Monday, October 31, 2016

October 2016's Monthly Reading Summary

Another month come and gone.  I was very ambitious with my reading for the month, and I made it.  You'll find lots of books here, and most of them 5 stars.  Tends to happen when you are reading the latest books from favorite authors.

As always, the Index is updated as well.

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

Behind Chocolate Bars by Kathy Aarons (Chocolate Covered Mysteries #3) – 5
Michelle and Erica are getting into the Halloween spirit by helping create the annual haunted house to benefit the Boys and Girls Club.  But their time gets distracted when a murder happens out of town, and Dylan, a teen they know, becomes the prime suspect.  Can the duo find the time to help prove he didn’t do it?

It was fantastic to be back with these characters again.  The series regulars are fantastic, and the new characters were just as good.  This book was a little different because he didn’t meet the victim before the murder, but that didn’t hamper the plot at all with plenty of suspects and clues before we reached the logical end.

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

Tangled Up in Brew by Joyce Tremel (Brewing Trouble Mysteries #2) – 5
Maxine “Max” O’Hara and Jake Lambert are entering a local brews and burgers festival.  However, the festival takes a turn for the worse when notoriously nasty food critic Reginald Mobley signs on as a replacement judge.  However, no one expects him to be murdered.  Worse yet, he collapses right after eating Jake’s entry in the burger competition.  Can Max figure out what is happening.

I enjoyed the first book in this series, but I loved this one even more.  The characters we met in the first book are all back, and they are still fantastic.  The mystery is compelling with lots of secrets to be revealed before we reach a suspenseful and logical climax.  I’m already looking forward to the next in the series.

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

Masking for Trouble by Diane Vallere (Costume Shop Mystery #2) – 5
In a town that loves costume parties, Halloween is a huge deal, which means things are very busy for Margo Tamblyn in her family’s costume shop, Disguise DeLimit.  However, this year things are looking grim thanks to Paul Haverford, who has grand designs for the city, plans that include closing down small shops like Disguise DeLimit.  However, when Margo finds Paul’s body at the opening party, she finds herself as the prime suspect.  Can she find the killer and clear her name?

I loved the first book in this series because the characters are so wonderful.  It was great to see them again and watch their relationships grow and change.  The plot was fun and unique, and I enjoyed that as well.  Plus the book made great use of the Halloween time frame.

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

Death of a Toy Soldier by Barbara Early (Vintage Toy Shop Mysteries #1) – 5
Liz McCall is helping her father run Well Played, a vintage toy shop.  One day, a man walks in with a box of toys he wants appraised.  However, a couple of days later, the man is dead in their shop, killed by a lawn dart, and the box of toys is missing.  Liz’s father is a retired police man, and he begins to investigate the case unofficially with Liz helping him.  Will they be able to figure out what happened?

Toys and nostalgia as a setting for a new cozy series?  Sign me up!  And I was as delighted with his debut as I thought I would be.  The mystery is strong with some nice red herrings before we reach an ending that wraps everything up.  The characters are strong and so much fun.  If the store were real, I’d love to hang out for vintage board game night, but as it is, I’ll gladly return for the sequel.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Permanent Sunset by C. Michele Dorsey (Sabrina Salter #2) – 5
Sabrina and Henry have taken on a new villa, and the first event at this villa is a big wedding that they are helping coordinate.  However, when family strife turns to murder of the bride-to-be, Sabrina finds herself once again playing detective to prove that she isn’t negligent in the murder of another customer.

I enjoyed the first in this series only a couple of months ago, so the characters were still fresh in my mind.  It was absolutely wonderful to be back in their presence.  The new cast are just as strong, and the conflict they provide keeps the pages turning until we reach the logical end.  I read the book in two days, I just couldn’t put it down.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #8) – 4
It’s December 1951, and Flavia is back from her exile in Canada.  However, her welcome home doesn’t go as planned.  Her father is sick and in the hospital, and her older sisters and younger cousin are as obnoxious as ever.  However, she finds the perfect distraction when an errand to the next village ends with her finding the body of a wood carver hanging upside down from his bedroom door.

As much as I enjoyed Flavia’s adventure in Canada, it was good to be back in familiar surroundings with familiar characters.  The usual crew are up to their usual antics, which was fun.  I especially enjoy Flavia’s interactions with her cousin since she doesn’t see the parallels between that and her old sisters.  The mystery was good and a focus of much of the book, although I did figure a couple pieces of it out early.  Still, the ending surprised me.

Nate the Great Goes Undercover by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat - 5
The pint sized detective is back for his second case, this time trying to figure out for his neighbor Oliver who is breaking into Oliver’s trashcans every night.  Nate’s excited for his first night time case, but can he catch the culprit?

This is the second picture book to feature Nate the Great, and it is a lot of fun.  We are introduced to Oliver and Nate’s dog Sludge, who would become main characters in the series, here.  The mystery is good with Nate hitting a couple of dead ends before he reaches the conclusion.  The pictures might be a little dated, this is from the mid-70’s after all, but that’s my only issue, and it’s a very minor one.

