Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Traitor (Alias Emma #2)The Traitor by Ava Glass
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a phenomenal follow-up to the already great start to this new series, Alias Emma. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was so excited when I found out that the Emma Makepeace books were a series. I absolutely loved Alias Emma and did not hesitate to drop all other books to jump into The Traitor by Ava Glass. Emma is on to a new assignment after she is called to a murder scene where an analyst for their agency has been brutally murdered. Emma has the background that makes her a perfect fit to be inserted onto the yacht of the Russian Oligarch who appears to be involved. The murdered agent appears to have been investigating the sale of illegal weapons, but Emma is kitted out to fit into her role and heads to France to begin her new assignment.

Ava Glass has done a wonderful job setting the scene and giving the reader a bit of armchair travel in the Riviera, which was phenomenal since I have wanted to visit this region and plan to in the next couple of years. We meet some of the other agents for the "agency" that Emma works for, along with some of the partners they have recruited along the way. The Traitor continues to show Emma's tenacity and grit even when she is outmanned, outgunned, and outmaneuvered. She plays by the rules but, manages to still find a way to stand up against impossible odds. I always wonder how police organizations in the UK manage to equally go against villains with firearms and other deadly weapons with no deadly weapons of their own. How does an agent who doesn't carry a firearm stand against ruthless mobsters who not only carry but are quite violent? When thinking about Emma Makepeace, ingenuity, cunning, and a bit of her own ruthlessness. I really look forward to the next installment in this series! View all my reviews

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Spy Coast (The Martini Club, #1)The Spy Coast by Tess Gerritsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Spy Coast is one of the more recent books that covers older assassins/government agents who have retired and are forced back into action. The few that I have gotten my hands on so far have all been a great tribute to women of "a certain age" that I love. I was already a fan of Tess Gerritsen's, but this book has increased my admiration for her writing. The Spy Coast is the first in the Martini Club series where several friends have all relocated to Purity, Maine, and still meet as friends in their everyday lives.

Maggie is a former spy who has left some serious baggage from her active career that appears to be following her to her new retired home at her farm in Maine. She tells her story throughout the book, and the reader just likes her strength and resilience more. The other retirees rally around her and work to help her find out the truth of the threat against her and also to stand with her as the threat grows more dangerous. The title of the second in the series has already been released, and I am really looking forward to the next installment in this series.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Murder on the Vine (A Tuscan Mystery Book 3)Murder on the Vine by Camilla Trinchieri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nico Doyle is a retired detective who moved to Italy to be closer to his wife's family after she died. Murder on the Vine is the third in the Tuscan Mystery series. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Nico has been pretty helpful to Perillo, the area's marshall of the carabinieri when the occasional murder pops up. He is not exactly made a temporary deputy, but he has experience from the NYPD detective squad that a small town in Italy just does not have, despite the number of murders they appear to be experiencing lately. In Murder on the Vine, the bartender from one of the local hotels is murdered. The murder in itself is not the odd thing. Where the body is found is the most interesting part of this murder. Jimmy, the co-owner of Nico, runs out of gas, and Nico is recruited to take him a can of gas and is on hand when the body is discovered in Jimmy's trunk.

Nico just wants to create dishes for his wife's family's restaurant, help out in the restaurant, and tend to his garden. Okay, occasionally, his curiosity is sparked when a murder crops up. He agrees that Perillo, Daniele, and he do make a great trio pitching in to solve crimes, even though he is retired. I guess you can take the police force out of the detective, but you cannot take the detective out of Nico. It has also been a few years since Nico's wife died, and he has possibly found love again. The issue is he does not know what to do with it and if he is betraying his wife's memory. Nico has a lot of introspection to do before he misses out on something that could be very good for him, as pretty much everyone in the town is not-so-subtly letting him know. There is a great mystery in Murder on the Vine, not just in how the victim was killed but also in who the victim is as a person. Camilla Trinchieri does a great job of drawing the murder for the reader and also providing the reader with a good bit of armchair travel in Italy, even if the town is fictitious. This is still a good book for armchair travel because this series draws a picture of Italian villages, despite the fictitious name. A traveler who likes to visit Italy can recognize a bit of other Italian towns like Pienza or Lucca, Italy. With each installment in this series, I become more enamored of the characters in the Tuscan Mysteries and of Italy.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

The Blonde IdentityThe Blonde Identity by Ally Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What could be more fun than The Blonde Identity? I loved it! It was Ally Carter's writing style and storytelling with a bunch of action thrown into it. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. A woman wakes up in the snow in the middle of the night in the middle of Paris. Who is she? How did she get there? She doesn't know, and those who do are treating her like she is some kick-a-** spy. So maybe she is. She has no id and no money, just a keycard. As she tries to figure it out, she is hunted and harassed across Paris. She gets to put those skills to the test. She is lucky enough to run into someone who seems to be another agent on her side, and he is a big help in determining why all these people are trying to kill her.

