mstrust's little yet fierce challenge- #3

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mstrust's little yet fierce challenge- #3

Redigerat: aug 7, 3:27pm

I've been away from the Category Challenge for a few years but I'm back with a smallish challenge for myself. Five categories, five books each.
Hi, I'm Jennifer and I live in Phoenix with my husband, Mike, and our boxer, Coral. I have thousands of books in the house, write short stories, love tiki and Halloween, come up with baking and cocktail recipes, and we travel a lot. Well, we did. March marked my 13th Thingaversary. I've hit LT puberty.
I'll be publishing a book very soon that I've worked on for about 16 months. It's all about maple, so recipes, but also an introduction to maple producers of New England, the Midwest and Canada.

aug 7, 3:26pm


aug 7, 5:48pm

Happy new thread!

Those titles sound like Tom Lehrer made the book list!

aug 7, 6:59pm

Happy new thread! The book titles are hilarious :)

aug 8, 1:12am

I love the books - so hilarious!

aug 8, 4:48am

Happy new thread! And many thanks for those funny book titles.

aug 8, 9:35am

>9 quondame: Thanks, Susan, and I agree!

>10 rabbitprincess: Thank you, Princess!

>11 JayneCM: Thanks, Jayne! And those are the clean ones. Oh, there are Golden Book titles that get so much worse!

>12 MissWatson: Thank you and you're welcome!

aug 9, 9:39am

Happy new thread! That I Will Chomp You book looks very cute...may have to get it for my nephews!

aug 9, 1:24pm

Thanks, Christina!
It does look like a good book!

Redigerat: aug 9, 2:04pm

75. The Book of Books: Recommended Reading. Organized into chapters by genre or plot, this turned out to be a great source for making my WL and TBR piles so much longer. I ended up with a list of at least fifty books to look for, so clearly the recommendations worked. 4 stars

aug 9, 3:36pm

Congrats on making it to 75! I love those "children's book covers" in your categories.

aug 9, 6:02pm

Thank you and thank you! I didn't realize I had hit 75 until I was writing the review.

aug 10, 6:35am

>16 mstrust: Books about books are 'dangerous' in that respect! My TBR always expands so much!

aug 10, 6:40am

aug 10, 10:15am

>19 JayneCM: And I've been going through many lately because they keep popping up on my Kindle Unlimited. I think I've added at least 75 titles between the three or four books like this I've read this past month. But this particular book gave me the most recs.

aug 10, 10:15am

Redigerat: aug 10, 12:29pm

>16 mstrust: Definitely adding The Book of Books to my wishlist!

aug 10, 2:03pm

I'm sure you'll find it a danger to your TBR pile.

Redigerat: aug 15, 8:16pm

76. A Moveable Feast by Lonely Planet. Essays from travel and food writers such as Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern and several former writers at Gourmet Magazine. Essays include flirting over a traditional Egyptian breakfast, the most celebrated restaurants of New York, learning to cook the local specialties of Jerusalem. and shadowing a resort chef on the island of Mustique. One of the most interesting essays was by ex-pat pastry chef David Lebovitz, about the hits and misses of Parisian chefs trying to create new trends. Some of the essays were disturbing, such as eating dogs or fruit bats. 3.5 stars

Redigerat: aug 19, 9:26pm

77. Chocolate Covered Murder by Kate Bell. When a Pumpkin Hollow landlord is found murdered in the town's haunted house attraction, everyone is worried. Not only do they have another murderer in the small California themed town, but the crime has shut down one of the major tourist attractions just as the Halloween season is ramping up. Then there's the issue that Ethan has just been promoted to part-time detective and needs to solve his first case or risk being demoted back to full-time patrolman.
So Mia, candy store employee and Ethan's girlfriend, helps out in the investigation, while her mom keeps coming out of the store kitchen with new candies.
This series goes down so easily, like eating popcorn. 3.5 stars

aug 19, 10:00pm

>26 mstrust: And gets the prize for cutest book cover! :)

Redigerat: aug 20, 9:53am

All the Pumpkin Hollow book covers are seriously cute, featuring a Halloween baked good or candy. Which ties in with the main character's family owning a Halloween themed candy store, so you get lots of candy descriptions.

