Saturday, September 30, 2017

September 30th's Weekly TV Thoughts

Lots of shows coming back.  Not everything yet, but it was definitely a fuller week than I've seen since May.  I'm going to be drowning in TV shows soon, I think.

Dancing with the Stars (Monday) – I really am shocked that they are starting the celebs off with two dances in week two.  But everyone seems to be rising to the occasional.  Most of them improved their game, and the judges seemed to recognize that.  Of course, I was happy to see Sasha jump up like she did.  Not sorry to see Barbara go.  I have a feeling that some of her comments about her partner hurt her in audience votes.  I’m sure she was trying to be funny, but they cut together very uncomfortably.

Big Bang Theory – One of their better season premiers for sure.  The scene before the credits was a riot all by itself, but less Howard and Bernadette’s reaction to Bernadette being pregnant again.  I believed their reactions, and I found them funny at the same time.  The actress who plays Bernadette is pregnant in real life, but I like the fact that the writers went this way.  It’s not something we normally see in a sitcom or on TV period.

Young Sheldon – I wasn’t as impressed as I hoped I would be, mainly because we’d seen so much of the episode in previews.  It has potential to be funny and touching, and I can definitely see that, but it was a pilot episode.  Having Professor Proton on the TV was certainly a wonderful touch.  I’ll give it another few episodes when it comes back in November.

Lethal Weapon – So glad this show is back.  Laughs, action, things blowing up, tender moments.  And that was just the first 5 minutes.  Seriously, the relationships between the characters is fantastic, and it is why I love this show so much.

This is Us – This is … why I love this show.  So many great moments.  So many heartfelt moments.  I’m not sure what I think of Beth’s idea.  I mean, it’s great, but it’s going to be havoc on their family.  Kate’s singing career got off to a rocky start, but at least the guy was honest with her.  Interested to know who Kevin’s leading lady is.  But Jack died in a fire?  A few months from the fight and the revelation that he’s been drinking again for weeks?  (Okay, we already knew that part.)  That’s rough.

Dancing with the Stars (Tuesday) – I’m happy so many did as well as they did.  The cream is beginning to rise.  I’m glad Sasha is still doing well, and it is interesting to hear about her weight gain.  I’m pleasantly surprised that Frankie is doing as well as he is.  I think he’s my second favorite.  If his body holds together, I think he will go far.

Survivor – The Heroes were stupid!  They’ve got a crazy guy on their team, and he needs to go now.  It’s going to be very annoying for us until they do get rid of him.  That first challenge was something else.  A roller coaster!  Wow!

Designated Survivor – So I’ve been hearing things about the second season that worry me, like change in focus to more running the country and less conspiracy.  But so far so good.  It’s fun seeing Evan from Royal Pains showing up here.  I’ll give it more time and hope they haven’t taken it in a direction I won’t enjoy.

The Good Place – My favorite moment tonight?  The time Jason figured out the truth.  Oh, and Janet begging not to be rebooted is another winner.  I think we’ve just seen the real set up for the rest of the season, and if so, I am fully on board.  This could get very fun very quickly.

The Orville – I think this show if finding itself.  The jokes were pretty funny tonight.  I laughed the hardest at the Friends reference.  The story was pretty good as well.  I think I may be in for the long haul with this show.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Book Review: Angels Flight by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #6)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Engrossing mystery, complex characters
Cons: All cons took flight
The Bottom Line:
Bodies on a train
Start another complex book
Darker but gripping

Bosch Must Solve a Murder Before the Powder Ignites

It’s very true that there is nothing new under the sun.  I had that thought while listening to Angels Flight, the sixth Harry Bosch book written by Michael Connelly.  While the book was originally published in 1999, I felt like parts of it were all too current.

It’s 2 AM when Bosch gets the call.  He and his team are supposed to meet LAPD Deputy Chief Irvin Irving at Angels Flight, a vehicular type railroad that takes passengers up a steep hill in downtown Los Angeles.  They are all confused since this is outside their normal Hollywood beat plus they are not next in the rotation.

Things become clear when Harry arrives at the scene and discovers who the victim is – Harvey Elias.  Elias is a lawyer who has built a career out of suing the LAPD for brutality – both real and imagined.  He currently had a major case set to go to trial in two days, and in trying to find detectives who might not be suspects, Harry and his team are logical choices.  Plus, there’s the fact that Harry’s two partners are African American, like Elias.

Not only are the number of potential suspects overwhelming, but the politics of the case are daunting.  One wrong step could land Los Angeles in the middle of another race riot.  But Bosch’s main concern is the truth.  Will he find it?  Will it be enough to keep the peace in the city?

See what I mean?  This really could still be ripped from today’s headlines.  Yet while listening to this book, I never felt like it was a lecture.  It was a mystery first, but it did a good job of presenting the complexities of people and how they react to things.  In other words, there are no easy solutions, and this book doesn’t try to offer them.

Especially since this is a mystery.  And as a mystery, it is wonderful.  If I did put a piece together before Bosch did, I was only half a chapter ahead of him at best.  There were plenty of clues and twists I didn’t see coming, but they were always logical.  In fact, I am once again in awe of the way author Michael Connelly constructed his plot.  He is wonderful at creating intricate plots that can only lead to the conclusion we never saw coming.

And yet his books aren’t just about the plots.  The characters are just as complex.  They can surprise each other and themselves.  We get to see some sympathetic sides to characters we might not normally like.  These grays make the stories fascinating.

As I hinted earlier, I listened to the audio version narrated by Peter Giles.  I was glad to see he’d taken over the narration of the series at this point, and he does a fantastic job.  I listened to this book on a recent trip up to visit my family, and I was engrossed the entire time.  The miles and hours flew by.

While some of the political realities are sadly unchanged, the one thing that has definitely changed in technology.  It’s actually kind of funny how little Bosch knows about stuff we take for granted now.  But this was 1999, a time when people still had pagers.  These dated references do nothing to blunt the impact of the book.

And make no mistake about it, while this book is engrossing, it is definitely darker than what I normally read.  I think it is worth it, but remember that when you sit down to read it.

If you are looking for an engrossing mystery, I highly recommend Angels Flight.  Michael Connelly just gets better with every book.

