Thursday, December 5, 2019

Book Review: A Parfait Murder by Wendy Lyn Watson (Mystery A-La-Mode #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters; fun twist on the locked room mystery
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Fair attraction death
Fun twist on locked room puzzle
In page turning book

Can Tally Clear Her Cousin of the Parfait Crime?

One staple of the mystery genre is the locked room mystery.  I always enjoy the added complexities it adds to a mystery plot, and I enjoy twists on the locked room concept.  And does A Parfait Murder have a good one.

The county fair is in full swing, and Tally Jones has set up a booth for her ice cream shop, Remember the A-La-Mode.  Due to the hot summer weather (this is Texas, after all), the booth has proved to be very popular, and Tally and her family and employees are being kept busy between the booth and the store.  Life is good.

Well, it would be if her cousin Bree’s ex-husband, Sonny, hadn’t just walked back into town after fifteen years.  Bree is considering going after him for years of back child support, but before that can happen, he slaps her with a paternity suit, trying to claim that Alice isn’t really his daughter.  The next day, Sonny’s lawyer is shot inside the haunted rodeo attraction at the fair, and the only other person in the ride is Bree.  Tally can’t believe her cousin would do something like this, and Bree flat out denies it.  But who else could it have been?

And just like that, we are off on another puzzling mystery.  Not only does Tally have to figure out who had motive to commit the murder, but then determine if they had the ability to do it.  I loved that added twist to the plot.  The story was great with plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep me engaged and guessing from the beginning until we reached the climax.  Yes, when Tally finally pieces it all together, it all makes sense.

Over the course of the book, the police, in the form of Tally’s friend Cal, keep circling Bree as their primary suspect.  I found it refreshing that Tally, while upset about this, recognizes that the police are just doing their job.  It does help that Cal doesn’t seem to believe Bree did it, but the evidence is overwhelming.  Still, while no one is happy about it, everyone understands why Cal is doing what he is doing.  I found this refreshing.

I also loved seeing the characters again for this book.  Tally has an unusual family, but they love each other fiercely, and that shows here.  I must admit I was a little surprised at one twist the book threw their way, but I loved how it developed the characters and their relationships with each other.

I’m not leaving out the suspects.  They are just as strong as the main cast and did their part to keep me guessing until we reached the end.

With as much as I love ice cream, I’m surprised I didn’t actually read this series sooner (this book originally came out in 2011).  Ice cream lovers won’t be disappointed with the descriptions we get here at all.

I really enjoyed this third visit with Tally and her family.  If you are looking for a fun and delicious culinary cozy, I highly recommend A Parfait Murder.

NOTE: I did read the original 2011 release, not the 2017 reissue pictured here.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Ornament Review: Winter Fun with Snoopy #22 - Snow Shoeing - 2019 Hallmark Release

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great snow shoeing themed entry
Cons: For some, a mini ornament (but I was expecting that)
The Bottom Line:
Mini walk in snow
As Snoopy tries snow shoeing
In this fun entry

Winter Snow Shoeing Trek

It’s a little hard to believe, but we are now 22 ornaments into the Winter Fun with Snoopy series.  Even more amazing, Hallmark is still finding winter activities to capture in this mini ornament series.  This year, we are having fun snow shoeing.

Unlike some entries in this series, Snoopy is actually dressed for the cold weather.  He’s wearing a blue-gray parka, and he’s even got the hood pulled up around his ears.  Yet, with his white nose poking out of the hood, it is still easy to tell who he is.  He’s got a brown stick in one hand, and his snow shoes are on his feet.  In fact, we’ve got him as he’s about to take a step.  And Woodstock?  Snoopy’s feathered friend wouldn’t miss this trek, but he’s being smart about it.  He’s riding in Snoopy’s backpack.

This is another cute entry in the series.  Even though I have never been snow shoeing (and have no desire to go snow shoeing), this still makes me think it looks like fun.  Of course, it helps that I’m looking at this while sitting in a warm room.

This is a miniature ornament, like the rest of the series.  Snoopy is only an inch tall here.  However, they still manage to work in some good details, like the ruffles on Snoopy’s parka.

There isn’t a base to this ornament like there often is.  Still, Snoopy is mostly standing on his feet, so he balances enough that he will stand on his own.  I would caution you that, because of the size, it could be easy to lose him.  And, if you look closely, you’ll find the series marker on the bottom of his foot.

