The White Princess – Philippa Gregory

twpToday I finished The White Princess.   It was a continuation of the stories started in The Red Queen and The White Queen which I reviewed here.  (Part of The Cousins’ War series) It was true to the author’s style.  A style born out of The Other Boleyn Girl where Ms. Gregory truly found her voice.  

The story picks up with Elizabeth daughter of the white queen, Elizabeth Woodville and King Edward, a true daughter of York mourning the loss of her dearest love and…  uncle…  Richard.   He was killed on the battlefield and his crown coronet stripped from his helmet and given to the son of the red queen, Henry VII – a Lancastrian.

The two are betrothed in an effort to end the cousins’ war (aka The War of the Roses) and Henry must marry a girl he hates and Elizabeth must live her life married to the man who lives by causing the death of the man with whom she was planning a future.  

Having won the crown by might and not by birth, his rule is a constant battle.  Always full of suspicions and fear and being haunted by a ghost roaming the European countryside of a boy thought long since dead.  

I liked this book.  I liked it as much as The Rrd Queen but not as much as The White Queen and I feel it ended to soon.  I can only assume there will be another book to come, but I can’t guess whose perspective it will be from.  Perhaps Catherine of Aragon, as when this book ends she is betrothed to Arthur, Elizabeth and Henry’s eldest son.  

History buffs of the British crown like me know that Arthur and Catherine do marry, but Arthur dies and she is then wed to the second eldest son, whom we know to be destined to become King Henry VIII.   

While certain parts of this book did drag a bit, overall it was the next logical book in what seems to becoming a series for Phillppa Gregory.   If historical fiction is your thing, specifically of the royal bloodline, I would recommend this (along with The White Queen followed by The Red Queen –  TWQ first as there is just way too much in TRQ that would just be redundant in TWQ).

All in all, a decent book, a REALLY good series so far.   3 our of 5 privy chambers for this installment.   

Explosive Eighteen ~ Janet Evanovich

Explosive Eighteen(From Evanovich.com)

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum’s life is set to blow sky high when international murder hits dangerously close to home, in this dynamite novel by Janet Evanovich.

Before Stephanie can even step foot off Flight 127 from Hawaii to Newark, she’s knee deep in trouble. Her dream vacation turned into a nightmare, she’s flying back to New Jersey solo, and Sasquatch is snoring in row 22. Worse still, her seatmate never returned to the plane after the L.A. layover. Now he’s dead, in a garbage can, waiting for curbside pickup. His killer could be anyone. The FBI, the fake FBI, and guns-for-hire are all looking for a photograph the dead man was supposed to be carrying.

Only one other person has seen the missing photograph– Stephanie Plum. Now she’s the target, and she doesn’t intend to end up in a garbage can. With the help of a FBI sketch artist Stephanie recreates the person in the photo. Unfortunately the first sketch turns out to look like Tom Cruise, and the second sketch like Ashton Kutcher. Until Stephanie can improve her descriptive skills, she’ll need to watch her back.

Over at the Bail Bonds Agency it’s business as usual– until the bonds bus serving as Vinnie’s temporary HQ goes up in smoke, Stephanie’s wheelman, Lula, falls in love with their “largest” FTA yet, lifetime arch nemesis Joyce Barnhardt moves into Stephanie’s apartment, and everyone wants to know what happened in Hawaii?!

Morelli, Trenton’s hottest cop, isn’t talking about Hawaii. Ranger, the man of mystery, isn’t talking about Hawaii. And all Stephanie is willing to say about her Hawaiian vacation is…it’s complicated.

 

My Take:

I have to give Evanovich credit for a mystery well done. Her plots are always so full of twists, that it’s rare to see the actual culprit coming at the end.

I am getting sick of her indecision between the two men in her life. Stephanie’s even getting annoyed with it.

Somewhere in the series, Evanovich stopped tagging the progression of months and seasons. This throws the reader into a time warp. I’ve talked about the seemingly spontaneous evolution of technology in this series before. In this book, the author makes another reference as to her job having been going on for years.

Um, exactly how does she keep both of these men content to be strung along for so long? And while I’m at it, how the heck old is Rex the hamster anyway? Whatever kind of vitamins that rodent is taking, I want some. Hamsters only live a couple of years, and she had Rex before she became a bounty hunter.

