Book Review: To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton

 

I’m not usually a big fan of cozy mysteries, though I did grow up on Agatha Christie, and I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. To Helvetica and Back (A Dangerous Type Mystery) was the first book from Paige Shelton I’ve read, and I chose it because I really like typewriters (even my editing company, Clicking Keys, is named after the sound a typewriter makes when you type…) and cats (I post more pictures on Instagram of my cat than my child…) But, I have to admit that I enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

Star City is one of those small town places with a lot of history and everyone is in each other’s business. (Sort of like where I grew up!) The main character, Clare, runs a book and typewriter repair shop with her grandfather (I really want her job…) when a man storms in demanding that she give him the typewriter she’s just fixed. He ends up dead a few pages later, and the mystery is off to a great start.

It was a little predictable at times and definitely follows the cozy mystery format, but I really have to say that I enjoyed it. I will pick up the next one in the series, Bookman Dead Stylewhen it comes out next year. And I will probably pick up other books she’s written as well.

Besides, look at that adorable cat on the cover… awww.

4 Lamps

Enchanted Rating: 4


51ZKDFRmvgLEssential Info

Title: To Helvetica and Back: A Dangerous Type Mystery

Author: Paige Shelton

Publisher: Berkley

Length: 304 pages

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE*


About the Book

The New York Times bestselling author of the Farmers’ Market Mysteries and the Country Cooking School Mysteries introduces readers to Star City, Utah, and a little shop called the Rescued Word…

Star City is known for its slopes and its powder. But nestled in the valley of this ski resort town is a side street full of shops that specialize in the simple charms of earlier eras. One of those shops is the Rescued Word, where Chester Henry and his adult granddaughter Clare lovingly repair old typewriters and restore old books. Who ever thought their quaint store would hold the key to some modern-day trouble?

When a stranger to town demands they turn over an antique Underwood typewriter they’re repairing for a customer, Clare fears she may need to be rescued. A call to the police scares the man off, but later Clare finds his dead body in the back alley. What about a dusty old typewriter could possibly be worth killing for?

— Description from Amazon.com

About the Author

Paige Shelton is the New York Times Bestselling author of the Farmers’ Market, Country Cooking School, Dangerous Type, and Scottish Bookshop mysteries. She’s lived lots of places but currently resides in Arizona. Find out more at http://www.paigeshelton.com

Farmers’ Market Mysteries, in order:
1 – FARM FRESH MURDER
2 – FRUIT OF ALL EVIL
3 – CROPS AND ROBBERS
E-book only, short story special – RED HOT DEADLY PEPPERS
4 – A KILLER MAIZE
5 – MERRY MARKET MURDER
6 – BUSHEL FULL OF MURDER

Country Cooking School Mysteries (paranormal series with ghosts), in order:
1 – IF FRIED CHICKEN COULD FLY
2 – IF MASHED POTATOES COULD DANCE
3 – IF BREAD COULD RISE TO THE OCCASION
4 – IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES
5 – IF ONIONS COULD SPRING LEEKS

A Dangerous Type Mystery Series
1 -TO HELVETICA AND BACK
2 – BOOKMAN DEAD STYLE (February 7, 2017)

The Scottish Bookshop Mystery Series
1 – THE CRACKED SPINE
2 – OF BOOKS AND BAGPIPES (April 4, 2017)

Young Adult
CLOCKWORK

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Book Review and Giveaway! Blood of the Earth by Faith Hunter

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The Enchanted Alley’s Review

Faith Hunter’s Nell Ingram books are set in the same world as her very successful Jane Yellowrock books. Even though I have read the Jane Yellowrock books, I expect that a reader would not need to have read them to be able to follow this story. It’s well crafted and gives us a different view of some of the events and characters from the Jane Yellowrock books.

Nell is the main character, discovering who she is and what powers she controls, but she is not like Jane at all. I look forward to seeing Nell grow and evolve as she breaks the chains that had bound her.

This book, like the first in any series, gives us a good introduction to the characters, including my least favorite character…the despicable Rick and his lady friend Paka. I still don’t like them, but I suppose I can say that I understand Rick’s actions a little better now. He’s still going to take a lot more to get back on my “good” list though. It was nice to see him from a perspective other than Jane’s.

In all, I am very excited about how this series has begun and I look forward to the next book, which I believe comes out in November!

5 Lamps

Enchanted Rating: Five Lanterns!


About BLOOD OF THE EARTH:

Set in the same world as the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, an all-new series starring Nell Ingram, who wields powers as old as the earth.

When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her. Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville. Nell has a team-—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out…


Giveaways!  

Faith is giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card (winner’s choice), and 5 custom key chains. Open to US residents only.

