Sunday, January 28, 2018

Carrots by Colleen Helme

Found a new cozy series that I like.

A Shelby Nichols Adventure. The first book in the series is called Carrots. 

Here's the blurb:

"Shelby Nichols is an average woman who is married to the only guy she ever fell for. Her life is organized and predictable, revolving around her husband and two children. All that changes the day she stops at the grocery store for some carrots. As the cashier rings up her purchases, a gunman is busy robbing the bank inside the store. When a customer grabs the robber’s mask, he is shot and everyone runs for cover.
Everyone except Shelby, who finds herself face to face with the killer. The next thing she knows, she’s lying on the floor with a bullet wound to her head. Luckily, the bullet only grazes her scalp, and she doesn’t suspect any lasting affects until later, when she suddenly ‘hears’ what people are thinking. With this uncanny ability, her life takes on a whole new dimension. Her kids think she’s bossy and too old to understand them, but that’s nothing compared to her husband. He says he loves her, but what is it about the redhead at work that he doesn’t want her to know? As if that isn’t enough, the gunman knows she can identify him, and he’s out to silence her forever. In her fight to stay alive, she is saved from certain death by a handsome hit-man with ties to organized crime. This pulls Shelby even deeper into danger, where knowing someone’s thoughts can not only hurt her feelings, but get her killed."

One headline I saw describe the book as "The Godfather meets Love Story".  I will throw in a twist of Lucy.

The bank robber is after Shelby. But the mob is after the bank robber. Shelby gets in the middle of that and the local mob leader wants to see her. Once he finds out she can read minds, he makes a deal with her. Of course the police need to interview her, since she saw the bank robber and the people that are after the back robber. Once they find out she can read minds, that want her to help them out. Then there is the new lawyer, Kate, in the law firm where husband is also a lawyer. She seems to be after her husband. Shelby uses her ability to try to find out what exactly she is up to.

All of these pieces are skillfully connected in the story. Shelby has to hide all of her connections to these people from everyone. There are humorous parts such as her disguise that isn't always on right. There is plenty of action...pretty much non stop. Yet it is a quick read.

There are 10 books in this series with 11 coming out next month. It looks like the characters that are introduced in book one continue. (Except the ones that don't make it to the end of the book.) I think it is a book that will grab hold of cozy lovers that like action and likeable characters. (There was a preview of the next book at the end of Carrots and I found myself ready to just read on. It jumps right in where the first book left off.)

About the author:

As the author of the Shelby Nichols Adventure Series, Colleen is often asked if Shelby Nichols is her alter-ego. “Definitely,” she says. “Shelby is the epitome of everything I wish I dared to be.” Known for her laugh since she was a kid, Colleen has always tried to find the humor in every situation and continues to enjoy writing about Shelby’s adventures. “I love getting Shelby into trouble… I just don’t always know how to get her out of it!” Colleen lives in the Rocky Mountains with her family. Besides writing, she loves a good book, biking, hiking, and playing board and card games with family and friends. She loves to connect with readers and admits that fans of the series keep her writing.

(I received a free copy and published this review voluntarily)

Friday, January 26, 2018

The X-Files

Image result for pictures of the x files
Let's talk about The X-Files for a quick minute.
Did you watch this TV show in the '90's?

I did and really liked it. It ran from 1993-2002 with a comeback in 2016. Season 11 has been airing on Fox on Wednesdays with four episodes so far.

It is so good that I wanted to give it a mention in case you were a fan and thought "nah, it can't be as good as the original series". 

