Showing posts with label Bev. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bev. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Raspberry Danish Murder Reviewed

A Culinary Cozy Mystery

Raspberry Danish Anyone?
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
I recently read Raspberry Danish Murder and wanted to review it for you today. This book happens to be number 22 in the Hannah Swenson Mystery series. Written by Joanne Fluke and published by Kensington Books this is a mystery that could almost pass as a cookbook.

I am a little confused by the title. Certainly, raspberry danish is mentioned early in the book and there is a recipe for the danish but beyond that it wasn't mentioned again and I don't see the relevance to the mystery or the murder. Just an observation on my part. Although, I guess after 21 other books in the series it might have gotten tough to come up with new titles.



A Short Synopsis of Raspberry Danish Murder

Hannah Swenson lives in the small Minnesota town of Lake Eden. She co-owns a cookie and coffee shop called The Cookie Jar. The story opens in November when people are getting ready for Thanksgiving and the Christmas season. We find out early in the book that Hannah is a newlywed but the problem is her new husband Ross has disappeared. Ross works or worked for a local television station and just left one day without his belongings or even his car. Hannah and her family keep hoping that he will return with a logical explanation any day now. In the meantime, Hannah has a cookie business to run and a whole lot of cookies to bake for the upcoming holiday season.

Hannah has some help in searching for her missing husband from the local law enforcement and her husband's assistant P.K. There is something about P.K. He is covering for his missing boss and trying to find clues as to where he can be but he has also taken over Ross's office and ends up driving his car when his has to go into the shop for repairs. No one seems to be able to discover where Ross has gone and then P.K. ends up dead after eating some candy that was sent to the office for Ross. Was the candy meant for the missing Ross or did someone plan to kill P.K?


My Review of this Cozy Mystery


I enjoyed the book, the mystery part. I mentioned earlier that it could almost pass as a cookbook. At first I enjoyed having recipes for cookies, pastries and savory dishes after the chapters they were mentioned in. After a while, I almost found it annoying. Don't get me wrong, the recipes sounded pretty good and the formatting of the pages was clever but goodness gracious they started to get in the way of finding out what was happening in the actual story. Personally, I feel that the recipes could have been included but perhaps a little note that states the recipe can be found at the back of the book instead of after every chapter. They would be easy to reference in a paperback but in an ebook they would be difficult to go back to after reading the book.

The mystery, itself, was well written and intriguing. I loved the characters and the different events that transpired, the solution to the murder and the explanation about Ross. Although, the Ross situation needs a whole lot more words. My guess is it will be addressed in the next book. This book stands alone quite well but I think I might enjoy reading the earlier books for the backstories on many of the characters. 

All in all it is a very good mystery and I think you will enjoy it. You might not have a problem with all of those recipes. Frankly, I like to put a recipe or two in my own books but they are always at the back and hopefully non-intrusive. I also enjoy seeing recipes in books but I prefer them at the back and as a little bonus but I don't need tons of them. If I want a cookie cookbook, I'll buy one. When I buy a Cozy Mystery...well, I want a mystery. I got one and it was a good one, I just didn't appreciate all those extra pages of cooking tips. 



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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

PTO Murder Club Mystery Series Reviewed

Not Your Normal PTO

pto murder club
A Murder Club with humor?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I stumbled upon another Cozy Mystery series this week. Let me review the PTO Murder Club Mystery series for you today. Having been very active in the Parent Teacher Organizations when my girls were in school, I can assure you none of the meetings I attended were anything like the Bee Creek Elementary School ones. I once served as the President and I was never as funny as Mustang Ridges nor did I have officers quite like hers.

Katie Graykowski has written a three book series that will entertain you as you look for the clues to solve the mysteries and make you laugh hysterically while you do. In Rest In Pieces, the first book in the series, we meet Mustang Ridges the President of the PTO and her two best friends and officers in the organization, Monica and Haley. The three women live in a sleepy little town known as Lakeside. It is a town of "the haves" and the "have nots". Mustang and Monica belong to the "have not" portion of the population while Haley is one of the "haves". The town is mostly very rich Senior Citizens with trophy wives and more money than they know what to do with. Mustang and Monica are single moms with more attitude than money who want to find out what happened to their friend the kindergarten teacher, Molly Miars. They don't believe for one second she died from a heroin overdose.

Feisty Sleuths

I found the banter between the three women hysterically funny and the situations they got themselves into were comical most of the times, too. As the women look into the death of their friend they begin to see a darker side to their community than they ever knew existed. There are so many quirky characters in each book, you won't believe it. Ms. Graykowski has nailed quirky and she comes up with some one-liners that will have you in stitches. I liked that Haley was sort of the 'nice one' of the three but every once in a while was able to get her 'snark' on to impress the other two. I think I enjoyed the camaraderie of the women even more than the figuring out the mystery part of the books. 

So, if you love a mystery and appreciate eccentric characters who might be more than a little off-center; I think you will enjoy this short little series. The setting is unique and the plot a little bizarre but I found the books a nice escape from the standard Cozy Mystery. You might enjoy them, too.

camphor-tree-pto-club
What is this tree? They found one in Molly's yard.
image courtesy of Pixabay.com

The women find a tree that looks much like the one above in Molly's backyard. You will have to read the books to find out what it is and why she was growing it. It will surprise you, at least it did me.




