Book Review: Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich

Book Review: Curious Minds by Janet EvanovichCurious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1) by Janet Evanovich, Phoef Sutton
Published by Bantam Dell on August 16th 2016
Pages: 322
Goodreads
four-stars

Janet Evanovich, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum series, teams up with Emmy-winning writer Phoef Sutton for a brand-new series of thrillers featuring the invincible and incompatible pairing of Knight and Moon.

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

I have to admit. I am pleasantly surprised by this book and this new series. In my preview (here), I was reluctant and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t finish Wicked Charms (as mentioned, though, I’m determined to return to it someday to give it a proper second chance).

The narrative moved right along at a steady pace. The events unfolded smoothly and didn’t distract from the story. In my experience reading Evanovich, her writing is never really dense nor does it need intense concentration. Curious Minds is no different. It’s light, playful, and a quick read. One may argue that it is too simple because there were times when I couldn’t believe how fast the story was reading, but it works for me.

I think Knight and Moon are perfect for the backdrop of this series. To be honest, I’m only familiar with one other Evanovich series and that one deals with more of a paranormal investigation so I like that this is kind of contemporary mystery-slash-action-adventure.I like that it is an independent investigation and not within any type of crime solving entity like the FBI or similar. Kind of a rogue operation.

Five things I like about this series:

  • Knight and Moon gives off this fun vibe. They work well together.
  • I love their banter.
  • The mystery part of the story wasn’t complicating.
  • It was an easy read so I wasn’t interrupted with any philosophical or intense contemplation in order to get the story.
  • It kept me engaged. I didn’t get bored.

While this story wasn’t an “Absolutely loved it!” I like it enough to read the next one. I requested it at the local library so I can’t wait. I also would contemplate adding it to my personal library. I’ll have to read the next one, though, to give it serious thought. It will be disappointing if I invest in the series only to be disappointed by the third book. But Evanonvich and Sutton have convinced me enough to put them back on my radar. I may finally be brave enough to give Wicked Charms its second chance I keep promising.

four-stars

Biblio 411: Just One Year (Just One Day, #2)

Author: Gayle FormanReleased: August 20, 2013
Published by: Speak
Series: Just One Day #2
Read: October 2013
Reread: April 2016
The Hook: Wilem’s perspective!

Biblio 411: Just One Day

Oh, if I wasn’t in love with this series already, there would have been hearts in my eyes at the end of this one.

After reading what Allyson went through how can you not see what it was like for Willem?

“Did he really bail on Allyson?” (I didn’t think so, but then what caused him to disappear?!)

“Did he feel the way Allyson felt?”

“What did he do when Allyson arrived at the door?”

Summary: Willem’s story picks up the next morning of his and Lulu’s one day in Paris. And he wakes up in the hospital with a concussion. It’s the afternoon, he knows there’s something important he has to do but can’t remember what, until he does, and then he panics because he realizes he’s not with Lulu. He doesn’t want to miss her, he scrambles to get out of the hospital, and when he desperately runs back to the loft they shared she’s gone. Of course she’s gone. But he doesn’t give up hope just yet. Her stuff is back at Celine’s, maybe he can find something that could tell him about Lulu, like her real name for starters. She didn’t come back to get her stuff, there’s hope, except when he goes through her stuff nothing reveals who she is or where she’s from. And that’s when it kicks in. The feeling of loss. The sadness. The missed opportunity.

And then we see Willem’s journey. We see just how much that one day with Lulu made a difference in his life. He tries to forget her at first. He hooks up with an old girlfriend which doesn’t work for him. When his friends see how different Willem seems they finally get him to tell them what’s wrong and they all pitch in to help him find his Lulu. First with Jacques and then with Cancun. We see his relationship with his mom, his friends, with himself. And then we see him accepting that it maybe wasn’t meant to be.

