Sunday, November 29, 2020

Cookie Review: Caramel Coconut Oreos

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Caramel coconut combined!
Cons: Chocolate cookie clouds crème
The Bottom Line:
A fun new flavor
Overshadowed by cookie
Wish it were stronger

Good Flavor, but Could Be Stronger

I love caramel.  And I love coconut.  So when I spotted the Caramel Coconut Oreos, there was nothing to think about – I knew I had to try them.

The outsides of these Oreos are the traditional chocolate cookie.  However, the crème inside is a tan color – you could call it a caramel color if you wanted.  And that crème has a caramel coconut flavor to it.  I know, I know, very shocking.

As a caramel coconut fan, I definitely like the flavor.  And I appreciate the fact that they combined the two since they are great alone or together.  My issue is that the flavor isn’t strong enough.  The chocolate cookies are always dominate when you eat a traditional Oreo.  That’s true again here.  Just a bit more flavor would be amazing since it would allow these flavors to mix.

Don’t misunderstand, I definitely enjoy the Caramel Coconut Oreos.  But just a bit more flavor would make them even better.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

November 28th's Weekly TV Thoughts

 Didn't get too much watched this weekend.  Some of my shows were preempted anyway, but I didn't make it to everything that was on.  But here's what I did watch.

LA’s Finest – I’m really getting concerned about Dante.  Something happened to it, and it can’t be good.  The undercover assignment is going to be very interesting.  And they still haven’t solve the heist story.

Dancing with the Stars – I’m not surprised that Kaitlyn won.  Bachelorette stars seem to have lots of luck on this show.  But I’m disappointed Nev didn’t win.  He was amazing all season.  Have to give Kaitlyn props for two great routines tonight, however.  Heck, everyone was dancing well tonight.  Still, I really did want it to be Nev.

The Weakest Link – I felt like the team was doing worse than that.  Yes, the total was still pretty bad overall, but they managed to bank more than I thought they did.  That final round was almost comical in how many they got wrong.

Friday, November 27, 2020

November 27th's Book Beginning and Friday 56

 Happy Friday.  Happy very long holiday weekend Friday to those in the US.  I hope you are enjoying Thanksgiving this year no matter how you are celebrating.

Since it is Friday, it's time for Book Beginning and Friday 56.  And, since it is the day after Thanksgiving, it must be time for another Christmas mystery.  This time, it's Murder in Season, the newest Murder, She Wrote novel by Jessica Fletcher and Jon Land.

The book jumps right in with this quote:

"The holidays are murder, I tell you."

No, I'm not going to tell you who said that, but if you are a fan of the series, I'm sure you can guess.

Stopping 56% of the way into the book, we find this quote:

"I've got some exciting news, Aunt Jess."  Grady beamed at me, boyish and wide-eyed as ever.

"Don't make it too exciting," I warned him.  "I am getting older, you know."

This book has just hit the shelves, perfect to pick up and read right away.  I'll have my review on Tuesday.

In the meantime, have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is Thanksgiving here in the USA.  It's a very different Thanksgiving this year, which is no surprise.  The entire year has been different.  No matter who you are celebrating with, I hope you have a great day.

As always, I am thankful for all of you who read my blog.  It's always so heartwarming when someone tells me they enjoyed something they read about here.  So thank you for that as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Book Review: Sign of Foul Play by Penny Warner (Connor Westphal #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters and mystery
Cons: Some elements put it on the edge of cozy
The Bottom Line:
Construction site death
Was it caused by an earthquake?
Twisty mystery

All Signs Point to a Winner

I don’t know how people in other parts of the country feel, but I’ll admit, I roll my eyes a bit when I read a book or watch a show set in California that deals with an earthquake.  I’m not sure why since earthquakes aren’t that common in fiction when I stop and think about it.  However, I’ve got to say the earthquake set up in Sign of Foul Play quickly won me over.

If you’ve missed this series, Connor Westphal runs a small, weekly paper in the touristy town of Flat Skunk, California.  The town is in gold country in the Northern California Sierra Nevada foothills.  It’s a small town with plenty of intrigue.

The thing that sets Connor apart from most cozy sleuths is that she is deaf.  Fortunately, she is very adept at reading lips, but it adds an extra element to the series, and I really enjoy learning more about how she excels despite being deaf while reading the books.

Two earthquakes in the middle of the night made it hard for Connor to sleep.  However, she is going about her Monday morning when she gets a message from her friend Dan telling her there is a news story at the construction site he is working at.  When Connor arrives, she finds that someone has discovered the dead body of Cullen Delancy.  The working theory is that he fell to his death when the earthquake struck, but what was he doing on the site in the middle of the night?

As you can see, the earthquake plays a very important part of the set up of the mystery, and I quickly got on board with the premise.  It’s a great mystery with twists and turns that kept me engaged.  I did figure a few things out before Connor did, but much of it was still a surprise to me when she pieced things together.

Connor is a fantastic sleuth.  She’s strong, determined, and gets into plenty of danger no matter what she tries to do to stay safe.  I really am glad to revisited her.  There are only a few characters back from the first book, but I enjoyed seeing them again here, and seeing their relationships with Connor grow.  Meanwhile, the suspects are all strong.

