Saturday, August 31, 2019

August 31st's Weekly TV Thoughts

American Ninja Warrior – I really wish the show weren’t so predictable early on.  I knew Michelle and Kevin wouldn’t make it very far because they were the first two runners.  I’d already seen that amazing save on the diving boards on Instagram this week, but it was worth watching again – that was something.  Any best on whether Travis really retires or not?  Glad that Flip was able to make it through stage one with his pass, but I hope he is okay.  And if we only have one more night on stage 1, how are they going to make it another two weeks after that?  Even if someone wins, it seems like we would have a lot of time to fill.  Or there are a lot of people who pass stage 1 next week.

BH90210 – I don’t see how they are going to wrap any of this up in two more episodes.  Obviously, Zach isn’t the stalker.  Which co-star could it be?  And it sounds like they are only supposed to be doing 5 episodes of this fictional reboot.  A lot of work and drama is going into five episodes.

Suits – It was interesting to watch the pilot again.  There are parts I didn’t like then, and I can see why, but I’m glad I stuck with the show.  My how people have changed.  Oh, and I still miss Rachel and Mike.  And the sets!  Wow, the firm looked very different back then.  That’s often the case with the pilot, where the real sets are built for episode two and that’s what we get used to.

Pearson – The lawyer is a scumbag.  I hope she does go to Jessica and that Jessica steps in because you know she’d be incredible.  The rest?  Again, there are just too many storylines to care about any of them enough.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Movie Review: Chronicle Mysteries - The Deep End

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery with a fun cast
Cons: Alex needs to make up her mind already!
The Bottom Line:
New podcast season
Alex has courtroom deadline
Must work through the twists

“I’m Not on a Side.  I Just Want the Truth.”

Earlier this year, we get the first three movies in the new Chronicle Mysteries franchise from Hallmark, featuring a podcaster who gets involved in solving real life mysteries that she covers for her show.  Now it’s back for a fourth entry with The Deep End.

Alex McPherson (Alison Sweeney) is ready with another season of her podcast, this time featuring a case that is at trial right now.  Elliot Burke was murdered several months ago, and his estranged wife, Stephanie, is being tried for the crime.  The wife claims she is innocent, and Alex’s best friend, Katie (Karen Holness), is her defense attorney, so that draws Alex to the case.  While Alex is trying to follow the evidence and see where it leads, she is inclined to believe Stephanie is innocent.  Unfortunately, with the trial under way, Alex needs to come up with anything to solve the case in a hurry.  With the help of her friends at the newspaper, including Drew (Benjamin Ayres), can she do it?

I was very impressed with this mystery.  Alex and her team uncovered quite a bit of surprises along the way to the solution.  Yes, it was a case where it could have literally been anyone, but Alex does find a clue that not only makes the killer very obvious but leads to the killer confessing.  Along the way, we get some good twists, turns, and motives.  The climax, while over the top, was still fun.

When I said that Alex’s friends helped, I did mean all of them.  Drew, as the co-star, is obviously heavily involved, but his daughter Kendall (Olivia Steele Falconer) and gossip columnist Eileen (Rebecca Staab) also get involved, providing some key pieces of information along the way.  Alex’s uncle Max is out for this movie, but these four are the heart of this franchise – at least for me.

Which brings me to the one issue I have with this movie and franchise.  In the first movie, it was established that Alex has been traveling a lot and is reluctant to settle down anywhere.  Here we are in the fourth movie, and she still hasn’t decided to stay in town.  Seriously?  We all know she’s going to stick around, so can she make the decision already?  Likewise, it would be nice if Drew would ask her out already, although I’m a bit more patient in the romance department, maybe because it wouldn’t make much sense for him to start dating someone who isn’t going to stick around town.

One thing I appreciated is the fact this movie showed the aftermath of murder as various family and friends are grieving the death of the victim.  Yes, it is used as an obstacle to the investigation, and no, it isn’t prevalent enough to make the movie depressing.  It is a nice reminder that, as much fun as I find the puzzles, murder is a sad thing, and that reminder adds a depth to the movie I appreciated.  Fortunately, these are fictional characters we are talking about.

Based on the comments my reviews of the earlier movies have been getting, a lot of people wish that Alison Sweeney would go back to the Murder, She Baked franchise.  Personally, I would love to see her do both.  I certainly would love more Murder, She Baked movies since I’ve long been a fan of the Hannah Swensen books the movies were based on.  However, watching this movie, I realized just how much I really do enjoy this franchise, too.

Yes, there is the usual light dose of Hallmark cheese, but I’m getting quite immune to it after all the Hallmark movies I’ve watched.  As long as you know to expect it when you sit down to watch, you’ll be fine.

Thanks to the compelling mystery, I enjoyed The Deep End.  It would be nice to have some ongoing storylines resolved, but that’s a minor complaint for a fun mystery movie.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Silent Night, Deadly Night Winner

I just pulled the winner of Silent Night, Deadly Night.  And that winner is...

...Autumn!

I just sent you an e-mail, so keep an eye out for it so I can make sure you get your prize.

August 2019's Monthly Reading Summary

Yes, I'm a couple of days early this month, but I figured with the holiday weekend coming up, now was a good time to post my monthly reading summary for August.  And, would you believe, the index is updated as well?  (I know, I'm shocked, too.)

As always, the links will take you to the full reviews.

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

Penne Dreadful by Catherine Bruns (Italian Chef Mysteries #1) – 4
Tessa Esposito has had her life turned upside down.  Her husband has been killed in a car accident, leaving her a widow at 30.  However, she is about to get another shock.  Her cousin Gino, a cop, stops by to visit and drops the bombshell on her – the police don’t think the accident was an accident at all.  Instead, they think it was murder.  And he suggests that someone at Slice, the local pizza parlor where Dylan had lunch most days, might be responsible.  After all, he was last seen alive leaving the restaurant.  Tessa loves to cook, and Slice just happens to be advertising for a cook, so she snags the job, hoping to get a clue about what really happened to her husband.  But her co-workers don’t seem to happy to see her.  Is she going to be able to get anything out of them?

