Book Review: Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

My favorite Stephanie Plum book so far. Totally blew the other recent books in the series out of the water with depth of plot and character development.

(By the way, I didn’t just skip book #14. I had actually read it when I posted my review of 7-13, just forgot that I had finished it. Awkward, but what I said in that review works for book 14, so I’m not going to review it separately.)

5/5 stars

Note: This review will contain spoilers for this book and the previous books in the series. Usually, I don’t include any spoilers about the book I’m review’s plot, but this time I am because I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT. I don’t feel like I can discuss the parts of this book I loved without going into detail about certain plot events. Ergo, if you haven’t read up this point in the series and are planning to (which you should be, because it’s awesome), stop reading.

cover finger lickin fifteen

Amazon description of Finger Lickin’ Fifteen:

Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, during the day. Can she hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger’s problems and not jump his bones?

This book really highlighted the emotional connections Stephanie has with both Ranger and Morelli. In this book, she is “off again” with Morelli, after an argument about peanut butter blew out of proportion. Unlike previous “off again” sessions, the two seem genuinely pissed at each other, and at the circumstances that keep bringing them back into each other’s worlds.

When they did eventually gravitate back together, it was in really touching scenes (that were often then get shattered by her working for Ranger). Morelli’s reactions to thinking she is sleeping with Ranger tugged at my heartstrings. For the first time in a while, I felt like we as readers got proof of Morelli’s emotional connection to Stephanie, not just his sex drive.

In the same way, this book quantified Ranger’s appreciation for Stephanie as a person, not just a sexy body or entertaining snafu. His security company has been severely compromised by a series of break-ins, most probably the work of an inside man. Ranger hires Stephanie to investigate his employees and give him her opinions on the case. Throughout the book, he asks her to look at crime scenes and reports to get her perspective. This reveals that Ranger honestly respects Stephanie’s admittedly kind of hit-and-miss ability to solve crazy mysteries. For me, this fundamentally redefined their relationship, making me respect the possibility of a Ranger-Stephanie coupling more.

To be clear, I’m still convinced Stephanie and Morelli are meant to be together. They’re perfect. They have twoo wuv. They are OTP. The extent to which I need their ship to sail is up there with Captain Swan on OUAT and Spuffy on Buffy.

Please forgive that tangent into fandom geekiness. I’m aware that wasn’t really English. Apologies.

I also loved the plot of this book. The cooking competition was a classic Stephanie and Lula trainwreck, and it was hilarious to read. Plus, it actually tied into the title of the book, which is a freaking novelty for this series.

I loved this book, and I can’t wait to read more of the series, once it comes in the mail. This book renewed my faith in the series, which was running the danger of becoming simplistic and repetitive (though it was still hilarious and addicting, I’m not going to lie).

Book Review: Stephanie Plum books 7-13 by Janet Evanovich

Guys, I went a little crazy this week. I got sick and I missed four days of school and I picked up the seventh Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovich because I wanted something fun to read while I was at home alone, right? And then I finished that one and picked up the next one and that process continued straight through book number thirteen.

So, yeah. This review isn’t really a review. More of a short commentary on the books, the series, the characters, etc. I’m tired and I have a ton of makeup work, so I’m not going to do individual reviews for each book, especially because many would be the same.

4.5/5 stars for all of them

I loved all of these books. They’re funny, sexy, and needless to say, addictive. The characters have grown throughout the series. They aren’t tropes. The relationships between them progress and grow, instead of stagnating.

Stephanie’s character feels honest. She’s real. She’s not perfect; in fact, she’s far from it. She’s blundering her way through life, not sure where she’s going but determined to get there. She struggles with big decisions. Even when she breaks down crying, she is incredibly strong. Evanovich could have easily made her a damsel in distress who flings herself at whatever man who saves her. And while that description on the surface seems true of Stephanie, when you read the series you understand that she is so much more than that. She relies on the men in her life, sure, but she also keeps herself independent. Yeah, that gets her in a lot of trouble, but it also shows her strength of character. She doesn’t lie down and take anything from anyone.

I’d like it to be clear that these books are do not fall prey to the cookie cutter syndrome, AKA they aren’t all the same. Though the books can have similar plot structures, each mystery is unique and compelling. Character development moves forward. Each book is a singular entity that enhances the series. The books are not forgettable, and the only reason they are blurring together in my mind is the insane rate at which I read them, not by any fault on the part of the author.

