Winter Update

This is my Winter Reading Update. I have decided to provide a quarterly update to help keep track of my reading goals, progress, and trending themes. It is no surprise the majority of my reads were historical mysteries. These are the books finished January, February, and March 2018.

TOTAL: 9

This number includes my one DNF and I have them listed under the different genres. It was an ok reading quarter and I’m looking forward to what I will read this spring!

Mystery: 5

 

Historical Fiction: 1

This genre tab has books that are strictly historical fiction without an additional mystery plot.

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Nonfiction: 2

Reread: 1

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Do Not Finish: 1

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What books did you finish this winter? Do you have any suggestions for my spring TBR? Let me know and happy reading!

Lindsay

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Motor Mouth

Motor Mouth

by Janet Evanovich

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Barney is a woman with a taste for speed, talent for breaking rules, and knows too much about cheating. First there was boyfriend NASCAR racer Hooker and a salesclerk. Now an unlikely winner has to be cheating. Another spotter calls for help, trapped. Their drooling St Bernard leaves his teeth marks in a corpse. They are on the run, suspected of murder.

 Sorry it’s been a minute since I’ve posted a review! I’ve been sneaking away to hit the beach instead of sharing all these good mysteries with you! But, I am back on board and starting the review week off with a good laugh. Motor Mouth is the second book in Janet Evanovich’s Alex Barnaby series and you can check out my review of book one, Metro Girl, for a brief intro to the characters.

Barney and Hooker are back and there is trouble in paradise as their romance went up in flames when Hooker woke up next to a sales clerk. Barney is still working as a spotter for Hooker’s team and enjoying a chance to help in NASCAR research and design. And then a friend of the pair gets stuck in the car hauler of a rival racer…. It’s not long before Barney and Hooker are racing to hide dead bodies and out run a pair of hitmen.

The Alex Barnaby series is probably my favorite from Janet Evanovich. Yes I know the Stephanie Plum novels are the most popular, and I enjoy them, but there is just something about Barney and Hooker that keeps me coming back to the series. It is because both main characters solve these mysteries by sheer dumb luck. Hooker struggles to keep from gagging when they move dead bodies. Barney whines when she falls down in the mud while digging a temporary grave. Both end up way over their heads in murder and mayhem because they steel a NASCAR hauler to help out a friend. Dumb luck people! All the characters are relatable. Their reactions are realistic. And they keep getting themselves in to hilarious sticky situations!

I love how fast paced and fun the story is. We get to revisit all the old Miami characters from Metro Girl, as well as meet a few more interesting people (Huevo’s wife being one of my favs). Critics of the series will remark on how unrealistic certain plot points are, but that is one of the reasons I enjoy the series. Motor Mouth is the perfect read when you need a pick-me-up. I definitely recommend it as a fun beach read!

Anyone else an Alex Barnaby fan? What is your favorite Evanovich series?

Lindsay

Happy Books

I have always been the type of reader who goes where my mood takes me. Science Fiction today? Yes please! Classic Western tomorrow? Of course! A good Mystery next week? Oooooooo…. I have always enjoyed my love for multiple genres because I rarely bore with reading. But, it makes it hard to stick with a set TBR because I never know where my mood will take me.

I started off the month reading Winter, the final novel in the Lunar Chronicles, just like I had planned in my March What to Expect. It’s pretty good despite being REALLY long. The only thing was, it wasn’t making me laugh. But to be fair, it wasn’t written for that. I REALLY needed a good laugh because life was determined to make me cry last week.

disney alone sadness sad crying

Funny books to the rescue! I have a list of go-to authors for when I need a good laugh. Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series is full of sarcasm and sass. Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow series always delivers with wild antics. And Janet Evanovich’s Barney series lets me enjoy a good summer setting and the power of sheer dumb luck. Plus, all offer a good mystery to take my mind off any woes.

Disney reading books beauty and the beast belle

Slowly, I reemerge from my funk. Having a good laugh will do wonders for you! Don’t worry; I’ll return to my planned reading after detouring for a few books. I’m laughing it up right now. Thank goodness for writers with a sense of humor!

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What books do you read when you’re feeling blue? Which authors do you turn to for a good laugh? Happy reading and keep laughing!

Lindsay

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

By Janet Evanovich

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When Megan Murphy discovered a floppy-eared rabbit gnawing on the hem of her skirt, she meant to give its careless owner a piece of her mind, but Dr. Patrick Hunter was too attractive to stay mad at for long. Soon the two are making Thanksgiving dinner for their families.