With Tessa’s husband being the victim, this book starts out with a more somber tone.  Some events try to lighten it, but it didn’t quite work for me.  After a bit of time to set up the characters and plot, things take off, and the book becomes impossible to put down.  Tessa must unpeel the layers like an onion, and each new layer has a twist that kept me hooked until I reached the end.  The suspects are all strong, and Tessa is a sympathetic lead character.  It is easy to understand everything she is going through.  The potential series regulars have a little room to grow, but that’s because they weren’t on the page too much.  That’s what sequels are for, right?  I did find some inconsistencies in the timeline late in the book, but nothing that ruins the plot at all.  My biggest complaint is how much Tessa’s love life was a sub-plot; it’s something that should have been held until at least the next book in the series in my opinion.  The book has some delicious sounding recipes at the end, including Tessa’s prize-winning tomato sauce.  Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I am looking forward to seeing what happens to Tessa next.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Love and Death Among the Cheetahs by Rhys Bowen (Royal Spyness Mysteries #13) – 3
Lady Georgiana and Darcy have finally wed, and Darcy has a surprise – an extended honeymoon in Kenya.  Georgie is excited to get to see local wildlife, but once they arrive, she quickly learns that Darcy is hoping to get some information on a notorious jewel thief that is rumored to be making an appearance in the country soon.  The couple are quick to settle into the British colony in the country, but they begin to realize that not everyone is as friendly as they first appear.  Then a murder interrupts their trip.  Can they figure out what is happening?

Those who are fans of Darcy (like me), will be pleased with his presence in this book.  As is befitting a honeymoon, he and Georgie are true partners in figuring out what is happening around them.  Not that he steals the show from Georgie, who still figures out just about everything along the way.  We do get the usual slow start, which allows us a little time to hear from most of the series regulars before heading down to Kenya.  And let me say their trip made me very happy for how travel has advanced since the 1930’s.  Even when we arrive in Kenya, it takes a bit of time for the murder to take place, but once it does, the mystery is well worth the wait with some great secrets that Georgie and Darcy must bring to light.  I did have a hard time keeping all of the British colonists straight, but that never got in the way of following the mystery.  My bigger complaint is an event that takes place in the middle of the book that seems force to have Darcy and Georgie where they are needed for the plot.  I appreciated how the book worked in the world politics of the time without feeling out of place in the series.  And I also appreciated the ability to be an arm chair traveler since I can’t take a vacation this year, although it really made me want to go on a safari of my own.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Becoming Superman by J. Michael Stracyznski – 5
In this book, author J. Michael Stracyznski (JMS to his fans) tells the story of his family and his life.  Starting with his grandparents, he gives us some background before telling us about his childhood under an abusive father and a distant mother.  In between moving every few months to stay ahead of creditors, JMS discovered ways to escape via TV shows, comic books, and science fiction.  As he discovered the power of words, he vowed to become a writer.  That desire eventually lead him to a career in comic books and in Hollywood on such things as He-Man; She-Ra; The Real Ghostbusters; Babylon 5; Murder, She Wrote; Sense8; and the movies Changeling, Thor, and World War Z.

I picked up this book because I am an obsessive Babylon 5 fan.  Those picking it up for lots of Hollywood behind the scenes stories will be disappoint, although we do get some in the second half.  Instead, it is more a story of his family, their secrets, and how they impacted his life.  At times, it is a hard read.  JMS’s life for his first 20 plus years was not easy or fun.  But, ultimately, this is a story of triumph as he works to overcome his baggage.  It is a powerful story that proves where you start doesn’t have to be where you finish if you are willing to take responsibility for yourself, your actions, and your choices, something we need more of in our society today.  I think this book will change my view of Babylon 5 the next time I watch it, something I need to do soon as I think knowing the man behind the story will make some things mean more and be even more powerful.  This is not light reading, but it is powerful reading and worth the time spent in the book.

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems – 4
Pigeon has just learned that he has to start attending school.  Surely, he doesn’t have to do that.  After all, he already knows everything.  Will there be math?  There are too many letters!  And Pigeon is not a morning bird.  Will anything be able to change his mind?

Author Mo Willems continues to find ways to tell stories using only pictures and dialogue that keep us engaged.  This is another fast yet entertaining read.  Most kids are excited about getting to go to school, but this book should help those who might be more reluctant and will entertain all kids.  While Pigeon presents some reasons to not go to school that kids might not have thought of, by the end he is very excited about the prospect.  (Personally, I still understand Pigeon’s concern about not being a morning bird.)  I appreciated the nod to one of Pigeon’s earlier books.  The stylized illustrations are a delight as always and really do help tell the story.  Whether you have a kid starting school soon or not, you and your kid will enjoy this book.

The Deep End by Julie Mulhern (Country Club Murders #1) – 5
Ellison Russell is devoted to her teenage daughter, Grace, and her art.  She and her husband are still living together, but that is only because they have decided to wait to get divorced until Grace is out of the house.  Part of Ellison’s routine is a swim at dawn in the country club’s pool.  On this particular June morning in 1974, she swims into a dead body in the pool.  Worse yet, when the police arrive and pull the body out of the pool, she recognizes the victim as Madeline Harper, her husband’s mistress.  Ellison knows that she makes a pretty compelling suspect in the woman’s murder, as does her husband.  She knows she is innocent and she believes that her husband may be an adulterer, but he isn’t a killer.  However, the fact that he’s suddenly left town for parts unknown doesn’t make him appear innocent.  Can Ellison figure out what really happened to Madeline?

I’ve been hearing about this series for years, but I kept putting off starting it.  I wish I’d read it sooner.  The plot starts out right away and gives us plenty of action and twists along the way.  I never saw the solution coming until Ellison figured it out either.  The main characters are all strong and help pull us into the world, although I do wish that we had a little more context for some of the supporting players.  I was also bothered by Ellison’s love life; it just felt inappropriate for this book.  I’m sure in future books I will be fine with what is set up here.  The subject matter does stray to the edges of cozies, but I thought how things were handled here was fine and it didn’t bother me.  I greatly enjoyed the humor in the book, mostly coming from Ellison’s narration on things.  Yet it is perfectly balances with some of the more serious elements of the plot.  I can see why this series has so many fans, and I’m already one of them.  Now, to find time to visit Ellison again.

