Sunday, July 31, 2022

Disney Pin Review: Walt Disney World Railroad Office - Windows of Main Street - 2021 Release

: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great pin of a window to honor Walt
Cons: The Disney World/Disneyland issues are head scratching
The Bottom Line:
Honor Walt Disney
With replica of window
Disney fans will love

Of Course, There Was a Pin for Walt’s Window

As I’ve said before, I’m reviewing the pins in the Windows of Main Street series in random order, not the order of release.  It’s why I’m just now reviewing the first entry in the series.  And who got the honor of the first spot in this series?  Walt Disney, of course.

Walt has several windows in the parks, but this particular pin is a replica of the pin at the Train Depot on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World.  At the top, we see “Walt Disney World Railroad Office.”  On the bottom it says “Keeping Dreams on Track, Walter E. Disney, Chief Engineer.”  Considering Disney’s love of trains and dreaming, I can’t think of a better tribute.

Which is why I am willing to turn a blind eye to a couple of things when it comes to this pin.  Okay, I’m got to at least mention them.  This is based on the window in Disney World, a park that Disney never got to visit, instead of Disneyland?  And it was released in California even though it is inspired by a window at the park in Florida?  But enough on these issues.

I’ve been complaining recently that the windows are too translucent and therefore hard to read.  That isn’t the case here, which is why I know that it didn’t have to be an issue.  Yes, the bottom does slide up, and who do we see when we do that?  Mickey, of course!  It makes sense since Mickey and Walt will always be connected, especially since Walt voiced Mickey originally.  Here, Mickey’s wearing a tux with a red bow tie.

And what Disney fan wouldn’t love this pin?  While the company has gone a long time without Walt directing things now, his vision and dreams have given us so much that we still enjoy to this day.  That legacy is certainly worth celebrating with this pin.

Overall, my issues are minor.  This is a good choice for a window to honor Walt, and I love it.

July 31st's Sunday/Monday Post

Welcome to my Sunday/Monday post.  I'll be linking up to:

Sunday Post
Sunday Salon
Stacking the Shelves
Mailbox Monday
It's Monday, What Are You Reading

It's been a few weeks since I've done this.  That's because two weeks ago Saturday, I left for an Alaskan Cruise, and one week ago, I was just getting back.  I had a good time.  I'd been on an Alaskan cruise before six years ago (that same week, in fact), but it was nice to be back and get to do other things.  I went rafting near the Mendenhall Glacier and I went zip lining and on the railway out of Skagway.  Glacier Bay was clouded over but still very impressive.  I also got to spend some time playing tourist in Seattle, which I hadn't done for years.  Pikes Market and Space Needle were what my friend and I hit.

The downside is, I came back with an extra souvenir - Covid.  I started to feel sick last Sunday, my first full day at home.  I tested negative Monday, but tested again Wednesday and tested positive.  I've been lucky.  It's mostly been a cold with a mild fever.  Having to keep well hydrated, but it could have been so much worse.

Since I'm still working from home, I was able to keep working as well, which has been good.  After all, we are at month end again.

This Past Week on the Blog:

Sunday - Disney Pin Review: Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railroad - Cuckoo for Disney Pins
Monday - Movie Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas
Tuesday - Book Review: Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott
Wednesday - Ornament Review: Twelve Drummers Drumming
Thursday - Book Review: Mint Chocolate Murder by Meri Allen
Friday - Book Review: An Almost Purrfect Murder by Jacqueline Vick
Saturday - Weekly TV Thoughts

This Coming Week on the Blog:

Sunday - Disney Pin Review: Walt Disney World Railroad Office - Windows of Main Street
Monday - July 2022 Reading Summary
Tuesday - Book Review: The Fragrance of Death by Leslie Karst
Wednesday - Ornament Review: Happy Halloween #10
Thursday - Book Review: Murder of a Mail-Order Bride by Mimi Granger
Friday - Book Review: Murder on the Iditarod Trail by Sue Henry
Saturday - Weekly TV Thoughts

Book Haul:

Hang on, I've got quite the haul to talk about.  Well, maybe, it isn't as bad as it could be since it's been a few weeks.  Right before I went on vacation, I snagged a Kindle deal on the Music City Murders boxed set of books 1-6 in this series by Steven Womack.  Not sure if they will be my thing, but for the price (free), I couldn't pass them up.  Then, I got my eARC of Murder of a Mail-Order Bride by Mimi Granger, which I've now read since I'm reviewing it this coming Thursday.  It was a lot of fun.

While on my cruise, I was reading the first of Sue Henry's Alaskan Mysteries.  I stopped at a book store while I was there, and they had a copy of the second book, Termination Dust, so I bought it.  I figure that's a great souvenir to have, right?

Since I've been back, I have snagged a couple of good deals on Kindle copies of books I've been eyeing, Murder at the Lakeside Library by Holly Danvers and A Curious Beginning by Deanna Rayburn, so I couldn't pass them up on sale.

Five books over three weeks.  Okay, 10 if you want to count that boxed set as six books, which it is, so you should.  But I was liking it better when we counted this as five books.

What I'm Currently Reading:

Saturday, I finished off A Dish to Die For by Lucy Burdette.  This is the latest in the Key West Food Critic Mysteries.  It's always fun to revisit the characters and find out exactly what is going on with them.  That means Sunday, I'll be diving in Murder on Trinity Place by Victoria Thompson.  I'm so close to catching up on this series since this is book 22 out of 25, but I've still got enough to take me into next year at the rate I'm going.

Hope you have a great week.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

July 30th's Weekly TV Thoughts

With being on vacation last week, I had some catch up to do.  But, since this is summer, that didn't take me long at all.

American Ninja Warrior (7/18) – Bummed that Joe didn’t finish the course, but thrilled he’s moving on.  Laughed at the Spanish teacher watching remotely.  I really like the new Power Tower since it featuring a nice variety of obstacles we don’t generally see on the show.  The teens are definitely ruling the show again this season.

The Challenge: USA (7/20) – Clearly, James was on borrowed time, so I’m not as upset that he left this week as I would have been last week.  I feel like I might be getting some of the people I didn’t know or forgot.  Not completely sure who I am rooting for yet, although I have a couple people I’m rooting against.

