Becky’s Two Hundred and Second Book Review: “Killer Cupcakes” by Leighann Dobbs

“Killer Cupcakes” by Leighann Dobbs was a free ebook that I got through iBooks. It was a quick read, there really wasn’t much to it, and I’ll be the first to admit that I picked out the book because it has a pink cover.

The novel starts off with the main character, Lexy, learning that her hot new neighbor is a cop, which she finds out when he questions her as a possible person-of-interest in the murder of her ex-boyfriend. When she finds out her ex was murdered by her trademark cupcake tops (that had been poisoned) she decides to take matters into her own hands and try to solve the murder herself. This of course leads to her grandma wanting to help as well. “”You see,” Nans said, “we follow the case online and on TV. We can find out all the clues and solve the crime without ever leaving the complex! Of course we can leave if we need to do some field work because Ruth still drives, so we can go in her car.”
Lexy felt her mouth fall open, her mind conjuring up images of four old ladies in trench coats descending on the streets of Brook Ridge, interrogating witnesses and hunting for clues.” (Killer Cupcakes, pg 30). To me, this story held quite a few parallels with the Stephanie Plum novels. There’s a murder, a kooky grandma, amateur crime solving, a hot cop, some sexual tension between the cop and the main character, etc. There were quite a few similarities, but everything was a little rougher and not as entertaining. It really seemed like Dobbs was trying to channel Janet Evanovich, and it just didn’t work.

Would I recommend this book? No, I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, the plot didn’t move along at a pace to match the genre, and the story just kind of ended. Granted, when I go into a chic-lit novel I don’t expect to be blown away by the writing, but I do hope there will be some character development and something to hold my interest. I just felt that “Killer Cupcakes” was lacking in all of those areas. I doubt I would pick up another book by this author.

Becky’s Two Hundred and First Book Review: “Tripwire” by Lee Child

“Tripwire” by Lee Child is the third book in the Jack Reacher series. I have learned my lesson about these books, so I made sure I had plenty of time to read and few, if any, responsibilities before starting “Tripwire”.

Jack Reacher’s story picks up with him working down in Florida digging pools after nearly running out of money traveling the country. I was immediately sucked into the book, no surprise there, and Reacher’s rationalization for why he is working as a nameless individual is really interesting. “Because being invisible had become a habit. In the front part of his brain, he knew it was some kind of a complex, alienated response to his situation. Two years ago, everything had turned upside down. He had gone from being a big fish in a small pond to being nobody. From being a senior and valued member of a highly structured community to being just one of 270 million anonymous civilians. From being necessary and wanted to being one person too many. From being where someone told him to be every minute of every day to being confronted with three million square miles and maybe forty more years and no map and no schedule. The front part of his brain told him his response was understandable, but defensive, the response of a man who liked solitude but was worried by loneliness. It told him it was an extremist response, and he should take care with it.
But the lizard part of his brain buried behind the frontal lobes told him he liked it. He liked the anonymity. He liked his secrecy. It felt warm and comfortable and reassuring. He guarded it.” (Tripwire, pg 13/14). After several months of staying in the same place, a guy comes looking for Reacher. This is the trigger that gets Reacher back in touch with some of those he hasn’t seen in ages, and once again, he finds himself in a dangerous situation.

What really struck me several times throughout this novel is how Jack Reacher finds himself being forced to adapt to civilian life. At one point he is thinking about the fact that he doesn’t have a clue how to do laundry, because it was always taken care of during his army days. Up until his discharge two years ago, he had lived on army bases his entire life. At another point, Reacher reflects on the idea of kindness. It wasn’t something that factored into his life when he was in the army, but now that he’s a civilian he noticed it. “He guessed kindness counted for a lot during that type of duty, but his own career had been locked tight inside the service itself, where things were always simple, either happening or not happening, good or bad, legal or not legal. Now two years after leaving the service, kindness was suddenly a factor in his life. And it would make him lie.” (Tripwire, pg 489). I found it interesting how such a huge range of things that I find to be part of normal life were so abnormal for Reacher as ex-military.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, I am really enjoying this series. I like the fact that is isn’t exclusively heart-thumping thrill-ride action. The Jack Reacher books do have that, but it is alongside strong character development and intriguing scenarios. I like that each book reveals a little more about Jack Reacher and in each one he continues to walk the line of trying to adapt to civilian life after such a long time in a military environment. It keeps the books interesting, at least so far, and I am really looking forward to the next book.

Becky’s Two Hundredth Book Review: “The Doll” by Taylor Stevens

“The Doll” by Taylor Stevens is the third book in the Vanessa Michael Munroe series and it is just as good, if not better, as the first two books in the series. What great about this series is, although ideal to read it in the order that it was written, you can still pick up the third book in the series and enjoy it without wondering what is going on.

“The Doll” starts off with Bradford looking out the window and witnessing Munroe being taken. He has no idea who took her or why, but he is determined to get her back. Having read the first two books in the series, we know that Munroe is not the kind of woman that needs rescuing, but that doesn’t stop Bradford from doing everything in his power to get answers. Once he learns that Logan – the only person that Munroe cares deeply for – has also been taken, Bradford understands that someone is planning on taking advantage of the unique skills that Munroe has by using Logan against her. “Vanessa Michael Munroe was a killer with a predator’s natural instincts; she could take care of herself. What scared him – terrified him – was what would happen if she was pushed too far. He’d seen that place of destruction, had witnessed firsthand what the darkness could do to her mind…” (The Doll, pg 11). Throughout the book Bradford is racing against a clock, knowing that the longer she is out there, the longer that Logan is out there, the more likely she will lose herself again. “The Doll” was a real page-turner.