There isn’t much more I can say without spoilers, or that I haven’t said before. I’d recommend these books to anyone who wants a good laugh, a sexy romance, and a fast-paced adventure. YA readers could totally handle them, as long as they’re comfortable with some pretty serious violence and the occasional sex scene.

Book Review: Stephanie Plum books 4-6 by Janet Evanovich

I read these three book in the space of a week. The series is still amazing, finally delivering on the drama it spent books 1-3 promising.

Four to Score gets 5/5 stars

High Five gets 4/5 stars

Hot Six gets 5/5 stars.

(Follow the links to get to the amazon descriptions of the plots of the books.)

In my review of books 2-3, I complained that the series was promising a lot of drama and wasn’t delivering.

Books 4-6 solved that issue. And it is awesome.

Something actually happens in her semi-love-triangle with Morelli and Ranger. Her grandmother gets crazier. She wrecks more cars.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that makes me laugh out loud this often. I looked like an idiot in the middle of chemistry while reading book four. My sister is ready to kill me for laughing while she was doing homework. But these books are so funny.

Though some plot lines carry over, each book’s plot is separate from the rest. I didn’t love the mystery in book four, but Sally was probably the funniest character of the entire series. Book five’s plot was a lot more put-together and ended up being pretty fascinating. Book six’s was perfect, finally making Ranger be more than a mysterious character with basically no personality.

I like how the romance in these books is almost completely autonomous from the main plot of the book. In YA books, I’m used to the romance being an integral part of the plot, driving it forward and contributing a major portion of the drama. In these books, the case Stephanie is working on and her love life remain fairly separate, joining at key moments. It is a nice break from YA, but I also miss my familiar age range, so I don’t know if I’ll read book seven.

The writing in these books is great. The descriptions and characterization aren’t overdone, but still convey powerful imagery and bring the story to life. The plots are fast-paced and hard to put down–enough that I’m definitely not doing as much homework as I should be. The second and third books had some slow moments, but I didn’t have that problem with any of the next three. The ending of each book leaves you no choice but to read the next one–especially the ending of book five. I seriously hadn’t planned to read book six this weekend, but I had to. (Ugh.)

You can definitely see Stephanie evolve as a character, though it is subtle. I like that she doesn’t have any major character shifts, just slight ones that over the course of the series significantly change her as a person. She also breaks down into hysterics less in these books, which was getting a little old in the first three books. Her life feels real, and the changes her character experiences make sense.

I’m really glad I picked this series up. It’s not that inappropriate (except for a few scenes in book four), so I’d say YA readers should totally look into it. The humor alone is reason enough to keep reading them, and the plots are a nice change of pace from the intensity of most YA books.

Book Review: Stephanie Plum books 2 and 3 by Janet Evanovich

These books are pretty similar in regards to what I have to say about them so I decided to just make them be one post together.

Two for the Dough and Three to Get Deadly

both 4/5 stars

Genre: contemporary crime fiction (adult)

I really enjoyed reading both these books. They are easy reads, but manage to be well written and thought-provoking. Perfect for my first week back at school.

(Sophomore year is going well, though it’s exhausting, thanks for asking.)

*Amazon descriptions of book 2 and book 3 here.

Both books are very similar in structure and pacing. The plot does lag a bit in the beginning of the middle, while Stephanie dead ends over and over. It’s a part of the story that is important to her, but I felt it drag on, especially in book three. However, the ends of the books are always so climactic and compelling that I have trouble disliking the books.

I love Stephanie. She’s the perfect example of what people mean when they say a strong female character doesn’t have to be masculine or muscly. She’s a horrible bounty hunter, but she’s determined and has fairly good instincts. She handles what the world throws at her and doesn’t give up. Her fortitude and awesome sense of humor are endearing. Over the course of the three books I’ve read so far, she does grow as a character, learning and changing at a believable pace. I want to read the twenty-plus books in this series just to spend more time with her and see where she ends up.

The one problem I have with these books is that they are very obviously part of a long series. What I mean by this is that when you’re reading the books, you can tell Janet Evanovich is holding off on her dramatic plot points, especially the ones involved in her subplots, to be used later in the series. She does a good job of foreshadowing, promising her readers romantic conflicts and character developments, but only delivers tiny pieces in each book. It starts to get old by the third book. I want something to happen. Evanovich has promised me drama–I want to read it sometime in this lifetime.

