You Have the Right to Remain Innocent by James Duane

You Have the Right to Remain Innocent by James Duane is a 154-page nonfiction book/set of essays scheduled for publication by Little A in September 2016. I received the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You Have the Right to Remain Innocent coverThroughout the book, James Duane explores why someone–especially someone innocent–should never talk to the police (and instead should repeat “I want a lawyer”). The content of the book is a bit dry–he uses case histories of people who have been wrongfully convicted or have given false confessions. But Duane livens up the content with some excerpts from his lecture, “Don’t Talk to Police.” More

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Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer is 432-page speculative fiction novel, published by Tor in May of 2016. I received the book from NetGalley for review.

Too Like the LightningI requested this novel from NetGalley because I loved the cover and the title font. So yes, I judge books by their covers. Luckily, I wasn’t burned–Too Like the Lightning turned out to be a slow-burning, thought-provoking story.

The beginning of the novel crawls a bit since the narrator, Mycroft Canner, is actually a historian from 2454 who sets up the reader for a history that takes place in the reader’s past (see the first line of the book below). It took a few chapters to get used to Mycroft’s manner of speaking and story telling–there are plenty of “thee”s and “thou”s in the book, thanks to the future’s use of language (they’re also partial to using Latin). The payoff for this slow build is absolutely worth it. More

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In a Dark, Dark Wood is a 352 page thriller/mystery published by Harvill Secker in July of 2015. I listened to the audiobook read by Imogen Church.

In a Dark, Dark WoodFirst, I must note that Church is a FANTASTIC narrator. I will definitely seek out other work she’s done. A large part of what I loved about this story is the suspense she created.

As for the plot: When Nora receives an email requesting her presence at Clare’s weekend-long hen night (a sort of bachelorette party?), she is shocked. Nora makes a pact with her friend Nina to go together to avoid the awkwardness guaranteed from not having spoken to Clare in a decade. More

Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

This is, quite obviously, the tenth book in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. It is a 319 page mystery-comedy novel that my Grandma lent me a while back. I started it last year, and just decided to finish it since she gave me the 18th one, and I realized I was falling behind a bit on the books she has lent me.

Ten Big Ones (Stephanie Plum, #10)

Right at the beginning of the novel, Stephanie witnesses a robbery and identifies the robber as the Red Devil, a member of a vicious gang. The entire novel pans out with her trying to find out his real identity, which causes his gang, the Comstock Street Slayers, to pursue her with a vengeance. Stephanie has to battle them with her sister’s impending wedding. She also has to juggle the two men that are interested in her and her safety. They attempt to keep her locked up behind their safe doors, but stubborn Stephanie won’t stand for it.

Originally, I stopped reading after the first 50 pages. The whole Red Devil thing didn’t really interest me, and I was a little bored with reading the Stephanie Plum books –I had just read nine of them in a row! I eventually picked up the book again, if only to finish it quick in 2012 to reach my reading goal. Unfortunately, I failed that goal because I lost interest again at about 150 pages. After another month, I picked it up again and finished the book.

I don’t think it speaks well for a novel when you have to force yourself to finish it. Near the end (pages 200-316), it finally got interesting. That was, until, Evanovich decided to wrap up the whole gang mystery in about the last ten pages. I was extremely disappointed with the ending of the novel. Of course everything was going to work out okay, because Stephanie goes on to more adventures in following books, but I feel Evanovich just gave up in the end of the novel and just decided to basically write, “Stephanie gets kidnapped again, and in even bigger trouble, but the men in her life rescue her and everything turns out fine. The end.” I swear the ending felt almost that short.

One of the redeeming qualities of this book is that Stephanie manages to find her way into Ranger’s apartment while he’s away for a few weeks. To me, Ranger is the most interesting character in the series, and getting even a little perspective into his life was really fun. But then again, the whole indecisive, “I can’t choose between two men so I’ll just keep them both hanging” plan she’s got going is getting just a bit annoying. Since the overall story of Stephanie Plum doesn’t involve needing to read every book, I would recommend skipping this one in the series. I’m going to take another break from it, and just hope that when I give #11 a chance, it will have a more satisfactory ending.

Hard Eight, To the Nines by Janet Evanovich

Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum, #8)In this adventure, Stephanie is once again looking for someone outside of the regular FTAs. Her neighbor/family friend, Mabel, has asked her to find her daughter and granddaughter, who have skipped town on a child custody bond. Evanovich describes this as money put forth by divorced parents, who either chose or were court-ordered, to ensure that they would not kidnap their own child… or something like that.

Unfortunately, Eddie Abruzzi has his own interests in finding Evelyn and Annie (the missing persons) and is determined to scare off Stephanie to do so. She fights …. A new character appears in this book in the form of a very young, nervous lawyer named Albert Kloughn (and that is K-l-o-u-g-h-n, not c-l-o-w-n, which he manages to point out an annoying number of times). He tags along with Stephanie and Lula and generally gets in the way whenever he can. I was not too fond of him.