Lula, this time around, bordered on being ridiculous. How many times can you have one woman freak out over nothing? Don’t get me wrong, it was funny the first couple of times. It certainly echoed this known personality trait from previous novels, but come on, someone needed to have sedated her and just been done with it.

As to the cliffhanger from the previous novel… I don’t want to give anything away. But just know going in you’re going to be strung along, not knowing what actually happened for a good long while.

I know I’m doing a lot of ranting and raving. I know doesn’t sound like I enjoyed the book, but I did. Her mystery is always excellent, her regular characters shine, and Evanovich always gets me to laugh. I guess after some twenty-one books, you start to focus on the things that bug you about a series.

 

Despite my issues: Three and a half pairs of handcuffs.

Smokin’ Seventeen ~ Janet Evanovich

Smokin' Seventeen(From Evanovich.com)

Where there’s smoke there’s fire, and no one knows this better than New Jersey bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. 


Dead bodies are showing up in shallow graves on the empty construction lot of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds. No one is sure who the killer is, or why the victims have been offed, but what is clear is that Stephanie’s name is on the killer’s list.

Short on time to find evidence proving the killer’s identity, things get even more complicated for Stephanie when family and friends decide it’s time for her to decide between long-time off-again-on-again boyfriend, Trenton cop, Joe Morelli, and the bad boy in her life, security expert, Ranger. Stephanie’s mom is encouraging Stephanie to dump them both, and choose a former high school football star who has just returned to town. Stephanie’s sidekick, Lula, is encouraging Stephanie to have a red-hot boudoir “bake-off”. And Grandma Bella, Morelli’s old world grandmother, is encouraging Stephanie to move to a new state when she puts “the eye” on Stephanie.

With a cold-blooded killer after her, a handful of hot men and a capture list that includes a dancing bear and a senior citizen vampire, Stephanie’s life looks like it’s about to go up in smoke.

 

My Take:

Book twenty-one, if you count the holiday novellas, and Evanovich is rebounding from the slump.

She’s spiced up the office by putting them in an RV while the bonds office is rebuilt, due to issues created in the last book.

I like the continuity the author displays, instead of just dropping the problem or giving some glazed over solution. I love that Evanovich doesn’t set up a situation in one book, and then changes her mind about following through with it later.

Morelli is just as confused about his love life as Stephanie is. I used to think the man was just trying to get Stephanie any way he could. I thought he knew what he wanted, but was just hiding it from Stephanie so she wouldn’t get scared and dart. But now, either he’s starting to doubt she’s the one, or he’s messed up, too.

Ranger is still the same yummy Ranger. And we get to enjoy some delicious naked Ranger moments! Thank you Morelli’s grandmother for giving Stephanie the ‘vorgo’. It makes a girl naughty!

And about her job… People in this book, of course, want Stephanie dead. The question is, how many? First of all, I knew who the killer was from nearly the beginning. But, it was never confirmed, nor was I absolutely positive, until Evanovich wanted the reader to know for certain. This didn’t leave me upset in that it was so easy to figure out, it left me giving myself a pat on the back for having guessed correctly. – I look at that as a sign of writing skill.

The ending is another cliffhanger concerning her choice in men. -Drives me crazy, pick a man already! (Pick Ranger!)

 

My two issues:

 

One, the end is once again too neatly tied up.  The killers all come together at once and boom, ending done. Yes, I laughed. Yes, it was Evanovich being true to her style. Yes, it was a neat way to end it. But, the endings of all the threads culminate, and then the reader gets dropped.

 

Two, technology. On one page, Stephanie talks about being a better bounty hunter than she was last year, which implies that she began bounty hunting about a year ago. This matches up with the seeming flow and timeline established in previous novels. But on another page, she talks about killing a man a bunch of years ago. She killed the guy in book one. Make up your mind.

Evanovich really ups the level of technology used in this novel. Texting and smart phones suddenly appeared, these things didn’t exist back in the nineties when the author first started writing. I understand she has to address the advances in technology somehow, but ouch. A direct contradiction just rubbed me the wrong way. …So does this mean that she’s been in man-limbo for a year or two, or for several years?

 

Four and a half pairs of handcuffs (because I love Ranger).

Sizzling Sixteen ~ Janet Evanovich

Sizzling Sixteen(From Evanovich.com)

Trenton, New Jersey, bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has inherited a “lucky” bottle from her Uncle Pip.  Problem is, Uncle Pip didn’t specify if the bottle brought good luck or bad luck….

