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No Use Dying Over Spilled Milk (Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery)
No Use Dying Over Spilled Milk (Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery)
by Tamar Myers
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.99
2 used & new from $11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Breezy fun., July 16, 2016
Author has a crisp writing style that moves the plot along nicely, although she can be quite repetitive. (Waitress accidentally spitting out gum and catching it, for example. Once was quite enough, thank you very much.) And Magdalena calling everyone "dear" is quite annoying. Still, this series offers a nice diversion on a wet, dreary afternoon. Fortunately for someone like me who skips around a lot, reading the books out of order is not a problem. One caveat: If you have any sense at all, you will give the recipes a wide berth. Can openers definitely are working overtime. (A friend remarked, you aren't cooking, you're heating up.) I know of no self-respecting Amish cook who would allow such garbage to come out of her kitchen. Unless you have the taste buds of a 5 year old, or salivate at a "casserole" made with hard-boiled eggs, cream of mushroom soup, and fried onions (served over rice, no less), skip right over them.


Caught In The Act
Caught In The Act
DVD

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Romp, June 15, 2016
This review is from: Caught In The Act (Amazon Video)
A little bit "Waking Ned Devine." A little bit "Local Hero." There's a great deal of subtlety in Welsh humor, and this is no exception. It takes a while to hit its stride, but the payoff is worth it. Fans of "Stella," "Gavin and Stacey," and other programs from the UK will recognize many familiar faces.


Hardscrabble Road: A Gregor Demarkian Novel (The Gregor Demarkian Holiday Mysteries Book 21)
Hardscrabble Road: A Gregor Demarkian Novel (The Gregor Demarkian Holiday Mysteries Book 21)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars One of my new favorites by this author., June 14, 2016
This is Haddam at her very best. The story is one for the times we live in -- the homeless and their plight, puffed up radio talk show hosts who play to the lowest common denominator, celebrity entitlement, and university politics. What is interesting to me is that many observations made a decade ago when this book was written could well describe life in America today. An engaging read.


Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure (Aunt Dimity Mystery)
Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure (Aunt Dimity Mystery)
by Nancy Atherton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.60
77 used & new from $10.79

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much to this one., June 14, 2016
Very thin. The main storyline -- the "mystery" -- involves little more than Aunt Dimity asking Lori to find a person with nothing more to go on except that he frequented a tea shop in Bloomsbury more than 60 years ago. Lori goes to London to the place where the tea shop used to be, asks a few questions, waits for some regulars to show up, and a few days later, voila! She finds her man. Not much to hang a book on. Would have made a better short story.

The rest is fluff and filler. The storyline of the newcomers to the village is a non-starter. I am perplexed as to why Lori doesn't know the name of a "metal detector," and how unfamiliar she is with it. (Are we really expected to believe that the entire village would show up for a demonstration of how one works?)

Most of the rest of it is filled with mind-numbingly dull bits of information about metal detecting, the years immediately after WWII, Anglo-Saxon history, the baby's diaper again (surely Lori would have referred to them as 'nappies,' not 'diapers' as she has lived in England over 10 years, and all her children born there. She calls a 'buggy' a 'pram,' right?), and how enchanted the entire village continues to be with a baby who spends her days being picked up and passed around whenever Lori encounters a group of people.

Lori, frankly, has grown into a dull thing . . . a bit of a ninny actually. I'm surprised her dashingly handsome, well-educated, career-oriented husband hadn't cut strings fled years ago.

I re-read earlier works in the series now and then, and continue to find them as enchanting and captivating as ever.

This installment of a once-beloved series, however, is dry as toast. Very little to recommend it except perhaps to pass the time in a doctor's waiting room ... unless the magazines are miraculously up to date, whereby you might want to opt for the magazines.


Summer's Lease
Summer's Lease
DVD ~ Susan Fleetwood
9 used & new from $2.73

2.0 out of 5 stars What a mess., June 5, 2016
This review is from: Summer's Lease (DVD)
I watched this three times -- once when it first came out, and twice just recently -- and I can honestly say I still don't know who did what to whom and why. Wonderful cast, but that's where my love of the film ends.

Script and direction leave much to be desired. Lingering, menacing looks for no apparent reason. Suspicious glances where none are warranted. Closeups that last too long and disrupt the flow of the story. And much too much time spent on badly shot location footage.

The late Fleetwood was one of my favorite actors, yet her role as Molly Pargeter is absolutely laughable. She is like the none-too-bright mutt who wanders into the Westminster Kennel Club, wagging her tail, and jumping into every ring, hoping someone will pet her on the head. She is surrounded by obnoxious, villainous creatures who, despite warning her to keep her nose out of things that don't concern her, seem to want her to do exactly the opposite.

When Molly realizes her meddling has had horrific results, we get no more than a whispered "sorry" while she munches some toast.

I'd give this one a pass.


