Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Book Review: What the Cat Dragged In by Miranda James (Cat in the Stacks Mysteries #14)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Charlie, Diesel, and the rest of the cast; interesting plot
Cons: A few wrinkles in the plot don’t quite work like they should; a few moments feel like lectures
The Bottom Line:
Old bones in attic
Open a family case
Charming characters

The Secret in the Old Attic

Sometimes, returning to a favorite series feels like getting a warm hug.  That was exactly the feeling I had when I picked up What the Cat Dragged In, the fourteenth Cat in the Stacks Mystery from Miranda James. 

If you haven’t started this series yet, it features Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat Diesel.  Charlie is a semi-retired librarian who still works part time at the local college’s library archives and volunteers at the local public library.  That gives him plenty of time to investigate the crimes that he comes across in his home town of Athena, Mississippi.

As this book opens, Charlie gets some surprising news – he’s just inherited his grandfather’s house.  He thought the home had left the family decades ago, but it turns out it was just under a life lease, and that tenant has just died.  Charlie’s grandparents died when he was young, but he still has some fond memories of time spent out there.  When he and Diesel are out there exploring the house, Diesel discovers a skeleton in the attic.  It is clear that the body was dug up and placed there.  Suddenly, Charlie is left wondering what this skeleton says about his family’s past.  He can’t help but dig more, especially when a modern body also turns up on the property he’s just inherited.  What will he find?

It’s always interesting when we get to learn a bit more about the main characters, especially when the series has been going on as long as this one has.  Since I love Charlie so much, I was drawn in to this mystery from the past, and there are several possibilities to what is going on that Charlie has to sift through before we get to the truth.  While the ending makes sense, I do feel it was a bit abrupt.   There were a few things in the plot that could have been ironed out to make the book stronger as a whole, but overall, I enjoyed it.

A trend I have noticed with this series over the last few books is the insertion of scenes that allow Charlie (and sometimes other characters) a chance to pass judgement over attitudes they don’t agree with.  The fact that much of the book is dealing with a mystery from the past allows that to happen again.  There are only a few of these scenes sprinkled throughout the book, so they are minor.  I’m not sure why I bristle so much at these mini-lectures, especially since I actually agree with Charlie most of the time.  Maybe it’s because these few lines feel forced into the book.

Yes, I know I’ve been nitpicking again.  Let me assure you that I really did enjoy this book overall.  And that is mostly thanks to the characters.  I wouldn’t be on book fourteen of a series if I didn’t love the characters, and it was wonderful to spend time around them again.  All the regulars and a couple of the supporting players make appearances, and being in their presence again is fabulous.  Diesel continues to steal the show with his antics, although Ramses, the kitten that Charlie got a few books back, is becoming more charming with every book as well.

Spending time with these characters is always wonderful, and I was smiling as I read What the Cat Dragged In.  Fans of the series will be delighted to crack the spine of this book.

Check out the rest of the Cat in the Stacks Mysteries.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Book Review: Halloween Party Murder by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Three entertaining, Halloween themed mystery novellas
Cons: The politics in the first story
The Bottom Line:
Ready to party?
These three novellas will help
Some Halloween fun

Partying with a Corpse or Three

Holidays are an excuse for parties, and Halloween is no exception.  In fact, I feel like it is second only to Christmas for the number of parties people plan.  Of course, no one plans for a murder to take place during a party, but that’s just what happens in Halloween Party Murder, a new novella collection featuring stories by Leslie Meier, Lee Hollis, and Barbara Ross.

Leslie Meier kicks things off with the title novella.  It finds her series sleuth, Lucy Stone, helping plan a haunted house fund raiser at the home of relative new comers Ty and Heather Moon.  However, when Lucy finds a dead body during the after party, things take an unexpected turn.  Will she figure out what is going on?

I don’t normally read this series, so I was thrilled to actually recognize the characters of Ty and Heather since they also featured prominently in the previous Halloween novella collection from this set of authors.  This novella focuses mostly on the mystery at hand, and doesn’t bring in sub-plots involving Lucy’s family.  Again, since I don’t read the series, this was a good thing for me since I don’t have the connections to all the supporting characters.  The mystery was good, and I enjoyed watching Lucy’s efforts to figure out what was happening.  The element I struggled with the most was the politics brought into this story.  There is a local election happening, and the campaigning does play into Lucy’s motives to solve the case, but I still felt like we were being lectured during many of those scenes.

Up next, we get “Death of a Halloween Party Monster” by Lee Hollis.  This story features Lee’s series star Hayley Powell, who is hosting a Halloween party at her new restaurant.  However, the night ends in horror when the body of the high school music teacher is found in the freezer.  Is one of Hayley’s friends a killer?

Again, I don’t read this series, but I found myself feeling right at home partying with these characters from the beginning.  I did figure out one aspect of the story early on, but there were several more, including the identity of the killer, that I hadn’t pieced together until Hayley did.  The ending was great and kept me turning the pages.

Which brings us to “Scared Off” by Barbara Ross.  Julia Snowden responds to a panic call from her niece, who was supposed to be spending the night with two friends but needs help when a party breaks out.  The police have been called, and, while they are making sure everyone is gone, discover a dead body in the shed outback.  Was Julia’s niece spending the evening with a killer?

I LOVE Barbara Ross’s Maine Clambake series, so this novella is the reason I picked up the collection.  If you are also a fan but haven’t read the most recent book, Shucked Apart, a word of warning that this story contains spoilers for that book.  Anyway, this was my favorite novella in the collection.  I enjoyed getting to spend some times with the characters, and I loved how the mystery unfolded.

Since Lee Hollis and Barbara Ross both write culinary cozy series, their novellas both feature recipes to help you plan your own Halloween party (hopefully, without a corpse).

All three of these stories are entertaining.  I’m sure other readers will connect to the stories differently depending on which series they read.  If you are thinking about trying out the authors included in the series, this is a great way to sample them and see if you are interested in reading more from them.

While it might be a little early to think about planning a Halloween party, Halloween Party Murder will help get you in the mood.  Pick up this book and you are in for a spooky good time.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Disney Pin Review: Stitch Crashes Aladdin - Stitch Crashes Disney #6 - 2021 Release

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great Aladdin themed Stitch pin
Cons: Stitch’s claws might be a bit much
The Bottom Line:
Visit Aladdin
With Stitch as our fun tour guide
Great for fans of both

The Sixth Stitch Crashes Disney Pin is Wonder-ful

The first half of the Stitch Crashes Disney series has spent a lot of time with the films from the Renaissance era.  We’ve already seen pins inspired by Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid.  They are rounding out the films from that era by focusing on Aladdin for the sixth pin.

