October Reading list (aka “The Janet Evanovich Month”)

[[image:plum_1cover.gif:One for the Money:center:0]]

Books Read

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
number9dream by David Mitchell
Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich
Three to get Deadly by Janet Evanovich
Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card
Four to Score by Janet Evanovich

Books Bought

A bunch of Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich

OK, so I usually like to vary my reading and try to even things out (male author, female author). But last month was a little bit different. It started out normally enough with me reading A Year in the Merde. This book is about an Englishman who moves to Paris for work, and the year he spent there, learning the ins and outs of the Parisian way of life. It covers the difficulties in finding an apartment, French girlfriends, and the complications of ordering coffee! It’s hilarious, and sort of reminds me of chick lit but for men. “Dick lit” according to wiki! It’s a funny read, and made me want to shrug and say “unh” in response to any question or comment that comes my way. 😉

Then started the epidemic. I read about Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels in one of last month’s book Will Write for Shoes. Since it got notable mention, and I figure, it’s sort of like research, right? If I want to try and write chick lit, I should read the books that this author recommends, right? I decided to try out the first novel. One for the Money introduces the character Stephanie Plum who gets laid off from her regular job and has to beg for a job from her cousin Vincent, who is a bail bondsman. So, armed with little more than wit and ingenuity, Stephanie goes off to catch Joe Morelli, a smoking hot local policeman (from her neighborhood, they have a history together) who is a suspect in a murder and has jumped bail. Stephanie is plucky and brave, while being realistic. I follow her train of thought. And the really cool thing about this cool character is that Evanovich cleverly surrounds her with a memorable cast of characters. Enter Lula the ‘ho, Ranger the awesome bounty hunter who teaches her the ropes (or tries to), Joe Morelli himself, and Stephanie’s mom, dad and Grandma Mazur. Even the cars she drives become a character itself. There are great villains and it’s actually a great whodunit mystery. I just inhaled this book, and started jonesing for more. But I had only bought one book, to try out the author, you know? And I was on the road. And I thought I had to try to keep to my rules and try to vary what I read.

So I read number9dream. It’s really a cool book. Very Haruki Murakami-esque. I thought it was kind of odd that it was written by a white dude. But after I looked up David Mitchell on wiki, it seems he and his family have been living in Japan since the 90s. The main character is a Japanese young man Eiji Miyake, who leaves his idyllic childhood home to go to big bad Tokyo in search of his father. He brings the baggage of the death of his twin sister at age eleven and a lot of abandonment issues with him. It’s so totally cool and weird with unexpected twists and turns. I’d read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and I remember that that was a cool book as well. It’s almost in the fantasy genre, but somehow in the stores it gets filed under regular fiction & literature. I’m not complaining. It’s a totally cool book and makes me want to re-read a bunch of my Haruki Murakami favorites.

I couldn’t stand it then. I went out and bought books two and three of the Stephanie Plum novels. I started reading Two for the Money. We are back in Stephanie’s world in Trenton, NJ. Stephanie is on the trail of Kenny Mancuso, Joe Morelli’s bail-jumping cousin, suspected of murdering his best friend. Stephanie gets embroiled in all kinds of complications, and uses Grandma Mazur as a decoy in a conspiracy involving staking out funeral homes and everything! The cast of supporting characters is great again, involving Lula, Ranger, Stephanie’s mom, dad, Grandma Mazur, and of course, Joe Morelli. Stephanie goes with her gut, lands in hot water and ends up solving the case, and getting her man! The bail-jumper. Who did you think I meant? Joe?

After finishing the second book, I jumped straight into Three for the Dough. More Stephanie Plum adventures. Stephanie has to go and drag the nicest little old man who’s the owner and proprietor of the local candy store (a neighborhood fixture) back to jail since he jumped bail. She gets tons of flak from friends and family for taking the case, after all the old guy is a saint and everybody loooooves him! Strangely, the man has disappeared, so Stephanie tracks him down and ends up in the middle of yet another major case.

Then I told myself, I couldn’t just keep reading Stephanie Plum books, could I? Could I?? Of course I couldn’t. Well, besides, I hadn’t gone to the bookstore and did not have the next book. So I read Shadow of the Giant. Orson Scott Card is as always, a good writer. But I think we’ve beaten this series to death. I don’t believe I will read anymore of the Shadow series. I was totally riveted when Bean was a child, but now, there’s so many characters to keep track of and the personal story is kind of lost in an epic of world and inter-galactic politics. Battle School heroes are pitted against each other. And plus, I didn’t understand why the Muslim world was portrayed as populated mostly by fanatics and the blindly faithful? Ditto the Hindus in India. So the western world has risen above this kind of religious fanaticism and that left Pakistan vs. India vs. China? I mean seriously. Like Christian history is only filled with happiness and joy – nobody would take advantage of anybody else and in the future the west would have risen above all this and be able to take the high road? Hmmm… Apparently we need to review what’s going on in the world today. In the end though, Bean and Petra’s personal story made me cry. That’s the Orson Scott Card that I know and love.

After the brief hiatus, I started hitting the Stephanie Plum books again. Screw the system. Screw varying the books that I read. More Stephanie Plum! More! More!!! So here’s Four to Score. Here, Stephanie is after Maxine who skipped bail after stealing her (ex-) boyfriend’s car. Maxine leads Stephanie on a merry chase, leaving in her trail friends and family who seem to have been tortured (?) for information, and cryptic clues to be solved by her (ex-) boyfriend in order to get the car back. In addition to the usual supporting characters (and cars), Stephanie works with a cross-dressing musician named Sally Sweet to solve this case.

That’s it for October, the month of Stephanie Plum. I’m not done yet – Evanovich has (thankfully) written a bunch of novels in this series. Woohooooo!

I would have read more books too if not for the fact that I was out of town for four out of the five weeks in October. There was a lot of work to do, and not much time for lolling around and reading. Bah, humbug. Anyway, now that it’s November, I don’t think I’ll be giving much away by saying that there might be more Stephanie Plum books this month.

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