BAD LUCK:
  Vinnie, of Vincent Plum Bail Bonds, has run up a gambling debt of $786,000 with mobster
Bobby Sunflower and is being held until the cash can be produced.  Nobody else will pay to get Vinnie back, leaving it up to Stephanie, office manager Connie, and file clerk Lula to raise the money if they want to save their jobs.

GOOD LUCK:
  Being in the business of tracking down people, Stephanie, Lula, and Connie have an advantage in finding Vinnie.  If they can rescue him, it will buy them some time to raise the cash.

BAD LUCK:
  Finding a safe place to hide Vinnie turns out to be harder than raising $786,000.  Vinnie’s messing up local stoner Walter “Moon Man” Dunphy’s vibe and making Stephanie question genetics.

GOOD LUCK:
  Between a bonds office yard sale that has the entire Burg turning out, a plan that makes Mooner’s Hobbit-Con look sane, and Uncle Pip’s mysterious bottle, they just might raise enough money to save Vinnie and the business from ruin.

BAD LUCK:
  Saving Vincent Plum Bail Bonds means Stephanie can keep being a bounty hunter.  In Trenton, this involves hunting down a man wanted for polygamy, a Turnpike toilet paper bandit, and a drug dealer with a pet alligator named Mr. Jingles.

GOOD LUCK:
  The job of bounty hunter comes with perks in the guise of Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, and the dark and dangerous, Ranger.  With any luck at all, Uncle Pip’s lucky bottle will have Stephanie getting lucky—the only question is . . . with whom?

Sizzling Sixteen . . . so hot, the pages might spontaneously combust!

 

My Take:

Round twenty. Here’s my one, true criticism (as a reader who just discovered this series within the last year, as opposed to someone who has been reading it since the nineties) the evolution of technology is a mess. The technology in each book is in line with the level of technology at the time each book was written. But, within the more than fifteen years Ms. Evanovich has been writing these books, only about two years or so has passed in Stephanie’s world. The pace of evolving technology is a whirlwind in real-time, in Stephanie’s it’s tornado-like.

Once again, she’s broken up with Morelli, and Evanovich teases us with a possible hook-up with Ranger.

This is the first time Vinnie plays a main role. He’s just as much of a weasel as ever, and getting to know him better didn’t help matters.

Connie also plays a main role in this one. Her background has always been hinted at, but this time, we get to see it in action.

Stephanie’s parents and grandmother fade into the background, and I’m still wondering whatever happened to her sister.

I no longer laugh out loud with this series. Evanovich is still funny, and I’m still entertained, but it’s beginning to fade.

I’ll give her credit for having plenty of plot twists. This made for a fast pace, which made me happy. Her mysteries have become anything but predictable. At the end, I actually felt satisfied, instead of dumped after a quick tie-up of loose ends.

Oh, and we’re left with a small cliff-hanger in Stephanie’s personal life. It’s driving me crazy, as I keep turning pages.  It also has me wondering how many more books Evanovich is going to drag out Stephanie’s constant state of limbo with her love life. If I wanted her with Morelli, I’d have gotten tired of the back and forth by now. But since I want her with Ranger (I’m sorry, I think he fits into her life better) I’m beginning to feel teased one too many times that she’ll make the switch.

 

Three and a half pairs of handcuffs.

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen ~ Janet Evanovich

Finger Lickin' Fifteen(From Evanovich.com)

UNBUCKLE YOUR BELT AND PULL UP A CHAIR.  IT’S THE SPICIEST, SAUCIEST, MOST RIB-STICKING PLUM YET.

Recipe for disaster: Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head –literally.

Throw in some spice: Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she’ll talk to is Trenton cop, Joe Morelli.

Pump up the heat: Chipotle’s sponsor is offering a million dollar reward to anyone who can provide information leading to the capture of the killers.

Stir the pot: Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah.

Add a secret ingredient: Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur.  Enough said.

Bring to a boil: Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, A.K.A. Ranger, during the day.  Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, solve Ranger’s problems and not jump his bones?

Warning: Habanero hot.  So good you’ll want seconds.

Originally published in hardcover June 2009, St. Martin’s Press.

 

My Take:

Stephanie actually plays an intelligent and necessary role in the mystery this time around. No discovering anything by accident this time. Ranger’s security business is on the line, and he needs help in figuring out who is trying to take it down. He seeks out Stephanie to step in and figure out what’s going on.