So anyone who consistently reads Sand Between the Pages knows that I am just not a romance reader. But surprisingly, I do enjoy a good rom-com story on occasion. And I am a sucker for holiday themed stories. This is how I found myself reading Thanksgiving  by Janet Evanovich last month.
Thanksgiving is one of Evanovich’s first romance novels which were written before bringing us the Stephanie Plum series. It is a quick easy read and the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon overstuff with turkey and pie. Just know that Thanksgiving is not for someone interested in a serious romance or a novel with a complex plot.
The story is cute and contains a number of enjoyable Evanovich attributes. Quirky characters: check. Cute male character you can’t help but crush on: check. Over-the-top Evanovich antics: check. Well developed plot: not so much. Thanksgiving just lacks the well developed plots we see in her later works. The story jumps along too fast from plot point to plot point, with the relationship between Meg and Pat going from basic sexual tension to a real proposal in less than a month. So yeah,  it can feel a bit unbelievable. Just keep this in mind when reading because there is a lot of unbelievable aspects of the novel besides the romance.
It is still a fun novel. I adore sweet Dr. Pat Hunter. His puppy dog personality is just so darn loveable. I mean the man has a pet bunny and sews up his tennis shoes. He is endearing and I like how honest he is about his feelings (the good and the bad) for Megan. I also emphasize with Megan’s stubbornness and self assertiveness. She has no problems standing up for her ideals, despite how everyone else views her decision. Plus, she is pretty straightforward when it comes to what she wants. I find that an impressive trait in anyone. The two fit well together and this made the read enjoyable. I found myself giggling at their antics throughout the story.
I definitely recommend Thanksgiving for rom-com fans in need of a light read. Sit back and enjoy the antics of the doctor, potter, their crazy families, a lost baby, a bunny, and a clueless ex-fiancé. Don’t take it seriously and let me know what you think.
Lindsay

Wicked Appetite

Wicked Appetite

by Janet Evanovich

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For centuries, treasure hunters have been eager to possess the stones, undeterred by their corrupting nature. The list is long — Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, to name a few. Now the Stones have found their way to Salem, Massachusetts, and so has Gerwulf Grimoire, adding himself to this rogues’ gallery of power seekers. He’s an uncommonly dangerous man, with a hunger for the forbidden, and a set of abilities that are way beyond ordinary. Abilities that he feels entitle him to possess anything he might desire.

That would include Elizabeth Tucker, the woman he needs to find the Stones. She’s freshly transplanted from New York City to Boston’s North Shore. With a new job as pastry chef at Dazzle’s bakery and an old house inherited from her Aunt Ophelia, her life is pretty much on track …until it’s suddenly derailed by a guy named Diesel, a rude monkey, and a ninja cat.

Lizzy can handle the monkey and the cat. She’s not sure about Diesel. He’s offering up his own set of unusual talents, promising to protect her from Grimoire. The kind of protection that Lizzy suspects might involve guarding her body day and night.

The Seven Deadly Sins are pride, greed, lust, envy wrath, sloth and gluttony. That pretty much covers everything that is wicked. Diesel thinks it also pretty much covers everything that’s fun. And Lizzy thinks Diesel and the Seven Deadly Sins cover everything her mother warned her about.

Wicked Appetite is the first book in a relatively new series by Janet Evanovich. Some of the main characters were initially introduced during her in-between-the-numbers Plum novels, but Stephanie is absent this time around. The Lizzy and Diesel series is different in that it doesn’t stick with the normal romance or quirky mystery storyline that is typical of Evanovich’s novels. Instead, Wicked Appetite takes a stab at a supernatural semi-romance story and I enjoyed it. 

I love the characters and they are one of the reasons I find myself coming back to Evanovich’s novels time after time. Lizzy is just an ordinary girl who can make extraordinary cupcakes and has the ability to find certain unmentionable items. Diesel, a ruggedly handsome stranger, needs her help to find seven stones that embody the Seven Deadly Sins. A rude monkey, ninja guard cat, bakery full of witchy women, knight, and mysterious bad guy make up the quirky supporting cast. Yep, it’s an Evanovich novel!

I love how naive and openly honest Lizzy is about her life. She has no problem telling Diesel how she feels and I found it endearing. I also love everything about Diesel and how he interacts with Lizzy. He is sweet, assertive, and yet perfectly protective of our sweet damsel. Diesel is my kind of guy and I plan to finish the series just to hear more about him! Plus, I LOVE how Evanovich portrays the glutton   attributes of the Moore family. Her humorous twists left me giggling constantly during my tedious drive.

I still do not get where Evanovich is going with this whole Unmentionable thing. It doesn’t seem to have any basis in any predetermined paranormal storyline and it just lacks the information I need to really enjoy the story. It just seems like everyone is ok with the lack of information (except Lizzy, she isn’t ok with any of it) and that lack left me a tad confused at times. I need more history and background to wholeheartedly jump onboard. If anyone gets the Unmentionable thing please feel free to enlighten me.

Also, I do not find Wolf attractive. At. All. The dark, dangerous vampire vibe is fine but it isn’t something to leave me swooning like the women in the novel. To be honest, their reactions made me rolling my eyes. I’m not about to jump in to bead with a cruel guy like Wolf so I don’t get the appeal. I am also wary of the whole ‘one of us will loose our unmentionable powers if we sleep together’ plot line. WHAT?!? I know there needs to be something keeping Lizzy and Diesel from jumping in the sack by chapter three but this has bad idea written all over it. What’s going to happen by the end of the series? Which character is willing to give up a part of themselves for sex? Eh….

