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Mark Baker - Carstairs Considers (Santa Clarita, CA United States)
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And Then There Were Nuns (League of Literary Ladies)
And Then There Were Nuns (League of Literary Ladies)
by Kylie Logan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Who Would Kill a Nun?, 9 Mar. 2016
There is a new retreat center on the island, and a group of ten nuns is coming for a one week retreat. Bed and Breakfast owner Bea Cartwright has been asked to provide the meals since the kitchen in the retreat center isn’t quite ready yet. The nuns are a diverse lot from all over the country. The only thing they have in common is their ministries in their local communities designed to help those less fortunate. In fact, they really hardly know each other.

Which is why it is surprising when one of the Sisters doesn’t show up for their first dinner. When Bea and the rest of the Sisters search, Bea finds her dead. Is one of the remaining nuns hiding a motive? Or will the killer go after one of the remaining Sisters next?

This is the first time in the series that the classic work of literature paralleled with the mystery plot wasn’t the book that Bea and her friends in the League of Literary Ladies were already reading. In case you hadn’t guessed from the title, we are getting a new twist on Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None, a book I’m actually familiar with. I enjoyed watching for these parallels, although the book and mystery take off in some wild and different directions. There was one parallel to Christie’s story that was included here but then never fully explained for this book. I have my suspicions as to the who and why, however, and this is a minor issue in an otherwise great mystery.

Now, if you aren’t already familiar with the Christie book, you should know that it is spoiled here. There’s nothing here that you won’t be able to follow, however.

In fact, if you’ve already read the Christie book, you don’t need to worry about being bored. The mystery borrows a few things from Christie, but this is a unique mystery with its own twists, surprises, and clues. I had no clue what was happening until just a few pages before Bea figured it out. The ending was wonderful, too.

While I’ve mentioned the League, I’ve mainly talked about Bea. That’s because she is really the main character here, and Chandra, Kate, and Luella are supporting players. They still get plenty of page time and do contribute to the story. Additionally, they get their own sub-plot as Chandra seems to be going out of her way to antagonize the others.

The rest of the cast is in top form as well. Plus there are all those nuns. A few of them are more background characters, but it is easy to keep them all straight as the book progresses, something I worried about with a cast I knew would be this large.

And for those who have been reading all along, we finally learn the hinted at secret Bea has been hiding. It’s a good one. But another regular character has just as big a secret of his or her own. And that’s all I’m saying.

Whether you are new to this league or a fan since the first came out, you’ll be thrilled with their newest adventure. And Then There Were Nuns combines fun characters and a creative mystery for a page turning success.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

A Churn for the Worse (Amish Mysteries (Laura Bradford))
A Churn for the Worse (Amish Mysteries (Laura Bradford))
by Laura Bradford
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.53

5.0 out of 5 stars Claire Churns up Another Killer, 4 Mar. 2016
Last year, I got completely hooked on the Amish Mysteries by Laura Bradford, reading all four that had been published to date. That left me anxiously awaiting the publication of book five, A Churn for the Worse, and I’m glad to say it is another wonderful visit with these characters.

It’s summer, and Claire Weatherly is enjoying the added tourism that brings to Heavenly, Pennsylvania. While her shop is busy, she is enjoying her evenings with her boyfriend, detective Jakob Fisher. With her English and Amish friends, Claire finds her life rich, full, and peaceful. The biggest conflict in town is the consultant that’s come in and wants to bring in younger tourists with plans that would ruin much of what makes the town so special now.

The peacefulness is shattered when Claire hears of an Amish man found murdered in his barn, hit over the head by a shovel. Things get more complicated when the family realizes that they were robbed about the same time, and the robberies continue in the Amish community. Who is responsible? Will the robberies lead to another murder?

I am a confirmed read in order person; I go out of my way to read a series in order. Most of the time, you would be okay reading a series out of order, and it’s just a matter of personal preference. This series is not one of those times. While the murders of the previous books aren’t spoiled here, the character growth and the change in the relationships between characters is a major strength of the series. To fully understand all that happens here, you need to know what has come before.

