Monday, November 2, 2015

Monthly Reading Summary - October 2015

We've reached the beginning of November, so it must be time to post a monthly reading review for October.  All links take you to the full review.

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

Dead with the Wind by Miranda James (Southern Ladies Mysteries #2) – 5
Elderly sisters An’gel and Dickce Ducote travel to Louisiana for their cousin’s granddaughter’s wedding.  But what promises to be a fun time catching up with family turns into tragedy when the tension between the various members of the cousin’s family builds to the breaking point.  Then a storm comes in and leaves someone dead.  But An’gel and Dickce don’t think the death was because of the storm.  Can they figure out what is happening?

This book is a wonderful read.  The tension is strong from start to finish, and I wasn’t sure what has really happening until the end.  The characters are strong as well, and I love spending time with the series regulars.  If Agatha Christie were writing books set in the modern day South, this is what she would write.

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

The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy (Hero’s Guide #3) – 5
Tragedy has struck in the Thirteen Kindgoms.  The beloved (by those who have never had the displeasure of meeting her) princess Briar Rose has been murdered, and the League of Princes and their loyal friends (like Snow White, Ella, and Rapunzel) are the prime suspects.  While the group goes on the run to clear their names, they learn of a broader conspiracy that could destroy all the land.  Can they stop it without being caught and executed for a crime they didn’t commit?

This is the final book in a wonderful trilogy, and it was filled with the laughs and danger we’ve come to expect.  I laughed often, and grinned much more often.  The plot moved quickly, making the pages just fly by, and I loved how not only this book but the series was wrapped up.  I expected how many of the character arcs would end, but I had a blast getting there anyway.

Just Killing Time by Julianne Holmes (Clock Shop Mysteries #1) – 4
Ruth Clagan is devastated to learn that her grandfather has passed away.  While they had been estranged recently, she had hoped to reconnect with the man who had been very important to her earlier in her life.  Since she has inherited the family clock shop, she returns to Orchard, Massachusetts, to figure out what to do with the business.  As she reconnects with old friends and makes new ones, she begins to question what happened to her grandfather.  Was his death related to the recent burglary in the shop?  Or maybe his work in town?  Or is something else happening?

I loved Ruth from page one, and that didn’t diminish as the book progressed.  Her friends are just as strong and likeable, and her connection to her grandfather adds a nice layer to the book.  The mystery was a little weak, and Ruth reconnecting with this part of her life was interesting and kept the pages flying.  I enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

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

Floral Depravity by Beverly Allen (Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries #3) – 5
When Audrey Bloom is asked to provide the flowers for a medieval wedding, she embraces the challenge of finding meaningful flowers that are also historically accurate.  But when the father of the groom dies right after the ceremony, Audrey finds herself facing another challenge – tracking down the killer.

I loved the first two in the series, and this one is no exception.  The story is fast paced.  I had an inkling where things were going, but I wasn’t completely sure until we reached the end.  The characters are wonderful, although I do wish we’d seen more of a few of the supporting players.  The medieval setting provided some great humor along the way as well.  The pages flew by all too quickly as they always do.

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

The Mystery of the Whispering Witch by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #32) – 2
Trixie’s friend Fay Franklin arrives in the middle of the night with a request for help.  She and her mother live in the old haunted Lisgard Mansion, and her mother has broken her hip.  When Trixie and Honey agree to spend the night with Fay, they discover just how haunted the mansion is.  But that’s nothing compared to Fay’s confession the next day.  What is going on?

What is going on is a book that is too dark for the tone of the series.  While I normally enjoy a book haunted house story, this one just doesn’t work for me.  Many fans don’t enjoy this one, although some count it as a favorite for that very reason.  The mystery itself is decent and the characters are enjoyable, but this continues to be one I hardly ever reread.

Gretel and the Case of the Missing Frog Prints by P. J. Brackston (Brothers Grimm Mysteries #1) – 3
A now adult Gretel of Hansel and Gretel fame is now working as a detective.  Her latest case takes her to Nuremberg when she is hired to find two paints for Albrecht Durer the Much, Much Younger.  These paintings of frogs, done by his ancestor Albrecht Durer the Younger, have much sentimental value.  Can she crack the case?

The mystery started out slowly, and there were some things thrown in that never really added to the plot or sub-plots.  Things did come to a logical and mostly satisfying conclusion, leaving one thing open.  The characters are okay, although I had a hard time really getting to like very many of them.  Do note that is mystery is aimed at adults, not the middle grade audience the title and cover might suggest.

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

Pane and Suffering by Cheryl Hollon (Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries #1) – 4
Savannah Webb has returned home for her father’s funeral and to sell the family glass shop to longtime family friend Hugh.  But then Hugh dies from a heart attack.  Since that was her father’s cause of death, Savannah begins to question the coincidence.  A cryptic clue and a warning note from her father lead her to further suspect that there is a killer on the loose.  But can she figure out what is happening?

I liked stained glass, so I was glad to discover this promising series debut.  Savannah and her new friends grew on my as the book progressed, and I’m interested in seeing how they grow in the future.  The pacing of the plot could have been a little better since I did feel some of the stained glass class scenes slowed it down, but it did come together for a logical and fun climax.

