The Poet (Samantha Jazz #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.” -Jean Cocteau
Some call him friend or boss.
Some call him husband or dad.
Some call him son, even a favorite son.
But the only title that matters to him is the one the media has given him: The Poet.
A name he earned from the written words he leaves behind after he kills that are as dark and mysterious as the reason he chooses his victims.
One word, two, three, a story in a poem, a secret that only Detective Samantha Jazz can solve. Because he’s writing this story for her.
She just doesn’t know it yet.

It hasn’t been too long since I finished Lisa Renee Jones’s Brilliance Trilogy. A Reckless Note, A Wicked Song and A Sinful Encore blew me away. The writing was melodic without being overly flowery – that’s the best way to describe it, for me anyway. The Poet didn’t have the same feel, but it totally fit Jazz and her personality. It was also far removed from anything else I’ve read by this author and it left me impressed.

The Poet falls into the mystery suspense genre with pretty much no romance. Even though Jazz has a romantic connection with one of the characters, the real story is the tension and connection between Jazz and the Poet. Readers are given glimpses into the mind of the Poet, which doesn’t really help in figuring out exactly who he is. With each killing it becomes obvious that there is more than a “cop” vs. “killer” connection. There’s a personal connection that Jazz has to figure out before someone close to her becomes the next victim.

This is a book that definitely kept the pages turning. It didn’t become obvious who the Poet was until near the end. The Poet didn’t make mistakes. He had an agenda and he wouldn’t stop until he got what he wanted.

I’m looking forward to more from Lisa Renee Jones and I was happy to find out that The Poet was just the beginning of the Samantha Jazz series. In the meantime, I still have some backtracking to do with her other series. 😉

Grave Sight (Harper Connelly #1) by Charlaine Harris – Narrated by Alyssa Breshnahan

Harper Connelly has what you might call a strange job: she finds dead people. She can sense the final location of a person who’s passed, and share their very last moment. The way Harper sees it, she’s providing a service to the dead while bringing some closure to the living – but she’s used to most people treating her like a blood-sucking leech. Traveling with her step-brother Tolliver as manager and sometime-bodyguard, she’s become an expert at getting in, getting paid, and getting out fast. Because for the living it’s always urgent – even if the dead can wait forever.

No, you’re not imagining things, Creative Deeds Reads is actually reviewing an audio book. It isn’t that I have an aversion to audio books, it’s just that the first two that I listened to were so mesmerizing that they put me to sleep – literally. I’m not sure if it was the narrator or the books, but whatever the reason, I just wasn’t interested in trying them again. However, a lot of my fellow readers are hooked on them, and it’s been a while since my first attempt, so I decided to give them another try. I also decided to start with offerings from my local library. I’m happy to say that even though I’m not ready to jump on the audio-book love train, I did enjoy listening to Grave Sight more than I expected.

Like a lot of readers, I was first introduced to Charlaine Harris through her Sookie Stackhouse series. It’s been a while since I’ve ventured into Sookie’s world, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that the worlds and characters within these series are totally different. That’s not a bad thing, just an observation. I honestly didn’t go into the Harper Connelly series expecting a carbon copy and would have been disappointed if that had been the case. Although both Sookie and Harper are “broken” by “normal” standards, that’s pretty much where their similarities end.

Harper was struck by lightning when she was a teen and walked away from the experience with a scar, weakness on the side that she was struck, headaches and… the ability to see ghosts. You can imagine how someone with that ability may be looked at and treated differently, especially in the South where sin can be identified as anything outside the “norm.” Needless to say, Harper didn’t have it easy. She depended a lot on her step brother, Tolliver, who was almost always by her side. He was her partner, protector and best friend.

Grave Sight finds the pair wrapped up in small town drama as outsiders. They planned on giving the person who hired them closure and moving on to their next job. The town and its ghosts had other plans.

I really enjoyed Grave Sight and I was surprised at how fast I listened and how much I enjoyed the narration. The mystery was intriguing and it worked as a great introduction to Harper and Oliver. I did find my concentration drifting at times, but that’s more because my attention was split between what I was doing while I was listening. My library’s selection is fairly limited, but all the books in this series are available, so I’ll probably continue it in audio form. Time will tell whether I decide to track down more selections from additional sources. For now, I’ll just think of this as one more way to feed my addiction. 😉

The Fangs of Scavo (Stoker & Bash #1) by Selina Kray

At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.
When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?