Redigerat: aug 31, 1:03pm

78. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley. In this third book of the series, Flavia gets her fortune told by a gypsy at the village fete and promptly sets the old woman's tent on fire. Trying to make it up to her, Flavia invites the gypsy to set up her caravan on the grounds of Buckshaw, Flavia's ancestral home. When Flavia goes back to check on her, she finds that the woman has been beaten nearly to death, and so Flavia, the eleven year-old genius, is once again at the center of a crime, which embarrasses her family and aggravates Inspector Hewitt.
Spending time with Flavia is so fun, whether she's asking nosy questions, experimenting in her laboratory or getting even with her older sisters. 4.5 stars

sep 1, 5:14pm

>29 mstrust: I love Flavia! It was so sad when the series came to and end. If you enjoy audio books, Jayne Entwistle did a great job with the audio narration of the series.

sep 1, 7:23pm

I didn't know the series had ended. Well, I still have a ways to go so there's that at least.
Flavia is such a character. And I was surprised to see, in the very long list of thanks yous and acknowledgements at the end of this book, that Bradley thanked the proprietor of my local, very small, mystery bookshop for leaving him astounding murder ideas on his voicemail.

sep 1, 10:44pm

>31 mstrust: that's fantastic! I would love to hear those voicemails. When I try to describe one of my story plots, I always sound like an idiot. It makes me realize how hard it must be to go to one of those writer conventions where they let you pitch to agents and editors.

sep 2, 11:02am

I know, I'll bet the owner of a mystery bookstore could come up with some pretty ripe scenarios. I've been helped by this lady and you'd never suspect her.

sep 2, 11:19am

Redigerat: sep 7, 8:32am

79. Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt by Todd Harra and Kenneth McKenzie. True death industry stories collected by the authors, who are both funeral directors. Topics range from the humorous, such as one guy who got locked out of his hearse, and then the hospital, when he went to pick up a body one night. Others stories are contemplative, such as the sadness of having to deal with the body of a loved one, and other stories are in the "crazy" category, like the huge family brawl during the funeral.
3 stars

Redigerat: sep 7, 8:34am

80. Let's Get Invisible by R.L. Stine. Max, his younger brother Lefty, and a group of friends discover a hidden room in the attic that contains an old-fashioned full length mirror. Why would this be hidden away? The kids find that when you pull the light chain, the person standing in front of the mirror becomes invisible. The kids become obsessed with it, but fun comes at a price.
This is a good one, as the descriptions of what Max feels as he's invisible are worrisome, like a bad drug trip. Stine includes his tropes in spades here. The kids with the more dominant personalities push Max into doing what he knows is wrong, you have the character who wails, "Noooo!" (I wait for it in every book), and the kids are lacking even a spark of evil as they use invisibility to throw magazines around rather than burn the neighborhood down. 4 stars

Redigerat: sep 8, 10:10am

81. Death and Sweets by Kate Bell and Kathleen Suzette. Stella, the grumpy Halloween hating owner of the only bakery in Pumpkin Hollow's Halloween district, has been murdered in her shop. The body was found by Mia, whose family owns the candy shop down the street. Stella was surly enough that she didn't have many fans, and this means multiple suspects, including Stella's husband, sister, and employee. Mia didn't like Stella much either, but she still sets out to help her police detective boyfriend by investigating under the guise of neighborly chats and offers of candy, even if she occasionally says just the wrong thing.

