Tag Archives: Janet Evanovich

Camping … Or Should I Say, Writing and Reading

I’m hurrying to finish up an indexing deadline today, because tomorrow we are off on our camping trip!

I mentioned on Facebook that we are going with every car charger known to man, so hopefully the fact that the site doesn’t have an electrical outlet won’t be particularly bothersome. (I know, I know – electrical devices aren’t exactly roughing it, but I have never been a fan of roughing it).

A Writing Weekend!

My intention is to spend the next four days doing at least some writing. I’m bringing the first draft of my WIP, NANTUCKET, with me, and will be marking it up. I’m also planning to start writing a new WIP of mine, ELLA. (In case you’re wondering, my WIP names tend to be the first name of my MC – yes, very unoriginal, but at least I don’t spend ages agonizing what to call my WIP and can plunge right into the writing!)

The netbook is all charged, plus we bought a car charger in case it dies down, so I won’t have any excuses for not writing. I’m wondering whether the sand and beach environment will have a positive effect on my writing …

Books to Read on the Beach

Of course, a holiday isn’t a holiday without books, right? Since I’ve been pretty busy, I haven’t had much time to pick and choose, and there weren’t any new books that I felt like getting as an ebook (also, Kobo’s iPhone app, which I’ve been using, is kind of tricky – it allows offline reading on the one hand, but on the other hand, it requires Internet access first, before you can start reading (after which, true, you don’t need access), which kind of defeats the whole purpose of “offline reading”, if you ask me. And I’m not sure what kind of reception my phone will have on the shores of Lake Erie.).

So I swooped down to the library (well, not really – it was more like, I quickly scanned the paperbacks while my seven-year-old, Dylan, went through his selection of books, deciding which ones he wanted to take out this week).

Here’s what I’m taking with me:

Some Linwood Barclay books. I’ve been meaning to read Barclay’s novels for a while now. Back when I was still reading newspapers, Barclay’s humor column in the Toronto Star was a favorite of mine. I was pleased to discover a while back that he’s been writing mysteries and thrillers.

Too Close to HomeFear the WorstLone Wolf

Too Close to Home:

In a quiet neighborhood, in the house next door, a family is brutally murdered for no apparent reason. You can’t help thinking, It could have been us. And you start to wonder: What if we’re next?

Promise Falls isn’t the kind of community where families are shot to death in their own homes. But how well did Jim and Ellen Cutter really know their neighbors—or the darker secrets of their small town? They don’t have to look further than their own marriage to know that things aren’t always what they seem. Now the Cutters and their son, Derek, must face the unthinkable: that a murderer isn’t just stalking too close to home…but is inside it already.

Fear the Worst:

Tim Blake is an average guy. He sells cars. He has an ex-wife who’s moved in with another man. It’s not a life without hassles, but nothing will prepare him for when his daughter, Sydney, vanishes into thin air.

At the hotel where she supposedly worked, no one has ever heard of her. Even her closest friends seem to be at a loss. As he retraces Sydney’s steps, Tim discovers that the suburban Connecticut town he always thought of as idyllic is anything but. What he doesn’t know is that his every move is being watched. There are others who want to find Sydney as much as Tim does. And the closer Tim comes to the truth, the closer he comes to every parent’s worst nightmare—and the kind of evil only a parent’s love has a chance in hell of stopping.

Lone Wolf:

Newspaper writer, family man, and reluctant hero Zack Walker has stumbled onto some dicey stories before, but nothing like what he’s about to uncover when a mutilated corpse is found at his father’s lakeside fishing camp. As always, Zack fears the worst. And this time, his paranoid worldview is dead-on.

While the locals attribute the death to a bear attack, Zack suspects something far more ominous—a predator whose weapons include arson, assault, and enough wacko beliefs to fuel a dozen hate groups. Then another body is discovered and a large supply of fertilizer goes missing, evoking memories of the Oklahoma City bombing. But it’s when he learns that his neighbor is a classic Lone Wolf—FBI parlance for a solo fanatic hell-bent on using high body counts to make political statements—that Zack realizes the idyllic town of his childhood is under siege. The fuse is lit to a catastrophe of unimaginable terror. And with time running out, Zack must face off with a madman.

A Stephen Booth Novel. I’ve been meaning to check out British novelist Stephen Booth’s mysteries, so when I saw Black Dog (his debut novel) at the library, I thought it might be a good one to start with.

Black Dog

Red Pyramid, by Rick Riordan. I saw Red Pyramid last month on a trip to Costco. It looked interesting. I haven’t yet read the Lightning Thief series yet (although I do own the entire set X 2 – don’t ask – and they’re all sitting on my TBR shelves). But I decided to put a request in at the library for Red Pyramid; it just came through, so I’m going to take it with me camping!

