their own lands to fit into. Their own places to experience a happily ever after.

This is a great reminder that we all fear death. And fear makes people do stupid things. Nancy may have come from a land of the Dead. But that doesn’t mean she causes death, or even desires it. I love how she is immediately looked upon with suspicion amongst people who know, themselves, what it is like to be a misfit. It’s a reminder that human nature tends to ostracise others, regardless of how we may have been ostracised ourselves. Particularly in instances when there is a whole heap of fear running rampant.

I was completely not expecting the ending of this story. It had such a wonderful Frankenstein, Dracula, Wuthering Heights feel. I might kind of hate Wuthering Heights, but I loved the other two, so it was a good feeling. A good feeling in a bad way…

<- More Seanan McGuireDown Among the Sticks and Bones ->

Image source: Kobo

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Overview

Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Series: These Violent Delights #1
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Historical fiction, Mystery, Retellings, Young adult
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2020

Thoughts

I need to start this review by saying that I really, really don’t like Romeo and Juliet. I mean, other than Wuthering Heights, it may be one of my least favourite stories. They’re just so…. irritating. Which means that the fact that this is a retelling of that story put this on the backfoot to begin with. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t mad about it like so many other stories I’ve been reading lately.

Although I couldn’t quite fall in love with the characters in this. I DID love the world building. And the story line. And pretty much everything other than Roma and Juliette. And the romance aspect. I’m just not a huge fan of the whole crossed lovers storyline. And the betrayal and such…

I would love to read more flappers stories. And the fact that this one is set in Shanghai just makes it all that much more intriguing and unique. I mean, the 20s aren’t an era that I’ve read much of… let alone the 20s in Shanghai and all of the politics that occurred there. Mix in teo rival gang heirs and the paranormal element… it was a pretty good sell.

Although I loved like 90% of this book, I found it incredibly hard to connect to the characters. And I do tend to find if I can’t connect to the characters, then I don’t hugely care what happens in the end. Which, ultimately is why I feel like this is a try again kind of book.

<- More Chloe GongOur Violent Ends ->

Image source: Goodreads

Death by Diamonds by Annette Blair

Overview
Death by Diamonds (A Vintage Magic Mystery, #3) by Annette Blair

Title: Death by Diamonds
Author: Annette Blair
Series: A Vintage Magic Mystery #3
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Cozy mysteryMystery
Dates read: 18th – 20th May 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Berkley Mystery
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: “You get me in the stupidest trouble.”

Synopsis

The latest entry sparkles in national bestselling author Annette Blair’s enchanting series starring Madeira Cutler and her charming Vintage Magic boutique. This time Maddie needs to find out why a famous actress faced her final curtain call…

Madeira loves her vintage clothing store, but the visions she gets from the garments can be hard to handle, especially when she knows the garment’s owner. At first she’s thrilled to receive a package containing the beautifully bejewelled dress she designed for actress and old friend Dominique DeLong while in fashion school. But the dress comes with a disturbing note from Dominique, who it seems took her last bow under very mysterious circumstances. Now Maddie needs to use her second sight to shine a spotlight on the actress’s entire entourage – including a bitter ex, a rival ingenue, and a very catty “best friend” – and make sure that this was the killer’s final act.

Thoughts

I love a good cozy mystery. They have all the intensity and joy of a good thriller or crime novel. Just none of the horror, can’t sleep at night feelings that my other crime novels inspire. Which, thinking about it is a little weird… Death by Diamonds still has a murder, and it should be scary. But mostly it’s just enjoyable.

Admittedly I’m not one for fashion. But I do appreciate all of the intricacies that are around for people who are. And, honestly, after reading this, I kind of wish that I was into vintage fashion. There are so many beautiful nuances throughout this book.

Dom is maybe my favourite murder victim ever. Whoch is supremely weird, I know. But from the very beginning, she is manipulating and twisting things in a way that is kind of humorous. I love the gumption of the woman and the pizzaz that she shows, even from beyond the grave. It gives you a hint of the woman that you never get to meet within the storyline. And I loved it.

I have most definitely got a favourite leading man in this series… Weiner. Nick is not bad, per se, just “eh”. Which meant that I was incredibly happy to have Weiner take a little more centre stage in Mad’s attentions. Hopefully in the next book this relationship will start to develop more!

<- Larceny and LaceSkirting the Grave ->

Image source: Goodreads

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Overview
Poirot - Murder On The Orient Express [Illustrated Deluxe Edition]  :HarperCollins Australia

Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot #10
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Mystery
Dates read: 10th – 24th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year: 1934
5th sentence, 74th page: This is where I’m supposed to go all goosefleshy down the back.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

‘The murderer is with us – on the train now…’

Just after midnight, a snowstorm stops the famous Orient Express in its tracks. A passenger is brutally murdered, and the luxurious train is no longer a place of safety. Everyone is a suspect.

This illustrated edition contains the complete text of Agatha Christie’s II Murder on the Orient Express, II together with 200 glorious production paintings and sumptuous photos from the new film, directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Thoughts

Wow. This was a pretty, seriously intense novel. I knew that it probably would be, considering it’s so damn well-known and popular. But I really didn’t expect… this level of awesomeness. Now I just desperately want more of these books on my shelves!

