The Big Over Easy

The Big Over Easy

by Jasper Fforde

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Jasper Fforde does it again with a dazzling new series starring Inspector Jack Spratt, head of the Nursery Crime Division.

Jasper Fforde’s bestselling Thursday Next series has delighted readers of every genre with its literary derring-do and brilliant flights of fancy. In The Big Over Easy, Fforde takes a break from classic literature and tumbles into the seedy underbelly of nursery crime. Meet Inspector Jack Spratt, family man and head of the Nursery Crime Division. He’s investigating the murder of ovoid D-class nursery celebrity Humpty Dumpty, found shattered to death beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Yes, the big egg is down, and all those brittle pieces sitting in the morgue point to foul play.

(I originally shared this review on June 16, 2015…so three years ago! I have been struggling to stick with a book this summer and The Big Over Easy felt like a perfect reread. I still stand by what I originally said about the book and I’m loving it even more the second time around! Enjoy!)

Jack Spratt is in charge of the Nursery Crimes Division of Reading, a division on the verge of losing its budget thanks to his recent inability to convict the Three Little Pigs of murdering the Big Bad Wolf. Then the smashed remains of Humpty Dumpty are found next to a wall and Jack knows it wasn’t suicide. Now Jack must find the murderer, save his misfit division, and keep sleuthing celebrity, DCI Friedland Chimes, off the case.

I absolutely loved The Big Over Easy. Thank you for the recommendation Polly! Each page is packed with nursery rhyme references but it never feels overwhelming as the passages are so matter-or-fact. It leaves you with this nagging feeling that these events actually happened. Fforde’s dry, sarcastic humor kept my snickering and speeding through the novel. The Jack and the Beanstalk references killed me every time!

My only complaint is the climax chapters were too fast paced for me in comparison to the rest of the story. That’s it for me but I did take some time to read the few negative reviews of The Big Over Easy. My response to them is: do NOT read this book if you don’t like murder mysteries. It’s a murder mystery that mocks the elaborate and showy nature of modern mystery development. How can you expect to like that when you don’t enjoy mystery novels?! Other reviewers complain that Fforde is trying too hard to be clever and only includes all the nursery rhyme information to make his readers feel smart when they get the references. You’ve got to be kidding me. Yes, the clever jokes and writing style may be too much for some but I highly doubt Fforde is more concerned with boosting the ego of his readers over the need to provide a good complex story. My only advice for such thinkers is that you should get over yourself and learn to enjoy the mechanics and discipline required to write a well balanced story.

Fforde’s jaw dropping ability to expertly meld so much research and detail in to one murder mystery has me wanting to be a better writer. I recommend The Big Over Easy to writers, as well as readers, as a prime example of a writing style that remains showing despite being so informational.

Have you discovered the Nursery Crimes Division? It’s time you should!

Lindsay

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Bookish Facts

Bookish Fact #3: I do not dog ear books.

Now, I don’t judge people that prefer a good dog ear; I just cant make myself bend a page to save my spot. I like my paper clips, bobby pins (which are all over my house), receipts, sticky notes, and index cards when I need a good place holder. If none of these are available…I will lay the open book face down to save my spot.

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Do you dog ear? What is your preferred ’emergency place holder’ when you are missing your favorite bookmark? Let me know!

Sidenote: now these dog ears are just too cute!

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Lindsay

The Forgotten 500

The Forgotten 500: The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All For the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II

by Gregory A Freeman

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In 1944 the OSS set out to recover more than 500 airmen trapped and sheltered for months by villagers behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia. Classified for over half a century for political reasons, this is the full account of Operation Halyard, a story of loyalty, self-sacrifice, and bravery.

I like historical nonfiction and I particularly enjoy aviation rescue stories (you may know this if you heard me gushing about Frozen in Time last year.) So of course I was going to read The Forgotten 500. This is the story of Operation Halyard, a World War II rescue of American airmen downed behind enemy lines in Yugoslavia. I had never heard of this event and was immediately intrigued.

I have mixed feelings about The Forgotten 500. I enjoyed it. I had never heard of this event and the story has spurred me to learn more about the events occurring in Yugoslavia during World War II. To me this is the most important role of historical nonfiction; inspiring self education on new topics. With that said, I had a hard time finishing the book due excessive idealized sections of politics (a topic I find boring and tedious on a good day).

