Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Book Review: Irish Stewed by Kylie Logan (Ethnic Eats Mysteries #1)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Interesting main character; fun mystery
Cons: I found nothing to stew over.
The Bottom Line:
Man’s dead body in
A closed restaurant begins
This fun new series

New Series Off to a Delicious Start

I am so far behind on the books I want to read I will never catch up.  (It’s a wonderful problem to have, isn’t it?)  But when an author I like starts a new series, I jump right in – that way I won’t get further behind.  Which explains why I jumped on Irish Stewed by Kylie Logan, the first in her new Ethnic Eats series.  I’m not at all surprised to report that this series is off to a fantastic start.

Laurel Inwood has agreed to come to Hubbard, Ohio, for a few weeks to take over running her foster aunt Sophie’s restaurant while her aunt recovers from knee replacement surgery.  However, Laurel is in for a shock when she arrives and finds that the upscale restaurant she is expecting is actually a greasy spoon.

Laurel quickly gets a second shock when she and Sophie walk into the restaurant to find a man dead at one of the tables.  The restaurant has been closed for a couple of days, so how did this man get in there?  Sophie quickly recognizes him at the Lance of Justice, local investigative reporter Jack Lancer.  Was he doing a story on the restaurant?  Or was there some other reason he was murdered there?

As you can see, we get plenty of questions to propel us into the story, and we slowly get answers as the book progresses.  Meanwhile, the spotlight of suspicion shines on quite a few people before we reach the logical climax.  The climax was a lot of fun if a bit rushed, but everything we need to know is there.

One thing I appreciated about this book is the twist on the usual cozy series set up.  Yes, Laurel is going to a small town to help a relative, but she’s never actually been to Hubbard before herself.  This means we are meeting the residents at the same time she is, and our perspectives are similar.  Laurel’s past as a foster child makes for an interesting main character who isn’t quite as quick to trust or reach out.  A few times I did find myself getting irritated with her as a result of her actions, but most of the time, I loved her.  I can see the potential for great character growth in her, and I’m looking forward to watching that develop in future books.

Not surprising, the rest of the cast is just as well drawn.  Yes, we are getting to know them in this book since it’s the first in a series, but they feel like real people already, and I can’t wait to go back and visit again.

Yes, there is a recipe at the end of the book – we get the Irish stew referenced in the title.  Based on how it is described in the book, I’m sure you are in for a treat if you decide to make it.

I enjoyed Irish Stewed so much, I’m already looking forward to going back to visit Laurel and her new friends again.  This is the start of another great series from the talented Kylie Logan that will leave you anxious for a second helping.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Just leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you if you win.  I will pick the winner next Tuesday, May 10th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM Pacific Time on 5/10.  You will have until midnight on 5/15 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 5/16.

Monday, May 2, 2016

April 2016's Monthly Reading Summary

It's scary - we are a third of the way through the year.  Even more scary, I'm over half way through my reading summary for the year.  I guess that means I can slow down a little in my reading now, right?  Somehow, I don't see that happening.

Anyway, here's my monthly reading summary for the month.  And yes, the index has been updates.

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

Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell (Quaker Midwife #1) – 4
Rose Carroll is a Quaker Midwife in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in 1888.  The small town is usually quiet until a fire destroys some of the factories in town, killing employees.  Rumors circulate that it was caused by arson.  Will her connections in town help Rose figure out what is happening?

This is a good series debut.  I had a little trouble keeping track of the characters at the beginning, but I quickly got them all straight, and I grew to care for them by the end.  The plot is good with some nice complications and a creative climax.  I’m looking forward to visiting Rose again in more books.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Killer Takeout by Lucy Burdette (Key West Food Critic Mysteries #7) – 4
Its Fantasy Fest time, a week and a half long party for adults on Key West leading up to Halloween.  Hayley Snow is busy covering the event for the magazine where she works.  Meanwhile, her mom is in Key West to get remarried.  Then a woman dies and Hayley’s co-worker Danielle becomes the prime suspect.  Oh yeah, and there’s a hurricane that might be heading to the island as well.