Fatal Frost by Karen MacInerney (Dewberry Farm Mysteries #2) – 5
It’s December, and Lucy Resnick has her hands full because someone digging on her property, the local Christmas market and the protests against it, and her boyfriend’s ex-wife being in town.  Things get even more complicated when Lucy is on the scene of a house fire when a dead body is found.  Worse yet, the sheriff is certain that Lucy’s friend Molly is the killer.  Can Lucy clear her friend before the holiday?

It was wonderful to revisit these characters and get to see them grow over the course of the book.  The plot moves swiftly with the murder and various sub-plots expertly balanced to keep our attention focused.  The Christmas setting was a lot of fun as well and added to the book and influenced the recipes at the end.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

The Skeleton Haunts a House by Leigh Perry (Family Skeleton Mysteries #3) – 5
Halloween is a perfect time for Sid, the skeleton best friend of Dr. Georgia Thackery, to leave the house since everyone is wearing costumes.  He’s especially enjoying the haunted house put on by the local college – that is until a real body is discovered in the house.  Now Sid and Georgia need to team up and figure out what happened to the young female victim.

The team of Sid and Georgia are always a delight, and this book is no exception.  The mystery is filled with suspects and motives, and keeps us guessing until the end.  Meanwhile, we get to see some growth in the characters and meet Georgia’s parents, which is a lot of fun.  The humor throughout the book adds a nice touch as the pages fly by.

Arsenic and Old Books by Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks #6) – 5
When the Athena College library receives a donation of an old diary kept by a resident from the Civil War, Charlie Harris is thrilled.  However, before he can process them, he has two women demanding to see them immediately, and he is hearing claims that they might influence the current local election.  When the diaries go missing, Charlie is concerned, but when someone turns up dead, he is truly puzzled.  What exactly is in these diaries?

Between the past and the present, we are presented with a strong mystery that pulls us in and keeps us turning pages.  I was always intrigued, wondering what Charlie would discover next.  The mystery is so strong it doesn’t leave room for sub-plots, and many of the series regulars are reduced to cameos, and I missed them.  However, the new characters are strong enough to make up for it.

Dying for Strawberries by Sharon Farrow (Berry Basket Mysteries #1) – 5
Marlee Jacob has settled nicely back into her home town of Oriole Point, and she is quite happy running her business, The Berry Basket.  However, she quickly finds herself in trouble when her good friend goes missing, a surprise announcement rattles all the local business owners, someone tries to kill her, and then she finds a dead body.  What is going on?

I enjoyed this book with how it played with some cozy mystery tropes early on while still providing us with a compelling cozy mystery.  There’s plenty happening to keep us entertained all the way through, and the twists of the plot come together for a logical climax.  Some of the supporting characters are still a bit thin, but we can get to know them better in later books.  Marlee herself is wonderful, and the rest of the suspects are also viable characters.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Eggnog Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross – 4
A collection of three Christmas novellas set in Maine and starring the series sleuths by the authors.  We get two murder by eggnog, and one missing moving truck and winds up with a dead body.  Will these mysteries be solved by Christmas?

All three of these stories will get you in the Christmas spirit with a dead body along the way.  We do get some time enjoying holiday traditions (recipes included with all three stories), some of them unique to Maine, which is a lot of fun.  The mysteries are all good, although the first seems to wander quite a bit before it gets fully engaging.  If you are a fan of one of these authors, here is a good way or sample some others while catching up with your favorite sleuth at Christmas time.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Sunset Express by Robert Crais (Cole and Pike #6) – 4
Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are hired by the Big Green Defense Machine to help find evidence that Jonathan Green’s latest client is indeed innocent of killing his wife.  However, Cole soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it appears in this case.  Can he find the truth?  Or has he been played?

This is definitely one of the stronger entries in the series with an intriguing mystery that twists and turns until we reach a non- dues ex machina ending.  We get some appearances by characters introduced in earlier books, which is quite fun.  Things do slow down at one point, and there is one mostly pointless scene designed to increase the foul language content in the book (not that it was ever an issue).  Still, this is the strongest in the series yet.

Spy Ski School by Stuart Gibbs (Spy School #4) – 5
Ben Ripley is thrilled to be officially called for his first field assignment.  He’s going to Colorado to learn to ski.  While there, he needs to befriend a girl so he can get close to her father and figure out his evil plans.  However, Ben soon realizes getting close to his target isn’t going to be as easy as he thought.  With the clock ticking, can he save the day again?

While the target audience might be middle graders, this is a delightful read for anyone.  The story is strong, the pace never lags, and we get some fantastic complications and nail biting action scenes along the way.  The characters are fun as always, and we get some good growth in a couple of them.  There’s plenty of humor as well.

3 comments:

  1. You have had a great reading month! I've only read one that you've read (Masking for Trouble) and loved it though a number of your books are on my TBR. Toy Solider is one I'm hoping to read before Christmas. Hope November's reading is as great!

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  2. Always nice when you have a month of reading great books!! Happy November!

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  3. I love this series. prentissg@gmail.com

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