Good News for Amazon (the Rainforest, that is)

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday in February, so you know what that means…

It’s almost March. 🙂

But it also means that it’s time for the worldwide monthly deluge of good news stories that bloggers have found to counteract the bad news we see in the media all day, every day. As always, the story I have chosen to share is about the environment. It’s a story from back in December of 2020, but it’s not one I was aware of, so I thought I’d shine my little light on it for others who may not have known about it, either.

Court Sides with Indigenous People

Back in 2018, the Minister of Hydrocarbons in Ecuador announced the auction of sixteen oil contracts located on lands owned by indigenous peoples. One indigenous woman, a 33-year-old mom, was able to bridge the gap between indigenous societies and the West and managed to fight against the oil companies by enhancing economic opportunities for people and by targeting donors worldwide with a digital fundraising campaign.

In 2019, this woman was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Ecuadorian government—and she won. The appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling in favor of the indigenous peoples. I hope you’ll take a minute to read the whole story here.

Join Us!

Your cohosts for this month are Eric Lahti,  Sylvia McGrathRoshan Radhakrishnan, Shilpa Garg, and Susan Scott. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to participate? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: February 2021

February is a short month to begin with, but it seemed even shorter this year. This month I’ve been so busy with edits and redesigning my website (and trying to clean out my attic) that I’ve had less time than usual for reading. Here’s the round-up:

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Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Kindle Store (Let's Get Publishing Book 4) by [David Gaughran]

Amazon Decoded: A Marketing Guide to the Kindle Store by David Gaughran is going to be one of those books I read over and over again. If it wasn’t in ebook form, it would have sticky notes on three-quarters of the pages. If you are trying to sell books, do yourself a favor and get this book. The author is a genius at marketing and the ins and outs of various platforms. This book is about understanding why Amazon does what it does, and it’s a great read. My 5-star review is here.

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The Henna Artist: A Novel by [Alka Joshi]

Next up was the book my book club read for February. And what a spectacular book it was. The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi is one woman’s story of ambition, caste, love, friendship, and dignity as India emerges from British Raj rule. I was swept away by the descriptions of the people, the places, and the fragile relationships that exist between members of different castes, and I can’t wait to read her next book, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur, when it comes out later this year. Read my review here.

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Super Host by [Kate Russo]

I didn’t like anything about Super Host by Kate Russo. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t charming, it wasn’t “compulsively readable,” as some reviewers suggest. Instead, I found it rude, offensive, and vulgar. I tried, but I just couldn’t finish it. Read my review here, though I don’t really think you need to read it to know what I thought of the book. Please remember that this is only one person’s opinion—there are plenty of reviewers who loved the book.

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TAINTED: From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures by [Phyllis Entis]

In Tainted, From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate: Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures by Phyllis Entis, readers will find a wealth of information about the foodborne illness outbreaks that many of us will recall from the news. The author presents the information in a way that is easily understandable and quite scary when you stop to think how many processes have to work in tandem and without glitches in order to bring the food we eat from the farm to the dinner table. Read my review of this important work of non-fiction here.

I hope you’ll share in the comments what you’ve been reading!

Until next time,

Amy

Interview with Stefanie Gouviea

Several weeks ago I put out a call for readers to share their hobbies with all of us as we all continue to spend more time at home than in previous years. Several people responded with their favorite pastimes, and I’m thrilled to share my interview with reader Stefanie Gouviea.

Welcome, Stefanie!

First, tell us what your hobbies are.

I like to read, paint and make homemade candles.

How did you get interested in them?

I only recently became interested in reading when I learned about the “Cozy Mystery” genre, and now I’m hooked. I became interested in making candles because I like to make things with essential oils and I wanted to make more homemade gifts, so this year I decided to make candles for everyone and I really enjoy it. I became interested in painting because I have attended a few paint nights in the past and found them very therapeutic, but since COVID they’ve been cancelled, so I had to figure out a way to still paint even though I am not a professional artist.

A great way to display tea cups and saucers

How did you learn to do them?

I learned how to make candles through Pinterest (love Pinterest), I reviewed a few different recipes and articles until I found one that resonated with me, then I came up with the idea to make teacup candles and looked up some ideas on Pinterest. The paintings I am doing now I discovered through Facebook events, this artist does live tutorials and records them, or you can just buy the recording and follow along like I did so I could take my time and pause as much as I needed to. This was the first time I’ve ever used a recorded tutorial to paint since my previous experience was in person paint nights.