When you go to hang Snoopy on a tree, you’ll find that he hangs straight.

Those who enjoy snow shoeing will definitely appreciate this addition to the Winter Fun with Snoopy series.  Even someone like me, who thinks snow is prettiest in pictures, can appreciate this ornament.

And be sure to check out the rest of the Winter Fun with Snoopy series.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A Time for Murder Winner

It is time, actually it is beyond time, to announce the winner of A Time for Murder.  And that winner is...


I just sent you an email, so be watching for that and get back to me so I can connect you with your prize.

Book Review: Raiders of the Lost Bark by Sparkle Abbey (Pampered Pets Mysteries #8)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good mystery, fun
Cons: Betty gets annoying at times
The Bottom Line:
A murdered pet chef
Dampens a pet glamping trip
Overall fun book

Glamping with Dogs…and a Killer

I’ve learned by now that when I pick up a Pampered Pets Mystery from Sparkle Abbey, I am in for wacky fun and a good mystery.  That’s true once again in Raiders of the Lost Bark, the eighth in the series.

If you aren’t familiar with it, this series, written by two friends under a pen name, alternates protagonists.  The odd numbered books are from the point of view of Caro, a pet therapist.  But since this is an even numbered book, we are spending time with Mel, the owner of the Bow Wow Boutique in Laguna Beach, California.

Unfortunately, life has been a challenge for Mel the last few months.  Not only has she broken up again with her fiancĂ©, this time maybe for good, but she’s been the victim of blackmail by Addison Rae.  Mel has gotten roped in to helping Addison become Orange County’s hottest new gourmet pet chef thanks to a secret from Mel’s mother’s past.  Addison’s latest demand is that Mel write the forward to her pet recipe book.

Addison is the head chef for a camping trip for dog owners with their dogs at the nearby Laguna Hills Regional Park.  Mel and her assistant/friend Betty head out in a luxury RV so Mel can exchange the forward for the letters that contain the secret and end things once and for all.  However, Addison never arrives for the meet.  Instead, she’s been found dead with a fork in her neck.  The police seem very interested in Mel, and Mel knows she’s got a good motive.  Can she clear her name without revealing her mother’s secret?

This book gets off to a fast start and never really lets up.  There are several other things happening in the background that may or may not serve as motive for others.  With several good suspects, I was kept guessing until Mel figured things out in the end.

I mentioned wacky earlier, and this certainly applies to the characters.  Like some other series I read, they fall a bit into the caricature side instead of being true characters.  However, it works for this series since they provide so much fun for us.  That doesn’t apply to Mel, who is left trying to navigate the crazy, but she does it so well.  Don’t misunderstand, the characters are real enough to make us care about the outcome.  They are also just wacky enough to provide some laughs along the way.

Over the last few books, I’ve maintained that my favorite character is Betty, Mel’s assistant, who is a hoot.  However, I discovered one thing in this book, Betty works best in smaller doses.  She’s got a big presence here, and I did grow a little weary of her antics as the book progressed.  However, she still provided me with some great laughs, even late in the book.

Those who have been reading the series know that one thread holding all the books together is a brooch that Caro and Mel’s grandmother left to one of them.  Even though most of the book takes place at the campground, it still manages to make life complicated for Mel.  Once again, I’m curious to see where things go with that storyline in the next book.

If you have a pet of your own, you’ll definitely be interested in the two recipes included at the end.

So pack your bags and gas up your RV.  Raiders of the Lost Bark is one glamping trip you won’t want to miss.

And you'll want to enjoy the rest of the Pampered Pets Mysteries.

Monday, December 2, 2019

November 2019's Monthly Reading Summary

Yep, that time again.  Here's my monthly reading summary for November.

With the holiday, I didn't quite get to updating the index.  Next month might be the same thing, but we will worry about it then.

All ratings are on a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (great).

Who is The Mystery Reader? by Mo Willems – 4
This book is broken up into many parts.  The main story involves Zoom Squirrel who gets some help in reading for The Mystery Reader, a costumed superhero.  But who is the masked man, er squirrel?  And can Zoom enter the world of masked superheroes?  After the main story, we get a couple of terrible (and by that, I mean delightful) puns and jokes related to reading.  There’s also a section where we see the work that goes into creating a book.

