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A Fistful of Divas by Camille LaGuire

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A Fistful of Divas by Camille LaGuire A Fistful of Divas by Camille LaGuire
Series: Mick and Casey McKee
Published by the author on August 26, 2013
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery, Western, Short Story
Pages: 32
Format: eBook
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Young gunslinger detectives, Mick and Casey McKee, are eager to hear some opera singing. But when somebody takes a shot at some visiting divas, the concert is off. The ladies won't sing until Mick and Casey solve a case of blackmail and murder.

So I love Mick and Casey McKee. I wish there were more stories in the series. They are a gunslingers in the old west, a young married couple. And I do mean young. She’s maybe 17. He’s the talker, she’s the shooter and they make a great pair. This time around, the couple want to see singing at the local opera house. There’s a cute story why, involving Casey’s dad. Anyway, with these two nothing is ever simple. Just as they walk in to see who is warming up, there’s a shot, apparently aimed at one of the women on stage. If the ladies are going to feel safe enough to perform, Mick and Casey need to figure what’s going on and stop it.

The mystery was good, for a short story. The actual shooter’s identity is quickly established, but who hired him and why is the question. There are a couple clues and a nice, small list of suspects.

Like I said, I really enjoy the McKees. You get a good feeling for their relationship here. It’s not quite as good as the only full-length mystery in the series, Have Gun, Will Play, but it’s definitely worth the quick read.

Motion for Murder by Kelly Rey

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Motion for Murder by Kelly Rey Motion for Murder by Kelly Rey
Narrator: Lisa Kelly
Series: Jamie Winters #1
Published by Gemma Halliday Publishing on April 20, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Length: 7 hrs 26 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Jamie Winter loathes her job as a secretary in the sleaziest law firm in New Jersey. Trouble is, someone else loathes the whole firm - enough to kill one of the partners, the two-timing, 11-fingered king of lowbrow television commercial spots, Dougie Digits.

Now, Jamie is being strong-armed into investigating by Dougie's frosty widow, Hilary. The suspect list is long, including the firm's bookish paralegal, embezzling bookkeeper, ambitious associate, and resentful senior partners. Add to that list a mélange of oddball clients with grudges of their own, and Jamie has her work cut out for her. With assists from her studly landlord and husband-hungry sister, Jamie uncovers enough dirt on her coworkers to launch a tabloid in her hunt to find the killer before he or she strikes again!

Motion for Murder is a cute, light mystery. Jamie has a lousy job, but gets even worse when one of the partners in the law firm she works at is killed. One of her co-workers is probably the killer, the question is who?

I like Jamie. She’s funny, but she lets people take advantage of her. The reason for her investigating is a bit weak, though. Hilary, the widow, who she doesn’t like, has insisted that she look into one of her co-workers and her natural curiosity and/or worry that she might be next, keeps her digging around. I will say the killer’s identity caught me totally off-guard. It made sense, just wasn’t someone who was on my radar at all.

The secondary characters are a mixed bag. I like Curtis, Jamie’s landlord and love interest. He’s a good guy, but he rides the line between trying to keep Jamie safe and semi-encouraging her to investigate, which is a little odd. Her sister, Sherri, is TOO desperate for a husband. The other women who work at the firm are an odd bunch, I’m not sure which, if any, I was supposed to like.

I listened to the audio. While the narration was good, kept the story light and fit with Jamie’s character well, the quality was a little off. It was kind of like the narrator was on a speaker phone, if that makes sense. Once I got used to it, it wasn’t a problem.

Oh – and I got tired of hearing how tiny Jamie is and how much she eats.

This was a fun start to a series, but maybe I should pick up #2 as an ebook and not on audio.

About Kelly Rey

From her first discovery of Nancy Drew, Kelly has had a lifelong love for mystery and tales of things that go bump in the night, especially those with a twist of humor. Through many years of working in the court reporting and closed captioning fields, writing has remained a constant. If she’s not in front of a keyboard, she can be found reading, working out or avoiding housework. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime and lives in the Northeast with her husband and a menagerie of very spoiled pets.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson

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The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson
Narrator: Emily Woo Zeller
Series: Xian Li-lin #1
Published by Audible Studios on February 23, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Length: 9 hrs 51 mins
Format: Audiobook
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It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrant searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

The Girl with Ghost Eyes is an enjoyable read, but I felt like it was straddling the line between YA and adult historical fantasy, which threw me off a little. I can’t put my finger on why it felt like that. Li-lin is not a teenager, she’s in her early 20s, I think, and a widow. So, it’s not her age. There isn’t a love triangle. I listened to the audio, and maybe the writing sounded a bit simple at times and there were definitely repetitive sections. I don’t know. Am I the only one who got that feeling? I listened to the audio and was glad that I did. Zeller brings Li-lin to life, but I also like to hear the Chinese words and phrases, not try to struggle with reading them.

Li-lin is a good character. She is tough and strong and a talented martial artist. She’s also a Daoist exorcist who has ghost eyes, meaning she can see all the spirits, ghosts and monsters that others don’t. But being a woman – and a widow, in Chinatown in the late 1890s is not easy. Her father is mean. I’m sorry, I know the it fits for the cultural and time, but he is condescending to her, does not give her the respect she deserves. The whole time I’m thinking maybe he does truly care about her, just isn’t able to show it, but in the end he totally disappointed me. Maybe that’s part of it, the issues with her dad. He treats her as if she is younger and less experienced than she is and she constantly needs to prove herself. She tends to dwell on things too, which gets a little annoying.

Tongs control Chinatown, but there is conflict between the new ways and the old ways. There’s a power struggle shaping up and the magical power that might be unleashed could destroy hundreds of lives. Of course, it’s up to Li-lin to save the day. I will say the author does not make it easy for her. She has helpers, but not many and she’s forced to make deals that may backfire on her. In some ways though, the constant need for action and fight scenes takes away from the story, at least for me.

I haven’t read many (any?)  fantasy novels that use Chinese folklore as their base, and I really liked that aspect of the novel. I loved the descriptions of the creatures and spirits. I think Boroson did a good job building his Chinatown, giving us a good feel for both the Chinese culture and the immigrang experience.

About M. H. Boroson

M. H. Boroson was obsessed with two things as a young man: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and kung fu movies. He has studied Chinese religion at Naropa University and the University of Colorado and now lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and three cats.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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