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Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Numerology Bible Reviewed

The Meaning of Numbers (Numerology)

numbers in numerology
Do you know your numbers?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I've been reviewing the meaning of numbers quite a bit lately. Numerology plays a minor role in my newest book Campground Corpse. Aunt Flossie has been known to tell her niece Taylor more than once that 'it's in the numbers, dear'. Even the name of the series (Cabin 9 Mysteries) that my book belongs to was chosen consulting the numbers. I didn't just pull the number 9 out of a hat. Nope, there is a reason Aunt Flossie can be found most of the time in or around that cabin in particular.


Lucky Numbers or more?


We often hear people say they picked a number because it was their lucky one. Maybe it was for a lottery or to open a door on a game show but their reasons can often be that they feel that number or numbers were lucky ones for them. Thirteen is often considered an unlucky number. Tall buildings can be found around the world without a 13th floor because the builder felt it might bring bad luck. Do numbers bring luck, good or bad? Do the letters that make up your name (when changed to their numerical value) tell something about your personality? Since the time of Pythagoras in the B.C. 500's many people believe that they do. In mathematics numbers never lie, could it be so in the study of numerology? Just as in astrology when we look up the traits of our "sign" we see similarities in the descriptions; our Life Path Number, Soul Number, Dream Number often show an uncanny resemblance to ourselves. 

In a scene in the book Campground Corpse, I have Taylor question whether numerology was something she should avoid due to her faith. Aunt Flossie reminds her that God has often been called The Great Mathematician and that numbers were important to Him and can be found repeatedly holding significance in the Bible.  The number 3 stands for the Trinity and is suggested for different practices. The number 7 is looked at as a most sacred number in the Jewish Faith. The seventh day, the seventh year and seven cycles all hold importance. Revelations mentions seven a lot; seven seals, seven bowls, seven trumpets, etc. 

It was with this idea of the role numbers play in the Bible that I decided to intertwine numerology into the books that will be in the Cabin 9 Mysteries. It won't play a major role in the solving of mysteries but every once in a while...a number will come up. (See what I did there?)


To Find Out More About Numbers


You can dabble a little about numerology by reading my newest book, if you like. I would love that! I think you might enjoy meeting Taylor and Aunt Flossie and the rest of the characters. Did I mention that Aunt Flossie is also the resident spirit at the campgrounds? I didn't? Well, she is and she is pretty funny for a person who isn't on our side of the veil anymore. 

If you would like to delve more into the actual meaning of numbers and how they add up in your life, I recommend this book.



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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Seven Sisters Book Review

Historical Fiction of the Roman Empire

roman legion
Could this Roman legion be marching to the Seven Sisters?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I would like to share a review of the book Seven Sisters by David Bowman with you today. Most of the time when I pick a book to share with you, it is one that is typically written with the female reader in mind. Oh, a few would be appealing to both genders but generally my reading tastes lean toward my own gender. Today's review will be about a book that I think will appeal to most men.

Mr. Bowman has written a fine piece of historical fiction that takes place in the Roman Empire during the Ninth Century. The story falls into what is often termed as alternative history where actual history takes on a speculative nature allowing for people, places, and events to be in the plot that either didn't exist or didn't happen.



Short Synopsis of Seven Sisters

Crastus is the Commander of the Fifth Legion for the Emperor of Rome. He is a veteran of the Roman military and has earned a great deal of respect from the men he leads and fellow commanders of other legions in the vast military of the empire. He is affectionately referred to as "The Silver Fox" and is known for his superb strategies in battle and for his element of surprise when fighting the enemy. As the story begins, Crastus has been commanded by the Emperor to oversee a campaign involving his own legion along with the Seventh and the Seventeenth. Their mission? To take back the fortified city called Seven Sisters from The Pretender who has kept the empire in a civil war for the last 5 years. This city is the best fortified area in the entire empire, even better than Rome. It has seven fortresses and an ingenuous water defense system. It will be up to Crastus to direct all three legions as they besiege the fortified city and defeat what is left of the rebel army. The task before him will not be easy and if he fails, the Emperor will surely have his head. Will he be able to use the new weapons and his cunning to win the city back? At what cost?

My recommendation:


As I mentioned above this is a book that will appeal to many male readers. I'm not saying woman can't enjoy it; I actually did find it fascinating. There is no romance involved in the plot. It is strictly preparing for battles, strategy planning  and the battles themselves. Political schemes and corruption in the government are also revealed. The battle scenes aren't too horribly graphic but it doesn't take much to see in your mind's eye what is going on during the attacks. I thought the use of their "new weapons" was a fun piece to the story. A kind of using the latest technology of war only it is taking place in the Ninth Century. 

I can see where this wouldn't necessarily be a book that female readers would enjoy but I do think that it would be a very nice gift for your spouse or son to have to read. They are going to enjoy the regimen of the soldiers, the preparing for attacks and the way the men interact with each other. Actually, I enjoyed it quite a lot. It was refreshing to read something that I normally wouldn't choose to read. 

So, why did I pick this book in the first place you might ask? Well, you know me; I am always looking for authors who haven't received much recognition from the reading public. David Bowman actually came to my attention in an unexpected way. I was looking for a designer to do book covers for me and found his website, Brightling Spur. David worked with me to come up with new covers for my Roni Rainer Mysteries and he has also helped me with the covers for my newest (soon to be released) series Cabin 9 Mysteries. When I discovered that he was not only a clever designer of book covers but also an author, I wanted to read his work. I wasn't disappointed in his covers or his writing.

