Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Monday Night TV and a Book Review: Banana Split

Monday nights are crammed with all sorts of awesome for me. Not only do we have my two favorite shows---Castle and Hawaii Five-O, but now we have Dancing with the Stars added to the mix. There were some pretty awesome dances last night, but I think I liked Gladys Knight's the best. Not because it was the best technically, but she had a lot of grace both on and off the dance floor. And dang, poor Melissa Gilbert got some harsh criticism. Yeah, she was a little stiff, but it's the first week. Makes me wonder if they aren't punishing Maks a bit for his outburst from last season. I guess we'll see.

Then there was Castle and I loved the mystery this week. For once, I didn't have the murderer called in the first twenty minutes. It was an awesome twist. Still no movement on the relationship front, but the mystery made up for it, and the previews for next week look pretty intense. Poor Castle. I hate it when he has the whipped puppy look in the elevator. Gets me every time.

Hawaii Five-O was ho-hum for me this week. I don't particularly like Steve's sister. She's selfish and silly and acts so childish it's unreal. Steve doesn't seem to know how to take her either, and I think, at least for me, that's about how the audience feels. How do we take this? The tension just wasn't there this week. Although I did like the surfing scenes and ate up the scenery. Dear Hawaii, I love you. Someday I will visit you. *le sigh*

I also read two books over the weekend. Both were equally awesome and I might review the other one on Thursday because I know you're going to want to read it, too. Today, though, I'd like to tell you about Banana Split by Josi Kilpack.

I think you all know that I am a big fan of Josi's culinary mysteries. Sadie Hoffmiller gets herself into more scrapes than any respectable busybody should (she's just helping!) but this time things are different. After her experience in the last book, this book opens with Sadie experiencing PTSD and unsure who she is anymore.

Banana Split was so different than any of the other books. At first I wasn't sure if I liked the new Sadie. Where she was previously strong, she was now weak. The relationships she'd relied on in the past weren't there anymore, and Sadie was so un-Sadie-like. But then I realized that this was author genius. Kilpack had taken our beloved character to the edge and pushed her over. It was up to the reader whether they would come along for the ride to see if Sadie could claw her way back or just let it all go.

Besides the sheer genius of remaking our heroine over and letting the readers see and experience all the warts and weaknesses, Kilpack sets the story in Hawaii. Yes, the very same vacation spot that I am dying to go to someday. Of course, that may have influenced my enjoyment of the book somewhat because the setting is so authentic AND the author includes recipes that are incredible. I'm especially interested in the Kalua pork. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Which leads me to the third stroke of genius---the cover. Here's a look at it:

How could you not look at that and be hungry with every glance? Genius I tell you.

So, with an un-Sadie, an incredible setting, and a dead body (the discovery of the body in the first chapter seriously creeped me out it was that well-written) what's a reader to do? Read on, my friends. This mystery has several twists and turns that keep you guessing to the very last chapter. (A part of me even wondered if the death wasn't really a death if you know what I mean.) I think Josi's mysteries are some of the best in the business and this one does not disappoint.

Here is the back copy:

Sadie Hoffmiller has survived eighteen months of nonstop adventures filled with murder, deceit, and danger. She could really use some rest—and maybe even some time to heal—relaxing in the tropical paradise of Kaua'i. However, palm trees and sunshine are not as effective a medication as Sadie had hoped. And when she finds herself entangled—literally—with a dead body, she is forced to face the compounding fears and anxieties that are making her life so difficult to live.

Her determination to stay out of danger and to focus on overcoming her anxieties soon takes a backseat when she meets eleven-year-old Charlie, the son of the woman whose body she discovered near Anahola Beach. Charlies has some questions of his own about what happened to his mother, and he is convinced that only Sadie can help him. If only Sadie were as confident in her abilities as Charlie is.

With the help of her best friend and a local social worker, Sadie dives into another mystery with the hope that, at the end, she'll be able to find the peace and closure that has eluded her.


Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

My favorite show on Monday night right now is Being Human followed closely by House. But this is House's last season. That makes me sad.

Debra Erfert said...

Oh, please don't tell me Sadie went to Hawaii alone? Where is her handsome cop boyfriend? Did I miss a book where they broke up or something? Gasp! Poor Sadie. This sounds good, but I don't like weak women, so unless you can tell me she stiffens up by the end . . . I don't know if it's genius or a mental breakdown.

Missed Castle last night. Fell asleep.

Jon Spell said...

I loved that the lead-in to Castle was "Dancing with the Stars" I was pretty sure it was the brother early on, but I certainly didn't see it untwist like that. Very good story, but I didn't like the sub-text on Ryan's wedding-ring-curse. Didn't really make any sense. Next week? It's about friggin time! =)

Regarding Hawaii, at least you can get some decent Hawaiian food around here. I have a co-worker from there and she says that L&L is very authentic. (There's one in Provo right off University on 1230 N) My wife and I also like Rumbi Grill. Fond memories of the old Bamboo Hut near campus. I've been to the new one, but it doesn't taste like I remember it. Maybe nothing does. Froot Loops don't.

Um, don't have much to say about writing though. I liked the first Sadie book, but I haven't tried the rest. I hear good things about them, certainly. =) And I really admire the author.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Michael, I've heard good and bad things about House. Glad to find someone who definitely likes it!

Debra, it's definitely character development. You can't miss this one if you've read the others!

Jon, when Rumbi grill first opened I went and ended up with a horrific case of food poisoning and I haven't been back. I'll have to try the others you mention though. They sound good!

I also liked the spoof of DWTS on Castle. Too funny. I agree about the wedding ring curse thing. A little weird and I could have done without the strip club scene, but oh well. Castle's excitement over the evil twin theory was funny and I really did like the mystery. Did you watch H50? Ed Asner made an appearance.

Jon Spell said...

We watched H50 last night. You might have figured this out from the weird scene splicing, but Ed Asner appeared on the original Hawaii 5-0 back in 1975. He's actually playing the same character - he was a smuggler named August March who tried to frame the old McGarrett. I think that was actual footage from the original show. How awesome is that?
(The ending was shocking.)

I think the cakes were my favorite part, though. =)

Lexie@BookBug said...

I love Castle and I especially like Hawaii 5-0! (The main guy is very attractive! But it's Ok because my husband looks a lot like him! :) I am dying to read Banana Split! Sadie is one of my favorite characters! I usually like to read about younger characters but I think Sadie has more energy than a 20 year old!