Genre: Mystery

Spies and Spells by Tonya Kappes

Posted June 12, 2016 by karenbaron in Adult Fiction, Chick Lit, Cozy, Fantasy, Fiction, Magic, Mystery, Paranormal, Paranormal People, Review, Series, Supernatural, Witches, Womens Fiction / 0 Comments

Spies and Spells by Tonya KappesSpies and Spells by Tonya Kappes
Series: Spies and Spells #1
Series Rating: five-stars
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on March 21st 2016
Genres: Cozy, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal
Pages: 248
Format: Kindle
five-stars

SPIES AND SPELLS, the first in this highly anticipated new series from USA TODAY Bestseller Tonya Kappes because we know she's a queen at writing paranormal mystery witch series, is here! Spies and Spells Spies and Spells Book 1 While Maggie waits for her Witchy Hour, she works at the family diner with her mom, aunt Meme and Lilith, her sister - all witches. Soon Maggie gets entangled with a mysterious handsome stranger, Mick Jasper, and his secret U.S. organization, SKUL. Has she found her calling?

My take on this book:              Spies and Spells by Tonya Kappes is another great book and series. All the characters are funny, great, and at times very nutty. The characters are all of those things plus more.

Maggie is the main character of the book and trying to figure out what she is supposed to do in this world, until her Witchy Hour, which she is wondering if it will ever happen to her. Her older sister, Lilith, hasn’t had her Witchy Hour yet and she doesn’t really mind waiting for it. While her mom and Aunt Meme have there’s. We follow Maggie as her Witchy Hour starts to happen and all the way through the mystery that she gets herself wrapped up in just from meeting Mick Jasper. My question is the life’s ambition SKUL or Mick Jasper? I am looking forward to finding out in the next book.

The spells that Tonya made up for the book were cute and silly but entertaining to read the mess or not so mess that it will cause. I loved the whole family of witches and their friends having a makeup party. Also Vinnie, her familiar, is super, funny and protective. He was entertaining as well.

Spies and Spells by Tonya Kappes is a great book and one that I recommend for everyone to read. I am also giving this book a five star rating. If you like quirky fun cozy mysteries check out some of her other series, like the Magical Cures Mysteries or the Ghostly Southern Mysteries.

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About Tonya Kappes

For years, USA Today bestselling author Tonya Kappes has been self-publishing her numerous mystery and romance titles with unprecedented success. She is famous not only for her hilarious plotlines and quirky characters, but her tremendous marketing efforts that have earned her thousands of followers and a devoted street team of fans.

She has a B.A. in Education from the University of Kentucky and a proud Kentucky Wildcat fan.

Married to an amazing man, Eddy, she has four son ranging in ages from twenty-two to sixteen years old, Charlie and Scooter (Schnauzers), and Kitty Kappes.

Now a full time writer, she spends her days creating the fun-loving, quirky southern characters that is full of charm that readers have come to love.


The Scam by Janet Evanovich

Posted May 15, 2016 by karenbaron in Adult Fiction, Chick Lit, Comedy, Contemporary Romance, Crime, Fiction, Mystery, Review, Romance, Series, Womens Fiction / 0 Comments

The Scam by Janet EvanovichThe Scam by Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg
Series: Fox and O’Hare #4
Series Rating: five-stars
Published by Bantam on September 15th 2015
Genres: Crime, Fiction, Humor, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 286
Format: Hardcover
five-stars

Nicolas Fox is a charming con man and master thief on the run. Kate O’Hare is the FBI agent who is hot on his trail. At least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality, Fox and O’Hare are secretly working together to bring down super-criminals the law can’t touch. Criminals like brutal casino magnate Evan Trace.
Evan Trace is running a money-laundering operation through his casino in Macau. Some of his best customers are mobsters, dictators, and global terrorists. Nick and Kate will have to go deep undercover as high-stakes gamblers, wagering millions of dollars—and their lives—in an attempt to topple Trace’s empire.
It’s a scam that will take Fox and O’Hare from the Las Vegas strip, to the sun-soaked beaches of Oahu’s North Shore, and into the dark back alleys of Macau. Their only backup—a self-absorbed actor, a Somali pirate, and Kate’s father, and an ex-soldier who believes a rocket launcher is the best way to solve every problem. What could possibly go wrong?

