Book Review: B is for Burglar

I finally got around to reading the second Sue Grafton book, B is for Burglar.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Although business has been slow lately for P.I. Kinsey Millhone, she’s reluctant to take on the case of locating Beverly Danziger’s sister Elaine Boldt. It’s a small matter that Beverly should be able to handle herself. So why is she enlisting Kinsey’s services? Beverly claims she needs Elaine’s signature on some documents so that she can collect a small inheritance. But the whole affair doesn’t sit well with Kinsey. And if there’s something she’s learned in her line of work, it’s to always follow your instincts…

Kinsey’s hunch proves true when she begins her inquiries into Elaine’s whereabouts and discovers that the attractive widow was last seen in a flashy lynx coat boarding a plane for Boca Raton. But the more Kinsey searches for Elaine the more questions she encounters. Is Elaine’s disappearance tied in to the brutal murder several months ago of one of her bridge partners? And what happened to Elaine’s Persian cat who seems to have also vanished?

Things take a turn for the worse when a stranger vandalizes the home of one of Elaine’s neighbors and another neighbor turns up murdered. With her reputation and career on the line, Kinsey risks all to find a missing woman and a killer who’s waiting in the shadows to strike again…

My Thoughts:

Oh mi goodness. Seriously. I wrapped up my review of A is for Alibi by saying I couldn’t wait to see what happened when Sue Grafton hit her stride with Kinsey. Bam, she done it by book two.

I copied great lines on my kindle. Not really something I do normally but some of them were so stinking good I had to take note.

“I figure guys are like Whitman’s Sampler. I like to take a little bite out of each and then move on before the whole box gets stale.”

“Abruptly, she moved back and let me into the house with the attitude of someone using the f word under her breath.”

I will be reading C thru Z now. I won’t review them all for you. Just the ones that make me highlight on my kindle.

 

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Book Review: I Know What You Bid Last Summer

Cozies, Cozies, everywhere cozies. I just can’t help myself. I see a new pun title and it’s a moth to a flame. I Know What You Bid Last Summer by Sherry Harris is a Garage Sale Mystery. This is a new one for me.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

FOUL PLAY IN THE GYM
When it comes to running a successful garage sale, Sarah Winston believes in doing her homework. She also believes in giving back. But when she agrees to manage an athletic equipment swap, she doesn’t bargain on an uncharitable killer. The day of the event, the school superintendent is found dead in the gymnasium.

HAS SARAH PLAYING DEFENSE
Suddenly the murder suspects are the school board members–including the husband of a very difficult client who’s hired Sarah to run a high-end sale and demands she do her bidding. In between tagging and haggling, Sarah studies the clues to see who wanted to teach the superintendent a lesson. But as she closes in on the truth, the killer intends to give her a crash course on minding her own business . . .

 

My Thoughts:

It was a decent read. I was fairly engaged until about 2/3rds in. She gets all excited about something that makes no sense to me because a few days earlier she had already done that. It was weird. I think the author meant for it to be clearer but it wasn’t and it threw me off for the rest of the book.

I did like that the main character actually solved the crime, rather than managing not to die when the surprise killer attacks. But I left like some strings were left dangling and not quite believable.

Still, decent read.

Book Review: Pudding Up With Murder

Pudding Up with Murder is also a third book in a series, Julia Buckley’s Undercover Dish Series. I’ve read the first two and found them enjoyable. I think I was initially drawn to this series because I once considered opening a business doing exactly what Lilah does, secretly catering for people who pass it off as their own. LOL

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Secret chef Lilah Drake has a killer casserole to deal with in the latest Undercover Dish mystery from the author of Cheddar Off Dead….

Customers trust Lilah Drake to keep her mouthwatering meals under wraps, but when a millionaire meets his untimely end, some sinister secrets become the main course. . . .

Spring is right around the corner, and with the warmer temperatures come plenty of food requests from Lilah Drake’s covered-dish clients. Lilah pulls out all the stops with a sweet new casserole for the birthday party of Marcus Cantwell, a wealthy curmudgeon who has some angry ex-wives and more than a few enemies.