Because once again, the characters shine. The main cast continues to evolve, and their relationships reflect that fact. It is truly heartwarming to read some of the scenes in this book knowing where the characters started out in book one. Other scenes tie up sub-plots from previous books. The focus of the book is the series regulars, and to fully appreciate how wonderful the growth is, you need the full backstory. Not to say we don’t meet some great new characters here, and they are interesting as well. But they don’t get the page time that the regulars do.

The plot is definitely something different than what we get in many of the cozies I read, but it absolutely worked to keep me turning the pages. In fact, I read much more of the book than I intended one day because I had to see if my theory about the plot was correct. Once again, I thought I had a handle on things, but it turned out I was wrong, as I discovered when I reached the logical climax. Oh, I had a part of it figured out, but only a part.

What I realized as I was reading this book is how much the peace Claire is always finding in town translates through the pages. Thanks to the wonderful descriptions, I’m transported to a place that’s slightly less busy and definitely more restful. I am longing to visit Heavenly in real life (between murders) for some much needed R and R. Since that’s not an option, these books work wonderfully for that purpose thanks to the great atmosphere.

So if you have yet to visit Heavenly, I highly recommend you do so. And if you are ready for your next visit, you’ll be delighted with A Churn for the Worse.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Ripe for Murder (Cypress Cove Mystery)
Ripe for Murder (Cypress Cove Mystery)
by Carlene O'Neil
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely Delightful Sequel, 2 Mar. 2016
While I don’t drink, I grew up in the heart of California’s wine country, so the idea of a mystery set at a winery has appealed to me. I’ve found a great winery series with the Cyprus Cove mysteries. While I enjoyed the first one, I found Ripe for Murder, the second in the series, to be even stronger.

This book finds winery owner Penny Lively traveling from her central coast town of Cyprus Cove up to Napa County. No, she’s not going to check out the competition. She and Antonia, the owner of the neighboring winery, have been approached about contributing part of their land for a wine train and they are heading to the town of St. Katrina to study how the similar one there runs and what it has done for the local wineries. Penny is thrilled that her winery manager, Connor, is coming along, but she’s significantly less thrilled that Antonia’s daughter and winery manager, Chantal, is also coming along because of their long and rocky past.

The group quickly settles into their hotel and gets to know the others who are there to check out the wine train. Most of the others are potential cash investors from all over the country, and they seem like a nice bunch. The exception is Tara, a trophy wife who is spoiled and mean, but especially mean when she is drunk. The weekend takes a deadly turn when Tara is murdered, and Chantal is the only logical suspect. While Penny may not like Chantal, she knows that Chantal is not a killer despite what the police think. Can Penny find the real killer?

I was a bit surprised when I figured out that we were leaving behind Cyprus Cove for the second book in the series, but I quickly got over that. It means that a couple of the characters we met in the first book were only mentioned it passing. The four returning characters are absolutely wonderful, and I enjoyed the character growth we got to see in them. I’ve got to say, I especially enjoy Antonia. She is a great sidekick and such a fun character overall.

I was a bit worried when we were introduced to the majority of the new characters in just a couple of scenes, but I actually never had a hard time keeping them straight. Their personalities and relationships are strong enough that they make a wonderful cast of suspects.

Characters and motives are set up very well without the pace at the beginning lagging, and when the murder takes place, we are off and running. The mystery contains a bit of a locked room element with a twist, and I really enjoyed seeing how that would play out. There is always something happening to advance the story, and I was happily turning pages until the end. That ending is perfectly logical, but I must confess I missed the clues. This is one of the best plots I’ve read in a while.

Obviously, any setting can be great with the right author spinning the tales, and that’s what we have with Ripe for Murder. Pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine, sit back, and enjoy this wonderful book.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Woof (Bowser and Birdie)
Woof (Bowser and Birdie)
by Spencer Quinn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.78

3.0 out of 5 stars Spencer Quinn Brings His Dog Antics to the Middle Grade Crowd, 29 Feb. 2016
One of the many popular mystery series I keep meaning to get back to is by Spencer Quinn, and the twist to that series is that it is narrated by a dog who helps his PI owner solve cases. Spencer Quinn is taking the same sort of idea and writing it for a younger, middle grade audience with the new Bowser and Birdie series. Woof is the debut, but it unfortunately gets the series off to a shaky start.