One of the things I love about Ally Carter's writing is her sense of humor. As soon as I saw the title and the cover, I knew I would love this book. It is fast-paced. The action scenes just keep coming and coming. Now, do not get me wrong. I am not saying she is just this weapon cutting her way across Paris. I have to admit that I was thinking more in terms of amnesia and that she just doesn't remember who she is and what she can do. She did a pretty good job of just "throwing" herself out there and doing what she needed to do to survive. I like to think that I could do as well and maintain that level of humor and wit as it is done. Her thoughts, which sometimes made their way out of her mouth, were, at times, just hilarious. Interestingly enough, I did not think much about the book title. I recommended the book to a cousin, who saw it immediately as he read the synopsis. He is looking forward to reading it. I wished there was a way to stay in touch with these characters, as I love a good action book combined with witty characters.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Best Served Cold (Rick Montoya Italian Mysteries Book 8)Best Served Cold by David P. Wagner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is no secret. I love this series and pretty much drop anything else I am doing outside of work to inhale these books. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Rick Montoya leads a really interesting life. He spends most of his time in Roma, Italy unless he travels to serve as an interpreter. His business is taking off, and his current job takes him to Assisi to help a college friend who needs a replacement interpreter quickly because the hired interpreter disappeared after arriving in Assisi. A group has come over from New Mexico, Rick's home state in the US, where he attended college. Unfortunately, the missing interpreter is found dead, and Rick is in the right place to help the Italian police as they appear to need the help of an interpreter to interview the tour group from New Mexico.

Interestingly, Betta, Rick's girlfriend, had a different role in the storyline. I enjoyed the methodology but do not want to spoil the change for other readers. Of course, his Zio Piero is his usual self, a bit cantankerous but still a loving uncle. Rick is always a good proxy to Piero and seems closer to him than he is to his own parents. It could just be proximity. However, we get to meet another family member in Best Served Cold. That is another area of the book I will leave for the reader and not spoil. The reader can count on the author's excellent armchair travel and food descriptions, as Rick provides vivid descriptions of parts of Umbria and the food he ate throughout his travels in Italy. The mystery is more cozy but still a good addition to the Rick Montoya Italian Mysteries. I look forward to Book 9 and Rick's next case and Italian location.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Killers of a Certain AgeKillers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Killers of a Certain Age was an exciting read. I knew I wanted to read it as soon as I saw the title. I was hoping that I was not assuming a great title would mean great content, and I was not disappointed. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I, of course, was expecting a story about older killers; however, Killers of a Certain Age zeroed in on women over the 55 to 60 years old range. Possibly, it is more like the 60 to 65 range, and honestly, I have heard people in their 20s refer to people in their 40s as being too old for this or that, which is quite shocking. They expect older people to get out of the way so they have room for jobs, etc., which is quite odd. People do not lose the need to eat and pay for their homes, cars, and other bills because they have reached the age of 40. If anything, they have increased costs because they tend to have children that need help as well (speaking as once being one of those children). But I digress.

These four friends/previous co-workers are trying to come to terms with being forced to require because of their age. They have been given a cruise as a retirement gift by their employers, which starts with an assassination attempt. They dig into their repertoire to determine who has ordered their assassination and why which leads to an exciting trek across the world that allows the Killers of a Certain Age to show that they still have it. I love that this might be a series, and I hope to see more.

Friday, August 12, 2022

It Takes a VillaIt Takes a Villa by Kilby Blades

What a wonderful story! It combines armchair travel with a bit of family mystery, all in a region of Italy that I was able to visit last year. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Natalie has done what so many have thought of doing when seeing the advertisements for the $1 homes in Italy. We ask ourselves questions. Is it too good to be true? In some ways, because the rules for purchasing the homes are quite stringent, i.e., earnest money has to be put down and the updates/repairs have to be made within a specified amount of time which requires ready money to pay builders and contractors. Another thing to consider is timing as Natalie found out. Italy and much of Europe are on vacation typically for one full month in the Summer. Permits for the building have to be purchased and there are rules that must be abided by for some of the homes that have historical value to them. That historical value dictates the type of update that must be completed. This of course is just the minimum of what a buyer is signing up for when they purchase a $1 home, especially if they do not have the ability to do any of the work themselves.

Natalie is an intelligent, quick learner who can follow videos she has found on the internet. She had grand plans for purchasing one of the $1 with her grandmother. This property is not just a typical home. It was a much-beloved hotel in a city that is counting on these renovations to draw jobs and visitors to this beautiful region of the Amalfi Coast. The creation of jobs is also another requirement of the purchasers of these homes, so it does draw buyers with dreams of opening their own businesses also. Things really start going wrong for Natalie from the time she lands in Italy, some of which relate to not speaking Italian. Some of the property is in pretty good shape, but, there are things that require update that she is not prepared for either physically or financially.

She is lucky enough to start crossing paths with Pietro, who decides that Natalie needs help and he wants to ensure the renovations to the hotel bring the property back to the standards that are required. Pietro is very knowledgeable and he is also purchasing and renovating many of the properties in their town. Natalie does not want to accept help, but, as she meets others in the renovation program, she realizes that she is one of the few that are working alone and she needs help to meet the deadlines. Pietro, who is also part of the committee responsible for the renovation program, is also butting heads with others on the committee who are more concerned with bringing jobs, money, and people into the area than they are about the renovations being done properly. All of this makes for a great story with a sweet romance, not just between Natalie and Pietro, but, also between the reader and the Italian town on the Amalfi Coast.

The Traitor by Ava Glass My rating: 5 of 5 stars What a phenomenal follow-up to the already great start to this new series, Alias Emma. I...