Book Review: The Mystery at Lilac Inn

Still road trip audio book reviewing…The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene this time. The kiddo has been on a Nancy Drew trip lately. He really likes the reboot series (cough cough), the Nancy Drew Diaries. But occasionally we listen to an original.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Nancy and her friend Helen visit their friend Emily Willouby at the Lilac Inn, which Emily now owns, to help her plan her wedding. Emily plans on selling inherited diamonds in order to help fix up the Lilac Inn. However, Nancy soon learns that someone has been impersonating her and making expensive purchases under her name. Soon after, Emily’s diamonds are stolen! Can Nancy find the thieves and recover the missing diamonds?

My thoughts:

I always remembered Nancy Drew books as being suspenseful but dang. In this one book Nancy get capsized, run off the road into a ditch, her bungalow blown up, and kidnapped. That is one indestructible girl. LOL.

Look it’s a Nancy Drew mystery. There’s good old fashioned morals like politeness and kindness and being helpful because you can be. There’s improbable danger. There’s charming men. And the bad guys always act obviously like bad guys. LOL.

Sometimes that’s a really nice place to visit.

Book Review: Star Wars

Hi there! It’s me. Back from a two week road trip with the kiddo.

We listen to a lot of audio books in the car, even when in town. But when on a road trip we plow through them. So my next few book review may skew a little…YA? LOL

Star Wars: The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken is one of the kiddos faves. In fact, he loves the whole retelling series.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to finish building the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen-the Death Star. The rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy. . . .

Acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken delivers a captivating retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope like you’ve never experienced before. Since the premier of the original film, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker have become iconic, larger-than-life characters. The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy takes a deeper look at these three heroes as they join forces to defeat the evil that threatens their entire galaxy.

My thoughts:

Retelling had become big business. Hollywood has been remaking movies for years and it feels like every other author is retelling some story to get another book out on the market. Most of the time it pisses me off.

But this is not one of those times.

Braken invents back story that gives Princess Leia, Han, and Luke depth that the movies lack. Believable back story. (If the prequels made you want to pull your hair out, this might be the series for you. LOL)

It’s funny and fun. Star Wars has been an iconic epic for generations for a reason. Braken doesn’t subtract from that in any way. She adds substantially. The plot is still the one you know. She doesn’t change anything about that. And Leia, Luke, and Han are still Leia, Luke, and  Han. But now their actions make sense.

Book Review: A Parfait Murder

Whenever I road trip, I require a lot of books on cd/ipod. Things that sound fun at the library turn out to be super boring on the road. Or the reader is one of those who uses a different volume level for each character so you are constantly turning it up and down. I think I grabbed about 15 books before we left for our 5 state, 2 week family and friends tour this summer. While I hadn’t read anything else in the series by Wendy Lyn Watson, A Parfait Murder made it into the cd player.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

When Tally’s cousin Bree spots her deadbeat ex-husband strolling the Lantana County Fair with a fat wallet and a vixen on his arm, she immediately files for back child support. But when his lawyer is found dead, things get a little sticky. Did Bree serve up a dish of cold, sweet revenge? Or is she another hapless victim of a parfait crime?

My thoughts:

It was predictable. I say that about a lot of books though, so maybe you should just start ignoring that part of my review. LOL.

The characters were fun. The Texan setting amusing. And really it kept me entertained for 6 hours of a pouring buckets drive across Idaho and Montana. I’d give it two thumbs up if I didn’t need to keep both hands on the wheel. LOL


Book Review: Timekeepers

I think I have mentioned before, my favorite branch of the KCLS has a new non fiction table. So dangerous for me. I can’t help but fall madly in love with half the contents and take them all home despite not being able to read that many books in a week (nonfiction takes time to savor and make notes from.) Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed With Time by Simon Garfield was one such read.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Amazon):

Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. The Beatles learn to be brilliant in an hour and a half. An Englishman arrives back from Calcutta but refuses to adjust his watch. Beethoven has his symphonic wishes ignored. A US Senator begins a speech that will last for 25 hours. The horrors of war are frozen at the click of a camera. A woman designs a ten-hour clock and reinvents the calendar. Roger Bannister lives out the same four minutes over a lifetime. And a prince attempts to stop time in its tracks.

Timekeepers is a book about our obsession with time and our desire to measure it, control it, sell it, film it, perform it, immortalize it and make it meaningful. It has two simple intentions: to tell some illuminating stories, and to ask whether we have all gone completely nuts.

My thoughts:

This book is essentially many small essays on the nature of time. Some articles were fascinating and I couldn’t hear people calling for my attention. Invention of the Timetable, Vietnam Napalm Girl, Time Tactics that Work!, and Life is Short, Art is Long were fascinating to me. New bits of information I didn’t know, notes on books to read after I finish the stack falling over on my desk.

But those are my interests. Many other articles I skimmed, hit or miss. I’m not a Beatles fan. LOL. Yes, I said it out loud. But for someone who is I am sure that article would top their list. There really is something for everyone in this book, assuming you like things that can be related to time. LOL.

