Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The Maxwell Street Blues by Marc Krulewitch

"I feared you wouldn't know me." ~ Opening from The Maxwell Street Blues


The Maxwell Street Blues by Marc Krulewitch
Alibi, 2014
Crime Fiction; 240 pgs

Jules Landau is a private investigator, much to his father's chagrin.  His father doesn't understand his decision. Still, recently released from prison, the senior Landau hires his son to find out who murdered Jules' best friend, Charles "Snooky" Snook, a man who was like a son to the senior Landau. Snooky did not exactly work above the law, laundering money and keeping books for mobsters and other not so savory sorts, but he was well liked and careful with secrets.  This is Jules first murder investigation and a lot is at stake, including his reputation--and possibly his life. 

The old-school feel and Chicago setting created the perfect atmosphere for the novel, The Maxwell Street Blues. With a cast of characters to match, including dirty cops, a nosy but persistent reporter, a beautiful and enigmatic tattoo artist, and other rather shady characters, Marc Krulewitch's mystery was an entertaining read.

I enjoyed the interactions between the characters and getting to know Jules Landau himself.  I did not find the character to be as a cocky as the author (and the character) seemed to believe him to be.  Jules seemed to know his limitations.  He didn't let that stop him, however, from perusing the answers to his questions, even after receiving plenty of bruises as a reminder of how high the stakes were.  I especially liked the interplay between Jules and his father.  The two clearly have a strained relationship and different ideas of their family's history, Jules' father feeling his son should be more proud of his roots and less shame.

There was a lot going on in the novel, and at times it felt like certain aspects of the story were not given the attention they deserved.  Or perhaps that is just me and my penchant for sometimes preferring more background and a story that delves deeper into the characters and their motives.  That isn't to say this book did not take on some serious issues--it did to some degree.

Overall, I thought The Maxwell Street Blues made for a fun afternoon of mystery reading.  There's murder, shady politics, questionable ethics, and a romance to boot. The book has a little bit of grit and a lot of personality. While not particularly memorable in terms of story line, Jules and his dad are not characters I will  not soon forget.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Rating: * (Good +)

I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Maxwell Street Blues on the TLC Book Tours route!


Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. The publisher provided me with an e-copy of the book via NetGalley for review.



© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Nose to Nose



Hosted by Wordless Wednesday


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Where Is Your Bookmark? (08/26/2014)

My cold turned out to be an out of season flu bug that knocked me off my feet for a few days, took my daughter hostage and has now, at least for her, turned into pneumonia.  I'm just left with the cough and runny nose. Unfortunately she is still fighting a fever and infection (fingers crossed the antibiotics wipe it out soon!). My mother's visit was dampened by our illnesses this past weekend, but we made the most of it nonetheless, celebrating her birthday.  It was just low key, is all.  Between cuddles and fights to get my daughter to take her medicine, we enjoyed cake, presents and balloons.


My brain is still a big foggy, and, as you can imagine, my attention is mostly on Mouse right now, but I am muddling through.  Alas, not much reading got done.  And no blog visiting.  If I am scarce this week, you understand why.  I did finish Joshilyn Jackson's Someone Else's Love Story, although I am not much farther into Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter than last we visited together.

I am nearly one with The Night Visitor by Dianne Emley, which I am reviewing in an upcoming tour.  It's a mystery with a definite paranormal twist: a woman is possessed (sort of) but her ex-boyfriend and sets out to find his and her sister's murderer.  It's interesting so far, and a fairly quick read.

What are you reading at the moment?  Is it something you would recommend?




Every Tuesday Diane from Bibliophile By the Sea hosts 
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where  
participants share the first paragraph (or a few) of a 
book they are reading or thinking about reading soon.



Here is a taste of the opening of Dianne Emley's The Night Visitor:
Junior Lara saw the doves and knew something was wrong. They were loose inside the loft, flying in crazy circles, their beating wings stirring the air, scenting it with musk.
A gust of warm wind blew through the open windows. It carried a trace of something sweets and earthy.
The back of Junior's neck prickled. He stood with his hand against the edge of the antique elevator's door, hesitating before stepping into his loft apartment.
 Would you continue reading?


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

From the Archives: Undead Series by Mary Janice Davidson

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here are four I read in the later half of 2005: 


Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson
Berkley, 2004
Fantasy; 255 pgs

Along with my interest in Laurel K. Hamilton’s vampire hunter series came many recommendations for the Undead series by Mary Janice Davidson. Undead and Unwed is the first in the series, where Betsy Taylor, a somewhat superficial and fashion conscious heroine suddenly finds herself dead and a vampire to boot. She has abilities that are unusual even among vampires and as a result is believed to be the queen whose coming was foretold by prophecy. This book was full of humor, romance, the supernatural, and the expected fight between good vs. evil. Although I definitely feel the draw to this series, the main character’s continual chatter can be annoying at times.


