One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

 

Dear Fellow Readers,

I suppose there are those of you who, knowing my love of mystery series, wonder why I haven’t talked about the Janet Evanovich series featuring Stephanie Plum. Well, because somehow, I had not read them. I don’t know how or why I have missed these books. There are obviously lots of mystery series books that I have not read but even I will admit that the Janet Evanovich books are hard to miss.

Maybe I was being stubborn? I don’t know but I have finally started to rectify the situation.

While I was on vacation, I read the first book in the series, One for the Money. I will start off by saying that I do like when it is obvious in which order to read the books. Like Sue Grafton’s series which follows the alphabet (A is for Alibi), these are even easier because the number is in the title. Could it be easier? I do love that.

In One for the Money, we are introduced to Stephanie Plum. Stephanie is in financial hot water because she lost her job as an underwear buyer. She has been out of work for six months and her car is about to be repossessed. Stephanie lives in Trenton, New Jersey, where she grew up. Her parents still live in the same house in town. At her parent’s urging, she goes to see her cousin Vinnie for a filing job. Vinnie is a bail bondsman. It turns out that the filing job has been filled but Connie, Vinnie’s secretary, tells Stephanie that she can be a “fugitive apprehension agent” (bounty hunter). Stephanie finds how much she can make per apprehension and she thinks this is just what she should do.

The only catch is that the big bucks are for bringing in Joe Morelli. Joe Morelli is a police detective who has been accused of shooting a man without provocation. So far, there is a missing witness and some question about a missing gun but still, he has skipped his court appearance and needs to be brought to justice. To complicate matters, Stephanie has a bit of a history with Joe going back to when she was 8 years old. Seems the Morelli men have a reputation with the ladies in town and Stephanie may have contributed to the reputation.

But she decides, without having any background, that she needs the $10,000 fee for bringing Joe into the police. This is how her life as a bounty hunter begins. She finds help from Ranger, an ex-military bounty hunter who decides to lend her a hand. Stephanie also has Grandma Mazur, who lives with Stephanie’s parents, in her corner to share neighborhood gossip. She can also count on her friend, Eddie Gazarra, who is on the police force.

Stephanie soon finds out that she may be in over her head (might have something to do with the boxer threatening to harm her) but she doesn’t give up despite making mistakes.

The story moves along quickly and throws in many quirky characters to keep it interesting. I have now read two of the series and both are entertaining. They are short and won’t take you long to read. Now, of course, I have to stop myself from just trying to read the whole series (there are currently 25 of them!) when I should be reading other books.

Thanks for reading!

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Dear Fellow Reader,

We have another winner. Okay, I think that The Midnight Library is a little better than this book but once again, it is a good story that you will enjoy.

It was fun to read these books back-to-back. In a way, it reminded me why I love to read. You know, you can read books that are just okay. I think I have had a streak of okay books. They were good stories and I liked them but then you read a book or a couple of books that just make you say “WOW!”  It is really fun to get two in a row. I actually read this book under the covers with a flashlight so as to not bother Silent Sam. (Okay, I understand that is a bit weird but so?)

The Thursday Murder Club is a mystery. I would even venture to say that it is a mystery that even those who aren’t that crazy about mysteries will enjoy. There is a rich cast of characters and each one has a story that is interesting and amusing to a certain extent. I’m not saying that there are any laugh out loud moments but I was in a good mood reading this book. The author (first book, no less) has a great touch with the characters.

The Thursday Murder Club takes place in rural England. The Club was started with Penny, Elizabeth, Ibrahim, and Ron. Penny had been a policewoman and had kept her “open case” files. They group met on Thursdays and went over the files to see if they could solve the cases. Before the book opens, Penny has had to leave the group because she is so sick. Joyce has taken her place in the group and Joyce keeps a diary of their adventures. The book moves back and forth between Joyce’s diary and a narrator. (Easy transitions – you will always know who is talking. The typeface is even different when it is Joyce’s diary entry.) Elizabeth is the leader of the group. You never find out exactly what Elizabeth did before she retired but there is a hint that she was a spy or something. She knows a lot of people, some of whom owe her favors and she has traveled a lot. Each of the four have their own area of expertise from their pre-retirement lives.

Then there is a real murder. They decide they can help the police with their inquiries. And while they are working the on the first murder, there is a second murder that takes place in front of them. And then they know there must be something hidden in the cemetery but what is it and who put it there. And were the two murders related or was it just a coincidence?

There is nothing gory in this book. It is a bit of a cozy mystery in that sense but I would not say that it is a cozy mystery. There is just so much going on all the time that you are entertained throughout the book. I would move this book up the TBR pile also.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig  

        

Dear Fellow Reader!

I have my first “YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK” choice for the year. Yes, I think this book is that good.

You know I am a sucker for books that knock me over with the imagination used to write the book. I admire that so much. Yes, every book uses the author’s imagination to a certain extent but some books show that the author can take off and think of great scenarios. And this book does that. It just gives you more and more to enjoy while you are reading. I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next.

