Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reviewing Cozy Mysteries and Favorite Women Sleuths

Like cozy mysteries starring smart, female sleuths? You'll find ten series' starters in this compilation for just 99 cents!
This summer, I've found myself with a good bit of reading time on my hands. My favorite genre is mystery and right now I'm particularly attracted to easy-to-read cozy mystery stories (defined here by ReviewThisReviews' own BuckHawk) especially when the main character is a smart, likable, female.

Fortunately there are plenty of books in the Kindle store that meet the definition, so I never need to worry about running out of material to read.

Recently, I came across a package deal of 10 full-length novels called Sleuthing Women. Each book is a first-in-series cozy murder mystery featuring an amateur, female crime-solver, and written by a best-selling author. What a great way for cozy mystery-lovers to get to know a new author's style and try a series without spending a fortune on books they may or may not like.

Oh, did I fail to mention the price? You can buy the set of 10 cozy mystery Kindle books for a total of just 99 cents!

Last night I finished reading the third book in the Sleuthing Women set and, Bingo!, I found a winner! While the first two novels were okay, the third one was particularly appealing to me. I really enjoyed the story as well as the characters and can't wait to start the next book in the series.

The book that won me over is Skeleton in a Dead Space by Judy Alter, the first book in her Kelly O'Connell mystery series. The author has been writing for years, has multiple mystery series as well as historical novels and a few other gems in print, and is definitely worth checking out. I've already started book two in the series and I'm typing as fast as I can to finish this so I can get back to that.

While eventually I'll probably return to and read more of the 10 Sleuthing Women mysteries, for now my plan is to plow through Judy Alter's Kelly O'Connell series (I peeked ahead to some of the book descriptions and I like what I saw). You, on the other hand, might prefer to read all 10 Sleuthing Women books and then choose one of the authors (or several) to further explore. Because surely, if you like cozy mysteries starring smart, female, amateur sleuths, you'll find a few series' starters among these 10 that you'll want to read.

For less than a buck.

~Susan Deppner
Read more of my reviews.

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(Note: Prices are subject to change without notice.)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hallmark's A Century of Caring Book Review

Hallmark's History: Celebrate A Hundred Years With Hallmark

Hallmark: A Century of Caring by Patrick Regan is truly a magnificent book about a company which was shaped by and which helped shape America. It covers everything from the very beginnings of the company with a young man and some picture postcards in a box to the third generation, which runs this company today. This ample-sized coffee table-style book features plenty of interesting information, is packed with amazing photographs and features a bonus DVD with a full length Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, The Magic of Ordinary Days.

Any fan or collector of Hallmark would thoroughly enjoy this beautiful book as would those with a simple curiosity of how Hallmark came to be the company that it is today. On this page, you will find more information about the book and a quick video peek into Hallmark's 100 year history.

The Hallmark family were really the Halls and a hundred years ago, they lived in poverty and tried to eek out a living in a small town in Nebraska. Move forward a hundred years and you find the family has created a once truly unique company. The book, Hallmark: A Century of Caring, tells the story of this American institution and how it came to life because of dedication to hard work, good values and caring for employees and customers.

It features a lovely introduction from poet Maya Angelou and takes you on a trip from Norfolk, Nebraska to Kansas City, Missouri, the town in which Hallmark finally settled. Learn about the company in good times and in bad, with the bad times including both war and depression through which the company continued to grow.

A hundred years after its inception, the company looks forward to a different future. This book celebrates what is an "iconic American company."


This short video is an interesting one minute of Hallmark history with the company's founder, J.C. Hall.


