Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wacky and cozy-Take the Monkeys and Run by Karen Cantwell

Take the Monkeys and Run by Karen Cantwell
This was fun.  It won't change your world or give you new insights on life but it's fun.  The storyline revolves around a suburban mom who is very curious about strange happenings at what is supposed to be an empty house next door.  When she goes to investigate in the middle of the night, she finds monkeys all over her yard.  Interesting premise. 

Her husband has just left her and she's struggling to deal with that.  When the mob starts threatening her and she has to call an old boyfriend for help, the story takes some strange turns that are not quite what I was expecting.  I will some that some parts were exactly what I was suspecting like why her husband left but it did have a few twists.  The heroine isn't a particularly smart investigator.  She's a bit of a bumbler but I could relate to her on some levels. "Next to chocolate and peace on Earth, warm pajamas is what I wish for every birthday and Christmas.  Soft and warm matching fleece socks are another favorite".  Now this is a lady after my own heart. 

I hesitated to call it a cozy because some of the elements of the traditional cozy are missing.  There's no hobby or store or club that everything centers around. There's no central theme, it's more of just a straight mystery in some ways but the feel is cozy. Plenty of humor, plenty of amateur sleuths. They do some pretty amateurish things at times.  It almost has the feel of a wacky hi-jinks mystery but not quite.  Anyway, enough analysis.  It was fun, I liked it and I wouldn't hesitate to go back for more.

I received a copy of this from netgalley for review and I also got a copy as a Kindle freebie. So there, all the proper disclaimers.

  • Would I pay money for it? Yes
  • Would I read more by this author? absolutely!
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes I would
Purchased as a Kindle freebie August 9, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Going Nowhere Fast-A few too many wacky hi-jinks for me

Joe and Dottie Loudermilk are fortunate to be taking early retirement in their early 50's.  They bought an Airstream and hit the road for the Grand Canyon.  Unfortunately, their youngest and most disreputable son shows up just about the time they find a dead body in their bathroom?  Coincidence? Add some mobsters and a ticked-off football player and you're headed for a wild ride.

I suspect reviews of this mystery will vary widely because it is a very distinct genre that isn't going to appeal to everyone.  It doesn't appeal to me.  It is in the "wacky hi-jinks" field of mystery.  I love funny mysteries but this is much more of a slapstick mystery.  It is well written and if you like crazy capers, then you will like this one. 

There were two specific things that contributed to me just not feeling this one.  First, you couldn't solve the mystery yourself because you don't have all the evidence available.  Until they tell you whodunit, you can't know.  Second, the main characters are in their early 50's and continually talk about how old they are.  As a person in that age group, I don't feel old so the whole thing didn't ring true.  I should add a third thing, Joe Loudermilk is a retired policeman and yet blatantly disregards all police procedure.  Annoying.

I'm not saying his is not a bad book, just not a book for me. It's a short, easy read that will appeal to those who are into this genre.

More about Gar Anthony Haywood
  • Would I pay money for it?No
  • Would I read more by this author? I would try his other works not in this series
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? No particularly but I wouldn't discourage them from reading it
Purchased as a Kindle freebie July 7, 2013

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Librarian Book One: Little Boy Lost-I'll be reading this one to my grandkids

The Librarian Book One: Little Boy Lost by Eric Hobbs

It’s a common theme for children’s book.  Classic literature coming to life.  So do we need more of this theme?  I say, sure!  Why not?

This first book I remember reading where classic literature came to life was “Seven Day Magic” by Edward Eager, my favorite children’s author.  In that book, as in this one, the world of Oz comes to life.  I loved the idea then and I love the idea now.  

Wesley and his class are on a field trip to the library and will find out who wins a essay contest.  Wesley’s was stolen by the class bully and submitted as the bully’s own so this day hasn’t started particularly well.  This particular library is quite old and has unusual artwork representing many classic children’s stories.  The librarian is a bit of a recluse with a mysterious past.  Ok, I’m already going to be hooked.  Wesley, who is the stereotypical much-bullied nerd, and his friend Taylor, the stereotypical popular girl that has befriended the nerd, decide to follow the librarian as the group is supposed to be reboarding the bus for home.  When they find one of the displays destroyed and an unusually dressed boy attacks them, the adventures begin.

This may not be the deepest book of its kind that’s ever been written but I would have greatly enjoyed it when I was 8 or 9.  I was a nerdy book girl and I read everything I could get my hands on so the idea of those worlds coming to life was always a dream for me. This book has the elements of adventure and friendship that I loved and the theme of Oz is well-known enough by most kids that even if they’ve only seen the movie this would be familiar territory. It leaves us on a cliff-hanger which most kids will be unable to resist.  I actually look forward to reading this to my granddaughters in a few years.  

  • Would I pay money for it?Yes.
  • Would I read more by this author? Yes
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes
Purchased as a Kindle freebie June 9, 2013

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lady Susan-fun, interesting and surprising for fans of Jane Austen

This book demonstrates the pure entertainment value of a good book.  I had a great time reading it!  A short story from Jane Austen, and written as a series of letters, this is great fun.