As you can see, there’s plenty to keep your interest.  That kept the pages turning although I did feel it weakened the ending of the actual mystery a bit.  That’s a minor complaint overall with the wonderful characters and the festive atmosphere of the island.  If you need an arm chair vacation, this is the book for you.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Rest in Peach by Susan Furlong (Georgia Peach Mysteries #2) – 5
While Nola Mae Harper is intent on finishing up the store front for her new peach business, the rest of Cays Mill is talking about the cotillion, the age old presentation of the young women in town into society.  But when a fight over a dress leads to murder, Nola finds herself caught up in helping her friend Ginny prove she is innocent.

I had a lot of fun on this return visit to Cays Mill.  Nola is a good main character, and I liked watching her grow here.  The rest of the cast is fun as well.  I did figure out the mystery early, but there were still a couple of twists I didn’t see coming, and I was having fun along the way, so I really didn’t mind.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #3) – 5
LA homicide detective Harry Bosch is facing a wrongful death lawsuit stemming from the Dollmaker case.  Four years ago, this serial killer was terrorizing Los Angeles until Bosch killed him.  But just as the case comes to trial, Harry gets a new note that appears to come from the killer.  And it leads them to a fresh body.  Did Bosch kill the right person?  How might this affect his trial?

This is quite obviously not one of the cozies I normally read, and it got into some details I didn’t care for.  However, the case was very compelling, and it kept me engrossed the entire time.  This was half police procedural and half legal thriller, something this author has turned back to for the Mickey Haller series.  We also got to see so true growth in Bosch in this book, and I can’t wait to see where that growth takes the character next.

Adam Raccoon in Lost Woods by Glen Keane – 5
Adam is thrilled to leave on his hike with King Aren.  Adam just has a few things he wants to take with him.  King Aren insists that Adam doesn’t need them.  Will they help during the hike?  Or will they just get in the way?

While the point of this story is obvious (this isn’t the Parables for Kids series for nothing), the story is fun and never preaches.  Instead, it provides some laughs and a couple of scary moments along the way.  The illustrations are a colorful addition to a wonderful story.

Vanilla Beaned by Jenn McKinlay (Cupcake Bakery Mysteries #8) – 5
Mel, Angie, and Tate are in Vegas to meet with their first potential franchise partner.  After the first bakery location blows up when they go to visit it, the trio begin to suspect that someone is out to sabotage the franchise.  But are they after our trio or the potential new owner?

While the book is set in Vegas, we still get plenty of time with the series regulars and movement on several key on going stories.  The mystery is focused a bit more on the why of the sabotage instead of the who done it, and I liked that change of pace in the plot.  The pages turned all too quickly, and it’s going to be a long wait until I can visit these friends again.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Time of Fire and Fog by Rhys Bowen (Molly Murphy #16) – 5
Daniel accepts a temporary top secret assignment with the Secret Service.  Molly is trying not to worry about her husband until she gets a strange note in the mail.  The more she looks at it, the more she thinks he is asking her to come to San Francisco.  Why would Daniel ask for Molly’s help?  What will she find when she arrives?

This is another wonderful trip back to 1906 with Molly and her family and friends.  We get to see them before and after the time in San Francisco, but that never really slows down the plot.  The mystery does get a bit sidetracked by the real events unfolding in the city during that time, but it still makes for page turning reading.

A Girl’s Guide to Landing a Greek God by Bill Fuller (Mythmaker’s Trilogy #1) – 4
After running out on her own wedding, Angie takes a trip to Greece with a request from her grandmother to go to one particular island.  What she doesn’t know is that on the island is Milos, a man who has been in love with Angie for years.  Oh, and he also happens to be a Greek god.  What will happen when she arrives?