Stephanie’s father speaks more in this book than in all the previous novels combined. The reader actually gets a sense of him doing more than sitting in a chair somewhere in the house. My goodness, he almost has a personality.

Lula and her nighttime decibel levels are hilarious. Her teaming up with Grandma Mazur is ridiculous. Ridiculously funny.

At this point, I’ve begun to wonder where Stephanie’s sister and brother-in-law have disappeared off to. They’re mentioned, but haven’t been heard from in a while.

I found myself not wanting to put this one down. But that might have been more about Evanovich starting off by telling the reader that Stephanie and Morelli are broken up. I spent the whole book looking forward to seeing her get together with Ranger. I just kept thinking, maybe the next time she climbs into his bed…

Lula’s plot thread ending was well done. But Ranger’s felt abrupt. Like Evanovich tied up loose ends to get out of Dodge.

Despite my seeming rant on the pitfalls, I did enjoy the book. It’s still an “Evanovich”. It still contains all that I’ve come to know and love about a Stephanie Plum novel. I haven’t lost that lovin’ feeling, I’m just no longer dazzled.

 

Four pairs of handcuffs.

Plum Spooky ~ Janet Evanovich (Plum Series ~ Volume 14.5)

A “Between the Plums” holiday novella. (FallPlum Spookys between Fearless Fourteen and Finger Lickin’ Fifteen.)

(From Evanovich.com)

Turn on all the lights and check under your bed. Things are about to get spooky in Trenton, New Jersey.

According to legend, the Jersey Devil prowls the Pine Barrens and soars above the treetops in the dark of night. As eerie as this might seem, there are things in the Barrens that are even more frightening and dangerous. And there are monkeys. Lots of monkeys.

Wulf Grimoire is a world wanderer and an opportunist who can kill without remorse and disappear like smoke. He’s chosen Martin Munch, boy genius, as his new business partner, and he’s chosen the Barrens as his new playground.

Munch received his doctorate degree in quantum physics when he was twenty-two. He’s now twenty-four, and while his brain is large, his body hasn’t made it out of the boys’ department at Macy’s. Anyone who says good things come in small packages hasn’t met Munch. Wulf Grimoire is looking for world domination. Martin Munch would be happy if he could just get a woman naked and tied to a tree.

Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has Munch on her most-wanted list for failure to appear in court. Plum is the all-American girl stuck in an uncomfortable job, succeeding on luck and tenacity. Usually she gets her man. This time she gets a monkey. She also gets a big guy named Diesel.

Diesel pops in and out of Plum’s life like birthday cake – delicious to look at and taste, not especially healthy as a steady diet, gone by the end of the week if not sooner. He’s an uber bounty hunter with special skills when it comes to tracking men and pleasing women. He’s after Grimoire, and now he’s also after Munch. And if truth were told, he wouldn’t mind setting Stephanie Plum in his crosshairs.

Diesel and Plum hunt down Munch and Grimoire, following them into the Barrens, surviving cranberry bogs, the Jersey Devil, a hair-raising experience, sand in their underwear, and, of course . . . monkeys.

 

My Take:

This particular ‘between the Plums’ novella was the least annoying of the four.

Readers do get the chance to visit with Ranger and Morelli here and there. The character integration helps to ease the alternate universe feeling of the previous three novellas in relation to the formal series.

I didn’t find much that was spooky about it. There were references to a werewolf, and some other mythological creatures, but nothing worthy of saving it for an October read to help punctuate Halloween.

Monkeys, monkeys, everywhere monkeys! While I understand the tie-in to the plot that the multitude of monkeys had, it still felt as though they were merely there for comic relief.

All the plot threads came together and resolved themselves almost simultaneously at the end. No staggering the end stages, no gentle sloping towards the finish. It’s like someone rang the bell to signal the end of class and the teacher rushed to finish up the lesson before the kids jumped up and walked out.

 

Two pairs of handcuffs

Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them

Picture of book cover, Lost at School by Ross W GreeneFirst up, full disclosure:  I am not a therapist, counselor, or in any way involved in the psychiatric field.  I am not a teacher.  I am just a mom with a child who falls into the general category of “challenging.”  I read this book at the suggestion of my child’s counselor.  Otherwise, I probably never would have considered it, since it seems to be mostly geared to teachers.

