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Book Review: Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

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Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum, #20)Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Stephanie Plum series is like your regular Saturday evening movie… there are always some good moments, often you’ll encounter a few repetitive things, and occasionally exists the chance you might wet yourself! In Janet Evanovich’s latest installment (for me, I’m behind a few books) — #20, Takedown Twenty, here’s what you need to know: (a) a giraffe is wandering around Trenton, NJ, (b) a sicko is strangling elderly women, (c) you get attacked if you attend BINGO, (d) Stephanie’s guaranteed to be shot at nearly 10 times and her car stolen at least a handful more, and (e) you’ll want to kick Evanovich’s butt if she doesn’t give us another hot Ranger / Stephanie sex scene. Stop teasing me, Woman! (said in a very humorous way and not in a negative way!)

Some think the series has gotten old and tiresome. Others see it as too repetitive. As a stand-alone book, forgetting about any of the others, it’s a solid story worth 4+ star. I pull back a little with the shiners because it is a little too formulaic. I don’t mind some similarities but we’re approaching duplicate mode in some scenes even within the same book. Her car was stolen 4 times if I counted properly. I can take twice. Maybe a third if I’ve been drinking and forgot the first time. But 4’s pushing me, and I’m a forgiving reader.

That said, it’s still laugh out loud hilarious. And if I could find a new occupation just because I want to tell people what I do, it would be to act like Lula and say I’m a reformed ‘ho. I’m not sure I could pull off the sass, but it’s worth a try, right? I’m gonna do some research. I’ll be back with #21 next month.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: X by Sue Grafton

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After a ~4 year hiatus from reading the Kinsey Millhone Alphabet series, I got back to focusing on it late last year just before the author, Sue Grafton, passed away. In the second to last installment, X, Kinsey and the series become a bit more relaxed, but it also reminded me there’s only 1 book left as the final one (Z, 26) won’t be completed by a ghost writer.

grafton
There are three primary story lines in this novel, not the usual focus or style for Grafton: (1) Henry and Kinsey’s personal problems with their new neighbors, (2) Kinsey’s friendship with the wife of a late deceased colleague (who we learned a lot about in W is for Wasted) where peculiar people and letters start showing up, and (3) a mystery investigation Kinsey’s actually hired to solve by a real client. Each on their own wasn’t enough to carry a 400+ page novel, but by combining it together, readers were treated to a “week in the life” of a private eye who we’ve come to love.

One of the things that struck me the most was how Grafton only aged Kinsey by a few years over the course of ~35 years writing the novels. The setting still take place in the 1980s where there were no cell phones or usable personal computers, but there were major issues occurring in California, like a drought. Grafton uses the book to offer solutions on how to solve the water shortage, which actually applies today in many cases, too. Always keen to offer political or societal commentary through the characters, we don’t lack for an education in this one either: both treatment of the aging and conservation of water in and out of the home. At times, I thought… wait, did I start reading non-fiction again?

As for the 2 main mysteries, both ended with too many loose ends. While we know the criminal, it’s not your standard whodunit in the first one; and in the second one, Kinsey ends up playing matchmaker. While I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t a true mystery / thriller / suspense novel like most of the past. There were several high action moments, and one where I really worried Kinsey was going to die, but in the end, I was a little disappointed in the mismatch of how it all came together. That said, it’s still a strong book, just not what I was expecting or wanted. 3.5 stars and I’ll round up because I have a strong affinity for the series and author.

Writing is as good as always. Characters are clear, memorable, and understandable. A few things didn’t sit well, but for the most part, I cared what happened to everyone. I am both sad and excited to read the last one… probably later this month or the beginning of July.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Review: Tunnel Vision

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Tunnel VisionBook Review

3+ out of 5 stars for Tunnel Vision, the 8th mystery book in the “VI Warshawski” thriller series, written in 1994 by Sara Paretsky. In this book, Paretsky tackles the struggle of the homeless, domestic abuse and city politics. With her building set to be knocked down, VI has to find alternative offices, but she won’t give up. When she’s one of the last people still holding on to her lease, she finds herself being target. First she’s stalked and scared in the building. Then she finds a dead body, who later turns out to be a woman she volunteered with at a shelter. Then it’s connected to a city official, and she’s eventually accused of the murder. How does she get herself into these situations? While a good book in the series, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. It’s still a good series. I think VI’s personality got to me too much in this book. I know she’s under attack. And she’s trying to do the right thing. But she was a tad annoying and self-indulgent in some chapters. Eventually, we get back into the norm where she fights the right people and helps make her point, but it was a little over-done this time.