Fantasy and romance – not my normal genres at all, and this book was heavy on the romance early on, which meant I was a little bored.  Once the fantasy began to play a bigger factor in the book in the second half, I got much more interested in the book.  So interested, in fact, that I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next to these characters.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen #19) – 4
Hannah Swensen is getting married in just a few weeks, but first she has the dessert competition that her sisters signed her up for.  It turns out this televised competition is anything but sweet when the backstage tension leads to murder.  Can Hannah solve the case before she gets married?

The baking competition allowed food to be brought into the book seamlessly, and the competition itself was plenty of fun.  It’s always great to revisit the characters, too.  The murder takes a back seat early on, but it gets plenty of focus as we rush toward the ending.  I do hope the wedding sticks because, while it was rushed, I do love the potential I see in this character and relationship.

No Comfort for the Lost by Nancy Herriman (Mystery of Old San Francisco #1) – 4
Celia Davies spends her days helping the women of 1867 San Francisco via her free medical clinic.  One of her patients, a former Chinese prostitute is found murdered, and Celia must know what happened to her.  Meanwhile, Nicholas Greaves is the police officer assigned to the case, and he is determined to get justice for the young woman.  But where will the investigation lead?

This is a good debut that will please any fan of historical mysteries.  The characters are intriguing, and their history makes them seem even more real.  The plot did bog down a few times, but never for very long, and we reach a logical conclusion before the end.  The world of 1867 is brought to wonderful life as well, and it’s easy to get lost in another time.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in hopes I would review it.

Spaced Out by Stuart Gibbs (Moon Base Alpha #2) – 5
When you are living in a small base on the moon, it’s hard to vanish.  And yet, that’s exactly what has happened to Nina Stack, the commander.  Dash Gibson finds himself in the middle of the hunt for the missing woman, all the time with one thought in the back of his mind – if they don’t find her soon, time might run out.

This is a delightful combination of mystery and science fiction that will keep fans of either genre turning pages.  The characters are sharp and well done.  There are plenty of twists and clues.  Plus there are some very funny scenes.  My only warning is that this book spoils the first in the series, but that’s a very minor issue since both books are delightful reads.

All Murders Final! by Sherry Harris (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries #3) – 5
Sarah is spending the winter months running a virtual garage sale site for her local community.  When she goes to make a trade with Margaret More, she is shocked to find the woman murdered in her car.  And when someone takes a picture of Sarah at the crime scene and then sends it to her, Sarah gets really worried.

This book starts out quickly and never lets up.  We are always getting a twist or clue to keep us turning the pages.  The characters are wonderful, and we meet some new ones I hope stick around as well.  The book was over all too quickly, leaving me waiting for the next.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #5) – 4
It’s the week before Easter, but Flavia is focused on the unearthing of the village’s patron saint in honor of the 400th anniversary of his death.  However, a very modern corpse is also found in the crypt, and Flavia is on the case.

The case seems to wander quite a bit as the book progresses, bringing in things that appear unrelated.  However, everything does come into play before the book is over.  I’m truly enjoying watching these characters grow, and some of the ongoing stories really have me curious about what comes next.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Movie Review: The Devil Wears Prada

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: The wonderful acting brings the characters to life; final few scenes
Cons: Familiar road the entire way through
The Bottom Line:
Nothing new plot wise
But the actors bring to life
Journey worth taking

Watch Who You Become

Yes, when it came out, I wrote The Devil Wears Prada off as a chick flick.  And yet, a part of me was always curious about it, so when I caught a chance to watch it on TV, I decided that was the way to go.  I’m glad I did because I did enjoy it.

Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is a new journalism graduate who is hoping to start her career in New York City.  She lands a job at the fashion magazine Runway as the second assistant to Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), the woman who not only runs the magazine but wields her power over much of the fashion industry itself.

However, Andy isn’t necessarily suited for the job.  Her fashion sense is definitely lacking, and she knows little of what Miranda asks of her.  Can she keep the job?  And what effect might the long demanding hours have on her relationships with her friends and her boyfriend?

