Monday, December 5, 2016

Cozy Monday - Holiday Gift Ideas

So you have a friend who loves cozy (or traditional) mysteries, and you wnat to get them a holiday gift.  

BUUUUT, you have no idea what they've already read or watched, so what do you do?

Here are a few ideas:

Crackling Candles 

Yes, candles that crackle like real wood fire as they burn!

Woodwick's candles come in a plethora of colours, scents and  sizes.  You can get them from their website (where you can get a coupon code if you sign up for their newsletter), but they're also available at Bed Bath and Beyond, though they may be difficult to find in stores.  

Heated Reading Pillow 

This takes the armchair-style bedrest to a new level!
Not only is it heated, it has a massage function.  It also has pockets for reading materials, glasses or pens.  This model from Sharper Image even has a gooseneck reading lamp! Also available at Brookstone without the lamp.

Reading Shawl 

Basically just an oversized shawl with pockets, you can find this in various fabrics.  
This fleece one is available in five colours, and can be monogrammed for an additional couple of dollars.  
There's one made of merino wool here, for about twice as much.  If you like the wool idea, but not the price and can knit quickly, there's a pattern here.

Fingerless Gloves

For those (like me) with perpetually cold hands, fingerless gloves (to facilitate page-turning) can be inexpensive enough for stocking stuffers or to give in multiples.
Googling "fingerless gloves" brings up a zillion possibilites, including these fancy ones screen-printed with text from classic novels.
Again, if you're crafty (and quick), you can find easy patterns such as this one on Google or Ravelry (for which you must create an account.).

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday - Gift Ideas

For your literary friends,  books by a few of the authors we lost in 2016.

Pat Conroy (1945-2016).  
A Low Country Heart: reflections on a writing life (Nan A. Talese hardcover, 25 October 2016).

This new volume of Conroy’s nonfiction brings together some of the most charming interviews, magazine articles, speeches, and letters from his long literary career. 
Ranging across diverse subjects, such as favorite recent reads, the challenge of staying motivated to exercise, and processing the loss of dear friends, Conroy’s eminently memorable pieces offer a unique window into the life of a true titan of Southern writing.

Umberto Eco (1932-2016).  The Book of Legendary Lands (Rizzoli hardcover, 5 November 2013).

Eco leads us on a beautifully illustrated journey through these lands of myth and invention, showing us their inhabitants, the passions that rule them, their heroes and antagonists, and, above all, the importance they hold for us. 
He explores this human urge to create such places, the utopias and dystopias where our imagination can confront things that are too incredible or challenging for our limited real world. 

Lois Duncan (1934-2016). Who Killed My Daughter? (Delacorte Press hardcover, 1 May 1992).

The heart-wrenching account of her search for the truth behind the murder of Duncan's 18-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was written in real time as the horror story unfolded.
When the Albuquerque, New Mexico, police department dubbed Kait’s death a random shooting, ignoring evidence to the contrary, Duncan launched her own investigation.
Her search for the answers took her into the underworld of Vietnamese gangs and led her to seek the help of the nation’s top psychic detectives, who, along with a courageous newspaper reporter, provided information that proved to her that Kait’s death was far from random.

W.P. Kinsella (1935-2016).  Butterfly Winter (Enfield & Wizenty hardcover, 1 September 2011).  

The story of Julio and Esteban Pimental, twins whose divine destiny for baseball begins with games of catch in the womb. 
They mature quickly and by the age of ten they leave home for the Major Leagues. Julio is a winning pitcher who, much to the chagrin of any team that signs him, will only throw to his catcher brother, who is a very weak hitter.
As they pursue their baseball dreams, events in their homeland, including political brutalities and the outlawing of baseball, continue to shape their lives. 

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016).  Open Heart (Knopf hardcover, 4 December 2012).

Eighty-two years old, facing emergency heart surgery and his own mortality, Elie Wiesel reflects back on his life. 
His family before and during the unspeakable Event. The gifts of marriage and children and grandchildren that followed. In his writing, in his teaching, in his public life, has he done enough for memory and the survivors? 
His ongoing questioning of God—where has it led? Is there hope for mankind? 
The world’s tireless ambassador of tolerance and justice has given us this luminous account of hope and despair, an exploration of the love, regrets and abiding faith of a remarkable man.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Funny Friday

   FoxTrot by Bill Amend                                                                                              11/13/16

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Teen Tuesday

The Other Boy by M.G. Hennessey (HarperColins Childrens hardcover, 20 September 2016).