American Ninja Warrior (7/25) – I’m surprised at the big names who didn’t make it this week.  Yes, even the kids were struggling with this course.  It really makes a different which obstacles they put in, doesn’t it?

The Challenge: USA (7/27) – Shan is gone, and I’m not crying any tears for her.  She was just as annoying here as she was in Survivor.  And she and X were certainly poor losers, too.  It will be interesting to see if this impacts the final outcome, however, in the mega alliances.  And that trivia challenge?  No way would I do well at that.  I’d be so focused on the drop I would be able to come up with any answers.

Press Your Luck (7/28) – I can’t believe it.  It’s rare to see someone Whammy out in the first half, but both of the contestants did?  The winner was so close to getting the top prize, but I just knew he was going to get a Whammy when he did.  Still, it wasn’t a bad total at all.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Book Review: An Almost Purrfect Murder by Jaqueline Vick (Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic Mystery #3)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun mystery and characters
Cons: Lots going on and distracts from mystery at times
The Bottom Line:
Cruising with killer
Trip spend looking for some clues
Uneven but fun

Who Committed Murder on an Alaskan Cruise?

I spent last week on an Alaskan Cruise. I decided not to bring any physical books with me but to instead spend the week reading books via the Kindle app on my phone. One of the books I decided to read I knew was set in Alaska, but I also decided to read An Almost Purrfect Murder, the third Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic Mystery from Jacqueline Vick. Imagine my surprise when I started it and realized that Frankie is on an Alaskan cruise for this book. 

A cruise is not Frankie’s first choice of vacations, but her best friend, Penny, has decided to have a destination wedding, and Frankie is the maid of honor. Besides, the trip is paid for. What could go wrong? The fact that one of the acts is a man with trained cats does give Frankie pause, however. 

The first morning at sea, Frankie finds one of those cats sitting outside her stateroom trying to communicate something. It makes a certain sense when she looks over her balcony and sees the dead body of the cat trainer one on of the lifeboats below. She quickly realizes the man was murdered. But can she convince anyone else of that without revealing that she is basing this on knowledge she got from a cat?

Yes, I do typically avoid paranormal themed series, so the fact that Frankie is a real pet psychic is a little odd of a reading choice for me, but this is one of the few exceptions I have made over the years. It’s a light element, and the clues she gets that way are often more confusing than helpful until the end of the book. 

The pacing was uneven in this entry. The wedding and romantic storylines are competing with the murder for Frankie’s attention. Since this is the third in the series, I did care about those storylines, so I wasn’t bored. But it would have been nice to see the murder get another twist or two and another suspect or two. 

Not that it was completely straightforward. I thought I had the general direction of the story figured out, and I even thought I had a clue or two figured out early, but I misinterpreted them. That impressed me as I neared the end. 

Since this is the third in the series, we know a few of the characters, but many in the cast were introduced here, including the suspects. I found them to be entertaining and helped draw me into the story. 

I’ve been on another Alaskan cruise in the past, so even though I finished the book before I stopped in any ports, I still had an idea of what the areas Frankie was visiting looked like. At times, it was a bit surreal, and I had to remind myself what was the book and what I was planning on visiting in real life. 

Then there’s the humor. Between the cat antics and some of the situations Frankie finds herself in, I laughed multiple times as I was reading. I’ll admit that I found a few things that I’m sure should have been funny more eye rolling immaturity than funny, but that could just be me. 

Overall, An Almost Purrfect Murder was a fun book. Whether you read it in Alaska or at home, you’ll enjoy this vacation with Frankie. 

Enjoy the rest of the Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic Mysteries.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Book Review: Mint Chocolate Murder by Meri Allen (Ice Cream Shop Mysteries #2)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters and a fun mystery
Cons: Very little mint chocolate in the book
The Bottom Line:
Art festival death
With a locked room component
Makes for a fun book

Was the Photographer’s Death Picture Perfect?

I love ice cream, and I enjoyed the first in the Ice Cream Shop Mysteries from Meri Allen. Naturally, that means I was looking forward to Mint Chocolate Murder, the second in the series. I was not disappointed. 

The first book in the series introduced us to Riley Rhodes, a former CIA librarian who is on leave from that job and now running Udderly Delightful, an ice cream stand in her home town of Penniman, Connecticut.

As this book opens, summer is turning to September, and Riley finds that the stand is in the lull between summer tourists and leaf peeping tourists. But former supermodel Maude Monico is using the time to host an art festival at the castle she has bought just outside of town. Riley will have a booth selling ice cream at the event, but Maude has also hired Riley to provide the refreshments at the ice cream social opening event. 

That gives Riley a chance to observe photographer Adam Blasco, the biggest draw for the weekend. His photographs are controversial, and as Riley watches the man in action, she begins to wonder just what his relationship with his models is. When Adam fails to appear for his talk the next day, people begin searching the grounds for him. Eventually, they find him locked in the castle’s dungeon - I mean conference room - dead. Riley quickly picks up on some things that make the death seem to be malicious. If she is right, can she find the killer?

Even though this is the second in the series, there is still quite a bit of set up needed for this book, including the history of the castle. Yes, it does make sense that a Scottish castle would be in Connecticut. It helps that this castle is inspired by a real one, just with a changed name and location. I’ll admit as the book went along, I enjoyed the history about the castle that was woven through the noble. 

While we are getting this background, we are also meeting suspects and learning a bit about Adam. The nature of the murder presents a locked room puzzle that Riley has to solve, so we have a how done it in addition to a who done it. That kept me engaged, and the pages flew by until Riley pieces things together. 

In the first book, we met a fun cast of characters. I enjoyed getting to see them again here and getting to learn more about them. There was one who was reduced to a cameo, and I would have liked to see more of him. But if he’s had more scenes, that would have just slowed the story down, so I get it. The suspects are interesting and strong, so they keep us guessing. 

If you love ice cream, this book will make you crave it. Mint Chocolate is one of my favorite flavors, so I was a bit disappointed that it only got a couple of cursory mentions. However, all the mentions of Pumpkin Spice will make you happy to have a recipe for that at the end. 

Mint Chocolate Murder is a delicious second mystery for Riley Rhodes. Dish up a bowl of your favorite ice cream and enjoy this fun mystery. 