Undead and Unemployed by Mary Janice Davidson
Berkley, 2004
Fantasy; 272 pgs

In the second installment of Mary Janice Davidson’s Undead series, Queen of the Vampires, Betsy Taylor reluctantly agrees to find out who is killing vampires in the city, while maintaining her new job selling shoes at Macy’s. Undead and Unemployed made me chuckle out loud several times. This is a great light read that is quite entertaining.


Undead and Unappreciated  by Mary Janice Davidson
Berkley, 2005
Fantasy; 271 pgs

This is by far my favorite in the Undead series that I’ve had the chance to read so far. Betsy, Queen of Vampires, seems to be maturing a little bit as a character. In this third installment, Betsy discovers she has a half sister who just happens to be the child of the devil, destined to rule the world. This is just one of the many challenges facing Betsy during the course of the book. Undead and Unappreciated is a lighthearted and enjoyable reading experience, full of romance, a little action, and a great deal of humor.


Undead and Unreturnable  by Mary Janice Davidson
Berkley, 2005
Fantasy; 250 pgs

A serial killer is after tall blond women, ghosts are popping in for favors, and there are wedding plans to be made. Betsy, the Queen of Vampires, has her hands full. Mary Janice Davidson brings us her fourth installment of the Undead series. Betsy is her usual self and it’s never a question of whether or not she will get into trouble, but more a question of what exactly that trouble will be. I enjoyed Undead and Unreturnable and am curious to see what further adventures Ms. Davidson has in store for Betsy and her friends.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bookish Thoughts: The Hexed by Heather Graham

"Help me, Rocky!" ~ Opening Sentence of The Hexed


The Hexed by Heather Graham
Harlequin MIRA, 2014
Crime Fiction (Paranormal, Romance); 400 pgs

My favorite kind of cozy mysteries are those with a paranormal element.  There is just something about adding a bit (okay, sometimes a lot) of supernatural to a story that appeals to me most.  Despite The Hexed being the thirteenth book in the Krewe Hunters series, it is my first.  Fortunately for me, The Hexed is very much a stand alone novel.  There is so little (nothing really) about characters that may have appeared in earlier books, that a reader jumping in now should not feel lost or feel like he or she missed out on a minor continuing story line.

In The Hexed, readers are introduced to Craig "Rocky" Rockwell, an FBI agent who asks to be assigned to the an elite division of the FBI called the Krewe Hunters.  The Krewe Hunters, once a private detection agency, was adopted by the FBI because of their special abilities in dealing with the supernatural, namely ghosts.  Rocky is haunted by the ritualistic murder of a friend when they were teenagers and when another body is found in the same area and in the same manner over a decade later, he requests to be involved in the investigation.

Devin Lyle, once reporter now children's book author, has only recently returned home to Salem, taking up residence in her deceased aunt's home.  One night she hears a cry for help and runs outside into the woods by her house only to find the body of a woman.

Devin is pulled into the investigation of the murders due to her ability to see and talk to ghosts, one of which Rocky and Devin are sure has the key who is behind the murders and why someone would want the women dead.  Add in an eccentric great-aunt who is a ghost, a black raven named Poe, and a budding love story, and you have an entertaining novel.

I really liked the character of Rocky.  He is such a sweetheart, maybe a little too perfect.  I found it interesting how the Krewe team gave him lead upon their arrival to town to help with the murder investigation, especially given how new he was to the unit.  It made sense in some ways, I suppose: this was the area he had grown up in, one of his childhood friend's was the local lead on the case, and he was the first on the scene.  It wasn't something that bothered me at all, just something I noticed.

Devin was no slouch, that's for sure.  She's smart as a whip, especially when it comes to the history of the area.  Sometimes when a civilian character gets involved with a police investigation it seems too unbelievable to buy into, but not so in Devin's case.  At least I did not think so.  In part, keeping her close was to protect her, but she was also the person the ghost from long ago wanted to talk to.

I enjoyed seeing the evolution of Devin and Rocky's relationship, but admit the moment they made their feelings known seemed forced somehow and so sudden.  It wasn't how I imagined either character acting except maybe in their heads.  Still, it was not a bad thing.  Given how stressful the situation was, how dangerous, I should not be completely surprised.

The Hexed was an enjoyable read.  I suspected just about everyone in the book at one point or another of being the killer, but it was not until closer to the end that I had it figured out.  Somewhat.  The investigation was slow going at times, but rightfully so given the amount of research and foot work the characters had to do.  There is a bit of a need to suspend one's disbelief (and I'm not referring to the ghosts) in how Rocky came to some of his conclusions, but it was easy to look past as much fun as I was having reading to see what would happen next.

Will I read more by this author?  Absolutely.  I'm curious to learn more about the other members of the Krewe Hunters team and see what mysteries they encounter.


Rating: * (Good +)

To learn more about Heather Graham, and her books, please visit the author's website.

I hope you will check out what others had to say about The Hexed on the TLC Book Tours route!




Many thanks to the TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of this book tour. E-Copy of the book provided by the publisher.


© 2014, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.