Wednesday, September 5, 2018

August 2018's Monthly Reading Summary

Yes, I'm a little late this month.  I wanted to wait until after the holiday weekend here in the states.  But here's my monthly reading summary for September.

No, I didn't get the index updated this month.  I was having too much fun hanging out with my family this weekend.

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

Purrder She Wrote by Cate Conte (Cat Café #2) – 4
It’s opening day for Maddie James’ new cat café on Daybreak Island.  However, the day has hardly started when Adele, one of her volunteers, gets into a shouting match with socialite Holly over one of the cats.  When Holly turns up dead, naturally Adele becomes a suspect.  Maddie is sure the police are missing something.  Can she figure out what it is?

I love the setting of this series.  Daybreak Island is a place I’d love to visit – between the murders, of course.  The mystery gets a bit sidetracked early on here due to some strong sub-plots, but I was enjoying those sub-plots as well, and things get back on track before too long with a surprising ending.  The suspects are all strong, but it’s the main characters who made me excited to return to this series.  They are all fantastic, and spending time with them was as enjoyable as spending time in the setting.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff – 5
The book features Danny, a young boy whose day in the museum gets much better when he meets a real Dinosaur.  The two spend the day together, heading downtown, to the zoo, and finally spending some time playing with Danny’s neighborhood friends.

I remember enjoying this book as a kid, and it holds up well today.  While there is really nothing in the way of plot, the pictures and words, sometimes more captions to the pictures than anything else, tell of a delightful day together for these two new friends.  The pictures are a bit dated since the book came out in the 1950’s, but I doubt kids notice or care.  Instead, they’ll be caught up in the fun of spending a day with a dinosaur, smiling and laughing at some of the situations along the way.

Death on the Menu by Lucy Burdette (Key West Food Critic Mysteries #8) – 4
Key West is hosting a conference with some leading dignitaries from Cuba, and Hayley Snow’s mom has landed the plumb catering gig, with Hayley among those helping out.  The conference is being greeted with protests, and tensions are high.  They only get worse when an artifact on loan from Cuba, is stolen.  Then a man helping Hayley’s mom is murdered.  Are the two events connected?

I have missed this series, and it was so fantastic to be back.  This book has now added two more must visit locations on my bucket list trip to Key West, Harry Truman’s Little White House and Hemingway’s house.  The politics of the US Cuban relationship is front and center and handled in a mostly even-handed manner.  The politics and the drama around the conference to tend to overshadow the mystery at times, especially in the first half.  Things do build to a great climax, however.  And it was great to see Hayley and her friends again.  Fans will be interested to see the latest in Hayley’s complicated love life, and we get to see plenty of Miss Gloria.  This truly was a fun visit.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Hollywood Ending by Kellye Garrett (Detective by Day #2) – 5
It’s awards season in Hollywood and actress turned PI Day Anderson is celebrating when her boyfriend, Omari, is nomination for the Silver Sphere Award.  However, after one of the parties he has to attend to mingle with the judges, Lily Davis is murdered.  Lily was a publicist for the Silver Sphere Awards, and they have offered a reward for information leading to the arrest of her killer, so naturally Day jumps in to solve the case.  This one seems much easier than her first murder case.  Is she missing something?

Of course, she is, and the book soon involves plenty of complications that kept me reading as fast as I could.  There are some fun twists before we reach the climax.  Day and all her friends are back, and I loved spending more time with them and seeing how their relationships have changed.  I also really enjoy the insider’s look at life in the Hollywood world.  Everything is brought together by humor that had me laughing and smiling the entire way through the book.  Those who loved the first book will be equally delighted with this one.  And if you haven’t started this series yet, you need to do so today.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham – 2
This book introduces us to Sebastian Rudd, a lawyer who handles the clients no one else wants to take on.  We’re talking about an older teen accused of a horrible crime and convicted by the people of his town.  Or a mobster on death row.  With enemies from the ranks of the police and the clients he hasn’t been able to get off, can Sebastian navigate his life?

