Friday, April 28, 2017

A Bee-stly Weekly Link Round-Up

My great-grandparents had a farm a few miles outside the village where I grew up. One of the family stories involves my great-grandpa running in from the fields one morning, jumping, hollering, and wildly swatting the air all around him with his straw hat. My great-grandma Katie ran out of the house shouting, "Ed! Ed! What's wrong, Ed?"  Still running and swatting, he bellowed, "Bees, by God!" Seems he disturbed some while working out in the pasture, and they were in full sting mode.

Bees, honey & pool chemicals do mix?
I've been thinking of this story a lot lately. Last week, I mentioned that Denis came within a whisker of angering a swarm of bees that were building themselves a home underneath our shed. Thank goodness the hundreds of insects surrounding him didn't sting him!

Well... the man must be a magnet for the honey producers because when he lifted the lid on a large storage bench that he keeps pool chemicals in, he disturbed another swarm of bees building yet another home! He also remained unscathed from this second encounter, but we're both wishing that these important little creatures would choose somewhere else to live. 

This isn't the first time we've had to deal with bees. They seem to love the shed. The first time they took residence beneath that structure, it wasn't pleasant. During the broiling heat of summer, they almost took over the birdbaths, and I was stung several times just by sitting in the pool reading a book and minding my own business. (By bees drowning, finding me as a liferaft, climbing aboard, and then stinging me if I moved in a way that scared them.)

That said, I'm going to look both ways before I open the door and head out to the corral for those links I've been saving up. Head 'em up! Mooooooooooove 'em out!

►Books, Movies & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • The great squirrel mystery of Chicago.
  • After being struck by a car, this hedgehog had a very special reason to fight for her life.
  • Have you ever seen a dog and a crow play fetch together?
  • A wildlife photographer was able to capture the rare sight of lion cubs just a few hours old.

►The Happy Wanderer◄

►I ♥ Lists & Quizzes◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Easy Go by John Lange (Michael Crichton)

First Line: The Great Pyramid of Cheops filled the horizon.

There's nothing better that brilliant Egyptologist Harold Barnaby loves to do than go back over translations of ancient hieroglyphics and correct all the errors he finds. That's how he finds a message that just might lead him to a tomb holding fabulous treasure. 

He could put his name on the greatest archaeological find of the century, but there's one slight problem: he doesn't just want to dig it up. He wants to steal it. Unfortunately he's going to need help accomplishing this. With the aid of a smuggler, a thief, and an English lord, Barnaby plans his heist. What none of them realize is that tomb raiding is much trickier than they thought.

I've been slogging through a raft of unlikable characters in my reading lately, and I needed a complete change of pace. I was in the perfect mood for an adventure about finding-- and trying to steal-- the lost tomb of a pharaoh. Written under the pen name John Lange while he was still a resident, Michael Crichton's Easy Go was exactly what I needed when I needed it. (The man wrote books while in medical school and as a resident? Did he need no sleep?)

Yes, the book has its problems. The romance was rather feeble. Not only did it not seem to have much purpose in the book, it didn't do a thing for me. The characters were also stereotyped, but that almost goes hand-in-hand with most thrillers where the emphasis is on plot over character. 

I was more than willing to overlook the weaknesses for the luscious story. Speaking of weaknesses, I have one for a heist story well told, and this one delivers. I've always been fascinated with ancient Egypt and wondered what it would be like to actually find a pharaoh's tomb. From finding one, it's not that big of a jump to wonder what you would actually do with all that treasure-- especially if you thought you had a good chance of stealing it.

If you love ancient Egypt and are in the mood for a bit of fast-paced tomb raiding, give Easy Go a try. You might just enjoy it as much as I did.

Easy Go by John Lange (AKA Michael Crichton)
eISBN: 9781480400580
Open Road Integrated Media © 2013
Originally published in 1968.
eBook, 288 pages

Thriller, Standalone
Rating: A
Source: Purchased from Amazon. 


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

May 2017 New Mystery Releases!

