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

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Reviewing Progress On A Series

Author's Progress Report

A few weeks ago, I reviewed my plans for next year as far as my writing journey goes. I thought it might be fun to give a bit of a progress report on how that is going. I mentioned that I would be introducing a few new series as I move forward. One that will be introduced first is the series that will involve a Babbs Bennett Mystery.

progress on series
Series progress
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Introducing Babbs Bennett

So, my plan is to publish one book a month next year and I'm already working on achieving my goal. The first book to be published in January will be Valentine Vengeance. You will be introduced to Barbara Bennett who is affectionately called Babbs by her family and friends. She is a retired librarian who has returned to her hometown to help her cousin Harlan Holiday as he recuperates from an accident. 

Harlan owns a book store in the small town of Appleton, Indiana. Babbs plans to see to his recovery while running the book store for him in his absence. The two were born only 9 days apart 67 years ago which makes their relationship more like brother and sister than cousins. On her first visit to check on her cousin, he tells her that he didn't fall but was pushed into a ravine. He also mentions a girl who died some 50 years ago. Babbs suspects that the pain medication he is on is causing him to have some rather wild dreams that he thinks are real. 

As the days begin to pass by in the story, readers will be introduced to a cast of characters that I hope they will love as much as I do. Readers will meet Sydney Miller a special needs girl of 16 who comes to Holiday Books each day after school. She believes she is working for Mr. H but there is actually a different reason she comes to the shop each day. 

Babbs has kept in touch with her three best friends over the years and soon asks them to help her solve a 50 year old cold case from their own past. Marjorie, Lizzie (Elizabeth), and Cilla (Priscilla) agree to help her try to figure out what happened to the beautiful girl all those years ago while trying to see if there is a connection to the accident Harlan has experienced. You will have to read the book when it is released to find out what happens and if the Fearless Four can solve the mystery.

Moving ahead...

I have finished writing Valentine Vengeance and even have a cover design for it. I will try to release it as close to January 1st as is possible. Currently I'm working on book 2 of the Babbs Bennett series which I plan to release in February. 

As an author, I enjoy all of the characters that I write about. I must admit that I have really had some fun with Babbs and her friends, we are all the same age. The character of Cilla makes me laugh! I'm hoping my readers will love everyone in the books, too. 

I know many of our regular readers have read at least some of my books already but if you haven't you can find them on my Author's Page on Amazon. I hope if you have read any of my books, you will take the time to leave a review on Amazon. It only takes a second of your time and means so much to me. Reviews help other readers decide whether they want to read the book or not, that is why they are so important. 






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Crown Reviewed

Series for the Anglophile

My husband and I have just watched Season 3 of The Crown on Netflix. Have you been watching this series? If not, I think you should. Not only is it entertaining but there is a whole lot of history packed into this original series made for Netflix.

the crown
A Crown
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I'll admit that I'm a bit of an Anglophile (person who admires the United Kingdom). My fascination with the country goes pretty far back. Being a bit of a history nerd, their history is one aspect of my curiosity and the Royal family is another. I think it might be why this series has grabbed my attention. This series documents in a artistic way a history that I have lived for the most part. Queen Elizabeth was named queen the year that I was born, her coronation was a year later. So, obviously I don't have a memory of that but there has been a lot of historical ground covered that I do remember.


Viewing history from the palace 

One of the take-a-ways for me while watching this series is a better understanding of how the Queen and Parliament work. I realize a lot of this is written for entertainment and there are probably some liberties being taken for a story but seeing the interaction of the Queen and the different Prime Ministers she has worked with has been quite interesting. Realizing that she and the royal family as a whole might have an opinion on different aspects of governing but are not often at liberty to voice what they really think or feel has given me a different perspective on a lot of history and even the leaders of today. 

The Crown, even though it is historical fiction, has made me appreciate different members of the royal family in ways that I hadn't even considered before. It is easier to see them as people instead of figure-heads. I hadn't really considered that they sometimes have insecurities, feel unappreciated, get their feelings hurt, and all of those emotions that us 'regular' people do. They don't live what we consider a normal life but they are human and experience many of the same things we do in our lives. 