The Headmaster's Wife: A Gregor Demarkian Novel (Gregor Demarkian Novels)
The Headmaster's Wife: A Gregor Demarkian Novel (Gregor Demarkian Novels)
by Jane Haddam
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.99
13 used & new from $15.07

3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to par with previous works., May 30, 2016
I do love this series, but this one falls a bit short. The red herring in the title, for starters. Not only is the headmaster's wife not central to any of the subplots, but she isn't even an interesting character. Two crucial elements of the story--the location of the key piece of evidence, and the stupid action of one of the victims that allowed his demise--are completely implausible. One star.

However, Haddam's writing style and her in depth knowledge of what makes complex humans, well, complex, are as enjoyable as ever. Young Mark's stuggles are made real and interesting, even if the author seems to have no grasp of how teenagers articulate themselves and uses outdated phrasing. And, of course, Gregor's character is a joy to spend time with. While I couldn't honestly recommend this installment, I didn't feel as though reading it was a waste of my time.


The Enchanted April
The Enchanted April
by Elizabeth Von Arnim
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.99
26 used & new from $4.75

5.0 out of 5 stars I found it, well, "Enchanting.", May 22, 2016
This review is from: The Enchanted April (Paperback)
I have been such a fine of the 1991 film, that I hesitated to read the book. Usually one can't help being disappointed by one or the other. Not true in this case. The film, as I soon discovered, was every bit in keeping with this delightful book. Von Arnim is a skillful storyteller, deftly conveying subtle humor and charm as she delves into the complexities of relationships, in all their forms and ridiculousness. Written in the 1920s, the book is surprisingly modern and forward thinking in it's outlook.


Gone Girl
Gone Girl
DVD ~ Tyler Perry
Price: $6.99
70 used & new from $1.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fails to live up to the hype., May 11, 2016
This review is from: Gone Girl (DVD)
This is one of those films that created a lot of buzz when it hit the screen, but when the dust had settled, it's a case of the Emperor's New Clothes -- not much there but smoke and mirrors, and very badly flawed..

1. Poor casting: Ben. Affleck. Can. Not. Act. If you realize this early on, you won't be as disappointed with the end result. Perry's performance was fine, but certainly not award-worthy.

2. Script is lacking. Not enough time spent fleshing Amy's character out in the beginning, and too much time spent on the very boring jerk, Nick.

3. Police procedure and professionalism totally lacking. Barney Fife would have handled the investigation better.

4. Everyone in that small Missouri town speaks like extras from "The Dukes of Hazard."

5. Last half hour totally unbelievable -- nothing in the film leads up to this conclusion and Nick's final decision

6. Some plot problems such as: The hospital would have cleaned Amy up before releasing her so as to assess her injuries. (But then viewers would not be treated to that "delightful" shower scene) No fugitive in hiding would leave a wall calendar detailing all the crimes yet to be committed to be left out in plain view for anyone to see. There are more examples -- minor but still.

On the plus side: Pike's performance is outstanding, delivering three distinct personas as the story develops.

In short, not worth the buzz, but okay for a Friday night rental if nothing else is on.


Heirs and Parents: An Andrew Broom Mystery (Andrew Broom Mysteries)
Heirs and Parents: An Andrew Broom Mystery (Andrew Broom Mysteries)
by Ralph McInerny
Edition: Hardcover
34 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars A boring mess., March 18, 2016
I am a huge fan of this author's work, but I had to put this one down. So many characters thrown at the reader in a very short time -- difficult to keep up with them. Flipping back and forth to try to figure them all out was a waste of time -- felt like I needed a spread sheet. Plus, it was dry as toast. This is the sixth in the series, and the first for me, so that may have been part of the problem. Still, a well-written book should engage any reader, no matter where they begin in a series. First McInerny I not only didn't enjoy, but found impossible to finish.


Pride v. Prejudice: A Claire Malloy Mystery (Claire Malloy Mysteries)
Pride v. Prejudice: A Claire Malloy Mystery (Claire Malloy Mysteries)
by Joan Hess
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
60 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Implausible at every turn., March 13, 2016
Granted, authors of light, cozy mysteries are allowed a few liberties when stretching the facts and crafting plausible plots, but this latest in the Claire Malloy series crosses the line into sheer ridiculousness. This reader began shaking her head very early on when in a courtroom, Malloy looks at the defendant and decides to help her based on . . . nothing. And what prosecuting attorney would have been allowed to bully a potential juror the way this one did on a non-issue? And those examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Are we really expected to believe that our heroine could waltz into the unguarded (unguarded!) house of someone in FBI custody and waltz out with a ton of evidence that the Feds never discovered because they didn't bother to go into the attic? Or drink whiskey in a supposed victim's apartment after discovering the body, which is in the next room -- leaving behind copious amounts of DNA in the drink glasses? And on and on it goes. I lost interest about a third of the way in.

Very little of Malloy's private life in this one. although not altogether unwelcome as Caron continues to be absolutely insufferable. It's one thing for a pre-teen to act the self-centered brat as she was in the beginning of the series, but it's just too much in a high school senior.

Hess' writing style continues to be lively and witty which is the only reason I managed to finish this book. 4 stars for her style, 0 stars for the reasons outlined above.


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