book review: Maggie Dove by Susan Breen

I keep hoping that I’ll get a good mystery book to read as part of the Monthly Mystery package through Chatterbox.  So far, I got one that was okay because the author imitated Stephanie Plum.

This is yet another mystery through Chatterbox that I can’t bring myself to recommend to anyone.  The plot itself was okay, but it wasn’t enough to save this book.  A 60-something-year-old woman has a disagreement with her neighbor about her oak tree and the neighbor ends up dead.  Then, one of her closest friends also ends up dead and the autopsy reports show that both of them died of the same cause.

The biggest problem I had with this book is that the main character, Maggie Dove, was judgmental, hypocritical, and just all around annoying.  She was a Sunday school teacher and tried to convince herself that she was a good person, but she didn’t seem to get along with anyone, even the people to whom she was supposedly closest.  For example, she constantly argued with one of her closest friends, Winifred.  The way the arguments unfolded in the book revealed how Maggie was both prissy and judgmental.  She claimed to love “Peter” but basically described him as a troublemaker. She was constantly above everyone else.  She describes another “friend,” Agnes, whom she was cruel to when she was younger.  When another character compared her to Agnes, she became offended and the reader was subjected to a paragraph about how she was so much better looking than Agnes. The author made was very clear that Maggie was part of the popular crowd when she was younger and she is much more beautiful than her friends.  Of course, she’s rich, too. This is the character that has it all – looks, money, “friends,” – she’s better than all of us!  Quite frankly, the more I read, the less I liked Maggie, not because of the author’s generous endowments, but because of the little that she did with those endowments and her petty mindedness, which the reader was subjected to for over 200 pages .  Agnes and Winifred seemed like much more interesting (and likeable) characters.

There were a few interesting characters in this book so it wasn’t a total loss.  It’s just too bad that the focus was on the annoying one rather than the interesting ones.

book review: Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt

I’ve been reading really horrible mysteries.  Why would I read horrible mysteries?  I promised to review them so I’m trudging my way through.  I feel a little bad giving bad reviews, but the characters are so unbelievable and the plots are just awful.  I’ve finished 2 of them, but I’ve been procrastinating about the reviews because I honestly can’t believe these books were published.

My introduction leads me to a little caveat about my review for this book.  I liked this book, and I don’t think it’s because of the string of horrible writing that I’ve witnessed recently, but there’s a small part of me that wonders.  I felt so relieved when I started to read it and found myself enjoying it and liking the characters.

Little Girl Gone is about a police liaison officer named Afton Tangler who helps in the investigation of the abduction of an infant from a wealthy family.  Afton is discontented with her current role and aspires to be a detective rather than social worker.  She is a likable character who is clever, easy to relate to, and believable.  The author did a great job of character development by allowing the character’s actions to speak for their personalities.  The characters’ reactions to situations were spot on for their personalities.

This book reminded me a lot of John Sandford’s Prey series, not only because they are both based in Minnesota, but the main characters investigate crimes.  Both main characters aren’t perfect and have a little bit of an attitude towards authority, but that’s part of what makes them likable.

While the plot doesn’t offer any surprises, I found myself not caring about that because I was enjoying the well written story.  It seems that Afton Tangler is the main character in a series of books.  I haven’t read any of them before reading this book and found that it didn’t make a difference.  I look forward to reading more books with Afton Tangler as the main character.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentar e-copy of this book from First to Read.

 

book review: The Little Paris Bookshop

I’m behind on my book reviews again.  I have at least 3 books to review, including this one.  I want to say there’s 4, but I can’t even remember anymore.

The Little Paris Bookshop has a great premise – A bookstore owner has the ability to prescribe just the right type of book to customers, and he sells his books according to customers’ needs, not their wants.  For instance, a customer came looking for the latest bestseller, but the owner, Jean, decided that would be detrimental to her mental health and offered to sell her other books.  He seems to be able to offer a book prescription for everyone except himself.  Sounds like the perfect book for a bibliophile!  Unfortunately, the book prescription part played a pretty small role in the book itself.

His big problem is that he was in love with a married woman and she left him.  She left him a letter, which he left unopened for years and years and years (you can probably see where this is going because I did).  Spoiler ahead.  Don’t read anymore if you don’t want spoilers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turns out that the letter tells Jean that she’s dying and would like him to come see her.  He puts the letter into a table and forgets about it until he gives the table away to a female neighbor.  The female neighbor finds the letter, tells him about it, he hems and haws and decides to read it after he and the female neighbor have a sexual encounter.

I really hated most of the beginning of the book (other than the part where he prescribed books).  I thought that the letter from the dying lover and the encounter with the female neighbor were too predictable and everything was too much like a soap opera.

The part where he goes on his journey with his neighbor, Max, was much more interesting.  Along the way, they pick up a third companion for their voyage.  All three have issues that they’re dealing with – Max is an author who has writer’s block, Jean is dealing with the death of a loved one (he shut his emotions down and never allowed himself to grieve for the ending of the relationship and then learned about the death from the letter so he was having to deal with both issues on this voyage), and the third person is looking for a love that doesn’t exist.

I enjoyed reading about their voyage and the lessons that they learned along the way.  At times, the book got a little “preachy.”  This isn’t a book that I would reach for again any time soon, but I don’t feel that I wasted my time reading it.  At the end of the book, there are recipes (I haven’t tried any of them so I have no idea if they’re any good) and book prescriptions. I found the book prescriptions fun to read.

This book seemed to be trying to decide whether it was a guide to getting over loss and whether it was a book for book lovers.  It would have been a better book if it had actually been 2 books – have Jean deal with the loss in this book and have the sequel be how he prescribes books and how being a doctor for the soul leads him to adventures with his new love.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.