Animal Crackers (Liberty Heights, book 1)

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Synopsis

 You’re fired. Manhattan workaholic Hayley Weaver is out of work, out of money and out of luck. Facing eviction, she grabs the first job offered, house-sitting movie star Paulette Stone’s New Jersey home. Hayley swore she’d never go back to Jersey but she’s hit rock bottom. The job sounds like a snap and the answer to her prayers. She should have known Jersey would throw a curve ball. Paulette neglected to mention her exotic menagerie and more critters than the Beverly Hillbillies in residence. Small town Jersey veterinarian Jake Marx is desperate to meet a woman he hasn’t known since kindergarten. Animal phobic Hayley has Jake on speed dial and the whole town is backing Hayley as their candidate to solve Jake’s love-starved life.

The Animals

As someone who lives with a lot of animals, I was kind of hoping this would be about a lot of animals.  Of course, this not being a book about an actual zoo, and it needing to leave room for the romance, the focus was on quality rather than quantity.

Instead there are just three: Antoine, the foul-mouthed parrot; Pansy the child-like baby chimp, and Henry, the deaf dog who would very much like to be a lap dog despite very much not being lap-dog-sized.

The Romance

If I tell you it’s about a (non animal-loving) woman who’s tricked into looking after a house full of animals, and that it’s a romance, do I really need to say who the love interest is? (If you can’t guess, you’ve somehow read even less romance than me.  Well done.)

Throw in the requisite obstacles, cute misunderstandings and characters you only find in these small town books and you have yourself a sweet, funny romance that you can enjoy even if it isn’t really your thing.

Who knows, I might even be tempted to read the next in the series after a romance hiatus… what can I say, I’m a sucker for quirky characters.

Bon Voyage, New Girl, and May The Mother Be With You

I know, I know, I’m late to the party.  Wrote this a while ago and never published it… and now I need to post something to clean off the dust, so here goes.  (For the record, the title is a reference to the cruise in the New Girl finale, not it being over… new season starts September 16.)

New Girl

I started New Girl late, when I already had one and a half seasons to binge watch: I knew pretty early on it belonged in the “shows I stick with but don’t exactly love” category, but season 3 was when I started seriously considering giving up.

I didn’t, and then the finale served to remind me of one of my biggest issues with it  – it feels like they’re working with more characters than they know how to write for.

Specifically, Winston and Coach. I’m not sure what I missed that made everyone want Coach back and then want him to stay, but I didn’t share it and I still don’t.  He’s great and all, there’s no character I don’t like (except for when they’re taking their turn to be horrible – the Schmidt/CeCe/Rebecca storyline, anyone?) but the extra character feels crowded.

As amusing(?) as Coach’s terror on the cruise was, there was a point where I had to remember it was him and not Winston, the one usually more likely to freak out or overreact.  Not to mention that it added nothing to the story, meaning that time spent on him could have been used somewhere else without losing too much: shorter pieces of the same thing could have been done with Winston and it would have worked the same way.

Heading into the next season – yes, I’ll no doubt be sticking around – I can only hope the breath of salt air will have helped them come to their senses and the writing improves again.  Preferably without another season of back and forthing on Nick and Jess, a couple I didn’t care for that much in the first place and then was terrible when it did happen.

Speaking of odd couples…

How I Met Your Mother

I’ll be honest.  Everything I read about the finale had me going into it expecting to hate it – but trying to keep an open mind, as I don’t always necessarily agree with “everything.” And this is one of those times I don’t completely agree.

Would it have been nice if it had ended with a sappy Ted/Mother scene? (Yes, I heard her name, but after nine seasons… it’s Mother.)

Definitely.

Did I hate what they did do?

Not entirely.

As much as I agree that it was rushed – “hey, we got divorced” “I have a baby” (what happened with the mother, after all that? “Your mother got sick” “She’s been gone six years”) – and I too was sick of the whole Ted/Robin on/off/on/off/on/off situation, it also worked.

Yes, a final season that actually showed those stories would have been nice.  But it also would have had to include the Mother’s story, which could have just ended up depressing and changing the tone of the show.  I read someone saying there could have been a scene at the Mother’s tombstone, and I agree with that being better than a throwaway comment that could have pretty easily been missed.

I do understand the ending they did do, though.  The story came full circle, back to Robin and Ted, we got to see the blue horn again and Ted got to be happy with someone.  (Robin’s hair.  Why did Ted look so much older?).  Showing the kids being supportive of his happiness was also a nice way of showing he was a good dad, after so much time spent on him being a good friend.

Is it a series I would recommend watching? Sure, if you’re the type who doesn’t mind that it takes nine seasons to finally answer the titular question.  I’m sure there’s a list out there somewhere of the important episodes you can watch to get a condensed version of the story; that might be an even better idea.  Think of it as the TV version of TL;DR.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

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Happy New Year’s Eve!

And to finish the year out, here’s one book, one film and one TV show I didn’t review earlier in the year.  Continue reading

Stories of highways, cars and cops by MH Mead

Two for the price of one! Riding Fourth is actually the (very) short prequel to Taking the Highway, so it made sense to do them together.

Two disclaimers: I don’t read short stories often, so apologies if anything I don’t like shows my ignorance.  I also don’t read much sci-fi, so ditto. Continue reading

Doctor Who: The Mystery of the Haunted Cottage by Derek Landy

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As you may have heard, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.

As part of the celebrations, a series of ebooks is being published: “11 Doctors, 11 Months, 11 Stories.”  Which means October was 10th Doctor (David Tennant) Month! I’ve never been entirely sure if 10 or 11 (Matt Smith) is my favourite, but 10 is the one that drew my attention to these books, and is the one I bought, so… Continue reading

The Stephanie Plum Books HISHE

I hope imagesthe nice people at How It Should Have Ended don’t mind my borrowing their title format for a second.  That site, for those who don’t know, is exactly what it sounds like: videos of their take on how various films should have ended.  (Yes, they’re videos and films and this is a blog and books, but shush.)

For this post, rather than a review of #18 that would only deteriorate into the same things I’ve said in other recent reviews, I thought I’d do something different; go back to #15 and offer an alternate ending that also serves a series ending for those fellow sufferers who can’t quit.  I’m even offering a Morelli ending or a Ranger ending! Continue reading

Perfect by Rachel Joyce

An imperfect Perfect

An imperfect Perfect

I’ll be honest.  I went into it expecting it to be one of those books that everyone makes a huge fuss out of and then I don’t get – or at least don’t enjoy as much.

It wasn’t.  And I’m not just saying that.

“Perfect” refers to a decision to change time.  “Perfect” refers to Byron’s life before his friend saw fit to casually tell him about said decision.  “Perfect” refers to how even perfect things are fragile and rarely as good as they seem.  There are certain things you shouldn’t mess around with; time apparently is one of them.  Continue reading