Verdict:

Well, you already know how much I love this duology. I mean, there’s something about this story that resonated with me. I’m thinking it’s all the talk about destiny and fate and love and hope . . . and all that jazz. The way Forman continues Allyson and Willem’s story in this next installment is done so well. To see what that day meant to him and how their souls seem to fit with each other. Willem’s journey isn’t as smooth as Allyson’s (okay, maybe smooth isn’t the right word because I don’t think her journey was smooth either. Straight-forward maybe? Yeah, that sounds better), as straight-forward as Allyson’s was. I mean, remember, he’s been on the road for a while now, been on his own for a while now. He has his own challenges to face and seeing how Lulu influences his decisions, even when he doesn’t realize it, it’s exciting to read.

And then you have all the good quotes like the ones I previewed last week:

It’s a really good story.

As far as characters go, I love Willem, of course. I love seeing how he evolves after spending that day with Lulu. And I love Broodje! I swear, if I could ever have a best friend I want them to be like Broodje. He’s there for Willem through just about everything. He cares about his friend and wants to help him in anyway he can. Other characters I love seeing is Willem’s mom, Yael, and her relationship with her son.

It’s this:

Still, when she takes her hand away, I wish she hadn’t. And when she starts packing up with promises of things we will do when she has a day off, I’m wishing I had told her about the skinheads, about Paris, about Lulu. Except even if I’d tried, I wouldn’t have known how. My mother and I, we both speak Dutch and english. But we never could speak the same language.

To this:

“I wondered if he thought I should ask you to come back here.” She pauses. “To live with me.”

“You want me to come back to India?”

“If you want to. You might act here. It seemed to go well for you. And we could find a bigger flat. Something big enough for both of us. But Daniel thought I should hold off. He thought you seemed to have found something.”

“I haven’t found anything. And you might’ve asked me?” It comes out so bitter.

She must hear it, too. But her voice stays soft. “I am asking you, Willem.”

And I realize she is. After all this time. Tears well up in my eyes. I’m grateful, in that small moment for the thousands of kilometers that separate us.

“How soon could I come?” I ask.

There’s a pause. Then she gives the answer I need: “As soon as you want.”

And the story tracks back to Shakespeare, which I thought was very clever. Willem’s story doesn’t really start with Shakespeare, but there are mentions of it here and there since that was the connection between Lulu and Willem, but that’s about it really, until you get to just before the One Day segment of the book.

The connections in Willem’s story and Allyson’s story is done so well. You see the “almost” moments throughout the story (you’ll see what I mean). And I really love the way the book needs. I really do. It seemed the perfect ending for this story.

So, if you can’t already tell, I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to find a story about an epic romance, an adventure, and the maybe-it’s-fate-maybe-not type of questions and answers.

Enjoy!

Biblio 411: Welcome to Night Vale

Authors: Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Released: October 20th, 2015
Read: DNF – started November 21, 2015
The Hook: “Welcome to Night Vale” seemed like a pretty cool title.

I really, really wanted to like this book. For the most part, I do. I just couldn’t finish it. Yet.

I previewed this book in November >> here << and made it to about chapter three before I lost interest. I did say that SciFi isn’t normally my thing, but I think it had to do with me just not processing the story line quick enough to keep my interest. And that’s not to say that I got bored of the story. That’s just to say that I couldn’t grasp the story quick enough for me to continue reading it.

What’s there to process?

Well, before I get into that, let me tell you what I love about what little I read.

I love the writing. It’s written differently from any book I’ve ever picked up and I really appreciate that uniqueness. Writing like this:

IMG_7498

I mean, that paragraph. I love it!

I also love the setting. The details about Night Vale are vague, but interesting. I don’t have an example of description, because I had to return the book, but it was enough detail to get a sense of the town but not enough to complete the picture. I appreciated that.

I love the characters. Jackie Fierro, the pawn shop owner, intrigued me. Living her life stuck on age nineteen, I wanted to know more about her. And her shop. Her shop. So cool. I mean, a pawn shop is a great backdrop for a story like this. I don’t know how I felt about Diana and her son, Josh, though.

