Book Review: Death By Chocolate Lab

I know, another cozy mystery. What can I say, people keep writing them. Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake is the first in a new series. That usually doesn’t bode well but in this case was completely adorable.

Daphne is a wandering soul. She is currently crashing with her financially successful older sister while she walks dogs and pet sits to try to keep a few dollars of gas in her old van. Daphne is quirky and amusing. She has fun friends, including her basset hound Socrates, who is written as though he interacts. It’s hard to describe but quite entertaining.

As per usual, someone unpleasant is killed. The list of possible suspects is long but Daphne’s sister heads the list and so Daphne springs into action to figure out the murderer before her sister gets arrested. It doesn’t hurt that the new cop in town is smokin hot.

℘℘℘℘℘ – Technically five pages, as I did read it in one day. However, that might have been due to the kiddo being sick. It was a good read though and I will grab the next one in the series when it comes out. So let’s say 4 and a 1/2 pages.

Book Review: A is for Arsenic

A is For Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Markup is pure geek. Seriously. This book is exactly what it says it is and I love that.

Markup takes 14 poisons A.C. uses and breaks it all down. How the poison actually works, who discovered it and by what process, known antidotes and when they became available, what A.C. would have known at the time she was writing, real cases of murder by the poison that may have influenced A.C. and cases clearly influenced by A.C.

Scientific geek combined with total love for Agatha Christie. sigh. I was in heaven.

I will share one bit. There are a number of verified cases where a person reading A Pale Horse, recognized the symptoms of thallium poisoning from the book, and was able to apply them to someone in their life, get the person to hospital, and tell the doctors it’s thallium poisoning….and it was…and the friend or family member lived because of it. Now that’s making a difference with your writing. Damn.

This book is hard to rate. I loved it and would give it a solid Five Pages. But if you are note a science geek and a huge A.C. fan, this book will not charm you. So be forewarned.

Book Review: The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

You know why I picked up this book. Who could walk by that and not stop. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer.

I grew up in the late 70s, early 80s and listened to my dad complain about how something was practically to Timbuktu or so far in the middle of no where it might as well be Timbuktu. Ok, Dad was not a history buff. Then again I’m guessing unless you took African history in college, cough – don’t bother raising your hands, you don’t know that while Europe was struggling through the dark ages of oppression and ignorance, The University of Sancore in Timbuktu was the premier location of higher learning in the Middle Eastern and African worlds.  Physics, Chemistry, and Math highlighted their program. The real deal.

All of that learning had been preserved in manuscripts, as well as religious discussions, poetry, and literature. When Timbuktu was over run, 16th century, the manuscripts were buried to keep them safe. Eventually, with Mali in a somewhat settled political position in the 1980s, librarians began to seek out the manuscripts from families all over the desert. Much of the work was done by one man who was smart enough not to roll up in a gov’t SUV and flash a bunch of cash, like previous librarians did. He traveled local style on camels and in boats. He offered exchanges for the manuscripts and kept his promises to restore and preserve the works. He built schools and mosques, bought goats and cows for the villages.

All this work was almost for naught. Over 380 thousand manuscripts were in 25 libraries in Timbuktu when Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb steam rolled into Mali and decided to make it the new base of their operation. I’m not going to give away how the story goes from there.

For the most part, Librarians was a very enjoyable read. I found the 60 plus pages explaining how the AQIM came to have it’s particular set up rather tedious. I’m not sure it was really all that necessary. The other 160 pages were a great read however. A true testament to how far men will go to save books, knowledge, their historical greatness.

℘℘℘℘ – Four pages. With the exception of the boring part, it was a great read and I had a hard time putting it down. I wonder if all that was included to lengthen the book as it’s quite short by some standards. It would have been better with a tighter less tedious explanation. But you can skip that part when you read this. smiles.

Book Review: My (Not So) Perfect Life

Creme Caramel for the brain. Sometimes you just want to indulge. You want a bit more than vanilla pudding but you don’t want to be confronted with things that make you angry or think. Laughing, I feel like I should do a whole rating system on indulgence reading. My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, I waited months to get my hands on it and then breezed through in mere hours.