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Ornament Review: Twelve Drummers Drumming - 12 Days of Christmas #12 - 2022 Hallmark Release

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great drummer to end this fun series
Cons: I’ll miss collecting new entries in the series each year
The Bottom Line:
A great series ends
Fitting drummer ornament
Glad I collected

Drum Roll Please…This Series Has Concluded!

I remember when Hallmark was starting the 12 Days of Christmas series about the time I started seriously collecting Hallmark ornaments.  Twelve years felt like it was going to be a long time to wait to complete this series.  Yet here we are at the end with Twelve Drummers Drumming.

Honestly, with the haircut, this drummer could be a young boy or girl, although I generally think of the drummer as a male in the song.  Our drummer is dressed all in blue, which seems to back that up.  There’s a feather in his cap and a hint of a smile on his face.  His drum is out in front of him.  The sides have big numbers “12” on them, and in the red band around the side, we can see a bit of the music and line from his verse.

The series definitely changed when we went from birds to people.  However, I have enjoyed these last few ornaments in the series.  They are beautiful in their own unique way, and I appreciate that.

I’m also thrilled to have the completed series to enjoy now.  I can hardly wait to get my display set up this December so I can see all of them on it at once.  I might even sneak it up a little early so I can enjoy.

This ornament does actually stand on his own two feet.  This is a rarity for the series.  However, the feet are so small, that it isn’t super stable.  I would not want to leave it out some place that is going to be regularly bumped, and in general I’d recommend hanging this one.

Fortunately, that isn’t an issue since the ornament hangs perfectly straight.

And, yes, you’ll find the series marker on the back of the ornament.

I’ll admit to a bit of mixed reaction to this series ending this year.  I’m mostly thrilled since I will have the entire series to enjoy now and every year going forward.  However, there is a part of me that is sad because this has been a favorite series, and it is ending.  Yes, I knew it was going to end this year.  But I’ll miss looking forward to see how each entry would wind up looking.

If you’ve been collecting this series, you’ll be as happy as I am to add Twelve Drummers Drumming to your collection to complete the song and series.

Check out the rest of the 12 Days of Christmas series.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Book Review: Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott (Beryl and Edwina #6)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Characters we love in a strong mystery
Cons: All cons lost in the mail
The Bottom Line:
Poison pen letters
Causing trouble in village
In charming story

Who is Writing Deadly Poison Pen Letters?

When I first heard the term “poison pen letter” as a kid, I was picturing a letter that was written in poison ink and it would kill you after touching it.  I’m not sure what this says about me, so let’s not go there.  I bring that up because poison pen letters play a huge part in Murder Through the English Post, the sixth Beryl and Edwina Mystery from Jessica Ellicott.

If you need a refresher, Beryl is an American adventuress and Edwina is the lifelong resident of a small English village.  They have also been lifelong friends, so when Beryl is looking for a place to stay after the Great War, she moves in with Edwina.  Together, the two have started a private enquiry agency, and you’d be surprised at just what they find to investigate.

Edwina has recently taken over as the local magistrate.  At her first session, the final case brought before her is one of two good friends who got into a public brawl.  It turns out that one of them had gotten an anonymous note claiming that the other was saying some nasty things about him.

The fact that someone sent the note concerns Edwina, and that concern only grows when other letters start popping up in the village.  Even Beryl receives one.  It isn’t long before Constable Gibbs is asking Edwina and Beryl to figure out who is sending them.  Can they do it before someone gets seriously hurt?

I’m going to leave the teaser there for fear of spoiling any more than that.  As if often the case with this series, I pieced together a few details before they were revealed to us, but I had missed much of what was happening.  I was actually impressed with how everything came together at the end of the book.

One thing I love about this series is the characters.  We spend time with both Beryl and Edwina as our viewpoint characters, and that allows us to really see how they are growing.  I love watching that almost as much as I do the mystery itself.  Their insights into the citizens of the village are also good.  At times, this goes on a bit longer than it needs to, but that’s a minor complaint.

I also appreciate the different perspectives that Edwina and Beryl bring to things.  Once again, the fact that one is an outsider and the other intimately familiar with village life makes for a more interesting book for us.

As always, the historical setting provides some interesting background to the story.  The characters are still dealing with the aftermath of World War I, and I appreciate the look at how those horrific events impacted everyone.  It adds a more serious tone at times without being overly depressing.

I will once again champion reading the series in order since you’ll better enjoy the character growth and the changes in the ongoing relationships.  There is nothing here that is a major spoiler for the previous books, however, so you could jump in here if you wanted.

Murder Through the English Post is another strong mystery for Beryl and Edwina that will please fans.  If you haven’t enjoyed this charming historical series yet, pick one up today.

Here are the rest of the Beryl and Edwina Mysteries in order.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Movie Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Enjoyable Christmas story with characters we love
Cons: Will be slow if you don’t already know the characters
The Bottom Line:
Late Christmas letter
Focus on our characters
Best for franchise fans

“In the Meantime, Stop and Smell the Poinsettias.”  “Poinsettias Have No Fragrance.”

When I got into the Signed, Sealed, Delivered franchise this spring, I quickly saw a problem.  The first post series movie they made had a Christmas theme.  I really didn’t want to wait until December to revisit these characters.  Recently, I realized that Christmas in July was the perfect excuse to watch and review Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas.

The Denver post office has been busy handling letters to Santa, and the team in the Dead Letter department have been getting into the spirit by helping makes sure wishes written to Santa have been coming true.  They think they are all caught up and able to enjoy the annual Postal Ball when they get one last letter, mailed that day, addressed to God.

While Oliver, Rita, and Norman (Eric Mabius, Yah-Kay Crystal Lowe, and Geoff Gustafson) all willingly jump into tracking the letter writer and seeing if they can help, Shane (Kristin Booth) is much more reluctant.  How will helping this little girl whose mother is in the hospital help our team?

If I had jumped in here, I might not be sold on the franchise.  There was enough plot here for a TV episode, but it was stretched to a full movie.  You can tell by how long it takes for the team to even get the letter.  And I do feel like some of the sub-plots felt a bit more like side quests.


This is definitely a time when knowing the background on the characters was a huge plus.  The slow parts?  They were filled with character development, advancing threads that had been introduced in the series.  I laughed at many of these scenes, and I was smiling for most of the movie.  The sub-plots also did a lot to develop the characters.

