Book Review: Murder Likes It Hot

I was sliding through the library on my way to the last scheduling committee meeting, and this book just fell off the shelf at my feet. I had to pick it up and take it home; it would have been rude to leave Murder Likes It Hot by Tracy Weber just lying there on the floor, right?

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Newly married yoga instructor Kate Davidson feels stuck in low-energy limbo, despite her high-energy life. She’s trying to conceive a child, keep her studio afloat now that the ultra-cheap Some Like It Hot Yoga studio has opened across the street, and start a yoga program at a local resource center for homeless youth.

When a center employee is found dead, Kate sets aside her fertility and financial woes to delve into the world of teenage homelessness. While digging for clues with her German shepherd Bella, Kate discovers that family can be formed by bonds stronger than shared DNA, and she must defend it at all costs.

My thoughts:

Despite the slightly racy title, this book is feel good yoga and cozy mystery all the way. Let me just say I have to give kudos to Weber for weaving in the yoga and dog rescue work like they’re finely attuned spices in a good meal, rather than slathering it on like butter on cheap toast. I feel like the lines about yoga and animal rescue work are there to tell more about the main character, Kate, rather than pad the book.

I have this vague idea I read one of the series before and didn’t much like it. But I will say if that was the case, Weber has really hit her stride. This is book 6 in the series and I liked it enough, I will be back tracking to read the rest.

I live in the Seattle area, more or less, and the way she touched on the political issues surrounding homelessness locally was exceptionally well done.

The victim of the murder was unexpected. The bad guy was not so surprising once the actual murder occurred. I had a whole other extremely common plot line in mind as I was reading. But Weber didn’t go that way, all to the good. And extremely rare in a cozy mystery, she made me cry at the end.

I won’t even mention that she called an automatic, a revolver at one point. Except I just did. Well, no one is perfect.

Book Review: Read and Gone

Jay reminded me of Allison Brook the other day. He reviewed her third book and I suddenly realized, wait – I haven’t read the second one, Read and Gone, yet. Clickety Click, and poof it came to my kindle.

Basic Summary (courtesy of Amazon):

A devoted dad is as precious as diamonds, but Carrie Singleton wouldn’t know since her dad Jim’s been on the lam most of her life. In an unusual family reunion, she finds Jim breaking into her cottage in the middle of the night. The fun really starts when he begs her to help him recover his half of a twenty-million-dollar gem heist he pulled off with the local jeweler, Benton Parr. When she refuses, Jim takes off again.

Carrie finds her father again behind bars for the recent murder of Benton Parr. Who made the connection? Unbeknownst to her, Carrie’s boyfriend Dylan, an insurance investigator, has been searching for the gems. Determined to find the jewels herself, she starts examining every facet of Parr’s life. She turns up a treasure trove of suspects, one of whom bashes her on the head as she’s searching the victim’s country cabin.

Retreating to the quiet confines of the library where she works, Carrie watches as Smokey Joe, the resident cat, paws at a hole in the wall. Is he after the library’s ghost Evelyn, or something shinier?

My thoughts:

I find Carrie much more charming now that she has really embraced settling into the wonderful life that came her way, really via her Aunt and Uncle. She’s amusing and has funny friends. The library ghost is an interesting way to bail Carrie out of trouble and grant her knowledge she can’t get any other way.

On the other hand, she’s gotten dumb. Like the criminal had to actually hit her over the head twice before she caught on this time. LOL.

Will I read book three? Absolutely. And not just because Jay says the author really hits her stride in book 3, but it doesn’t hurt.

 

Book Review: Cinder

I don’t remember who recommended Cinder by Marissa Meyer to me. Someone who knew I was looking for Sci/Fi and Fantasy options for my creative writing class. It didn’t come in time for me to use it as an example for Sci/Fi. It’s rather complicated though, a retelling of a fairy tale with advanced technology.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

CINDER, a gifted mechanic in New Beijing, is also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.

Cinder is caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal. Now she must uncover secrets about her mysterious past in order to protect Earth’s future.

 

My thoughts:

I felt no impetus to read. I don’t know any way to explain it other than that. It is well written and enjoyable. I liked it. But at no point was I invested. In fact I remained 20 pages from the end, in the middle of what was sure to be the climax, for a week and didn’t even care.  I reread World War Z instead.

I don’t know why either. The characters are well drawn. The plot is good; predictable but I find most books predictable. The style was fast paced. Everything that makes a good book was totally present and accounted for.

It just didn’t speak to me.

Book Review: Reprise – World War Z

Disclaimer: I’ve reviewed this book before, 3 years ago maybe, you can read that here if you like.

I’m teaching Creative Writing this year and I allowed my students to pick the genres we discuss and write in. It’s been a mixed bag. LOL.