When I was a child growing up in central Illinois, spring brought me a special misery: when the sap started rising in the maple trees, I got sick. Well, I'm living in the Sonoran Desert, so I moved away from that particular ailment. Now when the sap starts rising, I want to get out and about and do things. That's how I feel right now, so I'm going to dive right into my picks of the new crime fiction available in May.

I've grouped them by their release dates, and I've included all the information you'll need to find them at your favorite book procurement locations. Book synopses are courtesy of Amazon. Let's not waste any more time! 

=== May 1 ===

Title: Dancing with Death
Author: Amy Myers
Series: #1 Nell Drury historical mystery set in 1920s England
ISBN: 9780727886859
Publisher: Severn House
Hardcover, 224 pages

Synopsis: "1925. The fashionable Bright Young Things from London have descended on Wychbourne Court, the Kentish stately home of Lord and Lady Ansley, for an extravagant fancy dress ball followed by a midnight Ghost Hunt – and Chef Nell Drury knows she’s in for a busy weekend. What she doesn’t expect to encounter is sudden, violent death.

When a body is discovered in the minstrels’ gallery during the Ghost Hunt, Nell finds herself caught up in the police investigation which follows. As the darker side of the Roaring Twenties emerges and it becomes increasingly clear that at least one person present that night has a sinister secret to hide, Nell determines to unmask the killer among them. Could the Wychbourne Ghosts hold the key to the mystery?

=== May 2 ===

Title: Murderous Mayhem at Honeychurch Hall
Series: #4 in the Kat Stanford cozy series set in a stately home in Devon, England
ISBN: 9781250065490
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Hardcover, 320 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "When the only copy of Ravished, Iris Stanford’s new manuscript, never arrives at her London publisher’s office, her daughter Kat investigates the tiny local village post office, where it appears the package never left the building. Iris is on tenterhooks―not only is her novel gone with the wind, but she’s deathly afraid that Muriel Jarvis, the postmistress and notorious busybody, will expose her secret identity as the bestselling romance writer Krystalle Storm. Meanwhile, Muriel has her own problems with the sudden death of her husband Fred, which has left her heavily in debt. In the spine-tingling climax, both past and present collide as Kat fights for her life and those she holds most dear, dancing once again with the dark forces lurking behind the grandeur of Honeychurch Hall."

Title: Killer Characters
Author: Ellery Adams
Series: #8 in the Books by the Bay cozy series set in North Carolina
ISBN: 9780451488442
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages

Synopsis: "Restaurant owner and aspiring novelist Olivia Limoges is happily enjoying her new marriage. Sadly, the same doesn’t hold true for Laurel, a fellow Bayside Book Writer. While struggling with a demanding job, twin boys, and a terminally ill mother-in-law, Laurel learns that her perfect marriage is mostly fictional. When she catches her husband fooling around with his mother’s hospice nurse, she issues impassioned threats that will later come back to haunt her.

After the nurse meets a deadly denouement, Chief Rawlings is forced to take Laurel into custody. While Olivia protests the arrest, the rest of the Bayside Book Writers become a group divided, with Rawlings and Harris on one side and Olivia and Millay on the other. Now the women must race against the clock to prove that Laurel’s not the sort for murder before her story ends in tragedy…

Title: Too Lucky to Live
Author: Annie Hogsett
Series: #1 in the Somebody's Bound to Wind Up Dead series set in Cleveland, Ohio
ISBN: 9781464207884
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Paperback, 316 pages

Synopsis: "Lonely and broke, Cleveland divorce-survivor Allie Harper believes all her problems would be solved if she could find a nice, smart, hot guy and enough money to get her car fixed.

The hot guy arrives first: he's in a crosswalk clutching a bag of groceries while a blonde in a Hummer is learning hard on her horn, sending the man's groceries and white cane flying. How has this woman missed that fact that the man is blind? From the curb, an outraged Allie jumps to his rescue, rebagging the groceries as well.

