Thursday, October 31, 2019

Ornament Review: Prince of the Forest - Noble Nutcrackers #1 - 2019 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Beautifully crafted with lots of detail
Cons: Seems a bit pricey for what it is
The Bottom Line:
Nutcracker series
Starts with many great details
A bit expensive

This Nutcracker Series is Off to a Princely Start

Hallmark has my number.  Every year, I promise myself I won’t start any new series, and every year I find one that I absolutely must start.  For me this year, it is the Noble Nutcrackers.  Prince of the Forest was just too good to pass up.

This series advertises itself as featuring a royal representative of a different enchanted nutcracker kingdom.  As such, I don’t expect there to be any traditional looking nutcrackers.  This one certainly isn’t.  As the title suggests, our nutcracker this year is representing nature.  He’s very green with some red for accents.  His coat is trimmed with vines and berries, and his belt is a wreath.  In one hand, he’s holding a bird feeder that is currently home to a couple of birds.  His crown?  It’s a miniature fir tree, of course.

I love nutcrackers, so I was tempted by this series as soon as I heard the name.  However, the price point made me reconsider for a while.  (Yes, really.)  At $22.99, this is the most expensive non-magic ornament I’m aware of.  I’m hearing it is because of the intricate detail in the ornament, but it still is a hard price point to get past for a piece of carved plastic.  Yes, I know that’s what most of the ornaments I buy from Hallmark are, but they aren’t usually this expensive.

However, it was that detail that won me over.  This really is a work of art with lots of great detail to look at.  It is beautiful, and I just couldn’t pass it up.  I love how the ornament is crafted such that it looks like it is carved from wood.  I might be more selective with this series overall, but I had to get this one.

Like all nutcrackers, this one has a strong base, so you can display him on any flat surface.  In this case, his base is a tree trunk.  That’s another of those details I love.  While his mouth itself doesn’t open up, there is an area in his chest that opens like a regular nutcracker would.

The loop of hanging the ornament is on the very tip top of the tree on top of his head.  No surprise, he hangs straight.  What is a surprise is that the ornament comes with a rope for hanging the ornament – something Hallmark rarely does.

Being the first in a series, you’ll find a 1 in a Christmas tree on the bottom of the ornament.

Yes, I still think the price is a bit higher than it should be, but overall, I do love Prince of the Forest.

Check out more of the Noble Nutcrackers ornaments.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

October 2019's Monthly Reading Summary

Yes, I'm a little early this month, but today was looking like the best day to post my monthly reading summary, so here it is.

I may be early, but the index has been updated.

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

Finding Zelda by Sue Ann Jaffarian (Zelda Bowen #1) – 5
We first meet the Bowen family at Easter as Zelda and her two sisters, Norma and Bea, are arguing over who will wear the bunny costume that year for the kids.  Normally, that is something their father would do, but he has vanished without a word to anyone.  Even though the three women are grown, two of them with families of their own, his absence has repercussions in all of their lives and in their family overall.  As the year progresses, how will they deal with what happened?

I was excited to see this novel come out.  It started life as four short stories in a series called Holidays from Hell.  Those stories, plus some additional scenes to help fill in the gaps, make up the first half of the novel, and I was anxious to find out what happened to Zelda.  I wasn’t disappointed.  While author Sue Ann Jaffarian is best known for her mystery novels, this isn’t a mystery.  Instead, it’s a dysfunctional family dramedy.  And yes, there are scenes that will make you laugh and scenes that will make you feel for the characters and what they are going through, especially Zelda.  As our main characters, she is the most sympathetic, but all the characters have their moments as the book unfolds and all of them are great.  This book definitely falls into the PG-13 realm with a smattering of foul language and some scenes that discuss characters’ sex lives.  I could have done without those elements, but they are worth noting only in passing.  Despite the fact that the book takes place roughly over the course of a year, we get a clear plot and only the scenes we need for the story.  While originally conceived as a standalone novel, we are going to get more of Zelda’s adventures.  I’m not sure where things can go from here, but I’m looking forward to visiting her again.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

“O” is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone #15) – 5
PI Kinsey Millhone is surprised to get a phone call from a guy claiming he found some of her stuff in an abandoned storage locker.  Most of it is old school papers she left behind when she moved out on Mickey, her first ex-husband.  But among those things is some mail – it’s mostly junk, but she finds a letter to her in the stack.  Reading the letter shocks Kinsey.  It sheds new light on her marriage to Mickey and the events that led to her leaving him fourteen years before.  As Kinsey begins to hunt for Mickey to learn exactly what happened, she also begins to look into the murder that lead to her leaving Mickey.  Will she learn the truth about what happened all those years ago?

I wasn’t burning with desire to learn about Kinsey’s first marriage, but that changes pretty quickly when I started this book.  We are given the information we need from that time to understand what is happening in an interesting way that doesn’t slow things down.  The past and present are meeting, and both drive the story forward.  I was hooked until we reached the climax, which expertly wrapped everything up.  The characters spring from the page fully formed the instant we meet them, which is nothing new for this series.  We spend the most time with Kinsey, however, and she is a strong lead.  I enjoyed seeing how these events impacted her.  Fans of the series will enjoy seeing the background, and if you are new to the series, this book will show you why it has been so popular for so many years.

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs (Charlie Thorne #1) – 5
Meet Charlie Thorne.  She is highly intelligent, a great athlete – and twelve-years-old.  She is attending college, if you can call only showing up on test days to be attending college, just biding her time until she is legally an adult.  Until the day the CIA shows up and strong arms her into helping them on a mission of critical importance.  It is believed that Albert Einstein developed an equation in the 1930’s that rivals his theory of relativity in importance, but he hid it to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.  While people all over the world have been looking for it for decades, the race to find it has heated up, with the fate of the world potentially in the balance.  Because Charlie is so smart, they think she can more easily decode the clues that Einstein left behind.  Will Charlie be able to follow the clues to find it?

