Friday, August 31, 2018

Review: The Cat Who Came to Breakfast

The Cat Who Came to Breakfast The Cat Who Came to Breakfast by Lilian Jackson Braun
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Qwill and the kitties take yet another vacation and bad things happen. This time they spend time on Breakfast Island (or Pear Island, Grand Island, or Providence Island, depending on who you ask). Anyway, a vacation is a vacation and Qwill is a huge skinflint, so he goes, natch. Breakfast Island is being overdeveloped for tourists, and this causes unrest, as you might imagine. There is lots of talk of fudge, which made me laugh. Go to any tourist trap place and you'll find fudge. How this started, I have no idea, but it is true. Or at least it used to be.

There's a murder, and his good friends Lori and Nick Bamba have opened an inn and invite him to stay. I'm surprised there is room in the cabin for Qwill, his mustache, the kitties, and his huge ego. Although he's a little off balance because the lovely Polly is off to Oregon and he's scared she will leave him forever. Qwill, you are an ass. He gets involved with one of the rich, original families on the island, ferrets out the mysterious ongoings, and saves the day with the help of Koko, as usual.

The end is silly, the mystery is weak, and you know damn well I will read book 17. Stop judging me. I love these books. 3 stars.

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Monday, August 27, 2018

Review: Hearse and Buggy

Hearse and Buggy Hearse and Buggy by Laura Bradford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not too bad. I mean, I'm not packing up to move to Heavenly or anything, but I will read the next one.

Claire Weatherly gets out of a bad marriage and moves to her aunt's bed and breakfast in Heavenly, Pennsylvania, an Amish community. She opens a shop selling Amish artisan products, and life seems to be pretty good. But then her Amish neighbors who run the bakery start getting harassed, there are a couple of past scandals that seem to come into play, and in the midst of it all, murder. Hey, it's a cozy. We have to have a mystery, people. It's pretty true to the cozy formula. Amateur detective with quirky job who solves the crime. A dash of romance/love triangle. And colorful characters.

Decently written even though it was pretty obvious who the killer was, I will definitely read the next book in the series. 3 stars.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review: Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Every year on January 1st, I spend time reflecting on my goals for the coming year. I also choose a word to guide me, and this year it was "mindful". This book a quick read to reset my inner clock for August. Like many of you, I move a million miles an hour, and if I don't add in things to get me to stop, reflect, and breathe, I miss out on life.

A few things that really stood out to me:
"The root cause of any internal formation is a lack of understanding." Pause, reflect, and seek to understand. This applies for most things in life. Try it.
"We would be much happier if we tried to stay in touch with the healthy, joyful seeds inside of us and around us. We should learn to ask, "What's not wrong?" and be in touch with that." Completely need to do this more. Instead of picking things apart, I need to ask what is right with the situation. Stay focused on the positive and that's how you will feel.
Blaming Never Helps - "When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce." This applies to problems and relationships. Always strive to own your part of the situation and make things better. Or don't eat lettuce.

A short read that you can digest a section at a time, or read in 30 minutes and go back later when needed. 3 stars.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: Asking for Truffle

Asking for Truffle Asking for Truffle by Dorothy St. James
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wow. This was a hot mess of a book. Unlikeable MC. Unlikeable townspeople. A mystery that really made no sense if you looked at it too closely. And dropped plot lines everywhere. Welcome to Camellia Beach, South Carolina. You won't want to stay too long. Just grab your chocolate and go.

Charity Penn is a rich girl with a serious chip on her shoulder and a ton of daddy (and mommy) issues. That, on the surface, shouldn't make her unlikeable. I enjoy my MCs flawed. However, when she mentions at EVERY turn that she thinks people are after her money, she needs to stop talking to anyone but her shrink. She's annoying, y'all. Oh, and she tells people her name is Penn. Just Penn. Not short for Penny. Just Penn. Like Madonna. Or Prince. Or Beyonce. Seriously, Penn, get over your damn self. P.S. take a detective class or something, because you are a big dummy who can't even be bothered to read what is handed to you in a very important envelope. Who does that? Well, I guess Penn, and Penn only. Common sense 101 wasn't taught at her prep school, clearly.

Also, the plot was dumb. We are supposed to think her friendship with Skinny is a deep one of trust, but then she knows nothing about him. Nothing, because she can't stop talking about how people want her money. And she calls the police and accuses like 200 different people, and they keep listening to her, because this universe is the most unrealistic one on the planet.

Secrets, lies, and nonsense abound. Plus a poor dog who desperately needs an obedience course before she has to be put down for biting the wrong person. Probably the dumbest part of a terrible book. 1.5 stars.