The money is in the bag. Literally- Thomas Bennington III, for that's who the handsome guy proves to be, has bought a MondoMegaJackpot ticket along with canned tomatoes. Allie takes him home and turns his groceries into dinner for two. Later that night, Tom hears the numbers announced. He's won. And he's less than thrilled. PhD Tom had gambled on the odds of losing (175 million to one) to prove a point to Rune, a kid from the projects he's befriended, that only losers buy lottery tickets. Instead, Rune, who'd helped pick the Mondo numbers, will share Tom's jackpot.

Allie and Tom grasp two things: one, they're hot for each other, and two, the ticket is a hot target, and now so are they. Every scheming weasel in Cleveland will be after Tom's millions. $550 of them. Yes, once the Mondo ball drops, it's game on with killers and kidnappers as players.

Allie and Tom need to get smarter about the threats all around them. On the run from one fancy hotel refuge to another and from one danger moment to the next, with only Allie s feisty landlady, Margo, and a couple of Cleveland cops for back-up, Allie and Tom evolve a strategy. First, turn in the ticket and claim the jackpot. Second, set up accounts to manage the millions. Third, stay alive to the end of the week…if they can.

Title: Your Killin' Heart
Author: Peggy O'Neal Peden
Series: #1 in the Nashville Mystery cozy series
ISBN: 9781250122681
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Hardcover, 272 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Nashville is an aspiring country music star. Campbell Hall, for one, just wants to get her travel agency off the ground and move on from a break-up. But when she gets the opportunity to visit the mansion of mysterious country icon Jake Miller, she jumps at the chance. After all, who knows what clues are lurking around the long-dead star’s last home?

But as Campbell pokes around, she discovers more than a few sequined suits and priceless memorabilia. She finds Hazel Miller, Jake’s widow, quietly resting in a bedroom on the main floor. But Hazel might just be dead quiet. And Campbell might just be the last person to have seen her alive.

Juggling the twisty plots of high-profile country stars with her blossoming business―not to mention the tattered remains of her love life―Campbell thinks she’s got everything figured out. But when the danger becomes personal, she must uncover a killer who will stop at nothing to get what they want―or face the music.

=== May 6 ===

Title: Less Than a Treason
Author: Dana Stabenow
Series: #21 in the Kate Shugak private investigator series set in Alaska
ISBN: 9781786695697
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Hardcover, 336 pages

Synopsis: "Kate Shugak is a native Aleut working as a private investigator in Alaska. She's 5'1" tall, carries a scar that runs from ear to ear across her throat, and owns a half-wolf, half-husky dog named Mutt. Resourceful, strong-willed, defiant, Kate is tougher than your average heroine—and she needs to be, to survive the worst the Alaskan wilds can throw at her. And throw their worst the wilds have: Kate and Mutt have both been shot."

=== May 9 ===

Title: The Thirst
Author: Jo Nesbø
Series: #11 in the Harry Hole police procedural series set in Norway
ISBN: 9780385352161
Publisher: Knopf
Hardcover, 480 pages

Synopsis: "The murder victim, a self-declared Tinder addict. The one solid clue—fragments of rust and paint in her wounds—leaves the investigating team baffled.

 Two days later, there’s a second murder: a woman of the same age, a Tinder user, an eerily similar scene. 

 The chief of police knows there’s only one man for this case. But Harry Hole is no longer with the force. He promised the woman he loves, and he promised himself, that he’d never go back: not after his last case, which put the people closest to him in grave danger.

 But there’s something about these murders that catches his attention, something in the details that the investigators have missed. For Harry, it’s like hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” Now, despite his promises, despite everything he risks, Harry throws himself back into the hunt for a figure who haunts him, the monster who got away.

Title: Edited Out
Series: #2 in the Mysterious Detective cozy series
ISBN: 9781683311997
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Paperback, 352 pages

Synopsis: "Rachel Goldman writes mysteries in which Duffy Madison, consultant to the county prosecutor’s office, helps find missing persons. Rachel is busy finishing up her next book, when a man calls out of the blue asking for help in a missing persons case. The caller's name? Duffy Madison.

Is this real or has she lost her mind? She doesn't have much time to find out because a serial killer is on the loose, kidnapping and murdering mystery authors. And Rachel may just be the next target.

