Book Review; Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley (@NikkiCAuthor)#RBRT #murder mystery

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This is Nikki Crutchley’s first book, and for an initial outing, it’s pretty darned good.

The story:

A young tourist disappears from Castle Bay, a small tourist town on the east coast of North Island of New Zealand. When her mangled and mauled body is discovered, news crews and journalists descend on the town. Among them is Miller Hatcher, a young magazine writer battling alcoholism, who is sent there by her editor with the promise of a huge splash in the magazine if she can assemble a strong story for the next month’s edition.

Leading the investigation in Castle Bay is Sgt. Kahu Parata, a Maori and twenty-year member of the local constabulary, at least Detective Nicholson and a team of four arrive. Nicholson pushes Parata aside, leaving him to the day to day running of the station and the odious task of informing the victim’s parents. But Nicholson doesn’t know the town like Parata does. Castle Bay has some dark and well concealed history, but everyone believes nothing bad ever happens there.

Miller finds the only housing available at a wellness retreat a few minutes out of town. It is recommended to her by the wife of the head of the Town Council who herself is going there for a few days’ respite. The wellness center is populated by a small group of women experiencing a variety of crises, and has a threatening caretaker who has found needed isolation there after losing his family.  A visitor at the wellness center disappeared from there many years previously, but she was never found and the town’s residents still believes Castle Bay is safe and welcoming.

***

There are several threads to this mystery, which the author unravels deliberately and with excruciating tension, before wrapping them together tidily in a completely unexpected ending. There are also a couple of ‘gotcha’ moments that gave me a chill. The pacing of the story is excellent and keeps you turning pages (or swiping your Kindle, as the case may be). But the best part of the book are the characters, whom Ms. Crutchley details in such precision that you can easily see them in your mind’s eye. What I particularly liked was that each of them had flaws – their imperfections made them three dimensional and human.

Of the two characters from whose point of view the mystery is seen, I found myself liking Parada, who, while caring for a gentle wife with an undisclosed but serious illness, mourns the fact they’ve been unable to have children. Miller is less likeable – her need for alcohol interferes with her investigative journalism and causes her to pull her hairs out one by one in disgusting detail. Nevertheless, she is largely fearless and determined to follow events wherever they lead, even when one of the women at the wellness center subsequently disappears.

The town itself – in an exotic locale for those of us not from that part of the world – becomes a character, full of interesting detail, and darkly looming, surrounded by jungle. As Miller investigates the trails leading into the jungle, the black cloud of evil that seems ever-present for most of the book is cloying, palpable, and ominous.

This is a satisfying read and I recommend it – a great first book for this author.

A quote to tempt you:

“She looked away from his face and took in the clear spring night, full of stars. Her last thoughts were of her mother. Would she finally care, when one day they found her body, and a policeman came knocking at her door?”

About the Author:

After seven years of working as a librarian in New Zealand and overseas, Nikki now works as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. She lives in the small Waikato town of Cambridge in New Zealand with her husband and two girls.
Nikki has been writing on and off her whole life and recently has had success in flash fiction. She has been published in Flash Frontier, Flash Fiction Magazine and Mayhem Literary Journal. Crime/thriller/mystery novels are her passion. Nothing Bad Happens Here is her first novel (but hopefully not her last), set on the Coromanadel Coast of New Zealand.

You can find the author

On twitter: @NikkiCAuthor

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nikki.crutchley.3

At her website: https://www.nikkicrutchley.com/

And Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/Nothing-Happens-Here-Nikki-Crutchley-ebook/dp/B074V4HTSL

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Greetings from Garfield

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Garfield here. This is my first post. I’ve been watching my two-legged type on this thing – actually I like to sit on it while she tries to work around my glorious orange fluff.

I had a tough day last week. There I was, sitting calmly on the floor when she swooped me up and put me in a box with a door with bars. Honestly, she could have warned me. Then she took me out the door into a really dark, cold morning. I’d been looking forward to getting a breakfast treat and instead I got that!

After a while of bumping around going somewhere, we ended up at a place called ‘The Vet’s,’ where I met Dr. Anderson. I was treated with indignity when they weighed me and retreated into the box when I was brought back. Dr. A. pulled me out and proceeded to feel me all over – actually that was quite nice and I purred for her. She inspected my teeth and gave me a pill for my runny nose and something cold in my eye, which was also running. Then I came back to what my two-legged likes to call ‘home.’

I do like it here. I get treats and tons of petting, so much nicer than the shelter, and I have a cat tree and a post where I can exercise my claws. I like to look out the window from the top of the tree and I especially like to chase yarn. What I don’t like is getting pills, at least until they were broken up and put in some salmon. I don’t know why that stopped this week.