Looking to read more about Harry Bosch?  Here are the rest of the book in order.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

September 29th's Book Beginnings and Friday 56

It's the last Friday in September.  That means it is time for Book Beginnings and Friday 56.

This week, I'm spotlighting A Room with a Brew by Joyce Tremel.


This is the third book in her Brewing Trouble Mysteries, and it's another great one!
Not that we start in the brewery. Actually, the first scene takes place in a florist shop.

I slid onto an old piano stool as Daisy Hart placed the fall centerpiece she'd designed on the distressed wood counter in her flower shop, Beautiful Blooms.

And here's a quote from page 56:

As soon as they left, I picked up the phone and dialed the bakery.  Candy must have been busy because the voice mail picked up.  I left a message.  "Detective Raines will be getting in touch with you.  It's a long story, but my dad knew I was holding something back, and I ended up telling him about you being at Doodle's house."

I have a full review coming on Tuesday with a giveaway, so I hope you'll come back then.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Movie Review: Pillow Talk

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun if predictable romantic comedy
Cons: Elements of the film are definitely dated
The Bottom Line:
Frenimies attract
Romantic comedy
Dated but still fun

“There Must Be Some Way to Get a Private Line.”

I don’t know that I would have ever heard of Pillow Talk if it weren’t for Diane Vallere’s series of books with a main character who lives her life inspired by Doris Day movies.  I’ve decided I want to watch the movies before reading the books (and now I need to get the first book read).  However, I’m thrilled I used this excuse because it was fun.

The movie has a dated premise.  It revolves around interior decorator Jan Morrow (Doris Day) and composer Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) who share a party line.  Exactly.  It did come out in the late 1950’s, which explains that part of the premise.

Anyway, the two are always fighting over the party line, usually because Brad is hogging it to sing songs to his many girlfriends when Jan is needing it to make calls for her business.  As a result, the two have never met but can’t stand each other.

What neither of them realizes is that they have a friend in common.  Jonathan Forbes (Tony Randall) is one of Jan’s clients who is in love with her and a college friend of Brad’s who is producing his latest Broadway show.  Jonathan’s descriptions of Jan intrigue Brad, and when he catches a glimpse of her, he decides he must win her heart.  And so he proceeds to pretend to be someone else to date Jan.  Will this end well?

Yes, I know that this part of the premise has been used in other movies as well (and someday I really should see You’ve Got Mail at a minimum), but this film has plenty of fun with it.  There’s nothing too surprising about the plot points, but I had so much fun along the way that I didn’t care.

Like Jan, I did feel that Brad was a cad in the beginning of the film.  I’m not sure I completely buy his transformation by the end of this story, but this is a romantic comedy, so I will let that slide.

And comedy this is.  There are some very good zingers in this film, most of which took me by surprise.  This isn’t a laugh a minute, but you’ll definitely laugh as you watch.

And the cast is wonderful.  They bring the characters and the mood to perfect life.

It is very interesting how our society has changed in the almost sixty years since this movie came out.  Things that were considered scandalous then are common today.  It’s something else that dates the movie – attitudes toward sex outside of marriage.  Again, just remember the release date and you’ll be fine.

While Pillow Talk might have dated elements, the characters and comedy are as fresh and fun today as they were when it first came out.  You’ll enjoy this movie when you are looking for some light, fun entertainment.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Review: Death of a Bachelorette by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen #15)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Laughs, fun, mystery
Cons: Only if you don’t enjoy a light, fun read
The Bottom Line:
Reality show
Murder, intrigue, and laughter
Jaine’s newest fun case

It’s No Bachelor or Bachelorette in Paradise, Especially for the Murder Victim

As I often say, I read for fun.  Yes, some of the books I read and enjoy are more serious and I learn something.  But for pure smiles and laughs per page it is hard to top Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen series.  Death of a Bachelorette is the fifteenth in the series, and it is as much of a pure delight as the earlier books.

Jaine thinks her fortunes have finally changed when she gets hired to be the writer for reality TV show Some Day My Prince Will Come.  Think The Bachelor, but with a very minor British royal as the bachelor.  She and her cat are both being flown down to an island near Tahiti for the job, and all Jaine has to do is write some suggested dialogue for the bachelor and contestants and enjoy the setting.

If you are at all familiar with the series, you know immediately that things don’t go the way Jaine expects them to.  Spencer, the bachelor, is dumb as a rock (actually, I think I just insulted rocks) and can’t remember more than a few stock phrases.  The location is a nightmare, and Jaine’s cat makes trouble for her.

And that doesn’t count the contestants who are at each other’s throats on and off camera.  By the time Jaine arrives, the show is nearing its climax, and the tension between the women left is huge.  So, when one of them winds up dead, the list of suspects is long.  Since no one can leave the island until the killer is found, Jaine starts talking to the cast and crew, hoping to find the killer.  Can she do it?

I haven’t even touched on the sub-plots.  We still get the latest antics from Jaine’s parents in their retirement community in Florida.  Jaine’s neighbor Lance also gets into the e-mail act this time around since he can’t pop into the book in person.  All of these sub-plots add a lot of humor to the book.

Not that the book needs more humor.  Jaine and Prozac are a riot on their own.  The lines Jaine figures Prozac must be thinking are hilarious, and Jaine finds herself in some pretty funny predicaments.  The suspects are funny in their own right, so if I wasn’t laughing I was smiling.  And that’s why I love this series; it’s just so much fun.

As I’ve often said, the characters in this series are drawn more for their humor potential than to be completely realistic.  Think sitcom character rather than drama show character.  However, for this series it works perfectly.

The murder happens later than I would normally enjoy, but that time is used to start the sub-plots and set up suspects and motivation.  With all the humor, I was never bored.  Don’t let my talk of humor make you think we don’t get a good mystery.  I actually had no idea who the killer was until the end of the book.  Along the way, we get a number of solid suspects with secrets and motives of their own.

These books are fast reads and are over all too soon.  Death of a Bachelorette will delight Jaine’s fans.  And if you haven’t started this series yet, don’t wait any longer.

Missing one of Jaine’s adventures?  Here are the Jaine Austen Mysteries in order.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Whispers of Warning Winner

I just pulled the winner of the copy of Whispers of Warning.  The winner is...


I just sent you an e-mail, so be watching for that.