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About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

365 Challenge: Day 44 – Ornery

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Ornery: stubborn, crotchety, bad-tempered and combative

Ornery is the type of word where you guess what it means from how it sounds, as in a bit of onomatopoeia showing itself around the edges. I really don’t think of myself as ornery, but I have been known on occasion to act as though I am. I chose the word because I felt a bit “off” today when I began my morning. To truly be ornery, I’d need a bit of anger or ill-temper as the definition points out to us; however, my brand of ornery is slightly different.

I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to blog. I didn’t want to exercise. I didn’t want to do any job searching or researching. I wasn’t in a bad mood, just that nothing appealed to me. Sitting on the couch doing absolutely nothing felt appropriate. But that’s just silly and wasteful. It’s likely just boredom creeping in a little too much this week, but I’ll need to be careful to keep the ornery parts at bay.

Ornery usually applies to older men, at least in my experience. Think of the movie “Grumpy Old Men,” and you know exactly what I’m talking about in Walter Mathau’s character. I find myself on occasion showing those tendencies even though he was at least twice my age.

A few examples:

  • I’ll see people holding hands walking down the street blocking my ability to pass them and think “Ugh, stop being so silly and romantic. Get out of my way.”
    • But I am often a romantic guy, so it was just a fleeting moment.
  • I’ll be forced to go to a bar (I prefer my drinking at home or in restaurants) and watch the “young-ins” making fools of themselves, thinking “You have no sense of boundaries or self-respect.”
    • I’ve been quite immature a few times in the last decade. I’m no one to talk.
  • Friends want to do something new and I’ll just think it’s silly. “Huh? You want to go sit in a park and talk to people while listening to what music? That sounds stupid.”
    • But I will get upset when other people say or do the same thing to me.

Yes, I have had those thoughts. And consider parts of my personality truly still have me feeling as though I am 20 years old, there is this odd balance where I also feel 80 years old. And when I feel 80, I’m already reflecting on how much the generation coming up after me is just not as good as mine. Of course, that’s completely false and ignorant of me. Yes, certain things indicate there is a potential they are not as mature as I thought I was, but certain things show a lot more intelligence and open-mindedness as each new generation comes of age. It’s just perception playing games, depending on where you are in life and how old you are during which time period.

This post has nothing to do with people’s maturity. Not sure how it went in that direction, but since it’s important in these 365 posts that I just write what I am thinking and not spend time crafting it to perfection, it remains in print.

What I’m essentially saying here, is that for someone of 40, I certainly exhibit early onset ornery behaviors that I’d like to go away! I don’t want to turn into that elderly guy in the corner house who complains all the time about someone standing on their lawn.

True, I am never that guy in public, only in my own head and in my own home or when near close family / friends, so maybe 6 or 7 people actually see this trait in me… but enough that I need to be careful about it.

On the flip side, I have those moments where I’m pushing people to stay out longer, do more things, be more fun… so there is a fair balance. But when I am ornery, I am ornery. What contributes to this behavior? It almost feels like once you let one or two ornery thoughts creep in, the flood opens and it’s a massive takeover. And generally only time will force it to go away.

I’m grateful my orneriness has a bit of humor about it. As I will talk to myself, fidget with things, make things seem so much worse than they actually are. And those closest to me kinda get a kick out of it, as they see me with limited self-control, not the usual robot, and enjoy my little dilemma. I’m often locked in my own room to sort it out myself once I get too far off the deep end. Even Ryder, my dog, runs in the other direction when I’m ornery. He doesn’t like the word “no” and that often is the first word out of my mouth in these situations.

“No, I do not want to go there for dinner.”

“No, I am not up for leaving the apartment.”

“No, I’m not taking you for a walk.”

“No, stop begging for treats.”

