Wildlife in the Wild and at Home

Click on the picture for a better look at the alligator
we saw sunbathing near a pond on the side of the road
on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine, the island we live on!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Annie took the picture.

My daughters then had a text conversation:

Laura: Just remember, it’s not enough to run fast – you
have to run faster than the person you’re with.

Annie: I have no problem leaving Mom to fend for herself.

Laura: You can always toss in a cat to slow them down.

Annie: BRB, sacrificing Holly.

Laura: Hee.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is Holly. Looks sweet and innocent, doesn’t she?
Truthfully,
she is sweet but she’s also the most annoying
cat ever, the
kind who has the zoomies in the middle of
the night, deliberately
climbs on forbidden places to
demand attention, turns into the
Tasmanian Devil
when we attempt to put her in a carrier and can
be
petted only on her terms. Sacrifice to the alligators
has been contemplated more than once.

♥♥♥♥♥

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Book Review: Wrong Light by Matt Coyle—and a Giveaway!

Wrong Light   
A Rick Cahill Novel #5
Matt Coyle
Oceanview Publishing, December 2018
ISBN 978-1-60809-329-8
Trade Paperback

Rick Cahill is a San Diego private eye. He comes out of the hard-bitten lonesome cowboy tradition, one who spends a lot of time second-guessing himself and even agonizing over missteps and mistakes. But he is wedded to Truth. When he takes on a client, most of the time that client is law-abiding and honest–mostly.

Cahill’s history is, however, checkered and as a result, his new client, a radio talk-show host, with a sultry, warm voice that promises much in the dark hours of the night, does not immediately receive the kind of intense attention one usually expects from a PI in these novels. He needs to respond to a former contact or client whose demands for attention are fraught with intense danger for Cahill from the very beginning and Cahill’s activities and plans to protect the talk-show host are frequently interrupted by this other, persistent, obligation.

The novel is well-paced although Cahill’s sarcasm and jaundice occasionally drag the reader away from the main narrative. There are probably too many verbal cracks, tongue-in-cheek observations and philosophical bon mots than needed to fill out our perceptions of the main character, but the persistent drive of the narrative will overcome that minor difficulty, as it will slice over the occasional repetitious language.

With those minor caveats, I recommend the novel for fans of the hardboiled, down at the heels, persistent and upright investigator, one who feels deeply his past mistakes and missteps.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`

To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Wrong Light by Matt Coyle, just leave a
comment below. The winning name will
be drawn on Monday night, April 1st.
This drawing is open to the US and Canada.

Book Review: The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson

The Wonder of Us  
Kim Culbertson
Point , April 2017
ISBN 978-0-545-73151-5
Hardcover

If ever the old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ applied, this is that book. Abby and Riya became best friends the day Abby picked up a spider, and after naming it Sam, carried it outside where she let it go free. That was when they were in second grade and despite Riya being an extrovert and Abby an introvert, that friendship has remained unbreakable. That is until last year when Riya’s family moved to Berlin temporarily so Mom could help her brother stabilize the family business.

Shortly after the move, Abby’s mother announced she needed space and change, moving out a couple days later, only to begin living with the family dentist. Abby, feeling doubly abandoned, had to suck it up and start being the adult because her dad lost his way, leaving her to make meals, buy groceries, not to mention having to remind him to take a shower and get to work almost daily. It was a time she needed Riya desperately, but their phone calls, texts and face time chats were all poor substitutes for having her best friend at hand when she was continually crashing and burning in silence.

When Riya’s grandmother sprung for a grand European vacation and urged her granddaughter to invite Abby, it might have, should have, been the perfect healing reunion, but it wasn’t. Both girls had let too many secrets and unsaid things build up during their year apart and as they visited Florence, Switzerland, Berlin, Scotland, Iceland and finally London, it was akin to having a severe burn, only every time the healing started, someone ripped off the protective gauze, setting the process back.

Abby’s love of history comes alive when they visit each new location as the author brings historical tidbits to life in a way that allows readers to imagine they’re seeing them as well. Abby’s observations about how seeing certain places adds even more because she takes her emotional responses and turns them into dialogue that’s extremely easy to relate to.

The negotiations (there’s no better way to describe them) between the two friends are often awkward, cloaked in the angst and hurt of what should have been shared in the year they spent apart and ownership belongs to both of them. There are times when you feel like continued friendship is a lost cause, but their history is too strong for that to happen. If you want to find out how they end both the trip and where they’re headed, read the book and discover how much depth and insight it has. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Then you can read Kim’s other books as I have and see what a satisfying storyteller she is.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, March 2019.