Red Pyramid

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them–Set–has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe–a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

And of course – Agatha Christie! I also picked up a copy of Agatha Christie’s At Bertram’s Hotel, as a “just in case” precautionary move; you know, just in case all the above turn out to be not quite my cup of tea. I’ll have something old and familiar to fall back on, right? And there’s something about cozying up to a Miss Marple mystery that fits with toasting marshmallows over an open fire …

At Bertram's Hotel

When Miss Marple comes up from the country for a holiday in London, she finds what she’s looking for at Bertram’s Hotel: traditional decor, impeccable service – and an unmistakable atmosphere of danger behind the highly polished veneer.

Yet, not even Miss Marple can foresee the violent chain of events set in motion when an eccentric guest makes his way to the airport on the wrong day …

Let’s Not Forget Audio!

And for the drive there and back, my husband and I decided to purchase a headphone splitter so we can both listen to an audiobook on my iPod. Our choices?

Jonathan Kellerman’s Gone, Compulsion and Rage. These are all re-reads for me, but new for my husband.

A handful of BBC radio productions of Agatha Christie mysteries. These wonderful two-hour audios are really wonderful; last year I splurged and gifted myself this boxed set of Hercule Poirot’s Greatest Cases, so we have a lot of titles to choose from.

Hercule Poirot's Greatest Cases

I also have a couple of new releases on hand. First up is Janet Evanovitch’s latest Stephanie Plum installment, Sizzling Sixteen. I don’t think I’ll ever read another Plum story in print again, but Lorelei King’s wonderful narrative abilities will keep me listening to each new novel. Evanovitch seems to have stopped with the plotting and/or mystery in her latest books, but she has a talent for a comedic turn of phrase, and with King at the audio helm, I suspect we will enjoy the book just for the dialogue.

And finally, we have the latest Jack Reacher, 61 Hours, by Lee Child. Reacher isn’t really my cup of tea (the only Reacher novel I really enjoyed was the one where it was a team effort – Bad Luck and Trouble – I’m just not really into lone wolf types of novels) but I suspect my husband will enjoy his exploits.

So … I think I’m going to be well-equipped along both the writing and reading front. Just not too sure how I’ll handle the camping end of things!

Review: Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, by Janet Evanovich

Finger Lickin' Fifteen

In Janet Evanovich’s Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Stephanie Plum’s good friend Lula has just witnessed a murder – and the murderers have witnessed her witnessing the murder. The murder victim turns out to be a Food Channel celebrity chef, and despite Lula’s eyewitness account, the murderers are still on the loose … and coming after Lula, the only witness.

That’s not all Stephanie has on her hands. Someone’s been burglarizing Ranger’s clients, and he’s not very happy. Ranger asks Stephanie to help  – which she does, while trying to stay out of his bed. Since Ranger is, well, Ranger, this isn’t exactly easy for Stephanie.

The main thing I have to say about Finger Lickin’ Fifteen is this: do not read this as a mystery. If you read it because you’re eager to read a good mystery, you’ll just end up frustrated, gnashing your teeth and recalling the good ole days when a Stephanie Plum novel meant a nice mystery with bits of humor thrown in, dang it!

The mystery part’s just not going to happen with Finger Lickin’ Fifteen. Of the two storylines – the murder Lula witnesses, and Ranger’s problems – Ranger’s problems offer up far more of a mystery than the murder, and that’s really not saying much, because even Ranger’s troubles are far less of a mystery than your typical, well, mystery.

So why read Finger Lickin’ Fifteen? Well, if you’re a Stephanie Plum fan, and you’ve taken heed of my advice above, you read it for the laughs. You’ll get a lot of Lula, and a lot of Grandma Mazur, and if you’ve read previous Stephanie Plum books, you know what that means: madcap zany comedy, Evanovich-style.

There is, for example, the scene outside a funeral home, with Grandma Mazur packing her trusty little firearm. Or the scene where Lula gets stuck in the window of one of Ranger’s cars; I admit, the humor in this scene was on the juvenile side, but it did have me laughing. There’s also a cross-dressing fireman, antics at a barbeque cookoff, and the reaction Stephanie faces when she finally nails one of her skips, a flasher with a fondness for exposing himself to older women.

Here’s the thing, though. I’m not sure how I would have felt if I had read Finger Lickin’ Fifteen in hardcover.

I listened to this book in audio, and can definitely recommend it in audio format, especially to Stephanie Plum fans. Lorelei King is a superb narrator; she is particularly good at bringing both Lula and Grandma Mazur to life. In her hands, and with her more than capable voice talents, the listener never has a chance to get bored. As an audiobook, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen provides six hours and eighteen minutes of pure entertainment.

But if you don’t like audiobooks? I’d recommend waiting for Finger Lickin’ Fifteen to come out in paperback. With the right mindset, it can be a fun and quick read – but not at hardcover prices. Just remember – do not read it for the mystery. Because you’ll regret it if you do.

Where to buy Finger Lickin’ Fifteen:

U.S. (Amazon.com) | Indiebound | Canada (Chapters) | UK (Amazon.co.uk)

Review copy details: published by St. Martin’s Press, 2009, Audiobook

Back from Holidays!

I’m back! And of course, feeling rather like I could use a little break. Isn’t it funny how that works?

I had a grand time in Nova Scotia, and it was fun blogging about it occasionally. Thank you to everyone for your comments – I can’t tell you how lovely it was to hear from each of you. It was almost like you came with me on holidays.

