Jan Evanovich: Turbo Twenty-Three

Twenty third in the series featuring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, the entire cast we know and love is assembled once again for a romp around Trenton, NJ. Stephanie, who knows for sure there aren’t regular jobs she would care for, works for Vinnie, who posts bail bonds for the local criminal element. She works with Lula, whose most recent job description was ‘ho. Together they run down bail jumpers for Vinnie and collect a piece of the bond.

In this book, Stephanie is self described as looking like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. She has two ultra masculine boyfriends. Ranger, who was a Ranger and now owns and operates Rangerman Security, and Joe Morelli, a Trenton cop whose mom makes better-than-sex lasagna. Stephanie feels more domestic around Morelli, and more dangerous around Ranger. Both are generally available to jump in to rescue Ms. Plum should she and Lula get in over their heads as they apprehend criminals.  Most of Stephanie’s income goes to purchasing used cars since she wrecks at least one in every book.

This particular adventure unfolds when a delivery of ice cream from Bogart’s yields the frozen body of the Bogart’s human resources manager dipped in chocolate and covered with nuts – just like a Bogart Bar. Ranger has a deal with Bogart’s to fix up security at the plant, and Stephanie takes an assignment to go into the Bogart Ice cream factory undercover and see what she can learn. What she learns is further validation of her antipathy towards assembly line work. Along with her undercover efforts, she and Lula continue to apprehend a variety bizarre lowlifes, so there is never a lull in the action.

Grandma Mazur, Stephanie’s maternal grandmother dyes her hair red and takes up with a biker. Stephanie’s mom continues to toss back whisky shots and her dad continues to bark single word orders like Gravy! or Potatoes! at the dining room table. Stephanie continues to mooch pot roast and meatloaf dinners at Mom’s house in the Burg, her own larder being stocked only with peanut butter, hotdogs and hamster food.

Turbo Twenty-Three is classic Stephanie Plum. Jan Evanovich is irreverent, funny and comfortably predictable in this series. Her cast of characters are well known to her readers and we revel in their antics. No need for a dictionary here, this is a fast fun read and perfect for the plane. Did I want to keep on reading? I’ve read ’em all and look forward to the next.

– Dave

Clive Cussler’s latest book from the Oregon series: The Emperor’s Revenge

Another of the Oregon files series co written with Boyd Morrison, this is a rip-roaring high-tech tale of adventure on the high seas with the crew of the Oregon. If you don’t know the series, the Oregon is a tramp steamer which has a rough, rusty, neglected appearance up top but fitted with the latest of navel high tech, armament and luxury accommodation below decks by a rogue Russian shipyard.

The Corporation, which operates the Oregon is a loose band of professionals whose makeup changes to fit the latest project. At times, skills include communications, computer hacking, deep sea diving and submersibles, a four star culinary chef, explosives experts, a document and cover shop, chopper and drone piloting and of course boat driving. The Corporation takes on projects from those who can afford the bill, but retains a strong sense of being on the good-guy side of things. The players take the projects on spec for a cut of the profit.

A band of very sophisticated Russian bad guys have their eye on plunging the European economy into chaos by damaging key elements of the power grid in Europe to cause a cascade failure of the grid. They have their own top notch hacker who opens the game by denying access to account holders at the Monaco bank where the Corporation has its considerable resources. Of course, this cannot stand.

Where does the Emperor come in? The emperor in question is Napoleon Bonaparte. During his Russian campaign, Napoleon drove the world’s largest standing army to Moscow but the Russians employed their infamous scorched earth policy: destroy shelter and food to deny Napoleon’s army any forage and the Russian winter would defeat him. He retreated with a tiny fraction of his troops through Lithuania.  The Russians did leave behind treasure, however, and Napoleon’s horse troops carried it out, hiding it somewhere along the retreat route.

A parallel story emerges as NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency – another of Mr. Cussler’s mainstays) gets wind of the existence of Napoleon’s diary (which is written in Greek and in code). NUMA becomes aware of a Rosetta Stone like obelisk to decode the diary and there is a race between the good guys and the bad guys to be in possession of the diary and the obelisk so as to identify the location of the buried treasure.

