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2017 Reading Challenge

Jill Elizabeth has read 2 books toward her goal of 150 books.
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Book Review: How Speleology Restored My Sex Drive by Michael Bernhart

What an unexpected delight this was! I say unexpected only because it is book 3 of a 5-book series, and I normally have a rather die-hard rule about not reading series books out of order… When I read them out of order, I am generally disappointed because the story feels either flat or like I’m jumping in mid-stream; without the context and backstories, it is usually very difficult to get into the swing of a series when you join somewhere in the middle. Still, after a bit of back-and-forth on this point, I accepted the author’s explanation that I would be fine joining Max Brown in the middle of his series, and am very glad I did. True, there were a few points where I found myself pausing to reread a casual mention of backstory or previous adventures, but those points didn’t detract from the story at all but rather piqued my interest for the earlier books.

This is a family adventure. And a manhunt, and a treasure hunt, and a reminder that racism is alive and well in America (or at least it was circa the early 1990s, when the story is set). It is a cautionary tale about the dangers of adorable twins, and a history lesson about the surprising number of “lost” treasures scattered throughout rural Georgia. It is funny and scary and over the top, and an absolute delight to read as a result. True, there were a few points where I rolled my eyes – the twins are, occasionally, too precocious for words (or credibility), and the hidden talents of Max and Sally (the parents) are, occasionally, too spot-on in the same vein. It is also hard to believe that, even in the kindler, gentler, more relaxed parenting-style world of the 1990s, anyone would let 9-year olds do/get away with half of the things that Mary and Margarent (aka, M&M – one of the best acronyms of fiction) do… Still, all of that disbelief somehow magically suspends itself as you travel through the book. It’s realistic fiction, that reads like fantasy, that remains realistic. It’s a marvelous tap-dance among land-mines, and Bernhart pulls it off without a hitch…

If you like your mystery with a side of hijinks and a dash of brutal reality, then this one is for you. The writing style is engaging and feels like listening to your favorite buddy tell a tale – you’ll wonder at the probability of it all every now and then, but you’ll be thoroughly entertained throughout!

My review copy was provided by the author.

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