Shop With Amazon

Http:// is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Quilter's Quarters, introducing my new series

Guest review by Jeanne Claire Probst, a fellow author:

"I just finished reading The Quilter's Quarters  (Mysteries in The Quilter's Quarters) by Terry Crawford Palardy. As I was with other books I have read by this amazing author, I was again entertained and was left with memories of a warm heart who shared her love and appreciation for people down through the years.

Her ability to make a quilt and tailor them to the personality of the recipient was not only creative, but an inspiration. Dealing with everyday life around the trials and challenges of Multiple Sclerosis, Terry again shows her strengths and is a source of encouragement to all who know her.

This book is a must read and whether you like to make quilts or will move you to look for ways you can reach out to others around you. Thank you, Terry, for your fine writing and love for people."

~ Jeanne Claire Probst, Author The Fifteen Houses, A Novel

This book is available at Smashwords for all e-book versions; you can also find it at Amazon for an unexplicably expensive paperback edition, Kindle and free preview you can also shop for it at my website where you'll find an autographed paperback with full color photographs of quilts at a reasonable price. Your choice! :)

I timed the release of this new mystery series to coincide with the opening of our own new quilt shop, the model for that of "Henry and Helen" in the story. You can take a visual tour of our shop at this link; it begins with a slide show of still images, and when you scroll down, there is a video-walk-through of our shop.

Stay tuned for more adventures of Henry and Helen as they enjoy their happily ever after years while struggling through the challenges of this new millennium.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Garden Club Gang, by Neal Sanders

The Garden Club Gang is the book that introduces us to the group of women "of a certain age" who decide that it is time for some excitement in their lives. Neal Sanders is the author who has created the community of Hardington, Massachusetts; a town where, as in many like it, the haves and the have-nots show a mutual dedication to their town's curbside appeal. They are all members of the Hardington Garden Club.

The four women live differently despite the homogeneity of small town life. Some have money, some have not. Some have or have had children, and others not. But for reasons as uniquely different than each other's, all believe it is time to take a risk ... bigger than any risk life has thus far required of them.

They are friends committed to helping each other realize this shared goal. They decide that they are "invisible" to society, and so have an advantage. They plan a heist.

Not a simple shoplifting tour ... nor a local grocery (heaven forbid!) They choose to target an armed truck picking up the receipts at the County Fair. It will not hurt the fair, they reason, for the money will have been handed over to the trucking company. The robbery will not hurt the trucking company because it will have insurance. The daring risk will not hurt the insurance company because it will simply pass on the cost to the policy holders via an increase in premiums. It will pinch the many policy holders but in a very small way, and it will fulfill the "Garden Club Gang's" need to plan, orchestrate and execute, without being caught, the risk that now sits at the top of all of their bucket lists.

As in his later books, Neal Sanders sketches out his characters with careful detail, leaving enough for the reader to color in with their own reactions to each one. His invented town of Hardington is the setting for at least two more of Sanders' books, and I've put a link below to my reviews of those titles.

Enjoy this read, and imagine yourself having the gumption, the guts and the generational confidence to carry it out~ but be careful what you wish for~ you may be as surprised as these ladies are!

Here are links to my reviews of other books by Neal Sanders:

Murder in the Garden Club (set in Hardington)
Murder for a Worthy Cause (set in Hardington)
Deal Killer

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Charley, an historical fiction by Donna Marie Seim

Armed with knowledge and experience, local author Donna Seim has written a number of books for children. Her most recent, Charley, captivated me as it is a story of a middle-school-aged boy living over a century ago in Boston, the city where I grew up over half a century ago. The cover of the book initially caught my eye, with the lines of laundry hanging between tenement houses in Boston at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century. The cap on his head is so similar to the one my dad always wore and probably had worn at Charley's age. The character is based on family recollections of their dad and granddad.Charlie would have been about fifteen years older than my dad ... and no doubt living in the same part of Boston.

Charley is a street-kid. He'd hop the trolley cars when he needed to get somewhere in a hurry. He'd sneak into the neighborhood bakery to swipe sweets when his stomach and those of his friends were empty. He'd bring stolen bread home to his younger sister, older brother and their father when he could.

Donna Seim captures the colloquialisms of urban children of the streets. She describes succinctly the physical settings in the City of Boston (as my father always referred to it as such.) She understands and depicts clearly the emotional turmoil and loyalty to to each other of children who have grown up and suffered the loss of first one parent, and then the other. The stories of these children are familiar to her, as she has worked as a social worker with families living such stories.