A short cozy that's full of Halloween, bakery and candy talk. Some of the dialogue can be clunky.
3.5 stars

Redigerat: sep 10, 11:21am

39. Tales From the Crypt #1 The Stalking Dead. A collection of scary, sometimes gory, stories that date from 1970 10 2017. In "Die-Vestment", a very old and incredibly wealthy man finds poor people who will sell him their internal organs to help their families, but the old man doesn't honor the contracts.
In "Zombie Bank", the only two human employees at the bank are a mistreated gopher and the beautiful, flirty secretary. And then there's just one human employee. In "Undertow", we meet a grieving young mother, but this is a horror story, so it isn't as it seems.
3.5 stars
1.5 Walkers

Redigerat: sep 10, 11:37am

Ha! Finally, my book is available on Amazon!
Here's proof-

Not shilling, just a feeling of triumph. See, all my complaining DID accomplish something! Hooray!

sep 10, 11:41am

>39 mstrust: Woohoo, congratulations! And how timely, considering the northern hemisphere is now moving into fall!

sep 10, 11:44am

>39 mstrust: wonderful! 😊

sep 10, 12:30pm

Congrats on the book coming out, Jennifer.

sep 10, 4:07pm

>39 mstrust: Yay! Love the dog too!

sep 10, 4:47pm

>39 mstrust: Fantastic!

sep 10, 5:19pm

>40 christina_reads: >41 VictoriaPL: >42 DeltaQueen50: >43 quondame: >44 RidgewayGirl: Thanks everyone! I'm happy and pretty relieved to get it out right at the beginning of the season.

Reach over and help yourself to a maple bacon doughnut!

sep 11, 6:49pm

>45 mstrust: That reminds me of a conference experience. I was with a group of friends--mostly from North Carolina. One woman about my age had scouted out this donut place that offered a maple bacon donut. It was getting close to closing time for the donut place, but we all joined her on her quest for the maple bacon donut. I think we ended up ordering a maple bacon donut to split between several of us who were willing to "try" it, but we all ordered our own favorites. Mine was probably some variety with chocolate. I really don't remember. I just remember the hype about the maple bacon donut. It was better than most of us anticipated. I've been a few places since then that offer this variety. I don't know that I've ever ordered another one. My new favorite is a seasonal cake donut with key lime in it. It is so good!

sep 11, 8:12pm

I first had maple bacon as a cupcake at a festival, and it was pretty great. I have a maple bacon section in the book, because I had to, and found that the trend was started by Voodoo Donuts. They created a maple bacon bar in 2003 that sold out so quickly that it created a following in the same way the cronut did later.

sep 11, 8:39pm

I love maple bacon donuts, very much a comfort food experience but my holy grail is just the regular ol' double chocolate from Dunkin Donuts.

sep 11, 8:58pm

>45 mstrust: >46 thornton37814: My favorite local donut shop does maple bacon in a couple of shapes and I love them. That one in >45 mstrust: looks better though.

sep 12, 1:29am

>31 mstrust: Going back up to Bradley - my favourite was I Am Half Sick of Shadows. I kept all the books so that I can read them again now that there won't be any more.

You should hang out at that bookstore and maybe the owner will provide you with some plots too - but be careful, don't accept drinks, don't turn your back…

sep 12, 7:02am

>48 VictoriaPL: That is one of my "go to" donuts at Dunkin. The others are the Boston Kreme and blueberry. I really wish I could have another local donut place's Boston Kreme with Dunkin's custard filling. I prefer Dunkin's filling and the texture of the other donut.

sep 12, 5:57pm

>48 VictoriaPL: My favorite is the maple raised from La Mar's.

>49 quondame: Oh, a choice of shapes!
A few years ago on my Halloween thread, I posted a YT video showing how to make maple donuts out of regular refrigerated biscuit dough. I still haven't tried it but it was pretty easy.

>50 VivienneR: I think that's the next in line, and I have it on the shelf. I've really liked the first three, that's how far I've gotten in the series so far. Flavia is one of my favorite characters now.
Ha! She's a very nice lady, but I haven't seen her in the shop in a few years. She has a loyal staff and maybe she spends her time calling mystery writers and saying, "You know how I'd kill someone?"

>51 thornton37814: I see Dunkin' has an array of pumpkin coffees. Last year they had a malty chocolate werewolf donut that was so cute.

