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Book Review: Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau is a coming of age novel taking place in Baltimore, Maryland. During the 1970's, fourteen year old Mary Jane is caught in the middle of her family's conservative ideals and the progressive ideals of the Cone family where she is a summer nanny. Mary Jane is a sheltered teen who enjoys cooking with her mother, listening to Broadway Show Tunes, and singing in the church choir. On the first day of work, she is shocked at the mess in the Cone's home and introduces them to home cooked meals and keeping the house clean. In return, Mary Jane gets a front row seat to sex, drugs, and rock & roll. This novel was the selected for the book club I belong to. Again, this is a novel that I likely wouldn't have chosen to read on my own, but I was glad I did. Mary Jane is the first novel I've read by Jessica Anya Blau, and I was impressed with her storytelling.  Touching on race, class, and stereotypes, along with drugs and infidelity, it reminded

Book Review: Revenge of the Spellmans (The Spellmans, #3) by Lisa Lutz

The Spellman Files Book #3 by Lisa LutzIncredulously funny and clever, Revenge of the Spellmans (The Spellmans, #3) by Lisa Lutz continues the story of dysfunctional family of the Spellmans. Isabel "Izzy" Spellman has taken a break from her parents' private investigation firm and started working as a bartender at her favorite bar, The Philosopher's Club. When her boss, Milo, introduces her to a patron looking for a private investigator that is affordable, Milo expects Izzy to take the case. When Izzy isn't working at the bar or on the case, she is attending court ordered therapy. To top things off, her personal life is falling apart.

This is a book series that just gets better as it goes and one that I am revisiting. Lisa Lutz is such a talented author. Although Revenge of the Spellmans is a mystery, it doesn't follow the normal formula that other mystery writers follow. One of the unique items of the book is that there are footnotes that further explain parts of the book and gives more insight into the main character, Izzy Spellman. On top of that, there are parts that are snarky that I find absolutely hilarious. Even with this being a reread for me, it still was super funny, and I'm glad I wasn't reading this in public because people would have given me weird looks for all the giggling and laughing I did.

the spellman files lisa lutzI'm not sure that I would've even heard of Lisa Lutz if it hadn't been for a Goodreads Giveaway on Goodreads.com that I entered for the second book, Curse of the Spellmans . . . and I won a copy of the book! For that, I am eternally grateful for being introduced to this fabulous author. I now read every book that she writes. My only complaint is that she isn't writing any more books in the series. This makes me sad. (There are six books total in the series with a few spinoff books that some of the characters "wrote".)

Some people might compare this series to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum book series, but in my opinion, they are very different styles. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the series by Evanovich, but no book can be called similar to this series by Lutz in my opinion. I gave Revenge of the Spellmans (The Spellmans, #3) by Lisa Lutz four out of five stars.


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