Background: Created by Chris Carter
"The series revolves around Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who investigate X-Files: marginalized, unsolved cases involving paranormal phenomena. Mulder believes in the existence of aliens and the paranormal while Scully, a medical doctor and a skeptic, is assigned to make scientific analyses of Mulder's discoveries to debunk his work and thus return him to mainstream cases. Early in the series, both agents become pawns in a larger conflict and come to trust only each other and a very few select people. The agents also discover an agenda of the government to keep the existence of extraterrestrial life a secret. They develop a close relationship which begins as a platonic friendship, but becomes a romance by the end of the series. In addition to the series-spanning story arc, "monster of the week" episodes form roughly two-thirds of all episodes.
The X-Files was inspired by earlier television series which featured elements of suspense and speculative fiction, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Tales from the Darkside, and especially Kolchak: The Night Stalker."
There you go. Four of my favorite TV shows right there.
The original cast stars in the current 11th Season; David Duchovy (Fox Mulder), Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully) and Mitch Pileggi as Scully and Mulder's boss (Walter Skinner). We even have "the smoking man" played by William B. Davis (the main recurring villain.)
I especially liked the third and fourth episodes of this season.
Episode 3 - Plus One: "Mulder and Scully engross themselves in an investigation about a series of deaths caused by the victims being haunted by their own doppleganger."  
This episode is M. Knight Shyamalan creepy. A woman locked up in a mental institution plays hangman with her equally strange twin brother who is obviously a hoarder living alone in a creepy house. They play hangman telepathically. And the game is not friendly. If that's not creepy enough, people are being followed by their doppleganger, including Mulder and Scully. And they don't look friendly either. Mulder and Scully are trying to find out what is causing this phenomena. As usual, Scully has the scientific explanation and Mulder thinks it is a paranormal occurrence. This episode will make you want to cover your mirror.
Episode 4 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat: "While Mulder and Scully explore the concept of the Mandela Effect, the come to discover events that potentially led to the X-Files existence."
This episode was actually quite funny while following the theme of unexplained occurrences. A man keeps showing up mysteriously in the parking garage where Mulder lives, asking for Mulder's help and seems to have people coming after him. When Mulder asks the man his name, he replies "Reggie...something." He can't remember. He then becomes Reggie Something for the duration of the episode. Reggie is trying to convince Mulder that they knew each other, but "they" have caused alternate memories for large groups of people. Mulder asks Reggie "who's they" and Reggie replies "Dr. They". The episode has many of these quips delivered with a dry sense of humour that had me laughing. The best was when Scully finds Mulder tearing through boxes of old VCR tapes trying to find the first episode of The Twilight Zone. He tells her about how watching the Twilight Zone at age 8 inspired him to become interested in the paranormal. The funny part? They show Mulder at age 8, very animated, sitting on his parents couch with a bag of Jiffy Pop watching TV. He has the body of an 8 year old but his adult head. Hilarious. There are also the usual jumpy moments too.
If you were unsure about watching another season of The X-Files, I highly recommend it. You watch all of this seasons episodes on Fox online and Hulu.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Hallmark Movies and Mysteries

Good grief!
Image result for Charlie Brown

I haven't been here in awhile. I think my brain and my fingers are frozen. We are having a cold winter in Central Texas. Snow twice and now ice.

I do have a couple of books going but haven't finished one since Magpie Murders.

BUT Hallmark Movie and Mystery channel has lots of new mystery movies on this month. They started last week but reshow them and others are coming up. I am not going to paste pictures etc. from their website because the site is quite annoying. (Did you hear that Hallmark?) Anytime you go to another page, it starts a video, and often the same video over again. Seems like maybe they fixed that and replaced it with lots of ads. (equally annoying)

Anyhoo, here's what's playing this month and the website:

Past Malice: An Emma Fielding Mystery
"When archaeologist Professor Emma Fielding is recruited to aid in a groundbreaking discovery beneath the Chandler Castle, she is swept into another mystery when she finds her colleague murdered in the crypts below. Taking over the job-- and making unsettling connections to an age-old curse-- Emma, her students, and FBI Agent Jim Conner soon find themselves in danger of being buried along with the secrets that fill Chandler Castle."

Last Scene Alive: An Aurora Teagarden Mystery
"A Hollywood film crew descends on the town of Lawrenceton, GA to produce a film based on a book written by Aurora’s onetime boyfriend Robin Crusoe. However, when the lead actress, who is playing Aurora is killed, the real Aurora and the Murders Club must investigate a long list of suspects."

Mortal Mishaps: A Morning Show Mystery - this is a new mystery starring Holly Robinson Pete, Rick Fox and a cameo with Al Roker who I believe produced or directed this. Looks good.
"Billie Blessings has gone from beloved chef, restaurant owner, and morning show segment host to #1 suspect in a murder case when one of the executives at the network dies from poisoning. When the head chef at Billie's restaurant is arrested and held as a suspect, Billie takes matters into her own hands by digging deeper into a mystery that could incriminate people close to her while risking her own life in the process."

What am I reading?
*Book One of Outlander by Diana Galbadon. It was recommended by a couple of my friends and I have seen it listed on Netflix. I want to read the first book before I watch it.
*Carrots: a Shelby Nichols Adventure by Colleen Helme. 
*The Promise by Robert Crais - TBR for our Mystery Book Club for February.

Stay warm. We are trying.