For this pin, Stitch is blue.  Not quite Genie blue, but close.  I actually thought the pattern on his arms, legs, and ears looked a bit like the Magic Carpet, but in looking at pictures of Carpet, I see that isn’t the case.  Instead, the pattern on Stitch is pink puffs of magic and the gold Genie lamp.  I would have been fine with the carpet as the inspiration, but I think I like this even better.  And he’s wearing Abu’s hat.  Stitch is running, with his arms and legs outstretched.

As always, the card is an important piece of the fun.  In this case, we see one of the piles of gold that temped Abu in the Cave of Wonders.  Maybe it’s that background that made me think of Carpet when I first looked at Stitch.

I’ll confess, Stitch’s claws look a bit scary, but that’s the only downside of the pin.  It helps that I love Aladdin, so I am inclined to like this pin.  Stitch doesn’t look too odd overall – the changes are subtle enough that they work.

This is another winning pin in the Stitch Crashes Disney series.  Fans of Stitch and Aladdin will both be happy with it.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

August 28th's Weekly TV Thoughts

Legends of Tomorrow – Please, can we be done with the Rory pregnancy storyline.  I’m just really not feeling this season.  And, I think I am going to struggle even more next year.  There are just too many characters on I don’t care about any more.  Heck, I struggle to keep them all straight.  I knew John would wind up giving in once he was left alone there at the end.  Rather brutal scene, however.

American Ninja Warrior – Once again, the person who went first made it pretty far.  I was impressed with the number of finishers – seemed like the most they’ve had.  But seriously, did we really need to see those two “social media stars” trying to run the course?  They could have given the time to one of the people they had to summarize for us.  I would have much rather seen that.  And can we cut down on the bios a little to get more runs in as well?

LegoMasters – Not too surprised that Dave and Richard left.  They did some good builds and some not as good builds over the time.  The other team in the bottom two is my guess on who leaves next week, but we’ll see if I’m right.  I loved the build from the team that won.  That was my favorite of the night by far.

The Ultimate Surfer – I know I’d never make it as a surfer (I can’t catch a wave body surfing), but I had to give it a try.  I’m struggling to keep all the people straight, but since we’ve eliminated 2/5 of them already, it should be easier next week.  The surfing is pretty amazing to watch.  And I find it funny that the team that went first won both of the mid-episode surfing challenges.

Stargirl – As soon as Mike discovered the genie of the pen, I knew he was in trouble.  I thought they might drag it out a bit more, but I’m curious to see where they are going to go with him this season.  I can certainly understand why he feels left out.  I’m also curious to learn more about the guy who has the pen now.  Because you know we will be seeing more of him.  Poor Barbara doesn’t know that she is once again so close to the enemy.  Although at least she knows theirs is something creepy about him.

Supergirl – The show’s back and we are back to the lectures.  I’m sorry, but I was rolling my eyes at the whole “Earth is just like Krypton” part of the episode.  Some good characters moments, however, and I’m curious to see where they are going to go with Lena.  Where is it she is really from?  (And I thought the Fortress was destroyed on Superman and Lois, although I know that, especially this year, we have to treat them as separate shows.)

Monsters at Work – As for Tylor to grow as a character, and he suddenly is trying to be good at the job he has instead of becoming a jokster.  A bit of a weird story, but they are a weird bunch of characters.  Had to laugh at the ending.  And seriously, did he not notice that Rose’s hair really wasn’t the same?

What If…? – You know me and mysteries, so naturally I enjoyed this episode.  Sad to think of all those characters dying.  At least they didn’t really die at that point, although a couple of them are indeed dead in the movies, too.

Press Your Luck – I was surprised at how long the first couple of rounds took.  I get it with all the back and forth, but they went about 10 minutes longer than normal.  So I wasn’t surprised when the winner walked away when he did.  Very smart, too, with a nice price and three Whammies.

Family Game Fight – Two smart teams, so I’m a little surprised it wasn’t closer than it was.  I was surprised that the doctors didn’t do well in the final round, although I think I jinxed them.  I was thinking how easy the bonus game is turning out to be, and then they only got 6 words.  Then again, they had some very hard words.

Holey Moley – I suspected that proposal was coming, but it still made me smile.  I was sorry she didn’t make it to the finale.  Not sure how I feel about knowing we will have to hear Blake Sledge again later this season.  Part of me finds it funny and part of me finds it annoying.  Then again, that’s often how I feel about this show.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Book Review: One by One by Ruth Ware

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Page turning thriller that will keep you engaged
Cons: A few things, but the book is still quite strong overall
The Bottom Line:
Corporate ski retreat
Turns into snow bound thriller
Pages turn quickly

Corporate Retreats are Murder

A couple of months back, I had a friend recommend Ruth Ware to me, specifically One by One, because of the nods to Agatha Christie.  The premise of this book was too intriguing to pass up, so I quickly added it to my to be read list.

When the key employees of the internet startup Snoop show up at a chalet in the French Alps, they are expecting a week of presentations and skiing.  However, there is tension brewing just below the surface thanks to a buyout deal that has split the board.  The tension only grows worse when heavy snow and an avalanche cuts everyone off from the rest of the world and one of the members of a group goes missing somewhere out in the snow.  As the hours pass, it becomes clear a killer is in the group.  Will help arrive before they are all dead?

Okay, so Agatha Christie used a group of characters cut off from the rest of civilization in many of her works, but I have to give Ruth Ware full credit for making it her own and figuring out ways to cut her characters off from the world in the modern age.  That’s a challenge that the modern mystery author has to contend with, and she did it brilliantly.

Likewise, the plot is wonderful.  Even when we know what is going to happen, we are left breathless with other important questions like when and who.  There is a sense of foreboding coming from the very beginning of the novel, and the tension ratches up as the story progresses until we finally reach the climax.  Trust me, you won’t be able to put this book down.

Since this is a thriller, the language is ramped up quite a bit from the books I normally read.  I get that characters in this situation would definitely be swearing.  But I still felt like it was excessive for the story – it was certainly more than I am used to even when I venture beyond my normal cozies.