Charley loses, again and again, people he loves. He is taken in by the Home for Little Wanderers in Boston (which, in later years, was a parochial grammar school that I attended, still bearing the stonework carving of that name from those years as an orphanage.) He then loses again, as his young sister is placed with a Boston well to-do-family, and then his young brother is sent to a farm family many miles west of Boston, and then loses yet again the new relationships he has forged in the orphanage when he himself is sent to live with a family in Maine. 

Charley does have some blessings in his life, and one is his remarkable Irish voice. Charley can sing like his own dad sang ... and like my own dad did, too. And he is a likable sort, easy to make friends and eager to find fun with them, either on the streets of Boston or on the farm in Maine. 

Charley's story is believable because it is based on real people, in a setting so very real to me. I was mesmerized by Seim's ability to recapture those memories that lay nearly forgotten in my own past. The book is so well written, and so carefully and concisely illustrated by Susan Spellman, that people who hadn't grown up on those city streets can still envision them through Charley's eyes. I give five stars for this wonderful book, and am happy to learn that some middle schools are beginning to add it to their recommended reading lists for ages 8 to 12. I believe many older readers will enjoy it as well. 

Thank you, Donna Seim, for this treasure of a book!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Fifteen Houses

Image of Jeanne Claire Probst

I met a new author at the New England Authors Expo at the end of July. Jeanneclaire Probst is one of the many authors exhibiting books at the Danversport Yacht Club, hosted by Chris Obert of Pear Tree Publishing. Jeanneclaire was there to introduce her debut novel, The Fifteen Houses.

Jeanne grew up in western Massachusetts in the same years that I grew up in South Boston. Though our settings were vastly different, we were both children during the fifties, and teens during the sixties. The story told in Probst's novel is fiction, but resonates with many readers who shared those childhood years.

Jeanne tells the story of Julianne, a young girl with sisters and brothers, parents and step-parents, happiness and tragedy, strength and trauma. The family described in this book are living in denial of their reality: secrets are to be kept within the household and not shared with the community. Julianne is a child living in a confusing adult world; she attends a primary school in Massachusetts where lessons are taught in French. When her family makes one of their many moves to a neighborhood of English-speaking families, she must begin to learn to read in a second language. She also has a hearing deficit, and is fitted with a strange appliance for most children: a hearing aide that draws negative attention rather than sympathy from her fellow students. Learning is hampered by this impairment, and punishment for being less than perfect is swift and physical.

Through the many moves, from one house to the next to the next, the family profile emerges as one less typical than many in the "Happy Days" decade of the fifties. Wife-swapping, parental discipline, school discipline, social situations ... some things change suddenly with each move, and yet other things remain painfully the same.

This story is the beginning of a series. Probst has several appearances scheduled to give her the opportunity to share her character's story and life lessons with many audiences. You can read about her local appearances in Massachusetts at her Amazon Author Central page 

When interviewed on a local cable television episode, she hints that there are eight or more books ahead in this family saga, each one focusing on one of the main characters in the family of Julianne. It promises to be a series that captures American life in the second half of the twentieth century ... my century. Read along with me!  Five stars for this debut novel, and for all that it promises to reveal in later books.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Daughters (The Sequel to The Coach House) by Florence Osmund


by Florence Osmund

Florence Osmund's DAUGHTERS, is a well written sequel to her first novel, THE COACH HOUSE. Osmund's writing style has developed in this second novel. This book could easily be a stand-alone novel, as it is not dependent on the original story for character development.

Osmund does not weary the reader with tiresome repetition of the earlier book's details; rather, she accomplishes these reminders subtly in conversations between characters.

Marie is the female protagonist of both books. An unusual background presents us with a well-educated single woman in her mid-twenties with her own business, living in the growing post-war economy. The time period is well researched and replicated by the author, and the reader is comfortably introduced to the issue of bi-racial identity.

Civil rights, gender roles and political postures are carefully, realistically and sensitively present in this story. Marie grows through each experience her new family has offered. This novel could well fit into a "coming of age" literature syllabus for young adults.

I unequivocally recommend this author's books for young teens and adults who want to learn more about the American life in the mid-twentieth century. There is something for every age to clarify in this story. Introspective thoughts cannot help but surface after following Marie along her path.

Five stars for content, style and value.

Read my review of her earlier novel, The Coach House by clicking here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Multiple Sclerosis, Melanoma and More

In response to Multiple Sclerosis, an Enigma readers' questions and expressed wishes to follow more of Terry and Rick's continuing story, Multiple Sclerosis, Melanoma and More is introduced. 

