Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Monthly Reading Summary - August 2014

Another month has come and gone already.  Hard to believe, isn't it, but my calendar says it is September 1st.

Anyway, here's the summary of what I read this month.  As always, my indexes have been updated for all the reviews posted this month and the title links take you to the full review.

All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

To Brie or Not to Brie by Avery Aames (Cheese Shop #4) - 4
Two strangers are lurking around town, and no one can quite figure out who they are or what they want.  Then one of them is killed in the local ice cream shop.  As his identity comes out, Charlotte has to find the killer before the case reveals secrets that will impact her future.

I have truly come to love these characters this year, as evidenced by how anxious I was to visit them again in this book.  However, I did find the mystery a little slow as the book got sidetracked by several sub-plots.

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy (Hero's Guide #1) - 5
Join Princes Fredric, Gustav, Liam, and Duncan as they must ban together to stop an evil witch from taking over their kingdoms.  Of course, first, they must learn their own strengths and how to get along with each other.

This book was laugh out loud funny from start to finish with wonderful character growth and an engaging plot.  My only complaint is that I didn't read it even sooner.  With strong male and female characters, I think both boys and girls will equally love it.  And adults will delight in this middle grade fractured fairy tale as well.

Death of a Crabby Cook by Penny Pike (Food Festival Mysteries #1) - 5
Darcy has taken a job helping her aunt in her San Francisco food truck.  On her first day, Aunt Abby gets into an argument with the chef at a nearby restaurant who wants the food trucks, which he views as competition, gone.  When he is murdered that night, Abby becomes the chief suspect.

This was a wonderful debut.  The characters were real and fun to spend time with.  I absolutely love how the romance is already progressing.  The plot is strong with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing right until the very end.  I'm already hungry for the sequel.

The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole/Joe Pike #1) - 4
Elvis is hired to track down Ellen Lang's husband because the husband disappeared with their son.  However, after the Lang house is searched and the first body turns up, he realizes he is in way over his head.

This book suffers from the cliches of the PI genre, but manages to overcome them with some pretty entertaining characters.  Elvis and his PI partner Joe are both interesting, and Elvis's sense of humor is fun.  There are some twists that surprised me as well.  The book is definitely outside my normal comfort zone with the use of bad language and more violence, which I wasn't always comfortable with.  Still, I do intend to read more in the series.

The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew #1) - 4
When Nancy meets several heirs who expected money from a man who recently died, she tries to track down a later will to help them out.  Does one even exist?  Can she find it?

It's funny reading this book knowing so much about the series.  Several supporting characters aren't here, and I missed them.  Still, Nancy is a strong main character (if a bit too perfect at times) who solves the mystery on her own.  A couple of slow spots are the only real flaw to the book that launched such a famous character.

Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness #8) - 5
Georgie is off to America with her mother, actress Claire Daniels.  But their Atlantic crossing is marred by a jewel thief and a possible murder that only Georgie witnesses.  And the danger follows them when they hit America and head to Hollywood of the 1930's.

Despite the number of miles the characters cover, the plot holds together well and we still get to see many of the series regulars, who were charming as always.  Being an entertainment junky, I enjoyed this fictional look at old Hollywood and seeing the real people who made cameos over the course of the book.  All told, another great read in a fun series.

Kneading to Die by Liz Mugavero (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #1) - 4
Stan has just moved to a small Connecticut town and is taking her cat to the only bet in town for the first time when she finds Carole's dead body on the floor.  The vet wasn't well loved, but with the police and local gossip focusing on her as the killer, she needs to act fast to find out who really killed the vet.

I certainly enjoyed this debut.  The pets were absolutely charming if not always well behaved.  Stan was a refreshing change of pace for a main character because she reacts more realistically to what is happening to her than many main characters do.  The plot could have been stronger, but overall it was still entertaining.

Alexander knows it's going to be a bad day when he wakes up with gum in his hair.  And he is proved right as nothing goes his way.  Maybe he should run away to Australia.

This picture book is fun even though it just shows one bad thing after another happening to Alexander, part bad luck and part his own fault.  His reactions and the wonderful illustrations bring the warmth and humor and remind us all that everyone has bad days.

Bloom and Doom by Beverly Allen (Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries #1) - 5
Audrey Bloom and her cousin Liz are co-owners of a flower shop that specializes in bridal bouquets.  Their latest client is Jenny, a childhood friend of Audrey's, who is marring the most eligible bachelor in the county.  However, the morning after Jenny breaks off her engagement to Derek, Derek is found dead in his car with Jenny as the only suspect.  Did she do it?

I loved the characters.  They were charming and engaging right from the start, and I couldn't wait to read more.  The plot did slow down a bit in the middle, but it picked up again for the ending.  Tidbits on the meaning of flowers and some humor just added to the fun.

Death Valley by Sandy Dengler (Jack Prester #1) - 5
Jack is working for a special part of the National Parks Service that goes to parks in need.  His first case takes him to Death Valley where an accountant brought in to find the funds has been murdered.  Jack's hardly arrived when his dog uncovers a second body.  Are the two murders connected?  Did the accountant's search for the missing funds lead to his death?  And will the Hells Angels reunion in the park lead to violence with the rangers?

I first read this book 20 years ago, and I was amazed at how well I remembered it when I sat down to read it again.  Even remembering who done it, I was pulled into the plot and couldn't put the book down.  The character growth is pretty impressive, and the writing is superb.  I'm glad I revisited the book and am looking forward to rereading the rest of the series.


  1. You had a great month! Happy September reading!

    1. I did. I'm sure I'll slow way down when the new TV season starts the beginning of the month, so we'll see how it goes.