Two for the Dough

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Two for the Dough

by Janet Evanovich

February 2017

I finally got around to reading the second Stephanie Plum book, Two for the Dough. It was so good. I liked it better than the first one, only because the “villain” wasn’t quite as violent, even though he was a horrible, disgusting psychopath. I just love Stephanie Plum (and Morelli) and I enjoy her escapades.

This time around one, Stephanie is chasing down Kenny, a neighborhood boy who has always been odd, but recently has gone off the deep end and shot a friend. As a bounty hunter, Stephanie is assigned his case and is trying to track him down. Per usual, she doesn’t get off to a good start. She annoys everyone and Kenny starts threatening her (and later sends her body parts of dead people). Undeterred, she “works” with Morelli and gets help from Ranger. For this case, she has to frequent funeral homes and takes her grandmother along for various viewings. Her grandmother is feisty and determined, even after she gets attacked by Kenny (who is going after her to get to Stephanie). Spoilers: ultimately, Stephanie and Morelli realize that there’s a larger plot involving multiple men, caskets and army grade weapons. Stephanie and her grandmother (and Morelli) catch them all in the end. Thankfully, Kenny gets locked away.

Summing it up: I really enjoyed this second instalment. I loved the characters and the writing, and I recommend this book, especially if you enjoyed the first one.

All the best, Abbey

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

January 2017

My mom recommended The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I actually started it maybe a year or two ago and didn’t love it. It’s one of her favorite series though, and I’ve been reading more mysteries, so I decided to give it another try. This time I liked it! I loved the main character, Flavia, and her love of chemistry and poisons. My only critique was that it took me forever to read. As much as I enjoyed the story and characters, I found myself reading a bit and then putting it down to read something else. It wasn’t until I got to the last handful of chapters that I picked up my pace.

Flavia is a ten year old girl living with her dad and two older sisters in England. Her mother died when Flavia was born and she’s never gotten along with her sisters. Flavia’s love is chemistry. She has an entire room devoted to her laboratory, filled with chemicals, tubes and books. She is also particularly intrigued by poisons and their antidotes. One day, Flavia comes across a dead man in their garden and launched an investigation. Spoilers: the story follows Flavia all around town as she integrates neighbors and works on unraveling the mystery. She is under pressure because her father is arrested as he is accused of the murder and the inspector on the case doesn’t trust Flavia. In the end, she figures out that the murderer is an old school mate of her father’s, who was trying to blackmail her father with the man who died. The blackmail revolved around an extremely rare stamp. Flavia gets in trouble with the murderer, almost getting killed herself, but is saved by their loyal family friend, Dodger, who also helps capture the murderer. Then life returns mostly to normal.

Summing it up: this book was cute, sweet, and very interesting. It would have nicer if it read quicker, but ultimately I enjoyed it a lot and I’d recommend it!

All the best, Abbey

“A” is for Alibi

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“A” is for Alibi

by Sue Grafton

October 2016

Well, I might slowly be turning into a mystery book lover. Which is hysterical, because up until now I have not enjoyed mystery books at all. They’re too creepy. ūüėČ But now that I’ve delved into thrillers, mystery books are starting to be enjoyable (as long as they’re¬†not too graphic or creepy . . . baby steps!). I’ve heard of Sue Grafton for a while and I decided to bite the bullet and read her first alphabet book mystery . . .well, I loved it! I totally fell for Kinsey Millhone and just loved her character (reminded me of Stephanie Plum from¬†One for the Money). I was caught up in the book from the beginning and nearly stopped breathing at the end with the suspense. However, I was especially proud of myself because I figured out who the murder was a probably half way through, which is a big deal because I’m one of those people who is genuinely lost/surprised/etc at everything! I’m really hoping the rest of Grafton’s¬†books are just as good.

Kinsey Millhone is a twice divorced P.I. who loves living on her own and solving mysteries. One day she is approached by a newly released murder who claims she was falsely convicted. Kinsey remembers the case (prominent, but highly disliked, divorce lawyer found dead from pills being tampered . . . young wife the obvious killer) and decides to take it on. As she begins interviewing people, from the friendly and helpful partner (Charlie), to the first wife (Gwen), to the children, and a former secretary (Sharon), the case gets more and more muddled. Kinsey travels around interviewing, writing up case cards for the file, and getting to know Charlie, slowly falling for him. Spoilers: when the lawyer originally died, a few days later a young accountant (Libby) is found dead, but no connection is made. Kinsey is convinced that there is a connection though and investigates. During her investigation, Sharon is murdered (right before Kinsey can have a further conversation with her) and then Gwen is found dead after a hit and run (also, right before Kinsey has arranged to talk with her again . . . Gwen had just confessed to murdering her husband because he was a horrible person). In the end it all becomes clear. Charlie, who has been a gentleman, is actually a murderer, having killed Libby because she had found out he was embezzling, and following Kinsey and knocking off Sharon and Gwen. When Kinsey puts two and two together there is a final showdown where Charlie is chasing her with a knife to kill her, but Kinsey keeps her cool and shoots him. It was such a spooky, intense ending, but so good!

