Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy New Year



I hope everyone had a good Christmas. I was glad to have some time off and organize my office/library. I sorted out my collection of books and took some that I probably will never read again and had no attachment to, to Half Price Books. In exchange, I got
a 2016 calendar.



Here is what is coming up in January on t.v., mystery-wise.


January 1. Sherlock - The Abominable Bride 8 p.m. CST, reshown on Jan.10 if you miss it. (PBS)
The Abominable Bride

January 3: Downton Abbey - Sixth and final season - not a mystery but I have really enjoyed this series and I know several of my mystery buddies have also. (PBS)
Downton Abbey, Episode 1


January 3: Garage Sale Mystery: Guilty Until Proven Innocent (Hallmark Movies and Mysteries)
Preview - Garage Sale Mystery: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

January 10: Murder She Baked: A Peach Cobbler Mystery (Hallmark Movies and Mysteries)
Video from Murder, She Baked: A Peach Cobbler Mystery

January 17: Flower Shop Mystery: Mums the Word (Hallmark Movies and Mysteries) I haven't seen any of these but looks good.
Video from Flower Shop Mysteries: Mum’s The Word

Hmm. That is enough to keep me busy along with my books for this month. Looks like I need to go program the DVR.

Currently reading: From Doon with Death; an Inspector Wexford novel

From Doon with Death book cover

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sweet Betsy by Ed Lynskey

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Alma and Isabel have once again stumbled upon a murder. This time in their own back yard. But make no bones about it, they will not quit until they solve the mystery! Who have they found in their back yard? The Trumbo sisters instill the help of the townies; The Three Musketeers and their niece Sammi Jo, much to Sheriff Roscoe's dismay. But the Sheriff is actually asking them for help nowadays.

This book is a quick read, with some laugh out loud parts. The description of the "characters" and I do mean characters, is such that you can picture this bunch sleuthing around town.


This is the 5th book in this cozy series, about two retired sisters that live in Quiet Anchorage with their beagle, Petey Samson, and pass their time reading mysteries, playing Scrabble, drinking ice tea and eating bear claws. (Sounds pretty good to me). But they keep finding themselves stumbling across real life mysteries and murders and can't help themselves but to lead the investigations.

I highly recommend the series if you need a change from reading a lot of "heavy", dark mysteries.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26542593-sweet-betsy


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Let's play!

I spent three hours today and two last night, going through my books, sorting out some to take to Half Price (and thereby get more books).  I found myself looking at ones I have not read but had for years, intending to put them in the bag. But instead I found myself thinking and sometimes even saying out loud, "Oh! This looks good", and keeping it. I did manage to put together two bags to take away..

I saw this today and thought it might be fun.

Let's play!



I will start. If you want to leave the plot of your favorite book, guess what mine is, and leave your description. Then the next person will guess your book and leave their description. Here goes.

Fancy dresses, clay and civil war.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Goodreads Your Year in Books

Are you on Goodreads? They put out individual summaries for their readers today.
Pretty cool. Lists all the books you have read this year, shows the shortest book and longest book you read, and average number of pages, and average ratings you gave. Then shows each book on your "Read" list.

Check it out if you haven't already. 

https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/595-see-your-year-in-books?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=editorial&utm_campaign=youryearinbooks2015

You can still add books if you missed any. I tried to copy and paste mine but it just doesn't come out the same and doesn't do it justice. They (the Goodreads people) really did a good job on it.

I should be able to get a couple more books in by the end of the year.....

Currently reading:

 26542593

#5 in the Isabel and Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery series. Fun, quick cozy series.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"6 Alternative Reads for Christmas"

Have you heard of this website; Feed Your Need To Read? Here is part of the latest posting.

Six Christmas themed books you may not have read or have known about. They are new to me.

holidays on ice
Holidays on Ice, by David Sedaris
Do you need a wise chuckle this holiday season? This collection of six Christmas stories by Sedaris is holiday-themed, dark humor at its best. The collection includes “Santaland Diaries,” the most popular of the short stories, in which Sedaris recalls working as an elf at Macy’s during Christmas. The story will connect to anyone who has had to work during the bustling holiday. Given Sedaris’s penchant for hilariously dark sarcasm, you are likely to sneer at the ridiculousness that is so often involved with the holidays while reaching for a drink … on ice.

