3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Back to School Murder by Leslie Meier

Back to School Murder
by Leslie Meier

Back to School Murder

Copyright: 1997

Pages: 268

Read: Feb. 3 – 6, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: It’s back to school time in the peaceful Maine town of Tinker’s Cove, and for mother-of-four Lucy Stone it isn’t a moment too soon. But trouble at the local elementary school soon has the sometime crime-solver juggling family, job, and night classes with another mystery to solve. And it starts with a bang.

A bob goes off with the noon lunch bell, but not before all the kids are safely evacuated, and Carol Crane, the new assistant principal, is hailed as a hero. But days later, Carol is found murdered and everyone is stunned when the most popular teacher at the school is arrested for the crime. However, not everyone is buying the open-and-shut case, including Lucy Stone, who senses there’s more to things than meets the eye.

It soon becomes clear that Lucy is flirting with danger, as sizzling secrets and explosive surprises provide a primer for the most diabolical of motives. Hot on the trail of a clever killer, the dedicated mom and seasoned sleuth must harness the courage and cool aplomb to uncover a crime that just might give her an education in the fine art of murder.


Review: This is the 4th book in the Lucy Stone series. So far I’ve really enjoyed this “cozy” mystery series. (I feel a need to clarify “cozy” here, because while technically classified as a cozy mystery, these books don’t feel as cookie-cutter cozy as others do – that’s probably why I’m so drawn to these books!) I really enjoy Lucy’s character.

In this particular installment, Lucy is really struggling with herself as a woman – not just a mom. I can totally relate. However, she made some boneheaded moves in this book that I didn’t care much for … hopefully she got all that out of her system. Anyway. The one thing that I really struggled with in this book was who the killer ended up being. It just seemed a little far-fetched to me. There were three other perfectly good suspects … and yet the actual killer came out of left field. And it just didn’t feel right to me. I usually love a good twist, but this twist didn’t really work for me.

All that said, it was still a fun read. I enjoyed catching up with Lucy and I’m really looking forward to seeing her continue on at the newspaper in town. I think that will add a lot more depth to the series. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing on. While this one’s storyline probably wasn’t up to par with the previous three, I did still enjoy it. Overall, a fun and easy read.

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, J, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Injustice for All by J.A. Jance

Injustice for All
by J.A. Jance

injustice for all

 

Copyright: 1986

Pages: 376

Read: Jan 24 – 28, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: It was like a scene from a movie: the beautiful blond screaming on a Washington beach, a dead man lying at her feet; the dashing Homicide detective arriving to offer kindness and solace to the distressed lady. What it wasn’t was a restful vacation for J.P. Beaumont. And now a murderous mix of politics and passion is turning Beau’s holiday into a nightmare – and leading the dedicated Seattle cop into the path of a killer whose bloodlust is rapidly becoming an obsession.


Review: This is the second book in the J.P. Beaumont series. I read and enjoyed the first book, Until Proven Guilty, last year so I was looking forward to jumping back in with Beau.

Beau probably isn’t any different from any of the other male detective protagonists that I follow religiously, but he certainly feels different. I like his character. And his partner. And his attorney. Maybe that’s the difference … I really like all of the supporting characters in addition to him.

Either way, this book was an interesting storyline. Not necessarily all that surprising when the ending was revealed, but it was still enjoyable to work the case with Beau. He had a lot of obstacles that he had to work around in order to get to that final conclusion, so that was interesting as well.

Just a good, solid read in my opinion. Nothing truly new and exciting, but enjoyable and entertaining in my opinion. For a book published in 1986, it doesn’t have that dated feel that some of the other book series I read have. So I enjoyed this one and am definitely looking forward to continuing on with Beau in the future!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods

Fresh Disasters
by Stuart Woods

fresh disasters

 

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 277

Read: Jan 15 – 24, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library Book Sale

 

Blurb: Stone embarks on his most dangerous adventure yet when a chance encounter with the wrong man sends him straight into the heart of New York’s Mafia underworld.