How long did it take you to become proficient?

I don’t think that I am proficient in painting at this time, but I have added additional tutorials to try and suspect I will get better as I keep practicing. I became more proficient in candle making after making several test candles using different types and amounts of oils. I still don’t add color to them, but they smell good.

Do you have certain times when you prefer to paint and certain times when you prefer to make candles?

Not really, I generally prefer to do them on the weekends because I am too tired to focus during the week at the end of my workday. It breaks up my weekend nicely, especially since we can’t really go anywhere.

What special equipment do you need to paint and make candles?

The tutorials I use for painting only require us to have paints, paint brushes and either a canvas or multimedia paper. The artist teaches you how to mix colors and blend, so you don’t need extra equipment. For candle making you need, wax (I use soy wax flakes), a kitchen scale, essential or fragrance oils if you want them scented, a heat safe measuring cup or tin for candle making (I use a tin), a pot with water (candle making uses a double boiler method), wicks and a candle holder/container. Most wax kits online come with wicks, so I didn’t have to worry about that and you can get creative with the candle holders.

Do you have a favorite painting? Would you be willing to share a photo of it?

I’ve only done two paintings so far, but the one I like the most is titled, “Midnight Snowman” and I will share a picture of it.

Isn’t this adorable??

How about a favorite candle scent/color? Do you have photos you can share?

I don’t add color to mine because I feel like it doesn’t burn right when I do, and I don’t have a favorite scent since I like all of them for the most part, but if I had to choose, I’d say the fruity ones smell the best (strawberry, mango, honeydew melon, cucumber melon). Yes, I can share two pictures of two types of teacup candles I made.

I love the see-through cup.

Does anyone in your family help you with projects?

No, I prefer to do these projects alone. Although, I think my husband is going to do a painting with me one night, so I’m looking forward to that.

Is there any hobby you’ve tried to do but either didn’t like it or it just didn’t work out?

I’ve tried watercolor painting and jewelry making, but I didn’t like either one.


Thanks so much for sharing your interests, Stefanie. It was a pleasure hosting you here this week.

Until next time,

Amy

Author Spotlight: Sally Cronin

I’m thrilled to host Sally Cronin this week on Reade and Write. Sally is the author of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short stories, and an incredible wealth of blog posts where you can read about topics ranging from healthy eating to holiday customs to music and travel. She is also a tireless promoter of other authors’ works and is beloved in the blogging and writing communities.

She’s here today to discuss her latest release, Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet. If you read my Reading Round-Up two posts ago, you know how much I enjoyed the book. If you didn’t or if you need a refresher, click here to see my review.

Welcome, Sally!

Thanks very much Amy for inviting me over today and appreciate your support in getting my new collection of stories promoted.

The pleasure is mine, Sally.

When I read your books, I always wonder if there’s a lot of you in your stories. Would you say any of them are autobiographical?

There are definitely elements of my life woven into the fabric of several stories in this collection and others that I have written. I don’t want to waste any of my experiences in life or the amazing people I have met, and I hope that it adds a touch of authenticity to the emotional content. Nobody’s life is perfect, however much we wish differently. Whilst there have been times I have wondered ‘Why Me!’ in all honesty in hindsight, there were valuable lessons to be learnt and it usually sent me off in a direction where I was meant to be. Bringing characters I have met in life, many of them now gone, is a great way to keep them alive in my memories.

A related question, and one you’ve partially answered: Do any of your story ideas come from people you know, or things you hear on the news, or snippets of conversation you overhear?

I think probably apart from my own experiences, the state of the world is the next trigger for stories. I enjoy writing stories around topics which are close to my heart such as animal welfare, domestic violence and the elderly. I love reading stories of feisty old people, and in all the collections I always leave room for one or two old but inspiring characters, and of course dogs and cats. I get some prompts from images which I think are very powerful creatively. This is particularly the case for the poetry that I write.

Do you prefer writing short stories, or longer books/novels, or poetry? Or are they just different forms of expression for you?