Animals in Literature

Kathleen Delaney, author of Murder Half-Baked and other books, retired from real estate to pursue writing full time. She’s here today to share her love animals and how they came to be in her books.

Murder by Syllabub, fifth in the Ellen McKenzie series, is available in bookstores now. Purebred Dead, the first in the new Mary McGill series, was released in August 2015 and Curtains for Miss Plym was released in April 2016. Blood Red, White and Blue was released in July 2017 and was a finalist for best canine book of the year in the Dog Writers of America annual writing contest.

http://www.kathleendelaney.net/

The other day I overheard two women talking about books. I don’t eavesdrop, well, not usually, but books are a topic I find hard to ignore. One woman said she couldn’t resist a book if it had a dog in it. I almost walked over to tell her about the Mary McGill canine mysteries and how she’d just love Millie, Mary McGill’s cocker, but I refrained. After all, it is rude to eavesdrop, even if it is very tempting. But it did get me to thinking. I also have a hard time resisting a book with a dog in it. Or a cat, or a horse, or an elephant or…

It started, of course, when I was a child. People give children books about animals, sometimes not realizing how profoundly they can influence a child’s life. I can’t remember which of the many animal books came first and I guess it doesn’t matter. What does is how hard it is to forget them and how they colored my view of things. Remember Smokey by Will James? Or Black Beauty? Or Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion? That one started my love affair with Arabian horses. I also had multiple books about famous race horses, Justin Morgan had a Horse (Morgan’s are great little horses) Man of War and his sons, and a lot of others. We lived in an apartment during those years and it was as close as I got to a horse. I corrected that in later years.

My brother and I wanted a dog. I’d read Big Red, Lassie, Beautiful Joe, The Bar Sinister, and a huge pile of other dog books, but had decided when the wonderful day came, we were going to get an Irish Setter. Luckily, my brother agreed. Finally, my folks bought a house and we got a dog. Penny. An Irish Setter. Our first rescue dog. And, boy, did she need to be rescued. She was so starved that the first thing she did when we brought her home (after giving her a bath so my mother would allow her in the house) was jump on the dining room table and eat the fruit out of the center piece.

There have been many more dogs in my life, many of them rescues, but the lessons I learned about dogs, about all animals and the way to treat them, and the way not to, have never left me. Those books, all of them, taught me, among other things the virtue of kindness and to abhor cruelty, to animals and to humans.

Those books and the hours I spent with them are probably one of the reasons so many animals are in my own mysteries. Only one, Give First Place to Murder, is about horses, but dogs and cats are liberally sprinkled throughout the pages of the other 8 right along with the dead bodies and they figure in helping solve the puzzles. Not on purpose, of course, but by pointing the way and by protecting the people they love.

The Mary McGill canine mystery series centers around the dogs, and each has a ‘visiting dog’ who helps Millie push the story forward. Purebred Dead, 1st in the series, describes how Mary and Millie got together. Not the usual way someone adopts a dog. In Curtains for Miss Plym, 2nd in the series, Morgan, a three legged hound dog, appears. He is suspiciously like a rescue we acquired a couple of years ago named Lefty, a descriptive but uninspired name but he doesn’t seem to care. If you haven’t read Blood Red White and Blue, 3rd in the series, and like German Shepards, give it a try. It was a finalist in 2017’s Dog Writers of America best canine novel of the year. Ranger reminds me a lot of my beloved Shea, who is I am sure waiting for me across the Rainbow Bridge. Dressed to Kill will be released in the US Nov 1 of this year. Millie makes friends with Zoe, a black lab service dog who is patterned after Believe, a puppy my granddaughter raised to be a service dog. Mary gets to learn a little about how these dogs work while catching a murderer.

I couldn’t have written all these dogs if I hadn’t read so many books about dogs, and cats and horses, and if my life hadn’t been graced living with so many of them. My current crew, Millie, Maggie and Ollie the Cat make my life richer by far, even if they do take up more than their half of the bed.

Tales About Characters with Tails

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:

E-Mail: writerlaurencarr@gmail.net
Website: http://mysterylady.net/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lauren.carr.984991
Gnarly’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GnarlyofMacFaradayMysteries
Lovers in Crime Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/LoversInCrimeMysteries?ref=ts&fref=ts
Acorn Book Services Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/AcornBookServices?ref=hl
Twitter: @TheMysteryLadie

“Charley was my favorite character in this book.”
“I love the antics of Gnarly.”
“Irving is a hoot.”
“Sterling, the retired German Shepherd police dog turned card shark, is a new favorite.”
“Twists, turns, and a tarantula named Monique.”

