Carolyn’s Gentle Spectrums 2017

gentle-spectrums-2017

Happy RIEDEL Challenges renewal!  February 1 is here for my four groups!  May we have a fun year with GENTLE SPECTRUMS 2017!  This is my post for creatively choosing my literature.  I plan, then smooth out this list into finished books with reviews.  I keep categories that will continue to drum up a lot of book possibilities for us but add a fresh batch that will be easy as well.  I always have a lot of colour titles on hand and love matching them for our ten other themes, so please enjoy generous the scope of all eleven!  For some, the content suffices instead of scrounging for title words.

How do you think your reading fits these?  There is no quota and the same colour book can also go into one subject category.  If you are finding several books that match, please sign-up with me by clicking my gorgeous Manitoba portrait above and gather them with us!
~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~

~ (A) “LIMITLESS PALETTE” ~
COLOURFUL, COLOUR, BRIGHT, LIGHT, IRIDESCENT, IRIDESCENCE, DARK, SHADE, HUE, SPECTRUM, RAINBOW, PRISM.

The Red Carnelian”   Phyllis A. Whitney   1943
“The Hot Pink Farmouse”  David Handler  2002
“Shades Of Earl Grey”  Laura Childs  2003
~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~

~ (B) “GENTLE SUBJECTS” ~

(01)  HISTORY
Historic people, content, places, symbols, books set in, or of 1967 and older.

Resurrection Row”  Anne Perry  1981
The Man In The Queue”  Josephine Tey  1929
The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
House Of Rising Water”  Melissa Napier  1972

~~

(02)  FOOD

The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie”  Alan Bradley  2009
The Man With A Load Of Mischief”  Martha Grimes  1981
*  This is the funny name of a pub in England, at least fictionally.
“The Wine Of Angels”  Phil Rickman  1998

“Sweet Expectations”  Mary Ellen Taylor  2015,
“The Bordeaux Betrayal”  Ellen Crosby  2008
~~

(03)  THE SKY
Elements by day or night, astronomy, spiritual terms.

Escape From Big Muddy”  Eric Wilson  1997
*  “Big Muddy” is a tornado in a specific Saskatchewan location.
A Wind In The Door”  Margaret L’Engle  1973

“Street Of The Five Moons”  Elizabeth Peters  1978,
“Tears Of The Moon”  Nora Roberts  2000
~~

(04)  CANADIAN
Titles do not need to match this category.  Canadian authors or features will do.

A Question Of Murder”  Eric Wright  1988
A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986
L’Arbre Aux Ballons”  Phoebe Gilman  1984

“Prairie Ghosts, True Manitoba Ghost Stories”  Lois Forsberg  1988
“The Night Travellers”  Sandra Birdsell  1982
~~

(05)  MONEY, VALUABLE, CLASS

The Red Carnelian”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1943
The Girl On Legare Street”  Karen White  2009
*  A historic well-to-do South Carolina street in reality.

“The Thai Amulet”  Lyn Hamilton  2003,
“Legend Of The Jade Dragon”  Jasmine Galenorn  2004
~~

(06)  MUSIC
Do not need to be musical words.  Books may be about music, authored by musicians.

The Prophet’s Camel Bell”  Margaret Laurence  1963

“The Bells Of Freedom”  Dorothy Gilman  1963
“The Favourite Game”  Leonard Cohen  1963
“Backstage Passes”  Angela Bowie  1993
~~

(07)  IS THE THIRD A CHARM?
Titles assocated with “three”, a third volume, your third book with an author.

Body Of Evidence”  Patricia Cornwall  1991
*  I do indeed like my third book of Patricia’s, exponentially more highly than the series opener this novel succeeds and even better than the start of her other series!  I liked and which was my first taste of Patricia:  “Hornet’s Nest”.  Unlike Kathy’s Reich’s violence and disturbing subjects, that went too far to bear despite having topical similarities;  I am happy to find I can continue with Patricia’s writings and begin to look forward to them.