This book does not go into specifics of any particular disorder; the neurological causes of the challenging behavior are not relevant for the purposes of the book.  This teaches a method of dealing with the resulting behavior.  This is one of its strengths, in that this means that it can be useful even for adults dealing with kids who haven’t been tested for (or diagnosed with) anything.  It’s also a short-coming, in that it doesn’t ever address how to correct the underlying problem.  This book is like the decongestant that relieves the congestion, whether it’s from a cold, a sinus infection or allergies.  Sometimes, though, you need the  infection-specific antibiotics to really solve the problem.

The begining section of the book briefly outlines the traditional methods of dealing with challenging behavior from children and some of the short-comings.  One idea that was new to me was the premise that “children do well if they can.”  The general idea is that kids who *don’t* fit into our definition of “good” are lacking some skill or ability that “good” kids already have.  The kids who don’t lack these skills know how to get what the need in a socially acceptable way.  Challenging kids don’t know how to do this, so they try in any way that they can, even in socially unacceptable ways.  The author provides lists to help parents and teachers identify what skills might be missing or underdeveloped the challenging child of interest.

The rest of the book , of course, focuses on the author’s solution, which he calls “Plan B.”  This method enlists the child’s help in finding solutions for the undesirable behavior.  It makes sense, but of course is way cleaner in the book than it is in life.  After I read this book, I found out that my child’s teacher had also read it and was implementing aspects of it in her classroom.  This book definitely has some experts buying into the ideas behind it.

I can’t completely analyze this book from a psychological point of view, but I can give a review on the readability.  First of all, the ideas are clear, if sometimes a bit dry.  It occasionally read a bit like a textbook, but without a lot of technical jargon.  There’s quite a bit of repetition, and some of the sections were quite long.  This is not a book to pick up if you only have a few minutes to read (I read the largest chunk of it in the waiting room for jury duty).  At the end of each chapter, the author included an example story of  a fictional school, children and a psychologist teaching this method to the teachers.  I found that the story was, in many ways,  more helpful than the rest of the text in helping me understand how this method might work.  There were also sections that weren’t relevant to my situation, which I only skimmed: implementing Plan B within a group setting, implementing Plan B with a child who isn’t capable of much verbal communication.

To summarize: This book is for a specific audience, and if you’re not a member of that audience, don’t bother.  If, however, you are someone who works with children or if you have a challenging child yourself, the ideas behind the book are sound.  It won’t be a fun read, but you should be able to walk away with a plan of action that might work.  If you want to get a general idea of what Plan B is about, just read the fictional story at the end of each chapter.  That would actually give you a pretty good idea of the mechanics of it, but without the supporting idea of *why* it works.

Fearless Fourteen ~ Janet Evanovich

Fearless Fourteen(From Evanovich.com)

Personal vendettas, hidden treasure, and a monkey named Carl will send bounty hunter Stephanie Plum on her most explosive adventure yet.

The Crime: Armed robbery to the tune of nine million dollars

Dom Rizzi robbed a bank, stashed the money and did the time. His family couldn’t be more proud. He always was the smart one.

The Cousin: Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli, Dom Rizzi and Dom’s sister Loretta are cousins. Morelli is a cop, Rizzi robs banks, and Loretta is a single mother waiting tables at the firehouse. The all American family.

The Complications: Murder, kidnapping, destruction of personal property, and acid reflux

Less than a week after Dom’s release from prison, Joe Morelli has shadowy figures breaking into his house and dying in his basement. He’s getting threatening messages, Loretta is kidnapped, and Dom is missing.

The Catastrophe: Moonman

Morelli hires Walter “Mooner” Dunphy, stoner and “inventor” turned crime-fighter to protect his house. Morelli can’t afford a lot on a cop’s salary, and Mooner will work for potatoes.

The Cupcake: Stephanie Plum

Stephanie and Morelli have a long-standing relationship that involves sex, affection and driving each other nuts. She’s a bond enforcement agent with more luck than talent, and she’s involved in this bank-robbery-gone-bad disaster from day one.

The Crisis: A favor for Ranger

Security expert Carlos Manoso, street name Ranger, has a job for Stephanie that will involve night-work. Morelli has his own ideas regarding Stephanie’s evening activities.

The Conclusion: Only the fearless should read fourteen

Thrills, chills and possible incontinence may result.

