Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Review: The Walled Flower


The Walled Flower by Lorraine Bartlett is the second book in the “Victoria Square” mystery series. Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime (Penguin), February 2012



If Katie Bonner’s late husband hadn’t invested all their savings in the craft fair Artisans Alley—which Katie is now responsible for keeping in the black—the Webster mansion could have been hers to remodel. For years she dreamed of renovating the old place on Victoria Square into a bed and breakfast. Now that dream belongs to another young couple.

But their dream becomes a nightmare when a skeleton is discovered, sealed in one of the walls of the mansion. The bones belong to Heather Winston, who went missing twenty-two years ago. Her aunt is Rose Nash, a jewelry vendor at Artisans Alley, who is determined to find her niece’s murderer, and asks for Katie’s help to do it. The case may be cold, but the killer is very much alive—and ready to go to any lengths to keep past secrets buried.



I love this series. One would think Katie’s life is full with looking for a new apartment; being roped into a bridal party and dealing with a disgruntled vendor when she agrees to help her friend Rose solve a decades-old murder involving her missing niece. Katie will have to find a killer before the killer cashes her out. I have been eagerly waiting for the return of Katie and her friends and boy, did the author deliver a well-written mystery that I devoured from beginning to end. The suspense of who is the killer had me quickly turning the pages as the story progressed in this fast-paced drama. With a wonderful cast that surrounds Katie, the comfort of a small-town locale and engaging dialogue, this was a terrific read and I look forward to the next book in this charmingly appealing series.



Dru

previously posted at dru's book musing

Monday, February 27, 2012

Academy Awards

I watched the whole show last night which means I am seriously dragging today, but it was fun.  Lord knows, a lot better than last years.

Billy is a great host and lots of fun , though he did seem more restrained this year.  I enjoyed his 'I know what you are thinking' segment as well as the many clips they had with Actors sharing their love of movies.  What makes us love a movie often is vary hard to articulate and I thought some of them did a great job.  Didn't really get the Cirque du Soliel's act in the whole scheme of things (though they were excellent of course).  Was glad they didnt perform all the songs, that is often one of my least favorite parts of the show for some reason. 

As for acceptance speeches - Octavia Spencer made me tear up and Jean Dujardin made me grin.  Christopher Plummer had a great speech as well.

Of course I loved many of the fashions (though I thought Sasha Baron Cohen's ash thing on the red carpet was a bit inexplicable..  Some of favorite looks were Gwenyth Paltrow, Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis and Penelope Cruz.  Loved Brad, George and Stacy but though Angelina's dress structure was a bit weird and off for me.

Gotta admit, it may be a bit cheesy but it is fun!

Terri

Friday, February 24, 2012

Classic Hurricane Drink

Mardis Gras is over now, but have you ever wondered what is in those wonderful drinks known as hurricanes?  I did:


Classic Hurricane

1 oz. Bacardi 151 rum
1 oz white rum
1 oz dark rum
½ oz. grenadine
3 oz orange juice
3 oz pineapple juice
Crushed Ice       

Terri

Reading & Watching True Crime

The other day our group, Pamela asked whther people watch or read true crime.  Most people didn't saying they wanted to keep it out of their minds as much as possible.  And yet, all over the media, true crime is everywhere.  Vicious cases bring out strong emotions in people.  The latest local big trial here is the Hughley UVA Lacrosse murder.  And Casey Anthony is (and still will be) talked about for years to come.

Why so many people interested in true crime stories?  This morning on the train, I read a true crime short by Kathryn Casey called Blues and Bad Blood.  In my case, I can say part is the fascination with the pyschology of it.  Trying to understand.  It is its own puzzle or mystery.  I also watch a lot of shows on the ID channel.  One very interesting new show is Dark Minds featuring crime writer M William Phelps who tries to udnerstand and solve cases with the help of profiler John Kelly and an incarcerated serial killer they call "13".  Another show I really find interesting is Stolen Voices, Buried Secrets, that tells the facts from the victims' voice.  And the victims need to have a voice.  Maybe that is part of the fascination people have -- this could happen to someone we know. 

