Sad news. Another book store is going to bite the dust. Russo's Bookstore in Bakersfield will be closing its doors at the end of January according to the Bakersfield Californian. Tony Russo, the owner, will continue selling books online, however. I'm always sorry to see a bookstore close, but I can understand why. The trend to e-books has changed the book business and his store is in a high rent area of Bakersfield.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Holiday murders was chosen as the theme chosen for November by the Mystery Readers of Visalia. I picked The Good Friday Murder by Lee Harris, a book I'm delighted to recommend. Published in 1992, it is the first in Harris' holiday murder series featuring Christine Bennett, a former nun.
After being released from her vows, thirty-year-old Christine Bennett leaves the convent to live in a house she recently inherited her aunt. She also takes over the guardianship of her cousin, Gene, to whom she is devoted. He is a resident of Greenwillow, an institution for adults with "special needs" located some ten miles from Oakwood, New York where she is living.
While visiting her cousin, Christine learns that Greenwillow wants to move the residents into a newer, better facility and has made an offer on a house in town, but several of the townspeople are against the move. One of the residents of Greenwillow is James Talley, who along with his twin brother, Robert, had been accused of killing their mother some forty years earlier on Good Friday. At the time these twin savants were sent to different institutions and though never convicted, a cloud of suspicion still hangs over them. The townspeople have openly expressed fears that James Talley might kill again.
Christine wants the best for her cousin and the other residents, so she attends the town meeting. During the discussion, Christine naively proposes that a decision about the property be postponed. She suggests that if the Talley twins' guilt or innocence were proven, the problem would be solved. The people agree, if she will do the investigating. She accepts the challenge. Suffice to say, Christine saves the day, but not until the life of James Talley and her own are put in jeopardy.
By the end of the story the reader can't help but be fully invested in the well-being of these likeable characters. The smoothness and flow of the writing style, as well as the mystery, makes the book a page turner. I look forward to reading more of the series.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
It hardly seems like a week has passed already since last Saturday. This beautiful fall weather brought a lot of people out to the Taste of the Arts on Garden Street in Visalia including me. Along with Mary Benton and Suzanne Clevenger, we shared a booth to display our books and have a chance to talk to people about the things they like to read.
The number of vendors was amazing, covering almost three blocks. There was something for everyone, from pottery, woodworking, beautiful gourds and many, many displays of beautiful paintings. I'm looking forward to next fall when we can do it again.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Mary Benton, Sylvia Ross, Suzanne Clevenger, Jeff Spalsbury and I, Gloria Getman, had a great time celebrating National Library Week at the Exeter Library last evening. It was such fun to swap stories about how our books came into being, the traps and pitfalls and finally the success when published. We had a very receptive audience with such thoughtful questions. The librarian joined in the fun as time allowed and was anxious to have a copy of each of our books for the library. The punch and cookies were good too.
Monday, April 15, 2013
In honor of This coming National Library Week, Wednesday evening five local authors will be speaking at the Exeter Library. These people have produced books with a wide appeal, from historical western to poetry. Joins us at 6:30 P.M. Here’s a chance to ask questions you’ve always wanted to ask an author.
They are Mary Benton, author of Winds of Time and Plain Molly
Suzanne Clevenger, author of Pastures of Hope
Sylvia Ross, author of Acorns and Abalone, Acts of Kindness, Acts of Contrition and East of the Great Valley
Gloria Getman, author of Lottie’s Legacy
And Jeff Spalsbury, author of Hunt the Hunter and The Hunted Returns
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Interested in a good mystery? Here are the recommendations from the Mystery Readers Group, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Library in Visalia. For March we decided to read a book by a “new-to-us” author. Most of these books can be found at your local library.
Susan read Head Hunters by Norwegian writer, Jo Nesbø
Head Hunters in this case refers to Roger Brown, a headhunter for an Oslo employment agency.
His wife, Diana, owns an art gallery that is losing money, so he decides to supplement his income by stealing expensive works of art. It's a twisted tale with creative killings and near misses numerous enough to keep a reader turning the page. Susan said she plans to read more of his books.
Viviane read Murder at The Monk’s Table by Sister Carol Ann O’Marie
In this cozy mystery, two nuns, Sister Eileen and Sister Mary Helen receive the gift of a trip to Ireland for an oyster festival. While there, they visit an eating establishment called The Monk’s Table, and find a hated reporter is stabbed to death in the ladies’ room. Sister Mary Helen puts her uncanny sleuthing ability to work to uncover the culprit. This book is light and fun with not a lot of Irish stereotyping.
Charlotte read A Fine Italian Hand by William Murray.
The place is Milan, Italy. The main character, Shifty Lew Anderson, who is a magician, is there to speak at a magician’s conference. He befriends a naïve young model who is murdered. When the police head in the wrong direction to solve the crime, the young woman’s father comes from the U.S. and hires Shifty to investigate. It has a surprise ending and vivid descriptions the life and culture of Italy.
Deidra read Waiting For Armando by Judith Ivie.