Redigerat: sep 12, 5:59pm

83. Witching Hour Theatre by Jonathan Janz. Wilson spends three nights a week at the Starlight Cinema, from midnight to five am, because that's when they feature a triple billing of horror movies. Wilson prides himself on being such a horror fan that he stays til the end, but there's also the plus of getting to chat with Nicole at the concession stand.
Then, one night it looks like the fun will be ruined by a group of obnoxious frat boys who are harassing people and making Wilson question whether or not he will stand up for himself and the others, but this decision turns out to be the least of his problems.
This is a real horror story, with monsters, death and The Omen playing in the background. I recommend it, you'll get a real scare.
4 stars

sep 13, 12:47pm

>52 mstrust: YUK! I don't want pumpkin in my coffee. I really prefer just plain coffee with cream and splenda.

Redigerat: sep 13, 3:56pm

Ha, and I love pumpkin coffee and say yuk to Splenda! My current coffees that I'm going between everyday are Caribou Pumpkin Love and Richard's Maple. Mike is drinking Three Sisters from Kicking Horse, which has a smoky flavor.
At least we know that if we worked in the same building we'd never end up accusing each other of swiping our coffee ;-D

Redigerat: sep 14, 11:36am

84. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty. Doughty, who owns a funeral home in L.A. and has created lots of Youtube explanation videos, answers questions about death, such as, What happens if you die on a commercial flight? What happens if an astronaut dies in space? Are bodies in the cemetery leaking into our drinking water? (You would hope for a resounding "no", but the answer is "some".) Will my beloved pet eat my dead body?
Doughty keeps things light and humorous while answering some pretty horrifying questions.
3.5 stars

sep 14, 1:00pm

>56 mstrust: I’ve always wanted to read one of her books. I love her YouTube videos.

sep 14, 3:17pm

She does have a big personality, and I'll be picking one of her Youtubes for my Halloween thread. This is the second of her books that I've read. From Here to Eternity was a look at death rituals from around the world.

Redigerat: sep 16, 1:35pm

85. Maniac: The Bath School Disaster and the Birth of the Modern Mass Killer by Harold Schechter. Here's one I'd never heard of before.
In 1927, in a town outside Lansing, Michigan, a failed farmer and politician named Andrew Kehoe blew up a school, killing more than three dozen people, mostly children. No one had realized that Kehoe had been breaking into the school at night and setting up timer controlled bombs throughout the tunnels under the school. The bombs contained enough dynamite to wipe out the whole town. The bombs that went off (not all of them did) caused a wing of the two-story school to collapse. Kehoe's particular target was the school's young principal, as Kehoe believed it was the principal's demands for better educational equipment and his salary that caused Kehoe's financial problems. After the school collapsed, Kehoe arrived on the scene to find that the principal was alive, so he murdered the man and committed suicide on the scene, making it clear who was responsible for the carnage. Police later found that Kehoe had already murdered his wife and horses, and rigged his home to explode. He even put a bomb in the hen house, because the chickens were supposed to die too.
The author explores other major news stories of the day, the most significant being Lindbergh's Transatlantic flight, which are the reason this story got so little attention outside Michigan at the time.
4 stars

sep 19, 7:49am

>59 mstrust: What a tragedy! I'd never heard of that incident.

sep 19, 10:58am

It was a new one to me too. But the author knew that most people have never heard of this and went to lengths to explain how other stories had eclipsed it, especially the Lindbergh story, which knocked a lot of news out of the way. It was pretty much a matter of a story that affected the people of one county being pushed aside by something that was a great achievement and would affect everyone. Nobody realized that people with Kehoe's personality disorder would become more prevalent.