I love idea of the plot. As a pawn shop owner, Jackie received a unique item and while this item seems innocent enough, it upsets Jackie. She’s uncomfortable and this begins an interesting journey I never got to finish.

So why didn’t you finish it?

While all these concepts were awesome, they were awesome separately. Does that make sense? I couldn’t quite register them together. It just didn’t flow well for me.

Which makes me sad because it sounds like such a good read.

In an effort to try and make sense of this story, I decided to clue in to the podcast this book is an extension of. I did find the podcast clever and I did enjoy it, but it still left too many unanswered questions that didn’t help me figure out the story.

And so it’s added to my Did Not Finish pile.

I hope to come back to it one day. Maybe when I can devote my focus to it instead of juggling school, work, and extra curricular activities. Maybe I’ll force myself to read to at least chapter five. Sometimes it’s just a slow beginning.

Biblio 411: I’ll Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka, Martin Ganda, and Liz Welch

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#SpoilerAlert – proceed at your own risk

Authors: Caitlin Alifirenka, Martin Ganda, and Liz Welch
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Released: April 14th, 2015
Read: October 1, 2015
The Hook: Letter writing, pen pals

I’m going to be honest. I went hunting for this book. Not this particular book, but I wanted to read a book in which the plot line involved letter writing or some sort. I ordered this book for our collection, because writing–duh!, and figured I’d I should give this a shot. I didn’t realize it was based on a true story.

Plot: Caitlin’s class participates in a pen pal exchange program with students from several different countries. She ends up choosing Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, Martin’s part of what I think of as the honor roll group. He has high marks and because of this, he gets to receive a letter through a pen pal exchange program which is Caitlin. Over several years, these two exchange letters. Martin comes from poverty and his family struggles to put food on the table and keep the roof over their heads and keeps this from Caitlin. Caitlin writes to Martin about her day including trips to the mall and sends lots of pictures, in contrast to Martin whose father had to put their handheld stereo on  collateral so they could pay the photographer to come and take two pictures. They lose their stereo. During this time, Zimbabwe goes through some political struggles and that’s when Caitlin finds out what really is going on with Martin which drives her to action.

Review: I enjoyed this book. I really did. And not just because I’m a letter-writing geek who gets super excited when I receive letters. In its simplicity through narrative and snippets of their letters, it tells the story of how friendship can develop even though you’re on separate continents. And I miss that human connection in a world where likes and one line comments are the main form of communication. Don’t get me wrong. I love that I can virtually connect with people across the global through social media. I absolutely love it. But how many times have you had these exchanges through your computer only to find that when you see one of your “friends” in real life, say at the super market, all you do is wave to each other? It’s hard to move that relationship offline sometimes and I get that. Some reason, I don’t think that applies to letter-writing. Something happens when you receive a physical letter.

Anyway, way off topic. Sorry, let me bring it back.

Because the plot is based on actual events, there’s not much to comment on in way of creativity. The narrative and they way the story was told, however, was done nicely. The narrative went back and forth between Caitlin and Martin and snippets of their letters were dropped in throughout the story. I loved that it ends … well. I’m not one to get defensive about spoilers, but I know others are. I love the way the story starts, progresses, and ends.

That said, it was a quick read. I read it in one sitting. The story moves fast and there’s really no slowing down once you get started. I have to say, though, it may bore some readers because of it’s simplicity and maybe a little bit predictable.

However, it was a fun read and met my requirements in finding a book with letter-writing. I’d recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a light read and looking for a feel-good-pick-me-up kind of story.

Bbiblio 411: The Ghosts Of Heaven

 Author:  Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Roaring Books
Released: Originally, Oct 2, 2014
The Hook: If I’m being honest, the cover. Yep. 

As mentioned, the cover totally reeled me in. Followed closely by the title. The Ghosts of Heaven. Tell me that doesn’t intrigue you.