I was excited to dive into a new series from middle grade author Stuart Gibbs.  It takes a little time to set up the characters and the story in the first half, but the second half is packed with action.  When I got here, it was nearly impossible to put down.  The main characters got some nice character growth over the course of the book.  The rest of the characters aren’t quite as sharp, but they are developed enough to keep us engaged in the book.  This doesn’t have quite as much humor as some of Stuart Gibbs’s other books, although I did laugh some.  The more serious tone is reflected in the more serious nature of the story.  There isn’t anything that isn’t appropriate for the intended audience, but there is more violence off the page than in his previous books.  Only the most sensitive kids will be bothered by what happens here, however.  The ending of this book will leave you ready for Charlie’s next adventure.  I know I’m anxious for it.

A Legacy of Murder by Connie Berry (Kate Hamilton Mysteries #2) – 4
Kate Hamilton has traveled to the small village of Long Barston in England.  Her daughter, Christine, is spending her semester break working at Finchley Hall as one of several college aged interns who work on the premises, and Kate can visit Christine and her new friend Tom Mallory, a policeman she met in Scotland and is falling for, before heading back home to Ohio to spend Christmas with her mother.  On her first day, Kate is taking a tour of Finchley Hall.  The guide is talking about the murders that have taken place on the estate when a scream interrupts her.  Kate and several others run to find one of the interns dead.  The police are quick to label it murder.  With Tom on the case, it is cutting into the time Kate thought they would have together.  But she can’t help but worry.  Is Christine in danger since she is an intern?

I’ve just teased the first couple of chapters, so things obviously get off to a fast start.  However, the pace is uneven, especially early on in the story.  I know part of that is me since Kate loves England much more than I do, and her wonder at spending time there didn’t translate to me.  However, there is a good mystery here, with some decent twists and surprises.  The climax is page turning and perfect logical.  The characters are absolutely wonderful.  We have a rather large cast, but I never had any issue keeping everyone and their relationship to the events unfolding around Kate straight.  While the book is set in December, there is so much going on we don’t get lots of scenes directly related to Christmas, although I certainly enjoyed the references to the season we did see.  This book isn’t quite as strong as the first one, but I’m glad I read it.  This is a series that anyone who loves the British Isles needs to pick up today.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Read It and Weep by Jenn McKinlay (Library Lover’s Mysteries #4) – 3
This fall, Lindsey’s friend Violet La Rue is directing a local theater production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and she is encouraging everyone to try out for it.  Lindsey is more interested in working behind the scenes on the costumes, but many of her friends land parts in the play.  The one non-community member cast is Violet’s friend, Robbie Vine, a celebrated actor.  He brings with him his wife and his girlfriend, but he still is immediately smitten with Lindsey, and he starts flirting with her, which does nothing but irritate Sully, Lindsey’s ex.  However, Lindsey’s romantic troubles aren’t the biggest issue on the stage.  Instead, a series of increasingly more serious accidents seem to be happening in the theater.  Is someone out to destroy the production?  Is any one person the target?  Will Lindsey get to the bottom of things before someone dies?

Since I’m behind on this series, I knew that Lindsey was going to have some serious issues with her love life, and that is the case here.  In fact, it feels more like the focus of the book with the mystery being a sub-plot.  I’m a guy, so I don’t tend to read romances, and I stir clear of many romantic comedies because they aren’t my thing.  The romantic comedy aspect of this book certainly bothered me.  While there are some mysterious occurrences, it wasn’t really until the second half when the mystery really got going and even then, is often overshadowed by the romance.  There is a good twist to the mystery, however.  And I adore the series characters.  We get to see a different side of a couple of them and finally spend some time getting to know Violet.  On the other hand, the suspects were rather weak.  I’ve read enough of author Jenn McKinlay’s books to know this is a blip from an author I usually adore.  If you are a fan of her books, you’ll still want to see what happens here.  If you are new to her books, you’ll be better served starting with a different book and coming back to this one later.  Personally, I am looking forward to visiting Lindsey again soon.

The Caboose Who Got Loose by Bill Peet – 5
Katy is a caboose, but she doesn’t like traveling at all.  She longs for peace and quiet and a stationary life.  Then she is presented with the joys of her current life.  Will she realize her dream?  Will she enjoy life until then?

I hadn’t read this picture book for years until I picked it up recently, and I was immediately struck by the moral of the story.  It’s complex, about enjoying your life while you dream of something else, so kids might not fully grasp it, but that doesn’t make it any less good.  Of course, kids are mostly going to be interested in the story and pictures.  As with all Bill Peet’s books, the pictures are detailed and colorful.  The story, told in rhyme, will keep kids’ attention as well although the vocabulary might be a bit too complex for those just learning to read to read on their own.

Over the course of the book, we get a well-researched look at the sitcom Friends and the impact it has had on the US and the world in the 25 years since it premiered.  We learn about how the creators met and came up with the show, the path the actors took before they landed on the show, and some of the bumps and growing pains that everyone experienced during the 10 years the show was on the air.  There is also talk about the impact the show has had on fashion, trends, and overall pop culture the world over.

Author Kelsey Miller starts out by talking about her own connection to the show, and at various times in the book she talks about how she gained insight into the show (and vice versa) while talking to her real-life friends about it.  As I said, the book is well-researched, but that is part of the problem – it has too much research, rehashing stories we can find elsewhere with little new insights from the cast and crew.  I did find her commentary on a few episodes and arcs to be interesting.  I had already thought of some of her comments myself, and the rest make perfect sense to me.  My biggest issue with the book is the way she works modern social issues into a look at a comedy from 25 years ago.  Now, I’m not saying that the issues on the show aren’t worth talking about.  This is the only part of the book where she did her any original research, reaching out to people to get reactions to the show’s handing of diversity, etc.  However, her experts all seem to be of the opinion that it would be nice if the show had done a better job, but that was TV in the day, and it is a funny comedy that wasn’t trying to push an agenda.  It is clear she wasn’t happy these people didn’t agree with her more since she obvious thinks these are major issues in the show.  She even spends much of the last chapter talking about the lawsuit a writer’s assistant brought for a hostile work environment and speculating how it would have been handled in the current environment.  These complaints aside, I found the book very readable, and when I picked it up, I was hooked.  I was even choking up as I read about the taping of the final episodes.  This would probably appeal most to die hard Friends fans, but most of the material here they probably already know.