So lets start with the positive points. I enjoy the flow of the story. The Forgotten 500 is not presented chronologically, but starts with airmen landing in Yugoslavia and then jumps to events that eventually led to the Allied bombing of the county. It was engaging, and Freeman expertly guides his readers through the anxiety of surviving a jump from a downed bomber, the efforts of people trying to escape the country at the start of the war, and eventually the fantastic rescue of over 500 airmen. I even enjoyed Freeman’s brief history of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the development of Operation Halyard. The Forgotten 500 is full of personal accounts from survivors, both airmen and OSS agents. It provides a detailed account of a country and culture of which I know very little, and reminded me there is so much out there I have yet to learn.

Now for the negative points. I always read other reviews after finishing a story, especially when reading historical nonfiction. I like to see what other readers enjoy and don’t enjoy about each story and make it a point to address recurring comments. The negative reviews consistently claim The Forgotten 500 is full of historical inaccuracies. I can not substantiate or disprove these statements as I know very little about Yugoslavian history and had never heard of Operation Halyard before picking up the book. (Here there be SPOILERS) I will state Freeman provides a very one- sided view when it comes to Chetnik leader Draza Mihailovic. He is presented as a saint, while Marshal Tito and his group of Partisans are presented in a much more negative light. Little information was given about Tito’s roll in saving American airmen; instead the story is focused on the group of over 500 harbored by Mihailovic supporters. And I was especially confused by a section claiming Partisan sympathizers in England’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) attempted to sabotage the rescue operation on numerous occasions. I need to learn more about these topics.

So do I recommend The Forgotten 500? Yes, but with the following caveat: do your own research. Historical nonfiction is a vital aspect of continual education and I find it imperative that we should always look for all sides of the story. Have you read The Forgotten 500? Let me know what you think!

Lindsay

Bookish Facts

Bookish Fact #2: My first genre of choice was fantasy.

I rarely read fantasy nowadays; however, that’s pretty much all I read during my pre-teen/teenage years. The Immortals series by Tamora Pierce was the first series I picked for myself without any influence from family and friends. Kristen Britain’s Green Rider is the first book I stayed up all night to finish (it was not the last night of sleep lost to a good story). I loved fantasy.

I some how lost my love for the drama as I moved through my 20s and 30s. I’m actually ok with this change but I am beyond happy reading my current mix of nonfiction, historical fiction, and mystery.

I have held on to my favorites though, and I will find myself picking them back up when I need a read that feels like an old friend. My copies may be worn but they are well loved!

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What genre got you into reading? Which fantasy books are your favorites? Let me know and happy reading!

Lindsay

Murder at the Brightwell

Murder at the Brightwell

by Ashley Weaver

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Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman who regrets her marriage to her notoriously charming playboy husband, Milo. Looking for a change, she accepts a request for help from her former fiancé, Gil Trent, not knowing that she’ll soon become embroiled in a murder investigation that will test not only her friendship with Gil, but will upset the status quo with her husband.

Amory accompanies Gil to the Brightwell Hotel in an attempt to circumvent the marriage of his sister, Emmeline, to Rupert Howe, a disreputable ladies’ man. Amory sees in the situation a grim reflection of her own floundering marriage. There is more than her happiness at stake, however, when Rupert is murdered and Gil is arrested for the crime. Amory is determined to prove his innocence and find the real killer, despite attempted dissuasion from the disapproving police inspector on the case. Matters are further complicated by Milo’s unexpected arrival, and the two form an uneasy alliance as Amory enlists his reluctant aid in clearing Gil’s name. As the stakes grow higher and the line between friend and foe becomes less clear, Amory must decide where her heart lies and catch the killer before she, too, becomes a victim.

Murder at the Brightwell is a delicious mystery in which murder invades polite society and romance springs in unexpected places. Weaver has penned a debut in the tradition of Jacqueline Winspear.

I discovered Amory Ames through Olive at A Book Olive. (She’s also responsible for introducing me to the Iris Cooper series) She has only great things to say about the Amory Ames mystery series and I was in need of a new historical read featuring a snarky female detective. The first book, Murder at the Brightwell, was the perfect choice for my cruise vacation last March!

