Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Monthly Reading Summary June 2015

Welcome to my monthly reading summary for June.  Since I am in Atlanta right now on business, I haven't had a chance to update the Index this month.  But here is what I read.

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

Death of a Chocolate Cheater by Penny Pike (Food Festival Mysteries #2) – 5
Darcy’s Aunt Abby has developed a recipe sure to be a hit at San Francisco’s upcoming chocolate festival.  However, when one of the judges is murdered and Abby’s friend is accused of the rime, Darcy must figure out who really committed the chocolate crime.

I loved the first in this series, and this one didn’t disappoint either.  It was a little slow to get going, but once it did, the pace never slowed down.  The characters are a blast, and I loved getting to visit them again here.  And all that chocolate left me drooling.  A fantastically fun read.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

“A” is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #1) – 4
Laurence Fife was a cheating divorce lawyer, so no one was too upset when he was murdered.  Still, his wife Nikki hires PI Kinsey Millhone to find out who did it.  The catch?  Nikki is out of jail on parole after being convicted of committing the crime herself.  With the case closed and cold, can Kinsey find any fresh leads?

I’ve long heard of the series and wanted to start it, and I’m glad I finally did.  While the book does fall victim to a few clichés of the genre, it’s still a very enjoyable book.  The plot is strong and the characters real, both of which kept me engrossed.  I’m looking forward to more of the series.

Truffled to Death by Kathy Aarons (Chocolate Covered Mysteries #2) – 5
Michelle are Erica are pleased when their combined chocolate and bookstore is chosen to host a reception to honor a donation of ancient Maya artifacts to a local museum.  However, the day after the reception, the artifacts are missing, and a day later someone is murdered.  Can the friends figure out what is going on?

I enjoyed the first book, but I liked this one even more.  The characters are strong, and I loved seeing how the returning characters developed further over the course of the book.  The plots was strong, and because of the subject matter included more than the typical cozy plot, which I also enjoyed.  I’m already looking forward to book three.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems – 4
Gerald wants to take a nap, and Piggie thinks that sounds like a good idea.  But will she keep Gerald from getting his nap?

The pictures and dialogue are fun as always, but I don’t think this book has quite the spark of some of the others in the series.  Honestly, that’s a minor issue, however, and fans of these fun picture books will still enjoy it.

Farmed and Dangerous by Edith Maxwell (Local Foods Mysteries #3) – 5
Winter has settle on Massachusetts, but farmer Cam Flaherty is still very busy.  She’s growing food in her hoop house and hoping to land a contract to provide produce during the summer at the local assisted living facility.  However, the night that her food is served, one of the residents dies from poison.  With local gossip and the police looking at her, Cam must dive in to the mystery to clear her reputation.

The book did start a little slowly, but once the murder takes place, things pick up.  I was turning pages as quickly as I could until I reached the satisfying ending.  It was great to spend time with these characters again, and the suspects were equally engaging.  Be sure to read through the recipes, too, since there is a joke in one of them.

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

The Mystery of the Midnight Marauder by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #30) – 5
A missing family pet, Trixie’s brother Mart acting weird, and vandalism at school start of this mystery.  When the police start to suspect Mart of the crime, Trixie has to work fast to prove his innocence.

For a later book in the series, this is definitely a strong one.  The characters are all present and at their very best.  We get a few laughs along the way as well.  The plot is a tad obvious, but it’s still fun.  My biggest complaint is that Sergeant Molinson would actually consider Mart a suspect.  I’ve never bought that.

Snow White Red-Handed by Maia Chance (Fairy Tale Fatal #1) – 5
Prue and Ophelia take on jobs as maids to the Coops, Americans who are traveling to their castle in Germany’s black forest.  Almost as soon as they’ve arrived, a cottage is discovered on the property that looks like a dwarf cottage, and fairytale experts are brought in.  The next day, Mr. Coop is poisoned with an apple.  What have Prue and Ophelia gotten themselves into?

I love fairytales and fairytale reimaginings, so I had to give this cozy mystery series a try.  It was so much fun.  The story was fast paced, and the fairytale aspect provided a nice twist to the cozy formula.  The characters were sharp as well, and the author made perfect use of a multiple viewpoint story.  Can’t wait for the sequel.

Lullaby Town by Robert Crais (Cole/Pike #3) – 4
Elvis Cole is hired by a big Hollywood director to find his ex-wife and their son.  After a decade of no contact, Elvis takes a little time to pick up the trail, but once he does, the shock at the end might have him in over his head.

The book started out great, but about a third of the way into it, the twist kicked things into high gear.  The new characters are great and really show a lot of growth here, which made me love them more.  Pike, Cole’s partner in the PI business, is still more caricature than character and the foul language could easily be cut in half and still make the point, but overall, I did enjoy this book.

A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman – 5
One day while at the laundromat, teddy bear Corduroy decides he needs a pocket.  His search for one introduces him to some strange new things.  Can he find a pocket?  Will Lisa be able to find him?

Even as a kid, I liked this book more than Corduroy’s first adventure.  I think it’s because of the creativity.  We know what Corduroy finds along his way, but his explanations for them are creative, logical, and fun.  The illustrations capture the story perfectly, and will please kids and parents alike.  This is one all ages can enjoy.

Bless Her Dead Little Heart by Miranda James (Southern Ladies Mysteries #1) – 4
Sisters An’gel and Dickce Ducote are surprised when their college friend Rosabelle shows up unannounced on their doorstep and states that one of her family members is trying to kill her.  But not too long after her family shows up to find Rosabelle, someone dies, and the evidence points to murder.  Which of their house full of guests is a killer?

This is a spin off series from the author’s popular Cat in the Stacks Mysteries, but the fact that I’ve only read the first one of those didn’t hamper my enjoyment here at all.  Instead, I was introduced to some wonderful characters, series and suspect, I am looking forward to getting to know in future books.  The plot moved along great with lots of clues and conflict.  Unfortunately, the ending was weaker than it should have been.

The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis (Domestic Diva Mysteries #1) – 4
Sophie Winston is hosting Thanksgiving for her family and facing off against her high school rival, domestic diva Natasha Smith, in a stuffing contest.  The last thing she needs is to find a dead body while out grocery shopping.  Worse yet, the police think she is a suspect when they find her picture in the dead man’s car.  What is happening?

I’ve heard lots of good about this series, and it is obviously well deserved.  The large cast of characters are so well developed I never had a hard time keeping them straight.  The plot starts out strongly, but it does get bogged down in the middle before reaching a wonderful climax.  I’m certainly curious to see where Sophie goes from here.

The Longest Yard Sale by Sherry Harris (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries #2) – 5
Sarah has been working hard to set up the largest community yard sale in New England.  When the day arrives, some fires outside of town are the only thing that goes wrong – or so she thinks.  After the day is over, she learns her friend Carol was robbed of a painting she was doing on commission.  The next morning, Carol finds a dead stranger in her shop.  What is happening?

This is a very fun mystery filled with great characters.  Seriously, I love spending time with them.  The plot includes a few intriguing sub-plots that all tie together in some way at the end of the book.  The result kept me turning pages.  One word of warning, one part of the first book is spoiled here, but there is no way to continue Sarah’s personal life without doing so.

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

4 comments:

  1. Sounds like some good reads for June. Fairytale retellings are always interesting. Just reading one myself at the moment.

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    1. Fairytale retellings can be so creative and fun, can't they?

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