Thursday, August 27, 2009

NEW RELEASE by Sharon Potts - In Their Blood

COMING IN SEPT 2009. It's a new release by Sharon Potts. And you can see it is called In Their Blood.

This is a very special book for the author. The reason it is so special is because it is her first novel. After getting the opportunity to read the book before it is actually released, I must say I was impressed. The author definitely put her best foot forward and spent a lot of time getting it right. Here is the link to the author's web page -

Let me tell you a little about the story. First, the protagonist is Jeremy Stroeb - a son. He dropped out of college in his senior year and went travelling in Europe because he was dissatisfied. He was not ready to be responsible and live a life like his parents did. He once had a good relationship with his father but the relationship was now strained because his dad wanted him to come back home and be responsible.

His mom and dad (and sister) just return from a trip to Europe - after trying to convince him to return home. It takes the events that occur that night to bring the young Jeremy back home.

His sister, Elise snuck out of the house that night to go see her boyfriend. While she was gone, somebody came into the house and kills the parents. It was the death of his parents that makes Jeremy come back home. But Jeremy half suspects the joke is on him and that he will return to find out his parents are not dead - and this only angers him.

When he discovers his parents are indeed dead, he experiences some remorse and is determined to find out who murdered his parents and why. To top it off he learns that his Uncle Dwight has been named as the alternate guardian for his sister - provided Jeremy does not take that responsibility. Why does this frustrate him? One because his parents have placed him in this position. Also because his uncle says Jeremy can not handle the responsibility. His uncle and aunt never had kids because they chose not to. Now they are going to accept this responsibility (and the estate that come with it).

By all appearances it seems Jeremy is going to accept responsibility and his uncle vows to prove he is irresponsible. Jeremy gets a job with the accounting firm his mother had worked at and he registers for evening classes at the school where his dad was a professor at. He was intent on finding out if the murderer was somebody who worked with either his mom or dad. What he did not expect was to discover things he did not know about his parents.

Needless to say, there are a number of potential suspects. And there are a number of things Jeremy has to learn along the way.

This is all I am going to say about the story - don't want to give it away. But there is a quotation I have heard before - Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!! Good quote but sometimes it may be difficult to distinguish between the two.

A final thought - this review cannot do justice for the book - it's merits stand on it's own!!! Great job by a new author.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

WORMWOOD by Susan Wittig Albert

I know ... I know. The title of this post is direct and to the point. It is the title of the book (Wormwood) I read and the author's name (Susan Wittig Albert). I usually have something different for my post title but sometimes ... what can you do.

This is the latest book in the China Bayles mystery series (number 17) and I do love this series. Yes ... Susan Albert is one of those Texas authors and China Bayles is one of those Texas characters I love to read about.

(By the way, thanks again to Meadowview Thymes for introducing me to the China Bayles series.)

I remember hearing there were some complaints about this book. I do not know specifically what the complaints were. Now that I have read the book, I have NO clue as to what the complaints might have been about.

The author did some interesting things in this book - and with China. When China goes away to get away from it all, she just finds herself in the big Middle of not just one mystery but also a mystery from the past. It was interesting to see the parallels between what happened in the past and what happened in China's present. Even China finds herself in a dream connection with the past.

I must say I was not that familiar with the Shaker culture but Susan Albert (and China) definitely gave me a taste of it. I thought the format used by Susan Albert in the book was good. There were chapters involving China (in this historic Shaker village) interspersed with chapters about the story in the past. Sometimes these chapters about the past were just letters and journal entries from the past but that made it more historical and gave it validity - since this Shaker village was a tourist attraction similar to the Alamo.

Finally, I think Susan Albert did a great job in making China a little more human - somebody we can relate to. That is why I enjoy reading mysteries - what about you?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Reading: Brought To You By ....

School starts back up REAL soon and this brings to mind a saying I have heard (or seen) somewhere. If you can read this, thank a teacher. It is a simple and short saying but it certainly does not say it all. A teacher does more than teach how to read.

Let me go ahead and say this to ALL teachers now ... THANK YOU!!! I want to share with you about two of my former teachers and then I will tell you why.

The first teacher I want to tell you about is Mrs Sullivan. She was my 4th period English teacher at Kirby Jr. High in Houston, TX. She was also the faculty person responsible for the school newspaper. One day she gave us an assignment - to write a story for the school newspaper. I do not remember the specifics but I wrote my story about the sounds of 4th period - like pencils being sharpened, the sound of the second hand on the clock, stomachs growling in anticipation of lunch. Later the teacher pulled me aside and told me she was not going to put my story into the paper yet. She told me it was a timeless story and could apply today, next week, or even next month.

