Easy Pleasant Reads for Summer

Welcome to July! My score is perfect thus far!  Another read that is part of a series.  Turns out Collared (2017) by David Rosenfelt is #16 in the Andy Carpenter Mystery series.  No matter, it is a light, enjoyable read.  Nothing heavy duty about it.  Perfect for poolside.

Andy Carpenter is a lawyer who is trying to decide if he should renew his license to practice law.  He actually prefers time with dogs and at Tara Foundation, a dog shelter, than his time in the courtroom.

The mystery begins straight off when a border collie found tied and abandoned at the dog shelter.  Andy receives a call to come to the shelter right away. He is met by Willie and Sondra along with the note that was found with the dog.  The message was made up of letters cut out of a magazine.  You know, like a ransom note… “You’ll know what to do with him.”

Keith Wachtel, who was Jill’s former fiancé, was convicted of the crime and sent to prison. His sentence was based on dog hair found in Keith’s car and his clothes.  If the dog is alive, is Dylan?  He would be three years old by now.

Andy and Laurie, Andy’s wife, decide to contact Jill.  Jill runs Finding Home, one of the early companies to use DNA so folks can learn about their heritage.  Jill was convinced Cody was hers when she gave him the command to rollover and Cody sits instead.  That action was proof it was her Cody.

Andy’s plan is just to investigate not get into the courtroom.  But it did not work out as planned.  He contacts Pete Stanton, police chief and one of his best friends.  Pete had been the lead investigator on the original case.  He really believes the right man is in jail.

Next stop is to meet with Keith Wachtel who is in a New Jersey prison.  Being a lawyer aided Andy getting into the prison.  In order to learn more about the case, Andy needs to be hired by Keith at least temporarily.  The two men settle on a fee of $1.00.  As you might guess, way more is going on just waiting to be uncovered.

If you want a quick, fun read, I think you will enjoy Collared.  Andy has quite a sense of humor, also a bit sarcastic at times.  The characters are all believable.  Collared can easily be read as a stand alone even though some references are made to happenings in other books of the series.  A great book for reading and relaxing on the porch.

Another pleasant read, and a completely different genre, is The Magnolia Story (2016) by Chip and Joanna Gaines.  You may recognize the names from HGTV’s Fixer Upper.

If you are a fan of their show, you will surely hear their voices as you read through the pages of this nonfiction account of their lives.  Their story begins when they meet and ends before they knew their family would grow by one more.

Even though many of the topics the two wrote about have been brought up during their show, additional details are added.  For example, the recounting of how they met while Joanna was working in her father’s tire store.

Details of that meeting and their first date is told in both their voices using different fonts to separate who is speaking.  This method follows throughout the book.

Right away you begin to get a feel for their personalities.  If you have watched their show you already know that Chip is a spontaneous kind of guy.  Joanna is more reserved.  That is the same in their telling of their life stories.

Both Chip and Joanna were raised in loving families.  You will about their childhoods, their home life, and jobs they held until they were married.  Again, some of it you may have heard them describe, but the details add more interest. Chip’s crazy long resume reflects his personality.  Joanna’s internship in NYC was surprising to me.

Joanna stuck with Chip through a lot of his unconventional choices.  Or, crazy stunts and other ups and downs.  But, though it all, they made it work along with maturity.

These two people have put in countless hours to grown their business.  A major help along the way was having acquaintances in their lives who had the financial means to bail out the couple during very low points.  Most of us do not have that kind of connections.

Readers do learn how Fixer Upper came to be.  I was disappointed there was not more of the workings behind the scenes of their program.  It would also have been nice to know the process for selecting the houses. I do like to know how things work.  Maybe that information will all be in the next book or as a TV special down the road.

The Magnolia Story was easy to read.  It filled in some gaps in Chip and Joann’s lives.  Several photos of their younger lives are included, the story of their wedding day, the growing of their family, and the fact they do not have a television are all part of this book.  If you are a fan of Fixer Upper, find some time to read about their days before the show.


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