Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Book Review: Secrets and Scents by Lyn Perry (Book and Candle Shop Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun characters and a good story
Cons: Narrative technique I don’t like near the beginning
The Bottom Line:
Bad discovery
Let’s us meet fun characters
In this good debut

Unexpected Surprise in the Storeroom

As a general rule, I try to avoid paranormal themed books.  But I do make some notable exceptions, especially for authors I’ve met.  So that made me willing to give Secrets and Scents by Lyn Perry a chance.  I’m glad I did because it was fun.

Best friends Kelli and Jo was thrilled that the opening day for their new book and candle shop, Reading Makes Scents, is finally here.  They’ve been working hard the last few months to get their shop and their inventory ready.

However, they hit a snag when Kelli goes to grab more chairs from their storage area and finds an unconscious stranger there.  Who is he?  How did he get there?  And does this tie in to the strange prophecies from the envelopes the friends found when they were remodeling?

While this is the start of a new series and my introduction to the fictional town of Sugar Pine Station in California, this book is a spin off from some other books that Lyn has written.  While there are a couple of references to those previous adventures in town, Kelli and Jo and their immediate friends are all introduced here, and I felt right at home.

I will say, the book starts out with one of my least favorite narrative techniques.  We start with Kelli making her horrible discovery, and then we flash back three months to see how we got here.  I know, I know, lots of people do it, including some authors I love otherwise, but it always feels like a cheat to me, especially if I don’t know it is coming.

But there is a good story here.  It’s not a traditional mystery, which is refreshing.  There was plenty to keep me reading, and the further I got into the story, the more I was pulled in.

The supernatural elements I mentioned earlier were light.  They do provide an interesting twist to the story, however, and they were fun.

I loved the characters.  Kelli and Jo are fantastic, as are their potential love interests.  We actually get the story from multiple people’s point of view, and we need all of them to fully understand what happens.  Don’t worry, the scene changes are always obvious.

This book is on the shorter side, so it was a fast read.  Not a complaint, but keep that in mind when you pick it up.

There’s even a recipe at the end of the book for apple turnovers.

I’m definitely glad I picked up Secrets and Scents.  If you are looking for something light and fun, you will be, too.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Movie Review: Black Panther - Wakanda Forever

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Bravely tackles a tough job with action and advancing story
Cons: Too unfocused and long for me
The Bottom Line:
Black Panther tribute
With an advancing story
Tries to do too much

Wandering Movie Had Its Moments

I’m beginning to wonder if it is time for me to give up on the Marvel franchise.  I’m just not finding most of the movies as entertaining as I once did.  I’m definitely not willing to pay to see them in the theater, which is why I am just now watching Wakanda Forever, the follow up to Black Panther.

The movie opens with the off-screen death of King T’Challa, aka Black Panther.  The main story picks up a year later as the residents are trying to move on.  His mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) has retaken her place on the throne.  His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright) is still blaming herself for not finding a cure in time to save his life.

But the world outside of Wakanda is about to come knocking.  Someone has discovered a deposit of vibranium, the substance that gives Wakanda it’s unique place in the world, in the Atlantic Ocean.  When forces show up to stop the expedition from learning more, everyone assumes it is the Wakandans.

However, it is another race that knows about vibranium, led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta).  It isn’t long before he shows up in Wakanda making demands.  Can Ramonda and Shuri figure out how to fight him?

Part of my issue with the movie is the two-hour forty-five-minute length.  It feels bloated.  Part of that isn’t the movie’s fault, however.  Due to the unfortunate passing of Chadwick Boseman, this movie had to address the death of his character, T’Challa, who was supposed to be the main character here.  The re-writes needed to cover all of that actually do a good job of handling that and still moving the story forward.

However, it is too much for one movie.  I get that Namor is being set up to be a major part of the next chapter of Marvel movies, but I feel like this movie did too much as a result.  Maybe a lesser villain here would have been better and Namor could have been introduced another way?

Also, I get that the characters were mourning.  The problem was, I wasn’t.  I feel like those parts of the movie, while they might have been cathartic for the cast and crew, also slowed things down.

Which is too bad since there was a good story in here.  Two actually.  The action scenes are impressive and kept my attention.  The ending sets up further stories with these characters without feeling like cliffhangers.  I’m intrigued to know what comes next.

I watched this movie on a 4K TV via Disney+.  I found the special effects to be good.  Although I did have to laugh at some of Namor’s subjects.  They look like extra who got lost from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  I realize my lack of knowledge from the comics is probably showing here, but that was all I could think of when they were on screen.

And maybe that’s part of the problem.  I don’t know the comics or any of the cool connections that the movies are making as they set up the next big stories.  Maybe if I did, I would still be enjoying them more.

None of my complaints are the fault of the actors.  They are all good at bringing their characters to life.  While I could have cared for them a bit more, I blame that on a script that tried to do too much.

It’s not that Black Panther – Wakanda Forever is bad.  It’s just too unfocused and too long for my tastes.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Book Review: City of the Dead by James Ponti (City Spies #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong action, characters, humor
Cons: One issue didn’t strike me as realistic.  (I know, I know)
The Bottom Line:
A museum heist
Starts next twisty adventure
Will please all readers

Breaking into a Museum is Only the Beginning

I have begun to really look forward to my yearly visit with the City Spies.  This series is a delightfully fun spy series for middle graders and anyone else smart enough to pick it up.  City of the Dead is their fourth adventure, and it’s another page turner.

If you’ve missed the series, it features five young teens who are part of an experimental program in MI6.  They are living in Scotland and being trained to be super spies.  And, when duty calls, they are putting their training into action in places where adults might stand out but kids would be overlooked.  And the team name City Spies?  Each of them has picked a city of the world to use as their code name.

As this book opens, the team has been tasked with breaking into the British Museum and retrieving a couple of items from their exhibit on Egypt.  These are sensitive items that the government doesn’t want to officially ask for back and doesn’t want to admit they even have.  But the mission is not all it appears to be.  What will happen when the team learns the truth?

Yes, I’m being very vague with my teaser.  That’s because it really is best to watch this book unfold as unspoiled as you possibly can.  There are some delightful twists and surprises.  I was engaged the entire way as I watched the team try to figure out what was really going on so they could stop it.  There were several times I was turning pages as quickly as I could to find out exactly what was going to happen next.

