Friday, March 31, 2023

Book Review: I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak


Goodreads Overview:

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He's pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That's when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That's when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who's behind Ed's mission?


This was another one of Preston's assigned readings for English class, which we both really enjoyed. I think Preston liked it because Ed was very relatable. He spoke and acted like a normal boy his age. He doesn't know what he wants to do and lacks ambition. He has all the potential in the world, but doesn't see how he can get out of the rut he is in. He also lacks self-esteem and confidence due to the poor parenting he received. His father was a drunk and passed away prior to the start of the book. His mother is constantly criticizing him and refers to him as "Dickhead Ed." Can you imagine why he feels the way he does and simply wants to fly under the radar?

Just when he thinks he is destined to live a life of mediocrity, the unthinkable happens. He is in the lobby of a bank when a robbery takes place. He instantly becomes a hero when he helps apprehend the thief. Shortly after that event, he receives the first playing card in the mail. He has to decipher the meaning and carry out the messages the sender has planned out for him. Some of them are very pleasant while others are more dangerous. With each message he delivers, you can see him changing. He begins to see that his life isn't predetermined. Fate vs. free will is a big component of this story. Nobody can change the cards they are dealt, but they can determine how to play them and impact the outcome. 

As part of the numerous assignments for this unit, Preston had to listen to a Ted Talk given by Zusak. I listened to it as well and found it to be very inspiring. He talks about how "every success he has had came wrapped in a gift box of failure." He also stated, "failure has given him a greater motivation to succeed the next time. It has given him the power to imagine his way around problems, and the courage to follow his own vision." You can see many of these elements and ideas in this book. Ed's ultimate success was not served to him on a silver platter but was built upon a lifetime of failures.

I would highly recommend this book to both teens and adults. Preston and I both gave it 5 stars on Goodreads, which is almost unheard of. This was funny, inspirational, educational, and entertaining, which is rare when it comes to assigned reading for school. If you are a high school English teacher, this is a excellent selection for young adult boys. I do not have any trouble making recommendations for teen girls, but boys are more challenging.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Book Review: Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict & Armen Keteyian



This was another one of my son Preston's book selections. He had to read a biography/memoir for his English class. Who else would he select but the greatest of all time in the sport he intends to turn into a lifelong career. He was well aware of Tiger's athletic accomplishments and had heard of some of his scandals, but this book was eye opening for him.

The book starts out with a look at what it was like for a young Tiger Woods. He was smart and did well in school, but he did not have the freedom or opportunity to be a kid. He wanted to play soccer and participate in other school activities, but his father was laser focused on his golf game. From the age of four, his dad was already showing off Tiger's skills and trying to cash in on his son's talent. They did not have the money to join a country club and pay for top notch coaching, but he put in the time and worked harder than anybody else. He was driven and set a goal for himself to be the youngest player to achieve every milestone within the game. He became the youngest winner of the U.S. Junior Amateur, the U.S. Amateur, the Masters, and the youngest to complete the Grand Slam.

We can see what it took for him to reach the pinnacle of success, but we also see the downsides of his fame. He had no privacy and could no longer live a "normal" life. Even people like Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth can still live normal lives. For example, on the Netflix series Full Swing we follow Justin Thomas into a drug store when he was under the weather at a tournament. Even with a camera following him, nobody bothered him while he was shopping. Doing something like that was out of the question for Tiger. He was so recognizable and had reached a level of celebrity far beyond the golfing world, that it was next to impossible for him to do anything without drawing a crowd and needing security.

His extreme wealth, connections, and lack of a good role model led Tiger to make some poor decisions. His actions off the golf course destroyed his family and jeopardized everything he worked for his entire life. This book does not hold back when it comes to any of his personal struggles and was very enlightening for Preston. As a student athlete, we place our idols on a pedestal and aspire to be them. In this case, Preston can see that he is human. While he had endless amounts of talents and is undisputedly the greatest of all time, he made mistakes along the way. Hopefully, he has learned from them and is a better person because of it. That is all you can hope for. 

