Friday, 29 May 2015

Review: 'Nine Lives to Die' by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

Nine Lives to Die by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown, 2014, Bantam Books, $26.00, hardbound, 253 pages. Cover: like it. Category/Genre: Mystery. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-Million

Combine mystery with Virginia flavour and add likable characters (both human and animal), and you have a Mrs Murphy story. 

This particular tale has the intrepid tabby trying to help solve an old murder. When Mrs Murphy, Pewter, and Tee Tucker come across a gold bracelet, they don't think much about the fact that it was recently wrapped around the wrist of a skeleton. But before long, the animals find out their human, Harry Haristeen, has a stake in solving the mystery of just how that skeleton came to be on her property. 

There's also a fresh murder, with the victim missing two fingers. Until the fingers show up in a pencil holder at Harry's church . . . 

The barbs between Tee Tucker, a corgi, and Pewter, a grey cat, do get a bit rough -- so if you want to read about animals who get on, this may not be the series for you. 

Note: strong language.

If you like this one, try: Sneaky Pie for President, by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown.

Rita Mae Brown can be found at Rita Mae Brown BooksBrainyQuote, and Facebook

Sneaky Pie Brown can be found at CatPrez.comTwitter, and Facebook

Friday, 22 May 2015

Review: 'Police Procedure and Investigation' by Lee Lofland

Police Procedure and Investigation by Lee Lofland, 2007, Writer's Digest Books, $19.99, softbound, 368 pages. Cover: pretty cool. Where we got it: bought it. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

This is a guide for crime writers, and it's excellent. There's all sorts of information, from an overview of law enforcement in America, to courts and the legal process, to autopsy, to arrest and search procedures. 

Lofland lists courses recruits have to take in the police academy, gives diagrams of different law enforcement hierarchies (police department, sheriff's office, and so on), gives readers an idea of what it's like to be a detective (he was one himself), and tells what prisons and jails are like. 

If you're at all interested in writing about law enforcement, this is the book to have. 

If you like this one, try: Armed and Dangerous: A Writer's Guide to Weapons, by Michael Newton; Code Blue: A Writer's Guide to Hospitals, including the ER, OR, and ICU; and Private Eyes: A Writer's Guide to Private Investigators, by Hal Blythe, Charlie Sweet, and John Landreth. 

You can find Lee Lofland online here: The Graveyard, and

Friday, 15 May 2015

Review: 'The Ultimate Handbook for Paper Crafters' by Paper Crafts Magazine

The Ultimate Handbook for Paper Crafters by Paper Crafts Magazine, 2012, Leisure Arts, $24.95, softbound, 192 pages. Cover: good. Category/Genre: Crafts. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-Million

If you want to try a variety of paper crafts, this book isn't for you. If, however, you're interested in card making, you might do well to add this book to your library. 

Highlights include the rules of colour (and how to break them); finding your style; and the basics of stamping. This latter includes heat embossing, mists and sprays, spectrum inking, using markers, and more. 

An 'essential tool kit' is listed at the front of the book, and items in the index are listed by occasion; so if you're looking for how to create just the right birthday card, you can look under 'birthday' and find what you need. An abundance of tips help make this book one you'll return to again and again.

Overall impression: short on instruction, long on ideas. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions?

Friday, 8 May 2015

Review: 'Love the Home You Have' by Melissa Michaels

Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels, 2015, Harvest House, $14.99, softbound, 213 pages. Cover: meh. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

Melissa Michaels, author of The Inspired Room blog, offers simple ways to embrace your style, get organised, and love the home you're in rather than coveting that other house down the street. 

Michaels offers lots of advice on how to change the way you view your home and your life. She has tips on decorating, organising, and decluttering; she suggests practical and affordable solutions for a variety of home and decor challenges; and she illustrates how to rejuvenate the mood of your home through engaging the senses and highlighting the seasons and holidays. 

There's humour in this book, and it's told largely through excerpts of personal experience, which make the reader feel as if they know and can trust Michaels. And there's plenty of good advice. 

If you like this one, try: Suggestions? 

You can find Melissa Michaels online at: The Inspired Room Blog and Twitter.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Review: 'The Art and Craft of Storytelling' by Nancy Lamb

The Art and Craft of Storytelling: A Comprehensive Guide to Classic Writing Techniques by Nancy Lamb, 2008, Writer's Digest Books, $16.99, softbound, 264 pages. Cover: good. Category/Genre: Reference; Writing How-to. Where we got it: bought it. Where you can get it: AmazonBarnes and NobleBooks-A-Million

From the three approaches to storytelling to the fundamentals of endings, this is a book chock-full of lists about writing. Lamb goes over ways to structure your story, strategies for creating your opening paragraph, types of conflict, point of view, voice and tone, setting, and much more. She also defines a number of genres and categories within those genres, then supplies a list of books to read, all of which are listed by genre. 

Lamb does have a tendency to repeat herself; the book is perhaps a third to a half comprised of repetition. But if this doesn't annoy you (or if you simply need that much repetition to absorb new information), you might want to try this book. Lamb makes a lot of good points, and even seasoned pros might do well to review some of her ideas. 

If you like this one, try: On Writing, by Stephen King. 

You can find Nancy Lamb at nancylamb.comTwitter, and Goodreads