In The Midnight Library, we meet Nora Seed. Nora is unhappy. She regrets every decision she has made. She feels responsibility for letting down herself and others. She is 35 and has not lived up to her potential in any of the areas where she has shown talent. In the opening pages, her cat dies and then she gets fired from her crummy job. She doesn’t feel that she should continue living.

And then she ends up in the Midnight Library with a librarian who explains where she is and what is going to happen. Nora gets to view the book of her regrets, which just about overwhelms her. There are thousands of books in the library. She gets to pick a book that will allow her to revise one of the decisions that she has made. She will then step into that life and live the life that she could have had if only she had chosen differently. But if she decides that that life is not right for her, she can go back to the Midnight Library and choose again. But there is only a limited time to choose but neither she nor the librarian know how long that time will be.

The quest through the process is clear.

What is her best way to live?

Yes, I loved this book. I want to run out and read other books by Matt Haig. I think you should read this book. While I have told you that books would be good to read, this book is just the best I have read for a while. This is the book to bump up to the top of your TBR pile.

Thanks for reading!

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What You Can See From Here by Mariana Leky

Dear Fellow Reader,

This week’s book got me thinking about styles of writing. It seems to me that the books I have read written by authors from the Netherlands have a different style to them, but they are similar to each other. I’m thinking of books like A Man Called Ove, The 100-Year-Old Man, and Hotel Silence. I don’t know if all books from that area are similar or if it just so happens that the ones I have read have the same sort of humor and cadence.

And here is that sentence that I appear to be obligated to put into reviews for books I am given. I was given a copy of the book in exchange for my unbiased opinion. Are you as sick of reading that as I am?

What You Can See from Here was written by a German woman and is being released in the U.S. as a translation. The style of the book greatly reminds me of the books I mentioned in the previous paragraph The book will be released on June 22, 2021. Since the chance that I will forget the plot of the book by then is high, I am writing this review a bit early.

The book opens by telling the story of 10-year-old Luisa. Luisa’s Grandmother, Selma, has dreamed of an Okapi. That indicates to the villagers that someone is going to die. We meet the villagers by finding out their reactions to the bad omen. Luisa and her friend Martin roam the village and spend most of their time together. The village has a host of off beat characters that help move the story along. Everyone relaxes when no one dies in the 24 hours after Selma had her dream. But then tragedy strikes and the death affects all the characters. One of the principal characters is only known as “the Optician”. He loves Selma but had never told her. He is with her every day and has helped teaching Martin and Luisa things like tying their shoes and how to tell time. Luisa’s mother owns a florist shop and spends most of her time trying to decide if she should leave Luisa’s father. Luisa’s father is a doctor but he is unsettled. Selma and the Optician are the most stable forces in Luisa and Martin’s lives. The story follows Luisa from the age of 10 until the age of 35.

I enjoyed the book. There are times that you can tell it is a translation because the wording isn’t quite right, but that is occasional, and it doesn’t take away from the story. I was reading the book on the Kindle app. When reading an eBook, you don’t know how long the book is. It seemed to me that it moved a bit slowly at first but then I got in the rhythm of it and it took off.

Thanks for reading.

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The Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe

Dear Fellow Reader,

Summer is coming and it is time to get ready with a beach read. I do not consider the term beach read a derogatory term. I love a good beach read.

And I do have a love for the Rutledge Family that make up the Beach House Series by Mary Alice Monroe. I was so glad to see that there is a new book. We are now learning about the third generation of the family that has been a South Carolina family for generations. Linnea Rutledge was a vital part of the last book and is the star of this book.

In The Summer of Lost and Found, we find Linnea arriving home from the job she loves totally dejected. COVID has hit and she has been laid off work. She and her friend Annabelle are both without work and money. Linnea calls her Aunt and Landlord Cara right way to tell her that she isn’t in a position to keep up with the rent. Cara gives Linnea a few ideas for work but also tells her that they will work it out. But then she drops what Linnea feels is a bomb. John Peterson is back next door to Linnea. The man that she thought she loved, the man she moved to California to be with, the man that broke her heart is next door? She hopes that he is leaving soon because her long-distance love, Gordon will be back from England soon. It feels strange to have the two of them so close.

And then David gets COVID, and Linnea has to really pitch in to help with Hope. They are all afraid for the little girl after her illness. Keeping her safe is a big concern.

The book takes us through their summer of COVID. To keep all of them safe, they form a pod in the neighborhood and do everything they can to stay safe. Linnea will learn to be able to do what is right for her and new love is found. It is everything you want from a beach read. The story moves along at a good pace and you learn more about familiar characters.

While you might wonder if it is a little soon to be reading about COVID, I don’t really think it is in this story. While it had an influence on the story, it wasn’t a main character. It was more of a vehicle for the story than a lead.

I enjoyed the book. I was happy with the character development and didn’t feel that anything was out of place. The characters continue to grow and expand. Linnea is growing up and learning what she wants and doesn’t want. I’m sure a little sand in between the pages won’t hurt the book at all.

Thanks for reading.

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