Hallmark: A Century of Caring marked Hallmark's 100 years and shares the history of the company including the Hall family and its employees and how they created a brand with world-wide renown. It is broken down into ten sections or chapters, each of which tells how Hallmark was a reflection on what was happening in America at certain time periods, how those events helped Hallmark become what it has become and the effect that Hallmark had on the country. It is a large hardcover book and it is beautiful. The chapters include:

Starting From Scratch (1891-1909)
That Kansas City Spirit (1910-1915)
Building Business and Breaking Ground (1915-1932)
Hanging Tough in Hard Times (1933-1951)
The Power of Association
Coming of Age (1951-1966)
The Hallmark Hall of Fame
The Modernist (1966-1980)
Traditions, Transitions, Expansion and Explorations (1981-2002)
A Second Century, A Third Generation (2002 and Beyond)


Dr. Maya Angelou said, "I have read few biographies that have moved me as much as the Hall family saga."

It comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by buyers and also by me.  There's nothing to object to in this book, in terms of sex and violence anyway, and it is a peek into an iconic American company.

It is my understanding that this book was initially given as a gift to the employees of Hallmark on the company's 100th birthday but that some of these books were also made available through Hallmark Gold Crown stores and Andrews McMeel Publishing. Fortunately for Hallmark fans and collectors, it is now available here from Amazon, too.

The Magic Of Ordinary Days

The Magic of Ordinary Days caught me off guard. That is, I found it in the back of this book and put it in the DVD player when I was expecting to putter around and get a few other jobs done. Unfortunately, that was not the case as I was quickly absorbed into this beautiful story of a man who takes in a woman from a faraway town in order to have a wife and provide a stable home for both the woman and her unborn child.

When I looked at the Amazon customer reviews, I discovered that I was not the only one who enjoyed this movie. If you enjoy Hallmark movies, you will, no doubt, enjoy this one and, if you buy the book Hallmark: A Century of Caring, you receive a free copy of this excellent movie, too.

You can order your copy of Hallmark's A Century of Caring by clicking right here.

How has Hallmark touched your life?

See you at the bookstore!

More Hallmark Reading

Christmas in Conway (2013) 
Remember Sunday (2013)
Hallmark's Beyond The Blackboard Movie Review

Author's Note: Originally published elsewhere in 2010.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Baking Soda Hacks Reviewed

Economical And Non-toxic: Baking Soda

baking soda
Baking Soda image courtesy of
Let's review some uses or cleaning hacks for baking soda today. Most folks know that this common item on our pantry shelves can be used for more than just making our cakes taste better. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) can be used to hack right through cleaning tasks throughout our homes. It doesn't cost very much and provides an environmentally friendly and much less toxic way to keep our homes clean and smelling fresh.

I'm sure that most of you already know the old trick of opening a box of baking soda and placing it in your refrigerator to get rid of unpleasant odors. What else can you use it for?

Stainless steel sink image courtesy of
Stainless steel sinks and appliances are quite popular in kitchens, currently. They do look great! Have you found that they are a little difficult to keep looking nice, though? My stainless sink shows water spots and they drive me crazy! I try to wipe water out after each use but my husband isn't so good about it. We have to be careful with cleaning stainless steel, abrasive products can cause scratches and a residue that will actually rust in time. Enter our friend, baking soda! I clean my sink with good old sodium bicarbonate. I just sprinkle a little in the sink, take a damp sponge and clean like I would with an abrasive product. Rinse it and it shines like new!

When it is time to bring out the pretty silver for a family dinner, I don't use those awful smelling silver cleaners. Nope, I use my baking soda to do the job. I don't have to worry about making sure about getting those toxic particles off of each piece and they look so clean and shiny. Just make a paste with baking soda and a little water and your silver will shine!

For my combs and brushes that accumulate oil over a span of time, I place some warm water in my bathroom sink; add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and let the comb and brush soak for a while. I rinse them off, dry them and they are ready to use.

Cleaning the microwave is now a cinch! I just dampen a sponge, sprinkle some baking soda on top and wipe the microwave down. Rinse with a clean sponge and I'm done.

Don't you hate to clean your oven? The products for this purpose smell so bad and can't be good to breathe in. My oven is actually a self-cleaner but the energy used to heat it up to the temperature it takes to literally burn off the soil is not good in my opinion. I sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of my oven and then spray it with water to dampen it. I let it sit overnight and then wipe it clean the next morning. I haven't wasted energy or created toxic fumes in my home and my oven looks awesome!