Summing it up: I loved Kinsey and I loved the mystery and I loved the intensity. I definitely recommend “A” is for Alibi!

All the best, Abbey

One For The Money

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One For The Money

by Janet Evanovich

September 2016

I recently got a part-time job at a library nearby and one of my favorite things about the job is meeting people and talking books . . . I love giving recommendations and I love getting them back!¬†One For The Money¬†was one such recommendation from a patron. I was curious to read about this bounty hunter who doesn’t like guns, and I ended up mostly liking the book. I loved the writing and I really enjoyed all the twists and turns of the plot, but mostly I loved the humor! I was literally laughing out loud reading it. The only thing I did not like at all was this one particular character who is a sadist/rapist and who does some gruesome awful things that definitely freaked me out (caution: do not read at night or alone!). Aside from him, I loved the main character, Stephanie Plum, and I am looking forward to continuing the series.

Stephanie Plum is jobless and becoming penniless and has to find a solution to her financial strain. She lives in New Jersey with family near by and gets talked into applying for a job at her cousin’s Bail Bonding Company, but when she arrives the filing job she was going for is already taken. Her cousin’s secretary suggests doing skip tracing (finding people who have skipped out on their court date and bringing them in to the police). It’s dangerous, but lucrative. One particular case is worth $10,000.00 if Stephanie can find him and bring him in. The only catch? He is an ex-policeman and a former fling of Stephanie’s, but she is determined to get him. Throughout her unsuccessful attempts to find this Joseph Morelli, she is often helped by the shifty, but kind, Ranger, and gets caught up in the nefarious schemes¬†of boxer, Ramirez, who would like nothing better than to torture her. Stephanie keeps at it though. She catches a few men to bring in, almost gets murdered a few times, and finds Morelli regularly (but can never¬†bring him in). Spoilers: Soon, Joe gets so frustrated with Stephanie getting in his way, he decides to get her to work with him (he is trying to prove he is innocent of murder, which is why he’s¬†hiding from the cops). Stephanie agrees and in the end they figure out the real criminal: Ramirez’ manager. He is caught up in a drug and money laundering scheme¬†and¬†needs to keep Ramirez fighting, but Ramirez is constantly getting distracted by women and hurting them, so it’s a tough job to keep him out of jail. Stephanie is making it worse because she has proof of what Ramirez is capable of and is getting the police involved. But before the manager can kill¬†Stephanie, she shoots him (she has been scared of her gun the entire book), and then the police come and are able to wrap everything up, including locking up¬†Ramirez. Stephanie gets shot in the process, but recovers well and is happy (in a way)¬†she helped exonerate Joe (who she has very mixed feelings about – he can be nice or obnoxious to her).

Summing it up: I loved the humor and heart of this book, but I would definitely caution any reader Ramirez: he is absolutely horrible and it is not easy to read the things he does. He made the book creepy!

All the best, Abbey

Defending Jacob

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Defending Jacob

by William Landay

May 2016

Oh boy! I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I loved the writing and the whole premise . . . Landay is brilliant. However (spoiler), you’re left wondering if Jacob is innocent or guilty at the end – what?! Gahh! Very annoying, and yet, I can’t say anything against it because it was brilliant. Thank you to my book club for suggesting this one.

The story is narrated by Andrew Barber, a DA in Massachusetts, living with his wife, Laurie, and 14 year old son, Jacob. Andrew has just picked up a murder case in his town. A school mate of Jacob’s is found stabbed to death in the woods leading to the school. There is at first no clear suspect, except one man, whom they can’t pin down. All of a sudden, rumors begin, saying that Jacob is the one who murdered the boy. Andrew gets taken off the case, but that doesn’t stop his insatiable drive to defend his son, whom he has no doubts is innocent. From there, you follow Jacob’s trial and aftermath. Andrew’s perspective never waivers – Jacob is innocent. However, there are piles of circumstantial evidence that points to Jacob as the killer. But it is solely circumstantial.