Bowser likes Birdie and her Grammy the instant the two walk into the shelter where he is currently living, and is thrilled when Birdie decides he is the dog that she wants to adopt. However, the trio return to the family fishing and tackle business in the Louisiana bayou to find that Grammy’s prize stuffed marlin has been stolen.

The fish wasn’t worth anything except for sentimental value since Grammy’s father had caught it. Then Birdie and Bowser begin to hear rumors of a treasure map that might have been hidden in the marlin. Is that why it was stolen? Can they solve the case?

The narration in this book is perfect. I can easily picture it being written from the point of view of a dog, and it provides many wonderful insights into the mind of man’s best friend. Okay, so maybe this isn’t how dogs really think or how they are wired, but it feels right, and that’s the important point for a work of fiction.

All good things can be overdone, and unfortunately, that is the case with the narration. We get that Bowser thinks Birdie is wonderful, and it is cute at times. But it wears out its welcome by the end of the book. Likewise, there are some other antics of the dog that are clever and cute early on but wear out their welcome by the end.

I certainly liked the characters. Bowser is a warm dog, and it’s hard not to like him. Birdie makes a resourceful main character, and Grammy has some layers to her we don’t get to fully see here but are hinted at and can easily be explored in future books.

Unfortunately, the mystery is underdeveloped. Early on, things don’t seem to progress much at all. Birdie and Bowser really do get into the case in the middle, but in the rush to wrap up the book, a major plot thread is completely dropped. I’m not sure that kids, especially dog lovers, will notice the uneven plotting, but it did bother me.

The dog narration in Woof is a wonderful touch, and I really did want to love this book. Sadly, the plot was just too weak to recommend it to anyone but dog lovers.

What You See (Jane Ryland)
What You See (Jane Ryland)
by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.10

4.0 out of 5 stars What I See? Another Great Book, 26 Feb. 2016
Over the years, Hank Phillippi Ryan has earned a reputation for her page turning novels – and that reputation is well earned. What You See is the latest in her Jane Ryland series, and it is another book that will leave you reading well into the night.

Now this series is officially titled the Jane Ryland series, but I would argue that Jane’s boyfriend Jake Brogan should be just as much a part of the series title. They are both equally important characters in each book, contributing to the solution of the plot.

Boston detective Jake Brogan has landed a case with too many witnesses. A man has been stabbed in the middle of a small park near city hall at lunch time, and there are cameras and cell phones all around. Did one of these eye witnesses see the stabbing? Or did they capture a clue on their phone?

Meanwhile, reporter Jane Ryland is trying to land a new job. When the call about the stabbing comes in, she is interviewing at a TV station and is the only person around, so she heads out to cover it on a freelance basis. However, a family crisis with her sister’s wedding threatens to derail her career comeback. Can she solve her family’s problems?

If you are new to the series, you can certainly jump in here. Jane and Jake are wonderful characters, and it is easy to figure out their history from comments and exposition here. While a tiny bit of a sub-plot from the previous book is spoiled (explaining why Jane is once again unemployed), nothing major from any of the previous books is spoiled.

There really are two plots in this book that weave in and out of each other seamlessly. The book is a bit slow as the stories are built up, but once they get going, this book is a page turner. I had a hard time putting it down, always wanting to read just a little bit more. This book is longer than the books I normally read, but it didn’t feel like it as I was glued to the page. Of course, everything builds to a satisfying climax.

The story unfolds from multiple viewpoints, including Jane and Jake. This allows us to get to know several characters very well, which helps since we have a large cast of new characters here. All the characters are real, becoming fully fleshed out before we are too far into the book.

Unfortunately, the cuts between the multiple viewpoints was part of the problem early on in the book. In an effort to create tension, we had some quick cuts that were supposed to be suspenseful but were more annoying than suspenseful. As we got to know the new characters and the plots built, switching to another part of the story became a welcome thing because I needed to know what was going to happen.

