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    REVIEW: Secret At Skull House by Josh Lanyon

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    Secrets and Scrabble: Secret At Skull House – Josh Lanyon

    Ellery Page is back–and in hot water again!

    Unlike everyone else in Pirate’s Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village’s only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he’s purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.

    Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up–especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn’t all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?

    Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson’s first–and only–suspect.

    ***This story contains no on-screen sex or violence


    Once again, Ellery Page is the prime suspect for murder. The victim was his very, very unlikable ex, Brandon Abbott. I’m sure no tears were shed for this guy who always threw shade at Ellery every chance he got.

    You couldn’t help but love Ellery. Any other person would have sold the failing bookstore, packed his bags and hightailed it out of that murder island. Not Ellery. He was very determined to stick it out and make it work.

    He has a tendency to not so much as work his way into things but more of stumble his way into them. Like how his play became an unexpected comedic success when it was actually written as a serious story. Or suddenly realizing his scrabble pieces were pointing him in oddly case-specific directions.

    Jack Carson, the police chief, hinted here and there that there might be romantic interest in his Person Of Interest. He even outright asked him for a date. For which I’m giving a halle-fucking-luya about time! because the hot/cold treatment is killing Ellery and the rest of us poor readers here.

    I know I said before I would be okay if him and Jack will just be friends. Let me add a caveat that this is as long as the author don’t string us along in the future books.

    However, if these two keep on giving off those uber-tight USTs, which, for a book without anything explicit, Josh Lanyon managed to make quite palpable, I would riot if they don’t end up together.

    And that ending! Put us out of our misery please!

    Okay, so the mystery. I didn’t care about who killed Brandon Abbott. Like I said, the guy was an asshole. What kept me going was, first, the engaging storytelling coupled with great narration. The author always had a way of keeping me glued to the book. This is especially important because she always puts a lot of problematic characters. That’s why her books are a hit or miss for me. Mostly hit so far.

    Second, I enjoyed how she made Buck Island come to life. Ellery is surrounded by characters. As in “s/he is such a character!“. I think this is one of the perks of reading cozies, you get the quirky and the cutesy.

    Many of these people were native to Buck Island, The island transplants were forever seen as outsiders. Ellery is somewhere in between. His family has been in Buck Island since the beginning but he was from New York. This created an interesting dynamic between him and the rest of the islanders.

    Buck Island was built by pirates. There were some historical mansions own by the original founding families scattered throughout. One of these houses was own by the Page family. Skull House was also one of these historical structures and was the site of a murder and mysterious disappearance 20 years ago.

    I really liked how the local folklore and history were interwoven with the mystery. There were parallels between the past and present and true to form, Ellery stumbles into the one person connecting them all.

    But you know, if you think about it, for an island this small, there seemed to be too many murderers lurking about. Do cozies, or mysteries for that matter, always have to be about a murder? Could they just be about pirate treasures instead?

    At this point in time, Ellery should permanently change his FB / Twitter status to “I didn’t do it.”

    P.S.

    Find out how Ellery fared as a first-time murder suspect in Secrets and Scrabble book 1, Murder At Pirate’s Cove. Review here.

    Read reviews of Josh Lanyon’s hits and and misses here.

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: I Didn’t Do It
    Artist: Larry Warren
    Album: I Don’t Want To Sleep Because I’m In Wonderful Colorado!

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    REVIEW: Murder at Pirate’s Cove by Josh Lanyon

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    Secrets and Scrabble: Murder at Pirate’s Cove – Josh Lanyon

    Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!

    Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller–and head of the unwelcoming-committee–Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.

    Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is.


    I’m super excited about this latest Josh Lanyon series!

    I read a lot of mysteries from procedurals to paranormals but I think this might be the first time I’ve come across a true blue MM cozy.

    Lanyon loves paying homage to classic golden age mysteries and to the genre as a whole which is something I really liked about her. Many of her MCs are mystery writers and/or bookstore owners, sometimes antique dealers, frequently with love interests involved in law enforcement.

    Her latest protagonist’s name is Ellery Page (love the name!). He is a screenwriter, an abysmally bad actor and the owner of Crow’s Nest, a failing bookstore inherited from a long-lost dead relative. He lives in a mansion that’s literally falling apart as we speak. Also inherited from said dead relative.