My take on this book:                         The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg is the fourth Fox and O’Hare book and it was amazingly awesome. I give this book a five star rating because this book just like all of the others is fabulous. I love that in this one just like the first three, it starts with these little cons leading into the big one that they are going to end up doing. Their first con is in Hawaii mostly because that’s where Jake is when he needs Kate’s help and they figured might as well start conning the Oahu mobster first, then that leads them into going to Las Vegas where they see Evan Trace and that starts the big con that way.

That leads them into going to Macau with two other guys that they had help them before and eventually they get the Hawaiian mobster in there. They had to then turn things around when Evan Trace decided to ask their two friends, and the Hawaiian mobster into doing something for another casino he has going up in Macau which led them into doing a 180 turn with their own con.

That got them to get their big con going really well. Overall though they got two bad guys for the price of one in witness protection and they got everyone that Trace was laundering money for. It was an awesome book that was filled with a lot of awesome scenes, funny antics. I am quite happy with The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. I will highly recommend this series to my friends.

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About Janet Evanovich

Janet’s Bio (quoted from her website)

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in LaLa Land. La la Land is like an out-of-body experience –while your mouth is eating lunch your mind is conversing with Captain Kirk. Sometimes I’d pretend to sing opera. My mother would send me to the grocery store down the street, and off I’d go, caterwauling at the top of my lungs. Before the opera thing I went through a horse stage where I galloped everywhere and made holes in my Aunt Lena’s lawn with my hooves. Aunt Lena was a good egg. She understood that the realities of daily existence were lost in the shadows of my looney imagination.After graduation from South River High School, I spent four years in the Douglass College art department, honing my ability to wear torn Levis, learning to transfer cerebral excitement to primed canvas. Painting beat the heck out of digging holes in lawns, but it never felt exactly right. It was frustrating at best, excruciating at worst. My audience was too small. Communication was too obscure. I developed a rash from pigment.

Somewhere down the line I started writing stories. The first story was about the pornographic adventures of a fairy who lived in a second rate fairy forest in Pennsylvania. The second story was about …well never mind, you get the picture.

I sent my weird stories out to editors and agents and collected rejection letters in a big cardboard box. When the box was full I burned the whole damn thing, crammed myself into pantyhose and went to work for a temp agency.

Four months into my less than stellar secretarial career, I got a call from an editor offering to buy my last mailed (and heretofore forgotten) manuscript. It was a romance written for the now defunct Second Chance at Love line, and I was paid a staggering $2,000.

With my head reeling from all this money, I plunged into writing romance novels full time, saying good-by, good riddance to pantyhose and office politics. I wrote series romance for the next five years, mostly for Bantam Loveswept. It was a rewarding experience, but after twelve romance novels I ran out of sexual positions and decided to move into the mystery genre.

I spent two years retooling –drinking beer with law enforcement types, learning to shoot, practicing cussing. At the end of those years I created Stephanie Plum. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Stephanie is an autobiographical character, but I will admit to knowing where she lives.

It turns out I’m a really boring workaholic with no hobbies or special interests. My favorite exercise is shopping and my drug of choice is Cheeze Doodles.

I read comic books and I only watch happy movies. I motivate myself to write by spending my money before I make it. And when I grow up I want to be just like Grandma Mazur.

About Lee Goldberg

New York Times Bestselling author Lee Goldberg is a two-time Edgar Award and two-time Shamus Award nominee whose many TV writing and/or producing credits include “Martial Law,” “SeaQuest,” “Diagnosis Murder,””Hunter,” “Spenser: For Hire,” “Nero Wolfe,” “Missing.” “Monk” and “The Glades.” He’s also the author of the Fox & O’Hare series with Janet Evanovich (The Heist, The Chase, The Job), “The Walk,” “Watch Me Die,” “King City,” the “Dead Man” series, as well as the “Diagnosis Murder” and “Monk” series of original mystery novels.


Those We Fear by Victoria Griffith

Posted April 1, 2016 by karenbaron in Adventure, Death, Fiction, Ghosts, Mystery, Paranormal, Review, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Those We Fear by Victoria GriffithThose We Fear by Victoria Griffith
Published by HighLine Editions on April 1st 2016
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Pages: 203
Format: Kindle
five-stars

What do you get when you cross The Turn of the Screw and Jane Eyre with Psycho? Victoria Griffith's latest thriller. When Maria becomes a summertime au pair to the children of a Scottish lord, she discovers the family is living under the shadow of two suspicious deaths. Vanishing portraits, cloaked figures, and bizarre shrines add up to a compelling Modern Gothic psychological mystery.