I absolutely loved the romance between Ranger and Steph in this book. She and Morelli had a bit of a falling out in the previous book, and Ranger sort of takes his place (in a non-boyfriend, much more mysterious way). Of course, Evanovich had to create a Terry Gilman equivalent (I forgot to mention her… she used to date Morelli and is involved with him through the police dept. these days), with Jeanne Ellen Burrows, who the blurb coins, “Rangerette.” She’s better than Stephanie at bounty hunting, and has been linked to Ranger… I’ll just say now that I think she was professional and interesting, but Steph just gets jealous of her past with Ranger.

I really enjoyed Hard Eight. Of course, I love Ranger as a character, but because of his romance and Eddie Abruzzi scaring the crap out of Stephanie the whole book, the laughter was scarce. It felt more apart of a series, where the rest of the books almost had a standalone feel.

To the Nines (Stephanie Plum, #9)

In this adventure, Vinnie posted bail on an immigrant, Samuel Singh, granting him three months of legal stay in the United States. With just a couple weeks left on his ticket, Singh goes missing. Vinnie puts both Stephanie and Ranger on the case. Unfortunately, the first lead Stephanie gets winds up dead WHILE talking to her.

She starts receiving red roses, white carnations, disturbing notes, and pictures that put the notes to shame. Ranger and his posse take turns watching her back, and though she manages to keep the car explosion numbers down, she has no problem having Ranger’s ‘Merry Men’ get injured (a lot) while protecting her.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Steph, Lula (who is a better character now), and Connie end up going to Las Vegas to search for Singh. Also, Albert stops being annoying and starts being a lovable guy. Steph’s sister Valerie also is living with their parents with her two kids, so everything is hectic and wild and fun.

I laughed a lot in this book… At one point, Stephanie beats the crap out of some guy who was trying to kill her. After Ranger finds out, of course, all he does is grin and congratulate her. The scene made me laugh for probably a straight minute. Finally, she’s starting to hold her own!

Another part that made me laugh for a while was when Ranger and Stephanie went to pick up an FTA, and he decided to shoot at them. While still standing in the doorway, Ranger ‘instinctively’ pushes Stephanie off the stoop into a bush, and later said he was just concerned for her safety, while really he was just getting back at her for a joke she played on him.

Overall, this book was good, the writing was excellent, and the plot was decent. I really like that Evanovich started working more on her character dynamics. It makes the books feel more a part of a series rather than just mystery novels that happen to have the same names in them.

Hot Six, Seven Up by Janet Evanovich

Hot Six (Stephanie Plum, #6)

In Hot Six, Stephanie’s bounty hunting mentor, Ranger, has been seen on camera walking out of a meeting with Homer Ramos, who is found minutes later with a bullet in his head and his body burnt to a crisp. Although the blurb makes it sound like it’s up to Stephanie to find him, she refuses to look because she knows he’s much better than she is at the bounty hunter business.

Joyce Barnhardt, Stephanie’s arch nemesis (haha), is the woman who was caught on the dining room table with Steph’s now-ex-husband, Dickie Orr, and she is the one who takes the FTA on Ranger. In the meantime, he charges Stephanie with keeping surveillance on the gun-running Ramos family to help find out who really killed Homer. Stephanie manages to kill four cars in this book, and it is pretty funny. She has many people following her, including  a guy who is constantly escaping her, and two hit men who are determined to follow her everywhere to get a lead on Ranger.

This book was a nice change in pace, as rather than having Ranger help Stephanie, she got to help him. There’s just something about most books with romance in them that makes the female character seem weak and passive, and this book definitely helped to fight that. Other than that, not much else stands out. It was almost as enjoyable as High Five.

Seven Up (Stephanie Plum, #7)

In Seven Up, Stephanie has to bring in semi-retired bail jumper Eddie DeChooch. Although he’s old, I guess you could say he’s wily. She finds a course riddled with bullets in his garage, and every time she gets close to capturing him, he easily manages to get away. He ends up riding around town in a white Cadillac and stops to talk to Stephanie many times, including once at a funeral viewing, and yet neither she nor the cops can get a hold of him. Ranger makes a deal with Stephanie that if she finds DeChooch, she can call him to help bring her in… but then she has to spend one with him.

Stephanie’s sister, Valerie, also shows up with her two kids. Her husband ran off with the babysitter, and now the Plum house is much too full to feel comfortable. There are also a bunch of kidnappings and break-ins in this book. Two older gentlemen who are also looking for DeChooch break into Steph’s apartment many times, and are actually pretty funny, nice, guys.

Seven Up was decent. I liked the added romantic interest of Ranger, who is much more mysterious than the cop, Joe Morelli. It was a nice change-up from the rest of the books, where she was only frustrated by one man, rather than two. Although the romance was more fun in this book, I feel like the mystery suffered a bit. Maybe it was meant to be this way, but it only took about 100 pages to figure out the majority of the mystery. Usually, it takes me until they reveal the answer to the riddle of the mystery to figure out whodunnit, and in this book, that wasn’t the case. Again, I suppose it was a nice change, but reading the book after I figured it out felt rather pointless.

Four to Score, High Five by Janet Evanovich

I have decided to combine the rest of the Stephanie Plum reviews into two books per review, due to the fact that the characters generally stay the same and only the crime/FTAs change.