Speaking of which, the romances are still moving at glacial speed, but I’m okay with that since I’m having fun watching them dance around each other.

As any fan would expect, this movie is filled with emotion.  Just like with the series, I found myself chocking up upon occasion.

Yes, it was a bit odd watching a Christmas movie in the middle of summer heat, but I soon got into the spirit of things.  If you were watching this during Christmas, it would certainly make the season feel even more magical.

Speaking of which, the movie does indulge in a couple of Christmas movie tropes that anyone even marginally familiar with the genre (Hallmark Christmas movies or not) will recognize.  But that’s not really an issue for me since they were handled well.

In addition to the returning foursome, Rob Estes and Marion Ross lend their talents to the film.  The acting is good and allowed me to get lost in the story.

If you are a fan of the franchise, I definitely recommend you watch Signed, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas.  Whether you watch it now or wait until December, you’ll enjoy checking in with these characters.

This movie is part of the Signed, Sealed, Delivered Movies 1-4 Collection.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Disney Pin Review: Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railroad - Cuckoo for Disney Pins - 2021 Release

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: Does look like a cartoony train ride
Cons: Nothing that screams the attraction to me; released in wrong park
The Bottom Line:
Celebrate Railway
Pin for ride we do not have
Why part of series?

I’m Still Trying to Figure Out This Pin

When it comes to Disney’s limited edition pin series, I can usually understand why they include the pins they do, even if I would have done things differently.  It’s why I’m still scratching my head over the Cuckoo for Disney Pins entry for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

The pin itself features a train coming out of a tunnel.  You can see some musical notes floating up around it.  There’s a bird up at the very top.  There’s only one dangle element.  It’s a sun with a huge grin on its face that is designed to swing back and forth.  The face of the clock is on the front of the train, and three Rs are in the middle of the clock.

Even without my confusion, this would be a disappointing pin.  Unlike others in the series, it looks simple.  There are no elements that seem to tie into the ride.  It could be any railroad, really.  We already had an entry for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which incorporated some fun elements related specifically to that ride.  Maybe if I’d ridden the ride, I’d better see the elements that tie in.

And that’s what has me scratching my head the most over this pin.  This series was released in Disneyland.  While we are going to get a version of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, it’s still at least a year out.  So, why release a pin in Disneyland that ties into a ride that is only open in Walt Disney World?  If these had been released in Florida, I’d get it, but since this was released in California, I’m wondering why.  All I can think of is there was a delay in building the attraction here that I am not aware of.

For those reasons, this is my least favorite in what is otherwise a fun series.  If you are a fan of the ride in Florida or a completist, you’ll want to track it down.  Otherwise, you can skip it.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

TV Show Review: Ms. Marvel - Season 1

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Iman Vellani creates a warm and charming main character
Cons: Writing is too unfocused
The Bottom Line:
Meet a new hero
Writing lets character down
But lead is charming

“Come with Me if You Want to Live.”  “Huh?”  “Just Kidding.  I’ve Always Wanted to Say That.”

I was excited about Ms. Marvel.  I knew nothing about the character, but I’ve wound up enjoying the last couple of Marvel shows on Disney+, so I went into this one with high expectations.  Sadly, this one needed some structural work.

The show introduces us to Kamala Kahn (Iman Vellani), a die hard fan of all things Avengers.  These superheroes are her heroes because of everything they have done to save humanity.  There is the first annual Avengers Con happening near her home in New Jersey, and she will do anything to go with her friend Bruno (Matt Lintz), especially since she has the perfect costume based on her idol, Captain Marvel.

One requirement of the costume contest is that each person must have one item that represents them, and Kamala chooses a bracelet that was her great-grandmother’s.  However, when she puts it on, she quickly discovers she now has powers of her own.  Unfortunately, her powers have attracted the attention of two groups of people.  Can Kamala figure out how to use them in time to defend herself?

If you look back through my Marvel movie reviews, especially the first ones that introduce the various character, I complain that they feel very formulaic.  This one tries to break the formula, and yet I’m going to complain that it doesn’t quite work either.  Part of that is because we expect certain things, so if a story is going to buck those trends, it needs to make sure it really works.  In this case, I feel like they were trying to work too many things into the six episodes here.

The show takes a couple of episodes to really introduce all the players.  I think that’s part of the problem.  It leaves so much to pack into the second half that those episodes feel rushed.  There are multiple times that people seem to switch their behavior on a dime.  One is definitely plot driven.  The other one was some very welcome character development, but it still felt too abrupt.

Speaking of abrupt, one of the groups of villains got a weak climax.

One of the episodes spends a lot of time with Kamala seeing parts of her family’s history.  While it was well crafted and did have a couple of keys to the story, it still felt like a momentum killer late in the season.

This is all the fault of the writers.  The actors were amazing at bringing their characters to life.  I especially have to praise newcomer Iman Vellani who carried the entire show with ease.  She made Kamala charming and a joy to watch each week.

That’s why I’m looking forward to seeing more of this character in next year’s The Marvels.  Fans will be interested in meeting the character early in Ms. Marvel.  I just wish the writing had been better on the show.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Book Review: The Drop by Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch #15)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Overall, a strong, enjoyable book
Cons: One aspect left open, Bosch’s actions toward his partner
The Bottom Line:
Old and new cases
A good balancing act here
In this strong entry

Bosch Has Two Cases Dropped on Him

My rotation of audio books has meant it has taken me a while to return to the world of Harry Bosch this year.  I was definitely ready when I started listening to The Drop, and I was rewarded with a great book.

If you are new to the series, Harry Bosch is a Los Angeles homicide detective.  Since this is book fifteen, there is a lot of history to with character at this point.  Not only that, but other characters from author Michael Connelly might make cameos in any book (although there is only one reference to one here).  While you can follow the story if you start here, there are nuances and relationships you’ll miss out on if you do, not to mention some spoilers for plot points in previous books.

At this point in the series, Bosch is working in the Open-Unsolved Unit as a floater.  He and his partner take any case that comes back with a fresh hit that the other teams don’t have the time to handle.  As this book opens, they’ve just been given a fresh lead to follow.  Blood from a twenty-two year old homicide has come up with a match to a convicted rapist.  The catch?  The man was only eight-years-old when the crime took place.