I will say there was one thing that struck me as off in this book, and that was how quickly an issue of trust was resolved.  I know, I know, I’m reading a book about young spies, but I’m letting this trip me up.  Trust me, it is minor.

I keep using team in my review, and there is a reason for that.  One thing I have loved about this series from the beginning is just how much of a team these characters are.  They all have their strengths, and it takes all of them to complete their mission.  Yes, some of them shine more than others in this book, but they all contribute something.  And they are all distinct characters who continue to grow.

Along with the action and characters, we get some humor.  The characters all clearly love each other, and that comes through in their good-natured teasing.  Additionally, we get some laughs at the situations the characters find themselves in.

This book ends with a cliffhanger, and that’s made me even more impatient for the next in the series to come out.

If you are looking for something for your middle grader to read, I can’t recommend this series highly enough.  I bet you’ll enjoy it, too.  City of the Dead will please fans of the series and help hook new readers on the fun.

Book stops with the rest of the City Spies series.

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

February 26th's Sunday/Monday Post

Hi everyone!  Hope you are having a fantastic weekend.  Time for a Sunday/Monday post, where I will be linking up to:

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

Buckle in, it's been quite a week.

When last we left you in the saga of my life, I still hadn't taken my Christmas decorations completely down.  You'll be relieved to know that I did indeed get everything put away Saturday night.  And just as I finished that, I got a text from a good friend who was going to be in town for his job.

We wound up hanging out Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday nights.  It was great to see him.  We were at my place working through Pushing Daisies.  We just started watching that show together before he moved.  And if you haven't watched that show, find a way to fix that.  It's only 22 episodes spread over two seasons, and it is delightful.  Here's my review of season 1 to whet your appetite.

Then, Wednesday, I had dinner with my uncle and aunt who were in town.  We went to a steak restaurant right by my condo, but some place I rarely go to.  The company was great and the food was, too.

As I said last week, I had Monday off for President's day.  I was productive in the morning - I got my taxes done for the year.  It's always a relief when I get those finished.

And the weather last weekend was wonderful.  I got out last Sunday and played some disc golf with some friends in the afternoon.  Monday afternoon, I went for a hike near my condo.  I wasn't the only one - there were lots of other people around the entire time I was hiking.

But the weather has really changed.  It got cold just a couple of days later, and the rain came.  We had 4.5 inches of rain on Friday.  And it's been snowing nearby as well.  The only snow I actually saw was a little falling Saturday afternoon, but nothing that was sticking.  It's back to rain now.  It's been 10 years since we saw snow in my part of Southern California.  I'm not used to this kind of cold weather!  Needless to say, I didn't go paddle boarding today.  Way too cold to be enjoyable.

To make up for last week's productivity, I have been pretty lazy today, lounging around the condo.

Told you I had a lot to cover.  But I think that about does it.

This Past Week on the Blog:

This Coming Week on the Blog:

Sunday - Book Review: City of the Dead by James Ponti
Monday - Movie Review: Black Panther - Wakanda Forever
Tuesday - Book Review: Secrets and Scents by Lyn Perry
Wednesday - February's Monthly Reading Summary
Thursday - Book Review: Till Death Do Us Port by Kate Lansing
Friday - Friday Post
Saturday - Weekly TV Thoughts

Book Haul:

I've got four books to tell you about.  Okay, fine, seven.  And one of them has been in my possession for less than an hour, too.

Why the confusion with the math at the beginning?  Because, I was trying to put a positive spin on my book haul for the week.  But in my defense, Amazon counts this as one book, not four.  What am I talking about?  The boxed set of first four books in Cathy Ace's WISE Enquiries Agency series were free on Kindle earlier this week.  As of right now, it looks like they are still free.  It's hard to pass up free, especially on four books.

I ordered a couple of books from Amazon, and they showed up this week as well.  The first is The Last Orphan, the latest in Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X series.  I love these thrillers, and I can't wait to be able to dive in.  Unfortunately, I think it will be a while before I can get to it.  I pretty much have my March reading set already.

I was a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, so I'd been eyeing The Definitive, Inside Story written by Jessica Radloff.  It's been on sale at Amazon, so I snagged it as well to get to free shipping since I don't have Prime. I was not expecting it to be a 500 page book, however.  I want to read it, but I'm going to have to allow some extra time.

And the book that just arrived?  My pre-order from Barnes and Noble of The Shimmer, the first in the new Kingdom Keeper Inheritance series from Ridley Pearson.   Yes, I've found the Kingdom Keeper series to be hit or miss in the past, but I have to read them.  I love the premise of kids fighting Disney villains in Disney theme parks.  Yes, I'm a DisNerd, what can I say?

What I'm Currently Reading:

Just before I started typing this, I finished up Vinyl Resting Place by Olivia Blacke.  This is the first in a Record Shop Mysteries series, and it was a lot of fun.  I won't be reviewing it until March 9th, so I have a little time to work on my review.

That means, I'll be starting on The Shimmer.  I was hoping that the book would arrive so I could slip it into my reading schedule next.  It's always a little tricky to work these middle grade books into my schedule since I read them in addition to my normal books, and I've got the time right now.

And I'm still working on my audiobook, The Christie Caper by Carolyn Hart.  I'm at the 50% point in the audiobook.  I have a feeling I won't finish it until next weekend at the pace I'm going.

That about does it.  Have a great week!

Saturday, February 25, 2023

February 25th's Weekly TV Thoughts

The Company You Keep – I’d been looking forward to this show.  There is still promise here, but it was a pilot.  I’m not sure I buy the relationship at the center of the show yet.  But I will give it a few episodes to see where it goes.  The potential is still there, although I don’t quite think the execution is what I was hoping for.

Night Court – The show was back to being fun.  Maybe it was the lecture that made the previous episode not all that fun.  Not a laugh a minute episode, and you knew where the stories were going to go, but it was still fun getting there.  The case on the train was pretty funny.

Will Trent – I’m really tired of so many anti-right wing stories on the show.  Couldn’t they do one with left wing extremists for a change?  I think I will stick with the show through the end of the season since I’m probably pretty close, but I don’t expect to be back next season if there is one.

