Book Slumps and Rereading

I have not posted a review here for every book that I have read lately but many of the books I have read lately have not been the greatest. I am not expecting every single book I read to be a wonderful work of fiction and literature but I do have expectations of how a book that I will truly enjoy should be. In the past couple of weeks, I have really gotten into a reading slump. If you knew me, you would know that this is a big deal. I love to read and I have loved to read ever since I was a child. I do not know if this slump is because of my job, just getting caught up in the day to day grind, the quality of the books I have chosen to read or all of the above.

How can I deal with this slump? I asked myself that on many occasions and have had many different thoughts. One of these thoughts was going back to reread some of my favorite books. The first book that I read again is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Part of the reason I read this book first is because the movie will be coming out in a month and I am very excited about the it. In rereading Catching Fire, I have gotten sucked back into the world of Panem, of Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Effie and all these wonderful characters that bring Catching Fire to life. Along this line, I have realized something. In my favorite books, I may not be able to identify with all the characters but I do enjoy where characterization takes the story and what I have read lately has not been anywhere close to this.

I really believe that this realization will change how I look at books moving forward. If there is not good characterization in a book, I will not spend a second longer wasting my time with it. There is too much that I want to do and too much to read for me to waste my time with a book that has none of these characteristics.

Now that I have read Catching Fire again, I am not sure where my reading will go next. But I know that wherever it goes, I will be better for it and will enjoy myself more than I have in the past.

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Book Review: Red by Alison Cherry

RedTitle: Red

Author: Alison Cherry

Audience: YA

Rating: Four Stars

About the Book: Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair. Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say “strawberry blond.” Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school. Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

Review: Lately I have been hesitant to read a book by a new author, especially a debut author. I am glad, however, that I decided to take a chance on Red. When I first started reading, I was confused about the book. Is it supposed to be a contemporary? Is it supposed to be satire? What is really going on with this book? I am still a little confused (I am leaning more towards contemporary with a different spin) but Red was just the thing I needed to realize that I may have judged some other books a little too early.

The main character Felicity was pretty vain and obnoxious at first, like most of the town of Scarlettville. If people did not have red hair, they were treated very differently. I began to like her a lot more towards the end of the book, maybe because of the discoveries she made about herself along the way. I really liked her friends Ivy and Jonathan because they saw her for who she really was, not for who she wanted people to think she was.

There were pretty silly things that I enjoyed in the book as well, like the fact that Felicity’s mom was named Ginger and of course, the town of Scarlettville. I would definitely recommend this book to adults and young adults who are looking for something a little different in the contemporary genre.

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for letting me check out Red!

Book Review: Extra Credit by Maggie Barbieri

Extra CreditTitle: Extra Credit

Author: Maggie Barbieri

Genre: Mystery

Rating: Five Stars

About the Book: Alison Bergeron has her doubts about hosting a birthday party for her twin stepdaughters, seeing as it’ll include all of her new husband’s ex-in-laws. Still, she’s a good sport, and everyone has a great time, especially the girls, who receive $10,000 from their estranged uncle, Chick.

The girls’ father, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford, and Christine, his ex, think the gift is too much. When Crawford swings by Chick’s apartment to return it, he finds Chick dead, with roughly $250,000 stuffed in his mattress. The death is ruled a suicide, but Christine isn’t convinced, and even Alison can’t help but admit that there must be a lot more to Chick’s death than meets the eye.

Review: I feel like this may be the last book in this wonderful series and if that is the case, I think it was a great ending. I really feel like I have been with Alison through her divorce, her husband’s murder, her relationship with Max, her relationship and marriage to Crawford and her teaching career. If the ending of the book is any indication, she has many adventures still ahead for her.

