Monday, January 25, 2010

Review: Living the Vida Lola

Summary: Meet Lola Cruz. After paying her dues as an intern, she’s now a full-fledged detective at Camacho and Associates. Her boss is Manny Camacho, amuy caliente former cop with a mysterious ex-wife, a Lara Croft look-alike girlfriend, and a sudden personal interest in Lola. Her first big case? A missing mother who may not want to be found. And to make her already busy life even more complicated, Lola’s helping her cousin plan her quinceañera, and battling her family and their old-fashioned views on women and careers. She’s also reunited with the gorgeous Jack Callaghan, her high school crush whom she shamelessly tailed years ago and photographed doing the horizontal salsa with some other lucky girl.

Lola takes it all in stride, but when the subject of her search ends up dead, she realizes she has a lot more to worry about. Soon she finds herself wrapped up in the possibly shady practices of a tattoo parlor, local politics, and someone with serious---maybe deadly---road rage. To top it all off, her treasured postcoital pictures of Jack are missing! Still, Lola is well-equipped to handle these challenges. She's a black-belt in kung fu, and her body isn’t her only weapon. She’s got smarts, sass, and more tenacity than her Mexican mafioso-wannabe grandfather. A few of her famous margaritas don’t hurt, either.

Debut author Misa Ramirez, a blond-haired, green-eyed gal with a passion for the Latino culture and authentic Mexican food, has penned a delicious mix of mystery, romance, and all-out fun. Filled with sizzling scenes and side-splitting humor, Living the Vida Lola is a thrilling ride that will have you up all night. -- Minotaur Books

While I don't read a ton of mysteries anymore, I still find that I enjoy a good one every now and then. Sometimes it's just nice to sit down and read a light, fun story -- you know what I mean? Especially in the cold and dreary winter months, I just want to curl up with a blanket and be entertained for a few hours. This was certainly the case with LIVING THE VIDA LOLA by Misa Ramirez. The novel was very funny and most definitely kept my interest from the first page until the last.

LIVING THE VIDA LOLA is the first book in the Lola Cruz Mysteries, and I think it's definitely going to appeal to many people. This novel is first and foremost a mystery story; however, I think I enjoyed the characters and their interactions as much, if not more, than the mystery itself. I thought Lola was a great female character, and she was certainly a hoot! She was smart, witty, and was equipped to take care of herself -- she had a black belt in kung fu (although she did need some help along the way.) I also liked her co-workers, friends, love interest, and especially her family. All of these characters were a little quirky, and they provided the reader with a fair amount of humorous situations.

The mystery was interesting as well, and the story did have some twists and turns. At times, I was pretty sure I had figured out the whodunit, but then I'd change my mind. There were lots of possible culprits with multiple motives. I can honestly say that I didn't figure out the mystery in this book, but I have to admit that I didn't try very hard. When I read fun mysteries like this one, I just enjoy the story and appreciate not having to think too much.

I thought this book was extremely funny. Lola's interactions with her mother were cute, and I have a feeling that they realistically represented some Mexican mother/daughter relationships. I also enjoyed reading about all of the delicious-sounding Mexican food and the special traditions. But what I really thought was cute about this book was the sexual tension between Lola and her high school crush Jack. When she runs into Jack again, years after high school, she finds out that she is still attracted to him. Much to her surprise, Jack is also very attracted to her. The author's descriptions of their back-and-forth games between the two were "muy caliente" to say the least!

If your group is looking for something a little lighter to read, you might want to consider LIVING THE VIDA LOLA. I wasn't exactly thinking "book club book" when I read, but then I figured, why not? It was a cute and fun story! Ms. Ramirez likes to call into book groups, and she has even come up with a few discussion questions. In addition, you can request from her some yummy-sounding recipes like Lola's Spanish Rice, Lola's Margaritas, or Lola's Salsa Borracha. A Mexican-themed book club would definitely "spice" up your normal meetings.

The second book in the series HASTA LA VISTA, LOLA will be available next month, and I definitely plan on reading it! Ms. Ramirez is already on work on book three in the series, BARE NAKED LOLA. In the meantime, Ms. Ramirez is going to be popping up all over the blogosphere -- you can check out her blog tour here. In fact, tomorrow she will be stopping by with a fabulous guest post as well as a giveaway of her new book!

If you are a fan of mysteries in general (or Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series), then I suggest you give LIVING THE VIDA LOLA a try. I think you find that it's a cute mystery with some very entertaining characters.

Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of her book.


Sandy Nawrot said...

My daughter's best friend is named Lola. There is just something almost predestined for a girl with that name, don't you think? No way anyone named Lola could ever be a meek mild wallflower. This sounds like alot of fun. I get enjoyment from Stephanie Plum when I need a pick-me-up!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Sounds like fun. I am all over the part about the author providing recipes. I think everyone should provide recipes with their books!

Beth F said...

Oh shoot! You know me and series. This sounds fun and anything with a few recipes or food descriptions always interests me!

Misa said...

Hi y'all! I want to give a huge shout out to Julie for breaking from her more serious reading to give Lola a try. I'm thrilled you liked the book, J!

Now, about the recipes...they are referenced in the books, and I've made them available on my web site. Best margaritas anywhere, I might add. Beer is the secret ingredient!

I agree, Sandy. There's something sassy about the name Lola, but Lola is a nickname for Dolores, which is very traditional. I wanted that duality for the two sides of Lola (no, she's not a split personality, but does balance life between the cultural expectations of her family, and her own desires). =)

bermudaonion said...

As I was reading your review, I kept thinking of Stephanie Plum so I was glad to see you compare the books at the end. I think I'd like this book.

Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews said...

Great review and I also loved reading this book!

I can't wait till "Hasta La Vista Lola" comes out next month!

I definately will be here tomorrow!

Dana said...

I can't remember the last time I read a mystery, but this one sounds like a great way to "ease" myself into the genre. Definitely going onto my TBR list!