In fact, Seven Sisters is the first book in a trilogy. He has also written Two Brothers which continues the story of Crastus and Rome and the final book is Imperator that concludes the story. I have read the first two completely and am about to finish the third book. If you are looking for a good gift to a male reader on your list, these books will not disappoint.




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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Selective Spells Book Review

Witches, Spells, Dogs & A Mystery

french-bulldog
Is this Beezley the man turned into a dog?
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I'll be reviewing another Cozy Mystery for you today: Selective Spells by Willow Mason. It is Book 1 in the series Beezley and the Witch. It is also the debut novel of this fellow Indie Author.

The story is told in the first person by the main character. She is a witch living in a small town who has been excommunicated from her coven. Up until she got into trouble with the white witches in the area she was a librarian of sorts guarding boxes of spells that shouldn't be tampered with. Now, she has lost her job and her powers are diminished to a certain degree but not completely gone.

Losing her job and the support of the coven is bad enough but then the leader informs her that she is being evicted from her home, too. A witch has to eat and work in order to pay rent no matter where she lives. Searching for employment, she finds a notice for a job that requires the employee be a witch. She decides to look into the opportunity because she is still a witch she just isn't a part of the coven.

This is when she meets Beezley for the first time. He is in the form of a French Bulldog and will be her boss if he gives her the job. Humans wouldn't be able to understand Beezley's canine ramblings; it would just sound like barking, yipping and yapping. But since our narrator is a witch she understands everything he says. It turns out that he was once a Detective on the police force but has been turned into a dog. He is working on the same case that he had when he was in his human form but has trouble with little things like communicating with non-witches, texting on his phone, and using the computer. 

The two don't exactly hit it off in the first interview and our Witch is not interested in the job until she finds out about her eviction. She goes back to take the job and ask to live with the dog detective. They begin to work on the mystery of deaths that are marked as accidents but Beezley's instincts think there is something more to the whole sorted mess. We travel through the pages of spells, deception, betrayal and surprises as the readers.


Recommendation of Selective Spells

I highly recommend this cozy mystery to anyone who loves the genre. It was unique in the concept of the plot. The characters were both humorous and believable. Well, as believable as one can be if they are a witch and a man turned into a dog. That is the wonderful thing about fiction! The characters can be anything and anywhere. 

I enjoyed the story being told in the first person instead of the more standard third person. Being an author, myself, I know that is a little more difficult to write. Our little witch is allowed to have her snarky thoughts and we see her vulnerability better from her perspective. 

This book was extremely fun to read and to work through the clues of the mystery. Well, done Ms. Mason! I look forward to your future books. I think many of you will enjoy Selective Spells, also. The plot flows nicely, the premise is original and the reading is light and cozy just like it is supposed to be.



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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Murder in Helvetica Bold Book Review

Thistlewood Star Cozy Mystery Series

newspaper printing machine

Helvetica Bold might be found in these print blocks
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Late last week, I finished A Murder in Helvetica Bold. Today, I'll be offering you a review of the first book in this Cozy Mystery Series written by Jessa Archer another Indie Author.

The series is called Thistlewood Star Mysteries and currently has three books published. Each title includes a different typeface from the old fashioned way of printing a newspaper. Of course with the advent of computers those old machines aren't used any longer and we don't refer to them as typeface but fonts. Still, the typeface or font titles intrigued my curiosity. 

They mystery in book one takes place in a small town in Tennessee. Ruth Townsend has moved back to her hometown after her marriage ended abruptly. As a young girl she worked for the local newspaper and learned the art of producing a newspaper with an old printing press. Her former boss and the owner of the Thistlewood Star passed away several years ago and the newspaper office sat neglected. Ruth buys the building and the paper in hopes of reviving the little paper. Currently it has about 12 subscribers but Ruth wants to change that.

While visiting her best friend, Wren, for lunch one day they hear a scream from outside. A elderly neighbor has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in her home. Ruth and Wren can tell by the position of the body and the look of surprise on Edith Morton's face that it most likely was not an accidental fall. 

Ruth had been a reporter for a newspaper in Nashville before returning home to Thistlewood and Wren is the town's only mortician. Both women have experience with dead bodies and this one doesn't look right to either of them. How will they be able to convince the local sheriff that it wasn't an accident? He does seem inclined to just brush it aside and close the case.


My Recommendation for A Murder in Helvetica Bold


I thoroughly enjoyed this book and plan to read the other books in the series. The characters were interesting and diverse. The plot flowed nicely and there were a few twists along the way. I'll give a little spoiler that won't tell you anything about the solving of the mystery. The use of the typeface names is really kind of clever on the author's part. The tradition of the newspaper's former owner was to do each obituary in a different lettering. He kept records of each one used in the past. Ruth uses Helvetica Bold for Edith Morton's to keep up the tradition. 

There were some funny scenes in the book and a little suspense. Overall, I loved the book and think you will, too. I did see a review that I found interesting. The reviewer had taken offense in the author's descriptions of some of the older characters. The reviewer called it a case of ageism. Being a not so very young chicken myself, I wasn't insulted. I thought her observations of senior citizens was sometimes amusing and also realistic but not insulting. Anyway, I loved the premise and the book. It is well written and kept my interest until the end. The author also surprised me as to who "did it". If you love Cozy Mysteries, I think you will enjoy this book.




