Sunday, October 2, 2016

September 2016's Monthly Reading Summary

It's that time of the month again - monthly reading summary time.  Once again, I was reading up a storm.  The links will take you to my full review, and, as always, the index has been updated.

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

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #7) – 4
Flavia has been sent to Canada and Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy for the fall 1951 term.  She is very upset about being sent away from her family in England, but things definitely start looking up when a dead body falls out of her chimney on her first morning there.  Who was the corpse?  And who at the school is a killer?

Since this book takes place away from Flavia’s normal stomping grounds, it is easy to miss the series regulars.  However, this book is filled with wonderful new supporting players.  The book starts a little slowly as we are introduced to everyone, but soon we are caught in quite an interesting web that also advances the storyline introduced in the last book.

Granite by Susan Butcher and David Monson – 5
This picture book introduces us to Granite, one of the dogs used by Iditarod Trail racer Susan Butcher in her races in the 1980’s.  Granite was the runt of his litter, and but Susan felt a bond to him.  Will that bond be enough to win races?  What else might the pair endure on their quest to win?

This is a heartwarming picture book for dog lovers of all ages.  It captures the love between Susan and Granite perfect with pictures and words.  It’s hard not to smile as you read and be concerned for the pair when they face danger.  The fact that it is based on a real story makes it all the more memorable.

Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao (Change of Fortune Mysteries #1) – 5
Fleeing a tragic accident, Ruby Proulx crosses from Canada to Old Orchard, Maine.  She’s run there to meet her mother’s side of the family for the first time.  They are about to reopen the family home as a resort for spiritualists, and the summer of 1898 will be make or break for them.  But when her past catches up to her and a murder threatens her new home, will Ruby be able to solve any problems?

While I am not a fan of paranormal cozies (because I don’t believe in the things they are based on), I still found this a very fun debut.  The characters are charming, and I fell in love with them.  Even though the murder comes a little late, I still found Ruby’s introduction to Old Orchard fun, and there is plenty of conflict early on.  When the murder does happen, the pace picks up and leads us to a logical conclusion.

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

Digging up the Dirt by Miranda James (Southern Ladies Mysteries #3) – 4
The Athena Garden Club is all buzzing about the return of Hadley Partridge to town.  When he left forty years ago, he was the most eligible bachelor in town, and some of the ladies want to pick up where they left off.  An’gel and Dickce Ducote aren’t among them, but they can’t help but be pulled in when Hadley’s return brings up a secret from the past.  When a dead body and an old skeleton turn up, can these sisters solve the crime?

It was wonderful catching back up with An’gel and Dickce.  I love the characters in this series, and it was fun to see Athena from a different point of view.  The story starts strongly and never slows down.  I did feel the ending was weaker than it could have been, although it does tie every up nicely for us.

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

The Pet Show Mystery by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #37) – 4
When Trixie learns that the local birds are having trouble finding food, she thinks it is the perfect project to keep the Bob-Whites busy during an especially harsh winter.  They quickly decide to put on a pet show to raise funds.  But someone disagrees.  Who is out to sabotage the show?

Most fans of the series focus on the elements that seem out of place – Mart working on a computer and the Sleepyside mall.  However, I still like this book.  The plot seems weak for an entry in the series, and the crime is a little forced, but that’s my only complaint.  There are some good opportunities for character growth, and the story is still fun overall.

Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron (Cajun Country Mysteries #2) – 5
Maggie Crozat has been pressed into service as maid of honor is her co-worker Vanessa’s wedding.  As if dealing with the very pregnant bridezilla isn’t enough, she is also playing host to Vanessa’s cousin Ginger.  At first, Ginger seems nice, but soon she is driving everyone crazy.  Which means that when Maggie finds Ginger’s dead body, the list of potential suspects is very long.  With finding a killer added to her maid of honor duties, can Maggie successfully juggle everything?

I completely enjoyed getting to revisit these characters.  They are tons of fun, and the character growth we see in some of them is truly amazing.  The plot is strong with lots of motives and secrets to keep us guessing until the logical conclusion.  This is a strong second entry.

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

Get Fluffy by Sparkle Abbey (Pampered Pets Mysteries #2) – 5
When Mel gets stuck with Fluffy, the famous dog of Mona Michaels, all Mel wants to do is return the dog.  However, when the two arrive at Mona’s mansion, Mona has been murdered.  Mel wants to stay out of the investigation, but she keeps learning things that the point her toward the killer.  Will she solve the crime?

