Friday, May 29, 2015

A Demon Summer

I just finished A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet yesterday. It is fourth in the Max Tudor series and nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel.

The Max Tudor series is set in England in contemporary times. Max is an ex MI5 agent who has answered "the calling" and become an Episcopalian priest and vicar of St. Edwold's in Nether Monkslip. Nether Monkslip is a quaint country village full of colorful people.

This book takes Max outside of Nether Monkslip at the request of the Bishop to investigate some funny goings on at Monkbury Abbey, home of an order of nuns; The Handmaids of St. Lucy. They are a cloistered group of nuns who are self sustaining by their gardening, canning, making baptismal gowns, other weaving and their famous fruitcake. They even have a website for the public to order from. They also run a guesthouse for the public to stay in for retreats.

Lord Lislelivet received a fruitcake from an unknown person several months ago and was poisoned when he ate it. Also the finances of the Abbey are not in order. Max is sent to hang out and see if he can find out anything. (I won't talk about meanwhile back at home, in case you haven't read the first few books and want to).

It seems there are several visitors from the outside world staying at the Abbey at this time. Max gets to know them all and interviews each nun to learn the history of the Abbey and try to inquire about their financial state. Ooops. Some turns up dead in the well.
There are many twists and turns in this book. People are not at all what they seem or you would think. Who poisoned Lord Lislelivet and why? Who killed the person and through him in the well and why? Where did the money go and why?

The surprise ending is who is involved in this.
The descriptions of the countryside are wonderful. Just when you get lulled into picturing the view, things get crazy.

Oh there is a nod to Louise Penny in this book, I think. Max is thinking about a quote from a poem that one of the nuns talks about. ''' the light gets in". He mentions how this is the title of a recent popular book. :) This does play a part in part of the mystery.

If you think you would like to read this book, I would start with the first one: Wicked Autumn, to get the background information and see how the characters "back home" fit together. I have read all four of the series and like them all.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Week at a glance...

My week off work is coming to a close. We had several household and home maintenance things that needed doing. Some of it got done. Some of it is still waiting. I put an ad in the Daily Prophet for a house elf but didn't get any responses.

I did watch the second episode of Wayward Pines. I am really liking this show.
It is a series of 10 episodes based on the book series by Blake Crouch. It is a series of 3 books.

Refresher: Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) is a Secret Service agent sent to find 2 missing agents. He ends up in Wayward Pines. Once in the town,  a person cannot leave. He tries a few times. There seems to be an huge electrical fence around the town. People who try to leave are killed. The citizens seem to think the current year is in the 90's. No one is to speak of their past. Any time Ethan tries to call home, he get the answering machine. Any time he tries to call his office, he really gets the secretary of Wayward Pines jail.

The story is building...he thinks he sees his wife and son being brought in to the "hospital" but we know they are at home getting ready to look for him. Not sure what that means with M. Night Shyamalan directing. 

A really good thriller!

I also watched The Gourmet Detective on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries.
I have recently discovered Hallmark's mystery movies and really enjoying those also. The Gourmet Detective is based on books by Peter King.
Gourmet Detective

"In The Gourmet Detective, a culinary phenom uses his mastery of food, drink and cooking to solve crimes of the culinary world. Whether it´s the theft of a valuable recipe or a suspicious murder in the middle of a five star restaurant, his insight, skills, and encyclopedic knowledge of all things edible always lead him to the culprit."

The main characters are Henry Ross (Dylan Neal), gourmet chef, and Maggie Price (Brooke Burns), detective. The story takes place in San Francisco.

The movie begins with Maggie attending a cooking class given by Henry, where she takes an instant dislike to him.

Soon after that evening, Henry is witness to a suspicious death at a food gala at an upscale restaurant, where he started his career as a chef. Maggie is brought in to investigate and quickly wants to make Henry a suspect. During his questioning, her boss takes note that Henry is very observant and seems to have good deduction skills. She decides he will help Maggie in the investigation. There is a lot of bickering between the two but also some chemistry.

The movie is very well done, good story and moves along at a good pace. It looks like there will be more.