Harry and his partner have barely started on it when they are called to the scene of a fresh death.  Councilman Irvin Irving’s adult son has been found dead outside a hotel in Hollywood.  The question is, was he pushed or did he jump?  Given their history, Bosch is surprised to find that Councilman Irving requested he work this case.  Can Bosch navigate department politics and solve both cases?

I was immediately hooked on both storylines.  The puzzle of the first and the history we have with Irving made me want to know what was going on in both cases.  When this series is at its best, I am in awe of how Bosch is able to follow clues to come up to a logical conclusion.  That’s the case here.  The plotting is great and the pace never lags since there are two cases to balance.  One aspect of things was left dangling, but it was very minor.  I have my own theory about what happened, but it wasn’t important to the story that was being told overall.

I will say that one of the stories goes to a very dark place.  It fits the series, and it certainly didn’t go as dark as it could have.  This isn’t one of my normal cozies, so there is more violence, language, and sex than in books I would normally recommend.  None are excessive, so as long as you know this going into the book, you should be fine.

Bosch can be a mixed bag as a character.  He’s a natural loner who has to deal with a partner.  Naturally, this gives us some added conflict.  While I absolutely do not agree with some of his partner’s behavior over the course of the book, he definitely had a point in how Bosch was treating him.  On the other hand, there are other relationships in his life that round him out.  I’m especially enjoying watching his relationship with his daughter grow.  No matter how long we’ve known the characters, they are always strong.

As I said earlier, I listened to the unabridged audio with Len Cariou as narrator.  I did find a couple of scenes annoying with what he decided to do with the characters, but overall, he did a fine job.

The Drop is another strong entry in the Harry Bosch series.  If you haven’t caught up yet, you’ll be pleased with this one.

Check out the rest of the Harry Bosch series.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

TV Show Review: Diagnosis Murder - Season 6

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Lots of fun episodes
Cons: The more serious episodes don’t work out too well
The Bottom Line:
Fun solving murders
Overall this season works
A few don’t quite work

"Have I Ever Visited This House that I Haven't Fallen Over That Dog?"  "Yeah, One Time, and You Tripped Over My Ottoman."

I remember thinking that season six of Diagnosis: Murder was the sweet spot of the show, so when I sat down to watch it this summer, I was looking forward to a lot of fun episodes.  And, there certainly were some fun episodes.  But overall, the season was more uneven than I remembered.

The overall premise of the show hasn’t changed.  Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick van Dyke) is a doctor at Community General hospital in Los Angeles who has a knack of solving murders.  As a result, he often helps his son, Steve (played by Dick’s real life son Barry van Dyke), who is a homicide detective for the LAPD.  Round out the regular cast, we have medical examiner Amanda Bentley (Victoria Rowell) and new doctor Jesse Travis (Charlie Schlatter).

The episode starts out exactly where season five ended, which makes sense given the cliffhanger we left off with.  Community General has just been bombed, and we have to rescue all our characters.  The season opener was a two parter, and, honestly, it shows some of the issues with the season.  While the first hour was decent, the second hour just drags things out needlessly, and takes the plot in another, almost random direction.

Then then we settle into a string of good episodes.  The bride and groom plot to kill her father in the middle of their wedding and frame her step-mother for the crime.  If only they hadn’t invited Dr. Sloan.  Dr. Sloan gets a phone call about a ransom drop for a kidnapping.  Jesse is abducted by aliens.  Or is he?  Jesse and his girlfriend, Susan (recurring guest star Kim Little) get stuck in a small town where Susan sees an ex that she thought was dead.  Late in the season, we get the hilarious two-part episode “Trash TV” which takes a very pointed look at how TV stations operate.  I’m sure if I were more involved in the industry, I’d find it even funnier than I do.

And we haven’t even discussed my favorite episode of the entire series yet.  “Write, She Murdered” features Shelley Long as a mystery novelist who figures that the best way to get over writer’s block is to kill her agent and then follow Mark around as he solves the murder.  Among the guest cast in this episode is Adam West, playing the star of a 60’s cult favorite TV show.  But Shelley Long is a pure delight in this episode.  She hams it up without ever being over the top, and the result is hilarious.

The problem comes when the show tries to be more serious.  The show worked best when they were playing into the comedy.  When they try to be seriously, the results come across cheesier than they intended.  That isn’t always the case, but it seriously hampers episodes such as “Rear Window ‘98” which finds Amanda logging onto a web camera only to see the owner get murdered.  Or the episode where someone is trying to provoke Steve into killing him.

As the season winds down, we get a couple of off episodes.  One, written by Barry van Dyke, features all four of his kids as guest stars.  It’s cool, but at the same time, it feels off for the series.  Likewise, the penultimate episode was written to introduce a couple of characters who were going to be the leads for a potential spin off.  The problem with both of these episodes is that the regulars are pretty much abandoned.

Then comes “Today is the Last Day of the Rest of My Life,” quite possibly my least favorite episode ever.  This season finale finds Mark Sloan dealing with issues surrounding physician assisted suicide.  TV shows lecturing us are nothing new, and that’s what we get here.  Even worse, it is the last time we see Kim Little’s Susan.  I always loved Susan’s relationship with Jesse and was sorry when she didn’t come back in season seven.

The acting is mostly good, although there are moments that are over the top, leading to some of the poorer quality episodes I mentioned above.  And there are still some stunt guest cast episodes.  Like the episode where Jesse thinks he was kidnapped by aliens, which mostly features actors from Star Trek and another couple TV science fiction shows.  The stars of old TV shows appear in the “Trash TV” episodes, and former TV cops feature in an episode that revolves around Steve and other LAPD officers.  Other guest stars I recognized include Patrick Duffy and Staci Keenan (as father and daughter), Eva LaRue, Bryan Cranston, Greg Grunberg and Richard Biggs.

I should also mention that the season opener includes Steve and Jesse (with Mark as a silent partner) buying BBQ Bob’s, a restaurant that becomes a regular hangout for the characters the rest of the series.  To me, this also cemented Jesse and Steve’s friendship in my mind.  I always loved seeing that restaurant on the show.  Meanwhile, outside an occasional reference, Amanda’s personal life pretty much disappears from the series by this point.