And just who is Hieronymus Bash?

Another new author, another new series, another favorite couple. ❤

Stoker & Bash, or Kip & Hiero (as they are also known as…) are an unlikely duo. They are totally opposites in pretty much every way, except for their undeniable attraction toward each other.

Hiero is a mystery and a thorn in the side of the city’s official officers of the law. His over-the-top style of sleuthing lead some to believe that he’s as much a villain as those he claims to reveal. Kip is charged with the almost impossible task of proving once and for all that Hiero is a fraud.

Hiero doesn’t trust Kip any more than Kip trusts him, but they somehow form a uneasy alliance. The more time Kip spends with Hiero and the menagerie of people he surrounds himself with, the harder it is for him to see Hiero as a villain.

It doesn’t take long for the sleuths to realize that sorting out the good guys from the bad isn’t going to be easy – especially when the list of possible bad guys keeps growing.

The Fangs of Scavo was full of colorful characters, intriguing venues, witty humor, a solid mystery and an unexpected sweet romance between two broken characters who deserved to find each other. What’s not to love?

Stoker & Bash‘s story is far from over and I can’t wait for it to continue. The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree is up next and it’s ready and waiting on my Kindle. 😉

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

Former special ops pilot Maya, home from the war, sees an unthinkable image captured by her nanny cam while she is at work: her two-year-old daughter playing with Maya’s husband, Joe—who had been brutally murdered two weeks earlier. The provocative question at the heart of the mystery: can you believe everything you see with your own eyes, even when you desperately want to? To find the answer, Maya must finally come to terms with deep secrets and deceit in her own past before she can face the unbelievable truth about her husband—and herself.

This is one of those times where I’m not sure whether I should thank the person who recommended Harlan Coben to me or yell at them. Since it was my daughter, I guess I’ll cut her some slack. 😀

Seriously, after only reading two books by this author and I’ve already realized that you can’t second guess or predict or even try to figure out where the story’s going. I figured that out after reading Hold Tight – that opinion was reinforced after reading Fool Me Once.

Unfortunately, because of the twists, turns and total craziness that’s centered around Maya and the secrets from her past – kept by both her and others – I can’t say too much. Just know that nothing is quite what it seems and it’s really hard to know who to trust.

I might be a gluten for punishment, but I’ve got a couple more Harlan Coben books on my TBR list. I might need a break from all this intense suspense for a little while though, but I’m sure it won’t be long before I pick the next one up. 😉

The Skeleton in the Closet (Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries #2) by Angie Fox

A haunted library is no place for a girl who can see ghosts, but when Verity Long stumbles on a dead body in the middle of the main reading room, she has to believe someone… even a dead someone… must have witnessed the crime.
Her ghostly sidekick Frankie warns her to stay out of it. The very alive, very handsome deputy sheriff, Ellis Wydell, inadvertently places her directly in the middle of it. And her ex-fiancé, Ellis’s brother, is back with an agenda of his own.
Undaunted, Verity presses forward, uncovering scandalous secrets, long-forgotten ghosts, and a shocking trail of clues that places her directly in the path of a killer.

Oh how I’m loving this series. There’s mystery, danger, the beginning of a sweet romance, a touch of revenge and lots of humor thrown into the mix.

Verity’s latest plan to free her ghostly side-kick Frankie is foiled by a murder that she stumbles upon. As much as she’s not anxious to go on another ghost hunt, she can’t leave the murder unsolved if she can help. So… Frankie, Verity and even Ellis go searching for clues – both living and not, to help find the murderer. Things get more than a little complicated when the clues lead them a little too close to home.

Through all the mystery and spookiness and the real live drama, not all the danger comes from the ghostly residents in their community. By the end of The Skeleton in the Closet, Verity might have even found a couple more ghostly allies. ❤ Ghost of a Chance is the next short story in the series, followed by The Haunted Heist. Stay tuned!

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

Well, that was an interesting… journey… Not only did Diana and Matthew learn some interesting things about what they traveled in time to discover, they also learned some interesting things about each other and themselves.