And TV does reflect our fascination with True crime in the amount of shows like CSI and Criminal Minds about those who catch these criminals.  The thing about fiction is it can be neatly wrapped up which is something you often can't say about true crime.  And the same is true of mystery fiction.  Which was another comment that was made several times during our group thread on the topic.  And its true.  Real life is not neat.  We are horrified by crime (as well we should be) and we experience relief when criminals are convicted and anger when they "get away with it". Of course we do.  We need to feel safe.  For our friends and families to feel safe.  But then there are those of us who want to read it, watch it, and try and understand it.

Terri

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ants


Ants:



With the winter I am seeing ants everywhere today. I don't like this because if it's February and I am seeing ants in June I will probably be seeing creatures that make my skin crawl. it does seem to me that I might have to prepare for an ant incvasion and probably a fly invasion. Insects and bugs are not my thing so I do find them unerving which is a shame because I live on the ouskirts of town and when have flood waters every creature shows up. I don't think the pest control guys have to worry about going out of business at least not before the end of the world.

I do know it probably will be a long hot spring let alone a long long summer here in Parsons and probably throughout Kansas and our four state area this year.

I wish I could this amusing but I am not a person who can find amusement in bugs. Unless it's spiders I am not afraid of bugs and insects although I am allergic to wasp and bees. Oddly enough if I am out for a walk I never think of insects or bugs but if I am sitting in my yardswing or in the house it seems like an invasion and not of the body snatchers which would make it interesting. LOL Okay I've bugged you enough today.

Pam

A Hot Button

This morning I had a before work half hour conversation about something that is a BIG deal with authors:  Traditional Publishing, Vanity Presses and Self-Publishing.    His wife has written a book (which according to some very well know authors who have seen it say it IS really good).  She sent out those dreaded inquiry letters.  And she has had a request for a synopsis from a traditional publisher.  Great.  It will mean taking the time to write the synopsis though.  And then it is hardly a sure thing.  But then she is contacted by Tate Publishing out of OK.  They insist they aren't a vanity press and yet they require money upfront (to be refunded once you sell so many or whatever).  Now, there isn't that much negative about them specifically on the web.  So she gets tempted with Bird in tha Hand mentality. Understandably.  Getting published can take a VERY long time.

So she has a decision to make.  And if she makes the wrong one, it could affect her future books as some have bitterly learned with DEFINITE vanity presses.  They are marked and might NOT be considered by serious agents and publishers in the future after a first book with a vanity press. 

YET some great books can come out of such presses and self-publishers (look at Amanda Hocking's success).  But those MUST be edited perfectly because bad editing can leave a lasting negative feeling - I know there have been books that have done that for me.  One in particular was set in Victorian times yet the ladies wore big bouffant powdered wigs...  Cringe.  And spelling and grammer are crucial.  And we have spell checks and so on so use them.  And I have even had discussions about how more mistakes like that are slipping through traditional publishers as well as economic cutbacks decrease the editorial staff.

I think though, a wannabe published author has to research publishers beforehand and assess what they hope to achieve.  And if self-publishing is the route is one they want, they need to REALLY get an editor or have it edited by people who will be honest and harsh if necessary - friends hold back.

For some people, just getting the book out there is the real goal.  But for others it might be more about being taken seriously and right or wrong self-published authors are not taken as seriously by many people and organizations.  And a big part of that is because there are LOTS of crappy self-published books out there.  Especially now where Amazon makes it so easy to self-publish.  So readers are wary of spending their money trying to find the flower in the weeds.

And without the traditional publisher an author has to make an ever larger investment in promotion and exposure.  Marketing is expensive and these Self-Publishing and Vanity houses might promise a lot of it, but mostly fail to deliver.  People can't find what they don't know exists.  Bookmarks, postcards, all of that cost money.  A lot of these firms just count on the sales from family and friends of the author to make their profit and that is it. 

So my message to them was do your research, figure out what you want and expect from publishing and be patient and work the process the right way if you choose to go the traditional route.

