Enjoy some Mayhem & Magic!

Our blog is meant to evoke fun with the magic of myths, folklore, movies and the mayhem of murder and madness. We have to keep it interesting so if you like different genres of movies and books then you're at the right blog. Our authors are a wide range of experts and our readers know what is top of the line in their favorite genres. Sometimes we post recipes that might be fun to try if a culinary author has one in her book that we think is especially yummy or one that Terri and I have created and want to share with you. Enjoy Guest Blogger Alice Duncan's monthly muse on her books and writing mysteries.

Plus you won't want to miss our book reviews, author interviews or our guest bloggers. So grab your favorite beverage then join us for some magic and mayhem! The good news is that you don't have to leave the house or your comfy chair. We have something for everyone's taste and every month we have a different topic for our bloggers: ones we feel that might be useful in your own writing and reader points of view. Not to mention, life in general. So join us and be sure to have a notebook handy as your to-be-read pile will grow as you add books, recipes, movies and t.v. series you won't want to miss. Not to mention folktales, myths or ideas you may wish to explore. Be careful what you wish for because on mayhemandmagic2 you just might find it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Reviw: Super Volcano: The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park by Greg Breining

I never knew until recently that Yellowstone was such a large volcano.  This book discusses what scientists have learned about past super eruptions there have been and the devastation that occurred as well as how it compares against other volcanic eruptions throughout history as well as what could be expected from another.  A very interesting book but sometimes I got a bit lost in the terminology but nonetheless very informative and not at all dry.  You have to walk away with a greater respect for nature and its power.

I look back on earth sciences as it was called then (maybe still is?) and there has been SOOOO much learned since I was in school.  I hope kids today are getting all this new info.  

Terri

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Review: True Crime : Virginia by John F. Jebb

I really liked this book.  It had a variety of cases from Virginia's history.  Some I had never heard of - like the colonial case of Nancy Randolph.  One I had actually been inspired to write a fake poison pen letter for a history assignment on in high school -- George Wythe.  Many discussed the problems Virginia and laws have struggled with re. race and the law -- The Martinsville Seven comes to mind.  So it is a lot more than just reporting true crime cases.   Of course it is also an expose of innocent people's wrongful convictions as well.  It ends with the Virginia Tech shootings and all the issues that brought up.  

It is a very informative and thought provoking book in many respects

Terri

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Review: What Angels Fear by CS Harris

Sebastian St. Cyr is back from the Napoleonic wars and has resumed his life as Viscount Devlin.  A woman is found brutally murdered and he is accused.  He goes on the run determined to solve the vicious crime himself.  More violence follows and he gets a helper in a street kid name Tom.  The solution is dark.

The Title itself is from the famous quote:  Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread"  which I thought gave a lot of flavor to the story as well.

The female characters were layered as well and the complexity was refreshing.

I enjoyed this book.  There were a lot of plot twists and red herrings that were believable.  The author really brought the time period and setting to life for me.  Will definitely read more in the series.

Terri

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

Happy New Year (1925)


Don’t know about any of you, but I’m kind of glad to see 2016 come to an end. Mind you, for me personally, 2016 was better than 2015, mainly because I was sick almost the entire year of 2015. In 2016, I had my left hip replaced, but that was a Good Thing. Now all I have to hurt about is my back, and there’s even hope for that. But we lost SO MANY PEOPLE in 2016. Unfair, 2016. Phooey.

However, this particular blog isn’t about me, or even 2016. It’s about my home town of Pasadena, California, and its New Year’s Day traditions. And, of course, Daisy Gumm Majesty and her crew.

Daisy Gumm Majesty’s latest adventure, SPIRITS UNITED, takes place in Pasadena in October of 1924. But the new year (1925) is fast approaching! On Thursday, January 1, 1925, Daisy and her family (and maybe Sam Rotondo, if he can walk that far on his injured leg) will stroll the few blocks from her darling little bungalow on South Marengo Avenue to Colorado Boulevard to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade (more often known merely as the Rose Parade).

