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Search tags: Chris-Grabenstein
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review 2017-10-17 02:38
Amusing Audiobook about a murder at an amusement park
Tilt a Whirl - Chris Grabenstein

Danny Boyle grew up in Sea Haven, NJ -- a tourist trap of a town on the Jersey Shore. He likes the life -- hanging out with the friends he's had since high school, goofing around, eating and drinking more than he should. He's got a nice Summer gig -- working as a Part-Time police officer. The downside is his partner -- John Ceepak, an Iraq War vet and former MP. He's so by the book, he might as well have written it. The Sea Haven chief served with Ceepak and offered him a job when he was done with the Army. After an incident (IED-related), Ceepak can't drive anymore -- which is where Danny comes in.

 

It's not an ideal working relationship, but Danny can put up with Ceepak's eccentricities well enough. Until one day their pre-shift breakfast is interrupted by a girl covered in blood, standing in the middle of the street screaming. Ceepak jumps into action, and Danny tries to keep up. The girl takes them to the local amusement park, to the Tilt-a-Whirl ride, where her father lies shot dead. They'd snuck in before the place opened and had been held up by some junkie hiding near the ride. Or so she reports later. Her father owns half the real-estate in NY and NJ (or so it seems), sort of a would-be Trump, so his murder is big, big news.

 

Ceepak and Danny have to deal with media attention, annoying lawyers, gang members possibly trying to go straight, local politics, a Crime Scene Investigator that's more of a hindrance than a help, and Danny's inexperience if they're going to solve this murder and let Sea Haven get back to what it does best in the summer -- taking in every tourist dollar that it can.

 

The book is told with a light touch -- Danny's a smart-aleck and is (truthfully) too immature for his job; which is bad for the populace of Sea Haven, good for the reader/listener. But the lightness never gets in the way of the seriousness of the initial murder, and the crimes that follow.

 

Woodman is exactly the narrator that this book needed -- he's able to sound the right age for Danny, the right attitude, everything (apparently, he does a lot of YA Audiobook work, that makes sense to me). Until I heard Woodman, I hadn't thought what a challenge it might be to get just the right narrator for this. Thankfully, I noted that with a strong sense of relief, because man...he was so good.

 

The Ceepak books were one of those series I fully enjoyed, and had forgotten how much I had liked them since I (apparently) finished the series. This audiobook helped me remember how much I missed reading them. If you haven't gotten around to them, you should -- either as an audiobook or text -- Ceepak and Boyle are some of the most entertaining police officers around.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2017/10/16/tilt-a-whirl-audiobook-by-chris-grabenstein-jeff-woodman
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review 2017-04-06 20:57
The Island of Dr Libris
The Island of Dr. Libris - Chris Grabenstein

This book was very easy to read and I was very bored at the time which are the only reasons I finished it. A couple of our children's librarians told me Grabenstein was rude to them when he visited our library for an author's talk (there was some miscommunication about the equipment he needed and he made some comment about not us being in Silicon Valley but not having the set up he wanted... I'm paraphrasing).

 

So that story does color my opinion of Grabenstein. I enjoyed his Mr Lemoncello books, but this one just didn't have the same magic/fun to it.

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review 2017-02-16 04:52
Home Sweet Motel by Chris Grabenstein
Welcome to Wonderland #1: Home Sweet Motel - Chris Grabenstein

As soon as I opened this book, I knew it was going to be super entertaining to read. Brooke Allen is a wonderful illustrator! All of the drawings absolutely cracked me up. Imagine a boy riding an alligator back to where it came from after he's lasso'd it with some bed sheets from a hotel. Pretty funny in your head, right? It's even better to see. I'd show some of the artwork but since it said that the art may not be final, I'm going to exclude it for now.

P.T. Wilkie is hilarious. Above all else, he's imaginative. Spinning stories much to his classmates' delight, even some of the teachers, (except for grumpy old Mr. Frumpkes) and getting himself out of trouble on multiple occasions. The book does have some sad parts that deal with P.T. Wilkie's father, but it's made up for in non-stop funny shennanigans that him and his friend new friend Gloria get into.

We follow P.T., Gloria, and occasionally P.T.'s grandpa on hilarious antics in order to save their beloved motel from the hands of some horrid businessmen. Before they know it, they're caught up in a years old mystery surrounding a bank heist two robbers had pulled off. Now, the robbers are out of jail and snooping around the motel looking for their loot. P.T. and Gloria must find the jewels before they do and before Spring Break is over to keep the Wonderland Motel up and running and out of the grasp of people who don't deserve the motel.