I saw a description of this series recently that referred to it as cozy thriller. While I don’t know if I would go quite that far, these definitely fall closer to the soft boiled spectrum than the pure cozies I usually read. Mostly, this is noticeable in a few well-placed swear words. And the plot is definitely a step closer to thriller than cozies generally are as well, with more tension and more at stake but without the violence that genre usually has. Just keep this in mind as you pick it up to read.

Because I definitely recommend you read What You See. You’ll be caught up in the story before you know it.

The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech
The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech
by Kirsten Powers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.82

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering Look at Our Vanishing Free Speech, 26 Feb. 2016
For the last 15 years, I have been a Fox News watcher. Over the time, I have come to respect Kirsten Powers because she always brings well thought out arguments when she appears on the network. Since she is a liberal and I am a conservative, it’s rare that I agree with her, but it’s not rare that she makes me think, which I appreciate. The other reason I respect her is that she has no issue calling out her fellow liberals when they cross a line, and that is just what she has done in The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. For anyone who cares about the direction of our country, it is a sobering look at the tactics of many on the left today.

Over the course of this book, Kirsten Powers looks at the tactics the illiberal left (as she dubs them) uses to cower anyone they disagree with into shutting up. The tactics are sadly very simple – instead of discussing what is said, they accuse them of being racists, sexist, and any other “ist” they can think of and/or then demonize them. She then shows exactly how the illiberal left does this over and over again in any way and place they can.

She starts with how intolerant they are against those they view as intolerant. There are then two chapters on colleges, including speech codes, trigger warnings, and how speakers and Christian clubs are treated on campuses. She then moves on to the war on Fox News, both from the Obama administration but the illiberals in general, including the discussions of the ladies of Fox News as the Fox Bimbos. She also talks about attacks on liberals who aren’t liberal enough, like the attacks Bill Maher received for saying the Muslims aren’t that tolerant, a charge he has made against Christians many times with no blow back at all. Finally, she goes up against Feminists who decry sexism all the time, starting with the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case (and the facts vs. the spin) and ending with blow back people receive when they question the current college rape statistics.

The majority of the stories Ms. Powers tells come from the last 3 to 5 years, and sadly, they are nothing new to those of us who follow politics in the USA at all. Whether or not we know the details of a particular story, the themes are all too familiar. This book does an amazing job of connecting those threads and stories in one place so anyone with an open mind can see how wide spread the trend is and just how scary the illiberal left can be.

Ms. Powers doesn’t spend much time editorializing in the book. She doesn’t need to. The words of the many people in the illiberal left she quotes speak for themselves. They are filled with such hatred that it is frankly rather scary. Instead, she presents the action or words spoken and the reaction from the illiberal left side by side. And, if relevant, she shares statistics and facts that actually back up the person being attacked by the illiberal left. When she disagrees with someone, she states so, but doesn’t get into that argument. Her focus is on how the illiberal left is treating those they disagree with.

And for anyone who has automatically tuned me out after my first sentence, the chapter on the War on Fox is absolutely required reading. Now, I freely admit that it has a conservative bias in the opinion shows (and actually, I can’t stand to watch the opinion shows), but the chapter shows how the straight news shows actually are fairer than their rivals on CNN and MSNBC. Don’t believe me? Read the book. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about.

I did feel the book went a little off topic in the chapter she spent on the Obama administration and its lack of transparency in general. While I certainly agree this is a serious issue, I didn’t feel it completely applied here since this chapter, is more about the government trying to crack down on the press doing its job and violating the related freedom of the press clause of the first amendment than truly being about stifling free speech. It’s a strong chapter, just maybe not right for this book.

While Ms. Powers does make occasional mention of these same tactics on the right, she only gives a very, very few brief examples. While some might argue that it would make the book stronger to be more fair and balanced (to borrow a phrase), the premise of the book is how the left is killing free speech, so focusing on that end of the political spectrum is the correct way to go. Besides, as she points out early in the book, if your best argument is “The conservatives do it, too,” then you’ve already lost the argument. (And I’d like to call out my fellow conservatives on this point as well. I’ve actually had conversations where my friends have said similar things to me. It’s a cliché, but it’s true, two wrongs don’t make a right.)

