Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, May 04, 2020

Rounding up my April reading challenges

Last week, the Spring Into Horror readathon wrapped up and this time out, I must admit that I bit off more than I could chew, figuratively speaking.

While I did finish three of the books on my TBR, those Jessica Beck Donut Shop mysteries had to head back into the display case, along with Fiona Barton's The Suspect. However, after completing Egg Drop Dead by Vivien Chien, I'm taking my time with the third book in Diane Mott Davidson's Goldy Culinary series, The Cereal Murders.

To start, our catering heroine is working at the home of Elk Park Prep's headmaster Perkins , serving up a special meal for the current crop of graduating seniors and their parents. Since her own son Arch is attending Elk Park, getting the job wasn't too hard but dealing with the overly ambitious parents eager to get their kid into the best college along with the just as eager to get big donations headmaster most certainly is.

Goldy is fine with the job as along as she gets properly paid(something that rather well-to-do folk seem to be less interested in doing) but even with a smile on her face, her attitude about the cut throat competition of a school like this makes her stand out in a manner that's not the best for drumming up new business with this crowd:

What does rattle Goldy is the discovery of a dead body as she's packing up the dishes at the end of the event. The victim is Keith Andrews, who was chosen as class valedictorian and appears to be one of the least liked students among his peers.

Out of concern for her own son Arch(who is being harshly bullied in school-a dead rattlesnake in his locker!) as well as Julian, the potential culinary student that she's mentoring, Goldy finds herself on the case. Her police detective beau Tom Schulz is willing to get whatever insights she can get into the murder as the Elk Park Prep folk are being way too close mouthed for his official investigation to go anywhere.

I'm about two-thirds of the way in(math is not my strong suit!) but the story is pretty engaging and I do like the humorous moments with the private school parents,teachers and students. A really great scene has the headmaster's own son read aloud for a college prep class his "honest" essay about how he didn't do well at a college application trip, showcasing the intelligent ineptness that he has clearly majored in here:

My thanks as always to Michelle Miller at Seasons of Reading for such great readathons and I look forward to the next one in June, Sci-Fi Summer.

 With so much at home time these days, it feels as if you have nothing to do but read and yet that's not how it is at all. It's best to take things like a readathon as a guidepost rather than a mandatory test of page turning skills. Reading is fundamental and fun is a key element in that phrase! For my Sci-Fi Summer TBR, I'll keep it short but smartly sassy:

Meanwhile, the latest Second Act selection for my Series-ous Reading was a grand follow-up indeed.

In Princess Elizabeth's Spy, Susan Elia MacNeal reintroduces us to Maggie Hope, once a secretary for Winston Churchill, who is now in training to be a WWII spy for MI5. Her determination to be in the field is commendable but unfortunately, her fighting skills are not seen as suitable for an overseas assignment.

While she is less than thrilled to be given a position in Windsor Castle as math tutor to the young Princess Elizabeth, Maggie tries to make the best of things. It does help that Elizabeth aka "Lillibet" is a good student and quick to catch on to code making, something that Maggie thought would make the whole subject all the more interesting. As it turns out, this special area of study comes in handy sooner than either of them expected:

The sudden and shocking death of a royal lady-in-waiting causes Maggie to realize that more is at stake , especially when evidence slowly begins to surface of a German spy ring within the castle walls and a plot against the royal family.

As more and more intrigue piles on, Maggie is able to be on the spot when Lillibet herself is in danger but can she rescue the girl and save herself in the process? There's more than one level to the story and it makes the leading lady all the more relatable, with additional secrets about her own family's past coming forth, not to mention mourning the potential loss of  her boyfriend John, who was shot down in enemy territory and presumed dead.

All in all, Maggie Hope is a great heroine for any time period-a smart, capable woman who is just as human as anyone else caught in a dire situation. Persisting despite all odds is not an easy thing for anyone, fictional or otherwise, to do yet when it's done well, such efforts can be appreciated. I have a few more Maggie Hope books on hand and they ought to be of real comfort as time goes by:

As for this month's Series-ous Reading, it's back to Lake Eden with Hannah Swensen for a bout of Cream Puff Murder.

I thought this would be good for May as part of the plot has Hannah's mother Delores getting ready for the party to celebrate the release of her debut Regency romance novel. However, the title demise takes place at the local workout spa as Hannah needs to lose a few pounds in order to fit into the period themed dress for that occasion.

The exercise place happens to be run by Ronni Ward, a local flirt and rival for Hannah's potential love partner Mike. I haven't gotten to the murder scene yet but so far, so good. I do like that the gym is called Heavenly Bodies, which gives me some 1980s workout craze flashbacks there(the book is not set in that era but still...). Should be some flavorful fun!:

1 comment:

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

Sorry I'm so late stopping by. A lot going on in the past two weeks. Minor catastrophes, major life events.

Thanks for joining in on another readathon. I love what you said about the reading during this time. I tend to beat myself up over not being motivated. It's just hard right now.

Sci-Fi Summer Readathon sign-up post is live. See you there. :)