I have written a couple of novels in the past and two books of linked stories which is a medium that I rather enjoy as they offer continuity throughout the stories and an opportunity for some interesting character interactions. I am not sure it is the same for other readers, but I find that I cannot face the 400 to 500 pages of an epic novel in the same way as I used to, and this is reflected in my own writing. Certainly, with the blog and book marketing, I am not spending as much time writing as I might, so short stories actually fit in well with my schedule. This year the focus is on a return to non-fiction which is requiring me to have a different focus and writing schedule.

And as long as we’re on the subject of writing preferences, do you have a favorite story or poem in the new collection?

One of my daily pleasures is the antics of the garden birds who we built a pyramid feeder for this year. They also have a meter square bird bath created from a seed tray which they love to play in and during this year of lockdowns they have brought a ray of sunshine into our days. This was a Garland Cinquain that I wrote in tribute to them and included in the collection.

Garden Birds

The birds

in the garden

have created a world

removed from the reality

of life.

The Doves

wary and shy

hover on the side lines

waiting to be invited to

the feast

Ravens

fall from the sky

bring ancient mystery

intent on plundering the stores

of seed

Starlings

a raucous flock

delight in the water

splashing and preening their feathers

of jet

Sparrows

agile and swift

dart backwards and forwards

eager for the sunflower seeds

that gleam.

The birds

wary and shy

bring ancient mystery

splashing and preening their feathers

that gleam

That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

Was the new book written in response to any of the events of 2020, or did you write the stories before then?

I had written some of the stories earlier in the year before the crisis began, but I actually made a conscious decision not to mention the pandemic as the collection progressed in the later months. I felt that everyone was already living daily with COVID, events in the USA and in the UK with Brexit, and more importantly I was too.  I have to say I found it very difficult to fictionalize the situation, and as writing is a form of escapism for me, I wrote stories and poems that made me feel hopeful.

The stories in the book are divided into categories, such as “Winning Streak” and “Technology.” Do you write the stories to fit into the categories, or do you find that the stories categorize themselves organically once you’ve written them?

I like to write to a theme, such as in What’s in a Name?, where I wrote stories about men and women (and some animals) with names according to the alphabet. So I decided on the categories first and then wrote the stories to fit into them. The poems were already written and luckily I was able to slot those in appropriately.

Do you have stories (short stories or novels) or poems that you’ve written and not published? If so, how many? Will you eventually publish them?

I do have several short stories and poems that are already written and will be published later in 2021. This year images are the focus and I am working through our archive of photos from all our travels and the countries we have lived in and I am using those as prompts.

I’m already looking forward to it, Sally. What else do you have coming up?

This year it is 25 years since I lost 150lbs and wrote my first non-fiction book ‘Size Matters’, which eventually was published in 2001 as the first edition. I have since revised the book, and want to publish this as a sequel in the spring to celebrate that turning point in my life. I also have a book of linked longer stories based in the village where I was born during the war years, and the collection of short stories and poems I mentioned in November/December.  And in between writing those, I will continue to keep the blog going with the focus on book promotion for other authors (as well as myself) and writing new health series.

Congratulations on such a terrific milestone. I know you’ve inspired so many people to have a more positive relationship with food and weight.

Thanks so much Amy for letting me talk about my writing and thoughts on the year. It has been a lovely experience.

Again, thank you for being here, Sally. It was a wonderful experience for me, too.

Until next time,

Amy

Harbor Porpoises are Back!

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

Welcome to the first 2021 installment of We Are the World Blogfest!

On the last Friday of every month, bloggers from all over the world gather online to post hopeful, inspirational, and heartwarming stories to counter all the bad news we come across every day on our computers, televisions, radios, and in print.

As you may know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I try to post #WATWB stories that spell good news for the environment. And the stories I choose to share in 2021 will be no different.

Good News for the Environment

The story I’m sharing this month comes, as it often does, from the Good News Network. You can click on this link to be redirected to the story, but here’s the gist of it:

A gillnet is a fishing net that works by snaring fish gills on small fibers attached to the net. While such nets work well for fish, they also trap sharks, otters, seabirds…and harbor porpoises.

California communities began banning gillnets in 1987 and now the state is seeing a remarkable rebound in the number of harbor porpoises in its waters.

Click here to read the whole story.

Join Us!