There are so many ways to use baking soda in our homes to cut grease, deodorize and clean. I've only mentioned my most favorites here today. What about you? Do you use baking soda for more than baking? What is your favorite baking soda hack?

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Have You Met My Friend, Flat Stanley?

Flat Stanley, First Edition 1964
It is unlikely that introductions are needed, but in this review I'd like to re-introduce you to Flat Stanley. Nearly everyone has a favorite childhood story that they remember well into adulthood. Do you remember yours? I was a voracious reader as a youngster so I had many "favorite" books. Flat Stanley was definitely one of those favorites. Over the decades, he's been a favorite of many.

There are a small handful of books that were my favorites as a child, so well-loved that I plan on making sure my grandchildren have those same stories. Not so long ago, I had a chance to visit with Flat Stanley again. At first, I could not recall all of the details of the his story, but I could clearly recall that he had become flat and made the best of his situation by traveling. He was such a fun childhood companion. I recall imagining where I would travel if I could just fold myself up in an envelope and mail myself anywhere. Imagine my complete delight when Stanley Lambchop showed up in my own mailbox and spent the weekend in my neighborhood. 

The Original Flat Stanley 

Flat Stanley, the original children's story that inspired me, was written in 1964 by Jeff Brown and illustrated by Tomi Ungerer (pictured above). It is the first in the Stanley Lambchop series. 

The New Adventures of Flat Stanley

Flat Stanley - I Can Read 2

Jeff Brown has since passed away. I hadn't realized that until I took my visiting friend to the bookstore. "We" had gone there to look for a book about Maryland to send home with him as a momento of his visit with me in Baltimore. I saw that Flat Stanley has many new adventures! Jeff Brown had written many stories about Flat Stanley prior to passing away in 2003. 

Since then, additional authors have written about Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures

You will find that the books can be found in a variety of reading levels and are suitable for children of many different ages. 

Flat Stanley's Worldwide Adventures

How Did Stanley Lambchop Come to Visit Me?

Are you wondering how Stanley Lambchop arrived in the mailbox in order to visit me over four decades after his creation? The Flat Stanley Project was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a third grade school teacher in Canada. It was a project meant to teach and encourage letter-writing by students to each other via sending a Flat Stanley through the mail. Dale Hubert received the Prime Minister's award for Teaching Excellence in 2001 for the Flat Stanley Project. I agree that teachers who go above and beyond in order to engage our youth in learning should be recognized. 

More about the Original Flat Stanley Project by Dale Hubert.

Since that time, amazing teachers are continuing this wonderful project. And Stanley left his classroom in Indiana to come visit me in Baltimore, Maryland. Even though I am a grandmother-aged woman, I was transported to the land of make-believe. Stanley and I had a great time riding around in the Jeep together, watching the Maryland National Guard Warthogs take off from Martin State Airport, book shopping at a local bookstore, and driving around the Baltimore beltway and over the Frances Scott Key Bridge. Then, before I knew it, it was time for Stanley to return home.

Highly Recommended Children's Book and Educational Activity

Whether you are looking for a book to gift to a single child or an educational activity for a group of children, I highly recommend Flat Stanley. It will likely be an experience  that is remembered for years to come. 

dreary, cold morning as Stanley and I hopped in the Jeep

watching the warthogs prepare for take-off

Frances Scott Key bridge

at the bookstore with Flat Stanley

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Review of Home Decor Gift Ideas for Those Born Under the Sign of Cancer

We've all struggled over what gift to get that special someone.

People shopping for an astrology gift tend to choose personal items such as jewelry. That's perfectly fine, however, when you give a home décor astrology gift, you're giving something that's both personal and practical.

Understanding Cancerian traits will help you choose the right gift item. There are a number of ways to choose an astrology gift:
  • Understanding the sign's personality
  • Choosing a gift from the symbol of their sign
  • Choosing a gift from other factors of their sign such as color, element, the sign's planet, lucky numbers, lucky day or birthstone
If you have a Cancerian in your family, you already know they're very sensitive, sentimental, intuitive, and for the most part a homebody.