The book focuses on the illiberal left in politics, the media, and on college campuses. This is because it is the easiest to document. Anyone who has tried to engage in debate has probably had these tactics used on them at some point. Heck, while I was reading this book, I saw so many examples from other sources, including friends on Facebook, it wasn’t funny. No, really, it wasn’t. It’s downright scary.

And that’s why this book is so important. While few of the myriad of examples she gives in this book (tax payer funded college campuses being a prime exception) involve the government killing free speech and therefore violating the first amendment, it speaks to a mentality that is building in our country. The stats she shares on those who think the first amendment goes too far are chilling. And that’s the mentality that she speaks to here.

Earlier, I said that even when I disagree with Ms. Powers, she makes me think. There was very little of anything I disagreed with over the course of this book. Most of the time, I was nodding my head in agreement at the points she was making and making so much more eloquently than I am in this review. However, she still made me think about a few things in a different way.

This book is focused almost entirely on facts and stories, and only the last few pages are spent on trying to counter the problem. There is basically only one piece of advice given, go out and make some friends who can introduce you to the other side of issues. It’s obviously not the only thing that can help fight this problem, but it is certainly a good step in that direction.

I actually listened to the audio book version. I was a bit surprised when I saw that Kirsten Powers herself wasn’t doing the narration. I know that authors reading their own books isn’t always a good thing, but being familiar with her TV presence, I was confident that Ms. Powers could have done a great job. Instead, the book is narrated by Kristin Watson Heintz. She does a wonderful job with the text, keeping us engaged the entire way through. I was a bit concerned whether I would enjoy a non-fiction audio book, but I didn’t find that to be a problem at all.

Of course, I’m sure the subject of this particular book helped. With plenty of stories to back up her points, Kirsten Powers makes a solid case that things need to change in our country. The Silencing is a sobering book that anyone who cares about the political climate in America should read and think about.

Fogged Inn (Maine Clambake Mystery) (Maine Clambake Mysteries)
Fogged Inn (Maine Clambake Mystery) (Maine Clambake Mysteries)
by Barbara Ross
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Page Turner, 24 Feb. 2016
In the last couple of years, the Maine Clambake Mysteries has become one of my favorite series. The characters are wonderful and the mysteries keep me guessing until the end. Fogged Inn is the latest in the series, and it’s another strong book.

With winter fast approaching and the family clambake shut down for the season, Julia Snowden has opened Gus’s Too with her boyfriend Chris Durand. Gus’s Too is focusing on dinner, using the same building that Gus has used for his restaurant for years to serve only breakfast and lunch. Plus, Julia is living upstairs in a small studio apartment.

The Tuesday morning when this book opens, Julia is awakened by Gus yelling up the stairs that there is a body in the walk in refrigerator. The body hadn’t been there when Julia and Chris went to bed. Furthermore, he was a stranger in town who had eaten dinner at Gus’s Too the night before. With no ID on the body, the police don’t have anywhere to start to the investigation. Who was he? Why would someone kill him? And how did he wind up in the frig? Since it happened just downstairs from where Julia was sleeping, she is determined to find out.

I often complain here about books that start with an exciting scene and then flashback to something before that excitement happens and tells us the story from there. This book starts with finding the body on Tuesday morning, but things that happened in town and at Gus’s Too Monday night play a part in the book. We are fed this information in pieces, and it never slows down the forward progress of the story, which really does start on Tuesday morning. I loved how it was teased enough that when Julia was discussing what happened Monday night, we really wanted to know what happened, but it never slowed down the forward progress of the story.

Really, there is nothing to complain about with the plot at all. From the great start of finding the body, the pace never lags. We are constantly fed clues, red herrings, and surprises until we reach the climax. The ending is logical and sobering at the same time. It really does pack a punch, and in a great way.