“The Missing Madonna”  Carol Anne O’Marie  1988
“Voices After Midnight”  Richard Peck  1989
~~

(08)  TRADITIONS, PRACTICES, CELEBRATIONS

“Celebrating Earth Day”  Janet MacDonnell, Diana Magnuson  1994

“Garden Spells”  Sarah Addison Allen  2007
~~

(09)  ALL CRITTERS

The Jackal’s Head”  Elizabeth Peters  1968
Natural Pet Healing”  Von Braschler  2003
The Mystery Of The Gulls”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1949

“The Old Fox Deceiv’d”  Martha Grimes  1982
“Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw”  Will Ferguson  2004
~~

(10)  CLOTHING, FASHION

The Stranger In The Mirror”  Jane Land  1974

“Cloaked In Malice”  Annette Blair  2012
“Shattered Silk”  Juliet Blackwell  2016
“The Roman Hat Mystery”  Ellery Queen  1929
~~

As reviews fill-in, please enjoy following along here:  Gentle Spectrums reviews 2017.

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Carolyn’s CELTIC COASTS 2017

celtic-coasts-2017

 

Happy RIEDEL Challenges renewal!  February 1 is here for my four groups!  May we have a fun year with CELTIC COASTS 2017!  This is my post to show how I get along.  I plan, then smooth my list into finished books with reviews.  I long ago gathered most of Maeve Binchy’s oeuvres:  beloved journalist and general fiction authoress.  To my surprise, with nary a ghost or mystery, I love them.  Narrating from an empathetic and quirky perspective, even drawing me in when she shares chapters with several, is the key.  I am impatient about a diversion from one lead character but Maeve crafted intertwined viewpoints successfully.

Contrary to popularity, I disliked Ellis Peters’ and Marion C. Beaton’s openers but will try their sequels.  I heard Marion got better.  I will finally sample Josephine Tey.  I am enthusiastic and need my tri-country reading group, after discovering a rush of new Celtic authors and stories.  Alexander McCall Smith, Nora Robert’s fairy cottage trilogy, and single novels I can’t wait to settle into;  like “The Mermaid’s Song” by Lisa Carey.  No one tires of writing about these magical lands so our posts will be humming.  I will enjoy talking about them with my visitors and guests.  Do you like Irish, Welsh, Scottish authors and themes?  Please click the banner to join me and tell others!

 

Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984

“Bridge Of Friendship”  Mabel Esther Allan  1975
“Central Line”  Maeve Binchy  1978
“Victoria Line”  Maeve Binchy  1980
“Echoes”  Maeve Binchy  1985
“Into The Fire”  Jodi McIsaac  2013
“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“The Mysterium”  Eric McCormack  1992
“Secret Of Goblin Glen”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1968
“The Trickster”  Muriel Gray  1994

 

As reviews fill-in, please enjoy following along here:  CELTIC COASTS reviews 2017.

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Carolyn’s MY Kind Of Mystery 2017

my-kind-of-mystery-2017

 

Happy “RIEDEL Challenges” day!  February 1st is when my four groups renew.  Here is to a fun year with MY KIND OF MYSTERY 2017!  Do you read them?  Millions do, so I hope you click the banner to join me and tell others!  This is my post to share how I do.  I start with a little planning, then smooth my list out into finished books with their reviews.  This is still the genre I read the most and likely always will but I really do branch out, especially in the years sampling many sorts of Canadian literature and non-fiction.  I enjoy several fantasy series too, which I did not grow up reading.

I’d like to delineate my two favourite kinds, adult ghost fiction / paranormal (which also belong in Ethereal).  Rarest of all:  true mysteries, for adults, based on something mysterious, instead of a plot directly generated by crime.  If you know of these books, please tell me!  One is Lyn Hamilton’s “The Celtic Riddle“.  Below, see my review of Karen White’s “The Girl On Legare Street” to know what I mean.  I search for something like these every time I consider a book.  You might call it “Eclectic Nancy Drew-type plots, for forty year-olds, with ghosts”.  Yes, rare indeed!  It is a joy to find it!  In the quest for My Kind Of Mystery;  this series is perfection!  What are the kinds you love best?