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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Dorm Storage Bins Reviewed

Maximize Storage In The Dorm

dorm clutter
Dorm Space Is Limited
image courtesy of pixabay.com
A review of dorm storage bins might come in handy for many as the time for young adults to go off to college approaches. The students who are required to live in a dorm room or opt to continue dorm life will quickly find that storage space is at a minimum.

Small spaces shared with at least one more inhabitant can become crowded and cramped very quickly. The old adage "A place for everything and everything in its place" applies particularly well in a college dorm room. For freshmen students, this will be the first time living away from home. Mom or Dad won't be around to pick up after them. If there is a mess, it will be up to them to clear the clutter they created. 

A great solution is to provide your college student with the option of storing much of their necessaries in storage bins. Of course, we need to understand that they may promise to use them but may not for a while. It might take some time for them to tire of tripping over things left on the floor to see the beauty of those bins you so lovingly provided. A few or maybe many times of not being able to find something they need might be the catalyst for them to use those bins. Well, at least, we can hope! Another adage comes to mind, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." Some will embrace the concept while others will forever wait for someone else to clean up the mess. At least they will have the option if the storage bins are there waiting for them.

A collection of different sized containers in a dorm room can be so very handy. They can be placed under beds, stacked on the floor, placed on shelving units, or just about anywhere to conserve space and add to the storage dilemma. We as parents and grandparents know the value of having containers to help prevent clutter so we can gently remind out young adults of the value as they leave on the adventure of living away from home.

One option that I found appealing was a collection providing medium, large and jumbo sizes. The fabric is a durable bamboo blend and comes in either a gray and brown color or a dark taupe. Nothing flashy just colors that will blend-in nicely. There is also a sturdy rope handle that will allow for easy moving if heavy items are placed inside. 

What do you think? Would the college student in your life benefit from a storage solution like this for their dorm room?




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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Embers Book One Ascension Saga Reviewed

Ascension Saga Epic Fantasy

embers review


Enter a fantasy world in Embers Book 1 of a Saga
image courtesy of pixabay.com
If you are a fan of High and Epic Fantasies, I think you will be interested in my review of Embers the first book in the Ascension Saga by Brock Mays. Once you have read his book, I think you will be surprised that it is his debut novel. He writes like a master! Brock is also an Indie author like myself.

Labeled as an Epic Fantasy as far as genre goes it fits the definition quite nicely. The world that Mr. Mays has created is fantastic and the story he unravels is really one you can get lost in. I had a difficult time putting it down once I began to read it. 

His characters are well thought out and quite interesting. There are good people and bad people and some that you aren't always so sure about. Mr. Mays keeps you on your toes as you discover their abilities, their secrets and their agendas.

Summary of Embers:

Aleksander finds himself waking up in a world that is on fire and filled with chaotic fighting. His comprehension of the reason for the raging battle is not his problem. What he is confused about is Who he is. His past and where he is from is a blank. He assumes that his name must be Aleksander for one simple reason; the name has been freshly carved into his arm. He is also surprised to find out that he seems to have the ability to create fire from his hands. Is he the one who caused the world to be on fire? Which side of the war between Talohira and Thanatanos is he on?

He and a warrior named Shanthah are captured along with others by a race known as the Sangorans. These creatures appear to be human except that they are winged and are particularly adept at flying at night. Aleksander and the captives are quickly taken to a Talohiran slave camp to build a wall. The camp is full of different people from different parts of the region with many trying to figure out the best way to escape their captivity. 

The intricate plot takes the reader on a journey in a fight between good and evil. Sometimes you wonder which side is which on the good and evil scale. It is filled with action, a little romance, suspense, and a few interesting twists! Toward the end, I actually had an "I'll be darned" moment. Clever, Mr. Mays; very clever!

Gave it 5 stars

I rated this epic fantasy with 5 stars because I truly enjoyed reading Brock May's first novel Embers. I think you will, too if you enjoy Epic Fantasy that is well written. I know one thing, I can hardly wait for book two in the Ascension Saga!




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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Spiral Notebooks Reviewed

Keyboard or Spiral Notebook?

writing notebook
Spiral notebooks come in handy for an author
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Spiral notebooks are not just for students attending school. Let me review how this author uses them on a daily basis. 

When writing a manuscript, I use my laptop keyboard for the bulk of the work. I guess that is probably a no brainer. Although, I do know authors who write it all out in long-hand before they type it up for submission or publication. Honestly, for me that would never work. When the story is flowing, my hand wouldn't be able to keep up with my brain if I were writing it down with a pen or pencil. I might be able to scribble it out but it would just that...scribbles that I would not be able to read later.

What I use my spiral notebooks for

While working on a book, I write down a copious amount of notes. I'll be honest, sometimes those are done on scrap pieces of paper, especially if I am researching something that won't be a recurring piece of a series of books. For instance, in the 4th book of my Roni Rainer mystery series I needed to be sure I understood how an APB (all points bulletin) worked. My notes about that were on scrap paper because the information would be disposable after I finished that particular book. Funny thing happened on the way to writing the story, I found out that not many law agencies use that term any longer. The acronym BOLO (be on the look-out) is more commonly used today. (Good to know.) Obviously, being a stickler to details I used BOLO in the book, but I digress.