Your cohosts for this month are Sylvia McGrath, Simon Falk, Shilpa Garg, Mary Giese, and Belinda Witzenhausen. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to participate? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: January 2021

It’s a brand new year and I’ve promised myself to read 61 books in 2021. If you’re part of Goodreads, have you signed up for the 2021 Reading Challenge? If you’re not part of Goodreads, hop on over to goodreads.com, sign up, and join the challenge! There are no winners or losers—just people who love to read.

Christmas Cow Bells

Christmas Cow Bells (A Buttermilk Creek Mystery Book 1) by [Mollie Cox Bryan]

I was so happy to start off the year with a five-star read by Mollie Cox Bryan. What a great way to end the holidays and kick off 2021! Christmas Cow Bells (a Buttermilk Creek Mystery #1) is the terrific tale of a dairy farmer who has recently moved to a small town in Virginia to live and build her cheesemaking business. With a staff of three lovable cows, Brynn is determined to make a success of her cheeses and her involvement with the local CSA (community-supported agriculture) members to bring a healthy organic and agricultural revitalization to the area. But there are members of the community who prefer to dwell in the past…can they make enough trouble to force Brynn to up and move? Are they willing to resort to murder to do it? You’ll have to find out for yourself in this wonderful Christmas mystery. Read my review here.

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The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain by [Elaine Faber]

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain, by Elaine Faber (see her guest post from last week here), is a page-turning read that I found most interesting because it’s a story I could see happening in real life (with the possible exception of the paranormal element, which Ms. Faber handles extremely well). I figured out whodunit (at least for one of the crimes), but still enjoyed going along for the ride as the main characters figured it out, too. You can read my review here.

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Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet by [Sally Cronin]

I read Sally Cronin’s blog frequently and I find that the array of topics she covers is mind-boggling. She has interests in everything from music to nutrition to travel to holiday customs to…you name it. I have found that her writing style is easy to read and fun-loving—it’s just like you’re having a conversation with her over a cup of tea in the back garden. That’s why I knew I would enjoy Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries, and Ms. Cronin didn’t disappoint. I didn’t just enjoy it—I devoured it. The book is comprised of poignant short stories and beautiful, descriptive poetry. You can read my review here; I’m excited that Sally will be on the blog to discuss the book in February.

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The Art of War

The Art of War illustrated by [Sun Tzu, Lionel Giles]

This book, The Art of War by Sun Tzu, was written in the sixth-century B.C. and has been read by countless military leaders, business leaders, politicians, and regular people down through the centuries. Though is may have been written as a military treatise, approaching its lessons with an open mind proves that it holds relevance today in situations we all face. It proves to me that people twenty-six centuries ago are not all that different from people today. We may look different and act differently, but our hearts remain the same. Read my review here.

What have you been reading?

Until next time,

Amy

Interview with the Pooper Scooper

My guest this week is Elaine Faber, author of The Black Cat Mysteries, the Mrs. Odbody Mystery Adventures, and now, her newest release, The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain. I’ve read and enjoyed the book, featuring protagonists Lou (short for Lulu Jane) Shoemaker and Nate Darling (I haven’t had time to review it yet, but I will). I thought it would be fun to have Elaine interview Lou and Nate so you can get to know them a little.

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain by [Elaine Faber]

Welcome, Elaine, Lou, and Nate!

Questions for Lou

How did you come to own a sewer truck called The Pooper Scooper? This was my husband’s business, but he died in a car crash a little over two years ago. I had to learn the business, get a Waste Management license, and learn to drive a stick shift pretty quickly. In a rural community like Lockleer Mountain, the homes have wells and septic tanks. With all the bells and whistles on the sewer truck, it wasn’t too hard to learn how to operate and clean septic tanks. It may not be a very ladylike occupation, but it keeps the roof over my head and my two cats in Kitty Crunchies. We make it work.

How familiar are you with the Native American reservation near Lockleer Mountain? I know many of the Native Americans and many are my customers. Chief White Feather has been a family friend for years. He told us the legend of the Spirit Woman when we were children. The story line includes a Pow-Wow on the reservation where a shocking event occurs. He also told us that a White Man was selling drugs to his teenagers and if the tribe caught him first, we’d never see him again! Oh my!