It wasn’t surprising that Diana didn’t know everything there was to know about Matthew’s past, but some of what she learned was more shocking than others. The fact that they both learned more about Diana was no surprise, after all, that’s mostly what the trip to Matthew’s past was about. To find out as much about Diana’s magic and how to control it.

During their journey, they made some other interesting discoveries and made some unexpected alliances. It was fun to get a creative take on some familiar historic characters. I think that may have been what I enjoyed most about Shadow of Night.

Time will tell how their trip into the past will affect their future and the future of others. Although Shadow of Night didn’t end in quite the cliff hanger that A Discovery of Witches, I still can’t wait to read, The Book of Life, the last book in the All Souls Trilogy.

Crimson at Cape May (The Haunted Shores Mysteries #2) by Randy Overbeck

No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.
Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. Now, with his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might just be the getaway he needs. Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast.
When a resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for his help, he can’t refuse, and joins forces with Cassie, another sensitive. As Darrell and the street-wise teen investigate the bride’s death, they uncover something far more sinister than a murder. Can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up becoming the next victims?

I suppose that you could read Crimson at Cape May as a standalone, because the author does a pretty good job of recapping some of the events that took place in Blood on the Chesapeake, but I wouldn’t recommend it. A lot happens in the first book, along with introductions to key characters and Darrell’s history – especially the events that brought him to Cape May.

I stumbled on Blood on the Chesapeake, which I tend to do from time to time, and it took me by surprise. I loved the mystery, suspense and the characters – especially Darrell. He was flawed, but lovable and those are my favorite kind. I have to admit that the setting was a big draw for me too, because I was familiar with the area. But the story was what kept the pages turning and even though I didn’t really stalk this author, I tried to keep a look out for the next book in the series. In case you were wondering, Crimson at Cape May was worth the weight. 😉

Once again, Darrell found himself haunted by a ghost. He should have learned from his experience in Maryland that when a spirit has a message and they’ve found someone who can see them, they won’t give up until they’re “heard”. In the case of the Haunted Bride, she needed help not only for herself, but for others and they were among the living. And since Cape May boasts being the most haunted seaport on the East Coast, she had some help getting her message across.

Danger lurked around every corner and ghosts weren’t the most dangerous “people” in Cape May. Even though Darrell was guilt ridden for putting other people in danger, he couldn’t do it alone. The mystery and suspense kept the pages turning, the writing flowed just as I remembered from the previous book (as well as the dialog), the characters were witty and had depth and the romance was sweet and just added to the overall feel of the story. I have no idea if there will be more to come from The Haunted Shores Mysteries, but I’m kind of hoping there is – for a couple of reasons. ❤

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

Harry Dresden is the best at what he does. Well, technically, he’s the only at what he does. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal creativity or capability, they come to him for answers. For the “everyday” world is actually full of strange and magical things—and most don’t play well with humans. That’s where Harry comes in. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. There’s just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks.
So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry’s seeing dollar signs. But where there’s black magic, there’s a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry’s name. And that’s when things start to get interesting.
Magic – it can get a guy killed.

Like others, I started with the Dresden Files TV series – WAY after it originally aired – BEFORE I realized it was that Dresden Files (because of course I had heard of it, I just didn’t connect them because sometimes I am totally oblivious). Once I devoured the TV series and realized it was based on the book series, the next logical step was to pick up the first book, so here I am. On a side note, I started watching the series before I realized that there was only one season. *sigh* And I also realized that if I had watched the Dresden Files first I may have liked Paul Blackthorne’s character in the Arrow a little bit more, but maybe not.

There are times when I can definitely say that I like the book version better than the movie, or in this case, the TV version. There are other times when I can separate the two and admit that they both have their merits. This is one of those times. There were things that I enjoyed in the series, that wasn’t included in the book and there were things in the book that I really liked that wasn’t included in the TV series. I really wish that there were more episodes in the TV series, but now I have countless books that I need to catch up on. (20 years worth, evidently – YIKES!)

To be honest, The Dresden Files seems to include everything I love about a good Urban Fantasy. A snarky hero who has enough of a hard edge to keep things interesting, enough danger and suspense to keep the pages turning, a unique magical world and good supporting characters.