The characters were good.  I feel like most of the characters don’t go beyond types for us to truly get to know them.  The few that we did get more backstory on fell into cliché territory.  Now don’t misunderstand – I liked the characters.  I wanted them to survive.  When someone did die, I felt it.  They just could have been a little stronger.

If you are looking for atmosphere, this book has it is spades.  It made me shiver with cold in the middle of Southern California August heat.  It was easy to feel as trapped as the characters are as the events of the book unfold.

I listened to this book on audio thanks to my local library.  I had a couple of issues with the audio.  The story is told from two different character’s first-person point of view.  Since those point of view changes were always labeled, they were easy to track.  However, we had some other things that were listed for each character when we changed points of view that were repetitive.  I’m sure if I’d been reading it, I would have more easily skimmed over it and it wouldn’t have been quite as annoying.

The other has to do with the narrator.  Don’t get me wrong, Imogen Church did a mostly good job reading the story.  However, when a character was afraid or insecure, she over did it in her reading to the point of being annoying.  Ironically, that seemed to go away as the book progressed.  Either that or I got used to her style of narration and I didn’t notice as much.

I know I’ve been pointing out flaws, but they are more nitpicks.  Overall, this is a fantastic book.  When I had to stop listening for some reason, I was always disappointed and couldn’t wait to get back to find out what happened next.

So if you are looking for a thriller that will keep you turning pages, you’ll be glad you picked up One by One.  Just be sure you have plenty of your favorite hot beverage on hand.  You’ll definitely need it.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Book Review: Murder Most Fowl by Donna Andrews (Meg Langslow #29)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun, characters, good mystery
Cons: Set up takes a bit, but the pay off is worth it.
The Bottom Line:
A busy summer
Actors and reenactors
Delightful for fans

Which of the Things Meg is Juggling Led to Murder?

In last summer’s entry in the Meg Langslow series, we found out that Meg’s husband, Michael, was going to be directing a production of Macbeth the following summer.  I immediately got excited, hoping that this would provide the set up for this summer’s Murder Most Fowl.  In true Donna Andrews fashion, it provided just one of the things that Meg is facing in this delightful entry in the series.

While the production of Macbeth that Michael is directing is set to be performed in the Washington, DC area, rehearsals are taking place in Meg and Michael’s hometown of Caerphilly, Virginia.  Since the cast is mostly poor actors, they are camping out at Meg and Michael’s house for the duration.  The history department at the college where Michael works has gotten into the act as well, setting up a camp nearby filled with people living as the Scottish did in the sixth century.  Or that is the theory.  With some of the run ins that Meg has had with them, she things they are just up to getting into trouble.

Capturing all of this is Damien Goodwin, a filmmaker who is documenting the rehearsals as well as the happenings at both camps.  When he announces he wants to show his film to date one evening, everyone is excited – until they watch it.  When Meg finds Damien’s body the next day, she is left trying to figure out what Damien captured lead to his murder.  Will she figure it out?

As if often the case for this series, there are quite a few threads in this book.  That means the book takes a little time to get going as everything is set in motion, but once that happens, the book’s pace never lags.  I enjoyed following Meg around as she picked up pieces and clues that eventually lead to the killer.

I also appreciate her good relationship with the police.  She does seem to go a bit more out of her way to investigate than in some books, but she is also reporting back what she has learned immediately.

Fans will know that there is a large potential cast of recurring characters.  We get a balance, with some being out of town and others getting the spotlight here.  As always, those who are involved in this book are entertaining.  The suspects are just as strong and fun as the series regulars.

Make no mistake about it, this book is fun.  I smiled quite a bit as I was reading, and the book did make me laugh out loud a few times as well.  Since we are more familiar with the characters and their antics, I don’t laugh as much as I did at earlier books, but visiting them is always fun.

Fans of this long running series are in for a treat with Murder Most Fowl.  If that isn’t you yet, pick up one of these delightfully fun mysteries today.  You’ll be hooked before you know it.

You’re sure to enjoy the rest of the Meg Langslow Mysteries.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Movie Review: Honeymoon, Honeymurder - An Aurora Teagarden Mystery

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Enjoyable mystery with most of the characters we love
Cons: A few niggles with the climax
The Bottom Line:
Delayed honeymoon
A body floating in lake
Another fun case

“Only You Could Have Stumbled on a Body on Your Honeymoon.”

When you are a cozy mystery sleuth, it’s pretty much a given that you will have a murder to solve surrounding your wedding.  However, the cozy universe usually gives you your honeymoon off.  Sadly for Aurora Teagarden Miller, she became the rare exception.  That’s good news for us since Honeymoon, Honeymurder was an enjoyable movie.

Aurora (Candace Cameron Bure) and her new husband Nick (Niall Matter) had plans to go to Paris for their honeymoon, but their flight is cancelled due to a heavy fog.  While a few days extra on their hands, they accept an offer of a cabin at nearby Ridge Bay for a pre-honeymoon.  Even though they are only half an hour from home, they are really out in nature to the point that cell reception is spotty at best.

Their first full day away, they rent a boat, but their plans for a picnic lunch are spoiled when they find the dead body of Cliff Minton.  Naturally, Aurora is curious about what happened to him, and she quickly finds some connections to investigate.  Will she figure out what happened to him?

Since Aurora and Nick are close to home for this mystery, most of the regulars are still involved.  Sally is out of town (that’s all we know) and Arthur is on a cruise with his mother and his kids.  I kind of find that a funny excuse, but it does leave us with just Lynn (Miranda Frigon) as the main police presence in the film, assisted by Charlie Heard (Brad Harder), who has appeared in some of the other recent movies in the franchise.

Speaking of Lynn, the fact that we didn’t have Arthur allowed her to have a couple of scenes to really shine.  I haven’t always appreciated her brusk manner, but I really loved those scenes.  I doubt we will see that character development carry over to the next movie, sadly.

The mystery was strong, and the fact that Aurora and Nick were so close to home meant we could get all the regulars involved in a meaningful way.  I didn’t have a clue who done it until the very end.  I do have a couple of niggles about how the climax unfolded, but they were minor.

Once again, the cast does a good job of bringing their characters to life.  This feels like a Hallmark movie, so there aren’t going to be any awards for the acting, but it worked to pull me into the story.