Overall, this was an excellent biography. I felt like it portrayed a very realistic picture of who Tiger is without trying to sugar coat or sensationalize things. It presented the information gathered, good or bad, and let the reader decide how they wanted to process that knowledge. The authors didn't pass judgement and I don't think the reader should either. You never know what someone is going through unless you are in their shoes. While I do not condone some of his actions, I think we can all benefit from his work ethic and dedication. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Book Review: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Chrisopher Murray


Goodreads Overview:

The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan's personal librarian—who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray.

In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection.

But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle's complexion isn't dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.

The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths to which she must go—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.


I was fortunate to see Marie and Victoria speak at the Columbus Metropolitan Library last year. I had heard of The Personal Librarian, but I didn't know anything about the story of  Bell da Costa Greene. It was fascinating to hear how they collaborated and co-wrote this book. Due to their varied personal backgrounds, they were able to bring different perspectives to this racially charged story.

The late 1800s and the first half of the 1900s was a time of racial segregation in the United States. Belle's father was the first black graduate from Harvard and worked as a lawyer and advocate for equal rights. Her mother felt it would be better for her family to pass as white in order for them to have a better life. It was very risky, but Belle was smart and managed to elevate herself to the top of New York's society. As the personal librarian, and ultimately a friend of J.P. Morgan, she had considerable clout when dealing in the art world. She becomes a renowned expert in her field regardless of her gender and racial background. 

This was a fascinating story about a strong, well educated, and savvy woman who was able to overcome what some would have considered insurmountable odds. I found it very educational, entertaining, and worthy of 5 stars on Goodreads. It would be an amazing opportunity to visit the Pierpont Morgan Library, which is now the Morgan Library & Museum. I have visited the New York Public Library, but had no idea this building existed. The building itself is described as a work of art in the book, so I googled some images and was floored. It is stunning! The next time I am in New York, I will make it a point of visiting. My husband is now reading the book and is equally as invested. I will not have any trouble talking him into visiting the Morgan Library.

The following photo of the Morgan Library & Museum is from

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Book Review: Family of Liars by E. Lockhart


Goodreads Overview:

The prequel to We Were Liars takes readers back to the story of another summer, another generation, and the secrets that will haunt them for decades to come.

A windswept private island off the coast of Massachusetts.
A hungry ocean, churning with secrets and sorrow.
A fiery, addicted heiress. An irresistible, unpredictable boy.
A summer of unforgivable betrayal and terrible mistakes.

Welcome back to the Sinclair family.
They were always liars.


I LOVED We Were Liars, which I picked up at BEA (Book Expo America) back in 2014. Here is a link to my review.  As soon as I saw this prequel, I had to read it. This time around, we find out what it was like on Beechwood Island for the Sinclair daughters. 

Carrie Sinclair has a history of addiction and has seen ghosts since she was a teenager. Now she sees the ghost of her dead son Johnny, who asks her for stories about her youth. She begins telling him about her seventeenth summer on the island, which was filled with secrets, love, and lies.

Carrie was never the beautiful one in the family. All of the Sinclairs have a certain look and strong jaw line, but she does not fit the mold. She discovers a hidden family secret that only fuels her insecurities. Her father talks her into having an extensive surgery to correct her jaw line, which is when she became addicted to codeine. It is now the summer after the youngest Sinclair daughter, Rosemary, drowned while swimming alone on the island. Carrie wants to keep her memory alive, but her mother has closed off Rosemary's room and boxed up all of her things. Whenever she brings up Rosemary her sisters, Penny and Bess, tell her it is time to move on. With nobody to turn to and gripped by addiction, her mind's way of coping is to bring Rosemary back as a ghost. She sees Rosemary on Beechwood Island and the girls carry on like they used to. They begin helping each other cope with the situation, but clearly Carrie is in need of help.