Legal secretaries will be thrilled with this book. The protagonist, Kate Lawrence, works for a law firm. When one of the law partners is murdered and his secretary is the main suspect, Kate and her fellow secretaries ban together to solve the crime and clear her name. A fun read in spite of its flaws.
Sharon read The Stone Cutter by Camilla Lackberg.
This book is a Swedish psychological thriller. The scene is a small resort town in the off-season. A lobsterman hauls in his net and finds a seven-year-old dead girl tangled in it. At first it’s thought she drown, but when the autopsy finds bath water in her lungs, it is evidence of murder. Detective Patrik Hedstrom’s investigation uncovers warring neighbors and unhappy couples. The layered story delves back into history of the townspeople in the ‘20s, and it turns out that several people might have committed the crime. But in the end all the threads of the tale tie together.
Kathy read A Plain Death by Amanda Flower.
The story takes place in an Ohio Amish College town. The protagonist is Chloe Humphrey, a computer whiz at the college. She befriends an Amish teenager, who has just been tossed out of her home and takes her as a roommate. Without Chloe’s knowledge, the girl takes her car to look for a job. The brakes fail, she hits an Amish buggy and a church Bishop is killed. When it’s discovered that the brake line had been cut, murder is suspected leading Chloe to become a sleuth to learn who the intended victim really was.
Sheryl read Moon Spinners by Sally Goldenbaum
The Seaside Knitters are at it again. The murder occurs in a small town on the coast of Massachusetts when the wealthy aunt of a local café owner drives off a cliff. Tampered brakes signal murder and the Knitters join forces to discover who is responsible. This cozy has an intriguing plot in a town full interesting characters.
I read Generous Death by Nancy Pickard
Money is at the root of three murders and one near miss in this cozy mystery that takes place in Port Frederick, MA. Jenny Cain, director of the Civic Foundation, knows about the plans of the town’s wealthiest citizens to remember The Foundation in their wills. When these individuals are found dead and a nasty rhyme is found at the scene, murder is suspected. In each instance, their money is not destined for The Foundation. Is the killer intent on ruining The Foundation or is it Jenny who is the target? A well-crafted book with a little romance for good measure.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
At long last I’m finally getting around to talking to Suzanne Clevenger about her new book, Pastures of Hope. I’m ashamed of myself for taking so long. The book is doing very well and many have enjoyed receiving inspiration from these women’s stories of courage.
Suzanne, welcome and congratulations. Where did you get your idea for Pastures of Hope?
Life. I consider myself an inspirational writer and have learned that God never wastes a moment of our life experiences. He wants us to grow from them whether they are good or bad, and hopefully we can share those experiences with others to help them grow as well.
Where did you find these courageous women?
As I’ve ministered to women over the past twenty years or so, I’ve found they all have one thing in common. They are all looking for hope to get them through a difficult ordeal. Many of them have given me permission to tell their stories to others in order to let them know they are not alone. I also find great inspiration from the Bible. I am impacted by the relevancy of the Scriptures in today’s world. It doesn’t matter what we’re dealing with: finances, child rearing, marriage, pain, joy, loss, success, conflict, betrayal or renewal—it’s all covered between the pages of the Bible.
Besides the Bible and Pastures of Hope, what other books would you recommend to people seeking guidance?
Many authors are good at that, but Anne Graham Lotz is one who never ceases to amaze me in her writings. She seems to always hit the target dead center. Jill Briscoe is another one. I own many of their books and have had several opportunities to sit under their teachings in person. The devotional that really helped turn my life around is My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.
It must have been very satisfying to have your book published and be received so well.
Seeing the finished book, and my name on the cover—Wow! Can it get any better than that? And then there are the wonderful reviews I’m receiving from people who’ve read it. I’m humbled by the whole thing. Never in a million years would I have thought this could happen for me.
The first rewarding experience was working through the process itself. It takes a lot of discipline to make the effort and time to write, and I’m not very good at that. I have so many interests and it’s easy to become way too distracted during the day.
When you’re not writing, what occupies you days?
Besides writing, I enjoy working in our gardens, quilting and knitting. However the best times are those spent with our family. Three of our grandchildren will turn twenty this year. We know our quality time with them is growing short. They’ll soon be off on their own and starting their own families.
My husband, Ron, and I have a blended family comprised of four children and seven grandchildren. After experiencing previous marriages and divorces, we’ve learned over time that there are consequences of divorce that we’d never considered, and that divorce was never in God’s plan. But, once again, God used our past mistakes to turn them around for His use and glory. Today we have a rewarding ministry reaching out to couples facing difficulty in their respective marriages. We use biblical principles and have seen some wonderful reconciliations take place.
What is your next project?
It’s a memoir. Now I’m writing about what it was like for me as a little girl growing up in the 40’s and 50’s. It was such a different time for children than now. Life was simpler for us on so many levels. I’m doing this primarily for my children and grandchildren, but someone pointed out to me just today that others may be interested too.
As for anything beyond that, I’m not sure. So many ideas flow through my head all the time. That’s just part of the creative process. Eventually it will all settle down and a new story will emerge. Until then….