I had to wonder when this movie was filmed and when it was supposed to be set.  I noticed that all the actors had on coats for the outdoor scenes.  Nick even referenced getting their coats a time or two before they went outside.  Mind you, I HATE to be cold, so I’m not criticizing in the slightest.  Since that kind of thing is usually ignored, however, I found it funny.

The Aurora Teagarden movies have many fans, and they will be pleased with her latest case.  If you haven’t caught it yet, check the rerun schedule so you can sit back and enjoy Honeymoon, Honeymurder.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Book Review: The Fog Ladies by Susan McCormick (San Francisco Cozy Murder Mysteries #1)

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: A few of the characters charm
Cons: Other characters annoy; the plot wanders
The Bottom Line:
Deaths in the building
Are they accidents?  Murder?
Plot is way too slow

The Plot Got Fogged In

As soon as I heard about The Fog Ladies, I knew I had to give it a try.  The book is set in an apartment building in an area of San Francisco where my uncle and aunt used to live (in fact, they were living there when they met).  I sat down to read it with great anticipation.  Sadly, it disappointed me.

When Sarah James moves to San Francisco to do her medical residency, she moves into a building in Pacific Heights and begins making friend with her older neighbors.  One she struggles to like is Mrs. Bridge, her neighbor who lives directly across the hall, since Mrs. Bridge is always complaining about something.  When Mrs. Bridge dies unexpectedly, Sarah thinks it is a sad accident.  However, some of the other residents begin to see a pattern with other deaths in the building.  Was Mrs. Bridge’s death an accident?  Or will Sarah find something more sinister going on?

The Fog Ladies is the loving nickname that Sarah gives a core group of friends in her new building.  The book is told from several different third person points of view, including Sarah and several of the Fog Ladies.  Since I enjoy multiple point of view stories when they are done well, I enjoyed this.

And it helped us get to know the characters better, which is essential.  We meet the various character rather quickly, and it took a bit of work to keep them all straight at first.  However, as the book progressed, I found it easier to remember who was who.

Unfortunately, the characters aren’t always as strong as they could be.  Sarah and another couple characters come across as fully developed.  Others fall into stereotypes.  I did like the character growth we saw for one of those characters late in the book, but even for her, I was cringing early on in the story.  Another never goes beyond a very painful stereotype.  Fortunately, she doesn’t have much page time, but when she was around, I was rolling my eyes.

Then there’s the plot.  It started out slow in the first third of the book, and then gets completely lost in the middle third.  Instead, we get some subplots that contribute little to the ultimate solution of the mystery.  I did find the ultimate solution interesting and the way the solution was reached believable.  But it took quite a bit of work to get there.

Unless a book specifically says otherwise, I assume it is written in a modern setting.  I have to wonder about this one.  One of the many sub-plots involved one of the older characters getting addicted to Starbucks after finding a free coupon in the paper.  Does Starbucks really do that anymore?  And who hasn’t tried Starbucks at this point?  Any time this was the focus of the story, it bothered me.  There were a few other things like that which made it appear to be set in a different time.

It’s a shame I didn’t like this book better because there are several characters I did like.  Sarah, for one, is a charming main character.  Several of the other residents, including the leader of the Fog Ladies, were also fantastic characters I would enjoy spending time around in future books.

However, overall, The Fog Ladies was a weak debut.  I won’t be back to visit the characters again.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Ornament Review: Cookie Cutter Christmas #10 - Skiing - 2021 Hallmark Release

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Cute scene well framed
Cons: None to be found here
The Bottom Line:
Skiing down the hill
This scene is framed by snowman
Cuteness continues

Enjoy a Ski Holiday This Christmas

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since we first met our mouse friend in the Cookie Cutter Christmas series.  But 2021 saw the release of the tenth ornament in the series, so it has to be that long.  This entry is another winner.

This year, our mouse friend is going skiing.  Yes, my first thought was he’d already done that, but then I remembered the first in the series was sledding, not skiing.  Anyway, he’s smiling as he heads down the slope.  As you look closer, you can see the candy inspired elements of the ornament.  Behind him are mountains made of ice cream cones.  He’s skis have a peppermint red and white stripe pattern.  His poles just might have Lifesavers on the end.  The rocks look like hard candy, and the snowman he is skiing by has some more candy on him.

Now, you may be saying to yourself – this all looks great, Mark, but where does the Cookie Cutter come into play?  The scene I described earlier is contained in a snowman shaped cookie cutter.  And that’s why I love this series so much.  The way the scenes fit into and compliment the outer frame is always so creative.

This particular snowman has a rounded bottom, so that means the ornament doesn’t sit out very well.  Instead, it rolls to the side.  But you’ll find that it does hang straight.

If you are looking for the series marker, you’ll find it on the back of the ornament under the handle for the cookie cutter.  Hallmark artist Nina Aube really does think of everything.

And it is the details like the handle and the sweets hidden in the scene that continue to make this ornament series so much fun.  And they are always so cute, too.

Whether you are already a fan of the series or just looking for something different for your Christmas tree, you’ll enjoy the tenth Cookie Cutter Christmas ornament.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Cookie Cutter Christmas ornaments.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Book Review: Short Cuts by Sigmund Brouwer (Accidental Detectives #16)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Eleven entertaining short stories
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Story collection
Featuring Ricky and friends
Entertaining all

Learning Lessons with Ricky Kidd

When I was reading the Accidental Detective stories for the first time, I remember hearing that Ricky Kidd and his friends and family originally started out as the main characters in a series of short stories that Sigmund Brouwer wrote.  I was really curious to read some of those stories, so when I realized that Short Cuts collected eleven of them, I was thrilled.

After a fun introduction that gives us a bit more information on Sigmund Brouwer himself and introduces the characters if you haven’t already met them, we jump into the stories.  While the books in the series are mysteries, these are more slice of life stories.  For example, we start with Ricky and his friend Mike in a canoe in the middle of a storm.  Ricky has to figure out what to do about a bully who has challenged him to a fight at school.  A new student at school believes in spirits because of an item she was given before she moved.  And Ricky gets a lesson in what it is like to be old even though he is twelve years old.

After each story, Sigmund Brouwer writes directly to us.  At times, he talks about the inspiration behind the stories themselves.  Others, he goes on to expand on the themes of the story.  These sections, while not as entertaining as the stories, are just as interesting to read.  I’ve read this book several times over the years, and each time, a different story hits me and leaves me with something to chew over.  Honestly, if he included a few scriptures, this could easily have worked as a devotional.

