Friday, August 7, 2020

Banana Split by Josi S. Kilpack

Banana Split (c) 2012 by Josi S. Kilpack
Banana Split (c) 2012
by Josi S. Kilpack
 I have often wondered what it would be like to live life as one of those poor hapless people in the murder mysteries on TV that continually stumble over dead bodies every week, and seem genuinely surprised when they do, despite the fact that last week, and the week before, the same thing happened. I've often wondered why poor Father Brown, as well as Laura Thyme and Rosemary Boxer don't develop PTSD because of their constant interactions with people showing up murdered.

In Banana Split, the seventh book in the Culinary Mysteries which feature Sadie Hoffmiller, a middle aged detective, that very thing has happened. It's the first book of Josi Kilpack's Culinary Mysteries that I've read, though. And in this book, poor Sadie, trying to relax in Hawai'i because of the stresses of other mysteries she's been involved with, finds herself entangled, quite literally, with the deceased body of a young woman found floating in the ocean. Already suffering from PTSD, OCD, etc. she finds herself terrified of leaving her condo, and accepting the police's assessment that the poor young woman must have died either from a drug overdose, or by falling in the water while intoxicated with something.

But then the young woman's eleven year old son shows up at Sadie's doorstep pleading for answers, and Sadie finds the strength to help the young man try to find out what really happened to his mom.

This book is a fun read, especially for people who enjoy mysteries. I appreciate how the victim is treated. Noelani Pouha isn't just a dead body put there for shock value and a reason to solve a mystery. Sadie sees her as a person, gets to know Noelani through her son and her friends, and cares about her, even though Sadie never met her while she was alive.  I liked the several different red herrings, which made figuring out the whodunit quite entertaining and kept me guessing.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden

"Sheriff Cade O'Brien was heartily sick of shooting people." This sentence begins The Sheriffs of Savage Wells by Sarah M. Eden, and tells me a whole lot about Cade O'Brien in that one simple sentence. Right there, I like Cade O'Brien, and also feel a little sorry for him, too. But only a little. He's too cool to feel sorry for. So mostly I like him.

Sheriffs of Savage Wells, The (c) 2016
by Sarah M. Eden
And when I meet Paisley Bell, I like her just as much. She is good at being a peace officer, but no one in Savage Wells Wyoming in 1875 wants to take her seriously because she's a woman. Still, she'll try for the job even if she has to face off with the famous Cade O'Brien to do it.

In Savage Wells, the last sheriff left because he wanted to go cut down trees in Oregon. That left the spot of sheriff open. Paisley had been acting sheriff for several months as the past sheriff shirked more and more of his duties as he got ready to leave. So she should be perfect for the job. But the town council doesn't exactly agree with her. So they advertise for the job, and Cade O'Brien shows up. Not one to back down easily, Paisley wants to have a try for the job as well, so the town counsel decides to let them have a competition.

The banter between them is at times heated, and at times less so. Paisley really wants the job. She's good at it, and she wants to be able to take care of her aging father. Cade is good at it, too, and wants to settle in a small, quiet town without having to shoot any more bank robbers or horse thieves.

Despite their differences, and conflicts of interest, Paisley and Cade start realizing their attraction to each other. But then before they can discover what their growing feelings for each other might mean, a gang of bank robbers shows up in town, and the two sheriffs will have to put their feelings (good and bad) aside to deal with the bad guys. What happens next? Read the book and find out!

This is a very enjoyable and clean romance. There are a few clean kissing scenes, and the worst word in the book is "Saints!" which Cade is fond of spouting when things aren't going his way. If you like clean, western romance, this is a book you will enjoy!

Friday, July 17, 2020

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: A Giant Problem
(c) 2008
by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
The second book in the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles, A Giant Problem by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi is a fun continuation that began with The Nixie's Song, and that will end with The Wyrm King.

A Giant Problem is a fun, suspenseful book that involve step-siblings Nick, Lauri, and Jules. (Nick and Jules's dad is married to Lauri's mom.)

The giants are waking up, and they need a nixie's song to get the giants away from people and out to sea. But Taloa, their Nixie friend is nowhere to be found. Nick, Lauri, and Jules are the only ones who know that so many unexplained fires are caused by so many giants starting to wake up!

Will the kids be able to stop the giants in time before they destroy all of Florida with their fighting, and their fire blowing?

If you enjoy middle grade fantasy with suspense and tension, you will enjoy this. Especially if you like exciting twist endings that will lead into the next book!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume

Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
(c) 1972 by Judy Blume
I remember reading Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume when I was a kid, and finding a lot about Sheila that I could relate to.

Sheila Tubman lives in New York City with her parents and older sister. She lives in the same apartment as Peter Hatchman, the protagonist in Judy Blume's first book of the series, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. While it happens in the same series, this is a standalone book. I enjoyed Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, but I especially liked Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great, because as a girl, I was able to empathize with her a bit better. Especially when it came to her uncertainties about the unknown and scary things.