Click on the link here to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Enchanted Alley is offering a print copy of BLOOD OF THE EARTH, US/Canada only. Click on the link here to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway


 Blood of the EarthEssential Info

Title: BLOOD OF THE EARTH (Nell Ingram #1)

Author: Faith Hunter

Publisher: Roc Mass Market Paperback

Price: $7.99

Length: 384 pages

Release Date: August 2, 2016

ISBN: 9780451473301

Goodreads link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24452922-blood-of-the-earth


Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Earth-Soulwood-Novel-Hunter/dp/0451473302

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-of-the-earth-faith-hunter/1123638785?ean=9780451473301

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Blood-Earth/Faith-Hunter/9780451473301?id=5383851536305

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Faith_Hunter_Blood_of_the_Earth?id=4mspBgAAQBAJ

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/blood-of-the-earth/id957958080?mt=11

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/blood-of-the-earth-2


About Faith Hunter

FaithHunter2SmallFaith Hunter, fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. She writes three Urban Fantasy series: the Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires. The Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. And the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. (There is a role playing game based on the series, ROGUE MAGE.)

Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. As Faith and Gwen, she has 30+ books in print in 29 countries.

Hunter writes full-time, tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their rescued Pomeranians to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast.

Find Faith online at her website FaithHunter.net, her blog, on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

Book Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

What do you do when you’ve experienced success but are afraid that success will never visit your door again? You write another bestseller…

At least, that’s what Elizabeth Gilbert did. Big Magic is a personal narrative talking about the fear and nervousness she felt after the overnight success of Eat, Pray, Love, a book that wasn’t expected to be nearly as successful as it was.

I really wanted to love this book. The cover is amazing, and as a writer, each acceptance letter brings about those same feelings. Whew. I did it…but can I do it again?

But I didn’t love it. It left me lukewarm. It’s advertised as “Creative Living Beyond Fear” but I never really felt she truly addressed the fear I wanted her to address. Perhaps my fear is different enough that I couldn’t connect. I’m not sure. It simply wasn’t what I had hoped for.

 

3 LampsEnchanted Rating: 3.5


24453082Essential Info

Title: Big Magic

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Length: 285 pages

Release Date: Sept. 22, 2015

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE*


About the Book

From the worldwide bestselling author of Eat Pray Love: the path to the vibrant, fulfilling life you’ve dreamed of.

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

— Description from Amazon.com

About the Author

Elizabeth Gilbert is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat Pray Love and several other internationally bestselling books of fiction and nonfiction. Gilbert began her career writing for Harper’s Bazaar, Spin, The New York Times Magazine and GQ, and was a three-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her story collection Pilgrims was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; The Last American Man was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. The follow-up memoir Committed became an instant #1 New York Times bestseller. Her latest novel, The Signature of All Things, was named a Best Book of 2013 by The New York Times, O Magazine, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and The New Yorker. Gilbert’s short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Story, One Story, and the Paris Review.

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Book Review: Immortal Killers by Stuart Jaffe

The Enchanted Alley’s Review

I really enjoyed Jaffe’s Immortal Killers. It’s the first of Jaffe’s work I’ve read. I purchased a signed copy at ConCarolinas in June and bought the second one (directly from the author) at ConGregate in July, as soon as it came out. Why? I loved this one so much.

Nathan is so unlike me that he drove me nuts at times, but that’s what a good character should do — be so real they make you mad when they do something you wouldn’t!

This book was quite dark and unsettling at times, but I love dark fiction, so it was right up my alley (har, har, har…)

I also am totally in love with the covers for these books.

5 Lamps

Enchanted Rating: 5


29352952Essential Info:

Title: Immortal Killers

Author: Stuart Jaffe

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Length: 214 pages

Release Date: Feb. 22, 2016

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE*


About the Book

HE SHOULD HAVE DIED

Nathan Flynn is trying to get a start in life – law school, internship, and a fiancé. But when he finds himself on the wrong end of a knife, everything changes. He should have died. Instead, he acquires a unique ability – he harbors two souls in his body. If he dies, he loses one soul yet continues on. As long as he replenishes his second soul, he cannot be killed – he’s immortal.

But gaining immortality throws him into a world of government spies, crime syndicate couriers, and elite assassins. A world in which mankind is second class. A world where one has all eternity to master anything, and he is not the only one.

Nathan wants nothing to do with such a dangerous world. He wants to help people, not destroy them. But when he tries to leave, he learns that freedom will be a lot harder to gain than he thinks.

— Description from Amazon.com

About the Author

Stuart Jaffe is the author of the Nathan K thrillers, The Max Porter Paranormal-Mysteries, The Malja Chronicles, The Bluesman pulp series, and much more. His short stories have been collected in 10 Bits of My Brain and 10 More Bits of My Brain. Numerous other short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies.

Stuart lives in rural North Carolina, and for those who keep count, the latest animal listing is as follows: one dog, two cats, one albino corn snake, three aquatic turtles, assorted fish, seven chickens, and a horse. Thankfully, the chickens and the horse do not live inside the house.

*affilate link*

Book Review: A Mirror Among Shattered Glass

About the Book

Unable to contain the deadly nature of her family secret and powers, nine-teen year old Romarin Demetri hails from California, U.S.A, to unearth her heritage as a descendant of serial-killer, Countess Bathory, the woman that lent Dracula his legend, and cursed Romarin with an appetite for blood.