If you haven't watched this series, I recommend that you do. It can be purchased on DVDs, if you don't happen to have a subscription to Netflix. I don't think that you will be disappointed, not even kind of. I'm looking forward to a season four already.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

ZSCM 60 Colors Dual Marker Pens Reviewed

Two Points For Coloring With Marker Pens

I've mentioned before that I like to color as a form of relaxation. Recently, I tried some dual marker pens instead of colored pencils. I would like to review what I used with you today.

marker pens
A more vibrant result comes from markers
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Often when I color with my grandkids, they opt for a felt tip marker instead of coloring crayons or pencils. Up until recently, I didn't choose to use the markers because the tips were wide and they were kind of on the messy side. I stumbled upon a different option when I was searching for some new markers to have for the kids when they visit. Some of the ones that I have had dried out. It happens!

What I found was a set of dual tip marker pens. Oh my goodness these things are really cool! The name kind of tells it all. There are two tips to the pens. One end has a sort of brush type tip that creates a nice wide line and is great for filling in a large area. The other end offers a fine liner type of tip that is great for outlining and working on small areas. I have found them to be so versatile and I like the vibrant colors I get when I use them. 

I chose the set that has 60 colors in it. I must say there is a nice variety of choices with those sixty colors. Some are a little difficult to see much difference in but there must be something subtle that my old eyes aren't picking up on. I do like that the ink is acid-free and non-toxic. The colors dry quickly, too. I didn't have a problem with getting color on my fingers as I moved from space to space in my coloring adventure when I used them.

Whether these marker pens will dry out as quickly as the standard wide tipped markers do is yet to be seen. I haven't had these long enough to tell. The best test will be when one of the little ones uses them on their next visit. I think I might be a little better at making sure the cap is placed back on when the kids aren't always as diligent with that as I am. Anyway, I can hardly wait for them to come and try them out. I think they will like them as much as I do.

This might be something you could put in a stocking at Christmas or just have on hand if you have little ones who like to color or draw pictures when they visit you. I think they would also work well for people who are talented enough to do calligraphy. Having the brush end and the fine liner end would work very well for making pretty letters. Then again, you can take your own coloring up a notch by having some vibrant colors to use.




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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Roget's Words for Writers Reviewed

Saying it differently

Today I would like to review something I have put on my Christmas Gift List. The Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers is something I could utilize on a daily basis. I have a very worn copy of a general Thesaurus but I think one specifically for writers would my new go to reference.

words for writers
Looking for synonyms: a writer's task
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Anton Chekhov once said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." An author needs to paint the scene for their readers using words. We can have a dull canvas with a lot of the same colors (words) or we can look for colors that are surprising and much more descriptive. Synonyms often assist with our choices.

For instance, I could write this:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's rude response.

So, we know a man was being rude to Anton. What if I found a synonym for rude and changed the sentence to:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's truculent response.

I don't know about you but I envision two different things that basically mean the same thing. Rude makes me think of something that is crude, rough or abrasive. Truculent seems harsher, more scathing, meaner in a way.


Writer's Tool


Roget's Words for Writers is a thesaurus but set-up differently. It isn't the simple word list in alphabetical order that we are used to. Instead it is compiled by meaning with a sample of words that emote the same meaning (such as rude) in more descriptive and emotive choices. It even gives samples of the synonym or antonym in a sentence for you. There are over 2300 words featured in this tool for writers.

I've put this reference book on my wish list hoping one of my girl's will give it to me for Christmas this year. If they opt for something different, I'll just purchase it for myself. I think it will come in mighty handy as I start working toward my goal of publishing a book a month in 2020.

What do you think? Would you use a tool like this? It doesn't have to be for a novel, it could be helpful in several types of writing. Perhaps there is someone on your gift list who would benefit from a reference book like this.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Reviewing Author Plans For 2020

Planning for the Future

I'm going to put myself out on a limb today by publicly reviewing my plans as an author for 2020. I have been weighing my options quietly in my mind for about a month now. So, today I'll put my ideas out there because one of the best motivators is to have people holding you accountable for the goals you have set for yourself. It seems to work for people who are dieting, trying to quit smoking, and a variety of other things that we wish to accomplish. Let's see if it works for a budding writer.

author plans
Can this author reach her goal?
books image courtesy of pixabay.com

Not too long ago, I did a review on Kathi Daley She is another Cozy Mystery author, like myself. I really enjoy her books but the thing that kept niggling at my brain is that she published a book a month in one year. Actually, I think she did it two years in a row. So, 24 books in two years. At first I thought, wow that is impressive. Then I began to think on the lines of could I do that? Could I write and publish 12 books in 12 months. You probably see where I'm going with this.


