August saw me reading a variety of fiction (and some non-fiction, but more about that next month), which was fun. I’m afraid I can’t rave about any of the books I read, but they were all good.
Pineapple Lies (Pineapple Port Mysteries #1)
By Amy Vansant
Due to an interesting set of circumstances, Charlotte grew up in what was her grandmother’s house in a retirement community in Florida. Many of her neighbors have become substitute grandparents, and she gets along famously with these elderly residents.
When Charlotte decides to remove a section of the concrete patio covering her backyard so she can grow a garden, her dog digs up a bunch of bones, which turn out to be those of the mother of a new hunky neighbor who disappeared years ago. It’s determined she was murdered, but no one knows by whom or why.
Needless to say, Charlotte and the newly formed Crime Club, made up of senior citizens, have to investigate the murder. Along the way, she and Declan (the hunk) are attracted to one another, giving us the standard romance subplot. An interesting premise and it started out as a fun read.
As I reached the end of this book and ran into a number of misplaced commas, I had an internal debate over whether to deduct a star for them or not. Now, I reserve five stars for books that knock my socks off, that, at least at the end, make me sit back and think “Wow!” (hopefully this happens at several other points during the book, too). So, in general, good books start off with four stars and move either up or down a star rating. Were a few stray commas worth rating this book a three?
There turned out to be several other reasons to give this book three stars rather than four.
I can’t give you details on the things I found lacking in this book without giving too much away. If you want to read that, you can reveal the spoilers on my Goodreads review.
So many mysteries have issues at the end, issues which could be avoided by one more pass through the book with the addition of a scene or a line of dialogue that would set up the final unraveling. Or lead the author to come up with a different theory of the crime or clue that leads the sleuth to the answer. This was one of those mysteries, which made it a disappointment for me.
Wild Horses, Wild Hearts
By Charlene Whitman (C. S. Lakin)
I didn’t realize this was YA when I bought it, so it took me a while to adjust to that fact when I started reading it. It’s not categorized as YA on Amazon, which I think it should be.
I had also forgotten it was a novella, not a full-length book. What this means is that it started with two strikes against it as far as books I prefer to read.
The dialect bothered me. I know the author was trying to remain true to the way people spoke at that time in that location, but it was distracting. I’ve heard it recommended that authors use dialect sparingly, say when a character is introduced, and then interlacing the occasional word or phrase in more “normal” sounding prose because there are a lot of readers like me.
The book description summarizes the plot nicely:
“Eli Banks heads west into the foothills of the Rockies to search for wild horses, but when he hears a cry and encounters Clare McKay and her young brother in need of help, he strides headlong into danger. While he’d hoped to find wild horses, he finds something just as challenging—an Irish gal with a wild heart.”
Both characters are in their mid-teens, which is when they should be looking for a mate in this time period. Both are interested in finding that someone, but haven’t yet.
A prequel written to her popular series, this is a nice enough story, but nothing about it grabbed me. I didn’t feel the stakes were very high. I like romance, but I prefer books with deeper plots and characters. I keep thinking that the book I’d like to write would be more like “Gone With the Wind” or “The Thorn Birds” than this book. Both of those books are rich with history, and the characters are so strongly conflicted about their relationships. But they are also breakout novels, written with a lot of skill, and not the average popular romance readers love—and devour—one book after another.
This is one of the books I’ve bought as research for writing the historical western romance series I’m thinking of writing, and I do intend to read the next book in the series, which was originally the first book in the series.
As the Crow Flies
By Craig Johnson
Eighth in the Longmire series, this book picks up right after the last with Walt and Henry planning Cadie’s wedding on the rez. At the last minute, the venue they’ve picked has been booked to a different event through the vagaries of the Chief and Tribal Council, and a second location is suggested.
Walt and Henry go to check it out and are witnesses to the murder of an Indian woman, who falls from a cliff with her infant son in her arms.
This book just never grabbed me. The same characters were there, there was a murder, but the stakes never seemed very high. I knew Cadie’s wedding would work out just fine. There was a bit of a twist to that, but it wasn’t amazing.
I think the problem is that neither the woman who was killed nor the suspects were people I cared about. The new chief of the tribal police, who I think Johnson is trying to set up as a love interest, also fell flat except for a few scenes.
Perhaps I grew too accustomed to the television series and the way the characters were developed and grew in that. The stakes were always high there, Jacob Nighthorse and Malachi were villains, and Henry was a lot warmer than he is in the books.
Or perhaps the fact that I paid $11.99 for an ebook led me to have unreasonably high expectations.