Murder in Chinatown by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries #9) – 5
After a recent close call, midwife Sarah Brandt has vowed to stay away from solving crimes and getting involved in anything dangerous.  However, she is in Chinatown with the Lee family since Cora Lee is about to give birth and gets a front row to the family drama unfolding.  Cora’s niece, Angel, is upset that her father has arranged a marriage for her to an older man and runs away.  The family is frantic to find her because the city is no place for a fifteen-year-old to be alone.  While the family does find her, she turns up dead a few days later.  Sarah manages to get NYPD Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy involved in the case because she fears other police won’t care to fully investigate given who the victim was.  But can Malloy figure it out?  Will Sarah get involved despite her promise to stay away from murder?

Once again, we are expertly transported back to 1890’s New York City.  Along with our normal glimpses of life during the time period, we get to see a bit of how the Chinese were treated during the time; unfortunately, it isn’t pretty.  However, the book never stops to preach at us, instead working this in during the mystery.  The case itself is strong with plenty of twists to keep us entertained until the end.  I thought I had a few things figured out, but I discovered I was wrong when I reached the logical ending.  Sarah, in her efforts to stay out of the case, isn’t quite as involved as Frank, but she still has plenty to contribute.  Both are great lead characters, and I enjoyed spending time with the regular supporting players as well as meeting the new characters introduced here.  We get some advancement on a couple of on-going storylines, and it looks like one of them will be the main focus of the next in the series.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where that leads.

Tilling the Truth by Julia Henry (Garden Squad Mysteries #2) – 5
It’s August in Goosebush, Massachusetts, but Lilly Jayne and the rest of the Garden Squad just as busy as every trying to make their town beautiful again.  But there are some thorns among the blooms.  The recent death of a friend has left Lilly, as executor of his estate, dealing with his greedy relatives.  Meanwhile, Lilly’s best friend, Tamara, is finding her efforts to sell the dead man’s house meeting with sabotage, something that is only making her stress over the new relator in town worse.  But things come to a head when Tamara is found standing over the dead body of Gladys Preston.  Gladys didn’t have many friends in town, but she recently had a very public fight with Tamara.  As the rumor mill begins to heat up, Lilly knows she needs to figure out what really happened to help her friend clear her name.  Can she do it?

I fell in love with these characters with the first book in the series, and it was great to be back to visit them again.  I will admit it took me a bit to get completely back in the flow of the characters and Goosebush, but it wasn’t long before I had.  Lilly and many of her friends are on the older side, and I enjoy this break from the traditional cozy lead character.  They and the new characters came to life for me as the story unfolded.  The plot takes on quite a bit, so as a result the book appears to be wandering a little before Gladys dies, but everything is important and comes into play.  I’m actually a little in awe of how it all came together, although the ending was a tad rushed.  I also appreciated how the theme of old versus new or tradition versus change played out in the book.  I suspect we will see that again in future books.  For those who have a green thumb, some gardening tips are included at the back of the book.  This second book is fun as we get to watch Lilly weed out another killer.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Silent Night, Deadly Night by Vicki Delany (Year-Round Christmas Mysteries #4) – 5
Merry Wilkinson is looking forward to Thanksgiving, but her mother, Aline, is looking forward to the weekend before.  Aline has invited her college friends to come to Rudolph, New York, for a reunion.  However, when the women arrive, they quickly devolve into bickering and sniping.  Desperate to find a way to keep the peace, Aline invites Merry to several of their events.  At one of them, one of the women die under suspicious circumstances.  Merry can’t help but begin to gather information, but when a newcomer tries to use the crime to get Merry’s father removed as the official town Santa, she steps up her game.  Can she figure out what happened before the women leave town?

As a lover of all things Christmas, I was thrilled to be able to visit Merry and the town of Rudolph again.  While set at Thanksgiving, the book perfectly captures that late fall feel and the Thanksgiving spirit while also working in Christmas.  We get to know the suspects and the victim a bit before she dies.  While the victim and murder method might not be too surprising, there are some secrets and twists buried in the book that kept me reading, and the sub-plot involving Merry’s dad also drew me in.  I was a bit worried when we met all the suspects at once, but we get enough context early on to keep them straight until they develop as more characters.  It was great to see the series regulars again as well.  Whether you read this book now or save it for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you’re sure to enjoy it.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Mulberry Mischief by Sharon Farrow (Berry Basket Mysteries #4) – 5
It’s the week before Halloween in Oriole Point, Michigan, yet the town is focusing on health thanks to the Haunted Halloween Harvest Health Fair.  The Saturday the festival opens, Marlee Jacob, owner of the Berry Basket, is cornered by Leticia the Lake Lady.  Leticia is one of the odd characters who call the town home.  She is ranting about the shadow people who have come to town and demanding that Marlee order mulberries so Leticia can use their protective properties to cover her cabin.  Marlee thinks Leticia is harmless if a little off, but that’s before a dead body turns up.  Will the latest happenings disrupt the health fair?

Picking up this book, I knew I was in for another fantastic ride, and I wasn’t disappointed.  While it takes a couple chapters for the body to drop, we are meeting characters who will become important to the story and trying to make sense of some puzzling things that start to happen.  The pace doesn’t slow at all once the murder takes place, and the revelations are only beginning as Marlee pieces things together.  The suspects are all strong, and I could have believed any of them were guilty until Marlee pieced together the final clues.  Of course, the series regulars are as fun and charming as always – I love them!  I’m not quite ready for fall, but this book still put me in the Halloween spirit.  We get four berry inspired recipes – two featuring Mulberries and two berry inspired Halloween treats.  I really can’t recommend this series highly enough.  New fans will be hooked, and existing fans will love Marlee’s latest adventure.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Haunted House Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross – 4
This collection of three novellas focuses on Halloween.  The book opens with the title story featuring Leslie Meier’s protagonist Lucy Stone.  A couple has moved into the old abandoned house in town, but they are rebuffing efforts from Lucy and others to welcome them to town.  Then strange things start happening and rumors start flying.  What is happening?  Up next is “Death by Haunted House” by Lee Hollis which takes up back to 2009 and shows us what life was like for Hayley Powell while she was married.  When the house next door, which is rumored to be haunted, gets a new family, Hayley’s husband Danny is certain that they are up to something.  The discovery of a dead body in the nearby woods just confirms his theory – at least to himself.  Is he right?  Finally comes “Hallowed Out” from Barbara Ross.  The local Haunted House tour is gearing up for Halloween, trying to bring some more people to town in the fall.  However, when a reenactment of a crime leaves an actor dead, Julia Snowden must figure out what happened.