Sigmund Brouwer is a Christian, so this book was originally written for the Christian market.  The target audience is middle graders.  I was in high school when I first read the book, so I was older than the target audience then, but that never bothered me.  The characters and the stories are fun and relatable no matter your age.  Although, be careful, a couple of them pack an emotional wallop.

One of the stories in the book is one those familiar with the series will recognize.  “Crazy Carl” was featured as the wrap around story for the book Sunrise at the Mayan Temple.  Since it won an award, Sigmund Brouwer is understandably proud of it.  Yes, he changed Carl’s name for the novel, but the rest of it is the same.

Which made me realize that I had probably seen some of the short stories featuring these characters that were not included in this book before.  Each of the novels starts with a fun little vignette with the characters before we launch into the main mystery.  And I would bet many of those opening stories started out life as a short story.

As I said, I’ve read this book several times over the years, and I’ve enjoyed it each time.  I love these characters, and it is always fun to spend time with them.  The themes are universal, and we are never preached out.  They leave us with plenty to think about.

Whether you’ve met the Accidental Detectives before or not, you’ll find Short Cuts to be an enjoyable read.  Kids of all ages will be left entertained with plenty to think about.

Looking for the full mysteries?  Here are the Accidental Detective Mysteries in order.

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

Saturday, August 21, 2021

August 21st's Weekly TV Thoughts

Legends of Tomorrow – I see we are doing the magic as addiction storyline again.  I don’t think we’ve done it on Legends before, but I’ve definitely seen it before for sure.  I hope they bring something new to it.  The episode was advertised as a bit of a nod to Clue, but outside of the rooms, I don’t really see it.  Still, it was fun, and I like how they brought back some of the characters from the first half of the season.  Definitely interested to see where they go with them.  I had to laugh at Ava’s line about inviting Barry and Iris to the wedding.  She’s completely right, which is what made it so much funnier.

American Ninja Warrior – It always worries me when a favorite goes first, but once again they pleasantly surprised me.  Sean got very banged up, but he finished!  And the two teens on the Power Tower at the end were wonderful.  I wasn’t that surprised on who won, but it was very close.

Lego Masters – I wasn’t surprised by the team who left.  The editing gave it away again as they shared their interview early on about how much they were enjoying working together at this.  Again, the judges nailed it.  The teams that they pick are usually ones I’m impressed with as well.  Mind you, I’m impressed to a certain extent with all of them.  As I keep saying, there’s no way I could do any of that.

Stargirl – I hope Courtney really has matured this time.  I get that she is a teenager, but she is extremely selfish, and it is wearing on me already this season.  She had reasons to be suspicious of the new Green Lantern.  I get it.  But even so, she was over the top.  I knew it wasn’t going to end well for the villain’s step-mother when she started hearing voices, much less voices that were trying to get her to kill such a powerful being.  Even is she succeeded, the voice would have taken over.

Superman and Lois – That was everything I was expecting it to be.  Explosive action, lots of suspense and drama, and then a happy epilogue that leaves us with smiles on our faces.  Now, we need season 2 to get here soon to find out what happens next.

Monsters at Work – I’m definitely noticing a formula to the episodes.  The adult in me wishing that Tylor would remember his lessons from week to week, but I’m still having fun with the stories.  Still finding Mike’s comedy school the best parts of the episode, but it’s a nice way to spend 30 minutes.

What If…? – I had more fun with this one.  I probably missed a bunch of nods to things, but it felt like an original story and not just a gender swapped retread.

Press Your Luck – The Whammies were sure out in force in the first half.  I was happy to see who won, however, after she got nothing but a Whammy in the first round with her one spin.  What a great come back.  Elizabeth shouldn’t have brought up the Whammies in the bonus round.  I knew she’d hit one as soon as that happened.  But that’s the only one she hit, and she got quite a bit of prizes out of the episode – more than we’ve seen recently.

Family Game Fight – There are some fruits I don’t like, so I get that.  But I had to laugh about bananas being the one she ate at the beginning since I eat one for breakfast every morning.  It was looking very lopsided there for a bit, but the other team made it interesting before they lost, which I was glad to see.

Holey Moley – They blew it.  They have fiances, but they didn’t put both of them on the Down the Aisle hole.  Yes, I know they did that when they first introduced it.  Yes, I know one of them played it.  But still, they should have done it again.  I wonder what the deal was with the people who weren’t related.  There were some amazing puts in this episode – good and bad both.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Book Review: With Vics You Get Eggroll by Diane Vallere (Madison Night #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong mystery filled with compelling characters
Cons: With cons you don’t get eggroll
The Bottom Line:
Abducted women
Madison’s friend in crosshairs
Grabbed me on page one

Will Madison Be the Next Abduction Vic?

It’s been too long since I last visited Madison Night, the Doris Day obsessed Midcentury Modern decorator star of one of Diane Vallere’s mystery series.  My main reason for waiting to read With Vics You Get Eggroll was waiting to see the Doris Day movie that inspired the title.  Since I did that last month, it was time to dive in and see what Madison was up to in this book.

Several single women have disappeared around the Dallas suburb where Madison Night lives in recent weeks, so all the women in the area are on high alert.  That alert only goes up when the body of one of those women is found.  There is evidence next to her body pointing the finger squarely at her abductor – Lt. Tex Allen.

Lt. Allen happens to be a friend of Madison’s, and she knows he couldn’t have done it.  With Tex suspended from his job at the police department while the investigation is ongoing, Madison finds herself involved in his attempts to clear his name.  That’s only made more complicated by the return of Hudson James, the handyman that Madison might have feelings for.  Will Madison figure out who the kidnapper is in time?  Or will she be the next victim herself?

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this book captured me on page one and didn’t let me go until I finished it.  No, I didn’t read it in one sitting, but I think I could have.  (Stupid day job keeps getting in the way of what is actually important.)  There were more than enough twists to keep me engaged, and they were paced perfectly to keep me wondering what was going on but still giving me enough time to absorb what I was learning.  And yes, everything made sense when we reached the climax.

I’ll admit, I wish it hadn’t been so long between books.  There are references to the events of the first two stories, and I am hazy on what exactly happened.  But that’s on me.  If you want to fully appreciate those references and what they have revealed about the characters, you’ll want to read the series in order and not wait so long between books.