***
latke who couldnt stop screaming
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story, by Lemony Snicket
This story of a latke, a potato-pancake typical of Hanukkah, running from his fate (being boiled in a vat of hot oil) is a funny and enlightening Christmas story. Well, it isn’t quite about Christmas. Snicket’s character learns about Christmas as well as Hanukkah, a holiday often perceived to be more similar to Christmas than it is. Snicket is sarcastic and funny, and really informative for adults and kids. The book includes iconic Christmas imagery, such as Santa and candy-canes, which actually help to inform the reader about Hanukkah.  (I loved the Lemony Snicket books and have the others.)

***
christmas memory
A Christmas Memory, by Truman Capote
A Christmas Memory is a deep south Christmas tale involving baking a fruitcake, blackberry jelly, moonshine whiskey, and a homey kitchen. Capote’s autobiographical recollection of life as a young boy in rural Alabama is an intricate and touching look at his close relationship with his elderly cousin set in the backdrop of a very special holiday. As a lonely boy in the midst of a nasty custody battle, Capote was saved by a caring relative. Despite their economic despair, they still revel in the joy of Christmas. This short-story embodies the compassion people ought to bestow during Christmas.

***
tailor gloucester
The Tailor of Gloucester, by Beatrix Potter
It’s a terribly cold winter for a poor tailor who has a very important job; he must complete a fancy outfit for the Mayor of Gloucester for his wedding on Christmas Day. Time, food, money, and warmth are running low for the tailor, who is also falling ill, and it looks as if he is just too drained to finish the Mayor’s outfit. That is, until a bundle of mice start helping him out who, luckily, have a knack for tailoring. The unlikely friendship will put a wide smile on your face as you warm your feet and your heart by a fireplace.

***
hercule poirot christmas
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, by Agatha Christie
Do you want to read an expertly written Christmas-themed mystery this winter? Who better to turn to than Agatha Christie? Despite the fact that it’s Christmas Eve and there’s a ‘nice’ family reunion happening, the night turns bloody and Poirot must deal with the mystery. It seems only natural that the beloved detective would spend his Christmas trying to figure out which family member killed an ultra-rich, ruthless old man. Christie manages to create a Christmas atmosphere despite the grisly plot. This book is fit for those who love mystery, and unsavoury family reunions.
(Oh who wouldn't like this?)
***
haunted tea cosy
The Haunted Tea-Cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas, by Edward Gorey
This bizarre tale is actually a (morbid) retelling of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Edmund Gravel, Gorey’s take on Scrooge, cuts into a stale fruitcake which prompts a visit from three ghosts who specialize in producing guilt: the Spectre of Christmas That Never Was; the Spectre of Christmas That Isn’t; and, the Spectre of Christmas That Never Will Be. The esoteric book is amusing and hilarious, complete with Gorey’s odd illustrations. This Christmas book will leave you feeling … funky. (Looks worth checking out. I like humorous twists on books.)

These look like some good Christmas gifts for people like us. :)

Here is the website if you want to see what other things they have. It's a fun website.

http://www.feedyourneedtoread.com/

Monday, December 14, 2015

Onyx Webb Book 3

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If you are just starting this series, go ahead and get all three of the books (released to date) because you will want to read the next one and the next one...

In Book 3, Ulrich is still trying to kill Onyx, because of pressure from his girlfriend Claudia, who is the daughter of a mob boss. Ulrich is spending the money he obtained illegally as fast as he can.

We meet Dane's family and visit the town he is from, Lily Dale, which is appears to be a town of people who believe in the paranormal. Some of these people are legitimate, some maybe not.

Koda is still obsessed with the girl in the mirror and gets one step closer to finding her.
We get more information on the background on Declan Mulvaney and how he made his money. We get more information on Declan's friend Tommy.

Onyx continues to surprise.

I love how the story shows some seemingly paranormal things that sure seem real, then shows "charlatans", so it keeps you guessing. Also the books makes mention of some famous real people such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr,, and Walt Disney and how the characters have rubbed elbows with them. (Who would have thought).

Book 3 gets deeper into the story of the characters lives. Even though the chapters go between cities and time periods, it is easy to follow, and you can see the characters being woven together.

The series really is a soap opera in that the characters are becoming more complex, more intertwined, and gets you hooked into wanting to know what is going to happen next, yet nothing is predictable.