The Flash – This season just kicked it up a notch.  I’m curious where they are going with Mark since he has crossed over to the other side.  I suspect he’ll be back, might even die a heroic death.  I thought Iris might already be pregnant, but I guess not.  Or at least they aren’t going to tell us that yet.  Working with the rogues on our side could add some fun as well.  At least I hope so.

Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test – That drowning proof challenge seemed like the easiest test they’ve done so far.  Or maybe it’s because I’ve done stuff like that in the past for fun.  Okay, not tied up, but the bobbing up and down is pretty fun.  Being on the run at night and getting captured?  Not so much.

Friday, February 24, 2023

February 24th's Friday Post

We've made it to Friday!  It may not be the start of a three day weekend Friday, but it is payday Friday for me, which is almost as good.  And we're going to celebrate with a Friday Post, where I will link up to:

Book Beginnings
First Line Friday
Friday 56
Book Blogger Hop

For the first three, I will be taking my teasers from Till Death Do Us Port by Kate Lansing.

This is the fourth book in her Colorado Wine Mysteries, and I loved it.

One thing I love about the series is how she uses grapes and wine making to comment on the action of the book.  We get a sample of that in the opening sentence.

There are as many types of goodbyes as there are varietals of grapes.

Naturally, the rest of the paragraph goes on to explain that a bit more.

Another thing I love about the series is the relationship that Parker has with her family, and there's a great example of this at 56% into the book.  In this case, she's just arrived at her brother's place, where he greets here with:

“You’re obnoxiously early.”
“I’m just shy of punctual. You’re running late.”

Yes, in the context of the book and that particular scene, you can read that with an affectionate teasing tone.

I completely enjoyed this book.  It will be out on March 7th, but my review will be up next Thursday, so I hope you'll come back and read my full thoughts then.

Meanwhile, let's hop on over to this week's Book Blogger Hop.  This week's question is:

What is the significance of your blog header?

When I decided to create a blog header, I was trying to do something that captures what all I review here, books, movies, TV shows, and Christmas ornaments being the main things.  I need to get more music reviews done, but I had intentionally left them out of the header because they weren't really showing up in the picture.  I picked some current and all time favorites to include.  I think about updating it every so often, but many of those would still be in the picture, so I just leave it alone.

That's it for the week.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Book Review: Charred by G. P. Gottlieb (Whipped and Sipped Café Mysteries #3)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Good characters, interesting storyline
Cons: Historical issues, one storyline has serious issues
The Bottom Line:
Pandemic setting
Storylines not juggled well
But good characters

Will Alene Get Charred During the Pandemic’s Early Days?

I’m really not ready for novels set during the pandemic, and I’m glad most authors seem to realize that and are either mentioning it in passing or pretending their characters live in an alternative universe where it never existed.  However, author G. P. Gottlieb decided to tackle it by setting Charred, the third in her Whipped and Sipped Mysteries, in May of 2020.

If you haven’t tried this series yet, it focuses on Alene Baron, the owner of the Whipped and Sipped Café in a neighborhood in Chicago.  In addition to her employees, her life also revolves around her three kids and her father, who all live with her.

As I said, this book is set in May 2020.  Alene and her staff are still going into the café every day to serve their customers via takeout and delivery.  She has had to cut her staff and cut everyone’s hours in order the keep them opened even that much.  There is a homeless man who sits outside their front door, causing issues with the few customers who show up for takeout when he is there.

However, the real drama in her life is her long-lost uncle who has reappeared after vanishing twenty-two years ago.  He wants to meet with Alene’s father, his brother, but Alene’s father isn’t so sure he should give him the chance to hurt all of them again.  What will he decide?

Oh yeah, and there’s also a storyline about a couple of bodies that have appeared in nearby burned-out buildings.  The buildings and the bodies all seem to tie back to Alene’s best friend and pastry chef, Ruthie, and Ruthie’s husband.

With a title like Charred, you’d think that last part would be the main focus of the story, but it isn’t.  Instead, it is a sub-plot at best.  Sometimes, it seems like even less than a sub-plot.  The main focus really is on what Alene’s father is going to do about his brother showing back up.  Which was okay with me since I was invested in the story.

Since this is book three in the series, I was definitely reading for the characters.  They are a diverse bunch, and I like them.  Some of them are a little annoying, but they are supposed to be.  And everyone has their moments when they are lovable, which I appreciate.

Even so, I really did feel like the emphasis in the book was backwards.  While I was on board for the main story, with a title like Charred, the burned-out buildings should have had more page time.  And the climax of that particular storyline was extremely weak.

I also have to point out the historical inaccuracy of the book.  Yes, even something this recent missed something major.  As I said, the book is set in May of 2020.  It opens a few days before Memorial Day weekend.  All through the book, there is talk about the riots that happened after George Floyd’s death.  The problem with that is, he didn’t die until Memorial Day, which happens part way through the story.  And yes, I did have to stop and look it up because it was bothering me.

Other than that, it does a good job of capturing the feel of that time.  I appreciated the fact that it never got too dogmatic on anything.  Yes, some characters had opinions, but other characters represented the other side well, and Alene was definitely caught in the middle, trying to do the best thing for her employees while also staying safe.  It felt very relatable in that way.  I’m still not sure I needed to read a book set during the pandemic, but it did a good job of capturing the feel for those who are ready to read about it.

The Whipped and Sipped Café features items that are vegan and often gluten free.  That’s definitely a twist on the usual culinary cozy.  And that is reflected in the nine recipes we get at the end of the book.

My issues with the plot keep me from fully recommending Charred.  If you’ve enjoyed the previous entries in the series, you’ll want to find out what happens next to the characters.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Movie Review: Thor - Love and Thunder

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Good story, action, fun
Cons: A couple things from the ending didn’t work for me
The Bottom Line:
Stopping god killer
Mostly light with good action
End does not quite work

Better Than I’d Heard

I’ve heard almost nothing but bad things about Thor: Love and Thunder, the fourth solo outing for this particular Marvel character.  I’d even heard people say it was much worse than Ragnarok, which I didn’t care for.  So I went in expecting to be really disappointed with the movie.  But I actually found myself enjoying it.

This movie picks up with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) bouncing from planet to planet with the Guardians of the Galaxy helping anyone who needs them.  However, a personal plea takes him back to Earth, leaving the rest to continue on their quest (and set up why he isn’t in their next movie).