So a very interesting start to my morning before the tedious task of editing attorneys time submissions at work.

Terri

Movies That Inspire




What movies inspire you to do something, fight for a cause or want to make a difference in some way?



Believe it or not it's the movie about Beatrice Potters Life that I watched a couple of years ago that really make me think that some people give it their all and have to stand up for themselves even to loved ones that can make a difference in your life and career not to mention the person you love.



Hugs,

Pam

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Revisit Old Friends


Revisit Old Friends:



I have decided I miss some of the characters I used to read. So I am going to revisit different series and books that I have already read. I miss Jill Churchill her series. I miss early Max and Annie Mysteries (I know Carolyn still writes but we wait a year inbetween), so this will help I want to Tim Meyers early series there are others Jonnie Jacobs had a great cozy series years ago and while I appeciate all the new books sometimes I miss the nasty neighbor or the guest from hell...etc....

Have you ever revisited old friends in a series? Maybe a series that no longer exsist or a friend in a series that is no longer there?



Like comfort food I want a comfort reading this month.

Hugs,

Pam

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nursery Rhymes


Nursery Rhymes:



This morning I am up way too early. You see I went to bed at midnight and at 4:30 I finally got up because I couldn't sleep. I tried everything such as reading, warm drink, checking email, I even did some laundry. Finally I concluded my day is started much like the three bears. So what fairytales or nursery rhymes does this day remind you of and will you overcome it? I am going to try the places to sleep this afternoon (this means I will nap).....wish me luck.



Pam

Review - October Fest


October Fest by Jess Lourey is the sixth book in the “Murder-By-Month” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, May 2011

Beer and polka music reign supreme at Octoberfest, Battle Lake’s premier fall festival. To kick off the celebrations, the town hosts a public debate between the two congressional candidates: straight-laced Arnold Swydecker, and slippery incumbent, Sarah Glokkmann. As a reporter for the Battle Lake Recall, Mira James is roped into writing up the word war. But the festive mood sours when a well-known Glokkmann-bashing blogger is found dead . . . and the congresswoman herself meets a gruesome fate.  To keep the heat off her best friend’s fiancé—an ex-con reporter—Mira wades through the candidates’ dirty laundry, their unsavory secrets, and some murderous mudslinging to expose the killer.

Politics and murder does not mix in this story that finds Mira trying to help a friend which lands her in between some interesting suspects. This is my first adventure with Mira and I loved it. Not only does she solve the case, but changes are afoot and I couldn’t be more pleased. I enjoyed this page-turning mystery that kept me on my toes as to the identity of the killer until it was revealed. I love the quirky characters that inhabit Battle Lake, Minnesota and their interactions and conversations kept me entertained. This well-written and character driven tale is a delightful read and I look forward to my return back to this small town for the next adventures that awaits Mira and her friends.



Previously posted at dru's book musings

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Movies


Movies:



We often talk about movies we like and love but today lets talk about movies you don't care for downright don't like. For me I know it's basically a classic movie but I do not care for the movie "On The Waterfront" and I have tried to watch this movie several times.



I don't remember one I hated but I do have the one above that I did not care for...



Tell us about your movie/s that you did not care for....



Hugs,

Pam

Monday, February 13, 2012

Terri's January 2011 reads:


Excellent:

The Scent of Rain & Lightning - Nancy Pickard ^
Witches on Parole - Debra Geary *
World War Z - Max Brooks @
Very Good:

Kill 4 Me - Joel M Andre *
Death by Diamonds - Annette Blair ^
twisted Triangle - Caitlin Rother ^
Ballad of the Rag Man - Cynthia Gustavson *
I Would Find a Girl Walking - Kathy Kelly *
Pretty Good:

Superman:  Earth One - Michael Stracynski *
Blood Bath - Susan D Mustafa *
Decent:

The Drag Queen Murder - kathryn Casey *
The Fashion Police - Sibel Hodge *
mrs. Jeepers' Monster Class Trip - Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thorton Jones *
So-so:

Salem 1692:  What Devil's Made them do it? - bruce Watson *

Awful:

NONE

Absolutely Hated:

NONE


* = owned

^ = library book

# = borrowed from a friend

@ = www.simplyaudiobooks.com


For more detailed reviews, go to: My Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/45128

Monday


Monday February 13th:



I was enthralled with the Grammys last night but I admit when Downtow Abbey came on I flipped the channel. I love this PBS Classic Mystery Series. If you do not know what I am talking about go to netflix and start with season one. It is well worth your time to watch this series.