My take on this book: Wow. My first gothic mystery book and I loved it!! I am giving this book a five stars as it kept me wanting to know more and more about Maria and the family that she is being an au pair for. Let’s just say that I wasn’t thinking that the one behind everything was the one behind everything. This book to me reminded me of the mystery game Clue in a way with the way that I was jumping around with Maria on who I thought was doing it. I blurted out one day “The nurse did it at the lake with a knife!” Making my cat get off my lap and meowed at me to show her disapproval before walking away to her bed that was still near me.

Throughout the whole book I thought I was in Scotland with Maria experiencing the same things as she did while still trying to figure out who done it all. I mean it was a little nerve wracking and overall this book was amazing. It kept me guessing, it kept me wanting to know more as I slept or did my chores or anything that was away from my Kindle, and while I was reading it I was so absorbed into it that sometimes I didn’t even realize how far I got into the book or that I needed to do something else because it was that good. Those We Fear by Victoria Griffith is such an amazing book that I am glad that I took the opportunity to read it.

If anyone was to ask me for a recommendation of a good Gothic Mystery book I will tell them about Those We Fear by Victoria Griffith because it was really good read and something that I enjoyed. I did feel bad though for that poor family that Maria had to look after the kids for since they went through so much in the past year with two “accidental” killings taking place and stuff getting stolen here and there it was just a hard for them all. Especially for the poor two little ones that just didn’t know what to do with their feelings about their mom dying and their grandmother being ill and just being stuck in that big ancestral home of their late mothers. At least though it ends on a happy note for everyone…mostly.

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About Victoria Griffith

“After some disastrous stints as a banker and a waitress, I decided to become a writer. For many years, I was a journalist. I had lots of fun cooking lunch for Julia Child, hanging out with Yanomami Indians in Brazil and following the space program. Now, I’m a full-time author.” –Victoria Griffith


Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel

Posted March 23, 2016 by karenbaron in Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Mythology, Norse Mythology, Paranormal, Review, Romance, Series, Urban / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Midnight Burning by Karissa LaurelMidnight Burning by Karissa Laurel
Series: The Norse Chronicles #1
Series Rating: five-stars
on July 7th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 280
Format: Kindle
five-stars

Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Driven to learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.
As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.

My take on this book: Wow. Midnight Burning was just wow. It was so wonderfully written and each time I had to leave that world to do my chores, tend to my cat, or even just to do normal things I was wishing I was back in the book learning more about what is happening to poor Solina.

The whole book is written in Solina’s point-of-view which is really cool as it gives us insight into her character and allows us to see the world through a baker’s eyes as she is thrust into doing things that she normally never does and leaves that to her twin brother who unfortunately has died about four months prior to the book starting. There was so much stuff going on in this book that I felt bad for poor Solina as she was basically pushed into this world because of her brother’s death and the whole thing that she was the one that lead him to Alaska from a dream that she had of him using powers that Mani probably thought he could learn about there in Alaska. The whole reason with why Solina wanted to go to Alaska, or at least the reason she told her parents, was so that she could pack up his things and send them home, closure. She never really told them that she wanted to do something about her brother’s murder.

We met a whole lot of different characters and sees each of them showing more of their personality throughout the whole book and when they interact with Solina. The one that we truly see a transformation in for personality is Solina. She goes from this timid goodie goodie girl to one that will keep the ones that she loves at arm’s length to not let them get hurt after she figures out who she is and what that means for her to do. I was happy and glad to see her transformation throughout the book as it made her a better person for this whole new world that she was just dumped into unwillingly.

Another person that took a 360 to me was Val Wotan. He was first shown as both Mani’s best friend and co-worker who cared for Solina and Mani. After that though he started to show that he was jealous of the time she spent with Thorin but that he was possessive of her as well. My first impression of this guy was wow this guy is hot and I don’t blame Solina for liking him and then we started to see more of his personality that seemed to lean toward this jealousy and possessiveness of him that no one would ever think was in him. I liked him but then I wasn’t sure what to think of Val. I was thinking that maybe Val did love Solina and doesn’t want to lose her like he did Mani but why would he be jealous of Thorin then? I just don’t know what to think of Val and I hope in the next book that Val isn’t so possessive of Solina but then who knows especially with what happened at the end of this book.