The mystery of Extra Credit was interesting enough to keep me reading and also different enough from the others in this series. I really felt for Crawford’s ex-wife Christine and the fact that she lost her brother but I think I was as annoyed with her by the end as Crawford and Alison were. I also like that Max, Allison’s BFF, had more going on in this book than just being there and having her career. I felt for her when her father died and she felt like Alison was never there for her. I really like their relationship and it is one of reasons I would continue to read the series, if it does continue. My other reason would be Alison and Bobby and their relationship. That is the kind of relationship that I strive for with my boyfriend and my family. Being open, honest, loving, supportive, understanding and caring for each other is what keeps Alison and Bobby strong. I hope that Maggie Barbieri continues this series but if she does not, I just want to thank her for letting me into the lives of these great characters.

Book Review: Going, Going Ganache by Jenn McKinlay

ImageTitle: Going, Going, Ganache

Author: Jenn McKinlay

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Rating: Three Stars

About the Book: After a cupcake-flinging fiasco at a photo shoot for a local magazine, Melanie Cooper and Angie DeLaura agree to make amends by hosting a weeklong corporate boot camp at Fairy Tale Cupcakes.  The idea is the brainchild of billionaire Ian Hannigan, new owner of SWS (Southwest Style), a lifestyle magazine that chronicles the lives of Scottsdale’s rich and famous. He’s assigned his staff to a team-building week of making cupcakes for charity.

It’s clear that the staff would rather be doing just about anything other than frosting baked goods. But when the magazine’s creative director is found murdered outside the bakery, Mel and Angie have a new team-building exercise—find the killer before their business goes AWOL.

Review: I have enjoyed all the other books in this series but after reading this one, I felt very irritated. First of all, the mystery was just not that interesting to me. Are we      supposed to care that a person we barely know has been murdered? I realize that it happened at the bakery but that still does not make me interested in the mystery itself. Most of the staff of the magazine were also very annoying and hard to deal with.

The main reason I can only give this book three stars is the way that the main characters just flip flopped their personalities. Melanie seemed like a completely different person, especially in the way she dealt with Joe and Detective Martinez. I can see that heading somewhere bad. Tate has some kind of revelation and leaves his old life behind so that he can be worthy of Angie. Did she ask him to do that? Not at all. And poor Angie did not have much going on in this book at all.

I cannot make myself read another book in this series if it continues to go like this.

Book Review: Gluten for Punishment by Nancy J. Parra

ImageTitle: Gluten for Punishment

Author: Nancy J. Parra

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Rating: Three Stars

About the Book: With her mother’s death, Toni Ryder returns home to Oil Top, Kansas bringing her gluten-free bakery business with her. But Toni has never felt at home in her hometown and cooking wheat-free in the middle of wheat country isn’t making her any less a fish out of water. When Toni becomes a suspect in Oil Top’s first homicide investigation in twenty years, she must count on her crazy family and follow the clues to solve the mystery and clear her name.

Review: I have had hot and cold relationships with books about food but I thought I would pick this one up because it was something different. Thankfully, it was something different and was very enjoyable as well. Toni Holmes, the main character, has celiac disease and has to eat foods that are gluten free or she will become very sick. She moves back to her hometown, into her childhood home, after her mother passes away and leaves the house to her. She opens up a gluten free bakery called Baker’s Treat and that is when the trouble and murder begins.

I really liked Toni and her best friend Tasha. They were definitely characters that you wanted to root for and felt empathy for. I also like Toni’s grandmother Ruth. She is a firecracker and still living life into her 90s, like my grandmother was before she passed away last year.

I have two problems with this book however. First of all, I found it a little too easy to figure out who the killer(s) were. Usually when I read mysteries, I am left wondering along with the characters but for some reason, I figured it out right off the bat with this book. My second complaint is the possible love triangle looming in this series. There are two men that both have a thing for Toni. With one of them, I felt like the attraction came on very quickly and he barely knew Toni, even though he was friends with her brother. I am not a fan of love triangles and think they are used way too much in books so I hope there is some resolution to this one in the next book.

I would definitely recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers of any kind and will be looking forward to the next book in the series.