Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: The Semester of our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn

Lila is teaching at a private school in Colorado and working on her tenure track.  The misogynistic department head is murdered and her cousin is jailed for the crime.  She knows she didn't do it but what are the secrets she is hiding?

The first victim, Roland was a horrible person and suspects are a dime a dozen.  His brother Eldon is equally unlikable.  Their determination to not allow female authors or genre fiction in the department is an ongoing battle in schools that is (hopefully) slowly changing.  So much of what we learn is dependent upon what we are exposed to.  

This book was rich in setting and a delightful time in ugly academic politics and secret societies.  A very fun read!

Terri

Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettman

Katie is in a funk. She choked on her Sommelier test and her dreams seem farther off now.  To take her mind off it, she goes to a party at the Winery where her best friend, Tessa, works.

When Tessa's boss is murdered at the party and tessa is a prime suspect, Katie works with the detective on the case to clear her friend's name.

Each chapter lists a wine pairing and the knowledge of wine is fascinating.  Katie is very likable and a smart sleuth who has a good balance of sense and confidence.  Her friend Tessa, on the other hand, seemed like a flake and got on my nerves a few times.

A well deserved Agatha Award nominee.

Very fun book!

Terri

Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: Vampire Dead-tective by Mac Flynn

Liz's world is turned upside down when her roommate is murdered.  It turns out he had a big secret.  He left a ring and when she puts it on, she is bound to a vampire, Vincent.  Cops and werewolves are after her and she has to figure out all that is happening.

So, I enjoyed the book, but Liz was so annoying with her whining and stubbornness.  There were times I wanted to shake her and say you are going to get yourself killed - stupid.

That said, Vincent is a jerk too - who really wasn't explaining anything to her and just expecting her to come along with him.

A lot needs to be sorted out between the two of them before I will like either one.

Terri

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Emergency Cupid - RA Naquin

Ellen is the #1 Cupid in the agency.  When a love bomb goes off, she is assigned to clean it up and fix the bad matches it created.  A perfect task for a woman who takes order, rules and so on to the extreme.  Only a Chaos agent is assigned to observe her work and it turns out Ellen is the one who needs some Chaos in her orderly life to learn to have fun and be happy.  Sexy firefighter Wyatt can help her with that.

A cute and charming story.

One of the things I really enjoyed in this cozy romance, is that though she created the most love matches of all the Cupids, she had the highest divorce rate as well.  It was important to her to pair like individuals and she learns through all that happens is love is more complex than that.

Terri

Monday, April 10, 2017

TV Review: You the Jury

You the Jury

A new show on Fox friday nights.  I watched the first episode because it seemed like an interesting and yet bizarre concept.  In one hour, they present both sides of a civil case and then the watchers have 4 minutes to vote for or against the plaintiff.  I could not imagine how they could present enough facts etc... for people to make an informed decision.  Well, they really didn't

The first episode was the case of Gary Giardano.  I remembered the case, he went snorkeling with a friend, Robyn, and she was supposedly swept out to sea in Aruba.  He was never charged with anything.  Her sister was suing him for wrongful death.

Her lawyer - Joe Tacopino, his - Jose Baez.  Each case present testimony some of which is just video recordings of people.  The court is full of clapping and cheery or boos when they like or dislike a point.  Really?  talk about not appropriate...

The 'evidence' was a lot of supposition and not a lot of facts as far as I can tell.  Obviously presented in flamboyant ways - this is all about playing on tv.

What astounds me is that people would agree to have their cases settled this way.  The verdicts are binding but how can people make unbiased fair decisions based on a few minutes presentation of dramatic soundbites?

I watched rather like a deer in the headlights and was horrified that they could call this craziness justice.

Terri


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Scary Mary by SA Hunter

Mary has a gift to hear ghosts.  As a result, she is a Pariah in her school given the nickname 'Scary Mary'.  A new boy in town, befriends her and she is excited he seems willing to see past all that.  Then an impromptu seance at his house changes everything.  A malevolent ghost causes all sorts of trouble and Mary is blamed for it.  Now things are worse than ever and Cy wants nothing to do with her.  Yet she feels she needs to do something about the ghost before Cy or his family are hurt.

A quick, fun read.  What I like the most is that Mary is no victim and will fight like a hellcat when she needs to!  The fight against the ghost was quite engaging.

Terri

Monday, April 3, 2017

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan



Kind of creepy and crawly, if you know what I mean.

For one thing, I made a quick trip to California, primarily to visit one of my dearest friends who is mortally ill. I figured I’d rather see her in person one last time than go to her funeral. The month didn’t get much better from there, as it was fraught with my own health issues, veterinarian bills and plumbing problems. Grumble.