As an adult, I don’t find these picture books as delightful as some of Mo’s other works.  They are missing the humor and charm.  However, I can see the appeal to young readers, and if the addition of superheroes to reading encourages kids to read, I’m all in favor of it.  The multiple sections can make the book disjointed, especially if you are reading the book to a group of kids, but it would be great for kids ready to expand their reading beyond the traditional easy readers.

The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans by JoAnna Carl (Chocoholic Mysteries #17) – 5
Much to Lee Woodyard’s dismay, her husband, Joe, and her uncle, Hogan, have bought the house next to Lee and Joe.  They intended to flip it, but Lee is nervous about it.  It doesn’t help when she and a plumber find a gun while checking the pipes in the basement.  When Lee and Hogan go back to take a second look at the basement, they find a dead body.  Can Lee figure out what is going on?

It has been a couple of years since we last got to visit Lee and the rest of the gang, and I was thrilled to be able to spend a little more time with them.  As usual, the friends in Lee’s life are given cameos, but Lee, Joe, and the other couple of main characters more than make up for this.  Not to mention, the new characters that help compel us into the story.  Speaking of which, I was hooked from the beginning and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.  The story is filled with twists and turns.  The ending is a bit rushed, but it does tie everything major up.  The book is on the shorter side, but by eliminating sub-plots, it still presents a full mystery that will leave you hungry for more.  Speaking of which, the descriptions of chocolate made my mouth water, and the chocolate trivia sprinkled along the way is fun as always.  We even get a recipe at the end of the book.  Fans old and new will be glad they picked up this book.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

City of Scoundrels by Victoria Thompson (Counterfeit Ladies #3) – 5
It’s the fall of 1918, and the draft age for World War I has been increased, upsetting Elizabeth Miles since her fiance, Gideon Bates, has been drafted.  Gideon is focusing his last few weeks as a civilian on drafting wills for soldiers.  Most of them are, but one of the exceptions is Tom Preston, part owner of Preston Shoes, which has made a fortune providing shoes to the soldiers.  Tom wants a new will leaving his share of the family business to his new wife and their unborn child – a wife the rest of his family knows nothing about.  When word comes back that Tom has died, this new will goes missing, and his family doesn’t want to acknowledge his widow.  Elizabeth is quick to jump in, getting her family, all conmen, to come up with a scheme to get this war widow the money she should have inherited.  But what complications might there be along the way?

Yes, there are complications.  We wouldn’t have much of a novel without them.  It would have been nice if they are started a little sooner, but that’s a minor complaint.  I was hooked the entire time, and it only became harder to put the book down the further I got into it.  History came alive, and I felt like I was part of what was happening in the New York City area during this time.  It helps that the characters are extremely strong.  Through them, I came to care about the plot and the history that was unfolding around us.  Yes, I felt that welcomed into the world that I was actually part of what was happening on the page.  If you aren’t taking these trips back in time, you need to do so today.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

The 19th Christmas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Women’s Murder Club #19) – 3
San Francisco Homicide Detective Lindsay Boxer and her partner Rich Conklin are using their lunch hour for a little holiday shopping, and they happen to be on hand to catch a petty criminal.  The criminal immediately wants to talk deals.  He’s heard rumors that someone named Loman is planning some kind of big heist on Christmas Day.  As the tips begin to pour in, the police are left chasing their tails as they try to figure out what Loman really plans.  Or who he even really is.  Meanwhile, reporter Cindy Thomas has landed the story of an illegal immigrant accused of a murder and gets assistant district attorney Yuki Castellano involved in her attempts to free him.  And medical examiner Claire Washburn leaves town to teach a course during Christmas week to college students down in San Diego.

As popular as Christmas books have become, this is one series I hadn’t expected to offer one since some of the storylines in other books don’t lend themselves to the season.  These storylines do, but unfortunately, the books is a mixed bag.  I didn’t buy their excuse for writing Claire out of the book, and Cindy and Yuki’s sub-plot is undercooked.  It felt like it was there more to preach than entertain.  Fortunately, the main mystery was entertaining and kept me turning pages, although it relied on the villain taunting police, a trope I have trouble buying.  Add in an epilogue that came out of nowhere and left me wondering if they are setting up the next book in the series.  On the other hand, I got plenty of Christmas spirit from the book.  As I said, this is an average entry in the series.