At any rate, I’ll let you know what’s happening from time to time. This week, they took down the barriers to the rest of the house and I had fun exploring and running as fast as I could from one end of the house to the other. I can skid into the family room, turn around and slide to the other end of the hallway. Why does my two-legged laugh?

 

Thank you!

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My heartfelt thanks to all of you who offered me comfort last week. I truly appreciate it and it meant the world to me. Larry’s service was one of laughter and tears. I think he would have looked at all of us sniffling, crying and smiling and uttered on of his favorite lines: “What? Are you nuts?”

More Rain in my life

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I won’t be answering posts for a while – more rain has fallen in my life.

A dear person who was my mentor and advisor and friend died last night.

Larry Gilbert was one of the sharpest scientific minds I’ve ever known and being a post doc in his lab and later a colleague at the university was the best training I could have had. He helped me maneuver the straits and storms of my academic career.

Larry also had an infinite capacity for love. He willingly took on the role of my father when Dad died many years ago, and was my and my family’s unwavering support through many hard times. Larry loved my son and let him know how proud he was of him when he joined the military. Larry served with distinction as a communications officer on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific during WWII. I’m so grateful Patrick visited with him before he deployed last month. He often called Larry his grandfather.

Larry leaves behind three children, a passel of grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren, plus a huge population of former students,post-docs, and friends. He lived a long and remarkable life and was one in a million. It is my honor to have known him.

This is a poor tribute, but tears are getting in the way.

Introducing Garfield

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As most of you know, my beloved cat Elijah Moon died about five weeks ago. The hole in my heart was huge, and I’ve recently read that people who lose animals they had for a long time develop symptoms of heart failure from the grief. My heart wasn’t failing, but it sure felt like it. I knew the only cure was to get another cat. For several weeks, I scanned the roster of cats at no-kill shelters and the local animal shelter, finding two cats I thought I might like. Then one day, an orange face popped up – a five month-old kitten named Garfield at our local shelter. I thought maybe this was a sign because we had often called Elijah Moon Garfield.

A week ago last Saturday, we went to the shelter. We hadn’t even brought a kitty carrier, but after meeting him, we (mainly mostly I) decided to take him. We filled out a few forms, paid a reduced rate for the adoption (since we are ‘seniors’), bought a cardboard carrier and went home, Garfield in tow. The shelter had had him neutered, chipped, provided all his shots, and box trained him. So he was ready.

It turns out we have a very timid cat, not surprising because he was born in the shelter and had lived only in a crate with a glass window or the adoption room. When we let him out of the carrier, he immediately went and hid under a chest, sprinting under our recliner when we attempted to get him out.

I immediately got on line and read about dealing with timid cats, and for the next several days basically talked to him, played with him on the floor when he emerged, and discovered that if you picked him up and put him in your lap, he purred outrageously. He’ll stay in your lap for hours for cuddles

Over the past week, he has become bolder, opting to retreat to either the domed, wicker house that was Elijah’s, a small, round, carpet covered house, or lately the tunnel that is half way up his cat tree. He’s explored our family room, discovered his toys, learned what the scratching post is for, and likes to play – something I’ll bet he didn’t do much at the shelter except with other kittens. We still have him confined to the family room and kitchen because our house is large with too many places he could hide.

Every day is a new discovery and we have enjoyed watching him slowly come out of his shell. He’s more than halfway through the socialization period for cats, so we got him just in time.

So here is the cat who has taken up another part of my heart: Garfield the Magnificent (we call him the Magnificent because he has a huge, long fluffy tail and a ruff around his neck…part Maine coon?)

 I am still mourning Elijah, and when I feel up to it, will write something about my wonderful cat.

October new followers — check them out!

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This is one eclectic group. There’s someone and something for everybody here!

Daniela Goja or @DG at https://danielagoja.wordpress.com writes and models fashion, lifestyle, and beauty against magnificent Italian backdrops. Check out her blog!

Nitin at https://fightingthedyinglight.wordpress.com/ writes free form poetry and wonderful sonnets!

Richard Klu from western Michigan at https://richardklu.com  He’s had a variety of jobs, currently owns his own business, and on his blog he shares stories and what he’s learned to better help other writers and to keep himself motivated. He primarily writes cosmic horror, similar to the style of HP Lovecraft.

Nevada is young and home-schooled and blogs at https://nevadaseducationjourney.wordpress.com  She writes about Vikings and Saxons and knights and medieval history – guess what she likes! She even wrote a letter to Suetonius about Boudicca, the Warrior Queen. What a great imagination!

https://feedbackanimationfestival.com is a really unique site where screenwriters can send in their features, TV or short screenplays for animation and get them performed at a writing festival or read in a video by professional actors, for a really minimal fee ($35 was what I saw). You also get full feedback from professionals. Makes me want to do a screenplay.

https://helpu4.wordpress.com is a website is to help people get the best products out there from all other trash products. The authors will you find out the best and the newest trends in clothes, electronics and shoes. Did I mention this site is for men?