Title: A Rising Man
Author: Abir Mukherjee
Series: #1 in the Captain Sam Wyndham historical series set in 1919 Calcutta
ISBN: 9781681774169
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Hardcover, 400 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "Calcutta, 1919. Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. He is immediately overwhelmed by the heady vibrancy of the tropical city, but with barely a moment to acclimatize or to deal with the ghosts that still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that threatens to destabilize a city already teetering on the brink of political insurgency.

The body of a senior official has been found in a filthy sewer, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India, or else. Under tremendous pressure to solve the case before it erupts into increased violence on the streets, Wyndham and his two new colleagues―arrogant Inspector Digby and Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID―embark on an investigation that will take them from the opulent mansions of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.

Masterfully evincing the sights, sounds, and smells of colonial Calcutta, A Rising Man is the start of an enticing new historical crime series.

Title: The Girl on the Bridge
Author: James Hayman
Series: #5 in the Mccabe police procedural series set in Maine
ISBN: 9780062661333
Publisher: William Morrow
Paperback, 368 pages

Synopsis: "On a freezing December night, Hannah Reindel leaps to her death from an old railway bridge into the rushing waters of the river below. Yet the real cause of death was trauma suffered twelve years earlier when Hannah was plucked from a crowd of freshman girls at a college fraternity party, drugged, and then viciously assaulted by six members of the college football team.

Those responsible have never faced or feared justice. Until now. A month after Hannah’s death, Joshua Thorne—former Holden College quarterback and now a Wall Street millionaire—is found murdered, his body bound to a bed and brutally mutilated.

When a second attacker dies in mysterious circumstances, detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage know they must find the killer before more of Hannah’s attackers are executed. But they soon realize, these murders may not be simple acts of revenge, but something far more sinister.

=== May 16 ===

Title: Two Lost Boys
Author: L.F. Robertson
ISBN: 9781785652783
Publisher: Titan Books
Paperback, 352 pages

Synopsis: "Janet Moodie has spent years as a death row appeals attorney. Overworked and recently widowed, she’s had her fill of hopeless cases, and is determined that this will be her last. Her client is Marion ‘Andy’ Hardy, convicted along with his brother Emory of the rape and murder of two women. But Emory received a life sentence while Andy got the death penalty, labeled the ringleader despite his low IQ and Emory’s dominant personality.

Convinced that Andy’s previous lawyers missed mitigating evidence that would have kept him off death row, Janet investigates Andy’s past. She discovers a sordid and damaged upbringing, a series of errors on the part of his previous counsel, and most worrying of all, the possibility that there is far more to the murders than was first thought. Andy may be guilty, but does he deserve to die?

=== May 23 ===

Title: The Long Drop
Author: Denise Mina
Standalone set in 1950s Glasgow, Scotland
ISBN: 9780316380577
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Hardcover, 240 pages

*Upcoming review on Kittling: Books

Synopsis: "In 1950's Glasgow, a household of women were found slaughtered in their beds. The father, William Watt, had a cast iron alibi but police were convinced he was guilty. Determined to clear his name, Watt let it be known that he would pay for information. Step forward career criminal Peter Manuel, with compelling details only the murderer could know. Watt agreed to meet him. They spent twelve hours together, driving and drinking in Glasgow pubs and clubs. No one knows what happened that night. The next time they met was in the High Court where Peter Manuel was defending himself against the murder charges. He called Watt as a witness and quizzed him about their long, shady night together. A fictionalized imagining of a real life case, THE LONG DROP is an explosive novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference."

=== May 30 ===

Title: The Chalk Pit
Series: #9 in the Dr. Ruth Galloway series set in England
ISBN: 9780544750319
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, 368 pages

Synopsis: "Norwich is riddled with old chalk-mining tunnels, but no one’s sure exactly how many. When Ruth is called in to investigate a set of human remains found in one of them, she notices the bones are almost translucent, a sign they were boiled soon after death. Once more, she finds herself at the helm of a murder investigation.