Recently, I’ve been watching some Agatha Christie movies with one of my clients. I can never guess who the culprit is in these (all except one thus far have come as a complete shock). This is such a wonderfully new experience for my crazy brain that I was looking forward to trying to match my wits to this storyline. And I couldn’t predict this either, every time I thought that I might be beginning to put all of the puzzle pieces together… Christie threw another curveball my way. It was brilliant and wonderful.

One of the things about this story that I did struggle with was the amount of characters. I actually struggled to keep all of the pieces in my brain and keep track of who was who. What the motives were. What the evidence was… I’ve been assured that that’s unique to this Hercule Poirot story, but it was certainly a little bit difficult. I’m just grateful that I had the movie edition of this book, so there were many pictures to help me sort out what exactly was happening…

The thing that I loved the most about this was that I just couldn’t predict what was going to happen. This surprise, partnered with the humour and Christie’s ability to completely change register and language style completely hooked me. I am most certainly in love with this and can’t wait to get my hands on some more Agatha Christie novels…

<- Lord Edgware DiesThree Act Tragedy ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood

Overview
Death in Daylesford, The New Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood |  9781743310342 | Booktopia

Title: Death in Daylesford
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Series: Phryne Fisher #21
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Cozy mysteryCrime, Historical fiction, Mystery
Dates read: 11th – 13th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: She indicated the cloche.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Surrounded by secrets, great and small, the formidable Miss Phryne Fisher returns to vanquish injustice.

When a mysterious invitation arrives for Miss Phryne Fisher from an unknown Captain Herbert Spencer, Phryne’s curiosity is excited. Spencer runs a retreat in Victoria’s spa country for shell-shocked soldiers of the First World War. It’s a cause after Phryne’s own heart but what could Spencer want from her?

Phryne and the faithful Dot view their spa sojourn as a short holiday but are quickly thrown in the midst of disturbing Highland gatherings, disappearing women, murder and the mystery of the Temperance Hotel.

Meanwhile, Cec, Bert and Tinker find a young woman floating face down in the harbour, dead. Tinker and Phryne’s resilient adopted daughters, Jane ad Ruth, decide to solve what appears to be a heinous crime.

Disappearances, murder, bombs, booty-traps and strange goings-on keep Miss Phryne Fisher right in the middle of her most exciting adventure.

Thoughts

I received this book as an ARC that I needed to review. I have never read any Phryne Fisher books and I honestly had absolutely no idea what to expect. Particularly since this is the twenty-first book in the series…

As a cozy mystery, I was expecting one cute and intriguing mystery to happen – alright, cute probably isn’t the right word, after all, they still tend to be murders or some such. What I didn’t expect, or anticipate was the fact that there would be three consecutive mysteries occurring. It created a number of parallel storylines to follow that I just adored and found absolutely beguiling. This is definitely the kind of mystery that I love to have on my shelves. And I seriously look forward to adding more in when I get the chance!

Not only did I seriously enjoy the setting of this story, but I also thoroughly loved the characters as well. Phryne Fisher is a woman full of character and gumption. She’s not afraid of… well, anything and she is exactly what I look for in a slightly zany and wonderfully independent lead character. But, you add to that her faithful companion Dot, and the zany adoptive family that she leaves at home… yeah, this is a group of individuals that I want to get to know better!

Finally, to top off the amazing storyline and characters, there is the setting. I don’t have the pleasure of reading many stories based in Australia. I even less commonly have the pleasure of reading stories which feature Australia in the 1920s… I just couldn’t look away, and nor did I wish to. A fantastic mystery, brilliant writing, and a totally unique setting that I wish we had more of. What more could you want in a book?

<- Murder and MendelssohnMore Kerry Greenwood ->

Image source: Booktopia

Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs

Overview
Killer Cupcakes (Lexy Baker #1) by Leighann Dobbs

Title: Killer Cupcakes
Author: Leighann Dobbs
Series: Lexy Baker #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Cozy mysteryMystery
Dates read: 11th – 13th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Leighann Dobbs
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: They walked over to her car slowly, enjoying the warm summer evening, the sound of peepers chirping filled the honeysuckle scented air.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Things are going great for Lexy Baker. She’s finally opened her dream bakery, gotten rid of her cheating boyfriends, and settled into her grandmothers house.

But when her ex boyfriend is found poisoned with cupcakes from her bakery, Lexy finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation headed up by her hunk neighbor detective Jack Perillo.

With the help of a gang of iPad-toting, would-be detective grandmothers, Lexy decides to take it upon herself to find the real murderer in order to clear her name and get her bakery back in business.

As things heat up on the murder trail, in the kitchen and between Lexy and the hunky detective, it’s a race against time to put the real murderer behind bars and get back to baking.