The sequel is now available on Terry's new author website:

It is also published in print (paperback) and Kindle form, at Amazon: Click here.

Smashwords also has made it available for other ebook format: Click here.

Thanks for shopping with me at my new website! 

 You can find me easily at the New England Authors Expo at the Danversport Yacht Club on July 31, 2013 (open to the public, free, from 4 to 9 pm.) Just look for my new banner!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Senior Snoops: The Sequel to the Sequel


Madison Johns has successfully continued to weave a web of intrigue, romance, danger, mystery and murder within an elder snowbird village. To keep the two seniors fresh as they gently age through the emerging series of Senior Sleuth stories, Johns introduces them to new settings and an additional cast  of characters.

The sheriff of the first two books fulfills his promise of giving the ladies an all expense paid winter trip to Florida, arranging room and board for them in his brother's town. His brother, coincidentally, is also a sheriff, but seems cut of a different cloth (to use one of Eleanor's expressions.) She and Agnes, her 'partner in crime-solving,' are a bit taken aback at the terms of their arrangements.

Florida is not Lake Huron, and swimmers dress differently, when they dress. Scandalized but mesmerized by the differences, Aggie and El set out to solve one mystery, and then encounter another, and yet another, and still another. They are chased, seduced, shot at, robbed and at times infuriated by the people they encounter.

Their paramours, Mr. Wilson and Andrew, are with them in Florida, and bring a level of confidence and peace with them. If you loved meeting all of these characters in Armed and Outrageous, and worried about and with them through Grannies, Guns and Ghosts, you will enjoy their adventures in Senior Snoops. They say three's the charm, but maybe we'll be lucky enough to see more stories featuring these intrepid old ladies.

You can read my reviews of the first two of Agnes and Eleanor's mysteries here:

Armed and Outrageous

Grannies, Guns and Ghosts

Friday, June 7, 2013


by Kristie Salerno Kent

Kristie knew she wanted to be a star, even when she was just a little girl. Her mother encouraged her ambitions, and would pay along with Kristie's calling herself Wonder Woman.

Kristie went to college, worked hard, and studied the performing arts with diligence and exuberance. As she finished her formal education, she noticed an inconsistent weakness and unsteady walking. She prided herself on being able to hide this difference form those who might have encouraged her to see a doctor.

When her job became more challenging, her boss understood, and the entire staff was amenable to finding less difficult ways for her to continue working.

Despite her advancing weakness, Kristie is able to truly say that although the word DREAMS ends in MS, her dreams didn't. It's a delightful memoir of a talented young lady who realized goals she once thought would have to be sset aside. It's a realization that she shares with everyone.

This is a book you won't find at Amazon; it can be downloaded for free at Kristie's website, which is funded in part by one of the pharmaceuticals that markets medication for people with multiple sclerosis. Kristie has done a great deal of good as an advocate for people with multiple sclerosis, and for the public in gaining an awareness of what this chronic condition changes in a person's life, and in the lives around someone with MS.

Here's the link to find her website and download the book for free:
Dreams, the ebook

And, here's the link to hear a podcast and see a book trailer for the author's work 

Related articles

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mal Practice by Paul Janson, MD

Paul Janson's new book, Mal Practice, his first novel, introduces a protagonist about whom readers will no doubt want to read more. Joe Nelson, a coal miner turned pediatrician (the hard way, with years of study and family encouragement)has a calm, easy-going personality, a beautiful, equally-talented wife (also an emergency room doctor)and a practice in the small town he wants to serve ... the small town where he grew up ... the small town where almost everyone is related to almost everyone, and secrets kept are deep.

Dr. Nelson is accused of malpractice, The local police and local lawyers and local court and local jury are all looking into his life, his possible ineptitude and his character. With everything on the table and little else to lose, Joe begins his own investigation into the death of his patient, as Joe alone knows of his own innocence.

Joe's ongoing romantic involvement with his soon to be ex-wife puzzles some and intrigues the reader. Other characters develop as Joe's investigation begins; some are those who stand to lose both money and credibility should his investigating expose their motives, and some are those who see and appreciate Joe's capacity for putting the puzzle pieces together. Joe himself is then a target for those might have a motive and a means of having killed his young patient three years ago, and a recipient of benevolent assets and support from those who want him to succeed in exposing the guilty.