That year, her father's brother comes to stay with them on the island and brings his son Tomkin, daughter Yardley, Yardley's boyfriend George, and two of George's friends. This is the first time they have had boys their age on the island and Carrie becomes interested in one of the friends, Lawrence Pfefferman "Pfeff". Pfeff comes on a little strong, but also was a wandering eye and really can't be trusted. There is a big event that takes place, which is where the lies start to pile up. After everything we learned in We Were Liars and now this book, they truly are a Family of Liars. 

This wasn't quite the 5-star book that We Were Liars was, but it was still a solid 4-stars and an excellent addition to the series. I would highly recommend both of these books to any YA fan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner


Goodreads Overview:

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?

One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.

The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.

Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.

Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.

Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?


This was my son's assigned summer reading before his senior year of high school. There is a positive message about not texting and driving, which all teenagers can benefit from. On the other hand, this was a rather depressing book. Carver, who is going into his senior year, loses his three best friends in a car accident and has nobody to turn to for help. He begins having panic attacks due to the guilt and stress, so his sister suggests he talk to a psychiatrist. Dr. Mendez is instrumental in this story and is one of the few people who can truly relate to Carver's feelings. He encourages him to tell him stories, which should be easy for a writer, but is not in this case. He eventually opens up and learns how to "reframe his perception of events", which is another important message in this story. There is always more than one way to look at an event. 

The Goodbye Days start when Blake's grandmother asks Carver to spend one last day sharing memories and doing all of Blake's favorite things with her. Carver eventually goes through with it and does feel better after the fact. The families of the other two victims ask him to do the same thing for them, but he is concerned about their motives. Those days do not go as smoothly as they did with Blake's grandma, but ultimately, they are therapeutic for him.

For me, this was a 3-star book. It had some nice messages, but it isn't something I would have selected for Preston. I can understand why the school system chose it, but it certainly isn't going to turn a reluctant reader into a book nerd. My son has enjoyed books like I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak and Freckled by Toby Neal. Those books have powerful messages and were able to hold his interest. In this case, I had to get the audiobook and force him to listen while we drove to a couple of his golf tournaments. He doesn't really enjoy reading, so a book with a character his age who lost all of his friends was going to be a challenge for him to complete. Hopefully he learned something from it and will think twice before texting and driving.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Book Review: Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen



Counterfeit was Reese Witherspoon's book club selection for June 22, so I had to pick it up when I saw it prominently displayed on the "staff picks" shelf at the library. Ava is a smart and successful attorney who is married to a prominent doctor. When she decides to stay at home with her first child, her life starts to unravel. Their finances are stretched without the second income and Ava is at her wits end with her son Henri's behavior. She relies heavily on a nanny for support and tries desperately to get her son into a top tier pre-school to help him adjust, but that requires money. When her old college roommate, Winnie, reappears out of nowhere and offers her an opportunity to make some quick cash, she is conflicted. She has always been a strait-laced law-abiding citizen and couldn't possibly consider such a scheme, but this could be her way out of this mess.

Winnie was born in China and only attended Stanford for a short period of time before she was forced to leave due to an SAT cheating scandal. She was very quiet, had a strong accent, and was far from a fashion icon. She desperately wanted to fit in and achieve the American dream, but Stanford wasn't going to be her ticket to success. She returns to China and eventually starts a counterfeit handbag business with near perfect replicas. When she returns to the United States and bumps into Ava, she is hardly recognizable. She is dressed to the nines, has lost her accent, and appears to have everything Ava has ever dreamed of. 

Readers quickly discover that the story is being told by Ava to a detective, so things must not have gone as planned. Will Ava sell Winnie out to protect herself? Will she take responsibility for her role in this scheme? You will want to read to find out. This is a very humorous story that kept me engaged from start to finish. I am not interested in expensive purses, but I was intrigued by the counterfeit industry and how someone could pull off such a scheme. I felt for the characters and the circumstances they were in that led them down this path. Even though they were clearly doing something that was illegal, I was rooting for them to come out on top.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Book Review: Just One Year by Gayle Forman


Goodreads Overview:

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. 