One of their most notable characteristics is their loyalty to those they love. They're committed to their obligations and can be counted on in a relationship to be there one hundred percent. Compassion and empathy for those who suffer is also a noble part of their personality. Their heart is big.

If you're close to a Cancerian, you may have discovered that they can also be quite vengeful, so try not to get on their bad side! That saying ... 'hurt people hurt people' can easily apply to astrological cancer!

Cancer Astrology Facts:
  • Birthday falls June 21st and July 22nd
  • Their Element is Water
  • Their Symbol is the Crab
  • Their Planet is the Moon
  • Their Birthstone is Ruby
  • Their Lucky Number is 2, 7, 11, 16, 20, 25
  • Their Colors are Blues, Whites and Pale Colors
  • Their Day of the Week is Monday
With the above Cancer Astrology Facts, You're Ready for Some Gift Ideas:
  • Bedding with the Crab symbol on it
  • A crab's and coral end table (that's different, you need to check it out)
  • Crab themed lamps or night lights
  • Gorgeous canvas art of the moon
  • Pillows in blue, white and other pale colors featuring the lucky numbers
  • A ruby colored area rug
  • A table-top waterfall

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Best Bento Box for Adults

Best Bento Box for Adults
Featured bento box available on Amazon
I'd like to review bento boxes to try and find the best bento box for adults, but first do you know what a bento box is?

Bento boxes are used in Japanese culture and are basically a single portion meal that people take for their lunch - these can be brought as a takeaway, but are traditionally made at home.

A few years ago when my child was in primary school bento boxes were hailed as the best thing for children's lunches.  This wasn't the basic bento box though, but rather the Kyaraben (character bento), which was basically a way of making your child's lunch box look like a work of art!

The idea behind the bento box is to ensure that you have a well balanced lunch that looks appealing, tastes good and is nutritious - why aren't we all preparing bento boxes?

I've used a few tupperware style containers with different sections in them to take to work in the past, but some of them aren't leakproof and others are just too big so let's have a look at some of the choices on the market today.

Bento Lunch Boxes for Adults

These two options both appear to have conquered one of the biggest problems when looking for bento boxes - they are leakproof!

The first option is actually a set of two bento boxes which means that if you're single you can have a spare which is very handy if like me you routinely leave your container at work!  If you're half of a couple then you can have a lunch box each - simple!

 PlusPoint Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Set -2 in 1
Not only are these lunch boxes leakproof as a whole, but apparently they are also leakproof between containers according to verified purchasers on Amazon.

This is a pet peeve of mine as I absolutely hate getting divided containers and packing your lunch nicely only to get to your destination and finding that everything has mixed together between compartments!

These boxes are also freezer friendly which I love as I do like to cook in bulk so I would love to have a few of these so that I can take something different every day of the week!

The next option has 4 compartments to it instead of 3, but is also the all important leakproof!

 YUMBOX TAPAS Larger Size (Antibes Blue) 4 compartment Leakproof Bento lunch box
This container is designed for lunches that are eaten cold or at room temperature I should note as the container is not designed to be microwaved. This isn't a problem with some people, but is definitely something to think about when choosing your lunch box.

Yum Box certainly seems to attract return customers which means they must be doing something right so as a bento box for an adult this one has to be a contender.

The Stainless Steel Bento Box

When I think of a stainless steel bento box it makes me think of the classic aluminium style bento box that was popular in Japan in Taisho period (1912-1926).

These are definitely not them though!

Bento boxes for adults, healthy & fun!

Best Bento Lunch Box

So which of these boxes do you think is the best bento box for an adult?  It's hard to say as all adults are different in what they like to eat so obviously different boxes would be better for different people. I'd love you to tell me below which you think is the best bento box and I'll let people draw their own conclusions from what I've told them here.

Personally I absolutely love the look of the green (I also love the blue and pink options not pictured by the way), stainless steel bento box, but it's not the one that would suit me the best.