 

Nancy’s Mysterious Letter”  Mildred A. Wirt  1932
Escape From Big Muddy”  Eric Wilson  1997
A Question Of Murder”  Eric Wright  1988
A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986
Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984
The Girl On Legare Street”  Karen White  2009
“Bliss House”  Laura Benedict  2014

“Lost Among The Living”  Simone St. James  20161
“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“The Mysterium”  Eric McCormack  1992
“A Dry Spell”  Susie Moloney  1997
“The Red Carnelian”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1943
“The Mystery Of The Gulls”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1951
“Mystery Of The Black Diamonds”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1954
“Secret Of The Samurai Sword”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1958
“Secret Of The Tiger’s Eye”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1961
“Mystery Of The Angry Idol”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1965
“Secret Of The Spotted Shell”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1967
“Secret Of Goblin Glen”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1968
“The Mystery Of The Crimson Ghost”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1969
“Secret Of The Missing Footprint”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1970
“The Vanishing Scarecrow”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1971
“Mystery Of The Scowling Boy”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1973
“Secret Of The Stone Face”  Phyllis A. Whitney  1977
“Lost Among The Living”  Simone St. James  2016
“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“Death At Buckingham Palace”  C.C. Benison  1996
“Cirak’s Daughter”  Charlotte MacLeod  1982
“The Mysterium”  Eric McCormack  1992
“A Dry Spell”  Susie Moloney  1997
“The Trickster”  Muriel Gray  1994

 

As reviews fill-up, please enjoy following along here:  My Kind Of Mystery reviews 2017.

Posted in Book / Novel / Literature, Canadian, Spirits / Ghosts / Haunted | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carolyn’s ETHEREAL 2017!

ethereal-2017

 

Happy “RIEDEL Challenges” day!  February 1st is when my four groups renew, so here is to a fun year with EHTHEREAL 2017!  Click the banner to join me and tell others about it.  This is my post to share how I am doing.  I start with a little planning, then smooth my list out into finished books with their reviews.

A few might not contain the metaphysical or fantasy, books in which animals are depicted intelligently (which I call accurate!) or with spiritual backgrounds, like “A City Called July”.  Howard Engel bases this detective case on Benny Cooperman’s Jewish community.  More obvious fare about spirits, psychics, witches etc….  will certainly populate front and centre of this theme.  If you know people reading this stuff, please send them to me!  :)

 

A City Called July”  Howard Engel  1986
Ghost Behind Me”  Eve Bunting  1984
The Girl On Legare Street”  Karen White  2009
“Bliss House”  Laura Benedict  2014

“Lost Among The Living”  Simone St. James  2016
“The Darkest Road”  Guy Gavriel Kay  1986
“The Land Without Unicorns”  Vicki Blum  2001
“The Novice’s Tale”  Margaret Frazer  1992
“Into The Fire”  Jodi McIsaac  2013
“The Mysterium”  Eric McCormack  1992
“Owls In The Family”  Farley Mowat  1961
“A Dry Spell”  Susie Moloney  1997
“The Dragon & The Dry Goods Princess”  David Arnason  1991

 

As the review page fills-up, please enjoy following along here:  ETHEREAL reviews 2017.

Posted in Animals Or Pets, Book / Novel / Literature, Spirits / Ghosts / Haunted | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

No one calls it “clutter” on my turf! ;>

I have been itching to write articles about everyday things and I shall:  belongings.  Several situations culminate in this.  I think of that television show;  useless to Canadians because our stores don’t play those games:  “Extreme Couponing“.  (I loathe the pronunciation “Q-pawn”, don’t you?  It’s KOO-pon)!  It is about saving mega money by buying in cheaply-discounted bulk, staples that you will need later.  You see them with forty packages of toilet paper and other sundries to the ceiling but no one thinks of it as “clutter” because we agree it is wise to grab a discount on things we use a lot of.  Try calling beloved collections “clutter” around me:  you are lucky not to be punched!  [GIGGLE]

Not because you aren’t allowed to reduce your passions to a gadget.  My objection and actually, injury, is due to painting a negative word with one brush.  The decorating theme of our house and accompanying outbuilding is music and books.  It is the conversation piece and feature of our home.  Not only neighbourhood children come to view our outbuilding library and marvel at about 3000 books queued to read!  They bring friends!  Yes, I send them skipping home with gifts.  I intend to sell duplicates and books I don’t like enough to keep from here, which our country town needs.  See Conan & Petal looking out at our library on Christmas day.

