Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 2017's Monthly Reading Summary

Here we are on the last day of November, so that must mean it is time for the monthly reading summary.

I didn't make it to the index this month.  I will be sure to do that next month, however.

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

A Deadly Éclair by Daryl Wood Gerber (French Bistro Mysteries #1) – 5
Mimi Rousseau is just months into her new venture of a French bistro and hotel in the heart of Napa County.  This weekend, she is hosting her first event, the wedding of Angelica Edmonton, noted TV talk show host and the niece of Bryan Baker, Mimi’s benefactor and mentor.  However, when tension at the pre-wedding dinner on Friday night leads to a dead body on Saturday morning, Mimi finds herself looking into the murder.  What is going on?

It’s fun to find a series set in Napa County that doesn’t focus on wine, although wine is certainly present.  The French food will definitely leave your mouth watering as you work your way through this good first mystery.  The initial chapter has a bit of a data dump in it, but once beyond that, the mystery picks up and the pace never slows down again.  The characters are outstanding, and the relationships between the series regulars is already strong.  I’m looking forward to seeing that grow as the series progresses.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Assault and Buttery by Kristi Abbott (Popcorn Shop Mysteries #3) – 4
Rebecca Anderson’s popcorn shop is under renovation, which is how she finds a mysterious diary in the kitchen’s wall.  She is trying to figure out who the writer was when someone dies after eating her popcorn – popcorn that was poisoned.  Her attempts to clear her reputation and save her business end with her in prison for impeding a police investigation.  What’s going on?  Will Rebecca get out of jail?

This book has a unique first half as we get flashbacks to what landed Rebecca in jail.  It absolutely works; I was engaged the entire way through and the plot comes together perfectly at the end.  There’s some fun humor, although a couple of scenes that were supposed to be funny irritated me.  Likewise, I didn’t feel the repercussions of the jail plot twist were adequately dealt with.  We didn’t see quite as much of the series regulars, but I did enjoy what we saw.  And the new characters were wonderful.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

City of Lies by Victoria Thompson (Counterfeit Lady Mysteries #1) – 5
Elizabeth Miles makes her living as a con woman, an unusual profession for a woman in 1917.  However, when her latest con goes south, she finds herself on the run from the mark’s goons.  In her attempts to escape, she joins a group of suffragists outside the White House and is delighted when they are arrested.  But has she truly escaped the men searching for her?

If you pick up this book expecting a murder and five suspects, you’ll be disappointed.  However, with those adjusted expectations pick up this book because it is wonderful.  The story is captivating and moves quickly; I always had a hard time putting the book down.  This may be the first in a series, but the characters are already strong.  I’m not normally one to root for a criminal, but I couldn’t help but root for Elizabeth in this book.  Real history is woven in without slowing down the fictional story at all.  I’m not sure where the series will go from this wonderful beginning, but I can’t wait to find out.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Seeds of Revenge by Wendy Tyson (Greenhouse Mysteries #3) – 5
When Megan Sawyer sees a woman stranded during a winter storm, she offers her a ride to town.  The woman is Becca, who is coming to Winsome to spend the upcoming Christmas holiday with her aunt.  However, when she goes to drop off Becca, Megan witnesses a confrontation between Becca and her very estranged father, Paul.  When Paul dies a few days later, Becca quickly becomes the chief suspect.  But Megan thinks there is more to his death, especially since it mirrors an unusual death in one of Megan’s aunt Sarah’s books.  Is the killer using the book to send a message?

The Christmas setting is in contrast to the plot of this book.  In fact, it makes it seem darker as a result.  This is a plot that will stay with you for a while after you are done.  Little things that appear to mean nothing come into clearer focus when we reach the climax of the tightly plotted story.  I enjoyed seeing the returning characters again, but the new characters really steal the show.  They are very strong, even Paul, which is unusual for a murder victim.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

The Last Detective by Robert Crais (Cole and Pike #9) – 5
While PI Elvis Cole is watching his girlfriend Lucy’s son, Ben is kidnapped.  The caller says it is payback for something in Cole’s past, but he can’t figure out what that might be.  As more people get involved in the case, the kidnapping puts a strain on Elvis’s relationship with Lucy.  Can he find Ben?

This is a thrilling read from start to finish.  Since we have gotten to know Lucy and Ben over the last couple of books, we care about the outcome here.  I was so pulled in at the climax that I didn’t want to stop.  The characters are strong as well, including Elvis and his partner Joe Pike.  They are becoming more human.  The flashbacks to Elvis’s past help with that, and they manage to be as engrossing as the main story instead of slowing it down.

Spy School Secret Service by Stuart Gibbs (Spy School #5) – 5
The evil organization SPYDER is back, and they are planning to assassinate the President.  Because of Ben Ripley’s success fighting them in the past, he is sent under cover into the White House to try to find the sleeper agent.  However, with the large number of people in the White House each day, Ben soon realizes just how mammoth the task is.  Can he figure out what is going on in time to save the President?

This premise sets us off on another wonderful wild ride into the world of espionage.  Oh, the fact that Ben is only twelve-years-old might be unrealistic, but it is so much fun and author Stuart Gibbs makes it work here.  There are lots of twists leading up to the wonderful climax.  The characters are good, although they could be a little stronger.  That’s probably just the adult in me talking, however because it certainly wasn’t on my mind when I was busy turning pages.  The book also packs a fair number of laughs that caught me off guard and truly made me laugh out loud.  Kids of all ages will love this book.

A Perfect Manhattan Murder by Tracy Kiely (Nic and Nigel Mysteries #3) – 5
Nic and Nigel Martini are back in Manhattan for the Broadway premier of their friend Patty’s play.  While Nic is happy to see Patty and their mutual friend Harper, she is less enthused about seeing Harper’s husband Dan, a Broadway critic who is as boorish in real life as his reviews are harsh.  The morning after the play’s premier, Dan is found dead, and the police quickly zero in on Harper as their prime suspect.  Nic is certain that her friend is innocent, but can she prove it?

Once again, we are treated to a fantastically fun story.  We get to know Dan and meet the suspects before he dies, which means we don’t waste any time diving into questioning suspects.  I didn’t see the ending coming at all.  The characters are a little on the thin side, but I don’t mind.  The quips and banter flies fast here, and I was constantly laughing.  This series continues to be a wonderful homage to The Thin Man.

“I” is for Innocent by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #9) – 5
Five years ago, Isabelle Barney was murdered on the day after Christmas.  While her estranged husband was acquitted of the crime, her ex-husband is now suing him in civil court in a wrongful death case.  Kinsey has been hired to help the lawyer win the case, taking over from a PI who just died.  His notes were a mess, so she is completely retracing his steps.  But as she goes, she begins to wonder just who committed the murder.  Is she helping the court case, or hurting it?

Kinsey is back in top form in this book.  The plot twists all over the place before coming to a perfectly logical climax.  Henry and Rosie are involved in a very fun sub-plot that provides some laughs.  The suspects are strong, and we meet a couple of new supporting characters since Kinsey has had to move her office.

Nightfall by Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities #6) – 5
This book picks up moments after book five in the series ends as Sophie is dealing with the fact that the Neverseen have kidnapped her human parents.  After getting her human sister hidden away, Sophie begins to hunt for them.  The only clue is Nightfall, a clue that leads to Keefe’s mother, Lady Gisela.  But can she be trusted?  Or is she using Sophie and her friends for her own purpose?

I’ve been waiting a year to get the next chapter in Sophie’s story after the cliffhanger of the last book, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This really is a next chapter, so if you haven’t read these books, don’t start here since you will be lost.  But fans will quickly find themselves turning the 800 pages in this book.  The plot really stalls only once about two thirds of the way, but it isn’t too long before we are ramping up for the climax.  Meanwhile, all our favorite characters get some development and their moments to shine while we meet a fantastic new character.

Hark the Herald Angels Slay by Vicki Delany (Year-Round Christmas Mysteries #3) – 5
Things are gearing up for Christmas in July in the town of Rudolph, New York, and Merry Wilkinson is looking forward to the town’s new tradition, Santa arriving for his vacation in a boat parade.  However, things get complicated when her ex-fiance, Max Folger, shows up in town wanting to rekindle his relationship with Merry.  When he turns up dead in Merry’s shop, she finds herself drawn into the investigation.  Can she figure out what is going on?

I love this series for the Christmas spirit that author Vicki Delany infuses into every page, and just because this book is set in July, that Christmas spirit hasn’t diminished at all.  The mystery takes off into some surprising areas that kept me turning pages until I reached the end.  The series regulars are their normal charming selves, and I was pleasantly surprised by the growth we saw in the suspects as well.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.


  1. Another good month in the books. Happy December!

  2. Wow, you read some great books this month!

  3. Too many book, too little time, but a few will go on my list. Thanks.

  4. Wow, you had an excellent reading month! Looks like you enjoyed them all - wonderful.


    Book By Book