As sophisticated as the good guy’s armament is, the bad guy’s ship is even better armed.  Their war ship sports a steerable laser capable of taking an aircraft out of the sky and a rail gun that launches devastating projectiles fifteen miles at 6000 miles per hour. So when they meet on the high seas, it’s tactics that win the day. The good guy’s find themselves one step behind all the way, victims of indirection and careful planning by the bad guys.

The ending is dramatic and split second close. Did I want to keep reading? Oh yeah.


The Emperor’s Revenge             Clive Cussler – $14.50

Clive Cussler at the Book Shop

Mystery Adventure fiction at the Book Shop

Crystal Lamps – accenting with light

Over the years, we have seen perhaps a dozen of these simple crystal lamps. Standing 12 inches tall, the lamps use a candelabra type screw-in bulb and feature an inline cord switch.

Add a colored bulb, and you have a unique and attractive accent piece to complement your decor.

Crystal lamps at Gifty Things Vintage




David Baldacci: Last Mile

A team of truth seekers joins up sort of NCIS style to learn the facts around a man condemned to death in Texas. While they are digging, another man confesses to the crime that put the Texas guy in prison, but like Parker’s Spencer, once they get on a jag, this team makes a virtue of not stopping until all the facts are in, let the chips fall where they may.

There are many characters, but Baldacci (channeling an anti-Terry Goodkind muse) introduces them so you are not overwhelmed.  There is tension among the truth seekers and the recently sprung con does not necessarily desire to revisit all his past. The bad guys who falsely put our ex-con in prison were high school buddies: now a much elected politician, a wealthy businessman and a sheriff. So they have juice. They  bombed a Black church during the height of racial tensions in the 60s killing a number of folks and are not anxious for this to be revealed. Thus they are willing to expend that juice to keep a lid on the facts.

I found the plot a bit twisted and the characters somewhat unsympathetic. There is an unreliable narrator in the person of a member of the good guy team who is a mole for the bad guys and for some reason, that device always bugs me. If trick is deft and I am surprised at the end, wonderful. In truth, by the time I got to the Big Reveal, I didn’t really care, and that can’t be good. Did the book pass my acid test? Did I want to keep reading? I have read other Baldacci’s that held my interest more successfully.


Puzzled? Why a Gifty Things certified jigsaw puzzle?

Simple – Jenny Cook, owner and consummate jigsaw puzzle doer completes each one and certifies all the pieces are in the box. Sometimes, she  prints out a photo of the assembled work and tosses it in the box. Some of the more egregious ones might be initialed…

Puzzle Certification – it’s who we are and what we do.

Puzzles at Gifty Things Vintage.


Tequila Mockingbird

Tequila Mockingbird

The perfect cocktail recipe book for readers has arrived this week: Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle, $5.25. From the back of the book:

A fun gift for barflies and a terrific treat for book clubs, Tequila Mockingbird is the ultimate cocktail book for the literary obsessed. Featuring 65 delicious drink recipes — paired with wry commentary on history’s most beloved novels — the book also includes bar bites, drinking games, and whimsical illustrations throughout.

I think my personal favorite would have to be the ‘Love in the Time of Kahlúa!’


Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine's Day Collage

Valentine’s Day is approaching fast so don’t forget to pamper a loved one or yourself with a gift from Book Shop & Gifty Things Vintage!

We have a fantastic selection of beautiful books, luxurious scarves, jewelry, art glass, lamps, vintage furniture, and so much more. We also have pretty and colorful gift cards, the perfect present for every shopper!

Gift Cards


Valentines Day

We hope to see you soon – Happy Valentine’s Day!


Scarf-o-rama or gift for Grandma? Or your own bad self!

Cato, Berkshire, Vera Wang, Tabbot’s, Ginnie Johanssen, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bric, Ashear, Talsha, Cashmink, Echo, Coolibar, Alirina, Ralph Lauren, Pashmina, Worthington – Whoops, hang on, I dropped some names.

Silk, wool, cashmere, and endless blends in every rainbow color.

Come on in and accessorize post holiday blues right out the door.