2020 Goals For This Author


When the year 2019 began, I had only written and published two books. I had been stuck on book three for over a year. In February of this year, the block I was experiencing finally broke away and I was able to finish the third book in the Roni Rainer Mysteries series; publishing it in March. At that point, I didn't really have any set goals for writing other than I wanted to try to write everyday. 

To make a rather long story short, last month I published my seventh book. Without a thought of how many books I wanted to write this year, I was able to add five books to my list of published works. If you had asked me a year ago, if I could do anything even close, I would have probably said that I didn't think so. The words started flowing and the ideas kept coming and so I wrote. Some days I wrote more than others but I did try to write something everyday.

So, my goal for next year is to try really hard to write and publish a book a month for the entire year. I'm going to ask you to hold me accountable to this declaration. I really think that I can do it. I have already figured out that in order to accomplish this I'll need to write (or at least average) about 2300 words a day. I honestly think that is very doable for me. 

I have already roughly planned out how and what I will publish next year. The first thing will be a new series that I am already working on. (I'll have to have at least one book ready to publish in January.) This new series will be called the Babbs Bennett Mysteries. Babbs is older than my other main characters. She is over 65 and has temporarily moved back to her hometown to help her cousin run a book store while he recuperates from a bad fall off of an icy path. The name of the book store is Holiday Books. Holiday is the family surname and her cousin has always played on that family name by decorating the shop each month for that month's holidays. That is going to be a fun part of the creative process, coming up with titles that have to do with different holidays.


Working List of Books to Write

  • January Book One of Babbs Bennett Mysteries (working title Valentine Vengeance)
  • February Book Two of Babbs Bennett Mysteries 
  • March Book Three of Babbs Bennett Mysteries
  • April Book One of Cottonwood Grove Mysteries (new series involves a yarn shop business)
  • May Book Two of Cottonwood Grove Mysteries
  • June Book Three of Cottonwood Grove Mysteries
  • July Book Five of Roni Rainer Mysteries
  • August Book Four of Cabin 9 Mysteries
  • September Book One of Second Chances Mysteries (new series involves a second hand shop)
  • October Book Two of Second Chances Mysteries
  • November Book Three of Second Chances Mysteries
  • December Book Four of Babbs Bennett Mysteries
Well, there you have it; my goals as an author for 2020. What do you think? Am I being too ambitious? 


Already Published Books by Beverly Owens


  • Roni Rainer Mysteries
    1. Death Takes a Spin
    2. Illegal Harvest
    3. The Puzzle of Talking Rock
    4. Missing in Beaver Falls
  • Cabin 9 Mysteries
    1. Campground Corpse
    2. Untimely Checkout
    3. Grifter's Gamble




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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Case Histories Book Reviewed

Cold Case Mystery

Today, I want to review an older mystery book for you Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. It was first published in 2004 but is still considered in the top 20 of best mysteries in 2019. One of the reasons I decided to read it was because Stephen King was quoted that he thought it was the best mystery of the decade. Okay, I don't care who you are...for Mr. King to give it that kind of accolade, it has to be pretty danged good. Am I right?

case histories
Looking for clues in cold cases
image courtesy of pixabay.com
The recommendation by King was actually secondary as to why I decided to begin reading this book. I'm beginning a new Cozy Mystery Series that will introduce Babbs Bennett, a senior amateur sleuth who in the first book will be trying to solve a cold case from her past. The Mystery Book Club that Babbs just joined needs to meet in this first story. So, I began a search to find a book that the club could discuss that would also be about a cold case. (Hint, the book gives them the idea to look into the unsolved case of their youth). That is probably more information than you wanted but it is why I even looked at the book in the first place. Anyway, what started as a resource for my own book has turned out to be a real enjoyable reading experience! Mr. King isn't wrong in his estimation.


Case Histories Isn't A Cozy Mystery


Jackson Brodie is the Private Detective who is looking into three cold cases that span about thirty years. The cases he has been hired to look into seem totally unrelated until Brodie begins to discover connections in the crimes. Jackson Brodie works with determined resolve on the cases that he honestly would have rather not taken. His findings lead him to reassess his own painful history as an ex-cop, ex-husband, and a father on weekends only.  