Meanwhile, DCI Nelson is hunting for a missing homeless woman, Barbara, who he hears has gone “underground.” Could she have disappeared into the labyrinth? And if so, is she connected to the body Ruth found? As Ruth, Nelson, and the rest of their team investigate the tunnels, they hear rumors of secret societies, cannibalism, and ritual killings. When a dead body is found with a map that appears to be of The Underground, they realize their quest to find the killer has only just begun—and that there may be more bodies underfoot.

I think you'll agree that there are some wonderful authors with new books being released in May! What books did you add to your Need to Buy lists? Inquiring minds would love to know!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Good Day to Buy by Sherry Harris

First Line: Love fades.

Sarah Winston hasn't seen her brother Luke in twenty years, and when he shows up on her doorstep, it couldn't be at a worse time. Just hours earlier, the garage sale Sarah was running was taped off as a crime scene after the discovery of a murdered Vietnam vet and his gravely injured wife-- Sarah's clients, the Spencers. Now Luke is here, asking her not to tell anyone in town, even her ex-husband the chief of police.

All Sarah knows is that Luke is undercover and investigating a story. Then he vanishes. As she searches for clues to where Luke may be hiding, Sarah comes across a list of veterans and realizes that she's going to have to find out who killed Mr. Spencer in order to find her brother. And all without telling her ex.

Although this is Sherry Harris's fourth Garage Sale mystery, it's the first one I've read, and I'm happy to say that A Good Day to Buy works very well as a standalone. I didn't feel lost once, nor did I feel bogged down in backstory. I was a bit reluctant to read a book that focuses on garage sales, but Sarah Winston doesn't focus on just those. We also read about her attendance at estate sales as well as working with art and antiques. So it's not just about people's "cast-off junk." (I think Harris also managed to raise my opinion of garage sales as I read.)

This is an excellent, multi-layered mystery that revolves around Sarah's estranged brother. It's a chance for readers to learn some of the main character's family dynamics... speaking of which, the relationship she has with her ex-husband is an interesting one. Sarah Winston is a main character I rapidly grew to like, and I had to smile when her friend Gennie laid down the law and insisted Sarah learn self-defense after finding herself in a dangerous situation once again. I know of several other main characters in cozy mystery series who should do the same thing. Gennie could have a flourishing career.

The mystery is solved in A Good Day to Buy, but the book ends on a cliffhanger with Sarah's personal life. I was very impressed with my first Garage Sale mystery, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I visit Sarah Winston again-- especially to see how that cliffhanger turns out.

A Good Day to Buy by Sherry Harris
eISBN: 9781496707529
Kensington Books © 2017
eBook, 288 pages

Cozy Mystery, #4 Garage Sale mystery
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley 


Monday, April 24, 2017

No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan

First Line: I kidnapped her.

Cora Chevalier is very happy to have ended her career being in charge of a women's shelter in the big city. She's finding that running craft retreats in a big old Victorian mansion in small town North Carolina to be supremely satisfying-- especially since she's working with her best friend Jane. 

Her second retreat, which is all about wildcrafting (using items found in nature to create all sorts of things), has barely had time to get started when the local nanny, Gracie Wyke, goes missing. Jane's young daughter is quite upset over Gracie's disappearance, and so is Gracie's boyfriend Paul. The police think Paul is responsible, but Cora believes the young man is in danger. But as Cora and Jane begin uncovering clues and a body turns up in an abandoned amusement park, they begin to question Cora's decision. Not only are they facing the very real possibility that an innocent person could go to jail-- this could put an end to Cora's new business and ruin her reputation.

First off, I want it known that I would love to attend one of Cora's craft retreats. The author makes them sound like so much fun, and I like how Cora can be doing two or three things at the same time yet still plan ahead for future activities like enlarging the kitchen so she can hold baking classes. 

Bryan has skillfully put together a very intriguing mystery. It took me a long time to figure out exactly what was going on, and I love that. 

As good as the mystery is, and as delectable as all the crafts are, it's the cast of characters that makes this series a winner. Even though she's seen more than her fair share of the evil in the world, Cora still has a heart of gold and tends to be too trusting. Her friend Jane, on the other hand, is way too suspicious. I know Jane's suspicion is being used to keep Cora's good intentions in check (or at least to make Cora think twice about them), but I find Jane becoming very annoying. I hope something happens in future books to dial that element of her personality down a notch or two.