I also had to laugh at how dated some of the technology is.  These episodes originally aired in 1998 and 1999.  They aren’t heavy on the computers or cell phones, but when they do show up, it is a reminder how much things have changed in the last twenty years.  There’s also an episode that shows us gas prices at a gas station, and it was amazing how cheap it was.  We’re talking prices we haven’t seen in California probably since the episodes first aired.  Of course, as long as you remember when these shows first aired, you’ll be fine.

There is more good than bad in season six of Diagnosis: Murder.  Fans of the show will definitely be glad they rewatched it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Book Review: The Pajama Frame by Diane Vallere (Madison Night #5)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, entertaining plot
Cons: One aspect of the plot not really resolved
The Bottom Line:
Pajamas, killer
Fast paced and fun mystery
Mid-century edge

Odd Inheritance Leads to Danger

You really have to enjoy some of the oddities of fiction.  Strange things happen to the characters and they take it in stride.  Take, for example, the set up for The Pajama Frame, the fifth Madison Night mystery from Diane Vallere.  Mind you, I’m not complaining since the premise gives us a fun mystery.

If you aren’t familiar with this series, Madison Night in an interior decorator living in Dallas, Texas.  She’s had a lifelong love of all things related to Doris Day, an obsession brought on by her resemblance to the actress, so she specialized in mid-century modern designs for her clients. 

Madison Night is surprised when she finds out what all Alice Sweet has left her in her will.  Alice had promised to leave her the contents of her house, which is filled with items Madison can use in her business.  What she didn’t expect was for Alice to also leave her the factory that Sweet Dreams Pajama Company used to be in.

Alice’s late husband had owned the company until a tragic death inside the factory, at which point he suddenly closed it.  Rumors have circulated in the time since the factory closed about what really happened, and Madison soon finds herself caught between various groups who want to get into the factory and solve the mystery once and for all.  And that’s before Madison stumbles upon a very modern dead body.  Will she figure out what is happening?

Now I will admit that the characters do react to Madison’s surprise inheritance of a pajama factory.  However, they take it in stride much more quickly than I would.  Then again, the book would be rather boring if they reacted to this surprise the way I would in real life, right?  And, as I said, the set up makes for a fun mystery, so I’m not really complaining at all.

As with many ongoing series, you could jump in here if you wanted to.  The focus is on the current mystery surrounding the Sweet Dreams factory.  However, the book is much richer if you read the series in order.  That’s because Madison is constantly growing as a character.  I love seeing that growth and we saw more of it here.  I also enjoy seeing how the relationships with the other regular characters change.  Once again, this book left me wondering exactly where Madison’s life is going to go next.  Good thing I already have the next book.

It's not just the series regulars who are rich.  The new characters we meet here are just as strong and do their job of making us wonder what exactly is happening perfectly.

And the plot is almost masterful.  I was quickly caught up in the action, and there is plenty here to keep the reader hooked.  The further we go into the story, the faster the surprises come.  However, I’m not completely sure that all the pieces were answered at the end of the book.  Yes, we know who the villain is, and most of the story makes perfect sense.  I just feel like one plot point is never really resolved, and it’s one I’d been intrigued by early on.

Additionally, there are a couple of small inconsistencies in the story that a good edit should have cleared up.

Those familiar with Doris Day’s movies will immediately connect this title with her movie musical The Pajama Game.  As usual, I watched the movie before reading the book.  Obviously, the plots of the two are very different, but there are some clever nods to the musical hidden in this book.  Don’t worry, if you haven’t seen the movie, you won’t miss anything by reading this book.  But if you have, hunting for Easter eggs is fun.  I’m sure I missed several myself.

While this isn’t a laugh out loud on every page kind of book, there are plenty of moments where I did laugh.

Overall, The Pajama Frame is another winner from Diane Vallere.  If you are still catching up on this fun series, you’ll enjoy this one.

Here are the rest of the Madison Night Mysteries.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

TV Show Review: Legends of Tomorrow - Season 7

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great characters in a zany, fun story
Cons: Ends with a cliffhanger; show now cancelled
The Bottom Line:
Wacky antics here
Show back to what it does best
Sadly, now cancelled

“We Really Should Be Better at This by Now.”

I’ll admit that I struggled a bit with the last couple of seasons of Legends of Tomorrow.  It took some bizarre and dark turns that I wasn’t always comfortable with.  I’m pleased to say that I found season 7 refreshingly fun again.

We pick up moments after the season six cliffhanger.  That means our team of heroes just watched as their ship, the Waverider, was blown up by…the Waverider…stranding them in 1925 Texas.  Of course, it isn’t long before Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) comes up with a plan.  It turns out that the inventor of time travel is just about to perfect his invention…in 1925.  They just have to get to New York City in time to make sure it happens and then use it to return home.

So Sara sets out with her new wife, Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan), Nate (Nick Zano), Gary (Adam Tsekham), Zari (Tala Ashe), and Behrad (Shayan Sobhian).  However, they quickly find a problem when Sara and Ava are mistaken for the bank robbers who have been dubbed the Bullet Blondes, and they find J. Edgar Hoover (guest star Giacomo Baessato) on their trail.

Meanwhile, Astra (Olivia Swann) and Spooner (Lisseth Chavez) have been left behind to keep others from finding the remains of the Waverider.  Astra’s attempt to resurrect it via a magic spell succeeds in destroying the ship further, but it has one interesting side effect – their computer, Gideon, suddenly appears as a real woman (Amy Louise Pemberton, who has also voiced the computer all series).  What complications will that give our team?  And what will happen when they meet up with time travel inventor Gwyn Davies (a recast Matt Ryan).

I commented to a friend who also watches the show that it felt like the writers of the show had been kidnapped by aliens, and they were finally rescued in time to write this season.  This had the fun and hijinks that I associated with the show when it was at its best.  Is it wacky?  Absolutely.  If you are looking for something realistic, you won’t find it here.  This show is over the top in the best possible ways.  The plot holds together unless you start analyzing it too hard, then you’ll find some of the holes.  But if you sit back and enjoy the ride – what a wonderful ride!