conan-petal-window-dec-25-16

I tried explaining my passion to a woman, a Kindle person who hated emptying the houses of two parents.  I understand that is daunting.  My parents would benefit from a sale.  I don’t welcome the chore but they have a wealth of souvenirs.  This woman trivialized my life’s collection by saying:  “That’s nice if you like piling books around you”.  Ouch!  Right!?  I explained (the last time I will bother) that a whole world goes with physical books, over and above eventually reading one of them.  I spent three years seeking Dorothy Gilman’s rare “The Maze In The Heart Of The Castle” and longer, for her autobiography “A New Kind Of Country“!  Eventually I found a spare of each.  I feel joyous about the results of my quests that I see around me.  I remember where I got each of them and feel proud.  It isn’t all internet buys.  We make driving trips for some deals.  Bulk is the only way we can afford many.  We read regularly, the decor theme delights us, and:  IT AIN’T CLUTTER ON OUR TURF!

I left that friendly lady one last counterpoint.  My middle brother and endearing wife have a neat, gorgeous house.  Something about their spare, modern Christmas tree gave me pause.  It is only white wire with lights, on a wall.  Pretty but I instinctively compared it with the stories about the ornaments and garlands on our fluffy tree.  One ceramic was made by a boss.  A couple of ornaments are from a manager who invited me to her team’s Christmas party at home, even though I was a temp!  I never forgot that.  Get ready for this ditty:  a Corey Hart ornament was made for me in my teens!  I befriended that gal only briefly and “his royal Coreyness” is peeling (the baby’s block visible below) but I use it with a smile!  I have photographs of our kittens bundled in certain garlands as babies.  One has been gone two years after heart failure;  the other three siblings are six years-old.

filled-christmas-tree-dec-25-16

Later, we have eternity to focus on thin air.  We SHOULD value our belongings in the physical realm.  There is an opposite side to closing out a home.  We just experienced it.  Two weeks ago, Ron and his sisters sifted their brother’s apartment.  He had colon cancer four years and is at rest.  He kept to himself and Ron’s sisters are similar;  only visiting at their parent’s house for Christmas and Easter, hours out-of-town.  I found it sad and I think Ron feels it too, that there was little to strongly remember him by.  It is mostly “useful household things”.  There is nothing to help us know him better now either.  Naturally, a functional abode is easier to clean.  I’ll take PERSONALITY and MEMORIES any day, wouldn’t you?  A stranger could visit our threshold and know me.  I clean and give as gifts what we don’t need.  My parents will leave energy on belongings that mean a lot to me and I have a few things of my Grandparents’.

Don’t dismiss the value of tangible items, is my message.  Books, music, and movies are not clutter automatically.  That offends what are proud collections for many of us:  our life’s work of a sort!  Cared for very well and appreciated.  I have an awesome record collection, alphabetized and stored neatly.  I took them out to inventory and enjoy lately.  While they air out I love the way McCartney, our 16 year-old Siamese snowshoe seen here and even younger kitties, find it fun to sit among them.  It is the thought that some records predate me as much as them.  That is another special thing about objects:  they outlive us and the next generations can touch us, through the things we love.  Units with record-players, cassette-players, CD-players all in one and I hope USB ports too, are growing in number.  When I see the right combination, I’d love to have one.  A means to play all of the album formats is not going away.  I have hundreds of 45s too, safely stored like this.

mccartney-on-records-jan-13-2017

The spartan idea railed against my judgement in another way, when dear friends sold their first house.  A real estate agent said excess things ought to be put away.  I agree.  They claimed there should be no personal cues;  not even pictures.  I disagree loudly!  They got one bid on their listing.  I have no trouble picturing a room’s possibilities with people’s belongings in it and appreciate the ideas.  More importantly, I want to know as much as I can about who lived there!  They passed their home along to us.  There is nothing more personal than that.  It is our home’s history!  We insited on meeting our predecessors, who showed us how the rural filter system worked and which flowers and trees they planted.  I still call certain things “Susan’s lillies”, etc, with recognition of the home they started for us.  I hope people treasure what we built too.

