Catching Up on Reviews 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Double-Booked for Death (Black Cat Bookshop Mystery, #1)Double-Booked for Death by Ali Brandon

When it comes to mysteries, I’ll admit I’m usually drawn more to those with a harder edge. But the combination of a murder in a book store along with a mystery solving cat caught my interest with Ali Brandon’s Double Booked For Death.

Darla Pettistone inherited her aunt’s bookstore in New York City, along with a car, an apartment and a cat named Hamlet. Darla’s working to keep the store afloat and a signing by the biggest name in teenage supernatural literature certain can’t hurt. But Darla wasn’t counting on protesters, long lines of teenage fans in goth outfits and capes and the death of the best-selling author near the premises.

It all seems like an accidental death until Hamlet uncovers a clue that sheds new light on things.

While the death of the best-selling novelist is what drives the plot forward, Double Booked For Death spends equal time on developing the characters and universe of the novel and series. It seems like every person we meet is eccentric in his or her own way — from the long-time clerk who knows how to position the autographed copies of the new book on E-bay for maximum profit to the woman who owns the shop next door. At times, it feels like the central mystery is taking a backseat to meeting and developing these new characters.

And yet, Brandon is ably to neatly tie up all the mystery’s loose ends in the final pages and have it come across as satisfying and earned. As I said before, I’m not generally a fan of cozy mysteries, but this series has intrigued me enough that I’m willing to try a few more entries and see what happens next to Darla and Hamlet.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's LibraryEscape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Listening to the audio version of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, I couldn’t help but recall Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Skimming a couple of other reviews on Goodreads, I see that I’m not the only one.

This isn’t a bad thing, mind you. As an homage to Chocolate Factory, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library works fairly well. But it also stands on its own as an enjoyable, entertaining book.

It certainly had me entertained as I listened.

Kyle Keeley is one of several students selected to spend the night in the brand new Lemoncello Library. Mr. Lemoncello creates the greatest games — video and otherwise — in the world and he wants to give back to his home town, which has been without a library for several years now. He builds a state-of-the-art facility that he hopes will appeal to old school and new school users. And to generate some excitement he makes his new library the showcase for his new game.

The goal is to find a way out of the library by using the resources contained within. There’s no overriding threat of danger or death to the game, just the desire to get out first and win the fame and fortune that comes with it.

Reading this book, I found myself wanting to find a way to play some of the games invented by Mr. Lemoncello. And while the characters and plot aren’t necessarily ground-breaking, it’s still a fun, diverting book that I could see myself sharing with younger members of my family or my kids (someday).

I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-StarI Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star by Judy Greer

Odds are you’ve seen Judy Green in a movie or television show. She’s been cast in supporting roles in some of the most popular shows and movies of the last decade, including Arrested Development, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or 13 Going on 30. She’s even headlining the new FX series Married this summer.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s a household name (just yet) or that you’re likely to recall any of these roles should you meet her on the street. Greer embraces that awkward moment as the title for this book of essays on her life and career, I Don’t Know What You Know Me From.

Read by Greer, the audiobook looks at her life and career with a sense of humor and honesty. The most enjoyable chapters are those focusing on the behind the scenes in Hollywood, with just the right amount of self-deprecation on Greer’s part. Wisely, Greer doesn’t go for muck-racking or telling dirty secrets of those she’s worked with. Instead, she paints a picture of what it’s like to work in Hollywood — both the positive and negative. The chapters where she reflects on the joys of working on a project during the day but missing her family during the downtime are among the most memorable and interesting.

At the end of this collection, you’ll come away knowing a bit more about Greer and her life. And maybe, you’ll start to remember just a few of the many memorable roles she’s played during her career.

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