Risky Business

Risky Business

by Nora Roberts


Liz Palmer runs a dive business in the quiet tranquility of a Caribbean island. Tranquil, that is, until a routine trip over the reef reveals the body of her newest employee – diver Jerry Sharpe. But when his brother, Jonas, shows up asking questions, Liz can’t see how she can help. She barely knew Jerry. Then someone breaks into Liz’s apartment, intent on her murder. Liz realizes that she is already more involved in Jonas’ quest to unravel Jerry’s murky past than she wanted to be. And now Jonas and Liz will be drawn into a dangerous criminal underworld that could cost them both their lives…

I decided to read Risky Business because I was drawn in by the promise of SCUBA diving and a grisly murder mystery. I can’t say no to a goodmurder mystery and Liz, the leading lady, actually finds her missing dive master by seeing his body through the bottom of her glass bottom boat. I was hooked with that scene! What can I say? I guess I’m morbid.

Unfortunitely, that is where my enjoyment of the story also died a grisly death. I’m still going to start with the few positive notes. I loved the mystery of Risky Business. The drug smuggling storyline was interesting and I was kept guessing throughout the story. I also enjoyed the SCUBA diving scenes. Cozumel Mexico is one of my favorite dive sites and these passages brought back some wonderful memories of crystal clear waters and vibrant sea life. It had me ready to jump on a plane and head out on a dive trip.

That’s it though. I’m sad to say that finishing this book was akin to pulling teeth thanks to the romantic relationship between Liz and Jonas. It. was. so. annoying. To sum it up: Liz is damaged and stubbornly refuses to allow herself to be happy. Jonas is spoiled and pushy and goes way out of line to seduce Liz (like going to Texas to secretly meet her daughter). Liz gets mad. Jonas gets mad. But they are sooooo in love with each other. Major eyeroll and gag me moments. Every moment just seemed so forced.

I realized, half way through the book, that Risky Business was originally published in the 1980s. This could explain why the romance is so forced, but still…nope. The majority of the book was dedicated to this romance and the mystery was just a side note instead of a major plot line. Risky Business just wasn’t my type of mystery.

What do you think about romance in your mysteries? I prefer it to stay a subplot. What is your favorite Nora Roberts novel?



Hot Stuff

Hot Stuff

by Janet Evanovich

& Leanne Banks

Hot Stuff (Cate Madigan #1)

Dear Reader,

If you like hot men, hot action and hot attraction you’re going to love this HOT new series! HOT STUFF introduces Cate Madigan, a Boston native from a large and crazy Irish family. Cate has far too much going on to get involved in extracurricular activities, like men and marriage. She spends all day in school, earning her teaching degree, and all night working as a bartender in Boston’s South End. Ex-cop Kellen McBride has decided to make Cate’s bar his nightly haunt. He likes Cate’s sassy Irish spirit and wild red hair. He also has an ulterior motive for getting close to her. Cate has sworn off all things romantic, but when she comes home to a ransacked apartment, a roommate who has flown the coop, and a sleeping bullmastiff named Beast, Cate has no choice but to ask Kellen for help. Can Kate resist the charming Kellen McBride while keeping herself out of danger? Or will Kellen turn up the heat on Cate and everything in her life?

We know you’ll have a blast with HOT STUFF !

May the month of mystery continues, though I’m sure most of you may consider my absence the last weeks to be the real mystery.  That one is simple to solve.  I’ve been sick and   am still trying to adjust to my crazy night schedule!  The good thing is that I am finally getting some reading done so the last few days of May will be jammed full of book reviews.

I’m jumping back on the reviewing wagon with another Janet Evanovich story.  Evanovich partners with Leanne Banks to bring us Hot Stuff.  This is a fun stand alone mystery novel that follows Cate Madigan as she is thrown head first in to a jewel heist mystery involving her drag queen roommate, loveable guard puppy, and hunky ex-cop Kellen McBride. The story is fast paced, fun, and makes for the perfect book to take to the beach!

Hot Stuff is one of my favorite summer reads. I usually listen to the audio book every year and I picked it up again last week after a string of lackluster audio reads. The quirky characters are what keep me coming back time after time. I like Cate and her spunky determination to make it on her own and not fall for Kellen. I have no problem swooning over the ex-cop thanks to his blunt nature and earnest feelings for Cate. 

I enjoy the cast of supporting characters! Julie’s stories crack me up and it’s funny watching calm and efficient Sharon brought down by the mystery man in 2B. Their friendship with Cate is just sweet and loving. Marty is just well…who couldn’t love a six foot tall Judy Garland?! I can even deal with the annoying stalkerish Pug. The mystery is very light but I read Hot Stuff for the laughs and Evanovich and Banks definitely deliver! The sweatpant bedroom scene kills me every time!