The Tournament of Roses Parade began its history in 1890, when folks in Pasadena drove their buggies and tallyhos (whatever they were), decorated with roses, along the streets of Pasadena. Over time, the Tournament of Roses Association was formed, and the Rose Parade became a more structured event. The big deal after the Rose Parade was, for the first few years, chariot races. Then the City Fathers (and Mothers, one presumes) decided to build a stadium, which they called the Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl was dedicated in October of 1922.

Here’s a picture of the Rose Bowl under construction in 1921:




Before the Rose Bowl was built, games were held in Tournament Park, which has since been renamed Brookside Park. For years and years, the Rose Bowl was the largest football stadium in the nation. Daisy didn’t much care about that, but her late husband, Billy; her current fiancĂ©, Sam Rotondo; and Daisy’s father, Joe Gumm, are all football fans. However, they didn’t go to the 1925 Tournament of Roses Game. For Pete’s sake, tickets cost $5.00 EACH! Nobody in Daisy’s family would waste good money like that to watch anything so frivolous as a football game.



The 1925 game must have been exciting, however, because Knute Rockne’s legendary (to some. I’d never heard of them) Four Horsemen from Notre Dame played Ernie Nevers and his team from Stanford. Notre Dame won 27-10, in case you wondered.

As for the Tournament of Roses Parade itself, for many years the queen and princesses who composed her court were chosen from among students from Pasadena City College. Before that, however, I don’t have a clue how the queens, princesses, and sometimes even princes were selected. The very first Tournament of Roses Queen was Hallie Woods, who ruled on New Year’s Day, 1905.

Here we have a souvenir postcard from Pasadena for New Year’s Day, 1925:



There was no queen in 1924 for some reason beyond Daisy’s understanding or recollection. In 1925, however, the Tournament gurus made up for their neglect in 1924 and chose Margaret Scoville (who was, I presume, a local gal) as Pasadena’s Rose Queen. She was married, by the way. I think there were only two married Rose Queens in Pasadena’s long history.

Here we have a photo of Margaret Scoville, not when she was the reigning Rose Queen in 1925, but from a meeting of former Rose Queens held in 1956. Margaret’s the kind of dumpy one in the middle of those seated:



Naturally, Aunt Vi will fix something spectacular for dinner. Well, it’ll at least be mighty tasty. In fact, I suspect she’ll opt for a New England boiled dinner, which can cook while she and the rest of the family toddle up to see the Rose Parade. A New England boiled dinner consists of a corned beef brisket or a smoked ham and a bunch of root vegetables like onions, potatoes, rutabagas, maybe some parsnips and perhaps even some cabbage (yes, I know cabbage isn’t a root vegetable). Since neither Daisy nor I like black-eyed peas (and anyhow, they’re a southern tradition) we’ll just skip those, thank you very much. Of course Daisy’s father, Joe Gumm, would probably adore some codfish cakes. I know my father did. Since, however, neither Daisy nor I like those, either, Vi will forego them, bless her heart. There aren’t many foods Daisy and I can’t get down-home and comfy with, but black-eyed peas and codfish cakes are a couple of them. Kippered herrings are another matter altogether. We both love those.



Anyway, the last time I personally had a New England boiled dinner was when my younger daughter Robin, my mom, and I drove across this vast nation and visited relations in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. My half-sister, Ann Provost, (who lived in Dexter, Maine) made it for us. It was SPECTACULAR. Mind you, it’s kinda like corned beef and cabbage, but not on New Year’s Day.

I’ll be in touch with the winners of December’s contest individually. As I seem to have an overabundance of UNSETTLED SPIRITS, one of Daisy’s many adventures, I’ll be giving away copies of that book in January. If you’d like to enter the contest, just send me an email (alice@aliceduncan.net) and give me your name and home address. If you’d like to be added to my mailing list, you may do so on my web site (http://aliceduncan.net/). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year Blog

Happy New Year,
This year I did manage to stay up and see the ball drop and was fine but my real New Year's started when the new season of Sherlock began and when the chiefs won their game. Now this starts a Happy New Year at least for me.
To top this good news the Hallmark Mysteries & Movies has started showing the mysteries.
I binge watched the movies yesterday. Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Hannah Swenson Mysteries are the movies I binge watched yesterday. 
Overall I had a nice New Year's in 2017 and I even remembered to eat my blackeyed peas.

