Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Monthly Reading Summary - July 2015

Wow, I'd say it's hard to believe it's August already, but if you look at the number of books I read in July, maybe it is possible to believe it.  Of course, it helped there at the end what I got two picture books and an audio book finished.

Anyway, here's the list, and my index has been updated with all the reviews I've posted for the last two months, ending with July 31st.

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

Independence Slay by Shelley Freydont (Celebration Bay #3) – 5
The town of Celebration Bay puts on a spectacular Independence Day event with a reenactment of a Revolutionary War battle.  Okay, so the battle never took place, but it’s still a fun event that locals and tourists alike love.  However, this year, a murder takes place at the event, and the town’s event coordinator has to determine who killed the victim and even if the victim was the intended target before the town completely turns on the charming teen who appears to be the only suspect.

I love this small town and how the books always put me in the mood for the holiday that is being celebrated.  The supporting players from previous books aren’t a strong presence here, but the new characters definitely make up for that fact.  I do wish one series regular would grow a bit more.  The plot is strong with plenty of surprises and twists along the way.

Peaches and Scream by Susan Furlong (Georgia Peach Mysteries #1) – 5
Nola Mae Harper is returning to her home town of Cays Mill, Georgia, and her family’s peach farm to help run it while her parents take a three week cruise.  However, she’s hardly arrived when she finds the body of the owner of the local lumber mill in the peach orchard.  Worse yet, her brother-in-law is arrest for the crime.  She and her siblings quickly close ranks and try to clear his name.  But can they do it?

This may be a debut, but the town and the residents came to life for me right away.  Nola and her family are wonderfully strong characters I can’t wait to visit again.  Plus I loved their family bond.  The plot was great with a steady pace an ending that surprised me.  Truly, a sweet debut.

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

Fatal Reservations by Lucy Burdette (Key West Food Critic Mysteries #6) – 5
Tensions are building all over Key West with restaurant wars and a string of burglaries.  However, it’s the fight over the Sunset Celebration lease that erupts in murder when Bart Frontgate is found dead.  The police are looking at Hayley Snow’s friend Lorenzo, a man she knows couldn’t have committed the crime.  But Lorenzo is hiding something.  Can Hayley clear him, or will his secret convict him for murder?

I have completely fallen in love with Key West thanks to these books, and it was wonderful to visit again.  The characters are strong, with Hayley showing some growth and Miss Gloria as delightful as ever.  The plot is strong, combining several storylines into a cohesive and entertaining whole, although I do wish we didn’t have the constant Hayley is afraid for her job sub-plot.

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

Murder on the Bucket List by Elizabeth Perona (Bucket List Mysteries #1) – 5
Francine and her friends are working hard at crossing off the items on their bucket lists.  Last one night while meeting at Alice’s pool to go skinny dipping, they find a dead body instead.  Charlene is thrilled since solving a murder is the top item on her list.  But can the friends do it?

I picked up this book because the characters, all in their 70’s, sounded like fun.  Boy was I right!  They are a hoot, and I was smiling as I enjoyed the entire story.  The number of characters is a little overwhelming at first, but I was quickly able to sort them all out.  The plot is strong with some nice revelations and twists before the end.  I can’t wait to meet this feisty group of ladies again.

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

Time’s Up by Janey Mack (Maisie McGrane Mysteries #1) – 3
Maisie is set to follow in the footsteps of some of her older brothers and her father and become a cop.  That is until she fails the psych evaluation.  So she decides to prove she can handle being hated by becoming a meter maid.  But can she really handle the job?

This was a mixed bag.  First of all, it is not a mystery.  The dead body and who killed him is a poorly handled sub-plot at best.  However, the coming of age aspect I did enjoy at times.  At other times, it was slow.  Likewise, some of the characters never rose above cliché while others were lots of fun.  There’s potential for some good stories here, but this book isn’t at that level yet.

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

Mrs. Pollifax Pursued by Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax #11) – 5
The last thing Mrs. Pollifax expected to find that day was a young woman hiding in her closet.  Kadi is afraid of the men who have been driving by in a van for the last couple of days, and Mrs. Pollifax’s efforts to sneak her out of the house end with both of them on the run.  A call to Carstairs at the CIA leads them to an unusual safe house and another mystery.  Are the two related?

This is a bit of an unusual entry in the series since it takes place mostly in the US and Carstairs plays a much more active part in the story.  However, I like it for that change of pace.  The plot relies a bit more on coincidence than is normal for the series (which is saying something), but all the various threads do wind up playing a part in the end.  Overall, another great entry in the series.

The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy (Hero’s Guide #2) – 5
When Briar Rose kidnaps Prince Liam to force their marriage, the League of Princes ride to his rescue.  However, things go horribly wrong, and they find themselves on a new mission – this time for the very spoiled Briar Rose herself.  But what is this princess really after?

