Friday, December 19, 2014

'Mousetrap' Play (Agatha Christie)

"On a snowy night at Monkswell Manor, newlyweds Mollie and Giles welcome a group of strangers to their guest house, only to discover news of a murderer in their midst! A police investigation reveals the sordid details of each guest's mysterious past, but not soon enough to stop the killer from striking again. Agatha Christie's masterful whodunit weaves an intricate plot filled with nerve-rattling suspense, all leading up to the ultimate final twist!"
-From the website

Mom took me to see Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap at the Footlights Theater last Saturday. We handed over our tickets and walked into the  main theater. I followed Mom. She walked down the steps…past seats…past half the rows…past all of the rows. We sat in the first row! When I stretched my leg out, my foot was on the level stage. During the performance, sometimes the actors would walk toward us and I actually hunched back a couple of times because they were so close – it was great!

The actors did a splendid job.
Joey deBettencourt played Christopher Wren and he was superb. He reminded me of David Tennant in Randall and Hopkirk - completely crazy and awesome. He laughed at inappropriate times and made the other characters feel so uncomfortable that you felt uncomfortable. Then he would break out in song or say something so off-the-wall that the audience laughed, thus lifting the tension.
Greg Matthew Anderson was also wonderful as Sergeant Trotter. He was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. I found myself staring at Joey deBettencourt or Greg Matthew Anderson when they were on stage, even if they weren't talking or the focus was elsewhere.
Patrick Clear played Major Metcalf and he reminded me of every kind, old, retired military person ever played in any movie, TV or play - and that's meant as a compliment. He was perfect and played his part to perfection. (And he was on Early Edition!)
Laura T. Fisher was Mrs. Boyle. She, also, played her part to perfection. She got all the straight lines that others would play off.
Lindsey Pearlman as Miss Casewell was a perfect fit. She was Miss Casewell. When she wasn't delivering a line, she was listening, reacting. She was fantastic.
Joe Dempsey played Mr. Paravicini and I loved how he used the accent to make his character come alive. Mr. Paravicini was another one who was a little bit crazy and said the most inappropriate things at the worst times - delightful for the audience, not so much for the other characters. (And he was on Early Edition, too!)
Cora Vander Broek played Mollie Ralston and was a delight to watch. All she wanted to do was run her new bed-and-breakfast but everything conspired against her, from the weather to her strange guests and, of course, a killer.
Keith Neagle played Giles Ralston, Mollie's husband. He was excellent! Whenever his character was interrupted, he held back, looking like he either wanted to murder the person or wait for his turn to speak. You weren't sure which!
The clothes were old fashioned, the set dressed simply but elegantly and the accents were pretty good. I think my favorite detail was the snow outside the window. Facing our awesome seats - a little to the right - a big picture window (that opened and closed, allowing two characters to exit as needed) seemed to look outside. You knew it led backstage, you knew we were deep inside a building, in a windowless room, yet it really looked like a huge winter storm blew outside this fake window. “Snow” fell during the entire play. There was a sound, natural and familiar. It was low enough that you didn’t quite realize you were hearing a blowing wind. I think the scene was set so perfectly that we all fell for it. I know it was the middle of December and it’s quite possible the theater was kept cold, but I was freezing. At intermission, I looked around to see if it was just me, but everyone was huddled in their winter coats. I still don’t know if it was the temperature or our minds.

The performances were so enjoyable and the time flew by.  Naturally, afterward, Mom and I talked about all sorts of little details of the mystery and how it compared to the actual book – without spoilers because I haven’t read this one (or did so, so long ago that I don’t remember it). There was a whole character Mom didn’t remember being in the book. I also got an idea for a mystery plot, too. Nothing like what was in the play but something made me think of a cool line to travel down. (I'll have to remember to link to this post after I write it!)
We went home and I went to a Christmas party. We met up later in the evening at our writer’s group's game night. She told me while I was at the party, she went to the bookcase and reread Mousetrap.

All in all, a lovely, wonderful evening.