First of all, kudos to Kate Atkinson for her writing style! Oh my goodness, she describes the dysfunction in families so accurately. The families are different but similar if that makes sense. I found myself relating to the children but also to the mothers in the families. I think we all have felt at least a little of their pain. 

Case Histories doesn't fall in the Cozy sub-genre of mystery books. I say that because it is slightly more graphic in the crimes but not so graphic that you will find it disturbing. At least, I didn't. It is more accurately placed in Private Investigators or Detective stories. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I will probably have to read the other Jackson Brodie mysteries in the near future. Oh, another sign that the novel is worth reading is that it along with the other books in the series was made into a television series by the BBC. A pretty big vote of confidence, I'd say. 

This is a great book for anyone who loves to read detective type mysteries. I think both men and women will enjoy the plot and the way Atkinson tells it. For me it started out as something I could refer to in my own book and ended up grabbing my attention in an unexpected way.



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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Shadows in the Sun Movie Review

Finding Love And More In Italy

A friend of mine, Joan, recently suggested that I watch the movie Shadows in the Sun. I took her suggestion and would like to review it for you today. 

shadows in the sun
A street in Italy
image courtesy of pixabay.com
First of all, I'll share that I loved this movie! I have always wanted to go to Italy so the setting where the story takes place appealed to me a great deal. The countryside and the small village are charming and very much somewhere I would like to visit in real life someday.

There is a reason, Joan recommended that I watch this movie. The general theme in the plot involves a relationship that develops between two writers. One is famous while the other is aspiring to write his first book. Since I write novels, myself, of course it grabbed my attention.

Synopsis of the movie Shadows in the Sun

Jeremy Taylor is a successful agent in a London publishing firm. He is sent to Tuscany by his boss to do what others have failed to do; sign a reclusive author to a contract for a new book. Weldon Parish, the author, hasn't written a book in a few decades. His past work was a huge success but he gave up writing after his wife died. 

It is a struggle for Jeremy to even find Weldon in the beginning but he perseveres; eventually meeting the eccentric and crabby older man. Their first meeting doesn't go well as Weldon makes it known that he hates publishers, editors and agents. 

As the plot unfolds, Weldon and Jeremy become friends. Jeremy is a huge fan of the books that the former author wrote years ago and he is struggling with his own writing. Weldon wants no part of writing another book but he does start to teach Jeremy ways that he might improve his own style. 

Jeremy learns to let go of his rigid restraint as Weldon drags him into a few wild adventures in the small village and surrounding area. He is also falling head over heels in love with Weldon's daughter. The growing feelings between Jeremy and Isabella are sweet and touching while the antics by Weldon are humorous.

I'm really glad that Joan suggested this movie to me. It isn't a new movie, it was first released in theaters in 2005 and in DVD in 2006. Jeremy is played by the actor Joshua Jackson from Cursed and Dawson's Creek. The character of Weldon Parish is played by Harvey Keitel who has been in many movies and television shows. 

If you like a romantic comedy, I think you will enjoy this movie. It can be viewed for free if you are a Prime member. You can rent it to stream or you can buy the DVD. 


Shadows in the Sun
 (paid link)



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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Popsocket Review

Handy Tool For Cell Phones And Tablets

Let's review a popsocket today. Chances are you have at least seen a popsocket but you might not have known what it was. Basically, they are a type of grip to attach to your cell phone or even your tablet. Of course not all grips are Popsockets but a whole lot of them are.

popsocket
This woman must not have a popsocket on her phone
image courtesy of pixabay.com

These funky looking discs attach to a phone for a variety of uses. Probably the most popular use is for having a better grip on your cell phone making it less likely to drop it. This comes in real handy if you are the type who likes to carry your phone in your hand instead of your pocket or purse.

People who like to take selfies say the popsocket allows them to hold the phone better for snapping that shot. I'm not one that takes a lot of those so I don't know whether it makes it easier or not.

Popsocket and other brands


Not all of the brands of grips perform like the little popsockets. The uniqueness of this brand is that it is collapsible. It can go flat and then pop out once and then once again in an almost accordion like fashion. I like that you can collapse it when you want to place it flat on a surface and when you want to put it in your back pocket. If it is sticking out an inch or two in your pocket it might look rather alarming to someone behind you. 

You can completely remove the popsocket when you want to. The adhesive is reusable. This comes in handy if you want to re-charge your phone with one of those wireless chargers. There might even be a reason to remove it in order to place it in a different place on your phone. 

