May Day by Jess Lourey

Posted by on Dec 30, 2016 in 2 stars, 2016, Book Review | 0 comments

May Day by Jess Lourey
May Day by Jess Lourey

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Paperback
Series: #1 in the Murder by Month Series
Publisher: Midnight Ink
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 211
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

A new threat haunts the streets of London…
Minneapolitan Mira James has been taking it easy since college graduation–too easy. Due to a dead-end job and a cheating boyfriend, the Twin Cities have lost their charm, and Mira decides to begin a new life in rural Battle Lake. Right away she is offered jobs as an assistant librarian and part-time reporter, and falls into an unexpected romance with a guy who seems to be the perfect man until he turns up dead between the reference stacks her tenth day on the job.

Anxious to learn more about the man who had briefly stolen her heart, Mira delves into the hidden mysteries of Battle Lake, including a old land deed with ancient Ojibwe secrets, an obscure octogenarian crowd with freaky social lives, and a handful of thirtysomething high school buddies who hold bitter, decades-old grudges. Mira soon discovers that unknown dangers are concealed under the polite exterior of this quirky small town, and revenge is a tator-tot hotdish best served cold.

My Thoughts:
I picked this one up because I needed a book with a month in the title for the What’s in a Name Challenge for 2016. I had seen and heard the author at a mystery writers and readers convention a couple of years ago and she was pretty funny.

Unfortunately this book wasn’t that good.

It was short. It let me check off the last title for the challenge.

I won’t be continuing with the series.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Posted by on Dec 27, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review, Maureen Johnson | 4 comments

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson
The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Genre: Mystery, Paranormal Fiction
Format: Paperback
Series: #2 in the Shades of London series
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 372
Source: Copy provided by the publisher

The Book:
From the publisher:

A new threat haunts the streets of London…
Rory Deveaux has changed in ways she never could have imagined since moving to London and beginning a new life at boarding school. As if her newfound ability to see ghosts hadn’t complicated her life enough, Rory’s recent brush with the Jack the Ripper copycat has left her with an even more unusual and intense power. Now, a new string of inexplicable deaths is threatening London, and Rory has evidence that they are no coincidence. Something sinister is going on, and it is up to her to convince the city’s secret ghost-policing squad to listen before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:
After following Maureen Johnson on Twitter for years I finally read one of her books. I read the first book in her Shades of London series (The Name of the Star) earlier this year. I was kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed it because it’s not really my normal thing. I have a fairly low tolerance for paranormal stuff and in particular young adult paranormal stuff.

This series, however works for me and it’s due to Maureen Johnson’s talent as an author.

Now that I’ve read the first two books in the series I need to get the third one soon because this one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

I enjoy Rory as a great main character and the people she met in the first book are back and just as interesting and complicated. The ‘sight’ that Rory discovered she had in the first book that allows her to see and interact with ghosts has developed into something a bit more frightening. While Rory tries to return to her life at school she soon finds that it is going to be much more difficult than she thought.

Don’t let the Young Adult and Paranormal labels dissuade you because this was just a good and interesting series.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Posted by on Dec 16, 2016 in 2016, 4 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Ebook and Trade Paperback
Series: #1 in the Morland Dynasty Series
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date: 1980 (originally), 2010 (this edition)
Pages: 539
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

Seeking power and prestige, grim, ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is appalled at being forced to marry a mere “sheep farmer”; she is, after all, secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York.

Yet from this apparently ill-matched union, Robert and Eleanor form a surprising connection that soon will be tested by a bloody civil war that divides families, sets neighbor against neighbor, and brings tragedy close to home.

My Thoughts:
This was actually a reread for me. I originally read this back in 2011. I picked up the second in the series a few months later but never got around to reading it. When I was weeding out my bookshelves a few months ago, I kept the second in the series but decided to reread this one before moving on to The Dark Rose.

This is a rather daunting series currently at 35 books. It’s unlikely I’ll ever read them all but who knows. It could happen. The series follows the descendants of the characters introduced in The Founding from the 1400’s up to the latest book set in the 1930’s. I’m not sure if there are more books to come in the series.

I love a big family saga. This is probably the saga-est saga there is. This first book covers the period of the Wars of the Roses. Eleanor Morland aligns her family firmly with the Yorkists. So, it’s going to be interesting to see how things are going for the family in the next book with the Tudors on the throne.

It’s interesting and entertaining historical fiction. Plenty of real historical figures make appearances. Eleanor is the main character of this book and while there are things about her that I liked there are other things about her that are awful. Her many children and grandchildren become involved in the second half of the book and the family tree was quite helpful in keeping all the similarly named people straight.

I enjoyed this one the first time and enjoyed it just as much the second time.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Chew Volumes 7-11 by John Layman

Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Book Review, John Layman | 0 comments

Chew Volumes 7-11 by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory

Genre: Mystery
Format: Comics Collected Edition
Publisher: Image Comics
Source: Library

The Books:
From the back covers:

Tony Chu, the cibopathic Federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats is back in action, just in time to face a cult of egg-worshipping terrorists who’ve declared holy war on the chicken-eaters of the world.

Chew Vol 7: Bad Apples by John Layman

Vol 7: Bad Apples 2013 Issues 31-35

Tony Chu, the cibopathic Federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats is back in action, just in time to face a cult of egg-worshipping terrorists who’ve declared holy war on the chicken-eaters of the world.