Unenthusiastic about relocating to her birth city of London, a charming paranormal investigator with claim to the throne could change her mind, as he leads her to the only living and distant relative she has: a raven-haired recluse named Talia, who has taken refuge in an old castle in the heart of the city, and doesn’t seem to have a heart of her own.

After a rough introduction to the lethal, inappropriate, and enchantingly sarcastic people she calls her housemates, perhaps the other misfits will be her first true friends; However, as much as these people are like her, they still have hidden vendettas, a taste for revenge, and will struggle between what is just, and what will settle their psychological upheaval. There is only one way for Romarin to become part of the Supernatural London Underground: Can she be the one who challenges them to put down their ghosts and demons and make their world together?

— Description from Amazon.com

The Enchanted Alley’s Review

A Mirror Among Shattered Glass is a debut novel, and the author shows a lot of promise. The story is complex with an interesting premise. It’s very dark and gritty, but also enchanting and mysterious.

I like the characters, but they could be a little more consistently developed. The plot is complex, but I’d like to see a little more development along some of the plot lines. Like many YA novels, this is primarily a novel of self-discovery with Romarin traveling to a new place and starting over only to find that her heritage is quite different than most.

I will definitely read the next in the series because I expect this author to get better and better. I’m giving it 3 1/2 stars.

 

 

3 Lamps

Enchanted Rating: 3.5


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Essential Info:

Title: A Mirror Among Shattered Glass

Author: Romarin Demetri

Publisher: Block 13 Publishing

Length: 221 pages

Release Date: June 4, 2016

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE


About the Author

Romarin Demetri is a story crafter who loves black coffee, traveling abroad, and when her characters come home in some sort of trouble she swears she didn’t invent. Pulling from her B.A. in English and Psychology, her debut series, The Supernatural London Underground, is a blend of fantasy ground in reality, and a world a reader can truly escape to. As an eccentric and reader, she still enjoys creating the alternate reality in her urban fantasy series (more than anything!), and her interactive world waits for you at RomarinDemetri.com.

Author’s Social and Media Links:

Home base: http://www.romarindemetri.com

Book Review: Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

About the Book

Sandman Slim has arrived—a wild and weird, edge-of-your-seat supernatural roller-coaster rider that propels author Richard Kadrey to the forefront of the fantasy, thriller, and a host of other literary genres. This spellbinding, utterly remarkable tale of a vengeful magician/hitman’s return from hell is part H.P. Lovecraft, part Christopher Moore, part Jim Butcher, and totally, unabashedly dark, twisted, and hilarious.

— Description from Amazon.com


The Enchanted Alley’s Review

A friend and fellow book lover recommended this book to me after we’d been talking about how jarring present tense narrative can be. Sandman Slim is written in first person, present tense, which I generally can’t stand to read at all. Kadrey does use it well, though. My friend was right. It’s not as obtrusive in the narrative as others.

The story is described as “gritty” and surely is. It’s a great dark book. The world described in the book is our own, but it’s colored by a darkness that probably already exists but is mostly ignored. I found myself more engaged with Stark’s (the main character) interactions with the world after having been in Hell for eleven years than with the actual plot (revenge, murder, etc.). The world changed while he was down below, but in comparison with Kadrey’s description of Hell, one might prefer Hell to L.A. And that’s scary.

The basic plot is one of revenge—Stark is a magician who was sent to Hell by his fellow magicians and has returned to kill them. While in Hell, Stark learned a few tricks and is now a nearly unstoppable killing machine who destroys clothes faster than Stephanie Plum destroys automobiles. The plot dragged in some places, but I feel that might be a reflection of the frustration the main character was feeling of not knowing what to do or where to go next. He flies by the seat of his pants most of the story, and sometimes that made me, as the reader, anxious and uncertain. The story very effectively makes the reader feel the characters’ emotions, but they’re not the best emotions.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, and I’ll definitely read the next one.

4 Lamps

 

Enchanted Rating: 4


sandman
Essential Info:

Title:  Sandman Slim

Author: Richard Kadrey

Publisher: HarperCollins

Length: 405 pages

Release Date: January 26, 2010

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE

Book Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

About the Book

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.


The Enchanted Alley’s Review

I’m not sure what I expected, exactly, but it wasn’t this. The story is unlike one I’ve read before, and the concept is brilliant.
However, I gave this story four stars instead of five (as I really liked it) because it felt almost like two different stories.
It took a while to get into the pace it held by the end. The story and characters seemed to shift unexpectedly about a third of the way through. Once the vampires showed up, the story changed quite a bit, becoming less about Dina and her parents, the house, and the innkeeper role and more about the vampire political scene.
Overall, while I enjoyed the story, I’d have liked to have seen more of Dina’s interaction with the inn and more about how she and the inn are connected. The werewolf was okay, but the vampires, not so much.
I will pick up the next one though.
4 Lamps

 

Enchanted Rating: 4


Clean-Sweep-Cover-SmallEssential Info:

Title:  Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1)

Author: Ilona Andrews

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Length: 235 pages

Release Date: Dec. 2, 2015

Amazon Link: Buy it HERE