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Libby Klein – Class Reunions Are Murder 

Libby Klein

Bear with me diyhomegoddesses while you read this review about Libby Klein and the first Poppy McAllister book. The book came out a few months ago. I picked it up because of the title. I mean, come on! How many of us think this about our class reunions?

The Gist of the Story

The story is set in Jersey; New Jersey for those of you not in the know. That’s what people in that region call it. At least they used to. It’s about Poppy McAllister, a recent widow who is avoiding life, and her mother-in-law Georgina, who wants control of her son’s widow even after he’s dead. That’s normal, right? She is kind of pushed into going to the reunion by the few friends she had in school. That happens, right?

Poppy is someone I relate to. The gal is big, redheaded, and beautiful (paraphrasing Queen Latifah in Hairspray)! She goes to the reunion, and it’s like she’s back in high school again, with the allegedly cool kids making fun of her. She finds a dead body at the reunion, the body of the most popular girl in school, Barbie. Barbie? Really? Now if that isn’t the name of the queen of the class who pushed everyone around, I don’t know what is. 

Amber (!), the local cop and member of the class, is insistent on proving Poppy guilty of murder. Hmm, another popular girl here. Something snaps in Poppy, and she wakes up to fight for her freedom. Yay, Poppy! She spends the book trying to question people, sneaking around, getting into trouble (typical cozy), and generally being a woman who just woke up from a long sleep to find out she has life left in her.

Meanwhile, she meets up with her high school love, a cute Italian coffee shop owner, and is trying to keep her Aunt Ginny from being sent to a nursing home because she’s “too old to be by herself”.

The Review of Libby Klein – Class Reunions Are Murder

The characters are fully developed. You get descriptions, and they seem to fit their names. She must have taken a lot of time to create them. I had trouble finding flat characters. Poppy is tough, yet gentle. Aunt Ginny is a firecracker. Her friends are faithful. Figaro the cat is a drama queen! The popular crowd was shown the way we don’t see them in school; they love each other but are backbiters even amongst themselves. Her characters are unique, fun, and all around real.

The descriptions are pretty good. Libby Klein does not just breeze over them, and does not go overboard either. Most of her setting descriptions are about buildings, you get just a glimpse of the outdoors weather. Well, the bulk of the story is inside, so that’s fine.

The dialogue is snappy. There wasn’t much dialogue that was added fluff. There are lots of sayings in this book that most people have used, but few authors will add. This made the characters seem more real to me. There is attitude in this book that I don’t see in a lot of others. Not that other authors aren’t real. But Libby Klein made her characters the blue collar, Jerseyan people they are. Like Aunt Ginny’s response to the reunion dress. “I need a drink.” Some people may be off-putting by this talk, but I love it.

The story is hilarious. I read it while commuting, and people would stare at me when I laughed out loud! Snide comments, funny innuendos, descriptions. 

The clues were there. The red herrings were in abundance. Twists and turns? Absolutely! The way Poppy changed her mind about the killer’s identity is typical cozy fashion. The only thing different from the classic cozy was it was a bit longer than normal.

The Verdict

This gets 4.5 stars! If you like snarky humor, this story is for you. Libby Klein has a unique voice that needs to be heard, read, shared, and enjoyed.

Her next story, Midnight Snacks are Murder comes out the end of July. You can find out more about Libby Klein here.

SaveSave

Cara Brookins’ Memoir – Rise (How A House Built A Family)

cara brookinsRise – A Memoir by Cara Brookins

My Story

I was at a writing conference last year. I had the opportunity to listen to Cara Brookins discuss her memoir, ‘Rise (How a House Built a Family)’. She was a very inspiring woman who I had to listen to, because of what she did. I could relate to her in so many ways.

Before we start, I apologize if I got any of the story wrong. It was so inspiring, I may have mixed up a few details. These are my errors!

Cara Brookins’ Story

Cara Brookins was a woman with four children. Count them, four! She admitted to picking the wrong type of men. Abusive men. She finally hit a brick wall and chose to change her life, for her and her kids. She chose to leave and try to start over. I know, many people don’t understand about accepting the abuse. If you haven’t been through it, you may not. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me, this diyhomegoddess had the same history, so I got it). And yes, I have also chosen to escape. I am must stronger now.