The book is really more of a character study with several cases taking the foreground at various points.  It reads like these stories were originally published separately and brought together for this book, although I haven’t researched to know if that is true or not.  The ending definitely leaves things open for more books.  My issue is that I had a hard time liking many of the characters and found myself actively rooting for Sebastian to lose some of his cases.  The fact that all the cops were over the top corrupt didn’t help any at all.  Plus Sebastian came across as a knock off of Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller character, and that certainly didn’t help matters at all since I love Mickey.

A Dark and Twisting Path by Julia Buckley (Writer’s Apprentice Mysteries #3) – 5
Lena London and Camilla Graham have just returned from their first joint book tour when Lena gets a call from her friend Allison.  Allison has found a dead body on the edge of her property.  Lena goes over to be with Allison only to recognize the letter opener sticking out of the victim as one she gave her boyfriend Sam.  Who is trying to frame him for murder now?

After the second book in the series, I was anxious to see what would happen to these characters next and how the cliffhanger would be resolved.  I’m thrilled to say I was very satisfied with how things developed here, and I am confident that fans of the series will be as well.  If you aren’t familiar with the series, it borrows heavily from Gothic stories, so this isn’t a typical cozy plot, but that doesn’t make for a bad story in the slightest.  The pages turned all too quickly.  I was annoyed by some timeline issues early on, but those were minor overall.  Lena is a strong heroine, and the rest of the cast are charming and eccentric.  If you haven’t started this series yet, I recommend it; I just don’t recommend you start here.  You really need the previous two books to fully appreciate what happens here.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Four Funerals and Maybe a Wedding by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness #12) – 4
Lady Georgianna, Georgie to her friends, is finally planning her wedding to Darcy O’Mara.  However, before they get married, they need to figure out where they are going to live.  The answer comes from an unlikely place, and soon Georgie is out to the country to get their new home ready for them.  She isn’t surprised when she arrives to find the house is running on a minimal staff, but the staff that is there is extremely surprising.  Something is definitely up, but can Georgie figure out what is going on?  Will she finally get married?

As is typical for the series, the book started off a little slowly for me, giving us updates on the various people in Georgie’s life and talking about the wedding plans.  There was also a recycled sub-plot in this section that annoyed me.  However, once the action moves to Georgie’s potential new house, things really picked up.  I was intrigued by what she was facing and couldn’t wait to see how it all was resolved.  There is some great character growth for Georgie and another series regular here; overall, the cast is great like always.  I was very satisfied with how this book ended.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais (Cole and Pike #12) – 5
When the body of Lionel Byrd is found in his rental house, the police also find a photo album with pictures of murder victims.  One of those victims was someone that Lionel had been arrested for killing three years ago, and Elvis Cole was hired by his defense attorney to help get him off.  Elvis did thanks to an ironclad alibi.  Was Elvis wrong then?  Or is something else going on now?

This is a compelling case that moves quickly from one plot point to another.  I followed Elvis down a couple of blind allies and wrong turns before he figured things out.  While we don’t get all the answers we might like, the book isn’t set up to give them to us.  However, the conclusion is still satisfying.  The characters we meet here are strong.  This is really Elvis’ story, so we don’t see too much of his partner Joe Pike.  Another couple of regulars appear here, and they are definitely the best versions of themselves.  Do take the title of the book seriously; some of what we learn along the way is more graphic than I felt it needed to be, and we don’t get as much of Elvis’ trademark wit here.  Still, this was a book well worth reading.

Room for Doubt by Nancy Cole Silverman (Carol Childs #4) – 4
A body has been found hanging from the Hollywood sign, and radio reporter Carol Childs is sent to the scene.  The police have ruled it a suicide, but Carol thinks something else is going on.  Before the weekend is over, Carol is contacted by a PI who shares her belief that there is more to this death.  Then a caller to Carol’s new late Sunday show all but confesses.  What is really going on?

From this intriguing premise, we get another fun mystery filled with plenty of suspense.  I did have some issues with some moral issues brought up in this book, which is funny because I am on the opposite side of things on some TV shows I watch.  A psychic we met in the first book is back, but I was happy that her “ability” only played a small part in the book.  In fact, I enjoyed seeing her again since she is a fun foil for Carol.  I really liked the cast of characters as well.  There were some timeline issues in the middle of the book, but overall, they were a minor annoyance.

Against the Claw by Shari Randall (Lobster Shack Mysteries #2) – 4
It’s the week of the Fourth of July, and Allie and her aunt Gully are getting ready for the onslaught of customers the holiday weekend will bring to their town of Mystic Bay, Connecticut and the lobster shack that Aunt Gully has started.  However, the holiday weekend takes a sad turn when Allie finds a dead body in the bay.  No one seems to know who she was.  But if no one recognizes her, who would want her dead?

I enjoyed the first book in this series, and it was a delight to return again.  The characters are lots of fun, and it was great to see them again.  The new characters fit right in; they were so nice, it was hard to believe there was a killer hiding among them.  I did think the plot wandered a bit in the first half, but it picked up in the second half.  When we reached the climax, I discovered there were some clues I hadn’t even realized where hiding in the book.  The location is charming; the perfect summer resort town.  So if you are looking for a book to hold on to summer, pick this one up.

Lost Luggage by Wendall Thomas (Cyd Redondo #1) – 4
Despite working as a travel agent, Cyd Redondo has barely traveled herself.  That’s why she is so excited to finally win a promotional trip that sends her to Africa.  And if she can check in with some of her clients while she is there, so much the better.  At least, that’s what she thinks until she lands and discovers that one couple has been arrest.  And there seems to be a rash of lost luggage.  What is really going on?

The book took a little bit of time with set up before the story really took off, but once it did, it was a fantastic trip.  There were so many twists, I had a hard time putting it down.  Cyd is a remarkable, resourceful main character, and it was easy to root for her to overcome the many obstacles in her path.  There is plenty of humor to keep things going, as well.  There is enough language, sex, and violence (especially against animals done by the bad guys in a couple of scenes) to keep this from being one of the cozies I normally read, but if you know that going in, you’ll be just fine.

Stabbed in the Baklava by Tina Kashian (Kebab Kitchen Mysteries #2) – 4
Lucy has taken over managing her family’s Mediterranean restaurant in Ocean Crest, New Jersey, and she is thrilled when they are hired to cater the wedding of socialite Scarlet Westwood.  However, in the middle of the reception, Lucy’s chef and ex-boyfriend, Azad, gets into a fight with the best man, Henry.  As the night is winding down, Azad finds Henry’s body in the back of their locked catering van.  Naturally, the police think he is a great suspect, but Lucy disagrees.  Can she figure out what happened?

It was great to be back in Ocean Crest, and I felt like we got to see a bit more of this resort town.  I loved it, and I’d love to be able to visit in real life, just maybe between the murders.  The mystery here is very strong, with several viable and well-developed suspects.  I followed along with Lucy’s thoughts as she investigated figuring that her current theory would turn out to be wrong, but when she finally figured out the truth, it made perfect sense.  Most of the characters are strong, although a few of the supporting characters still seem to be a bit weak, and the way that Lucy’s mother focuses on her love life annoyed me.  The love triangle is still going strong here, although I have a feeling I know where it will go.  There are three delicious sounding recipes at the end of the book.  Overall, this is a fun second in the series.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Lost Legacy by Annette Dashofy (Zoe Chambers #2) – 5
When paramedic Zoe Chambers arrives at the scene of an apparent suicide, she can’t help but draw parallels to the death of her great uncles several decades ago in the same barn.  Meanwhile, Police Chief Pete Adams uncovers another tie to Zoe’s past in the investigation.  Is the modern death a murder or a suicide?  What is the connection to Zoe?

I’m sorry I waited so long to return to Zoe’s world, but it was fantastic to be back.  Zoe and Pete really are co-leads in the series since they split time as our viewpoint characters.  In this case, they both have sub-plots involving their parents, as well.  The rest of the characters are just as fully developed as our leads.  The plot is compelling, always pulling me in and making me reluctant to set the book down.  The tone of the book is definitely more somber, and the smattering of language coupled with a few scenes on the edge of being graphic keep it on the traditional side of the spectrum.  While not as light as many of the cozies I read, it is still wonderful reading.

3 comments:

  1. Great list and some of these are on my TBR list. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. You did awesome! Happy September!

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  3. You don't read nonfiction? I couldn't possibly read such a string of novels, but the cat one works for me!

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