Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 2018 Monthly Summary

It's the last day of February, so that means it is monthly reading summary time again.  And yes, I have updated the Index this month.  New this year, I'm going to start indicating when the last time I updated a particular category was (although some of them are updated rarely, so you'll see that as well.)

Anyway, here's the list.

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

The Phantom of Oz by Cindy Brown (Ivy Meadows #5) – 5
Ivy is excited when she learns that her best friend and fellow actress Candy is in town as part of the touring cast of The Wizard of Ozpera.  However, in the months since the two have seen each other, Candy has lost a dangerous amount of weight and doesn’t seem like herself.  Then Ivy learns about the accidents that have been happening on this tour, especially once they arrived in Phoenix.  Can Ivy figure out what is happening and save her friend?

The book includes a fun mash up of The Wizard of Oz and The Phantom of the Opera, working elements of the later into the plot of the mystery.  The mystery might not be super traditional with the murder happening pretty late in the story, but there is so much going on you really don’t need it to happen earlier.  I was certainly never bored as the story moves forward quickly toward the climax.  The book is filled with great humor, yet there is a more serious side as well, which we see as we get to know the characters, especially Ivy who has some great growth here.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Too Big to Die by Sue Ann Jaffarian (Odelia Grey #12) – 5
One Saturday, Odelia and Greg’s errands are interrupted when they see a dog trapped in a car on a hot day.  They rescue the dog, but the dog’s owner is less than happy with them.  She turns out to be former reality TV star Marla Kingston, and her husband is a client of the law firm where Odelia works.  While he makes Odelia’s work life difficult, the man who stopped to help them winds up dead.  What have Odelia and Greg gotten into now?

Any fan of this long running series will tell you to expect a fast-moving case, and that’s exactly what we find here as well.  One of the complications that arises here involves a series regular; that part of the book will appeal most to fans of the series.  Zee is a strong character in this book, and I always love seeing her, although all the series regulars get a scene or two to shine.  A suspenseful climax caps another fantastic book.

Biscuits and Slashed Browns by Maddie Day (Country Store Mysteries #4) – 5
March brings a maple syrup festival to Brown County, Indiana, and Robbie Jordan is hoping to snag some of the tourists into her shop, Pans ‘N Pancakes.  However, the festival has also brought Dr. Warren Connolly to town, a professor hated for many reasons.  He is found murdered one morning before the day’s events can get started, and the police begin to look at one of Robbie’s friends as the killer.  Then a local maple syrup farmer goes missing.  What is going on?

I thought we might be in for some lectures as Dr. Connolly is first introduced to us as a climate change denier, however, this was dropped after the second chapter as we begin to find real motives for his murder.  In fact, we get several strong motives and suspects that kept me turning pages and guessing until the end.  While I missed one of the regular characters, the rest were present and accounted for and were as charming as ever.  The setting is fantastic, too.  I’d love to visit Robbie’s store.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Inspired by the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes, better known as Westley, sat down to share his memories of making the film.  He goes from being cast at the age of 23 to meeting his cast mates and stories from filming on sound stages and on location.  Helping him out, we get sidebars from his co-stars, the director, and the writer.

And any fan of the movie will love the stories told here.  It is obvious that everyone has fond memories of their time on set, are proud of the results, and thrilled that so many people love the movie as much as they do.  Even the stories that aren’t completely positive are amusing.  I know I’ll watch a couple scenes differently as a result of the stories shared here.

The Corpse with the Silver Tongue by Cathy Ace (Cait Morgan #1) – 4
Cait Morgan has traveled to Nice to present a paper for a sick colleague when she runs into her former boss, Alistair Townsend.  Unable to say no, she finds herself at a birthday party for Alistair’s wife that night.  Dinner is ruined when Alistair drops dead at the table and the other guests start feeling sick.  With the police looking at Cait, she needs to figure out what is really happening.

Cait is an interesting character because she has an excellent memory but a habit of judging others quickly.  I did find myself annoyed by her at times, but that never lasted for long.  The suspects make a strong cast as they have layers to them that Cait has to peal back before she can solve the crime.  And the plot heads into some areas I wasn’t expecting that I found interesting.  I had a couple of niggles with the climax, but they were minor.