When twelve-year-old Shane Woods' parents divorced, he and his mother moved from San Francisco to the Los Angeles area. He still misses his dad, but his life is pretty good:  he's the star pitcher for his baseball team, the graphic novel he's working on is coming along nicely, and Madeline Duncan seems to like him!

When his mother tells him that he has to miss the championship game to go to San Francisco, he's not as upset as he should be, even though his best friend Josh keeps harping on it, saying Shane can visit his father anytime.

But the real  reason that  Shane isn't upset about going to is that he and his mother are going to see Dr. Anne, the specialist who is helping him deal with his body dysphoria, mainly to discuss whether it's time for him to start testosterone injections.  

Yes, Shane was born with the physical characteristics of a female, though he can't remember ever feeling like a girl.  His body still looks like a girl's, and he's terrified that someone in his new school will find out.  

When he accidentally mentions the name of the school he went to in San Francisco, and the class bully says he knows someone there, Shane knows it's only a matter of time before his secret is revealed.

M.G. Hennessey has written a sensitive and thoughtful book about a transgender boy in middle school.  The story is even more powerful for being written in the first person from Shane's viewpoint.  Interspersed with the narrative are excerpts from Shane's graphic novel.  
This is a realistic and emotional story that deserves a spot in all libraries.

FTC Full Disclosure:  Many thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy of this book.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Brush With the Paranormal

By special guest Lena Gregory.

Lena lives in a small town on the south shore of eastern Long Island with her husband and three children.

When she was growing up, she spent many lazy afternoons on the beach, in the yard, anywhere she could find to curl up with a good book. She loves reading as much now as she did then, but she now enjoys the added pleasure of creating her own stories.

Have you ever had a brush with the paranormal? An experience that you couldn’t explain away, no matter how hard you tried? Have you ever visited a psychic?

In Death at First Sight, Cass Donovan leaves her psychiatric practice in New York City after a
series of unfortunate events and returns to her childhood home on Bay Island. Though Cass doesn’t really consider herself psychic in any traditional sense, she’s always been very intuitive. She’s always had a gift for “reading” people. 

As a teenager, Cass worked the beach and the boardwalk, approaching tourists and offering a glimpse into their lives. She only charged if her predictions proved accurate. More often than not, they did. 

When she returns home, it seems natural to return to giving “readings.” Not because she wants to con anyone, but because she wants to help people. Helping to ease the grief many of her clients suffer helps Cass to heal. She offers individual readings, which tend to be more intimate, and group readings, which have become quite popular on Bay Island.

The idea for Cass’s character began with my own experience visiting a psychic. I’ve always been interested in the supernatural, fascinated with the idea of a world beyond our own. A number of people mentioned a psychic they visited to me. Jay. Supposedly, she was very accurate. 

A friend of mine was having a difficult time conceiving and was undergoing treatments but not having any luck. She was starting to give up hope when she went to the psychic. Jay predicted the birth of her second son before she was pregnant and only missed his birth date by two months.

My sister went to see her, and she told her exactly what she’d be doing over the next few years, and she nailed it almost perfectly.

So I figured, why not give it a try? 

One of the things I learned during my reading is that spirits don’t just sit down for a chat, at least, not with Jay. Instead, they send symbols and signs, which she then has to interpret. 

She mentioned my brother, who passed away about six months before I went to see her, but not by name. She said she saw something to do with hair. As silly as it might seem, our hair was always a big joke between my brother and I. When we were kids, I had stringy blonde hair. And he had aheadful of thick brown hair with gorgeous natural highlights, you know, the kind women pay a fortune for! And, from the time he was a teenager, he always wore it long. 

Even after he was grown and working as an air traffic controller, he didn’t cut his hair.
I do have to say, Jay’s predictions about what I’d be doing within the next few years have proven remarkably accurate. 

The one thing I found odd was the unexpected sense of peace the reading left me with. I’m kind of a high-strung person, always taking on too much then running around like crazy trying to get it all done. I move fast, I talk fast, and I rarely relax. I don’t sleep much, usually only a few hours a night. I worry about everything. And I do my best work under pressure.
Yet, when I walked out of Jay’s house, a sense of peace and calm I’ve never experienced before settled over me. 

I wasn’t in a rush to get anywhere. I didn’t feel pulled in twenty directions. I just
felt calm, peaceful, serene. I would go back to her in a heartbeat, just to recapture that feeling.

So, back to my original question. Have you ever had a brush with the paranormal? Have you ever visited a psychic? 
Leave me a comment and let me know!