Murder at the Mansion by Janet Finsilver (Kelly Jackson #2) – 4
Kelly Jackson has returned to Redwood Cove, California, ready to take on her new job as manager of one of the B&B’s in town.  While it finishes up some renovations, she is helping out at a sister property, Redwood Heights.  Redwood Heights has been having issue with jewelry being stolen from guest’s rooms, but things escalate when Kelly finds one of the guests murdered in that guest’s room.  With the aid of the local senior citizen community watch, the Silver Sentinels, Kelly starts digging around.  Can she figure out what happened?

Having grown up visiting the redwoods, I love this setting.  I would love to visit in real life, between murders, of course.  This book starts off strongly and never lets up, always giving us some complication or clue until Kelly pieces everything together.  I didn’t have any problem remembering the characters, which is good since there are quite a few of them, but I do feel the cast could be a little better developed.  I’m hoping that will come as the series continues.  I also stumbled over a few editing errors.  They were minor overall, fortunately.  While there aren’t any recipes, there is more than enough talk about food to make your mouth water as you read the book.  Overall, this is a good second in the series, and I hope to visit Kelly again soon.

The Last Dragon by James Riley (The Revenge of Magic #2) – 5
It’s been six months since the attack that took Fort’s father from him, but the recent hope that his father might be alive has given Fort a goal.  Rescuing him is all Fort thinks about, and now he has a plan to steal the magic book he needs.  But complications come from unexpected places, including a new roommate he is expected to spend all his time helping.  Then there are the nightmares where the Old One promises Fort his father back in exchange for the last dragon.  Can Fort find the last dragon?  Should he make the trade?  Or will his original plan work?

For me, it had been six months since I read the first book in this series, so it was nice to see how this book eased us back into Fort’s world without slowing down the action.  I was soon caught back up in his story.  I do find the tone a little darker than author James Riley’s previous books and I miss the lighter tones those books had.  Still, that’s a minor complaint as I raced through this book to find out what happened next.  I enjoyed seeing Fort grow and his relationship with his friends change.  In fact, I found those relationships something that helped ground the book since they dealt with some stuff realistically.  I will definitely be back for more.  How can I not come back after the ending of this book?

Ghosts of Painting Past by Sybil Johnson (Aurora Anderson #5) – 5
The house across the street from Rory is being torn down, so she is trying to drown out the sound of construction vehicles with Christmas carols when the sound suddenly stops.  The crew has found bones buried under a building in the backyard.  It isn’t long before the police have been able to identify the bones, but their identity puts Rory’s father in the role of suspect.  Rory tries to help out with a variety of holiday events planned in the community, including finishing up her own ornaments to sell at the craft fair despite what is happening in town, but when a new body turns up, the stakes are raised.  Can she figure out what happened in the past and how that is impacting the present?

Mysteries that involve the past can be great when there is a compelling reason for the characters to care about it today.  That’s definitely the case here.  Rory has a couple of reasons to make sure this case is wrapped up in time for Christmas, and she gets plenty of clues and red herrings to keep her guessing.  The pace is fast, and the climax answers all our questions.  The series’ tone is a bit darker overall, and that’s the case here again as well, but we do have some Christmas fun to help lighten the mood.  I really enjoyed the fact that this book is set in Southern California, so, while we get plenty of holiday spirit, we do it without snow.  I could relate.  The main characters continue to grow, and the new characters are just as strong.  With Christmas fast approaching, now is the perfect time to pick up this book.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

And Then There Were Crumbs by Eve Calder (Cookie House Mysteries #1) – 3
Looking for a fresh start, Kate McGuire packs up and moves from New York City to Coral Cay, Florida, where she lands a job working at The Cookie House.  On her first day on the job, Stewart Lord stalks into the bakery.  He is a real estate developer who has decided to buy up Coral Cay and turn the entire island into a resort for the rich and famous, and he has The Cookie House in his sites as his first purchase.  He makes the owner, Sam, a rock bottom offer, but only leaves with some cinnamon rolls he demanded from Sam.  A few hours later, Stewart is dead, and Sam’s cinnamon rolls are the culprit.  The police arrest Sam, but Kate doesn’t think her new boss is a killer.  Can she prove he didn’t poison Stewart?

