Thursday, December 31, 2009

It’s Another New Year - Be Positive!

I’m not big into New Year’s resolutions for myself. I figure things like losing weight, exercising and being a better person are goals I should strive for all the time.

However I read an article recently that talked about the psychology of being positive, and it made some really great points that I’d like to repeat for myself and others.

The points are:

1. Refocus your perspective. Try to shift your thinking from negative to positive. Look for the good in life.

2. Be grateful. Remember and cherish the good times in your life.

3. Reconsider your pessimism of others. Try to look for the positive aspect in things or people you dislike.

4. Look for simple pleasures in small, everyday things.

5. Practice random acts of unexpected kindness to friends, neighbors and strangers.

So with those positive thoughts, I’d like to wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Done with “Mum’s the Word” by Kate Collins

There is a promo for this book that states: “Move over, Stephanie Plum. Abby Knight has come to town”. I don’t agree with that statement. To me Stephanie is more of a slapstick-like character than anything. She reminds me of Lucy Ricardo - always getting herself into crazy predicaments. I enjoy Stephanie’s exploits, but I don’t think Abby is like her.

This book is a little less cozy than many of the mysteries I’ve read. Not to say that’s bad. It’s quite a good read and there are many facets to the book that make it interesting. Abby’s quest for justice fuels the story, and we see the outrage she feels at those who commit crimes and get away with them.

Abby’s inability to deal with her mother’s vision for her life extends to her not being able to say ‘no’ to the hideous sculptures her mother makes and brings to Abby’s flower shop for her to sell.

And Abby’s co-workers Lottie and Grace are watching out for her welfare, whether it’s trying to set her up on a date or warning her to stop meddling. Grace is a Brit with a habit of spouting Shakespeare at all the appropriate moments. Abby sometimes thinks they are inappropriate moments!

Rounding out the cast of characters, there’s Marco, the man with the steel abs and a glint of gold in his eyes. Plus Nikki, Abby’s best friend and flighty roommate; and Simon, Nikki’s cat, who loves to play with rubber bands and straws.

I enjoyed this book. You can buy it here:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hot on the Trail

Re: “Mum’s the Word” by Kate Collins

Abby is investigating her case about the man in the black SUV who hit her car and then just drove off. In doing so, she becomes friends with the good looking new owner of a bar and grill down the street from her flower shop. The owner’s name is Marco Salvare. He is a former cop and dabbles in PI work along with running his new place.

Marco discourages Abby’s investigation at every turn, telling her to keep her nose out of things and let the police handle it. But like a good female-sleuth, she of course ignores his advice. He finds himself helping her against his better judgement because he is attracted to her and doesn’t want her to get hurt.

One evening they are hot on the trail of the black SUV driver. This leads them to the man’s uncle’s home and we find out he is quite rich and powerful. He has security lights and guard dogs. Rottweilers, in fact. Marco jokes that if the rottweilers find them, he will be singing soprano.

Funny they should mention rottweilers. Our back neighbor has two of them. The dogs are kept in the house most of the time. Our yard is fully fenced so the dogs will never get into our yard. Even so, I try not to be outside in our far backyard when the dogs are out because I’m not sure how territorial they will be. Will they consider our yard to be their yard? I don’t want to find out!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Black Sheep of the Family

Re: “Mum’s the Word” by Kate Collins

Abby feels she is the black sheep of the Knight family. Her mother wanted three things from her children: they should marry well, they should become doctors or lawyers and they should join a country club. Abby’s brothers have done all of these things. Abby has done none of them.

Abby says if it had been left to her, her mother would be totally unfulfilled. Abby hates country clubs, she flunked out of law school after her first year and her fiance backed out of their wedding. And grandchildren? Forget about it!

When Abby announced her intention to become the owner of a flower shop, her mother couldn’t understand why. She told Abby to resume her law studies. She said: ‘Just bring the dean a plate of brownies and he’ll let you back into law school’. Abby says if she brought the dean an entire brownie company, she couldn’t get back in!

Besides, Abby doesn’t want to be a lawyer, she wants to be a florist. Thus she will disappoint her mother yet again.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

“Mum’s the Word” by Kate Collins

I have the post-blizzard blues. The days are short. It’s very cloudy. Snow is piled high. When I took art classes, my instructor called me the ‘color person’ of the class. I love color and I used it in my drawings and paintings. So looking out the window to see white all around does not make me happy.

Instead of reading a holiday-themed book like I planned to do, I thought I’d switch gears and re-read the first book in the Flower Shop mystery series written by Kate Collins. The book is set in the hot summer and the female-sleuth, Abby Knight, owns a flower shop. A perfect escape for this time of year!

When I started this blog, I reading book three in the series “Dearly Depotted”. One of my goals in life is to be organized, so I thought I’d re-read and blog about book one in the series. It’s called “Mum’s the Word”.

We use ‘mum’ from time to time to indicate silence. In this case, it’s the police who are ‘keeping mum’ when it comes to answering Abby’s questions about the man in the black SUV who hit her car and drove off. There was a murder the same day, at about the same time that Abby’s car got hit, and she thinks there is a tie-in between the two events.

One thing Abby can’t keep ‘mum’ about is injustice. Mostly because her father was on the police force. Her co-worker Lottie has a cousin named Pearl who is being abused by her husband. Lottie asks Abby to provide Pearl with some legal advice, even though Abby flunked out of law school. Abby obliges and encourages Pearl to leave her husband. Then Abby starts having run-ins with Pearl’s nasty and abusive husband. No ‘mum’s the word’ for Abby!

(photo courtesy Stock.xchng)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Let it Snow - Please NO!

We had a blizzard yesterday. Over 15 inches of snow fell. There was no mail, no school. Government offices were shut down and many businesses and colleges were closed. City buses were not running.