I also told this friend that this show was my favorite sitcom.  And yes, the laughs were on purpose.  The situations the characters found themselves in were created and played for laughs.  And the show was filled with one liners as well.  I haven’t laughed at a show as hard as I did here since The Big Bang Theory went off the air.  No, not every episode was a laugh riot, but the laughs were plentiful overall this season.

Now this isn’t to say that we didn’t get more serious character moments.  That was another way the show felt like a return to the earlier, better seasons.  We actually got character growth throughout the season.  In most episodes, each character got a small moment to shine, with one or two doing the heaviest lifting.  It felt like an ensemble, and I felt like I got to know the characters who have been introduced in the last couple of seasons better here than I had when they first showed up.  As a result, I rooted for them more than I had the last two seasons.

Given the premise of this season, it should be no surprise that we spend a lot more time in one year than we have in past seasons, but rest assured that we do find ourselves in other times later in the season.  The hijinks continued no matter what year we were in.

Yes, the show does offer some political opinion a few times throughout the season.  However, I did feel like it was organic to the story that was being told.  I also appreciated that it was only a handful of moments over the course of the season, sometimes just a line or two.  I would have preferred that it was left out, but it didn’t feel like a lecture.

The show hit its 100th episode this season, and they had a great episode that brought back some familiar faces from earlier seasons.

With all this praise, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I thought the cast was wonderful.  The writers gave them so much to do, and they did it perfectly.  Likewise, the special effects and costumes were wonderful.

Of all the shows that The CW axed this year, this is the one that hurt the most because I was enjoying it against so much.  There’s also the fact that the show ended with yet another cliffhanger (after almost offering up the perfect series finale).  I really need to know what happens to these characters next.  I do feel like, after seven years, we should have gotten a much better ending.  However, I’m willing to overlook that because I had so much fun overall.

The show has always had shorter seasons, so the thirteen episodes we got here feels natural for this fan.  The main storylines for this season were wrapped up nicely here.

If the show had ended after season six, I wouldn’t have minded.  However, after the outstanding season 7, I’m really going to miss Legends of Tomorrow.  If you want something completely different and out there, but with characters you’ll love, this show is for you.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Book Review: Movieland by Lee Goldberg (Eve Ronin #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Eve in another great mystery
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Sniper in state park
Eve finds twists in mystery
Strong entry for her

A Sniper in the State Park

I’ve been reading Lee Goldberg’s books for well over a decade now, transitioning from TV tie-ins to the books he’s written since.  I’ve followed him to his Eve Ronin police procedurals, and I’ve been enjoying them.  Movieland may just be the best yet.

Eve’s latest case starts in Malibu Creek State Park.  A former movie studio backlot, it’s been known for hiking and camping for years.  But someone shot at two female campers, killing one and wounding the other.  Eve’s partner, Duncan Pavone, immediately connects the shooting to some cases he was investigating before Eve joined the department, but the higher ups are refusing to acknowledge that this is anything but an isolated incident.  Can Eve find the truth no matter where it lays?

This is the fourth book in the series.  The case I’ve just teased above stands alone, and it is wonderful.  I wasn’t sure where the book was going to go for quite a while, and I definitely mean that as a compliment.  As the book progresses, things get even more complicated.  I was happy with how the book wrapped everything up.

If you are new to the series, you could jump in here.  However, there are several sub-plots that carry over from the previous book in the series.  You get the background you need to follow what happens here, but I think if you read the books in order, you’ll find the results are richer.

Likewise, you’ll also appreciate the character growth more.  In the middle of all the twists and turns, we get some nice moments for Eve and others in the cast of characters.  I enjoy seeing Eve mature as the series goes along.  The suspects are strong and make us care about the outcome.

Since this is a police procedural, there is a little bit of language and a couple of scenes that are slightly more graphic than the cozies I often read.  However, there aren’t that many, and they are less than in some others I’ve been reading recently.  Even the adolescent humor of some of the other books in the series is kept to a minimum.  There is plenty of humor of other types in the book still, and I laughed several times as I was reading.

I loved the setting as well.  It’s always fun to read a book set in Southern California.  I haven’t spent much time in Malibu Creek State Park, but I definitely want to go check it out soon.

If you are looking for a fun, twisty mystery, Movieland is for you.  Eve is at the top of her game here, and fans will be very happy with it.

Check out the rest of the Eve Ronin series.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Disney Pin Review: Space Mountain - Mickey Mouse the Main Attraction #1 - 2022 Release

Stars: 2 out of 5
Pros: The small space parts are cool
Cons: Too white overall
The Bottom Line:
Mickey starts series
There are some good elements
Too white overall

Mickey’s Turn in the Spotlight Starts with a Spacey Entry

Back in 2020, Disney released a series of limited edition items featuring Minnie Mouse celebrating various Disney attractions.  2022 is seeing Mickey’s turn in the spotlight in the Mickey Mouse, the Main Attraction series.  He’ll be visiting the same attractions that Minnie did and dressing accordingly, which means his first stop is Space Mountain.

Once again, I’ll be looking at the pins for the series.  Honestly, I was wondering what exactly they’d do since the three pin sets we got with the Minnie series were so great.  The biggest change is that we are getting one giant pin featuring Mickey instead of a three pin set.  I can see this since I’m not sure what else we’d do for another three pin set.

The pin for this month is very white, which makes sense given the outside of Space Mountain.  Mickey is standing with his right foot out, and he’s smiling.  I’ll admit that at first glance, I was reminded of a mummy more than I was Space Mountain since Mickey is wearing white and there are lots of lines – you know like the wrappings that a mummy would wear.  However, when you look closely, you can see the design of the mountain on his body.

Mickey is wearing a futuristic looking visor.  In the eye slot of that, we can see a bit of blue space.  His ears and arm and more purple and black space with some stars showing in them.  They did this on the Minnie pin set as well.  I like the look, but it just isn’t enough.

Honestly, I’m still on the fence about collecting this series (says the guy who has the first three already).  I’d be more interested if they were doing different attractions than they did two years ago.  Also, Mickey is in the same pose in all the pins that have been released so far.  I will probably still get them all, but I’m not racing to get them.

And this was an especially bad one to start with.  While I like the parts that show space, we needed more of that.  Maybe on his feet or something?  As it is, the pin is just too white.