Wicked Harvest by Karen MacInerney (Dewberry Farm #6) – 3
The town of Buttercup, Texas, has decided to host an Oktoberfest event this year.  Naturally, farmer Lucy Resnick will have a booth selling wares from her farm, but the kickoff event is at the Sweetwater Brewery, and Lucy is going to be there as just a guest.  The brewery is planning to reveal a new recipe at the event, but that reveal doesn’t quite go as planned.  However, things take an even worse turn a little while later when Lucy and her boyfriend, Tobias, start to take a brewery tour and instead find a dead body.  It is pretty obvious that it was murder, but who did it?

Not only do we have the murder, but we have several sub-plots, so this book is constantly moving and kept my attention the entire time.  Things come together for a logical and satisfying conclusion.  This series has always had a bit of a paranormal element to it, but it is much stronger here, and I felt the book was a bit weaker since it relied on that more to drive the plot.  There’s also a major editing issue, with a scene with Lucy going over clues with a friend before she’s received them.  The characters are wonderful as always.  Since this is a quick read, we didn’t get a lot of new character development, but I still enjoyed the time with them I had, and the suspects are strong enough to keep us guessing.  There are six recipes at the end that sound delicious, too.  Fans of the series will enjoy this latest outing.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Murder’s No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher (Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery #1) – 4
This Memorial Day Weekend is going to be busy for Stella Wright.  Not only is it the start of tourist season for her native Nantucket Island, but, thanks to her best friend, she has landed a job providing candles for a wedding taking place over the weekend.  This job includes a large and elaborate unity candle, but before the couple can walk down the aisle, Stella finds the candle broken next to the body of the bride’s estranged uncle.  When the police are quick to arrest a local bartender, Stella is certain they have the wrong suspect.  Can she use the fact that she’s helping with the wedding to find the killer?

I didn’t get as much reading time as I am used to when I picked up this book, but I felt like the book started off a little slowly.  That might just be me, however.  Things definitely picked up in the second third of the book, and I was impressed with some of the twists we got as we neared the super fun climax.  The characters really grew on me, especially Stella.  There are hints we might be in for a love triangle, but I think it is clear who Stella’s love interest should be, and I really liked him, too.  The suspects are good characters and strong as suspects.  I felt the island could have come to life a bit more, but again, that might have been my lack of reading time to fully immerse myself into the story.  Overall, I enjoyed this debut and I’m definitely planning to visit Stella again.

Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen Mysteries #17) – 5
Freeland writer Jaine Austen has landed a new job, this time for Bel Air heiress Daisy Kincaid.  Daisy hires Jaine to write a romance novel entitled Fifty Shades of Turquoise.  Jaine is working at Daisy’s house each day, so she is there for the arrival of Tommy, a young man who quickly worms his way into Daisy’s heart while alienating everyone else in Daisy’s life.  To everyone’s horror, it isn’t long before the two announce their engagement.  But when Tommy is murdered the day before the wedding, Jaine finds herself trying to figure out what really happened.  Can she do it?

Yes, there are some strong sub-plots as well.  Jaine is back with an ex.  Will the romance bloom this time?  Or will Jaine’s cat, Prozac, derail everything.  Meanwhile, in a series of e-mails, we learn about the latest saga her parents are going through.  All I will tell you is it involves a bad haircut and a sculpting class.

Those familiar with the series know what to expect, and they won’t be disappointed.  Yes, the murder takes place a little late in the book, but the time isn’t wasted as everything is set up.  Once Tommy dies, we are off to the races with plenty of twists and turns.  Meanwhile, the two sub-plots weave in and out perfectly.  There are tons of laughs along the way as all the stories build to their climaxes.  The characters are more caricatures, but they fit this book perfectly.  More realistic characters wouldn’t work here.  Author Laura Levine used to write sitcoms, and that really is the best way to look at this book – as if your favorite sitcom characters were involved in a murder mystery.  The result is light, fun, and delightful.  So next time you need to smile, pick up this book.

“Nogged Off” by Barbara Ross (Maine Clambake Mysteries #4.5)
This story finds Julia Snowden taking a quick day trip to New York City to pack up the rest of her belongings so she can permanently move to Maine.  When she arrives, she finds her sub-tenant to be upset about some setbacks in her personal life, and Julia winds up inviting Imogen home for Christmas.  However, Julia’s Christmas gets more complicated when her moving truck is stolen after they arrive in Busman’s Harbor.  What is going on?

I love this series, and I enjoyed getting to visit Julia at Christmas.  I was able to get fully lost in this story right away since I already know the series characters and the setting.  The plot was fun with some good twists before we reached the end.  Barbara Ross includes some fun Christmas traditions that are unique to Maine without slowing down the story, and they give us that all important Christmas feeling.  There are a couple of recipes at the end of the story, as always, to enjoy during the holiday season.

NOTE: This story is a novella, roughly 100 pages, and was originally part of the novella collection Eggnog Murder.  If you have that book, there is no need to buy this ebook.  If you haven’t read the story, now is the time to sit back and enjoy this Christmas trip to Maine.

Murder Cuts the Mustard by Jessica Ellicott (Beryl and Edwina #3) – 4
Walmsley Parva is facing yet another murder.  It’s now June of 1921, and the body of Hector Lomax has been found in the graveyard.  Hector was not a well-liked or respected man in town, and that holds true for Simpkins, Edwina’s elderly gardener.  Simpkins was Hector’s brother-in-law, and they shared a house, so naturally, he becomes a suspect in Hector’s death.  However, that isn’t the only surprise the day has in store for Simpkins and, by extension, Edwina and Beryl.  It quickly becomes clear the pair of friends need to get to the bottom of what is happening for their own sake as well as that of Simpkins.  Can they do it?

I love this duo.  Edwina and Beryl complement each other perfectly, and with the book’s excellent use of limited third person, we get to know both of them.  The growth in them continues here as well.  The rest of the cast is just as strong.  I did feel the plot got a little sidetracked in the middle, but I was always entertained and the book ramps up again for a logical climax.  Since the story is set in 1921, we get an interesting look at the changes that were going on in the larger society at the time.  I had never given these changes much thought, but I enjoy seeing how the characters are reacting to them.  If you haven’t started this series yet, you really should.  If you are already a fan, you’ll love our third visit with Beryl and Edwina.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey (Cider Shop Mysteries #1) – 3
The apple orchard that Winnie Montgomery calls home, along with her Granny, is having financial issues, and she is looking for ideas to save it.  The idea she is most excited about is turning a barn on the property into a cider shop.  She just needs a loan from the bank to be able to do the renovations.  However, the meeting with the loan officers doesn’t turn out well when they find the body of Nadine during their tour of the facilities.  The police are looking at Granny as their prime suspect since she and Nadine fought on a regular basis.  With Granny’s freedom and the fate of the family orchard on the line, can Winnie figure out what really happened?