Honestly, this is a very familiar story.  You’ve got the na├»ve newbie and the powerful mentor who has seen it all and demands perfection.  But that doesn’t keep you from rooting for Andy.  As someone who has gotten new jobs recently, I felt sorry for Andy since she appeared to get so little training.  It was easy to root for her to figure things out and start to impress her new, demanding boss.  Of course, we do get to see the other side as her friends get very tired of her constantly changing plans for her job.  And it especially wears on her relationship with her boyfriend.

As I said, this is a familiar story.  The result found me wanting Andy to figure out a way to balance both her personal life and her new job.  The character is very likable and easy to root for, which gets us through a lot.

This was important to me since I’m a guy.  Fashion?  Forget about it.  I couldn’t have cared less about that aspect of the story, but of course it was just the setting that holds the rest of it together.

What really impressed me were some scenes near the end.  We get to see both sides of this coin as Miranda gives Andy a couple of peaks into her life.  Instead of being preachy, they come across as honest, which is so hard hitting it is impossible to turn away.

The acting propels us through the early parts and gets us to the payoff with no issues at all.  Meryl Streep is absolutely outstanding in the lead.  She makes Miranda much more complex than she appears from the very beginning.  In lesser hands, the final scenes wouldn’t have felt real because we wouldn’t have cared about the character.  Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway holds her own and really makes us care about Andy, which makes the entire journey worth taking.  The two leads are surrounded by a great supporting cast that includes Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, and Simon Baker.  These actors make their characters stand out no matter how big or small their parts on screen are.

I’m glad I took advantage of the TV to watch The Devil Wears Prada.  While it doesn’t break any new ground, the trip is well worth taking again with this cast playing these characters.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 30th's Weekly TV Thoughts

Remind me who it was again who thought it was a good idea to go out of town just as May sweeps is starting?  I have a feeling when I get back I will never get caught up.  Just look at how few shows I got watched this week thanks to my trip.

Once Upon a Time – Am I alone, or did it seem a little too easy for Regina and Zelena to forgive each other and move on.  I get that they didn’t know about that bond from their childhood, but they’ve done some nasty stuff to each other.  I was looking forward to watching Zelena change, but this was too sudden for my taste.  On the other hand, that final scene was great, and I can’t wait to see how that plays out next week.

Dancing with the Stars – Got to admit I was not sorry to see Nyle brought down a couple of pegs in his scores this week.  Yes, he’s talented, but his bragging during the package was a bit much.  Maybe he was trying to be funny and it just didn’t come across right.  At least I hope that was the case.  Not surprised that Doug left.  Sorry to see him go, but he was the weak link at this point.

Castle – So how did that guy survive his first two murders?  I mean, it was a great premise to an episode, but they usually give us an explanation when they pull something like that.  I felt so sorry for the guy at the end, too.  Still, it was a fun episode, and they are obviously building toward the LockStat solution at the end of the season.  If only I felt I could trust the end of the season to be something I would like.

Flash – I do hope that’s the last we will see of Killer Frost.  I love Kaitlyn, and if they turn the real her into that villain, I won’t be happy.  I was good watching Barry work without his speed and still defeat the villain.  I loved Wally’s reaction to last week.  A bit more of the character stuff I loved from season one, although I think that’s what’s been missing overall this season.

Agents of SHIELD – It’s either Fitz or Simmons who is going to die before the season is over.  Seriously, could they have telegraphed it any more loudly?  And I don’t think the writers are creative enough to pull a switch like that on this show.  Not that this week wasn’t interesting, but really, I’m out when this season is over.

Rush Hour – Did not see that twist with his sister coming.  But I like it!  I’m glad to know she is really on the same side as her brother even if he can’t find out until her undercover case is wrapped up.  Definitely felt a bit darker overall, although it still had some light, comedic moments.

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29th's Book Beginning and Friday 56

Sneaking in this week's Book Beginning and Friday 56 while I have a few moments to myself.

This week, I'm reading Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

The ironic thing?  This is a thriller, and I'm reading it while out of town for Malice Domestic, which is devoted to cozy mysteries.  Of course, I like to save Gregg's books for when I have long plane rides, which is why I am reading it now.