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.


I was very late to the party when I finally got around to reading Just One Day. It received a ton of hype, and I could definitely see why when I finally read it. Willem and "Lulu" are fantastic. I loved their whirlwind romance and could not wait to see what happened from Willem's perspective. Just One Year tells everything they went through the year after their fairytale day in Paris. While everyone keeps telling Allyson to forget about him, because he was nothing more than a player who took advantage of her, she can't help but wonder what really happened. 

Neither of them exchanged information, so when they got separated, they had no way of contacting each other. They are now an ocean apart trying to piece together the bits of information they did share. She scours the internet and tries contacting his acting company, but to no avail. She eventually decides to get a job and save up enough money for a trip back to Paris to see if she can find any clues. It really is a needle in a haystack plan, but she can't move on with her life without trying. Willem is equally as resourceful. He is a traveler at heart and sets off on his own search, which is equally as fruitless. Just when things appear hopeless, fate steps in once again. 

I was SHOCKED by how this book ended. It was very abrupt with no real conclusion. Readers were left completely hanging in the balance. I don't know if it was known at the time that a novella was being released seven months later, but that is what happened. Was the novella released because readers were outraged or was the short story always part of the plan? I don't know the answer to that question, but I would have been furious if I read this when it was released and had no clue what happened after the last page of this book. As it was, I immediately downloaded the Just One Night eBook and read it that same evening. Why this was split into a book and a short story is beyond me. The ending was perfect, so be sure to have a copy of Just One Night on hand when you finish Just One Year.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Book Review: Torpedoed by Deborah Heiligman


Goodreads Overview:

A true account of the attack and sinking of the passenger ship SS City of Benares, which was evacuating children from England during WWII.
Amid the constant rain of German bombs and the escalating violence of World War II, British parents by the thousands chose to send their children out of the country: the wealthy, independently; the poor, through a government relocation program called CORB. In September 1940, passenger liner SS City of Benares set sail for Canada with one hundred children on board.

When the war ships escorting the City of Benares departed, a German submarine torpedoed what became known as the Children's Ship. Out of tragedy, ordinary people became heroes. This is their story.


My son is not a fan of fiction, so he selected this as one of his choice books for English class. I was familiar with the story of the Lusitania, which was a British passenger ship that was sunk by a German torpedo during WW1. This story is even more heart wrenching because a large number of the passengers on the City of Benares were children trying to get out of England during WWII. Families thought they were doing what was best for their children by sending them Canada, which was not being impacted by the war, but they ultimately would have been safer staying at home. 

Throughout the book we are introduced to several of the children, chaperones, staff on the Benares and the rescue ships, and even some of the German soldiers who were responsible for the attack. Much like watching the Titanic movie, the reader becomes attached to some of the children as they take in the luxurious surroundings and endless amounts of food, which was far from what they were used to in their war-torn country. We learn some of their personal backgrounds and expect the main characters to be rescued and live happily ever after. In some cases that happens, but in many cases it does not. The narrator gives detailed accounts of what it was like throughout the entire ordeal from the perspective of the participants, so the reader feels like they are part of the story.

What is different about this book is that it is NOT historical fiction. It is based upon letters, current interviews of survivors, recordings of interviews with survivors, information found in the war museum, etc. It provides a glimpse into the lives of the people who were involved in this horrific event and what they were thinking and feeling at the time. While it is appropriate for middle school readers, my son's high school English teacher recommended it. I found it to be very educational and something that should appeal to readers of all ages.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Book Review: The Associate by John Grisham


Goodreads Overview:

Kyle McAvoy grew up in his father's small-town law office in York, Pennsylvania. He excelled in college, was elected editor-in-chief of The Yale Law Journal, and his future has limitless potential.

But Kyle has a secret, a dark one, an episode from college that he has tried to forget. The secret, though, falls into the hands of the wrong people, and Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn't want, even if it's a job most law students can only dream about.