Meanwhile, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) has been given some horrible news.  But then she starts being drawn to the Asgardian settlement on Earth.  What she finds there is shocking not only to her but to Thor when he arrives.

And, just as he arrives, the kids of Asgard are kidnapped.  They’ve been taken by Gorr (Christian Bale) who has one goal in mind – kill the gods.  Thor sets out with Jane, Korg (voiced by Taika Waititi) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to stop him.  Can they do it?  Or are they just walking into a trap?

I was actually pleasantly surprised they brought Jane Foster back since we haven’t seen her since the second Thor movie in 2013.  I always liked Jane’s relationship with Thor, and they gave it an interesting twist here.

I think one reason I liked it was that this movie didn’t wander.  It had a story to tell, and it focused on telling it.  We get enough backstory on Gorr to understand his motives, for example, but that’s all.  It certainly helps that we already know the main characters, so we don’t need more than just a few updates on them.

And the story that we are told is interesting.  The action scenes aren’t over the top but help tell the story.  Don’t worry, there are some good ones, but they don’t take over the movie at any point.

Most of all, this movie has a sense of fun.  There’s plenty of humor, and I laughed multiple times over the course of the film.

The special effects are mostly good, although some of them get a little cartoony.  I can’t quite tell if they were supposed to or not, so it must not be too bad.  The actors all do a great job.

So what is my hesitation?  The ending didn’t quite work for me.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into specifics, but I felt like they could have given us a better ending.  The entire thing didn’t have to be changed, just a couple of specific parts.

I guess despite all my griping about Marvel movies, they can still entertain me.  If you haven’t seen Thor: Love and Thunder yet, give it a shot.  You might find that you enjoy it, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Book Review: Life on the Mississippi by Rinker Buck

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: The travelogue parts are fun
Cons: Didn’t need so much personal history; smug tone; needless politics
The Bottom Line:
Boating down river
Some interesting stories
Drowned with politics

Book Wanders Like a River – Not Always for the Best

When I first heard about Life on the Mississippi, I knew I wanted to read it.  The story of a man who rafted down the Mississippi?  That’s the kind of thing I dream of, so I figured I’d really enjoy the book.  Sadly, it’s wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be.

I was not familiar with author Rinker Buck’s other books, but this isn’t the first time his love of history has compelled him to experience something from the United States’ past.  In this case, he decides to build a flatboat and take it on a journey down the Mississippi all the way to New Orleans.  This is a trip several years in the making as he studies up on what it will take to build the boat and safely navigate the river.  Along the way, he also studies up on this part of American history.  When he sets out with a revolving crew, he spends four months on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers traveling a thousand miles.

Along with the story of his journey, we get history.  Lots of history.  Some of it I definitely found interesting, like when he talks about how much commerce was tied to the river and how early it was a key part of America’s economic life as a country.  I’ll admit, if I ever studied this in school, I’d forgotten about it.  However, these parts tend to go on and go into greater detail than I really wanted it to.  I was here for the adventure more than the history.

While Rinker was preparing for this adventure, he lost his mother.  We get passages about her and what a remarkable woman she was.  I’m sure they were cathartic for him to write, but I was left wondering exactly what they had to do with the story I picked up the book to read.

Then there’s the politics.  Yes, this book manages to work in politics.  A bit of it comes in naturally, like the discussion of the part the Mississippi played in the horrors of slavery.  However, it seemed like a stretch to talk about the removal of the Native Americans under President Jackson in relation to the Mississippi.

Much more than that, I’m talking about his subtle and not so subtle digs at people he met along the way.  He has several people who help him crew his boat, one of whom is *gasp* a conservative.  Several times, he marvels that the two of them became good friends despite the fact that the other guy was a conservative.  Honestly, that’s the kind of attitude that saddens me.  Can we no longer consider getting to know someone and becoming friends with them without politics being involved?  Another time, he marvels about being in a group setting and not hearing politics come up.  (Well, until this one guy….)  I can think of plenty of group settings I’ve been in where politics isn’t discussed.  It makes me wonder if Rinker is the guy who brings it up at parties.

I think part of why this rankled was the overall smugness and condescension that radiated off the page at times.  You can tell that Rinker thinks he is right and doesn’t see how anyone else could think about something another way.  And again, some of these discussions have nothing to do with the book at all.

Then there’s his attitude toward some of those who helped him.  I get it that he didn’t get along with them, and one sounded like bad news.  But I feel like he could have been more discreet with this part of the story.  I hope he at least change some of their names because if he didn’t, it’s going to come back to haunt him.  I’m wondering how one of his friendships will fair after what he wrote here, too.

I know, this is sounding like I didn’t like the book.  While obviously there were things I had issues with, I enjoyed other parts.  I never would have considered what it would take to boat down a major river, so reading about all the things Rinker and his crews encountered was enlightening.  The discussions about what he saw and some of the people he met along the way were fun.  I wish we’d gotten more of that and less of some of the other stuff.  But when we were in these passages, I got caught up in the book and wanted to drop everything and do this trip myself.  Never mind that I probably would die, like he was warned numerous times.  That was definitely my favorite running joke.

And I was impressed with how well Rinker rose to the challenges he met along the way.  I learned a lot about what it takes to do something like he did on a fully commercial river.  He is right to take pride in how well he handled those challenges and setbacks.

Obviously, the title is supposed to evoke Mark Twain’s famous book of the same name.  In this case, I feel like it is more marketing gimmick than anything else since we are at least two thirds of the way through the book before he sails onto the Mississippi.  We spend much more time on the Ohio River.  But a book called Life on the Ohio doesn’t have the same ring to it.

I’m not sorry I picked up Life on the Mississippi.  There really was much I enjoyed here.  But the parts I didn’t enjoy kept it from being the good read I wanted it to be.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Disney Pin Review: Dumbo the Flying Elephant - Mickey Mouse the Main Attraction #8 - 2022 Release

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Nice nods to Dumbo in Mickey’s outfit
Cons: Tie ins could be a little stronger
The Bottom Line:
A circus Mickey
Pays tribute to Dumbo ride
Some good elements

And in This Ring, We Have Mickey!

