Month: August 2019

Book Review: The Spider House by Linda Anthony Hill

“The Spider House”, Book 2 in the Madame Celeste mystery series, is definitely another home run for author Linda Anthony Hill! While it is a paranormal cozy mystery, it is so much more. The typical paranormal cozy features a main character who is a witch, or psychic, or some such, but the supernatural element is fairly limited. In “The Spider House”, the fact that Madame Celeste and Emma are psychics is the key feature of the entire story. The mystery (or should I say mysteries?) was/were solved almost entirely through paranormal investigation.

Another element that makes this book unique within the cozy genre is that is brings in a nice cast of secondary characters who are ALSO key players in figuring out what is actually going on in the title house. They are a group of young fans of ghost hunter-type shows who are excited to try their hands at their own investigation when strange things begin happening at a friend’s house. The relationships among the friends, as well as between them and Madame Celeste/Emma, add an interesting element to the story.

The mystery itself is intriguing, primarily because much of it is paranormal in nature. The police don’t even get involved at all until late in the story, when something physical happens and they are contacted.

And the ending…WOW! It was surprising, while still making perfect sense given everything the reader learned throughout the book. And one element of the ending was NOT something you normally see in a cozy…I won’t say more to avoid spoilers.

All in all, this was a delightful (due to its uniqueness) and enjoyable (due to its great plot and characters) mystery. I eagerly await Book 3 to read more about Madame Celeste, Emma, and their future adventures.

Five out of five sun-warmed chunks of Gouda!


Book Review: Desolate Shores by Daryl Wood Gerber

“Desolate Shores” by Daryl Wood Gerber is an absolutely amazing start to a new suspense series! This book has everything I look for in a reading experience:

1. Great characters! Aspen, our heroine, is wonderful. She simultaneously comes across as likable, intelligent, brave (but not stupidly so), and honorable. Her fledgling role as a PI-in-training at her aunt’s detective agency fits perfectly with the story. Combined with her past career as a psychologist, Aspen has all the tools to unravel mysteries. I can’t wait until she hones these skills in future books! Nick and Karen (police detectives), Max (the aforementioned aunt), and Candace (Aspen’s niece) are also nicely drawn and intriguing in their own right. I especially hope to learn more about Max next time around!

2. The location! “Desolate Shores” is set in the Lake Tahoe area. The author describes the setting (and specific locations within that setting) so perfectly, I can see everything clearly in my mind’s eye. I’ve added Lake Tahoe to the list of places I’d love to visit someday. The setting is distinctive enough to almost seem like a separate character in the story. Personally, I love it when a novel’s setting is so vivid I actually remember the location after I’ve finished. This one will stay with me for a long time!

3. The mystery itself! Aspen takes the crime personally, as the victim was her best friend. Given that she works for a PI agency, it makes perfect sense that she would get involved. There are plenty of clues to follow, suspects to question, and personal knowledge and memories of the victim to wade through. Aspen does all this admirably, and I enjoyed following along and trying to guess the culprit. In the end, the killer was a surprise, but made perfect sense given all the information the reader (through Aspen) learned along the way.

4. The side-plots! In addition to trying to solve a murder, Aspen is dealing with one (possibly two) potential love interests. She is also hosting her niece for the week, and noticing some troubling signs about the teenager. Both of these side stories add to the strength of the overall story, without taking too much time or attention away from the suspense storyline.

All in all, this is a wonderful book, and I can’t say enough good things about it. Read it…you will NOT be disappointed. Daryl Wood Gerber could write a telephone directory, and I’d read every page with interest….she is THAT good!

Five out of five large chunks of my favorite sharp cheddar!