Monthly Archives: November 2015

Chef Maurice and the Bunny-Boiler Bake Off by JA Lang

Chef Maurice is once again spending more time sleuthing than cheffing. A celebrity chef is found murdered right in the middle of the Beakley Spring Fayre. With lots of evidence from photographers and videographers, amateur and professional, it should be easy to find the culprit. The only problem is it’s not, and there are quite a few people to investigate with surprising ties to the murdered woman.

Chef Maurice and the Bunny-Boiler Bake Off was quite funny and enjoyable to read. The pace was good. There were a couple twists that were well done. I highly recommend it for a mind vacation sort of read. You do not have to read the other two Chef Maurice books for this one to make sense.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 105
Pages Read in 2015: 30,170
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Realistic Fiction

Auggie & Me by RJ Palacio

Auggie & Me by RJ Palacio is a collection of three short stories to go along with Wonder. The first story, The Julian Chapter, is Julian’s story and defense/explanation of his behavior toward Auggie. It happens concurrently with the story told in Wonder. It’s a good reminder that people always, right or wrong, have reasons for the things they do. The second story, Pluto, is told from the point of view of Chris, Auggie’s childhood friend who moved away a few years before the events in Wonder begin. It’s told alternately in bits of one day in Chris’s life and memories of things that happened with Auggie years before. It gives a glimpse into the type of friend Auggie had before he started at Beecher Prep. The third and final story, Shingaling, is Charlotte’s story. It also runs concurrently with Auggie’s story. Charlotte was never super friendly with Auggie, but she was never mean to him. While Auggie was dealing with his own difficult 5th grade year, Charlotte was also struggling and trying to figure out her way through life. The book reads fast and is a excellent addition to Wonder. My favorite was The Julian Chapter. The ending of that one was absolutely incredible. I wholeheartedly recommend Auggie & Me to all fans of Wonder, young and old.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 104
Pages Read in 2015: 29,924
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Middle Grades, Realistic Fiction

Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes by JA Lang

Chef Maurice is back and trying to solve another crime. This time around a wealthy wine collector has been murdered right in his own wine cellar and under the feet of a group of friends invited to a wine tasting. The butler behaves suspiciously (and, after all, isn’t it always the butler who did it?) and nearly everyone else is telling lies. Chef Maurice endeavors to figure it all out and catch the killer, even if he can’t figure out just who it is. Meanwhile, Patrick is convinced PC Lucy is seeing another man and concocts an elaborate plan to catch her and figure out just where he stands.

Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes, the second Chef Maurice book, is very slow for about the first half to two-thirds. Much of what happens is just filler. The side story involving Patrick and PC Lucy consists of a lot of set up and then just a handful of pages of resolution (albeit very good resolution) at the end. The Chef’s breakdown of who did it is excellent. The last third makes the book worth reading. Reading the first book first is not necessary, but will help with knowing who the characters are right from the start. Chef Maurice and the Wrath of Grapes is a decent mind vacation and relatively fun to read.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 103
Pages Read in 2015: 29,621
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Realistic Fiction

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Rachel Kalama is just a little girl when she develops a sore that won’t heal. Soon she is shipped off to Kalaupapa, the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. There she makes her home and lives a unique life without any real freedom.

Moloka’i is historical fiction. Some characters are real and others, including Rachel, are composites of people who lived on Moloka’i. The story covers several decades, hitting the highlights of Rachel’s long life, often skipping long periods of time. Prior to reading the book, the only thing I really knew about the leper colony is my uncle visited once, probably in the 1950s. He mixed among the residents blessing and serving them. Even though it was not allowed to go near the residents, he was able to get away with it since he was a priest. As I read, I became curious and googled leprosy, Moloka’i, Father Damien, and Kalaupapa to learn more. It’s always extra fulfilling when a book is educational as well as entertaining. It’s not a quick read and the story unfolds slowly and is often quite emotional. I recommend it to all adults who enjoy historical fiction.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 102
Pages Read in 2015: 29,352
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Historical Fiction

Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by JA Lang

Chef Maurice just wants his mushroom delivery, but Ollie is missing and the police won’t let him have the box so clearly labeled for Maurice’s restaurant since it is now considered evidence. Chef Maurice finds locally grown truffles in Ollie’s house and then he finds Ollie’s body in a field. While he loves cheffing, sleuthing is also fun, at least until someone steals his pig and then he becomes determined to solve the case.

Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by JA Lang is a fun, silly read. It’s a typical police can’t solve it, but some random guy can sort of mystery. It makes for a very enjoyable mind vacation.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 101
Pages Read in 2015: 28,952
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Realistic Fiction

The Wave by Todd Strasser

In a Palo Alto CA high school in 1969, a history teacher was asked why people followed the Nazis and why other Germans didn’t stop them. The next day the teacher began an experiment which evolved into the Wave. Students in the Wave had slogans and a salute. They were all equal. They had rules to follow. They believed the Wave was going to lead to great things. And then it all went out of control. Kids were beaten up or ostracized for opposing the Wave. In just one week it had to be shut down and those students never again would wonder why people followed the Nazis or why other Germans didn’t stop them.

The Wave Todd Strasser is partly fascinating and partly disturbing. We’d all like to say if we had lived in 1930s Germany we’d have seen through Hitler’s rhetoric, but would we really? The Wave experiment proved mob mentality is strong, particularly among the youth, a group Hitler specifically targeted. This book should be required reading for teens studying World War II.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 100
Pages Read in 2015: 28,724
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

1 Comment

Filed under History, Young Adult

Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison

Bill is living his life minding his own business when he gets tricked into enlisting in the military. That’s when things start to go wrong. He gets lucky and isn’t killed in battle (he does lose an arm, but no biggie since it was replaced) and is sent to Helior to receive an award from the emperor. That’s when things really start to go wrong. His city plan is stolen making him one of the unplanned – an offense punishable by death – and eventually ends up court martialed, sent to prison, and shipped off to another planet to fight. And that’s when things totally and completely go wrong.

There is a lot of humor in Bill the Galactic Hero. The wordplay is fantastic. It’s an entertaining and fun to read book. I recommend it to people who enjoy sci-fi, particularly those with a large vocabulary.

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2015: 99
Pages Read in 2015: 28,586
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)
Applied to Category for Special Reading Challenge: A book written by an author with your same initials (H.H.)
***This completes all categories for the special reading challenge.***

Leave a comment

Filed under Science Fiction