Ornament Review: Tannenbaum's Department Store - Keepsake Corner #1 - 2017 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun store with a lighted window
Cons: Size is different from the official series
The Bottom Line:
Series compliment
Twist as front window lights up
It’s nostalgic fun

Light Adds to the Fun Visit to This Department Store

Hallmark has two popular and long running series, and they regularly produce extra things to compliment both series.  It only makes sense to create things their collectors won’t be able to resist, right?  This year, they are releasing four buildings they’ve dubbed Keepsake Korners, which compliments the Nostalgic Home and Shops series.  These four ornaments start off with Tannenbaum’s Department Store.

This is a two story building made from gray bricks.  It does have purple and gold on the door, the roof, and between floors.  Unlike the official Nostalgic Home and Shops buildings, this one isn’t open in the back.  However, you can see stuff through the window.  Right up front, we have a fire truck, a rocking horse, and a Christmas tree.  Painted on the back wall, we can see a scene of a little boy sitting on Santa’s lap, sharing what he wants for Christmas, and more children waiting in line for their turns.

I love ornaments that light up when connected to a light string, and this ornament is one of those.  You don’t have to connect it to a light, but it does help make the scene in the window easier to see.  It also provides a glow in the upstairs windows.  We can’t see anything in them, but it is fun to see them glow.

Each ornament in this series contains a nod to another popular Hallmark series.  The rocking horse harkens back to the first in the Rocking Horse series from 1981.  I’m still new enough to Hallmark ornaments that I don’t recognize the fire truck, so if it references another popular ornament, I don’t know what it is.  But it also might just be a fun toy in the window.

Since this is a building, it sits level, so if you want to add it to the display with the rest of the town, you can easily do that.  This building is a little bigger than the official ornaments in the Nostalgic Homes and Shops series, so keep that in mind before you buy.

It’s no surprise that this ornament hangs straight.  It is a building with the loop in the middle of the roof, after all.

You can count me as one of those who bought Tannenbaum’s Department Store since I have the Nostalgic Homes and Shops series.  But I’m glad I did because it is a fun twist on the series.

Fans of this ornament will enjoy the official Nostalgic Homes and Shops ornaments.

Original Price: $15.95

Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Review: Lost Beneath Manhattan by Sigmund Brower (Accidental Detectives #11)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery, fun characters
Cons: Could have started main story a little sooner
The Bottom Line:
A missing brother
In page turning mystery
Good for everyone

The Hunt for Joel

Normally, a missing child is a parent’s worst nightmare.  But for Lost Beneath Manhattan, it becomes twelve-year-old Ricky Kidd’s worst nightmare.  It makes sense since this is a middle grade novel.  And while the story does take the kidnapping seriously, it doesn’t go as dark as it might either since it has the younger target audience.

Ricky’s school class has been planning a trip to New York City for the entire school year.  Now they are down to their final chance to raise funds – an end of year play.  When Ricky’s six-year-old brother Joel ruins things, they think they are doomed only to wind up getting the funds they need with one catch – Joel has to go with them.

And so Ricky finds himself trying to keep an eye on Joel, which isn’t easy since his younger brother has a habit of disappearing on a regular basis.  But when a misunderstanding with a museum guard leads to Joel running away, Ricky fears the worst.  Deciding he and his friends are Joel’s only chance, they set out to track him down.  Can they do it?  What might have happened to Joel?

Author Sigmund Brouwer does a good job of working within the middle grade genre requirements.  I mean, we know that Ricky and his friends are going to try to find Joel, but he gives them a good motivation for doing so.

Most books in this series begin with a related short story before we get to the heart of the mystery, but this one really has two.  Since it was originally published in the 90’s as the first in the series, this helped set up Joel’s personality.  Now that it is in the second half of the reprinted series, it slows things down a bit before we get to the heart of the book, but that second short story is lots of fun.

But when the mystery does begin, it grabs us hard.  Even though I’ve read the book a few times now, I still got sucked into the story of trying to find Joel.  It had been long enough that I’d forgotten most of the details, so that certainly helped.  The use of foreshadowing is a bit heavy handed here, but it does amp up the suspense.

I love the characters in this series.  Even though the books are short (less than 150 pages with lots of chapter breaks), we still get to see the different personalities.  They add a lot of fun to the series, including some great laughs.

This is a Christian mystery series.  As Ricky is searching for his brother, his search takes him to a mission and encounters with the homeless, which gets him wondering how a good God can allow people to suffer like this.  This doesn’t slow down the plot at all, yet it adds a depth to the book.  It never gets too philosophical, but I like the addition to the store.

I already mentioned that this book originally came out in the 90’s.  That’s responsible for some of the dated references, including cameras with film and a date in a newspaper article.  They are very minor issues that most kids probably won’t even think about.

This really is a strong book in a strong series.  If you are looking for a mystery that will keep you and your middle grader reading, I highly recommend Lost Beneath Manhattan.

Once you’re hooked, you’ll want to read the rest of the Accidental Detectives Mysteries.

This review is part of this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Movie Review: The Lego Ninjago Movie

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Laughs, good message
Cons: Plot is disjointed
The Bottom Line:
Saving the city
Ninjas vs. evil dad
Plot could be stronger

Not Built to the Level of Previous Lego Movies

Since I’m not generally into Ninja movies or stories, I originally planned to skip The LegoNinjago Movie.   But then I started watching the previews and laughing.  Considering I enjoyed the previous Lego movies, I decided to give it a try.  I found it amusing, but not as good as I’d hoped.

We meet Lloyd (voiced by Dave Franco) on his sixteenth birthday.  For him, high school is rougher than for most teens.  You see, his dad is the evil Lord Garmadon (Justin Theroux) who regularly tries to take over their city, Ninjago.  You can see how this would create some issues for Lloyd.  Even though he’s never met his dad, everyone resents him for who his father.  But what no one knows is that Lloyd and his few friends are the Ninjas who defend the city when Garmadon attacks.

Lloyd’s birthday is no different from any other day – Garmadon attacks.  But after this defeat, Garmadon vows to come back even stronger.  Meanwhile, Lloyd learns about the presence of The Ultimate Weapon from his trainer, Master Wu (Jackie Chan).  Will this defeat Garmadon once and for all?  Or will it create more problems for Ninjago?  And will Lloyd ever deal with his feelings for his father?

