Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Title:  Visions of Sugar Plums: A Stephanie Plum Holiday Novel

Author:  Janet Evanovich

Hardback:  149 pages

published:  2002

ISBN:  9780312306328

My name is Stephanie Plum and I’ve got a strange man in my kitchen.  He appeared out of nowhere.  One minute I was sipping coffee, mentally planning out my day.  and then the next minute… poof, there he was.

He was over six feet, with wavy blond hair pulled into a ponytail, deep-set brown eyes, and an athlete’s body.  He looked to be late twenties, maybe thirty.  He was dressed in jeans, boots, a grungy white thermal shirt hanging loose over the jeans, and a beat-up black leather jacket hanging on broad shoulders.  He was sporting two days of beard growth, and he didn’t look happy.

“Well, isn’t this perfect,” he said, clearly disgusted, hands on hips, taking me in.

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich, page 1

I took up this little book just before Christmas as part of my dash to the 75-book finish line.  It only took a couple hours to read it, and it was rather amusing.  It was a quick, light, and fun read for the holiday times.  Much like the chocolate chip cookies Mags and I made, I quickly devoured the whole thing and barely remembered it a couple hours later.  But I do remember the tickly-happy-treat feeling from both 🙂

Okay, so it’s not an instant classic that speaks from our generation to all generations (HaHa.. if you’ve ever read a Plum novel, that will be about the funniest joke you’ve read lately), but it’s still fun.  And since it was written later than the earlier books, the characters are much more developed than those in my most recent Plum foray, Three to Get Deadly.  Also, this is the book that introduces the read to Diesel, the third member in Stephanie hunk-buffet. 

The book opens up with Diesel popping into Stephanie’s kitchen, telling her he’s been assigned to her to teach her Christmas cheer.  He accompanies her as she tries to bring in Sandy Claws… sounds like a criminal caught stealing truckloads of cat litter, right?  LOL…  who is  a toymaker hiring elves to handmake product in a wharehouse converted from a daycare (hence the need for elves, as the potties and other equipment are just the right size).  Stephanie’s divorced and formerly-perfect sister has moved back in with mom and dad, and has found out she’s pregnant by her less-than-stellar boyfriend (who faints).  Add to all of this, Grandma Mazur has a new studmuffin, and there’s a supervillain with electrical powers trying to kill them.  It all adds up for some absolute craziness.

While I found it a fun and quit book, the super powers stuff kind of irked me.  Honestly, I felt it was a bit of cheating on Evanovich’s part.  I’ve always enjoyed the mystery-book aspect of the Plum books, but reaching for the paranormal makes me wonder if the next book will have aliens and spaceships to chase down her FTA’s on.

It’s quick, it’s fun, but it stretches credulity, so I’m giving Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich 3 out of 5 stars.

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Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich

Title:  Three to Get Deadly:  A Stephanie Plum Novel

Author:  Janet Evanovich

Paperback:  321 pages

published:  1997

ISBN:  0312966091

“You’re ruining everything,” Stuart said to me.  “Why can’t you leave me alone?  Who’s going to be Mr. Cluck if you take me in?”

I pulled the cuffs out of my pocket.  “Don’t give me a hard time, Stuart.”

“You can’t put cuffs on Mr. Cluck!”  Stuart said.  “What will all these kids think?”

“Wouldn’t get my hopes up that they’d give a hello,” Lula said.  “Isn’t like you’re Santa Claus.  Truth is, you’re just some whiny little guy dressed up in a bad suit.”

“This isn’t a big deal,” I said to Stuart as calmly as possible.  “I’m going to cuff you and walk you out the door, and if we do it quickly and quietly no one will notice.”

I reached out to snap the cuffs on Stuart, and he batted me away with his chicken wing.  “Leave me alone,” Stuart said, knocking the cuffs out of my hand, sending them sailing across the room.  “I’m not going to jail!”  He grabbed the mustard and the special-sauce squirters off the condiment counter.  “Stand back!” he said.