Three months after leaving Yale, Kyle becomes an associate at the largest law firm in the world, where, in addition to practicing law, he is expected to lie, steal, and take part in a scheme that could send him to prison, if not get him killed.

With an unforgettable cast of characters and villains, from drug-addled trust fund kid and possible rapist Baxter Tate to quiet former math teacher Dale who shares Kyle's cubicle at the law firm, The Associate is vintage Grisham.


Back in the early years of John Grisham's career, I read all of his books as soon as they were released. A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, etc. were all instant successes. I got behind when I was in college and shortly thereafter, but I have been trying to read at least one a year. 

The Associate had the classic Grisham feel. Kyle is just out of law school and wants to take a lower paying job where he can give back to the community. His father is a small-town lawyer that specializes in helping his friends and neighbors while making a living on his own terms. When Kyle accepts a high paying job in New York City, it is unexpected and out of character. Working countless hours with the sole purpose of billing clients exorbitant amounts of money, just so the rich can get richer, was never his goal. He can't tell his father why he had a sudden change of heart, so he relies on a college friend to help him with the delicate situation he finds himself in. 

Kyle is being blackmailed to steal confidential information from the firm, which would get him disbarred and could land him in jail if he gets caught. He is being followed, his apartment and phones have been bugged, and he has no choice but to seek legal counsel and confide in someone to get help. He contacts Roy Benedict, a criminal lawyer and former FBI operative. Together they must work out a plan that will get the blackmailers off his back while keeping his career and reputation intact. 

If you are a fan of Grisham's early work, I would highly recommend this book. It was a sit on the edge of your seat thriller that will keep you engaged from start to finish.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Book Review: Violeta by Isabel Allende


Goodreads Overview:

This sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Petal of the Sea tells the epic story of Violeta del Valle, a woman whose life spans one hundred years and bears witness to the greatest upheavals of the twentieth century.

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father's prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling. 

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women's rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics.


This was the "Gator Girls" book club selections back in April 2022. I have mentioned them before, but they are a group of Bonita Bay Club residents, which is where my mom lives in Florida. I loved the first book they selected, which was The Maid by Nita Prose, but this was more of a 2.5-star book for me. (I rounded it up to 3 on Goodreads) I did read the book back when they read it, so you can clearly see how far behind I am on my book reviews. I am trying to make a concerted effort to catch up over the next month or two.

I enjoyed the characters and learning some of the historical elements that were woven into this story, but it was a bit slow. The story was told in a very matter of fact sort of way like a history lesson. I didn't feel like there was an attempt to capture the reader and hold their attention at any point in the book. Violta is 100 years old and is writing letters to her grandson about her life. With several major world events including wars, depressions, plaques, women's rights issues, births, deaths, etc. you would have thought there was endless potential to keep the pages turning, but I struggled to get through this one. I also couldn't imagine putting some of the topics in writing, much less to your grandson. I understand wanting to share your history with future generations, but some things are better left unknown. 

I am the kind of reader who enjoys the types of books Reese Witherspoon selects for her book club. I have tried reading a couple of Oprah's picks in the past and they just weren't for me. They are usually very educational, inspirational, insightful, etc., but tend to lack the entertainment value. That is how I felt about this book. I'm sure many people will enjoy reading this, but it just wasn't for me. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Book Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead


Goodreads Overview:

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive. 

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. 

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.


I have been a huge Adrian fan since the Vampire Academy series. How can you not love Adrian? He received the short end of the stick in the original series, so I was ecstatic to see that he had a prominent role in this series and hoped he would finally receive his happily-ever-after. While I am hopeful that will eventually be the case, he certainly had a tough time again in this installment. 

I get that the Alchemists provide a valuable service to the Moroi, but I feel like the Moroi and Dhampirs could handle things on their own and eliminate A LOT of headaches. The Alchemists are humans who try to keep the vampire world hidden from the rest of society. They have instilled beliefs in generations of members that are nothing more than a cult sort of brainwashing in my opinion. They do not want anyone making up their own minds and freedom is absolutely non-existent within their group. They seem to control all aspects of Sydney's life and punish her when her beliefs do not coincide with theirs.