Why move it around? Well, another use for the popsocket is that you can use it like a stand. Yep, you can prop your phone up for hands-free time. I don't watch many videos on my phone but a lot of people do and with a popsocket they can prop their phone up on a desk or tabletop and watch without holding on to the phone. I would imagine this would be really nice if you are watching a movie on your phone; I would think you hand would get stiff having to grip for so long.

I even saw an example where someone used two of these handy little discs on the back of their phone to wrap the cord neatly from their earbuds. I thought that was pretty clever! 

Lots of choices

Another really fun thing about these little grippers is that you have a multitude of choices in how they look. You can keep it simple or you can find one that is suited to your tastes and personality. There are colorful ones, elegant looking ones and of course whimsical ones. Some can even be personalized to have a saying of your choice on yours. They aren't very expensive so you could pick one or two and switch them out as your mood changes. 

Personally, I think they would make a great little stocking stuffer for people on your gift list. How about you? Have you got a popsocket?



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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Kathi Daley Books Reviewed

Prolific Cozy Mystery Author

I'll be reviewing one of my newly found Cozy Mystery authors today, Kathi Daley. From the list of books she has published, she may be one of the most prolific Cozy authors I have come across. I've read many of them by the way but none who have published as many as Kathi Daley.

kathi daley
Living with views like this seem to inspire Kathi Daley
image courtesy of pixabay.com
According to her bio, Ms. Daley lives near Lake Tahoe. I wasn't too surprised when I read where she lives with her family because as I read Answers In The Attic which is book four in her Inn at Holiday Bay series she describes a few scenes at the shoreline. Her words formed a description in my head that made me think, she has seen that scene. She had lived it. It really isn't even an integral part of the plot but it is descriptions like hers that polish a story. I read that she uses her picturesque surroundings as inspirations for many of her books and the series she has created.


A Little Something For Everyone


After reading one of her books, I decided to check out what else she had written. Currently, I'm reading Romeow and Juliet (book one) in the series Whales and Tales. I'm enjoying it even more than the Answers In The Attic. So, out of curiosity I looked to see what else she has written. Mainly to start a list of other books to possibly read. Let me tell you, there is a series by Kathi Daley for just about anyone's taste. I read that in 2014 she published twelve books in that one year. That is a book a month, people! Being an author myself, that is impressive, very impressive. I thought I was cranking mine out in a fairly rapid pace but it takes me longer than a month to finish a book. I digress.

To date, she has twelve or thirteen cozy mystery series to choose from:
  • Zoe Donovan Mysteries
  • TJ Jensen Mysteries
  • Whales and Tails
  • Sand and Sea
  • Writers Retreat Southern Seashore
  • Tess and Tilly
  • Seacliff High
  • The Inn at Holiday Bay
  • A Hathaway Sister
  • Haunting By The Sea
  • Rescue Alaska
  • A Cat In The Attic
I'm probably going to have to sample at least one in each of her series. She has even written a cookbook featuring recipes from one of her main characters Zoe Donovan. I haven't read any in that series yet but I probably need to. There are something like thirty-two books in that series alone. 

I mentioned that the first book of Kathi Daley that I read was one of the books in the Inn at Holiday Bay. I'm not certain but I think her premise in that series is to be able to feature the holidays celebrated throughout the year. The book I read was number four in the series and featured July 4th with mentions of fun things they planned for Halloween. Personally, as an author, I think that is brilliant! I have be honest, it actually has inspired me. There is a new character in my head who is screaming for me to write her story but I hadn't come up with a solid idea for what the series would revolve around. She seems to want to have a bookstore or at least I think she does but nothing solid has come to the left hemisphere of my brain just yet. It just might be fun to have a sub-theme of holidays in whatever shop my new character decides to do business in. I'll let you know when she and I come up with a plan.

Anyway, I thought I would introduce you to this Cozy Mystery author today. I think you will find at least one of her series to be to your liking. Caitlin Hart, the main character in the Whales and Tails series is pretty funny, I'm really enjoying her a lot. If you are looking for a new book to read, I recommend taking a look at her books. I seriously don't think you will be disappointed in any that you might choose.




