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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

11 / 30 books. 37% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (3)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
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- Georgia (1)
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- Washington, D.C.* (1)

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (8)
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- Ireland (2)
- Italy (1)
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My Progress:

23 / 51 states. 45% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

16 / 50 books. 32% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

21 / 50 books. 42% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

43 / 50 books. 86% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 52 books. 73% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

25 / 40 books. 63% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

6 / 26.2 miles (second lap). 23% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

22 / 100 books. 22% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

58 / 104 books. 56% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

60 / 165 books. 36% done!
Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Grabenstein's Debut Upbeat and Funny

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's all fun and games at the Jersey shore until someone gets hurt—the kind of hurt that lands them in the morgue.  

Reginald Hart, a business tycoon who's "kind of like Donald Trump, only richer and without the gravity-defying comb-over," is found shot to death on the tilt-a-whirl at a sleazy amusement park in Sea Haven, New Jersey.  The man known as "Hartless" had no shortage of enemies, so suspects in his murder are plentiful.  It's just a matter of narrowing down the possibilities to find the person who hated Reginald enough to kill him.

After a 13-year stint in the military, John Ceepak has come to Sea Haven to work on the police force run by an old Army buddy.  The seasoned MP is paired with Danny Boyle, a 24-year-old greenie who's more of a gopher/chauffeur than a partner.  Danny's a "cop with a beachy kind of 'tude"—he doesn't carry a gun and he has more opportunities to flirt with bikini-clad tourists than solve crime.  Tagging along after Ceepak means policing on a whole new level.  

As Danny marvels at his mentor's work ethic, he learns a great deal about detective work as well as the enigmatic John Ceepak.  Together, the two men are determined to find Reginald's killer.  The closer they get, however, the more dangerous their job becomes.  Can they get to the bottom of a violent murder without running afoul of a vicious killer?  Or will theirs be the next corpses to turn up at Sunnyside Playland?

I knew Chris Grabenstein wrote zany middle grade adventures like Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library, but I had no idea that his earliest published books were actually police procedurals aimed at adults.  Tilt-a-Whirl is the first installment in his series starring John Ceepak (but narrated by Danny Boyle).  It's a clever, funny novel that remains upbeat despite dealing with disturbing subject matter.  Ceepak's a fascinating character and seeing him through Danny's eyes makes our hero even more mysterious and compelling.  I enjoyed both of the story's leading men as well as its atmospheric seaside setting.  The mystery doesn't get too many points for originality, but it is fast-paced, twisty, and entertaining.  Tilt-a-Whirl kept me turning pages and yearning for more from Ceepak and Boyle.  I've already purchased the next two books in the series.  I can't wait to see what this dynamic duo does next!

(Readalikes:  Other books in the John Ceepak series, including Mad House; Whack-a-Mole; Hell Hole; Mind Scrambler; Rolling Thunder; Fun House; and Free Fall)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, violence, blood/gore, sexual innuendo, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I bought an e-copy of Tilt-a-Whirl from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

Classic Children's Novel Has Me Asking, "Am I Missing Something?"

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Feeling underappreciated by her family and tired of "the monotony of everything" (6), 12-year-old Claudia Kincaid decides to run away from her Greenwich home.  Knowing she'll need money for food, bus fare, and the like, Claudia reluctantly invites her miserly little brother, Jamie, along.  The two head for what seems like the perfect hideaway—The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Hiding out in the museum is a little scary, but it's also fun and exciting.  At least until hunger, boredom, and homesickness sets in.

When Claudia and Jamie come across a statue purportedly created by Michelangelo and sold to the museum for a mere $225, the kids know they've uncovered an intriguing—and diverting—mystery.  Their hunt for answers leads them to Mrs. Frankweiler, mysterious 82-year-old widow who collects secrets.  As the kids make some amazing discoveries about the statue, they'll learn a few important things about themselves as well.

I read voraciously as a kid (some things never change!), so I'm sure I picked up From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg at some point in my childhood.  Since I couldn't really remember the story, though, I decided to revisit the 1968 Newbery Award winner as an adult.  Although the idea of living in a famous museum full of innumerable mysteries definitely fuels my imagination, I found the book underwhelming overall.  It's a quick, fun read that actually has a surprisingly modern vibe to it.  I like that, but I didn't feel any real connection to the characters or story.  On the whole, then, I found the book entertaining enough, just not super memorable or special.  So many readers adore this classic children's book.  I have to ask—am I missing something? 

(Readalikes:  Um, nothing's coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find
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Tress of the Emerald Sea by Brandon Sanderson


The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

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