Melanie Noell Bernard at https://mnbernardbooks.wordpress.com. She almost has my name! Melanie is a graduate student and an aspiring novelist from Michigan, who writes young adult science fiction novels and horror short stories. She does book reviews and book discussions but also writes about FOOD.

Teodora Manić is 17 years old and blogs at https://mteodoraa.wordpress.com. She writes inspirational posts and short messages and has a ton of followers!

Felicity at https://flourandflavour.wordpress.com blogs about food (with recipes), travel and her own adventures. The food makes you want to eat the page!

C.E. Hall at https://flourandflavour.wordpress.com is a freelance content writer. She blogs about family, women and children, and issues of interest to everyone.

Be Blogger at https://lisalennonofficialblog.wordpress.com  is a pro-freelance writer and blogger with a passion to create original content, who develops web content and writes for online and offline magazines. His is a family, life, and self-improvement blog, where he exchanges thoughts and views with his readers on issues related to life’s problems and jubilation.

And last:   https://howtosinglemom.blog/ who writes about picking up after a divorce, bumps in the road and being a perfect and imperfect single mother.

 

My Bucket List

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Sally Cronin at recently put up a post asking about bucket lists. I’ve had one since I retired. I don’t think of a bucket list as something to do before dying, but something about living and having fun doing it. For that reason, I’ve been expanding mine, so let me know what you think.

  1. Write and publish a book. I did that and am now on my fourth book. (Hint: it’s called Death in a Mudflat and will be out in early 2018)

  2. Go skydiving. I’ve done that, too. Here’s the link to my post on that adventure! I might have to do it again. The adrenalin rush was unbelievable and left me feeling on top of the world for several days. https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/i-went-skydiving/

    The parachute opens and we are pulled up

    Visible from the ground

  3. 3. Shark dive in a cage off the Fallaron Islands near San Francisco. I can combine 3 and 4 that way. These dives specialize in Great Whites which like that area. https://i0.wp.com/12234455.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Great-White-Shark-Cage-Diving.jpg

  4. Zip line. I’ve never tried it but everyone says it’s exhilarating. I just have to find a nice long one. Any suggestions?        https://i1.wp.com/www.adventureziplinesofsevierville.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/zipline.jpg

  5. Another ride in a hot air balloon. I took one with my family over the Masai Mara in Kenya during the annual animal migration many years ago, and it was quite spectacular — especially when the heater was turned off and all you could hear was the swish, swish of the gnus pushing their way through the grass.  https://i2.wp.com/www.adventureafricaholidays.com/images/balloonsafarisovermigrationmasaimara.jpg
    Finish the historical novel I’ve begun, called The Oldest Pilgrim. It will detail the life of Mary Allerton Cushman, the oldest survivor of the Mayflower journey to Plymouth. This is a hard write, with tons of research, and I get distracted with ideas for more adventures of Rhe Brewster.

  6. Become a grandmother (not up to me, however)!

  7. Do more traveling. Next June we will be exploring Iceland, but Ireland, Greece, Tuscany, and Russia are on this list. If it weren’t such an arduous trip to Asia, I’d have China and India in there, too.This is Iceland from Trip Advisor.

    Iceland: View of Hvalfjordur
  8. Learn a language enough to be fluent. Maybe Spanish, since I took that in high school and college and if I’m lucky, something will come back to me!

    What do you think? Am I nuts?

Book Tour: Bedtime Stories for Grownups by Andrew Joyce

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I met Andrew on line, and aside from falling love with his companion, Danny the Dog, who also blogged, I’ve read a couple of his books – Yellow Hair  and Molly Lee are now among my favorites. They are darned good. Bedtime Stories for Grownups is a combination of fiction and non-fiction, including an interview he and Danny did for me a while back. It’s hilarious.

Andrew has won several prizes for his writing, so you are never taking a chance when you pick up one of his books. Here is what he has to say about his latest:

About the book, straight from the author

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Well, I mean … I write books in between marketing my books, which is what I’m doing here today. I’m down on bended knee, asking you to check out my new offering. If nothing else, it’s a good buy—700 pages of genius prose. And if you buy the print copy, it will make a dandy door-stop once you’ve finished reading it. My stuff ain’t half bad. I’ve won a few awards for my writing and obtained best-seller status on Amazon a couple of times … blah … blah … blah.

Anyway, the blurb is below, and somewhere on this page I’m sure there’s a link to Amazon so you can read the first few stories and see if my writing might be your cup of tea, so to speak.

Thank you for your time.

Blurb

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups is a jumble of genres—seven hundred pages of fiction and nonfiction … some stories included against the author’s better judgment. If he had known that one day they’d be published, he might not have been as honest when describing his past. Here is a tome of true stories about the author’s criminal and misspent youth, historical accounts of the United States when She was young, and tales of imagination encompassing every conceivable variety—all presented as though the author is sitting next to you at a bar and you’re buying the drinks as long as he keeps coming up with captivating stories to hold your interest.