When I read the back cover I became a bit unsure. Four separate, yet connected, stories told in four different eras intrigued me yet concerned me. I’m not one to like books that follows three or more different plots and characters. 

I don’t know if I can clarify this statement and I know it may have confused people, but that will take another post so, I’m going to leave it at that.

Anyway, these four different, yet connected, stories can be read in any order and the overall story will make sense. So I decided to be dating and read the fourth story first, The Song of Destiny. I liked it, more or less. The mystery behind it and that ending. Wow. But I didn’t love it. In fact, after reading it I felt myself thinking, “you know what kind of books you like and you know which ones you don’t, so why?”

I wanted to be a trooper. I wanted to continue on. So I skipped over to the second story. I thought I’d like it. Someone accused of witch craft? My kind of story … except that it wasn’t. I couldn’t get myself interest enough to continue. I tried. I really did! 

But in the end, I gave up. Whether it’s because it caused my brain to lock up, thinking about spirals and how time isn’t linear or if it was just the presentation, I just couldn’t finish it. I admit defeat. 

It’s not for everyone, this story. Another reader, who loved it, compared the book to Cloud Atlas and acknowledge the same thing I just did, that it won’t be for everyone. And I didn’t like Cloud Atlas.

I may pick this up one day in the future because I like the concept and the idea of where the story is heading. I’m not a fan of multi-character plot lines (if that’s what they’re called) or short stories and this book seems to have both. So I say if you like Cloud Atlas and like short stories, go for it!

Biblio 411: How To Make Money Blogging

411Junkie_HowToMakeMoneyBloggingAuthor: Bob Lotich
Released: August 1, 2010
Published by: Rendren Publishing
The Hook: Can I really make money by doing what I love doing?

When I first set up my blog, I didn’t do it for money. And I know everyone says that, so I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir, but seriously, the purpose of my blog was just to do what I love doing–writing–and gaining confidence by putting it out there on the Internet.

But what if I could make some money doing what I love to do? Is it possible? I mean, I’m sure it’s possible. Look at how many people are doing it today. But could I do it. And if I could do it, how do I begin?

Bob Lotich is straight-forward in his book, How to Make Money BloggingI can’t tell you how many books I’ve flipped through, how many web articles I’ve read, and how many suggestions I’ve heard through this blogging adventure of mine. I never considered writing as a career growing up, or writing for some cash period. I mean, sure … okay, off topic here. Let me reel it back in.

What I liked about Loitch’s book, what made me read from cover to cover, was that he stuck to exactly what he said he was going to do: how to make money. Out of all the blogging books I picked up or articles I browsed through, he didn’t start by saying “first, you need to have a passion of writing” or “you need to write good stuff.” I know that this is important. Your writing has to be good, or at the very least consistent. And I know I need to have a passion for writing in order for me to go through with this. I understand this. And if I want to learn how to write better content, I’d pick up a book that says How to Write Good Content or the like. I don’t want to read two or three chapters on writing good content when I want to learn how my blog can make money.

Secondly, his format was simple and easy to follow. He tells you what he did and makes suggestions as to what you could do, even if he did it differently. I like that he gives you options. And he’s honest about things he hasn’t tried, but heard they worked for others. There’s a balance to his writing that I liked. In fact, the steps he suggested made immediate sense to me and I started to apply some of his suggestions even before I finished reading.

This book accomplished what it set out to do. It taught me how my blog could make money if I want it to. In addition to that, he tells us about his experience taking this route and even answers the question of how long will it take for your blog to generate some type of income.

I say this is worth a read and I’m glad to have it in my reference library. The links he provides for additional information is a tremendous help. Now, I’m not sure if I’m going to go in this direction and make money off of blogging, but I like knowing how to if I decide I want to proceed. And if I decide to see if I can make at least some money doing what I like doing, I like know the different routes to get there. And this book tells me how to do that.