Many people had no power. One friend said her house got down to 56 degrees. They were without electricity or heat for almost 12 hours. She spent the day in bed, under her down comforter.

Mid-morning we noticed two people trying to dig their car out of the snow. They had gotten stuck on our street. The snow plows didn't come to plow our street until late afternoon. We realized we could not go anywhere, even if we wanted to. It was a strange feeling.

We were fine. We had heat and electricity, and we spent the day watching DVDs of old TV shows and a holiday movie. When we weren't out shoveling and snow-blowing the driveway, that is. I actually enjoyed shoveling as strange as it sounds - the air was fresh, it wasn't too cold and the exercise felt good.

Many neighborhood kids took advantage of the snow day and were out on their sleds at the city park across the street.

So today life is slowly getting back to normal.

Here are a few pictures I took at our home:

Our back yard:

Snow piled on our deck railing:

Front yard: Snow piled on our spruce tree and on top of our lamp post:

Another front yard picture:

When we hear the song, "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow", I think we'll sing "Let It Melt, Let It Melt, Let It Melt" instead!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Done With “Murder Takes the Cake” by Gayle Trent

This is a comfortable, cozy mystery. In fact I got comfortable and cozy on the couch and finished reading it yesterday! In a nice surprise, the culprit was not who I thought it would be.

Author Gayle Trent makes Daphne into a very real, likeable character. Now I enjoy the Stephanie Plum character, but she isn’t real to me. She’s too much like a made up, story book character. Daphne isn’t. I feel like she could be my friend and I’m participating in her life, or reading HER diary!

We see into the business side of Daphne’s life and how she has to help her customers decide on the kind of cake they want. Plus there is a lot of information on baking and decorating cakes, and one recipe for Black Cat Cupcakes. Makes me want to stop over at our local bakery!

Here are some pictures I took of a Halloween cake we got a couple of years ago at that bakery. Isn’t it cute? It was good too! (The pumpkin and small stuffed cat are ours). Maybe Daphne could make a cake like this one!

You can buy the book here:

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Tell-Tale Diary

Re: “Murder Takes the Cake” by Gayle Trent

Not too long after Yodel’s death, Daphne receives a call from Yodel’s daughter Annabelle. Annabelle asks if Daphne could go back to her mom’s house and look for a diary. Annabelle says it’s a tell-all of the happenings in Brea Ridge, and feels that her mother might have been killed for it. Daphne reluctantly agrees since Annabelle is out of town.

Daphne’s friend Ben says the diary would make Brea Ridge seem like the infamous soap opera Peyton Place.

Daphne finds the diary and brings it home. She sneaks a peak at it and finds some very juicy gossip. Also some disturbing information about her own family. When Daphne approaches her Uncle Hal about the information, he tells her to leave it alone. Daphne finds she can’t.

How many of us have skeletons in our family closet? I know I have a few that I wish I didn’t know about!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Clever Acronyms

Re: “Murder Takes the Cake” by Gayle Trent

An acronym is a word formed from the first letters of another series of words or phrases. I think the best way to learn about acronyms is by seeing examples.

Daphne and her girlfriends have developed their own acronyms for men. HAG refers to Hot Available Guy. HUG refers to Hot Unavailable Guy. HAG is not too flattering, but Daphne and her friends know what this means. (LOL - Laughing Out Loud)

I came up with an acronym for YODEL: Yucky Odious Dreadful Evil Lady. She wasn’t well liked by the folks of Brea Ridge, Virginia!

My silly hubby came up with a couple more:
KISS - Kind Irresistible Sexy Single
NOVEL - Next Official Victim Ends Life
Right now Daphne has no hot guy in her life. But she has hooked up with her childhood friend Ben Jacobs, who now works as a reporter for the local Brea Ridge Chronicle newspaper. As they start to spend time together again, she wonders whether he is a HAG or a HUG.

Friday, December 4, 2009

“Murder Takes the Cake” by Gayle Trent

This book introduces us to female-sleuth Daphne Martin. She is divorced, age 40 and has just returned to her home town of Brea Ridge in southwest Virginia. She has bought a home and dreams of starting her own cake decorating business.

Daphne’s first customer is Yodel Watson. Yodel’s parents wanted to be famous singers, so they named their daughters Melody, Harmony and Yodel, and their son Guitar. And Yodel named her parrot Banjo. But she broke with the tradition (a good thing, I think) when she named her daughter Annabelle. (Daphne herself is named after author Daphne du Maurier).

Yodel is extremely picky, so Daphne is on her third cake and desperately hopes Yodel will like it. Unfortunately Yodel is dead as Daphne discovers when she arrives to deliver the cake. She summons the police and tells them “I just brought the cake”. Later the police discover that Yodel was poisoned. Now Daphne is finding that she has to convince many of the townsfolk that her cake was not the cause of Yodel’s death!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Winner in the Book Giveaway Drawing

We have a winner in the "Murder Takes the Cake" book giveaway drawing. One name was randomly chosen, and it is: Bev from Wisconsin.

Congrats to Bev and thanks to all who entered. I hope to have another book giveaway sometime.

And a special thanks again to Gayle Trent for donating the book and her time.

Done with “On What Grounds” by Cleo Coyle

There are a lot of interesting things going on in this book. Family issues, physical attraction, emotional entanglements and business concerns. Info about storing, roasting and brewing coffee. Clare’s ability to read coffee grounds, an art called tasseography and one that she learned from her grandmother. Recipes. And last, but not least, a mystery to solve.

Clare does solve the mystery of what happened to Anabelle and does so in a direct, caring and sometimes comical way. What happens to her in a New York City gay bar is quite amusing.

I’d suggest you grab yourself a cup of coffee and sit down to enjoy a very well written book.

You can get it here: