Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Monthly Reading Summary - August 2015

Hard to believe we are back for another monthly reading summary, but if you look at the list of books, it must be about time.  (Although I still can't believe how many books I'm reading a month right now.)

As always, the index has been updated for all August reviews and links below will take you to my full review.

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

Fudging the Books by Daryl Wood Gerber (Cookbook Nook #4) – 5
The Cookbook Nook is celebrating National Chocolate Month while the town of Crystal Cove is celebrating pirates.  However, missing doubloons that are to be a prize at the end of the week put a damper on the festivities.  That’s nothing compared to what happens when the owner of a cookbook publishing company is murdered.  The victim had lived in Crystal Cove and published several residents.  But when Jenna’s friend becomes the police’s chief suspect, Jenna begins trying to find someone else who had motive for murder.

This is a strong book in the series.  The plot is constantly unraveling pieces as the suspects lie and point fingers at each other.  I had no clue where it was all leading until the end.  Meanwhile, the characters are continuing to grow and show us new sides, which I love.

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

Crushed Velvet by Diane Vallere (Material Witness Mysteries #2) – 5
Polyester Monroe is just a week away from reopening the fabric shop she inherited from her great uncle.  She’s ordered a special blend of velvet and hired her friend Genevieve’s husband, Phil, to pick it up for her.  But when the velvet arrives, it’s not Phil behind the wheel.  In fact, he’s dead under the velvet.  Worse yet, Genevieve thinks she had something to do with his death.  Now Poly will have to add solving a murder to her last minute to do list.

I enjoyed the first in the series, and I enjoyed this one just as much.  The characters are unique, strong, and real, and I loved getting to revisit them.  The plot has plenty of twists and turns before we reached a logical conclusion.  I’m already looking forward to visiting them again.

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

It’s a Magical World by Bill Watterson – 5
The final collection of Calvin and Hobbes send our heroes off in style.  Even 20 years later, the jokes are still fun and funny.

Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness #9) – 4
There is going to be a royal wedding, and the Queen has asked Georgie to help the bride-to-be acclimate to her new home in England.  However, when Georgie discovers a body just outside the palace, she has to work to uncover the killer while everyone keeps the murder a secret to avoid a royal scandal.

It’s always a treat to revisit Georgie, and this book is no exception.  We are transported back to 1934 London and given a bit of history as the fictional plot is based on some real people and events.  The characters are a delight as always, and the story comes to a logical ending.  Unfortunately, one aspect of that ending was a bit weak, and a recycled sub-plot involving Georgie’s love life kept the book from being the author’s best work.

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

Shunned and Dangerous by Laura Bradford (Amish Mysteries #3) – 4
While exploring a corn maze, Claire Weatherly stumbles upon the body of Harley Zook.  This Amish man was very kind; in fact, he was one of the few who has stood up for detective Jakob Fisher after Jakob left the Amish community to become a detective, which lead to Jakob being shunned.  With the evidence pointing to Jakob’s father, Claire will have to once again act as an intermediary to find the killer.

As I’ve come to expect with this series, the characters are strong and so compelling that they really pull you into the story.  The plot is good with some nice twists before the end.  I am growing a little tired of Claire and how upset she is by how Jakob is treating.  While I agree with her that it isn’t right, it is who they are, and getting mad and raising her voice to people isn’t going to change anything.  Still, I am enjoying this series.

The Syndrome by Ridley Pearson (Kingdom Keepers #8) – 4
When Amanda can’t reach any of the Kingdom Keepers for a few days, she travels from California to Florida to try to find them – only when she arrives, she discovers it is worse than she feared.  Meanwhile, Jess is having visions again that show Amanda might be in danger.  What is going on?

How could this DisNerd not love this series, and the transition book to a new story is filled once again with twists, danger, and lots of fun.  The scenes in the parks are exceptionally well done as always, plus I felt that we really got to know Amanda and Jess in this book.  The first person narration does alternate between several people, and it works well, although at times I feel like it needlessly repeats scenes.  My biggest complaint is sloppy editing, however.

Death by Tiara by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen #13) – 5
Jaine takes on the job of writing the song lyrics for a beauty pageant contestant and finds herself in the high passion world of local beauty contests.  Things are so heated that it’s hardly a surprise when a dead body turns up.  But with her client at the top of the suspect list, Jaine will have to act fast to find the killer.

As always this book is a pure delight.  The many sub-plots keep things moving right along, and the mystery is wrapped up in a logical fashion.  The characters are a little out there, but that is definitely part of the fun of the series.  They contribute to the laughs, which are plentiful.  This is definitely light reading but lots of fun.

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie - 5
When Poirot is called back to England, he must forgo a planned layover in Istanbul and find a berth on a surprisingly crowded train.  A freak snow storm strands the train on the tracks, and that night a murder takes place.  The victim had come to Poirot because he feared that his life was in danger.  With the train stuck, the killer is still on board.  But who could it be?

I had not read this book before, but I still knew the ending.  Even knowing that, I was enthralled watching how it all played out.  There is a reason that Agatha Christie is considered the queen of plots to this day.  I also found the characters strong enough that I could keep them all straight, and there are plenty of suspects.

It’s nature day at show and tell, and Magnolia has come up with the perfect thing to bring – an alligator.  However, when he misbehaves and gets her into trouble, she begins to wonder if it will be worth it in the end.

This is a delightful picture books filled with fun and laughs.  Some of those laughs are in the pictures themselves, so be sure to look closely at them.  While the book has a main character, the narration is second person, which you don’t see too often but seems to work here.  I certainly enjoyed this debut by a new author and am looking forward to seeing what she does next.

Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #19) – 5
The town of Caerphilly is hosting the first annual Halloween festival, and Meg is hoping she can take it easy since she is only in charge of the Goblin Patrol, the extra volunteer security force.  However, a break in at the haunted house, a foot in the alligators, and a dead body complicate matters.

I love this series, and this book is another fun addition.  When I realized it was set at Halloween, I almost set it aside until October, but I just couldn’t wait.  The characters are strong and charming as always, and the various aspects of the plot keep things moving forward quickly.  I was disappointed that one character introduced a couple books back is once again absent, but that is my only complaint in another fantastic read.

Commander Toad in Space by Jane Yolen - 5
Commander Toad and the crew of the Star Warts are ready to explore a new planet made entirely of water.  After landing on their inflatable lily pad, they discover they are not alone.  Is this planet friendly?

This is a fun adventure that introduces us to Toad and his crew.  The story is fasted pace, the easy reader vocabulary is perfect, and the pictures are fun.  There are some nice puns, and adults will get a kick out of the science fiction spoofs.

The Mystery at Maypenny’s by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #31) – 3
When International Pine wants to expand their furniture factory in Sleepyside, the town and the Bob-Whites become divided.  But it’s Mr. Maypenny who may be effected the most.  What is happening on his property?

Sadly, this is a weak entry in the series.  The mystery is shoehorned in with Trixie getting most of her answers in a few data dumps late in the book.  The factory plot takes center stage most of the time and gives a good view of the pro-jobs side of things but leaves the environmental side of things weak.  On the other hand, the characters are strong and we get to see more of Dan than normal.


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