For me the best bento box would be the one that comes in a two pack and I think I need to buy a few of them because being able to fill the largest compartment and then freeze it is perfect for me.  I can pull it out of the freezer the night before and then in the morning add some salad and fruit or yogurt to the box and I'm good to go!

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Repel Sportsmen 30-Percent Deet Mosquito Repellent Wipes Reviewed

Repel Sportsmen Deet Mosquito Repellent Wipes really do work!  They protect against mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, gnats & fleas.  Portable packaging for easy carry convenience.
I have discovered a fabulous product that I absolutely must share! 

I hate mosquitoes. Well, truthfully, I hate mosquito bites.  I can't say that the little buggers themselves would affect me in any way if they didn't bite me.  I have heard all of the tips for wearing black, wearing socks, avoiding perfumes or scented anything, etc., but until we tried the mosquito wipes, nothing worked for me.  Those pesky creatures seemed to find a way to my skin no matter what I previously tried.  However, this past 4th of July, I stood in our normal open field taking photos of the fireworks without being eaten up by mosquitoes. 

Right before went outside, we wiped our feet, ankles, legs, arms and the backs of our hands with the wipes.  That simple application worked miracles.  I only got 3 mosquito bites this year and they were on the tops of my fingers.  You see, I didn't use the wipes on my fingers simply because I didn't want to accidentally touch my eyes, so I didn't apply the wipes to my fingers. 

Repel Insect Mosquito Repellent Wipes

 Repel 94100 Sportsmen 30-Percent Deet Mosquito Repellent Wipes, 15 CountCheck PriceWhen my husband suggested we try the Repel Mosquito Repellent wipes, I admit, I expected it to be an exercise in futility.  After all, nothing else had ever keep those buggers from biting me and leaving me with ugly welts, itching and scratching for days.

In addition to the discomfort of the bites, the increased concerns for the diseases mosquitoes carry and transmit, we really needed to find some solutions.  We previously purchased the Flowtron Bug Zapper that Bev Owens recommended here on Review This and it works great in our backyard.  However, we can't carry it with us when we go hiking in the woods or stand in open, damp fields to take photos.  

I'm just one great big tasty target for all the mosquitoes in our county when I go outside.  Mosquitoes really steal a portion of my joy when I venture into the great outdoors.  At least they used to have the affect on me.  Now, I won't go out without my Repel Mosquito Repellent Wipes!

I prefer the wipes to a spray.  The wipes are so much easier to use.  Plus, the resealable package allows me to carry the wipes in my camera bag and pull them out as needed before I get out of the car.  I do wear a nitrile glove when I use the wipes.  As I previously stated, I don't want the repellent on my finger tips to be inadvertently rubbed in my eyes.

These awesome Repel Wipes also claim to protect against ticks, chiggers, gnats, and fleas.  Now that is just fantastic!  I hate ticks more than mosquitoes.


Fireworks 2017 Photo by Sylvestermouse

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Repel Sportsmen 30-Percent Deet Mosquito Repellent Wipes Reviewed by:
House of Sylvestermouse

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Review of Port Clyde Maine

Marshall Point Lighthouse

A Trip to Port Clyde


During a June trip to the Rockland/Camden area in Maine we decided to take a day trip to Port Clyde.  Port Clyde is a delightful midcoast fishing village that is about 20 minutes from the Rockland area. It was a beautiful clear day and I thought the blue sky would work well with the white lighthouse and gangplank.

Marshall Point Lighthouse


Marshall Point lighthouse is located at the very tip of the St. George's Peninsula in Maine.  It is a rather short lighthouse that sits about 50 feet offshore on a rocky ledge.  This ledge is exposed at low tide and is connected to the shore by a white wooden walkway.  The placement of the lighthouse is a photographers dream.  It is easy to get a great shot without anything in the way.

An interesting fact about this lighthouse is that it was seen in the movie "Forest Gump".  In the scene where Tom Hank's character runs  cross country and he ends by running up the wooden walkway and then turning around and starting over again.