When you stop and think about some of the classic Disney Park attractions, you realize how simple they are.  But Disney has made them magic.  A perfect example is Dumbo the Flying Elephant.  It’s essentially a carousel which lifts you off the ground.  Yet it’s one that every kid wants to ride for the sense of flying.  And Mickey makes it a visit in the Mickey Mouse the Main Attraction series.

This month’s pin features Mickey decked out in reds and blues.  He’s wearing a circus master outfit with a blue jacket and red shorts.  He’s also got a hat on his head in a pin on pin element.  There are gold accents on the hat, and the feather on his hat is gold as well.  In a nod to Dumbo, Mickey’s ears are lighter than normal – they are gray.

There are some nice Dumbo elements here.  I’m not completely sure that I would make the connection if I didn’t already know this was Dumbo, however.  The elements are subtle.  The circus master costume is what you notice first, and the reds and blues.

This isn’t to say that I don’t like the pin.  When you know what Mickey is enjoying, the elements make perfect sense.  And it’s hard to capture the attraction in one pin of one outfit.

Fans of the attraction will definitely appreciate Mickey’s nod to Dumbo the Flying Elephant.  This is a fun entry in the pin series.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

February 19th's Sunday/Monday Post

Welcome to the weekend and another Sunday/Monday post, where I will be linking up to:

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

Actually, for me, it's a long weekend.  We get President's Day off at my job.  This is the first place I've worked where that has been the case.  I thought this was one of those holidays that the government, banks, and schools observed but no one else did.  No big plans for the weekend, but I'm enjoying the time off while I can because the next couple of weeks are going to be insanely busy.  Yep, it's quarter end time at the end of February.  I feel like we just did this three months ago.

I wound up going over to watch the Super Bowl with some friends last Sunday.  A last minute invitation, but it was a lot of fun.  And I was thrilled with the outcome.  I know there was some controversy around the ending, so I have a great deal of respect for the player involved saying he did indeed commit the hold.  That takes a lot of guts.  And, considering the refs missed a couple of blatant calls against the Eagles in the first half, I was never that upset at the call at the end of the game.

But this does mean that I didn't start on undecorating from Christmas during the Super Bowl last Sunday.  But I have started!  In fact, as I type this on Saturday late afternoon, I have all the ornaments off the trees.  The last batch is sitting on one of my coffee tables to be boxed up.  Then, I just need to get lights off and get the trees themselves done.  I'm aiming to start working on that as soon as I finish up this post, so let's get to it.

This Past Week on the Blog:

This Coming Week on the Blog:

Sunday - Sunday/Monday Post (You are here!)
Monday - Disney Pin Review: Mickey Mouse the Main Attraction - Dumbo
Tuesday - Book Review: Life on the Mississippi by Rinker Buck
Wednesday - Movie Review: Thor Love and Thunder
Thursday - Book Review: Charred by G. P. Gottlieb
Friday - Friday Post featuring Till Death Do Us Port
Saturday - Weekly TV Thoughts

Book Haul:

I've got my magic number of three again this week.  But one of them is a library audio book, so that helps me not grow my to be read mountain range too much, right?

Up first is Murder on the Home Front by Jessica Ellicott.  This is the second in her Billie Harkness series set in England during World War II.  I'm very curious to see where this series is going to go, so I'm looking forward to it.  The book comes out the beginning of May, so this is an ARC.

Next up to Milford Elementary by J. A. Hoda.  I'd been eyeing this book for a while, and the Kindle edition went on sale this week, so I snagged it.  I'd just heard him the week before on The Bookish Hour, too.

Finally comes my audio book - The Christie Caper by Carolyn Hart.  I debated about starting an audio book right now, but I decided to go for it even though I'm not planning to do a lot of driving in the next couple of weeks.

What I'm Currently Reading:

I'm sure it won't surprise anyone when I start out by saying I'm reading The Christie Caper.  I started it driving too and from the lake Saturday for paddle boarding, in fact.  I'm only an hour into it, but so far, I'm enjoying it.

Reading wise, I'm actually between books.  I finished up Till Death Do Us Port by Kate Lansing this morning before heading to the lake.  It was so good!  If you like the series, don't miss it.  It officially comes out on 3/7, but I'll be reviewing it a little early.

After I get my Christmas decorations fully put away, I'll be starting on Record Store Reckoning by J. C. Kenney.  This is the first in a series, and I'm looking forward to meeting this characters.

That's it for me.  Which I guess means it is time to get to undecorating.  Have a great week.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

February 18th's Weekly TV Thoughts

Night Court – Okay, it’s beginning to feel like they are trying too hard.  I guess I was just so desperate for a new comedy to enjoy I was blind to it early on.  Or they had more time to truly polish those original few episodes.  Why is creating a truly good sitcom so hard these days?

Will Trent – That was the best episode so far.  Was it because I decided to give the show a chance through the end of the first season?  Was it because it was actually good?  Was it because it wasn’t so strange?  It still definitely had the darker elements.  I am thinking I will finish out the season since we are probably about half way through at this point.  I’ll probably drop it after that, but we will see how I am feeling after it ends.  And when the new season would start up (assuming it gets renewed).

The Flash – Part of me gets it, we still have the actress on the show.  But Caitlin is gone?  Just like that?  Sorry, but that’s not a good ending for the character.  Especially since she died off screen/between seasons.  And I used to like rooting for Mark (something about the name), but I’m not going to like where he goes this season, I can tell.  I am curious why they made him a regular this year since Frost is gone.  Clearly they have something in mind for him.

Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test – That was a hard episode for a couple of reasons, and I fast forwarded through parts of it.  Two more down, one for medical reasons.  And the letters home?  I’m committed to sticking it out at this point, but I’m hoping the ending is soon.  It has to be with only four people left.  I wasn’t paying attention to which day it was, which would also tell me.

Lingo – I was rooting for the team that won all along.  I really liked both of them.  I was happy with how close both games were.  Both teams in the first half were excellent.  It really could have gone either way.

