Friday, May 1, 2015

The mystery of a week with no writing

We're going to read from our self-published Writers' Mill Journal soon. Our local library hosts monthly meetings for us, and they're hosting the reading too. So this week has spun by in a haze of emails, schedules, practices, meetings, more meetings, more emails, more schedules and more, more, more. There was I, with plans to read and write (and post reviews). But listening to other people read, and reading aloud what I've written, they're valuable too. This busy week's been filled with practical lessons and learning and fun - plus the odd cup of coffee at a local church that kindly allowed us to fill their lobby with words. I hope the reading will go well - it certainly feels like it should, and we have some great speakers. I'll add a report when it's over on our website: http://portlandwritersmill.org/

Meanwhile, here are the books whose reviews didn't get posted last week, with apologies for the delay and all the books yet unread (and unreviewed), and with coffee, of course!

First are two children's books, the Oliver and Jumpy stories 1-3 and stories 4-6, by Werner Stejskal. I've read some of the later books, and these start the series well with bright pictures and text that reads like listening at a favorite uncle's knee. Enjoy some bright, lively two-star coffee as you read.

Thereby Hangs a Tail, by Spencer Quinn, takes animal stories into the realm of adult mystery, and I'm so glad I wrote my animal stories (Tails of Mystery, coming soon from Linkville Press) before reading this, as I would hate my Fred and Joe to become confused with the wonderful Chet. I'd been meaning to read some Chet and Bernie novels for quite a while, and this did not disappoint. It's a fast, fun, furious romp through desert and town as dogs and humans struggle through flawed lives and fast-flowing crimes. Imagine a cross between Mr Ed and LA Noir and you'll get the picture. Enjoy this lively tale with some lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Mysteries continue in Gunfight at Grace Gulch, by Darlene Franklin, when a historical land run re-enactment ends in murder and romance. There's a pleasing thread of very natural Christian faith running through the tale, together with well-researched history and a fascinating mystery to be solved in both past and present. Enjoy this nicely balanced tale with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

Continuing the theme, Killer Date by Kathy Clark, is a young-adult novel of romance, suspense and mystery. It's second in a series, but stands alone well, and introduces readers to a wonderful collection of characters who will easily support the rest of the series. It also introduces Vegas magician Reno, commitment-phobic, and soon to fall in love as a young woman's sister disappears. Their first date ends with a scary knock at the door... A fast, fun tale, balanced with real truths to tell, best enjoyed with a well-balanced three-star coffee.

Then there's The Hoard, by Neil Grimmett, a dark tale of dark places, set in a Royal Ordnance factory where explosives darkly brew. Ghosts of past murder, monsters that may or may not be human, and the walking wounded combine in a tale with some serious evil at its core. Enjoy with some bold, dark, intense five-star coffee.

Finally, here's one that's not a mystery, but offers the same satisfaction to the reader of putting clues together as the pages turn. Polite Conversation about the Weather, by D.A. MacQuin, offers a fascinating mirror on a generation as character weave in an out through their ordinary lives, bracketed by the extraordinarily genuine ties that bind them. Think Olive Kitteridge, with a touch a Dune, some serious pot, and the death penalty, and enjoy this elegant, complex collection with some elegant, complex four-star coffee.

And now, the remaining mystery is how will I ever catch up with my reading and writing schedule. I've only got ten books on my list to review by the end of next week. HELP !!!!! Wish me luck, with that and with the Writers' Mill reading at the library.



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