The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner (Code Busters #2) – 4
Cody and the rest of the Code Busters are excited for the next school day because their classes are going on a combined field trip to Alcatraz.  The night before they leave, Cody gets a strange e-mail message.  Then the four friends get part of a note on their front door step in the morning.  It seems to imply that there might be a treasure on the island.  Can they figure out what is going on while on the field trip?

While the title of the book is a little misleading (we discuss some haunted places but never see any), this is a fun book for kids of all ages.  The plot moves along quickly, and it included a great twist.  The characters are on the thin side, but I’m sure kids won’t notice that.  And there is enough information on codes for kids to have lots of fun with them long after they’ve finished reading the book.

Pressing the Issue by Daryl Wood Gerber (Cookbook Nook Mysteries #6) – 4
The Renaissance Fair has come to town, and all of Crystal Cove is getting into the act.  However, not everyone is in the partying mood, as Jenna Hart discovers when she and some friends stumble on the body of Nick, a local vineyard owner.  Nick was universally loved, or so it seemed.  Who wanted him gone?

It was so glad to be back with Jenna and her community.  She really does have a large group of friends and family, and they all get their moments to shine here.  Of course, we get some strong suspects.  I did figure some parts of the mystery out early, but I didn’t have it all pieced together until Jenna figured it out.  And the Renaissance Fair proves to be another fun backdrop for the action.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Hummus and Homicide by Tina Kashian (Kebab Kitchen #1) – 4
Lucy Berberian is back in her hometown of Ocean Crest, New Jersey, while she tries to figure out what to do next in her life.  While she is reconnecting with family and friends, she is also working at her parent’s restaurant, Kebab Kitchen.  Her high school nemesis, Heather Banks, is now the health inspector, and goes out of her way to make trouble for Lucy.  However, after eating at the restaurant’s hummus bar, Heather dies in the parking lot.  With business declining and Lucy the prime suspect, Lucy begins to search for answers.  What happened to Heather?

This series is off to a good start.  Lucy has a great collection of family and friends, although I did feel that her parents could be better fleshed out.  We see hints of more here, something I hope is developed further as the series progresses.  The mystery is solid with several believable suspects and plenty of secrets.  The ending surprised me and kept me turning pages.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Color Me Murder by Krista Davis (Pen & Ink #1) – 5
Florrie Fox is delighted when her boss offers his carriage house as a place for her to live.  It’s only a few blocks from the bookstore she manages.  Her boss, Professor Maxwell, doesn’t want his nephew, Delbert, to move in, so it is perfect.  Florrie begins to have her doubt when she meets Delbert, but the last thing she expects to find is his dead body.  With Professor Maxwell arrested for the crime, Florrie needs to work fast to prove his innocence.

This is a delightful start to a new series.  Florrie is a strong main character, and I love her friends and family as well.  I already can’t wait to visit them again.  The plot is complex with multiple twists and turns that surprised me.  I did feel the climax was a bit weak, but it certainly did explain everything that had happened.  Florrie also designs adult coloring books, and as an added bonus, the physical book features a front and back cover ready to be colored.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book

I Know What You Bid Last Summer by Sherry Harris (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries #5) – 5
Sarah is running a sport equipment exchange in a local school gym.  The night before, as she is about to leave, someone attacks her.  Despite the attack, the event goes off without a hitch – until Sarah finds the dead body of the school superintendent.  What is going on?

This is another fabulous, fast paced read in one of my favorite series.  There are several different avenues that Sarah investigates along the way, and they all come together beautifully for the climax.  Meanwhile, we get some development in several series threads and a very funny sub-plot.  Sarah continues to grow as a character, and the rest of the cast, both new and returning, are fantastic.  The writing makes me feel like I’ve visited Sarah’s corner of the world.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

3 comments:

  1. You did great, and they were all decent reads too! Happy March!

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  2. Looks like a good idea. I need to do my monthly updates for this year and I still need to put my past Yearly Wrap ups together as I want to have only one post for that year but with all my books and I that I am lacking in doing at the moment. I am behind with the monthly wrap up as well hopeful I can do that shortly as well as this weekend. Happy reading and follow you. You follow back if you like @ https://nrcbooks.blogspot.com/

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  3. Looks like a great reading month for you - lots of 4's and 5's and a nice variety! I can see that you enjoy mysteries. You packed a lot into a short month!

    Hope March is just as good - enjoy your books!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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