As you might expect in a collection of stories by various authors, some are stronger than others.  Personally, I found the opening story to be the weakest – I think it might have worked as a short story, but even as a novella is was too long.  The middle story was better, with some fun scenes and a good twist to the mystery.  I adore Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake mysteries, so it was the reason I picked up the book.  It also means I found the third story to be the best, with some good twists and a very fun sub-plot.  While each story has plenty of fall atmosphere, these stories aren’t that spooky – they are by cozy mystery authors after all.  Still, fans of these authors will enjoy picking up the book.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Book Review: Haunted House Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross


Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Three mostly enjoyable Halloween stories
Cons: I do have some niggles with some stories
The Bottom Line:
Three haunted stories
For your cozy Halloween
Worth it if a fan




Cozy Halloween Hauntings

Kensington has released several Christmas novella collections over the years (with a new one coming next month), and I’ve read several of them.  However, Haunted House Murder represents the first novella anthology I am aware of they have released that focuses on Halloween.  The contributors, Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross, are a natural grouping since they all write series set in Maine.  And they have previously written a couple of those successful Christmas novella collections together.

The book opens with “Haunted House Murder” by Leslie Meier.  The story features Lucy Stone, the protagonist of her popular and long running mystery series.  Halloween is coming, but everyone in Tinker’s Cove is talking about the old, abandoned house in town.  While it looks run down from the outside, someone has bought it and moved in during the middle of the night.  However, they aren’t very friendly, rebuffing Lucy’s and other’s attempts to welcome them to town.  Then the rumors start flying and strange events start happening.  What is really going on in this house?

I know that the Lucy Stone series is extremely popular, but I struggle to get through the stories I have read.  Part of it is Lucy’s family.  I haven’t spent enough time with them to look past their faults and love them, I guess.  And, let’s face it, that is often what we have to do with people in real life.  In this case, I found the story to be better suited to a short story than even a novella.  It’s not bad, but it felt drawn out and a little forced.

Lee Hollis takes the middle story once again.  “Death by Haunted House” moves the action to Bar Harbor and flashes back ten years to 2009 and a time when series protagonist Hayley Powell was still married.  A new family has moved to town and moved in next door to Hayley and her young family into a long-abandoned house that is rumored to be haunted.  When they move in, they are unfriendly and obviously keeping secrets, and Hayley’s husband, Danny, is certain that they are hiding something.  When a dead body turns up in the woods behind their neighborhood, Danny is certain they are involved.  Is he right?

Yes, these first two stories have similar set ups, but the execution is very different.  I found the story here very entertaining, although I did guess a couple plot points early.  Still, the solution to the mystery was a surprise, and I had to laugh at some of the events along the way.  On the other hand, I found Danny extremely selfish and annoying, and Hayley does something extremely stupid, with is ironic since she complains about Danny’s behavior at times.

Finally, we come to my reason for reading the book.  “Hallowed Out” by Barbara Ross takes us to Busman’s Harbor at the start of the off season.  Julia Snowden has gotten roped into an effort to bring some tourists to town during October via a haunted homes tour.  One of the stops is Gus’s restaurant where a rumrunner was killed by gangsters during Prohibition.  An actor has been brought in to help with the reenactment, but the night of the first tour, he is shot when the lights go out.  Who did it?

The Maine Clambake Mysteries are one of my favorite series, and it is always wonderful to revisit the characters, no matter how briefly it might be.  The plot is strong, and the characters we meet along the way are just as strong.  I didn’t see the twists of the mystery coming, and the ending caught me by surprise.  There is a delightful sub-plot as well that kept me grinning.  As I mentioned, this was the reason I picked up the anthology, and it made me glad I did.

Since Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross both write culinary cozies, their fans are used to getting recipes, and this collection is no different.  You’ll find several delicious autumn inspired recipes to enjoy when you’ve finished the story.

Something all three stories do well is give us plenty of atmosphere.  You can feel the crispness in the air and the excitement of costumes and kids and candy.  Considering it is still August, and I live in Southern California where we often don’t get autumn weather until November, that’s saying something.

Those looking for something truly spooky will be disappointed.  These are all cozy authors, so, while there are rumors of hauntings, we never see anything truly frightening here.

If you are a fan of one of these writers, you’ll be glad you picked up Haunted House Murder.  And who knows, you might find a new author you’ll enjoy.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Maine Clambake Mysteries.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Book Review: Mulberry Mischief by Sharon Farrow (Berry Basket Mysteries #4)


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong story, great characters, Halloween spirit
Cons: None, not that I was looking berry hard for any
The Bottom Line:
Halloween and health
Combine for berry good fun
That’s a page turner




Halloween Mischief and Murder

The Berry Basket Mysteries by Sharon Farrow have quickly become a favorite series of mine.  Mulberry Mischief is the fourth book in the series, and it is another book filled with mayhem, mischief, and murder.

It’s the week before Halloween in Oriole Point, Michigan, yet the town is focusing on health thanks to the Haunted Halloween Harvest Health Fair.  Naturally, Marlee Jacob is participating some with products from her store, The Berry Basket, but people have come in droves thanks to the celebrities that have been booked to appear this week and offer their expertise on nutrition and exercise.

The Saturday the festival opens, Marlee is cornered by Leticia the Lake Lady.  Leticia is one of the odd characters who call the town home.  She is ranting about the shadow people who have come to town and demanding that Marlee order mulberries so Leticia can use their protective properties to cover her cabin.  Marlee thinks Leticia is harmless if a little off, but that’s before a dead body turns up.  Will the latest happenings disrupt the health fair?

Before we go any further, I should issue a spoiler warning.  Not for this review, but for this book.  The previous book in the series included a major event in Marlee’s personal life which is discussed in passing here.  Frankly, there’s no way around it.  If you care to find out about that from the book itself, I recommend you read the books in order.  Honestly, you are in for a treat because this series is fantastic.

As usual, the plot starts strongly and never lets go until we reach the climax.  We spend a little bit meeting characters before the murder takes place, so when we do find the body, we are able to jump right in.  Plus, there are some pretty mysterious things happening even before the dead body turns up.  Once that happens, we start to learn even more things that change our opinions of the characters we’ve met.  The climax is once again fantastic and perfectly wraps up all the questions we’d had over the course of the book.

I’ve already mentioned the characters several times, which should tell you the suspects are fantastic.  Honestly, I could have seen any of them having done it until Marlee gets the final clues that nail it down.

However, one reason I love these books are the other characters – the series regulars.  Marlee is surrounded by a great group of friends and employees at her store.  They add plenty of color to the story and help lighten a story that has some dark tinges to it at times.

I cling to summer as long as I can, refusing to admit that fall has arrived and winter is coming until I can’t put it off any longer, so picking up a Halloween book in August wouldn’t have been my first choice.  However, despite the Southern California summer heat, this book put me in the fall mood with the descriptions of the weather and the Halloween plans.  I am still not ready to admit that summer is winding down, but I did enjoy the spirit of the season presented here.

And, what is a book about berries without some berry inspired recipes?  We get four of them here – two that feature mulberries and two that are berry inspired Halloween themed treats.

I really can’t recommend this series highly enough.  If you haven’t met Marlee yet, you need to do so today.  And if you are already a fan, you’ll be thrilled with her latest adventure in Mulberry Mischief.

Need more berries in your life?  Here are the rest of the Berry Basket Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Monday, August 26, 2019

TV Show Review: The Flash - Season 5


Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action packed and mostly fun
Cons: Nora at times, Sherloque most of the time
The Bottom Line:
Unexpected guest
Launched mostly fun season
Show still entertains




“Maybe I’ll Have to Leave the Old-Fashioned Way and Breach on out of Here.”

Season 4 of The Flash left us with quite a shock when a mystery woman finally identified herself.  In season 5, we got to learn more about her and how her presence affects the present, and the result was mostly fun.

That young woman, of course, was (SPOILER ALERT FOR THE END OF SEASON 4), Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the grown daughter of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), aka The Flash, and Iris West-Allen (Candice Patton).  She’s arrived from the future for a couple of reasons.  One, she really wants to meet Barry.  See, in the future she comes from, Barry has vanished and no one knows where he went or why.  Nora is hoping to change that, and part of doing that is stopping Cicada (Chris Klein).  The only problem is, by coming back from the future, Nora has changed history and Cicada’s identity is different from what it used to be.  Fortunately, they have a new detective on the team in the form of Sherloque Wells (Tom Cavanagh, of course).  But can Sherloque help team Flash figure out what is really happening?

Naturally, there are more storylines going on this season, including Cisco (Carlos Valdes) finding a potential new love interest and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) finding out more about her family’s past and her Killer Frost personality.  Cecille Norton (Danielle Nicolet) deals with a new born while, sadly, Jesse L. Martin’s Joe West is absent for a chunk of episodes due to a real-life health issue.  (Fortunately, his back is better now and he returns part way through the season.

While this show has gotten darker than the first season, it still manages to have fun.  It finds that balance between comedy and drama that keeps it from getting as dark as Arrow, for example.  And that is one reason why I continue to enjoy the show.

Having said that, I do have some issues with this season.  The biggest really is Nora.  At first, I really liked her, but as the season progressed, she began to feel whiney to me, and it seemed like if she could make the stupidest mistake possible, she’d make it.  I was getting very annoyed by her by the time we reached the end of the season.

Poor Ralph (Hartley Sawyer).  After being such a huge part of the previous season, he was made a series regular for season five.  Sadly, he wasn’t given nearly as much to do.  While most of the regulars have their own storyline at some point, he was regulated to B stories or fight scenes mostly.

Then there’s Sherloque Wells.  I find it takes me a bit of time to warm up to each Wells introduced on the show, but Sherloque took longer than most.  Even the nods to the Sherlock cannon didn’t help much.  It almost makes me shudder to think what they will come up with this season.

On the other hand, they managed to mix up the storyline a little this season in the second half, and it was refreshing.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil any more than that.  It also left me hooked on the last few episodes as always wondering how we were going to defeat the main villain of the season.

As always, the acting is great.  Grant Gustin leads an impressive cast, and the writers put them through their paces over the course of the season.

And, I must give a shout out to the special effects, which are almost always on point.  A few of them don’t quite work, but given the limited budget and turnaround time of a weekly TV show, I’m more than willing to let that pass.

Complaints aside, I still found season 5 of The Flash to be mostly fun.  I’m hoping that continues into the new season even as the gear up for the massive, game changing crossover coming mid-season.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Movie Review: Spider-Man - Far From Home


Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action, humor, fun
Cons: Pacing early on
The Bottom Line:
After Avengers
We see the threats continue
In this fun movie




“I Think Nick Fury Just Hijacked Our Summer Vacation.”

After making a point to see the last few Marvel movies as soon as I could after release, I have just now made it to the theater to see Spider-Man:Far From Home.  Not sure why since I’ve always loved the Spider-Man character, and I was curious how they would follow up on events from the last Avengers movie.

As I expected, this movie contains major spoilers for Avengers: End Game, so if you haven’t seen that movie and want to go into it unspoiled, stop now and go watch it.  But really, that isn’t a surprise, right?

As this movie opens, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is looking forward to a summer vacation.  He’s going with some students from his class, including his best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon) and his crush MJ (Zendaya), on a science trip to Europe.  He’s looking forward to some time to just relax.  He’s not even planning to bringing his Spider-Man costume with him.

However, it’s a good thing that his aunt May (Marisa Tomei) threw it in for him since at their first stop in Venice, Peter and his friends are witness to a major attack by a water element.  Peter and new hero named Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) are able to defeat it, but there is another one coming, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) wants Peter to help defeat it.  Will Peter give up his vacation to help protect the planet?

