Saturday, January 3, 2015

Monthly Reading Summary - December 2014

Last monthly reading summary of 2014?  First of 2015?  You can decide how you think of it.  Either way, this is what I read and reviewed in December.  You'll find lots of Christmas stories on the list, which are always fun to read this last month.

I'll be working on updating the Index over the weekend.  With all the reading challenges I've been posting about, that kind of got away from me.

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

Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries #1) – 5
Sarah is trying to put her life back together after a divorce from her air force husband.  But when she finds a bag of bloody clothes that belonged to her ex-husband and the woman he cheated on Sarah with, she suddenly finds herself trying to determine what has really happened.

The plot of this book was strong with several twists and red herrings that kept me confused until everything came together at the end.  The characters were strong as well.  While the writing could be a bit choppy at times, overall there was a tone to the story that was perfect for what the characters were going through.

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

Death with all the Trimmings by Lucy Burdette (Key West Food Critic Mysteries #5) – 4
Christmas in Key West is anything but peaceful when sabotage at a new restaurant in town leads to murder, and Hayley is right in the middle trying to figure out what is happening.

There are several sub-plots that overshadow the main mystery at times, but the book was always entertaining with characters I love.  Things do come together for a logical climax.  Overall, this was an entertaining book.

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

Ho Ho Humbug by Sue Ann Jaffarian (Odelia Grey) – 5
Odelia faces two truly horrible trips to the mall at Christmas time in these two fun stories.  First up, Santa sits down on the mall bench next to her and dies.  Then, years later but at the same mall, Odelia gets into a fight for a parking space that mushrooms out of control.

Both of these stories are fun and funny.  Being short stories, they are over quickly, yet both stories satisfy with a twist thrown into the story along the way.  And really, how can you go wrong with Odelia as your guide for these two horrible trips to the mall at Christmas?

NOTE: I was sent this as a gift.  No promise of a review was made in exchange.  All opinions are my own.

Nate the Great and the Crunchy Christmas by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Craig Sharmat – 5
Annie’s dog Fang hires Nate to find the Christmas card his mother always sends him.  It’s a week late, and Fang looks forward to it all year.  (Or so Annie claims).  Can Nate find it?

This is a fun entry in the series with a dash of humor (especially when Rosamand appears), and decent clues that a kid or adult could use to solve the case along with Nate.  Not that I did, of course.

Silent Knife by Shelley Freydont (Celebration Bay Mysteries #2) – 4
Liv wants her first Christmas as the event coordinator in Celebration Bay to go well, but she’s hit some unexpected snags.  First, Trim a Tree has opened with their tacky gifts.  Then the store hires a second Santa, a violation of town policy.  However, when that Santa is found murdered, Liv really has her work cut out for her.

After enjoying the first, I was looking forward to revisiting this festive town for Christmas.  The plot got bogged down a bit in the first half, and I could not stand one character.  However, those were minor issues.  I did mostly enjoy the book, and things picked up by the end.  I couldn’t wait to figure out who had done it.  There were lots of references and things to help get us in the Christmas spirit as well.

Mount Rainier by Sandy Dengler (Jack Prester #3) – 4
Enviromentalist John Getz was killed on Mount Rainier, and National Parks investigator at large Jack Prester is called in to help find the killer.  But with clues pointing nowhere and one local claiming Bigfoot did it, will Jack solve this case in time to join his family in Hawaii for Christmas?

How having read this book in 20 years, I actually didn’t remember the killer until part way through when I started picking up on the clues.  The characters are the strongest in the series to date and not the caricatures they might have been in lesser hands.  There are a couple of small things late in the book that don’t sit right with me, but overall this is a fun book to read at Christmas or any time of the year.

NOTE: This book was published 20 years ago in paperback as Murder on the Mount and republished as ebook Mount Rainier.

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (Mickey Haller #4) – 4
Mickey has had to start taking on foreclosure cases to keep his firm growing, but when his first foreclosure client is accused of murder, Mickey finds himself once again practicing criminal law.  His client is the easy suspect, and the case seems pretty circumstantial.  But will he be able to get her off?

Naturally, the book is filled with twists and turns, and the outcome is never really that certain.  The characters are great as well, especially Mickey who is so complex.  Honestly, it’s so easy to root for him, flaws and all.  I did feel the courtroom finagling slowed things down a little at times, especially when it was rehashing things we already knew, but overall, this is another strong book.

The Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #18) – 5
Meg has been drafted as the coordinator of the show house, which will be decorated by a group of designers and then opened to the public to raise funds for local charities.  However, when Meg goes back to lock up late one night, she finds one of the designers murdered in the master bedroom.  He wasn’t a very well-liked man, but who actually hated him enough to murder him?

Yes, this book does tie in to Christmas as well (as hinted at by the title).  It’s a fun mystery I thought I had figured out, but I was surprised in the end.  The characters are great, although Josh and Jamie, Meg’s twins, completely stole the show.  I would have liked to see more from one thread from the previous book, but hopefully that will show up in the next in the series.

Everblaze by Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities #3) – 5
Sophie discovers that Ogres are causing trouble in her new realm, but with the Black Swan staying silent, she has to work overtime to figure out what to do next.  Meanwhile, the Council is asking her to do something that is dividing the rest of the Elves.  What should she do?

This is the longest book in the series to date and also the strongest.  The characters continue to grow here, and the development in this book is awesome.  The plot is strong from start to finish, and I couldn’t turn pages fast enough to find out what would happen next.  Now, I just have to wait for the next book in the series.


  1. You had quite the festive reading month! Happy 2015 reading!

    1. I certainly did. And 2015 is off to a great if less festive start. Happy 2015 reading to you, too.


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