The story has some good potential, right?  Okay, so it’s nothing very original, but it could be fun.  Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work as well as it should.  I think it’s partially because the plot doesn’t quite feel connected.  Elements are introduced out of nowhere.  They wind up working, but it’s a bit jarring.

Of course, it might help if I were a fan of Ninja movies.  I can’t get into them, so the things they were spoofing often went over my head.

However, that isn’t to say I didn’t laugh.  While I will admit the best jokes are in the previews (and we get some things in the previews that are cut out of the film), there were still some great moments and lines in the film.  And I certainly did like the ultimate message of the film, as well.  That’s something all of the Lego movies have gotten right.

Likewise, the cast did a great job.  Jackie Chan is the only actor I’m super familiar with, but that just helped me get into the story here since I wasn’t listening for voices I know.  Speaking of Jackie Chan, he stars in a live action wrap around as a shopkeeper who tells the story to a boy.

The animation is in keeping with the rest of Lego movies.  It’s good, and it fits with a story about plastic bricks.  Heck, there are some fun gags featuring Legos, as is always the case.

There are definitely parts of The Lego Ninjago Movie that are fun, but overall it doesn’t hold together as well as I hoped it would.  If you want to watch it, I would definitely recommend it.  There’s just no reason to rush out and see it.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

September 23rd's Weekly TV Thoughts

Last week before the new TV season starts.  I don't know if I'm ready for more shows than this.  I'm looking forward to new episodes of my shows, but not having so much to watch every night.

The Orville (Sunday) – Most of the jokes, especially at the beginning, seemed forced and were painful.  Yes, we got a lecture on zoos.  Yes, the character growth on the ship was fairly predictable.  Yet I found myself enjoying the show.  Still not completely committed, however.

Dancing with the Stars – So I’m going to start off talking about ultimate Frisbee.  The park where Cheryl and Terrell first met?  I was playing ultimate Frisbee there this summer.  And Sasha Pieterse used to come play at my pick up ultimate Frisbee game several years ago.  So you can bet who I am rooting for – Sasha!  There were a couple of stand out performances, and those will be the stars to beat this season.  The judges’ scores seem lower overall than they used to be, but it sounds like the stars only have a couple of weeks to get ready, which is down from what they used to give them.  Can’t believe we will be seeing two dances and two people eliminated already next week.  That’s just crazy!

American Ninja Warrior – They got me with the previews – no new winner this year.  But Joe got so close!  I’m actually a little bit surprised that only three people made it to the third stage.  Train hard, everyone, and I’ll be rooting for you again next season.

The Good Place – I started watching this show over the summer and fell in love.  It’s goofy at times, but pretty funny.  I was worried where they would go after the first season, but the season premier was very funny.  The new soul mates were great.  I hope we don’t spend the entire season erasing people’s memories so we can build a storyline, although getting to watch the action from the other side was certainly great for tonight.

The Orville (Thursday) – So when I’d heard this show was going to have a transgender episode, I figured I knew where the show was going to go.  This episode wasn’t it.  I’m actually still trying to figure out what point they were trying to make here.  After all, I was rooting for the baby to stay female, so this seemed like the sad ending, which actually surprises me.  Speaking of surprises, this had fewer jokes than we’d seen so far, but the jokes they did have actually hit their targets.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: Murder on Gramercy Park by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, mystery, and sense of time and place
Cons: All cons lost to time
The Bottom Line:
Suicide?  Murder?
Frank, Sarah investigate
A compelling read

The Suicide That Wasn’t

There are really only so many set ups to a murder mystery, and a common one is a murder made to look like a suicide.  That’s what starts Murder on Gramercy Square, the third Gaslight Mystery from Victoria Thompson.  But, as with other books I’ve read with this set up, the mystery branches off into some unexpected directions from the familiar beginning.

New York Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy isn’t happy about being assigned to a suicide case.  He’s even less happy when he arrives to learn the victim’s wife has gone into labor.  Against his better judgment, he calls on midwife Sarah Brandt to come and attend to the wife while he goes to view the scene.

The victim is Dr. Edmund Blackwell, a magnetic healer who has cured many people who were supposed to be beyond medical help.  In fact, one of his first clients was his now wife, Letitia.  Frank has only looked at the scene for a couple of minutes when he realizes that it was a murder.  He must reluctantly involve Sarah again since she is getting information as a result of being Letitia’s midwife.  Why would anyone want to kill a doctor who seems to be doing so many people so much good?

Some historical novels set their action around famous historical events.  That isn’t the case here, but the historical setting infuses every page.  We get a real sense of how people lived in New York in the 1890’s, and how various people were expected to relate to each other.  It is very interesting to view how our society has changed for the better, and the worse.  This book really does transport you to another time and place.

Of course, the main reason I picked up this book was for the mystery, and I wasn’t disappointed at all.  I thought I had it all figured out early on, but I turned out to have missed a big piece of the puzzle.  And even if I’d been correct, I still would have enjoyed every page since there were threads I wanted to see resolved.

The book spends almost equal time between Frank and Sarah, allowing us to get the clues with these two main characters.  It also always us to really get to know them.  Their relationship is a lot of fun and adds some light touches to the book.  The other returning characters are very minor, but they are also fun.  That gives the cast of suspects plenty of time to be developed, and we get some great depth to them, which makes some of the events of the story pack a real punch.

Quite obviously, I am woefully behind on this series, and I wished I’d started it much sooner.  Murder on Gramercy Park makes it easy to see why the Gaslight series has been so popular for so long.  I’m looking forward to catching up on the rest of this series soon.

Travel back in time with the rest of the Gaslight Mysteries in order.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

September 22nd's Book Beginnings and Friday 56

Happy Friday!  Here's this week's Book Beginnings and Friday 56.

This week, I'm pulling some quotes from Death of a Bachelorette by Laura Levine.


This is one of my favorite series.  I always have a blast laughing my way through Jaine's mysteries.

Here's the prologue of the book:

I swear, it was a miracle.  Okay, maybe not as big as the parting of the Red Sea.  Or Daniel surviving that lion's den.  Or how M&M's melt in your mouth, not in your hand.
But a miracle nonetheless.