Spoiler for the rest of the plot and ending. ūüėČ Some of the evidence includes Jacob’s thumb print on the boy’s jacket, the boy (Ben) was bullying Jacob, Jacob reads disturbing stories about torture and may have written a¬†story of Ben’s death from the point of view of the murderer, he is a loner who has a bit of a violent past, he owns a knife that matches the stab wounds, and he could have been at the murder scene. Another plot line is Andrew’s family history: he comes from a line of violent murderers, including his father who is in jail. While Jacob is on trial, before a verdict can be made, the original suspect is found dead with a suicide note and a full confession (it’s implied¬†that Andrew’s father had a “fixer” take care of things for Jacob). Jacob is free, and the family tries to settle into a new normal. They decide to get away and book a trip to a Jamaican resort. There, Andrew and Laurie rekindle a relationship that was disrupted by the trial and the fact that Andrew didn’t tell Laurie about his violent past until the trial began. All is going well and Jacob even gets a girlfriend. Then one day his girlfriend goes missing, only to be found weeks later washed up onshore. Once again, it looks like Jacob might have done it. He often went off alone with her and the day she went missing, he had splatters (likely blood) on his shorts. They all return home, shattered, even though Jacob was never accused. Super Spoiler: in the end, Andrew never loses faith in his son and never even entertains the possibility of his son being a murderer. However, Laurie does at least entertain the possibility and ultimately decides on her own that Jacob is a killer. She takes it into her own hands and purposely drives herself and Jacob into a bridge support, killing him and landing herself in the hospital. Andrew is a witness in her trial, and his retelling of these events is how the book ends. And that is seriously how it ends. My jaw literally was on the floor when I didn’t have any more pages to read. I still don’t know how to process it. Reading the book from Andrew’s perspective, I really believed Jacob was innocent, but looking back after finishing, I have serious doubts.

Has anyone else read this one? I’d love to know your perspective as to whether Jacob was innocent or guilty! ūüôā

Summing it up: I absolutely recommend this book! It was a quick, intense, brilliant read.

All the best, Abbey

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

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the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

by Mark Haddon

January 2016

So, I¬†joined another book club with other moms in my town. I’m very excited! The book this month¬†is not one I’d ever heard of before (surprise, surprise), but I got it from the library with no trouble and dove right in (since I only had one week to read it). Well, let’s just say that¬†I did not love this book. I did find aspects of it interesting, but that’s about it. It’s written from the perspective of an autistic boy (that’s the part I found fascinating). I learned a lot and it was very interesting to see how Christopher’s¬†mind worked; from certain colors being “good” and “bad,” to him not understanding figures of speech (because he thinks literally), to needing order in everything. What I did not enjoy was the plot line; from lying, to adultery, to the murder of a dog, to abandonment, to running away, etc, etc. Ugh. And that is my review.

Summing it up:¬†if you find autism interesting and you don’t mind a sad plot, dive right in, otherwise, I’d say give it a pass.

All the best, Abbey

Maisie Dobbs

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Maisie Dobbs

by Jacqueline Winspear

October 2015

I believe I’ve mentioned that I’m¬†a part of a book club. We meet monthly, are super laid back, read a wide variety of genres, and eat amazing treats! Our monthly meetings are so cathartic for me and this club is what single-handedly keeps¬†me reading when life is¬†crazy and tumultuous. Like this month: we recently¬†moved to a different town (about 45 min away) to a house that was a partial gut job (meaning two months of my husband working every spare minute before we moved). I have not read anything but my book club book in October! And, actually I read this after we had moved in, in about 3 or 4 days. So, thank you, book club! ūüôā

Maisie Dobbs was such a nice reprieve from the craziness of moving. I’ll say right away that Winspear’s writing style did not appeal to me at certain times. The way she described the characters, how they thought and¬†talked was at times a little odd to me. You might pick up on that too, or it might be my own personal quirk, but I would not dissuade anyone from reading Maisie Dobbs. It was a delightful little mystery with heart and suspense. There are a handful of characters that are kind¬†and genuine, making the book warm, inviting, and a joy to keep reading. Those few for me are namely, Carter, Cook, Frankie, Billy, Simon, and Maisie herself. Overall, I really enjoyed how Winspear¬†wove the story. She divided it really interestingly (it was a little confusing while in the midst of reading, but I liked it after I finished), with a large flashback in the middle of the book. She had a lot of little details that were very clever and sweet, like those coincidences life brings where you realize the world is small. The connection between Maisie, Simon, and Billy was my favorite, and second was Priscilla’s story line. I really liked that she tied up her loose ends . . .that was very satisfying and part of what would make¬†me read another one of her books. Which, actually, I’m going to do because I’ve already requested it from the library. Stay tuned!

Summing it up: there were some flaws, but I really enjoyed (and sped through) this book and I look forward to reading the other ten books in the series! I’d recommend it easily.

All the best, Abbey