Here's how Chapter 1 begins:

After picking up a set of pistol suppressors from a nine-fingered armorer in Las Vegas, Evan Smoak headed for home in his Ford pickup, doing his best not to let the knife wound distract him.

Skipping ahead to page 56, we find this exchange.

"Wait! Evan!"
He turned to see Mia run-walking toward him in her midheel shoes, still dressed from work.
"Look, sorry, I know this is weird, but can I borrow your truck?" she said.

And there you have it for another week.  Have a fantastic weekend.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Book Review: Speaking from Among the Bones by Alan Bradley (Flavia de Luce #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great character growth
Cons: Plot appears to wander at times
The Bottom Line:
New body with old
Why was his body hidden?
Good visit with friends

Modern Corpse in the Crypt

While I have found the series more uneven than many people seem to, I’ve been enjoying the characters and situations in the Flavia de Luce mysteries.  So when a recent road trip found me with a CD that wouldn’t play, I wasn’t too upset when I was able to substitute Speaking From Among the Bones as a last minute audio book.

This book finds us in 1951.  It’s late March, and the week before Easter.  Flavia’s oldest sister Ophelia is concentrating on her debut as the parish organist at the upcoming service.  But the big news in their small village of Bishop’s Lacey is the crew that has come to town to dig up the remains of their patron saint.  St. Tancred has been dead for 500 years, and they are going to honor him.

Naturally, the eleven-year-old Flavia is on the scene when the crew sets to work.  But they’ve just dug into the outer chamber of the crypt when they make a shocking discovery.  There’s a second body in the crypt, this one decidedly more recent.  In fact, everyone in town recognizes him as Mr. Collicutt, the village’s former organist who vanished six weeks ago.  Of course, Flavia begins to dig into the latest mystery, but can she find the killer?

My main complaint with this series has been that the mysteries can be weak.  This one starts out right away, but the book does appear to wander around for a while until we reach the climax.  Most of the pieces of the book are indeed needed to solve things, and the solution is wonderful.

The real charm continues to be the characters.  Flavia is one of the most unique main characters.  While at times I can be annoyed by her antics (something kept to a minimum here), at others she is rather funny in her reactions to things.  We get to know a bit more about the rest of her family here and make some interesting new friends along the way.  The characters are becoming deeper and richer with every book, something I really enjoy.

In fact, I’m quite curious about how an on-going series sub-plot is going to progress.  I care enough about the characters I need to know they will be okay.  Granted, the cliffhanger at the end of the book would be enough to make me want to read the next one soon anyway.

Jane Entwistle is the narrator once again for the audio book, and she is Flavia.  Her inflections as she does the first person narration are half the fun.  I don’t know that I would enjoy reading the books for myself now I’ve gotten so spoiled.

Because of the character growth, it’s probably best to go back to the beginning to enjoy these books.  But you’ll be enjoying Speaking from Among the Bones before you know it.

Need to go back to the beginning?  Here are the Flavia de Luce mysteries in order.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Malice Domestic

As you are reading this, I'm about 24 hours away from checking into the Malice Domestic convention for 2016.  I've wanted to go for years, and I'm so excited to actually be there.

If you are there as well, I do hope you'll look for me and say hi if you find me.  I'd love to meet you.

And if you aren't there, I hope you'll stop by.  I've got a couple of posts scheduled to run over the next couple of days.

Ornament Review: Santa Certified #3 - Rocking Horse - 2015 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Artistic touches make the ornament stand out
Cons: Series continues to have to grow on me each year
The Bottom Line:
Classy rocking horse
Made for some special children
Details will delight

Rock in Style with Santa’s Latest Creation

While I enjoy the many Hallmark ornaments I get, not all of them are true works of art.  However, the ornaments in the Santa Certified series certainly strive for that mark.  These are the supposed to represent the toys that Santa spends a little extra time on for the extra special boy or girl, and the results are always filled with great details.