Now I do have to include a disclaimer: I’ve noticed that many readers really dislike Hot Stuff for all the reasons I just stated liking. I can understand where they are coming from. The characters can be too quirky for some and they do read very two-diminsional at times. They could all be a little better developed. And Hot Stuff it’s not much of a thinker. You will quickly figure out the mystery so it’s not for those want a plot that will keep them up at night wondering whodunnit.  Nor is it the quality of Evanovich’s Plum novels, which will likely disappoint diehard Plum fans. 

Some times you just need a story that makes you laugh and Hot Stuff will having you giggling. That’s why I enjoy it! So grab a copy and head to the beach!


Every Trick in the Book

Every Trick in the Book

by Lucy Arlington

Every Trick in the Book (Novel Idea, #2)

The national bestselling Novel Idea Mysteries return with Lila Wilkins, who has just been promoted to full-time literary agent. But great new writers aren’t the only people she’s trying to catch…

Lila Wilkins has it all: the home of her dreams in the charming town of Inspiration Valley, North Carolina; a perfect police officer boyfriend; and a new job she absolutely loves. At the Book and Author Festival, which is sponsored by the Novel Idea Literary Agency, Lila expects to discover some talented new authors, but what she finds instead is the body of an editor to whom she bears an eerie resemblance.

Trouble is, the editor’s death isn’t the only literary murder taking place. Soon a blossoming author is also killed, and Lila has a gut feeling that the two murders are linked. Now she must hunt down the dark figure who killed these women—and to her surprise, she just might find the clues hidden in a manuscript…

Every Trick in the Book is the second story in the Novel Idea Mystery series. I started last May with the first novel, Buried in a Book, and was pleased to jump start my May reading with book 2.

Lila has happily settled in to her new life as a literary agent at Novel Idea.  She has a budding relationship with cute cop Sean, a new dream house, and healthy relationships with both her mom and son.  Everything is going well until she discovers the body of a book editor during the costume party at the fall Book and Author Festival.  Soon the body count is racking up, and to make matters worse, her son is sure that something illegal is happening at the local co-op.

The best aspect of Every Trick in the Book is the setting. The detailed descriptions of crisp weather, colorful leaves, and fun Halloween decorations had me craving pumpkin spice cookies and a piping hot vanilla latte. Fall is my favorite season and the setting pulled me in to the story feet first.  Every Trick in the Book is filled with quirky, interesting characters and I enjoy reading the story from Lila’s point of view.  I have always wished to work in the literary/publishing industry and Lila has my dream position.  I highly doubt Every Trick in the Book provides a realistic portrayal of the industry but I am totally ok with that.  I like this version.  The Novel Idea Literary Agency setting is what keeps me coming back to this series.

Lila just left me frustrated though.  The mystery was cliché and not really a mystery, which honestly wasn’t disappointing for me because I wanted something light and cliché. I just wasn’t pleased with how Lila acted throughout the story. She consistently jumped to conclusions, despite Sean’s advice, and then became frantic each time she was wrong. She insisted on investigating but was constantly in over her head. I was left flabbergasted at her crazed belief that Kirk Mason was out to kill her and her flight through the Novel Idea offices.   It was hard to believe the same woman catches the fugitive co-op manager in the end. I was waiting for Lila to finally listen to the people who love her, Althea and Sean, but she really never got to that point.  I was also a tad surprised at the drastic change in the co-op.  It was good for a subplot but might have been more effective if the change occurred over a longer time period instead of the few short months indicated in the timeline.

A pet peeve of mine is proper law enforcement behavior in stories. I did not like that Sean’s immediate response when called out to a crime scene was to hold and kiss Lila before doing his job.  Lila, stop whining about how its hard to be in a relationship with a cop and instead stay out of trouble! I would be horrified if a killer got away because my man took the time to kiss me before arresting the suspect. In real life, Sean would look at Lila, visually make sure she was ok while running to secure the scene.  You can kiss once that killer is safety handcuffed in the backseat!

I still recommend Every Trick in the Book despite these few negative points.  I like the cast of characters and the setting.  It is a fun cozy mystery and it has me really looking forward to this October! Are you a fan of the Novel Idea mysteries?


Metro Girl

Metro Girl

by Janet Evanovich

Metro Girl (Alex Barnaby, #1)

“Wild” Bill Barnaby vanished after a woman screamed on his phone call to big sister Alex 30, narrator who heads for Miami to rescue him. NASCAR driver Sam Hooker wants his 65′ Hatteras back. His last employer Moran on Flex II wants something back. Security guard Sanchez was murdered. They expose a plot to grab Cuban gold and a sinister relic of the Cuban missile crisis.