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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Shetland Series Reviewed

Shetland Islands Featured In Mystery Series

I recently began watching the Shetland Series through my Britbox subscription. If you aren't familiar with it; the television series is drama/mystery series of episodes taking place in the picturesque Shetland Islands in Scotland. 

shetland series
Mysteries taking place in the Shetland Islands of Scotland
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I'm coming in sort of late for watching this popular television series which first began filming in 2014. I'm not sure it was available to me until recently; if it was somehow I missed it. I'm enjoying it so much that I don't think it will take me long to catch up to Season 5.


What can you expect in the series?

The episodes revolve around a small police force with DI Jimmy Perez leading his fellow officers in their duties on the islands in Northern Scotland. Detective Inspector Perez is a single dad of a teenage step-daughter. Cassie's mother died several years ago and her step-dad has brought her back to the small village in the Scottish archipelago to expose her to her roots. Another interesting little twist to the overall plot is that Cassie's birth father also lives in the village; the two men have different views on how best to raise a teenage girl. Their attempt at co-parenting adds some depth to each episode in the crime drama.

Being able to solve the mystery of each story line while experiencing what life is like up in the sub-arctic environment of the Shetland Islands is extremely enjoyable. Each mystery spans two episodes. So far, the ones that I have watched are full of twists. About the time that I think I know who is responsible something comes up to dismiss that person as the culprit. 

Living in a land-locked area, I am fascinated with DI Perez having to take the ferry over to an area to investigate. The scenery is beautiful and the local people are interesting. I find myself daydreaming wishing that I could go there someday. Some of my ancestors lived in Scotland, although I don't think any lived quite that far north.


You will have to stream it


If you are in the US, your only option to watch Shetland is to stream it. I signed up for Britbox through my Amazon Prime membership. I used to be able to see a lot of the British television shows through another streaming service but they no longer carry them because the licensing changed. I finally justified signing up for another service because I truly enjoy the programs that are produced. 

Anyway, if you are looking for a good series to watch I highly recommend Shetland. You can get a trial period for the streaming service to try it out. If you don't care for it, you can always cancel.




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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ken Burns Country Music Film Reviewed

A Ken Burns Film You Shouldn't Miss

Country Music the Ken Burns documentary film now being aired on your local PBS station is one, in my humble opinion, that you shouldn't miss. My husband and I have sat spellbound as each two hour segment has been presented.

ken burns country music
Some of the legends in this Country Music Mural are featured in Ken Burns film
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Mr. Burns has a way of telling us about pieces of our history and our diverse cultures that not only inform us but entertain us as well. His latest creation about Country Music doesn't fall short on those notes, in fact I think it might be the best one he has done to date. That is saying a lot when you consider his work on the Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, Prohibition, WWII and the Viet Nam War.

It is more than just the music


One of the quotes that is repeated often is from Harlan Howard. He once said, "Country Music is three cords and the truth." I think that is probably why I have always loved Country Music; so many of the lyrics in the songs are about my truth, your truth or our truths. Some songs make us want to move our feet, others remind us of the happiness of loving someone while others break our hearts. There is literally something to listen to no matter what your mood might be. 

The segments that will total 16 hours by the time all are shown cover the history of the music that is uniquely American. We hear portions of songs but it is the backstories that I find the most fascinating. Ken Burns and his incredible crew of people tell us about the artists who made the songs popular and the people who wrote the songs. We find out about how they grew up (some of 'em will just break your heart!); how they got started and portions of their careers that might surprise us. 

I have always been a "words" kind of gal. Yes, I love to dance but it has always been more about what the story in the song says to me. I think that is why I am drawn to the people who write the songs. Those poets who don't always get a lot of recognition but can sit down and put words together that touch us in some way. In the documentary we find out quite a bit about those songwriters. Some performed their own music while others wrote for others. It has been fascinating!

Honestly, even if Country isn't the genre of music that you prefer to listen to; this Ken Burns film is one that I think you will enjoy. After hearing the history of the it; you might even be converted to a fan. There are segments that will make you smile, move your feet and touch your soul. I don't know if they will repeat this series soon or not. Don't despair if you have missed the first episodes. It is available in DVD and Blu-ray.