Overall, it was a fun book to listen to during my commute. I love the characters and Diesel is my type of guy, but it will not be making my list of favorites. Have you read Wicked Appetite? Let me know what you think!

Lindsay

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!

Lindsay

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?

Lindsay

Manhunt

Manhunt

by Janet Evanovich

Manhunt

A woman with a talent for numbers, Alexandra Scott wanted to escape the rat race and go someplace where the men outnumber the women. Trading in her Wall Street job and fancy condo for a rundown cabin in the woods. She’s now Alaskan Wilderness Woman. It isn’t long before she finds exactly what she’s looking for; one sexy pilot named Michael Casey. But this confirmed bachelor has no intentions of getting caught in any woman’s crosshairs; especially a hunter as appealing as Alex. It’ll take skill, determination, and a little romantic persuasion for this big-game hunter to bag her prey.

Manhunt is a silly, light read that is perfect for giving you a boost while waiting for a plane, working on the laundry, or avoiding the ever growing stack of bills.  Well, I can’t really condone avoiding bills, so pay those bills and open Manhunt for a quick laugh!

Evanovich is well known for her Stephanie Plum series, but did you know that she began her career writing stand alone romances?  Manhunt is one such novel and is set in the wild country of Alaska.  Side note for avid Evanovich fans and serious connoisseurs of romance novels:  The characters are a tad bit underdeveloped.  Fans of the Plum books may be disappointed in Manhunt’s simplicity, but you shouldn’t be.  It still has Evanovich’s quirky fun characters and quick pace.  Romance readers may be disappointed in the lack of smut.  Sorry about that.  The between-the-sheets scenes are a tad awkward, but this is one of her early novels.

So, Alex has moved to Alaska to find happiness and a husband.  Instead, she finds a dilapidated cabin and Casey, her sexy next door neighbor who is too sexy for husband material.  But, she is determined to make it all work and what follows is quite entertaining.    I can definitely see myself making many of the same mistakes adjusting to Alaska life.  Alex’s spunk and hardheaded drive was just endearing; I’m still giggling about the outhouse incident.  I even liked Casey!  But I was drawn to Manhunt because I love the idea of Alex dropping everything to make a life somewhere new.  I’ve done it before and I always enjoy reading about others’ adventures.

Manhunt need more detail.  I just felt that one more good edit would have left the novel feeling more developed.  I would have liked more about the ‘non-Casey’ Alaskan activities that Alex learns to love.  There should have been more details about her learning about fishing and her friendship with Andy.  And, it irked me that Alex was ‘working’ on Casey because she decided that he needed to be married to her.  We know she loves him but the constant emphasis on marriage was too pushy.

Its a fun read!  I giggled, smiled, and was in a better mood afterwards.  Plus, I got to read about characters warming up Alaska instead of just surviving the cold! 😛  Let me know what you think!

Lindsay

Love in a Nutshell

Love in a Nutshell

by Janet Evanovich

and Dorien Kelly

Love in a Nutshell (Culhane Family #1)

Kate Appleton needs a job. Her husband has left her, she’s been fired as a magazine editor, and she only wants to go to her parents’ summer house, The Nutshell, in Keene’s Harbor, Michigan, and make a Bed and Breakfast inn. Matt Culhane needs a spy in his brewery for a saboteur, and Kate is new in town. But Kate despises beer and nobody trusts her.

So, Love in a Nutshell is one of the many author collaboration novels that Evanovich has produced outside of her Stephanie Plum novels.  I decided to re-read the novel because of a discussion with a friend about pumpkin beer sparked a desire to read a fun story about beer.  A brewery is the setting for most of the book so it seemed like the perfect read.

I really like the two main characters, Matt and Kate.  Matt is a good guy and great business man who is struggling with the fact that someone is out to destroy his business, Depot Brewery.  Kate is a spunky, stubborn, and happy woman who is determined to save her childhood home, the Nutshell, and establish a good life post divorce.  These two have instant chemistry and I was pleased that the two developed an actual friendship instead of immediately jumping in to bed together.  There relationship just felt real instead of ideal.   Matt and Kate’s banter is fun and provides a light tone to the story despite the two searching for a saboteur.  These characters, and the environment of the brewery and the town, make Love in a Nutshell a quick, light read.

Now, I am not a fan of the title; it doesn’t really pertain to the story and comes off a tad forced.  Also, the book tends to read flat with far too much ‘telling’ language.  This is something I have noticed in many joint authored novels.  Love in a Nutshell is missing the descriptive ‘showing’ language that one usually finds in an Evanovich novel.  A lot of the details just seemed left out and makes the book feel like its flowing too quickly.  I feel like it needed one good edit/adding session before hitting the presses.

Love in a Nutshell is perfect if you are wanting a fun light read that doesn’t require a lot of extra thought.  Take it to the beach on a nice fall day and expect to crave a good beer once you’re done!  Has anyone else read Love in a Nutshell?  What is your favorite book by these authors?

Lindsay