I think that Munroe is an awesome character. She is strong, kickass, and at the same time, she is haunted by the lives that she has taken. She feels madness creeping up inside her, and despite how much she fights it down, it continues try to devour her. I like the fact that Munroe understands the toll that it takes on her own soul to take a life and therefore, doesn’t do so lightly. “Hands to her head, face to the stone, screaming without sound, she pushed back hard. For nine months she’d tasted happiness, a chance at the closest thing she’d known to peace and a real life. For nine months the rage and violence that had defined so many of her years had finally ebbed, and now those who had no right had come with impunity to nip her out of this newfound calm, throwing her into an impossible situation where no matter what she did or what she chose, the end result would be a return to madness.” (The Doll, pg 47). I loved this quote. I think that it not only describes how Munroe thinks and behaves, but also showcases Taylor Stevens’ writing, which I really enjoy.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! I am a big fan of the Vanessa Michael Munroe series. What makes these books unique is Munroe. She’s an awesome character with unique abilities that to most people would seem superheroesk. She is resilient, but she knows that she pays a price for what she does. “…survival and instinct that had made her who she was, and the unique set of skills both inborn and man-made that, once combined, had both blessed and very nearly destroyed her life.” (The Doll, pg 150). I think that Taylor Stevens’ writing has grown stronger with each book, and in turn, made Munroe a more developed and intriguing character. I am really excited that a new Vanessa Michael Munroe books is going to be released at the end of June. “The Mask” will be the fifth book in the series and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

Becky’s One Hundred and Ninety-Ninth Book Review: “Insurgent” by Veronica Roth

“Insurgent” by Veronica Roth is the second book in the Divergent series. What I really like about this series is the main character, Tris. She is so strong and I enjoyed reading about the new challenges that she faces as the Divergent Trilogy continues.

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES!

At the end of the first book in the series, Tris has just had her world turned upside down. She lost her mother and her father and she had to take the life of a friend. It was an awful situation, and she did what she had to do in order to survive, but now she has to live with her choices. Tris finds herself hiding the murder she committed from everyone, including Tobias, which in turn is creating a strain on their relationship. In addition to dealing with the aftermath of the attack, people are starting to ask questions about if factions are the best way for their world to be. “My mouth goes dry. No factions? A world in which no one knows who they are or where they fit? I can’t even fathom it. I imagine only chaos and isolation.” (Insurgent, pg 110). I found her reaction to this idea to be interesting; especially because of how easily she chose to be in a different faction at the beginning of the series. It seemed like Tris would be open to change.

Even though she is wary about change, there’s no question that Tris is a strong character. The more challenges that she has thrown her way, the more she pushes herself to get through them. From the start she has had a powerful will and strength of mind, and she became physically strong when she joined the Dauntless faction. Despite all the pain that she has been through, she finds a way to take the next step. “I didn’t realized until that moment that Dauntless initiation had taught me an important lesson: how to keep going.” (Insurgent, pg 86).

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely, I am thoroughly enjoying the series. I think this series would appeal to a wide range of readers. The writing isn’t overly complex, and despite the very adult situations that the characters often find themselves in, it would be a good series for young readers as well as seasoned readers. I’m excited for the last book in the series and hoping that Veronica Roth will continue to write so I can read more of her works!

Becky’s One Hundred and Ninety-Eighth Book Review: “Don’t Tell Penny” by Anna Bell

“Don’t Tell Penny” by Anna Bell was a free short story that I downloaded through BookShout. It was very short, but it did give me a chance to sample the author’s writing and find out if it would be worthwhile to invest in more of her works. That is part of the reason that I have been reading so many short stories lately. I enjoy branching out in my reading and a short story is a great way to get a small taste without having to devote a lot of time in an author you do not know.

The premise for the story is a girl named Penny that is convinced that her boyfriend Mark is about to propose. “Don’t Tell Penny” is narrated by her best friend, Louise whom is simultaneously excited for her best friend and worried that Penny has misjudged all the signs and that tonight is not in fact the night. There is a big party that has been planned to celebrate the end of Mark’s accounting exams. At the last minute it was moved from a local low-key place to a swanky hotel. That combined with the fact that Penny read a message on Mark’s phone that said “Don’t forget ring” has her completely convinced that he is going to pop the question tonight.

Would I recommend this book? Probably not, the writing was nothing extraordinary and although I could relate to Penny, I didn’t like her at all. I personally do not agree with the idea of snooping on my significant other’s phone and I kind of feel that she set herself up for disappointment by expecting the proposal. I certainly could relate to her eagerness for the engagement – I’ve been there – but at the same time I thought it was overly presumptuous for her to get her nails done and her hair fixed and to tell others that it was going to happen that night. She got very pushy when things weren’t happening the way that she had planned out in her head. Her best friend tried to diffuse the situation as best as she could and in return has Penny force her company upon Louise and her husband Russell when they very clearly wanted alone time. Penny wasn’t a likeable character and I thought Louise was a bit of an enabler. Overall, I was left unimpressed and with no desire to read the rest of the series.