Let’s get May started with a review of a fun fast-paced summer mystery! I’m sure many of you are fans of Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, but who has read her Alex Barnaby books?

Alex ‘Barney’ Barnaby is heading to Miami. She just received a mysterious and terrifying phone call from her brother Bill and now he’s missing. Barney hits the streets of Miami looking for answers only to team up with Sam Hooker, a popular NASCAR driver whose boat has been ‘borrowed’ by Bill. Soon the two are engulfed in mystery: where is Bill? why is Barney being followed by thugs? what does all this have to do with the Cuban Missile Crisis?

I enjoy Metro Girl and usually listen to the audiobook each year to kick off summer. I keep coming back because of the characters! I love how Hooker is so goofy while still exuding sweet sexiness and self confidence.  I enjoy Rosa’s blunt honesty and Judy’s spunk. And I love how real Barney reads. She’s head strong, assertive, good with an engine, and absolutely terrified of spiders and heights. This ensemble keeps me coming back to the streets of Miami year after year.

Many diehard Stephanie Plum fans seemed disappointed in how ‘fluff’ the plot is and how similar the characters are to those in the Plum series. These are all valid statements. The plot is simple and yet over the top. The characters exude Evanovich quirkiness. And these are the points that keep me coming back. Metro Girl allows me to enjoy Evanovich characters without having to wade through the lengthy Plum series and I can focus on giggling at their antics without dealing with a complex plot structure. Fans of the Plums series and serious mystery readers should keep these points in mind before picking up Metro Girl.

Metro Girl is the perfect beach read! Poor you a frozen daiquiri and grab your beach towel because you’ll be ready to head to south Florida after this book? What is your favorite Evanovich novel?


What to Expect: MAY

May: the Month of Mystery!

May is my first anniversary of posting book reviews here on Sand Between the Pages. One whole year!  So much has happened since I started this site. I graduated with a Masters degree in History. I’ve started a new career. And I found renewed focus for my writing dreams. All while providing you reviews on the books I read. It’s been a great year and I’m so blessed by your support and friendships!

So May will, once again, be the Month of Mystery. All posts this month will be dedicated to those stories that channel our inner detective. Non-mystery authors who are waiting for their novels to be posted: don’t fret! Your books will grace Sand Between the Pages in June!


This month is dedicated to spending warm spring days on the beach, basking in the tropical smell of sunscreen with a good cozy mystery and plenty of sugar sand stuck between the pages.  Lounge in your beach chair, bury your toes in the sand, and join me in discovering whodunit!


I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four

by Pittacus Lore


In the beginning they were a group of nine. Nine aliens who left their home planet of Lorien when it fell under attack by the evil Mogadorian. Nine aliens who scattered on Earth. Nine aliens who look like ordinary teenagers living ordinary lives, but who have extraordinary, paranormal skills. Nine aliens who might be sitting next to you now. The Nine had to separate and go into hiding.

The Mogadorian caught Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. All of them were killed. John Smith, of Paradise, Ohio, is Number Four. He knows that he is next.

I AM NUMBER FOUR is the thrilling launch of a series about an exceptional group of teens as they struggle to outrun their past, discover their future—and live a normal life on Earth.

I know today is May 1st but I’m still treating it like April because it is Friday and it’s tough to start something new on Fridays. April was all about finishing up those half read books on my night stand and I Am Number Four is the last of that pile.  I remember when it came out in 2010 because so many people loved the story. I have finally caught up and I’m sad to say that I was less than impressed.

Let me start the review by stating I enjoy the ideas behind I Am Number Four.  I mean teenage aliens that are pretty much superheroes is just screaming for its own tv show! I’d watch it! I loved so many of the secondary characters including Henri, Bernie Kosar, and Sam. I was even excited about Six and her mysterious backstory. I liked the storyline so much that I wouldn’t mind reading the rest of the series to learn more but that’s not going to happen.

I was not a fan of the symplistic writing style. It was short, choppy, emotionless, and telling. There wasn’t a single ‘showing’ passage. It was down right boring. It was like listening to someone drone on in monotone for hours. The story is a mashup of science fiction, fantasy, and young adult tropes that just don’t work because of the writing style. Don’t believe me? Read the final battle scene in the woods and tell me what you think. I also felt that the story would have been much better without Sarah. Her relationship with Four was sooooooo annoying and pointless. The emotionless writing made their relationship, well, emotionless and I didn’t feel anything for them when I turned that last page.

I Am Number Four was just frustrating.  I decided to give the movie a chance figuring that it couldn’t be worse than the book, and well, the movie was better. I never say this but I wish I had just watched the movie instead of trudging on through the book.

I love the underlying plot but wish I Am Number Four had stronger writing styles and better editing. Are you a fan of the Lorien Legacies books? I’d love to hear what you like about them.