The book is slightly edgy for a cozy.  A couple of scenes could have been toned down, there are a handful of four letter words, and one twist is a bit dark.  Keep all this in mind and you’ll be fine.

This book was originally published in 1998.  As a result, Connor doesn’t have a cell phone to text people but must rely on TTY phones and she can only check her email on her computer.  Can you believe how much our lives have changed in the past 20-something years?

Sign of Foul Play is a wonderful second book in this creative series.  I’m glad I have picked these books up again and look forward to my next visit with Connor.

Be sure to pick up the rest of the Connor Westphal mysteries.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Book Review: Open for Murder by Mary Angela (Happy Camper Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great location, fun plot, and characters
Cons: Motives early on are weak (but get better)
The Bottom Line:
A grand opening
Also invited murderer
In series debut

Opening Weekend Features Murder

I’m always on a lookout for a cozy with a different hook, so I was immediately attracted to the Happy Camper Mysteries by Mary Angela.  The main character owns a souvenir shop in the Black Hills area of South Dakota.  It sounded like fun to me, so I picked up the first in the series, Open for Murder.

As this book opens, Zo Jones is thrilled to have her good friend, Beth Everett, back in the area.  Beth visited her aunt in the town of Spirit Canyon every summer for years, and the two were inseparable when she was in town.  Beth is back with her family to reopen the lodge that her aunt owned.  After renovating it, Beth is ready to reopen it Memorial Day weekend.

The opening night party with the first guests is cut short by a thunderstorm, but the following morning, a dead body is found in one of the guest rooms.  The woman owned competing lodges in the area, and had even offered Beth money to shut down her lodge.  With the police looking at Beth as their prime suspect, Zo calls on her days as a reporter to try to figure out what really happened.  Can she do it?

As I said, the setting is something that appealed to me, and it delivered in spades.  I have yet to visit South Dakota, although I want to.  This book made me want to visit even more.  Plus, Zo’s shop is one I’d definitely love to visit.  The souvenirs sound so appealing.  Heck, I’d probably wind up spending more than I should on the stuff she sells.

The book spends a couple of chapters introducing us to Zo, Beth, and others who will be regulars before we meet the suspects and victim, but as soon as the victim walks on to the page, we know who it is will be.  The mystery was good with several suspects to keep us guessing.  I’ll admit, I felt some of the motives were weak early on, but the further we got into the book, the more fleshed out motives became, which I appreciated.

Likewise, the characters grew on me.  They definitely still have room to grow, but that is often the case with a first book in a series.  The suspects were as real as the series regulars.

While this isn’t a culinary cozy, we do get a receive for a S’more brownie at the end.  Yum!  They sound absolutely delicious.

Open for Murder introduces us to a promising new series set in a great location.  If you are open to a new series, you should definitely check this one out.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Short Story Review: Ghosts 'N Graveyards by Sue Ann Jaffarian (Ghost of Granny Apples #6.1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great to see these fun characters
Cons: Story just an excuse for the visit
The Bottom Line:
Short story visit
Great to see these characters
For this Thanksgiving

Haunted Thanksgiving

I read series because I love the characters.  I can’t wait to get back and find out what is going to happen to them in each story.  It’s been a couple of years since we visited Emma and Granny, the main characters in the Ghost of Granny Apples series from Sue Ann Jaffarian, but we get to see how they are doing with “Ghosts ‘N Graveyards,” a new short story.

It’s Thanksgiving, and Emma and her new husband, Phil, are planning a quiet holiday with their friend Jeremiah and his friend Rose.  Like Emma, Jeremiah is also a medium who has solved mysteries with Granny, the ghost of Emma’s great-great-great grandmother.  That’s going to come in handy with Granny shows up.  It seems that one of the ghosts in Julian’s Pioneer Cemetery is more upset than usual.  It sounds like she thinks someone is about to die.  Is she right?  Can Emma and Jeremiah stop it from happening?

Since this is a short story, many of the series regulars aren’t here; there just wasn’t room to include them.  Granny really is the star of the series, and it was great to see her.  The living human characters are just as wonderful to spend time with again since we have met them all in past books.

The story was a bit simple, even for a short story, but it was more an excuse to visit the characters again.

And I had a fantastic time visiting the characters again.  As I said, this is why I love reading series, so I was very happy while I was reading the story.  We even get a brief mention of what might be coming up next for Odelia Grey, the star of one of Sue Ann Jaffarian’s other series.

Since this book is set during Thanksgiving weekend, now is the perfect time to download and read it.  It took me less than an hour, so it is quite easy to slip it in during the holiday, especially this year when things are different.

This is a story for the fans, and they will love getting to read “Ghosts ‘N Graveyards.”  If you haven’t met the characters yet, dive in with the first novel and meet this great cast.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this story.

You won't want to miss the rest of the Ghost of Granny Apples Mysteries.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Disney Pin Review: Jungle Cruise - Crests of the Kingdom - 2019 Release

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Gives a favorite attraction a wonderful crest
Cons: This pin cruises along with no cons
The Bottom Line:
Cruises to a crest
Captures attraction’s spirit
Another fun pin

The Point of This Crest?  Fun!