Animal Control – I thought I’d give this new show a shot.  Figured it could be funny.  Nope, it was painful.  Yes, I did make it all the way through, but I almost turned it off half way.  A few jokes worked, but not enough.  I know I used to give a show a couple of episodes to hook me, but this one definitely doesn’t deserve a second chance.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Book Review: Murder on Wall Street by Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries #24)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, mystery, sense of time and place
Cons: None 
The Bottom Line:
Death of a banker
With plenty of strong suspects
A book fans will love

High Finance Murder

It’s no secret I am addicted to the Gaslight Mysteries.  Author Victoria Thompson has created a fantastic set of characters in the New York City of the 1890’s and now early 1900’s, and I always enjoy my visits with them.  Murder on Wall Street is a perfect example of why fans look forward to each book in this series.

Investment banker Hayden Norcross has been shot in his office down on Wall Street.  While retired police detective turned private eye Frank Malloy wouldn’t have given that any thought, his friend Jack Robinson wants to hire him to solve the crime.  Jack is a reformed gangster, and he is afraid that his connection to Hayden will make him a prime suspect.

Since the Norcrosses move in society and are involved in business, Frank’s wife Sarah and her parents get involved, helping navigate these worlds where Frank isn’t as comfortable.  The issue isn’t finding suspects but figuring out which of the people who didn’t like Hayden actually shot him.  Will they figure it out?

If you aren’t familiar with the series, Sarah and Frank have always been equally involved in solving the murders they face since the beginning.  In fact, the story is usually equally told from their points of view.  It’s been a few books since Sarah’s parents had more than a cameo, and I loved getting to see more of them here.  Yes, the rest of the regulars are around to help solve the case as well.

Since the majority of the focus is on the mystery introduced here, you could easily jump in.  You get enough context to understand the relationships between the characters.  However, I am going to argue that you should really read the books in order.  Not only are some plot twists in the character’s lives from earlier books in the series spoiled by necessity, but you won’t fully appreciate some of the character moments we get here.  There was one in particular that had me tearing up it was so fantastic to see.  I know it can be intimidating to jump into a long running series like this (I was when I finally took the plunge with this one a few years ago), but I promise you, it is worth it.

Quite often with these books, I’m a plot point or two ahead of the characters.  In this book, I couldn’t figure out where things were going, and I definitely mean that as a good thing.  Yet, when I hit the end, everything made perfect sense.  And what a thrilling ending we got.

While still dealing with some serious issues, this book has a bit more humor in it.  As usual, that comes mostly from the series regulars interacting with each other.  I just love their relationships.

This book pulled me into the time period as well, which isn’t at all a surprise.  While there aren’t big historical events impacting the plot, attitudes of the time are firmly impacting the characters, and there are a couple of passing references to real things going on during the time period.  What I find especially fun are a couple references to what the characters think things will be like in the future.  Naturally, they are very wrong.

I’m going to catch up on this series this year, and I’m going to be sad when I just get to visit these characters once a year.  If you are looking for a great historical series, I highly recommend you check out the Gaslight Mysteries.  If you are a fan, you will delight in every page of Murder on Wall Street.

Check out the rest of the Gaslight Mysteries.

February 17th's Friday Post

Welcome to Friday!  It's time for another Friday post, where I will be linking up to:

Book Beginnings
First Line Friday
Friday 56
Book Blogger Hop

For the first three, I will be using teasers from City of the Dead, the fourth City Spies book by James Ponti.

This is a middle grade spy novel, as if you couldn't figure that out from the title and cover.  It's still got mystery elements, so I'm not completely giving up my normal mysteries.  This is a great series, and I loved this latest installment.

The book starts with both a prologue and a first chapter, so I'm going to tease both.

Prologue: The twelve-year-old boy slowly rode a donkey into the desolate Egyptian landscape known as the Valley of the Kings.

Chapter 1: On a slate gray November day, one hundred years after the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, a group of five young people converged in a part of London known as Bloomsbury.

Okay, neither is exactly an opening that grabs you, but they do help set the scene for the story to come.

Let's see what we can find on page 56, shall we?

Just as they reached the display, a woman's voice filled the gallery and instructed them to "Stop right there!"
Sydney froze and recognized the voice from earlier in the day.  It belonged to Valerie Garfield, the museum's director of security.

That definitely caught my attention when I was reading, and I wanted to know more.

I actually finished the book earlier in the week, and I really enjoyed it.  I won't be reviewing it until the 26th, so I hope you'll stop back by then and read my full review.

Meanwhile, here's this week's Book Blogger Hop question:

Do you use other sources for ARCs besides NetGalley?

I do work with one publisher, and I get paper ARCs from them, which I appreciate.  Since I don't have a Kindle and just use the Kindle app on my phone, I like to mix it up between physical and digital books.  One publisher that I used to get physical finished copies from stopped sending them out at the start of the pandemic, and I don't think they will ever go back, so I am just doing NetGalley for them.  NetGalley is my only source of eARCs right now.  One publisher did switch to Edelweiss, but that publisher closed down, so I don't have to try to navigate that site anymore.

That's it for me this week.  Hope you have a wonderful weekend, especially if you get a long weekend for President's Day here in the States.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Ornament Review: Winter Fun with Snoopy #25 - Bobsledding - 2022 Hallmark Release

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Great piece honors Olympics and anniversary
Cons: Only if you aren’t expecting a mini ornament
The Bottom Line:
Tiny bobsledders
Winter Olympic spirit
Honors twenty-fifth

Bob on Down the Icy Track with Snoopy and Woodstock

I’ve got to admit, I did a double take when I saw this year’s Winter Fun with Snoopy Ornament.  In fact, I had to go and look at the list since I was sure they had already done bobsledding.  But this is the first time they have done it, and it is a fun addition to this miniature series.

This was a 2022 release, and it was clearly themed to tie into to Winter Olympics that had been held earlier in the year.  Snoopy is mostly hidden in his bobsled.  When you look at it from the front of the sides, all you see is his head, although you can see his body if you look at the back of the ornament.  The bobsled is red on the sides with blue and white stripes on the front and blue trim.  Snoopy’s wearing a blue helmet with a white star on each side.  Woodstock is along for the ride.  He’s holding on for dear life to Snoopy’s helmet and wearing a small helmet of his own.  On the front of the ornament is a 25 in a white oval.

No, that isn’t a typo.  Instead of 22 for the year, they have 25 on the front of the bobsled.  But there’s a reason for that.  This is the twenty-fifth ornament in the series.  While they did a bit more for the Spotlight on Snoopy series, which also celebrate its twenty-fifth in 2022, it is nice to at least have that acknowledged on the front of the ornament here.  Yes, the series marker is on the bottom of the bobsled as well, although it is hard to read.

