No Good Men by Thea McAlistair

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No Good Men is a historical mystery novel written by Thea McAlistair. This book piqued my interest because it’s set in the 1930s and features gangsters and a m/m romantic subplot.

Alex is in his early 20s, and working alongside his mentor Donnie as a bodyguard for the mayor. They’re at a nightclub one night, and while Alex is talking to a man at the bar during his break, the mayor and Donnie are both shot and killed.

It turns out that Sev, the man Alex was taking to, is the nightclub’s manager, and he has mob ties. The mayor’s death might also be linked to organized crime, and so Alex begins asking questions, although it is more for his mentor’s sake than for the mayor.

And of course, the mayor’s murder wasn’t an accident, or even one disgruntled citizen. As more people connected to the case are killed, it’s clear that Alex is in the middle of a dangerous situation. Read more

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Murder at Kensington Palace by Andrea Penrose

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Murder at Kensington Palace is the third book in Andrea Penrose’s Wrexford & Sloane series of Regency-era historical mystery novels. I’ve read the other books in the series, so I was interested to see how the unlikely duo was going to handle their newest investigation.

This time, the victim is Cedric, a young man who recently inherited a barony. The prime suspect is Nicholas, the victim’s twin brother- the two were overheard arguing about the inheritance and the unfairness of Cedric receiving everything simply because he had the good fortune to be born a few minutes earlier. Read more

Who Slays the Wicked by C.S. Harris

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Who Slays the Wicked is the fourteenth book in C.S. Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr series of Regency-era historical mystery novels. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I have read the last few entries in the series, and I was looking forward to finding out what was going to happen next- especially when I saw whose murder Sebastian was investigating. Read more

Hexbreaker by Jordan L. Hawk

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Hexbreaker is the first book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Hexworld series of m/m paranormal historical romance novels. I’ve been a fan of Hawk’s Widdershins books, but after hearing about the Hexworld books in a Facebook group, I knew that I had to read them as well.

Hexbreaker takes place in the 1890s in an alternate version of New York City. Magic plays an important role in everyday life. Hexes are spells that can help or harm people. Witches are aided by familiars- assistants who have the ability to shift into an animal form. A witch needs to bond with a familiar in order to achieve their full potential, but bonding is a serious undertaking that can’t easily be undone.

Tom Halloran is a police officer with several big secrets. He has built a new life for himself, but his newest case is reminiscent of the terrible crime similar to the one that sent him into hiding, and he’s one of the only ones who can stop it from happening again.

Cicero is a cat familiar whose friend has been kidnapped. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to find his friend, including working with Tom, who has revealed that he is a hexbreaker. It’s unclear why somebody with a rare and powerful talent like that would be working as a nonmagical police officer, but they need to work quickly because Cicero’s friend is in grave danger. Read more

Any Old Diamonds by KJ Charles

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Any Old Diamonds is the first book in KJ Charles’ Lilywhite Boys series of Victorian m/m romance novels. I had been looking forward to reading this book after Charles mentioned a “more sociopathic than usual hero”. Good golly, if that’s not a stunning endorsement!

Alec Pyne wants to hire some jewel thieves to steal from the Duke and Duchess of Ilvar. He’s rather cagey about his motivation for this scheme, but the thieves are professional and have done their research. They shock Alec when they tell him that they know he’s Lord Alexander, the duke’s younger son. And then they ask him why he wants to hire them to steal from his parents.

Alec is rather firm in his declaration that the duchess is NOT his mother. There’s clearly a story here, and I shan’t say anything more on that note because it is quite a dreadful tale, filled with schemes and machinations.

Speaking of which- part of this jewel stealing scheme involves striking up a friendship with Jerry, one of the thieves. This is part of a long con- basically, they want to establish that Alec was tricked by his new friend. And this segues into Alec telling Jerry that he just wants someone else to be in control.

And that’s when things really get interesting. Alec cedes all control to Jerry, and the result is absolutely scorching. There is, consent, of course, which is important, but the evolution of their relationship is riveting because I never knew what was going to happen next.

Which brings me back to the main plot- there are secrets that have been mouldering and festering for twenty years, and although there are revelations here and there, it’s impossible to gather a full picture what transpired until the very end.

Everything about this book is amazing. The characterization was brilliant- from the arrogance of the Duke and Duchess of Ilvar to the despondency of Alec’s siblings. The setting is rendered with detail, and everything flows together so nicely.

I would absolutely recommend Any Old Diamonds to fans of m/m romance. This is the first book in a series, but fans of Charles’ other books will appreciate the return of characters from the Sins of the Cities series as well as allusions to the Society of Gentlemen series. This is a compelling story, full of surprises, and I can’t wait to find out what’ll happen next in the series.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

 

All is Fair by Dee Garretson

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All is Fair is a historical fiction YA novel written by Dee Garretson. This book is set during World War I, and while there have been a few titles in recent years, it’s not a very common setting. So right away, my interest was piqued.

