But for now, here's my monthly reading summary for November. And yes, the Index has been updated as well.
All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).
The Chocolate Bunny Brouhaha by JoAnna Carl (Chocoholic Mysteries #16) – 5
Bunny Birdsong is the newest employee at TenHuis Chocolade, and she brings with her some baggage in the form of an almost ex-husband and an aunt-in-law that would like to get the two back together. When Bunny’s aunt is found in the construction zone next door, Bunny becomes the prime suspect. Can Lee Woodyard figure out what is really happening?
Like always, this book is a delight from start to finish. It’s on the short size, which is usual for the series, but the book still packs in plenty of twists and turns. We even get to see a bit more of some series regulars who usual have cameos, which I really enjoyed. This series continues to be as addicting as always, and I can’t wait for the next books.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
The Good, the Bad, and the Guacamole by Rebecca Adler (Taste of Texas #2) – 4
It’s time for Homestead Days in the town of Broken Boot, Texas, and the big draw this year is up and coming country singer Jeff Clark, who happens to be the ex of Josie Callahan’s best friend Patti. At the opening night concert, the two seem to be reconnecting, but the next morning, Josie finds Jeff dead in Patti’s living room. Naturally, the police think Patti makes a great suspect, and with pressure to wrap the case up quickly, they aren’t looking for many other suspects. That means it is up to Josie to clear her best friend. But can she do it?
This is a fun second entry in the series. I did find the book needed another pass to truly smooth out a few of the scenes, but it was still definitely worth reading. The characters are unique for a cozy and truly so much fun. The plot gives us great suspects and twists right until the can-only-happen-in-Texas climax.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
Commander Toad and the Intergalactic Spy by Jane Yolen – 5
Commander Toad and the crew of the Space Warts have been sent to a planet full of spies to retrieve Agent 007 1/2. Their advantage is that this spy is Commander Toad’s cousin. The disadvantage is that he is also a master of disguise. Sure enough, soon after landing they meet several spies who could all be the agent. Can they figure out which one he is?
This is another fun adventures with Commander Toad and his crew. The book is very well done with a plot even the target early readers should be able to follow as they logically solve the problem at hand. Throw in the best puns in the series to date and you have a real winner.
Stone Cold Blooded by Catherine Dilts (Rock Shop Mysteries #3) – 4
Morgan Iverson’s neighbor, a recluse, goes out in a blaze of explosions. The police think he fell victim to one of his own traps, but Morgan isn’t convinced, especially since she heard yelling right before the explosions started. Meanwhile, there are strange little creatures running around the area now, and people are congregating because rumor says they are aliens. What in the world is going on?
I love Morgan and the other characters who populate this series, so I was happy to be able to revisit them. There are a number of sub-plots, and they tend to dominate early on in the book, but that is typical for the series and since I love the characters I don’t care. The mystery is strong, especially as it takes over in the second half of the book, and I was surprised by some of the twists and turns along the way.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled by Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax #14) – 5
Mrs. Pollifax and her friend Farrell are off to Syria to try to find out what happened to Amanda Pym, who vanished after stopping the hijackers of a plane diverted from Egypt. They are constantly being watched and much evade their followers before they can even make contact. With the thinnest of leads, can they find the missing young woman?
This is Mrs. Pollifax, so that means we are off on another wild and fun adventure. Set in the world of 2000, it’s interesting to read this take on the politics of the Middle East back then. The plot features a couple of familiar plot points, but I didn’t care since it was so fantastic to be enjoying another adventure with Mrs. Pollifax. Sadly, this is her last adventure, but I like to imagine she is still out there saving the day against overwhelming odds.
Lodestar by Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities #5) – 5
When the Neverseen make a startling move just as Sophie’s term break is beginning, she decides she needs to press for everyone to take action against them. But what are their plans? What do the strange symbols she keeps seeing mean? And what is the Lodestar Initiative she keeps hearing mentioned?
Once again, we are off on a fantastic adventure in this fun fantasy series. Sophie and her friends and family may be elves, but they are fully real characters, and I love spending time with them. The story moves along at a brisk pace, and the book never drags in its 676 pages. Kids or anyone who loves a good story should pick up this series. It is best to start from the beginning, but you’ll be hooked and reading this book before you know it. How long until the next one comes out?
Get Me to the Grave on Time by D. E. Ireland (Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mysteries #3) – 5
Henry Higgins is not looking forward to four weddings in four weeks, but things turn interesting at the first wedding when the groom is murdered. Despite their success solving two murders, Eliza Doolittle and Henry don’t plan to get involved – until an incident at the next wedding hits too close to home. Can they find the connection?
It was absolutely wonderful to jump back into this world inspired by My Fair Lady. The characters are strong, and I love how the authors have grown them. Fans will recognize them, but they are changing, and it feels like the logical next step. The plot starts strong and never lets up until the fantastic climax. Throw in a look at life in 1913 London and some great laughs, and you’ll start looking forward to the next as soon as you finish this one.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Rhythm and Clues by Sue Ann Jaffarian (Odelia Grey #11) – 5
Odelia’s mom is concerned because her neighbor, former rock star Bo Shank, is missing. While Odelia is a bit star struck at the idea that her mom knows Odelia’s college idol, she figures the man left on a trip and forgot to let people know. Still, she is poking around a bit when a dead body turns up. What is really going on?
I was a bit disappointed at first when I realized that many of the usual supporting players were out of town for this book. That didn’t last long as I got caught up in another wild and crazy ride. The plot starts strong and never slows down. Odelia’s mother is a fantastic sidekick, and she brought her usual laughs to the book. The rest of the cast is just as strong and fun. Fans will be delighted in this latest adventure for Odelia.
Paint the Town Dead by Sybil Johnson (Aurora Anderson #2) – 4
Rory Anderson is thrilled about the decorative painting convention coming to Vista Beach, California, her hometown. She’s looking forward to the classes and helping her mom, one of the vendors for the event. However, she is shocked when her friend collapses and dies just as the week is getting under way. The police think it was a tragic accident, but Rory is sure it was murder. Can she prove it?
I love the beach, so the beach town setting is perfect for me. The characters are good, although I did feel they could have been just a little stronger. However, the plot was plenty strong with things progressing at a steady pace all the way to the climax. I was sure I had it completely figured out multiple times only to change my mind a couple of chapters later.
E is for Evidence by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #5) – 5
A couple of days before Christmas, Kinsey is asked to investigate a fire for the insurance company she sometimes works for. Everything looks routine until she is called in to defend her findings and sees pages that were not part of her original file. Afraid she might find herself accused of insurance fraud, she starts investigating the situation. But is she the target or an innocent bystander?
I truly enjoyed this book since it starts out with a great mystery that doesn’t involved a murder. Of course, when murder does enter the picture, it only gets more compelling from there. What few supporting characters there are in the series are mostly missing thanks to the Christmas time frame, but I found it a great way to develop Kinsey more, and the new characters were fabulous, doing their job as suspects perfectly.
One Foot in the Grove by Kelly Lane (Olive Grove Mysteries #1) – 3
After her second disastrous wedding happened without her getting married, Eva Knox retreated to her family’s plantation in Georgia. She’s hardly been back a week before she stumbles over a dead body in the olive grove. With the local gossip insisting she knows what happened, Eva starts poking around to figure out what really happened. Can she clear her name?
This debut was definitely a mixed bag. The plot had some nice twists and nice twists on the cozy formula, which I appreciated. On the other hand, Eva sometimes was just handed the information she needed or acted very stupidly to get it. Some characters were interesting while others are very cliche. If the premise sounds interesting, give it a shot, but it won’t be for everyone.