Amory is unhappy. She’s bored, and depressed at her rapidly deteriorating marriage to socialite Milo Ames. A welcome distraction arrives with Gil, the fiancé she jilted to marry Milo. Gil begs her to join him on holiday to help persuade his sister from jumping into a bad marriage. Amory agrees to help. She desperately needs an adventure and a chance at a different future. And then someone gets murdered!

I am hooked on Weaver’s Amory Ames series. Our heroine is smart, sharp tongued, and gloriously flawed. I immediately connected with her tendency to overthink everything and her stubborn refusal to backdown from a fight. She begins her investigation with the best intentions, to help a friend, but her quest quickly becomes one of selfish needs as she is desperate to find her own sense of purpose in the world. Thank you Ashley Weaver for not sugar coating Amory’s motives! (Seriously..isn’t this why we mystery lovers enjoy a good whodunnit?!)

I would recommend Murder at the Brightwell just because Amory is so well written. But…all the main characters are just as fantastically developed! The Brightwell Hotel is the perfect setting with its picturesque beach local. And I found myself guessing at the culprit’s identity right up until the big reveal!

Now is Murder at the Brightwell the perfect novel? No. You can tell the historic British story is written by a modern American due to the overall tone. It is what it is. I will also admit to not being a fan of Milo. Don’t take this to mean that he was poorly written because that’s not the case; his personality isn’t one that would mesh with mine. I liked him well enough, just not enough to really root for him to win Amory’s affections. I didn’t really root for Gil either for that fact. I didn’t find the romantic element of the story necessarily engaging. I enjoyed Murder at the Brightwell because of Amory and her murder investigation.

Murder at the Brightwell is the perfect summer read. I definitely recommend the story if you enjoy a strong willed female detective! Let me know if you’re also a fan of Amory Ames!

Lindsay

Bookish Facts

Bookish Fact #1: I do not use traditional bookmarks.

I have an eclectic stack of bookmarks in my office that never get used. I don’t particularly dislike traditional bookmarks; I just don’t grab one when starting a new book. The only reason I can come up with to explain this….I don’t really like anything hanging out of my book. Most bookmarks have tassels or are basically strings with charms.

I prefer to use a paperclip or a bright colored index card.

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What is your favorite bookmark? Feel free to share photos of your favs here or Instagram!

Lindsay

What to Expect…

Happy Sunday folks! It’s been a while since I wrote a check-in post and I want to let you know what you can expect for the site over the summer (and hopefully the rest of the year).

It should come as no surprise that my reviews fluctuate with my reading speed. I don’t get a review up when I don’t read. And (shocker) my reading is directly affected by life…mainly work stress. Anyone else out there struggle with the perfect work/life balance?

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My goal for the summer is to embrace the weather and kill my TBR! Plus, I want to share more information about my reading/review hobby.

We all know I need to work on getting posts out on a solid regular basis. So here is the schedule you can expect from now until the end of the year.

Monday: Bookish Fact post

Wednesday: Book Review

Saturday: Book Review

I do not promise that there will be two reviews posted each week but this is was I am aiming for. I need to make more time for reading. It always provides a semi meditative mental reboot, and that’s always a positive!

Does this sound like a good plan to you? Please let me know if you are interested in hearing any particular bookish fact!

Happy Reading!

Lindsay

 

Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow

Life’s Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow: Lessons from an Epic Friendship that Went the Distance

by Susan Lacke

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They were unlikely friends. She was a young, overweight college professor with a pack-and-a-half a day habit and a bad attitude. He was her boss, and an accomplished Ironman triathlete. She was a whiner, he was a hardass. He had his shit together, she most assuredly did not. Yet Susan and Carlos shared a deep and abiding friendship that traversed life, sport, illness, death, and everything in between.

Some times you find yourself reading a book at the perfect moment. Audible recommended Life is Too Short to Go So F*cking Slow last Monday morning. I was sitting in my car, sobbing happy tears, as I finished the book that Monday afternoon. It was exactly what I needed to read.

Disclaimer: there is a good amount of cussing in this book (if you didn’t get that from the title) It doesn’t bother me, but I know some people take offense to this. You now know it’s there.