And, as a bonus, here's the first line of Chapter 1:

It took about nine hours to fly from L.A. to Tahiti - nine of the most harrowing hours of my life.

Jumping ahead to page 56, we find a fun exchange.  To set it up, Jaine has discovered that her cat, Prozac, has escaped from their room.  She's hoping that the maid, Akela, might have some idea why.

"Wait, Akela!" I called after her.  "You didn't happen to come to my room earlier, did you?"
Maybe she'd stopped by and inadvertently left the door open, clearing the way for Prozac's escape.
"No! No! I no go in room.  No kitty.  No kitty!" she cried, careening down the steps.
That woman really ought to do something about her fear of cats, I thought, as I headed to my room.

My full review will be up on Tuesday.  I hope you'll come back and read my review then.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ornament Review: Christmas Carousel #1 - Santa's Sleigh - 2017 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Cute, actually spins
Cons: Only for those who don’t like mini ornaments
The Bottom Line:
Sleigh and reindeer are
Part of festive carousel
Start of short series

A Merry Start to this Miniature Series

Hallmark has started announcing how long some of their series will last.  Part of me can understand it.  I have so many ornaments and series, knowing something will be limited makes me more likely to consider it.  But when I love an idea, I hate to know how limited it is going to be.  That’s the case with Christmas Carousel.  The first of the three entries in the series came out this year, and I’m already mourning that it will be such a short series.

Based on the name, I’m sure it is no shock that this ornament features a carousel.  However, instead of featuring horses, it features Santa’s sleigh and three reindeer.  And yes, there is movement.  If you turn the knob on the bottom of the ornament, the reindeer and sleigh turn around and move up and down just like they would on a real carousel.  The top of the carousel is red and white stripes, and red and gold are predominate in other parts of the carousel.

This is all the more impressive since this is one of Hallmark’s miniature ornaments.  It’s on the large side for a miniature measuring at just about two inches tall.  It’s big enough to know exactly what is going on, but it’s definitely still a mini.  When you consider the size, the amount of detail is very impressive.  Yes, I would have liked to see this one as a full sized, ornament but even at this small size there are some fun touches.  You can see parts of the bridle on the reindeer, for example.

That knob I mentioned that allows you to turn the carousel also keeps it from sitting flat, so you have to hang the ornament.  When you do, you’ll find that it hangs straight.

And you’ll find the 1 in a Christmas tree series marker on the bottom of the ornament.

On another note, you really have to hold the top of the ornament when you go to turn the knob on the bottom to get things to spin.  It spins easily enough when you do that, but otherwise, you just get the entire ornament rotating.

While I always claim I’m not going to start any new series, I knew as soon as I saw Christmas Carousel that I had to make an exception for this one.  This may be a small ornament, but it is wonderful.

Check out the rest of the Christmas Carousel series.

Original Price: $9.95

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

TV Show Review: Arrow - Season 5

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action, story, acting
Cons: Still dark; gun rights episode
The Bottom Line:
A personal foe
Arrow still dark and gritty
Mostly entertains

"In Our Town, People Who are Supposed to be Dead Turn out to be Secretly Alive Almost Every Wednesday."

The founding show of the Arrowverse, Arrow, has always been the most serious show out of the bunch.  Yes, it has its light moments, but on the whole it is a dark show.  Why do you think so much of the show takes place at night?  Season 5 wasn’t any different in tone.

 As the season opens, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) makes a surprising decision – he’s going to run for mayor of Star City.  Why is that so surprising?  Because anyone attempting to be mayor doesn’t seem to have a long life span.  He figures that his secret identity as the Green Arrow can help break that curse, and this is a way to help the city in both the day and at night.

Of course, this also cuts down on his time to patrol, so he takes on apprentices, including Curtis (Echo Kellum), Rene (Rick Gonzalez), Evelyn (Madison McLaughlin) and Rory (Joe Dinicol).  Green Arrow isn’t the best trainer around, causing problems within this new family.  It doesn’t help that Diggle (David Ramsey) is still struggling with his actions at the end of the last season.  Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) does her best to help reign in Oliver while still running tech for the team.  Meanwhile, Oliver’s sister Thea (Willa Holland) has taken on the job of helping him in the mayor’s office where he is also assisted by Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) who steps in as the deputy mayor.

However, someone is out to frame the Green Arrow.  His arrows are being found in the bodies of murder victims.  Should Oliver use his political position to his advantage?  Is this a personal vendetta?

Despite my opening, this season doesn’t go as dark as last season did.  Still, it would be nice for the characters to have some fun as they go about saving the day.  While there are still some quips, they are fewer than they used to be.  I watch TV to escape from reality.  This is getting too close to being reality.

Speaking of which, there’s the infamous gun rights episode in the second half of the season.  It starts with someone shooting up City Hall, and then leads to Oliver working with a gun rights person on the town counsel to come up with a solution that doesn’t violate the 2nd amendment.  I might have respected the episode if they had told us what it was, but they just said they’d found one.  The result felt like an hour of preaching and a liberal dream instead of the entertainment I normally sit down to watch.  If the show is going to go further down this road in the future, I will drop it.

On the other hand, there’s the show’s 100th episode.  It happened during the big four episode crossover event and found a way to include many of the cast members who have been written out of the show over the years as well as including characters who have spun off to different shows.  It wasn’t an important part of the crossover, but it was a fantastic 100th episode.

While dark, I definitely still did enjoy the overall storyline this season.  With the villain, Prometheus, aiming directly for Oliver/Green Arrow, the stakes were very personal.  They surprised me along the way, and I had to keep coming back to see how in the world Oliver would eventually best Prometheus.  As always, the action and special effects were top notch.

Likewise, the acting was great.  The show puts the characters through their paces, and the actors respond perfectly.  A few cast members take several episodes off this season, and I miss them, but it is understandable considering how crowded the cast is getting as this point.  In addition to the new characters I mentioned, we also meet Juliana Harkavy’s Dinah Drake, a new Canary, part way through the season.

The flashback story this season finds Oliver in Russian looking to avenge a friend.  Fortunately, this also coincides with the fifth year that Oliver was missing, so we’ve been promised that the flashbacks are going away, or at least will be less frequent.  This season’s story was at least more coherent and interesting than the last couple, but it still slowed down the flow of the modern day story.

