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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: The Codebook Murders (Oakwood Mystery, #4) by Leslie Nagel

book review of the codebook murders by leslie nagel
The Codebook Murders (Oakwood Mystery, #4) by Leslie Nagel is the latest installment of the Oakwood Mystery book series. During a summer storm, Charley Carpenter takes cover in a tunnel underneath Oakwood High School and discovers a journal written in code. With it linked to the most infamous cold case in the city, can Charley crack the code to prove Carter's innocence in the death of his girlfriend Regan once and for all?

Each book in this series keeps getting better and better, and I think The Codebook Murders is my favorite yet. I couldn't wait to see how everything came together and if I was correct in my reasoning of who murdered Regan. There were quite a few red herrings, which I loved because it kept me on my toes and had me second guessing myself at every turn. Because of this, it did take me a while to figure out who the culprit was. I also enjoyed knowing that several of the places mentioned in the book are real life locations. It makes me want to explore the area the next time I visit.

Although this book is technically a cozy mystery, it reads much better than most of the other books in this genre. I sincerely hope that Leslie Nagel writes additional books in this series because I have absolutely fallen in love with several of the characters. The author does a great job with the character development and has them maturing.

Five out of five stars is what I gave The Codebook Murders (Oakwood Mystery, #4) by Leslie Nagel. If you enjoyed this book, I recommend The St. Valentine's Day Cookie Massacre by Elisabeth Crabtree.


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