I know I missed Halloween by a couple of days with this first one. But it’s not too late for a haunting short read, is it?
Scavenger Haunt: A Cassandra Sato Halloween Short Mystery ($0.99) ~ by Kelly Brakenhoff
Cassandra Sato, PhD, is finding babysitting two ten-year-old kids on a Halloween scavenger hunt a more difficult job than her regular gig as VP of Student Affairs at Morton College. Especially when one of them finds a lava rock that may have a curse attached to it. And ghosts are popping up in the most unlikely places!
This is well-written and has a nice story arch. All too often I find that short stories end too abruptly, but I did not feel that way with this one. There was a sense of closure.
I have read the first book in the series, which helped me to understand who the characters were, and their relationships to each other. The author tells me Book 1 will be discounted at some point after the first of the year, so I will keep you posted on that!
In the meantime, 4 fingerprints for Scavenger Haunt!
The Long Island Iced Tea Goodbye, a Career Crisis Café Mystery, Book 1 (FREE IN KU – $2.99 to buy) – by Emily Selby
The divorcée moving to a new place for a fresh start trope with a fun, exotic twist. Heather Hampton, a burned-out fashion journalist from New York, buys a café in New Zealand, where she plans to (1) try her hand at mixing exotic cocktails and (2) relax and have fun on the beach.
Just a couple of hitches. The cantankerous chef, Josephine, is part of the package deal and she doesn’t like the changes Heather wants to make. And on the first night after Heather arrives, someone poisons Josephine, making Heather the prime suspect for attempted murder.
Life would be pretty depressing if it weren’t for the feral cat who adopts Heather and the intriguing inspector assigned to the case.
I enjoyed the characters and loved learning a bit about “Kiwi” culture. I suspected the culprit was up to no good about midway, but I had the motives all wrong. I hope there will be more tidbits about New Zealand culture in the next book, and also I’m dying to find out if said intriguing inspector actually… no, I’ll stop there, so as not to spoil things.
Th writing is good but a word of warning about the formatting. It’s block paragraphs, not indented, which I found a bit distracting at first, but I got used to it.
I give The Long Island Iced Tea Goodbye 4 fingerprints!
The Accidental Alchemist, Book 1 – ($4.99, but well worth it) by Gigi Pandian
I scored a copy of this first-in-series when it was on sale for 99 cents. Had I known how good it was, I’d have totally been willing to pay full price.
We start with a likeable main character and a familiar trope, moving to a new city for a fresh start. But very little is familiar after that. It’s a “quirky” (as the author calls it) and sometimes downright fantastic story, and yet so well written that the reader suspends disbelief and goes along for the ride.
The past Zoe Faust is leaving behind is a centuries-long practice of alchemy. And her vow to lead a normal life is short-lived when she discovers a stowaway in her moving boxes, a sentient gargoyle who is slowly turning back into stone. He desperately needs Zoe to decipher the contents of an antique alchemy book that may hold the key to saving his life.
Zoe can’t resist his pleas, but a series of crimes and a threesome of teenagers soon complicate the situation. I’ll leave it at that so as not to spoil things, and only say that the story is complex yet quite readable.
I already have Book 2 on my Kindle, and I plan to devour the rest of the series in short order.
Five enthusiastic fingerprints for The Accidental Alchemist.
That’s it for this round, folks. More to come in December!