I’ve only watched the Marvel movies once each, so I had forgotten some of the supporting characters from the previous Marvel movie.  That means it took me a little bit to get back into this film, mainly because of Ned and MJ.  I just find the take on the characters here more enjoyable in small doses.  Fortunately, they are supporting players in this movie, and as I got used to their characterizations as the movie went along, I grew to appreciate their place in the story better.

The movie also takes a little time to truly get going.  Honestly, some of it was a little slow, but some of that time was good as it allowed us to see what life is like now after the events of the previous two Avengers movies.  I’m sure the movie could have found more compelling stories to tell about how those events affected everyone, but this is a superhero movie, and we need to get to the action.

And there is plenty of action.  Not surprising given the franchise, right?  With what we are fighting, the action sequences are very different, and we get some humor with some of them, making them fun.  The effects are up to the task, making this movie once again look fabulous.

I think what I most enjoyed was seeing Peter’s struggles as this movie progressed.  Here is a high schooler who just wants to tell a girl how he feels about her, but he is being asked to save the world.  Yes, he makes some mistakes along the way, but we understand where he is coming from.  In light of recent events in this world, Peter is truly struggling with his place in it, and it makes for some great character moments.

Of course, there are the expected two bonus scenes in the credits.  The one at the very end is funny but skippable.  However, you need to see the first bonus scene since it creates quite the cliffhanger for the character.  I’m very anxious to see where things are going to go next for the character.  Of course, the biggest cliffhanger is the split between Sony and Disney over the franchise.  At this point, I wonder if we will see a resolution to this cliffhanger or not.

In many ways, Spider-Man: Far From Home is acting as a transition film between the first epic arc and the new movies coming over the next few years.  As such, it does a great job of closing out the epic we’ve been watching and leaving things open for new adventures.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

August 24th's Weekly TV Thoughts

American Ninja Warrior – What a change from last week, right?  Maybe this course was a little easier?  Not that I’m taking away from any of the finishers – they’ve all worked hard to get there.  So nice to root on Michelle and Jessie.  And Grant is going back to Vegas!  I’m so thrilled about that, too.

BH90210 – Obviously, I don’t know much about the cast, but did Carol really become a therapist?  Either way, it was fun to see her in the role.  It’s about time they got Shannen around for the drama.  Nothing much on the stalker, but I am glad Jason came clean.

Suits – I knew Faye’s past wasn’t going to be as cut and dried as it appears, and I’m glad the gang backed down.  Seriously, though, how the characters never expect there to be consequences for their actions is well beyond me.  It was nice to see Brian again, although I feel like his character was rather stupid.  Seeing Katrina again was going to be nothing but trouble.

Pearson – That’s what we were missing last week – forward movement on all the stories.  Although we didn’t need another plot line in this soap opera.  Why do we have to have illegal immigrants part of things?  Not happy about that development.  Glad Jessica’s family is finally accepting some help.  And I think things are about to get very interesting for the mayor on multiple fronts.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Ornament Review: Golfing with Woodstock - 2019 Hallmark Ornament



Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun ornament for Peanuts fans
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
A Peanuts golf bag
Adds fun and whimsy to tree
A limited piece



Are These Snoopy’s Golf Clubs?

Any fan of the Peanuts knows that Snoopy loves to golf.  Naturally, he’s been seen on the range with his friend Woodstock many times.  But now we may have a glimpse of his clubs thanks to this Hallmark limited edition ornament – Golfing with Woodstock.

The ornament doesn’t actually feature either character.  Instead, it is a set of golf clubs in a mostly red bag with blue trim.  While the painted on stitching seems like something from the Peanuts universe, the thing that really makes it Peanuts related are the covers for the two wood clubs in the bag.  Both of them are Woodstock heads.  No, they aren’t actually Woodstock, but club covers made to look like Woodstock.

Now, I realize that we could be talking about Woodstock’s clubs.  After all, the name of this ornament is Golfing with Woodstock.  But I can’t picture Woodstock actually golfing – probably partially because of a cartoon I remember about Woodstock not wanting to play with Snoopy.  And, somehow, I can’t quite picture Woodstock having clubs like this, but I can picture Snoopy doing it.

Then again, maybe it’s the size.  This is a standard sized ornament, and it feels too big to be a set of clubs for Woodstock.  Then again, it was released as a companion to this year’s Spotlight on Snoopy ornament, and it is too big for Snoopy in that ornament as well.  So the size really doesn’t mean anything.

Now that we’ve established that these really could be anyone’s clubs, let’s just talk about the ornament itself.  It’s cute, and in a touch I love, the Woodstock heads are fuzzy just like a many wood club covers are.  I must admit, I always passed on it just because I am trying to cut down on ornaments, but at the last minute I caved and bought it, and I’m glad I did.

Just like real golf club bags can stand on their own, so can this one.  The base is wide enough to allow that.  When you go to hang it, you’ll find that it hangs at a really fun angle, which is always fun.

No matter whose golf clubs these are, Golfing with Woodstock is a fun ornament.  Any Peanuts fan will be thrilled to have it in their collection.

Original Price: $17.99

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Book Review: Silent Night, Deadly Night by Vicki Delany (Year-Round Mysteries #4)


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery, great holiday spirit
Cons: Who do you think I am, an unthankful Scrooge?
The Bottom Line:
College friend murdered
Complicated this Thanksgiving
Holiday spirit




This College Reunion is Nothing to be Thankful for

There are cozies for just about any time of the year, but Thanksgiving seems to be one of the lesser picked holidays.  Yes, I can think of a few, but it isn’t as popular as its neighbors Halloween and Christmas.  Yet Vicki Delany made it the setting for Silent Night, Deadly Night, the fourth entry in her Year-Round Christmas series.

If you are new to the series, it features Merry Wilkinson, the owner of Mrs. Claus’s Treasures in the town of Rudolph, New York.  With a name like Rudolph, is it any wonder that the town has reinvented itself as a tourist destination for all things Christmas year-round.  Unfortunately, Merry is finding that murder happens year-round, too, since this marks the fourth time she’s gotten involved in a murder in the past year.

