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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: Back to School Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery, #4) by Leslie Meier

book review back to school murder leslie meier

Back to School Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery, #4) by Leslie Meier opens with Lucy Stone temping at the local newspaper office when she hears that a bomb threat has been called into the elementary school. When a teacher realizes one of the students is unaccounted for, the vice principal rushes back into the school to save him. However, she's found murdered a few days later. Who would want her dead?

What I loved about this particular edition in the Lucy Stone Mystery series is that there were a lot of red herrings. I felt sure that a specific character was the murdered for most of the story, but as Back to School Murder progressed, I changed my mind and ended up being completely wrong on everyone I suspected. Leslie Meier did a fabulous job with all the suspects and keeping me guessing.

One of the situations I found believable was that Lucy was feeling unappreciated and unattractive, and when she received a bit of attention from another man, she feel for it and felt bad about it afterwards. The reason I found this plausible is because marriages do go through their ups and downs. Another believable situation was the agenda that the Reverend wanted to implement religious teachings into the public school system, which is something I've seen happen in real life. The portrayal of the religious community in this book may offend some people though.

However, there were a few things that frustrated me about this particular book. The most notable thing that irked me was Lucy's husband Bill because he was written as extremely old fashioned. Bill didn't want Lucy working and wanted her home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids. He didn't seem to care that she loved working. Another thing that annoyed me was that when events from previous books were mentioned, there was an asterisk and a footnote mentioning which book it took place in . . . however, whoever was editing must of used "find and replace" because the same book was mentioned when the events took place in different books. 

Four out of five stars is the rating I gave Back to School Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery, #4) by Leslie Meier. If you enjoyed this book, you may enjoy Murder Buys A T-Shirt (A Haunted Souvenir Shop Mystery #1) by Christy Fifield.

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