With the passing of Whitney Houston and Etta James this year it seems to me we are losing so many great singers, stars and authors that we must support their work and see them while we can because life is as we have always known it to be "Too Short" and somehow these deaths bring the sentiment closer to home this week.



Tomorrow is Valentines Day and whether you support this holiday or not I hope everyone had a nice Tuesday. No make that a 'Terrific Tuesday' I will probably bake a meatloaf and cross stitch. LOL



We had our first real snow overnight and it's supposed to snow, rain freezing rain today but tomorrow the high will be 48 so I am not worried. Personally I like seeing the snow that has gathered on the trees to me this is a peaceful reminder of winter.



Everyone have a great Monday and I hope you're getting lost in a good book this week.



Love,

Pam

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Painting

How many of you like to paint? have you ever taken any art classes? Have you ever entered any art in a contest and won? has anyone ever done any stain glass? Did you liek working with stained glasss? Ever did any glass blowing?

Hugs,

Pam

Review - Killer Crullers


Killer Crullers by Jessica Beck is the sixth book in the “Donut Shop” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, January 2012

As owner of April Springs’s one and only donut shop, Suzanne Hart is privy to the deliciously personal, downright eccentric tastes of her customers. One man is crazy for crullers—heavy on the icing. But when he doesn’t pick up his order, a tall dark stranger buys the whole box. Which he tosses, one drippy cruller at a time, at her friend Gabby’s storefront next door.  The man claims that stolen family valuables ended up in Gabby’s thrift shop. His wild, weird behavior has Suzanne wanting to call the cops. But when he turns up dead—outside of Donut Hearts, no less—the cops come calling for her and Gabby. Can Suzanne prove that their role in the cruller-vandal killing is a cruel, albeit sugar-coated, twist of fate?

When a customer starts throwing crullers at Gabby and is later found murdered, the police immediately suspects her friend Gabby. When it looks like bad for her, Gabby asks Suzanne to find the murderer before she’s rolled in dough. I love the easy and steady flow of this well-written story. The mystery kept me turning the pages but what I enjoyed the most is the relationships between Suzanne, her mother and her friends. That is what keeps me coming back to this series again and again. I look forward to more adventures and possibilities in the next book in this wonderfully charming series.

Dru

 Previously posted at dru's book musings


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mystery Writers Conventions


Blog:

There are a lot of mystery writers conventions etc....my question today is ...

If you were going to a Mystery Writers Convention what authors would you like to hear speak and what would you like their topic/topics to be?

This doesn't have to be just cozy authors but all mystery authors are included.

Hugs,

Pam

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Presidents


With Presidents Day coming soon I thought I would ask..."Who is/was your favorite president?

Hugs,

Pam

Monday, February 6, 2012

Book Blog


Okay so it's February and all thoughts turn to romance. Howwever if you're like me you might like your romance with a twist. Such as a twist of the knife in someone's back, or you might like a dangerous man dark man.....maybe you like your romance with a dash of poison or a deadly encounter.

You see I am not exactly the hearts and flowers kind of woman I actually really enjoy Valentine's Day because it can show the many layers of a persons darkside.

So no matter what you read tell us some of your favorite authors who bring out the darkside of their characters? If you simply must talk about the sweet romance (which is fine) are there any that do it with humor? Maybe dark humor?

By way of Promo there are a lot of cozy authors whose book are being released this week and probably next week so be sure to visit your bookstore soon. Or your online bookstore soon.......

lastly has anything from the darkside of romance ever happened to you or anyone you know?