I hope you had a good start to your new year.
Pam 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Blog: Merry New Year

I hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas and as we head into the New Year of 2017 I wanted to share a few of my 2016 highlights.

In 2016 I discovered new books and authors that will stay with me as long as the author is writing the series.

I discovered that short stories still capture my sense of adventure.

I discovered that binge watching movies is not a waste of time if it brings down your blood pressure.

On a different front of 2016: I became a great grandmother.
Reconnected with my daughter and her family. 
I also reconnected with my childhood friend and her family.

By way of youtube, I taught myself how to crochet. 

I learned how much my cyber friends mean to me.

On a sad note, we lost so many great authors, writers, actors, directors, singers, artist, sonwriters, musicians, comedians and people in our circle of family and friends.

The world dims a little at the thought of losing so many and a few I will miss is Zee I never met her but she was a friend in a group or two and I will always think of her as a special and a wonderful friend.

One actress stands out and that is Patty Duke. I also say there are a ton of character actors that I will miss.
Anyway enough on this topic tonight.
Now for my library moment, I was thrilled when some of the ladies from our library agreed to be interviewed. This way I could let our bloggers know that Parsons Kansas has interesting people, places,, and events. 
Stay tuned there will be more library adventures and interviews. I will space them out and I also want to interview more quilters, artists, and writers.

Until next time let love touch your heart, open your mind and a good book, then tell your own story and let the adventures begin.
Pamela

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review - Yellow as Legal Pads by Fran Stewart

Biscuit and Bob are on their honeymoon when Bob tries to help someone dying with resuscitation efforts that leave him poisoned and in ICU.

The story time hops a lot and introduces a lot of characters and isn't really your typical amateur sleuth asking questions all over town.

It is a series of pieces out of the life of the Holvers family and events that led to the current situation she and Bob are in.

It is interesting and complex at times but satisfying as the pieces come together.

I saw several reviews where the number of characters and time hopping frustrated readers and I admit, I had to pause a few times to make sure I was in tune to everything going on, but I thought it was fun a non-traditional which was a bit refreshing.

Terri

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: The Insanity of Murder by Felicity Young

Dody McCleland is a coroner working under the famous Dr. Spilsbury.  After a bombing by suffragettes, Dody's sister is accused and an investigation ensues.  A woman is found dead by apparent suicide, only she suspects it could be much more sinister.  Her sister goes undercover to escape jail as well as investigate at an asylum for 'gentlewoman' where some horrific practices may be occurring.

I really enjoyed this book.  Multiple mysteries as well an intriguing characters and strong women fighting for their rights in different ways.  It is a period of history I am fascinated by and the story kept me engaged and turning pages.  

Terri

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

An Interview with EJ Copperman

MM:  E.J., you have a new book released today. Tell us about your book?

Thanks for inviting me! SPOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL is the eighth in the Haunted Guesthouse series, but a new reader can jump right in without worrying about being lost. All is explained. In this novel, Alison Kerby, who owns and runs a haunted guesthouse on the Jersey Shore, is annoyed that her ex-husband, whom she calls The Swine, is visiting because he’s running from some unsavory characters who he says want to kill him. Alison, who can see the upside in either outcome, reluctantly lets him stay in the guesthouse, but when one of The Swine’s pursuers ends up shot dead, she’s not sure whether she’s harboring a killer or protecting the father of her daughter from one.

MM: Give us the backstory on your series?

Alison bought the guesthouse in Harbor Haven, NJ (I made it up, don’t bother with Google) after her divorce and moved in with her nine-year-old daughter Melissa, who is now thirteen in SPOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. When renovating the place before opening it up to paying guests, she was hit on the head with some wallboard compound (don’t ask) and upon awakening saw two ghosts in the house, Maxie Malone and Paul Harrison. They wouldn’t leave until Alison helped Paul, a fledgling investigator, find out who had killed them. But even after she did, they weren’t able to leave. So they struck a deal: Alison will help Paul with the occasional investigation if the two ghosts help perform “spook shows” to attract guests who want a supernatural experience. 


MM: You write the Asperger’s Mystery series with Jeff Cohen. What would Jeff tell us about being your writing partner?

That I’m always prepared and ready to work, and he is… let’s say Jeff needs some encouragement early in the day, and he only drinks decaf. It’s a trial.