Sadly, Julia’s family isn’t as big a part of this book as they’ve been of the previous books in the series. It makes sense since the action is taking place away from the family business, and including them would have just slowed things down. But I did still miss them. That’s really my only complaint with the book, and it’s a very very minor issue.

We meet quite an interesting cast of characters in this book, and they are all fully developed. I actually grew quite attached to them over the course of the story and wouldn’t complain if any of them popped in for cameos in future books. Of course, Julia, Chris, and Gus are still fun and entertaining characters as always; I enjoyed watching Julia and Chris’s relations grow yet again in this book.

Being a culinary mystery, we get several recipes at the end of the book. With the focus on the restaurant, we get a soup (split pea, of course) and several entrée type recipes. Yes, there are some fish, but for those of us who don’t like fish, there are some other great sounding choices as well.

This series just gets stronger with each book. Fogged Inn is the best one to date, and it will leave you anxious for your next chance to visit with Julia.

NOTE: I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Boy Meets World: Season 7 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Boy Meets World: Season 7 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Offered by Newtownvideo_EU
Price: £13.81

4.0 out of 5 stars “She’s Going to be Mrs. Insensitive Jerk.”, 23 Feb. 2016
Sooner or later, all shows come to an end. Sometimes, the show has lost enough fans that no one cares. And sometimes, fans are heartbroken to hear their favorite show is ending. (And sometimes, a show gets both of those reactions.) I seem to remember not being too upset when it was announced that season 7 of Boy Meets World would be the final season, but having rewatched it now, I find that there is still much to enjoy this season.

This season finds the gang still in college, and Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and his fiancée Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel) still reeling from the revelation at the end of season six that Topanga’s parents are getting a divorce. Topanga isn’t sure she believes in love, as a result. Their relationship being on pause is even affecting their best friends, Shawn Hunter (Rider Strong) and Angela Moore (Trina McGee-Davis). And while Cory and Topanga are able to get their relationship back on track, it actually takes Angela’s father to help that couple along.

There is a wedding this season, and it happens about a third of the way through the season, leaving us plenty of time to watch Cory and Topanga settle into their new lives as a married couple. Meanwhile, the gang plays musical roommates early on before Rachel (Maitland Ward) takes a new job as an RA and Cory and Shawn’s older brothers Eric (Will Friedle) and Jack (Matthew Lawrence) take on jobs working in the student union while preparing to graduate from college.

Which just leaves us with the adults. While Mr. Feeney (William Daniels) is still in most episodes, we actually see less of Cory’s family than we used to. Alan (William Russ), Amy (Betsy Randle), and Morgan (Lindsay Ridgeway) do pop up in many episodes, although the baby brother born last season is almost completely forgotten. (No wonder I didn’t remember he existed until he popped up as a teen on Girl Meets World.)

A couple of my favorite episodes revolve around the older Matthew’s however. When Cory and Topanga arrive back from their honeymoon, they realize they have no place to live, and Alan absolutely refuses to help them. The lesson at the end of that is wonderful and still rings true today.

And that’s what I found while watching this show. Even in season 7, this show could still pack in the laughs along with some good lessons about life and what’s really important. There are several episodes that made me tear up at times. It’s a great balance.

Of course, there are the reasons I was tiring of the show by the end. Some of the characters are completely over the top. Yes, I’m looking at Eric as the worst culprit. At the same time, he can still make me laugh. Cory is also more likely to overreact than he used to be, which is saying something. In both cases, it is the way the characters were written. The cast is still doing good work, but the show was becoming a bit broad.

Plus there’s the fact that a coming of age comedy has to end as the characters get older, and with some of the characters graduating college and getting married, the time had definitely come for everyone to move on.

It was also very interesting watching this season having seen what the original creator has done with the characters on the current spin-off/follow up Girl Meets World. There is an episode that flashes forward to the future and, of course, there’s how they leave the characters. Both give fairly accurate glimpses of what they’ve done with the characters the few times they’ve appeared on the new show.

Speaking of the show ending, be prepared for tears as you watch those lost couple of episodes. It’s always hard to say goodbye to characters you love, and this is really no exception.