When he’s found facedown in Lilah’s casserole, it’s anyone’s guess as to who might have wanted the old man dead. A possible new heir to Marcus’s fortune adds some unexpected spice to the investigation, but Lilah fears that the old adage is true, and “the proof is in the pudding.”

My thoughts:

Reading that description above, I wonder who wrote it. There are no angry ex-wives in the book. They all get along. In fact, they all come to the birthday party with their new spouses. Whatever….moving on.

There is something so comforting about a well written cozy. Yes, someone has died. But so often they are icky people who kind of, if not deserve it, deserve some sort of punishment. This guy, well he’s dead and people have conflicting opinions about whether he deserved it or not.
The series has taken an interesting turn in book 3. Often in a cozy the police are against the amateur detective working the case, no matter how hard she might be trying to stay out of things. Finally in book 3 of the series, the cops actually admit the info the amateur garners is helpful and ask her to chat people up. It was refreshing.
Julia Buckley writes a fun cozy. She does. I’ve said before and I’ll say again, the main character is fun and has interesting family and friends. She’s chasing her own dream quietly and enjoying the process. All her speed bumps seem to come in the form of dead bodies but she handles that too.
For happy, “I wanna check out” entertainment, Buckley’s Undercover Dish Mysteries does the trick.

Book Review: Honey-Baked Homicide

I love picking up books in the middle of a series. The writer should have hit their stride by about book 3. Honey-Baked Homicide is book 3 in Gayle Leeson’s A Down South Cafe Murder series.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

It’s fall in Winter Garden, Virginia, and business at Amy Flowers’ Down South Cafe has never been better. So when struggling beekeeper Stuart Landon asks Amy to sell some of his honey, she’s happy to help. The jars of honey are a sweet success, but their partnership is cut short when Amy discovers Landon’s body outside the cafe early one morning.
As Amy tries to figure out who could possibly have wanted to harm the unassuming beekeeper, she discovers an ever-expanding list of suspects–and they’re all buzzing mad. She’ll have to use all of her skills–and her Southern charm–to find her way out of this sticky situation…

 

My thoughts:

My mind is almost blank on this one. I read it while away last weekend, plane read. Would I have finished it if I hadn’t been trapped for a couple of hours in a middle seat with my eight year old next to me? Maybe. This book floats along. Nothing much tripped me up, although the constant explanation of what food she was cooking got a bit much. Here a week later, I look at the book and think, eh. It was fine. Just fine. I wasn’t grabbed by the main character. And the murderer was unexpected. But the main character didn’t solve the crime so much as get herself almost murdered by the killer, who came as a surprise to the “detective” main character. I like my books to have a possibility of solving the case.  This one didn’t.

Book Review: Hit Makers

Hit Makers: How to Succeed in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson grabbed my eye at the big library. Some guy thinks he knows what it takes to get traction in the ADHD world? Gotta check that out. (ha-ha)

The Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Nothing “goes viral.” If you think a popular movie, song, or app came out of nowhere to become a word-of-mouth success in today’s crowded media environment, you’re missing the real story. Each blockbuster has a secret history—of power, influence, dark broadcasters, and passionate cults that turn some new products into cultural phenomena. Even the most brilliant ideas wither in obscurity if they fail to connect with the right network, and the consumers that matter most aren’t the early adopters, but rather their friends, followers, and imitators — the audience of your audience.

In his groundbreaking investigation, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson uncovers the hidden psychology of why we like what we like and reveals the economics of cultural markets that invisibly shape our lives. Shattering the sentimental myths of hit-making that dominate pop culture and business, Thompson shows quality is insufficient for success, nobody has “good taste,” and some of the most popular products in history were one bad break away from utter failure. It may be a new world, but there are some enduring truths to what audiences and consumers want. People love a familiar surprise: a product that is bold, yet sneakily recognizable.

Every business, every artist, every person looking to promote themselves and their work wants to know what makes some works so successful while others disappear. Hit Makers is a magical mystery tour through the last century of pop culture blockbusters and the most valuable currency of the twenty-first century—people’s attention.

