“Deep Dark” Begins with a Bang

25814336.jpgDeep Dark by Laura Griffin
Pocket Book: May 24, 2016
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!

I’ve been a fan of Griffin’s Tracers series since I discovered her on audiobook. When I had the chance at an advance copy of book ten, well, there was no waiting on the audio format. Everything I love about Griffin’s series was here: romance, mystery, and suspense. And, Griffin hooks readers from page one, immersing readers into the terrifying experience of a home invasion.

Laney Knox was attacked in her home two years ago. Laney managed to escape, but so did the intruder and it seems that other woman have not been so lucky. When a former co-worker is murdered, Laney reaches out to the investigating officer, Reed Novak. Unfortunately, Reed is less than impressed with Laney’s methods and her penchant for evasion. Despite their differences, it soon becomes clear that Laney does have essential information about the case, but she wants to participate fully before giving it all up. Needless to say, detective Novak isn’t pleased with Laney’s withholding of information, while at the same time he feels drawn to the young woman. (more…)

Court Intrigue and Subtle Romance in ‘Jeweled Fire’

21528313Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn
Ace: November 3, 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Review source: Free from publisher

I’ll go there again!

Sharon Shinn has long been one of my favorite authors. I love the futuristic technology mixed with religion in her Samaria series, and the hero/heroine pairings and adventures in the Twelve Houses series.

I remember loving the first book in this new series, Troubled Waters, and after finishing this third installment, I’m pretty desperate to get my hands on a copy of the second: Royal Airs.

In Jeweled Fire, young princess Corene is the narrator and heroine. Corene has lived in her elder sister Josette’s shadow for most of their lives, and so she decides to step out of it, to have adventures, to figure out what path she really wants her life to take. At first, she only admits to herself that she is hunting for a prince, and a crown – the things she has been raised to expect, and which she thinks will give her independence and success. (more…)

‘Leaving Berlin’: The exciting spy thriller you’ve been waiting for

leavingberlinLeaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon
Atria Books: March 3rd, 2015 (Historical Thriller / Espionage Fiction)*

I’d go there again! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

Alex Meier, a German Jew who escaped to the United States before the Holocaust, is ejected from the United States for being a Communist during the post-World War II trials. A famous author, he is invited back to East Berlin to help re-establish German culture. Unluckily for him, the CIA sees in him a unique opportunity to learn more about the political maneuverings and intrigues of the Russians in East Berlin. Thrown into the deep end, an amateur spy in an increasingly dangerous environment, he struggles to survive and return to his son in the States (and safety). (more…)

Audio Success with “The Bear”

17669036The Bear by Claire Cameron
Little, Brown and Company: February 11, 2014 (Suspense; Adventure)

My rating: I’d go there again! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

After my first disappointing foray into audiobooks, I was rather reluctant to give audio another shot. Desperation drove me to it. Listening to the same songs on a long drive is mind numbing, and The Bear was anything but mind numbing. The Bear was a much more successful listening experience, even if it’s not something that I would have picked up in paper form.

The Bear first came on my radar while attending a readers’ advisory training session last month. The guest author was Clair Cameron, who read an excerpt of her book. I was immediately struck by how this book sounded. The Bear is narrated by a young girl and it was this style of narration that decided me on trying this one out in audio. (more…)

Jack the Ripper Returns in ‘The Devil’s Workshop’

18667978The Devil’s Workshop by Alex Grecian (The Murder Squad #3)
Putnam Adult, May 20, 2014 (Historical Mystery)*

My rating: I’d go there again! (4/5)

I’m not generally one for mysteries, but there’s something about those set in a historical period that keeps me coming back for more. I discovered Alex Grecian a few years ago when I won book 1 of The Murder Squad series in a Goodreads giveaway, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting each installment since then.