The person that Mani and Val worked for is M. Aleksander Thorin who is the owner of Thorin’s Adventure Outfitter’s in Siniqui, Alaska. Of course Thorin kept Solina at arm’s length throughout the whole book but at certain times he would show his true self. That is a caring person that wanted to be with Solina but didn’t want his feelings get in the way and take a hold of him if something did happen to Solina. My first impression of Thorin was that he didn’t like Solina, as he tried many times to get her to go back to North Carolina before what happened to her brother happened to her, but with Solina being stubborn it never happened and Thorin just never really lets down his guard around her. Well that is until she learns the truth of him and Val then he kind of does but not really. Now I’m starting to think that maybe Solina might end up with Thorin one day once this threat over Solina’s life is done.

Another person that I loved from the first moment she was introduced would be Skyla Ramirez. Skyla has this tough girl exterior which is really true as she has tattoos and piercings. However, once she and Solina gets a friendship going Skyla is more than that. Sure she still acts all tough but she is also sarcastic and stubborn and would fight for someone that she loves which is always a good thing. Especially since it is the “fight for someone that she loves” which is what drove her and Solina, two unlikely friends, to become best friends while trying to figure out who murdered Mani since the police isn’t doing anything. Skyla is also the one that connected everything that is happening to Norse mythology as it so happens that a lot of those gods are kind of still around.

While Solina and Skyla where being detectives, like Holmes and Dr Watson or Nancy Drew and Stephanie Plum, they find out a lot of interesting things and the two of them have come up with two likely culprits for Solina’s brother’s murder. Harold Hati and Adam Skoll. Adam Skoll because of what Skyla saw Adam do in the parking lot at some bar. Harold Hati because no one liked him when he was working at Thorin’s business. Harold got what was coming for him when he and Adam tried to make their move on Solina, Skyla, and two Valkyries that were helping Solina out. Adam and Harold didn’t do this on their own and with the help of Thorin, and a little bit of Val, Solina finds out that it was by someone else.

Another character that I didn’t like would be Helen Locke. Just her name makes me dislike her. She is someone that knows Thorin because of some business interactions that they had with each other. Helen looks like a sexier Cruella de Vil according to Solina but unlike Cruella she has two different eye colors one blue and one brown. She is also someone that can act sweet for one person while acting like a bitch to another at the same time. Helen also doesn’t like Solina and I hope that in furture books that Solina is able to do something to Helen.

Everything about this book was so good and I am happy that I was asked to read it. I can’t wait to see what Solina does in the next books. I give this book five stars and totally would tell anyone that ask me which book I loved the most this year (so far anyway) would be this one and I would recommend it to them to read.

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About Karissa Laurel

Karissa Laurel has tried her hand at many things — cooking/catering, law, art — but writing makes her the happiest.

When she’s feeling brave, she’s on the slopes or riding off-road motorcycles with her guys. When she’s less adventuresome, she’s on the couch with her nose buried in a book.

She lives in North Carolina with her kid, husband, occasional in-law, and a hairy husky named Bonnie.


Dead Money Run by J. Frank James

Posted February 24, 2016 by karenbaron in Adult Fiction, Adventure, Death, Fiction, Murder, Mystery, Review, Series, Thriller / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dead Money Run by J. Frank JamesDead Money Run by J. Frank James
Series: Lou Malloy Crime #1
Series Rating: four-stars
Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform on August 26th 2013
Genres: Crime, Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Pages: 280
Format: Kindle
four-stars

Lou Malloy has just maxed out on a fifteen year prison sentence for the theft of $15 million and just before leaving prison he learns that his sister is brutally killed. As he is leaving prison, he's told to keep his nose clean or he would soon be back. As far as Malloy is concerned all bets were off until he finds his sister's killer. In the meantime, he has to fight off predators trying to get their hands on the money he stole and keep from being sent back to prison trying to protect those dear to him. He catches a break when he meets up with Hilary Kelly, a private investigator with an agenda of her own, She has been hired by the insurance company that paid on the theft claim of the money stolen from the casino by Malloy. In the course of events, Malloy and Kelly become more than just friends and Kelly decides to throw in with Malloy. Together they work to uncover exactly what happened to Malloy's sister and why. Their search involves a vicious gang led by a vengeful old man and his crazy son who has his own problems keeping his hands off other women. To make matters worse, Malloy and Kelly's search is complicated by the fact that Malloy's sister was really a special agent with the Department of Home Land Security and she was working undercover when she was killed trying to locate the whereabouts of special plates to produce counterfeit currency that if the plates ended up in the wrong hands, whole banking systems of major foreign countries could collapse overnight. As Malloy and Kelly race to find the killer of Malloy's sister, they enlist the help of Crusher, a pro wrestler who served in the cell next to Malloy at the Atlanta Penitentiary. The decision is made for Malloy and company to hit the same casino again that Malloy robbed fifteen years ago by a special ops unit of the Department of Homeland Security. The plan is complicated by the fact that the ops unit is phony setup led by a former agent turned rouge who is backed by another vicious gang with international contacts intent on getting their hands on the missing money plates. Malloy decides to go through with the heist of the casino a second time, but on a different schedule than planned. If they don't make it they have no way to return to the real world. They are in a make or break it race. Read as they race to the finish line and learn if this where the run ends or the run begins....