Redigerat: sep 19, 10:59am

86. Halloween Night by R.L. Stine. Drippy high school senior Brenda and her friends hate Brenda's cousin Halley. She's living with Brenda's family while her parents go through a bitter divorce, something that happens frequently in the Stine universe. Not only have Brenda's parents forced Brenda to give up her room to Halley, she also has to share her car and clothes with her cousin, who then helps herself to Brenda's boyfriend.
Brenda's rage makes her see the upcoming Halloween party as the perfect time to teach Halley a lesson, a final one.
Not a great story, but you finally get what you'd always wanted in these Stine teen stories, a character who goes from a doormat to a psychopath.
2.5 stars

Redigerat: sep 21, 1:15pm

87. Fat Vampire by Johnny B. Truant. Reginald has always been remarkably overweight and picked on. Even now, as an adult, his co-workers make fun of him, and part of that is due to their company selling exercise equipment.
Then a new guy on the night shift, a teenage Goth, treats Reginald like he's normal, which leads to a night of bowling, which leads to Reginald being a new vampire. One who is stuck at 350 pounds for all eternity, too slow to hunt and likely to be destroyed by the Vampire Council when they see how bad he is at basic vampire stuff.
Fun and well-written, I knew the author had to be a pen name and I wouldn't be surprised if this was written by a successful screenwriter.
4.5 stars
2 Walkers

sep 21, 1:36pm

>63 mstrust: interesting….

sep 21, 4:59pm

I'd recommend it for someone who wants a Halloweenie read that isn't too serious.

Redigerat: sep 23, 4:04pm

88. Fire in the Grove by John C. Esposito. On November 28th, 1942, a popular nightclub and restaurant in Boston was packed with around a thousand people. By law, there should have been half that. The many exits should have been unlocked and usable, but the majority were locked or blocked to keep guests from skipping out on their checks. The owner had even built a coat check room across one exit. The decor was supposed to be flame-retardant, but the fire started in one of the paper-mache palm trees and withing seconds spread to the thousands of feet of fabric draped across the ceilings. Within ninety seconds the fire had engulfed the basement lounge and spread to the main floor dining room, killing more than 50 servicemen and cowboy star Buck Jones.
The Cocoanut Grove Disaster is still the largest nightclub fire in American history, killing just under 500 people. It tested new theories in medicine and led to innovative treatment of surviving burn victims, including pinprick skin grafts.
This book includes the many trials of the owner and his employees, in which the extensive level of corruption among the Boston licensing boards, the fire department and even the mayor were exposed, yet really only the owner was punished.
4 stars

Redigerat: sep 26, 10:59am

89. Sugared Demise by Kathleen Suzette. This is book five in the Pumpkin Hollow series.
On Halloween night Mia leaves her family's candy store to meet up with her boyfriend Ethan, who is a police officer and the town's part-time detective. Walking to her car, she hears a noise and looks down the alley to see a werewolf standing over a dead man. From there, Ethan, with Mia's unofficial help, investigate who would want the town's only lawyer dead. Turns out, lots of people.

I really like this cozy series about a small town that celebrates Halloween year round to bring the tourists, with its talk of candy, costumes, the local haunted house attraction, and pumpkins. I could do without the phrase "it's a shame", which is used a lot throughout the story to describe both tragic deaths and bad behavior.
3.5 stars

sep 26, 6:28pm

>56 mstrust: So, um. Will the cat eat my eyeballs?

>63 mstrust: Oh, Fat Vampire sounds like it might be fun. I know just the group for it....

>66 mstrust: When I was very young, I was distrustful of everything built by others. Then I got older and realized how much regulations there are, and that often those are written in blood, and that almost always it's all fine. Now I'm increasingly back to being distrustful of things that seem dangerous but where the existence of regulations and safety culture should make it okay. (Rollercoasters, packed buildings, balconies, bridges where the rebar is visible, yeah...) All that to say, Fire in the Grove sounds interesting but like it might not be a good choice for me to hear. :)

sep 27, 4:58pm

>68 pammab: According to the book, only as a last resort. When any other option has been exhausted.
Fat Vampire is pretty entertaining.
When my husband was around thirteen, he had an uncle who ran a concession stand at the fair and brought Mike in to work with him sometimes, (Mike also had to work at another uncle's pizzeria). And that's why Mike will never ride on carnival rides. He watched them being put together half-assed and says the inspectors would show up and sign off on the rides without even looking at them.
Fire in the Grove would definitely push some buttons, but I'd wanted to read about this particular disaster for some time. It was a perfect storm of everyone who should have ensured the safety of the public accepting pay-offs instead.