Cara Brookins is a freelance writer, an author, and a computer geek. 

What did she do, my diyhomegoddesses? On a trip with her kids, she found an old destroyed house, and it spoke to her. She built a house! 

What Happened?

Cara Brookins wanted to start her life fresh, start anew. With four children, ages 17 (Hope), 15 (Drew), 9 (Jada) and 2 (Roman).

She found a plot of land and purchased it. Her and her children drew some inpronto plans for the house they dreamed of having, along with a stick model. She went to multiple banks, and finally someone was willing to take a chance on her, and gave her a 9 month loan. 9 months before she had to pay the loan back, because she was not a licensed contractor!

Her and her family built the house themselves. Laid the foundation. Put up the frame. Tacked on the walls. Plumbing. Windows and doors. A staircase? Sure, it was a 3500 square-foot two story house! And before they got too far, they built a shed to house the tools, so they wouldn’t have to transport them each day.

How Did Cara Brookins Know What To Do?

They had no experience. They learned everything they attempted to do with You Tube videos. You Tube! They made a lot of mistakes along the way. Sometimes they didn’t have the right tools. They definitely were not equipped clothing wise for the job. Cara didn’t know you were supposed to do a chalk outline of frame, she had the strings set up like the video told her (she used a bag of flour to make the outline!).

Most of the work she and her four children did themselves, after work and school and on weekends. Holidays. She did the plumbing herself. The only help she had, was to pay someone from a home improvement store occasionally $25 an hour, and the electricity was set by professionals (albeit professionals usually high). Everything else her and the children did!

Cara Brookins’ Memoir

Cara Brookins did a pretty good job on the memoir. She has an excellent grasp of descriptions. I spent the entire book gritting my teeth as they strode from one problem to the next. She did not fly through the construction details, she gave you a full explanation of how the progress went and what they had to do.

There were the occasional stories in there about the holidays, special times they had that weren’t related to the building of the house, etc. That gave a good breather. I spent a lot of time feeling for these brave children.

There were gritty details and humorous details. There were struggles they had with the house, and struggles they had with every day life.

The only problem I had with the book, which is normal for memoirs, is the jumping around. You’d read a chapter about the construction, then all of a sudden you were five years earlier talking about the struggles with her significant others that lead to her leaving. This was important to be in here, because it was the basis for her actions. It got a bit confusing sometimes, but I finally got into the rhythm.

I do wish there were a few more pictures of Inkwell Manor. And it would have been awesome to see the floor plan drawn, so we could get a full view of what these people (remember 4 of the 5 were children!) accomplished.

I give this book 4.5 stars!

Want To See More?

http://carabrookins.com

And Now For Us Diyhomegoddesses

Sometimes a gal has to do what a gal has to do. We all need inspiration sometimes. We all need to feel like we are not alone. And we can do anything. Cara Brookins is proof of that. I consider her the ultimate diyhomegoddess. For real! Some of my posts show what I’ve accomplished, albeit small. Here, here, and here.

Like Cara Brookins said and wrote in my inscription of the book, and don’t you forget:

Build Big Things!

SaveSave

SaveSave

Crepe Murder – A Seagrass Sweets Cozy Mystery by Sandi Scott

Sandi ScottCrepe Murder – A Seagrass Sweets Cozy Mystery by Sandi Scott

Even though this is a prequel to the series, it is perfectly great. If you read some of the others first, this will answer some questions for you. I feel Sandi Scott did an excellent job with this prequel.