The series is set in London following the Jack the Ripper murders and follows the changes to Scotland Yard after the horrific murders. Namely, the formation of the Murder Squad. Walter Day is one such inspector that forms the new Murder Squad and he’s been changing the approach to investigation ever since. At this point in the series, with The Devil’s Workshop readers are fairly familiar with Day and his team, including constable Hammersmith and Doctor Kingsley; however, the team is put sorely to the test in the latest installment. (more…)

A chaotic race through time in The Flight of the Silvers

silvers2The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price
Blue Rider Press, 4 February 2014 (Science Fiction)*

My rating: I’d go there again!

A roller coaster ride describes this book pretty accurately. Fast-paced, twisty-and-turny, with some peaks and lulls, and ultimately extremely difficult to put down until the very last page. I’ve never read any story quite like it.

The Silvers are six seemingly ordinary people with extraordinary talents, which they only discover after being magically transported from our world to another Earth by a mysterious trio of dangerous characters. The most important aspect of the new world they find themselves in is that, due to the Cataclysm, a natural (?) disaster that occurred in New York City in the early twentieth century, time travel is possible. Not just time travel – there are several ways to manipulate time, which everyone can access through technology, but which a select group of people carry innately within themselves. The Silvers are some of these.


Duel Review: ‘A Study in Darkness’

17264584A Study in Darkness (Book 2) by Emma Jane Holloway
Del Rey, October 29, 2013 (Steampunk, Historical, Mystery, Romance)*
Series: The Baskerville Affair

And in this post we have… wait for it… a difference of opinion! Lovely readers, Jaclyn and I have disagreed about how much we like this book. In the following, we proceed to express our opinions. Do you have one? Do you strongly agree or disagree with one (or both) of us? Let us know in the comments!

This is the second novel in a steampunk/gaslamp series that takes place in an alternate Victorian London.


Stacey’s Review

Rating: Outstanding Adventure

loved this book. It was full of action, suspense, adventure, intrigue, danger, and romance.

When we left the characters at the end of A Study in Silks , Evelina had saved the day, with her childhood sweetheart’s help (that’s Nick), and had solved the mystery of Athena’s Casket with a little help from her Uncle Holmes (yes, as in Sherlock). The villain was vanquished, but society remained unchanged and all power still resided with the Steam Barons’ Council.

This second installment opens with Nick, now captain of his own pirate airship, ally to a colony of ash rooks, and partner with an air spirit named Athena, as he attacks the airship of the Blue King, one of the worst and most powerful Steam Barons. Next, Evelina still tries to hide her magical abilities but runs afoul of the Gold King; while in the background Uncle Mycroft, Holmes’ brother, is heavily involved in a resistance/revolution movement against the Steam Barons and the status quo.

The plot weaves between Nick, Evelina, Holmes, and Imogen, Evelina’s best friend. Holmes is devious and caring; Nick almost reckless and devoted, Evelina tempted but steadfast, and Imogen delicate but determined. Imogen’s story begins with a horrific dream-vision; Evelina’s with an indiscretion that puts her in the power of the Gold King, and Holmes’ with a bomb in his drawing room. Holloway wastes no time continuing the story, an improvement on the first book in the series.

The novel is very complex, with lots of layers. Transitions between narrators are smoother than they were in the previous book, and villainous narrators are kept to a smaller percentage of the work. I kept turning the pages of this one, as the pacing for me felt very fast – lots of action, all packed into just enough wordage. The plot twists and turns were fun to follow, and although not unexpected, were occasionally creepy and often suspenseful.

I liked that there’s a kind of blur between “good” and “evil” characters in this novel. Evelina finds herself intrigued by the mysterious and manipulative villain; the Gold King is moved to help Evelina and Holmes, although his motives are self-interested. In fact, the characters in this novel are motivated by combinations of convincing, and familiar, emotions: self-interest, greed, love, and principles. No character is one-dimensional. Evelina’s temptation adds uncertainty to the plot and depth to her character. Will it ruin her chances for a happy life? Or will she be able to resist future temptations?

