Monday, September 2, 2013

What I Read in August

Here's what I read in August.  Links take you to my full review.

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

FATHER KNOWS DEATH by Jeffrey Allen (Stay at Home Dad #3) - 4
It's county fair time in Rose Pedal, Texas, and stay at home dad Deuce Winters is helping with the 4H booth fundraiser.  That's how he stumbles upon the body of George Spellman in the freezer.  George was the grounds keeper of the fair and a nice guy.  Who wanted him dead?

I love these characters and the humor in the series, so it is always nice to visit them.  I didn't think the plot was quite as twisty as previous entries and I didn't care for the environmental lecture, but both of these were minor complaints.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.

THE SURVIVOR by Gregg Hurwitz - 5
Nate Overbay is all ready to commit suicide when he stumbles on a bank robbery.  But this wasn't an ordinary bank robbery, and suddenly he has some nasty men after his estranged family.  Can he figure out a way to save them?

While it wasn't quite the heart pounding suspense I was expecting, I enjoyed the book more as a result.  The characters were richer and the writing so good it brought every scene to life.  This is a thriller with characters you truly care about, and it is better as a result.

SPRINKLE WITH MURDER by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery #1) - 4
When Mel is accused of murdering her best friend's fiancee, she has to set down her cupcake tins and start sleuthing to find the killer.

I've heard such praise for this series, and I didn't feel the debut quite lived up to the promise.  However, I did find the plot good and the characters real.  I enjoyed the book enough that I will continue on with the second in the series.

RILEY MAKES STIRS UP MORE TROUBLE by Chris Grabenstein (Riley Mack #2) - 5
What do a city wide talent show and a closed off swimmer hole have in common?  More than you might think in this delightful middle grade caper.  The plot was always moving forward, and I loved how everything came together in the end.  The characters could have used a bit more development, but that's the adult in me talking.  Kids will love it.

THE MYSTERY OF THE QUEEN'S NECKLACE by Kathryn Kenny (Trixie Belden #23) - 2
Trixie and part of the gang travel to England to trace Honey's family tree and learn about her recent inheritance.  So why is Trixie seeing the same pickpocket everywhere they go?  And is their guide trust worthy?

I was never a big fan of this one, but rereading it as an adult has made me realize just how bad it is.  The characters aren't themselves, especially Trixie.  And the plot is weak with a very rushed climax.  Still, some of the new supporting characters are fun and a few scenes make this one worth at least a skim for die hard fans.

FINAL SENTENCE by Daryl Wood Gerber (Cookbook Nook #1) - 4
Jenna Hart has returned home to Crystal Cove, California to help her aunt open a new cookbook bookstore.  But their big guest for the grand opening - Food Network Star and Jenna's college roommate Desiree - is murdered before the store even opens.  With local gossip making Jenna a suspect, can she prove her innocence?

This has many of the traits of a first in a series, but it is filled with warm characters and a sense of fun I enjoyed.  I'm looking forward to many return trips.  I did have a few niggles with the book - one weak character and a couple of timing issues - but they were minor overall.

MRS. POLLIFAX AND THE WHIRLING DERVISH by Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax #9) - 5
Carstairs has doubts about the agent they are sending to Morocco to verify a network of spies, so he sends Mrs. Pollifax along to help smooth things over.  But when the first spy is killed an hour after they identify him, Mrs. Pollifax realizes she's in deep trouble.

While the last couple of books in the series aren't quite up to bar, this is a return to form in most ways.  Mrs. Pollifax is a resourceful and charming as ever, and the plot is as fun and fast paced as it is improbable.  A perfect escape.

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