Disclaimer #2: You will probably cry. This book promises to talk about training for triathlons, but it is so so so much more than that. I promise the tears are good ones.

Now for my review. I needed a motivational read because I’ve been struggling with my own running journey. I’ve been benched because of surgery recovery. A recovery that is much slower than expected and the sudden decrease in physical activity left me feeling down. So I picked up Lacke’s story because it promised humorous motivation.

And it delivered! Lacke’s dialogue is engaging and hilarious. She doesn’t bother readers by laying out her detailed workouts or her meal plans. Instead she talks about struggling through training days, faking her way through buying gear, and the amazing adrenaline driven race days.

Lacke starts this journey as an unhealthy stressed out professor. Her boss, Carlos, confronts her about her lifestyle during a smoke break and convinces her to spend her lunch swimming with him. It’s the kick start to an unlikely friendship, and an unexpected passion for endurance sports.

Readers follow Lacke through her stubborn approach to training, listen to Carlos’ sarcastic words of encouragement, and experience the joy of life endurance racing provides. But we also follow Lacke’s struggle with alcoholism, her fight for self appreciation, and management of the inevitable curveballs thrown by life. This book is the story of Lacke’s friendship with Carlos and how it changed her life.

I don’t want to give any other details away because I feel you’ll get more out of this story if you stumble along with Lacke. I highly recommend it for those needing a motivational pick me up. It’s a solid reminder of how the small things in life can actually be the most important.

Are any of my fellow readers also triathletes? Has anyone else stumbled upon Lacke’s story? Please let me know what you think, and happy reading.

Lindsay

Blood and Circuses

Blood and Circuses

by Kerry Greenwood

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Phryne Fisher’s life has grown boring. Perfectly… boring. Her household is ordered, her love life is pleasant, the weather is fine. And then a former lover, knocks on her door, begging assistance. He works for Farrell’s Circus and Wild Beast Show, where suddenly animals are being poisoned and ropes sabotaged. The injury of a trick rider provides Phryne the perfect cover to join the troupe, and to exercise her equestrian skills.

Abandoning her name, her title, her comfort, and even her clothes, Phryne must fall off a horse twice a day until she can stay on. She must sleep in a girls’ tent and dine on mutton stew. And she must find some allies. Mr. Christopher, the circus’ hermaphrodite, has been found with his throat cut, making it all-too-clear how high the stakes might be.

Blood and Circuses is the sixth installment of the Phryne Fisher Mystery Series, and I just want to start by saying that I really struggled with this one. I had finished the previous story, The Green Mill Murder, at the end of September (review posted last November) and I forced myself to take a break from the series. This wasn’t due to series burn out; instead, I had enjoyed The Green Mill Murder so much that I was worried the next book would run ruin that book high. Now, I know this is a negative outlook, but it was justifiable. Blood and Circuses is not my favorite episode of the TV adaptation. I was worried the book would leave me just as disappointed.

So I waited a month before picking it up. I thought it would be a perfect read since I enjoy reading about circuses in October. I read half it and put it down.

So, I am going to start with the negative points and then move on to the positive. (I promise I have positives!) My first negative, is the difference between Sampson in the TV version and the book version; the TV Sampson was infinitely better. So I was disappointed in that. The first half of the story is focused on a number of  Miss Fisher’s very unflattering traits. She only takes this case because she is bored, and makes this very clear to the friend coming to her for help. Phryne then gets a big dose of reality when she must take on the persona of an uneducated, meek woman in an intensely regulated community. She is used to walking into a room and having the undivided attention; however, at the circus no one knows who she is and no one cares. She is treated like an outsider, and her insecurity in the face of apathy is pathetic and petty. All she does is whine for 150 pages. I pushed myself to read through her physically and mentally draining days learning to stand upon a horse. The interesting mystery was drowned out by her crying herself to sleep in her dust covered bunk. Where was the fiery, intelligent woman who flew her Gypsy Moth into uncharted mountains? Why did this have to be such a hard read?

I put it down, and didn’t pick it back up until the following March. It was the best thing I could have done.

