I just made that word up. Well, probably I’m not the first person to think of it, but I’m not aware of anyone else using it, so it still counts as making it up, as far as I’m concerned. That little subordinate clause, as far as I’m concerned, works in just about every situation, doesn’t it? It’s even better than Obi-Wan telling Luke that what he told him was true from a certain point of view. Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for it.

All of this is by way of welcoming you to another edition of Mad’s Book Club, my first in…I dunno. Maybe years. I’ve been away for a long time, haven’t I? Not years, but a week. Have many things happened in the last week? Oh, yes. Will I be blogging about them today? No. Ever? Maybe. Maybe not. It all depends. But today I feel like talking about some of the books I’ve read lately. Actually, I’m going to go back as far as May. Because why not? That’s when Goodreads tells me I last read a book that I remember talking about here on the blog. So here we go.

Daddy’s Girl and Legal Tender by Lisa Scottoline

I’ve read quite a few books by Lisa Scottoline. Some are better than others. They’re all quite light reading, as far as I’m concerned. Ha ha, I just did it again, didn’t I? What I meant to say was they’re all quite light reading, for murder mysteries. Scottoline is funny. Not dark-humor funny, but we’re-girlfriends-and-I’m-going-to-tell-you-about-my-bad-date-and-how-I-can’t-lose-weight funny. Which is a type of humor that some can’t appreciate, but I do–when it’s done well and in a way that doesn’t make me think, “I’m way more clever and less annoying than you. Why can’t I get a job?” (Because that last part inevitably leads to uncomfortable truths about myself, and that’s not what light reading is for.)

So yes, Daddy’s Girl is about a law professor who gets involved in a prison riot (inadvertently–don’t ask) and subsequently finds herself in real peril. I know, “Subsequently?” Yes, subsequently. Because she knows too much. What does Daddy have to do with it? Honestly, I don’t remember. A lot of Scottoline’s protagonists are daddy’s girls, so that doesn’t really help me. I remember it being a pretty good ride and having a twist ending, only it wasn’t much of a twist for me because I always suspected that douchebaggery was at play. (I have keen douchebag-dar. At least in fiction.) So it was good, i.e. not a waste of my time, but not as good as some other Scottoline I’ve read. That’s the trouble, Lisa Scottoline, when you write twenty-something books–inevitably you’re going to get compared to yourself, so “good” becomes “not as good.” It isn’t fair, but Daddy would tell you that life isn’t fair.

Legal Tender is one of Scottoline’s earlier novels featuring Bennie Rosato. I’ve read a few Rosato & Associates books, but all of them were focusing on other characters and not Bennie herself. (All of Scottoline’s books are about lawyers, if you haven’t picked up on this yet.) So I enjoyed getting some of Bennie’s back story, and this was a pretty exciting book about how Bennie’s partner and ex-lover gets murdered and she is the prime suspect and the police are out to get her because she hasn’t exactly made friends with them over the years (criminal defense lawyer–hiss!) and so she can’t rely on them to do a thorough investigation so she has to go underground and do her own investigation. Naturally. As I said, exciting, funny–one of Scottoline’s better books, I think. (And they’re all “good.”)

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

I read this for a book club. (A non-virtual one.) It’s the story of an asthmatic 11-year-old boy and his quirky family’s search for his fugitive brother across the Badlands. The asthma is plot-relevant, but did I really need to tell you about it in my synopsis? Does it make you want to read the book more? Well, I don’t know your level of interest in asthmatics, but I thought I’d throw it in just in case. Anyway, it’s a fantastic book, for those of you who have never read it (I never had). I gave it five stars on Goodreads, which is a big deal because I give out 3-stars like cheap Halloween candy and 4-stars like quality candy that I got on sale, but 5-stars is like the equivalent of a $4 truffle at the chocolate cafe. It means “I love you this many dollars’ worth”–and nothing says love like that. So. It’s a compelling story about this family and I fell in love with the characters. The narrator is the aforementioned eleven-year-old with asthma, but told in retrospect, as an adult. So he has his adult perspective, but he manages to stay true to his 11-year-old self and 11-year-old memories, and he manages to be eloquent in a very natural, 11-year-old way. I love this book!

Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo

This is second book in the Kate Burkholder series, the first being Sworn to Silence, which was one of the first cheap books I bought on Kindle. It was cheap because it was on sale, and not because it was crap. (This is relevant.) Kate Burkholder is chief of police in a small town that includes an Amish community; Kate grew up in that same Amish community but chose not to be baptized into the church (obviously, or she’d have had a tough time starting her law-enforcement career). Like all Amish communities, it has a dark underbelly. Just kidding. I mean that like all Amish communities in the murder mystery genre, it has a dark underbelly. In the world of fiction, small towns can have a lot of psycho killing and still the inhabitants are taken by surprise, every single time. Willing suspension of disbelief and all that. You have to just go with it, if you want your psycho-killer fix. So Pray for Silence finds poor Kate trying to solve another senseless Amish-related murder and once again she finds herself in great personal danger. That’s what always happens to small-town chiefs of police, who intentionally choose the job so they can lead a quiet life of little consequence only fate has other plans, wouldn’t you just know it.

Anyway, I liked Sworn to Silence well enough that I bought some other Linda Castillo novels that are cheap on Kindle because they are her earlier, pulpier works. Previous to Kate Burkholder, Castillo apparently specialized in romantic suspense, with the emphasis on the romance. Those books were entertaining in their way–I have no regrets–but not really the same level of quality as Sworn to Silence, which was a solid suspense novel with interesting subplots involving Kate’s relationship to the Amish. I liked Kate and I was intrigued by the other main character introduced in that novel, John Tomasetti, a brooding state agent with a tragic history. So I was interested to see how the series would develop. Verdict: Eh…it’s complicated. Pray for Silence was a pretty good murder mystery. There wasn’t much in terms of character development, but the plot held my attention. You might say it was good but not as good as the first book. The real question, though, is will I read the third book? Answer: Yes, because I’m curious and if I haven’t already proved that I’ll read anything, I will shortly.

Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry

I like to read the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, even though I have not historically been a huge fan of straight-up romance novels. In fact, historically I have not liked straight-up romance novels at all–but I appreciate that there are smart women out there who adore them, and I like that they aren’t ashamed of it. Also, it is funny when fans of the genre hate something, because no one hates like a fangirl. (Or boy, as the case may be. Fanperson isn’t really a word.) And since I have developed an appreciation for romantic suspense, my feelings toward romance novels in general have softened. Last year I read a 99-cent Kindle book about a woman who makes a deal with an English nobleman who needs to be married by his thirtieth birthday if he doesn’t want to lose his inheritance. I didn’t say I was proud, but I didn’t hate it. So you have the background for me reading Her Best Worst Mistake, which was highly recommended by someone on SBTB, and it was also a cheap Kindle book ($2.99 cheap, not 99-cent cheap–it matters) and you know my weakness for cheap e-books, mes enfants, so what could I do? Well. Certainly it was no worse than the I-sham-married-a-nobleman-for-money book. And yet, it didn’t quite do it for me. It’s about two people who hate each other but the reason they hate is because secretly they are madly attracted to each other, and I have to say that I just didn’t buy that part. I didn’t really feel the hate, so when the love part came along, I was less satisfied than I should have been. One thing you do not want to be at the end of a romance novel is unsatisfied. That much I know.

On the other hand, I did read the whole thing. So who am I to talk?

To be continued…

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