Let’s Get On With The Review

The descriptions of Paris and its neighborhoods are much better than in the series. It made me feel like I was there. Her handling of the cooking school was spot on based on what I know of them and the Parisian attitude was perfection. Sandi Scott is coming into stride with descriptions.
The character descriptions were a little lacking, as I didn’t have too much to visualize there. Maybe I missed them, maybe I didn’t pay attention, who knows. A couple of the characters I could visualize, but not all of them. The delivery driver was a perfect example of my getting him. And when she did it, she did it very well.
As for the characters, Patty seemed a bit split persona. Probably because of her NY attitude. The chef was a scream with his temper, as were all the neighboring store owners. You got right away how nasty Serge was. I hated him from page one, and understood why she dumped him, no questions asked. And I kind of got to know Ryan, even though he wasn’t actually in the story, just in backstory parts.
The dialogue was snappy. There was good tension in them when needed. And the internal thoughts really helped flush out Ashley’s attitude in the other books. Now it makes 100% sense. I liked the way her computer skills related to detective skills, and it should be mentioned in future books.
There were plenty of red herrings and authentic clues to keep you changing your mind about who did the dastardly dead, just like a cozy should. The final outcome seemed a tiny bit choppy, but it definitely made sense.

Final Verdict

Now that I understand Ashley, it encourages me to go back and reread the series, because I will get more knowledge because of the backstory.
If you haven’t read any of the Seagrass series yet, start with the prequel! Nice job.

Want to read more about the series? Check out all the titles here. And check my original review about her series here.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sandi Scott – The Seagrass Sweets Mysteries (A Cozy Mystery Series)

Sandi ScottSandi Scott – The Seagrass Sweets Mysteries

This is a new author I have been trying out. Sandi Scott seems to have a unique twist on her characters. 

Cream Puff Murder – Book #1

I would have liked more setting description. I feel like I didn’t get a sense of being in Seagrass. It does sound like an interesting place from what I gathered. I hope Sandi Scott does more descriptions in the future books so we can become immersed in the town.

But I did like the unique main characters. Could be developed a little more with background, but it works so far. None of them appear perfect, or even close to perfection. 

Ashley seems a bit of a nervous or unsure kind of gal. Which is quite a change from the amateur sleuths who just go full force and don’t look back. So seeing an amateur sleuth who seems like me is a warm feeling.

Ryan seems a bit unsure of himself as well. Geez! Characters who seem like real people, not the over the top kinds, but ones who are just normal. Who would have guessed?

And Dizzy was so much fun! 

Some reviewers didn’t like the cop distrust that happened, but there are so many cozies that have the main character falling for the cop that this is refreshing and unexpected. Read more

Libby Klein – Class Reunions Are Murder 

Libby Klein

Bear with me diyhomegoddesses while you read this review about Libby Klein and the first Poppy McAllister book. The book came out a few months ago. I picked it up because of the title. I mean, come on! How many of us think this about our class reunions?

The Gist of the Story

The story is set in Jersey; New Jersey for those of you not in the know. That’s what people in that region call it. At least they used to. It’s about Poppy McAllister, a recent widow who is avoiding life, and her mother-in-law Georgina, who wants control of her son’s widow even after he’s dead. That’s normal, right? She is kind of pushed into going to the reunion by the few friends she had in school. That happens, right?

Poppy is someone I relate to. The gal is big, redheaded, and beautiful (paraphrasing Queen Latifah in Hairspray)! She goes to the reunion, and it’s like she’s back in high school again, with the allegedly cool kids making fun of her. She finds a dead body at the reunion, the body of the most popular girl in school, Barbie. Barbie? Really? Now if that isn’t the name of the queen of the class who pushed everyone around, I don’t know what is. 

Amber (!), the local cop and member of the class, is insistent on proving Poppy guilty of murder. Hmm, another popular girl here. Something snaps in Poppy, and she wakes up to fight for her freedom. Yay, Poppy! She spends the book trying to question people, sneaking around, getting into trouble (typical cozy), and generally being a woman who just woke up from a long sleep to find out she has life left in her.

Meanwhile, she meets up with her high school love, a cute Italian coffee shop owner, and is trying to keep her Aunt Ginny from being sent to a nursing home because she’s “too old to be by herself”.

The Review of Libby Klein – Class Reunions Are Murder

The characters are fully developed. You get descriptions, and they seem to fit their names. She must have taken a lot of time to create them. I had trouble finding flat characters. Poppy is tough, yet gentle. Aunt Ginny is a firecracker. Her friends are faithful. Figaro the cat is a drama queen! The popular crowd was shown the way we don’t see them in school; they love each other but are backbiters even amongst themselves. Her characters are unique, fun, and all around real.