As I said, I have a lot of catching up to do and Storm Front is just the beginning. Fool Moon is next and I can’t wait to follow Harry Dresden on his next case.

Anyone but You by Brien Michaels

Jack Kieza has a problem. He’s deeply attracted to men, but his homophobic family has left him too afraid to act on it. With his thirtieth birthday around the corner, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he finds himself at a gay club. After spending a fiery night with drag queen Sheila Saltue, everything changes. Especially when he discovers her alter ego: his boss, Ryan Swift.
Ryan knew he should’ve said no the second Jack approached him. Now he can’t stop himself from texting Jack every chance he gets. But Jack won’t let him take the wig off during sex, and being Sheila off-stage is wearing thin.
The more time they spend together, the more intense their feelings get, but Jack isn’t ready to date a man yet. When drag queens start turning up murdered, it forces Jack to reexamine his feelings, because what if Ryan is next? While Jack wants their burgeoning relationship to work, it would mean having to admit who he is to the world. And that’s an idea as frightening as death.

My first reaction when I finished Anyone but You was that “this one grew on me… slowly.” It’s not that I didn’t like Jack and Ryan, it’s just that I spent a lot of this book wondering how a relationship between them was going to work.

Ryan really had the upper hand in their “hook-up”. After all, he knew who Jack was from the beginning and knew exactly how complicated things could get. He couldn’t help himself though and even when Jack figured out who Ryan/Sheila really was, he couldn’t either. Ryan wanted more though and even his growing feelings for Jack weren’t enough to risk getting hurt in the long run.

Along with the burgeoning romance, there was also a mystery and a touch of suspense that kept the pages turning.

This was my first Brien Michaels read, but I’ll be on the lookout for more.

I Buried a Witch (Bedknobs & Broomsticks #2) by Josh Lanyon

Cosmo Saville adores his new husband, but his little white lies—and some very black magic—are about to bring his fairytale romance to an end. Someone is killing San Francisco’s spellcasters—and the only person Cosmo can turn to—the man who so recently swore to love and cherish him—isn’t taking his phone calls.
The only magic Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith believes in is true love. Discovering he’s married to a witch—a witch with something alarmingly like magical powers—is nearly as bad as discovering the man he loved tricked and deceived him. John shoulders the pain of betrayal and packs his bags. But when he learns Cosmo is in the crosshairs of a mysterious and murderous plot, he knows he must do everything in in his mortal power to protect him.
Till Death do them Part. With their relationship on the rocks, Cosmo and Commissioner Galbraith join forces to uncover the shadowy figure behind the deadly conspiracy…
Can the star-crossed couple bring down a killer before the dark threat extinguishes true love’s flame?

Funny story… this is my second read of I Buried a Witch. I read it at the end of last year, but it showed up on my TBR list on GoodReads. Now, I know that I could have backdated the read, because I definitely did read it, but I thought what the heck? It definitely wasn’t a hardship on my part to read the book again, so here we are. (This time I double checked to make SURE it was marked correctly on GR.)

You probably already guessed that I considered I Buried a Witch a great addition to Josh Lanyon’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks series. I have to admit that I went into this one a little leery after reading Mainly by Moonlight. Not because I didn’t like the book, but because John and Cosmo’s relationship was sorta doomed from the start and this book’s description is kinda ominous. I wasn’t wrong to be hesitant, but I’m glad I decided to dive in (twice). 😉

The mystery from the Mainly by Moonlight continues in I Buried a Witch, in a round about way. Much to John’s dismay, Cosmo finds himself playing amateur detective. John started growing on me by the end of the last book, but he lost some major points in I Buried a Witch. He had some definite old fashioned ways of thinking how marriage worked. Cosmo took it for the most part, mainly because he felt guilty for the secrets he was keeping from John. Eventually enough was enough and the inevitable blow-up happened.

Beyond the break-up, there was a mystery to solve and the danger was coming way too close to home. There were also some revelations about John’s family that threw and extra twist or two in the story. Things were looking a little bit better by the end of I Buried a Witch, so I’m not as worried about starting Bell, Book and Scandal. Even so, I’m also pretty sure that John and Cosmo haven’t gotten past all of their relationship hurdles. *sigh*