Continuing with the characters, I like seeing how some of the people signed up for the retreat join in the crime solving-- and how they all pitch in when someone needs help. Mollie Cox Bryan's Cora Crafts series encourages readers to solve crime and feel good-- all at the same time. Bring on book three!

No Charm Intended by Mollie Cox Bryan
eISBN: 9781496704672
Kensington Books © 2017
eBook, 320 pages

Cozy Mystery, #2 Cora Crafts mystery
Rating: B+
Source: Net Galley


While Miz Kittling Knits: Dalziel & Pascoe

One of my fondest memories of my mother is of her sitting in her comfy chair in the evenings, knitting and watching television. Oh, good gravy! I am becoming my mother, aren't I?!? Breathe in. Breathe out. Br....

She made some absolutely glorious Irish knit afghans and sweaters. I still have the afghans, and let me tell you, I certainly appreciated those sweaters during those frigid Illinois winters! Well, now I'm finding out that I have a fascination for all those cables and other stitches that make up "Irish" knitting, too.

This is the Braid Cable Reversible Hiking Scarf that I made using size 8 needles and Red Heart Classic 100% acrylic yarn in a shade of green called Emerald. It's not my first attempt at cables, but I thought it would make a nice gift for a certain someone-- especially since the pattern is reversible. I do like patterns that have no "wrong" side, and this scarf is nice and warm!

Of course there are various ways that you can wear this scarf, but I thought I'd show the one with the best view of the cables.

I've been going through the hundreds of free patterns available at Ravelry, and I'll be honest: I've been drooling over several very complicated Irish knit scarves. I know I'm going to be trying one soon! 

What have I been watching while working on my cables? Dalziel & Pascoe, starring Warren Clarke as Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel and Colin Buchanan as Detective Inspector Peter Pascoe. Before I go any further, I'd better let the uninitiated know that Dalziel is pronounced Dee-ELL. Those Scots like to confuse us, just like Menzies is pronounced as though it were spelled "Mingus."

When Denis first immigrated, he began introducing me to as many British television series as he could, and Dalziel & Pascoe was one of them. He was only able to find two seasons available on DVD, but all the episodes are now on Britbox.

The series began filming in the mid-1990s and is based on the series of books by Reginald Hill. Set in Yorkshire, it features two of the most mismatched police detectives you'll ever see. Andy Dalziel is rude, crude, and never misses a chance to speak his mind-- no matter whom he might upset. Peter Pascoe is a university-educated man on the fast track to bigger and better things. When he isn't smoking, drinking, or scratching himself, Dalziel likes to make remarks that highlight Pascoe's high falutin' education and his own woeful ignorance... but if you pay attention, you soon see that Dalziel isn't nearly as dumb as he'd like you to think. Adding to this "chalk and cheese" mixture is Pascoe's wife, a very liberal and independent woman who, on principle, cannot stand the police.

As the series progresses, a bond forms between the two men despite their blatantly differing personalities. Dalziel & Pascoe is witty and thought-provoking and certainly holds up well over time. I am very, very glad that I found the series in its entirety because I really enjoy it. Perhaps you will, too.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hacking Our Way Through a Jungle of a Weekly Link Round-Up

It's been busy around here at Casa Kittling. Lots of things getting accomplished-- some of which should have been accomplished quite some time ago... although that would mean that we'd need to do them all over again by now. (One of the reasons why housecleaning, laundry, cooking, and gardening have never had much appeal for me; they never stay done.)

Casa Kittling's front garden?
One of the things we've been doing is rounding up a few things for a little trip we'll be making in the near future. I set myself the task of going through my closet to thin out the wardrobe. If I haven't worn something in the past year, it gets donated. One thing I've learned through this process is that Denis is much more sentimental about clothes than I am.