Thank you, Mom!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

'Antiques Slay Ride' Review

Antiques Slay Ride (A Trash 'n' Treasure Mystery #7.5) by Barbara Allan

About the book:

"Ho Ho Homicide. The Christmas rush is on as Brandy Borne and her quaintly quirky mother, Vivian, sniff out plum collectibles for resale, only to find the owner of a Santa's workshop worth of treasures has received some deadly tidings. It's beginning to look a lot like murder...but who wanted the deceased closed for the holidays-permanently? Maybe a rival antiques dealer, a Grinch who collects Christmas? Or the victim's suspiciously frosty stepchildren? Brandy and Vivian check their list of who's been naughty or nice, but it may take a Christmas miracle-and some help from Sushi, their elfin shih tzu-to tie a bow around the season's most wanted killer!"

19,500 Words

My Review:

At first, I was thrown by the style of writing. There are many so-called rules of writing and the good authors break them successfully. This author (Barbara Allen is really two authors collaborating - Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins) does whatever she wants and I warmed up to it very quickly. The short story switches from first person Brandy (daughter) to first person Vivian (crazy mother) - which is becoming more popular - but in this series, they sometimes talk to us!

During a scene, the mother or daughter will break into the other's narration and they start arguing with one another. Then the editor steps in. It's oh so wrong and works oh so perfectly!

I love how the narrator will refer to a past event that took place in a previous book - and states which book to read for it. Right in the middle of the story!

The book was funny, easy to follow (once you get used to the broken fourth wall) and a Christmas delight. I love the characters, love the blind dog, and can't wait to read the rest of the series. This is a short story, hence the #7.5, but I can't wait to read a full-length tale told by these two characters.

I have to share my favorite quote from Antiques Slay Ride:

"Ekhardt's fame began in the 1950s when he got a woman off scot-free for shooting her abusive husband in self-defense. In the back. Five times. For a good while after that, husbands around here really went out of their way to be especially nice to their better halves."

I just love the humor!

Check out Barbara Allan here, Barbara Collins here, Max Allan Collins here.

Foodies Read 2015 Reading Challenge

Vicki from I'd Rather Be At the Beach is hosting this cool challenge.

Vicki defined a "food book" as one centered around food and/or drinks. This can be any genre, even non-fiction.

The challenge runs from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015.

You don't need a pre-selected list of books.
It's okay to cross over with other challenges.
Any book format is allowed (print, audio, ebook)

Short Order Cook: 1 to 3 books
Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books
Sous-Chef: 9 to 13 books
Chef de Cuisine: 14 to 18 books
Cordon-Bleu Chef: More than 19 books

I'm going for Short Order Cook. As a cozy mystery reader, I'm sure I'll be surprised at reading my fair share of food-related books this coming year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

About the book:

"Darcy Sweet would like to think that she is just an ordinary woman, happy in her life running the Sweet Read bookstore. But she isn't ordinary. She has a connection to the other side that seems to draw her into mysterious situations more often than not. Add to the mix the antics of a rather naughty, slightly psychic cat and the eccentric ghost of her great-aunt Millie, and you have a recipe for anything but the ordinary.

When Darcy's neighbor is murdered she is drawn into the mystery against her will when she finds the body. She tries to leave the investigation to the police, one of which is her sister, but an overheard conversation and a small nudge from the other side has her investigating the murder. The stakes are raised when the murderer strikes again. Who was killing the people in her life?

Things are complicated even more by her building attraction to her sister's new cop partner, who makes it clear he does not appreciate Darcy's interference in the investigation. Sparks fly between the two of them as they get further into the mystery surrounding the deaths.

With a town full of suspects how will Darcy work out who the murderer is? None of the pieces to the puzzle fit. Things become more complicated and dangerous as Darcy's own life is threatened. Will she survive to see justice served?"

I read this book and below is my review:

The story was okay. It moved fast, but not in the way I like. Darcy (the main character) would get an idea about the mystery and then go follow it and change mid-course for seemingly no reason. We didn't get to follow along with her, we were more along for the ride without knowing where we were going or why. This left me feeling like an outsider as opposed to a participant.

There were questions I had that were never answered - not loose ends but things that didn't make sense. I can't really give an example without spoiling the book. At one point, a character is somewhere and will be there for a long time. Minutes later, that character is suddenly somewhere else, with no explanation or even a passing thought of our character wondering how it was possible. Also, Darcy would suspect somebody (for no reason) and then dismiss them as a suspect (for no reason). There was even one point where she suspected someone and questioned them, found out the person had no alibi and then thought to herself, she didn't' really think it was that person anyway. Huh?