Chew Vol. 8: Family Recipes by John Layman

Vol 8 Family Recipes
2014 Issues 36-40

Anthony and Antonelle Chu are fraternal twins. Tony and Toni. Each with their own extraordinary, albeit diametrically opposed, ability. Tony is Cibopathic, able to get psychic sensations of the past of anything he bites into or ingests. Toni is Cibovoyant, able to flash onto a vision of the future of any living thing she bit into or ingested. Tony is alive. Toni is dead. Toni has been murdered. Tony has vowed to catch her killer. Toni is going to help.

Chew Vol. 9: Chicken Tenders by John Layman

Vol 9 Chicken Tenders
2015 Issues 41-45

Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats, has been busy — busy settling into married life, and busy investigating one assignment after another that takes him to the most remote corners of the planet. Meanwhile, the people closest to Tony are conspiring to take on the brutal killer who murdered Tony’s twin sister. And this conspiracy includes Tony’s partner, his arch enemy — and his teenage daughter!

Chew Vol. 10: Blood Puddin' by John Layman

Vol 10 Blood Puddin’
2015 Issues 46-50

Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats, is facing his greatest challenge: a showdown with the monster who murdered his sister, who disfigured his colleagues, who now threatens his daughter. And to survive this challenge, Tony is going to need the help of the greatest secret agent who’s ever lived… Poyo. the only problem? Poyo is missing and presumed dead.

Chew Vol. 11: The Last Suppers by John Layman

Vol. 11 The Last Suppers
2016 Issues 51-55

Tony Chu, the cibopathic federal agent with the ability to get psychic impressions from what he eats, is close to finding answers about the bird flu that killed millions. The only thing standing in his way is Mason Savoy, fellow cibopath, ex-mentor, and unrepentant murderer.

My Thoughts:
This series is just wacky and weird and slightly gross and funny and twisted and interesting. I did a binge read starting Thanksgiving weekend to get caught up with the series. The final volume is due out in January and I wanted to be ready to read that as soon as my library can get it to me. I’m number one on the hold list.

These volumes include the usual bizarre actions of Tony Chu and his fellow FDA agents. Tony’s family is an absolute hoot. Particularly his sister who doesn’t let being dead get in the way of helping Tony.

The heroes are complicated. The bad guys are just strange and scary. Tony’s partner cracks me up (he’s got a complicated love life).

The artwork by Rob Guillory is colorful and fun and manages to present some bizarre stuff in a way that isn’t completely gross.

This is a tough series to recommend because it’s so weird and a little gross at times but the dark humor suits me and I cannot wait until January when I can find out how this ends.

3.5 stars 3.5/5 for the book

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As You Wish by Cary Elwes – Audio Edition

Posted by on Dec 8, 2016 in 2016, 4.5 stars, Audio, Book Review | 2 comments

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden narrated by Cary Elwes and others

Genre: Memoir
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 2014
Length: 7 hours, 1 minutes
Narrated by: Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Rob Reiner, Wallace Shawn , Robin Wright, Billy Crystal, and Danny Burnstein
Source: Purchased

The Book:
From the publisher:

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.

Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.

With a foreword by Rob Reiner, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

My Thoughts:
This one is partially Trish’s fault. She was talking on twitter about how much she was enjoying this audiobook. As a huge fan of the movie The Princess Bride that was just the minor little nudge I needed to purchase this,

I have lost count of how many times I have seen the movie and quotes from it are a routine part of our conversation. Hearing Cary Elwes talk about his experiences during the making of the movie is an absolute delight.

He narrates most of it but there are bits and pieces here and there where his co-stars, Rob Reiner, Bill Goldman and others involved in the movie added their comments to his book. Many of these people narrate their own comments. Danny Burnstein narrates for others.

I was only a few chapters into the book when I insisted that The Hubster listen to this foo. I downloaded it to his phone and he has been enjoying it just as much as I did. I cannot wait for him to finish the book so that we can watch the movie again.

There are lots of wonderful stories about the making of the movie and Elwes tells these stories wonderfully. I’m not going to spill a lot of what he shares but I will say that Andre the Giant was clearly loved by all the cast. Billy Crystal is a nightmare when you must keep from laughing. Robin Wright’s first day on the film involved her dress catching on fire. Elwes and Mandy Patinkin did all the sword fighting themselves and spent months practicing and learning from experts.

If you are a fan of the movie, then you will enjoy this book and I highly recommend the audio edition.
Check out this video on the Simon & Schuster website.

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars 4.5/5 for the narration

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The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Book Review | 2 comments

The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade Fiction
Format: Paperback and ebook
Series: #1 in the Hero’s Guide series
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 438
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change.
Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, the princes stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be.

My Thoughts:
I’m not even sure where I first heard about this series but the idea of a fractured fairy tale parody featuring the princes from four of the most famous fairy tales sounded fun.

It was definitely fun and I’ll be getting the next book (The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle) from the library soon.

The four princes are rather annoyed that no one knows their names because the bards called all of them Prince Charming in their songs. As they meet up and decide to rescue Cinderella (who needs little or no rescuing) from a witch who is plotting her Supreme Scheme for Infamy.

I enjoyed the princes and their varying degrees of ineptitude.

All the princes had their issues—Frederic was easily intimidated, Liam’s ego could stand to be reined in a bit, and Gustav could use some impulse control—but Duncan was flat-out strange.

This was just a fun adventure and it manages to parody many of the classic fairy tale tropes but in an entertaining and funny way. It’s got plot complications galore and the illustrations by Todd Harris just add to the fun.

It was just the escapist adventure that I needed. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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