MM: Direct us to where we can find more information about your series and how to order your books?

You can always check in with me at www.ejcopperman.com and I do blog (although Cohen takes the credit) at HEY THERE’S A DEAD GUY IN THE LIVING ROOM every Monday. Books can be found in honest-to-goodness bookstores and, truly, anywhere books are sold. 


MM: Writing a series can be hard but you write at least two series. Tell us what haunts you about being a series author?

I actually am now writing FOUR series if you include the one with Cohen, which I do because somebody has to do the majority of the work. Besides the Guesthouse series and the Asperger’s series, I write the Mysterious Detective Mystery series, in which a crime fiction writer is confronted with the living embodiment of her main character, and starting in 2017, the Agent to the Paws series, in which a theatrical agent whose clients are all (actual) animals keeps finding trouble wherever one of her furry or feathered clients goes. 

I like writing series because you’re telling a much longer story and you can find out things about the character over time rather than having to unveil it all at once. I think readers who hang in there for more than one book feel rewarded for their loyalty, and new readers can come in anywhere and get caught up.


MM: Where did you come up with the idea to have a series about a divorced mother who makes a fresh start then ends up living with ghosts?

Actually, it started as an idea about a house-flipper and evolved over dinner with my editor at a Bouchercon. I honestly don’t remember how the ghosts got there.


MM: When not teaching, writing, blogging and being a hard writing author. What do you do to de-stress?

I play some bad acoustic guitar and nap a lot. And we have this dog who needs to be walked more times a day than I care to consider. 



MM: I know you love baseball and movies but what else do you like to do in your spare time?

I write four series. What is this “spare time” you mentioned?


MM: Is there an author or two whose book you never miss reading as soon as it is released?

I’m not going to name people because some are friends and I might not mention everybody. But I did used to read Robert B. Parker a lot.


MM: What would you like to say to your readers?

Hello! Have a seat! I’ll make cocoa.


MM: Think back and pick a special memory in your childhood that you will share with us today?

My father owned a paint store in Newark, NJ at the time of the riots in 1967. My mom was very worried about him getting home in the midst of all the looting and violence she saw on TV. But he always treated everyone with respect and dignity. He made it home that day untouched and the next day found the plate glass window on the front of his store had been emblazoned by neighborhood residents with the words SOUL BROTHER. No one touched the store. That told me something about people and how they should be treated.


MM: In closing share with us some fun facts about you. Your favorite meal, dessert, vacation, movie/movies, and song?

Favorite meal? Wow. Something bad for me. Pasta? Steak? Steak with a side of pasta? I eat like a 12-year-old. Dessert: Chocolate chip cookie ice cream from Thomas Sweets in New Brunswick, NJ. Vacation: I loved Rome. We’re going to Hawaii for Left Coast Crime in March. Movie: How much time have you got? NORTH BY NORTHWEST, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, HORSE FEATHERS, SILVERADO, THE MALTESE FALCON, DUCK SOUP… I could go on. Song: I don’t have a favorite song. My favorite album ever is RUBBER SOUL and current one is the HAMILTON cast album, although Circe Link is great, too.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

Daisy’s Bag of Tricks


Writing a cozy mystery series set in the 1920s in Pasadena, California, requires a good deal of research. Since I love both research and my old home town (Pasadena, of course), I don’t find the historical research burdensome.

What I do find burdensome is Daisy’s job as a spiritualist-medium. As someone who has absolutely no talent for spiritualistic things, I need to scramble a good deal in order to figure out what the heck the lines on a palm mean or a tarot layout says. Forget the crystal ball altogether. I’m pretty good with the Ouija board because I’ve had lots of practice, thanks to my daughter, Robin, who bought an old Ouija board at a yard sale one day maybe twenty-five years ago.