I know all this is sounding like I hate the show.  I really, truly don’t.  It’s just that it is easy to point out the flaws in the writing.  If I truly hated the show, I’d stop watching.  Overall, I enjoy the show each week and twists our heroes must face.

This set contains all 23 episodes of season 5 in their native wide screen and full surround.  Extras including the 2016 Comic Con Panel, a look at the new members of Team Arrow, a featurette on the villain of the season as well as the cross over episode.  Finally, we get deleted scenes and a gag reel.

This is definitely not the place to jump into the show, and considering how much fun they have with crossovers, it is good to watch all the shows in the Arrowverse.  Arrow may be the most serious of the bunch, but there is still stuff to enjoy in season 5.

Season 5 Episodes:
1. Legacy
2. The Recruits
3. A Matter of Trust
4. Penance
5. Human Target
6. So It Begins
7. Vigilante
8. Invasion!
9. What We Leave Behind
10. Who Are You?
11. Second Chances
12. Bratva
13. Spectre of the Gun
14. The Sin-Eater
15. Fighting Fire with Fire
16. Checkmate
17. Kapiushon
18. Disbanded
19. Dangerous Liaisons
20. Underneath
21. Honor Thy Fathers
22. Missing
23. Lian Yu

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao (Change of Fortune Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: History, interesting main character, solid mystery
Cons: Book takes its time introducing us before things really get going
The Bottom Line:
Ruby returns here
History plus mystery
Hint paranormal

Warning: You’ll Be Addicted to This Book

Despite my intention to avoid paranormal mysteries, there are a couple that I’ve gotten drawn to, and Jessica Estevao’s Change of Fortune Mysteries are one of them.  I really enjoyed the first book in the series, but I got pulled into Whispers of Warning even more.

The book is set in the late 1890’s in Old Orchard, Maine.  The town is buzzing with activity as the new pier is about to open.  This is a big tourist draw that many people are hoping will increase their profile as a resort destination.

However, the Belden Hotel is buzzing for another reason.  Famed suffragist and psychic Sophronia Foster Eldridge is coming to stay as she leads rallies for the women’s right to vote in the area.  Rudy Proulx is thrilled at how this has raised the profile of her aunt’s hotel, which has distinguished itself because of the spiritualist services they offer to their guests.

However, there is a tension in town.  Coupled with the people in town for the pier’s opening and the dream that Ruby’s aunt Honoria had, and Ruby is on edge.  When a dead body turns up, Ruby finds herself once again working with Detective Yancey.  Can they figure out the truth?

There really is a lot going on here, and the book takes its time setting things up.  I was getting a little antsy before the body was found, but once it did, the book never slowed down again.  And the book had been introducing suspects all along; we just didn’t know it yet.  Honestly, I wasn’t completely sure who the victim would be until the body was found.  The solution was a complete surprise but entirely logical.

But what really drew me into the book were the characters.  Ruby has an interesting background since she grew up with a father who was a traveling medicine man, and she’s learned quite a bit about reading people as a result.  It makes for an interesting sleuth.  While most of the book is told from her first person point of view, we do get some chapters told from Yancey’s third person point of view, which helps flesh the story and his character out as well.  Between the two, we get a good view of the other regular characters and the suspects.

Then there is the history.  I love history, and this felt like getting a front row seat to the events that help finally give women the right to vote.  Honestly, some of the things that are said against it are infuriating.

As I mentioned earlier, the paranormal aspect is kept to a minimum.  Ruby does hear a voice that guides her, but only a little bit.  She still figures out the mystery on her own.  Other characters have other paranormal abilities, but they aren’t enough to overwhelm the story.

I really did get lost in Ruby’s world, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next to her.  Whispers of Warning is a magical trip back in time that will hook you and leave you wanting more.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.


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, September 26th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM Pacific Time on 9/26.  You will have until midnight on 10/1 to get back to me, or I will choose a new winner on 10/2.

Monday, September 18, 2017

TV Show Review: Lethal Weapon - Season 1

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Chemistry, characters, banter, depth, action, fun
Cons: A few episodes don’t work quite as well as most
The Bottom Line:
Classic film franchise
Reimagined for TV
Becomes a great show

“The City Will Cover This.  Tell Them to Put It On My Tab.”

Over the last few years, there are been several TV shows attempted based on popular movie franchises.  And most of them seem to bomb.  Yet, I still tune in to those that interest me, hoping for the best.  That optimism was rewarded with the first season of Lethal Weapon.  While a little uneven, overall, I enjoyed the show.

The setup is the same as the movies.  We meet Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) and Roger Murtaugh (Damon Wayans) on the day they become partners for the LAPD.  Riggs is a recent widower who lost not only his wife but their unborn child when they are killed in a car crash on the way to the hospital.  Murtaugh is a family man with two teenage children, a baby, and a wife.  Oh, and he’s just coming back to work after having a heart attack.  Riggs’s recklessness when it comes to the cases they are assigned constantly frightens Murdoch.  While Riggs is seeing Dr. Cahill (Jordana Brewster), the police department therapist, his depression isn’t getting better.  Their captain (Kevin Rahm) doesn’t know quite what to do with the duo, although he can’t argue with their results.

And results they do get.  Over the course of this season, they tangle with drug smugglers, gun runners, track a burglar in Murtaugh’s neighborhood, investigate the LAPD for misuses of power, and even find themselves on opposite sides with Murtaugh’s wife Trish (Keesha Sharp), a defense attorney.

Meanwhile, Riggs runs across clues that his wife’s accident, which happened in Texas, wasn’t quite the accident he thought it was.  Can he piece together what really happened to her?

Those with fond memories of the movies will be impressed.  They have done a great job of capturing the heart of the films while expanding the show as needed for TV.  They introduce new characters, most of whom work.  There’s one who gets on my nerves, but he’s a minor character, so I don’t mind too much.  When the show is working correctly, the banter between Riggs and Murdoch is fun, and they even get some good action scenes in for a TV show budget.

I’ve really come to appreciate how a TV show allows for more character development, and this season is a perfect example of that.  While we feel for Riggs in the movie, we get more time to explore what he is going through here.  That makes certain scenes and episodes heavier than others.  It’s not all quips and explosions, but I appreciate that balance, and when done well, it’s wonderful.  Riggs doesn’t get over the death of his wife quickly, but he wouldn’t in real life.  If you take these episodes as a year in the life, his continued grief is actually very realistic.