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Saturday, August 18, 2018

Review: A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance

A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena de Blasi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ah, Venice! You sound so lovely. Someday I will visit you with my love.

Marlena de Blasi grabbed life by the horns and left the US to marry a man she barely knew. Girl, you are brave and impetuous. You are out of control. They have some issues, for sure. Who wouldn't? But she is bold and they make it through...all in the beautiful world of Italy.

Do I recommend you marry a total stranger and uproot your life to a new country? No, but I do recommend you read this book, then go do something brave yourself. Follow your dreams. Treat yo'self. Really live! Life is short, and Marlena de Blasi seems to grasp this better than others.

3 stars and a re-read for me. I love travel memoirs!

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4th time reading this.  I absolutely love it, especially on audio.

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”

Weird confession. I like prime numbers. They make sense to me. I'm a tiny bit like Christopher, and I think that's why I love this book so much. On each re-read, I find something new to love.

What's it all about? It's an interesting perspective into the mind of a boy who is autistic, intelligent in many ways, but still immature to the ways of the world.

Journey with Christopher as he solves the mystery of his neighbor's dog. Travel with him as he strikes out on his own to discover what happened to Wellington, and why. Like me, you might be surprised by the ending. Christopher doesn't necessarily get the answers he wants, but instead gets a lesson in life.

I really enjoyed the different narrator voice from Christopher. I didn't find it gimmicky like some readers, instead I found it to be a delightful journey. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: The Love Pirate

The Love Pirate The Love Pirate by Barbara Cartland
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Another stinker by Babs. Don't let the title fool you. This book had nothing to do with pirates and little to do with love. An all-around fail.

An unlikeable heroine. An unlikeable hero (a cad who cavorts with married women, a real "love 'em and leave 'em" type). An evil mother, and an even more evil aunt. Seriously, not a decent person in this whole book but the lovely lady in Malaysia who was kind to everyone.

I was going to give this book 2 stars, but the longer I reflect on this pile of trash, the more I subtract. I grant you one lousy star, Barbara. Better luck next time, because you know I'll be back. I just can't quit you.

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Review: The Selection

The Selection The Selection by Kiera Cass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

How have I not reviewed this book before? I've read the series at least three times.

Welcome to Illea, formerly the United States after some craziness with China, debt, and some details that aren't really fleshed out in this book. Young Prince Maxon needs to select a bride, and the Selection is how his mother and father were married so hey, let's keep this antiquated idea rolling, folks! It worked like 20 years ago, so let's try again. P.S. it's a huge distraction for the country, because every province gets to send one girl, and it's a random lottery...or is it? And the country is experiencing some issues, so let's launch a reality show.

Throw in a caste system that makes my blood boil, rebels with a cause, and nonstop cat fights and you've got yourself a whopper of a YA dystopian love story. Oh, what's that? You can't live without a love triangle? Well, you are in luck, my friend, because that nonsense is here in spades. Can't wait to hear if you are #TeamMaxon or #TeamAspen. I'm #TeamAmerica, because this girl needs to run the country on her own.

3.5 stars, but it's probably unfair since I keep coming back to read it again. I'll leave it there because I do roll my eyes through most of the book, but I still love it.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Review: Death of a Travelling Man

Death of a Travelling Man Death of a Travelling Man by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another day in Lochdubh, another murder. These folks need to watch their step. There is so much crime that Hamish finally got another copper with him, although he would rather clean than catch criminals.

Hamish, you are the laziest copper with the smartest mind around. You are the only one who notices the details, even when you get on the wrong track. Priscilla needs to snatch you right up. This time, we have some early-times van dwellers mooching off the good people of Lochdubh. This bugs Hamish, so he tries everything to run them off. They drive him crazy, then a vicious murder happens (particularly vicious for these books) and we are off to solve the crime. You know Hamish figures it out, because he always does.

The ending was what I have been hoping for, but I know my hopes and dreams will probably be dashed in book 10. Or not. See you soon, Hamish! 3 stars, as usual.

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Review: I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats

I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats by Francesco Marciuliano
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Short, funny read written from the cat's point of view. If you have ever had a cat, been around a cat, or been stalked by a cat, you should give this book a quick look. Also, there are extremely cute pictures of cats throughout the book, and a picture of a dog wearing clothes.

Some of spot on, some are a stretch (or maybe from the point of view of a cat I have never owned). All are short. Sometimes you just need a fun reading break, and this fits the bill for me. 3 stars.

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Review: Bossypants

Bossypants Bossypants by Tina Fey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tina Fey is funny, and this book wasn't a surprise. She's smart, she real, and she doesn't pull any punches. I like her.