As a recent widow, how did you know the time was right to seek love again? I’m only twenty-three. As much as I loved my husband, Steven, life goes on. As it happens, I’ve also known Deputy Nate Darling for years. He was my husband’s best friend and helped me following my husband’s death. When his sister disappeared three months ago following a motor vehicle accident, I was able to help him grieve. We grew closer with our shared grief, and friendship turned to love.

Do you think the Spirit Woman is a real person or just a legend? When our troubles began, folks started to see the mountain lion and glimpses of a woman, sightings that resulted in helpful circumstances. We all know the legend of the Spirit Woman coming to help the community, and with the recent unrest in town, it’s not hard to believe she came to lend a hand. When strange gifts from the forest begin to turn up in my friend’s yard, questions arise. Is the Spirit Woman leaving the items, or is someone from town playing tricks?

Questions for Deputy Sheriff Nate Darling

As a deputy sheriff, are you concerned about the community unrest regarding the government’s plans to build an undisclosed facility and infrastructure near Lockleer Mountain?  Recent news of a mysterious government facility being built nearby, with a big box store and a housing tract has the town in an uproar. The merchants fear the competition will ruin them, and what will happen to the charm of our small town? Threats have been made. I have to take them seriously, but how can we fight the government, already moving forward with their plans without even consulting the city fathers?

How do you feel knowing that someone in town is selling drugs to the teens on the reservation? As if we didn’t have enough problems, my heart sank when White Feather announced drugs being sold on the reservation. I told the sheriff I wished I had about 90 days of vacation time on the books, which I don’t.

Do you believe in the Spirit Woman, or is the mysterious woman in the woods with the mountain lion really your sister, Suzanna? We’ve searched the mountain high and low for three months since Suzanna’s disappearance. I’ve seen the mountain lion and glimpses of the woman. I’m sure it’s Suzanna, suffering from amnesia. I’ve heard the legend of the Spirit Woman, but spirits don’t leave footprints. On the other hand, how could Suzanna survive for three months in the forest…with a mountain lion? Friends say it’s not Suzanna. So, does that mean they think a Native American spirit has become real? What am I do believe?

I guess for the answers to these and other questions, you’ll have to read the book. The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain is available in e-book and paperback at Amazon.  http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xsh

Elaine’s Bio

Elaine Faber lives in Elk Grove with her husband and four feline companions. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Cat Writers Association, and Northern California Publishers and Artists. She volunteers at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop in Elk Grove. Her short stories have appeared in national magazines, have won multiple awards in various short story contests, and are included in at least 16 anthologies. She leads a critique groups in the Sacramento area.

Elaine’s Mrs. Odboddy and Black Cat Mystery series’ have won top awards with Northern California Publishers and Authors annual writers’ contests. Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary and All Things Cat, an anthology of cat stories, won 2018 and 2019 Certificates of Excellence with Cat Writers’ Association. Elaine enjoys speaking at public author venues and clubs sharing highlights of her novels and her writing experience. She is currently working on two fiction novels to be published in 2021 and 2022.

Elaine’s Books

Black Cat Mysteries: With the aid of his ancestors’ memories, Black Cat helps solve mysteries and crimes. Partially narrated by Black Cat, much of the story comes from a cat’s often humorous and poignant point of view.

Mrs. Odboddy Mystery/Adventures: Elderly, eccentric Mrs. Odboddy fights WWII from the home front. She believes war-time conspiracies and spies abound in her home town. Follow her antics in these hysterical, historical novels as a self-appointed hometown warrior exposes malcontents, dissidents and Nazi spies…even when she’s wrong.

The Spirit Woman Mystery/Paranormal/Adventures

The Native Americans believe the legendary Spirit Woman ‘protects the community.’ When Govt. demands create social unrest in a small mountain town, and drugs threaten the lives of their youth, the Spirit Woman and her mountain lion companion come to their aid.

Black Cat’s Legacy: http://tinyurl.com/lrvevgm

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer: http://tinyurl.com/q3qrgyu

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel: http://tinyurl.com/y4eohe5n

Black Cat and the Secret in Dewey’s Diary  (NCPA Cover and Interior Design Silver award 2019): http://tinyurl.com/vgyp89s

All Things Cat (anthology of short stories): http://tinyurl.com/y9p9htak

Mrs. Odboddy-Hometown Patriot (NCPA 1st Fiction 2017): http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv

Mrs. Odboddy – Undercover Courier (NCPA 3rd Cover and Design 2018): http://tinyurl.com/hdbvzsv    

Mrs. Odboddy – And Then There Was a Tiger (NCPA 2nd Fiction 2019): http://tinyurl.com/yx72fcpx

The Spirit Woman of Lockleer Mountain: http://tinyurl.com/y82t4xsh

Thanks to all my guests today!