The characters weren't fully fleshed out, either, but I liked them anyway. Even though we didn't get deep into anyone's life or deep into a mystery or follow accurate police procedures, it was still a fun read. I enjoyed the story. Darcy is a nice character and pretty upbeat, even in the midst of murder and deceit. Even though I didn't feel as connected to her as I would have liked, I still got to enjoy her story.

Oh, and I love the cat.

K.J. Emrick

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cruisin' Through the Cozies Reading Challenge 2015

Yvonne at Socrates Book Reviews Blog is hosting this challenge for the fifth year in a row!

You can click here to find out more about the challenge and sign up if you want to!

There are four levels to choose from.

Level 1 - Snoop - Read at least 6 books

Level 2 - Investigator - Read 7-12 books

Level 3 - Super Sleuth - Read 13 or more books

Level 4 - Sleuth Extraordinaire - Read 20 or more

This year I'm going for Level 1, Snoop.

I've downloaded so many cozies on my Nook, I can't even begin to choose which six right now. That'll be a fun task!

You can also join or keep abreast of people's progress on Goodreads.

So how about you? Signing up? If so, what level?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

'Death by Chocolate' (Dessert First Cozy Mysteries, #1) by Carol Lee

     About the book: "Myra Bailey is living the dream she’s had for years—opening her coffee shop bakery, Dessert First, and leaving her good for nothing husband in the dust. She couldn’t be happier to finally be on her own and proving her success one scone at a time."

My Review:

     I liked the short story despite some problems it had. The punctuation was bad throughout and there was something I couldn't quite put my finger on...I liked the characters but the story read too...too easy, maybe. We're taken from point A to B to C and then it ended with no letdown. One of the reasons I adore cozies is because there's always a bit of a decompression between the characters, after the killer is revealed and life returns to normal. We don't get that from this story. It just ends.

Death by Chocolate

Sunday, July 20, 2014

James Garner

I'm saddened to hear that James Garner has passed away.

I've adored this man for many, many, many years!

He's on TV every time I turn it on! Each weekday, Maverick is on at 10am (CST) and Rockford Files is on at 11am (CST) and there are several Maverick episodes on Saturday and Rockford Files again on Sunday. There's no chance of James Garner withdrawl!

I named my fictional village in the Masked Rider series 'Maverick Flatts' in honor of James Garner. I was going to use 'Rockford' but there's already a Rockford, Illinois and I didn't want to use a real place. (I also fell in love with Jack Kelly because of Maverick so I get to include him in my little tribute, too.)

I love everything I've read about James Garner. He's done some great interviews.

He will be missed but he's left us hours - days - of entertainment, that future generations can also enjoy.

It's past time I bump up his autobiography to the top of my reading pile. I got this book from my mother for my birthday and I can't wait to read it. (Thank you, Mom!)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tides Inn by Bill Wilke

       About the book: "The Tides Inn, a one-of-a-kind British pub, is built on the end of a small peninsula jutting out from the Yorkshire mainland. At low tide the water is below the top of the walkway and people can freely enter or exit. But when the tide comes in, access goes out, and everyone present is a captive audience. Very few customers complain. The drinks never stop flowing. However, on this night, while the walkway is inaccessible, one of the eight imbibers is murdered. The seven survivors all have motives. Apparently there is absolutely no opportunity for any of the seven to do it.

        Gruff Police Sergeant Reggie Duke and attractive Constable Dawn Tompkins clash as they jointly attempt to provide the solution to this baffling case.

       A charming, classical, old-fashioned "who-done-it" that will delight all Agatha Christy. enthusiasts."

My Review:

       I love Agatha Christie and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I adored the setting - a cozy British pub containing suspects and murder victim by a roaring fire - perfect! I like the characters, too. I would have liked the POV to be a bit closer, to give us a little more insight, but on the other hand, I liked the omniscient POV, too. I haven't read a POV like that in a long time and I sure miss it - but the sacrifice is that tighter...closeness I'm now so used to.

       I recommend this short story to anyone who likes mysteries, especially cozy, British mysteries.