Overall, I loved the combination of the highly complex plot and the fast pace, mystery, romance, and excitement. The humor got me as well – lots of very funny, witty turns of phrase. And the ending! What a cliff-hanger. I felt heartbroken and hopeful at the end. I immediately had to request the third book in the series to find out what happens to Evelina, Nick, and Imogen.

Jaclyn’s Review

Rating: Beach Vacation

I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as Stacey. I didn’t hate it by any means, but I certainly didn’t have the same reading experiences as Stacey. Where Stacey found A Study in Darkness fast-paced, I had a hard time getting through some parts.

A Study in Darkness picks up pretty much from where A Study in Silks left off. Evelina’s still caught up in her feelings for Tobias despite the fact that he gave her up and is marrying another woman. Evelina’s childhood sweetheart, Nick, is off pursuing a career as a pirate and gets himself mixed up in a rebel movement. It’s not long before Evelina also finds herself involved in a intrigue plot that she would rather not be part of. Like the first book, I found A Study in Darkness very slow to get started. I felt that the changing points of view were very distracting and I often found myself thrown off balance when we shift to a different character just as things were getting good. This is not my preference of writing style and probably had a lot to do with my overall enjoyment of the book.

I find it very hard to pin point what exactly made me feel that the pacing was slow, since there was a lot of stuff going on plot-wise. In a lot of ways, A Study in Darkness was an action-adventure novel, but it seems that for me, the action and adventure started to get monotonous. There was tons of intrigue with the rebel factions and backstabbing and what have you. Whatever the reason, it took me awhile to read the book, but I will say that the second half was much faster paced and I enjoyed it more than the first part, perhaps because we had more of a focus on the romance side of things.

While I was happy with the direction of the romance in the second half of the book, I have to admit that I still wasn’t in love with it (I think I read too many historical romances, *sigh*). First off, I loathe love triangles in fiction and a big one plays a part in this series between Evelina, Nick and Tobias. Thankfully, in A Study in Darkness, this triangle aspect was toned down and it’s clear whom Evelina has chosen (which made me happy). I also liked that in this one I finally have a better understanding of the depth of emotion between Evie and Nick. They both talk about how they feel, but in the first book, and for a good part of book 2, they are rarely in the same scenes. From a romance perspective, I found this extremely frustrating, so I liked the fact that this progressed a lot more in Study in Darkness.

Overall, while I enjoyed the same elements as Stacey (especially the moral ambiguity of Evelina), I found this a difficult book to get through. There was just some element that didn’t connect for me like it did for Stacey and instead made for a hard fought for finish. However, the cliffhanger ending will have me back for the conclusion. How can I not after that ending.

*Review copies provided by Edelweiss.


Her Ladyship's Curse (Disenchanted & Co., Book 1, Part #1)Heart's Blood (Blood Magic, #2)Phoenix Rising (Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences #1)Dead Iron (Age of Steam, #1)The Native Star (Veneficas Americana, #1)

Her Ladyship’s Curse: Another book that both of us disagreed on. Stacey loved and Jaclyn didn’t finish it. So if you liked A Study in Darkness as much as Stacey, Viehl’s steampunk mystery is probably right up your alley.

Heart’s Blood: Magic in a Victorian London, a similar world to that of A Study in Darkness. We also have a naive and innocence amateur detective that resembles Evie.

Phoenix Rising: A fabulous example of a steampunk mystery. Tons of gadgets, lots of action and two terrific characters. Added bonus, the hero is an archivist. Just let that sink in. Yup, it’s awesome!

Dead Iron: Steampunk set in the American West that also has a hint of magic. Not as similar to A Study in Darkness but has a familiar overarching big-bad that our hero, Cedar, and his compatriots have to battle against.

Native Star: Another steampunk set in the West, although in this case, I would say the hero is reminiscent of Tobias, so this one would be perfect for readers rooting for Tobias in A Study in Darkness.