Lady Susan is a recent widow with very few morals or redeeming qualities other than her beauty and her ability to talk her way through just about any situation.  She has a teen-age daughter whom she cares very little for.  She wants every man in her vicinity to fall swooning at her feet and does whatever it takes to get them to do so.  She has had to leave the home of the Manwarings whom she was visiting because of her outrageous behavior with the husband of the house so she came to stay with her late husband’s brother and his wife.  She had never actually met the wife but had done all in her power to keep them from marrying years ago.  At their house she meets the brother of her sister-in-law and determines to make him fall in love with her though she is 10 years older than him.  She also maintains a highly inappropriate correspondence with Mr. Manwaring.  She is also trying to marry off her daughter to a silly young man that the daughter despises.  A manipulative (and busy!) woman, Lady Susan is completely without scruples. See how all her plans work (or don’t work) and whether she will get what she wants or not kept me entertained all the way through.

The letters are between Lady Susan and her friend and various other members of Lady Susan’s family.  It’s quite entertaining to see the same events through the eyes of people with radically different viewpoints.  This is nothing like Pride and Prejudice except that the sharp social commentary is there.  It’s interesting and different to have the lead female character not be so young, definitely in her mid 30’s.  She’s quite willing to use her female wiles to get what she wants.  How interesting that this was written when the author was a teen. The book is altogether different and fun and surprising for fans of Jane Austen.

  • Would I pay money for it? Because it's a short story I would probably try to find it in a book with other Austen writings.
  • Would I read more by this author? Yes, I love Jane Austen.
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? yes
Purchased as a Kindle freebie February 20, 2013


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Snow White (Grimm Curse #3) -Don't bother

Take one of the most beloved fairy tales in the English language, add it to one of my favorite TV shows of the last several seasons and you get....a huge disappointment.  This could have been fun.  It could have been scary.  It could have been entertaining.  Instead it was predictable, flat and frankly, stupid.  Using her cell-phone as the mirror?  It texts her that she is the fairest?  Give me a break!  The take on the Evil queen felt like a sad, pathetic bid to be "relevant."  The writing was insipid.  Everything about this book screamed, "Let's make a buck while the show is still popular."  So disappointing.  If anything about the book could have had a spark of what makes the TV show good, I would have been a big fan.  The only thing I enjoyed about it was that it only took me an hour to read it.

  • Would I pay money for it? No
  • Would I read more by this author? Yes, just to see if everything is this bad.
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? absolutely not
Purchased as a Kindle freebie May 8, 2013

Monday, September 1, 2014

New Orleans Mourning-1991 Edgar Award Winner

New Orleans Mourning by Julie Smith

New Orleans has always seemed to me to have an atmosphere all its own that feels foreign and exotic even though it’s part of the United States.  Julie Smith does a good job of recreating that atmosphere in New Orleans Mourning, the first book in the Skip Langdon series and the 1991 Edgar Award Winner.  

Skip Langdon grew up among the upper classes of New Orleans though she wasn’t exactly one of them.  Her parents were social climbers, her father being doctor to most of the New Orleans aristocracy.  Skip recently decided that being a cop was her career choice and she is a rookie, working the parade routes during Mardi Gras.  An old acquaintance of hers is Rex, King of the Carnival, and she happens to be in the right place to see him get shot, on his float, in the parade.  The murderer is dressed as Dolly Parton and happens to be on the balcony of an apartment whose owner she knows.  The death of Chauncey St. Amants gets Skip re-assigned from patrol to helping the detectives working on the murder because of her background with the upper-class family.  

There are things to love and things to dislike about this novel but it does have a very distinctive feel and it’s not hard to see why it won the Edgar and was nominated for an Anthony.  

I loved the plot line.  It’s multi-layered and complicated, but not confusing.  It draws you deeper and deeper in as you read.  You are seeing multiple points of view, lots of conflicting motivations, deep and genuine emotions and complicated characters. It’s a great picture of the old-money dysfunctional Southern family with deep, dark secrets hiding behind their place in society.  One can just about feel the heat and humidity and see the hanging moss and the lush greenery of the Deep South.  You can feel the silent servants moving in the background as the privileged go about entertaining each other as their social duties dictate.

What I dislike about this novel is the casual drug use that is pervasive.  That bothers me immensely and always diminishes my enjoyment of a book.  Some of the actions of characters that drive the plot are disturbing but without them there would be no story.  There would be plenty of story without the drug use.  

I had read books in the author’s. other series set in L.A. and while I enjoyed them, they didn’t begin to have the depth that New Orleans Mourning had for me. It’s not hard to see why this one received so much recognition.

  • Would I pay money for it? Yes
  • Would I read more by this author? Definitely
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? I know which friends would be bothered by the same things I am and would recommend to those who are not
Purchased as a Kindle freebie May 26, 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Believing God Day by Day: Growing Your Faith All Year Long-Short and more shallow than what I was looking for in a devotional

I've heard lots of good things about Beth Moore so maybe this just wasn't a good first introduction to her. I was looking for a daily devotional but the thoughts in this one were just too short and shallow for me to really enjoy. Obviously I didn't need to read a whole year's worth to know this wasn't what I was looking for but I tried it for a full month. I'll try one of her books that is a real study rather than just daily thoughts before I really decide what I think of her as an author.

More about Beth Moore

  • Would I pay money for it? No
  • Would I read more by this author? I will definitely be trying one of her regular studies
  • Would I recommend this to a friend? probably not
Purchased as a Kindle freebie January 3, 2014