These are actual comments made by both readers and reviewers about characters in my murder mystery series. Surprisingly, these characters all have one thing in common.

They all have tails. Well, maybe not the tarantula. Do tarantulas have tails? I need to check on that.

As the writer of four mystery series, I feel like a proud mother when readers and reviewers fall in love with my characters. Yes, they do love the human characters, too, but there is a special fondness for the fur-covered ones, too. Yes, tarantulas do have fur. That I do know.

From the very beginning, all of my books have had animals. However, in my first two books, the pets were only in the background—little more than window dressing.

For several drafts of It’s Murder, My Son, the first Mac Faraday Mystery, Gnarly was much the same. He didn’t spring into the canine kleptomaniac that he is now until one of the final drafts of the book.

How did that happen? Gnarly is based on my Australian shepherd Ziggy, who came into our lives while I was writing It’s Murder, My Son. Like the Gnarly in the book, Ziggy was precocious and totally loveable in his badness. So much so, that I had to include him in my book. In order to make him a dishonorably discharged army canine I made him a German shepherd and changed his name to Gnarly, which means “extreme.”

Don’t think I make their antics up! Readers are always telling me stories, because I am a writer. And, since I love animals and often have animals in my books, many readers and fans love to pass on their animal stories. In the Mac Faraday mysteries, Gnarly sleeps under Mac’s bed, which is where Ziggy slept. One reader told me that she thought only her dog did that until she read It’s Murder, My Son.

I guess it was only a matter of time before I set a mystery on a farm filled with wacky critters.

Much of the mystery in my new release, The Root of Murder is set at Russell Ridge Farm and Orchards, which is based on a number of farms located in and around the Ohio Valley. Like Joshua Thornton, I come from a long line of farmers and grew up on a farm. So much of that lifestyle is based on my own life. Since this Lovers in Crime Mystery includes a farm setting, I had a license to include a pack of furry characters!

Charley the Rooster comes from one of my readers! Yep, his name is really Charley. He was given to the reader’s niece as a chick at Easter and grew so big that they couldn’t keep him at their suburban home, so they sent him to live with relatives who lived in a small town in southern West Virginia. I’m sure you heard of the neighborhood dog who chases everyone and who everyone is afraid of. Well, that became Charley the Rooster. One day a store keeper decided he’d had it with Charley and went after him with a broom. The fight between the store owner and Charley spilled out into the middle of the street in this small town where the editor of the local newspaper snapped a picture of it. The next day, Charley and the store owner ended up on the front page of the newspaper.

When I heard that, there was no way I couldn’t put Charley in my book.

Then there is Ollie, the orphaned lamb who thinks he’s a dog. I was inspired for the little character by an Internet story of a baby lamb adopted by someone who lived in an apartment in New York City. As with any pup, she took the lamb for walks and housebroke him, not unlike a dog. Eventually, the lamb became too big for the apartment, so she had to rehome him at a farm.

As a writer, I started thinking and twisting the story around. I introduced Ollie as a baby in Murder by Perfection, where J.J. and Poppy adopted the newborn lamb after his mother dies in childbirth. While they do live on a farm, they don’t raise sheep. Therefore, Ollie is only exposed to the dogs living at the farm. By The Root of Murder, Ollie believes he is a dog, right down to going in and out of the house via a doggie door.

He has also become Charley’s partner in crime when it comes to creating havoc at the farm!

Poppy’s Appaloosa, Gulliver, is based on a horse who I saw in a YouTube video who would let himself out of his stall and then let all the other horses loose, except for one—a mare who happened to be his mother! Seeing this video, I cracked up and called a friend of mine who has a horse farm to ask about it. She said Houdini horses are really not that uncommon but suggested that this one must have some mommy issues since he doesn’t free his mother.

Do you have a “critter story?” Feel free to visit my website (https://mysterylady.net/) and fill out the contact form. Who knows? Your critter could make it into a Lauren Carr mystery.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Homicide Detective Cameron Gates learned long ago that there is no such thing as a typical murder case. Each mystery is special in its own right—especially for the family of the victim.

The homicide of a successful executive, husband, and father seems open and shut when the murder weapon is found in his estranged son-in-law’s possession. The circumstantial evidence is so damning that when J.J. Thornton agrees to act as the defendant’s public defender, he assumes his first murder case will be a loss. Only the report of a missing husband proves that this case is not as open and shut as it seems.