Family, relationships, community, enmity, greed and murder are all key elements of this engaging novel. Just enough medical detail is shared to keep the reader grounded in the story. I strongly recommend it to all readers of mysteries, and all readers of medical murder. And it is my fervent wish, as a reader, to know more of what will happen in the lives of these main characters. I see series potential.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grannies, Guns and Ghosts by Madison Johns

Madison Johns has done it again, capturing the human side of elders by writing of their reactions, intuitions and observations at crime scenes that seem to pop up wherever they might be.

In Grannies, Guns and Ghosts, Aggie and Eleanor have been enlisted by a frightened local who witnessed a death ... was it a murder? Or a suicide? Or the gentle push of a ghostly apparition?

Coinciding with this death is the appearance of a ghostly ship seen by some on Lake Huron. The ancestral home of the deceased is also the site of family burials ... and wives and husbands appear to have died in tandem, generation by generation. Curiouser and curiouser, the two fearless detectives work around the local law enforcement personnel to discover more clues and avoid their own vulnerability and arrest.

Gypsies, Ghosts, Old Flames, Pink Guns, Snarky Adolescence, Threatened Curses, Locked Gates and Slippery Cemetery Lawns all pose challenges for our heroines; they stumble and bend their way through them all, to an ending that ties in the paranormal events in such a way as to leave the reader questioning ... and of course, wanting more of Aggie and El's adventures.

Five stars for the sequel that doesn't fall short of expectations. If you haven't read the first tale, Armed and Outrageous, you've missed out on some sizzling relationships!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, May 3, 2013

Deal Killer, by Neal Sanders

Neal Sanders is an author whose mystery books not only pose a puzzle, but offer an insider's view of ordinary worlds not always known to all ordinary people. His earlier murder mysteries enticed readers to reflect on the many facets of running a gardening club, involving social/economic changes in small towns, and personal interactions between generations.

Deal Killer invites us into the executive boardrooms of competing industrial plants, introducing us to a host of characters ranging from 'woodchucks' (or 'go-fers' in other arenas) to CEOs (chief executive officers)and bank accountants, project managers, Boston Irish Mobsters to, to New Hampshire state troopers (in a different light than in his Hardington stories.) His settings range from the woods of New Hampshire to large chain hotels in the small city of Nashua, to the famous Boston Fanueil Hall Marketplace and to the back rooms of a bar in South Boston.

What is not different from his earlier works is his ability to build strong characters with deceptive ease, allowing his readers to understand each player's individual motivations and values. By using interactions and conversations between his people to show the power plays behind the scenes, the complexity of what may be seen by the uninvolved public as a simple transfer of ownership, and the stakes involved in personal investment of loyalty, commitment and dedication to an employer's goals and dreams, Sanders educates us and entertains us without distracting us from the hanging question of 'who dun-it' as the chapters unfold.

With a strong female protagonist cast in a mousy persona and secondary seat at the table, to the deceptively benign posture of the head of a corporation ... and in a beautiful blonde's predictable guile balanced by her focused intelligence and resourcefulness, Sanders quietly establishes the truth about not judging people by their outward appearances, their occupational identities, or their public facades.

After reading this story, it's unlikely that one would ever look again at a corporate buy-out story in a newspaper as "just business." The threads of this story are as seamlessly, purposely woven as the most obscure pattern in a story of old... a story that concludes with the right thing being accomplished by just the right person, for the right people.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Peaceful Walk Along the Beach

Shore Lines: Life Lessons from the Sea is written by a man who has spent many fruitful days experiencing the ocean shore. Both on the sand and on a sailboat with a friend, Reverend Edwin Lynn has opened his heart and his mind to the sea, and feels a sense of home each time he visits. He and his wife have lived in many parts of the United States, but they feel most at home when they are near the shore of their ocean, the Atlantic.

And when Lynn visits the ocean, he studies its lines ... the wave patterns left on the firm wet sand at the water's edge, and the flora and fauna left behind the receding waters. He is often able to equate these parallels to life, and could then share his insights and thoughts with others as talks with members of his Universal Unitarian church in a large town in Massachusetts.

Once trained as an architect before becoming a minister, Reverend Lynn looks carefully at the structures of life, and the repeating patterns of mathematics in nature ... and takes and shares the knowledge and balance that comes with such understanding. His book chapters, stories and anecdotes all deliver lessons gently. And as he was once also a teacher in a school of spiritual learning, he has divided his book into three equal sections: Attitude, Adversity, and Gratitude.  Those who have read his chapters recognize within his own style that of Anne Morrow Lindberg's similar appreciation and understanding of what the sea has to offer us.

