Carving Up Riley (Riley MacLeod Series: Book 1) by Paul Flanagan

Publisher: Independently Published

Date of Publication: March 27th, 2023

Genre: Humorous Fiction

Series: Riley MacLeod Series

Carving Up Riley—Book 1

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

Meet Riley MacLeod…loving husband…caring father…faithful friend…successful writer…and the world’s biggest idiot. Of course, in Riley’s insane mind he sees himself as the world’s biggest…well…hero. However, when Riley’s wife insists they take a romantic drive from Vermont to Minnesota to spend Thanksgiving with her family who is far from normal themselves, the man who is hated by his neighbors and loathed by an angry tom cat, sets out to prove that he isn’t an idiot…under duress, of course. The trip begins with Riley getting tied up by his best friend, his clothes stolen by a group of mischievous teenagers, and a tow truck driver with a happy gun finger. Determined to keep pushing forward, under duress of course, Riley continues down the road desperately trying to leave the state of Vermont only to encounter a killer truck driver, a girl with strange colored hair, and a pair of old people who turn out to be drug dealers. Yet, through it all, Riley somehow turns out to be a hero…well, kinda. Will Riley MacLeod and his wife make it to the Thanksgiving table in one piece or will they end up in a mental hospital locked away in little padded rooms?

First Line:

Thanksgiving had arrived again. And with those words, I will begin my story. Pity me.

Carving Up Riley by Paul Flanagan

A screenwriter, Reily uses his overactive imagination to create box office hits. But that same imagination has had the opposite effect in real life, translating to Reily having social issues. Take, for instance, Thanksgiving. Reily and his wife were offered a rare trip without their two children by Reily’s wife’s parents. They were to take a week and travel from Vermont to Minnesota, arriving in time for Thanksgiving. Easy, right? Not really. Because during this trip, Reily and Rebecca run into all sorts of issues. From teenagers who steal Reily’s clothes to trigger happy but mother-loving trucker to a hotel receptionist with different colored hair to an RV driven by a pair of elderly drug runners, they all make this trip to Minnesota impossible. Will Reily and Rebecca make it out of Vermont? Or will Reily’s habit of running his mouth and acting before he thinks end the trip before it gets underway?

I will admit that when the author approached me to read and review this book, I initially wasn’t going to accept it. I was super booked up with reviews. But then I read the blurb and got a chuckle, and I realized that I needed a book that could make me laugh (I had been reading some depressing stuff at this point). So, I accepted the invitation. I am glad that I did because this was a funny book.

Carving Up Reily is the first book in the Reily MacLeod series. So, anything I usually say about reading the books that come first in the series can be ignored. Feel free to pick this one up and enjoy it without wondering about background stories.

Carving Up Reily is a short book at 75 pages. It is also a fast-paced book. I did expect it to be fast-paced because of the length. There was no lag, which was great.

The main storyline of Carving Up Reily follows Reily, Rebecca, and their attempt at a romantic road trip without ending up in a padded room. It was a pretty straightforward comedy storyline, and I liked some of the jokes in the book. But, I will warn you that Reily has an imagination, and the author weaves it into his misadventures. I was slightly put off because I didn’t realize what was happening. Once it dawned on me, I started to understand some of the previous scenes in the book. For a while, I did think I was reading a take on a paranormal romance.

I didn’t like Reily. He was a self-centered idiot who only thought about himself. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut if you paid him. I could get why his wife was getting so upset. But, saying that, I did think the situations he got into were funny. There was a point where I had an internal bet going on with myself if he would survive this book.

I felt terrible for Reily’s wife, Rebecca. She was dealing with an overgrown man-child. I was right with her when she said, “He’s my idiot; I married him.”Of course, she did stoop to his level once in the book, and that was when she beat up the front desk clerk at the hotel. But she had a good reason, too (well, in her eyes). At various points in the book, I wondered if her marriage to Reily would survive.

The end of Carving Up Reily was standard. I liked how the author wrapped up the storylines. I was even more in awe that Reily ended up surviving everything.

I would recommend Carving Up Reily to anyone over 21. There is violence and language, but no sexual situations.

Many thanks to Paul Flanagan for allowing me to read and review Carving Up Reily. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

Other books by Paul Flanagan:

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