Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blue Skies

Re: “Catering to Nobody” by Diane Mott Davidson

I’m not typically a fan of long, flowery descriptions of things. For me a little goes a long way.

But this particular description author Davidson wrote caught my eye: “Overhead the sky was a deep periwinkle blue, as if a celestial housecleaner had spilled a bottle of bluing agent to the four corners of the earth”.

The mention of a housecleaner was made because at this point in the book, Goldy has to do some housecleaning to make ends meet since her business has been shut down.

I personally don’t have any experience with bluing agents but I have vacationed in the high mountains of California, Colorado and New Mexico, and I can attest to how blue the sky is on a clear day. (Goldy lives right outside of Denver Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains). I wonder if it’s because you are way up high in elevation and as such, are much closer to the sky? Or maybe one’s perception of color changes a bit because the air is thinner? Perhaps it’s a science-thing dealing with light refraction or reflection - I never was very good in science.

These are a couple of pictures from a trip we took to Yosemite National Park that I hope will show off the blue sky.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

“Catering to Nobody” by Diane Mott Davidson

This is the first book in the Goldy catering series. It’s been a very long time since I’ve read this so it’s a nice re-introduction to the series.

Goldy lives in Aspen Meadow Colorado and is a divorced mom of a young boy named Arch. Her birth name is Gertrude Bear and she uses her nick-name of Goldy because she has blond hair. She has a degree in psychology, but hasn’t found a way to pay the bills with it. Since she’s a good cook, she started a catering business.

The name of her business is a play on her own name, plus the story of Goldilocks and the 3 bears. It’s called “Goldilocks Catering, Where Everything is Just Right!” (Exclamation point is included).

This book starts out with Goldy catering at a wake for a deceased teacher - one of son Arch’s teachers in fact. Unfortunately Goldy’s ex-husband, John Richard Korman is there too with his new girlfriend. His initials are JRK - which Goldy thinks sums up his personality quite well. The Jerk. He was abusive to her during their marriage.

Goldy’s ex-in-laws are also there and during the wake, her ex-father-in-law becomes ill. Turns out someone has put rat poison in his coffee. Now Goldy’s livelihood is in danger because the authorities have to shut her business down while they investigate.

But there might be a silver lining - Goldy feels an immediate attraction to the chief police investigator, Tom Schulz.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Done with “Trick or Treat Murder” by Leslie Meier

The Halloween party at the old Hallett House goes quite well, except Lucy accidentally leaves her baby’s diaper bag at the place. When she gets home she discovers she has no diapers and even though it’s late, she decides to go and get the bag. When she arrives at the old mansion, it’s very dark and everyone has left to go home or on to other parties.

(Photo courtesy

Lucy feels it’s the very image of a spooky haunted house. But she bravely grabs her flashlight, tries the door (it’s open) and goes in to retrieve the diaper bag. She hears several noises that frighten her but she thinks it is mice and so keeps on going.

I don’t think I’d have the courage to do that, especially on Halloween eve with an arsonist on the loose! She debates with herself about going to the store to buy diapers - I think I would have done that instead.

Lucy does play a pivotal role in capturing the criminal. I like the way the Halloween theme was used in the book. There was a lot of emphasis given to Lucy caring for her baby and of her trying to find the time to do everything she needs to do in her busy life. I felt there could have been more emphasis on the mystery part of the story.

You can buy the book here:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Carving

Re: “Trick or Treat Murder” by Leslie Meier

Even though Lucy has had her car vandalized, received a threatening phone call and a warning note, she decides she is going to catch the arsonist before he has a chance to hurt anyone else. Despite the fact that her husband and the police don’t want her to get involved, she continues on her quest.

In the meantime her kids are carving the family pumpkin. Lucy has just seen a pumpkin carving demonstration where the final outcome was quite artistic. Pumpkins were carved like pieces of fine porcelain. Some had spiders carved in the sides. The person giving the demonstration urged people to use their creativity.

(Photo courtesy

So Lucy urges her kids to do something different, but they decide they want to stick with triangles for the eyes and the nose and a large toothy grin. Come to think of it, that’s how my Dad used to carve pumpkins when I was a kid!

(Photo courtesy

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Getting in the Halloween Spirit

Re: “Trick or Treat Murder” by Leslie Meier

The townspeople of Tinker’s Cove are getting geared up for the upcoming Halloween party. The high school’s art students are carving pumpkins and making decorations. Games are being organized, and the football boosters are lending their popcorn machine for the event.

And one woman is making her ‘famous’ black punch and she’s going to freeze gummy worms in an ice ring and put it in the punch. I don’t think I want that recipe!

Getting off topic: today I did some shopping at a major retailer. Saw a lot of Halloween stuff but also saw Christmas stuff too! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but I really don’t understand why we need to have Christmas stuff out before Halloween. But then again, every year like clockwork I get the J.C. Penney Fall & Winter catalog on my birthday - which is in JUNE!

Friday, October 9, 2009

“Trick or Treat Murder” by Leslie Meier

Well it’s October and Halloween is coming up. I really enjoy this time of year. Leaves changing color, cooler temps, apples & squash. That’s for me!

Thought I would re-read “Trick or Treat Murder” by Leslie Meier, featuring female-sleuth Lucy Stone. I don’t connect very well with Lucy herself, but I like the way that author Meier incorporates holiday themes into her books. This book occurs during October prior to Halloween.