    I liked that the story was written in Ellery’s third person POV instead of a first person POV. As with most of her protagonists, his ‘voice’ brings in those colorful snarky descriptions frequently deployed by writers to make things more dramatic. I had fun going through his thoughts but I wish Lanyon would shake things up and write from the more stoic love interest’s POV too.

    As genre tradition dictates, our amateur sleuth pokes his nose into other people’s business in an effort to clear his name of murder. Most of it involved soliciting gossip from people who were very much willing to share. This is safe enough. But then there was one TSTL-ish moment when he did a little B & E on a dead man’s house. Aaargh!!! I was so exasperated! I wanted to smack him in the head for stupidity.

    We also meet Police Chief Jack Carson, the lead investigator of the case who time and time again warned Ellery to stay out of trouble. Carson is your usual Lanyon love interest. At first glance, an abrasive man of few words who as the story progressed would reveal his hidden not-so-bad-afterall side. This happens in almost every Lanyon book but somehow I’m not tired of it yet. I still get a thrill whenever the ‘good’ side is revealed

    He and Ellery oh so slowly edged towards a tentative friendship. And that’s all there is. This story has no romance and zero steam. This is a big plus for me.

    The story is set in a quaint seaside town of Pirate’s Cove. I’m the type of reader who typically gloss over descriptions of places so I’m glad that the book was able to establish a sense of place and town culture without boring me with too much details. We are also introduced to a fair share of quirky town fixtures sure to pop up in many of the books.

    I had a great time letting the story unfold. The mystery was a good one. I couldn’t guess who the murderer was until the very end. I only realized on hindsight that major clues were dropped and I totally missed them.

    Murder at Pirate’s Cove is a quintessential cozy. Even with the templates fully in place, they do not detract to how enjoyable everything is. The author was able to keep things fresh and engaging. All in all, this is a charming little addition to her oeuvre.

    Recommended if you like amateur sleuths who couldn’t lie to save their life, pirate cosplay murders and puppies who wouldn’t quit.

    P.S.

    Josh Lanyon books here.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Trouble is a Friend
    Artist: Lenka
    Album: Lenka

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    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (March 18, 2020)

    I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

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    REVIEW: I Buried a Witch by Josh Lanyon

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    Bedknobs and Broomsticks: I Buried a Witch – Josh Lanyon

    Something old, something new, something borrowed…something blacker than the darkest night.

    Cosmo Saville adores his new husband, but his little white lies—and some very black magic—are about to bring his fairytale romance to an end. Someone is killing San Francisco’s spellcasters—and the only person Cosmo can turn to—the man who so recently swore to love and cherish him—isn’t taking his phone calls.

    The only magic Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith believes in is true love. Discovering he’s married to a witch—a witch with something alarmingly like magical powers—is nearly as bad as discovering the man he loved tricked and deceived him. John shoulders the pain of betrayal and packs his bags. But when he learns Cosmo is in the crosshairs of a mysterious and murderous plot, he knows he must do everything in in his mortal power to protect him.

    Till Death do them Part. With their relationship on the rocks, Cosmo and Commissioner Galbraith join forces to uncover the shadowy figure behind the deadly conspiracy…

    Can the star-crossed couple bring down a killer before the dark threat extinguishes true love’s flame?

    I Buried a Witch is the second book in the smart and sexy Bedknobs and Broomsticks romantic gay mystery trilogy. If you like endearing characters, spell-binding conflict, and spooky, good fun, then you’ll love Josh Lanyon’s tale of a blue knight and his slightly wicked witch.


    The first book, Mainly by Moonlight, fell somewhere between like and love but there are no doubts I loved this sequel.

    I Buried a Witch picks up right after Cosmo and John’s honeymoon. Their honeymoon glow was short-lived. Occult-related murders were found and Cosmo couldn’t help but once again poke his nose in police business. This did not go well with his police commissioner husband which led to a blow up which led to Cos blurting out his biggest secret!

    I was very happy with the fact that finally! John knew. I love slow-burn romances but ironically, I have no patience with storylines where there’s a big secret and the characters string us along with their will they or won’t they tell dilemma. So it was such a huge relief when everything came out in the open. This is a major reason why I liked this book better.