The next teacher I want to tell you about is Mrs Susan Young at J. Frank Dobie High School in Houston/Pasadena TX. She was a teacher of mine in several classes. One day she was giving us instructions for a writing assignment that included typing the report - margins, spacing, etc. I raised my hand to ask a question and she recognized me. After I asked my question, she made an exaggerated look of surprise on her face and said, "He actually speaks!" Then she smiled and answered my question.

These are just two of the special teachers I had when I went to school. Now to get to my point. LISTEN ALL TEACHERS. When I said thank you earlier it may have sounded hollow to you because you do not know me. But just think of those kids you teach or have taught. It has been more than 30 years (almost 40) since I was taught by these teachers - but I remember them still. While I may not be able to tell them personally that I am grateful to them, they have still made an impression on me and for that I am thankful. We are not always timely with our thanks but it is still there. So again ... THANKS!!!

Can you imagine those former students of yours (30 years and more down the road) who will still think about you? We may not remember everything you taught us but we will remember you!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Name Dropping - Willard Scott

The Book Cottage 1456 Belt Line Rd # 115 Garland, TX (972) 495-0051
Yes – I am dropping a name some people may be familiar with. But I am not just dropping his name for the heck of it. I knew Willard Scott was on television and had seen him on the today show. What I did not realize was that he was also an author of some mystery books – and I do read mysteries. I ran across one of his books at a local independent bookstore in Garland , TX – A Book Cottage. He co-authored the book with one of my favorite Texas authors – Bill Crider. The name of the book is Murder Under Blue Skies. Now I am not sure what it means when you have a co-author but this book definitely reflects Willard Scott. It is not a real complicated mystery but it definitely is FUN!!!

The sleuth is called Stanley Waters – a former weatherman himself who decided to return to his hometown and open a bed and breakfast. He had no interest in becoming a sleuth. - then a murder occurs at the grand opening party of his bed and breakfast.

He also was not expecting to rekindle a romantic relationship with a girl from his past. She is now the chief of police in his hometown. This is not a heavy romance but almost like a teenagers' first romance - very simple. He is very subconscious around her and finds his bald head getting red at times.

No more about the story now. There was one other interesting thing about the book though. At a few spots before new sections of chapters begin, the author includes little "weather cliches". Here is one he uses in this book - if trees keep their leaves until late in the fall, a bad winter will follow.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Just Three Steps More -- A Misterreereeder Original

Just three steps more!!! If he would have just taken three steps more, he would not have found himself in this situation. He could not think why he did not – heck he was not thinking at all!!!
It was dark and he could not find what he was looking for. That is when he started thinking - where is it –and – where am I? He was reaching around and trying to find something familiar. He could not locate a light switch.

He banged into the wall on his right. Not just once but several times. Then he heard her scream but he was in a haze and could not respond. Then he hears a door open around the corner and hears a voice, “Is everything ok in there?” He mutters, “Yes” but that is all he can say. He is still confused.

It must have been the pill he had taken. He had not slept through the night the night before and he wanted to be sure he would get enough rest tonight.

Now he seems to realize what had happened. He had not taken enough steps before he turned. So he backed tracked, hit the wall a couple of more times, and took those extra steps he had missed before. Once he had finished, he returned to his bed. Then she asked him what the heck was going on. “I got lost going to the bathroom.” She burst out laughing but he just turned over and went back to sleep.

He would not remember in the morning if it was real or if it was just a dream.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Discussion Group Selection For August

Our August mystery group selection was a pleasant surprise for me. It is called Still Life and was written by Louise Penny. This is the first in the series with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as the sleuth. I am not certain who in the group suggested this book but .... it is a thumbs up from me. HERE IS THE VOTE BY THE GROUP - 9 THUMBS UP!!!

This story takes you north of the border in Quebec and some of the language and words was different for me. And I thought I knew what "tabernacle" meant? Obviously there are some other ways to use the word.

A lady in Three Pines is found dead and the Inspector comes in to investigate. Could her death have been due to a hunting accident? This is for the Inspector and his team to find out - And things do not add up. The mystery is definitely there. But there was more to this book than just the mystery I enjoyed. It so happens the woman who was found dead is an artist of sorts. Lot of people in this town are artists of one type or another. The author of the book did a great job describing the painting by the dead woman. So well as a matter of fact that I was sure I have seen the painting. And I am not typically into art and painting.

Another thing I believe the author did well ... describing characters in the story. Not just a physical description of the characters but some good character development as well.