My spiral notebooks are used for things that will show up many times in a series. You know, like characters, buildings, towns, and things like that. So, I have a notebook dedicated to those little tidbits. Each character has a section reminding me of their full name and nickname. Their date of birth, physical attributes, personality traits, and any relationships they might be in. Trust me that comes in real handy for characters that just pop-in and out of the books! 

Places have a special section, too. What State does the story take place in? What county? The town and neighboring towns need to be recorded. What are the street names? Which streets intersect with each other?  I wouldn't want to say that Roni's shop is on the corner of Main Street and 2nd Street in one place and then later say it was 3rd Street or even something entirely different. I guess that I could but as a reader those sorts of things drive me up a wall. 

I even have a section for buildings in my spiral notebooks. Yep, I need to be able to look back and see how I described a building once in a while. If I have described Roni's business building as two-story and then have someone go to the third floor, people are going to pick-up on that. At least, I would as a reader.


The devil is in the details


Nothing bugs me more as a reader than the author not being consistent. If an author has told me that a character has blonde hair and blue eyes and then later someone looks into her green eyes; that really gets my blood boiling. So, I pay attention to details as I write and the most efficient way for me to accomplish that is with notebooks. If it might come up again, it gets recorded for me to refer back to. Sure, I could create a file but it is actually faster to look in the notebook. At least for me it is. 

Now, that I have begun a new series of cozy mysteries I need more notebooks! The series will be called Cabin 9 Mysteries. The same pieces of information will be kept in a notebook for those stories, too. It is the only way I can keep it all straight. I'll need to remember that these characters are not in the fictional county of Butler, Indiana where Roni lives. No, they will be in the fictional county of Fairburn, Indiana. The spiral notebooks will help me keep it all consistent. Want a little hint about this new series? Taylor, the main character, can see and talk to dead people! Her great-aunt Magdalene is a hoot and also a spirit who doesn't want to leave Cabin 9. Stay tuned for more details!

As a side note, there is a reason that my fictional towns are in Indiana. I grew up here. I know the terrain, the climate, the flora and fauna, the local phrases, laws, and foods. I can portray it more realistically for my readers. Have you ever read a book that you could tell the author had never ever been in the place they have as their setting?  I've recently read two of them! Why would you write a story that takes place in a country you have never been to? If you are going to attempt that feat, at least do a whole lot of research about the area. Please! It annoys your readers if you get it wrong!

Anyway, I think you get my point on the need for spiral notebooks as an author. Do you use them for something different? I have found them a great thing to have extras of when the grandchildren visit. We can draw together, we can practice our math, we can practice our letters and sometimes we write a story together. We NEVER do those things in Grandma's "special" notebooks. Not ever!




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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Pet Memorial Stone Reviewed

A Pet Memorial

pet memory
Memorial to a beloved pet
image courtesy of pixabay.com
With a heart that is broken, I have been reviewing my options for a pet memorial stone. This past Sunday on Father's Day at 5:15 pm I watched my sweet little Chessie take her last breath on this side of the Rainbow Bridge. As difficult as it was, I am thankful to have been by her side in those last moments.

Chessie chose us, literally, about 16 years ago. She was part of a litter belonging to a neighborhood cat who had a habit of bringing her babies around to meet the neighbors. The very first time that Mama Cat brought this litter to meet us, the only little gray tabby came right up to me. The other kittens seemed leery of these creatures who only had two legs but not the little gray one. She ran to my feet, stretched her little paws up on my leg and mewed the sweetest little mew her little body could muster. Scooping her up, I petted while she purred softly. 

We gave Mama some fresh water and some cat food because she seemed pretty hungry. Mama kept a watchful eye on her babies as they played except for the little gray one who was in my arms. After filling her belly Mama began to walk down the drive calling to her babies to follow. I sat the little one down and told her to go with her mother. She ran to catch up and then stopped turned, looked at me, mewed and then followed her siblings.

The second visit (a few days later) was much the same except that when Mama Cat signaled it was time to leave, the little gray tabby did not follow. Mama had to carry her down the drive by the scruff of her neck. The kittens were still small enough that I believe they were still nursing. None of them tried to drink the water or eat the food we put out. I think that is why Mama insisted all of her babies come with her, including the reluctant one.

Third Visit: Pet Humans

The third visit was probably at least a week or more later. It was amazing how much the kittens had grown in that short span of time. On this visit the kittens knew how to gobble the food and drink the water. Mama had been teaching them well, it seemed. Mama was sated and gave the signal for her babies to gather. Three kittens ran to their mother while the gray one ran to our porch. She wasn't leaving. Mama Cat came closer and her reluctant baby ran underneath our car. When Mama went under the car, the kitten ran to the porch again. Mama finally gave up, walking away with her other three babies. My husband and I had been chosen to be the adorable little gray kitten's pet humans. It was abundantly clear, we did not have a choice in the matter. We belonged to her.

We named her Chessie because she looked so much like the sweet little mascot of the Chesapeake Railroad advertisements from days gone by. She spent the next 16 years training us to give her what she wanted when she wanted it. Terry learned her signal that she expected a treat and I learned what foods she preferred and which ones did not agree with her taste buds. She also trained me to keep my lap empty in the evenings because that was cuddle time. If I didn't give the required amount of strokes to her fur or enough scratches behind the ears, she let me know. 