My take on this book:   Dead Money Run by J. Frank James was not what I excepted it to be. Lou Malloy is quite the character as we start off the book with him in jail. Lou finds out that his sister was murdered and he wants to avenge his sister’s death.

Throughout the book we see it in Lou’s point-of-view until we start seeing it in third person point-of-view about some things that we wouldn’t be able to see in Lou’s point. Lou is in interesting character because he spent fifteen years in prison for a crime that he did commit but wouldn’t tell anyone anything about when they wanted to know. Lou also just wanted to be able to spend his time, not killing anyone, with his sister and spending the money. That changed when he found out that someone killed his sister and he wanted revenge.

Throughout Lou’s journey in the book he does a lot (like really a lot) of killing, he finds someone to care about (something he never thought would happen to him), he discovered a lot about his sister’s life in the past fifteen years, and he kind-of-sort-of has a job now.

This is the first book in the Lou Malloy series. I didn’t excepted so many killings to happen, or there to be so many details about it. I did figure out who killed his sister, I think, a little bit before Lou did which is kind of cool. Or at least I suspected who had a hand in it.

I am giving this book a four star rating. Dead Money Run by J. Frank James was a good book. However, it is totally different from what I normally read. I enjoyed reading out of my typical genres for this story. So, if you like action, and don’t mind a little gore this is a good book for you.

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About J. Frank James

Frank James is the author of crime thriller novels. His crime fiction books are gripping and suspenseful with readers being unable to put them down once they get into them. Jim has a passion for writing, and he certainly has the knowledge and experience to write realistic crime thriller novels, thanks to his extensive background in law. Jim attended law school, where he was a member of the law review. He even went on to pass the state bar and started his own law practice that specialized in complex litigation.

Jim’s experience in law helps lend credibility to his crime fiction books. Not only that, Jim has traveled extensively and gains inspiration for his crime thriller novels from his travels. Some of the countries that Jim has visited include Peru, Brazil, Italy, Greece and countless others. From observing other cultures and gaining new experiences, Jim is able to infuse new life into his books and develop believable characters that readers can identify with.

At present, Jim has published four crime thriller novels. All four of his novels have the elements necessary of good crime novels that keep readers glued to the pages from start to finish. Although Jim’s crime novels are fiction works, they are exciting to read because of their authentic nature. They are written with the backing of Jim’s experience in law, so they are believable situations that have the readers wanting to find out what happens next just like they would in any crime situation.

They offer the readers just enough information to keep them guessing and trying to solve the crimes until the end of the books when they are actually revealed. Jim’s books are also fresh and unique takes on crime as well, though. They are not the same whodunit type books that have been done over and over again. By infusing his personal travels into his books, Jim creates characters and atmospheres based on just enough truth to be relatable.

Plus, Jim’s books have everything in them from robbery to prison to family. They have hard and soft elements simultaneously to really capture the life of a hardened criminal who is still very human and struggles with the same human emotions as the rest of society. At the same time, Jim gives the reader perspectives from private investigators to balance out the story.

Jim’s books even have a hit of romance when his characters come to care for each other as more than just friends. Then, crime and love mixes to create a dynamic atmosphere that is even more complicated than ever before since characters care not only for each other but for their other family members as well. Jim has an amazing way of incorporating various elements into his latest crime novels to create thrillers that readers cannot get enough of, which is perhaps why all four of his books so far carry on one from the other to continue the same story concerning the hardened criminal who did 15 years in prison, Lou Malloy and who comes to be his partner, private investigator, Hilary Kelly. The two of them go it together to create gripping stories that keep readers coming back for more.