One of their choices was Sci Fi scary. You know aliens attacking, etc. But you can only read so many of those examples before, yawn. So I wove in a few other things. A short where the main character is a sentient ship in outer space. The first chapter of The Martian by Andy Weir. And then I talked a little about World War Z because of its unusual style, a pastiche of a sociological study.

This made me want to read it again and see if it was really as great as I remembered. And damn if it wasn’t still amazing. I stayed up half the night reading, again.

It is a fascinating read.

Book Review: The Brave Learner

Another mom at coop was trying to get a group together to read The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart and discuss it. Why not?

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Parents who are deeply invested in their children’s education can be hard on themselves and their kids. When exhausted parents are living the day-to-day grind, it can seem impossible to muster enough energy to make learning fun or interesting. How do parents nurture a love of learning amid childhood chaos, parental self-doubt, the flu, and state academic standards?

In this book, Julie Bogart distills decades of experience–homeschooling her five now grown children, developing curricula, and training homeschooling families around the world–to show parents how to make education an exciting, even enchanting, experience for their kids, whether they’re in elementary or high school.

Enchantment is about ease, not striving. Bogart shows parents how to make room for surprise, mystery, risk, and adventure in their family’s routine, so they can create an environment that naturally moves learning forward. If a child wants to pick up a new hobby or explore a subject area that the parent knows little about, it’s easy to simply say “no” to end the discussion and the parental discomfort, while dousing their child’s curious spark. Bogart gently invites parents to model brave learning for their kids so they, too, can approach life with curiosity, joy, and the courage to take learning risks.

 

My thoughts:

Yeah. This was a good read. Lots of magical pixie dust. Lots of one size fits all answers.

Lots of things I have already tried with my child and had them not work. Which according to Julie means I didn’t do it right. If I tried her methods and they didn’t have the results she described then my tone was wrong, or my facial expression, or the way I presented it was wrong, or secretly I wanted it to not work and my child picked up on that.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on one human. Seems it might be more kind to admit that not every solution works for every child. If you are setting yourself up as the know all and you have to insist the other person is wrong when your solution doesn’t work, then I have to wonder just how much you really know. And are you really invested in helping parents or shaming them?

Wow, I had no idea all that was in the back of my mind when I sat down to review this book. I started out thinking I liked the book in general but clearly her approach of “dictates from on high” really rubbed me the wrong way.

Which brings me to the conclusion I have now come to after 5 years of homeschooling MY child. Every child is different. In fact, they are different on different days of the week, seasons of the year, and times of their life. No packaged approach will ever fit. I think I might just be done reading how wonderfully someone else’s approach to home schooling their children went because in the end, they didn’t home school my child.

Book Review: Two Can Keep a Secret

I waited an eon for the latest from Karen McManus.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone has declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

My thoughts:

I have the stomach flu. Full on puking my guts up in a way I never did even with alcohol poisoning. And this book kept my attention from start to finish.

The characters are fun. The bevy of secrets delightful. The mysteries intense.

I didn’t know who done it. I knew the extra twist at the end, that one was obvious to me all the book. But I had no clue who done it. And no one was hiding information. There was no secret ooh she found, he found…and we aren’t telling so we can surprise you.  The author played it straight. Devious, but straight.

It’s as good as her first one. Maybe better, because it didn’t feel cribbed from Breakfast Club.

Book Review: A Death at the Yoga Cafe

I was being rushed out of the library by the kiddo as his arms were full of graphic novels and he wanted to go home, when I spied A Death at the Yoga Cafe by Michelle Kelly on an end cap for cozies. Yoga and murder? Right on.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Keeley Carpenter has found her center. After returning to Belfrey, the traditional English village she called home ten years ago, she’s opened her dream yoga café, which doubles as both a yoga studio and a delicious vegetarian café. Even better, Keeley is dating handsome Detective Ben Taylor, and things are beginning to look serious.

Too bad things never seem to run smoothly for long. Eager to get involved with the local community, Keeley sets up a booth at the annual Belfrey Arts Festival, along with her nemesis, fellow small business owner Raquel. Preparing herself to play nice, she’s shocked when Raquel’s boyfriend, Town Mayor Gerald, is found dead after a public spat. Despite Ben’s strict warnings to stay out of it, Keeley isn’t going to let an innocent woman take the blame for the murder—even if it is glamorous, spoiled Raquel.

Now Keeley must balance a precarious murder investigation with the demands of her growing business and now-strained relationship. But when the killer takes a personal interest in Keeley, can she find the culprit before she gets bent out of shape?

My thoughts:

The book was definitely missing that joie de vivre that English slang brings to Brit based books. Everyone talks like an American. LOL. Supposedly the author is English. I don’t know what to make of that.

I didn’t connect particularly with the main character. She was tepid tea.

And the detection was of the “suspect everyone until a surprise twist reveals who done it” style. I don’t thrill to that.

But the book was solidly okay.