Chessie was a two human cat. She didn't much care for other humans coming to visit. There were specific places to hide until the coast was clear and then she would snub me for a little while to let me know that she was not pleased. She had a particular meow at those times to let me know of her displeasure. Of course at cuddle time, extra strokes and scratches were required to make up for the injustice she had endured.

When the last day comes

On Sunday, she wasn't herself in the morning. She might have had a small stroke but I didn't suspect that at first. A few hours later, I was certain that she had suffered a massive stroke. She wasn't moving her legs, it was obvious she couldn't see anymore. She was breathing and her heart was beating but I knew she was leaving us. So, I held her. For a while she could still purr at my touch. At 5:15 the last air left her lungs and my precious girl crossed over the rainbow bridge. 

I don't believe that she suffered any pain; there was no indication that she was suffering. If she was a human she would have been 84 years old. She led a happy and long life with the two humans she adopted. She was loved and she knew it. My lap feels so empty!

So, I found a pet memorial stone to place in the spot where she liked to lay in the sun. I can see her curled up in the center of the heart.

You might have left my life, sweet Chessie, but you will forever be in my heart.





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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Fabric Pots Reviewed

Gardening In Fabric Pots

garden vegetables
Could these grow in a cloth container?
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
Do you have a garden? Have you considered growing in fabric pots? Let's review the possibilities. 

I am familiar with the concept of container gardening and have tried it a few times over the years. Until recently, I was not aware that another option is to grow my vegetables, herbs or flowers in a fabric pot. Now, that sounds interesting!

The advantage to using a cloth container is that it allows for better aeration for the roots and better drainage, too. From what I glean from the description of the brand that I am interested in using; transplanting from them allows for a better chance of the plant not going into shock. I am thinking it might work well for starting a small tree to be planted elsewhere when it gets some height to it. 

I love that there are so many options for sizes to grow in, too. A fabric pot can be as small as one gallon or as large as 100 gallons. (Now that is a huge bag!) Personally, I am drawn to the 7 gallon size because I think it offers some real versatility. It also seems to be a very popular size with other gardeners, too. The pots made from cloth would also fit in places that a standard pot or container might not. They won't be as heavy to move, either. 

The possibility of using these little fabric pots over and over again appeals to me. When the growing season is over they can be laundered and saved for the next batch of gardening. Granted, we can do the same thing with clay, resin and plastic pots but the bags would take up much less storage space when not being used. Storage can be a problem for most of us especially the urban gardeners who need to grow their items on a small patio or balcony. 

How about you? Did you know that fabric pots were even an option? Would you be willing to try them out? I am going to give them a try.




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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Kitty Confidential Book Review

What If You Could Talk To The Kitty?

kitty eyes
Confidential conversations with a pampered cat
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I will be reviewing the book Kitty Confidential with you this morning. It is book one in the Pet Whisperer P.I. series by Molly Fitz. The series falls into the Cozy Mystery sub-genre of Mystery fiction and is a delightful addition to the other "cozies" in the world of books.

Angie Russo finds herself working as a paralegal in a local law firm after earning seven different associate degrees in college. She would just as soon go for another degree but her grandmother has insisted that it is past time for her to find her true calling in life. Little did either of them know what that "calling" would turn out to be.

Accidental Sleuth Meets A Spoiled Cat

Angie awakes from a near death experience in the law office of Fulton, Thompson and Associates. She was supposed to be making coffee for the people who have come to hear the reading of a will. Instead she finds herself flat on the floor with a large cat sitting on her chest. Octavius Maxwell Ricardo Edmund Frederick Fulton, said cat, is telling her that his late owner did not die of natural causes. The thing is, Angie understands what the cat is saying to her. None of the others gathered around her seem to be able to communicate with this pushy kitty. So, why can Angie suddenly understand everything he speaks?

Octo-cat, as Angie nicknames him, has led a pampered life in a huge home. He isn't too excited to stay in Angie's humble abode but he needs her help in solving the murder of his beloved Mrs. Fulton. He insists on only drinking expensive bottled water and his meals must be of a certain canned variety. He is moody, sarcastic and suddenly a very wealthy cat. 

Molly Fitz is the pen name for the author Melissa Storm. Writing under the different moniker, Ms. Storm has created a fun little series involving an interesting cast of characters. Any human who is owned by a cat can most likely relate to Angie being pushed around by a cat with an attitude. Well, except for the part of actually understanding what those mews mean. We are pretty sure what our kitty cat is trying to tell us but Angie can speak "cat". 

This was an entertaining little read that I think most of you will enjoy, especially if you share your life with a feline companion. The mystery has some nice little twists and turns while the characters are enjoyable to follow throughout the plot. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series; I think you will, too.





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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Birthday Mystery Reviewed

Cooking For A Birthday Can Be Deadly

birthday mystery
Mystery at a birthday party
Last night, I finished reading The Birthday Mystery by Faith Martin. I would like to offer my review to you this morning.

This book is the first in a newer series by the author known for her DI Hillary Greene series that spans back some thirty years or so. Ms. Martin does not disappoint with her new concept for a good old fashioned whodunit. 