Between the fact that this is a culinary cozy and it is set in the Florida Keys, I was ready to sit back and enjoy.  Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.  I was captivated at first.  The setting is very real and fun and comes to life.  Kate quickly makes a lot of fantastic friends, and I enjoyed hanging out with all of them.  The further I went into the book, the more frustrated I became with the pacing of the mystery.  We spend significantly more time watching Kate work to save and transform the bakery while Sam is in jail than we do getting clues to who might have killed Stewart.  It’s a shame because there is a good mystery here; we just needed more of it.  All the baking certainly made me hungry for bread and cookies, but there aren’t any recipes at the end of this book.  Plenty of people seem to love this book, so if the premise interests you, I recommend you pick it up and judge the results for yourself.

A Time For Murder by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land (Murder, She Wrote #50) – 4
When Jessica Fletcher sits down to be interviewed by a student from Cabot Cove High School, she is surprised to find the student bringing up Jessica’s first time solving a murder.  No, it wasn’t at the launch party of her first book, but it was twenty-five years ago when she, her husband Frank, and their nephew Grady were living in Appleton, Maine.  The principal where Jessica was a substitute English teacher was murdered, and Jessica helped solve the case.  Jessica usually doesn’t talk about it, and she deflects again, but when she goes to apologize to the student later, she discovers that the woman who interviewed her wasn’t a student at the high school at all.  Who interviewed her?  What is her interest in the case?

Going into this book, I was concerned that this book was going to contradict things established in the pilot episode of the TV show, but it does a good job of explaining things so that this doesn’t happen.  We do spend part of the book in the past, and all the transitions are easy to follow.  I found both mysteries, past and present, to be very compelling, and I couldn’t put the book down until I reached the climax.  Unfortunately, the climax is a bit over the top, which has happened in the books I’ve read in the series.  Likewise, I did find that Jessica, Mort, and Seth spent more time sniping at each other than I remembered from most episodes of the show.  On the other hand, Jessica has stopped swearing, which was a welcome return to normalcy for the character.  This book is the fiftieth novel based on the show, and as a result manages to work in a few Easter Eggs that fans will enjoy.  If you are a fan, you’ll enjoy this entry.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Cobblered to Death by Rosemarie Ross – 3
Courtney Archer has become known to her fans from the TV cooking show, The Farmer’s Daughter.  Just one catch – she is actually the daughter of a doctor from Chicago.  She hates keeping this secret, but is even more worried when her secret is discovered.  The man who makes the discovery is Mick, one of the contestants on The American Baking Battle, a new show that Courtney is co-hosting.  Courtney isn’t the only one having issues with Mick.  Still, Courtney doesn’t expect to find his dead body on the second day of filming.  Worse yet, Mick was hit over the head with a pan of Courtney’s cherry cobbler.  Who killed him?

This book started out well, and I was quickly hooked.  The setting is a lot of fun, and the characters are wonderful.  I was drawn to Courtney and wanted her to succeed.  I enjoyed watching her friendship with another character grow, and her producer is a strong character as well.  The plot started out strongly, setting up suspects and the victim before killing Mick off.  Unfortunately, there weren’t enough suspects to sustain it, and the twists and clues were fewer than they needed to be in favor of time spent on the set of the baking show watching everything being filmed.  I suspect the characters and setting will be strong enough to draw people to this new series, but I hope the plots get stronger as the series progresses.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Movie Review: Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Tyra Banks, a few things work
Cons: Most of the movie doesn’t work at all
The Bottom Line:
Twenty year sequel
Aimed at adults and not kids
Frustrating to watch

Unfocused Sequel Falls Way Short

So, I’ve never been a fan of the original Life-Size.  But thinking I might have missed something when I first watched it years ago lead me to record the original and the sequel, Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve when it premiered on TV last December.  Not only did I find the first movie as bland as I remembered it being, the sequel was even worse.

We first meet Grace (Francia Raisa) at a party she is throwing where she gets so drunk she can’t completely remember what she actually did.  Even worse, it makes her late to a board meeting the next morning.  Since her mother was the CEO of Marathon Toys, Grace inherited the position when her mother was arrested for fraud.  It’s seriously cutting into her partying lifestyle.  However, she finds herself accepting the recommendations to focus on the company’s apps and cut some of their traditional toys, including their iconic Eve doll.

