Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Book 42: Crystal Clear

43 year old Crystal Goldstein in Crystal Clear by Jane Heller is a hard-working New York accountant on the verge of burning out.  After a higher up implies she is about to be downsized and she discovers her boyfriend hanging out with his ex-wife, her best friend Rona convinces her to take a vacation and cleanse her aura.  Crystal heads to a resort in Sedona, Arizona where she is surprised to discover her ex-husband Terry Hollenbeck, who did finally manage to settle down and apply himself, running the highly successful jeep tour that she just scheduled for the next five days.  The other explorers in the group are a clueless and ditzy heiress named Amanda Wells Reid and her entourage of unhappy staff.  When Amanda disappears and Terry's best friend is accused of murder, the two exes team up to save him and maybe themselves in the process.

The plot was a little slow and the humor sometimes a little too over the top to be funny, but I enjoyed the read nonetheless.  3 stars.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Book 41: A Is for Alibi

Sue Grafton's A Is for Alibi marks the debut of Kinsey Millhone a 32 year old, twice divorced, former cop turned private detective living in Santa Teresa, California.  After serving 8 years for the murder of her husband, Nikki Fife is finally free.  Instead of simply moving on with her life, she hires Millhone to find the real murderer of her husband. Researching the case, Kinsey discovers that four days after the death of Laurence Fife, an accountant named Libby who handled his business was also murdered by oleander poisoning.  As she investigates the possible connections between the two murders, one of her prime suspects is murdered and an attempt is made in her own life as well leaving Kinsey in a race to solve the case before she ends up dead as well.

I found the book to be an entertainingly straight forward P. I. story.  Kinsey solves crime with hard work, basic intel gathering, establishing a timeline of events using index cards on a board, and a well developed instinct.  I will definitely be continuing with this series.  5 stars.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book 40: From the Beast to the Blonde

From the Beast to the Blonde: In Fairy Tales and Their Tellers by Marina Warner was a slog for me.  I found the first half on the "Tellers" to have too many references to art history and too many historical generalizations.  I had hoped for a more factual look at female storytellers and instead plodded through more of a history of how women were perceived.  In part two which was supposed to cover stories, I did enjoy some of the comparisons of different versions of a story, but the constant Freudian psychoanalysis was overabundant and not at all interesting to me.  1 star.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book 39: One for the Money

Janet Evanovich's One for the Money marks the beginning of her Stephanie Plum series.  Stephanie has been out of work for six months, has sold nearly everything she own, and has no job prospects in the near future.  In desperation she turns to her cousin Vinnie hoping for a filing job.  By the time she arrives the position is filled, but the secretary suggests that she could be one of their bounty hunters instead.  When her cousin tries to refuse because she has zero experience, she blackmails him into hiring her and is given one week to track down and acquire a former cop named Joe Morelli who is wanted for murder.  For starters, the secretary sets her up with one of their best bounty hunters named Ranger for a crash course on what she needs to do.  After two failed attempts (at acquiring not finding) Stephanie and Joe make a deal.  She helps him find the missing witness that can prove his innocence, and he will protect her in the field and allow her to turn him in. Given the crazy boxer that is now stalking her and her complete lack of skills, it's really a no-brainer if she wants to survive.

I chose this book off of Overdrive because it claimed to be humorous, the plot sounded intriguing, and there are plenty of books in the series available through Overdrive at my library.  Stephanie was completely clueless at the beginning of the book, and her survival is close to miraculous but oddly still believable.  I was glad to see that she finally took the dangers of her job seriously enough to start jogging, spend time at the firing range learning to shoot properly, and consider martial arts training once she had sufficient money.  It gives me hope that her competence will slowly improve over time.  Grandma was hilarious, and her crazy comments and actions were probably my favorite part of the book.  Overall an entertaining enough read for me to continue in the series.  3 stars.

Book 38: Murder With Peacocks

Murder With Peacocks is the first book in Donna Andrews' Meg Langslow series.  Meg Langslow is a practical, organized blacksmith who is taking the summer off to be the maid of honor for not one but three weddings in the small town where she grew up.  The three brides (her best friend, her brother's fiancee, and her mom) have dumped all of the planning for the big events into her lap.  Luckily for Meg, Michael Waterston, the son of the local dressmaker, is managing his mother's shop for the summer an appears time after time to assist her with all sorts of craziness.  If balancing three weddings and dealing with her crazy family wasn't enough, the sister-in-law of her mom's fiancee is found murdered.  Then accident after accident designed to kill either Meg or her father follows, and Meg has to balance three weddings and a murder investigation while trying to survive.

This delightful mystery is well written, packed with humor, and sprinkled with a bit of romance.  I look for to enjoying more books by this author.  4 stars

Monday, April 10, 2017

Book 37: The Invisible Library

Genevieve Cogman's The Invisible Library is the first book in a new series of the same title.  The Library exists in a neutral zone between alternate worlds employing librarians that retrieve books deemed important (although the actual criteria used is not well explained) and function as a force for order.  Sometimes the retrieval simply involves buying the book in question, sometimes it must be stolen, and then of course there is the occasional mission where everything goes wrong. Naturally this book involves the latter.

Irene, a young librarian, is sent to an alternate Victorian London where chaos has contaminated the world resulting in all sorts of supernatural beings including fae, vampires, and werewolves.  The world also has a strong presence of technology  with all manner of mechanical creations (I liked the giant centipede and wished Irene had a better vantage point of the fight).  The mission is to retrieve a rare copy of Grimm fairytales; but when Irene arrives with her dragon assistant Kai, the book has been stolen and its previous owner murdered.  Enlisting the aid of a renowned detective named Vale, the duo must race to find the missing book before it falls in the hands of the fae (beings of chaos) or even worse those of the Library's greatest enemy, Alberich.

I thought the world building was quite well done although I still have a lot of questions about the Library and Alberich which I imagine will be answered eventually as the series continues.  The action was well paced, but the characters could definitely use a bit more development.  Overall an entertaining read.  4 stars.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Book 36: Silence Fallen

Silence Fallen is the tenth book in Patricia Briggs' popular Mercy Thompson series.  Mercy makes a quick run for eggs and chocolate chips and gets kidnapped by the Lord of Night.  The book alternates narrator between Mercy and Adam as Mercy escapes and tries to survive while Adam, Marsilia, and others try to negotiate with the Lord of Night in order to ensure the long-term safety of the supernatural of the Tri-Cities.  As usual vampires as the villains results in a lot of overly complex vampire drama, but the addition of the golum with Mercy in Prague was intriguing twist.

Like all Mercy Thompson books, this one contains plenty of back and forth witty character dialogue, a now solid relationship between Adam and Mercy that provides each with the strength to handle their portion of the plot, and enough actions to keep the reader's interest from beginning to end.  5 stars.