That’s because this is a miniature ornament.  It is a little bigger than most miniature ornaments, but still, it is small, only an inch and a half at the longest.  Keep that in mind when you go to buy the ornament, and you’ll be fine.

The ornament rests on the sled runners, which means that it does sit flat.  Just remember the size if you are thinking about setting it out to be displayed.  When you go to hang it, you’ll find that it hangs perfectly straight.

This is a fun addition to the series.  I love that it ties so perfectly to the Olympics and acknowledges the series milestone at the same time.  It’s those details that make it special.  And Woodstock holding on to Snoopy’s helmet like he is here really makes me smile.

If you enjoy winter sports or are a fan of this series, you’ll definitely be glad to add this ornament to your collection.

Bundle up for the rest of the Winter Fun with Snoopy ornaments.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Book Review: Stuff Dreams Are Made of by Don Bruns (Stuff Series #2)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Skip and James and some parts of story
Cons: Uneven pacing overall 
The Bottom Line:
Serving at meeting
Are they working with killer?
Uneven story

“There May Have Been a Murder”

I had always intended to return to Don Bruns’s Stuff Series, which is why I reread the first book last year. After all it had been over a decade since I’d read the first one. I wanted to move on before I forgot the details again, so I picked up Stuff Dreams are Made of

The series focuses on best friends Skip Moore and James Lessor. They are poor, struggling twenty-somethings living in the outskirts of Miami, Florida. James is always looking for a way to make money, and in the first book, he bought a truck he figured would be their ticket out of their struggles. Naturally, it didn’t really work out and led them into danger. He’s got a new idea for how to use the truck, but it’s doing to be just as dangerous. 

This times, James he decided they should convert the truck into a food truck and serve the hungry hordes who will be attending the revival meeting that the Reverend Cashdollar is going to be holding. Skip makes the connection between this revival and one from when he was a teenager when he met a young woman who was murdered the night they met. 

Skip and James quickly realize that several other deaths are associated with Reverend Cashdollar’s “ministry.” Skip is curious about what has happened but James is seduced by all the dollar signs he sees. Will they figure out what is going on?

This isn’t one of the cozies I typically read. There’s lots of swearing and a bit more violence. Keep that in mind before you pick this book up. 

And let’s discuss this “reverend.” Yes, Cashdollar really is his name. Quite obviously, he is not preaching anything I would support; instead, he’s all about wealth. Fortunately, the book never supports it either. No matter how the mystery itself turns out, I felt like the “reverend” was sleazy from the start and not being treated as a real representation of all pastors or reverends. 

There is an interesting mystery here. Sadly, it could have been executed a little better. The story seems to move forward in fits and starts to me. There’s lots of discussing what we’ve learned and lots of things that happen without truly moving things forward. Having said that, there are some great moments that had me turning pages and some good twists. 

James and Skip aren’t typical heroes in the books I read, and that is part of why I like them. They are certainly sympathetic, although I’m not sure if we’d be friends in real life based on some of their behavior. There were some other characters that really drew me into the book. 

This story was released in 2008. As a result, a few elements are dated, especially technology. 

I don’t think I will ever consider this a favorite series. But I am glad I continued on with it by picking up Stuff Dreams are Made of

Enjoy the rest of the Stuff Series.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Movie Review: Send Me No Flowers

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Laughs and fun with this farce
Cons: Some of the comedy doesn’t translate well to the screen
The Bottom Line:
Overheard phone call
Comic misunderstandings
Fun and laughs on film

“I Did It.  I Went Out and Bought a Cemetery Plot.”  “Use It in Good Health.”

I didn’t know much about Send Me No Flowers before I sat down to watch it other than it was a Doris Day movie.  I pretty much guessed that meant it would be a romantic comedy, and I was definitely in the mood for something light and fun.  That’s what I got, although it didn’t quite live up to it’s potential.

George and Judy (Rock Hudson and Doris Day) are a happily married couple.  Well, George can be a bit exasperating with all his supposed medical conditions, but they are still basically happy.  However, things change when George goes to the doctor and misunderstands a conversation he overhears.  Now, George thinks he really is dying.

And that’s the set up for more comedic misunderstandings.  I could see some of them coming, but there were others I didn’t expect.  Despite the rather dark subject of something thinking he is dying, the movie has some very funny moments and lots of great one liners from this farcical situation.

The movie was adapted from a play.  I can see that, and I think this is another case where it would work better as a play.  While I did laugh at some of the situations and the dialogue, I think I would have found it even funnier if I’d been watching it with others.  You know that feeling when you are watching a comedy in a group, and the laughter is building all around you?  That’s what this movie needed to fully enjoy it.  Overall, I think farce works better as a play than a movie, too.  Again, that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy this movie.  I just feel like I missed some of the comedy.

I also feel like the performances were a little on the big side a few times.  It felt like they were trying to play up the farce, which would work on stage but doesn’t translate quite as well on screen.  But I’m being nitpicky here.

Overall, the performances were great.  This is the third time that Rock Hudson and Doris Day starred together, and their chemistry feels natural.  Rounding out the trio, Tony Randall joined once again joined them, this time playing their next-door neighbor and George’s best friend.  It’s a shame these three didn’t make more movies together because they play off each other perfectly.  The rest of the cast are just as strong, and everyone goes for some great physical comedy along the way.

And make no mistake about it, this movie is fun overall.  It really does find some unique laughs out of a potentially serious subject.  If I ever got the chance to see the play version, I’d jump on it.

The movie came out in the mid-60’s, and it certainly feels like it.  The style of the time is everywhere, and it dates it in a charming way.  On the other hand, it is rather funny when they obviously filmed some things in front of a screen.

While I think Send Me No Flowers would be best in a group, it is an enjoyable comedy no matter what size group you watch it in.  Next time you are in the mood for a farce, this is one to watch.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Book Review: It Takes Two to Mango by Carrie Doyle (Trouble in Paradise! #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Plum by the end, great setting
Cons: Plum is extremely hard to like at the beginning 
The Bottom Line:
Vacation rental
With a very dead body
Unlikeable Plum

Plum’s Reset Gets Off to a Rocky Start

I’ve been eyeing the Caribbean cruise I took in January for quite a while, and I’d been holding It Takes Two to Mango for the trip. After all, reading a cozy set in a Caribbean resort during a Caribbean trip is perfect, right?