Redigerat: sep 28, 10:12am

90. Halloween Fiend by C.V. Hunt. Barry is forty-five, overweight and has been employed at the town's general store for thirty years. He's never dated and lives with his dad, who claims to be confined to his motorized chair but Barry knows he can walk, he just likes to have Barry do everything for him. Barry's life is uneventful and dull during the day, but every night is filled with terror, as this small town is visited by Halloween, a shape-shifting presence that demands a live "treat" from every resident. Barry can't help but listen for Halloween on the porch, dreading the sounds he hears, but it gets even worse when Halloween begins taunting Barry through the doors and windows. And then the mayor brings in carnival rides for the town's Fall Festival, which brings carnies, and Barry doesn't know if the presence of outsiders after dark will make things better or worse for him.

If you have a Kindle and want a truly tense read, this is a good one with a strong nod to Shirley Jackson.
5 stars

Redigerat: okt 1, 12:52pm

91. Goosebumps Most Wanted: Son of Slappy by R.L. Stine. Jackson is such a good drip that he never gets in trouble and even volunteers at the youth center. He's a typical Stine doormat who is even bullied by his younger sister. But then Jackson and Rachel are packed off to spend a week at their grandpa's isolated mansion, and grandpa is not only a collector of ventriloquist dummies, he has a scary butler who warns the kids to stay away from one in particular, the evil Slappy. Guess which one Jackson takes home to do an act for the youth center fundraiser?
This one got better as it progressed and had a creepy ending.
3 stars
This one's a ROOT.

Redigerat: okt 3, 5:19pm

92. Midnight Exhibit Vol. 1. A couple have a breakdown on an isolated road on their way home from a party. They're in a good mood from cocktails and don't really look at the guy who stops to help out until they're in his truck. The man, covered in what looks like heavy stage make-up, begins telling the couple some very disturbing stories. The first is about local teenagers who go missing, the second about a rapist who wakes up from a coma to a world run by women.
3.5 stars

Redigerat: okt 7, 12:39pm

93. Untimely and Tragic Deaths of the Renowned, the Celebrated and the Iconic by BH McKechnie. Brief bios of mostly actors and musicians, but also some regular people who happened to die in odd ways. There's Frank Zappa, Amy Winehouse, Carrie Fisher, and three of the Ramones. Both Hemingway and Geldof are misspelled. There are the strange, such as the death of Elisa Lam at L.A.'s infamous Hotel Cecil, and that of 60's star The Singing Nun, who was so crushed by the music industry that she left her order and died of a drug overdose. There's also the death of one doctor in Texas that seems to have come out of Final Destination.
3 stars

Redigerat: okt 9, 9:47am

94. Alfred Hitchcock's Death Bag. A collection of crime stories. I could see these as episodes for Hitchcock's tv series, though some were a bit dull on the page which is unusual for one of Hitchcock's books. I think the best story here was "To Avoid A Scandal" by Talmage Powell, originally published in 1958, about a very precise, quiet man who believes he's found a quiet woman who will fit perfectly into his ordered life, but after marriage she turns out to be less timid than expected.
3 stars

okt 9, 3:58pm

>74 mstrust: Cool cover! I am slowly catching up with TWD and you are right, it's really good and it looks like they are planning on going out on a high!

okt 10, 9:10am

It is pretty cool. I have a few of these Hitchcock collections and the covers range from funny to pretty gruesome.
I finally watched last week's TWD. Eugene is now charging around to kill walkers and punch people?! And is Daryl trying to win his girlfriend back? I think maybe he is.
I also think that Yumiko is filling the Lori void that we didn't need filled.

Redigerat: okt 14, 2:02pm

95. Zombie Tales 4: This Bites. Graphic novel of many short stories by different artists and writers, all with a zombie theme. The art work is satisfying but most of the stories are too brief and need a few more pages to flesh them out.
2.5 stars