Note that I do keep qualifying things.  There are a few episodes that fall flat for me.  The banter seems forced and the action is okay if there is any at all.  Of course, I’m willing to forgive them on the action front since this is a TV show, and they have to work within a budget.  That means some episodes have to scale back on the action to allow for the budget in other episodes.  It’s not that these episodes are truly bad, they are just noticeably less than the show when it is firing on all cylinders.

Another thing I have to praise is the chemistry between the cast.  By the end of the pilot, Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford will erase any notion of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.  They make these characters their own.  And Keesha Sharp is fantastic as Trish Murdoch.  Her role has been expanded from the movies, and she helps provide a much-needed emotional centers to the show.  We need her warmth to off-set the grief that Riggs is feeling.  The entire Murdoch family is wonderful, in fact.  They are obviously a family that cares deeply for each other.  Oh, they have issues that create some good sub-plots, but underneath is that love.  And they have incorporated Riggs into their family rather easily.  Those scenes are fantastic.

And in case you are wondering, Thomas Lennon makes one appearance here as Leo Getz, Joe Pesci’s character from the franchise.  He’s a ton of fun as well.

The season was only 18 episodes long, and they are all preserved here in their native wide screen and full surround.  Extras include a featurette on “Reloading Lethal Weapon” as well as an extended pilot episode, deleted scenes, and outtakes.

When season one of Lethal Weapon was working, it was lots of fun mixed with heart and great characters.  And the show worked more often than not.  If you missed this show, I suggest you catch up quickly before season 2 begins.

Season 1 Episodes:
1. Pilot
2. Surf N Turf
3. Best Buds
4. There Goes the Neighborhood
5. Spilt Milk
6. Ties That Bind
7. Fashion Police
8. Can I Get a Witness?
9. Jingle Bell Glock
10. Homebodies
11. Lawmen
12. Brotherly Love
13. The Seal is Broken
14. The Murtaugh File
15. As Good as it Getz
16. Unnecessary Roughness
17. A Problem Like Maria
18. Commencement

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ornament Review: Moana Waialiki - 2017 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Captures Moana and her power
Cons: Any cons washed away by water
The Bottom Line:
Moana, water
Ornament captures her in
Middle of motion

Hallmark’s Moana Ornaments is Ready to Make a Splash

Last fall, Disney release Moana, and it’s become another huge hit for them.  Hallmark was ready this year to cash in on the film with Moana Waialiki, and they’ve done a great job of capturing the character.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you do so immediately.  Not only is it a great movie, but it will help you understand exactly what this ornament represents.

You see, this isn’t just an ornament of the character.  Yes, it features Moana.  She’s dressed in the top and skirt she wears in the movie.  But she’s not just standing there.  Instead, she’s obviously been waving her arms.  And as anyone who has seen the movie knows, she has the power to make water move when she waves her arms.  That’s just what is happening here.  While she appears to be standing on sand, she has water swirling all around her and it looks like she’s about to send it away from her.

And that’s why I loved it the first time I saw it.  While a lot of the ornaments Hallmark does of Disney characters are fun, many of them are the characters posed.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that.  But I like this ornament because it features that something special.  Moana appears to be in motion instead of posing for us, and they’ve incorporated something that makes her character unique.

The water, naturally, is made from a mostly clear bluish plastic.  It is shaped such that it really doesn’t obscure must of Moana’s features.  Yes, it looks like plastic, but it works for this ornament.

As I said earlier, Moana is standing on what appears to be sand, and that sand has a circle of water around it.  You know what that means – this ornament has a nice, solid, flat base.  You’ll have no trouble setting this out to be enjoyed year-round.

When December rolls around and you are ready to hang her on your tree, you’ll find that Moana hangs straight as well.  Despite everything swirling around her, the loop is at the perfect place for the ornament to balance.  The loop takes an extra second or two to put the hook through because of the water, but it’s a very minor issue.

With how popular Moana has become, I suspect that Moana Waialiki will be one of the hot ornaments this year.  Therefore, if you are a fan of the character, I suggest you grab it quickly.  You’ll be glad you did.

Original Price: $15.95

Saturday, September 16, 2017

September 16th's Weekly TV Thoughts

My first show of the fall started this week.  I'm so used to my shows not really getting going until the final week of September that I don't quite know how I feel about this.  Okay, so I'm being over the top since my TV week was still so light it was still really summer.

The Orville – I’m still not completely sure what I thought of this.  It has potential, but some of it, like meeting the crew, was very clunky.  But that’s a pilot episode, and I’m willing to give it a few more episodes.  It’s definitely got a bit more bathroom humor than I would normally like, so that may be a factor as well.  I’m not going to take on a new show just because.  It has to be something I truly enjoy overall.

American Ninja Warrior – I say give it a year or two and Kacy will be back.  She loves it too much.  Even if she doesn’t come back, you can’t take away from her what she’s brought to it.  So bummed to see Jessie slip up there at the end.  Of the women, she’s by far my favorite because she is clearly having so much fun out there.  But a record number of finishers.  And were the teasers promising another finisher next week?

Suits – Again, the worked the cases out, and I was very satisfied with what they did.  Loved the intercutting between the two cases early on.  But that kiss!  I’m not sure I am fully on board with Donna and Harvey as a couple.  We’ll see what the writers do with it.  I like them as they are just fine.  But I could see them as a couple as well.  I just think Harvey’s reaction is going to be very interesting, especially with the bombshell about Jessica there at the end.  They’re definitely setting up the spin off with her character that isn’t supposed to be a legal show.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: "H" is for Homicide by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #8)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good first half; Kinsey
Cons: Very slow second half; homicide an after thought
The Bottom Line:
An insurance case
Gets bogged down in second half
Weakest book so far

“H” is for Half Good

I knew that even longtime fans of the Kinsey Milhone series admit there are some sub-par books in the series, and I wasn’t sure when that started.  In my opinion, “H” is for Homicide is that first disappointing book in the series.