The descriptions are pretty good. Libby Klein does not just breeze over them, and does not go overboard either. Most of her setting descriptions are about buildings, you get just a glimpse of the outdoors weather. Well, the bulk of the story is inside, so that’s fine.

The dialogue is snappy. There wasn’t much dialogue that was added fluff. There are lots of sayings in this book that most people have used, but few authors will add. This made the characters seem more real to me. There is attitude in this book that I don’t see in a lot of others. Not that other authors aren’t real. But Libby Klein made her characters the blue collar, Jerseyan people they are. Like Aunt Ginny’s response to the reunion dress. “I need a drink.” Some people may be off-putting by this talk, but I love it.

The story is hilarious. I read it while commuting, and people would stare at me when I laughed out loud! Snide comments, funny innuendos, descriptions. 

The clues were there. The red herrings were in abundance. Twists and turns? Absolutely! The way Poppy changed her mind about the killer’s identity is typical cozy fashion. The only thing different from the classic cozy was it was a bit longer than normal.

The Verdict

This gets 4.5 stars! If you like snarky humor, this story is for you. Libby Klein has a unique voice that needs to be heard, read, shared, and enjoyed.

Her next story, Midnight Snacks are Murder comes out the end of July. You can find out more about Libby Klein here.

SaveSave

Cara Brookins’ Memoir – Rise (How A House Built A Family)

cara brookinsRise – A Memoir by Cara Brookins

My Story

I was at a writing conference last year. I had the opportunity to listen to Cara Brookins discuss her memoir, ‘Rise (How a House Built a Family)’. She was a very inspiring woman who I had to listen to, because of what she did. I could relate to her in so many ways.

Before we start, I apologize if I got any of the story wrong. It was so inspiring, I may have mixed up a few details. These are my errors!

Cara Brookins’ Story

Cara Brookins was a woman with four children. Count them, four! She admitted to picking the wrong type of men. Abusive men. She finally hit a brick wall and chose to change her life, for her and her kids. She chose to leave and try to start over. I know, many people don’t understand about accepting the abuse. If you haven’t been through it, you may not. Unfortunately (or fortunately for me, this diyhomegoddess had the same history, so I got it). And yes, I have also chosen to escape. I am must stronger now.

Cara Brookins is a freelance writer, an author, and a computer geek. 

What did she do, my diyhomegoddesses? On a trip with her kids, she found an old destroyed house, and it spoke to her. She built a house! 

What Happened?

Cara Brookins wanted to start her life fresh, start anew. With four children, ages 17 (Hope), 15 (Drew), 9 (Jada) and 2 (Roman).

She found a plot of land and purchased it. Her and her children drew some inpronto plans for the house they dreamed of having, along with a stick model. She went to multiple banks, and finally someone was willing to take a chance on her, and gave her a 9 month loan. 9 months before she had to pay the loan back, because she was not a licensed contractor!

Her and her family built the house themselves. Laid the foundation. Put up the frame. Tacked on the walls. Plumbing. Windows and doors. A staircase? Sure, it was a 3500 square-foot two story house! And before they got too far, they built a shed to house the tools, so they wouldn’t have to transport them each day.

How Did Cara Brookins Know What To Do?

They had no experience. They learned everything they attempted to do with You Tube videos. You Tube! They made a lot of mistakes along the way. Sometimes they didn’t have the right tools. They definitely were not equipped clothing wise for the job. Cara didn’t know you were supposed to do a chalk outline of frame, she had the strings set up like the video told her (she used a bag of flour to make the outline!).

Most of the work she and her four children did themselves, after work and school and on weekends. Holidays. She did the plumbing herself. The only help she had, was to pay someone from a home improvement store occasionally $25 an hour, and the electricity was set by professionals (albeit professionals usually high). Everything else her and the children did!

Cara Brookins’ Memoir

Cara Brookins did a pretty good job on the memoir. She has an excellent grasp of descriptions. I spent the entire book gritting my teeth as they strode from one problem to the next. She did not fly through the construction details, she gave you a full explanation of how the progress went and what they had to do.

There were the occasional stories in there about the holidays, special times they had that weren’t related to the building of the house, etc. That gave a good breather. I spent a lot of time feeling for these brave children.

