Thursday, August 1, 2013

What I Read - July 2013

Here are my July reads.  Once again, I got quite a few in.  I'm pleasantly surprised at how I do this, although there are two books on tape and a couple really short/fast kid's book in this mix.

All ratings are on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (great).  And all links take you directly to my review here on my blog.

CRASHED by Timothy Hallinan (Junior Bender #1) - 3
What at first appears to be a normal job for professional burglar Junior Bender leaves him blackmailed into helping a mobster.  But what that mobster wants to do is even more surprising - and dangerous.

I found the characters very real, engaging, and enjoyable.  Unfortunately, I found the plot uneven and the foul language a bit more than I can tolerate.  Then again, this isn't my normal choice for reading material, so it's on me.  I'm glad I tried it because I was curious about the series, but I won't read any more.

THE HEIST by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (Kate O'Hare and Nick Fox #1) - 4
FBI Kate O'Hare has been chasing conman Nick Fox for years.  But when she finally catches him, her life is turned upside down.  Now she finds herself teamed up with him to try to catch another criminal.

To me, this book felt like a melding of the TV shows White Collar and Castle, both of which I love.  It was funny and a wild ride.  The pace was just a little off at times, but for the most part I enjoyed this romp.

A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter #1) - 4
American Civil War vet John Carter is shocked to find himself suddenly on Mars where he becomes a semi-prisoner of a race of aliens.  But then he meets another human and sets out to free them both.

I enjoyed the movie from last year and finally got around to reading the book.  It was a lot of fun even if most of the plot was familiar thanks to the movie.  There was one slow section that seemed to come out of no where to slow things down, but on the whole it was worth reading.

HEIRS AND GRACES by Rhys Bowen (Lady Georgiana #7) - 5
Lady Georgiana is asked to come to an estate in 1930's England to teach the new heir to the dukedom proper upper society manners.  This heir has just been discovered and has been raised in the Australian Outback.  However, not too long after this heir arrives, Georgie has to add sleuthing to her list of things to do when someone gets a knife in the back - literally.

These trips back in time are always fun, and this one was no exception.  I loved the new characters and the tension was so thick I always had a hard time putting it down.

I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN, BOY DETECTIVE by Donald J. Sobol (Encyclopedia Brown #1) - 5
The first book in this long running kids series introduces us to Encyclopedia Brown and his mind for facts.  As in all the books, there are 10 cases for him to solve, and we are given the clues to solve them along with him.

I'd love to say that I figured all these out on this reread.  Really, I would.  A few I remembered, but most of the time I was stumped.  I had a rough idea what the clue was, but I couldn't put my finger on it.  Guess I'm still not smarter than a fifth grader.

THE WRONG GIRL by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Jane Ryland #2) - 5
This is the second book about reporter Jane Ryland and Boston detective Jake Brogan.  This time around, Jane is helping a former co-worker find out if she was sent to the wrong woman while trying to track down her birth mother.  Meanwhile, she is also covering a murder that Jake is investigating.  A woman is found murdered.  Two kids under 3, both alive, are in the next room.  It looks like a simple domestic dispute except the woman has no ID anywhere in the apartment.

I loved the book.  It started fast and never let me go until I reached the end.  The characters were great as well, and I had a blast spending time with all of them.

I got the book via Amazon Vine. 

Is there such a thing as a bad Calvin and Hobbes book?  Not quite as many stories but some sharp looks at our culture that are still relevant 20 years later.  And just plan plenty of laughs.

THE LAST WORD by Lisa Lutz (Spellmans #6) - 5
Isabel's hostile take over of the family's PI firm has not gone well.  As her parents rebel, she tries to juggle the cases and the paperwork side of the business.

All this is served with multiple storylines and plenty of laughs.  The characters are as rich as always, and the ending is great.  No, this isn't the last we'll hear from the Spellmans, but the ending of the book explains the title perfectly.

THE TWO MINUTE RULE by Robert Crais - 3
Max Holman has just been released from prison when he gets the news that his estranged son, a police officer, has been murdered.  When the official story doesn't add up, Max begins poking around.  But is he in over his head?

Another of Crais' stand alone novels, I found this one rather disappointing.  The plot was a little too obvious.  And, as a completely personal issue, the language also bothered me.  On the other hand, the characters were great and compelled me further into the story.

THE HEN OF THE BASKERVILLES by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #15) - 5
Meg is the assistant direct at the Un-fair, a local alternative to the state fair.  The first morning things get off to a rough start with some vandalism and theft, including two heritage chickens from the chicken tent.  Throw in tension in the wine pavilion and things are hoping before the dead body shows up.

While I didn't find this one as laugh out loud funny as some of the previous entries, I did really enjoy it.  The plot was good and the characters - new and old - were fun.  Meg's twins stole every scene they were in, too.  Fans of the series or lighter cozies in general will love it.


  1. I am a mystery fan myself and have read Hallinan's books. I especially like his other books set in Thailand.

    1. Good to know. Maybe I should give them a try at some point.