Lucy lives in a small town in Maine called Tinker’s Cove. There have been a series of fires lately to several old buildings and each one has been explained away naturally. But the latest fire happens to catch the resident of a summer home visiting her cottage, the oldest house in Tinker’s Cove. She dies in the fire and the police rule it arson and murder.

Lucy is afraid that her house might be a target as it was built in the 1850’s. She has a hunch the fires are somehow connected and decides she is going to find out who is setting the fires.

But first she has promised to bake 12 dozen cupcakes for a Halloween party her friend Sue is organizing for the whole town in the historic old Hallett House. Doing the math, that’s 144 cupcakes!

If she needs any help, here is a recipe I found on for Halloween cupcakes:

Halloween Cupcake Trio

Turn purchased or cake-mix cupcakes into fantastic and delicious Halloween fare in just a few easy steps.

Time: 1 Hr
Makes: 24 cupcakes

1 container (16 oz) vanilla frosting
1/4 teaspoon orange concentrated paste food color
24 unfrosted cupcakes (purchased or baked from a mix)

Spider Webs:
1 tube (0.68 oz) black decorating gel (not food color)
8 clean plastic spider finger rings

2 tablespoons vanilla frosting (from 16-oz container)
8 candy-coated chocolate pieces
1 tube (0.68 oz) black decorating gel (not food color)
1 tube (0.68 oz) red decorating gel (not food color)

1 tube (0.68 oz) black decorating gel (not food color)
8 oval creme-filled peanut butter sandwich cookies
1/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
8 candy pumpkins


1. Place 3 tablespoons of the frosting in small bowl; set aside. Stir orange food color into remaining frosting in container until well blended and no streaks remain. Frost cupcakes.

2. To make Spider Web Cupcakes, use black decorating gel to draw spiral covering on top of each frosted cupcake. Drag toothpick through spiral from center out, creating a web. Press 1 spider ring onto each "web."

3. To make Eyeball Cupcakes, drop 1/2 teaspoon vanilla frosting from small bowl onto each frosted cupcake. Lightly press 1 candy-coated chocolate piece in center of each. Use black decorating gel for pupil and red decorating gel to draw red squiggly veins radiating around edge of white frosting.

4. To make Grave Cupcakes, write "epitaphs" on one end of each cookie using black decorating gel. Press cookies into cupcakes to form "gravestones." Sprinkle cookie crumbs around each "gravestone"; add candy pumpkin to one side.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Done with “The Mystery of the Fire Dragon” by Carolyn Keene

Finding Chi Che Soong leads the detectives to Hong Kong where Mr. Drew has a case and Nancy’s special friend, Ned Nickerson, is a college exchange student. He can speak a little of the Cantonese language and knows his way around so he can show them the sites of the city. Of course Bess and George come along. George even gets to impersonate Chi Che as she looks very similar to the missing girl.

The version of the book I have was written in 1961 and has some interesting trivia about Hong Kong. At that time, Hong Kong was a British colony but in 1997 sovereignty was transfered to China. According to Wikipedia, the official name is: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong has a high degree of autonomy from China.

This is a good book in the Nancy Drew series. You can buy it here:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"The Mystery of the Fire Dragon" by Carolyn Keene

I haven’t read a Nancy Drew book for awhile. I started re-reading the classic series over a year ago and have slowed way down. My favorites are in the first 30 or so books. (I really like The Secret in the Old Attic).

The Mystery of the Fire Dragon is book number 38. This book finds Nancy and her female-sleuth chums Bess Marvin and George Fayne going to New York City to visit Nancy’s Aunt Eloise Drew. They are immediately involved in a mystery surrounding the disappearance of Aunt Eloise’s young Chinese neighbor, Chi Che Soong. Miss Soong lives next door with her elderly grandfather. Grandpa Soong, as he likes to be called, is writing a book about ancient Chinese archaeology.

Nancy notices some stationery in Grandpa Soong’s apartment. There is a hand-painted dragon on one of the corners of the paper. He explains that dragons are sacred symbols of ancient China. Legend says they are gods of thunder and that clouds are a dragon’s breath. They bring life-giving rain so the rice crops will grow and sustain the people.

Wikipedia says that Chinese dragons are portrayed as long, scaly, serpentine creatures with four legs. Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent powers and have control over water, rainfall and floods. In contrast, European dragons are considered to be evil.

Very interesting!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Take the Poll Regarding Books in a Series

Have you found yourself enjoying the first book in a series and decide to continue on with it, only to find that later books are just 'so-so'? That you eagerly await the release of the next book (maybe even write the date on your calendar), and to your disappointment, find the series is heading south?

Do you say 'enough is enough' and move on? Or do you feel a need to see the series through to the 'bitter' end?

I'm at the point of deciding what to do with a couple of my favorite series. I have decided that I will keep reading them, but I will not buy the books new. I'll see if my local library has them or I will scrounge around eBay to see if I can pick up a cheaper copy.

I realize the authors are trying to make a living - and yes, it's very easy to criticize since I've never written a book, much less several books - but if you find your sales going down, maybe you should read some reviews and comments about your latest book. If your readers aren't happy, then go back and re-read your first book and maybe you can recapture some of the magic you made for your readers in creating these characters.

What are your thoughts? Please vote in my poll. Comments are also welcome.