Four to Score (Stephanie Plum, #4)

In this adventure, a waitress, Maxine, desires revenge against her no-good ex-boyfriend. She steals his car, he calls it in, and Vinnie posts for bail. When she skips her trial date and no one knows where she is, Stephanie has to talk to her creep of an ex-boyfriend and her coworkers. Unfortunately, people who know things about Maxine are ending up with missing fingers and other injuries. There seems to be a conspiracy going on, and it’s up to Stephanie to unravel it.

When they finally dig up a clue, it really is that… a clue. Maxine is leaving clues for her ex and Stephanie has to figure them out. Fortunately, she’s got Sally Sweet, a cross-dressing puzzle-master to help her out. In the beginning of this book, Stephanie is mad at Morelli because he skipped town for a few months and didn’t bother to call. However, being the hunk he is, she forgives him pretty easily.

I enjoyed Four to Score a lot more than Three to Get Deadly, so if you skipped that one… feel free to jump back in on this one. The romance is actually existent and therefore better than the last three books.

High Five (Stephanie Plum, #5)

In this adventure, along with a bringing in FTAs, Stephanie is charged by her family to find her Uncle Fred. He disappeared during his daily errands, leaving his car intact with dry cleaning in the back. No one has seen him since the day he disappeared, and Stephanie has a hard time knowing where to start.

If Four to Score has you doubting, this one definitely brings it back up. After One for the Money, High Five comes in as close second to my favorite in the series. There’s just something about the supporting characters that really works for me. I loved Randy, who ends up camping out in Stephanie’s house for a while, and the RGC (trash company) mystery. And of course there is hunky Joe Morelli who makes Stephanie go crazy.

Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich

I don’t really want to describe the book, so I’m just going to give you the blurb.

A “saintly” old candy-store owner is on the lam–and bounty hunter extraordinaire Stephanie Plum is on the case. As the body count rises, Stephanie finds herself dealing with dead drug dealers and slippery fugitives on the chase of her life. And with the help of eccentric friends and family, Steph must see to it that this case doesn’t end up being her last…

Three to Get Deadly (Stephanie Plum, #3)

After reading the blurb, I wasn’t too excited about this book as I had no interest in an old candy-store owner. As I read the book, that didn’t change. I really didn’t care for most of the plot, which mostly entailed looking for the beloved Uncle Mo and avoiding Morelli like the plague. I only started enjoying it about 50 pages to the end. However, the writing was as enjoyable as ever, and I found myself writing down more quotes from this one than from the earlier two, so I thought I would share.

When a man’s got a nose looks like a penis he’s likely to do anything. It’s the sort of thing makes serial killers out of otherwise normal people.

That’s from Lula, Stephanie’s new partner-in-bounty hunting. She is an ex-ho who worked on Stark Street in One for the Money. She talks the talk, and although it was nice to see a new main character, I didn’t much like her. She isn’t too bright, but she’s plenty loud. These two other quotes are good descriptors of Stephanie’s personality.

I thought of Mary Lou’s kid with the graham crackers smeared in his hair, and felt better about being a bounty hunter. You see, it could always be worse, I thought. I could be a schoolteacher.

I might not be the most patient woman in the world, or the most glamorous, or the most athletic, but I’m right up there at the top of the line when it comes to resiliency.

Stephanie was as ‘good’ as ever, though her bounty hunting hasn’t improved much. Steph was afraid Morelli wanted to arrest her for her involvement in finding some dead bodies, so there wasn’t too much romance in this one. Morelli does stop over for dinner with her parents, and they assume he and Stephanie are dating.

Overall, if you’re not too committed to reading every book in the series, which is by no means necessary, I would say you could skip this one. It was good, but it definitely wasn’t great.

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

This series is about Stephanie Plum. After losing her job, she decides to go to her cousin Vinnie’s bond company and try to make some quick cash catching fugitives, or FTAs (Failed to Appear). She gets her FTAs from Connie, the office manager for Vinnie, who has big hair, big boobs, and a big, Italian mouth.

Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum, #2)

In this novel, Stephanie is looking for Joe Morelli’s cousin, Kenny Mancuso. He recently shot his friend in the knee. Shortly after that, his friend winds up dead. Morelli ‘helps’ after being reinstated into vice, though he is running his own investigation and is hesitant to share information with Stephanie.

Things get crazy when a possible conspiracy starts unraveling, and it is a blast to go along for the ride. Stephanie also has to deal with a psycho  who is sending her body parts. Two for the Dough is probably one of the creepier of the Stephanie Plum novels.

My favorite part of this novel was getting to learn more about the Burg, where Stephanie grew up. This had to do with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur enjoying going to funeral viewings to see how well the funeral parlor does the deceased’s makeup. The head of the parlor had a back injury, and his step-son Spiro has been running the place. Stephanie has to deal with him, and I’ll be the first to admit he gave me the creeps.

I liked Two for the Dough almost as much as One for the Money. If you liked the first book, you’ll probably enjoy this one, too. The writing is still nice and snappy. Now that Morelli is a bigger character, we’re getting closer to the romance, which may or may not be a good thing. Let’s read and find out.