This year’s offering is a rocking horse, but it’s not just any rocking horse.  The horse itself is white with a dark brown mane and tail.  The saddle and bridle are red with gold accents.  Instead of being surrounded but obvious springs, the horse is standing on a platform surrounded by a railing.  The platform is a deep red, and the railing is gold.  Carved into the railing are trees with bits of holly and even bells also visible.  And you can tell that Santa is happy with this ornament because he has put an SC on the saddle.

And one other detail to make it fun – the horse actually rocks.  Okay, rocks might be too strong a word (this is an ornament made of plastic, after all), but the horse does move back and forth when you press gently on it.

While the motion does add to the fun, it’s the little details that truly make this ornament stand out.  The red and gold combine well to make for a beautiful look, and it seems like every time I look at it, I notice something new and fun.

As much as I do like the ornament now, it seems like each year’s offering in this series has to grow on me.  When I first see the picture, I’m not too impressed, but as I continue to look at it in the store before I buy it, I wind up loving it.

The little details continue to the series marker.  Instead of just being a triangle to represent the Christmas tree, we actually see the branches.  It’s bigger, which makes the 3 easier to read, too.  Like in previous years, Santa has signed this piece as well.  All this is hidden on the bottom of the ornament.

Speaking of which, the bottom is flat enough that you can set this piece out in any display with no worries about it tipping.  Give this series a few more years, and I’m picturing a wonderful display of Santa’s workshop featuring these toys.

But if you want to hang it on your tree, you will find the hook on the horse.  Slip a loop through it and you’ll find that it hangs straight.  Would Santa accept anything less?

Pictures truly don’t do this ornament justice.  To fully appreciate Santa Certified, you need to look at the ornament in person.  That will allow you to appreciate the artistry yourself.

Enjoy more of Santa's special creations with the rest of the Santa Certified series.

Original Price: $14.95

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Review: All Murders Final! by Sherry Harris (Sarah Winston Garage Sale Mysteries #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery filled with strong characters
Cons: Climax a bit rushed, but a minor issue overall
The Bottom Line:
A virtual sale
Turns up a real dead body
Pages fly by quickly

You’ll Enjoy This Mystery to the Final Page

There are so many cozy series out there right now that it seems there’s always a book about to come out I’m really looking forward to reading.  After how much I enjoyed the first two books in the Sarah Winston Garage Sales Mysteries, All Murders Final! was definitely a book I was looking forward to reading, and it didn’t disappoint at all.

The book finds Sarah in the middle of a mild Massachusetts February winter, but even so, winter in New England is not a time to be hosting garage sales, so Sarah has turned to running a virtual garage sale website for the town of Ellington to make some money.  In addition to being the admin, she’s also a member of the site, buying and selling things herself.

One morning, Sarah goes to pick up some things from Margaret More, a rich and powerful local woman.  Only when she arrives, Sarah finds Margaret dead in her car with a table cloth stuffed in her mouth, the same table cloth that Sarah had been fighting with another woman over on the garage sale sight the nite before.  While she is waiting for the police, someone sends Sarah a picture – of Sarah waiting for the police.  What in the world has Sarah stumbled into?

When I write my teasers for my review, I always try to tease as little of the plot as I can.  Here, I’ve teased just the opening few pages of the book.  When a story starts that strongly, I’m always hopeful that this portends a strong story to follow, and in this case it definitely does.  There is always something happening, whether it is Sarah learning something new or some new event that keeps her on her toes and us turning pages.  I did feel that the climax was a little rushed, but when thinking it over, everything did make sense in the end.

The characters in this series have always been strong, and this book is no exception.  We see plenty of the regulars as well as meet great new characters.  All of them felt real to me, and I’m already ready to go back and visit them again.  I hope a few of the characters introduced here pop up again as well because that would be awesome.

There’s been a love triangle so far in this series as Sarah struggles between CJ, her ex-husband, and Seth, the most eligible bachelor in the area.  We got some nice advancement of this story arc here, and I was very happy with how things ended, although I want to see more of both of them in future books.