Book Review: Choosing Courage

It’s Memorial Day here in the US.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads:)

What turns an ordinary person into a hero? What happens in the blink of an eye on a battlefield (or in any dangerous situation) to bring out true courage? The men and women who have been recognized by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation know the answers to these questions deep in their hearts. We learn of Jack Lucas, a 13-year-old who kept his real age a secret so he could fight in World War II—where he deliberately fell on a grenade to save his buddies during the Iwo Jima invasion—and Clint Romesha, who almost single-handedly prevented a remote U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan from being taken over by the Taliban. Also included are civilians who have been honored by the Foundation for outstanding acts of bravery in crisis situations: for example, Jencie Fagan, a gym teacher who put herself in danger to disarm a troubled eighth grader before he could turn a gun on his classmates. Adding depth and context are illuminating sidebars throughout and essays on the combat experience and its aftermath: topics such as overcoming fear; a mother mourning her son; and “surviving hell” as a prisoner of war. Back matter includes a glossary and an index.

My thoughts:

On this day in which we celebrate those who died in service to our country, Choosing Courage is a fab book to remind you about the people who serve. Most of the stories are a few pages long, just enough to provide a little insight into the person who sacrificed for others and tell the story. It is not a quick read, despite the short story format. In fact, I found one story a day enough for me or I’d cry too much. Still, I like the reminder that good people exist.


Book Review: Murder Strikes a Pose

I totally wasn’t kidding about seeking out the previous books in the downward dog series by Tracy Weber. She’s a local Seattle area author and as such deserved a little extra of my reading time. Murder Strikes a Pose is the first in the series as well as her debut novel.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of KCLS):

When George and Bella–a homeless alcoholic and his intimidating German shepherd–disturb the peace outside her studio, yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s Zen-like calm is stretched to the breaking point. Kate tries to get rid of them before Bella scares the yoga pants off her students. Instead, the three form an unlikely friendship.

One night Kate finds George’s body behind her studio. The police dismiss his murder as a drug-related street crime, but she knows George wasn’t a dealer. So Kate starts digging into George’s past while also looking for someone to adopt Bella before she’s sent to the big dog park in the sky. With the murderer nipping at her heels, Kate has to work fast or her next Corpse Pose may be for real.

My thoughts:

Another book with ties to homelessness? hrm. It is a big problem up here. I could never figure out why though, it’s cold and rainy most of the year. I imagine that must be super uncomfortable. But Seattle seems to be a mecca like New Orleans (also super uncomfortable, 100 degrees and 2000 percent humidity, hello).

I enjoyed this book. For the most part it doesn’t read like a cozy trying to find it’s footing. There’s a little too much ruminating by the main character but it seemed in line with where the character actually was. Processing loss, learning to investigate, learning when to embrace things. So while the reading of said ruminating did irk now and then, it at least felt authentic to the character.

If I had read this one first I would totally say I am reading more to see where this goes. Since I read number 6 by accident first, I need to fill in the lines. LOL

Book Review: The Year of Less

I’ve given up burning the candle at both ends, I just threw myself into the fire. Given that state of extreme stress and constant over work, The Year of Less by Cait Flanders was extremely appealing.

Basic Summary (Courtesy of Goodreads):

In her late twenties, Cait Flanders found herself stuck in the consumerism cycle that grips so many of us: earn more, buy more, want more, rinse, repeat. Even after she worked her way out of nearly $30,000 of consumer debt, her old habits took hold again. When she realized that nothing she was doing or buying was making her happy—only keeping her from meeting her goals—she decided to set herself a challenge: she would not shop for an entire year.

The Year of Less documents Cait’s life for twelve months during which she bought only consumables: groceries, toiletries, gas for her car. Along the way, she challenged herself to consume less of many other things besides shopping. She decluttered her apartment and got rid of 70 percent of her belongings; learned how to fix things rather than throw them away; researched the zero waste movement; and completed a television ban. At every stage, she learned that the less she consumed, the more fulfilled she felt.

The challenge became a lifeline when, in the course of the year, Cait found herself in situations that turned her life upside down. In the face of hardship, she realized why she had always turned to shopping, alcohol, and food—and what it had cost her. Unable to reach for any of her usual vices, she changed habits she’d spent years perfecting and discovered what truly mattered to her.

Blending Cait’s compelling story with inspiring insight and practical guidance, The Year of Less will leave you questioning what you’re holding on to in your own life—and, quite possibly, lead you to find your own path of less.

My thoughts:

This is a one day book, meaning I dragged it with me all day so I could read what happened next as soon as possible.

Does she give great ideas on how to shop less?

Er, not really. Her suggestions felt few and far between. And when I was done reading I couldn’t really tell you what she said about that, other than think before you spend.

Does she write a compelling memoir none the less?

Oh yeah.

And she made me think about my compulsive consumerism. Because to be honest, I think we are all a little compulsive. Maybe a lot.

I know I was already chewing on how much is too much, what do I really need, why do I feel compelled to get things I don’t need or to buy them for other people? Moving for the second time in nine months will do that to you. LOL. Perhaps that’s why this book spoke to me.

But I think, if you’re at all interested in other people, this is an enjoyable book to read.