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

The Black Ice by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #2) – 4
When narcotics officer Cal Moore is found dead in a motel room on Christmas night, it looks like a suicide.  After all, the cop had been missing for a week already.  However, a few things make LAPD detective Harry Bosch think that there might be more to the case, especially when he sees it tying into a couple of unsolved murders he is trying to clear.  Can he get to the bottom of it while fighting higher ups who just want it to go away?

I intended to get back to Harry sooner than this, but I’m glad I made it back.  The book does drag a little at times and have a few obvious plot points, but there are also some remarkable twists that surprised me along the way.  Harry is a great character, and I really do like him.  The rest of the cast was interesting as well.

The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew #2) – 4
Nancy’s friend Helen asks for Nancy’s help is discovering why her family’s mansion is suddenly haunted.  Meanwhile, Nancy’s father Carson is working on a case that leaves him in danger.  Can Nancy solve both cases?

I remember enjoying this one as a kid, and I enjoyed it just as much now.  The plot is good with enough twists to keep me entertained, although the climax was a bit easy.  Likewise, the characters are a tad flat, but not too bad.  It’s easy to bit on the flaws, but this book shows why Nancy is still so popular today.

Driving Heat by Richard Castle (Nikki Heat #7) – 4
Nikki’s first day as captain doesn’t go as planned when she gets a call about a murder before she even makes it into the office.  The victim turns out to be Nikki’s therapist, but the bigger surprise is when video from his office finds Rook, Nikki’s fiancée, going in.  What secret is the writer hiding?

Whether a fan of the TV show Castle or not, you’ll find this is another great mystery.  The start is a little slow, but once it gets going, the mystery contains plenty of twists and surprises.  Nikki and Rook are great characters, but the rest are a bit under served.  Of course, the in jokes and references to the show, while certainly not overdone, are an added bonus for fans of the show, but nothing that would ruin the book if you don’t get them.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – 5
There is a legend of a monstrous hound that haunts and hunts the members of the Baskerville family.  But when legend looks to be real, Holmes is brought in to find out how Charles Baskerville really died.  And is the latest heir in danger?

My knowledge of the Holmes cannon is embarrassingly lacking, but I took a step toward fixing that with this book.  I found Holmes a little hard to take due to his arrogance early on, but as the book progressed, I grew to like him better.  The rest of the characters were great.  The mystery is wonderful, and the atmosphere almost gothic.  A wonderful read during October.

Big Game by Stuart Gibbs (FunJungle #3) – 5
When someone takes a shot at Rhonda Rhino, security goes on high alert to try to capture the poacher.  Teddy once again finds himself caught up in the mystery, but can he find the shooter with Large Marge once again on this tail for something he didn’t do?

It’s always wonderful to be back at this zoo, and the characters are as wonderful as always.  The plot is perfectly constructed with everything set up well for a great climax.  The issue of rhino poaching is giving a much needed spotlight without slowing things down at all.  Middle grade audiences will love it, as will anyone who wants a wonderful mystery.

A Skeleton in the Family by Leigh Perry (Family Skeleton Mysteries #1) – 4
Georgia Thackery has had to move back home to take her new adjunct teach job, but the bright side is that means reconnecting with her best friend, Sid the skeleton.  Yes, Sid is a walking, talking skeleton, and he just appeared in Georgia’s life 30 years ago.  But when he suddenly recognizes a face from his living past, he begins to wonder who he was and what happened to him.  Georgia and Sid quickly realize they are dealing with a 30 year old murder mystery.  Can they solve this cold case?

I don’t normally read paranormal mysteries, but I’m glad I made an exception in this case.  The story is a bit slower than I would have liked, but it did pick up as we grew closer to the climax, and I was satisfied at the end.  The characters are wonderful, and yes, that includes the very life like Sid.  Sid’s puns help lighten the mood.  After all, there’s no such thing as a bad pun.

Flipped for Murder by Maddie Day (Country Store Mysteries #1) – 5
Robbie Jordan has been working hard to open Pan ‘n Pancakes in South Lick, Indiana, and her hard work is paying off.  On opening day, the place is packed, and her new customers seem to really like the food.  Unfortunately, that afternoon, the disagreeable assistant at city hall is murdered with one of Robbie’s signature biscuits in her mouth.  Worried that her status as a murder suspect will ruin her fledgling business, Robbie begins to investigate.  But can she find the real killer?

This is a wonderful first book in a new series.  The characters are already sharp and fun, and I can’t wait to visit them again in future books.  The plot is solid with some good twists along the way to a logical and suspenseful ending.  The descriptions are wonderful, and I felt like I was right there in Indiana with Robbie.  I can’t wait to visit again.


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

4 comments:

  1. You had another great month! Happy November!

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    1. I expect the holidays will slow me down some, but we shall see.

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  2. Sure did do well with reading in October and quite a number of 5's there which means you had some really good ones, always very satisfying.

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  3. wow, lots of goodies here, well done!

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