I am anxiously awaiting Book 4!

(I received a free copy in exchange for a review.)    
 

Friday, December 4, 2015

What was your "Best of 2015"?


The end of 2015 is quickly approaching. I hope it was a good year for you.

Our Mystery Book Club met this week for our annual holiday get together. We shared wonderful snacks, traded books and shared books that we especially liked that we read in 2015. Two members that had just returned from a trip to Ecuador, brought beautiful scarves from Ecuador for each of us! What a great surprise.

I thought I would capture the books that everyone mentioned, but quickly realized that would be a daunting task. We had a good turnout. I didn't count but I think there were about 12 of us and everyone shared 3-5 books they had really liked. That's a lot of books! They weren't all books we read for our club, they weren't all mysteries and not all fiction. But here are a few of the books or authors that we read as a group that several of the club members all agreed they really liked.

18505832Natchez Burning by Greg Iles: Several really liked this book and went on to read the second book in the series. They are all anxiously awaiting the release of the third in the series. Some have gone on to read other books by Greg Iles also.

16160797TheCuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith: We all liked this book and some have read the next two in the series and have really liked them. This is a series I want to read more of.

18774963One Kick by Chelsea Cain: Seems that we liked this book also and we plan to read the next one in the series when it comes out.

13330370The Last Policeman by Ben Winters: One person has gone on to read the others in the series and really liked them. We all agreed we liked the first one.

I have had the privilege of reading some great books by not as well known authors this year, in addition to the book club choices. I have written a blurb about them in previous posts. If you are looking for new authors to read over the holidays, or want to put on your "to read" list, here are a few that stand out in my mind.

The Recipient by Dean Mayes (from Australia): Unfortunately it is not coming out until May 2016. But that is because it has been picked up by a major publishing company in the U.S. Put it on your watch list. Oh my....

Onyx Webb (Book, #1: Episodes 1, 2 & 3)Onyx Webb by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz: Book 3 in the series just came out. If you like supernatural, mystery and soap operas, you would like this series. Really quick read, lots of pen and ink drawings, black and white pictures, "morals" in old type set which adds to the mystique.

25981000 Breathe and Release by Katherine Hayton (New Zealand): Really good thriller with quite a twist at the end.

25947685 In The Dark by Chris Patchell: Just finished this last week. It was really, really good.



24404034Ed Lynskey writes at least two cozy series among other books. I have read The Corpse Wore Gingham featuring retired husband and wife, Piper and Bill Robins. Light and funny with a mystery. 
10530870I also read the first in the Isabel and Alma Trumbo series by Ed Lynskey; Quiet Anchorage. To aging sisters have too much time on their hands and get involved in mysteries in town. Also light and humorous. The town made me think of Mayberry. :)

For January, our book club will be reading books written by Barbara Vine/Ruth Rendell.  Looks like there are many to choose from. I welcome any suggestions or recommendations.

Have a good weekend reading!

Currently reading: Onyx Webb book 3.













Saturday, November 28, 2015

In The Dark by Chris Patchel

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Happy(belated) Thanksgiving!. After a wonderful day of cooking and eating and watching football, I did pretty much nothing the next day...except finish In The Dark.

This is an excellent book. Not to be cliché, but this book is truly captivating. I found myself trying to speed read through it yet I was afraid I would miss something.

Here's what it is about:

"Marissa Rooney stands in her daughter’s empty dorm room, a half-used vial of insulin clutched in her trembling hand. Brooke has been missing for days. Her roommate hasn’t seen her since that night in the bar. And if Marissa has Brooke’s insulin, it means that Brooke does not.
But Marissa isn’t alone in her terror. A phantom from her past is lurking in the shadows, waiting in the night, and holding her family captive…"

Brooke has gone missing from college. And another girl who looks like her went missing a month before her. At first the police don't really think there is much too it...college age, probably took off with her boyfriend for the weekend etc. Marissa is sure there is something wrong. Marissa has had a rough life trying to raise her two daughters through three failed marriages, and some really bad choices. After finally convincing the police to actively look for her, Seth Crawford is assigned to the case. He has his own demons that follow him. Brooke is diabetic and needs insulin. That alone could be fatal. The search costs both Marissa and Seth their jobs and they go with their gut feeling rather than protocol.

The author does a really good job of making you feel what the characters feel; not only the emotions (fear, sadness, pain, and Whew!), but the darkness of the woods, and the cold wet weather of the Northwest. We are also inside the head of the person responsible for the disappearances. But the author doesn't let us know who it is for awhile.

I could see a sequel with Marissa and Seth working together as a team. We will see.

Chris Patchel also wrote Deadly Lies which I believe was her debut novel. Both take place in Seattle but are stand alones. In The Dark is so well written, I find it hard to believe she has only written two novels.

I think you would like it.

http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Chris-Patchell-ebook/dp/B00YNKHFI8/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8



Sunday, November 22, 2015

"10 Novels Written in About a Month"

Hope you are having a good weekend.

I am currently reading: In The Dark by Chris Patchell. So far, really good.

Do you ever wonder how long it takes authors to write a book? Since I am not a writer, I really have/had no idea. My local library hosted Susan Wittig Albert several years ago and I attended her talk. She was asked how long it takes to write one of her China Bayles series books. She said she writes a specific number of pages a day, certain hours of the day, and has breaks at certain times. Hmm just like a job. haha on me. I don't know what I thought authors do...stay up all night, stop what they are doing at any hour and write? Have you ever see the movie Funny Farm with Chevy Chase? He is an aspiring author who quits his job and moves to the country to write. Hilarious.

Came across this list of "10 Novels Written in About a Month". Which ones have you read?

"National Novel Writing Month is upon us.  For those beginning hopeful novelstirelessly typing through scenes of dialogue and character descriptions, finding a rhythm, losing it, hitting a snag in the plotlineit can seem overwhelming to pen something substantial in just thirty days.  But it’s not impossible.  Here are ten authors who wrote some of their most important work in around a month."


This story was first published on The Reading Room.
clockworkorange-smallA Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
Burgess admits writing his best known novel in about three weeks and doing so only for the money.  The novel went on to be adapted by Stanley Kubrick, whose classic film did not meet Burgess’ approval.

I think we read some of this in high school or watched the movie. Not a favorite of mine, but a cult classic.






***
gamblerThe Gambler, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Dostoevsky wrote The Gambler in conjunction with his masterpiece Crime and Punishment.  At the time, he was in debt as a result of his gambling addiction and decided to quickly write this semi-autobiographical novella in order to alleviate financial woes.
 


***
ontheroad-smallOn The Road, by Jack Kerouac
Kerouac spent seven years on the road, travelling across America and taking notes the whole time.  Perhaps as a result of such preparation Kerouac was able to sit down and pen the entire novel in less than a month.  Interestingly, Kerouac typed the entire manuscript on one long, taped-together piece of teletype paper that was reportedly 120 feet long.
Hmm never read this but I think I went to a reading of some of his stuff a long long time ago.


***
dying-smallAs I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
Faulkner wrote this formally inventive masterpiece in less than six weeks while working the night shift at a power plant.  Perhaps even more amazingly, he claims he didn’t change a single word.
I read this also in school.

***
casinoroyale-smallCasino Royale, by Ian Fleming
Fleming’s first Bond novel took about two months to write.  This wasn’t an anomaly but became his template.  He shaved off a fortnight, with each of the following Bond novels taking about six weeks apiece.
One of my favorite movies


***
a-study-in-scarlet-smallA Study in Scarlet, by Arthur Conan Doyle
The first novel to feature legendary fictional detective Sherlock Holmes took Arthur Conan Doyle just three weeks to write.  If anything proves what can be accomplished in less than a month, it’s this.
Another I have seen on t.v. but not read. Really good.


***
confidential-smallThe Confidential Agent, by Graham Greene
Like Dostoevsky, Greene was working on what would become his career defining masterpiece, The Power and the Glory, when he decided to write another novel in order to make some money.  The Confidential Agent, one of Greene’s best loved “Entertainments” was written in just six weeks.


***
juryI, the Jury, by Mickey Spillane
Spillane wrote his Mike Hammer novel in nine days.  Not bad considering the book went on to sell 7 million copies in just three years.
Ok. Mickey Spillane was before I was born BUT they made some great movie adaptations of his books. Saw several of them on one the classic t.v. channels. I really enjoyed them.


