Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Monthly Reading Summary - May 2015

Since my ultimate Frisbee game went quickly last night (we lost big time), I had time to update The Index.  And, of course, here's my monthly reading summary.  While you are here, check out my review and giveaway of Death of a Chocolate Cheater by Penny Pike.

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

Nick and Tesla’s Special Effects Spectacular by “Science Bob” Flugfelder and Steve Hockensmith (Nick and Tesla #5) – 5
The latest Metalman superhero film is being filmed in Half Moon Bay, and DeMarco’s aunt is a producer.  However, the set visit she arranges for Nick, Tesla, DeMarco, and Silas leads the four friends to believe someone is trying to sabotage the film.  Can they figure out who?

This is a fun mystery with great clues and red herrings.  The characters could be a tad better, but the middle grade audience certainly won’t care.  I didn’t at that age.  There are also instructions for projects to build later, including zombie make up.  What more could kids want?

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

Musseled Out by Barbara Ross (Maine Clambake #3) – 5
With fall in the air, Julia must make decisions about her future with the family clambake.  Will she stay or return to her job in New York City?  That gets put on the back burner when the body of a potential competitor is found on an abandoned boat and the police begin to question her brother-in-law, who is clearly hiding something.

The book started off strong and never slowed down.  There are plenty of secrets, clues, and twists along the way to a fantastic ending.  The characters were strong and that made me care about the solution to the mystery that much more.

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

One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O’Neil (Cypress Cove Mysteries #1) – 4
When Antonia Martinelli asks Penny Lively to look into sabotage at the Martinelli Winery, Penny feels like she has to say yes.  However, things quickly escalate to murder, and Penny feels like she has gotten in over her head.  Can she find the killer?  Is the murder related to the sabotage?

This debut is filled with strong characters and a compelling plot that kept me turning pages.  Sadly, the timeline early on had some errors in it, which is a big pet peeve.  Those issues were resolved later in the book, and it never impacted the story.  Overall, this is a strong book in what could easily become a long running series.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Evil Spy School by Stuart Gibbs (Spy School #3) – 5
When Ben gets kicked out of spy school, he accepts an offer to attended SPYDER’s spy school instead.  It’s an undercover assignment to find out what their next evil plan is.  At least, Ben hopes that’s the case.  Since he is cut off from everyone but he new fellow students, can he learn SPYDER’s plans and share them with someone else in time?

Because the setting is different, we don’t get quite as much from the usual supporting characters, but the news characters are just as great.  The plot moves forward at a steady pace until the final third, when it kicks into high gear.  Add in a nice dose of humor, and you’ve got a wonderful new adventure for Ben and his fans.

14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Women’s Murder Club #14) – 4
While Lindsay is investigating a deadly string of robberies where the suspects were SFPD jackets, Yuki takes a new job and her first client is suing the city for false arrest and Joe looks into a string of annual murders.

With three plots, there is never a dull moment in this page turner.  Sadly, Claire and Cindy are sidelined in this book.  I really wish all the ladies were involved in the stories again.  The emphasis on plot over characters continues, but there is enough about the characters to make us care about the outcome.

The Final Reveille by Amanda Flower (Living History Museum Mystery #1) – 4
Kelsey Cambridge enjoys her job running the Barton Farm Living History Museum.  However, on the weekend that she’s added Civil War reenactors to the museum’s activities, she gets word from Maxwell that he is going to cut off the funds she’s been getting through a charitable foundation to help keep the place running.  When Kelsey finds Maxwell murdered on the museum property the next morning, she becomes a suspect.  Can she find the real killer?

I already enjoy history, but Kelsey’s love of the subject comes through loud and clear.  The plot was a little slow to get going as the museum and characters were introduced, but it quickly gained speed and drew me in.  Kelsey is a strong character, and the rest of the cast is great as well.  I’m looking forward to reading more about them in the future.

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

Death by the Dozen by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mysteries #3) – 5
Mel and Angie have entered a pastry baking contest, hoping to beat their rival Olivia for the grand prize.  The judges are mostly people Mel knew from culinary school, including her old mentor Vic Mazzotta.  Vic can be a hard man to live, but Mel is still surprised when he is found dead inside an ice truck.  Had he made a lethal enemy?

The book sets up the suspects and motives early on before Vic’s body is even found.  I did feel the pacing sagged a bit in the middle, but for the most part, this was a great mystery with some good twists and a great climax.  The characters are fun as always, too.  It’s easy to see why the series is so popular.

As Gouda as Dead by Avery Aames (Cheese Shop Mysteries #6) – 4
Just days before Charlotte and Jordan are to wed, the body of Tim O’Shea, the local bar owner, is found on Jordan’s cheese farm.  The personal nature of the murder leads Charlotte to start investigating to figure out who would want to kill the man who was a friend to so many.

I was surprised when I realized who the murder victim was going to be, but I liked that it made the case more personal to me as well as the characters.  The large cast is charming and fun as always.  I do grow a little tire of the character’s wild theories (especially Rebecca), but that’s a minor complaint overall.

Book of the Dead by Michael Northrop (TombQuest #1) – 4
Alex Sennefer has never been healthy, but recently he’s taken a turn for the worse.  Just when things look their darkest, he makes a miraculous recovery.  However, the world he wakes up to includes some dangerous long dead mummies come to life as well.  Can Alex help stop them?

The book started a little slowly thanks to the set up taking some time, but once the story got going, I was turning pages as quickly as I could.  A couple scenes in the second half especially left me with sweaty palms.  The characters and good, and this book ends with a set up for the next book.  The target middle grade audience will be thrilled.

Death by Coffee by Alex Erickson (Bookstore Café Mysteries #1) – 3
Best friends Krissy and Vickie have moved to Pine Hills and opened a bookstore and coffee shop.  They’ve even named it Death by Coffee after one of Krissy’s dad’s bestselling mystery novels.  But they find themselves in a real life mystery on their first day in business when a customer buys a cup of coffee, takes it to his office across the street, and dies.  Krissy will have to act fast to clear their shop of any wrong doing in the crime.

The book sounded like fun, and I really wanted to like it, but the truth it is turned out to be average.  The plot was a little uneven at times, but it still advanced to a great and logical climax.  The suspects were good, but most of the series regular characters were a bit flat.  Krissy did some embarrassing things that made me cringe, and her cat was annoying.  Here’s hoping the series gets better as it goes along.

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

Assaulted Pretzel by Laura Bradford (Amish Mysteries #2) – 5
Everyone, English and Amish alike, are talking about toy maker Rob Karble being in town to make a deal to distribute toys made by the local Amish.  However, not too long after word leaks he intends to use his factory instead of the local Amish, he is found murdered.  Once again, Claire Weatherly finds herself getting involved to clear her new Amish friends.

I still can’t get over how strong the characters in this series are.  They pull you in and make you care about every page.  The plot is good, and kept me guessing until the end.  I did find the romantic triangle a bit too prominent, and yet with the way it ended, I can’t wait to find out what happens next there as well.  The strong characters are to blame for that contradiction.


  1. You had a great month for books! Happy June reading!

  2. Looks like a very good month of reading. Some of those titles are really clever and fun.

    1. I love the clever titles for cozies.

  3. Wow, these all sound really great!

    1. Yeah, I read lots of great books this month.