Saturday, July 23, 2016

Congratulations to...

... our Week #8 Prize Winners:
  • littlekimmer
  • Rainbow

Progress So Far

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Smart Money Smart Kids

Author: Dave Ramsey
Stars: 2
Review by: BNbook


Easy to earn money working in your dad's office.

 
 

Daughters of the Bride

Author: Susan Mallery
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Great book.

Other Voices, Other Rooms

Author: Truman Capote
Stars: 3.5
Review by: BKF


Truman Capote's first novel, published in 1948 when Capote was 23, was largely influenced by his own life and people he knew. A very interesting read, it compelled me to research its conception, critical analysis and reception, and major themes. Very intriguing. 
 

The Choice

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Stars: 2
Review by: LateNightReader

I chose this book because I knew that Nicholas Sparks would be good for a quick, easy read. I get frustrated knowing that the characters are unlike anyone I have ever met in real life though. That said, once I push that from my mind and remember that I am reading a work of fiction, I can enjoy the story.
 

What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw

Author: Agatha Christie
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


My favorite of the Miss Marple series. When Mrs Elspeth McGillicuddy returns home from a day of heavy holiday shopping she happens to look up and see a man strangling a woman in the train passing hers. Nobody believes her of course, and what reports she made are put down to a sleepy elderly lady. That is, until she consults her friend Jane Marple and the latter enlists Lucy Eylesbarrow. Why? "I want you to find a body." Lucy, a 30 odd brilliant gal who decided to embark on a career as a high skilled domestic helper, takes a post with the Crackenthorpe family as their property coincides with the crime scene. Cranky, cagey, and dysfunctional, Lucy still gets to love them - even when she finds Miss Marple's body in an Egyptian sarcophagus. Marple of course figures out who did it, but not before the body count rises some more.

Hatshepshut: From Queen to Pharoah

Author: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


One of the best, of not the best, museum catalogs I've read. A life-and-times cultural biography of Hatshepsut, the Egyptian queen to eventually usurped the throne and became a pharaoh. Very large book overall, with a good amount of literary content, and of course a large amount of pieces related to her and her family. Not just from the Met, which has a whole series of rooms dedicated to her, but museums all over.
 

Pirate

Author: Richard Platt
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

I can always find something to like about these Eyewitness Books despite their size. Smallish books they still have enough content that every so often I learn something new. Didn't this time, but it was still very well put together. Good selection of modern pirates, literary, film, flags, ships, and so forth. Very good for beginning research and it comes with a clip art CD too if anyone would be interested.
 
 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nine Women One Dress

Author: Jane Rosen
Stars: 4
Review by: Daffodil


This is Rosen's debut and the little black dress changes many lives.  A fun summer read.
 

Disappearance at Devils Rock

Author: Paul Trembley
Stars: 3
Review by: Karyn G


A missing boy. A distraught mother. His friends are lying. Lots of twists and deceit. Pretty disturbing.
 

Once Upon a Lie

Author: Maggie Barbieri
Stars: 3
Review by: Karyn G


First in a series about Maeve the Baker-woman who "takes care of" those who wrong her.
I had read the third book first so needed to come back to the beginning. Some of Maeve's choices seem a bit far fetched but the author does keep us guessing about things until the very end which does give nice suspense.
 

Empire

Author: Steve Saylor
Stars: 4
Review by: katza lover


The book was an insight in the days of ancient Rome, but I did find it gruesome at times. It was well written, but I had to put it down from time to time.
 

First Love

Author: James Patterson
Stars: 4.5
Review by: Barb


I really enjoyed listening to this coming of age book, and the love two young people have for each other. Their irresponsible, carefree adventure ends when one of them becomes very ill. Good story.
 

The Heart Goes Last

Author: Margaret Atwood
Stars: 3
Review by: Miss Lucy


What do you do when unemployment is off the charts, people are living in their cars, and gangs roam the streets at night, putting everyone in danger?  Leave it to Margaret Atwood to come up with a utopian society that utilizes prisons in a new way.  Are things really as rosy as they seem?

Ink and Bone

Author: Lisa Unger
Stars: 4
Review by: libraryaimee

A thriller involving young girls who are kidnapped.  A family of psychics help out the private detective.  I love Lisa Unger books--they are always unusual and compelling.  This one ended too darkly for me to give it a 5 though!
 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Author: J.K. Rowling
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa


My second time reading Book 1 of this magical series, only this time to my daughter. If you haven't read this classic by now, tell me, what are you waiting for? It's THAT good.
 

The Man Who Invented Florida

Author: Randy White
Stars: 4
Review by: Minnie


I enjoyed reading this book because it was about Florida, the back areas.
 

The Summer Everything Changed

Author: Holly Chamberlin
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Really enjoy her books. Light, easy reading.

Here's to Us

Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Stars: 2
Review by: BookDancer


I started this because it was Elin Hilderbrand's latest offering, but the only thing that kept me slogging to the end was the wonderful Nantucket setting.  The cardboard characters and unlikely plot of this "summer sizzler" left me cold.  

At the Edge of the Orchard

Author: Tracy Chevalier
Stars: 3
Review by: BKF


Having moved from Connecticut to Ohio, the Goodenough family (with ten kids) struggle to made ends meet. The book begins in 1838, revealing a VERY dysfunctional family, with the exception a brother and sister who live very different lives and come together after seventeen years of being apart.  Much emphasis is given to trees, as the brother works for a 'plant hunter.' I can't remember when I've read another book that had characters with such complicated lives/relationships. I found the book engrossing.
 

The Summer's End

Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Stars: 4
Review by: BookDancer


This third and final part of THE LOWCOUNTY SUMMER TRILOGY provides a very satisfying conclusion to a great "beach read."
 

See Me

Author: Nicholas Sparks
Stars: 4
Review by: Pat I love books


A typical Nicholas Sparks love story, but as interesting and moving as many of his other novels. Colin, a man with a history of violence trying to get his life back in order and Maria, a Mexican-American lawyer, find love, comfort, and solace in each other. In addition, each is able to contribute to the growth of the other. If you enjoy Nicholas Sparks, definitely worth reading.
 