That decision doesn’t sit well with Grace’s young neighbor Lex (Alison Fernandez).  In an effort to help Grace see the error of the decision, she gets Grace to agree to use a spell from a magic book that a young girl had sent to Grace’s mom years ago.  The result is that Grace’s old Eve doll comes to life (Tyra Banks).  Grace doesn’t believe it, of course.  Will Eve help Grace save the company and the Eve doll?  Will Eve ever adjust to the real world?

In sequels, you expect a certain amount of rehash.  I get it.  We watch them to recapture the magic we once loved, and the writers and producers know this.  However, this movie is too much of a rehash.  When I watched these movies a couple of weeks apart, I felt like this movie repeated too many of the same plot points.  Eve is going to be discontinued because no one is buying her any more.  Eve in the real world doesn’t get why things don’t work the same way they do back at home.  And she keeps expecting them to.  Too many of the scenes were just way too familiar.

Which is too bad because there was one sub-plot, introduced late in the movie, that could have been interesting.  However, the other stuff drowned it out and it was just a blip in the film.  If it had been woven into the movie better and been a bigger storyline, I think it would have helped things out.

It’s also a shame because I did find myself growing to like the characters, even Grace.  That’s saying something considering where she started out; I really had a hard time liking her.  I felt the ending was emotionally satisfying, even for someone who wasn’t that interested much of the way through.

Another strike against this film is the tone.  This is a movie about a doll that comes to life.  How many adults, even fans of the original, are going to sit down to watch it?  My guess is the audience is mostly going to be pre-teen girls.  However, I can’t recommend it for them at all.  There are way too many adult centered jokes about sex and hooking up, especially in the first hour.  And the innuendo just didn’t stop.  This is not a movie appropriate for kids in the slightest.  I was also bothered by some of the social justice preaching that we got, but I’m sure that was more me than something that will apply across the board.

Then there’s the continuity error.  They state in the movie that Eve first came out 20 years ago.  I’m sure that is supposed to be a nod to the original, which came out approximately that long ago.  However, in the first movie, it is obvious the doll isn’t new and has been around for a while.  How is that possible?

Tyra Banks is the only actor from the original to return.  Apparently, Lindsay Lohan was interested but had a scheduling conflict.  They do give her and her character some nice nods in the film, which I appreciated.  It may have been 20 years between films, but Tyra effortlessly falls back into the role of Eve.  She is a joy to watch.

The rest of the cast is just as much fun.  My issues with the film aren’t with their performances at all.  Okay, so there is some cheese, but I was expecting that.  I especially got a kick out of seeing Alison Fernandez.  I know her best from the final season of Once Upon a Time, and she was playing a very similar character here.  I was laughing hard as she was saying lines that would have fit that show as well.

Yes, the film is set around Christmas, and a major scene that shifts things for me takes full advantage of that.  I also loved the romance we got for Grace.

So there were some things I enjoyed about the film, but overall I was happy to see Life-Size 2: A Christmas Eve end.  If they decide to make a third movie, I am definitely out, and I advise you to skip this one.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

November 30th's Weekly TV Thoughts

Fall finales started airing last week.  I guess only two of my shows were affected by that, but several did take the week off due to Thanksgiving.  And thanks to the holiday, I'll have a double dose of Survivor next week.

God Friended Me – I’ve been thinking for a while that eventually they would have an episode without a happy ending.  I guess this was it.  What I find really interesting is that it involved one of the main cast’s family, although that isn’t surprising since it means something.  I feel sorry for Miles.  He did the right thing, and he thought it would help because he hadn’t been told the truth.  I still think this is the best that Cara’s step-dad would have hoped for since he did break the law.  Not as impressed with Arthur’s storyline, although that’s probably because I’ve said much the same things as the priest he was having conflicts with has said.

Dancing with the Stars – With as often has Ally has been saved by the judges, I was kind of rooting against her, but I would have been okay with any of them winning.  Those dances were all fun to watch.  Congrats to Hannah.

The Flash – That was…interesting.  Episodes in the mind can work, but that one really didn’t for me.  Did not see the ending/cliffhanger coming.  How will they defeat everything next week to be ready for crisis in two weeks?

Arrow – Two mind twisting episodes in a row.  This one wasn’t much better.  Still not sure I’m in the camp that believes the Monitor is good either. Guess we will be finding out in two weeks.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving here in the United States of America.  I've got no new review today.  But I wanted to take a minute to say I am thankful for those of you who read my blog on a regular basis.