I wanted to get to book two in this series soon to meet Mel, the cousin of the main character in the first in the series.  This book was just as delightful as that first one.  We get a mostly new cast of characters, who are all very strong.  The mystery is great with lots of secrets and surprises on the way to the logical conclusion.  And the antics of the pets in the book are delightfully fun.

The Bullet Catch by John Gaspard (Eli Marks #2) – 4
Eli’s high school friend Jake is in town making a movie about a magician who dies during a performance of the dangerous bullet catch illusion.  Only Jake thinks that someone is going to kill him when they film that scene, and he asks Eli, a magician, to help prevent that from happening.  Meanwhile, Eli reconnects with his high school crush, Trish, as their reunion only to have Trish’s husband be murdered the next morning.  Can Eli solve the crime?

With two mysteries happening at once, this book never slows down.  Both stories feature some great twists along the way to a logical conclusion.  The book is filled with outstanding characters as well, both returning and new.  About the only thing that bothered me was Eli’s crippling fear of heights, which never seemed to bother him at home.

To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton (Dangerous Type Mysteries #1) – 3
When a loyal customer brings her typewriter into The Rescued Word to be repaired, Clare Henry is shocked when a stranger follows her in demanding to buy that exact typewriter and only that typewriter.  The next morning, the stranger is dead behind the shop.  What was he so obsessed with that typewriter?  Did it have anything to do with his murder?

This may be a debut, but the characters are already sharp, and I loved them for it.  Several sub-plots revolving around them really helped with that.  Unfortunately, that overwhelms the main mystery, which is very weak as a result.  The climax especially suffers.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in hopes I would review it.

Murder at Redwood Cove by Janet Finsilver (Kelly Jackson #1) – 4
Kelly Jackson has flown into a small town in Mendocino County to run a bed and breakfast for her boss.  The previous manager fell to his death off a cliff, and Kelly quickly begins to wonder if it was murder.  As strange events start happening, Kelly is certain of her conclusion.  But can she prove it before something else bad happens?

The book doesn’t waste much time debating whether a murder happened or not, instead spending time on Kelly trying to prove it.  There’s plenty to keep you reading to find out exactly what is going on.  The characters are super strong, and I fell in love with them.  The suspects were a tad weak, but that’s a minor complaint.  The writing needed a bit more polish near the beginning, but again, that’s a minor complaint.

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina – 5
One day, a cap peddler decides to take a break by napping under a tree.  When he awakes, he finds his caps have been stolen by monkeys who were in the tree he slept under.  Can he get them back?

I loved this book as a kid, and I found it just as delightful now.  The writing is simple, so a beginning reader could handle it.  The story is fairly straightforward, but it is still filled with fun.  And the illustrations are delightful as well.

The Baker Street Jurors by Michael Robertson (Baker Street Letters Mysteries #5) – 3
Nigel has been roped into jury duty, and he’s landed on the high profile case of a cricket star who is accused of killing his wife.  But one of the jurors is using some very familiar phrases.  And accidents seem to happen to the other jurors.  What is going on?

I’ve enjoyed the letters to Sherlock aspect of the earlier books in the series.  In this book, that played a very small part of the story, so small it almost didn’t really matter.  The mystery and the court case were interesting, but the plot was still a little weak.  Fans of the series will enjoy spending time in this world, but the earlier books were more creative.

Artifact by Gigi Pandian (Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries #1) – 5
New history professor Jaya Jones is trying to process the death of her ex-boyfriend when she receives a package in the mail from him that contains a bracelet.  It looks to be old and possibly valuable.  Now, she’s wondering if he really died in an accident like everyone thinks or if it was murder.  And what is the story of the bracelet?

While I always enjoy a cozy mystery, I love when an author adds something else, which is the case here.  I was hoping for a caper feel to things, and this book delivered on that perfectly.  Between the mystery and the treasure hunt, there is always something going on.  Along the way, we get to meet a great cast of characters.  I’ll definitely be back for more.


  1. You did great! I need to read that Alan Bradley series stat!! Happy October!

    1. I'm working on the audio version of the latest (came out in September) right now.

  2. Nice month of reading Mark. A put a couple of titles in my Amazon shopping basket and one on hold at the library.