When We Were Sisters

Author: Emilie Richards
Stars: 4
Review by: Pat I love books


The book takes a look at the foster care system through the eyes of two girls who call themselves "sisters." As adults, they are involved in the production of a documentary exposing some of the places where they lived. Very good book!

 

Gray Mountain

Author: John Grisham
Stars: 3
Review by: Pat I love books


During the 2008 financial crisis a Manhattan lawyer's job at a large law firm is furloughed. She takes on a job with no salary at a law clinic in VA in the heart of Appalachia and coal mining. Not only are life and the people different from what she is accustomed to, but she is also introduced to the violence, disease, and destruction connected to this industry. The protagonist learns that she might enjoy litigation after all and decides to stay there for a while.
 

Private Paris

Author: James Patterson
Stars: 3
Review by: Pat I love books


Private Paris is an investigating firm that helps the Paris police try to find who is responsible for a series of murders connects to French culture. In addition to the murders, the company is also trying to protect a client's granddaughter living in Paris at the same time. Held my interest.

Accused

Author: Lisa Scottoline
Stars: 3
Review by: Pat I love books


The book is about a thirteen year old girl who hires a woman lawyer to investigate her sister's murder. Although someone has confessed and is in prison, the girl doesn't believe he is guilty. The lawyer plays detective and investigates the case. The book held my interest, trying to figure out who actually killed the sister. If you enjoy this author, it's worth a read.
 

Dinner with Edward

Author: Isabel Vincent
Stars: 5
Review by: Catdob


I enjoyed this narrative thoroughly. Edward is a love and the manner in which Isabel opens her heart to him is extraordinary. Touching and inspiring, hope is in the unlikeliest of places.
 

The Passenger

Author: Lisa Lutz
Stars: 4
Review by: fyszsa


Could not put the book down ... a psychological thriller!
 

Pieces of Georgia

Author: Jennifer Bryant
Stars: 5
Review by: Rachel D


A young girl who is dealing with the loss of her mother and learning her way through school with not many friends and a very good drawing talent she got from her mother.
 

The Wedding Dress

Author: Rachel Hauck
Stars: 3
Review by: Shapoppa


Predictable plot. I was expecting more from the book since the description sounded so intriguing.
 

Wilde Lake

Author: Laura Lippman
Stars: 1
Review by: Just Ada


Very confusing--hard to keep characters straight. 
 

How the Quakers Invented America

Author: David Yount
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


More so a history of the Quakers themselves and a lot of Biblical analysis. Not as much of a titular involvement as one would hope for. Very much a spiritual study instead of a historical one.

The Japanese Lover

Author: Isabel Allende
Stars: 2
Review by: Just Ada

Confusing at times.  I listened to it.  Good reader.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On My Own

Author: Diane Rehm
Stars: 3
Review by: Judy


This is an interesting read especially if you are faced with the loss of a loved one.
 

Widowmaker

Author: Paul Doiron
Stars: 3
Review by: Cindy N.


I didn't realize this was the latest installment in a series of books when I picked it up. It was easy to follow but I could tell there were some things that assumed the reader already knew. The story is about someone that shows up at a game warden's house in Maine and her plea to him leads him on a chase over a few days that ends in tracking down a vigilante. I am giving it 3 stars only because it is one is a series and without having read the other books in the series some parts were vague. I'm sure if you had read the series you would not notice the vague parts since you are familiar with the backstory of the characters
 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering & Organizing

Author: Marie Kondo
Stars: 4
Review by: Patti K


Interesting system for completely decluttering your home.  Hoping it works ~ I'll let you know...
 

Tending the Garden State: Preserving Agriculture in New Jersey

Author: Charles H Harrison
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


This covered a few things quite well and had a pretty decent scope. (Although it does state the myth of the colonel eating supposedly poisonous tomatoes at the Salem County Courthouse.) It features the state's agricultural history and culture - how various indigenous tribes farmed, stereotypes about New Jersey's road and farming industry and how they are just that (stereotypes), main products and produce, evolution of farming equipment, even a very nice section on how developers are gobbling up land left and right. It even went into several of the main regulations governing acquisition of the land and how companies find sneaky ways to underbid and get the property for much less than its value.
 

Rules

Author: Cynthia Lord
Stars: 5
Review by: Gwen K


Loved loved loved this book!  The protagonist is a teen girl who has an autistic brother.  She meets a teenage boy at her brother's therapy and, though he is nonverbal, she communicates with him and forms an unlikely friendship.  This is a MUST read!  Good for about third grade up, so this could be a family read.
 

 

Just Like Me

Author: Nancy Cananaugh
Stars: 3
Review by: Gwen K


This book was okay.  I would recommend it for an Asian girl who was adopted by an American family or someone with a similar struggle.  I totally believe that we need diverse books and that every person deserves a book with a positive protagonist similar to herself (in this case), but this just wasn't for me.  It was predictable and, at times, redundant. Three Asian girls all adopted by American families reunite at a church camp.  The athletic character and goody-two shoes character are a bit cliche, but they help show the reader that a child is more than her skin/race.  Good coming-of-age story for the right kid.  There were some funny parts and a bit of tender friendship, but this was only a 3 out of 5 IMHO.
 

The Haven

Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Stars: 4
Review by: Gwen K.


Interesting concept- brainwashed kids in a supposedly safe hospital are given a tonic so they don't remember, have emotions, etc.  References are made to classics and modern classics and the plots of those are distorted.  Reader will need that prior knowledge.  Simplistic style of writing.  Kept me reading...okay...devouring.  Last two pages left me confused.  I reread them several times, but I still don't get it.  Other than that, I liked this dystopian YA novel.
 

Budapest and Surroundings

Author: Simix Print
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


An English edition of a locally printed guide for Budapest, Hungary. The city's history and culture serves as a background for the various buildings and structures, all photographed beautifully, as well as maps and other aids. Lots of buildings are covered - churches, museums, historic structures, the Parliament building, and several others.
 

Lighthouses of the Mid Atlantic Coast

Author: Elinor DeWire
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Nice, but it could have been a lot better. Tended to be more of an "ooh, look pretty" sort of approach. There was a lot of historical and / or cultural background - the book opens with the author visiting a keeper at the Cape May lighthouse - but it was too scattered in tone for me.

Liberty or Death: The French Revolution

Author: Peter McPhee
Stars: 2
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Certainly one of the poorer accounts of the conflict, it tends to spend too much time on backstories and wander off into tangents. Was good in that it was pretty comprehensive, so if it had a modicum of focus it would be a lot better. Wouldn't recommend for someone just trying to learn about it due to the nature of the writing.
 

The Directory of Possibilities

Author: Colin Wilson and John Grant
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


The type of book for those who go around with tinfoil hats. Filled with various conspiracies, pyramid power, numerous ideas on what Stonehenge is apparently capable of, alien abductions (you know people are always telling the truth after all), and so forth. Was written very poorly and the never question attitude the authors had quite ruined it as they'd be saying the silliest things and then end with the omnipresent "it must be true because nobody has proven it false" type statement. Ick.
 

Bloopers, Botches and Blunders

Author: Allan Zullo
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Filled with some fine examples of how our species can be so intelligent yet so freaking dumb at the same time. The omnipresent robber asking a person to make a check out to them (this isn't uncommon - on average 36 bank robberies a year are solved from the robber writing a demand note on their teller slip), people breaking into a house they think is theirs, a man who mugged a woman of what was her dog's poo, stupid lawsuits, public blunders celebrities have made, all sorts of lovely things.

Famous Nathan

Author: Lloyd Handwerker
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Very wonderful and an extremely pleasant surprise. Usually I find biographies written by descendants to be very self serving but this had a perfect tone and gave an excellent cultural history of Coney Island and the shore region. When Nathan Handwerker arrived in the USA he wanted to make good, especially in the restaurant business. Starting work at age 11 in a bakery he became (some would say) obsessed with the quality of ingredients and was desperate to work his way up. Finding jobs at a variety of luncheonettes got his foot in the door and Nathan indeed was a very hard worker - saving much of his money for his future goals. Soon the opportunity came when he and a friend visited Coney Island and Nathan bought a small section of counterspace intent on selling the best darn Kosher style hotdogs he could. Ten cents a dog couldn't get him business though, and he bumped it down to five. Soon the crowds came and as his business expanded Nathan hired extra family members as well as the lovely and industrious Ida - a friend of his sister. The two married and had a daughter and two sons, but Ida stayed by his side and together the business grew. When a customer scolded him for not having a sign when he was so famous he put up a "Nathan's" wood board out, soon expanding the name to "Nathan's Famous." While his family grew (and bickered) up in back of that ever expanding counter Coney Island itself changed as the times did too. Soon Nathan found himself the father of two embittered sons not fond of the other (the author is the son of one, thusly Nathan's grandson) and a daughter depressed that she was not allowed a bigger share of the business. Nathan passed of a heart attack right around the time fortunes began to turn for his beloved Coney - the book is very condemning of Trump's father for more or less destroying the area's culture (which a friend of mine who is the barker at the freak show says is universal sentiment) afterwards. Altogether a very good account of a hardworking, albeit flawed man who wanted to make good.
 

Insight Meditation: A Step-by-Step Course on How to Meditate

Author: Sharon Salzberg & Joseph Goldstein
Stars: 4
Review by: Mitchie L


This set comes with an in-depth workbook, study cards and 2 compact discs. The workbook was very easy to read and to relate to.  It touches on some Buddhist philosophies, but it is not a religious book. It is a really good read if you would like to try meditation or if you want to deepen your practice. The guided audio meditations on the cds coincide with the lessons in the book and they are very relaxing.

San Antonio: City of Missions

Author: Claude B. Aniol
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


An older book I found on one of those free websites, it is a nice small account of several of the missions in San Antonio. The Alamo is covered obviously, as are many others. I really had no idea there would be this many in the area and only read the book as I have a family wedding at one of them shortly. The pictures were in black and white, maybe that was the original book or perhaps the website scanned them in that way, but gave nice views of all. Would really like to read more now, granted the history of many (shrines, roles in battle, cultural significances aplenty in this).
 

Finding Me

Author: Kathryn Cushman
Stars: 3.5
Review by: LZ99


Not a particularly original plot--after a death, a loved one discovers that the deceased had a secret history/life and the survivor goes out searching for it, attempting to make some amends along the way. Still, I had a hard time putting it down-definitely enjoyed it!
 

The Invention of Wings

Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Stars: 5
Review by: Mary NK


Biographical fiction of the real Civil War era Sarah Grimke who became an abolitionist. The story follows her life from age 11, intertwining the life of "Handful", the child-slave given to Sarah as a birthday gift. Beautifully written, painfully honest.
 

Terror of the Table

Author: Walter Gratzer
Stars: 3
Review by: Mary NK


A well-researched overview of all the foods, medicines, and theories about eating, humans have survived throughout the ages all over the world.

A Dog's Purpose

Author: W. Bruce Cameron
Stars: 4
Review by: Mary NK


Dog lovers have known all along that dogs think of these things. But this story lets the dog in question "evolve" as he progresses through lives until he finally realizes his true purpose.
 

My Beloved World

Author: Sonia Sotomayor
Stars: 5
Review by: Mary NK


Sonia's autobiography not only relates the fascinating story of a girl with many roadblocks - juvenile diabetes, ESL, alcoholic father, dangerous Bronx neighborhood - to become the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice; but also provides inspiration and a great example for girls & everyone with dreams.
 

A House in Sicily

Author: Daphne Phelps
Stars: 4
Review by: KM


Memoir about an Englishwoman who inherits her Uncle's home in Sicily and creates a kind of inn with well-known visitors like Tenneesee Williams, Bertrand Russell, Roald Dahl and painter Henry Faulkner. Not only do you get to 'spend time in Sicily,' but the amazing characters, both Sicilian and foreign visitors, make this a very engaging read.

When Breath Becomes Air

Author: Paul Kalanithi
Stars: 5
Review by: Patti K


A heartbreaking, but important read. Don't skip over this- put it on your "must read" list.
 

Pompeii -- Herculaneum: Past and Present

Author: A de Franciscis
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar

A pleasant surprise in a tiny package. Basically the left hand page is text about a particular structure up to the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, and when that finishes the nearest right hand page is first a clear plastic layover illustrating the building as it looked immediately prior. But flip the sheet over and you see how the building looks like today - so it is a very sobering examination of the devastation.
 

Tarzan of the Apes

Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Two things made this a four: Esmeralda (the maid of Jane) being characterized as an idiotic "Mammy" stereotype. I half expected her to start wailing that she couldn't "birth no babies" in between her frequent fainting fits. Two, if Jane's father had said "tut, tut" once more I would've thrown this book out a window. Elsewise it was a lot better than I expected. I always assumed this was a novel for juniors but the level of violence and thematic elements in here make it a lot darker - Lord and Lady Greystoke are marooned on an island and shortly deliver a son. After he is a year old both are dead and the boy is raised by Kala, the ape, who names him "Tarzan" as that means "White-Skin" in her tongue. Fiercely protective and a positive figure, Kala trains her charge well and when he is about 19, 20 Kala dies when attacked by a local tribe of African native humans. Tarzan predictably goes bonkers and starts bumping them off at night and stealing their goods, all the while teaching himself how to read and write via books found in the old residence his parents constructed. A party containing Jane Porter, her irritating father, Esmeralda, the Lord of Greystoke (conveniently enough Tarzan's cousin and thusly technically the wrong heir to the title), and associates. One such man, a Frenchman, teaches Tarzan to speak, and long story short after a series of mishaps, stabbings, he and Jane fooling about when they can but her being too stupid to realize he's the one leaving her love letters, Tarzan goes to America. He frightens off Jane's fiance, another cousin, but the novel ends with her insisting she made the man a promise (he bailed her father out of a financial hole and she was promised as a sweetener) and saying she would only marry him, not her Ape Man.
 

The Book of People: How to Read the Bible

Author: AN Wilson
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Did this have a point? When I finished this (in about a half hour) I wondered if the author ever managed to say anything truly declarative or just make an actual statement. I don't recall a single thing from this it was so dull. The intention was to show that there are alternative ways of "reading" the Bible, and that doing so is part of spiritual exploration. He just isn't a good enough of a writer on this topic to handle things well and frequently veered off point just as he was getting close to making one.
 

What's So Funny?

Author: Tim Conway
Stars: 3
Review by: Mandy Apgar


This is nice as a one time read but isn't the sort of thing I would go back to twice. A memoir of the comic (born "Toma Conway" to an Irish father and his oft quoted Romanian mother) starting at his happy childhood on through his personal life (2 marriages, 6 children, 1 stepdaughter) to his career (stories of Steve Allen, Carol Burnett of course, their associated crew, Harvey Korman, even the time he came to a bar with Don Knotts with the latter in full Western drag). A good man, he frequently gives credit to those that have helped and supported him as well as persons in the entertainment industry that aren't as glamorous but yet filled great roles.
 

Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Arts

Author: Philadelphia Museum of Art
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


For being so small it was quite good. I simply cannot find a nice overall comprehensive book on such things and this, a small independent publication, covered several things (hutches and other furniture, needlecraft, Fraktur, chests, etc.) and is a nice introduction to further study.

A Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate and the Throne

Author: Christopher Anderson
Stars: 1
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Absolute filth and insulting to the intelligence. It is pretty much an oversized tabloid wringing out bad rumors and either misquoting or selectively editing particular phrases directed towards the lives of the 3 key women in the Windsors now. Of course, most of this relates to the late Diana - that William and Harry were forced to walk behind her coffin (they volunteered), that no mention of her was made at a church service at the Queen's instructions (they wished it so to not bring up bad memories and bring their grief upon others), and time and time again events are either flat out invented or key happenings, etc. are conveniently ignored to help bash whomever it is he has set as the villain at the time. Sad thing is, this total idiot of an author is popular because people believe such drivel. I cannot but think of a Penny Junor biography of Prince Harry (which he more or less did with her) I just read where vast amounts of the entire book are devoted to telling again and again how and why a lot of the stories in here either never happened or are exaggerated. Some things are minor but as another example: granted the televised post engagement interview with William and Kate was so wildly popular, and the clip where she laughingly refuted that his picture was on her wall (it was a jeans model she admired instead) so well circulated, why does he insist time and again that she had this mythical poster up as a way to inspire her to be a queen? Not only is it sexist and demeaning to insist that, especially granted the wealth of evidence opposite, when the author lies about a silly trivial thing like that shouldn't you wonder what else he has made up?
 

Nothing Like a Dame

Author: Eddie Shapiro
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa


The author interviews a number of Tony Award winning actresses about their rise to Broadway fame. From Elaine Stritch and Angela Lansbury to Kristin Chenowith and Sutton Foster, plus many, many more. This is a must read for theater lovers and for girls aspiring to make it on Broadway.
 

Library of Souls

Author: Ransom Riggs
Stars: 4
Review by: LateNightReader


I enjoyed this book, but recommend that if you did not just finish Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine's Children, then re-read the last chapter before starting Library of Souls. This third book begins right where the last one ends and if you aren't prepared, it is just confusing. Otherwise, a great ending to this series.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Bookerfly

Baking blueberry cobbler - from Judy

Bookerfly

Playing Bingo is a physical activity - from Judy

Forever Beach

Author: Shelley Noble
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Great book.

Namesake

Author: Jhumpa Lahiri
Stars: 4
Review by: Dr. D


I enjoyed the Namesake book. I found the writing deep and descriptive.
 

Congratulations to...

... our Week #7 Prize Winners:
  • Dennis Scans Books
  • Mandy Apgar

Progress So Far

Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Harbor Island

Author: Carla Neggers
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


A continuation of the Sharpe & Donavan mystery regarding the international art thief. This one adds a ruthless killer into the mix and more transatlantic travel. This series always feels slow to be, but then I have to still finish. So I keep going.

A Churn for the Worse

Author: Laura Bradford
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


I started this series a while ago and didn't realize there were more books. This one is about a mysterious death of an Amish farmer,a series of robberies in the community and a missing horse. The main couple is also trying to find their way through a budding relationship. Learning about the Amish is interesting. This is a nice, summer read.
 

Marry Me at Christmas

Author: Susan Mallery
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This book is about the bringing together of local bridal shop owner Madeline Krug and actor Jonny Blaze. The mayor of the town links the two together to help plan Blaze's sister's wedding. Typical of the series, but still a nice summer read.
 

Troublemaker

Author: Linda Howard
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati


This book is about a special operative, Morgan, that is sent into hiding after a near death experience. Is this a set up for the almost killer or really just a place to hang until the killer is caught. A little suspense, romance and twists makes for a nice summer read.
 

Haunted Destiny

Author: Heather Graham
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati


I really enjoy the Krewe books. If only many of us had chances to talk to the dead what a difference life would make. In any case, this is about a haunted cruise ship, a serial killer and two people hiding from their past. A good summer suspense-fantasy read.
 

The Ghost of Dibble Hollow

Author: May Dickerson Wallace
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa


A few years ago I was fortunate enough to find a copy of this out-of-print story that was my favorite read in elementary school. This time I read it to my daughter who equally enjoyed the story of a young boy whose deceased ancestor, Miles Dibble, returns to help him find some lost treasure that will help end a long-standing family rivalry.
 

Miller's High Life

Author: Ann Miller with Norma Lee Browning
Stars: 5
Review by: Shapoppa


Ann Miller was part of Hollywood's Golden Age, and what a rags to riches story she had lived! Her fame came thanks to a caring mother, some rule breaking at a very young age, and hard work. She doesn't go into much detail about the movie musicals she made, but she does give you an in depth look at Hollywood celebrity life as it was in the 1930s and 40s. I found it to be a very interesting read.
 

Old Haunts

Author: E. J. Copperman
Stars: 3.5
Review by: BNbook


A fun mystery summer read with twist and turns.
 

Bay of Sighs

Author: Nora Roberts
Stars: 5
Review by: Rainbow


It was a great book, I can't wait for the last book of the Guardian Trilogy.
 

A Girl's Guide to Moving On

Author: Debbie Macomber
Stars: 2
Review by: Patti K


One of my favorite authors, but not one of my favorite books by her. It was rather predictable and Leanne's relationship with Nikkolai bothered me.  maybe it's because I'm half Ukrainian, as he was, but she painted him as being very old-school, not very intelligent, and lacking empathy.
 
 

Arsenic and Old Puzzles

Author: Parnell Hall
Stars: 4
Review by: mysterylover


Really enjoyed this mystery of solving murders with puzzles.

Lie in Plain Sight

Author: Maggie Barbieri
Stars: 3
Review by: Karyn G.


Lots of mystery and plot twists, but I couldn't help feeling that I was missing a backstory. Turns out this is the second book about Maeve. I will be picking up the first one, Once Upon a Lie, today to find out what I missed!
 

The Book of Speculation

Author: Erika Swyler
Stars: 2
Review by: Barb


Interesting, and a bit strange, it reminded me of The Night Circus.
 

Forever Beach

Author: Shelley Noble
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Great book.
 

The Singing Bone

Author: Beth Hahn
Stars: 4
Review by: Karyn G


This was a disturbing look into a Manson like "family."
The author developed characters that I truly came to care about.
 

Orphan #8

Author: Kim Van Alkemade
Stars: 3
Review by: bandit


Very disturbing what happened to orphans during WWII.

 

The Nightingale

Author: Kristin Hannah
Stars: 4
Review by: bandit


You will think about this book even after you finish the last page!

So That Happened

Author: Jon Cryer
Stars: 4
Review by: Shapoppa


It's an entertaining read. Cryer described the audition process for his stage and screen roles, and of course, the Charlie Sheen debacle. I would recommend this book if you're a fan, but I think you might find as I did that you were hoping for just a little bit more depth and detail.

At the Edge of the Orchard

Author: Tracy Chevalier
Stars: 2
Review by: libraryaimee


I listened to the audiobook.  I cheated because I listened to the first 2 discs, but then the characters were so distasteful that I had to skip to the last disc.  The beginning of the story is narrated by a husband and a wife who are frontier settlers...Johnny Appleseed sells them seeds and seedlings for an orchard.  The second half is narrated by one of their sons.  Once the son starts narrating the story is more tolerable.  The parents were so horrible and evil to each other and to their kids that it was the first time I ever couldn't read a book because I hated the main characters so much!

Miracles from Heaven

Author: Christy Wilson Beam
Stars: 5
Review by: Rachel D.


A little girl who is sick with a non curable diseases finds God and somehow a miracle is performed and she is healed!
 

The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place

Author: Jennifer McCartney
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee


Ha! Finally! Vindication for my messy lifestyle! The perfect antidote to the current cleaning craze! I can't express how much I loved the chapter on books!!!

Deep Dark

Author: Laura Griffin
Stars: 4
Review by: Susan F.

Part of the Tracers series, but all of the books also stand alone.  This was a smart, fast paced crime/suspense novel with interesting characters.  Main characters from earlier books in the series are woven in briefly, which provides a nice continuity.  With plot twists and forensics, this story keeps you guessing.
 

Guilty

Author: Karen Robards
Stars: 2
Review by: Susan F.


This suspense novel starts off fast paced, but rapidly goes down hill.  The story dragged and was simply not realistic enough to be believable.
 

The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade

Author: Virginia Smith
Stars: 4
Review by: LZ99


Fun, frivolous, easy summer read.
 

United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground & Advancing the Common Good

Author: Cory Booker
Stars: 5
Review by: KM 

What an eye opener! An example of someone who feels strongly about bringing about change in the world and really gets out and does it, even extending to personal change. Inspiring.
 

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Author: Phaedra Patrick
Stars: 3
Review by: BKF


While cleaning out his wife's closet, a sixty-nine year old widower discovers a hidden charm bracelet, which leads him on a wild odyssey to discover the meaning behind each of the charms. What he discovers is the life his wife had before their marriage... one which he never knew of. With each new discovery his own life changes in ways he never thought possible.
 

Beyond the Ice Limit

Author: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Stars: 3.5
Review by: jamBob


Exciting thriller based on an alien meterorite that sprouts under the ocean, the sequel to the Ice Limit published years ago.
 

Only Ever You

Author: Rebecca Drake
Stars: 4
Review by: Just Ada


A thriller with lots of blood, lost child,etc.  Kept me going to a surprise ending.
 

Drawing Conclusions

Author: Donna Leon
Stars: 3
Review by: Chris L.


Comissario Brunetti's latest case causes him to debate truth, legality and humanity.
 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mermaid Moon

Author: Colleen Coble
Stars: 4
Review by: a 'Retired Cat' - who likes to read!


This is Book 2 in the Sunset Cove novels!  Great suspense and romance!

A Well-Tempered Heart

Author: Jan-Philipp Sendker
Stars: 5 (really 10 stars)
Review by: a 'Retired Cat' - who likes to read! & Dennis Scans Books


This is the sequel to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, which we gave 5 stars!  My husband said this book is better than the first and I agree - there should be a 10 stars listing!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Just Jennifer

Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much by Faith Salie

If you are looking for a self-help book addressing how NOT to care too much, how NOT to be an overachiever, look elsewhere; if you are looking for validation that it is OK to overreach (and sometimes fail) and to always try to be the best, than look no further, Faith Salie’s hilarious, sometimes self-deprecating memoir is for you.  Salie, a TV and radio host and regular panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me, spares no details about her life thus far, her obsession with being her high school’s Miss Aphrodite in the late 1980’s, her relationship with her “wasband”, her struggle with fertility, her feelings of loss after her mother’s death when Salie was twenty-six and her “oopses” along her career path.  Her essay on interviewing techniques offers a lot of good pointers for anyone who has ever done a broadcast interview and a letter to her daughter is a final coda to a life well-lived (so far).  Salie approaches her memoir much as she has approached her life to date, with enthusiasm, honesty and a whole-heartedness that will make readers not only cheer for her but realize that it is OK to seek approval as long as it is done with Salie’s wit and wisdom.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Savannah Breeze

Author: Mary Kay Andrews
Stars: 3
Review by: Minnie


Great beach read.
 

Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarty
Stars: 5
Review by: Catdob


Inventive story a witty take on real life with serious undertones which turned into the moral compass of the story.
 

First Comes Love

Author: Emily Griffin
Stars: 4
Review by: Daffodil


A story of two sisters, love, family, friendships and each having to make their own choice.
 

Consider the Lobster

Author: David Foster Wallace
Stars: 5
Review by: Literary Giant


Named one of the top 75 books of the last 75 years by Parade Magazine, this collection of essays begins with a dreadful analysis of the adult entertainment industry, but triumphantly emerges with analyses of lobsters' feelings and the conservative talk radio phenomena.  You will never look at a lobster in quite the same way.  I personally enjoyed the brutal analysis of tennis champion Tracy Austin and why her banal autobiography was a direct consequence of her profound athletic skill.

The Passion of Artemisia

Author: Susan Vreeland
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A historical fiction biography of the artist, one of the very few post Raphaelite female painters of the Italian Renaissance. Born in Rome to a father who was also a painter, her mother died young and she was apparently raised a lot by the local nuns but was still taught art. When she was 18 she was raped by another painting instructor and branded a whore by the populace so her father married her to Pietro, another semi obscure artist in Florence, to try to restore her reputation. She never got along well with him, in part due to his tendency to gloss over her assault and make friends with the man who attacked her, but was able to use her father's connections to meet Michelangelo the Younger (the artist's nephew). The latter became a very important champion of hers, and with his name she became the first female painter to be accepted into the area studio - no small feat, but it destroyed her marriage when her husband began to drown his jealousy in horses and mistresses. Striking a friendship with Galileo and securing and important Medici patron further alienated him and the two parted ways eventually. Apparently. The books ends just after she is able to marry her only child, a daughter, to a minor nobleman and she did live some years after that - plus with this being the kind of book it is who knows how much of this is stretched around or not. Does put me in the mind to find a more studious biography however, and despite it all was very well written with the characters being very solid and grounded.
 

Basilica

Author: R.A. Scotti
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


The history of the full construction - from conception to Baroque decoration centuries later - of St Peter's. A lot of people were involved, not just Michelangelo, Bramante, the occasional indulgent pope, and this did do a nice job of highlighting several of the many persons who made contributions that have gotten more or less swept aside.

Grand Central

Author: Sam Roberts
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A biography of the structure and its impact on society - how it came to be built, those involved, secret uses and underground tunnels, its role in popular culture, and several other things. There was a lot of little bits and pieces mixed in here, not trivia exactly but lots of how the place works type information. Book was just under 300 pages and despite being a smaller size included quite a lot of information and old photographs and plans as well.
 

A Burglar's Guide to the City

Author: Geoff Manaugh
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee


This is a Non-Fiction book about burglary.  The author discusses building structures, getaway plans, lockpicking, etc...it sounds dry and boring, but it was fascinating! Also, you will think twice about your own home security.  He presents a unique way to view town planning and architecture!

The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins
Stars: 3
Review by: Mostly Mohair


Good overall, similar to Gone Girl.  Slowed a bit in the middle, but picked up again to the end.

The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt's Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer

Author: Anne-Marie O'Connor
Stars: 4
Review by: BKF


The title of the book sums up the story. It's a fascinating history of turn-of-the-century Vienna, a brilliant painter; his most famous painting and its model; WWII; seizure of art by the Nazis; the legal battle to return seized art... and much more. The one most difficult thing I found to deal with were all the people the author included in the book. That was a 'battle' I often lost.
 

UnSelfie: Why Empathetic kids Succeed in our All-About Me World

Author: Michele Borba
Stars: 5
Review by: libraryaimee


I highly recommend this for anyone with kids or grandkids.  Eye-opening advice about how to raise kids to be empathetic and kind.  Even if you think you are focusing on this already as a parent, there is so much more you can model for them! The book if chock full of helpful advice and tips.  My sons better watch out...hahah!
 
 

Landline

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Stars: 3
Review by: Noreen R.


I had a hard time connecting with the story concept and the characters, but it was a quick summer read.
 

Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay
Stars: 4
Review by: Noreen R.


Compelling story about a former prosecutor whose young son is accused of murdering a classmate. Thought-provoking regarding what lengths parents will go to protect their children from society and vice versa.
 

The Cuckoo's Calling

Author: Robert Galbraith
Stars: 4
Review by: Noreen R.


J.K. Rowling, writing under a pseudonym, writes a clever mystery. The main character is very endearing and believable as a clever private detective. While I thought it was an easy, enjoyable read, I was a little less than satisfied with the ending. I would, however, read another book in the series; as it seems more titles will be forthcoming.
 

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, & Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Author: Katherine Boo
Stars: 4
Review by: Noreen R.


Beautifully written, well-paced story revealing the interconnected lives of actual citizens of a slum in Mumbai, India. You will feel connected to each character as you learn about their lives dealing with poverty, corruption, family obligations, and hope for a better future.
 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Summer Wind

Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Stars: 4
Review by: BookDancer


If I can't be at the beach I need books that take me there! This second part of the "Low Country Trilogy" transports the beach-starved reader to beautiful Sullivan's Island, S.C., and the story of three estranged sisters who summer with their beloved grandmother at her beach house.  It is a heartwarming tale of love, family and new beginnings.

Here's to Us

Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


She's fantastic. I love all her books.

The Red Thread

Author: Ann Hood
Stars: 4
Review by: mysterylover


A story about couples who adopt.
 

The Summer of Good Intentions

Author: Wendy Francis
Stars: 4
Review by: Just Ada


Summer reading.  Kept my interest all along.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Author: Chris Cleave
Stars: 5
Review by: Catdob


Expertly written, beautiful use of language. You relate and fall in love with the characters.
 

The Quilter's Kitchen

Author: Jennifer Chiaverini
Stars: 3
Review by: Paige Turner


Part of the Elm Creek Quilts series, The Quilter's Kitchen introduces a new character as the head chef of the Elm Creek Quilt Camp.  This book was more about the recipes than the story. I wouldn't recommend this book unless you are already familiar with the series, as it doesn't really stand on its own. A very quick read.

At Bluebonnet Lake

Author: Amanda Cabot
Stars: 5
Review by: LG


Excellent book.

Going Postal

Author: Terry Pratchett
Stars: 5
Review by: lazyboy


Like all his books, good, thoughtful, silly fun.

The Stranger

Author: Albert Camus
Stars: 2
Review by: lazyboy


I don't see what the big deal is/was. 
 

Disgrace

Author: J.M. Coetzee
Stars: 4
Review by: lazyboy


Not really typical summer reading.

Night of the Living Dead

Author: E. J. Copperman
Stars: 4
Review by: BNbook


It was a fun read.
Takes place down the Jersey shore.

Here's to Us

Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Stars: 2
Review by: Keeread


Very disappointed. I usually love her books.

A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman
Stars: 5+
Review by: Judy

A Man Called Ove is a charming story that will make you laugh and cry. Ove is a unique man and you will like him.

The Light Between Oceans

Author: M.L. Stefman
Stars: 4
Review by: Chris L.


Interesting tale of moral dilemma. Set in a lighthouse off the western coast of Australia.

Marine Mammals of the North Atlantic

Author: Carl Christian Kinge
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


A small, but meaty account, divided by phylum (sort of) of the Atlantic's marine life. Not all animals are here oddly enough, but a good proportion are represented - whales, dolphins, polar bears, otters, oh my! Feeding habits, life cycle, range, the general details are given. Charts are included for whale watchers to tell apart species by their fins or blowhole should you only get a quick look. Overall, a nice neat book well put together but sadly lacking a strong message on conservation methods.

Bunnicula

Author: Deborah & James Howe
Stars: 5
Review by: Mandy Apgar


Today (July 5th) is the "gotcha" day of our cat Chester, whom was named after a central character in this book by his foster family. And he is very much like his namesake in a few ways. But the tale unfolds when the Munroe family returns from the movies with a large box - at a late night screening of the 1931 Dracula they happened upon a small black and white male rabbit. The bunny is christened "Bunnicula" and joins the family dog Harold (who, being part Russian wolfhound, can tell the scribbled note left on the rabbit to 'take care of my baby' was written in an "obscure Carpathian dialect") and Chester. Ah, Chester. A demented tabby cat who sees conspiracies and paranoia everywhere, Chester concludes that (after a mysterious white zucchini is found drained of juice) that Bunnicula is a vampire rabbit. Leaving his pen at night, he joins whatever unholy crusade vampire bunnies do (for there MUST be one) and drains the family vegetables of their juices. And of course, as things turn out here and in subsequent books, he is actually right. But after he takes some instructions too literally and tries to hit the bunny with a meaty steak instead of the sharpened wooden kind, the Munroes think he is out of his wits. Eventually Chester finds a cat psychiatrist, Harold is left dreaming of chocolate cupcakes, and little Bunnicula is placed on a liquid diet. Veterinarian's orders!

Etiquette & Espionage

Author: Gail Carriger
Stars: 4
Review by: LateNightReader


This story is about 14 year old Sophronia who is chosen to attend a finishing school, much to her mother's delight. Her mother hopes that this school will tame her adventurous spirit. Little do they realize that while this school will teach her to be a lady, she will also learn the fine arts of spying and diversion.
 

The Red Fairy Book

Author: Andrew Lang
Stars: 4
Review by: Mandy Apgar


One of the several selections of folk and fairy tales collected and retold by Mr. Lang. The titular color doesn't represent anything really, this is just a pretty random lot. Some of the ordinary like Rapunzel - but sanitized from the original version so no pregnancy and twins, to the midline obscure like Mother Holle - where an unselfish girl journeys through a well into the home of a strange woman only to work hard and find herself blessed with a shower of gold, whereas when her stepsister follows her steps expecting the same shower her selfishness is rewarded with a shower of pitch instead. Fairy tales actually are very dark and violent and these are toned down a bit more than say an unedited version of Grimm's, but are still nice and well told. Although it does get irritating when people oh so conveniently find long lost loved ones in a cave. Way too Shakespearean for me.
 

From Italy With Love

Author: Gail Gaymer Martin, et al.
Stars: 3
Review by: jamBob


This book contained four short stories from different authors. Each story was based on a letter requesting a young lady to visit a particular site in Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice and Capri. The stories were formulaic based on forgiveness and a newly found romance. I enjoyed reading them as I visited Italy this summer and wanted to see descriptions of famous places by the authors. All 4 were Christian Romance so no foul language or sexy scenes.

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane

Author: Sheila Roberts
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This is the story about Bailey Sterling. She is a caterer to the stars in CA but needs to return home after a catering disaster. She goes home to live with her sister, Cecily. Cecily is fond of two local men - one is edgy and a "bad-boy" and the other is comforting and the "good-guy." She wants to go for the bad boy but is constantly drawn to the good guy. Meanwhile, the bad boy and Bailey are working together to create a new tea house venture. What happens when two sisters like the same man? Will sister love prevail? A nice summer read?
 

That Night on Thistle Lane

Author: Carla Neggers
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This is the story about Phoebe and Noah. Phoebe is a shy, quiet small town librarian and Noah is a brilliant multi-millionaire. They meet at a costume party, but neither know who is who. They eventually find out and the romance is on. Another nice summer romance.

Secrets of the Lost Summer

Author: Carla Neggers
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This is the story of Olivia and Dylan. Olivia is trying to start up a new business but the house next door is in horrible condition.She decides to write the owner, Dylan, and tells him he needs to clean up his mess. Dylan in across the county and is busy making millions. He didn't even know he had this house. He goes out to investigate and so the story begins. A nice summer romance.
 

The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae

Author: Stephanie Laurens
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


Angelica Cynster knows that she will find her true love at first sight. She happens to see the Earl of Glencrae. He, on the other hand, needs to kidnap her. She walks right into his hands. Will true love prevail? Read to find out.

Just One Kiss

Author: Susan Mallery
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This story brings together Patience and Justice for keeps this time. During high school Patience became friends with Justice and then he just disappeared. Patience is now a divorced, single mom trying to make her dream come true. Justice is back to start his new business. Will love prevail? There is a twist in the story about Patience's mom that makes for an interesting tale. A nice summer read.
 


 

Three Sisters

Author: Susan Mallery
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati


There are three houses overlooking the ocean on Blackberry Island. All of them are now owned by women trying to overcome difficulties in their lives. I didn't think I would like this story and I expected a lot of whining and complaining, but it did capture my attention and kept it. It is interesting to see three separate stories come together and how friends can help you overcome many of life's obstacles.
 

Once in a Lifetime

Author: Jill Shalvis
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This is the story about Ben MacDaniel and Aubry Wellington. Ben and Aubry knew each other in high school but they never got together. Aubry was a wild young lady and is now trying to make amends, whereas Ben is now a widower trying to overcome his grief. Brought together by circumstance they fight their way to true love.  A nice summer read.
 

Drawing Blood

Author: Deidre Verne
Stars: 2.5
Review by: LZ99


Either I'm sheltered or narrow minded, or some of the themes in this book were just too far fetched. That being said, still an okay, light read.
 

All I Want

Author: Jill Shalvis
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This is the story of Zoe Stone, a pilot for hire, and Parker James, a friend of Zoe's brother. They are thrown together as a favor to her brother, but with an underlying reason for Parker. Mystery, danger and love make for a great summer read.

Daring in a Blue Dress

Author: Katie MacAlister
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This is the third book in this series and Alice, from The Importance of Being Alice, is now trying to hook up another brother-in-law, Alden. There is a lot of campy humor as always and a little mystery on the side. The ending has a little twist to make it complete.
 

Eclair and Present Danger

Author: Laura Bradford
Stars: 4
Review by: Saraswati


This is the first of a new series by Bradford. A cozy based around the baker, Winnie Johnson, that just lost her bakery and inherits a vintage ambulance. In the cozy fashion there is murder, humor and a few twists and turns. A nice summer read.
 

Tricky Twenty-Two

Author: Janet Evanovich
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


I don't how I missed this last year but I guess I didn't feel like reading more of the same. Given the break this is a typical, campy Plum novel that make for a great summer read. The question is will Stephanie finally pick her main man or not? Do we have to wait for Twenty-Three??? Not bad for a series that was only going to 10.
 

X

Author: Sue Grafton
Stars: 3
Review by: Saraswati


This is a continuation of Grafton's last Millhone mystery whereby Millhone decides to complete a case from her deceased co-workers files. It shows that not all you see is all you get. It also has a second mystery riding along so you get to try and figure two things out at once.