I shouldn’t have waited so long before reading this sequel.  It’s as delightful as the first one.  I laughed the entire way through while enjoying how the characters continue to grow and evolve.  The plot takes some nice twists along the way to a satisfying conclusion.  This book also sets up some interesting possibilities for the climax of the series, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

A First Date with Death by Diana Orgain (Love or Money Mysteries #1) – 4
Georgia Thornton has hit a new low – contestant on a reality dating show.  Her job is to figure out which of her bachelors are in it for love and which just want the prize money.  However, the show’s first group date ends in a tragic accident.  When another contestant dies, Georgia begins to question what she has signed up for.  Meanwhile, her ex-fiancee has appeared on the show.  Is he investigating?  What is really happening on the show?  Will Georgia figure it out and pick the right bachelor?

This book definitely plays up the reality show aspect of things, with that part of the plot often overriding the mystery.  Only a few of the characters get much development as well.  And yet, I really did enjoy the book.  I always had a hard time putting it down, and the pages flew by all too quickly.  I’ll definitely be back for the sequel.

The Chocolate Clown Corpse by JoAnna Carl (Chocoholic Mysteries #14) – 4
Clowns are the theme for the annual winter carnival in Warner Pier, which is ironic since the man who ran the clown themed store in town was murdered about a month before it starts.  Since that store was next door to TenHuis Chocolade, Lee Woodyard is hoping to buy it to expand the business.  That’s how she meets the family and gets further involved when evidence begins appearing suggestion the homeless man who has been arrest for the murder might be innocent.  But if he is innocent, who actually did it?

The book started out a little slowly, but once it gained speed, I found it hard to put it down, as always.  I did spot the ending a little early, but I was having so much fun I didn’t mind.  Lee, her husband Joe, and the new characters are great, but I do wish we could see more of the supporting cast – another common complaint when it comes to this series.  Still, fans of Lee’s will gobble this book down like always.

Commander Toad and his crew aboard the Star Warts have found a new planet to explore.  But when Lieutenant Lily starts sneezing and the Commander Toad gets swallow in a giant red bump, they may be facing more than they bargained for.

I recently remembered this series from when I was younger, and it seems like it’s not as popular as it once was.  That’s a shame.  While the story and characters are a bit simple, they are fun.  Once we get the introductions out of the way, the story is interesting, and will definitely connect with young readers.  Adults will love the spoofs on Star Wars and Star Trek and everyone will groan at the grape puns.

Killer Jam by Karen MacInerney (Dewberry Farm Mysteries #1) – 4
Investigative reporter Lucy Resnick has bought the farm – that is her grandparent’s farm outside the small town of Buttercup, Texas.  However, just days after learning that the previous owner, Nettie Kocurek, retained the mineral rights in the sale and intends to drill for oil, Nettie is stabbed.  With the police focusing on the outsider – Lucy – she has to act find to find the real killer.

This is a fun series debut filled with great characters and a fun small town that I really grew to love.  The plot did blog down a little in the second quarter, but it soon started back up with plenty of twists and surprises to keep me confused until the end.

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

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley (Flavia DeLuce #2) – 3
11-year-old Flavia DeLuce finds herself involved in a second mystery when a traveling puppet show comes to town.  She is asked to help them set up and settle in to their temporary home, but when murder makes an appearance, she begins to dig deeper to find the killer.

The murder doesn’t happen until almost the half way point, but the story doesn’t have the tension to keep our interest until then.  Yes, what we learn comes into play later, but it could have been introduced later when we’d actually care and it would mean something to us.  The characters continue to shine, however.  The second half of the novel was wonderful.  If the entire thing lived up to that level, it would be a wonderful book.

What Pet Should I Get? By Dr. Seuss – 3
When a brother and a sister arrive in a pet shop to pick out a new pet, they are faced with so many wonderful choices.  Will they pick a dog, a cat…or something more exotic?

You can tell that Dr. Seuss didn’t think this was his best work and that’s why he gave up on it.  The rhymes are almost there, but they aren’t as good as some of his books.  Same with the rhythm of the lines.  By the time we get to some of Seuss’s trademark imaginary creatures (and there are only two of them), they feel forced into the book.  Never mind the fact that we never answer the title question.  Fortunately, the illustrations live up to the Seuss name.  It’s not a bad book, but it’s not one to rush out and buy, either, which is what I suspected before picking it up.

4 comments:

  1. You had a fantastic month for books! Happy August reading!

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    1. I keep thinking I'll have a slow month, but so far it's not happening.

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  2. I've read some of the same books and enjoyed them as well.

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    Replies
    1. We do have very similar reading tastes.

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