Therefore, since I’m sick of it all, this month’s blog isn’t going to be about any of that bad stuff. It’s going to be about the kinds of research a person who writes historical novels has to do. Because I write books set in the 1920s, I need to know a lot of stuff about the area in which the books are set. In the case of my Daisy Gumm Majesty books, that means I get to learn about Pasadena and Altadena history. Sometimes this information isn’t as easy to come by as figuring out what people did and ate in ancient Rome. The ‘twenties are historical, but they’re recent enough that some things aren’t well documented.

For instance, I had to find out what law-enforcement agency took care of crime in Altadena, California, in 1924. Altadena is a smallish (well, it used to be smallish anyway) community just north of Pasadena. Unincorporated, it’s part of Los Angeles County, but it’s not officially part of Pasadena. So, I looked on-line and couldn’t find out. Then I decided what the heck and called the Altadena Historical Society. Darned if my question wasn’t answered by a woman with whom I went all through school! I mean, we met years ago. Plus, we evidently looked so much alike when we were kids, our parents often tried to pick up me when they wanted her and vice-versa. However, Kathy found out for me that the Altadena area was served by the Los Angeles County Marshal’s Office, and that their headquarters were pretty much on Lake Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. Mind you, Foothill Boulevard, where Mrs. Bissel in my Daisy books lives (in the house my aunt used to own), was renamed Altadena Drive in the 1950s or 1960s, but it’s still there. The marshal’s office was just down the road and across the street a bit from Mrs. Bissel’s house.

Then there’s food. Daisy’s Aunt Vi is one of the better cooks in the universe. In fact, if she were a man at the time the books are set, she’d have been called a chef and made boocoo bucks. Boocoo, by the way, is an expression from the 1920s. Anyhow, from time to time, I also have to find out what people ate back then. It’s fun research to do, because I love food. But cooking was a heck of a lot harder back then than it is now. No blenders. No food processors. No Instant Pots (although folks used pressure cookers). No automatic dish washers. No electric mixers. No plastic or aluminum wrap, although they did have waxed paper. No store-bought bread, for Pete’s sake! Fortunately for Daisy and her family, Vi makes the best bread in town.

And today I had to look up meatloaf. Meatloaf? Yes, by golly, meatloaf. Good thing for me one of my dear Facebook friends, Andie Paysinger, is a genius at cooking history. She and my niece Sara Krafft (also a research maven) both showed me to a great web site for researching food history (http://www.foodtimeline.org). Meatloaf for most of us is a pretty easy meal to prepare, and I personally love it.
However, life was different in the 1920s. For one thing, in order to make a meatloaf, Aunt Vi had to grind her own beef, pork, veal, chicken, and/or whatever other kinds of meat she wanted in her loaf. Not a problem, because Vi had one of these handy-dandy tools:



Oddly enough, my mother had one (and I still have it) that looks precisely like that. It probably dates from the same era, too.

Then, of course, we return to the problem of bread. It wasn’t pre-sliced or store-bought in those days. You had to knead your flour, yeast, water, milk, butter and/or whatever, form it into loaves, and then bake it in your own oven. Fortunately for Aunt Vi, both her employer (Mrs. Pinkerton) and her family have self-regulating gas stoves. However, after you bake your bread, you then have to cut it. Both Daisy and I suffer a deficit in the bread-cutting area. We can’t cut a straight piece of bread from a loaf to save ourselves. Fortunately, Daisy has other people in her life who can cut bread for her. I’m stuck all by myself with odd-looking slices of bread. What the heck. There are worse problems to have. Here’s a picture of a lovely stove Aunt Vi might have cooked on at the family’s residence. Needless to say, Mrs. Pinkerton, who is rich as Croesus, has an even bigger and fancier one in her mansion.

Oh, and no chopped nuts! You had to crack your own nuts and chop them if you wanted to use nuts in something. Wow. Life must have been hard indeed. But you could still use your self-regulating gas range once you prepared your nut loaf.



One thing Pasadena had in the 1920s is still alive and functioning: Mijares Mexican Restaurant. While I was in Pasadena to visit my friend, I also saw my younger daughter, Robin, and my younger grandson, Riki, quite often. Riki and I had lunch at Mijares, by gum! Great place. Always was. Still is.



But enough of that. I’ll be in touch with the winners of March’s giveaway book, FALLEN ANGELS, individually. I might even get the books mailed out in April, too! At the end of April, I’ll be giving away a few copies of UNSETTLED SPIRITS, Daisy’s tenth (actually, it’s her eleventh) adventure. 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/) or email me (you won’t be smothered in newsletters, because I only write one blog a month). If you’d like to be friends on Facebook, visit my page at https://www.facebook.com/alice.duncan.925.

Thank you!



My favorite time of year: Blog

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