I always pick up the debut in a new series with hopes for a great read.  I had more of a mixed reaction to this book.  The plot was uneven, with what should have been sub-plots taking over for pages at a time and leaving me wondering when we’d get back to the mystery.  The mystery was driven more by events than Winnie uncovering clues, but those events did draw me into the book, especially since I had come to care for the characters.  I loved Winnie, Granny, and the rest of the cast.  This was really driven home to me in the second half when an event made me gasp and read a little longer than I had intended that day.  The timeline was fuzzy, which always bugs me.  However, the book is set during the beginning of the Christmas season, and I loved how that season added to the coziness of the book.  The four recipes at the end sound delicious, and yes, one of them is for cider.  Julie Anne Lindsey also writes under the names Jacqueline Frost and Bree Baker, and I know she has a large fan base under all of those names.  While I find this book uneven, I think this fantastic case of new characters will draw in many readers to this series.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Book Review: Apple Cider Slaying by Julie Anne Lindsey (Cider Shop Mysteries #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Fantastic characters, Christmas cozy feeling
Cons: Plot is uneven, timeline issues
The Bottom Line:
Starts with dead neighbor
Mixes in great characters
But under serves plot

Death of a Neighbor Complicates Winnie’s Plans

I am always on the lookout for a promising new series, not that I need any more series to try to read.  The Cider Shop Mysteries sounded promising, so I jumped right in with the first, Apple Cider Slaying.

Winnie Montgomery has grown up on her grandparent’s orchard in Blossom Valley, West Virginia, but now that her grandfather has passed away, she and her granny are struggling to keep the orchard open.  One issue is that their fruit stand closes down during the winter months, and they don’t bring any more income in until they reopen in spring.  Winnie has started planning several ideas to help bring in revenue all year, including a new cider shop on the premises.  She just has to get the bank to give her a small business loan.

However, her meeting with the loan officer doesn’t go well at all when they find the body of Nadine during the tour.  Nadine has owned the neighboring farm for years, and she and Granny seem to constantly be fighting over something.  Given this history, the police begin to look at Granny.  Winnie knows this is ridiculous and sets out to find the real killer.  Meanwhile, business has dropped off and the bank is hesitating about the loan.  Can Winnie clear Granny and save the orchard?

I often see discussions of what is more important in a book, characters or plot.  I maintain that the two need to be mixed well, and, unfortunately, this new book shows what happens when that doesn’t happen.

The plot moves along with fits and starts.  Now, hear what I am saying.  There are plenty of events going on to keep your interest, however, these events cover the fact that Winnie isn’t gathering much in the way of clues pointing to any suspects.  The sub-plot involving opening the cider shop seems to take over the book much of the time, as well, with Winnie focusing on her plans for that and worrying about how to save the orchard.  I get that this is the Cider Shop Mysteries, and I certainly expect to have sub-plots related to that.  I just felt that the balance was off.

On the other hand, the characters are fantastic.  Winnie and Granny come to life on the page, as do Winnie’s friend Dot and the sheriff, Colton.  The supporting players are well drawn, too, although they don’t have as much page time as these four do.  I truly did enjoy spending time with them.

Just how much I was enjoying spending time with them struck me in the second half when a certain event made me gasp and keep reading a little longer than I had intended to read that day.  So, clearly, I came to care about the characters.  And clearly, there are exciting events that happen over the course of the book.  I just felt like the mystery was underdone overall.

This book also featuring some timeline issues as Winnie keeps mentioning things that contradict what she’s said before as to what part of the month they are in or even when the sun sets.  I know, I know, I’m being picky, but it really bothered me.

This book takes place mostly in the week to week and a half after Thanksgiving – the beginning of Christmas season.  I loved that aspect of the book.  It really helped sell the cozy nature of the story as well, with weather cooling down, decorating, Christmas carols, and plenty of sweet treats.

Speaking of sweets treats, we are treated to four recipes at the end of the book.  Yes, one is a cider recipe, but only one.  They all sound delicious.

Author Julie Anne Lindsey is very prolific, also writing under the names Jacqueline Frost and Bree Baker, and has an ever-growing fan base.  Based on how I felt about the characters here, I can see why. 

For me, Apple Cider Slaying turned out to be a mixed bag.  While I love the characters, I wish the mystery had been stronger.  Julie Anne Lindsey’s many fans, however, will be delighted to pick up this book and make some new friends.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Book Review: Murder Cuts the Mustard by Jessica Ellicott (Beryl and Edwina #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Another enjoyable case with Edwina and Beryl
Cons: Story a bit sidetracked in the middle
The Bottom Line:
Murder in village
Hits close to home for duo
Great trip back in time

Murder Adds Spice to Life

I love a book that can give me a glimpse of another time and place while entertaining me.  That’s exactly what we get with the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries from Jessica Ellicott.  Murder Cuts the Mustard is their charming third case.

If you haven’t met these ladies, they reside in the English village of Walmsley Parva.  The two ladies are school friends who kept in touch over the years and have reunited due to circumstances.  Edwina is a lifelong resident of the village, while Beryl is an American who has spent her life on one adventure or another.  The duo may be very different, but they work well together when it comes to solving murder.

And Walmsley Parva is facing yet another murder.  It’s now June of 1921, and the body of Hector Lomax has been found in the graveyard.  Hector was not a well-liked or respected man in town, and that holds true for Simpkins, Edwina’s elderly gardener.  Simpkins was Hector’s brother-in-law, and they shared a house, so naturally, he becomes a suspect in Hector’s death.  However, that isn’t the only surprise the day has in store for Simpkins and, by extension, Edwina and Beryl.  It quickly becomes clear the pair of friends need to get to the bottom of what is happening for their own sake as well as that of Simpkins.  Can they do it?

I love these ladies.  As I said, Beryl and Edwina complement each other perfectly, and they are able to use their various strengths and relationships in the village to get to the truth of what is happening.  The book is told in third person, and we spend near equal time in each of their heads.  This switch is never hard to follow, and it allows us to get to know both of them better, not only through how they react to things, but to how they view each other.  We also get more growth for both of them.  Of course, they are surrounded by equally charming and strong characters, and I enjoyed seeing the regulars again.

The mystery started off strong, but I felt it got a bit sidetracked in the middle.  However, everything came together for a logical climax, and I was entertained the entire way through.

The time right after World War I was a time of change for much of the world, and this book does a good job of showing us how those changes were affecting life in England during the time period.  It’s fascinating to observe, and since we get to see life from the point of view of two very different characters from different countries, the changes are presented in relatable ways.  The best part is, this all flows naturally out of the story and never bogs things down.

Wondering about the title?  Yes, there is a connection in the plot, but I will let you figure it out for yourself.

I have quickly begun to look forward to time spent with Edwina and Beryl.  If you have yet to open one of these time machines, you are in for a treat.  And if you have already met these lovely ladies, then you’ll enjoy Murder Cuts the Mustard.

Enjoy more trips back in time with the rest of the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Novella Review: Nogged Off by Barbara Ross (Maine Clambake Mysteries #4.5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun Christmas story with Julia
Cons: Only if you are expecting a full novel instead of a novella
The Bottom Line:
Spend Christmas in Maine
With seasonal novella
Offered once again

Julia’s First Eventful Christmas Back Home

Three years ago, Barbara Ross contributed a novella to the Eggnog Murder novella collection.  Now, Kensington has decided to offer it as a standalone ebook.  I thought I’d take that opportunity to share my thoughts on “Nogged Off” again.  No, I didn’t reread the story, so these will be briefer than normal since I was originally reviewing it as a part of a larger collection.

This story finds Julia Snowden taking a quick day trip to New York City to pack up the rest of her belongings so she can permanently move to Maine.  When she arrives, she finds her sub-tenant to be upset about some setbacks in her personal life, and Julia winds up inviting Imogen home for Christmas.  However, Julia’s Christmas gets more complicated when her moving truck is stolen after they arrive in Busman’s Harbor.  What is going on?

I love this series, and I enjoyed getting to visit Julia at Christmas.  I was able to get fully lost in this story right away since I already know the series characters and the setting.  The plot was fun with some good twists before we reached the end.  Barbara Ross includes some fun Christmas traditions that are unique to Maine without slowing down the story, and they give us that all important Christmas feeling.  There are a couple of recipes at the end of the story, as always, to enjoy during the holiday season.

If you haven’t already read “Nogged Off,” now is a great time to get it.

Have you read all of the Maine Clambake Mysteries?

NOTE: I received an ARC of the originally collection.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

October 26th's Weekly TV Thoughts

Yep, I'm late.  Been a different couple of days without as much computer time, but here's what I watched this week.

God Friended Me – Just as I thought Joy was going to be a permanent part of the gang, she heads off to Chicago.  I like how they ended things with her daughter.  I think the mom knows.  I hope we get an update on her/she comes back at some point because I don’t feel like her story is quite over yet.  I hope that Miles’s dad isn’t so involved in a social justice crusade that they use this to preach at us.  I prefer this show without the politics, and it will be a deal breaker for me if they introduce a lot of that.

Batwoman – So, Alice is trying to get her dad to realize who she is while getting Kate to forget who she is.  Interesting.  And how long until Kate’s step-sister’s secret clinic is revealed now that she has a bodyguard?  Plus Kate’s got a new girlfriend.  They didn’t wait very long for that, not that I expected them to.

Supergirl – With James only around for part of the season and Kelly being new, they are sending them away for a few episodes?  What’s that about.  Anyone else want to predict that James will win an election and that’s how they write him off?  I’m not expecting him to be harmed by the crossover, but I could be wrong about that.

Dancing with the Stars – Wow!  That was hard to watch at the end.  Sailor had done so well tonight, and then she was eliminated.  Obviously, the changes they made between seasons isn’t helping the results since Sean is continuing in the show.  I’m happy he wasn’t the first to go, but at this point he is clearly the weak link and needs to go.  I hope he doesn’t make it more than two more weeks at the most so the others who are dancing better get to stay longer.

The Flash – Looks like we are going to get plenty of Frost this season.  I don’t mind since I find her fun.  I’m just glad they have used her characters without turning Caitlyn into a villain.  I really like what they’ve done with the character, in fact.  This new villain is very scary.  Ralph’s storyline was very fun before that serious turn it took, but I liked how everything was resolved.

Arrow – And this is why I’m not going to miss this show.  We’ve got the future story, which is taking away from the present story.  Not that the present story is that interesting either.  The only part that was interesting was Laurel’s storyline, which I found heartbreaking.  We don’t know her characters that well, but Earth 2 had the Wells we’ve had for two seasons as well as Jessie Quick, so I am definitely mourning their loss.  Lila working with the Monitor is an interesting twist.  I hope they play it out well.

This is Us – Why do I have the feeling there is more to the story with Mark than just a nice guy.  I couldn’t help but laugh at Nicky’s observations about Kevin’s relationships with people.  He sure has gotten invested in the stories of every people he really doesn’t know.  I’m very curious where they are going to go with this vet and her marriage.

Survivor – Every season, I am shocked by those who are shocked about the tribal swap at this point in the game.  Survivor has only been doing it for over a decade now.  You need to plan your game accordingly.  And, every season, at some point, I talk about how stupid you are to cut out people who are going to help you win challenges.  Right now, it is a group game, and if you don’t go into the individual part with numbers, you are going to lose.  It doesn’t matter that you got right of the strategic threats, you will be voted out.  You need to have numbers.  It was nice to see Rob agree with me on that, at least.  How people playing the game never seem to see that is beyond me.

American Horror Story 1984 – Since I haven’t watched the show in the past, I didn’t catch some of the cool connections since this is the 100th episode.  However, I am not impressed with the episode overall.  Seriously?  That’s what all this has been leading to?  The rest of the season had better be pretty freaking cool.

The Good Place – Best episode of the season!  I laughed so many times over the course of the episode.  Man, I’m going to miss this show.

Carol’s Second Act – This show seems to be getting better every week.  This week, I loved the intern’s time at the bar – very funny.  I expected the outcome with Carol’s daughter, but how it played out was very sweet.

Friday, October 25, 2019

October 25th's Book Beginnings and Friday 56

I think it's time I did Book Beginnings and Friday 56 again, don't you?

This week, I'm going to feature The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans by JoAnna Carl.  It wasn't the book I intended to feature today, but it is the book at hand.  I finished it last night, and I loved it!


Here's now the book begins:
Never hire a nosy plumber.
The ask questions all the time.  This means you don't have a chance to ask questions yourself.  Important questions, such as "Why is it leading?" or "Does it need to be replaced?"

And from page 56, we find:

Luck was with us.  Tad answered on the second ring.  When he heard who was calling, his voice became filled with disbelief.

As I said, I loved this book.  It won't be released until November 5th.  I hope you'll come back then for my full review and a giveaway.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Book Review: Death of a Gigolo by Laura Levine (Jaine Austen Mysteries #17)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Light and fun as always
Cons: This book left me smiling too much to list any cons
The Bottom Line:
Writing a romance
Lands Jaine in another death
Grin whole way through book

Jaine’s Latest Adventure is Fun as Always

Most series of books I’ve loved over the years have stopped for one reason or another.  However, a few are still going strong after multiple volumes, and I always look forward to catching up with the latest adventures of my fictional friends.  One such series is Laura Levine’s Jaine Austen Mysteries.  Death of a Gigolo is Jaine’s seventeenth adventure and is just as much fun as I expected it to be.

If you haven’t met Jaine, she is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles.  While advertising slogans have been her bread and butter, each book finds herself taking on some wacky clients and assignments.  Of course, those assignments usually land her in the middle of a murder, which forces her to pull out her part-time, semi-professional PI persona and get to the bottom of what is happening.

Jaine’s latest job is working for the wealthy Daisy Kincaid.  Daisy is an heiress living in Bel Air, and she has decided to write a book called Fifty Shades of Turquoise, and she hires Jaine to help her write this soon to be bestselling romance.  Daisy doesn’t really have any plans for the book beyond the title and a fifty-room mansion with each room painted a different shade of turquoise.  Jaine has never written anything as long as a novel before, but the paycheck is too good to pass up, so she bravely comes up with a storyline and plunges in.

Working at Daisy’s house each day allows her to be on hand when Tommy comes into Daisy’s life.  The young man is much younger than Daisy, but she is quickly smitten with him, much to the dismay of her staff and friends.  The longer Tommy is around, the more he alienates everyone, but Daisy doesn’t see it.  In fact, it isn’t long before the two are engaged.  The day before the wedding, someone kills Tommy.  With Jaine’s office mate under suspicion, can Jaine figure out what really happened?

Those familiar with the series know to expect a couple of sub-plots, and this book doesn’t disappointment.  Jaine’s love life is heating up after she’s reunited with an ex much to her cat’s dismay.  Yes, Prozac is doing her best to make sure this guy doesn’t stay in Jaine’s life.  Meanwhile, in a series of e-mails, we learn about the latest shenanigans happening with Jaine’s parents in Tampa, Florida.  All I’m going to tease here is a bad haircut and a sculpting class.  You’ll have to read the book to see for yourself what they are up to this time.

With everything happening in this book, I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say that this is a fast-paced read.  While the murder doesn’t happen right away, the time is spent setting up the suspects and motives as well as on the sub-plots.  Once the murder happens, the twists comes quickly until we reach the satisfying climax.

From my plot teases, you probably picked up that this is a comedic mystery novel.  Personally, I found the sub-plots to be the funniest part of the book.  I laughed out loud at them.  Not to say that I didn’t find some parts of the mystery funny as well.  Even when I wasn’t laughing, I was smiling at some of the situations Jaine found herself in, and the narration is amusing as well.

This does bleed over to the characters.  Since the book is slightly wacky, the characters are edging to the caricature side of the spectrum instead of being fully realized characters.  But they fit the book.  Really, with the tone of the book, anything else wouldn’t feel right and would drain the humor out of the story.

Laura Levine worked in sitcoms for a while, and that is how I like to best describe this series.  Imagine your favorite sitcom character trying to solve a murder, and you’ve got a good feel for what this series is like.  That means you have to be in the right mood to pick one of these books up, but if you are ready for something light and fun, there is nothing better to hit the spot.

Which is why I am always happy to have a new adventure starring Jaine Austen to enjoy.  Death of a Gigolo will please Jaine’s loyal fans.  When you are looking for a light mystery, this is the book to reach for.

Need more laughs?  You’ll get them with the rest of the Jaine Austen Mysteries.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Ornament Review: Aquaman - 2019 Hallmark Ornament

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Perfectly captures classic comic Aquaman
Cons: He’s a mini ornament, so be prepared
The Bottom Line:
Aquaman makes splash
As he joins the Justice League
Mini ornament

From the Seas to Your Tree

Over the last couple of years, Hallmark has been releasing a series of mini ornaments with various characters from the Justice League.  They’ve continued that with two new heroes this year, and the first of which is Aquaman.

If you are looking for Aquaman as depicted in the recent movies, you will be disappointed.  As with the others, this is Aquaman directly out of the comic books.  As such, he’s blond with short hair.  He’s wearing his traditional orange and green costume.  Like the others, he’s heading into battle, so he looks like his is flying forward.  Or maybe he’s about to tuck and dive into the water.  This is Aquaman after all.

This is a miniature ornament.  He’s barely over an inch tall at his longest.  So, remember that when you go to buy the ornament.

But, for his size, he looks pretty good.  I’m always amazed at the detail that Hallmark is able to put into these mini ornaments, and this is no exception.  He’s got facial features, a smile, and detail to his costume.  It’s pretty remarkable, actually.

What isn’t as impressive is the copyright information on his back in black.  True, it is where you’ll be hanging him, so you won’t really see it, but it is disappointing.

Because of his pose, you can’t set him out to be displayed.  I’m not sure I’d want to anyway since he is so small.  It would be easy to lose him.