       (As usual in my reviews, I'm going to mention the technical aspects of the writing. I'm a very picky reader. There were punctuation errors throughout. It didn't mar my enjoyment too much but they were there.
       Also, the short story is currently $1.99 and listed as 11,880 words but the mystery is only about 65% of that. On my Nook Simple Touch, with my settings, the mystery ended on page 25 out of 38. The rest of the pages are about the author and samplings of his other books which is a great bonus.)

Check the book out for yourselves!

Tides Inn by Bill Wilke

Monday, July 14, 2014

Exciting News - Indie Books Gone Wild

Great news! I now work as an editor through Indie Books Gone Wild. It’s an exciting position for me and I can’t wait to assist Indie authors in the last stages of prepping their manuscripts for publication.

Indie Books Gone Wild is a great place and serves all of your editing needs. If you follow the links to Jo Michaels’ blog, you can find wonderful articles about grammar, editing, writing tips and how-tos.

If you’re in need of an editor, check us out here. We also offer beta-reading services and proofreading services. If you’re not sure what kind of editor you need, check out this article.

IBGW even provides formatting for your print book.


Mission Statement:

“Our mission here at IBGW is to remove the stigma currently surrounding Indie published books.”

          I love this. It’s simple, achievable and profound.


IBGW isn’t just for authors. We run many giveaways and it’s a great way find high-quality books to read.

I’m so glad I found Indie Books Gone Wild and I’m sure you will be, too.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

 About the book: “The Floyd sisters are Lynda, age 13, Cheri, age 11 and Sinda, age 8. They are amateur detectives who live with their mother. The girls seem to find themselves in sometimes scary situations which call for them to become sleuths. Lynda tries to be the responsible one while Cheri and Sinda bicker a bit like sisters sometimes do. They pull together when they need to or the situation calls for it. In Tips for the Beginning Detective, the Floyd sisters offer advice to others who may find themselves in scary or unknown situations. The girls also include a mini-mystery for the reader to solve using their newfound detective tips.”

 What a fun read! This short story for kids was adorable and I can picture these three young sisters and their light banter. We get tips on sleuthing from the three girls (their personalities shine through) and then we get to test ourselves in a mini-mystery.

 I like the back story of the authors – Sinda Cheri Floyd is really two people. Sisters, actually. For more about their books and the authors, click through to the Smashwords website.

Monday, July 7, 2014

'Virtually Scared To Death' by Gillian Larkin


     About the book: "Julia Blake runs her own cleaning business. The first time she sees a dead body is when she discovers one of her clients, Mark Castle, lying dead on the floor of his luxury apartment. Julia soon suspects that Mark was murdered. He was a good friend and she is determined to find out who killed him."

     My Review
     I liked this short murder mystery. It was fun! There were technical problems, mostly to do with punctuation that did throw me, but I was able to get past it. At one point in the story, Julia Blake became ‘Ms Devlin’ and obviously that threw me, too.
     There wasn’t a lot of description and I liked that. I never got lost in a scene and I don’t really care what every single person looks like so it worked well for me. We could get to the action quick and without a loss of understanding.
     When Julia comes across the dead body and the police show up, it was a bit awkward with the inspector immediately claiming it was murder, without examining the death scene. Another character, and Julia herself, automatically jump to murder with no evidence to back it up. I would have liked this part to be a little slower, for the characters to organically come to the conclusion that it was murder – but that’s my preference.
     One thing that might not have worked - Julia figures out whodunit and then keeps it from us. It didn’t bother me too much because it’s revealed quickly afterwards.
     The story went a bit too fast for me! But that only goes to show how much I liked it. I’d have loved to sink my teeth into the mystery!
     I’m giving Virtually Scared to Death four stars despite the issues I’ve mentioned because I thoroughly enjoyed Julia. She was fun to follow around.
     Note: I found this short story for free at Smashwords. I'm not sure if it's free during the sitewide sale or if it's always free. Either way, don't wait. Go get a copy for yourself right now! (I must admit, I don't know that I'd spend $1.99 (next book) for such a short story and for the punctuation issues I mentioned above but that shouldn't prevent you from checking it out and making a decision for yourself.)

More about Gillian Larkin