Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February 2017's Monthly Reading Summary

And here we are at the end of February.  Time for another monthly reading summary.  And yes, the index has been updated.

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

Cat Killer by Sandy Dengler (Valley of the Sun Mysteries #1) – 4
When a car bomb explodes killing Cat DuBois, Phoenix police detective Joe Rodriguez has his list of suspects, including Cat’s boss, traveling evangelist Persis Magen.  However, a second incident makes him question who is the killer and who are potential targets.  Can he figure it out before someone else dies?

I first read this mystery 20 plus years ago, and it was fun to revisit these characters.  I did remember the killer, but reading it now, the villain’s identity does seem a little obvious early on.  The characters are strong, and I enjoyed getting to meet them again.  By the end, I was easily able to remember who they all were, even given the large number we meet early on.  This is a Christian mystery, which adds to the book.

War and Peach by Susan Furlong (Georgia Peach Mysteries #3) – 5
The local election for mayor is all anyone is talking about in Cays Mill, Georgia, and Nola Mae Harper has become caught in the middle.  Just an hour before the last debate is to take place, a fire breaks out in Clem Rogers’s barn, and his body is found in the ruins.  Since he had some dirt on his opponent in the race he was going to share at the debate, the people in town are certain his opponent did it.  The sheriff has another theory, Nola Mae’s father, who has admitted to visiting the victim just before the fire broke out.  Nola Mae doesn’t think either of those suspects could have done it.  But can she find out the truth?

If you are tired of politics, don’t let the election angle worry you.  That is only one aspect of this fun mystery.  In fact, we get some delightful red herrings before Nola Mae zeroes in on the truth in the suspenseful climax.  The characters are charming as always, and we get to see more growth in Nola Mae.  Plus there is lots of talk about peaches.  How can you go wrong with that?

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

A Measure of Murder by Leslie Karst (Sally Solari Mysteries #2) – 5
With trying to juggle working at two restaurants, Sally doesn’t have time for anything else in her life, yet when her friend Eric tells her that his community chorus is doing Mozart’s Requiem, she tries out.  Kyle, the lead for the tenors, is snarky to everyone at the auditions, but it is a surprise to everyone when his body is found during the first rehearsal.  The police think it was an accident, but Sally isn’t so sure.  When Kyle’s girlfriend asks Sally to look into it, she starts to find plenty of motives for murder.  But was it really murder?

While Sally’s motive for looking into the murder is a little weak, the rest of the book is strong.  We get plenty of motives and strong suspects.  I thought I had everything figured out early, but by the end I was questioning myself.  The returning characters are a lot of fun, especially Sally and Eric, who we got to know even better here.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Death in Advertising by Laura Bradford (Tobi Tobias Mysteries #1) – 5
Tobi Tobias is trying to make a go of owning her own advertising agency, but the lack of clients is making it very hard.  Things are so hard, she’s working in a friend’s pet store to earn some money.  Things appear to be turning around when she is hired to do a campaign for the Zander Closet Company.  But her winning slogan turns into a nightmare when a dead body is found in one of their closets.  Can Tobi find the killer in order to save her business?

This is another winning series from Laura Bradford.  The characters are strong right out of the gate, and I fell in love with them.  Tobi has a wonderful group of friends and family I’m looking forward to getting to know better in future books.  The plot is strong with many secrets on the way to a logical ending.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

A High-End Finish by Kate Carlisle (Fixer-Upper Mysteries #1) – 3
Shannon Hammer loves her life and her job of working on the many Victorians in Lighthouse Cove.  She’s agreed to go on a blind date with Jerry Saxton, but he turns out to be a complete jerk.  To Shannon’s horror, she finds his dead body in one of her houses a couple of days later.  With the police looking at her as the prime suspect, she has to build a case against someone else.  There are no shortage of suspects, but who did it?

