Hail to the Chef
by Julie Hyzy
5 stars - a great series
This is the second book in the White House Chef series.
All that is lacking is a dog to make it the perfect cozy series for me.
We have a likable heroine, interesting side characters, a mystery that isn't too hard, good suspense, and not too much mushy stuff. Plus the reader learns a lot about how the White House kitchen operates (how the president and first lady keep from turning into blimps is beyond me).
The Fourth Bear
by Jasper Fforde
1 star - too bad
I spent a wonderful hour cruising the stacks at the library a couple of weeks ago and came away with this volume. The concept is pretty cool. Jack Spratt is a crime solver in the Nursery Crimes Division in a world where characters from nursery rhymes intermingle freely with regular folk, causing no end of trouble.
The author is very clever and imaginative and I was turning down the corners of so many pages to share quotes that I could hardly close the book.
On a visit to the local psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane, the guests are advised:
"To take notes I will supply you with presoftened crayons and notepads of damp tissue paper bound with moldy wool."
The chapters all begin with excerpts from the local publications:
"Most dangerous baked object: A hands-down win for the Gingerbreadman, incarcerated at St. Cerebellum's secure hospital for the criminally deranged since 1984. He is currently serving a four hundred year sentence for the murder and torture of his 104 victims: his crimes easily outrank those of the second most dangerous baked object, a fruitcake accidentally soaked in weed killer instead of sherry by Mrs. Austen of Pembridge, then served up to members of the Women's Federation during a talk about the remedial benefits of basket weaving. The final death toll is reputed to have been 62.
I know, good stuff, right?
Puns, clever turns of phrase, surprising behaviors (there is a great underground economy in black market porridge for bears), but, after 100 pages or so, just too much for me. I suppose I can only remark to myself "Oh, that was clever" or "Hehehe" so many times before my little brain craves a few pages of more pedestrian fare.
I will say the book had some lingering effects as I recently had a nightmare in which the apocalypse was brought on by alien gingerbread men. So there you go.