Even with all the intrigue in the plot, we get plenty of time for character development.  The new characters are all interesting and memorable, but it is the three leads who really shine.  We’ve met Madison, Tex, and Hudson before, and they all get plenty of time in the spotlight here.  Honestly, some of those scenes and Madison’s thoughts about her own life are just as intriguing as the mystery itself.  But don’t worry, they are balanced perfectly with the next plot twist.

I mentioned earlier wanting to watch With Six You Get Eggroll before I read this book.  That is completely optional.  This book stands perfectly well on its own; we are talking a mystery versus a romantic comedy, after all.  However, if you are familiar with the movie, you’ll catch a couple of Easter eggs that are a fun wink and nod to the Doris Day movie.  It’s an added bonus, but not something that will hamper your enjoyment of this book if you haven’t seen it.

Prepare plenty of reading time when you sit down to read With Vics You Get Eggroll.  This is a well plotted mystery filled with great characters that will keep you hooked until you get to the final page.

Need more Madison?  Here are the rest of the Madison Night mysteries.

August 20th's Book Beginnings and Friday 56

It's Friday, once again!  Can you believe we made it?  That must mean it is time to kick things off with Book Beginnings and Friday 56.

This week, I'm featuring Murder Most Fowl by Donna Andrews.

This is the latest in her long running and always entertaining Meg Langslow series.  It's long been a favorite of mine, and I know I've used it for these posts before, but the quotes are always so fun to use as teasers.

For example, here's how the book begins.  Yes, it's a long quote, but it is worth it.

I kept my eyes firmly closed and focused on breathing in and out in the slow, deliberate way that was supposed to make you feel better when you were stressed.  One...two...
"Mom," Jamie repeated.  "I know when you're doing your yoga breathing we're not supposed to interrupt you unless there's actual bleeding involved."
"Or open flames," his twin brother, Josh, added.
"But I kind of think this might qualify," Jamie went on.

See?  Doesn't that grab your attention?  Now, let's jump to page 56, where I've picked a much shorter quote:

"That's it," I said aloud.  "One seriously creepy dagger coming up."

That's all I've got for this post this week.  I'll be reviewing this book next Thursday.  

As always, have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

TV Show Review: Diagnosis Murder - Season 5

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Wide variety of entertaining mysteries
Cons: A few episodes don’t work as well as others
The Bottom Line:
Doctor back on case
Solves puzzling, fun cases
Characters are great

“I Wonder What Other Fathers and Sons Do on Their Days Off.”  “Well, Nothing as Fun as This.”

Season 5 of Diagnosis: Murder holds a special place in my heart.  It was the season when I started watching the show.  I was fresh out of college, and a coworker at my first job mentioned it when she learned I liked light mysteries.  I was quickly hooked on this unique combination of mystery and comedy.

This is the first season to have only four cast members in the opening credits, and these are the main characters we will stick with for the rest of the series.  Leading the cast is Dick van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, the head doctor at Community General Hospital in Los Angeles.  Then comes Victoria Rowell as Dr. Amanda Bentley, who becomes the adjunct LA County coroner this season.  Next, we have Charlie Schlatter as Jessie Travis, one of the residents at the hospital.  Rounding out the cast is Dick van Dyke’s real life son Barry van Dyke playing Mark’s son Steve, who is a homicide detective for the LAPD.

I mentioned earlier that the show has a mix of comedy and mystery.  While most of the episodes are fairly light, some are more serious than others.  Among the more serious episodes of the season are the investigation into an airline crash that wasn’t the accident it first appeared to me.  Mark is brilliantly framed for murder.  And the season opener finds Steve involved in a case that might point to corruption in the police department.

Then there are the episodes that are pure fun.  Possibly my favorite this season involves the death of the newest TV executive because it has so many jabs at the TV industry.  I even laugh at the jab at my favorite TV show.  A ratings stunt by a pair of TV talk show hosts (as played by Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford) ends in tragedy when one of them shots the other on air.  And a murdered mime gets Mark involved with the neighborhood house sitter on a case.

Of course, most of the cases fall somewhere in between.  We get scenes that are comic, but the mystery is fairly serious.  Still, this is a light show.  You’ll probably laugh at least once, usually at the main characters.

And that’s one thing that sets this show apart in my mind.  I love these four characters and their relationships.  They quite obviously care about each other, and the relationships are what keep me coming back for more.  I love watching them in action.  This is also the season that first introduces us to Jessie’s girlfriend, Susan Hilliard, as played by Kim Little.  I always loved her character.

There are a couple of fun bits of casting this season.  One episode features all guest stars who were part of classic spy shows.  Another features guest stars who were regulars on the sitcom Happy Days, and its spin offs.

With all this fun, I do have to call out “First Do No Harm.”  This episode is nothing but a lecture about the evils of HMOs.  Sorry, but that’s not what I tune in to watch.  It’s one of my least favorites in the entire series.

The show also continues to employ two types of mystery plots.  Some weeks, we don’t know who did it until Mark solves it at the end.  Other times, they tell us earlier on and the suspense comes from watching Mark try to capture the killer.  Either way, I’m usually entertained.

Ironically enough, the exception to that is the two parters.  We get three of them this season.  One is too long and drawn out, the second two ambition.  The third actually works and gives us an explosive cliffhanger.

The acting is mostly good.  I’ll find the occasional moments that are over the top, and that comes from the regulars as well as the guest stars.  But for the most part, I’m able to sit back and enjoy the show.  Likewise, the few effects we get are good for a late 1990’s TV show.  Yes, they are a bit dated today, but the mostly hold us.  It does help that this isn’t an effects heavy show.

Season five consisted of twenty-five episodes.  All of them are part of this seven-disc set.  We don’t get any extras, but fans will be delighted to have these episodes to enjoy again.

Diagnosis: Murder is extremely rewatchable.  Even if you remember who done it, the character moments make the show entertaining.  If you are a fan or looking for a light mystery, you’ll enjoy season 5.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Book Review: Diet of Death by Ang Pompano (Cooking with Betty Reluctant Food Columnist Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, interesting twists to mystery
Cons: Plot makes some jumps at times, but everything is logical
The Bottom Line:
Diet guru dead
But what exactly killed him?
Promise in debut

What Killed the Diet Guru?