    With these big reveals came character developments that kicked the story up a notch. Now that Cosmo was out as a witch to John, I felt more sympathetic to his plight. He was more likable now that he had less reasons to lie.

    John was his usual hot/cold persona. He’s not exactly cardboard but he’s a very typical Lanyon love interest. Sure, I rooted for him and Cos because the author is really good at making this kind of thing work but I wished we could get inside his head.

    Many Josh Lanyon stories were written in one POV only, usually the dramatic, talkative MC. Rarely do we get the perspective of the more stoic love interest. Hopefully, the author might decide to have mercy on us poor readers shake things up and give us dual POVs.

    These quibbles aside, the writing hooked me from the beginning. It was a fast-paced read. With most of the world-building established in the first book, this second installment is more focused on moving many elements forward and answering some questions, including why John is resistant to Cosmo’s spells. The perp was the kind that was obvious once the character came on page but I still enjoyed tagging along with Cosmo as he goes about his mundane and magical business.

    Overall, this is an engaging second book that kept me intrigued until the end. It did a great job building on the previous events, drawing us deeper into this wonderful world of witches and magic. Many question were still left unanswered. Many things were hinted at, one of which, witchkings and MPreg?! Whoa… I’m definitely sticking around for more of Cosmo’s witchy woes.

    P.S.

    I Buried a Witch is not a standalone. It’s best to experience the Bedknobs and Broomsticks magic in order. Start with book 1, Mainly By Moonlight. Review here.
    Josh Lanyon books here.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Unravel Me
    Artist: Jojee
    A
    lbum: Low Key

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  • Uncategorized

    PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE (Dec 11, 2019)

    I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.

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    REVIEW: Mainly By Moonlight by Josh Lanyon

    Bedknobs And Broomsticks: Mainly By Moonlight – Josh Lanyon

    A gay high-society wedding. A stolen book of spells. A love-threatening lie. Can a witch avoid a murder rap without revealing the supernatural truth?

    Cosmo Saville guiltily hides a paranormal secret from his soon-to-be husband. Thanks to a powerful love spell, uncertainty threatens his nuptial magic. But when he’s arrested for allegedly killing a longtime rival, he could spend his honeymoon behind bars…

    Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith never believed in love until Cosmo came along. Falling head over heels for the elegant antiques dealer is an enchantment he never wants to break. So when all fingers point to Cosmo’s guilt, John races to prove his fiancé’s innocence before they take their vows.

    As Cosmo hunts for the real killer among the arcane aristocracy, John warns him to leave it to the police. But with an unseen enemy threatening to expose Cosmo’s true nature, the couple’s blissful future could shatter like a broken charm.

    Can Cosmo find the lost grimoire, clear his name, and keep John’s love alive, or will black magic “rune” their wedding bells?

    Mainly by Moonlight is the first book in the sexy Bedknobs and Broomsticks romantic gay mystery series. If you like spellbinding suspense, steamy fun, and a dash of paranormal, then you’ll love Josh Lanyon’s charming tale. 


    My 3.5-star streak continues with Josh Lanyon‘s latest offering, Mainly by Moonlight, book 1 of Bedknobs and Broomsticks. With her nifty unlikable-characters-but-made-me-commit-to-the-series-anyway trick, Lanyon shakes up her usual murder mystery fare with magic, witches and antiques.

    The Bedknobs and Broomsticks world has magic but not heavy on spells. It’s built along the lines of Practical Magic and Bewitched so it has a cozy feel to it. Whatever cutesy nose twitches it has is tempered by unideal character traits and false pretenses. There is a good balance between these elements though I needed to consciously put myself in the mindset that the flaws are part of the charm a.k.a. not ding the book for it. The unconventional set-up made the romance more interesting but admittedly, an acquired taste.

    Cosmo Saville is a witch and not just any witch. He’s a veritable witch royalty. His mother is the Duchess, heir to the position of Crone. He is engaged to be married to the police commissioner, John Joseph Galbraith, whom he met two weeks ago. It was a whirlwind affair bought about by a lovespell. On top of their controversial romance, witches keep their identities secret by necessity, which means Cosmo had to constantly lie to cover up his suspicious endeavors. Not at all auspicious.