In one of my all time favorite themes, the main character is trying to find her way in the world hampered by society which sees her one way, her family, which wants her to be another thing, and her own desperate desire to be who she wants to be, which she thinks needs to be more than she is. Did that make sense? I hope so. It’s one of my favorite themes, the struggle to find oneself and then be oneself. I explore it in all my own novels. I explore it in all my own lives. LOL

The main character is fun, witty, and pretty savvy when it comes to her chosen profession but doesn’t apply any of that knowledge to her own life. She’s in marketing and branding and demonstrates amazing ability to figure out what people want and how they think in work related matters but is incapable of looking at those around her and applying the same.  I suppose we all have our blind spots.

There’s a nice dash of stop judging people by their outsides and pay attention to their insides. Things are rarely what they seem. And in case you miss it a character or twenty really pounds that home in dialogue. smiles.

℘℘℘℘℘ – Five Pages. Fast, fun read. I rarely dislike anything Kinsella writes.

Book Review: Confessions of a Domestic Failure

With a title like Confessions of a Domestic Failure, how could I leave Bunmi Laditan’s debut novel on the shelf? She certainly knew how to attract her target audience, which I am guessing is moms whose children are old enough they have time to read again but young enough they still remember the pain of the first three years. LOL

I read this on a Saturday where I bailed everything I was supposed to do, except pick up my son’s prescription, that I did. I bailed everything else. We cuddled on the couch and I read. He played video games and I read. He napped and I read. Good read for a lazy Saturday.

Ashley is a new mom. She struggles to keep her world functioning with a baby in tow. The problem is, Ashley has unrealistic expectations about motherhood. Don’t we all. And she fails to follow the first year axiom, sleep when the baby sleeps, because she is so worried about the mess that her home is. But she also fails to clean up said mess while the baby sleeps. LOL.

I could really relate to the struggle with her hubs. She feels like he doesn’t understand what it is like to stay home with a baby all day. I sometimes struggle with this myself. Yes, my kiddo is now 8 but you try caring for a special needs child, day in, day out, 365 days a year. And I home school. Yeah, No Reprieve.

On the other hand Ashley has no concept of how hard it is to be the sole breadwinner for a family. The pressure that can put on the hubs. Actually, that might be a good way to describe Ashley, she is clueless about other people’s feelings and realities.

℘℘℘℘ – Solid four page book. It inspired me to get up and occasionally take care of a few things, like cleaning my master bathroom and doing the dishes. LOL Well written, amusing.

Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty

Truly Madly Guilty is another Liane Moriarty book. One I sought out after reading Big Little Lies.

On one hand I read the book in one evening. The hubs and kiddo were playing PS4 so I opened it to hang out with them in the living room and not be too distracted. Eventually, the kiddo went to bed and I went on reading.

On the other hand, it’s super predictable. I seriously found myself saying “I bet x is what happened there. I bet Y is why there.” I was always right. Always. Lots of cliches. Lots of predictable. Lots of “this is pointless.”

It’s the same back and forth in time, multiple point of view type story of BLL.  Which I like. It’s an easy way to build suspense. But the same attention to detail is missing. Example: dialogue tag to a character who isn’t actually in the car. And no, this isn’t a disembodied voice kind of story. LOL

So what kind of story is it? Two friends. Their interactions. How those interactions, interact with those around them. Slice of life type stuff.

℘℘℘ – Three Pages. Despite reading it in one night, I just can’t bring any joy to mind over the book. I wouldn’t push it on friends the way I did BLL. And I certainly won’t go looking for more of Moriarty’s books. If one crosses my path I might pick it up though. LOL.

Book Review: 2nd Quarter One Pagers

The Expats by Chris Pavone

I really wanted to like this. It had the kind of idea that intrigues me a lot. The secret life come back to haunt you story. But Pavone jumps around so much that I lost all the joy of reading trying to figure out where in the time line I was. I have this rule of 20%. I read 20% of a book, no matter what, to give it time to find it’s footing. I made 19% on this one. And despite all that I walked away from it for 2 weeks without giving it a single thought. Didn’t care who the “scary suspicious” woman was who popped up in the protag’s life was. Vaguely hoped she’d kill her.