While Disneyland itself is nothing but fun, there are some rides that are extra fun.  One of those is the Jungle Cruise with all the puns the guides give us in the narration.  Being a rather punny guy myself, I love the Jungle Cruise as a result, so I was thrilled to add the Jungle Cruise entry from the Crests of the Kingdom pin series to my collection.

As always, the front is raised pewter, so it is all silver.  However, the design is very evident.  In this case, the main feature is one of the boats that serve as the attraction vehicle, taking us deep into the jungles of the world.  Helping to decorate the crest are a couple of oars and a spear.  The Latin on this crest is “Excitando exploratio ridiculum iocis” or “Exciting exploration with silly jokes.”  If that doesn’t describe this attraction perfectly, I don’t know what does.

The inside of the crest shows a scene from the attraction.  It’s the scene were the rhino is getting his point across to the explorers trying to climb the pole to get away from him.  We only see the bottom explorer and the rhino, but anyone who has been on the ride will know exactly what is being depicted.

Once again, Disney has perfectly captured this ride with the pin.  Fans of the attraction, and I’m definitely one of them, will get it.  I love it as a result.

Since this was released last year, you’ll have to hunt for it on the secondary market now.  But if you are a fan of the attraction, I’m sure you’ll appreciate it.

This series has been fun to see just how Disney would honor some of their signature attractions with an old-fashioned crest.  They have nailed most of them, and the crestfor The Jungle Cruise is definitely another winner.

If you'd like to see my pics, which include the inside, stop by my Instagram post.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

November 21st's Weekly TV Thoughts

Supermarket Sweep – If it had been me, I definitely would have gone for the $100K in the first half hour.  They had so much time left.  Meanwhile, I would have walked away with $25K in the second half because there wasn’t enough time left to go for it.

Card Sharks – I couldn’t believe that first round.  I mean, that woman couldn’t miss.  And she got very easy cards.  No middle of the pack wonders for her.  I feel a bit sorry for her opponent since this is his second time on the show (sort of), and he never got to guess any cards either time.  The second time was a bit more like normal, including both of the contestants getting ties one right after the other.  I felt sorry for that contestant getting the final one wrong, but she still won a nice bit of money.

LA’s Finest – Patrick didn’t take the truth well.  Not that Nancy is telling the complete truth yet.  I’m really wondering who snagged him.  We are supposed to think Nancy is involved from the cliffhanger at the end, but I’m a little suspicious of that.  The case of the week is certainly interesting.  I wonder how they are going to track down the thieves.

Dancing with the Stars – Johnny left!  And Nev is in the finals!  I don’t know that I cared about much beyond that.  Only the first round scores mattered since everyone got a perfect score in the second round.  There were definitely some beautiful dances tonight, too.  Now, let’s go Nev!

The Weakest Link – The team was actually doing pretty well for themselves – until that final round.  Even so, I think that’s the most I’ve ever seen a team get on the remake.  Definitely impressed.

Tell Me a Story – I am so loving this season!  I’m a bit surprised they went there with the shoe.  They are leaning into the fairytale more this season, especially with that storyline.  I’m not surprised the dad got shot.  I just hope he is okay.  I’m surprised the captive got away.  I’m even more surprised the old boyfriend is still alive.  I figured he wasn’t going to make it out of the episode alive.

The Amazing Race – I’m bummed.  I was rooting for Leo and Alana.  Okay, part of it was the underdog factor since the alliance seemed to be actively going against them.  Part of it was the fact that I liked them.  They seem like nice people.  That alliance of 5 is going to break apart pretty quickly and there is going to be some major drama when it does.  I can’t believe the blondes are still around.  Two non-elimination leg finishes plus a barely surviving finish in between.  I hope they last another leg or two, but we’ll see.  Leo and Alana probably wouldn’t have lasted too much longer either, to be honest, although I’d like to see how some of these teams would do without each other helping them.

B Positive – I was prepared to make this the last episode I watched.  And then this one came along and it wasn’t as bad as the first two.  Am I getting used to the characters?  Is it getting better?  Or was this a one off?  I’ll find out.

Star Trek Discovery – It is rare that I enjoy time loop stories.  I just get frustrated if we do too much recap not enough moving the story forward.  (Not saying it doesn’t happen, but they aren’t my favorite.)  I did enjoy the twist on this one that it wasn’t Michael who realized they were in the time loops since it is almost always the main character, or at least the character we are going to focus on in this episode.

Friday, November 20, 2020

November 20th's Book Beginning and Friday 56

 Welcome to Friday!  It's time again for Book Beginning and Friday 56.

This week, I'm featuring a short story - "Ghosts 'N Graveyards" by Sue Ann Jaffarian, an story featuring characters from her Ghost of Granny Apples series.

This is a fun little story for fans of the series.

Here's how the story begins:

"Got a job for us," a disembodied voice said.

And at 56% into the story, we find this:

"I think that's them, Emma.  That's the men that was here before."

Hope you have a great weekend.  I'll be back on Monday with a review of this story.