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review 2016-08-25 19:32
Book 65/100: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library - Chris Grabenstein
I'm not really the ideal audience for this book. Even when I was younger I didn't like these "wish-fulfillment" type stories -- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Candymakers, The Mysterious Benedict Society ... none of them did anything for me.

If you're wondering about the "type" of book I'm referencing, I mean books that are set in a realistic setting that include some element of the plot that fulfills a kid's, "Wouldn't that be cool if ...?" sort of fantasy that would most likely never happen in the real world. The plot also usually involves some sort of puzzle/mystery and the chosen kids are "special" in some way (and also pretty one-dimensional -- you've got the overachieving kid, the rich kid, etc., and usually the "regular kid" who is a stand in for the reader and the main protagonist.)

I like realistic books, and I like fantasy/sci-fi, but I don't like this in-between stuff.

This book falls in line with the genre's typical tropes as listed above. The kids are locked in a library and challenged to find a way out by a famous gamemaker, and the winner will become the spokesperson for his brand. If you're a book nerd who happens to like this kind of book, then you'll have a lot of fun with this one. Even without being keen on the genre, I really enjoyed all the book references thrown in, both explicitly (the kids had to find a certain book) and obliquely (someone would slip a book title into dialogue without mentioning that it was a book, such as, "Due to this series of unfortunate events ...") It's clear that a true lover of children's literature wrote this, and it pays lovely homage to the books like this that have gone before it. If I liked this sort of thing, this book would have been excellent.

As it stands, my enjoyment came purely from references. The rest was sort of boring and a little borderline creepy. (Am I the only one who finds these types of books creepy? The benevolent adult who sets the adventure up always strikes me as a tad bit predator-ish.)
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review 2016-06-15 12:21
Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics - Chris Grabenstein

Yes! Yes! I finished it! This was a struggle.

I loved, adored, the previous book. It had riddles, libraries, books, and so much more. This one however had terrible characters, it was boring, I found the way the kids (except for Kyle) knew everything EVERYTHING there was in the world if it was about books/libraries. It just didn't seem believable. I can imagine a few kids, but all of the kids? No.
I struggled to get through this book, really struggled, and I was delightful when I was done. The ending was a slight disappointment though.

All in all, I can't give this more than 1 stars. Because even with crap characters, and a boring olympics, there were still some fun parts.

Here is a list of things I hated and why:
First up characters:
-Let me start with the biggest hate of all:
Marjory.
Marjory, or the girl who just loves stomping on everyone and doesn't care if she hurts anyone's feelings. She thinks she is all that, but in fact there are enough things she doesn't know. Sadly, she keeps on preening, keeps on making harsh remarks, is a total bitch, and so so much more. I hated her guts from the moment she was introduced. And then when she started talking and gaining a bigger role I hated her even more. Dear Lord, this girl needs to get a reality check. Good job, you know a lot, good job you know how to organize, no need to be a bitch about it, OK?
-Second place goes *drum roll*:
The Chiltington family. Gosh, I already hated them in the previous book, but they really got on my nerve in this one. They were unreasonable, spoiled, and they really had some big screws missing in their heads.
I think I could go on about them, but I just won't. I don't want to waste my time on that piece of crap family.
-That librarian from the previous library. Dear Lord, can someone please erase her from the hologram program? She was just so frustrating. Instead of being a fun librarian, all she was doing was being overly paranoid.
-Kyley. He was pretty decent in the previous book, but I totally didn't like him one bit in this one. He was boring, annoying, a wimp, only cared about winning (and for stupid reasons), was totally a downer, and various other reasons.
-And lastly, I also have to give Mr. Lemoncello himself a place. The stuff he did in this book, how he just threw around his money, it just disgusted me.
*And now some story stuff that I didn't like:
-The olympics. I had expected something more, and also way more book-related, but some games just didn't seem to do with books, or only in a very roundabout way.
-The whole all the kids magically knew EVERYTHING about the library and every book in existence. *sighs*
-The ending.
-What happened to the end of olympics.

All in all, this was a book I was really looking forward too, but now I wish I just hadn't read it. This book clearly suffers from the second-book-in-a-series-syndrome.

Review first posted at https://twirlingbookprincess.com/

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