Probably the main thing we've done this past week is to hack our way through the shrubbery in our front garden. All the winter rain we received made our bougainvillea, Tombstone roses, yellow bells, fairy dusters (and more) go wild, and we've been too lazy to do anything about it. Somewhere deep down inside, we both found the intestinal fortitude to drag out our machetes and start hacking. We split the job equally-- almost. Unbeknownst to us, bees are building another hive under the shed, and when Denis began trimming the overgrown Tombstone roses, he was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of them. I think the only thing that saved him from getting stung was the fact that he hadn't really brought the trimmer down by the entrance to their (soon to be taken care of) home. My heart still wants to leap into my throat when I think of what could have happened!

Now we feel quite smug when we look at the fruits of our labors. It's nice to be able to have a clear view of the front of the house again! But I shouldn't rest on my laurels. Time to head on out to the corral. Those links are getting restless. Head 'em up! Mooooooooooove 'em out!

►Books, Movies & Other Interesting Tidbits◄

►Channeling My Inner Indiana Jones◄

►Channeling My Inner Elly Mae Clampett◄
  • Ten close-up shots of dragonflies. (I still think the first person to attempt making stained glass was inspired by dragonfly wings!)
  • Found: A new population of endangered tigers.
  • DNA technology and volcanic ash help pinpoint when the bison arrived in North America.
  • He should've known better than to use his drone to harass his neighbor's dog.

►The Happy Wanderer◄

►I ♥ Lists & Quizzes◄

That's all for this week! Don't forget to stop by next Friday when I'll be sharing a freshly selected batch of links for your surfing pleasure.

Have a great weekend, and read something fabulous!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Story to Kill by Lynn Cahoon

First Line: When Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again, Cat Latimer wondered if he knew he was full of crap

When former English professor Cat Latimer inherited a big Victorian house, she knew exactly what she wanted to do: host writers' retreats while she writes her own novels. 

The place is open for its first retreat, and bestselling author Tom Cook is one of the guests. Cat is thrilled to have him there even if she is wondering why on earth he came all the way from New York. He's going to be the perfect addition to her quirkier (and far less famous) attendees.

When there's an unexpected ending for Tom Cook in his cozy guest room, Cat has all the help she needs. Her high school sweetheart Seth is on the premises renovating the rooms and her uncle is the local police chief. She may have a lot of help on hand, but one thing is certain: she's got to find Tom Cook's killer before her brand-new business becomes the next victim.

Lynn Cahoon has written a very good mystery with an appealing main character. The setting is a winner, too, and I loved the house Cat inherited as well as learning how she and her business partner/friend Shauna had set up the retreat. This isn't the first cozy with a retreat-type setting that I've read, so I found it interesting that Cat hadn't thought to run background checks on her attendees either. That should probably be the very first tip in "Craft & Writers' Retreats for Dummies." (Don't google it; I made that title up.) I also wondered about having Seth do all that remodeling work on the house while the retreat was being held. There were supplies and tools out in the yard, a lot of hammering going on, and traffic with the aforementioned Seth and supplies on the same stairs the guests were using. As clumsy (and oblivious) as I know people can be, I would think Cat would finish the remodeling before she ran her first retreat to avoid possible injuries and law suits. I know, I know... she didn't have enough money to do it that way-- and Seth needed to be around a lot of the time.

With the exception of Shauna, Seth, and Cat's uncle, the secondary cast doesn't stand out much, and since I'm the type of mystery reader who doesn't like much romance in her whodunits, there was way too much tingling going on between Cat and Seth. Enough that I really don't care to read further in the series. But that's just me-- the love-is-in-the-air element may tickle you pink, and I hope it does. 

A Story to Kill ends on a bit of a cliffhanger concerning Cat's ex-husband, and it should draw you right into the next book in the series, Fatality by Firelight. Cat Latimer is a stellar main character and so is the writers' retreat setting. If romance is your thing, add that to what you will hopefully find to be a very enjoyable mystery.


A Story to Kill by Lynn Cahoon
eISBN: 9781496704351
Kensington Books © 2016
eBook, 320 pages

Cozy Mystery, #1 Cat Latimer mystery
Rating: B
Source: Purchased from Amazon.