This isn’t the best start for the Mickey Mouse the Main Attraction series.  Only completists will want to get Space Mountain.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

July 16th's Weekly TV Thoughts

American Ninja Warrior – They really played up the emotional stories with this episode.  Not that I don’t enjoy some of those triumphs, but they seemed more heart tugging than usual.  Some good runs over the course of the night, and a few I felt sorry for when they splashed down early, as always.  I think Sean Bryant was the one I was rooting for the most, so I was glad to see he made it through.

Holey Moley – I had been rooting for the other person in the finale the entire episode, but I can’t complain about Kathy’s win.  I mean, two holes in one earlier in the episode?  Yes, with their holes that’s luck, but still, she definitely deserved it.  Can we get Kermit as a regular commentator?  His stuff was great.  The rest of the stuff with the Muppets, including the lead up to the big finale wasn’t really worth the screen time.  And I feel like the final hole could have been better.  All told, a decent season, however.

Ms. Marvel – I enjoyed the action scenes, but overall, this series just didn’t hold together for me.  For one thing, her parents seemed to switch on a dime.  I liked where they ended up, but I didn’t like how quickly they got there.  Definitely in the bottom half of the Marvel series for me.

The Challenge: USA – They scared me there for a minute.  I was worried that two of the people I know from Amazing Race would wind up going home.  I’m wondering why James got hurt, but I was happy to see them pull through and stick around.  Yes, I’m getting more into the show, although I’m looking forward to being at the point where I’m not trying to remember who everyone is.

Press Your Luck – Wow!  There was what, one Whammy all hour?  And the scores for all the contestants were so high.  I loved how the other contestants were cheering the winner on.  I get why she walked away when she did.  I would have as well.  Too much money and too much good stuff to risk it.

Friday, July 15, 2022

July 15th's Friday Post

Welcome to Friday!  Time for another Friday post, where I will be linking up to:

Book Beginnings
First Line Friday
Friday 56
Book Blogger Hop

This week, I'll be pulling quotes for the first three from The Pajama Frame by Diane Vallere.

This is the fifth in her Madison Night series, which features an interior designed with a love of Doris Day movies and mid-century modern decor.  

The book jumps right in to the story with this opening line:

"Alice Sweet left me a pajama factory?" I asked in disbelief.

I've got to give Madison credit.  She accepts this much more quickly than I would.

Page 56 is the ending of a chapter, and it gives us this great quote:

"Hello," I said to the woman.  "I'm Madison Night, owner of Mad for Mod."  I held out my hand.
"I know exactly who you are," she said.  She raised her finger and jabbed at the air in front of me.  "I don't want to hear about you sticking your nose where it doesn't belong.  Stay away from my investigation or you'll be sorry."  She whirled around and stormed out of the door.

I finished the book earlier in the week and plan to review it next Wednesday.  I hope you'll come back for the review when it goes live, but here's a spoiler - I enjoyed it!

Let's close things off with this week's Book Blogger Hop:

Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, do you prefer listening instead of reading?

I do listen to some audiobooks.  In fact, my latest audiobook review will go up next Friday.  I don't know that I have a preference.  Starting to listen has helped me get to some books I would never have found the time to read.  But I only listen to one or so each month since there are other things I am trying to listen to, including music.  I still read much more than I listen.  I enjoy them most when I am making a long drive.  Even when I am not doing any long drives, I try to at least have a few hours in the car when I can listen to an audio book before I get one from the library.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Book Review: Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe (Claudia Rose #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong plot, fun characters, LA setting
Cons: Mostly one plot element I didn’t like, a few other minor things
The Bottom Line:
A suicide note?
Claudia tries to find out
Promising debut

Was That a Suicide Note?

I’m a little embarrassed to admit just how long I have had a copy of Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe.  Let’s just say the book has gone through several publishers and iterations since I first bought a copy.  I’ve even had a friend who shares my reading tastes recommend it to me.  A couple of months back, I found out that the book had been edited before the most recent version was released, so I bought a copy of that and finally sat down and read it.

This is the first is the Claudia Rose series.  Claudia is a Los Angeles based forensic handwriting expert.  Naturally, this is me, so Claudia finds her skills getting her involved in crimes of various kinds.

Back in college, Claudia became friends with Lindsey Alexander.  While the two had a falling out several years ago, Claudia is still upset to learn that Lindsey has died.  Thanks to the note she left behind, the police have ruled it a suicide, but Ivan, Lindsey’s business partner, thinks that something happened to Lindsey.  He hires Claudia to look at the note and determine if Lindsey really wrote it or not.  Claudia does agree that it looks suspicious, but as she digs to find a hand writing sample she can use to make a definitive decision, she starts to uncover secrets that Lindsey and those around her were hiding.  Break ins and attacks lead her to think something else is going on.  Can she figure it out?

I was aware sitting down that, despite featuring an amateur sleuth, this was more of a soft-boiled book than the cozies I normally read.  As a result, there is a smattering of foul language and more violence and sex than I typically read.  (Although with the number of times I’ve said that recently, maybe that isn’t the case anymore.)  I do wish some of it had been toned down, but I still enjoyed the book.

The story starts quickly, and there is a lot happening to keep us engaged.  I did have some issues with the plot that gets into spoiler territories, but it could just be me.  I won’t let them keep me from reading another book in the series.  I did appreciate some late twists that kept me guessing.  I didn’t have everything pegged like I thought I did.

I really liked the characters.  Claudia has a couple of good friends we get to know in this book, and I hope we see more of them in the future.  I also enjoyed her relationship with her potential new love interest.  We spend more time talking about the suspects than talking to the suspects, but they seem real enough to make us care about the outcome.

The book was originally published in 2007.  The copy I read was published in 2021.  As a result, it contains a reference to COVID being in the recent past, which is weird given some other things that obviously date the book to 2007.  Yes, things really have changed that much.  Also, in the hard copy I read, there are more than a handful of missing words, usually the article “a.”  It was enough to be noticeable, even to someone who usually misses that type of things like me, but not enough to be anything more than annoying.

And, I loved the LA setting.  While the main characters are all fictional, there is some name dropping that was fun, and I enjoyed it when the action took us to some place that I recognized.

I’m glad I finally read Poison Pen.  I definitely plan to read the sequel and find out what Claudia gets up to next.  I just need to figure out how to keep it from taking me so long to do so.