I hope if you are celebrating today, you have a fantastic time with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Ornament Review: Green Lantern - 2019 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lesser done superhero in action
Cons: Can blend into tree
The Bottom Line:
Mini Green Lantern
Piece captures him in action
Small but very nice

The Power of Green for Your Green Tree

There are certain characters you immediately think of when you think DC Comics Superheroes.  Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, for example.  Not surprising, these are also the characters you think of when you think of the Justice League.  But DC and the League both have other characters, and Hallmark included one of them, Green Lantern, in this year’s addition to their Justice League mini ornaments.

Green Lantern is the first of these mini ornaments not to be diving forward into the fight.  Oh, he’s fighting, he’s just doing it his way.  He’s pulled back with his right arm extended.  His right arm is the one with his ring of power on it, so he’s ready to unleash his power to fight whatever evil the Justice League is facing today.  This is a classic Green Lantern with a green and black costume.

And that green costume might be an issue on your tree.  It would be easy for him to get lost in the green branches.  But then again, he is Green Lantern.  He needs to be green.

That’s my only concern with the ornament.  He looks just like the classic character from the comic books.  I’m not as familiar with him as some of the other comic book characters since I never read comic books growing up, but even I can easily recognize who he is.

This is a miniature ornament.  As such, he is only an inch and a half tall.  He will look great on my miniature tree, but he will get lost if you aren’t careful on a big tree.

Since he is in action, you can’t set this ornament out to be displayed.  However, he looks great when you go to hang him on a tree.  Hanging him really captures that in the middle of a fight look.

I’m happy to see Hallmark branch out a little and include Green Lantern in their mini Justice League set.  I’m curious to see if they will continue next year, and if so, which characters we will get.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Book Review: Cobblered to Death by Rosemarie Ross (Courtney Archer #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, cozy setting
Cons: Plot underdone
The Bottom Line:
Baking contest death
Likable characters but
Plot is uneven

Clobbered by Cherry Cobbler

Once again, I’m proving that I can’t resist a culinary cozy.  Despite not needing any new series to start, I just had to pick up Cobblered to Death.

Courtney Archer has made a name for herself as the host of a cooking show called The Farmer’s Daughter.  There’s just one catch – she is actually the daughter of a doctor from Chicago.  She hates deceiving her fans, but keeping it a secret is part of her contract.

In an effort to expand her brand, Courtney is serving as host of The American Baking Battle.  It is supposed to be a friendly baking competition, but even at the opening night reception for the bakers and celebrities to interact, Courtney can sense the tension.  It seems that Mick, one of the contestants, is at the center of the problems.  Worse yet, he has learned Courtney’s secret and appears ready to hold it over her head.  However, on the second morning of taping, Courtney finds Mick dead on the floor of the show’s set, hit over the head with the pan of cherry cobbler she had made for her own show.  With the police looking at her as a person of interest, can she figure out what really happened to Mick?

This book started out well, and I was quickly under its spell.  Courtney is a strong main character, and I instantly liked her.  I could sympathize with her predicament about her background, probably because she clearly doesn’t like it herself.  Likewise, her show’s producer, Eric, is great, and we meet some other fun characters.  The tension and secrets are introduced quickly as well, giving us some potential suspects before Mick is murdered.  And make no mistake, if you read cozy mysteries, it is obvious who the victim will be early on.

However, the further I went into the book, the more I struggled with it.  Don’t misunderstand, I still loved the characters.  Courtney makes a great friend on the set of the show, and I enjoyed watching their relationship develop.  There are hints of romance as well, and I was intrigued by how this storyline played out here and what it set up for the future.

No, my problem lay with the plot.  There weren’t quite enough suspects and clues to keep the story moving forward.  We get to spend plenty of time with the events surrounding The American Baking Battle, which was fun, but I needed more twists and surprises as I worked my way through the story.  The climax was weaker than it should have been as a result, although it does answer all of our questions.

I really did enjoy the setting.  The show is being filmed at a private estate in the Poconos, and the location sounded like a lot of fun.  I would certainly enjoy a visit in real life when it isn’t filled with the tension of a murder mystery.

The wonderful characters and setting will be more than enough to draw people to this new series, and Cobblered to Death shows them off well.  I do hope the plots get stronger as the series progresses.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.