One publisher who enjoyed his writing referred to this as "A quiet book," one that made a stronger impression on those who also knew and valued the lessons available to us at the ocean's shore. But whether you live along the coast or have only read of it's powerful setting, this book has something to offer every reader, of every age, in every setting. It offers you a moment of contemplation in a hurried and noisy world. Five stars for Edwin Lynn's Shore Lines. I continue to enjoy it in small sections, lingering and savoring each morsel of life shared in each moment that I sit with his stories.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Murder for a Worthy Cause, by Neal Sanders

Neal Sanders' Murder for a Worthy Cause is the sequel to A Murder in the Garden Club, and his characters are welcomed back by readers who have recognized this author's talent in telling the tale of a small town murder. Detective John Flynn, his recently-humbled and amiable Chief Harding, and Flynn's new friend and resident of Hardington, Liz, are again faced with an unexpected murder, the second in two months in this small town that prides itself with its tranquil reputation and setting.

That suburban setting is presently drastically altered by the arrival of a film crew determined to fulfill the promise of building a beautiful new home for a family displaced by a fire. "The Ultimate House  Makeover" host and  crew arrives with trailers and trucks and tents and supplies, and hundreds of locals have volunteered to help in this worthy cause ... and optimistically to be filmed while doing so. Drawn to the charisma of the televised program's handsome host, Whit, even the members of the Garden Club are enlisted to plant the landscape once the pre-ordered plants arrive. But to the chagrin of the Garden Club President, Liz, they have been ordered by Californians from a landscaper in Texas and are not fit for the Zone 5 climate of Massachusetts.

In this way, the author, Neal Sanders, displays his careful research and consultation with the experts who advise him toward writing knowledgeably the back stories of his novels. Coordinating investigation resources of local manpower, State Police, and his friends in the Boston Police Department and other Suffolk County offices, Sanders' Detective Flynn does manage to solve this mysterious murder within the allotted time of five days ... the same days in which the former home of the Cordoza family will be replaced.

Unfortunately for the one-week intensely-scheduled and volunteer-labor-dependent crew, it is the coordinator of the local volunteers who has been murdered, and the build must go on. Liz,  having seen the planting disaster ahead and coming to the site to argue with the staffer responsible, is the first person with organizational and leadership skills to arrive on the scene. She is hastily recruited to replace the deceased selectman, and she takes on his role of fitting volunteers and their recorded skills to the many jobs waiting to be done. Liz new 'job' involves meeting the daily requests of the site managers by reading through the pages of names and matching the volunteers' skills to the chores, sending teenage "runners" out with the lists to the groups of workers and their managers.

One of these 'runners' reminds Liz of her own daughter as a teenager, and the two build a hasty relationship and mutual admiration. This established rapport enables the teen to eventually entrust Liz with a secret, and that secret leads to the discovery of another secret, and that to a possible clue to the murder's solution.

Other characters from A Murder in the Garden Club reappear in this story: the Patriot's football star and his wife, who emerges as more than just a pretty face, and the lawyer-turned-friend who can advise Liz on staying within the bounds of Massachusetts Laws. The young police officer, Frankel, again measures up to Detective Flynn's trust and out-does the State Police in crime scene observation, while Liz's old friend Roland reappears to comfort Liz as she confesses  her unhappiness in living alone with her daughter married and living more independently while Liz's husband continues to live apart during the work week, coming home only for brief weekends.

All of these characters continue to grow in their relationships and their common dedication to the town of Hardington. Neal Sanders has a viable cast of characters and a realistic setting in which to pose mysteries worth solving, and gentle lessons of humanity worth sharing.

This is the second book for which Neal Sanders has chosen the artwork of a local Georgetown, Massachusetts Artist, Lynne Schulte, for the cover of his book. Her artwork can be scene at her website,, and her beautiful detail and style add a local flavor and comfortable dimension to Sanders' stories.

Five Stars again for this second mystery set in the fictional town of Hardington, Massachusetts! Scroll down a few entries here to read my review of Sanders earlier book, Murder in the Garden Club
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Accidental President Returns

The Accidental President Returns
~ book three of the fable trilogy by Dixie Swanson

I have enjoyed each of the three books in the Accidental President trilogy. This one, The Accidental President Returns, culminates the story of Abigail Adams' unexpected political career, and finds her returning to the call of "Honor. Duty. Country." But this time, she's blending motherhood, family and presidential responsibilities in a wholesome, inspiring way.