There were gritty details and humorous details. There were struggles they had with the house, and struggles they had with every day life.

The only problem I had with the book, which is normal for memoirs, is the jumping around. You’d read a chapter about the construction, then all of a sudden you were five years earlier talking about the struggles with her significant others that lead to her leaving. This was important to be in here, because it was the basis for her actions. It got a bit confusing sometimes, but I finally got into the rhythm.

I do wish there were a few more pictures of Inkwell Manor. And it would have been awesome to see the floor plan drawn, so we could get a full view of what these people (remember 4 of the 5 were children!) accomplished.

I give this book 4.5 stars!

Want To See More?

http://carabrookins.com

And Now For Us Diyhomegoddesses

Sometimes a gal has to do what a gal has to do. We all need inspiration sometimes. We all need to feel like we are not alone. And we can do anything. Cara Brookins is proof of that. I consider her the ultimate diyhomegoddess. For real! Some of my posts show what I’ve accomplished, albeit small. Here, here, and here.

Like Cara Brookins said and wrote in my inscription of the book, and don’t you forget:

Build Big Things!

SaveSave

SaveSave

Crepe Murder – A Seagrass Sweets Cozy Mystery by Sandi Scott

Sandi ScottCrepe Murder – A Seagrass Sweets Cozy Mystery by Sandi Scott

Even though this is a prequel to the series, it is perfectly great. If you read some of the others first, this will answer some questions for you. I feel Sandi Scott did an excellent job with this prequel.

Let’s Get On With The Review

The descriptions of Paris and its neighborhoods are much better than in the series. It made me feel like I was there. Her handling of the cooking school was spot on based on what I know of them and the Parisian attitude was perfection. Sandi Scott is coming into stride with descriptions.
The character descriptions were a little lacking, as I didn’t have too much to visualize there. Maybe I missed them, maybe I didn’t pay attention, who knows. A couple of the characters I could visualize, but not all of them. The delivery driver was a perfect example of my getting him. And when she did it, she did it very well.
As for the characters, Patty seemed a bit split persona. Probably because of her NY attitude. The chef was a scream with his temper, as were all the neighboring store owners. You got right away how nasty Serge was. I hated him from page one, and understood why she dumped him, no questions asked. And I kind of got to know Ryan, even though he wasn’t actually in the story, just in backstory parts.
The dialogue was snappy. There was good tension in them when needed. And the internal thoughts really helped flush out Ashley’s attitude in the other books. Now it makes 100% sense. I liked the way her computer skills related to detective skills, and it should be mentioned in future books.
There were plenty of red herrings and authentic clues to keep you changing your mind about who did the dastardly dead, just like a cozy should. The final outcome seemed a tiny bit choppy, but it definitely made sense.

Final Verdict

Now that I understand Ashley, it encourages me to go back and reread the series, because I will get more knowledge because of the backstory.
If you haven’t read any of the Seagrass series yet, start with the prequel! Nice job.

Want to read more about the series? Check out all the titles here. And check my original review about her series here.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Sandi Scott – The Seagrass Sweets Mysteries (A Cozy Mystery Series)

Sandi ScottSandi Scott – The Seagrass Sweets Mysteries

This is a new author I have been trying out. Sandi Scott seems to have a unique twist on her characters. 

Cream Puff Murder – Book #1

I would have liked more setting description. I feel like I didn’t get a sense of being in Seagrass. It does sound like an interesting place from what I gathered. I hope Sandi Scott does more descriptions in the future books so we can become immersed in the town.

But I did like the unique main characters. Could be developed a little more with background, but it works so far. None of them appear perfect, or even close to perfection. 

Ashley seems a bit of a nervous or unsure kind of gal. Which is quite a change from the amateur sleuths who just go full force and don’t look back. So seeing an amateur sleuth who seems like me is a warm feeling.

Ryan seems a bit unsure of himself as well. Geez! Characters who seem like real people, not the over the top kinds, but ones who are just normal. Who would have guessed?

And Dizzy was so much fun! 

Some reviewers didn’t like the cop distrust that happened, but there are so many cozies that have the main character falling for the cop that this is refreshing and unexpected. Read more