Hugs,

Pam

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review - Death by Killer Mop Doll


Death by Killer Mop Doll by Lois Winston is the second book in “Anastasia Pollack Crafting” mystery series. Publisher: Midnight Ink, January 2012

Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack’s stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia’s mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and the producer is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show’s new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer’s unforgiving spotlight.

What a fun read! This is a well-crafted and fast-paced story that kept me laughing as the book progresses to its dramatic conclusion. Once again, Anastasia find a dead body with one of her craft tools nearby and now must outwit a killer before she becomes a victim of her own tools. I like this story as Anastasia deals with the drama that is her dysfunction family and trying to find a killer in her roundabout way to the amusement of this reader. With quirky and eccentric but lovable characters and witty and amusing dialogue, this was very enjoyable and I look forward to more adventures in this entertaining series.



Dru

Previously posted at dru's book musings

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan


When 2012 began, it didn’t do so happily for me. Blind in one eye (because of surgery to correct a detached retina) and unable to see out of the other one very well even with glasses (mega-myopia), I was face down with my head in a holey Styrofoam pillow for two weeks and fumbling blindly for many more weeks after that. While I was stumbling around, unable to see properly, I managed to trip over some doggie steps and fell, splat, on my bedroom floor, fracturing my right pinkie finger in the process. It was a rough beginning. I had one semi-good eye (the right) and one more-or-less good hand (the left). Not particularly well balanced.

However, things are improving (including my attitude) with gusto. The surgeon (did I mention it’s a 400-mile round trip from Roswell to the surgeon in Albuquerque? Well, it is) said the retina is now fully attached, and he lifted all restrictions. That means I can drive—please swerve if you see me coming—and, more important, I can WORK again! Yay. That means I can make money to buy kibble for the wiener dogs. I have one last appointment with the surgeon in Albuquerque at the end of February, and then the local eye doc can decide what to do about the resultant cataracts. Did I mention that detached retinas almost always result in cataracts in the affected eye? Well, they do, and I’ve got one. I just hope I don’t lose too many more days of work and sight!

Then, just last week, I sold another book to Five Star. PECOS VALLEY RAINBOW will be published some time in 2013, which makes me very happy. Annabelle Blue will be finding dead bodies by the score in Rosedale, New Mexico, in 1923. She doesn’t mean to; these things just happen to her.

And then, to top off the month, my friend Lauren Fiedler, whom I’ve known for donkeys’ years, sent me two genuine, authentic, honest-to-God, vintage beaded dresses from the 1920s! These dresses are absolutely fabulous. Daisy Gumm Majesty might well have conducted a séance in one of them. I couldn’t make them hang properly, but I did manage to take pictures of them. Aren’t they wonderful? I’m going to pack them away and try to keep them as pristine as possible, but they’re almost a hundred years old and fragile. I just LOVE them!

By the way—and this is kind of a public-service announcement—watch out for the following symptoms, which might mean you have a detached retina. I had no idea a detached retina was such a big deal, but it is. If you let it go for more than 72 or hours so, you’re more than likely to lose the vision in that eye. So, watch out for: a funny feeling in the eye; not pain, just funny; sudden floaters (I kept looking to see where the fly was I just saw float by); and what they call a “curtain,” which is a blob in your eye. Mine was near my nose, so when I looked toward my nose, all I saw was a rounded bronze-looking patch. Be very careful. You only get two eyes, you know? I thought I was being hysterical when I called the eye doctor about my symptoms, but when I described them, I got an appointment for first thing the next morning, and as soon as it was diagnosed as a detached retina, I was told to pack a bag and hie myself to Albuquerque as they made arrangements for the surgery before I even left the office! Oh, and be aware that you’re going to need someone with you. I had to stay in Albuquerque for two days, but that’s because I live in the Middle of Nowhere. Sigh.

Here’s hoping the gas bubble in my left eye will go away completely pretty soon, and the year continues as it seems to be going. Mind you, one never knows about these things, but one can always hope.

Scandals all over the place

Every day it seems like there are more and more scandals of men behaving badly.  Weinstein, Moore, Franken, Spacey, Rose -- on and on it goe...