When Robin brought the board to my house, she was frustrated because when she and her boyfriend had used it at her apartment, the stupid board kept spelling out MOMMOMMOMMOM and nothing else. When she and I fiddled with it, we discovered (this is a true story, even if it is rather odd) Rolly! I gave Rolly to Daisy, who seems to make much better use of him than I ever did. His background story is correct, however. According to the Ouija board that long-ago day, Rolly and I had been married in Scotland in 1055 or thereabouts and had five sons together. Sounds like heck to me, but he claimed we were soul mates and he’d followed me through all my various lives. Ooooookay. If you say so, Rolly. Anyway, about fifteen years or so ago, I had my very own “channeling board” made by a woman recommended by a writer friend of mine (Stobie Piel). I think it’s lovely. Neither Stobie nor I can remember the woman’s name, so I fear I can’t pass along the information if you’d like to have one of your own made by her. She does great work.



At any rate, the Ouija board presents no problems. The tarot and the palms, however, are a whole ’nother kettle of fish. In order to attempt to do them justice, I got myself a Rider Waite tarot deck and some reference materials: two books on the tarot and one book on palmistry. I still can’t figure out the tarot without a great deal of reading, no matter which pattern I have Daisy deal out, generally for the fictitious Mrs. Pinkerton, her best client and one of the dimmer and wealthier of Pasadena’s denizens during the period. Fortunately, I have a dear friend, Elizabeth Delisi (http://elizabethdelisi@blogspot.com ) who does read tarot cards. Mind you, Liz and I have never met in person, but she got me a job teaching for Writer’s Digest once, and she helps me understand (vaguely) tarot cards. Very useful source of information, is Liz, bless her.



As to palmistry, here’s a picture of my old, wrinkled right palm. Pay no attention to the Band-Aid on my finger. I wrap a Band-Aid around that joint every day because it’s so painfully arthritic. When I first got my palmistry book, I attempted to read my own palm. That didn’t work out too well. For some reason, my Mount of Apollo, which is supposed to be connected to a person’s artistic nature, seemed to have vanished. That came as a little bit (but not much) of a surprise to me. Mind you, I have no artistic capabilities if we’re talking about drawing, painting, sculpting or anything else along those lines, but I do like to think I have at least a little bit of a leaning toward the literary. Or, if not precisely literary, at least … well, writing. You know? Anyhow, somebody told me the various mounts tend to blend together in some folks. Whatever. I have no reason to doubt whoever it was who told me that.




The palm-reading book has come in handy a time or two, but Liz and my tarot-card books are even more helpful, even if it takes forever for me to figure out what the heck the cards mean, especially when they’re laid out in any specific pattern.
While Daisy herself has a crystal ball and actually sees unusual things in it from time to time, I don’t. So I had to find a crystal ball like that Daisy might have used on Google. Daisy doesn’t take it with her all the time, because the stupid thing’s heavy. However, Daisy is no shirker, and if someone wants a crystal-ball reading, she’ll gladly tell them anything she believes they want to hear.



As for the rest of Daisy’s tricks, Spike, her late husband’s beloved dachshund, is patterned directly after my very first dachshund, whose name was Hansel Schnitzel Fritzel von Poncho Pooh Puddle Monsieur la Puppy Stink Duncan. Really. I took him to dog-obedience school at the Pasanita Dog Obedience Club at Brookside Park in Pasadena, California, during the summer between fourth and fifth grade, worked with him every single day, and took him for walks that went on for miles and miles. What’s more, he really could add, subtract, multiply and divide, at least as well as I could (which wasn’t very). All it takes is time and patience. Mind you, I have neither any longer, but when I was a kid I had a lot of both that summer, and I spent all of each commodity on Hansel. All the dachshunds I’ve had since Hansel have trained me. Darn it.



Also, unlike Daisy, I love to cook. So Daisy’s Aunt Vi is kind of me, only she prepares much fancier meals than I ever have. I’ve never even attempted to fix beef Wellington, for instance. I have, however, prepared floating island. Both my mother and my father were excellent cooks. Good thing I don’t like to eat as much as I like to cook, or I’d weigh approximately as much as Mrs. Bissel’s house. By the way, that house used to belong to my very own aunt, Maren Fulton. Ah, life. I tell you, there’s a whole lot of me in my Daisy books!



I’ll be in touch with the winners of November’s contest. Bam-Bam will proceed to pick wieners this very evening.

If you’re interested in visiting my sort of, kind of out-of-date web site, please do so at: http://aliceduncan.net/ . And if you’d like to be Facebook friends, just go to my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925


Thank you!