Strap on your seat belts for a wild ride in this mystery rooted in decades of deception that sprouts into murder.

Purchase at https://amzn.to/2CBwR8r

Sunday Sharing (10)

I often find posts by other bloggers
that strike a chord in me for one reason
or another and I’ll be occasionally sharing
them here on Buried Under Books.

Today’s share is from Reading Tonic:
My Review of Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Book Blurb

Someone once told me that you have two families in your life – the one you are born into and the one you choose. Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don’t choose your mother-in-law. The cackling mercenaries of fate determine it all.

From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows, even after marrying Oliver, that they’ll never have the closeness she’d been hoping for.

But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Lucy had wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law.

That was ten years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something…

My thoughts

My friends gave this book such mixed reviews, that I approached it with a bit of apprehension. What I worried about the most was that I won’t be able to engage with the story, that it won’t provoke any strong emotions. Well… For the first half of the book I just hated Diana for her inability or apparent unwillingness to give her children the support they needed. Then, gradually, I began to see the other side of the story and started thinking about my own parents and parents-in-law, our numerous quibbles as well as happy moments nobody can take away from me.

Everyone, no matter how old they are wants their mother’s approval. And everyone, no matter who they are, wants their mother-in-law’s…

Every mother needs to know her children can survive on their own when she is gone. Every mother-in-law finds it impossible to reach a perfect balance in her relationship with her daughter-in-law.

I loved Sally Hepsworth’s style: her catchy metaphors and her attention to detail. The mystery element of the story was utterly gripping, I just kept reading compulsively, even though by the end of the book it was clear that there were so many possible culprits with so many motivations, that it was impossible to guess and it probably didn’t matter. What mattered was how and why you end up being so misunderstood.

In social psychology there is a term: the Actor Observer Bias. We readily attribute other people’s actions to their predispositions/ character. On the contrary, we acknowledge the role of external factors, the situation, the circumstances, in shaping our own behaviour.

In her own mind, Diana’s intentions are good. Okay, sometimes she feels she really knows better, having lived through hardships and having made her life a success. But all she can do is watch in dismay how all her attempts to share her feelings somehow go astray.

Another thing I kept thinking about, which I am not going to go into in this post, is how a suicide affects the surviving family members and how impossible it is to predict its consequences.

This book made me think about my own relationships and the endless potential for miscommunication and misinterpretation of other people’s intentions.

The casual eye doesn’t see everything…

Thank you to NetGalley and St.Martin’s Press for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

By readingtonic on March 22, 2019

Book Review: Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Burn Baby Burn
Meg Medina
Candlewick Press, March 2016
ISBN 978-0-7636-7467-0
Hardcover

The air is hot and even heavier than it should be in the summer of 1977. Heat seems to emanate from the streets of New York City. The collective tension of the people is palpable. The threat of the serial killer known as ‘Son of Sam’ hangs over everyone’s head.

Nora Lopez tries to ignore the utter madness of the outside world. She wants only to stick to the routine that’s yielded the best results for the latter part of her seventeen years. Working at Salerno’s deli, hanging with her best bud, Kathleen, and keeping her head down. Occasionally, hoping that things at home haven’t gotten worse.

Hope may spring eternal, but it’s not nearly enough to change her younger brother, Hector. Mami fully expects for Nora to keep her demon-spawn-sibling out of trouble. Without being tough on him. His senseless vandalism and pyromania tendencies are just symptoms of growing pains, after all.

Nora knew that Hector was into more than mischief, but even she was stunned to discover how devious and diabolical he really is. Misplaced responsibility moves everything in Nora’s life to the back-burner at first, but soon balloons out of control and becomes wholly consuming.

In a situation where there are options, but none of them are good and others are downright dangerous, Nora refuses to choose. Instead, she goes her own way, with an entirely unexpected, brilliantly brave action. Maybe that is one small fire, extinguished. Or perhaps she’s only fanned the flames and is about to be engulfed in an inferno.

I read Ms. Medina’s Burn Baby Burn a few years ago and I absolutely loved it. I didn’t review it then because I was too affected to articulate all of the reasons I wanted everyone else to read it, too. In spite of how much time has passed and how many other books I’ve read, parts of Nora’s story continue to pop into my head. I recently re-read it and realized that I would be remiss if I did not (finally) take the time to properly recommend this historical fiction phenomenon.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2018.