I’m always on the lookout for cozies written by men since they are few and far between, so when Diet of Death crossed by path, I quickly added it to my towering to be read pile.  Author Ang Pompano’s offer of a review copy helped bump it higher in my list.

Quincy Lazzaro has a secret.  He’s the person behind the popular Cooking with Betty magazine column.  He gets away with it by getting recipe ideas from other and by saying he is Betty’s assistant when he goes to interview someone.  The ruse usually works well, but he’s about to face a serious challenge.

You see, Dr. Alan Tolzer is planning to release a follow up to his incredibly popular Westport Diet, and he wants to bury the hatchet with Betty.  He’s not willing to just talk to Quincy either, as Quincy learns when he shows up to Dr. Tolzer’s institute to conduct an interview.  Before Quincy can figure out how to deal with the demand to talk to Betty, Dr. Tolzer dies.  While the institute is quick to attribute it to natural causes, things Quincy saw in the institute make him think they are covering something up.  Is it murder?

It did take me a couple of chapters to fully get into the book, but then I was hooked.  The characters grew on me, Quincy especially.  I might have identified with him a little too much, in fact.  I enjoyed watching him try to solve the mystery.  The rest of the cast has their secrets they want hidden, and as those come to light, we get to know them better as well.

The mystery needed a little ironing out.  While I knew there was more to what was going on that the official story (this is a mystery novel, after all), Quincy’s conviction that a murder was involved seemed a little much early on.  Having said that, it was obvious the institute was hiding something, and I wanted to know what it was.  Again, there are some leaps near the end.  Now, don’t misunderstand me – everything makes sense by the time we’ve reached the last page.  It just seems like the plot needed a little more smoothing to be the best it could be.

Unlike many culinary cozies I read, this book doesn’t include recipes at the end.  That’s a good thing.  The scenes where Quincy does try to make a few items himself are hilarious with how bad they are.  I don’t think I’d want any of his recipes.

And make no mistake about it, I had fun.  This book includes some unique twists and situations that had me on the edge of my seat.  I wasn’t sure where the plot was going until Quincy pieced it together.  And the ending did make sense.  The characters are great, and I hope to get to know them better in future books.  I’ll definitely be back to see what Quincy gets up to in the future.

Diet of Death is a promising debut.  I’m looking forward to seeing how Quincy and the series grows from here.

NOTE: I received a copy of the book.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Ornament Review: All Tangled Up - Spotlight on Snoopy Companion Piece - 2021 Hallmark Release

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Great Charlie Brown Christmas moment
Cons: Should have been smaller
The Bottom Line:
Untangling the lights
Becomes more complicated
A large Charlie Brown

Christmas Lights in a Tangle Again?  Good Grief!

Over the last few years, Hallmark has offered a few limited-edition companion ornaments to the Spotlight on Snoopy series.  And each year, I tell myself I’m not going to buy the limited-edition ornament.  Premier comes around, and I cave and buy it.  That’s how I wound up with All Tangled Up.

This year’s Spotlight on Snoopy ornament is All Decked Out, and features Snoopy decorating himself like a Christmas tree.  This companion ornament features Charlie Brown, and it shows him in a much more realistic moment of Christmas decorating – trying to untangle the Christmas lights.

Of course, even at their worst, I haven’t had a year like Charlie Brown is having – at least not yet.  Somehow, in his attempts to untangle the lights, he’s gotten them tangled up around himself.  They are wrapped around him a few times, and it looks like he has a knot in front of him.  He’s holding out his hands as if he is still trying to separate them out, and he has a “What now” look on his face.  He has one ornament, in a pretty purple color, at his feet.

If this was going to happen to anyone, it would definitely be Charlie Brown.  That’s what makes me smile about the ornament.  While the lights don’t actually light up, they are clear, colored plastic, so they can catch the light, which adds to the fun of the ornament.

The one thing that throws me off is the size.  He’s sized to match the Spotlight on Snoopy ornament.  Since this is a companion piece, I get it.  But he’s huge, especially his head.  It takes away from the overall appeal of the ornament – at least for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the ornament, but I think small would have been better.

Since Charlie Brown is standing on his feet, he stands up just fine.  It would take a good bump to knock him over.

I was surprised that the ornament tipped back and to the right very minimally when I went to hang it.  You’d have to be watching to find it, and I’m sure once you get it in the branches on your tree, you’ll never notice.

I truly wish this ornament were smaller.  But that is my only complaint with All Tangled Up.  It captures Charlie Brown in a moment that is perfect for him.

Check out the rest of the Spotlight on Snoopy ornaments.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Book Review: Claws for Alarm by Cate Conte (Cat Cafe Mysteries #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, wonderful setting, good mystery
Cons: Pacing, some editing problems, and Maddie’s behavior in one scene
The Bottom Line:
Fundraiser gone wrong
Sets scene for fun mystery
Great island setting

Fundraising with Murder

I’ve always been fascinated with life on an island, so that was one reason I jumped on Cate Conte’s Cat Café Mysteries as soon as I heard about them.  She has managed to capture my imagination with the series, and I enjoy each visit back.  Claws for Alarm is our fifth visit to Daybreak Island, and it’s another fun visit.

Maddie James and her family and friends have spent the off season renovating JJ’s House of Purrs, and they are ready for the upcoming tourist season.  That’s a good thing because the cat café and their work helping all the stray animals on the island is beginning to get wider recognition.  That’s how Jillian Allen, the head of a group that raises money for animal rescue organizations, heard about them, and as soon as she gets on the island, she wants to meet JJ, the cat that started it all, and see the work Maddie doing.

Jillian is so impressed that she offers to have her group host a fundraiser for Maddie’s cat café, with Maddie’s sister, Val, helping to organize it.  With a tight deadline, they are going to need all of Jillian’s whirlwind energy to pull it off, but when Maddie and Val go to meet Jillian at the place they’ve selected as the location for the event, they find Jillian strangled with the cash leash that was supposed to be a party favor.  Since Jillian is a visitor to the island, who would have wanted her dead?  Or did she have connections to the island that Maddie didn’t know about?

Jillian really is a force, and she jumps off the page when she is around.  Even though she’s the victim, her presence still infuses the rest of the book even if she isn’t alive on the page.  There is a lot going on here, but I do wish the pacing had been a bit better.  We get lots of revelations at the end that make the ending seem rushed because it takes so long for us to process everything.  Having said that, it does answer all our questions in a satisfactory manner.