When Mina receives a telegram at boarding school, she is initially confused by the odd message contained within. She quickly realizes that the message is actually a code, and returns home. The war has already taken a toll on her family; her brother Crispin is already missing in action, and Mina wants to do whatever she can to help.

She reunites with family friend Lord Andrew and meets Lucas, a handsome American. The young men are participating in flight training at a neighboring manor, but there’s something more going on- something they can’t talk about. Can Mina prove to them that she is capable of helping them? Read more

Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Bloodline is the fifth book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. I started reading the series this summer, and I try to have large gaps between each book; there is only a finite amount of material, and I want my experience to last as long as possible.

After their adventure in Egypt, Whyborne and Griffin return to Widdershins. Their lives to return to whatever passes until normal until they are faced with a new predicament involving abandoned ships, cryptic notes, a murder, and mysterious cousins from England. Once again, Whyborne and Griffin see the hallmarks of something supernatural, and find themselves racing to save humanity (or at least the city of Widdershins) from an unknown threat. Read more

Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

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Mistletoe and Murder is the fifth book in Robin Steven’s Wells & Wong series of middle grade historical mysteries. My oldest daughter is eleven years old, and she is a big fan of this series. We actually own the UK editions of most of the series (including this one), but we were super excited when we received the opportunity to read an ARC of the American edition.

In fact, my daughter was so excited about reading this book (again) that she asked if she could write the review. So, here you go:

My review on Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens

Note: this is my first review EVER so, sorry if you think it’s short :/

Hello whoever is reading this! This is my review on Mistletoe and Murder.

This book is part of a series called Wells and Wong in the US, but in England, it’s called A Murder Most Unladylike.

The book takes place during Christmas time in England, and Hazel and Daisy-the main characters- are staying in wintry Cambridge for the Christmas holidays.

But-of course-a murder happens. Two days before Christmas, a person is murdered, and Hazel and Daisy have to solve the case- But they have competition with the Junior Pinkertons, a rival agency, and they have to find the killer before Christmas day! Talk about all that stress!

But a big twist comes at the end, something you’d never see coming!

If you liked Mistletoe and Murder, you should try more Murder Most Unladylike books! I DEFINITELY recommend them, the books are so great, like this one! Robin Stevens is an amazing author, and I definitely love this series!

Okay, back to my adult/mom perspective now!

Boarding school books are my absolute favorite, so I was a little sad to see Daisy and Hazel leave their school for the holidays. However, it was quite pleasant to see them reunite with some of the characters from previous books in the series.

I found the mystery to be quite satisfying, and although I did pick up on the direction the book was going to take in its earliest stages, I was surprised by the Big Reveal. I do think it’s great that Hazel and Daisy go about solving their cases. Everything is very methodical and organized. Details and observations are written down in a notebook, and they discuss points before reaching conclusions.

I loved the way this book tackled tough subjects like gender and race in such a meaningful way by incorporating them organically into the plot. I also loved the evolution of Daisy and Hazel’s friendship; like many teen girls, their friendship has suffered ups and downs, but manages to persevere.

I would absolutely recommend Mistletoe is Murder to middle grade readers. I would suggest starting with the beginning of the series and then reading the books in order. Stevens is an extremely talented author, and the books are surprisingly nuanced- not your typical middle grade fare! As a mom to girls, I cannot say enough how much I appreciate such a wonderful series with strong female leads who work together and are very very clever. We are both eagerly looking forward to finding out what is going to happen next for our intrepid sleuths!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

 

 

 

 

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

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Before I Let Go is a young adult novel by Marieke Nijkamp. I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because I enjoyed reading her first book, This Is Where It Ends.

Corey grew up in a small town in rural Alaska. Really small. As in, 246 people. She and her family moved away, but she has planed to go back and see her best friend Kyra. Two days before Corey’s arrival, Kyra is found dead, and everyone seems convinced that it was a suicide because of Kyra’s mental health diagnoses.

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Stormhaven (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Stormhaven is the third book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. It’s hard to condense the series into a few descriptors; the books are action/adventure/mystery with some m/m romance, all in an alternate Victorian American setting. I was excited about reading this book because I devoured the first two, and I needed to know what was going to happen next.

Whyborne and Griffin have returned to Widdershins after their ordeal in Threshold, and they are hoping to return to a sense of normalcy after the chaos of the first two books, but alas, this is not meant to be. Whyborne’s coworker Allan is found on the street covered in blood, claiming not to remember anything. Allan is accused of murdering his uncle, but Whyborne harbors suspicions and does not think Allan would be capable of such a heinous crime.

Whyborne and Griffin’s investigation takes them to the Stormhaven Asylum where Allan is being held. Something is definitely “off”; after two previous experiences in dealing with the paranormal, our dynamic duo can sense the hallmarks of anything otherworldly. But is this threat too big for them to handle? Read more