This book opens with a shocking murder.  Over the last couple of months, PI Kinsey Milhone has gotten to know Parnell Perkins, a new employee at California Fidelity, the insurance company where she has office space.  They usually got out for drinks after work two or three times a week.  So, Kinsey is shocked when she swings by the office after several days out of town to learn he’s been shot in the parking lot.  The trail seems to have grown cold, too, and soon the case disappears from the headlines.

Kinsey herself is soon distracted by a new case.  California Fidelity has asked her to look into a claim filed by Bibianna Diaz.  Something seems off about the claim, and Kinsey quickly agrees.  Her strategy is to get close to the woman and find out what is really happening.  But how will Kinsey handle the curve balls of this case?

Before I go further, I have a rant.  When you are doing alphabet mysteries, homicide is an obvious choice for “H”, so the title doesn’t surprise me.  But if that’s the case, wouldn’t you expect the actual homicide to be a main focus of the book?  It isn’t.  Instead, we focus on insurance fraud, which is a great case, but could have easily been the plot for the next book in the series, “I”.

Setting that rant aside, the book starts out well as Kinsey gets close to Bibianna in hopes of proving the obvious.  There were some good twists that made her life much more complicated.  And then the book got bogged down in the second half.  We get a different story than the book promised by the beginning, too.  It really does feel like author Sue Grafton had done a lot of research into insurance fraud and wanted to share that with us.  I was chomping at the bit to get another twist or more action, but then when we reached the climax, it was over all too quickly.

The series is not known for series regular characters, which holds true here.  Kinsey is pretty much on her own for most of this book.  She’s a strong character, and she is surrounded by a crop of strong new characters, so I didn’t feel this was a problem at all.  In fact, the characters were so strong that we certainly did care about the outcome even though we’d never met any of them before.

Once again, I listened to the audio version narrated by Mary Pfeiffer.  She is absolutely wonderful at infusing Kinsey’s narration with life and making the story fun to listen to.  I highly recommend these audio versions if you are looking for something new.

The end of this book does change things for Kinsey, so fans will want to read it to find out what that is, although it is dropped on us almost in passing.

I wish this book held up to the promise of the first half because I was really enjoying that.  As it is, “H” is for Homicide is a book fans will need to read, but it’s not a good place for those new to the series to start.

Check out the rest of the Kinsey Millhone mysteries.

This review is part of this week's Friday's Forgotten Books.

September 15th's Book Beginnings and Friday 56

Here we are again - Book Beginnings and Friday 56.

This week's book is Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao.


Yes, there's a bit of the paranormal in this historical mystery, but I enjoyed it.  Normally, I wouldn't go for that, but the light dose here adds a fun touch.

But I'm getting into the review when I should be teasing the book.  Here's how it opens:
The atmosphere of the suffrage rally had far more in common with a medicine show performance than the attendants would likely have enjoyed hearing.

I'm cheating a bit with the 56 this week.  Page 56 is the start of a new chapter that's describing the dining room.  Not a bad page, but not really anything you can use as a teaser.  However, this line that ends the chapter on page 55 is pretty good.

"I just hope inviting them isn't at the bottom of Honoria's dream."

I'll be reviewing this book, with a giveaway, on Tuesday, so I hope you'll come back for my complete thoughts.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Book Review: Deadly Brew by Karen MacInerney (Dewberry Farm Mysteries #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun characters and atmospheric mystery
Cons: One dropped plot point; needed another pass from an editor
The Bottom Line:
Witches’ Ball murder
Halloween atmosphere in
Cozy mystery

More Trouble is Brewing in Buttercup

I’ve noticed in the last couple of years that more authors are adding Christmas entries to their cozy mystery series.  Considering how much I love Christmas, I’m hardly complaining about that, but I do find it funny that Halloween isn’t used more since it fits in so well with the murder mystery theme.  Karen MacInerney decided it was the perfect season for Deadly Brew, the fun third book in her Dewberry Farm series.

It may be October, but it is hardly cooling down in Texas.  That’s a problem for a farmer like Lucy Resnick, especially when it’s been a dry summer yet again, since it has left her well dry.  Meanwhile, there is something in the area attacking live stock, and the local rumor mill is attributing it to a mythological creature.  And Lucy’s moved a historic house from the area to her property only to learn that it just might be haunted.

With all this going on, Lucy is looking forward to a relaxing evening at the Witches’ Ball.  The evening ends in tragedy, however, when Bug Wharton dies.  He had opened an exotic game ranch in the area.  While his ranch was less than popular with Lucy and her friends, she didn’t wish him dead.  But when a fatal reaction to a bee sting becomes linked to the murder, Lucy knows that her friends will becomes the sheriff’s prime suspects, and he’s not known for changing his mind easily.  Can Lucy find the truth?

Obviously, there’s a lot going on with a good mystery and several sub-plots.  That means the book never lacks for something happening.  I was always turning pages trying to find out what would happen next and how Lucy would figure things out.  Unfortunately, one plot point is left dangling, but the rest are wrapped up in a satisfactory manner.  And the climax is fun, creative, and suspenseful.

This being the third book in the series, we’re really getting to know Lucy and a couple of core characters, and I loved spending more time with them.  Naturally, we meet some new characters here, and they are strong as well.

And we get a couple of updates on characters we’ve met in previous books.  I was glad to see these cameos, but they do come with a warning.  By necessity, events from the previous books in the series are spoiled.  That means you’ll need to read the series in order, which isn’t really a hardship at all.

Unfortunately, this book did need another pass by an editor.  At least in the digital version I read, there are a number of continuity issues.  They don’t interfere with the plot of the mystery, but they were annoying, especially when they made me scroll back to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.  Hopefully, these are fixed in later versions of the book.

If you are looking for Halloween atmosphere, you’ve come to the right place.  While never leaving the cozy mystery genre, this book hass a hint of spookiness that is just plain fun and adds a nice flavor to this particular book.  Combine that with the light hint of paranormal the series usually has, and you’ve got a perfect book to read in October.

And yes, there are recipes.  No surprise that two of the four are pumpkin recipes, including a delicious sounding pumpkin bar and pumpkin butter.

If you are looking for a fun cozy to read during October, look no further than Deadly Brew.  But no matter what time of the year you read this book, you’ll enjoy it.

Enjoy more visits with the rest of the Dewberry Farm Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.