Until next time,

Amy

Working Without Play?

Do you have a hobby?

Something you love to do in your spare time? Something you have a passion for? Something you love to share with other people?

I have lots of hobbies. I know I’ve mentioned here on the blog that I’ve recently taken up quilling, which is the art of paper filigree. I’m still an amateur, but I love to do it and I find it relaxing and a great way to let my mind wander. I also like to do counted cross-stitch, a hobby I’ve had since I was young. And you all know I love to read and cook. I also love to make gift tags.

There are other things I love to do, too, but these are some of my favorite ways to spend free time.

What do you love to do?

I’d love to spotlight some of my readers’ hobbies. Do you paint? Draw? Write poetry? Swim? Do Pilates? Play the ukelele? Do you do some other cool thing that I haven’t even thought of?

This year I’d love to start a series of blog posts about hobbies. We all learned in 2020 that having a hobby not only helped pass the time when we might have been out doing other things, but it could also mean the difference between happiness and depression.

It doesn’t have to be something that costs a cent. It doesn’t have to be something that requires a membership or a bunch of fancy equipment. All that a hobby requires is that it’s something you can do in your spare time that makes you happy.

Once a month, I’d like to write about a reader’s favorite hobby. If you’d like me to interview you, that would be great. If you don’t want me to mention your name but still want to introduce people to your favorite hobby, also great.

My hope is to introduce readers to things they might never have tried.

Will you join me? I’d love to hear from you! Please let me know in the comments below or email me at amymreadeauthor[at]gmail[dot]com and tell me about your favorite things to do!

I’ll leave you with some photos of quilling projects I’ve done since August, when I started the craft.

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: December Edition

It’s almost 2021! This is my last reading round-up for 2020, and pretty soon this year will be just a memory. Though 2020 brought lots of changes and more than a few blessings to my family, I know that’s not the case for millions of people all over the world.

Reading has always been a great escape, and my belief is that books have been more important than ever during the past nine tumultuous months. I hope you’ve enjoyed my reviews and that you’ve been inspired to read and review a few books of your own. I look forward to continuing my reviews in 2021 and I hope you’ll join me.

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A Noël Killing (A Provençal Mystery Book 8) by [M. L. Longworth]

The first book I read this month was A Noël Killing by M.L. Longworth. I was looking for a Christmas mystery, and though I hadn’t read the first 7 books in the Provençal Mystery Series, I took a chance on this one. I enjoyed it. It’s a traditional mystery, as opposed to a cozy mystery or a thriller, and the setting in the south of France made it feel exotic. You can read my four-star review here.

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The Getaway: A Magical Christmas Story by [Bibiana Krall]

Next up was The Getaway: A Short Read Christmas Romance by Bibiana Krall. If you know someone with a humbuggy heart this year, give them this book to read. If it doesn’t bring a smile to their face, nothing will. It’s a quick read (as the title suggests), it’s got everything I look for in a Christmas story, and it wraps up with a note from the author that makes the tale even more endearing. Read my review here.

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Two books down, five to go in the Harry Potter series! Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was a great read, and my husband grabbed it up as soon as I finished it. There was really only one thing I didn’t understand in the story, and that was the presence of one particular character. But as I say in my very short review, that really didn’t matter, because the book was a treat to read. Why did I wait so long to start this series?? Read my review here.

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Mistletoe and Mayhem: Yuletide at Castlewood Manor by [Veronica Cline Barton]

Mistletoe and Mayhem: Yuletide at Castlewood Manor, Book 4 in the My American Almost-Royal Cousin Series by Veronica Cline Barton, was a fun Christmas read that I devoured in a few hours. If you are a royal watcher and you like cozy mysteries, this is one for you. Read my review here.