But he will look great on a tree.  The loop for hanging him is on the back of his neck, and hangs at the perfect angle to look like he is flying into action. I’ll be displaying him on a mini tree, so he stands out better since he would easily get lost on a traditional tree.

I was never a comic book reader, so it is funny that I have gotten so into these mini ornaments of the Justice League, but I am loving them.  That’s why I am glad to have added Aquaman to my collection.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Book Review: Murder's No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher (Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good plot and fun characters
Cons: Felt like it started slowly to me
The Bottom Line:
Unity candle
Kills an estranged wedding guest
In well-lit debut

This Debut Has My Vote of Confidence

I know I’ve talked in the past about my allergies to pets, but I haven’t mentioned my allergies to candles.  Really, it’s the perfumes in the candles that bother me, but it keeps me away from them.  However, I still found myself drawn to Murder’s No Votive Confidence, the first Nantucket Candle Maker Mystery, and I’m very glad I picked it up.

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, and it is going to be a busy one for Stella Wright.  Not only does this weekend mean the official start of the tourist season for her home of Nantucket Island, but she is making all the candles for a big wedding on the island.  Her best friend is the wedding coordinator, and Stella has gotten the job of making candles for the wedding and reception, plus the unity candle the couple will light during the ceremony.  Stella has spent a lot of time creating a unique scent for the couple as well as crafting the unity candle into a work of art for them.

The morning before the ceremony, the unity candle goes missing.  When it turns up, it is next to the body of the bride’s estranged uncle who was there to walk the bride down the aisle.  The police are quick to arrest the bartender at the hotel where the guests are staying, but Stella has known him for years, and she can’t believe he’d murder anyone.  With her involvement in the wedding as an in, Stella begins snooping around, hoping to provide the police with better suspects.  Can she find the truth?

I felt like the book got off to a bit of a slow start.  I will freely admit, this might have been me, since I didn’t have as much time to read as I expected for a couple of days.  However, after I got into the second third of the book, I definitely felt the pace picked up and the twists began to come much faster.  The climax was a ton of fun and perfectly melted all the plot elements into a complete picture.

The characters really grew on me, too.  Stella is a fantastic main character who has some unique abilities that contribute to solving the crime.  Her best friend is a hoot.  I also really like her love interest.  Yes, I got the feeling that there is the set up for a bit of a love triangle, but there is a clear winner as far as I am concerned.  The suspects were strong characters and believable as suspects.

I did feel that Nantucket could have come a bit more to life.  Again, maybe that was the fact that my reading time was interrupted as I sat down to read the book, but I was ready to get swept to a vacation paradise, and I never quite got that feeling.  Overall, this is a minor complaint, however.

My complaints with the book really are minor.  Overall, I enjoyed Murder’s No Votive Confidence, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to Stella and the rest of her friends next.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Movie Review: Ghostbusters II

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun and laughs
Cons: Meandering plot in first half; different tone from first
The Bottom Line:
This 80’s sequel
Has lighter tone from the first
But still mostly works

“I Got My Law Degree at Night.”  “That’s Okay.  We Got Arrested at Night.”

Several years ago, I finally filled in another gap in my pop culture viewing by watching Ghostbusters.  I heard at the time that Ghostbusters II wasn’t worth watching, an opinion I’ve heard from others over the years.  However, I was curious about it, and with talks of a third movie with the original characters coming soon, I decided to catch it during Freeform’s 31 Days of Halloween this year.

Released five years after the original, the action also takes place five years later for the characters.  In that time, the city of New York has decided that the Ghostbusters aren’t the heroes they were in the first movie.  In fact, many people think they are frauds.  While they are mainly reduced to appearances at parties, the men have moved on to other things, be it scientific research or running a bookstore focused on the supernatural.

All that changes when Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) has another run in with the supernatural.  Something takes her baby in his carriage for a ride through traffic.  Naturally, she knows who to call, and soon Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore (Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson) are on the case.  This is a little awkward since Dana broke up with Peter and the baby’s father is Dana’s ex-husband.  While Peter tries to romance Dana, the other guys work on the case.  Can they figure out what is going on in time to save the day?

I can see why this movie isn’t quite as popular with the general public.  During the time between films, the Ghostbusters franchise had become extremely popular, and a cartoon had been made for TV, resulting in a young fan base.  As a result, this movie is a little more kid friendly.  Many adults would find that shift in tone to be an issue.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still some intense scenes, especially near the climax, but the emphasis is more on jokes and sight gags.

I guess this proves my tastes more than anything else because I think I find this one better.  I definitely had more fun watching it.

Now, that’s not to say the movie is perfect.  The plot is still meandering with several elements inserted at random in the first half.  The movie does a decent job of weaving them in later, but I feel one sub-plot could have been introduced later and sped up the pacing without ruining the film at all.  Then again, since that scene I’m thinking could have been cut had some of my favorite lines, that would really be a shame.

The acting is still good.  Everyone nails their parts, and they appear to be having fun working together again.  Yes, all the main cast is back, and I enjoyed some of the updates we got on them.  I also had fun watching Kurt Fuller in it since I pretty much just knew him from his recurring role on psych.

The special effects are better than the first movie, which isn’t surprising since there was five years between movies.  A few of them show their age (this movie came out in 1989), but if you turn off the hypercritical part of your brain and just enjoy, you’ll find yourself caught up in the story and enjoying the effects for what they are.

Ghostbusters II is definitely different from the original.  I can see why fans of the first don’t care for it.  But I found it fun, and I’m glad I watched it.  If you go into it with an open mind, you might be pleasantly surprised as well.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Disney Mug Review: Genie - Disney Wisdom Collection #10

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Characters, quote, color
Cons: I see no cons inside or out
The Bottom Line:
This wisdom quote mug
Cries out to fill with goodness
To match the outside

It May Be What’s Inside this Mug that Counts, but the Outside is Pretty Great, Too

Okay, let’s be honest.  As much fun as mugs are, we really care most about what is in them.  But it is hard not to get excited when we find a cool looking mug with great characters on it.

In this case, I am referring to the tenth mug in the Disney Wisdom Collection, inspired by a quote from the beginning of Aladdin.  “Like so many things, it’s not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.”  We may have fun talking about what you put in your mug that makes it so great, but when it comes to people, this is absolutely true.  It is what is inside, as shown by your actions, that ultimately counts toward who you are.

