Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Monthly Reading Recap - September 2014

Wow, can you believe September is over already?  Yet here I am doing my monthly reading recap.  As always, the links take you to the full review and my indexes have been updated with all my reviews.

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

Topped Chef by Lucy Burdette (Key West Food Critic Mysteries #3) – 4
Hayley Snow has gotten roped into being a judge on a search for the top chef of Key West.  However, when one of the judges is murdered after the first round, she begins to wonder if she’s in danger.  Is someone determined enough to win to make sure the judges will vote for them?

The reality competition actually slows the plot down a little at times, but I still enjoyed this book.  The very colorful assortment of characters kept me entertained, and I loved getting to see more of Hayley’s housemate, Miss Gloria.

Maple Mayhem by Jessie Crockett (Sugar Grove Mysteries #2) – 4
Dani is working to set up a co-op for the syrup harvesters in her area so some of the smaller businesses can stay afloat.  But someone has started to sabotage the farms that plan to join.  But when murder gets added to the mix, Dani really has to dig in and figure out what is happening.

Despite several rounds of sabotage, this book started out a little slowly with an emphasis on Dani’s love life over the mystery.  However, things really picked up in the second half.  The characters were great once again, and I enjoyed spending time with them, which kept the first half from dragging too much.

I Am Invited to a Party! by Mo Willems – 5
Piggie is invited to her very first party, and Gerald says he knows all about parties.  But are his ideas right or not?

This is another fun and funny book in Mo’s Elephant and Piggie series.  Things just get crazier as they go along until we hit the perfect ending.  Once again, the words are easy to sound out and the illustrations add much to the humor of the story.  Great for reading and rereading.

Guys Read 5: True Stories Edited by Jon Scieszka – 5
This collection of 10 non-fiction stories feature stories of shipwreck and bear attack from the 1800’s, the life of Blues musician Muddy Waters, and growing up with six older brothers in Vietnam.  Personally, I want to start exploring creeks like the guy who wrote the last chapter here.

I don’t normally read non-fiction, but I enjoyed all 10 of the stories here.  They were entertaining, which is what it takes to keep me reading.  Middle school guys will love it, and anyone looking to learn something in an entertaining fashion will enjoy it.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book, but no review was requested or promised.  My thoughts are my own.

Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Read ‘Em and Eat Mystery #1) – 3
Sassy and Bridgy have settle into their new life running a café/bookstore in Fort Myers Beach, Florida.  But when one of their loyal customers is murdered, they are surprised.  Delia was a nice, quiet woman.  Who would want to kill her?

The characters and the setting in this book are wonderfully vivid, and I enjoyed spending time with them.  Unfortunately, the pacing was off and at times I got frustrated waiting to get back to the mystery.  However, it did all come together for a logical ending.

Foul Play at the Fair by Shelley Freydont (Celebration Bay Mysteries #1) – 5
Liz Montgomery has moved to the town of Celebration Bay to help run the many events and festivals that are a key to the local economy.  However, when a juggler is murdered at the harvest festival, her first event, might her career stop before it truly gets going?

The characters were so well developed I was pulled into this book, feeling the weight of each new revelation that Liz uncovered.  The result was a rich mystery that I savored while still being pulled to discover who the ultimate villain was.  I can’t wait to read more in this series.

Do or Diner by Christine Wenger (Comfort Food Mysteries #1) – 4
Needing a new start, Trixie Matkowski has bought her aunt’s diner in upstate New York.  Her first day at the new owner, someone poisons the health inspector by adding mushrooms to a family recipe.  Who is trying to drive Trixie out of business?

This was a fun debut with a plot that grew as the book progressed.  The characters were distinct, although they could be a bit better developed.  I had some nitpicks with timing and how little sleep Trixie got, but they were minor.  This was a fun series debut.

Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief by Dorothy Gilman (Mrs. Pollifax #10) – 4
Mrs. Pollifax is off to Sicily after her friend Farrell sends out an SOS.  When she arrives and meets up with him, she finds that several cars are following them.  Has Farrell seen what he thought he saw?  Who is after them, and why?  And what does this have to do with the pictures she took before she left?

Some random elements start this book out, but they all fall into place fairly early, leaving us to enjoy the usual fun ride where Mrs. Pollifax is concerned.  Unfortunately, the climax is a bit rushed and weak as a result.  Still, these characters are great, and any fan of the series will be delighted to spend the time with them again.

The Terror of the Southlands by Caroline Carlson (Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #2) – 4
Hilary’s lack of activity has gotten her in trouble with Captain Blacktooth, and if she wants to retain her title as a pirate, she needs to go on a big quest.  When her friend Miss Pimm is kidnapped, she decides to find her.  However, is that a quest that Blacktooth will approve?

The plot was a little slow in this one, especially in the middle.  The characters were still wonderful, and the humor I loved from the first book was still all over the book as well.  Fans of the first will be glad to spend more time with Hilary and her friends.


  1. Looks like you did some great reading in September, Mark! Lucy's Key West books are always a delight. I love the Guys Read movement and site by Jon Scieszka, so I really need to check out that one. Well Read, Then Dead is another I'm adding to my TBR, nice to get in on the beginning of the series.

    1. As a guy who loves to read, I'm also in favor of the Guys Read movement. This was the first volume, I read, but I need to track down the others to help support them.

  2. You did good this month and looks like they were all decent cozies too.
    Happy October reading!

    1. Thanks. I hope I can at least match this in October since I've got just as long a list of books to read.

  3. I love cozies. I read the first in the series by Christine Wenger and sometime I hope to read the second. I've always loved the Mrs. Pollifax books. I have Maple Mayhem but haven't read it. You finished a lot last month! I usually only finish three a month, sometimes four. I'd read more but I have trouble sleeping so it's harder to read when my brain isn't awake. I love T.V. and movies too and that does take away from my reading time.

    1. I've been on a role this year, reading more than normal. I can feel myself slowing down some as the year finishes off, but I have so many more great books to read.