Plum Lockhart has been successfully climbing the magazine ladder for years, and she is loving her latest gig as an editor at a travel magazine. However, the industry is struggling, and she finds herself the victim of corporate layoffs. An offer from an old contact takes her down to the Caribbean Island of Paraiso for a career change. The January weather sure beats the weather in New York City, and how hard could it be to rent out the properties?

However, the welcome she gets is less than friendly. Her co-worker throws impossible tasks at her. And her first booking turns into a nightmare when one of the guests is found dead next to the hot tub one morning. Did Plum make the right decision?

Let’s start by discussing Plum. When we first meet her, she is stubborn, egotistical, fashion obsessed, entitled, and arrogant. And those are her good points. Yes, I’m using some adjectives that mean the same thing here, but she really is that bad. I see the argument popping up quite regularly about whether characters need to be likeable. Plum is exhibit A that yes, they do. I came extremely close to setting the book down about 30 pages into it and writing the series and the author off. She was that obnoxious. And yes, I was expecting that this was set up for some character growth, but it was still extremely unpleasant to read. She does have backstory to try to explain what why she behaves like she does, but it wasn’t enough to get me to care. 

There are also a few things that should have been edited for clarity, especially at the beginning. But they are minor; it’s was mainly Plum that was making me want to set the book down. I’m stubborn, so I kept reading.

The book takes a little bit to get Plum down to the fictional island of Paraiso, and meeting these supporting characters started to make me more interested in the story, although I still really was annoyed by Plum. Then the mystery kicked in and I was very intrigued to find out what was happening. There are some enjoyable twists to the story. 

It helped that the rest of the cast was made up of characters that we love or love to hate. I have no problem with unlikable characters in the supporting cast because you can easily root for them to get a comeuppance. There are several of them here. But there are others I quickly came to care about.  And we do get the character growth in Plum we needed. 

Of course, the beach resort setting is extremely appealing. Even reading this on vacation, I wanted to escape into the setting and stay. 

So here’s the shocker, especially for me. By the time I was finished, I decided I had enjoyed the book enough to give it another chance. Yes, I did like Plum enough by the end. I hope the character development has stuck around in book two. 

If the setting and premise appeals to you, give It Takes Two to Mango a chance. Just be very patient with the beginning and you’ll be rewarded in the end. 

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Book Review: Bastille Vs. the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson (Alcatraz Vs. the Evil Librarians #6)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Laughs and thrills as a story finally reaches its conclusion
Cons: The librarians are censoring the cons
The Bottom Line:
A story concludes
With plenty of action, laughs
Finally, we have it

Fanciful and Funny Finale.  Finally.

It’s been a long five years since we got the previous book in the Alcatraz Vs. the Evil Librarians series, and considering the dark cliffhanger we were left with, it felt even longer.  I’d kept an eye out, so I was thrilled to see that we were finally getting the true final volume, Bastille Vs. the Evil Librarians.  I was hoping it would redeem the ending of the previous book, and it did.

If you aren’t familiar with this series, I definitely don’t recommend you start here.  This is a fantasy series with its own unique world, and it’s best to learn about it as Alcatraz does.  Plus, this is the climax of the story, and you don’t want to jump in at the climax, right?  Not to mention we pick up right at cliffhanger from the previous book.  Honestly, I was a little worried that I should be going back to the previous books to refresh my memory before picking this book up.  I am glad to say that enough of the story came back to me to enjoy what happened here.

But if you are new, here’s a crash course.  We live in the Hushlands and are ruled over by evil librarians who control all knowledge in order to keep us subject to them.  Alcatraz is a Smedry, who have been fighting the librarians for a long time.  They have talents that help them.  You know, things like getting lost, breaking things, or arriving late.  And Bastille?  She’s a member of the Knights of Crystallia who have sworn to protect the Smedrys at all costs.

As I said, this book opens right where the previous one ended.  That means Alcatraz is dressed in a tux tied to an altar of outdated encyclopedias in the Highbrary having just experienced two horrific personal losses.  That’s when Bastille finally wakes up from her coma and comes rushing in to try to save the day.  But with the leader of the librarians on his way to enact his evil plan half way around the world, can anyone stop him?  Especially since Alcatraz doesn’t seem to have it in him to fight any more.

Despite the dark ending of the previous book, this book once again has plenty of fun.  There’s word play, impossible situations, and scenes involving the talents that will absolutely make you laugh.  Not to mention the continued tradition of commenting on the action or elements of writing or storytelling in general at the start of each chapter.  I’ve laughed my way through the series and this book was no exception.

I’ve talked about the dark ending of the previous book a couple of times now.  First, you should know that this book doesn’t include anything nearly as dark despite the fact that we are facing the true climax to the story.  Alcatraz does have to deal with the consequences of what happened, and I felt that was handled in a realistic manner.  There are some deeper things to chew on, especially for a comedic children’s book, and both Alcatraz and Bastille grow as a result.

The rest of the characters?  There isn’t too much depth to them, but they work for the story and they are a delight, so it’s not an issue.  And this is a kid’s book, where characters often aren’t fully developed anyway.

At the risk of wading into spoiler territory, I will say that not everything at the end of the last book was as it appeared.  It’s not negated, but it is lessened, and I found that made me look at the previous book in a better light.

And there’s the action.  The story moves quickly from one death defying situation to another.  You won’t want to put it down once you start.

As with the others, I listened to this book on audio.  Suzy Jackson takes over as narrator here since Bastille is writing in first person, and she does a great job.  Ramon de Ocampo, who narrated the previous books, does pop in for one brief part, which was fun.

Bastille Vs. the Evil Librarians is everything I wanted from the conclusion of this story.  If you are a fan of the series, you will definitely enjoy what happens here.  If you are new, prepare for a wild and funny ride.  And, now that the story is completed, you can enjoy without worrying about cliffhangers.

Here are the rest of the Alcatraz Vs. the Evil Librarian books.

This review is part of this week’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday round up.