I can’t review this book without mentioning the humor.  There are a couple of scenes that made me laugh near the middle of this book and several more great scenes and lines throughout.  They were wonderful at easing the tension a little before we started the climb back to the climax.

At the end of the book, we get a few tips for garage sales, real and virtual.  I really need to start taking advantage of some of these tips, and if you saw my condo you’d understand why I say that.

I was disappointed to reach the final page of All Murders Final!, and I’m already looking forward to Sarah’s next adventure.  If you want a fun mystery that will keep you reading, be sure to pick up this book today.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 25, 2016

TV on DVD Review: Royal Pains - Season 7

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters we love in mostly good stories
Cons: Two storylines really bugged me
The Bottom Line:
Two bad storylines
Mar otherwise fun season
Hank Med fans enjoy

A Step Down, but Still Royally Fun

It always pains me when a favorite show takes a step down from the level of excellence it had been on.  That was the case with season 7 of Royal Pains.  Don’t get me wrong, the show was still mostly fun, but a couple of the storylines were just too much to swallow.

The show picks up from the surprise announcement that Boris (recurring guest star Campbell Scott) has purchased Hamptons Heritage hospital and wants the HankMed gang to run it.  While Evan Lawson (Paulo Costanzo) and Divya Katdare (Reshma Shetty) are definitely on board, it’s actually Hank Lawson (Mark Feuerstein) who wants to keep things simple and just keep doing the concierge medicine he has come to love.

Evan’s adjustment to the temporary hospital administrator is a bit rough as he attempts to befriend everyone in his overly enthusiastic way.  Meanwhile, everyone finds a way to balance their new jobs with that of keeping HankMed afloat.  Over the course of the season, Hank must treat a triathlete while helping Boris with a top secret patient.  Meanwhile, Dr. Jeremiah Sacani (Ben Shenkman) takes a step that he thinks will help only to cause major problems.

So, what are the storylines I didn’t care for?  Let’s start with Divya.  This single mother has found herself in a custody fight for her toddler.  And what does she do?  The absolute worst things she could possibly do, and in several episodes in a row.  It left me cringing because I could always see the consequences of her bad actions coming a mile away.  The thing is, Divya is way too smart for this behavior, and the writers didn’t really sell it to me.

Then there’s Evan and his wife Paige (Brooke D’Orsay).  They’ve bought a house and are working on getting it remodeled while they work on starting a family.  Sounds great, right?  However, in the course of this season, they discover they are having problems conceiving and look toward adoption.  Now, there was nothing wrong with this storyline at all.  In fact, I was finding this storyline enjoyable until everything suddenly felt rushed in the second half of the season.  I know things are compressed on TV, but everything they went through in the eight episodes here was too much.  It would have felt better spread out over a normal TV season of 22 episodes or even if this story were finished up in the next season.

Now, that isn’t to say I wasn’t enjoying the show still.  I love these characters.  (I’m going to be so sad when the show goes off the air after the upcoming eighth season.)  And even when a storyline made me roll my eyes, I still enjoyed the show overall.  After all, there are always several things happening each episode, so no episode dwells on one story for too long, and most of the storylines were wonderful overall.  The medical mysteries seem to be taking more of a backseat to the lives of the characters, but they are still there and still enjoyable.

Any issues I have with this season I blame solely on the writers.  The actors continue to do a fantastic job of bringing their characters to life.  They were just let down by the writing.

As I mentioned earlier, this season consisted of only eight episodes, and all eight of them are present in this two disc set in their native full surround and wide screen.

Long term fans will still enjoy watching the HankMed gang in season 7 of Royal Pains.  But this isn’t the strongest season of the show, so if you aren’t familiar with the characters, don’t jump in here.

Season 7 Episodes:
1. Rebound
2. False Start
3. Playing Doctor
4. The Prince of Nucleotides
5. Voices Carry
6. Secret Asian Man
7. Lama Trauma
8. Lending a Shoulder