More than a mystery with clues and red herrings, this book is a series of mysterious events, with Shannon reacting to the latest.  There are some interesting twists, but the lack of true investigation bothered me.  Still, the book does come to a logical climax.  I loved these characters.  Shannon has a strong group of friends and family, and I really liked them.

Trunk Music by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #5) – 4
Harry Bosch is back working homicide, and his first case involves a body left in a car trunk.  It looks like the victim was the victim of a mob hit, and he has connections in Las Vegas.  Is the case really going to be that simple?

Bosch’s cases are always fun, and this book is no exception.  I was able to spot a couple of the twists coming a little early, but that was a minor complaint.  The characters are strong, both returning and new.  A face from Bosch’s past comes back into his life here, and I love his new lieutenant.

Terror on Kamikaze Run by Sigmund Brower (Accidental Detectives #10) – 5
When Ricky and his friends are offered a week at a ski resort in Colorado, it seems too good to pass up.  They are supposed to be watching out for something odd that might be happening in the lodge, but they don’t know what might be wrong.  Their first night there, a fire breaks out in the room where they are staying.  Then they see the ghost of a woman who died in the area years ago.  What is going on?

As readers, we get to strap in for another fun mystery.  The plot is strong again, giving us twists and good clues before we reach the logical ending.  The characters are so much fun and better than many we see in middle grade novels.  Plus the humor sprinkled throughout adds a nice touch.  There are some Christian themes woven into the novel as well, but all without preaching at us once.

Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks Mysteries #8) – 5
Athena College is playing host to the Southern Academic Libraries Association convention and Charlie Harris’s old grad school classmate Gavin Fong is giving the keynote address.  Charlie doesn’t have fond memories of Gavin, and an encounter opening night proves that Gavin is still as arrogant as ever.  But when Gavin collapses and dies in the middle of his speech, Charlie is surprised.  Yes, Gavin was a jerk, but who hated him enough to kill him?

As always, this is a strong mystery, with conflict and tension set up from the very first chapter.  We have several strong motives and suspects before Gavin dies, and we get some nice twists before the logical solution.  The suspects are all believable, and the returning characters continue to be strong.  Charlie’s cat Diesel charms like always as well.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Oliver Twisted by Cindy Brown (Ivy Meadows #3) – 5
Ivy and her PI uncle Bob are working on a case together as they go undercover on the Get Lit! ship the S.S. David Copperfield.  They are trying to track down the people behind a rash of petty theft that have been plaguing the literature themed cruise company.  As part of her cover, Ivy is working in Oliver! At Sea!, the ships current play.  However, the ship has barely left when Ivy finds her roommate stuffed into their closet.  Have the thieves escalated to murder?

This is another delightful romp with Ivy.  There are some fun distractions and twists before she begins to put the pieces of the case together, and the way everything comes together at the end is masterful.  Ivy’s cast mates are also the suspects, and we get to know them very well, yet the regular characters we’ve met in Phoenix still get to pop in, mostly via a sub-plot Ivy is trying to help with over phone calls.  Throw in some delightful humor and you have another winner.

A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley (Writer’s Apprentice Mysteries #1) – 4
Aspiring novelist Lena London has been given the change of a lifetime, helping her idol, best-selling author Camilla Graham, polish up her newest novel.  But Lena has hardly arrived in town when she finds the dead body of a young man near Camilla’s house.  What is going on?

There is a strong element of wish fulfillment in this novel, and I must admit I enjoyed that real life fantasy.  Camilla writes gothic novels, and there are elements of those here as an homage to the genre.  Even though I’m not familiar with that genre, I still spotted a few; I probably missed others, but it wasn’t that big a deal to me.  The characters are fun and the plot was strong.  I did have some issues with the pacing at the end, but overall, I enjoyed this.  It certainly left me anxious for the next one.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in hopes I would review it.


  1. You sure read a lot of books in February. I've been doing more listening to audiobooks than reading so far this year.

  2. That's quite a list. You must read a lot faster than I do.