Maybe confessing it will limit the appearance in the future. It seems to be almost gone today, but I’m still a little grouchy and unsure what today will hold. Ever feel that way? How do you handle it…

For your amusement… as I am doing a quick re-read and spell check before hitting “publish,” Ryder is huffing at a noise outside the door. My response: “Oh shut up and stop being so ornery. Other people live in this building. Where did you learn this ridiculous behavior from?”

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

Review: Jeopardy in July

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Jeopardy in JulyMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Barbara Venkataraman‘s Jeopardy in July, the fifth book in her Jamie Quinn mystery series. I’m starting to love this series! It’s simple, direct and easy-to-read, but it makes for such a fun experience.

 

Why This Book
The author and I connected months ago and I began reading her series. When the newest one came out, we chatted again and I was quick to jump on this read. I added it to TBR in late March when it was released and found myself propelling it to the must-read rather quickly. And I sat down at the end of my day today and finished it in less than 3 hours!


Overview of Story
Jamie Quinn has been a family law attorney for about ten years, growing tired of the boring cases that pass her desk. Though she’s had fun working on the unexpected murder cases over the last few years, those aren’t ones she comes across very often. And her boyfriend is stuck in Australia for a month longer than they expected, leaving her facing the world on her own. When she takes on some extra work at the local senior facility, providing advice about wills, inheritances and long-term care. But when something seems amiss with too many deaths at the facility, Jamie’s hot on the trail again.

South Florida. Forged paintings. An artist with a potential passion to do the right thing. Unfamiliar family connections. A mysterious flower that causes death, appearing as though it’s a foaming mouth. And that’s just 1 of her newest cases. How will Jamie figure it all out? With the help of bestie Grace, and Grace’s state senate candidate boyfriend, who annoys the heck out of Jamie. As she gets closer to the clues, along with PI sidekick Duke, Jamie’s sure to find a future in crime fighting this time!

Approach & Style
Barbara Venkataraman‘s style is absolute ease. The main character is a fun and quirky lawyer, one who has a witty and snappy tongue, but always comes across as someone you wish you knew. The book has so much humor, it’s hard to stop giggling sometimes. It’s not all-out crazy laughter, but a subtle hint of “this chick is cool and I wanna know her” type humor. And her banter with her favorite PI, ladies’ man Duke Broussard, is dynamic. I love their scenes together, even if it’s not about the case. Long-term, I kinda want them to end up together.

I read this as an e-read on my iPad through Kindle. The point of view stays on Jamie the whole story, following her antics across her own family drama and her various cases. In this one, two of her cases collide when art forgery meets death at the senior care facility. Chapters are short, quick to ingest… always humorous… and they leave you constantly wanting to click forward to the next one. And the author publishes a few a year, which should be enough, but I’m always wanting more!

Strengths
Jamie’s a true heroine. She’s funny. She’s smart. Flawed. Tragic. Strong. And represents us all.
Duke’s such a hoot. He’s over-the-top and warrants a good slap in the face… or a little fun on the side… hard to tell sometimes.

The plot is straightforward, but has a few fun jaunts along the way. It is easy to follow, leaves you wanting to solve it on your own with all the information at your fingertips.
Jamie’s search for her own love and family hops along throughout the story, and with each of the five books, she gets a little closer. I love following this side-story.

Open Questions & Thoughts
I wish these were longer. Barbara Venkataraman‘s gonna hate me for saying this, but it always ends a little too soon. I wish the plots were a little more complex and a little longer, just to draw out the fun.

Jamie just falls into her situations all the time. I think it’s a good thing, but it can also be a problem… as in too coincidental; however, the way book 5 ends shows a lot of promise for changes to Jamie’s life that I think could be of a great benefit.

Final Thoughts
When I first started the series, I thought it had potential. As I read each story, my biggest concern was they were too short (about 200 pages). As I made the journey from book 1 thru book 5, I found myself really looking forward to reading each book. It’s an uncomplicated and focused read, taking you on a fun journey through a likable character’s personal and career growth. It’s not about how complex the plot is or how much the author can shock you. It’s just a good laugh-out-loud read for a few hours. And I’m quite fond of them!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

View all my reviews