Watch this classic movie and see the scene with the lighthouse!

The coast around the lighthouse was beautiful.  Wildflowers grew all along the coast and I enjoyed walking around the area and capturing the beauty of the coast.

Port Clyde Harbor


Port Clyde General Store and Dip Net Restaurant

Looking out at Port Clyde Harbor

Port Clyde is a small town (just over 300 people) but I was delighted with all it had to offer.  After we visited the lighthouse we drove down to the harbor, which is the center of the town.  There we found a general store and a couple of restaurants. One was the Port Kitchen which was in the general store.  There you could eat or have them pack you a picnic lunch to take with you on your excursion.  The other choice was the Dip Net restaurant on the deck by the dock. We chose the Dip  Net restaurant and enjoyed some wonderful lobster rolls sitting outside on the deck.  They had several different ways you could have your lobster rolls fixed and my husband and I both chose to have our lobster sauteed in butter and then put in the toasted rolls.  It was an excellent choice and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.  

The painter  Andrew Wyeth lived in the area and now his son Jamie lives in the area on an island just off  the coast.  Upstairs from the general store is Linda Bean's Wyeth Art Gallery.  Here you can purchase works by Jamie and also some rare prints of his father's.

Marshall Point Lighthouse on Zazzle Products

 Marshall Point Light

Marshall Point Light


Guidebook for Maine


I have found this guidebook very helpful in finding all of the little out of the way places to photograph.  It also gives great ideas for places to take photographs and best angles to shoot.  Along with that it has directions to get to the areas and lots of helpful hints.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer Novels to Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat

The Testament: A NovelThe Testament: A Novel

Summertime Reading is a long enjoyed habit.

Let's review some titles that could be interesting stories to fill those hours on the beach or relaxing in on the porch. When there are a few hours in the day that aren't filled with family obligations, it's really nice to grab a good book and just enjoy losing yourself in a story.

Four Titles that I Thoroughly Enjoyed!

These titles will keep you turning pages. John Grisham is a master story teller. He grabs your attention at the beginning of every book and takes you on a journey with the characters he masterfully creates.
Grisham does not shy away from controversial issues either.  Quite often he will be bringing you into the story of an underdog who has everything going against him. Yet with his skill as a writer, he makes you see both sides of an issue and makes you take a stand too.

Getting into the mind of Lawyers and their ilk

Most of Grisham's works involve the law, lawyers, and some unsavory characters, someone who has been "railroaded" by the judicial systems in place, and all of the characters in between. These four books that I have listed here are just a few of the books I have read in the last 2 weeks.  Each one of them tells a story that will draw you into the back counties of many states from Texas to Kansas, Missouri and Mississippi and more.  I love that he can give details for  small towns with charming vignettes that make you see this place in your mind's eye.  You don't have to dream too much to get the picture clear in your head.  The characters are also so well developed that in a sense, while you are reading, you think you know these people. Some of them could be your neighbors!

Yesterday, I read the Confession and I must say that I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Thank goodness I didn't have a lot of work to do, because once I picked up that book, I could not put it down.


The gist of the story starts with a confession of a convicted rapist who sees that a young man is on death row for a crime that he had committed.  He doesn't go to the police to confess, but rather goes to a preacher in a neighboring state.  The preacher armed with this information is left to figure out why this man waited so long to come forward and what to do with this information.  There is a young man on death row who will be executed for this crime in short order.     

That's just the beginning of the story.  Donte (the young man on death row)was an all-star football player with a bright future from a good family.  He was convicted of this crime because the police strong armed him and used all kinds of tactics to "beat" a confession out of him. There are no witnesses, no body, and absolutely no proof that he could have murdered this young girl.  Yet because of his confession, he is prosecuted to the maximum.  All the promises made to him about light sentences and little to no jail time are all a rouse to get him to confess. State prosecutors who see an easy conviction coming, they don't bother to go looking for details, after all, they have the best evidence, a confession.  Donte, not knowing he has given the prosecutors exactly what they wanted,  is sent away for a murder he did not commit and given the death sentence.  