    Since Cos is an antique dealer by trade, he tended to namedrop antiques and art pieces I’m too lazy to google so some references he’s trying make were lost on me. It did not significantly affect my enjoyment of the story. However, the jury’s still out on him. I didn’t like the lying part but he did insist on having the lovespell removed so that counts for something. I am also convinced he genuinely loves John who explicitly told him he hated liars. Uh-oh. What now, Cos?

    John, I’m more inclined to. Was it just because of a lovespell? His mysterious resistance to Cosmo’s Jedi mind tricks argued otherwise. I am willing to be swayed because I have inklings as to where this is heading. For me, the commish was the biggest mystery of all. He is older and, in many ways , reminded me of Sam Kennedy from The Art of Murder. But what do we really know about the man? Almost nothing as far as and I can tell. I doubt Cosmo truly knew his fiance. I’m itching to find out what’s behind the hot/cold persona.

    Mainly By Moonlight is very much a mishmash of a series opener. I am invested enough to see things through but there were times where I’m just there for the ride which was what made me deduct some stars. I wasn’t exactly bored but the murder mystery wasn’t something that actively engaged my attention either. The victim barely registered as a person. The other characters had passable personalities. The ones that stood out were Cosmo’s mother, his best friend and John’s little sister who I think will be playing an even bigger role in the coming events. There were no concrete resolutions yet. Threads were left open for the next books. Characters hinted to be the main villains flee the scene as soon as they were introduced. Them getting away with it made me want to see some witch-on-witch showdown. Keeping my fingers crossed for that.

    Happily, despite being held at gun point by a crazed witch, the wedding did happen. Vows were exchanged, promises were made, feelings were laid bare. Of course, Cosmo conveniently forgot to mention one important detail. I’m pretty sure this little omission would come biting him in the ass. When truths are exposed and trusts are broken, will there be enough love left to keep their marriage alive?

    P.S.

    Josh Lanyon books here

    Rating:
    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: I Put A Spell On You
    Artist: Screamin’ Jay Hawkin
    Album: At Home With Screamin’ Jay Hawkin

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    REVIEW: In Other Words…Murder by Josh Lanyon

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    Holmes & Moriarity: In Other Words…Murder -Josh Lanyon

    Death reveals all secrets.

    Mystery author Christopher Holmes, now comfortably married to sometimes rival, sometimes nemesis J.X. Moriarity, is starting a new career as a true crime writer when threatening anonymous notes start arriving.

    Even worse, Christopher’s ex also arrives–asking for help locating the man he left Christopher for!

    It’s life–and death–as usual at Chez Holmes. In other words… Murder.

    Well, this answered The Question:

    “I love you, Kit. I just do.”
    I muttered, “Well, you don’t have to sound like it’s against your will.” 

    Compared to the other books in the series, In Other Words…Murder has the most slice-of-life feel to it, the mysteries more or less secondary, even tertiary, to Kit getting a huge deal from publishers, him and JX discussing honeymoon trips, and Jerry being on the loose again. A day in the life of Christopher Holmes certainly doesn’t lack for excitement as he goes from enduring Gage’s presence, sorting through unfinished manuscripts to fending off attacks by a psycho clown, getting JX a happy ever after cake, meeting the ex, feeling guilty about not connecting with old peers as much as he was suppose to, becoming a murder suspect and antagonizing the detectives by being his usual charming self.

    Gad I hate Jerry! The creep just gets into my nerves. Dear System, do you job and please put Jerry away for good.

    Felt sorry for JX. One of these days he might actually get a heart attack from all the life-threatening situations Kit gets into. But JX is rock solid (and healthy). Love him!

    Kit, at long last, realizing Julian Xavier Moriarity is it.

    My gaze wandered to J.X., who was listening to all this with an
    exasperated expression. As I studied his face, realization struck me.
    I’d stand by you. Whatever happens, I’ll be there for you.
    It was kind of shocking. Because it was true.

    Love the fact that he wasn’t in the least bit tempted by the ex’s advances. Good riddance to that loser!

    Kit put the past firmly behind. He has been inching his way forward with a nudge or two since the beginning but this time he wasn’t wavering. Also, he did something nice and romantic! Without being prodded! And he started writing again!

    This is the best Kit yet!

    P.S.

    review of Holmes and Moriarity books here
    review of Josh Lanyon books here

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: I’ll Be Your Man
    Artist: The Black Keys
    Album: The Big Come Up

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