Sunday, November 2, 2014

October 2014 Monthly Reading Summary

Another month has come and gone.  Normally, I'd say here are the books I read this month, however, I kept a couple of reviews to post this month.  So in this case, here are the books I reviewed this month.

The links still will take you to my full review, and the index has been updated with all the reviews I posted this month.

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

The Mystery of the Headless Horseman by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #26) – 5
When Di’s butler goes missing, all the Bob-Whites try to find him.  Only when he does turn up, his explanations don’t make any sense.  What is he hiding?  Does it have anything to do with a missing Ming vase?  And what about the apparition that Trixie and Honey spot?

This is definitely a fun entry in the series with a plot that holds up to rereading as an adult and characters who are mostly in character.  Di isn’t for much of the book, but it is explained as part of the plot.  Not explained is why the villain was dressing up as the Headless Horseman, although you can infer it from the book.  Oh, and the subplot with Mart trying to train Reddy is a complete delight.

The Mystery of the Ghostly Galleon by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #27) – 4
The Bob-Whites go with Miss Trask to visit her brother only to learn a legend of a vanishing pirate and that the family inn has become the victim of some vicious sabotage.  Can Trixie figure out what is happening?

Another fun book in the series.  Trixie and Mart’s fighting is worse than normal, and that does bother me.  However, all seven of the Bob-Whites get to go, and the mystery is decent with some fun twists and clues along the way.  A definitely must read for fans of the series.

Stalking the Angel by Robert Crais (Cole and Pike #2) – 3
PI Elvis Cole is hired to find an ancient Japanese manuscript.  The trail leads him to the Japanese mafia and down a path of other crimes, including brutal murder.

Part of my reaction to this book was purely personal – it is darker than I normally read.  Still, the bleakness did bother me.  Even so, I found the plot uneven, especially when it slowed way down two thirds of the way through for a segment that felt like a lecture.  The characters became more real as the book went along, but they started out as stiff types as well.  Maybe I’m just expecting too much since I know how popular the series is, but I feel like, my complaints about the darkness of the book aside, it still could have been better.

Raging Heat by Richard Castle (Nikki Heat #6) – 5
With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on NYC, Nikki is racing to solve the murder of a man who fell from a plane.  Are the clues leading to a powerful politician?  Or is she ignoring the true trail and the clues that her boyfriend Rook is finding?

While there are scenes and lines that fans of Castle will love, this book works well as a mystery on its own.  And the arrival of Sandy, while predictably timed, does add a great new layer to the story.  Some interesting character development and this book is another winner is one of the most brilliant tie in series of all time.

Chesapeake Crimes:Homicidal Holidays edited by Donna Andrews, Barb Goffman, and Marcia Tally – 4
This collection of short stories focuses on various holidays.  Yes, the majority are Halloween and Christmas, but you also get a few fun days like Groundhog Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day.

There were several stories about a woman getting revenge on a man, and those really bothered me since that kind of justice doesn’t appeal to me.  However, the majority of the stories were fun with decent characters and good plots.  The variety in stories and holidays makes this a book worth checking out.

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

Speaking of Murder by Tace Baker (Lauren Rousseau #1) – 4
Lauren is upset when one of her students is murdered.  But that’s just the start of strange happenings in her community.  What has happened to her formerly safe town?

The book started a little slowly, but once it got rolling, it was a great read.  The characters were good, and the story was very intriguing with many different plot threads.  Yet everything came together for a great climax.

NOTE: Tace Baker is actually the pen name of Edith Maxwell and no relation to me.

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs (Moon Base Alpha #1) – 5
Dashiell Gibson is one of the first people living on the Moon colony, and he’s found life for the kids to be rather boring.  All that changes when one of the residents is found dead outside the base.  While everyone thinks it was an accident, Dash is certain it was murder.  But can he prove it?

This is a great combination of mystery and science fiction.  The setting is realistically done and really adds to the story.  The target middle grade audience will love the characters and the humor.  Personally, I never saw the ending coming.  I can’t wait for the sequel.


The Legend of Sleepy Harlow by Kylie Logan (League of Literary Ladies #3) – 4
A group of ghost hunters have returned to the island to search for the ghost of a Prohibition era rum runner.  However, when their leader gets murdered, Bea must figure out which of her guests might be a killer in order to clear her friend Kate of the crime.

The story is fun, and the way it wove a mystery from the past into what was happening now was great.  The characters are strong, as I expected from the first two books.  The humor I’ve enjoyed was still there as well. Unfortunately, the book had some serious editing flaws, including multiple characters getting the location where the body was found wrong.  None of these impacted the final outcome, but it did detract from my enjoyment.

Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber (Cookbook Nook #3) – 4
A local group who have dubbed themselves the Winsome Witches use October to raise funds for literacy.  However, this year their leader is murdered.  With Jenna’s Aunt Vera a member of the group, Jenna starts poking around to find the killer.

I truly do enjoy these characters, and so I was delighted to spend time with them again.  The plot does drag in the middle a bit, but the clues all come together for a great climax.  There was also more about Aunt Vera’s supposed psychic abilities than normal, an emphasis I didn’t like.  Overall, however, I found this a fun Halloween cozy.

A Biscuit, a Casket by Liz Mugavero (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #2) – 5
Stan is hired to cater a birthday party for a dog at a neighboring farm.  However before the party can even get started, the owner is found dead.  Did one of Hal’s business dealings turn deadly?

While I enjoyed the first book in the series, this one was even stronger.  The characters are growing in an engaging way, and I liked spending time around them.  The pacing of the plot was better than the first, and I was surprised by several twists before we reached the climax.  There were several engaging sub-plots as well, and some plot threads from the first book were picked up and resolved here as well.

The Hudson River Mystery by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #28) – 2
Trixie thinks she sees a shark in the Hudson, and her brother Brian is losing health and focus.

And the fact that I can summarize the plot in one complex sentence like that tells you about all you need to know on this one.  The characters are out of character (all of them, not just Brian), with Trixie being at her worst.  And the two plots?  Neither carries the book and both are rather disappointing.  There are a few fun character moments, but that’s about it.

8 comments:

  1. Great month in books! Happy November reading!

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  2. Wow, I really do not remember those two books! Will have to re-read. I think I have them all in the attic still.

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  3. lots of interesting mysteries in here! my recap is here: http://wordsandpeace.com/2014/11/03/2014-october-wrap-up/, no mystery though this time!

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    1. No mysteries? I don't know if I know what month with absolutely no mysteries is any more. Not that I'm complaining too much.

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  4. Very good month for you.

    Going to check out a few of these.

    THANKS for sharing.

    Elizabeth

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    1. Thanks. I hope you find something you enjoy from the list.

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