This season consisted of 23 episodes, including the two part season finale. All of them are preserved here in full-frame and stereo sound, their native presentation. There is nothing in the way of extras, which isn’t a surprise since there hasn’t been anything in the way of extras since season 2.

It was definitely time for Boy Meets World to end after season 7, but there are still laughs and great moments with these characters we love. If you are a fan, you’ll be happy to relive these moments over and over again.

Price: £8.49

5.0 out of 5 stars This Review of Frankencrayon Has NOT Been Canceled, 22 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Frankencrayon (Kindle Edition)
While I wouldn’t want every book or show to break the fourth wall, I enjoy the occasional story that does just that, which is why I was interested in Frankencrayon when I first heard about it. While I’m not sure that all kids will fully get this book, their parents will love it.

Before we even get to the first page, we find out that the book has been canceled. It seems that a cast of crayons was going to tell us the story of Frankenstein, but they’ve had to change their plans because of a giant squiggle that appears on the page. And their efforts to solve the problem just make things worse. Can they ever fix things?

Of course, this book is framed as the crayons explaining to us why the squiggle caused the book to be canceled. But the twist comes at the end as we actually do get to see the problem resolved. Then comes the added fun with the morals to take from the story. Oh, don’t worry, the book isn’t preachy. These morals flow logically from the story and are presented for fun at the end. We’re talking things like “Adding more squiggles doesn’t make squiggles go away.” And the last page? It has the best laugh of the entire book.

Which leads us into my only hesitation with the book. Kids might not understand a few of the jokes, like the one on the last page, or the self-referential humor throughout the book. I bet upper pre-school kids would get it with some explanation from their parents, however. Despite the fact that Frankenstein is referenced, nothing is said that will frighten kids or is at all inappropriate for the age group. And I bet they will love the jokes made based on the various crayon color names.

The illustrations are fairly simple, but they do a great job of conveying the problem the cast of crayons encounters and how they deal with it.

So I definitely recommend this book, just with the understanding that not all kids might get it right away. When they do, they and their parents will both appreciate the creative storytelling that happens in Frankencrayon.

Berried Secrets: A Cranberry Cove Mystery (Cranberry Cove Mysteries)
Berried Secrets: A Cranberry Cove Mystery (Cranberry Cove Mysteries)
by Peg Cochran
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.56

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow Start to a New Series, 22 Feb. 2016
Over the last couple of years, I’ve heard many people rave about the books of Peg Cochran, but I have yet to pick any of them up. When Berried Secrets came out, and I saw it was the first in a new series, I decided to give it a try. After all, I love cranberries, so it sounded promising. Sadly, it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be.

Monica Albertson has moved to the town of Cranberry Cover to help her half-brother, Jeff, get his cranberry farm running. He’s having serious issues with the finances, and she soon discovers that Sam Culbert, someone Jeff thought was a friend, was embezzling from him.

The morning the cranberry harvest begins, Sam’s body is found floating in the first bog the crew tries to harvest. While Sam wasn’t well liked in town, Monica is worried that her brother will be arrested for the crime. Can she find the real killer before that happens?

Despite the murder happening fairly early in the book, the first half was rather slow. I get this is the first in a series, so we need time to meet the characters, but even so, the balance just didn’t work for me. Even as the mystery became more focused in the second half, the twists and clues were fewer and farther between then I would have liked. Still, we do reach a logical and suspenseful climax, and the various threads were wrapped up well.

The characters were a bit slow to grow on me, too. By the end, I did care for several of them, those who will obviously become series regulars, but it took a while.

While I don’t always mention it, one of my biggest pet peeves is slips in the timeline. There’s a major one here. It’s almost like the author completely forgot about a day that happened in the book. Unfortunately, it should have had an impact on things, which really bothers me.

Of course, we do get three cranberry related recipes at the back of the book. And with my love of cranberries, they do sound delicious.

I’ve seen others who are usually fans of this author who were a bit cool to Berried Secrets as well. It’s not that the book was bad, but the flaws kept it from being as great a read as I expected it to be. Here’s hoping that now that the characters have been established, the next in the series is a stronger read.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in hopes I would review it.

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