No Spoilers

I'm not going to tell you anymore about the story!  I  don't want to spoil it for you.  There are enough twists and turns in this book to keep you turning pages for days!  You won't want to put it down.

John Grisham is a master storyteller who understands all the twists and turns that can happen in courts of law.  He is also familiar with the workings and back office politics that go on around "cases" that make the papers state-wide and nation-wide.  He uses his knowledge of the systems to create characters and situations  that are very believable and genuine. 

Just when you think you have it all figured out, he throws in another curve ball. His books are riveting from the first page right until the very last.  When you close the cover, without a word of a lie, you will literally heave a sigh of relief.  You have lived through the agonies and the joys of the characters in the book.  It will also leave you with some insights, thoughts and directions in a whole host of areas of concern to us all.

This list is by no means complete.  John Grisham has written 22 novels and many other works.  He is an author you should consider adding to your reading list if he isn't there already.  

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Killer Collection Book Reviewed

Reviewing Book One In A Mystery Series

pottery wheel
Forming clay from pottery wheel image courtesy of
A Killer Collection is a book that I found to read last week. The title caught my attention immediately because I was a part of the antiques and collectibles world for many, many years. Before I finished the first chapter, I was truly hooked in the plot.

I was really impressed with Ellery Adams knowledge of the antiques and collectibles market and her ability to spin a yarn of believable mystery. 

In this first book of her antiques and collectibles mystery series, Ms. Adams concentrates on the pottery collectors. More specifically, the collectors of pottery made by the North Carolina potters. Having been in the business, I know that collectors will often hone in on items made in a specific area or region and pottery is no exception. 

When I first entered the interesting world of antiques and collectibles as an employee in an antique mall, one of the items that was often requested and hard to find was a kind of pottery called "ugly jugs". I will admit that when I first saw one, I was unsure why anyone would want one and more importantly why anyone would pay exorbitant amounts of money to have one in their collection. These face jugs were called ugly for a reason. They were pretty hideous in my opinion.

Face Jug or Ugly Jug image part of Public Domain

As you can see from an example above, it might be difficult to find the beauty in a piece like that. Although, I never really fell in love with this type of pottery; I did begin to appreciate the uniqueness of each one. I also was intrigued by the history of them. These ugly jugs were originally made by African-American slaves and were sometimes referred to as grotesque jugs or monkey jugs. No one is quite sure why they began to make them but eventually white potters started to create them and they were often used to store liquids, most typically alcohol.

So, back to the book. Ms. Adams brings us into a story that involves the makers of the ugly jugs along with other types of pottery in book one A Killer Collection. She leads us to an event that collectors look forward to known as a kiln opening. She does an excellent job of showing how people can become almost frenzied over the prospect of obtaining a new piece for their growing collection.

Being a fan of pottery and the beautiful pieces that one can find, I loved her weaving into the story the types of glazes that are used and how often a specific potter can be identified with a specific color. It becomes one of their trademarks in many cases. It is one of the ways items can be identified as authentic and sometimes even partially dated by specific colors used, marks on the piece, etc.

At a kiln opening that is attended by several local collectors, an obnoxious man who is known to have a most impressive collection is found on the ground unconscious. Paramedics are called and George-Bradley is placed on a gurney and driven away in a silent ambulance. To paraphrase a character, "George-Bradley won't be shoving anyone around anymore. He is dead. They don't turn the lights and sirens on with a deceased body on board."

As Molly Appleby tries to figure out what happened to George-Bradley she finds many prime suspects on her journey. We are swept into a world of antiques, collectors, potters and interesting characters. I really appreciated her knowledge of antiques, auctions, and the sometimes quirkiness of the collecting scene. Having been a part of all of this for so long, I could recognize the accuracy in her portrayals as she slowly turned the wheel and created a most enjoyable story.

If you love a good mystery, happen to enjoy antiques and want something good to read; I can highly recommend this book by Ellery Adams. I plan to read more in her series, myself.

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