A Cast-Off Coven—Demons, Ghosts, and Art School

A Cast Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell book cover
A Cast Off Coven by Juliet Blackwell

A Cast-Off Coven, by Juliet Blackwell, is the second in the Witchcraft Mystery series (I’ve read but not reviewed the first in the series, Secondhand Spirits—I liked it). It’s a cozy mystery set in San Francisco starring Lilly Ivory, witch and vintage-clothing store owner.

1—Murder in the Bell Tower

Lilly is called in to kick the ghost out of the school’s haunted bell tower—at least that’s her job until finding rich scumbag and patron of the art school Jerry Becker dead at the base of said bell tower. Now in addition to the ghost, Lilly has to deal with a murder. And then she finds out there’s a demon in the third-floor closet. Continue reading “A Cast-Off Coven—Demons, Ghosts, and Art School”

The UnBook Reporter’s Favorite Mystery/Crime Shows to Relax To

You may have noticed I’ve been on a bit of a murder mystery novel kick lately, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite tv shows too.

1—Midsommer Murders

A British series, Midsommer Murders follows Chief Inspector Barnaby and his Sergeant as they solve murders in the idyllic little villages of Midsommer.

2—Agatha Christie’s Poirot

Based on the character created by Agatha Christie, the titular Hercule Poirot is a Belgian private detective in 1930s England, and sometimes abroad. The show has a distinctly Art Deco look, with beautiful sets and costume. The mysteries are fun too.

3—Columbo

A classic from the ‘70s. Each episode follows the murderer from before the murder through being caught. The through line is Lieutenant Columbo from LA Homicide, who catches them. Known for its tight plotting and intriguing filming techniques, Columbo is still a unique shows decades later.

4—Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods follows a family of cops, from Police Commissioner down to Rookie, and with an ADA on the side. The show neither sugar coats nor delves into the truly gruesome, and it’s one of the few modern police dramas I’ve found to be in this middle ground. Bad things happen but I never leave an episode feeling depressed, and I like that.

5—Murder She Wrote

Running from the m’id-80s through the mid-‘90s, Murder She Wrote stars Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a novelist from Maine who just keeps running into corpses. Light and fun, this series sometimes catches flack for not always showing all the clues needed for the audience to solve the case, but if you’re like me and don’t care then it’s still a good romp.

Royal Flush—Cozy Mystery Fun in Scotland

Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen book cover
Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen

Another in the Royal Spyness mystery series by Rhys Bowen. This time Georgie travel from 1930s London to Scotland, where the royal family seems to be under attack from one of their own set. So Georgie ends up talked into spying for Scotland Yard.

1—A Crowded Castle

I enjoyed seeing Georgie with her family at Castle Rannoch. Fig in particular, being so unusually glad to see Georgie due to an infestation of unwanted guests. Then there’s to guests themselves—Prince Siegfried, who Goergie’s family want her to marry and whom she thinks of as Fishface; Georgie’s non-royal cousins Lachan and Murdoch, boisterous jokesters; and the infamous Mrs. Simpson and her crowd of Americans. Continue reading “Royal Flush—Cozy Mystery Fun in Scotland”

A Royal Pain—More Cozy Mystery Fun

A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen book cover
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen

A Royal Pain is the second in the Royal Spyness Mystery series (the first of which I reviewed previously) by Rhys Bowen. We’re back with Georgie—Lady Georgiana Rannoch—in 1930s London as she hosts a troublesome visiting princess.

1—Faster Setup

There’s less setup this time, as less is needed—how Georgie ended up alone in Rannoch house and working secretly as a maid just needs to be mentioned, not fully written out as in the first book. So the first body shows up at the one-third mark instead of halfway through. The plot seems to meander a bit mostly because it takes Georgie so long to start connecting events, and even then she’s reluctant to suspect the princess or others of her “set”. Which brings me to my next point. Continue reading “A Royal Pain—More Cozy Mystery Fun”

Meow if it’s Murder—Fluffy Fun

Meow if it's Murder novel by T. C. LoTempio
Meow if it’s Murder by T. C. LoTempio

The first in the Nick & Nora Mystery series, Meow if it’s Murder is a cozy murder mystery by T. C. LoTempio told in first person (excepting the prologue). Nora Charles—whose parents were big fans of The Thin Man, a classic mystery series—gets adopted by an unusually intelligent tuxedo cat who belonged to a now-missing PI. Nora’s best friend Chantal names the cat Nick and the name sticks. And together, Nora and Nick start investigating the missing PI’s last case.

1—The Cat is Magic

Or a disguised alien, for those of a more sci-fi bent of mind. But between Chantal’s claims to be psychic and her Tarot card readings, the setting feels to me like it supports a more magical explanation. This isn’t a fantasy series though—at most, Nick’s abilities fall into the maybe-magic-maybe-mundane trope. But I don’t buy the mundane aspect. That cat is far too human-like intelligent, so I’m calling it magic. That’s ok for me though, I’m willing to buy into the book’s central conceit, however unlikely in “real” life it would be. Continue reading “Meow if it’s Murder—Fluffy Fun”

Some of the Un-Book Reporter’s Favorite Heroines

I find myself drawn to stories of girls and women who are clever and brave, and who make their own path. Likely because I seek and struggle to embody those qualities myself. This will be a short post, as I could go on forever if I don’t limit myself. So here are a handful of my favorite book heroines, in no particular order.

Aly—Daughter of the Lioness

All of the heroines in Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books fit the bill but Alinanne of Pirate’s Swoop most embodies cleverness. Aly is a quintessential guile hero, trained from the cradle in spycraft and chosen by a Trickster god. Said Trickster sweeps Aly off to the Kyprian Isles to be the last piece in a centuries-old game which is about to culminate in bloody rebellion. It isn’t easy to manipulate allies and enemies alike, much less from the position of slave girl, but Aly has her own tricks and games to play. Continue reading “Some of the Un-Book Reporter’s Favorite Heroines”

The Mysteries of Laura—A Good Run but I’m Done

The Mysteries of Laura is a tv show about an NYPD detective who’s also a single mom of twins. It’s one of the shows I watch with my mom—or rather, watched. I’ll explain below why I liked the show and why I’ve decided to stop watching it after two seasons.

1—The Mysteries

The actual mysteries in each episode are good enough—nothing spectacular but they didn’t bore me either. The first few episodes were a touch heavy handed with the “mom skills are being used to solve the crime” thing, but it often takes a few episodes for a show to find its feet. The Mysteries of Laura did and got better at incorporating Laura’s unique way of looking at the world with her police work, without having to shout about it. Continue reading “The Mysteries of Laura—A Good Run but I’m Done”

Her Royal Spyness—A Fun First Outing

cover for Her Royal Spyness novel by Rhys Bowen
Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Her Royal Spyness is the first in Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness Mysteries series of novels. A light, fun romp through the underbelly of the upperclass of 1930s Britain.

1—The Build Up

Most of the first half of the book is build up, but I don’t mind—and in fact prefer. As Georgie—the heroine—isn’t a detective or any sort of investigator (yet), I’m glad the author takes the time to set things up. And there’s a lot to set up. The world—both in the sense of the time and place, and in the sense of Georgie’s social world as minor English royalty. All the pieces must be set on the board, so to speak—it wouldn’t be a mystery without plenty of suspects. And of course, the all important stakes, which gradually build until Georgie’s family home and reputation, and personal freedom, are at risk. Continue reading “Her Royal Spyness—A Fun First Outing”