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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Cabin 9 Mysteries New Book Launch Review

Book Two Coming Soon


I'll be launching the second book in the Cabin 9 Mysteries series in the near future. Book two is titled Untimely Checkout. I thought it might be fun to talk a little about the series and the newest book today. 
cabin-nine-mysteries
Cabin 9 at Whispering Oaks Campground
image courtesy of pixabay.com
Back in August of this year, I released the first book in this new series, Campground Corpse. Readers met my main character Taylor Reigler who had inherited a campground in Indiana. She arrives at the old campground site in April to find the cabins filled with inches of dust and the ground waist high in grass and weeds. Her dream of spending about a month to get things up and running seemed destined to failure with all of the work that needed to be done. She meets Gavin Bishop and his sister Gwen on her first day at the grounds which begins a new friendship. That is where the mystery begins to unfold.


Cabin 9 Mysteries Book Two


In Untimely Checkout, the second book in the series, the story continues with a new mystery to solve. The story moves forward to early June with progress being made on the restoration work Taylor had hired done. Taylor and Gwen are testing out recipes in the main lodge on the crew of Webb Nailed It. Taylor hopes to get the campgrounds opened to overnight guests in the very near future and wants to decide what foods will be served as a part of the breakfasts. The crew is more than happy to come in every morning to eat for free and give their opinions as to what they liked or didn't like about the breakfast fare. 

As with most Cozy Mysteries, before the first chapter ends a body is found and a murder needs to be solved. I won't spoil the plot here and tell you who was found or who done it or why, obviously I hope you will want to read the book when it comes out. I hope that I have woven a story that you will enjoy as you visit the activity at Whispering Oaks Campgrounds.

If you read Campground Corpse, you will remember Gwen and Gavin and the contractor Glenn Webb. They join us in the second book along with Aunt Flossie, the great-great-aunt of Taylor who happens to reside in spirit form on the grounds. You will meet some new characters in book two that I hope you enjoy. I know that I certainly enjoyed bringing them into the story as I wrote it. 

As you read this new book, I hope there are times that you giggle, times that you say awww, and times that you think about something shared. As the plot unfolded in my head, I certainly had those moments.


Uncertain release date


I wish that I could tell you a specific day that the new book will be released. The story is finished with all of the i's dotted and t's crossed. It has gone through all of the edits and is waiting for a cover. That is the hold-up this time around. I waited a little late to ask my cover designer to make the new one. He is away on a holiday and when he returns he promises to get right on it. In the meantime, if you haven't read the first book in the series, you might want to read it before Untimely comes out. You don't have to, I feel that both can stand alone but reading the first one will help you know a little history of the returning characters. 




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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Flower Art For Kids Reviewed

Kids Making Flower Art

I found some flower art for kids to give to my youngest granddaughter for her birthday this year. She enjoys doing all sorts of crafty things so after reviewing some options, the kit that I purchased just seemed like a perfect match for her age and her personality.

flower-art
Flower art by mother nature
image courtesy of pixabay.com

The kit is called Random Acts of Flowers and fits my little sweet pea (pun intended) to a "t". I can see her making a small bunch of flowers to give to someone in a random act of kindness. She is so in tune with the emotions people are experiencing around her and would delight in making someone smile with a little gift.


Teaching Kindness With Crafts


The kit includes 75 sheets of tissue paper, 12 floral stems, 12 gift tags, a hanging vase and a bandit mask. Why the mask? This is supposed to be random and anonymous...besides kids love it. What is not included is a pair of scissors and you will also have to supply the kind soul of a child or adult. It is the most important ingredient in the mix!

So, making these flowers and then finding a place to hang them so that people can smile as they take one from the hanging bouquet is only part of the fun. Those gift tags that can be attached to a flower are supposed to have a message on them. The encouraged message is that whoever takes the flower is supposed to go do something nice for someone else. Don't you just love that?

Added to the benefit of spreading kindness one little action at a time is the fact that every purchase of one of these kits pays it forward a little more. A donation is made to a charity that takes re-cycled flowers along with words of encouragement to health care facilities to promote the emotional well-being to residents. I love that!


A Gift that Keeps Giving


Another thing I loved about this flower art for kids kit is that it plants that seed of kindness but it doesn't have to stop once the original supplies are used up. It is so very easy to buy more tissue paper. The children can make their own little gift tags and flower stems can be replenished. The hanging vase might be taken away but they can use their imagination to make another one. 

What do you think? Would you give a child a gift like this?





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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Halloween Advent Calendar Reviewed

Countdown to Halloween

House Ready for Halloween
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Until recently, I didn't realize there was such a thing as a Halloween Advent Calendar. Did you? I mean, I know about Advent Calendars for Christmas but counting down for All Hallow's Eve is a new one for me.

