Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Monthly Reading Summary for September 2015

Since this is the last day of September, seems like the perfect day a monthly reading summary, wouldn't you agree?  Good, because here it is.  As always, the Index has been updated as well and the links will take you to my full review.

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

Cinderella Six Feet Under by Maia Chance (Fairy Tale Fatal #2) – 4
Ophelia and Prue have traveled to Paris where they hope to reunite Prue with her mother.  Instead, they find that Prue’s mother is missing and there is a dead body in Prue’s step-family’s home – a body wearing a ball gown and only one slipper.  Then Gabriel shows up and insists that’s not the only tie in to Cinderella.

The combination of fairy tale with cozy mystery is successful once again.  There are a couple of plot points that seem a bit rough, but for the most part the story is a fun, fast paces romp.  I love the trio at the heart of the series, and the rest of the cast is just as sharp and fun.  I already can’t wait to see where they go next.

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

Trick or Deceit by Shelley Freydont (Celebration Bay #4) – 5
The first annual haunted house contest in Celebration Bay ends in tragedy when the winning house is vandalized and a dead body is found in with the fake body parts.  Is the jealous runner up to blame?  Who else might have wanted to kill the victim?

This is my fourth trip to Celebration Bay in the last year, and I’ve enjoyed each of them.  Once again, the book provides some unique clues and red herrings that I found lots of fun.  It was great to visit the core characters again, although I wish we would see a bit more character growth in a few of them.  The new characters are just as charming.  This is a great stop for your Halloween (or any time of the year) reading list.

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

That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Williems – 5
When a Fox invites a Chicken to join him for a walk in the forest, it is not a good idea.  And as things continue to unfold, the bad ideas continue to evolve.  But who are they bad ideas for?

This is another unique picture book from Mo Willems with pictures on some pages and dialogue on others, kind of like an old silent film.  Then there’s a Greek chorus of baby chicks constantly giving the warning in the title.  The end of the book contains a great laugh, making this book so much fun.

Red Velvet Revenge by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery #4) – 4
The summer heat is killing business for Fairy Tale Cupcakes, so when Mel and Angie get an offer to sell cupcakes at a rodeo in the mountains, it seems like a great idea.  However, when someone is shot at the opening parade, they begin to wonder what they’ve landed in the middle of this time.

I found the first quarter of this book very slow since it sets up several things that could have been handled in a few pages or a couple of chapters max.  Once the story does get started, it moves along at a great clip, however.  The characters, both old and new, are wonderful, and the climax actually made me tear up.

“B” is for Burglar by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #2) – 5
Kinsey is hired to track down a missing woman by the woman’s estranged sister.  It seems like a boring routine case at first, but the more she digs into it, the more Kinsey begins to question what is happening.  No one has seen the woman for months, and the normal avenues of inquiry just aren’t adding up.  What is going on?

I really got pulled into this book and great enjoyed it.  The plot is strong with plenty of clues and red herrings, but everything came together at the end.  The characters are sharp, often with just a few words or sentences.  It’s easy to see why this series has been so popular for so long.

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis – 4
Take a look at temptation from the other side as we see the letters that Screwtape, a senior demon, writes to his nephew and first time tempter Wormwood.  Wormwood’s assignment is a new Christian, and he tries to use family life, World War II, and even a new love to turn the Patient away from Jesus.  Will it work?

Keeping in mind that these are fictional letters, there is still much to chew on as we see how the enemy can twist anything and everything against us.  The subtly employed is incredible and rings true.  While some references can be dated (the book was published in 1941), Lewis’s view on how our society would progress is spot on scary.  About my only real issue is that he appears to be espousing the view that a Christian can lose their salvation, something I disagree with theologically.  Read it with discernment, but by all means read it.

Stone Cold Case by Catherine Dilts (Rock Shop Mysteries #2) – 4
In an effort to learn more about local rocks and minerals, Morgan has been taking a class from the local college.  While one a class field trip, she gets separated from everyone else and finds a mountain man guarding a skeleton.  The discovery reopens an unsolved disappearance in this small Colorado town.  But what happened all those years ago?

It had been a while since I read the first book in this series, but it didn’t take long before I was back on board with the characters again.  They are wonderful, and I enjoyed seeing the growth in them.  The book had too many sub-plots, which crowded out the mystery a little at the beginning, but as the book when on the mystery took over and came to a very strong climax that kept me turning the pages.