I had pepper spray and a stun gun, but it seemed like the excessive force to use them against a chicken armed with special sauce.

Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich, page 236

In this third book of Evonovich’s Stephanie Plum novels, Stephanie back in the Buick, even though she tried to replace it with a cute little truck that spends more time in the shop than on the road.  She’s caught what she’d thought was a couple easy skips, but have turned out to be like trying to find Jimmy Hoffa and capturing Dilinger.  What’s worse, Morelli is treating her diffidently, while Ranger seems to be a superhero, and Grandma Mazur keeps bringing men over (her studmuffins) who seem to want to move in with the family (some have all their original parts, while others plop their replacement parts on the dinner table while eating).  If that’s not bad enough, Stephanie gets a bad dye job making her look like Ronald McDonald’s Jersey cousin.  It’s all very hilarious and quite a fun read.

I give Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  It’s not the best Plum, but still quite fun to read. (Wow, that was about the shortest review EVER!.. at least, for me.)

The Sunday Salon ~ Jane Austen and Henry III in a throw down… who’d win?

The Sunday Salon.com

Read.  Read read read read read.  and then Read some more.  Having been distracted by life and video games, it would seem that the end of the year has snuck up on me.. again.  This is very familiar.  It seems that I was racing to the end of the year last December, as well, only Second Life was my distractor then… World of Warcraft has done it this year (the facebook games don’t help, either).  But I think I’ll make the 75-book goal this year.  I’ve already read more this year than last.  I ended with 63 last year, but I’ve read 71 already, and with only eleven more days to go, I’m confident I’ll hit 75.

This week I finished three books ~

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the fifth of the sixth Jane Austen novels.  Though it was written first, it was published, posthumously, next to last.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have to admit that it’s my new Austen favorite.  I crushed harder on Henry Tilney than I did on Mr. Darcy, and that’s saying something.  Tilney has a bit of an edge over Darcy… Henry is actually a nice person, as well as being funny and smart.  Darcy, while sweet in his private way, was a bit of an ass.  I guess that went along well with Elizabeth, since she liked to jump to conclusions and was a bit proud herself, but it did a little to put one off.  Of course, the ingenue.. the innocent, country flower.. who is a blank slate and, therefore, non-threatening to Tilney’s intellectual authority, ready and willing to be molded by him, which suits his fancy, I think. 

All in all, I enjoyed Austen’s wit and sarcasm, as well as her parody of Gothic novels of her day.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a humorous walk through many schools of philosophy.  The authors, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, use jokes to illustrate what each school of thought is about.  Like with Teleology, the philosophy that all things exist for a purpose, one joke used to illustrate this is:

Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren.  A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.  She replied, “The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.”

I also finished my appointment read, Three to Get Deadly, the third book in the Stephanie Plum numbers series by Janet Evanovich.  I’d been missing Stephanie lately, so I picked this, the next in the series for me, up to read when I was away from home.  I learned an important lesson with it.  Just because a book can fit in your coat pocket doesn’t mean it’s a good appointment book.  By the time I’d gotten to the end of the book, I’d forgotten some of the beginning.  Also, it lost a bit of it’s momentum this way.  In the future, I think I’ll stick to short stories for appointment books.

I’ll write up real reviews for these books later this week… I hope.  I’ve already jumped into my next book, and I’m about 40 pages in it already.  Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second of the Dune series.  I read the first book earlier this year, and I was in the mood for a good sci-fi book, so I picked this up.  I had forgotten how fascinating and fantastic the first book had been, and the second book is, so far, every bit as good.  It is also, however, as much a thinking book as the first.  My brain hurts after a while.   Trying to picture Edric, the fishy-humanoid Guildsman in his tank… picturing the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale manipulate his physical body to be one form one second, then turn into the ghola version of Duncan Idaho (also a mind-bender of a thought), then back again… it’s all an exercising of my imagination muscles… both enjoyable and tiring at the same time.