I talked about Jillian, but the rest of the cast is just as strong.  They aren’t as over bearing, but that’s a good thing, and they are memorable in their own way.  I loved spending more time with Maddie and the rest of the regulars.  Some of the characters who turn into suspects are absolutely wonderful.  I loved getting to know them, and I wouldn’t mind if they popped back up in future books.

There are a couple of things that bothered me.  One was some simple editing mistakes as people popped into scenes they weren’t in a couple of times, etc.  It only happened a handful of times, but it was annoying.  More serious was a scene late in the book where Maddie does something she shouldn’t do, mainly because she’s promised not to do it.  Don’t worry, it’s not too stupid to live behavior, but still, her behavior really didn’t sit well with me.

But the setting!  I always enjoy books set in tourist destinations because it feels like a mini vacation while I am reading, and I can feel myself relaxing.  That was true once again here.  I would gladly go visit if I could – between murders, of course.  Despite my cat allergies, I might even pop into the cat café for a couple of minutes, too.

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Daybreak Island with Claws for Alarm.  If you are looking for a cheap island vacation fill with some intrigue, this is the book for you.

Enjoy more trips to Daybreak Island with the rest of the Cat Cafe Mysteries.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Disney Pin Review: Tell a Joke Day - Celebrate Today #8 - 2020 Release

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Mike and jokes are a perfect match
Cons: That’s a joke, right?
The Bottom Line:
Day to tell a joke
Mike wants to make us all laugh
Date, character match

Did You Hear the One About the Monster Who Became a Stand-Up Comic?

The pins I have enjoyed most from the Celebrate Today pin series are the pins where they picked a date that naturally highlights one particular movie or character.  That was certainly the case with August’s pick since they chose National Tell a Joke Day.

The day is celebrated August 16th each year, and it’s a day to make people laugh by telling them jokes.  Whatever kind of joke you’d like to tell.  Being the punny guy that I am, I’m sure I’d have everyone groaning with puns.

If I didn’t already have a picture with this review, I’m sure you could guess who they chose for this pin.  That’s right, it’s Mike Wazowski.  The pin has a pin on pin technique.  The back layer is a bunch of blue “Ha’s” on a black background.  Raised slightly from this background, we have Mike standing on a stool with a microphone in his hand grinning at us, enjoying us laughing at his joke.  Down at the bottom is National Tell a Joke Day and on the right there’s a square with the date of Aug 16.

It’s simple, as all the pins in this series are, but it doesn’t need to be any more complicated.  I love that they chose this day and Mike because they go together perfect.  Okay, so Monsters, Inc. might be one of my favorite movies, so that also helps make this pin more special for me.

You’ve got some time to come up with a great joke to tell this year since we are officially celebrating today.  So, get some laughs ready and be reminded to tell jokes each year with this fun pin.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

August 14th's Weekly TV Thoughts

How can you tell the Olympics are over?  Look at this massive list of TV that was back on.  And there might be a couple of new shows on the list as well.

Family Game Fight (Sunday) – Yes, I’m watching because of Kristen Bell, but that was a lot of fun.  I spotted Ellen DeGeneres’s name as a producer, and I can definitely see it.  Many of these would fit in her Game of Games show.  I will be back for more.

Legends of Tomorrow – We are back with another wonderful wacky episode.  Classic wild and crazy plot, but I love how everything came together and made sense in the end.  Sorry to see all those planets that don’t exist anymore.  Maybe they can restore them, too, before they take off?

American Ninja Warrior – They went against their typical editing for a change.  That first woman to go went far.  I’m was super impressed.  Loved the guy who caught the right with his foot, too.  I always feel so relieved when Joe Moravsky hits the buzzer.  I had sweaty hands and feet when he hit the course tonight.  And he has the safety pass, too!

LegoMasters – Never share your plans for the prize money, especially if it is something inspiring like adopting children.  That’s a sure sign you are going to be eliminated in that episode.  (The fact that the interview might have been recorded before the competition started and then edited into this episode is irrelevant.)  It’s hard to argue with them being eliminated, however, when they were the only ones to have their build break under 30 miles an hour.  I’m always impressed with how well some of those teams do.  I know mine would fall apart easily, but some teams make it to 60.  Impressive.

Stargirl – I’m excited the show is back, but I wish we’d had a bit of a running start on who all the characters are again.  I need it.  Still, I enjoyed the episode and am looking forward to seeing where they are going to go this season.  So many plot threads set in motion.  Got to wonder what kind of principal announces someone has to go to summer school the day before it starts however.  Logic part of the brain was bothered by that.

Superman and Lois – Have I mentioned how much I absolutely LOVE this show?  Seriously!  They up the stakes every week.  Just went I can’t see how they can top stuff, they do it again.  That cliffhanger with Jordan?  I can’t wait to see what they do about that.  Yet the characters are so real we truly do feel for them.  This is an amazing piece of work.

Monsters at Work - Adorable!  I’m so happy we got him back.  To be honest, I’d kind of forgotten about him.  Doesn’t that make me a bad fan?  But it is nice to see them resolving that little side part of the original movie.  Tylor’s behavior didn’t surprise me in the end, but I still liked that as well.  And we didn’t see as much of the annoying monster!

What If… - Given the results of Loki, I’m wondering if these episodes will actually be part of anything major or just fun little side trips.  That’s what this first one was.  I’ll admit it’s been years since I watched the first Captain America movie, but I feel like it followed that plot pretty closely overall.  No real changes I could see.  Still, it was fun.

Press Your Luck – Once again, a winner who did amazing in the early game was Whammied out of the bonus round.  I knew she was going to lose when she went back that one more round.  But I get it, it’s hard to walk away from the prizes they were offering.  I’d probably do the same.

Family Game Fight (Wednesday) – I like this show so much.  It’s just light and fun.  Dax and Kristen are having fun up there, too.  Based on the first game, I thought the Military Moms would run away with it, but it was close, and the guys were so impressive in the final game.

Holey Moley – The women were pretty dominant this week.  I think I’d have a blast on the show.  I’d do horribly at it, but I’d have a blast trying.  Except for how cold it is.  If they filmed that in the summer, I do it.  But they film it in the winter, and all I can think while watching is how cold they all must be.