***
christmasA Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Like Arthur Conan Doyle, Dickens was able to write a book that would become a beloved classic, imagined and reimagined in countless adaptations, in a remarkably short amount of time.  A Christmas Carol took just six weeks and came to define the spirit of the season.
I have seen several of these movie adaptations. I have liked them all. I have never read the book.


***
the-boy-in-the-striped-pyjamasThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, by John Boyne
Boyne was so fervently engrossed in the story he was writing that he couldn’t stop.  After two and a half days a contemporary classic was born.  Perhaps it goes without saying, but eating and sleeping and other daily needs took a backseat to finishing the novel.
 












You are probably familiar with some of these. Are you surprised?






 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fun Fridays

Yay it's Friday! Found a new website that has fun quizzes and trivia.

Try this "quiz": Do You Have a Book Hoarding Problem?
Here is my score:

YOU'RE ON THE EDGE
YOU'RE
 
STAY AWAY FROM ALL BOOKSTORES AND LIBRARIES WITHIN 100 MILE RADIUS.
 
All in fun. But Half Price Books is a dangerous place for me. I go in with a bag of books to sell and spend the money on more books. Although I am "collecting" more ebooks now. That's risky because I can see how you could get so many books you wouldn't know what you even have. :)

Check out your status at the following link. 

http://www.feedyourneedtoread.com/feature/do-you-have-a-book-hoarding-problem/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Reader%20-%20Tuesday%20Recurring%202015-11-17&utm_term=The%20Reader

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Wind Down















While the cover looks more like a Stephen King novel, I found it to be a refreshing change from some of the books I have read lately. No one was held captive, tortured and killed.

"Aaron Starks survived a near death experience when he was stabbed by an unknown assailant. All of his college roommates were suspects. However, investigators could turn up nothing to catch the attempted murderer.
Fifteen years later, Aaron is all grown up with a family. Things are going great until he starts experiencing strange blackouts and other paranormal visions. During the blackouts he still interacts with others, but he cannot remember anything he said or did. Doctors are unable to provide an answer. It is not until Aaron has an encounter with Ju'van, a local shaman, that he realizes what he needs to do. He is sent on a journey to meet up with all his old roommates to discover the truth on what really happened the night he was stabbed in the back."

The story shares an interesting take on mortality and had some interesting symbolism. It was very suspenseful and held my interest. A quick read with a surprise twist at the end.

This is actually a book I very well may go back and read again. After the "Oh....o.k.." ending, I want to reread it with that in mind.

(I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review).

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Holiday Mysteries





I wanted to tell you about the next Murder She Baked movie coming up on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. A Plum Pudding Mystery written by Joanna Fluke will be shown November 22 at 8 p.m. It is #12 in the Hannah Swensen series. Hallmark has done a great job making the books into movies.


Video from Murder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery

So then I thought, what are some books with a holiday theme. Mysteries of course. I will share a few with a Thanksgiving theme for now since that is coming up awfully quick.


Bittersweet by Susan Wittig Albert (One of my favorite cozy authors): #19 in the China Bayles series. China will be visiting her mother at her ranch for Thanksgiving...

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The Cat Who Talked Turkey by Lillian Jackson Braun: I think I have read all of the "Cat Who.." books. I am partial to cats. This is #26 in the "Cat" series.

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The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis. #1 in the Domestic Diva series. This story involves the Stupendous Stuffing Shakedown! Fun, quick, cozy.

3663410


Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet, #1 in the Max Tudor series. I like this series a lot. It takes place in a quaint English village. Nether Monkslip is celebrating their Harvest Fayre.

 10946475

Still Life by Louise Penny: #1 in the Inspector Gamache. Very good series. I have read all of these too. Trouble in Three Pines/Montreal in the holiday season...

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Here is one I didn't know about: A Fatal Feast by "Jessica Fletcher" and Donald Bain. #32 in the Murder She Wrote series. Jessica Fletcher is hosting Thanksgiving dinner in Cabot Cove. And you can guess how that will turn out.

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Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb: #32 in the In Death series. I haven't read any of this series but I know several of my book club friends have and liked them. Thanksgiving in NYC....

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Shoot Don't Shoot by J.A. Jance. #3 in the Joanna Brady series. I have not read this series either but have heard good things about it...

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That should give you a few to read for the long holiday.
Enjoy!