The mug this month is blue since Genie is our featured character.  He and Abu are on one side of the mug in varying shades of blue.  Yes, Abu is blue as well, but it works somehow.  He is holding the lamp, and Genie has one hand up in a “ta-da” gesture.

The other side of the mug features the quote itself.  The words are mainly in a couple shades of red, which stands out well on the blue background.  The doodles around the quote mainly look like fireworks this month, which I love since it reminds me of the end of the movie.

As with the other mugs in the series, it is short but wide, so it easily holds 12 oz.  The fact that it is wide makes it a little hard to put it in the dishwasher, but it is dishwasher and microwave safe.

A great quote coupled with fun characters.  What’s not to love about this mug?  Now, to figure out what beverage will be as magical as the outside.

Disney Pin Review: Genie - Disney Wisdom Collection #10

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great quote, fun set
Cons: A blue monkey! (but it works)
The Bottom Line:
Disney three pin set
Features great quote about heart
Popular duo

A Reminder That the Heart Matters

We are on the home stretch of the Disney Wisdom Collection since the year itself is winding down.  (How crazy is that?)  This month’s quote is inspired by Aladdin and it makes for a great pin set.

I must admit, I had to look this quote up since the only clue that ShopDisney put up for the longest time was “Narrator.”  That could apply to so many movies.  Once they added this month’s main character, Genie, it was obvious.  The fact that this month’s color is blue should have been a clue as well.

The quote?  “Like so many things, it’s not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.”  I can definitely get behind this quote.  In fact, it mirrors the Bible in I Samuel 16.  “God does not see the way that man sees.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”  (That’s the Mark paraphrase going off my memory without looking it up.)  It is the actions, that come from our heart, that ultimately prove who we are and what our character is.  And, looking beyond outward appearance, also makes us less shallow.

As I already said, the pin set this month is blue, and one of the characters is Genie.  The other is Abu, and he’s holding the lamp.  Now, quite obviously, Genie looks good in blue.  I must be getting use to how the characters look in this series because I don’t have an issue with Abu in blue.  A blue monkey?  That’s certainly not something that works on outward appearance, right?  The third pin in the set is the quote itself.  Since it is long, some of the words are small, but they still have a few key words highlighted in red.

I’m a little torn how to score this entry in my unofficial list of whether the speaker is included in the set.  Robin Williams voiced both the narrator and the Genie, and in the live action remake, they made it clear the Genie was narrating the story.  But these characters are based on the animated movie.  Since I’m the only one who cares about this, I’m going to give this month’s entry a half point, meaning that out of the 10 set so far, the person giving us the wisdom has shown up in 3.5 of them.

While I have had some quibbles with the wisdom of the this, I have no issues with this quote.  So pick up this pin set today.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

October 19th's Weekly TV Thoughts

God Friended Me – So Paris lasted 3 episodes.  I’m glad they aren’t dragging that out because I prefer the dynamic of Kara in New York with the others.  Not surprised they let Annie work things out with Simon along the way.  That is the kind of show this is.  Speaking of predictable, I knew that the officer giving the ticket would be the friend suggestion.  Didn’t necessarily see the rest of the episode coming, but at least saw that much.

Batwoman – Wow!  So what is the step-mother’s interest in all of this?  Is she that possessive of Kate’s dad?  Is she working with Alice?  I’m definitely intrigued by that twice.  Alice is still the best part of the show, which is a shame since I doubt she will be around for the entire thing.

Supergirl – Yes, Lena has definitely crossed to the dark side.  That’s too bad since I liked her friendship with Kara and was hoping they’d break expectations.  Not surprised, however.  This storyline with J’onn is just weird.  And I think I’m over Brainy trying too hard to be a good boyfriend.

Dancing with the Stars – Disney night as magical as always.  Although the technical difficulties with the sound being so quiet made it less than it could have been.  And I got tired of the banners at the bottom to get us to buy products.  Yes, the whole night is an ad, but still.  Oh, and I couldn’t believe how much they shot in an empty Disneyland.  But really, I loved it.  So fun.  And everyone seemed to improve this week.  Yes, the people at the bottom are still there, but they got better, which is what the show is about.

The Flash – That was hard to watch.  Perfectly written and acted, but so hard as Barry was accepting his fate.  I know we will get around it, possibly with Oliver’s sacrifice, but still, that was perfect.  And when is Kara going to find out about her fate on Supergirl?

Arrow – Nothing like destroying an entire world in the season premier.  Wow!  Still not sold on the future storyline, but what is happening in the present is intriguing.  Loved the alternative take on season 1 for sure.  They are sure setting up the crossover early.  Glad I’m watching all of the shows and not just trying to jump in for that.

This is Us – Yes, I’ll be around for the remainder of the season.  I care about these characters too much.  Fun to get a look at the pilot of The Manny.  Wonder if they will do more with the show since it is getting canceled.  Loved the flashback scenes as well.  I thought Deja’s crush would wind up saving the day at the dance studio, but I kind of liked the way that story wound up with Randall and Beth’s mom.

Survivor – Two weeks in a row someone goes out with an idol in their pocket.  Talk about unpredictable.  It was looking for the first couple of weeks like we might have evenly matched teams for a change, but now it is looking like one team is dominating.  And if you are a super fan (as Chelsea was saying in the exit interview), don’t you know not to show any affection for anyone in the game?  Walking target if you do.

American Horror Story: 1984 – I tried something different – I read a recap and then fast forwarded through the really grewsome scenes.  And that made this episode go quickly.  Wow, what a blood bath.  I know there are still several episodes left, so I am wondering where they are going to go with things since this would normally be the end of a story like this.  Well, except the final girl wouldn’t be in jail.

The Good Place – So Janet was a traitor all along.  And Jason figured it out?  Wow!  And poor Glen.  He was just trying to help.  Loved the life cycle of a demon.

Carol’s Second Act – The show seems to be getting better each week.  I don’t laugh as much as the studio audience does, but I am definitely laughing at the show.  Think I’m around for the rest of the season.  I don’t see the show lasting more than one season, but I  will definitely stick with it for that long.