Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book Review: Murder on Girl's Night Out by Anne George

Murder on a Girls' Night Out (Southern Sisters Mystery, #1)Murder on a Girls' Night Out by Anne George
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the first book in the Southern Sisters mysteries. It revolves around sisters, Patricia Ann and Mary Alice, who are complete opposites. One is skinny, skinny, while the other is heavy set. One has been married for years to the same man, one has been married three times (all husbands have passed away). Yet, they seem to be friends in addition to being sisters.

Out dancing one night with her boyfriend, Mary Alice decides to buy the country western bar they are dancing at, the Boot ‘N Skoot. She takes Patricia Anne with her the next to meet the current owner, Ed, and look the place over. When they go back the following day, they discover Ed has been killed. The mystery ensues from here.

There are several things I liked about this book. The sisters are older - in their sixties. Yet, they are still going strong (think Mary Alice, the oldest sister, line dancing). They both have grown children and grandchildren, but they still have lives. There is humor as well as the mystery -- the sheriff is almost always looking for aspirin after talking to the two sisters.

I liked Patricia Anne’s husband, Fred as well as many of the other characters: Mary Alice’s daughter, Patricia Anne’s daughter, a former student of Patricia Anne’s, and Bonnie Blue, the African American equivalent of Mary Alice, who works at the Boot ‘N Skoot. Bonnie Blue was one of my favorite characters.

The mystery was well done. I found it hard to keep track of one of the families in the book, a prominent political family that played into the mystery in several ways, but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book. In the end, there were a few twist and turns in what is a well done little mystery. I’d recommend this title to anyone who enjoys a good cozy mystery and a little bit of the south (it’s set in Alabama). I’ll probably read other books in this series.

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Book Review: To Dust You Shall Return by Donna Fletcher Crow

To Dust You Shall Return by Donna Fletcher Crow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the third book in the Lord Danvers series, but the first one I’ve read. Reading the first wasn’t necessary to enjoy this title.

Lord Danvers and his wife, Antonia, are visiting his Aunt Elfrida. There is a request for him to be on the architectural committee to restore Canterbury and also a request from one sister to stop the younger sister from dating an artist, who is also on the architectural committee and at odds with Danvers on how the restoration should be done.

To form his own opinion of the artist, he and Antonia head to his studio to sit for a portrait of them. Turns out, maybe he’s not a bad guy. While there, the elderly neighbor lady is murdered and the her maid is also attacked. The mystery begins. And, it rambles around a bit, but not so that it detracted from anything. In fact, I’d guess for the time period, that’s about it went.

The mystery wasn’t front and center. It was mixed in with Danvers role on the committee and then his being nominated to lead a boys choir for a church event. Thrown in is odd behavior by Antonia that not even, we the reader, know what the cause for Antoina’s extreme concern and her worries that Danvers will want to leave. You learn who the murderer is before you learn what Antonia’s problem is.

Parts of the end seemed rushed and the fight scene a bit drawn out as is the revelation of Antonia’s concern. Overall, though, the mystery was well done, even if the ending was unsatisfactory. Turns out, the murder is based on history and the actual outcome. And, really, not every murder or crime is neatly wrapped up or has an outcome that we like.

I did somewhat figure out what Antonia’s probem was, but didn't quite get it all. The revelation was a little of a let down and left me with a few questions. But, let’s say, all’s well that ends well. And, this ended well. Which I like.

While parts of the story were drawn out, I enjoyed it and am giving serious consideration to reading the first book in this series. Recommended if you like historical mysteries.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On the positive side...

My last posts have been fairly negative. With that in mind, I began looking for the positive and found plenty. I'm enjoying having my own washer and dryer. I'm liking that my laundry hamper is in my bathroom (1st time ever). I'm liking the extra drawer space in the kitchen. I have a lovely balcony with a tree right outside. So far, the apartment management is very responsive. This apartment isn't perfect and there are things, as with any home, that I'm not crazy about. But, it has let me learn what it is I like and don't like. It might not be easy to find, but I know what to consider next time and know what works best for me (like one bathroom as opposed to two). I'm filing it all under "live and learn."

And, finally, as of last week, my cat is finally not spending all her time in the spare bedroom or under a bed. At least not at night. She spent all weekend on the couch with me and is getting in my chair at night. She still has her moments, but it's getting better. Plus, I found a really nice cat sitter.

To seal the deal, I finally got a new driver's license. I thought I'd be smart and go first thing last Saturday morning. Me and everyone else. Lesson to this story. Probably better to go an hour before closing as everyone tries to get there early. Getting new tags for the car was a lot easier. There's an office close to me and that was basically walk in and get it done. I put the new tags on the car today.

The best good news for me. I get to make a last trip to IL to say goodbye to my Dad's childhood home. I tried to make it a quick trip, but it was too quick, since I'm flying. So, we delayed it a week and I added a day to the trip and it's the right thing. I'll have three days there and then I'll splurge and take the Monday off after I come back. I won't get back in town until almost 8:00 pm and that's after traveling all day. It wouldn't be my brightest idea to go to work the next day. I'm looking forward to the trip.

I've had a couple of visitors to my patio, including the small frog pictured above. In fact, after a heavy rain, I dumped water from the plant pots only to realize that there was a little frog in the pot. I'm sure it was drawn to the water. I suspect it might have been the same frog, but I don't know. We've had more rain, so I've emptied water from pots again and no frog. I've also had a couple of lizards visit, but wasn't able to get a good picture.

I leave you with a photo of kitty sacked out on the couch.