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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

6 / 30 books. 20% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (4)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii
- Idaho
- Illinois
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas (1)
- Kentucky
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (1)
- Maryland (1)
- Massachusetts (1)
- Michigan
- Minnesota
- Mississippi
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska
- Nevada
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (2)
- North Carolina (1)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee
- Texas
- Utah
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia
- Washington (2)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.*


- Australia (2)
- Canada (1)
- England (3)
- France (1)
- Ireland (1)
- Scotland (1)
- South Korea (1)
- The Netherlands (1)
-Vietnam (1)

My Progress:

17 / 51 books. 33% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

24 / 50 books. 48% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

30 / 52 books. 58% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

33 / 52 books. 63% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

19 / 40 books. 48% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

12 / 40 books. 30% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

5 / 25 books. 20% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

18 / 25 books. 72% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

41 / 109 books. 38% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Monday, September 09, 2013

Miss Monk on the Small Screen? Never Fear—You Can Still Find Him in Your Library (He'll be the One Dusting the Lightbulbs).

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you've seen an episode of the t.v. show Monk (and who hasn't?) you'll understand why I love its title character so much.  Adrian Monk, especially as portrayed (to perfection) by the incomparable Tony Shalhoub, is quirky, fun, hilarious and just all-around charming.  If you're not familiar with OCD-afflicted Detective Monk, never fear, you can watch the series on Netflix.  If you've seen every episode and still can't get enough, no worries, you can check out the 15 Monk mysteries Lee Goldberg wrote.  Bummed that Goldberg's moved on?  Not a problem.  Hy Conrad, one of the original writers of the t.v. series, has taken over where Goldberg left off.  Mr. Monk Helps Himself is the first of Conrad's Monk novels and, guess what?  Reading it is just as delightful as watching Monk solve cases on the small screen.  

Like the other Monk novels, this one is narrated by Natalie Teeger, Monk's assistant.  Having returned from a sojourn in New Jersey, she's back in California helping Monk keep his OCD in check long enough to aid the San Francisco Police Department with their toughest cases.  Determined to become more than just Monk's babysitter, she's studying for the exam that will make her a licensed private investigator.  Once she's legal, Natalie will become her boss's partner.  Until then, she's the "unlegendary, underpaid and overworked ... assistant to a brilliant and very stubborn six-year-old" (2).  

To get a little breather from her hectic life, Natalie sneaks off to a seminar led by a successful self-help guru named Miranda Bigley.  She purposely lies about her whereabouts so her boss won't pester her to dust his already spotless lightbulbs or call fifty times to moan about his newest phobia.  And yet, somehow, he finds her.  Monk's raving about cults when Miranda walks right off a seaside cliff, plunging to her death.  The police call it a suicide, but Natalie knows better.  How could someone who spent her life helping people find happiness be miserable enough to kill herself?  It makes no sense.  No one else seems to care about poor Miranda, especially not Monk, who's hard at work trying to catch a serial killer.  Natalie won't give up on it, though.  She's going to find her heroine's killer if it's the last thing she does.  With two cases to solve, an exam to study for and Monk to hand-hold, Natalie's got a lot on her plate.  Can she do it all and pass her P.I. exam, too?  Or is she destined to be Monk's babysitter forever?

As you can probably tell, the book remains true to the lighthearted tone of the t.v. series.  Not that it doesn't have its gory parts.  It does.  But, overall, Mr. Monk Helps Himself is a quick, enjoyable read that won't tax too many of your brain cells.  If you're looking for a complex, nuanced mystery, look somewhere else.  If, on the other hand, you simply want a funny, upbeat story, well, you've found your next read.  Whether you're an old Monk fan or a new one, chances are, you're going to enjoy the ride.     

(Readalikes:  I haven't read them, but I assume the Monk mysteries by Lee Goldberg are very similar)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

 for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and sexual innuendo/references to sex

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Mr. Monk Helps Himself from the generous folks at Obsidian (a division of Penguin) via those at Premier Virtual Author Book Tours.  Thank you!

Hey Bessica, You Want a Little Cheese With That Whine?

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Bessica Lefter just wanted a new look for the first day of sixth grade.  That's all.  The 11-year-old never thought she'd lose her best friend, Sylvie Potaski, over one unfortunate haircut.  But Sylvie's mother has declared Bessica a bad influence and enrolled her daughter at a different school.  Left to figure middle school out on her own, Bessica's not exactly adjusting well.  She can't get her locker open, let alone deal with the psycho-bullies who torment her daily.  It doesn't help that her grandmother, the one person she can always talk to, is off on some cockamamie, six-week long RV trip with her dorky boyfriend.  Bessica's miserable—why aren't her parents and her beloved grandma getting this?  No one seems to understand.  If only she could convince Sylvie's mother to let the girls hang out again, or find some way to sabotage Grandma's trip, or find a way—any way—to fit in at her new school.  Joining the cheerleading squad seems to be the way to go, but what if that ends up just as disastrously as everything else?  Can Bessica find a way to survive middle school?  Chances are not looking good ...

I picked up The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter by Kristen Tracy because it looked like a quick, cute read.  And it was, just in kind of a generic, been-there-read-that kind of way.  Bessica's a fun narrator and sympathetic—at least to a point.  After a while, though, her constant misery starts to get old.  As she continues to wallow in her own self-pity, never reaching outside herself for a solution to her unhappiness, she just gets more self-centered and whiny.  In a character-driven novel, an annoying heroine is not a good thing.  In the end, The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter teaches a valuable lesson about finding your own way, but the uplifting message wasn't quite enough to counteract the book's irritating main character.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find 

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