The one that I stumbled upon is different than the ones we use for Christmas in that there are no little gifts to be found during the countdown. This one just displays how many days until the ghouls, ghosts, goblins and zombies run around asking for treats. You turn the wheel each day to display the number. Now, the nice thing about that is you are not limited to starting the countdown on October 1st. It is possible to begin the counting as early as 99 days before Halloween. That is, if you want to.

Movable wheels

As the wheel to change the numbers is turned scenes on the haunted house change, too. Windows open to show different monsters lurking inside. The moon can be changed to show a variety of flying scenes. There are three movable wheels to play with and a pull strip in the center to move around. It is made on sturdy cardstock so it should last for many years. 

Where to display the Halloween Advent Calendar

It comes with two tombstone feet to allow displaying on a desk, table or shelf. You can get as creative as you want, though. Use some magnets and put it on the refrigerator. Hang it on a wall in any room. If you have a small easel, place it on that and display anywhere you like. It is quite versatile. Measuring only 8 inches by 10 inches, it isn't going to take up a whole lot of space no matter where you decide to display it. 

How about it? Does a decoration that also helps you count down the days to Halloween sound like fun to you?





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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Death of Amelia Marsh Book Review

Death of an Elderly Neighbor

appointment book
Amelia Marsh's appointment book was taken
image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Last week I read The Death of Amelia Marsh by MaryJo Dawson. My review follows in the paragraphs below. I first connected with the author in a group that I belong to for authors and readers on GoodReads. I'm finding some very interesting books to read by belonging to that group. It is a source you might try if you are looking for books that you might not otherwise discover.

Anyway, I should get back to the purpose of this post. MaryJo Dawson has written a series of Cozy Mysteries with The Death of Amelia Marsh being the first one. The series is called the Sally Nimitz Mysteries. Sally, if you haven't guessed already, is the main character and I found her to be a very likable amateur female sleuth. She is a widow with grown children living in a condominium located in a small town in Indiana. Being a Hoosier, myself, you might see why I was first drawn to read about Sally. 

Short Synopsis of The Death of Amelia Marsh  

As the story begins, we find Sally preparing to go to visit one of her neighbors, Amelia Marsh. The elderly woman had invited Sally over that afternoon and seemed anxious about something. Sally admires the charming woman with the white hair and English accent. When she arrives at the appointed time, Mrs. Marsh doesn't answer the door. Sally thinks at first that perhaps the woman had forgotten or maybe she was napping. She waits for a short period of time and goes back. There is still no answer and Sally becomes concerned. Sally goes to the manager of the condominiums and asks if he could let her in; she's worried about Amelia. From the title of the book, I assume you have figured out they find Mrs. Marsh on her kitchen floor, dead from a blow to the head.

Sally starts putting the pieces to the puzzle together of who killed Amelia with the help of her friend George and Amelia's friend Anne Carey. It isn't easy for the three because Amelia Marsh was a bit of a mystery, herself. She avoided talking of her past, didn't mention relatives and had very few items in her home that might help them with clues of where to look. What was Amelia Marsh hiding? Who would take the life of a sweet little old woman? Robbery didn't seem to be a motive because nothing seemed to be missing until Anne realizes that the appointment book that Amelia always kept handy was no where to be found. Whoever the killer was, must have been penciled in that book.

Did I like this Cozy Mystery?


Oh you bet I did! The story is very well written, moving along at a nice pace with just the right amount of twists and turns to keep you turning the page. The style of MaryJo Dawson's writing reminded my of the mysteries I read when I was younger. I enjoyed that! 

The characters are absolutely delightful and believable. Sally is someone I would love to spend more time with. Anne Carey, another elderly neighbor in the Condos is witty and interesting. I would love to sit and sip some tea with her. I could spend hours on George's porch talking with him and Sally. The characters are well thought out that is for certain.

I also loved that there was the mystery of who "done it" but also the mystery of Amelia Marsh and her past life. Sally and her friends have to figure out why their friend was so closed mouthed about her past. Why did she not have any memorabilia in her home of her life that was filled with travels? There weren't many photos of her past to be found which they felt was odd because people keep those things for the memories. As they work together to find clues, it seems every time they think they have found an answer they only come up with more questions. 

I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Sally's sleuthing. I think you will enjoy it, also. Give it a try, I don't think you will be disappointed in the least.



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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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