Merry’s mother, Aline, is thrilled to be hosting some of her college friends the weekend before Thanksgiving.  While they have kept in touch, they haven’t all been together since their college days almost forty years ago.  However, her joy quickly turns sour when the group arrives and they spend most of their time bickering and sniping at each other.  Desperate for some company and help reigning them in, she invites Merry to several of the group’s meals.

However, the tension continues to build until one of the women dies under suspicious circumstances.  Despite warnings to keep out of the investigation, Merry can’t help but gather some information.  And when a newcomer to town tries to use this to take over the job of town Santa from Merry’s dad, she really begins to try to find out what happened.  Can she figure out which of the women is a killer before they leave town?

Yes, I have been vague about who the victim is and how she died, but fans of cozies will be able to spot the victim and method of murder fairly quickly.  That doesn’t make the start of the novel any less interesting since we are meeting the suspects and getting to know the victim a little bit, too, before she dies.  Once the murder takes place, we are off to the races with several good twists in the story.  The sub-plot involving Merry’s dad drew me further into the book.  Everything built to a great climax.  Honestly, I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on a few things earlier, but everything was logical when Merry figured it out.

I was a bit worried when we meet all the suspects at once that it would be hard to keep them all straight, but that was never a problem for me.  Near the beginning, we were given enough context to remember which of the ladies was which, but as the novel progressed, I was able to keep them straight without any cues since their characters were better defined in my mind.  Naturally, the series regulars are as charming as always.  I really do enjoy this cast, and it was great to be spending time with them again.

You might have noticed I love Christmas.  That is one thing that initially drew me to this series.  Even though this book is set around Thanksgiving, it balances that line between the two holidays perfectly.  While reading the book, I got that late fall, Thanksgiving feeling, but the town and Merry’s store still provided the Christmas charm I was looking for.  After reading this, I’m about ready to start setting up my Christmas trees.  Too bad it’s only August.

Whether you read this book now or save it for the holidays (your choice of which holiday), you’ll enjoy Silent Night, Deadly Night.  This is a cozy mystery filled with murder, mayhem, warmth, and Christmas cheer.  What more could you want?

Need more Christmas cheer?  Check out the rest of the Year-Round Christmas Mysteries.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Giveaway!

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 Thursday August 29th, so please leave your comment before midnight Pacific Time on 8/29.  You will have until midnight on 9/3 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 9/4.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Movie Review: A Very Foul Play - An Aurora Teagarden Mystery

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great characters, fun mystery
Cons: Light dose of Hallmark cheese
The Bottom Line:
Gang goes out of town
With murder sure to follow
Which is fun for us

Staging a Murder During a Play

Somehow, August is flying by faster than normal.  It just hit me that we only have a week and a half left in the month already.  But, if I stop and think about it, that makes sense.  After all, we’ve now gotten our third and final Aurora Teagarden Mystery of the month, A Very Foul Play.

This movie finds Aurora (Candace Cameron Bure) and the rest of the gang heading out of town to a true crime conference.  And I do mean the gang.  While very few of the Real Murders Club members show up, all the main characters do.  Chief of Police Lynn Smith (Miranda Frigon) is supposed to be one of the speakers, as is Aurora.  Meanwhile, Aida (Marilu Henner) might have been under the impression that it was a librarian conference, something she’s not happy to learn she was wrong about when she arrives.

One tradition at this conference is that all the speakers participate in a mystery play the night before the conference officially opens.  Some of the others who aren’t speaking also get into the act, including Aida and Aurora’s cousin Phillip (Dylan Sloane).  They’ve barely begun when the lights go out unexpectedly.  When the lights come back on, one of the actresses who is normally in the play is dead on stage, and Phillip is holding the murder weapon.  Obviously, the police begin looking seriously as Phillip, but Aurora and the rest of the gang knows that he is innocent.  Can they prove it?

I really enjoyed getting to see Lynn out of her chief of police mode and working with Aurora, albeit very reluctantly.  As soon as I realized just how this movie was being set up, I fully expected this, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable.  And, while Lynn and her husband, detective Arthur Smith (Peter Benson), fully believe that Phillip is innocent, they do defend the police’s actions against him, which I also appreciated.  As much grief as the police take in these Hallmark mystery movies and many of the mysteries I read, they very rarely are actually acting without good reason, and it was nice to see that acknowledged.

Something else that was fun in this movie is that we got to see more of Lillian (Ellie Harvie), Aurora’s co-worker at the library.  She’s gets more than her usual two or three scenes here, and I enjoyed getting to see a different side of her.  Okay, fine – a slightly different side of her.

I’ll confess, I was sure I had the killer pegged early on, but I turned out to be wrong.  Even if I had been right, I wouldn’t have complained too loudly since I was enjoying the ride.  We get the usual clues, red herrings, and twists until we’ve finally proved that Phillip is innocent.  Yes, a couple of elements are obviously set up early on, but I didn’t mind since I was still wondering how they’d get incorporated into the story overall.

Yes, this does come with the usual light Hallmark cheese warning, but as long as you know it going in, you’ll be fine.  And I’m not talking about the scenes of our characters in the play, which are delightfully cheesy on purpose.

A Very Foul Play might have been our final Aurora Teagarden movie of the year, but it will leave fans happy.  Hopefully, we’ll get more visits with these characters next year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Book Review: Tilling the Truth by Julia Henry (Garden Squad Mysteries #2)


Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: The Garden Squad; interesting plot
Cons: Took a bit to get back into series; ending a tad rushed
The Bottom Line:
Killer on the loose
So Lilly must clear her friend
Love these characters




Tilling Through the Lies Until the Truth is Left

Earlier this year, we got the debut of the Garden Squad Mysteries by Julia Henry.  I loved the characters, so I was glad to get to visit them again so soon in Tilling the Truth.

It’s August in Goosebush, Massachusetts, but Lilly Jayne and the rest of the Garden Squad aren’t slowing down in the slightest.  Between their covert gardening projects around this seaside town, they have also formed an official beautification committee to take on larger projects through official channels.