Originally published in hardcover June 2008, St.Martin’s Press

 

My Take:

This one lacked that certain zing for me. I enjoyed it, but it just didn’t feel the same as earlier books in the series did.

Ranger took such a backseat role in this book that, at times, it felt like he wasn’t even along for the car ride. Sure, he was around in the beginning, but then he just sort of dropped out of the picture. There was a phone call here and there, but not many actual encounters.

So many other characters came on board that it seemed like Stephanie’s family got pushed to the side.

We were teased with a possible subplot about Morelli possibly having fathered a child years ago. Really? Hasn’t this plot twist been done by other people, in other stories, many times? Isn’t it enough that Ranger has a kid?

The main mystery of the book was good, but had nothing to do with bounty hunting. In fact, there was a general lack of bounty hunting going on, yet Lula held a main role. Did no one feel the need to make any money this time around? Maybe that’s why Ranger was no where to be found, he was off making money.

Evanovich is still good about tying all of her plot lines together in the end. She still got me to laugh out loud, even if there was no threat of my weeting myself this time. It is a solid story, it just didn’t measure up in my eyes to her previous installments. I think the series is knee-deep in a slump.

 

Three pairs of handcuffs.

Plum Lucky ~ Janet Evanovich (Plum Series ~ Volume 13.5)

Plum LuckyA “Between the Plums” holiday novella. (Falling between books Lean Mean Thirteen and Fearless Fourteen.)

(From Evanovich.com)

A Between-the-Numbers Novel

Looking to get lucky?

Stephanie Plum is back “between-the-numbers” and she’s looking to get lucky in an Atlantic City hotel room, in a Winnebago and with a brown-eyed stud who has stolen her heart.

Stephanie Plum has a way of attracting danger, lunatics, oddballs, bad luck… and mystery men. And no one is more mysterious than the unmentionable Diesel. He’s back and hot on the trail of a little man in green pants who’s lost a giant bag of money. Problem is the money isn’t exactly lost. Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur has found it, and like any good Jersey senior citizen she’s high-tailed it in a Winnebago to Atlantic City and hit the slots. With Lula and Connie in tow, Stephanie attempts to bring Grandma home. But the luck of the Irish is rubbing off on everyone. Lula’s found a job modeling plus size lingerie. Connie’s found a guy. Diesel’s found Stephanie. And Stephanie has found herself in over her head with a caper involving thrice stolen money, a racehorse, a car chase and a bad case of hives. PLUM LUCKY is an all-you-can-eat buffet of thrills, chills, shrimp cocktail, plus-size underwear and scorching hot men. It’s a “between the numbers” treat no Evanovich fan will want to miss!

Janet Evanovich is the # 1 bestselling author of the Stephanie Plum novels, twelve romance novels, the Alexandra Barnaby novels, and HOW I WRITE: Secrets of a Bestselling Author. She lives in New Hampshire and Florida.

Originally published in hardback January 2008, St. Martin’s Press

 

My Take:

This between-the-Plums holiday novella was themed around St. Patrick’s Day. Again, we have Diesel materializing, here to chase another ‘Unmentionable’.

I want to like these books. But, really, I’ve gotten to the point where I’m only reading it because I’ve set out on a quest to read and review the entire series to date. Still though, I’m glad they are short novellas.

It’s like Evanovich has Stephanie living two separate lives. Secondary characters get drug into the alternate life from time to time, but the men in her life are conveiniently busy and stay away whenever Diesel comes near. And when Diesel disappears and Stephanie goes back to her regularly scheduled life, she rarely talks about Diesel at all.

It almost seems like Ms. Evanovich has two different ideas for two different series and she’s trying to use the same character base. It’s like she’s recycling a few people and throwing them down a rabbit hole to visit the adult version of Alice’s Wonderland. All this leads me to wonder if I wouldn’t appreciate this side-series more if it had its own cast of original characters.

This is something that I have not seen an author do before, a mini-series of novellas interspersed in a specific order throughout a main series. However, they stand out like a sore thumb, and that bothers me. I’d really rather they be side-stories about Valerie, or Albert’s cases that he works on. Regardless, I have one more of these books left, and I’m not really looking forward to it.

 

One pair of handcuffs

 

Lean Mean Thirteen ~ Janet Evanovich

Lean Mean Thirteen(From Evanovich.com)

New secrets, old flames, and hidden agendas are about to send bounty hunter Stephanie Plum on her most outrageous adventure yet!