Reading may be a little easier to do here… but I won’t guarantee it.  Sam, my oldest, has gone to her dad’s for the two-week vacation, and Gwen will go closer to Christmas day, but only stay gone for a week.  Maggie, however, will be here throughout, as her dad has moved back to town.  She’s happy about this, but it has it’s downside, too.  He’s here more, which means he’s nit-picking about my housekeeping more… which means less time to read.   And it means that he no longer needs to take her home with him to spend time, since he can see her whenever he wants. 

LOL.. the remainder of my reading may be Magic Treehouse books with Maggie.

I’ve been watching the Tudors, also.  I got hooked on it when I was sick with the flu last month.  I watched Seasons 1 and 2 straight through on Netflix’s Instant thing.  When the third season came out on DVD this past week, it was on the top of my queue.  I watched the first two discs last night, but I’ll have to wait for the third to come on Monday.  Watching it reminds me how we tend to judge history with modern day values.  Henry VIII was quite a tyrant through 21st century eyes, but was he all that bad or different in his own time-frame?  Sure, he had the north of England hung without trial for rebellion, but the Catholic Church had the Inquisition.  I suppose it all balances out.

I have to admit to a bit of cheating.  I had forgotten which wife Henry took after Jane, so I watched this video.  Now the rest of this season’s lost all suspense for me! 

Happy Reading and have a safe and Merry Christmas, everyone!

Two For the Dough by Janet Evanovich

Two for the Dough cover art

Title: Two For the Dough: A Stephanie Plum Novel
Author: Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Pocket Books (div. of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
ISBN: 0671001795
Publication Date: September 1996

“…Sweetie pie, you are the worst bounty hunter in the history of the world.”

“That does it. I have better things to do than to stand here and take your insults.”

I pushed him out of my foyer, into the hall, slammed the door closed, and threw the bolt. I pressed my nose to the door and looked through the peephole.

Morelli grinned at me.

“This is war,” I yelled through the door.

“Lucky for me,” Morelli said. “I give good war.”

My first experience with Stephanie Plum was Plum Lucky. I had never read anything that hilarious for adults, and could only compare the experience to reading Junie B. books with my nine-year-old. Stephanie is a sassy, independant woman bounty hunter with a helicopter mother, crazy Grandma Mazur, and over-sexed reluctant partner Morelli.

In Two for the Dough, the second Stephanie Plum novel, Stephanie is still learning the ropes of the fugitive recovery business. Her car is stolen, forcing her to use an obtuse eyesore she lovingly refers to as “Big Blue”, making stakeouts and tailings near to impossible. What starts out as a simple recover turns into a mad murdering lunatic with his sights set on Stephanie AND Grandma Mazur. There are funeral homes, corpses’ body parts lurking for Stephanie to find (at one point an embalmed “Johnson” is overnighted to her, causing her father to announce his desire to be cremated so he’ll go out with all his parts). The coup de gras of the book is Morelli standing in a darken parking lot in nothing but his unbuttoned shirt and socks, Stephanie’s taillights disappearing into the night.

Janet Evanovich’s writing is sarcastic and playful, and gets down to business when appropriate. She turns on a dime, one minute laughing at the antics of Grandma Mazur, next minute a frantic search for her. At one point in this book, I literally laughed off my chair, hitting the floor with a thud, so I can say I was actually “ROFL”.

There’s a cat found trapped in Rex the Hamster’s cage, Rex no where to be found. A severed foot in the fridge. Stephanie hits Morelli’s car four times (Stephanie, Morelli and a car… never a good mix!). Grandma Mazur with a gun, AGAIN. Stephanie in the backseat of a ’53 Buick with Morelli. Gradma Mazur on the slab in the funeral home. All these ingredients make up a recipe for a fast and fun read!