Thoughts

I always enjoy a nice cozy mystery. They’re just a great way to read a crime / mystery novel without freaking the hell out of myself. Which, sometimes is needed. Particularly when it’s a dark night and I want nothing more than to curl up with a good mystery… but would actually like to sleep…

Killer Cupcakes was a pretty typical cute cozy mystery… it was sweet, kind of innocent and a lot of fun. The fact that it has a baker as the lead character called Lexy just made all that much happier… since my dog is called Lexi and I love to bake. It’s the small things in life that create happiness I suppose. I liked that although there were moments of concern throughout this story, I was never truly worried. I knew that things would work out just fine… without torture or any of the other insanity some of my other books have…

Having said all of that, I actually didn’t expect the villain to be… well, the villain. It was a bit of a fun twist. One that completely endears this series to me. And is making me put more of the series on my wishlist…

Ultimately, this is a fun little mystery that features cupcakes, skeevy exes and hot cops. Not really much more I could want in a cozy mystery to be honest…

<- More Leighann DobbsDying for Danish ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Unwilling by Shiloh Walker

Overview
Hot in Handcuffs - Bookshelf • Best Selling Books by #1 New York ...

Title: The Unwilling
Author: Shiloh Walker
Series: The FBI Psychics Series #3.25
In: Hot in Handcuffs (Sylvia Day, Shayla Black & Shiloh Walker)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Mystery, Paranormal romance, Romantic suspense
Dates read: 29th July 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: Sometimes this is like shooting in the dark.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Mica Greer and her former lover, ex-FBI agent Colby Mathis, once shared an intimate past and a powerful psychic gift. Now, they’ve been reunited by a bizarre series of murders—and an electrifying passion that could put them both in jeopardy.

Thoughts

I absolutely adored this crime novella. Not only was it a great romantic suspense, but it had a fantastic layer of paranormal moments throughout. I’m completely intrigued to see what the rest of this series will be like – psychics who are in the FBI and run around solving crimes? Plus sex? Yes please. This is exactly the kind of series that I love.

One of the things that I loved about this novella was that it was all about love loved and lost. I didn’t like that fifteen years had been and gone for these two characters since they had last “connected”. But at least they finally made their way back to one another. That was a nice little, pleasant surprise. Even if the history still hurt my heart a little bit.

One of my favourite things to do when reading a mystery of any kind is to try and guess who the culprit is. Sometimes I love being able to guess the culprit, sometimes I hate it. In the case of this novella, I was able to guess who the culprit was about halfway through. Yet, that still left me with that unforgettable, spine tingling, uncomfortable moment that I think all good mysteries and suspense stories should have.

<- On FireHot in Handcuffs ->

Image source: Sylvia Day

Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris

Overview
Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris - Books - Hachette Australia

Title: Grave Sight
Author: Charlaine Harris
Series: Harper Connelly #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Mystery, Paranormal fantasy
Dates read: 27th June 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Gollancz
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: I found it with my other sense, instead of asking for directions.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Harper Connolly is honest, ethical and loyal – and ever since a bolt of lightning zapped her on the head, she’s had an extra-special talent: she can find dead people.

It’s not a common-or-garden job. Some people find Harper’s talent useful and fascinating, but she’s getting used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech, preying on the recently bereaved and offering false hope. She’s become an expert at getting in, getting paid and getting out fast.

So when Harper and her stepbrother Tolliver are hired to help in the Ozarks, they’re wary. Their mission is to find a local teenager – missing, believed dead – and instead they find that someone is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to bury a secret. 88 It doesn’t take long for Tolliver to be is locked away on trumped-up charges and leave Harpeer fighting for her life…

Thoughts

So this is a much better start to a series than the first Sookie Stackhouse novel. It’s a little more developed, which I think is probably just an indication of Harris’ developing skills. From the very outset, you are thrown into the world of Harper Connelly and her unique powers. From the very outset you are completely swept away and enmeshed with a woman who is quite damaged and has a seriously great personality.

I loved how this story started completely in the present. But, as the story unfolded, parts of the past also filtered through and helped to fill you in on so many important little titbits. It was a great way to create a beautifully dimensional and emotional character that you constantly felt connected to. It built upon all the trials and tribulations of the present story. It also helped to highlight exactly why Tolliver and Harper were so close. Just not in the way that is often implied…

Alongside the paranormal journey and discovery of Harper’s past, there is a great mystery to this story. In fact, it almost reads a bit like a cozy mystery. Just not quite. But still, it has that same sense of mystery to it and the almost innocence of the story line that the other cozy mysteries I’ve read hae had. However, there are a few more stakes raised. And a little bit more darkness due to Harper’s unique gift. It gives a slightly different feeling, and removes some of that innocence. Mostly though, I do love this paranormal aspect and brilliance. Particularly when it just makes the story that little bit darker.

Although the end of this story involves Harper and Tolliver getting the hell out of dodge, I can’t wait to see how this series unfolds. Partly, I kind of hope that they both get a bit of a happily ever after. It obviously wasn’t going to be in the Ozarks, but I look forward to jumping into this series and finding that at some point… hopefully.

<- More Charlaine HarrisGrave Surprise ->

Image source: Hachette Australia