The story now spans the ocean on two continents; Abby's husband, movie star and director Michael, owns a villa in Italy that is staffed year round, and Abby envisions herself living out her life between Italy and his California home and her Texas ranch. Her children are her pride and joy, and she wishes nothing more than to live with them and place them in good public schools. But life has other plans, and her sense of duty re-emerges when the president calls and asks her to consider running for another term as president.

But this time, instead of a four year term, the presidency will be for six years ... one of the changes she enacted during her first, accidental presidency. And it will be in a Washington DC no longer populated by lobbyists buying expensive lunches in posh restaurants. More changes have taken place during her six year absence from politics, and her children have become school aged, as have her friends' children. Her careful plans for parenting would be undone, but more opportunities would be open to them all. And so, after careful deliberation, and looking at those who are already campaigning for the presidency, she decides to throw her hat into the ring, turn her ranch into campaign headquarters, hire a teacher for the children and run for president. Will she take this on successfully? And what of her other projects?

After helping Muslim women all over the world by diminishing the Taliban's direct influence on women, she is still connected with her Jewish and Muslim co-coordinators of the Peace project for the middle east. And her efforts at moving the environmental correction plans forward for "the little blue ball" are just beginning to have an effect on American consumers. Can she juggle all of her family connections and parenthood and still have enough energy and cognitive skills to be an effective president? Will the people, now able to elect a president via popular vote rather than through the flawed electoral college process be willing to take her back as their president? All of these changes are the direct result of her accidental presidency in book two. Can she keep it all in hand and moving forward?

You won't be very far into the book when you have the answer to that question, and more. You'll be re-acquainted with Mikey Malloy, Michael's gregarious uncle. You'll hear more about how Duke is doing after law school, and how Poppy is enjoying motherhood. You'll find out what Regina and O.T. have been up to. And you'll get to know Abby and Mike's children, their personalities, their charms and their flaws. And the Five Constitutional Amendments that Abby put forward when she was the accidental president ... have they had time, in six years, to change the demeanor and tone of the American Public?

If wishes and dreams came true, we would have a president like Abby in mind for our next election. I suspect that North Korea would be gentled into a peaceful co-existence with South Korea. And peace in the middle east would be... well, you must read this book. There are so many potential lessons provided. But what you'll get from it depends on what you bring to it as a reader.

Read my reviews of Dixie Swanson's Book 1 and 2 of the political fable trilogy

Book 1: The Accidental Senator
Book 2: The Accidental President

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Murder in the Garden Club by Neal Sanders

Neal Sanders is a local author who incorporates the art work of a local illustrator, Lynne Schulte, in his books. A Murder in the Garden Club is one such book.

Sanders writes of a small suburban town outside the City of Boston. During the boom of larger and larger homes taking over once-revered older homes, the town of Hardington is an example of the rising and falling of the American economy. In the eighties, McMansions of all styles were appearing on former farmland pastures, with little more than an acre to spare, placing oversized colonials shoulder to shoulder with Southwestern red-tiled roofs shadowed by tall European Tudors.  And when the economy slid downward, and tastes became less eclectic, those houses stayed on the buyer's market for long inactive months.

Still, in towns like Hardington, volunteer groups made up of a population of well-funded women with time to spare, who dedicated that time to beautification of their town's intersections and open spaces, continued to advocate for reasonable growth and attractive settings. One such group, the Hardington Garden Club, conducted monthly meetings where assigned tasks such as watering the highway exits' bouquets of blooms (often involving lugging heavy containers of water to such isolated sites) and shopping for, planting, weeding and deadheading those chosen areas were often at the top of the agenda.

When a prominent, retired school teacher and long-time member of the Garden Club is found dead at her home, an apparent accidental death presumably caused by her little dog Chipper, her quarrels with a contractor building another McMansion next door, and her irritation and outbursts of anger toward a cement manufacturing plant in town whose trucks are tearing up the roads and spilling noxious liquids on the roadside gardens, begin to raise speculation that this was not an accidental death.

Liz is her friend, and co-gardener, and wants to learn the truth of Sally's death. She begins reluctantly, and then enthusiastically, working with the recently-hired detective in town. John Flynn took early retirement from the City of Boston Police Department, and is finding his new job in Hardington quite different from the well-provisioned and connected resources available in Suffolk County (Boston.) Here in Hardington, with a small town Chief of Police whose name is the source of the town's own name, where murder doesn't happen more than one in a decade, if that often, things are done slowly, calmly, so as not to upset the citizens. His frustration with that is complicated further by his own marital stresses, and he begins to see Liz as more than just a helpful local volunteer.