MISTAKE #1

Dickie Orr. Stephanie was married to him for about fifteen minutes before she caught him cheating on her with her arch-nemesis Joyce Barnhardt. Another fifteen minutes after that Stephanie filed for divorce, hoping to never see either one of them again.

MISTAKE #2

Doing favors for super bounty hunter Carlos Manoso (a.k.a. Ranger). Ranger needs her to meet with Dickie and find out if he’s doing something shady. Turns out, he is. Turns out, he’s also back to doing Joyce Barnhardt. And it turns out Ranger’s favors always come with a price…

MISTAKE #3

Going completely nutso while doing the favor for Ranger, and trying to apply bodily injury to Dickie in front of the entire office. Now Dickie has disappeared and Stephanie is the natural suspect in his disappearance. Is Dickie dead? Can he be found? And can Stephanie Plum stay one step ahead in this new, dangerous game? Joe Morelli, the hottest cop in Trenton, NJ is also keeping Stephanie on her toes-and he may know more than he’s saying about many things in Stephanie’s life. It’s a cat-and-mouse game for Stephanie Plum, where the ultimate prize might be her life.

With Janet Evanovich’s flair for hilarious situations, breathtaking action, and unforgettable characters, LEAN MEAN THIRTEEN shows why no one can beat Evanovich for blockbuster entertainment.

Originally published in hardcover June 2007, St. Martin’s Press

 

My Take:

I enjoyed this book, I did. But I do not hold it up on the same par as the last few of the numbered books in this series.

In book eleven, she was working for Ranger. In book twelve, she wan’t working for him any longer. Evanovich never said why Stephanie was no longer working at RangeMan, and implied that she still did from time to time. Yet, Stephanie still had her remote and identification to get into the office building.

This time, she says she isn’t working for him because the four walls started closing in on her. Ranger offered to let her work for him on an as-needed basis, and gave her the remote key back. This is the first time that there has been a glaring enough inconsistency to bug the crud out of me.

The mystery in this book is a good one! I didn’t see the punch line coming at all. So, good job there. I got a good kick out of the position Stephanie felt herself being put into.

I enjoy having a story be told to me in the first person. It makes me feel like I’m in her shoes, that I’m discovering the cases right along with her.

But, there was one part of this book that the point-of-view annoyed me, though. It was when we find out what Morelli has been up to. I kept thinking about all the hilarity that Evanovich could have put into the book, if only we could have jumped into Morelli’s head for a while. Although, later on, we do get a glimpse of what I felt the initial part was lacking when Steph joins Morelli at his house, and the guy he’s been babysitting is there.

I also saw the humor in Stephanie’s situation when Ranger became involved. But again, I felt like Evanovich could have done more to get additional humor from the situation she had created for her characters.

All right, thirteen books in, plus two holiday specials, and Stephanie finally talks about getting her period. I was wondering where in the heck it had been. I mean, no one particularly likes talking about it, but, come on. She’s been a bounty hunter for round about a year and a half or so in her world, it had to inconveinience her at some point, right? I was beginning to wonder what kind of birth control pill she could possibly be taking that would keep it away for that long. Maybe she was pregnant and in constant denial, but her jeans were buttoning just fine this time around. Honestly, after this many books, these are the things that start to bug me.

Morelli had seemed to relax about his adversion to her being a bounty hunter. But in this book, Evanovich is setting up for it to be a problem, again, in the future. He keeps wavering back and forth. Sometimes he takes Stephanie’s constant state of being in danger in stride, and other times he needs antacids. Being that he’s talking about it again, maybe Ranger will finally get a real chance to explore what life with Stephanie is really like. Ranger has been kept at arm’s length, he even says so himself, and I think he’s starting to loose patience with it.

Evanovich also seems to be trying to set Grandma Mazur up with somebody. If you ask me, at the end of this book, I think Grandma finds a guy who is, himself, eccentric enough to be able to handle Grandma. We’ll see if anything comes of it in later novels.

One thing I’d like to say to Morelli: Yes, Morelli, women have to concentrate. All men would do well to bear that in mind.

One idea this book has given me: The next time I want to put my husband in the mood, I should try an action movie with lots of adventure.

 

I want to say three pairs of handcuffs for falling short on the humor, and making me talk about inconsistencies. But I want to give it five for the mystery itself.

So I say, four pairs of handcuffs.