But there are some thorns among the blooms.  The recent death of a friend has left Lilly, as executor of his estate, dealing with his greedy relatives.  Meanwhile, Lilly’s best friend, Tamara, is finding her efforts to sell the dead man’s house meeting with sabotage, something that is only making her stress over the new relator in town worse.  But things come to a head when Tamara is found standing over the dead body of Gladys Preston.  Gladys didn’t have many friends in town, but she recently had a very public fight with Tamara.  As the rumor mill begins to heat up, Lilly knows she needs to figure out what really happened to help her friend clear her name.  Can she do it?

As excited as I was about revisiting these characters, I must admit it took me a bit to ease back into Goosebush.  I just read too many books.  However, it wasn’t long before I had all the members of the Garden Squad straight in my mind again.

I enjoyed my time with them just as much here.  They are a diverse lot, but each one brings something different to the group and the series.  While most of the book is told from Lilly’s third person point of view, we do get occasional bits from other members of the squad, which really helps fill in the story.  Most of these main characters are on the older side, which I enjoy as something different from the usual 20-something main characters in series I read.  As we went along, we got to know the suspects better and they became stronger characters.

The plot takes a little time setting things up before we find Tamara over Gladys’s body, but everything set up is important to the plot.  The story appears to take on quite a bit, but all the events happening in Goosebush wind up coming into play before the book was over.  While I suspected that would be the case, I was still left in awe of how it all came together, and I wasn’t sure who the killer was until it was revealed.  The ending was a tad rushed, but all of our questions were answered.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the theme of old versus new, or tradition versus change.  As someone resistant to change (I can be flexible if you give me a week’s advanced notice), I appreciated how it was handled here.  I suspect we will be exploring this much more as the series progresses.

I don’t garden.  Between my condo and my brown thumb (seriously, I killed a cactus), it’s not something I can indulge in.  However, if you have a garden you’ve been looking to change up, you’ll appreciate the gardening tips at the end of the book.  And it’s enough to almost make me want to trying gardening again myself.

Summer is unfortunately winding down for the year, but Tilling the Truth, with its August setting, is a great way to hold on to the season.  Plus, it’s a fun book.  I enjoyed watching Lilly weed out another killer, and I’m sure you will, too.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Monday, August 19, 2019

TV Show Review: Arrow - Season 7


Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Acting, effects, crossover, Laurel’s arc
Cons: Just about everything else, especially the flash forwards
The Bottom Line:
Dark show goes darker
Makes most things irrelevant
With little to like




“Look at Us – Working Together Again, Being Targeted by a Homicidal Maniac.  Feels Like a Monday.”

If you’ve paid attention, my TV viewing has slowly been taken over by the Arrowverse shows, the term coined for the superhero shows based on DC Comics properties that have spun off from Arrow.  I’ve been watching Arrow since it premiered, and I’ve added each new show to my TV schedule as it has premiered.  So you can imagine how hard it is for me to say that season 7 of Arrow was hugely disappointing.

The season picks up a few months after the end of season 6.  (And I’ll be spoiling the ending of season 6, so be warned.)  Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is a few months into his prison sentence after revealing to the world that he is a vigilante.  While he tries to keep a low profile and get out quickly based on good behavior, his family and friends are trying to survive.  His wife, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), and his son William (Jack Moore), are in witness protection, hiding from Diaz (Kirk Acevedo), who is still on the loose.  Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) is still on the Star City police force, and trying to hide her identity as the Black Canary.  While Curtis (Echo Kellum) is getting back into tech, Earth 2’s Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is taking on the persona of our Laurel while working for the DA’s office.  And Rene (Rick Gonzalez)?  He is slipping back into vigilante mode despite Oliver’s sacrifice.

While Felicity starts doing anything she can to get her husband out of prison early, there is a new Green Arrow in town.  Who is it?  What is this person’s agenda?

Okay, I’ll admit right off the bat that one of my problems with this season is the Oliver in jail storyline.  I hate shows set in jail, and I hate seeing characters we know and love in jail.  We know he’s going to get out before the season is over (or before the crossover, if we are being honest), so these episodes felt like they were marking time to me.  Oh, there was some interesting stuff happening, but on the whole, it wasn’t as entertaining as they wanted it to be.

I’ve also never completely warmed up to the new members of team Arrow.  I actually like Curtis fine, but Rene seems determined to do the stupidest thing he can possibly do, and it’s been that way since he joined the show.  Dinah spends more time whining than anything else.  With them carrying much of this season, it becomes hard to enjoy it.

And I know I haven’t mentioned John Diggle (David Ramsey) yet.  Honestly, he doesn’t get any good storylines this season.  Instead, he is left giving support for the others characters.  It’s a shame since I have loved his character for years.

But let’s talk the biggest elephant in the season.  We are introduced to a storyline in another time early on this season, but instead of flashbacks, we get flash forwards.  Set years in the future, we slowly get to see what has happened to Star City and the characters and their children years in the future.  Sounds cool, right?  It isn’t.  What we see is a city in a post-apocalyptic existence.  I generally hate post-apocalyptic settings and stories, so doesn’t appeal to me right away.  Plus, if you think about it, what this look into the future shows, is that everything the characters are fighting for now is irrelevant.  Plus, look at the characters who are friends now but not in the future, and it is just too depressing.  I don’t watch TV to be depressed; I watch it to be entertained.  Yet, I ended most weeks depressed.

I can’t help but wonder what might be happening behind the scenes since two actors chose to leave this year.  One left half way through the season, and the other at the end of the season.  It’s been announced that the show is coming back for a final 10 episode season 8.  With how they wrote out these characters, I do feel the show has done a great job of wrapping their stories up.  If we don’t see them again in the final run of episodes, I’ll be okay with that.

I am giving the show two stars, so there must be something I enjoyed, right?  As always, the acting and special effects are super.  The Elseworlds crossover was a ton of fun as Oliver and Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) found themselves living each other’s lives.  And I really enjoyed Laurel’s arc this season.  It was fairly predictable, but it was a huge ray of light in an otherwise dark season.

And yes, I get that this show has always been dark.  But this seems especially dark to me.

I will be returning for the shortened season 8, but I am not holding out hope that I will enjoy how they wrap up Arrow.  Based on season 7’s run, I expect it to be dark and not the ending I normally associate with superheroes.