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The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding: A Hercule Poirot Short Story (Hercule Poirot Series Book 33) by [Agatha Christie]

It seems there are two versions of Agatha Christie’s Christmas short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, a shorter one and a longer one, and I have to say I don’t know which one I read. Whichever one it was, it was throroughly enjoyable. I love a good Hercule Poirot mystery, and this one was fun. Poirot is hired to (discreetly, as always) spend Christmas at an English manor house where he hopes to recover a ruby that was stolen from a prince who had placed himself in a, ahem, compromising situation. What ensues is a mystery that is finally solved after a key clue is found in the Christmas pudding. Read my review here.

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Menace at the Christmas Market: An English Village Murder Mystery (Murder on Location Book 5) by [Sara Rosett]

Menace at the Christmas Market by Sara Rosett was a great short mystery. Though it’s not the first book in the Murder on Location series, I found that it was easy to follow. I was brought up to speed instantly with the main character and her job as a location scout in England for a Jane Austen documentary series (I want that job!) and her relationship with Alex, another recurring character in the series. This is a quick read that has all the satisfying elements of a longer novel—murder, red herrings, and a great setting. Highly recommend! Read my review here.

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A LITTLE TASTE OF MURDER: A Brightwater Bay Cozy Mystery (book 1) (Brightwater Bay Cozy Mysteries) by [Carolyn L. Dean]

This was the 60th book I read this year, and my goal was to read 59 books. So…mission accomplished! And bonus—it was a great book AND the first in a series! A Little Taste of Murder by Carolyn L. Dean was an intriguing Christmas mystery with a gorgeous setting (the Pacific Northwest), wonderful and well-drawn characters, and some engaging red herrings. I didn’t figure out whodunit, and I love that in a mystery. Read my review here and put this on your TBR list if you love a good cozy!

That’s all, folks! Happy New Year!

Until next time,

Amy

Book Blogs to Follow…

…because we don’t have enough to do.

This week I’m going to keep it short because we’re all busy. But I do want to share four bookish blogs that I think you’ll love. My advice? Bookmark them and come back to them when things aren’t so hectic, because it’s fun to browse through their pages and find all kinds of great books and great authors.

And so here they are, in alphabetical order:

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Blur, Blurred, Book, Book Pages

A Blue Million Books

This is author Amy Metz’s blog. She doesn’t do book reviews, but she features tons of interviews, guest blogs, book spotlights, excerpts, and more from a huge number of authors. You’re very likely to find something to tickle your fancy on this blog. Amy is the author of the Goose Pimple Junction mysteries, and I can tell you they’re excellent. So while you’re looking for your next favorite author at A Blue Million Books, check out Amy’s books, too!

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Christmas, December, Background

2. Aunt Sairy’s Book Reviews

I came across this fairly new blog recently when Sarah, the owner of the blog, reviewed my book The Worst Noel in such a way that brought tears to my eyes. It’s that beautiful (click here to read the review for yourself). All of Sarah’s reviews are heartfelt, honest, and thorough without containing any spoilers. Sarah reads and reviews mostly cozy mysteries, so if you’re looking for a good cozy to read, you’re bound to find one on her blog. And bonus: you get a behind-the-scenes look at life with her dog, Havoc, who sounds like a big, cuddly bear.

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Cocoa, Whipped Cream, Cookies, Read

3. Discovery

A treasure trove of bookish delights begun by the folks at Reedsy, this site includes a blog (under the
“Blog” tab) with such posts as “45 Best True Crime Books of All Time,” “30 Best Memoirs of the Last Century,” and “The Essential Guide to Reading the Sherlock Holmes Books,” among many other topics. But it also includes (under the “Discover” tab) a gazillion books that you can search by genre, keyword, and/or date added to the site.

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Winter, Snow, Landscape, Book Hut, Cold

4. Dru’s Book Musings

Dru Ann Love, as her name suggests, is a beloved member of the mystery community. She’s an avid reader who also quilts, writes poetry, and works full-time. How she manages to blog the way she does, I have no idea. But I’m glad she does, because there’s always something new to discover on her site. She features new releases, cover reveals, her own reviews, and the “Day in the Life” series of guest posts (written by the characters in upcoming books!!).

I hope you’ll take some time to peruse all these blogs. They’re great fun for me to browse, and I always come away from them with a list of new books and authors I’d love to learn more about.

Do you have a favorite book blog you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Until next time, wishing all of you a merry Christmas,

Amy