Thursday, September 1, 2016

August 2016 Monthly Reading Summary

Another month come and gone, which means another monthly reading summary.  Thanks to the reading I did on vacation, this should really be more the review summary.  Several of these were read in July.  But anyway, here's the list for August.

And yes, the Index has been updated for all review posted in August.

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

Grilling the Subject by Daryl Wood Gerber (Cookbook Nook Mysteries #5) – 5
Crystal Cove is celebrating all things western, and Jenna and the Cookbook Nook are joining in by promoting BBQ.  However, things take a tragic turn when one of Jenna’s father’s neighbors turns up dead in a bonfire.  With her father a prime suspect, Jenna must find a way to clear his name.

I truly love the different themes we get in this series, each one adds a unique flavor to the story.  The characters are fabulous as well, and they definitely feel like old friends here.  Toss in a plots with plenty of suspects and twists and you’ve got the recipe for another winner.

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

Silk Stalkings by Diane Vallere (Material Witness Mysteries #3) – 5
Every June, San Ladron hosts the Miss Tangorli beauty pageant, and this year, Poly and her store are providing the silk to make gowns for all the contestants.  But just hours after getting the job, Poly finds Harvey, the millionaire behind the pageant, murdered.  Can she use her position working with the pageant to find out who killed him?

I had not realized just how much I have come to love these characters until I started this book.  Truly, it was wonderful to spend time with them again.  The new characters are just as fun.  The plot twists and turns in some surprising directions before we reach the logical, suspenseful, and satisfying ending.

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

Race for the Park Street Treasure by Sigmund Brouwer (Accidental Detectives #9) – 5
When sorting books in the basement of the town library, Ricky Kidd stumbles on what he thinks might be a treasure map.  Soon, the entire town is buzzing about it, and the race is on to find the treasure that the town miser hid before his death.  Can Ricky and his friends find the treasure first?  Is there even a treasure to find?

It’s been a while since I first read this series or revisited the characters, but I quickly fell back under their spell.  The characters are absolutely wonderful with hints at hidden layers.  The plot is strong with wonderful clues and twists before the end.  And there are some great laughs and nice thoughtful moments along the way as well.  The target middle grade audience will love it, and any mystery reader will enjoy it as well.

The Readaholics and the Gothic Gala by Laura DiSilverio (Book Club Mysteries #3) – 5
Amy-Faye is coordinating a celebration of Gothic novels for the local bookstore, culminating in a dance that night.  The night ends in tragedy when a dead body is found – the body of a stranger.  Amy-Faye had seen the victim during the events earlier in the day.  Who was he?  Why would someone kill him?  And can the Readaholics’s latest read, Rebecca, offer some clues to the modern crime?

It is wonderful to be back in the presents of this group of mystery lovers.  All five of the women are great and contribute in their own ways to the plot.  The mystery is strong with some good twists and surprises before we reach the logical and satisfying ending.  I hadn’t read Rebecca before I picked up this book, but that didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all.

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

Clock and Dagger by Julianne Holmes (Clock Shop Mysteries #2) – 4
Ruth has a very busy week ahead of her getting ready for the grand reopening of Cog & Spocket.  Tonight, however, she is working on the launch of a promotion to help all the businesses in town by cross promoting each other.  The giant open house goes off well, until Ruth finds a dead body as the evening is winding down.  The pocket watch next to the victim intrigues her.  Is it a clue?

The book starts a little slowly reintroducing us to the characters while planting a few seeds for the mystery.  Once it gets started, however, the plot picks up speed and heads in some surprising directions.  I had a hard time putting it down at that point.  I absolutely love this characters, and it was wonderful to spend time with them again.  One of the strengths is the relationship that Ruth has developed with her step-grandmother, and I loved how it was strengthened here.

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

Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist by Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax #13) – 4
Mrs. Pollifax teams up with her old friend Farrell and heads to Jordan to smuggle out a manuscript about life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein.  Their mission is complicated when someone - the wrong someone – seems interested in them.  Might it have something to do with Mrs. Pollifax’s seatmate from the plane?

Welcome back to the late 90’s and the penultimate Mrs. Pollifax adventure.  Things get off to a great start, but unfortunately Mrs. Pollifax isn’t a driving force in most of the climax.  That’s only a minor complaint because any time spent with Mrs. Pollifax is plenty of fun, and that holds true again here.  The characters, new and old, are a delight.  And the book provides a good reminder of the political situation of 20 years ago.

The Stolen Chapters by James Riley (Story Thieves #2) – 5
When Owen and Kiel wake up, they are in the library with no memory of how they got there or even what happened in the last couple of weeks.  Then someone in a mask shows up to announce that their friend Bethany is in danger, and if they don’t rescue her in the next couple of hours, they will never see her again.  Then he sets the library on fire and calls the police on them.  Can Owen and Kiel find Bethany, figure out who the villain is, and stop him?

This is the second in a series, and you don’t want to start here if you haven’t read the first.  However, once you’ve read the first, you’ll absolutely love this book.  There are lots of laughs and fun and surprises along the way, including a fantastic cameo by a character I grew up with.  The book gets very meta, but just go with it because it is a ton of fun.

Crowned and Dangerous by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness Mysteries #10) – 4
Lady Georgie and Darcy’s elopement is put on hold when Darcy gets the news that his father has been arrested for murder.  He races off to Ireland to see how he can help, and it isn’t long before Georgie follows him to help clear her future father-in-law.  The evidence all seems to point to Darcy’s father.  Can Georgie figure out anything that will help clear him?

The book gets off to a slow start as Georgie once again has to figure out where she will live.  The time is put to good use since it gives us updates on many of the series regulars.  Once Georgie arrives in Ireland, things really pick up, and we are treated to a fantastic puzzle with plenty of twists and surprises.  Several of the series regulars get some much needed development here, and I hope it lasts.  Meanwhile, there is a fantastic new character I hope we see pop up again in future books.

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

Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper (Kelsey McKenna Destination Wedding Mysteries #1) – 5
Destination wedding planner Kelsey McKenna thinks she’s seen everything at a wedding.  That’s why, when one of the bridesmaids collapses at the end of the ceremony she thinks the woman is just hung over.  Imagine her surprise when she realizes that Dana is dead.  When the police arrest the bride’s sister for the crime, the mother of the bride insists that Kelsey has a duty to free her younger daughter.  Can Kelsey figure out who the killer is?

I feel in love with this book in the very first chapter, and I was not at all disappointed as I kept reading.  The plot is fast paced with plenty of twists along the way to a surprising yet logical conclusion.  The characters are sharp.  A few are a tad over the top, but that adds to the fun and humor of the mystery.  I will definitely be attending Kelsey’s future weddings.

Legacy of Secrets by Ridley Pearson (The Return #2) – 4
The Kingdom Keepers are back in 1955, trying to follow clues to find Walt’s pen so they can make sure it is properly preserved so they can use it in the future.  Meanwhile in the present, Amanda and Jess are trying to figure out how to help them and stumble upon long buried secrets that might change the game for everyone.

The two plots are balanced perfectly, keeping us entertained.  Plus we learn some hows and whys that I didn’t know I cared about but explain much of what has been happening in the Kingdom Keeper series.  We don’t get as much direct action as in previous books, but there is still some of that, and it is great.  Plus, as a DisNerd, I was extremely green with all the Kingdom Keepers got to do in 1955.

No Virgin Island by C. Michele Dorsey (Sabrina Salter #1) – 5
Sabrina Salter has escaped a past in Boston, hoping to enjoy her new life in St. John.  However, trouble finds her in the US Virgin Islands when she arrives to clean one of the villas she maintains only to find the tenant dead in the outside hammock.  Will the police see her as the prime suspect?  Can she live through something like this again?

While the setting may be a paradise, the tone is more somber given Sabrina’s past.  I enjoyed the juxtaposition and getting to know the strong characters.  The plot unfolds differently than I am used to in a mystery, but everything we need to solve the crime is there, and we get two very dramatic and satisfying climaxes.

On the Road with Del and Louise by Art Taylor – 4
This book is a collection of six stories starring Del and Louise, a couple constantly on the move.  Some of it is trying to outrun crime, and some of it is trying to start a life together.  We meet them in New Mexico as Del is planning on last robbery to set them up in a life on the right side of the law.  Will it work?  If not, will they be able to survive without turning back to crime?

I must admit I had a hard time getting past the fact that this duo are criminals, but as they grew as characters, I got caught up in their story.  They are really the only characters who are in the entire book, but they can pull it off well.  The various capers, schemes, and plots they find themselves in are all different, keeping us from getting bored while exploring the characters.

Murder Has Nine Lives by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen #14) – 5
When Jaine’s cat Prozac lands a part in a cat food commercial, Jaine is already spending her money.  However, on the day of the shoot, Dean, the creator of the cat food, dies after eating some.  Jaine had witnessed his bad behavior first hand, but the police consider everyone there a suspect.  Desperate to clear her name, Jaine begins investigating.  Who poisoned the cat food?

This series is dependable for it’s light look at murder, and this book is no exception.  The characters are a little out there, but they fit the tone of the book perfectly.  The plot is strong with plenty of viable suspects and shifting motive, which kept me turning pages.  And a couple of sub-plots pack in the laughs.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne (Harry Potter #8) – 4
Harry Potter’s Albus son gets a chance to prove what a hero he can be.  However, things don’t go as planned, and an attempt to fix things only makes them worse.  Can he fix them?  Will his famous father be able to help him?

This is a play script.  That means it isn’t nearly as immersive as the books we all love.  It takes a bit to get used to essentially reading dialogue, but once we do, it becomes easier to slip back into Harry’s world.  We get to see plenty of old friends as well as the new generation, and I enjoyed some of what we saw of the characters.  The plot was a little out there, but I enjoyed the character stuff so much I didn’t really care.

Die Like an Eagle by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #20) – 5
Meg’s twins have joined the local youth baseball league, and Meg is quickly learning what a tyrant Biff Brown, the head of the league, can be.  While most of the parents hate him, he hasn’t damped the enthusiasm any, and most of the town turns out for opening day.  However, there is a major delay when Meg finds a dead body in the field’s only porta potty.

The politics of local baseball seemed to be more of the focus than the mystery this time, although Meg still spends plenty of time investigating.  I’m not complaining, however, since there were so many great scenes and so much conflict I couldn’t put the book down.  We get some nice twists before the logical conclusion as well.  It’s always wonderful to spend time with these characters, and one I’d been wanting to see showed up again here, which I loved.  This may be book 20, but the series is still going strong.

7 comments:

  1. Really enjoyed this post! Fun & informative. Lots of insights on some I haven't read & good point on some I have read.

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    1. Thank you so much. I hope you enjoy some of the books you haven't read yet.

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  2. This is a great month for you! Lots of reviews done.

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    1. Getting so far ahead on my cruise in July really helped. Happy September to you as well.

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  3. Quite a list, Mark! I would have read about a quarter of this list. Now for September ...

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    1. The last couple of years, I've been reading much more than I used to read. The size of these list surprises me as well.

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