Going to Tarrytown for the summer (the Sleepy Hollow of Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow) she finds a lot to be scared of, from swimming, to dogs, to spiders. But she also grows in a lot of ways that I appreciated.

I recommend this book to young readers, upper elementary and junior high. But I'm sure adult readers wanting a little bit of nostalgia would enjoy it, too.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie's Song by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black

Spiderwick Chronicles The Nixie's Song (c) 2009
by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black 
Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles: The Nixie's Song by Toni DiTerlizzi and Holly Black is the first of three books in the Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles series. Stepsiblings Nicholas and Lori are having a hard time getting along after their parents marry. Lori loves mystical stories, fairies, unicorns, etc and Nicholas is practical. Lori has a copy of Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide and loves the Spiderwick Chronicles. (While the fourth wall isn't completely broken in this book, it comes close.)

After finding a four leaf clover in the woods as he's trying to entertain his new stepsister, Nicholas can suddenly see things he didn't see before. Including an injured nixie who needs to be taken to water in order to survive! Working together, the stepsiblings are able to help her only to find out something worse: a giant attacked her and her sisters, and Taloa, the nixie, needs their help!

When they reach out to the authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles (this part was rather whimsical coming near to breaking the fourth wall) the authors don't take them seriously! Fortunately, the Grace brothers are there, and do. Working together, will the kids be able to defeat the giant who has found Taloa and will kill her if she stops singing? Or is she, and all of them, doomed?

I recommend this fun book to young and old who enjoy middle grade fantasy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare is one of my favorite plays written by him. It was likely written in the mid 1590s.

It begins with the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and his fiance Hippolyta making plans for their upcoming marriage when Egeus, a citizen comes to them with a complaint. His daughter Hermia, won't marry Demetrius, the man he's picked for her, and he's upset! Lysander, the man Hermia does love is there too, but nothing Lysander or Hermia say will change Egeus' mind.

Theseus tells Hermia she has four days to choose one of three things: either take the man her dad has chosen, go to a convent, or even possibly face execution! Neither of those things are what she wants, and so Hermia and Lysander plan to run away. But they make a slight mistake in telling Hermia's friend Helena what their plans are. Helena is in love with Demetrius, and he was in love with her too before he decided to change his mind and ask Egeus for Hermia. So Helena, hoping to get on his good side, tells Demetrius what Hermia's plans are. Angry that Hermia has run off, Demetrius goes after Hermia and Lysander, and Helena goes after Demetrius!

Meanwhile in the forest, the king and queen of the fairies are at odds with one another over the fostering of a little boy who was the son of the queen's mortal friend who died in childbirth. Oberon the king, wants custody of the little boy, and the queen, Titania, wants to keep the child. So the king is mad.

Meanwhile, a group of actors including a rather silly fellow named Nick Bottom want to perform for the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, and so they are on their way to Athens in the hopes of performing it.

Oberon, wanting to play a trick on his wife, gets his servant Puck to go look for a plant that has magical properties; when you place the juice on the eyelids of a sleeping person, they will fall in love with the first individual (human or animal) they see upon waking up! Oberon sees Demetrius, followed by Helena, stalking through the forest and berating her for following him. He wants to find Hermia and Lysander, and is mad! Taking pity on Helena, Oberon tells Puck to put the juice on Demetrius' eyes when he is asleep, so that he will fall in love with Helena when he wakes.

But poor Puck, not knowing what they look like, comes upon Lysander and Hermia sleeping (the two are a fair distance apart) and he puts the juice on Lysander's eyes. Unfortunately, Helena finds Lysander and wakes him, and when he looks at her, Lysander thinks he's in love with her!

Puck also finds Nick Bottom, and as a joke, turns his head into a donkey's head.

Realizing his mistake, he also puts the juice on Demetrius' eyes so that Demetrius will fall in love with Helena, which he does, but now both Lysander and Demetrius are in love with Helena, and Hermia is completely left out. But Helena thinks the three of them are playing a joke on her, and is mad at all of them.

Puck puts the juice on Titania's eyes, and when Nick Bottom accidentally wakes her, she thinks she's in love with a man who has a donkey head!

What happens next in this twisty turny romantic comedy? Read or watch the play to find out!

I recommend it to adults as well as children who enjoy Shakespearean comedy.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Sir Ian Holm, 1931-2020

Sir Ian Holm in his roll as Bilbo Baggins
in The Lord of the Rings Movies directed
by Peter Jackson

"I've thought up an ending for my book: 'And he lived happily ever after, to the end of his days." -Bilbo Baggins, from Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings.

Sir Ian Holm, (12 September 1931-19 June 2020) who acted in such  works as Lord of the RingsChariots of FireDay after Tomorrow, etc. has passed away. I enjoyed his performances, and thought him to be a supurb actor. I am sad to hear of his passing.

"Go in Peace! I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil"- J.R.R. Tolkien (Gandalf, in Return of the King.)