Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January 2018's Monthly Reading Summary

We've already reached the final day of January 2018.  Can you believe it?  Obviously, with everything going on and my emphasis on reading books I'd already agreed to review, the number of books on this list in lower than normal.  However, I've almost finished all the books I've agreed to review for February, so I'm sure this number will be higher next month.

Time for a monthly reading summary as a result.  The Index didn't wind up getting updated - I'll get to it next month.

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

Dial M for Mousse by Laura Bradford (Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries #3) – 4
When Winnie gets an advance order for the people staying at the retreat out of town, she gladly spends the weekend thinking up fun desserts to encourage these artists.  However, when she goes to deliver them, she arrives just as the owner of the retreat center dies.  Only later, Winnie begins to question what she saw.  Was someone trying to deceive her at the time?  Can she figure out what really happened?

This is such a fun idea and fun series, and this book was no exception.  I did feel the emphasis was on the series regulars and their sub-plots, but I didn’t mind too much since I do like these characters.  And that’s not to say we didn’t get some twists along the way to the climax.  The suspects add to the fun as they are a very unique group of people.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole and Joe Pike #10) – 4
Normally, a man shot in an alley in downtown Los Angeles wouldn’t cross Elvis Cole’s radar.  However, this man claimed that he was the PI’s long-lost father in town to make up for lost time with his son.  Could it be true?  If so, what was he doing in the alley when he got shot?

At some point, this part of Cole’s past had to come into the foreground in the series, and this book does a great job of using that hook to springboard us into a great mystery.  As you’d expect, there are some good twists and an exciting climax.  I did feel that a flashback to Elvis as an early teen really didn’t do much for the story other than slow it down.  We don’t get to see much of Joe Pike, Elvis’ partner.  Instead, the sidekick role is filled with Carol Starkey, but I hated how she came across here.  Definitely a step down for her character.

The Linking Rings by John Gaspard (Eli Marks #4) – 4
Eli Marks, his girlfriend Megan, and his uncle Harry are in London so that Harry can participate in a week-long series of performances honoring Harry and a circle of his magician friends.  However, the week gets off to a bad start when the curtain opens to find Harry standing next to his fellow performer Oskar.  The problem is Oskar has been stabbed in the back.  Naturally, the police consider Harry a strong suspect, but Harry has another question – was Oskar the intended victim, or what is Harry?

The book gets off to a quick start and the pace never falters over the course of the story.  I did find that Eli spends more time reacting to everything going on instead of actually investigating, but he does put the pieces together at the end.  And I was having so much fun I didn’t care.  While we don’t see the rest of the series regulars in this book, the new characters more than make up for it.  The glimpse into the world of magic is wonderful once again, and I couldn’t help but laugh at some of Eli’s observations and one couple we meet here.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Class Reunions are Murder by Libby Klein (Poppy McAllister #1) – 4
Recent widow Poppy McAllister isn’t planning to go to her 25th high school reunion until some friends talk her into it.  She is definitely not excited about seeing popular girl Barbie, who has requested a meeting with Poppy and her friends.  Barbie hasn’t changed since high school, and Poppy and her friends have a run in with their former nemesis.  A few minutes later, Poppy finds Barbie dead outside Poppy’s old locker.  With the police certain that Poppy is the killer, she leaps into action to find the truth.

The pacing of the book is uneven, but it gets better as it goes along.  As the mystery build, the suspects keep us guessing until the end.  It’s a little hard to keep them straight early on, but that gets better as the mystery progresses as well.  Poppy’s great aunt Tilly is a riot.  I laughed multiple times while reading this book, and Aunt Tilly was the reason for many of them.  This is a promising first mystery in what looks to be a fun series.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Curses, Boiled Again! by Shari Randall (Lobster Shack Mysteries #1) – 4
Allie Larkin is back home in Mystic Bay, Connecticut, recuperating from a broken ankle and helping her aunt Gully with her new Lazy Mermaid Lobster Shack.  Aunt Gully has only had her business open for a few months, but it’s attracted enough attention to land her a spot as a finalist in the YUM! Network’s lobster roll contest.  However, after sampling the first contestant’s entry, the judges start to collapse.  Someone poisoned the rolls, but who was the target?  And why?

This book opens the morning of the contest, so things get off to a strong start.  It does seem to slow down a little in the second quarter, but it picks up again as Allie tries to figure out who the target of the poison was.  This added twist was very welcome and helps the book stand out.  There is room for the characters to grow as the series progresses, but we get to know several of them well here.  The suspects are great at keeping us guessing until the end.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

1 comment:

  1. 5 books is still decent, especially with all you've had going on in your life. :-) Happy February!