Our sleuth in The Birthday Mystery is Jenny Starling. Jenny travels around the British countryside cooking for different clients. She has been hired to cook the dinner and birthday cakes for a party being given for Justin and Alicia, an upper-class set of twins who will turn 21 in a few days. As she arrives at the home of the twin's parents, something is already amiss. A body has been found in the pond on the residence. Jenny really does not want to get involved and plans to start preparing the plans for the meal and cakes. 

As reluctant as she is, Jenny can't help but overhear conversations that make her curious as to what is really going on in this home. The resident staff do not take well to her being there and give her a hard time whenever they can. She feels there is something off with the family dynamics but can't quite put her finger on it. Justin the birthday boy is a bit pompous and yet she can't help but like him in an odd sort of way. Alicia is beautiful but spoiled and demanding. 

I found this to be a fun reading experience with plenty of twists to the plot. The concept of a traveling cook was interesting and Jenny's sleuthing skills were impressive. The characters were well thought out and the mystery flowed along nicely. It reminded me a bit of the style of Agatha Christie and her Miss Marple which was enjoyable. 

I highly recommend The Birthday Mystery to those of you who enjoy a good old fashioned murder mystery that is not predictable at to "whodunit". To find out who dies at the birthday celebration and more importantly who caused the death, you will have to read the book. I do not think you will be disappointed. 




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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Secrets In a Bottle Cozy Mystery Review

Delightfully Quirky Cozy Mystery

great dane
Great Dane A Cozy Pet In Secrets In A Bottle
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I had the pleasure of reading Secrets In A Bottle the other day and wanted to give it a review today. Written by independent author, Shelly West this Cozy Mystery is her debut novel and the first book in the Whodunit Antiques series. 

Abigail Lane lives in Boston with her Great Dane, Thor. She despises her job but can't afford to quit. One morning her mother calls with a cryptic message telling her that her Grandmother is in the hospital and Abigail needs to go deal with it. 

Cramming her large dog into her VW, Abigail drives to the seaside town of Wallace Point to meet the grandmother she has never known. Her mother has refused to tell her anything about her family over the years. Abigail hopes her grandmother will live long enough for her to finally meet her and hopefully find out why they have been kept apart for so many years. 

Arriving at the hospital, Abigail finds her grandmother in a coma. Many of the townspeople are surprised to learn that Mrs. Lane has a grandchild. Abigail is taken to her grandmother's antique shop Whodunit Antiques to stay and help run the business while her grandmother recovers. Apparently her grandmother had tripped over a dead body that seems to be missing now. As the story progresses Abigail also hears of the history of the quaint little town and a long feud between a whaling family and a family of pirates. 

Do you want to find out more? Well, then run on over and grab your copy of this engagingly fun cozy mystery! Ms. West has created a wonderful little town filled with interesting residents for you to get to know. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and look forward to reading the second book in the series, soon. I think you will enjoy this book especially if you are a fan of cozy mysteries like I am.



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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Dawning Voyager Chronicles Book Review

Book One In Fantasy Fiction Series

elaria of the dawning
Maybe Elaria of The Dawning might look like this
(image courtesy of pixabay.com)
I would like to share another book review with you today. The Dawning is book one in the Voyager Chronicles, Prophecy Series. Written by Julie Embleton, a fellow Indie author, this story falls into the Fantasy Fiction genre and in the sub-genre of Sword and Sorcery. 

As a fan of many of the Fantasy Fiction authors, I was thrilled to find the work of Ms. Embleton to begin reading. She has done a marvelous job of creating a unique world for her story to take place in. I admire the people who can build a different world to tell a story in! Julie Embleton did not disappoint.

The world where Elaria lives is divided into nine realms. Well, actually there are ten but no one wants to talk about that tenth one; it's a bad 'un! It is possible to travel between these realms but not in a way that we are accustomed to. One would have to be Adorned in order to travel and he or she would also need to know where a gate was and have the Gatekeeper let them through the portal. The Adorned are people who either have some sort of magical gift or practice magic in some way. These people with the magic running through them would rather the Unadorned not be aware of their abilities. It isn't looked upon favorably. You will have to read the book to find out why.

A little about Elaria in The Dawning

Over a century ago, a prophecy was made. The Marked One was to be born. This child would be a ruler and would have unique and special Adorned gifts. Solomon, a sorcerer, is to teach this child, guide it, protect it and prepare it. He waits one hundred years or so for the signs that the Marked One has arrived.

Solomon is summoned to the realm where Lynan Castle sits to check on the newborn daughter of the King and Queen. Hidden away, the little Princess has the sovereign couple concerned. Entering the nursery, Solomon witnesses the beautiful baby spinning an object in mid-air and giggling as she does. Little Elaria is showing signs of magical power as an infant of only a few months old. Checking her for the mark, Solomon realizes he will be with this special child for a long time.

As Elaria grows and gets close to her 18th birthday, more of her gifts are revealed. Most of the story takes place around the approaching birthday and her becoming a co-ruler with her father, the King. You know me, I am not a fan of spoilers so I won't go much further in my synopsis. Suffice it to say, Elaria is a very interesting character who I think you will enjoy following as the story unfolds.

The Realms Are Different

Before Solomon goes to Lynan Castle he is in a realm that feels like modern day. Elaria lives in a realm that has more of a medieval feel to it. Modern conveniences do not exist in her realm. Travel is by horse and carriage, guards protect with swords, heat comes from a fireplace. You get the picture.