FYI: On Monday 5/25/15, this channel is showing 3 Garage Sale Mysteries back to back. Since we are expecting rain, I may be watching these. I will definitetly be recording them.

Yes I am currently reading a book also. Actually two, one online through a blog and one for my Mystery Book Club. Not ready to "report" yet.

I am reading A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet and The Assiduous Quest of Tobias Hopkins by James Faro.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Just some rambling topics of interest (maybe):

Took a ride out west of us and saw tons of wild flowers along the roadside for miles. In places it was a sea of yellow and others a sea of red. I have some of these on the side of my yard this year too. Easy to grow, they don't care about the weather much and low maintenance.
This is growing at the back of some property in San Angelo Texas. Pride of Barbados I think. Not fully opened.
If you ever go through San Angelo, I recommend lunch or dinner at the Cork and Pig Tavern. They have great pizza - hard to find in Texas. They also have great salads, my favorite being an heirloom tomato and mozzarella in the summer. They didn't have that yet. Also homemade tortilla chips and queso with chunks of sausage and peppers. Not a place to go if you are on a diet that day.

Came home from our day trip to see our latest baby birds getting ready to leave. They haven't left yet but I think they will soon.

Hoping to get lots of reading done this week on my "staycation".

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wayward Pines

Well, I was actually a little bit glad that all the network t.v. shows were ending for the summer. I don't watch a lot but I had told myself there would be time to read all those books I have been collecting over the winter....

Then someone had to tell me about a new t.v. miniseries, 10 episodes to be exact.
Wayward Pines.  It is based on books by Blake Crouch. I don't know anything about it but the title sounded intriguing.  DRAT! It sounds like something I would really like. Starts 5/14/15 7 p.m. central time Fox


Imagine the perfect American town, beautiful homes, manicured lawns, children playing safely in the streets...Now imagine never being able to leave. You have no communication with the outside world. You think you’re going insane. You must be in Wayward Pines.

Secret Service Agent ETHAN BURKE (Academy Award nominee Matt Dillon, “Crash,” “City of Ghosts”) drives to the bucolic town of Wayward Pines, ID, searching for two missing federal agents. One of the best Secret Service agents in the Seattle office, he’s the man who knew missing agent KATE HEWSON (Carla Gugino, “Watchmen,” “Entourage”) better than anyone. They were more than partners; their relationship nearly destroyed Ethan's marriage.

Everything changes when a truck slams into his car…and he wakes up in the Wayward Pines Hospital, with the intense and unpredictable NURSE PAM (Academy Award and Emmy Award winner Melissa Leo, “The Fighter,” “Treme”) at his bedside. It soon appears that Pam is more interested in harming than healing. She and Ethan grow into deadly rivals, and her role in the town proves much deeper than anyone realizes."

 - See more at:

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan (I have liked a lot of his movies)

Well guess I will have to check it out.

Monday, May 11, 2015

"Stop, You're Killing Me!

Sounds like a punch line to a joke...
But it is not. This is a wonderful site that is all about mystery books...mystery, crime, thriller, suspense, cozies, you name it.

It is that time of year in which our Mystery Book Club will read any book(s) of our choice from the Mystery Award lists. There are several categories of awards that are given each year. Some have been determined, some not yet.

But on this list, you will find 4-5 books that have been chosen within a category and is "up" for that award.

For instance the first category listed is the Agatha Awards. These are books that are considered traditional mysteries.

The nominees for the 2015 award in this category are:
Best Contemporary Novel
*Truth Be Told by Hank Phillippi Ryan
° The Good, the Bad, and the Emus by Donna Andrews[review]
° A Demon Summer by G.M. Malliet
° Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron
° The Long Way Home by Louise Penny

Best Historical Novel
*Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen[review]
° Wouldn’t it Be Deadly by D.E. Ireland[review]
° Murder in Murray Hill by Victoria Thompson
° Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd
° An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd[review]

Best First Novel
*Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran [review]
° Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy
° Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris
° Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien
° Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber

Best Short Story
*“The Odds Are Against Us” by Art Taylor
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, November 2014
° “The Blessing Witch” by Kathy Lynn Emerson
Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave
° “The Shadow Knows” by Barb Goffman
Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays
° Just Desserts for Johnny” by Edith Maxwell
° “Premonition” by by Art Taylor
Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays

There are 14 more categories to choose from. Oh boy! Much better to a mystery book lover than the Academy Awards.

Look for your summer reading here! Choose Awards on the left side bar or check out the other items.

Happy reading!

"Arthur and George" on Masterpiece Fall 2015

Masterpiece on PBS will have a new 3 part series in the late fall of 2015 called "Arthur and George". Arthur is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Arthur & George (2015) Poster

If you are a fan of the Sherlock series on PBS, as I am, this looks good. They had a short peek this past week on PBS.  Here is the description on the PBS website.

"Arthur & George: Starring Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) as world-famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, this three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’ acclaimed novel follows the separate but intersecting lives of two very different men: a half-Indian son of a vicar who is framed for a crime he may or may not have committed, and Doyle, who investigates the case."

Speaking of Sherlock on PBS: they are filming a "special" and will then have a 3 part series to follow. Yay! I don't see any dates yet....
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in Sherlock

I have also liked "Elementary", the t.v. series on CBS. It looks like that will continue but one of my other favorite shows, with some similarity to a Sherlock story was "Forever". That has apparently been cancelled.  :(

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Cuckoo's Calling

Just finished the book The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. (Cormoran Strike #1)

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)

This is written by the author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling under the pen name of Robert Galbraith. It is the first of two with private detective Cormoran Strike.

"After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, thelegendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man."

I loved the Harry Potter series and read every one of the books. So I was excited to read another book by the same author. This is not a childrens book like Harry Potter.  I probably was expecting some similarities in the writing but it is not like Harry Potter at all.

Cormoran hires a "gal Friday" from a temporary agency to help him finish up things in his office. Business is not good. He owes people money. He has just broken up with his fiancee and is living in the back room of his office. Robin is a newly engaged young woman, just moved to the city to move in with her fiancee and start a new life. She turns out to be a very smart and savy counterpart.

I liked the story and there is an interesting vibe between Cormoran and Robin. I think that will be developed more in future books. The other characters are very colorful and dramatic. The story gives a glimpse into what the model and designer life may be like.

 I think it was a bit longer than it needed to be, more description and ancillary stories about some of the characters that maybe wasn't pertinent. But overall I enjoyed it.

This book is being made into a BBC television drama. We will have to see if it is available to the U.S.

The second Cormoran Strike novel is The Silkworm and I have heard from people that have read it, that it is really good.

It is worth the read.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Murder She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery

You may recognize the title from the book The Chocolate Chip Cookie Mystery by Joanna Fluke.

Just wanted to let you know that Hallmark Movies and Mysteries is showing this, this month. I watched it this past weekend and loved it. It stars Allison Sweeney (I remember her as the host of Biggest Loser, but she has actually done movies since she was a young girl) and Cameron Mathison.

"This freshly baked new murder mystery introduces Hannah Swensen (Alison Sweeney), a creative and bubbly baker extraordinaire in a sleepy town in Minnesota, where everyone knows each other and secrets don’t stay hidden for long. Hannah’s bakeshop, the Cookie Jar, is where much of the town's gossip percolates along with the strong coffee. But after she finds her good friend and delivery driver shot dead in the alley behind her shop, Hannah’s idyllic world is turned upside down.
Based on the novel by Joanne Fluke, "Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder,"

It was great! Commercials (boooo) said they will be showing "The Plum Pudding Murder" also by Joanna Fluke during the "holiday season." I was wondering if they meant 4th of July or summer season but I don't suppose so.

I recorded it so I could pass over the commercials. Also showing was The Garage Sale Mysteries by Suzie Weinert and The Gourmet Detective by Peter King. 

If you are not familiar with the Hallmark channel, they also run oldies but real goodies such as Murder She Wrote and Columbo. That is how I stumbled on these, watching Murder She Wrote this weekend.

Here you go!