The air conditioning people have just left; our new air conditioning unit is now installed! Our old air conditioner died on us when we turned it on for the first time this year about a week before we left on holidays. We had to endure a bit of a heat wave during that week; it wasn’t very pleasant, so it’s so nice to know that we’re prepared again for whatever temperatures summer might bring us.

Traveling with Audiobooks

Audiobooks made our 19-hour drive back from Nova Scotia (spread over two days) a rather fun event. While we were away, my husband had picked up a small battery-operated iPod dock. So, while the kids were engrossed in their movies on their portable DVD players, we listened to Bill Bryson’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself (Notes from a Big Country) together.

We could only listen for a couple of hours at a time, though; my face would start to hurt some time around the two-hour mark, probably because of the giant grin I wore more or less the entire time. This is a very funny book, and a perfect choice for audio.

We also listened to several BBC Radio productions of Agatha Christie mysteries: Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile, Miss Marple in A Murder is Announced and then Poirot again in Five Little Pigs. These dramatizations are perfect for a road trip, as they are well acted mysteries each about two hours long.

I would have liked to listen to Janet Evanovich’s Finger Lickin’ Fifteen during the drive, but that had to be done through headphones (the language not being appropriate for certain little ears) and it was much more fun sharing the audio experience with my husband during the drive.

I did, however, start Finger Lickin’ Fifteen last night, and so far it’s off to a good start; I must admit, though, these days I enjoy the series only in audio. Lorelei King is a suberb narrator, and her reading of the Stephanie Plum series has made the more recent books fun for me again.

My husband enjoyed the audiobooks so much, he started listening to Tilt-A-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein at the hotel we stayed at part-way through our trip home. The audio version is read by Jeff Woodman, who is a very good narrator (he does such great voices, and even his female voices sound, well, like women).

This Week at Ms Bookish

I came home to a rather large stack of new books still patiently awaiting their Incoming! posts, plus some new additions, so I’ll be buckling down this week in an attempt to make a dent in the pile. I also have a few reviews to write (for example, I’ve finished all of Chris Grabenstein’s John Ceepak mysteries but haven’t written any reviews yet).

I’ll also be getting back on track with my daily writing goal of 2000 words. I didn’t write at all while I was away, despite early intentions to do so, but I’m itching to get started again.

And I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the book blog world again. I’ve missed reading everyone’s posts and the fun of commenting and Twitter!

Audiobooks: Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series, read by Lorelei King

I quite like serendipity, so I was happy to learn last night that there’s a new Stephanie Plum YouTube video out – Stephanie Plum’s 12 Days of Christmas. I’ll be putting the video at the end of this post, but where does the serendipity come into play, you might be asking? It’s serendipitous (what a word! I’ve always wanted to use it somewhere) because I’ve been meaning to write about the audiobook versions of the Stephanie Plum series for a while now.

I used to devour all the Stephanie Plum mysteries, back when the series was relatively new, but somewhere along the line, they lost their sparkle for me. I’m not sure what it was – they continued to be funny, and each one definitely made me laugh, but something seemed to be missing. So for a while there, I stopped reaching for the latest and newest Stephanie Plum.

That is, until I discovered the audiobook versions read by Lorelei King.

This past summer, my family and I rented a beach house in Nova Scotia. It was a 19 hour drive there, and since I, unfortunately, can’t read in the car, I decided to give audiobooks a try. I wanted something familiar, and funny, but with a bit of a mystery; I decided that Stephanie Plum might just fit the bill. So Seven Up, Eleven on Top and Twelve Sharp accompanied me on the long drive there and back.

I was delighted to discover that the Stephanie Plum series works well in audio. King is the perfect reader for the series. I had absolutely no problems believing she actually was Stephanie Plum, and she performs the New Jersey accents for the secondary characters incredibly well. The audiobooks had me in stitches – there were many occasions on the drive when I would burst out laughing and everyone would say, “What? What are you listening to, Mom? Can I listen too? What’s so funny?”

Of course, most of the humour isn’t meant for little ears. But Stephanie Plum definitely made the 19-hour drives fly by for me. Not only that, but my husband, who isn’t much of a fiction reader and uses his iPod only for music, decided to give them a try too. And when he did, it was my turn to go, “What? What part are you on? What’s so funny? Is it Grandma Mazur? It is Grandma Mazur, isn’t it?”

So when I got back home, the first thing I did was get my hands on more of the audiobooks. Somehow, listening to them had brought back that sparkle for me – they were so entertaining. But I also discovered what a big difference the reader of an audiobook can make; I listened to High Five, which has a different narrator, and after having been regaled by Lorelei King all those hours, it just wasn’t the same (not to mention, the version I listened to was abridged. I just don’t get abridged audiobooks, really …)

King makes me believe she is Stephanie Plum, and that makes all the difference, I think, when it’s an audio version of a novel that’s written in the first person.

And now, here’s Stephanie Plum’s 12 Days of Christmas – a perfect way to end this post, I think!