So, this is a little more personal than I tend to get into my reviews, but I think my personality can be too much for some people. I am honest, blunt, and uncompromising at times. I love every bit of myself, the good and the bad, and I like to believe that I am self-aware enough to make the changes needed to be a better person each day. But most people don’t appreciate my brand of honesty, so I spend most of my day ‘editing’ myself. This can get very, very lonely. I was especially struggling with this during March, and I finally understood Phyrne was feeling when I picked Blood and Circuses back up. I understood what it felt like to be surrounded by people who can’t see the real you. I knew what it was like to constantly question your self worth.

Did I still find Phryne’s lamentations annoying? Yep. Did I still think it unhealthy that a man’s romantic gestures are what brought her out of her self depreciating funk? Oh yeah. But I finally understood  Greenwood was trying to show readers that Phyrne isn’t perfect. That even she struggles with picking herself up out of the dirt. And I’m so grateful that I read this book at the right time in my life

So, I recommend Blood and Circuses, but only to readers who are already acquainted with the Honorable Miss Fisher. It provides a good mystery with outstanding supporting characters, and gives a great insight on how a strong woman can still struggle with positive self worth. Please read it, and let me know what you think!

Happy Reading.

Lindsay

My Year of Running Dangerously

My Year of Running Dangerously: A Dad, a Daughter, and a Ridiculous Plan

by Tom Foreman

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CNN correspondent Tom Foreman’s remarkable journey from half-hearted couch potato to ultra-marathon runner, with four half-marathons, three marathons, and 2,000 miles of training in between; a poignant and warm-hearted tale of parenting, overcoming the challenges of age, and quiet triumph.

As a journalist whose career spans three decades, CNN correspondent Tom Foreman has reported from the heart of war zones, riots, and natural disasters. He has interviewed serial killers and been in the line of fire. But the most terrifying moment of his life didn’t occur on the job–it occurred at home, when his 18-year old daughter asked, “How would you feel about running a marathon with me?” 

At the time, Foreman was approaching 51 years old, and his last marathon was almost 30 years behind him. The race was just sixteen weeks away, but Foreman reluctantly agreed. Training with his daughter, who had just started college, would be a great bonding experience, albeit a long and painful one. 

My Year of Running Dangerously is Foreman’s journey through four half-marathons, three marathons, and one 55-mile race. What started as an innocent request from his daughter quickly turned into a rekindled passion for long-distance running–for the training, the camaraderie, the defeats, and the victories. Told with honesty and humor, Foreman’s account captures the universal fears of aging and failure alongside the hard-won moments of triumph, tenacity, and going further than you ever thought possible.

I officially signed up for my first marathon today! 2018 has brought about a love of running, and not surprisingly, a love for books about running. I’m good at combining my hobbies ☺️.

I decided to keep reading running books after finishing How to Lose a Marathon. I picked up the audio version of My Year of Running Dangerously, which is about Tom Foreman’s return to long distance running. Tom Foreman is a correspondent for CNN, but I wasn’t interested in news or politics. I was interested in hearing how he went from a couch potato to running four half-marathons, 3 marathons, and one ultra marathon in one year! My Year of Running Dangerously provided just that!

Tom’s running journey starts when his eldest daughter requests they train for a marathon together. Foreman tells the story of his training, including excerpts of running as a child, his first marathons run in his 20s, and his unintentional loss of the sport after the arrival of kids. Readers follow Foreman as he runs a marathon with his daughter, and then jumps head first into the sport of long distance running.

I absolutely loved My Year of Running Dangerously! Forman doesn’t hold back, providing both the good and the bad of his journey. We hear how running brings him closer to family while simultaneously causing strain in his work/training/life balance. We experience scary training runs, moments of defeat, and painful injuries. We run alongside on fantastic runs, see gorgeous trails, and embrace the feeling of accomplishment. Foreman talks about the people he’s met, details the places he’s seen, and shares the life revelations experienced while running. Plus, the audio book is read by the author, which makes makes you feel as if your sharing running stories with Foreman on a lazy afternoon.

My Year of Running Dangerously was just what I needed as I start my next stage of training. It reassured me that I was not alone in my struggles or joys, and made me look forward to my next race. It’s the perfect read for runners and those wishing to learn more about why people choose to run.

So, expect many more running nonfiction books this year :). And please let me know if you have any recommendations! Happy reading (and running)!

Lindsay