It starts as just another late night at Elaine’s and ends with the hapless Herbie Fisher, the bane of his existence. Stone finds that what should have been a throwaway case instead leads right to a powerful mob boss with a notoriously bad temper and long reach. Fortunately for Stone, the twists of the case also take a more congenial turn – sending a little romance his way, and giving him another opportunity to try to rescue a beautiful woman in distress. But as the danger deepens, Stone is left to wonder if he can disentangle himself from this lawless mess before he winds up – as his friend Dino likes to put it – “at the bottom of Sheepshead Bay with a concrete block up his ass.”

With the often hilarious action, razor-sharp characters, and crackling dialogue that are his hallmarks, Fresh Disasters is Stuart Woods at the pleasurable height of his storytelling powers.


Review: This is the 13th book in the Stone Barrington series. I can’t lie … the Stone Barrington series is definitely one of my reading guilty pleasures. They’re definitely mindless entertainment. But they usually read relatively fast and are enjoyable.

This particular installment I had a love-hate relationship with. First, we find Stone sleeping with 3 different women in this book. Clocking in at 277 pages, that’s got to be some kind of record, even for Stone Barrington’s standards. I’ll give him the first two, but it was the third one that bothered me the most. I’m no prude, but come on, at some point it doesn’t feel believable that Stone can (and does) hop into bed with almost every woman he encounters. But then you’ve got the Herbie Fisher character … and it kind of makes up for it. Stone groans every time Herbie comes into his life, and as the reader, I can’t help but giggle. He’s a likable character who keeps things interesting for Stone.

So yeah, I’d say another decent installment in this series. As I’ve said before of these books, they are no literary feats … but they are just plain fun!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry’s Trees
by Jon Cohen

harry's trees

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 428

Read: Jan 4 – 14, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy – Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements – a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive – come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life.

Harry’s Trees is an uplifting story about the redeeming power of friendship and love and the magic to be found in life’s most surprising adventures.


Review: This book is the January selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. As usual, this selection is way outside my normal reading. It’s billed on Goodreads as magical realism. I was a little leery to take this one on, but having skipped the last few months I knew I wanted to at least give this one a shot – it didn’t sound terrible, just not necessarily my norm.

So what did I think? Well, ultimately, it wasn’t a bad book. In fact the first half of the book really swept me up and I was really enjoying it. And then right around the time that Oriana and Harry put their “scheme” into motion it kind of dropped off for me. I think it was right around that time that I could see the obvious about how the ending would happen – and for the most part, I nailed it. I don’t like predictability in my endings, and this one was just a little too predictable for my personal taste.

The book itself is well written and thought out.  The characters were all well-developed and each had their own interesting story. The character development was definitely a big part of this book and that was probably my favorite part about the entire book. I can definitely see the “magic” of this book, but I had a hard time buying into it personally.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, C, Dirk Pitt, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, SERIES

Review: Treasure by Clive Cussler

Treasure
by Clive Cussler

Treasure

Copyright: 1988

Pages: 547

Read: Dec. 24, 2018 – Jan 2, 2019

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: Charts of lost gold … breathtaking art and rare volumes … maps of hidden oil and mineral deposits that could change the world’s balance of power. Now Dirk Pitt has discovered the secret trail of the treasures of Alexandria – a trail that plunges him into a brutal conspiracy for total domination of the globe. Zealots threaten to unseat the governments of Egypt and Mexico, exposing America to invasion and economic collapse. Suddenly, from East to West, anarchists reach their deadly tentacles into the heart of the United States. And Dirk Pitt, the hard-hitting hero of Clive Cussler’s Deep Six and Raise the Titanic! is up against the most feared assassin known to man. An international band of terrorists is making its play for world power on the high seas – and Pitt is the only man alive who can stop them!


Review: I try and read one Clive Cussler book every year, but I kept putting this one off every time I thought about needing to get my yearly Dirk Pitt fix in. 😦 For some reason this one just didn’t call to me the way the other installments have. And for the most part, my original assessment was pretty close to spot on.

There were a lot of things going on in this book with multiple storylines. Some of those storylines I loved and yet the other one… not so much. It all came together in the end in an interesting way, but there was a lot of political scenes that I could have done without. I just found it a little bit of a stretch to believe what Dirk Pitt went through in this book (which I think is pretty par for the course for any Dirk Pitt novel).