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

The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (Fox and O’Hare #4) – 4
The unlikely duo of criminal Nick Fox and FBI Agent Kate O’Hare are after a casino owner who is knowingly helping launder money that goes to terrorists.  But as their con is set in motion, things quickly spiral out of control.  Will they be able to turn their target into an FBI asset?

These books are always light, fun reads and this book is no exception.  The characters could have more depth, but they are developed enough to keep my interest, and the crew that Nick and Kate always pull together is half the fun.  The twists and plentiful and the ride is fun.  I’m very anxious to get my hands on the next in the series.

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

Move Your Blooming Corpse by D. E. Ireland (Eliza Doolitle and Henry Higgins #2) – 5
Eliza and Higgins have gone to Ascot to cheer on the race horse that Eliza’s father recently bought a share of.  However, a woman is murdered in the stable and a man runs onto the track in the middle of a race.  Higgins things he could have stopped the tragic events of the day, so he starts investigating.  But another murder makes Eliza wonder if things are really that simple.  What is going on?

Those who enjoyed seeing these beloved characters again will be delighted with their return.  The writing duo behind these books has done a wonderful job of making them their own and continuing to grow the characters.  The mystery is fantastic as well with everything falling perfectly into place during the suspenseful climax.

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

Snow Way Out by Christine Husom (Snow Globe Shop #1) – 3
Cami Brooks is enjoying running her family’s curio shop and reconnecting with her friends.  One night, after hosting a snow globe making class, she is walking how through the park when she finds a man asleep on the park bench.  Only, he’s not sleeping, as she discovers when he falls over, revealing the knife in his back.  The scene looks just like a strange snow globe she’d seen in her shop before she left, but when she goes back with the police, it’s gone.  What is happening?

The characters in this book were wonderful.  I could feel the basis for their friendships and the loving relationships with Cami’s family.  They could have used a bit more development, but I would have been willing to revisit them if the plot were better.  Sadly, the book is filled with events happening to Cami; she doesn’t do much to drive the plot at all.  Worse yet, the climax is weak and the explanation for some of the events is adequate at best.  And let’s not discuss a scene that would never happen involving Cami and the police.

The Buccaneers’ Code by Caroline Carlson (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #3) – 5
Hilary Westfield takes on Captain Blacktooth one last time, this time for leadership of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates.  However, there is much more at stake since the Mutineers are plotting once again to take over the kingdom, and this fight might be the only way to stop them.  But can Hilary rustle up any kind of pirate crew for the battle?

While I knew the broad outline of the story early on, I had a wonderful time getting to the end.  The characters are charming, and the plot moves quickly with a few surprises along the way.  I could hardly put the book down.  I also loved the humor of the book.  I’m sorry to see this series end, but I’m so glad I found it.

The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, retold in today’s English by Cheryl Ford – 4
Join Christian on his journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.  He’ll encounter many dangers and trials as he tries to stay on the straight and narrow path.  And then in the second half of the book, follow his wife Christiana’s journey.

I was obsessed with this story in other forms as a kid, and it was interesting to read the original many years later as an adult.  Christian’s journey is book, with many powerful lessons and morals that still apply today.  Even when the characters start to sermonize as they walk along, it is interesting.  The second half isn’t as engaging, however, and feels like it suffers the fate of the sequel.  There are still some good moments here, but overall the first part is better.  Bunyan never tries to hide his allegory.  This translation into modern English is very readable while still maintaining the voice of an author from the 1600’s.

10 comments:

  1. WOW, you did well in September, Mark! Well done!
    I started out the month not really wanting to read at all, but I did pick up more books in the past week.
    I hope October will be a great month as well. Happy reading :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. I am blazing through books these days. I love it! Hope your reading mojo continues to grow in October.

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  2. A couple of those I'd like to read. A good variety there though.
    Happy October!

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    1. Yes, I had more variety than normal this month, but I enjoyed that.

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  3. You had a great month, Scam sounds fun. Oh my - Pilgrim's Progress. My Dad gave that to me to read when I was young but do you know it just didn't do it for me! I might appreciate it more now!

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    1. I had read a version of Pilgrim's Progress that was rewritten for kids when I was younger. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the real thing until now.

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  4. Wow! It looks like you had a fabulous month! Enjoy October!

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  5. Congrats on such a great reading month. I hope October is good to you as well.

    Melissa Lee
    http://mlsmanyreads.blogspot.ca/

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    1. Thanks. October is off to such a great start as well.

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