Liz's own marriage is depicted as happier, but lonelier, as her husband is often on the road, in other states, saving companies which have been hit hard by the economy. Her own child is grown and gone, and she is left alone to care for her extensive gardens and larger-than-now-necessary home. Liz dedicates her time to helping John Flynn understand the social dynamics of the town.

Neal Sanders' characters come quickly to life in recognizable settings. He has more books that either follow or precede this one, and I look forward to reading those, too. And Lynne Schulte's artwork makes for delightful covers of Sanders' books. Click here to find more of Neal's books at Amazon, and click here to see more of Lynne's art:
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Accidental President (The Accidental President Trilogy: A Political Fable for Our Time) by Dixie Swanson

Book Two in the trilogy, The Accidental President, adds romance to the Senator's life. Through three freak accidents, Abby Adams finds herself in the position of interim President of the United States. Rather than just keeping the seat warm until the election, Abby decides to fix some of what she sees as wrong in Washington, DC. Her goal is to restore the power to "We, the People" and rid the city of lobbyists. She sets about gathering her inner circle, and adding a few more pertinent positions.

Her first order of business is to nominate an interim Vice President; the one she would have, highly recommended by previous presidents, has a wife with a chronic illness that limits stamina. Knowing that she'll have to garner the goose to secure the gander, she begins by talking to the wife, and in the process gains a new friend and ally.

In order to rid DC of the vermin, lobbyists, she enlists the aide of another strong male figure, highly respected and not a politician.

And her adviser, Mikey, fixes her up for a State Dinner with his nephew, without telling Abby that the nephew has just been named "The Most Sexy Man..." She meets him formally, tries to keep her distance, but is in fact swept of her feet when they dance the first dance at the dinner.

The story continues to add depth when Abby's plan for liberating the women married to the Taliban begins to take form and function. Her sister's "Infants First" program is thriving as well, and the country is enamored with the president's proposal of Five Amendments designed to fix the Constitution.

To add to the happiness, by the end of the book their are babies in the White House for dinner. Whose babies? I'll leave that for you to discover.

Readers who enjoy these 'fables' will also enjoy the author's website:, where witty, acerbic commentary on today's politics will keep them entertained between books. It has been easy to give both of Swanson's books five stars; now, on to the third!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Confessions of a Sunday School Psychic--The Metaphysical, the Paranormal, Spiritual Healings, Ghosts and More

by Linda Stirling

I read the kindle edition of this book, and found it a very soothing read. Linda Stirling has re-opened my mind to the possibilities of psychic perception. She has also re-opened the conversation about religions' rejection of psychic abilities, a sad reality that closes the minds of some who might otherwise use these skills to help themselves and others.

In her story, she tells of the people who came to her for help with physical symptoms that she was able to heal with gentleness and patience. Her description of how she has regressed to former lives and then progressed to future existence was totally engaging.

Her comfortable relationship with her guides, and with her Creator, is clearly inviting to the rest of us ... an invitation to be still, and to listen, and feel the connections we have with our own guides, and our own Creator. Some of her expressions reminded me of the term "Namaste" ~ a term I learned and understood as I studied Ancient India in preparation to teach it to sixth graders. The belief that we are all one, interconnected not only with each other but also with our guides (I think of them as my angels) and our Creator is the basis of the Hindu teachings, and so we recognize our Creator in every one that we encounter. It is such a warming thought to share, and so important in my own career as a teacher. Teachers are healers in so many ways.

I felt more comfortable with my own psychic sense while reading this book. It's not something I've shared openly, but something that empowered me as a school teacher. I loved each of my students, and treated each as my own. I asked them always to treat each other as they would treat a favorite friend. Many did that, and many parents noticed a difference.

Please take the time to find this book, and read Linda Sterling's work. It will bring peace and understanding, and perhaps a recognition of empowerment, to you.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dixie Swanson's Political Fable Begins