An Awesome Fantasy Read

I highly recommend The Dawning by Julie Embleton to all of you fantasy fiction fans out there! It was a wonderful book with engaging characters and the plot flows well. I am looking forward to reading book two in the series. I think that I heard that book three will be released later this year. Give this Indie Author a chance, I am certain that you will not be disappointed! 




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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My Real Name Is Hanna Book Review

Historical Fiction Aimed At A Young Adult Audience


pysanky eggs
Pysanky Eggs play a roll in My Real Name Is Hanna
(image courtesy of pixabay.com)
Let me share a book review with you today for My Real Name Is Hanna. I have always loved to read historical fiction. There is something intriguing about an author taking a specific time in history and envisioning a story of what it might have been like for characters in that era. 

When I sat down to begin reading this book, I thought that I would read a chapter or two and then set it aside to continue later or even the next day. That is typically how I read books. So, I read the first couple of chapters and thought, "Well, maybe a few more and then I'll quit for the day." I did take a short break to get some household chores completed but the book was nagging at me to come back. Long story short, I ended up reading the entire book by day's end. 

Captivating Story Not easy to put down

The story is about a young girl named Hanna. Her family is Jewish and had fled from Russia after the pogroms and what was referred to as the Hunger War. Her mother and father have settled in an area of Ukraine that was sometimes under Polish rule and sometimes under Russian rule. At the beginning of Hanna's story we learn about a time when the Russians have taken over. Stalin has required that all Polish allegiances be stopped. Flags are changed from the red and white of Poland to the red flag with the crescent moon and star of Russia. School subjects are now taught in the Russian language. News is controlled by Stalin along with the ability to worship or practice local customs. Life is changing and not for the better.

Rumors begin to circulate around the small town where Hanna lives. People begin to disappear. Quiet conversations are heard about a man named Hitler sending his armies to fight with the Russians for control of Poland. Some think this German might be better than Stalin, others aren't so sure. Neighbors begin to turn against neighbors, especially when the German soldiers come. 

A Story of Survival: My Real Name is Hanna

The author, Tara Lynn Masih, gives us a story of one family's survival during this horrible time in world history. Her fictional account is based on a real family who found the courage and strength to keep clear of the worst of the Holocaust. Hanna and her family were able to escape being taken to the ghettos and the work camps. They were able to keep from falling into a trench after being shot. What they endured to stay alive is a remarkable story! You need to read the book to find out how and for how long their lives were hanging in an unstable imbalance.

One of the things that I loved about this book is that it is written with the teen and young adult reader in mind. Although, some atrocities are mentioned the very worst are only hinted at. A young person can get the feeling of the awful inhumanity that can be inflicted in a way that is less repulsive than what really occurred in Europe. It might help them to understand history a little better and make them curious to delve into it more. 

I want to stress how this is not a depressing book. Certainly, you can't help but feel disgusted and appalled at what happened in WWII. It is a story of hope. A story of love and family; it is a story of people helping people even when it means their own lives are at risk. Read the book to find out what role the Pysanky eggs play in Hanna's life. I thought it was a fascinating addition to the overall story and I learned more about those lovely decorated eggs.

If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend this book to you. I sincerely believe you will be glad you read it.




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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Summer Between Reviewed

Sometimes A Book Touches Your Soul

summer scene
Summer scene image courtesy of pixabay.com
A few days ago I finished reading The Summer Between by Amanda Linton. I wanted to share my review of it with you today. Amanda is pretty new to the YA genre of books. In fact, I believe this book may be her first. It doesn't read like a first book, though. 

I had put her book on my TBR (to be read) list after getting to know her in a group that I belong to on Instagram. Her book cover and the line on the cover grabbed my attention. The line reads "I'll see you at the line where the waves meet the clouds." That made me want to find out more about the story.

I think that many will relate with Cleo Porter the 17 year old main character in the book. As she enters into her senior year of high school, she hides behind her camera. She snaps glimpses of the world that she doesn't feel like she belongs in. Her relationship with her mother, touched me greatly because it was more than the usual teenage girl/mother strained existence so many experience. This went deeper and I knew it because I had a similar relationship with my mother. Always hoping for acceptance and never quite getting it. A very believable and touching part of Cleo's story.

Bebe Blattner comes bursting into Cleo's life as a new student at school. Bebe is loud, she is too tall and she lives each day as an adventure. Cleo has known Bebe since they were small because they went to the same church but never attended the same school until now. Bebe makes friends with everyone, the popular kids, the less popular and the ones in between. Cleo struggles with keeping the few friends that she has. They are just about as opposite as two girls can be.

This is a story of coming of age, of finding who you are and the bond of friendship. It is a story about family; the one that shares our DNA and the family we choose as our friends. The future may look bright but often fate walks into your life in a way that might break you. This is a story of one girl working through the pain of loss to try to become whole again. Will she be able to?

I absolutely loved this book! It touched me in so many ways and I look forward to Amanda's future works. She is an incredible writer weaving a believable story on each page. Even though this is considered a Young Adult book, I think that most woman will fall in love with the characters and the story. In many ways, we have all lived at least parts of it. Take a chance and give this new author the recognition that she deserves. You won't regret it!




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Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
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