So while overall I’m glad that I was able to cross this one off the list, at 547 pages it was a little long and it dragged in a few places. But I’m still looking forward to continuing on with this series! There’s just something about Dirk Pitt that keeps me coming back for more.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Michael Bennett, Mini Review, P, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Mini Review: Bullseye by James Patterson

Bullseye
by James Patterson

Bullseye

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 327

Read: Dec. 2-5, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Grandmother

 

Blurb: Caught in the crosshairs of a deadly standoff, Detective Michael Bennett must kill … or be killed. Tension between America and Russia is high as the UN convenes in New York City. Snow blankets the avenues of Manhattan’s exclusive Upper West Side. The storm is the perfect cover for a fashionable, highly trained team of lethal assassins as they prowl the streets. Their first hit is target practice. Their next hit could turn the Cold War red-hot once again – because they’re aiming for the president of the United States.

Pulled away from his family and pressed into service, Detective Michael Bennett must trace the source of a threat that could rip America apart – and ignite a war with the likes of which the world has never seen. With allegiances constantly in doubt and no one above suspicion, only Bennett can save the president – and the country – before the assassins’ deadly kill shot hits its mark.


Review: This is the 9th book in the Michael Bennett series. Unfortunately, I read this one quite a few weeks ago and ultimately have very little memory of it. 😦

I do remember reading it quite quickly and that it felt quite relevant. But other than that my memory of this one is quite lacking. I do enjoy the Michael Bennett series and am looking forward to reading the 10th book sooner rather than later!

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Nina Reilly, O, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Breach of Promise by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Breach of Promise
by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Breach of Promise

Copyright: 1998

Pages: 535

Read: Nov. 24 – Dec. 1, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Used book store

 

 

 
Blurb: In glitzy Lake Tahoe, couples break up every day. But few are as successful as Lindy and Mike Markov, who built a $200-million business together – before Mike took up with a younger woman. Now he’s claiming he doesn’t owe Lindy a dime since they never married. Attorney Nina Reilly, struggling to make a living in her one-woman office and raise a young son alone, agrees to take Lindy’s case. Nina knows winning is a long shot, even with a brilliant jury consultant and a palimony expert on her side. It’s the kind of case – full of passion and explosive secrets – that could make a fortune for a young lawyer. Or drive someone to commit murder – for love, money … or the right verdict.


Review: This is the 4th book in the Nina Reilly series and it had been over a year since I had read the 3rd installment. Which is a shame, because I always end up enjoying these books – but I’m always daunted by the sheer size of them 😦

Anyway, this particular installment had a quite interesting premise. It was an interesting look at palimony (something I had never even heard of). However, this book was entirely too long. I was a little frustrated when we had a resolution to the legal case and yet there was still another 140 pages left to go. It definitely could have been edited down to a page count in the 400s without losing too much of the overall story. And the way the book ended … well, I didn’t feel like it was all entirely necessary. I don’t know – just seemed to be more padding than worthy content at times.

Anyway, I still enjoy Nina’s character and I most definitely look forward to reading more of her in the future. But I really wish these books weren’t quite so long.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, U-V-W

Review: The Sixes by Kate White

The Sixes
by Kate White

The Sixes

 

Copyright: 2011

Pages: 376

Read: Aug 18 – 20, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap
Blurb: Phoebe Hall’s Manhattan life has suddenly begun to unravel. Right after her long-term boyfriend breaks off their relationship, she’s falsely accused of plagiarizing her latest bestselling celebrity biography. Looking for a quiet place to put her life back together, Phoebe jumps at the offer to teach in a sleepy Pennsylvania town at a small private college run by her former boarding school roommate and close friend, Glenda Johns.

But behind the campus’s quiet cafes and leafy maple trees lie evil happenings. The body of a female student washes up on the banks of a nearby river, and disturbing revelations begin to surface: accusations from coeds about abuses wrought by a secret society of girls on campus known as The Sixes. To help Glenda, Phoebe embarks on a search for clues – a quest that soon raises painful memories of her own boarding school days years ago.