The Accidental Senator by Dixie Swanson

This book is the beginning of a series of books, collectively called A Political Fable. The author, Dixie Swanson, writes regularly in her blog, using an a-partisan style. Siding neither with the ruling party nor with the underdog, Dixie sides with "we, the people." As a former history teacher I strove daily to bring my lesson  back to a reference point, back to the present, and to we, the people who are living in this twenty-first century. And so, when I first began reading Dixie's blog, I felt an immediate kinship with her. When I learned that she was a pediatrician who retired from her practice due to an incurable neurological condition, that bond between us was sealed.  I responded often to her writing via comments on her blog's posts, and when she offered a contest with a prize of one of her books, I entered and was soon the delighted recipient of not one but three of her titles. Here, then, is the first book's review:
               *          *           *           *           *           *
Abby was not a politician. She was not her sister. The two girls were orphaned at a young age, and were taken into the custody of their family housekeeper, a strong woman who had been with the family for years, and with whom the girls had a loving, safe relationship. Priscilla Adams Logan, the older of the two girls, became a politician following her failed marriage and a financially-advantageous settlement; Abigail Adams, the younger sister, became an emergency-room pediatrician. Pris lived in both Texas and Washington, DC; Abby practiced medicine in a local hospital in Texas - until her sister was weakened first by cancer and then by the treatments for her condition. Abby left her role as physician to move to DC for Pris's last year of life.The evenings of care and the emotions of loss are exquisitely described by Swanson in this brief portion of her fable.

Reege, or Regina to those who didn't know her well, had brought both girls up with a guiding hand and encouraging beliefs. Regina also had a nephew, and when his mother died giving birth to him, she brought him to live with her and the sisters. Two white girls, their black guardian Regina and her black nephew, Duke, were to become known as The Patchwork Family. When Pris passed away in the middle of her senatorial term, her request was that her sister Abby take her seat in Congress as the Senior Senator from Texas. Abby, wanting to fulfill her sister's wish, agreed and accepted the help and guidance of Poppy, her sister's chief of staff, and Mikey, a retired political advisor who was a virtual walking encyclopedia of politics and protocol.

This first volume of the political fable featuring our heroine, Abby, poses many challenges and championships that she must sort her way through. She finds herself sitting at the same desk that a Texan's hero, Sam Houston, occupied when he held a seat in Congress. Filling her sister's seat involved chairing some powerful committees and required some diligent study of issues and people. At times she cries herself to sleep, overwhelmed with what she has agreed to do; at other times, she pinches herself to ascertain that she is in fact a Senator among Senators, one of many "...standing on the shoulders of giants."

Dixie Swanson has provided her readers with a strong, smart, confident and appreciative young woman named after one of the strongest Founding Mothers of our country. She deftly shades in the humanity of Congress, the heroes and villains, the problems requiring compromise and the issues deserving a voice and an advocate. As expected, the fable's heroine will fullfill the role of advocate for the Children's Health Bill her sister had written, and the Governor of Texas will honor Pris's request of him to sign that bill and support funding for it.

There is only so much a heroine can do in a partial term; a Senator will be elected in the fall, and Abby can then return to her medical position at the hospital in Texas. But having inherited the bulk of  her sister's estate she is now independently wealthy, and so can choose whether to do that, or work instead to promote those solutions for children's health worldwide.

There is more to tell in this first volume, and I encourage you to read it before moving on to the next volume, The Accidental President. No spoiler alerts here ... but another review to come, soon.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Intelligent Seniors Living Life to its Fullest

A Fair to Die For

 by Radine Trees Nehring

The seventh in her series, (Something to Die For,) Radine's latest can be read as a stand-alone story that will move you to sit down in a comfy chair, feet up, wood stove or fireplace lit and read about second-chance love, family relationships, friendship and intrigue.

That it is set in a small town, includes a good amount of time set at the craft fair, describes not only the creative items made and sold there, involves both down home cooking and recipes from a famed chef - all of these elements combine together to widen the audience for Radine's story-telling.

A murder, a disappearance, a legend of old papers ... a retired law enforcement officer, a current drug dealer, a suspicion more than forty years old, and an unexpected set of relatives ... the story begins calmly, introduces characters easily and without laborious details, and opens the mystery and questions early enough to guarantee the readers' continued attention.

The area of the Ozarks offers this New England reader a delightful experience, and memories of reading another book ( Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls) set in that part of the country with my sixth grade students years ago. And the real-life tourist locations such as the War Eagle mill and its ground products and recipes add to the flavor of this story.

I look forward to reading the earlier books in this engaging series. It is nice to read about senior citizens who are living life to its fullest, and Radine Trees Nehring knows that of which she writes.  I give this book five stars, and am happy to have read and shared this title here.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 15, 2013

It is my pleasure to introduce another author's books!

Would you like to read a book that combines a strong female protagonist with politics? Dixie Swanson has such a series going  ~ one that involves the unexpected and the strength needed in Washington D.C. Dixie’s main character becomes an Accidental Senator, and then an Accidental  President. Her books are at Amazon, and featured at her website, She posts blog entries about current events that are both educational and entertaining.

For the next few days, Dixie is running a promotional contest involving readers in all fifty states. Check out her website, and her presidential book giveaway contest: