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If You Give a Man a Cookie–spousal humor in parody format

If You Give a Man a Cookie

Written by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Illustrated by Brian Ajhar

If You Give a Man a CookieFor as long as I can remember, our family byword for “one thing leading to another” has been “if you give a mouse…” We don’t even have to finish the title; we all know what it means. I’m sure a lot of my readers can identify with that as you grew up with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie as a storytime favorite. Or maybe you were one of the many adults who shared this book with children.

Laura Joffe Numeroff has since produced many variations on this children’s book, but now she has written one for adults: If You Give a Man a Cookie. In this humorous parody, a woman offers up a cookie to her husband and, to nobody’s surprise who has read the original, he asks for milk to go with it. The book progresses in this delightful fashion with lots of helpless husband scenarios that may seem familiar to patient spouses.

Whereas Felicia Bond is responsible for the sweet, funny, and appealing artwork in Numeroff’s children’s books, the illustrator of If You Give a Man a Cookie is Brian Ajhar. His style is very different with sharper lines in a more comic book manner, with more appeal to its adult target audience. Be sure to note the dog who appears on almost every page adding to both the story and the humor.

This book would make a fun, less serious gift for the woman who has it all, including a man with 24/7 needs. I think most men would even find the humor in it. Also, consider it for those contemplating marriage; they might have second thoughts!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Andrews McMeel Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Entertainment, Humor

Publication:   October 10, 2017—Andrews McMeel Publishing

Bad Housekeeping–a humorous cozy mystery

Bad Housekeeping

by Maia Chance

Bad HousekeepingBad Housekeeping is a fairly typical cozy mystery that will keep you laughing and shaking your head in dismay as Agnes, recently dumped by her professor boyfriend, and Effie, her quirky great aunt, drive from adventure to misadventure in a “borrowed” Cadillac. This is a fun read, not intended to shake your world or be a realistic portrayal of anything. It is a great diversion as a summer beach read or a session curled up on the couch.

Agnes, freshly returned to her Dad’s home, has literally the clothes on her back. Effie gives her a job helping save the condemned Stagecoach Inn. Agnes stumbles over a body at the inn, precipitating a murder investigation and leading to the uncovering of lots of personal secrets in the little town of Naneda.

The plot clips along at a good pace with some twists and turns as the story develops. The characters are predictable in a comfortable sort of way with a stuffy ex-fiancé and an old high school flame with boy-next-door kind of appeal. The police hover in the background, but all of the successful investigation is done by Agnes. While this book is not destined for number one on the New York Times best seller list, it will provide a good afternoon’s entertainment.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Crooked Lane Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #1 in the new Agnes and Effie Mystery Series

Publication:   June 13, 2017—Crooked Lane Books

Memorable Lines: 

Maybe salvaging a wreck of a building is a metaphor for salvaging the wreckage of our own lives. It’s like we’re telling ourselves, See? It can be done. It’s never too late. I’m not sure if it’s tragic or inspirational.

I tried not to notice Otis’s tanned biceps. Yes, I know, women may have evolved to be attracted to muscles as a way to select mates with better survival odds. But this is the twenty-first century. The wise thing these days is to find a little nerd like Bill Gates if you’re interested in survival odds.

“I cannot believe you’re wearing poor little dead animals,” I said. “It’s vintage, darling. Vintage fur doesn’t count. These little animals have been dead since the Nixon administration.”

Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner–fun picture book

Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner

written by Julie Gassman

illustrated by Andy Elkerton

Do Not Take Your Dragon to DinnerAlmost any child will enjoy Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner; its predictable rhyming patterns and repetition will charm. Its descriptions of all the rude behaviors a dragon might engage in are sure to disgust to the delight of children. Dinosaur lovers will be particularly happy reading this book. The illustrations are bright, colorful, large, and seem to jump off the page. The illustrator worked hard to be inclusive of children of both genders and many ethnicities. The best part of the book’s structure is that after showing all the annoying and disgusting things a dragon might do at a restaurant, the author suggests that the child teach the dragon dining etiquette at home so he will be welcome in a restaurant with the child.

This book bears a strong resemblance to How Do Dinosaurs Eat their Food by Jane Yolen. The focus of Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner is, of course, dragons, but these dragons strongly evoke fanciful dinosaurs. If your child enjoys Yolen’s “How Do Dinosaurs…” books, then he or she would probably enjoy Do Not Take Your Dragon to Dinner. My ultimate test for a good children’s book is to decide if the adult will enjoy reading the book with the child as read-alouds should always be a time of pleasure for all involved. In the case of this book, I personally give it two thumbs up!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Capstone Young Readers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Humor, Children’s Fiction

Notes: suggested for ages 3-7; fun for home or school

Publication:   September 1, 2017—Capstone Young Readers

Memorable Lines: 

A rude guest like a dragon disturbs everyone.

He barges right in. He spoils the fun.

A wing in your face! A tail in a drink!

And worst of all, that distinct dragon STINK!

Double Up–witty cozy

Double Up

by Gretchen Archer

double upDavis Way is a former security officer and investigator for Bellissimo Casino and is currently a stay-at-home mom for twin baby girls. Blitz, Inc. buys up land in the same town for a competing casino and Davis’ home and livelihood are in jeopardy. To make it worse, Davis is convinced that it is her fault that the Bellissimo Casino is about to go under.

There are many humorous aspects to this story–both in situations and in characters. As always with books from the Davis Way Crime Caper Series, this cozy mystery is very witty with Archer frequently popping dialogue with one liners that Davis thinks, contrasting them with what she actually says. The plot moves quickly especially during the second half as extreme action kicks in. Think: explosions, auto theft, murder, decaying seafood, and dumpster diving. Two really quirky characters emerge: Bea, Davis’ ex-ex-mother-in-law, who is lacking in basic hygiene and good taste and takes physical action in her determination to set things right and “the House” which responds to voice suggestions by controlling Davis’ huge suite in a very frustrating way. All of this (and more) adds up to a fun book worth reading.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Henery Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Humor, Mystery

Notes: #6 in Davis Way Crime Caper Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:   March 21, 2017–Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

[Bea to Davis] “That’s one thing I like about Don Juan.” She took me into her confidence like I was her best girlfriend. “No back talking. ‘Course I don’t speak Italyish, so he could be back talking my ears off and I wouldn’t know it.”

If I’d been doing my job, I could have stopped it. Or at least slowed it down. At the bare minimum, we could have been prepared. To say I felt responsible was to say there were stars in the sky, the desert was hot, and Bill Gates had a little money in the bank.

Our daughters, who’d never known anything other than computer-generated, gender-neutral, max-volume broadcasts interrupting our lives via seventy hidden speakers followed by their parents yelling back, didn’t think a thing of it. One day they’d realize they lived in the world’s only home that spontaneously shrieked and yelled and demanded an explanation, but for now, they mostly hollered along. (“Aaagaah!” and “Gaahaah!”)

Death by Chocolate Lab–humorous cozy mystery

Death by Chocolate Lab

by Bethany Blake

death-by-chocolate-labI realize there are a lot of cozy mysteries that feature dogs or cats, but I had never even picked one up. Death by Chocolate Lab caught my eye because I am a sucker for basset hounds, and there was one soulfully staring at me from the cover of this book. How could I resist? Right from the start I knew I would enjoy this book as it humorously begins with Daphne, a petsitter with a PhD. in philosophy, walking her charges, three Rottweilers. These huge dogs are being corralled by a tiny somewhat mangled Chihuahua, a foster dog who is really just scheming to be picked up. They are accompanied by Daphne’s personal “sidekick,” a wise basset hound named Socrates.

Although there is a serious murder, with the victim discovered by Daphne, that starts a series of investigations led by handsome detective Jonathan Black, there is an undercurrent of humor throughout the book. Daphne is a semi-hippie vegetarian with a “vintage” pink VW van who lives on a farm with her type A personality veterinarian sister.  Other interesting characters include her girlfriend, hair stylist Moxie, and her sister’s vet assistant Dylan, an equally laid back former surfer with whom Daphne has a nebulous relationship.

Death by Chocolate Lab is a mystery with lots of twists and turns, interesting characters, and a good dose of humor throughout.  I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series, Dial Meow for Murder which is due for publication in September of 2017.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: Book #1 in the new Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery series

Publication:  February 28, 2017–Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

Was it odd that one of the things that brought us together was knowing we could be apart?

She was walking with my basset hound sidekick, Socrates, who considered himself above group walks and never hurried. He shambled along at Piper’s side, his droopy, solemn eyes fixed on something in the distance. He might’ve been interested in the dark clouds gathering ahead–a storm was definitely brewing–but I suspected that his real focus was inward. Socrates wasn’t the type of dog who obsessed about where his next treat was coming from. I was convinced that he dealt with more profound issues.

Was there such a thing as mal de vivre?

The Green Mill Murder –witty, sexy, intrepid private eye

The Green Mill Murder

by Kerry Greenwood

the-green-mill-murderI am delighted to belatedly discover that Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries were novels before they were films.  Usually I find that in such cases the book is better than the movie. This is true in The Green Mill Murder which is the fifth in the series by this prolific, award winning Australian author.  I should add, however, that I have very much enjoyed the films and having seen them added to my ability to visualize the setting and beautiful dresses and accessories that the heroine, Phryne Fisher, wears.

Phryne Fisher is quite a character. She is rich, but down to earth. She shares her wealth and offers personal help to those in need. Her morals are outrageous (in the 1920’s); and although she is clearly a lady, she never lets her gender limit her actions.

The Green Mill Murder has a basic mystery: a man is killed by unknown means in a dance hall during the waning hours of a dance marathon in plain sight. Phryne is there and so is able to help the detective Jack with his investigation. In the process, several more mysteries arise, which include issues of a missing husband, blackmail, and inheritance.

I so enjoyed this mystery starring a witty private investigator who can conceal a flask or a small gun as needed in a sexy outfit one day and fly a Gipsy Moth the next. The Australian English (e.g. collywobbles) and the 1920’s laws and customs add to the interest.

Phryne’s independence is exhilarating, and I look forward to more of her adventures. Greenwood says she will keep writing Miss Fisher mysteries as long as readers want more. Currently there are twenty mysteries in this series, thirteen of which have been made into movies for television.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Poisoned Pen Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery & Thrillers

Notes: There were various earlier publications of this book

Publication of Current Edition:   February 7, 2017–Poisoned Pen Press

Memorable Lines: 

“She enjoys bad health, Dot. the woman hasn’t been well since 1915, and she’s as strong as a horse.”

Vic had been delightful, but he and his surroundings were a passion to be indulged in sparingly, like absinthe, which sooner or later sent the drinker mad.

“Oh, how clean I am and how lovely hot water is! Great invention. No wonder the Romans ruled the world.”

Head for Mexico: The Renegade Guide–expect the unexpected!

Head for Mexico: The Renegade Guide

by Don Adams

head-for-the-borderI picked this book up in the second hand book room at the Lake Chapala Society Library   for a few pesos. This is an informative book written with a sense of humor. Don Adams doesn’t take himself too seriously, and he doesn’t want you to take yourself too seriously either. He has organized the book well so that you can enjoy it in its entirety or you can pick and choose sections as needed. I already live in Mexico, so my perspective was one of comparing my experiences with his. Although he has spent a lot of time in the Lake Chapala area (home of MANY expats from the U.S. and Canada), he also has lived in many other parts of Mexico. Just like other countries, there is no ONE Mexico, but Adams accurately offers up a taste of cultural differences South of the Border with respect for the kind and generous people here. Unlike his Internet references which are about 14 years old, the people of Mexico have not changed much since he wrote the book. I found it to be an accurate portrayal of life in Mexico where one should always expect the unexpected.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Travel, Nonfiction (Adult)

Notes: Some government information and Internet references are dated, but it still stands as a good resource for someone thinking about moving to Mexico.

Publication:   August 11, 2003–Trafford Publishing

Memorable Lines:

Here’s typical (and accurate) advice from Don Adams to give you a flavor of the book: “And a lot of folks caution against driving at night. Actually, nobody in their right mind would even want to consider this. Usually it’s just me and the truckers flying through the dark, although you’ll usually find a pretty active level of traffic on the autopistas connecting the major cities.”

My Not So Perfect Life–is your life as perfect as your social media says it is?

My Not So Perfect Life

by Sophie Kinsella

my-not-so-perfect-lifeHaving read most of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series as well as several other books by this best selling author, I looked forward to a work of chick lit that is neither trite nor cliché. I was rewarded with a story that contrasts the glamour of London with the authenticity of rural Somerset.  It presents characters with depth who react to their experiences with change and growth.

The first setting is a branding/advertising agency in London where difficult work relationships take center stage, as well as survival in a very expensive city. The second is a sheep farm that reinvents itself as a glamping (glamour camping) center. The main character, known as Cat in London and Katie on the family farm, tries to survive by straddling two worlds.  Katie’s complicated home life leads her to lie about her “perfect” London life, creating unintended consequences. Complications don’t end there, however, as one already difficult boss seems to suffer from mental issues and another sets off romantic fireworks.

I know a book is good when I repeatedly succumb to the temptation of glancing at the opening paragraph of the next chapter. Once I have gotten that far, it is hard to put the book aside, and so it happens again and again. My Not So Perfect Life keeps luring the reader back just like that. As I read, I initially thought I could see a direct path to a happy ending, but Kinsella has lots of surprises in store before the tale reaches its conclusion.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House (Dial Press) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: moderate profanity (including some specific to British English)

Publication:   February 7, 2017–Random House (Dial Press)

Memorable Lines:

 It’s amazing how an otherwise intelligent person can become a credulous fool as soon as you mention the words “organic,” “authentic,” and “Gwyneth Paltrow.”

“Every promotion requires you to do less of the thing you originally wanted to do.”

“Whoever started the rumor that life has to be perfect is a very wicked person, if you ask me. Of course it’s not!”

The Impossible Fortress–1987 from a teenage perspective

The Impossible Fortress

by Jason Rekulak

the-impossible-fortressHere’s a novel that will take you back to 1987 complete with 14 year old computer nerd Billy Marvin who is currently failing ninth grade and his equally awkward sidekicks Alf and Clark.  Outcasts from all the requisite cliques at their high school, they devise a plan to not only obtain a copy of the coveted Vanna White issue of Playboy, but also profit from the the object of their desires.

By the end of The Impossible Fortress, you really know Billy and the even more digitally talented Mary, and you have laughed and cringed your way through many early teen escapades.  The pair programs on TRS-80 computers and the Commodore 64. Appropriate touches of the 80’s are sprinkled throughout the book–mention of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Christie Brinkley, the must have Bugle Boy pants, and Mark Cerny who started working for Atari at age 17. More than a nostalgic look at the 80’s, we explore the tough times of kids working their way through the difficult teen years. There are times when you hold your breath. times when you laugh, and moments of suspense. This is a book you will be glad you read.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Notes: This book abounds with male teenage profanity

Publication:   February 7, 2017–Simon & Schuster

Memorable Lines:

The first step was easy. But the second step, the step where I fully removed myself from the roof–that was commitment. The wood trembled beneath my weight, quivering like the edge of a diving board. I made the mistake of looking down, but there was nothing to see–no alley, just a vast black gulf, a bottomless sinkhole.

“Imagine a computer not bigger than a candy bar!” he exclaimed, and we laughed at the absurdity of his predictions; they were all straight out of The Jetsons.

A Gathering in Hope–humorous tale

A Gathering in Hope

by Philip Gulley

a-gathering-in-hopePastor and author Philip Gulley captured my heart in the 1990’s with his Front Porch Tales.  Later he drew in many readers with his series about a small town in Indiana called Harmony where pastor Sam Gardner leads a Quaker congregation. Quite the storyteller, Gulley takes Pastor Sam to a new quirky Quaker group in the little town of Hope where the members of the fellowship are in conflict with each other as they discover that money bestowed on the group by a member who has passed away can be a burden as well as a blessing.

As Pastor Sam tries to mediate at committee meetings and deal with local endangered species issues, we find that he is anything but perfect.  He is trying to lead by following in Jesus’ footsteps, but he is human. He wishes he could “fire” certain members of his congregation. He would prefer to be at home with his wife rather than attend yet another interminable committee meeting. Like every other human, he sometimes regrets things he has said.

In A Gathering in Hope, Gulley has created another fun tale with eccentric characters, an interesting plot, and lots of good humor.  Come for a visit with Paster Sam in Hope and you’re guaranteed a great time.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Center Street for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Humor, General Fiction (Adult)

Publication:  Center Street–September 6, 2016

Memorable Lines:

“He’s better now, but it was touch and go for a while.  He went through withdrawal. You can’t eat five packages of Peeps a day for thirty years and then quit cold turkey.”

If they spent a half hour discussing paper towels, building a new fellowship hall would take decades. Jesus would return before the first nail had been driven.

He seemed a little crazy, a half bubble off center.

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