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Stack Of Books

Stack Of Books (Photo credit: indi.ca)

I read a baker’s dozen books this month, and the best were non-fiction.  Since we started our vegetable seeds in early April, I read a lot of books on gardening.  The seeds are sprouting, so maybe they helped!

Just What I Needed

What A Tomato: Growing Tomatoes My Way by Farm Girl (kindle freebie)  Straightforward, well-written short on growing tomatoes.  The directions were explicit, and the photos helpful.

Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail (paperback recommended by blogging friend Girrl Earth)  Beautifully photographed, well-written guide to growing just about anything edible.  I loved her reuse of materials and advice for both frugal and small space alternatives.  Bonus:  recipes and prep advice included.  Highly recommend.

The Sustainable Living Book for Beginners by Frank Randall (kindle freebie)  An excellent overview of sustainable living practices including gardening, waste management, and energy sources as well as the benefits of minimalism, voluntary simplicity, and frugality on sustainability and self-sufficiency.  The author did an especially good job of encouraging parents to involve kids in the process.  Great starting place.

The Beautiful Home:  Decorating Ideas on a Budget for Your Dream Home by Michelle Stewart (kindle freebie)  A good mix of practical tips and introspective advice (understanding your environmental stress triggers).

Pink Balloons and Other Deadly Things (Carrie Carlin Mystery Series #1) by Nancy Tesler (kindle freebie)  A quick murder mystery starring a divorcing mom and her philandering ex.  I really liked Carrie and didn’t mind the bit of romance mixed in.  Figured out whodunit PDQ, though.

Just OK

Trouble in Mudbug (Ghost-In-Law Mystery) by Jana DeLeon (kindle freebie)  A well-written mystery with likeable characters in a fun location.  Unfortunately, the mystery had a completely unfair twist and there’s a huge dose of shallow romance.  The ghost-in-law part of the title refers to the heroine’s dead mother-in-law’s ghost (can you imagine?!?) — if that’s not terrifying, I don’t know what is.  Fun for free.

The Five Rings of Minimalism by Karol Gajda (kindle freebie)  The first half of this is fantastic.  It has practical, useful information delivered without preaching.  The introductory chapters have lots of discussion of needs versus wants, and advice on letting go of excess.  The first “ring” is health, which the author contends is easily and cheaply supported by drinking water, exercising daily, and eating a plant-based diet (veganism).  I’m a lapsed vegetarian, and I appreciated his pragmatic, rational presentation of veganism.

The second half of the book fell apart.  The author seemed to run out of enthusiasm and the concepts aren’t complicated, so he repeats himself a lot.  I think the construct of samurai philosophy was a nifty hook that petered out.

Favorite quote:  “We get to write our own story.  It’s a blank canvas and we have control over most aspects of it.”

Death by Cuddle Club (A Dix Dodd Mystery #3) by Heather Doherty and Norah Wilson ($2.99 kindle edition)  Better than #2, not as good as #1.  For most of this installment, Dix is as immature as she was in #2.  But toward the end she got back to the smart PI of #1.  What a relief.  Fair warning, though, it’s a long slog to that point.

The premise of this mystery is just bizarre.  Someone is killing members of a “cuddle club.”  What’s a cuddle club?  A place where people pay what we’re repeatedly told is an outrageous sum of money to cuddle with strangers.  No sex, just cuddling.  If you can get past the weirdness (good luck), the mystery is pretty good.

Not terrible, but wait until it’s free.

Touch of the Demon by Diana Rowland (paperback)  This third book in the Kara Gillian series takes a turn for the seriously twisted.  Clearly, the series is headed away from woo-woo police procedural into dark fantasy.  Engrossing and gory.  Ends on a cliffhanger, again, which has gotten old.  Very few questions from previous books were answered, but a bunch of new ones were raised.  Don’t read this series out of order.

Twice Tempted (A Night Prince Novel) by Jeaniene Frost (paperback)  This is the second book of the second spin-off of the Night Huntress series.  It’s a paranormal romance focusing on vampires.

I like the female protagonist, but the vamp (Vlad, the original Dracula) ran too hot and cold for me.  The ongoing conflict and villain were a stretch.  For fans of the series only.

Just No

No Turning Back (The Kathleen Turner Series) by Tiffany Snow (kindle owner’s lending library)  Far more of a romance than a mystery, which was a shame because the mystery was very topical (electronic voting fraud).  The heroine, Kathleen, was a Mary Sue — a too-stupid-to-live character.  Fortunately for her, she’s pretty and surrounded by handsome, macho guys willing to get her out of trouble.  Aggravating and not my cup of tea.  In the end, the mystery wasn’t even definitively solved.

Smart Gardening:  How to Grow Your Best Vegetable Garden (Gardening Essentials Series) by Keith Parker (kindle freebie)  Marred by bizarre syntax and lack of clarity.

Dieting the Santa Barbara Way:  A Simple and Easy Diet for Health, Happiness and Weight Loss by Jennifer Eickemeyer (kindle freebie)  The “Santa Barbara” diet is veganism on 1,000-1,200 calories per day.  Nothing groundbreaking.  The recipes are fairly complex, and they supposedly serve just one person.  So if you’re a patient, single vegan, this cookbook may serve you well.  Questionable usefulness for families with (picky) kids.

My kindle is stuffed so full that I’ve become paralyzed to make a choice on what to read next.  Any suggestions?