All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).
Void Moon by Michael Connelly – 3
Six years ago, Cassie Black’s life went wrong when a casino hotel robbery went very wrong. She’s served time in prison and is now ten months into serving parole when she finds herself needing cash, so she takes on one last job, which takes her back to the casino where the job went wrong six years before. Is this job the windfall it appears to be or will it go wrong as well?
I’m being rather vague in my teaser because, like most Michael Connelly books, this is one you need to experience for yourself. I did find the beginning a little slow and technical, but when it took off, it grabbed me and I was along for the ride. This was despite the fact that I didn’t love any of the major characters. I can’t find myself rooting for a criminal, so it wasn’t until we met some characters even worse than Cassie that I found myself rooting for her.
Kermit the Hermit by Bill Peet – 5
Kermit is a hermit crab who spends his day trying to defend the treasures he has collected. But when a boy saves his life one day, he suddenly finds himself wanting to do something to help the boy. Where will this new focus take him?
This is a delightful tale, told in verse, something Bill Peet didn’t always do. The moral of the story is very obvious; in fact, at times this seems a bit more of a parable. But that’s not an issue because the story is very entertaining the entire way through. The pictures are fantastic as always and will help keep kid’s interest as well.
Live and Let Fly by Clover Tate (Kite Shop Mysteries #2) – 4
There’s a kite contest coming to town, and Emmy Adler has pinned her hopes on winning. She thinks that the fame will drive people to her website and help her shop survive the upcoming winter. The judge is, Jasmine Normand, a local who gained fame on a reality show, and Emmy has a run in with her in the weeks leading up to the contest. When Jasmine turns up dead, a tabloid starts insinuating that Emmy had something to do with the death. Can she learn the truth and save her reputation?
Emmy’s town is a wonderful Oregon beach side town, and the atmosphere makes me want to settle in for a vacation. The mystery starts out strong, but loses some steam in the middle before coming back to life for a great climax. Emmy is learning some patience, and it shows in this book. I enjoyed seeing her and the rest of the returning characters again. The new cast of characters are just as strong.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
And Death Goes To… by Laura Bradford (Tobi Tobias #3) – 4
Tobi Tobias is thrilled to be up for the Golden Storyboard award at the annual St. Louis Advertising Awards. However, a night of celebration turns to tragedy when a platform collapses, killing one of the winners. Despite saying she will stay out of it, Tobi can’t help but be pulled in when she thinks about one thing – it might have been her. But what really happened that night?
I love the Tobi and her friends, so I was thrilled to visit them again. Combined with the suspects, and we’ve got a fantastic set of characters. I did feel that one storyline got in the way of the mystery at times. It didn’t help that I felt Tobi was rather stupid when it came to that situation. However, the mystery itself was very well done, with several good twists and a surprising climax.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.
Purring Around the Christmas Tree by Liz Mugavero (Pawsitively Organic Mysteries #6) – 4
The town of Frog’s Ledge, Connecticut, is celebrating the start of the holiday season with their big tree lighting, and Stan is doubly excited since her new pet patisserie is opening the next day. However, things take an unexpected turn when Santa dies on his way to light the tree. Meanwhile, two other men are missing. Is there a connection?
I was hooked from the start with this book. Even though I figured out one thread early on, I still wanted to know how it was all going to play out. I did feel the climax was rushed, but that is my only complaint about this book. I love these characters and the relationships that have grown over the course of the series, and getting to spend time with them helped add to the Christmas spirit in this book for me.
The Ghost of Christmas Past by Rhys Bowen (Molly Murphy #17) – 5
December of 1906 finds Molly Murphy Sullivan hoping that the new year will bring some changes and good news. When she, her husband Daniel, and their son Liam get invited to a house party for Christmas on the Hudson, Molly thinks this might help take her mind off everything going on in her life. However, she finds the household has a weird tension to it, with relationships she can’t quite read. Then she learns that a child disappeared from this house 10 years before right before Christmas. Molly is determined to figure out what happened, but has it been too long?
As is often the case, we start out with some updates on the series regulars before Molly fully plunges into the mystery, but once she does, I was hooked. In fact, as soon as I got off work, I sat down to finish. While I don’t feel like Daniel has grown, I love the rest of the cast, and the new characters are very strong. There is a more serious tone than you might expect from a Christmas mystery, but the contrast works well in this case.
This Christmas, Meg’s husband Michael has turned his one-man production of A Christmas Carol into a full play. In an effort to bring in more people to watch, Malcolm Haver has been cast as Scrooge. Malcolm is best known for a part in a cult TV show from 30 years ago, but he does have a loyal fan base. Unfortunately, he also has a habit of showing up late and drunk. In an effort to find out where Malcolm is getting his alcohol, Meg follows him from the theater one day. Where will Malcolm lead her?
While my teaser doesn’t reveal much of it, there is a mystery, even a murder, in this book. It’s just best to watch it all unfold for yourself. I did feel the ending was a tad weak, and the pacing was a little uneven early on, but these are minor complaints. I love these characters, and they are in fine form here. We get some laughs as grins along the way as always. Really, it’s hard to not have fun while reading this book.
Mistletoe Murder by Karen MacInerney (Dewberry Farm Mysteries #4) – 5
It’s the week leading up to Christmas, and the town of Buttercup, Texas, is buzzing about the skeleton recently uncovered in the city hall renovations. However, that changes when a dead body turns up in the parking lot of the local Mexican restaurant. The victim is Randy Stone, and the sheriff thinks it’s a case of a jealous wife stabbing her husband. But Lucy Resnick isn’t so sure, so she begins her own investigation, hoping to find the truth. Can she do it before an innocent woman spends the holiday in jail?
It was wonderful to pop in on these characters for a second Christmas mystery. The plot is strong with several good surprises before we reach the local climax. Lucy and her boyfriend are fantastic. While Lucy’s friends are all here, the spotlight is on a different one this time, and I loved her sub-plot. I did find a couple of continuity errors early on, but they were minor and didn’t affect anything as far as the mystery itself goes. Throw in seven delicious sounding recipes, and you’ve got a Christmas winner.
NOTE: I received a copy of this book.
Stowed Away by Barbara Ross (Maine Clambake Mysteries #6 – 4
It’s a week away from opening day for the Snowden Family Clambake, and Julia and the rest of her family are hard at work making sure everything is ready. But they are also discussing what to do with the ruins of Windsholme, the family mansion on the island where they host the clambake. One expert they are bring in turns out to be Julia’s prep school roommate, Wyatt Jayne. Wyatt is in town to oversee a yacht renovation, but when the owner of the yacht is found murdered, she finds herself the prime suspect. Julia has her own reason for investigating the murder, a very personal one. Can she figure out what truly happened?
While this is book six in the series, it’s only been a year to Julia and the rest of these characters, which allows us time to really see their relationships grow and change. I like watching this growth as the series progresses. There are several sub-plots that facilitate this, but I felt they slowed things down early in the book. Once the mystery kicks into high gear, it completely captured me again, with several wonderful twists and a climax that tied everything together perfectly.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.