As the investigation heats up, Phoebe unexpectedly finds herself falling for the school’s handsome psychology professor, Duncan Shaw. But when nasty pranks turn into deadly threats, Phoebe realizes she’s in the middle of a real-life nightmare, not knowing whom she can trust and if she will even survive.

Plunging deeper into danger with every step, Phoebe knows she’s close to unmasking a killer. But with truth comes a terrifying revelation: your darkest secrets can still be uncovered … and starting over may be a crime punishable by death.


Review: I excitedly ordered this one off of Paperbackswap a few years ago after reading some blog reviews of it. It sounded so creepy and enjoyable, and the reviews were all pretty positive. And then I let it sit on my shelves.

I decided that it was finally time to get it off my shelf, so I picked this one up hoping for a deliciously creepy read. However, this book fell slightly short of that for me. I found this one to be extremely readable and enjoyable, but the ending was a disappointment. Throughout the entire book I was running through different scenarios, imagining certain characters as the bad guy … and when the end was finally revealed, the bad guy was someone who was not only not even on my radar, but someone who I felt was a bit of a stretch to make the bad guy. It just didn’t fit with the vibe of the entire book. It didn’t work for me.

So overall a decent book with a let down of an ending … an “eh” read for sure.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, P, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Promised Land by Robert B. Parker

Promised Land
by Robert B. Parker

Promised Land

 

Copyright: 1976

Pages: 218

Read: August 12 – 17, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: The man wore a leisure suit. His daughter wore a lime-green bikini.

And the woman was gone: a wife and mother who had suddenly left everything behind.

Spenser’s job was to find her. But chasing a runaway Hyannis housewife takes Spenser straight up against the most dangerous man he’s ever met: an enforcer who calls himself Hawk …


Review: This is the fourth book in the Spenser series. I read books 2 and 3 last year and had ordered this one after liking those two. And then I let it sit on my shelf. So I was excited to get around to it again.

For the most part, this was a good book. There were times that I wasn’t really all that interested in the storyline, but that was mainly the last half of the book. It was after Spenser found the wife and she managed to get herself into trouble of her own. Spenser took the lead to get her out of it, but I just didn’t care for the direction it went. I found it to be a little unbelievable if you want the truth.

But it was still an ok book. Okay enough for me to order the next two books in the series. So far these books have been quick little reads that keep my attention well enough. Just some escapism reading with this book … but sometimes that’s just what I need.

3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, J, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 306

Read: Aug 8 – 11, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young business executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are suddenly ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined when, while visiting Roy’s parents in their small Louisiana town, Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.

Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend and Roy’s best man at her wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. When, after five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together, Celestial is faced with a soul-wrenching decision: whether to let go or to try to rebuild a marriage that has lost its underpinnings.

This stirring love story is an insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward – with hope and pain – into the future.


Review: Ok, so this book originally caught my attention when it was a Book of the Month Club selection back in February. I was a little hesitant on it simply because it’s outside my wheelhouse, but it sounded super interesting. I ultimately passed on it. But it kept creeping up everywhere! And it still sounded interesting. And then Modern Mrs. Darcy chose it as a book for her 2018 Summer Reading Guide. I couldn’t escape it … I knew I was going to have to read it. I just lucked out that my library had a copy of it!

And I’m really glad that my library had a copy of it. Because I would have been disappointed to spend my money on a hardcover copy of this. It wasn’t that it was necessarily a bad book … it just wasn’t what I was expecting at all.

I really detested Celestial’s character. I did not like who she was as a person or a wife. It just wasn’t becoming of her to behave in the manner she did. She was a married woman basically trying to pretend she wasn’t.

I’ve re-written my thoughts a million times and I still can’t get them right. It was definitely written differently than I had anticipated. I think I was expecting it to be more about Roy’s trial whereas it’s more about relationships between people. So while not bad, just not what I was looking for. It was easily readable, but I never liked the characters, other than Big Roy and Olive.

Just an ok book for me … but I can see why it’s made such a splash since its release.