Comprised of 218,000 words, you’ll have plenty to read for the foreseeable future. This is a book to have on your night table, to sample a story each night before extinguishing the lights and drifting off to a restful sleep.

Mr. Joyce sincerely hopes that you will enjoy his stories because, as he has stated, “It took a lot of living to come up with the material for some of them.”

Andrew Joyce is the recipient of the 2013 Editor’s Choice Award for Best Western for his novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

His book Yellow Hair was awarded Book of the Year by Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 by Colleen’s Book Reviews.

 About the author:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written five books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Joyce now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mahoney: An American Story.

PS I highly recommend this book and you can get it on Amazon, along with his other books:

https://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Joyce/e/B00EUCFDTM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1507902431&sr=1-2-ent

 

Book Review: The Forsaken Queen by Susan Appleyard #RBRT #historical fiction #historical romance

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Susan Appleyard is the award-winning author of six books of historical fiction. Her latest, The Forsaken Queen, is about Queen Isabella of England, wife of the feckless Edward II.

Isabella’s reputation is not sterling – she has been called the ‘She-wolf of France’ – in part because of her contravention of custom and her extravagant lifestyle, plus her determination not to be the victim of corrupt men.

England's Queen Isabella, She-Wolf of France

Isabella was the youngest surviving child of Phillip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. She was married in 1308 at the age of 12 to Edward, a handsome young king. At that time England was experiencing a period of growing conflict between the king and powerful baronial factions. Despite that, her early married years were happy and productive – she and Edward had four children, one of whom would rule as Edward III of England and another as Queen Joan of Scotland. When Edward came under the spell of a charismatic young man, Piers Gaveston, with whom he was rumored to have a romantic relationship, the Queen continued to support Edward, forming a working relationship with Piers and using her relationship with the French monarchy to bolster her own authority and power. During this time, Isabella was known for her beauty, diplomatic skills, and intelligence.

Gaveston was killed by the barons in 1312, only to be replaced by a new favorite of Edward’s, Hugh Despenser the Younger. Edward was a weak king and, ruled by Hugh Despenser, tried to take revenge on the barons, resulting in internecine warfare and repressive acts. Isabella hated Hugh Despenser and considered him to be the cause of her disintegrating marriage. Hugh turned Edward against her and persecuted her, keeping Isabella as a virtual prisoner – until she took destiny into her own hands.

Historically, Isabella is not an endearing character; she has been compared to Cercei in Game of Thrones! Nevertheless, the author makes her worthy of the reader’s sympathy, creating a three-dimensional character who is all too human, with understandable foibles and the need for love and support. She is a fierce mother not only to her children but to her adopted country, England, becoming the first person to depose a sitting king and serving as regent and advisor to her son until he was old enough to become an effective leader.

I do love a good historical novel, especially one with a strong woman character and Appleyard does not disappoint. She brings the age to life with great attention to detail. Her characters live and breathe passion, romance, ambition, greed, evil, and duplicity. There is also a sizzling romance which develops into a life long love. This book is not a dense read, as some historical novels I have read have been, but it entertains, teaches history, and makes you feel a connection to Isabella. If you like historical novels, this is a must read. It reminded me of the novels of Phillipa Gregory, who is a favorite of mine.

About the author

Susan Appleyard was born in England, which is where she learned to love English history. She now lives in Canada in the summer. In winter she and her husband flee the cold for their second home in Mexico. Susan divides her time between writing and her hobby, oil painting. Writing will always be her first love. She was fortunate enough to have had two books published traditionally and is very excited about publishing ebooks.

She is the author of six other historical novels including This Son of York, Queen of Trial and Sorrow,  The First Plantagenet, and The Remorseless Queen.

You can find her on

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susan.appleyard.9

You can find all of her books on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Appleyard/e/B00UTVMT5Y

 

 

English History Lovers, Have You Seen This?

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I found this wonderful prize winning animation of the city of 17th century London on Susan Appleyard’s Facebook page (I am reviewing her latest book) and just had to share it!

Six students from De Montfort University have create a stellar 3D representation of 17th century London, as it existed before The Great Fire of 1666. The three-minute video provides a realistic animation of Tudor London, and particularly a section called Pudding Lane, where the fire started. As Londonist noted, “Although most of the buildings are conjectural, the students used a realistic street pattern [taken from historical maps] and even included the hanging signs of genuine inns and businesses” mentioned in diaries from the period.

For their efforts, the De Montfort team was awarded first prize in the Off the Map contest, a competition run by the British Library and video game developers GameCity and Crytek.

http://www.openculture.com/2013/11/fly-through-17th-century-london.html