Murder at Sea Oats Beach by Karen C. Whalen

Murder at Sea Oats Beach by Karen C. Whalen
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Breanna Hart is volunteering at the animal shelter and living her best life in a North Carolina beach town, but that changes when the police chief is found dead under mysterious circumstances inside the cage of her favorite dog. Everyone has the dog tagged as the murderer, even the handsome police officer in charge of the investigation, and the pooch is put on the euthanasia list. In spite of being new in town and dealing with both a social phobia and a secret, will Breanna be able to solve the crime and prove the dog’s innocence? Will she be able to find his forever home so she can embrace the salty seaside life and find a forever home for herself?

Innocent until proven guilty should apply to dogs, too!

Breanna was a memorable and relatable protagonist. Her compassion for others instantly endeared me to her. It was interesting to see how her flaws influenced the decisions she made. Specifically, her impulsiveness was both a great way to push the plot forward and an impediment to her goals depending on the scene. I also appreciated how much effort was put into describing how social anxiety affected every facet of her life. This isn’t a mental illness I’ve seen mentioned very often in fiction, but Ms. Whalen struck a chord with how accurately and sympathetically she wrote about it.

I would have liked to see the mystery play a bigger role in how the storyline rolled out. There was so much attention paid to everything else that was going on that it took longer than I would have preferred for Breanna to start investigating what really happened to the police chief. Mysterious deaths aren’t common in small, quiet towns, so I was expecting the characters to react more strongly to such a turn of events.

Small town politics can be complex and frustrating, especially for newcomers. I enjoyed this deep dive into what it can be like to move to a new place and try to join an insular community. Breanna was completely unprepared for the nuances of it all, and I nodded along as she slowly realized just how much she had to learn about the friends and neighbors she was still beginning to get to know.

Murder at Sea Oats Beach was a playful summer read.

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In In Such Good Company, Carol Burnett pulls back the curtain on the twenty-five-time Emmy-Award winning show that made television history, and she reminisces about the outrageously funny and tender moments that made working on the series as much fun as watching it.

Carol delves into little-known stories of the guests, sketches and improvisations that made The Carol Burnett Show legendary, as well as some favorite tales too good not to relive again. While writing this book, Carol re-watched all 276 episodes and screen-grabbed her favorite video stills from the archives to illustrate the chemistry of the actors and the improvisational magic that made the show so successful.

Putting the spotlight on everyone from her costars to the impressive list of guest stars, Carol crafts a lively portrait of the talent and creativity that went into every episode. With characteristic wit and incomparable comic timing, she details hiring Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner, and Tim Conway; shares anecdotes about guest stars and close friends, including Lucille Ball, Roddy McDowell, Jim Nabors, Bernadette Peters, Betty Grable, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Gloria Swanson, Rita Hayworth, and Betty White; and gives her take on her favorite sketches and the unpredictable moments that took both the cast and viewers by surprise.

So many stories and plenty of pages to tell them!

I love the Carol Burnett show and this book reads a lot like one of those episodes. Carol Burnett writes this about her time on the show and interactions with her costars. There are quite a few tidbits about the actors and actresses and even a few discussions of the bits on the show.

The chemistry between the principals on the show stand out in this book. I felt their love for each other, even when they quarrel. What drew me to this book was the story about Harvey Korman being fired from the show. I had to know more and I’m glad I did. I also had no idea how many people helped bring this show to life. It’s funny, witty and touching. I’m glad I read it.

If you love to laugh and learn about television shows, then this one is for you.