From the dawn of impressionist art to the future of Facebook, from small Etsy designers to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson leaves no pet rock unturned to tell the fascinating story of how culture happens and why things become popular.

My thoughts:

I expected to scoff and perhaps throw the book across the room a few chapters in. But I actually found this book fascinating. So much cool information I had no idea about. I took pages of notes. I’m old school, what can I say. I spouted off little bits of info to people for weeks. In fact, I used this book in a demo essay for my comp class on how to analyze someone else’s theories.

It was super amazing to read and totally awesome and then when I was done….

Nothing. It was the same ole information you can find millions of places, in a new pretty package. Which since that’s what he espouses will get you a hit, was a self fulfilling prophecy. I still think the book was mad interesting but it won’t change your world view unless you’ve been living under a rock the last 15 years. LOL.

Book Review: A is for Action

I got an ARC of Dan Alatorre’s A is for Action and then promptly forgot to read it. What can I say? Sometimes I drop the ball. Just ask my pup about the vast array of bones and chew toys under the couch. (Do you move your couch every time you vacuum? Uh huh. I didn’t think so.)

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Every new author (and a lot of veteran authors) have the same problem when it comes to action scenes. They have this idea for a big battle scene or car chase – but most don’t know where to start!

I’ll show you.

We’ll lay out classic actions scenes, like a car crash or a massive medieval sword clash between armies, and see how they are done. We will analyze the writing style you use in action scenes that isn’t utilized anywhere else in your story.

Car chase or medieval battle, we can create a process to follow.

While every action scene is different, many have similar foundations.

Learn how to write amazing action scenes and take your stories to new heights!

 

My thoughts:

Dan meticulously details the battle scene from Braveheart as a way to demonstrate the power of outlining your action as a starting point. (Sadly there were no shots of Mel’s ass.) I found it an intriguing way to explain complicated action scenes for writers. It felt like a beat sheet. Which isn’t a bad thing. Action can be hard to write, especially if you’re an author who visualizes everything in your book in your head before you put it to paper. Dan clearly articulates the steps he’s found useful to get that mental film into the concrete world. Then he covered ways to layer that up, increasing tension for the reader. I look forward to more in the series.

Book Review: Survival of the Fritters

I think I need to stand up and say, “Hi, I’m T.A. Henry and I am a cozy mystery addict.” I grabbed Survival of the Fritters by Ginger Bolton, along with a couple of other cozies while I was at the big library this week. Survival is the only one I finished.

Short Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Emily Westhill runs the best donut shop in Fallingbrook, Wisconsin, alongside her retired police chief father-in-law and her tabby Deputy Donut. But after murder claims a favorite customer, Emily can’t rely on a sidekick to solve the crime–or stay alive. If Emily has learned anything from her past as a 911 operator, it’s to stay calm during stressful situations. But that’s a tall order when one of her regulars, Georgia Treetor, goes missing. Georgia never skips morning cappuccinos with her knitting circle. Her pals fear the worst–especially Lois, a close friend who recently moved to town. As evening creeps in, Emily and the ladies search for Georgia at home. And they find her–murdered among a scattering of stale donuts. . . Disturbingly, Georgia’s demise coincides with the five-year anniversary of her son’s murder, a case Emily’s late detective husband failed to solve before his own sudden death. With Lois hiding secrets and an innocent man’s life at stake, Emily’s forced to revisit painful memories on her quest for answers. Though someone’s alibi is full of holes, only a sprinkling of clues have been left behind. And if Emily can’t trace them back to a killer in time, her donut shop will end up permanently closed for business. . .

My Thoughts:

This was a fun read. The donut talk was a little heavy, every time someone orders a donut (a lot of scenes take place in the shop) or eats a donut (she brings everyone donuts), you get a run down of the qualities. It was just a little too much so that I didn’t really become annoyed until I was 200 pages in, the cumulative effect. There were a few moments where I was put off by the unbelievable dialogue or the unbelievable actions of the characters, but for the most part, I read happily. Of course by the next morning, I can’t remember much. Other than the book was pretty good. Which makes me want to decrease my rating. Fun to read, but totally forgettable.  I will read the next one when it comes out, Goodbye Cruller World.