You get lots of fun stories from her career. From improv with Second City, to writing for SNL, to acting on SNL, to 30 Rock. You get to hear about the long hours, the lack of glamour, the ugly side of it, but still with a dash of humor. You don't get nearly enough Mean Girls stories. Seriously, Tina, I wanted more Mean Girls dish.

I think we could be friends in real life, girl. Like a weird threesome of friends where we both love Amy Poehler best and we want her to love us the most, but we all three get along and the world is wonderful.

4 stars, and you should only buy this book on audio, because it rocks that way.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Review: A Wallflower Christmas

A Wallflower Christmas A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Wallflowers are back together again. It doesn't quite have the magic of the others in the series, but I enjoyed it.

The girls are reunited for the holidays, and Lilian and Daisy's rake of a brother, Rafe Bowman, is visiting from America to meet the lovely Natalie. Rich and beautiful, she is on the hunt for a husband, and while she wants a peer this match might work for her too. Ah, the days of marrying for position and advantage, rather than love. So glad I live in these modern times where I can do and say what I want. But I digress.

What you have here is an unlikeable lead and a prim miss of a love attraction in Hannah. She puts up with way too much, but Rafe finally redeems himself and they all get their HEA, and you know that's my favorite part. This book needed to be about 100 pages more to really pull me in, but I still enjoyed it. 3 stars.

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild The Call of the Wild by Jack London
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Buck! You and your friends went through so much.

A little emotional about this book. Jack London threw a lot at me. Buck, stolen and forced to work. Treated cruelly, starved, worked to the bone. I just can't. I wanted to grab a club and hit those men until they couldn't get up.

Along comes a bright, shiny savior. John Thornton is a good man, and he does his best for Buck. Too many spoilers lie ahead, so I will leave you with this advice. Read this when you want to have all the feels, and be ready for anger, sadness, and triumph. A good story with an unexpected ending. 3 stars. Hey, it's a classic for a reason. Read it, but have something ready afterwards that will make you happy, like chocolate and an episode of Parks & Rec.

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Review: The Help

The Help The Help by Kathryn Stockett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I. Love. This. Book. When I initially read it I rated it 4 stars, but I am rounding up to 5 this time, because it's just that good. I think it is because I listened to it on audio, and it was excellent with multiple narrators. It brought the story to life in a different way, and I loved it.

Skeeter. Aibileen. Minny. Their world in the tumultuous South in the 1960s is about to be turned upside down. Skeeter is fresh out of college, full of ideas and itching to make her way into adulthood. Aibileen and Minny have been working for the white women of Jackson, Mississippi for their entire lives. As times are changing, so are a few attitudes, including Skeeter's. She's about to turn all of their lives upside down. She's an aspiring writer, you see, and she gets a wild idea to write about the lives of the black women who are "the help" in her town. Look out, Jackson. Skeeter's coming for you.

Filled with realities of a time I can't even wrap my brain around, the characters really come to life, the storyline is full of humor and drama (just like real life) and you will find yourself both glad you don't live in Jackson and wishing you could have been a part of this time of change. 4.5 stars that I'm rounding up to 5 because the audio is so amazing. Please read this book.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: Opal Fire

Opal Fire Opal Fire by Barbra Annino
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Really struggled to get through this one. It's about what you would expect from the cover art, though.

Stacy is a reporter, but she doesn't seem to be a very good one. She's also a witch, but she wants to ignore her magic (insert eye roll here). She lives in a small town and is surrounded by annoying people who I would never want to spend a minute with if they were real: a quirky witch family, a cousin named Cinnamon who is a brash bar owner with an awful personality -- this woman threatened to beat everyone up in the book without provocation, an annoying photographer at the paper. Come on, now. Why do you write such unlikeable, unrealistic characters?

The mystery was dumb, the characters were unrealistic, the dialogue stilted, and the love triangle unnecessary. 1.5 stars but rounding up because I do enjoy books with dogs.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Review: Last of the Breed

Last of the Breed Last of the Breed by Louis L'Amour
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cold War. U.S. vs. U.S.S.R. Spy vs. Spy. Welcome to the 80's, my friends.

Joe Mack is an American Air Force pilot who is shot down behind enemy lines, captured, and taken to a Soviet prison camp. In Siberia, no less. I can't think of a more 80's plot line, so cue the Rocky IV soundtrack. Because he's American, but mostly Native American, he makes a daring escape and we spend the rest of the book running with him across frozen Siberia as he tries to make his way back home. He's tracked, of course. By the best of the best--another "native" tracker who always gets his man but can't be counted on to bring him home alive.

Survival, patriotism, and a glimpse at life in a harsh land. I've read this book 5 times at least and enjoy it every time. 3 stars.

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