For the vast majority of this book, Adrian and Sydney are separated. Adrian is spiraling out of control because he doesn't know how to find and help Sydney. You would think that his good friend, Queen Vasilisa, would be of more assistance, but the Moroi really do not want to dive into Alchemist matters unless it directly impacts them. How they discipline their members really isn't something Lissa wants to get involved in.

We get a clear picture of what goes on within one of the Alchemist rehabilitation centers throughout this book. Hopefully these facilities will not be around much longer now that someone with a backbone has first-hand knowledge to take back to others who are not part of the Alchemists. Someone needs to stand up for people like Sydney, who are trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability, but want to live their own lives and have the freedom to make their own decisions. She has not done anything wrong and shouldn't have been punished simply because her ideas of right and wrong do not match what her father and the elders believe.

The final book in this series, The Ruby Circle, is sure to be a whirlwind after everything that took place in this book. I can't wait to see how the series will conclude and can only hope that Richelle FINALLY gives Adrien his happily-ever-after. 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich


Goodreads Overview:

Fugitive Apprehension Agent Stephanie Plum has a big problem on her hands: Seven-year-old Annie Soder and her mother, Evelyn, have disappeared.

Evelyn's estranged husband, Steven, a shady owner of a seedy bar, is not at all happy. During the divorce proceedings, he and Evelyn signed a child custody bond, and Steven is demanding the money guaranteed by the bond to find Annie. The money was secured by a mortgage on Evelyn's grandmother's house, and the True Blue Bonds Bail Agency wants to take possession of the house.

Finding a kidnapped child is not an assignment for a bounty hunter. But Evelyn's grandmother lives next door to Stephanie's parents, and Stephanie's mother and grandmother are not about to see their neighbor lose her house because of abduction.

Even though Stephanie's plate is full with miscreants who missed their court dates, including old nemesis and violent drunk Andy Bender and an elusive little old lady accused of grand theft auto, she can't disappoint Grandma Mazur! So she follows the trail left by Annie and Evelyn-- and finds a lot more than she bargained for. Steven is somehow linked with a very scary Eddie Abruzzi. Trenton cop and on-again, off-again fiance Joe Morelli and Stephanie's mentor and tormentor, Ranger, warn Stephanie about Abruzzi, but it's Abruzzi's eyes and mannerisms that frighten Stephanie the most. Stephanie needs Ranger's savvy and expertise, and she's willing to accept his help to find Annie even though it might mean becoming too involved with Ranger.

Stephanie, Ranger, Lula (who's not going to miss riding with I race among Stephanie's posse, the True Blue Bonds' agent, a Rangerette known as Jeanne Ellen Burrows, and the Abruzzi crew. Not to mention the fact that there's a killer rabbit on the loose!


I am still plugging away at the VERY lengthy Stephanie Plum series. I enjoy listening to these while I am out walking the dog because they are very lite and funny and do not require a lot of focus.  It is sort of like watching a soap opera with all of the drama between Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger. I can't help but want to know what will happen next. 

The antics at her parent's house are equally as entertaining as the mysteries. Grandma Mazur is hilarious and the banter between her parents and Grandma Mazur are well worth the listen. You can't help but laugh out loud half the time, so I'm sure my neighbors think I am a little crazy. 

The Goodreads overview is a pretty detailed summary of the plot, so there isn't much more that I can say without giving spoilers. There was a bit of a shocking twist at the end, so I can't wait to see where things head in the next installment. Will the Morelli, Stephanie, Ranger love triangle continue or will Stephanie finally make a decision based upon the events that took place at the end of this book? I guess I will have to keep reading if I want to find out.

I am amazed that Lula and Stephanie make it to the end of every book, but they always do. Neither of them has any real skills when it comes to apprehending fugitives, but they certainly have luck on their side. If you are looking for a good laugh and an entertaining mystery to help pass the time, this is a fun series.