Even with that said, I’m in love with these books. I plan to keep reading them until I need a change of pace (I’m guessing that will be in a few more books). With school being crazy and taking up most of my free time, I’m enjoying have a quick dose of humor on hand with these books. Whatever else the Stephanie Plum books are, they are hilarious.

Book Review: One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

I don’t know what I expected this book to be. It was funnier than I expected. It wasn’t nearly as inappropriate as I feared it would be. It was a fun, quick one-day read. I sacrificed myself to car sickness to keep reading it, which is a good sign, and I literally laughed out loud, often.

4/5 stars

Genre: adult contemporary fiction…ish (I don’t really know what you call this)

Book one of the Stephanie Plum series, One for the Money

cover one for the money


Amazon description:

Watch out, world. Here comes Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter with attitude. In Stephanie’s opinion, toxic waste, rabid drivers, armed schizophrenics, and August heat, humidity, and hydrocarbons are all part of the great adventure of living in Jersey.
She’s a product of the “burg,” a blue-collar pocket of Trenton where houses are attached and narrow, cars are American, windows are clean, and (God forbid you should be late) dinner is served at six.
Now Stephanie’s all grown up and out on her own, living five miles from Mom and Dad’s, doing her best to sever the world’s longest umbilical cord. Her mother is a meddler, and her grandmother is a few cans short of a case.
Out of work and out of money, with her Miata repossessed and her refrigerator empty, Stephanie blackmails her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a try as an apprehension agent. Stephanie knows zilch about the job requirements, but she figures her new pal, fearless bounty hunter Ranger, can teach her what it takes to catch a crook.
Her first assignment: nail Joe Morelli, a former vice cop on the run from a charge of murder one. Morelli is also the irresistible macho pig who took Stephanie’s virginity at age sixteen and then wrote the details on the bathroom wall of Mario’s Sub Shop. There’s still powerful chemistry between these two, so the chase should be interesting.
It could also be extremely dangerous, especially when Stephanie encounters a heavyweight title contender who likes to play rough. Benito Ramirez is known for his brutality to women. At the very least, his obsession with Stephanie complicates her manhunt and brings terror and uncertainty into her life. At worst, it could lead to murder.

I’ve been seeing Janet Evanovich’s name for years–in my mom’s bookshelf, in book stores, even on a few bus stop posters. I knew they were adult, and I knew my mom found them hilarious. I asked her if she thought I’d like them, and she ordered me book one off of Paperback Swap in answer.

She was right. This isn’t my new favorite series. Frankly, I’m just not really comfortable reading NA/adult books yet. I know I like YA more, and I’m a sucker for fantasy and paranormal, so this series isn’t going to take over my life. I plan to read the books in between other series, when I need a breath of fresh air. As breaths of fresh air go, this book was pretty awesome. I gave it 4/5 stars for these reasons, even though there isn’t anything definitely wrong with the book–it’s just not my new best friend, more like that girl you share a few class periods with and complain about homework with.

The characterization is great. Stephanie is lovable in her awkward, impossibly naive way. She’s not cut out to be a bounty hunter–at all–and it’s hilarious. At the same time, though, I respected Evanovich for writing a female character who takes on the big bad world without an ounce of badassery, who is still strong as hell in her own way. She feels real, as do the rest of the characters.

Stephanie’s parents were perfectly infuriating, yet comforting. Each male figure in the book interacted with Stephanie a little differently, adding a sense of individual friendships and resentments which enhanced the realness of the book. Evanovich didn’t shy away from writing every sort of character–and when you meet Lula, you’ll love her.

Even with the largely humorous tone, the book touches on some dark topics–namely race and abusive men. I felt that Evanovich did an impressive job at capturing the awkward, degrading, unsettling feeling of knowing you’re a small white girl who’s stumbled into the wrong neighborhood. And she tackled the plot line with Ramirez (an insane boxer with a love of brutalizing women) well, making you feel actual fear for Stephanie, drawing you into her need to be strong even when her knees were giving out.

The book does a good job of setting up a series. It’s worth reading if you want a laugh, but also respect a book that doesn’t put the real world on it’s best behavior. Stephanie’s struggles with poverty and threats of abuse were powerful and vividly portrayed. Young adult readers can totally handle it, as long as you can handle themes of violence against women. For some people, the vividness of that part of the plot could be too much, and I would say make sure you know what you’re getting into with this series. It’ll make you laugh, but it won’t keep you from thinking.