If you are a library-borrower, Kindle, or Itunes-user:  I hope you understand why owning books and things like tangible music albums matter to collectors like me.  Now that I think of it, my records were put away most of my cats’ lives, including McCartney’s, for want of a good turntable.  All of a sudden, I can make sweet associations between my records and them, like this picture shows.  I hope I gave fresh perspectives about moving house:  appreciating the people who lived and loved inside the same walls as you.  When people step inside your place, does it represent you?  Is there evidence of delight in things you love?  :-)

Posted in Bargains / Garage Sales, Book / Novel / Literature, Music | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Checking On Gentle Spectrums

I can’t believe I have had my birthday only two weeks ago and now we have reached December!  Even though RIEDEL Fascination groups go until January 31, with review page links open longer so folks can take their time catching-up on things like this;  there is much to do.  I wrote all four of my update posts October 3rd and rolled each out a little at a time.  There are almost no comments so I’d better e-mail members as planned to tell you the posts have been here, inviting conversation!  For my overall subscribers, there is much more I want to blog about and I will, when reading group posts are attended to.

First up:  I am sorry to not have had the financial resources to do a halfway activity and prize but as it turned out, this year was the leanest membership-wise, thus it would not have been feasible to hand out prizes if only one or two of those sparse people participated.  If I roll out my new group pages by this month, that ought to generate many more guests and participation will be way up as a natural course;  by the odds simply being higher.  Because we are so few and also considering those finances, one end-of-year draw will cover all four groups.  I hope that’s all right.  If I get at least 20 in each group I will resume a separate prize for each.

Up until now, I have kindly put everyone’s names in the bowl, whether I heard from them or not.  It was a way to encourage quieter folks to consider activities worthwhile and to inspire them to rejoin at least.  However it is best to ensure folks are interested.  If you are keen on a second-hand book of your choice, offered with several other nice selections (plant seeds, my own greeting cards, a few CDs, my own photo prints….) please e-mail me:  “Put me in the year-end draw”!  My address switched from Hotmail to RIEDELFascination[at]Gmail[dot]com because it was a hair-puller on slow-speed telephone internet.  Suddenly having to switch e-addresses meant it was no easy feat to gather your names and prepare a notification message from a new location but I believe I have everyone’s contacts ready to go.  I thought you might find these posts in the interim and left notice at the Goodreads group.

It is a shame the comment boxes were mysteriously missing from the review pages, which contributed to the feeling that things were quiet.  For those who need to submit a list of books read for each of our groups, who do not have review links:  please use the comment boxes the sign-up pages for each, or these update posts for each.  Discussions and inquiries can occur on any group page like this too.  While blogspot is fickle for non-blogspot users, I visited many of your reviews at Goodreads.  Whenever I could, I did more than click the “like button” but commented;  which I hope you enjoyed.  Comments mean the world to me because I work hard at everything I write.  That is why I can never just roll out a post.  Each one is an endavour for me.  Non book-related musings are coming soon!

Okay:  people who do not review can submit a list of titles on any matching group blog page or post.
Anyone wanting in on the end-of-year prize draw should e-mail me.
Any posts that got missed, related to books or not, certainly invite comments perpetually!

Last piece of business:  if anyone, in this group or not, has ideas for new Gentle Spectrums subjects:  now is the time to share them.  I need to find a new logo, implement the 10 subjects, and see if any of my software works on windows 7.  I switched from XP and the same software I got used to won’t function on this operating system.  Likely Nero will work.  Now:  here is that update I had ready at the start of October!  It might feel like a year-end chat instead of the interim update it is but I will leave it as I wrote it, instead of pouring over it.  Here we go!

** GENTLE SPECTRUMS **

I think it was last year that I started refreshing our categories, despite enjoying the endless possibilities derived from plants and other early themes.  Only a new member posed a question about “Couples, Pairing”.  I meant for it to be as broad a theme as any other but it was awkward to describe.  Are you finding material for it?  If you can’t find much, it’s alright to skip any category you need to.  We are about the pleasure of sharing whatever you read, never feeling sheepish about not getting to something.  That’s why our year-end reward is for everyone:  because there is no such thing as not finishing and because joining any of these groups is all it takes to make me happy.  :)

Do you have favourites?  Have you been surprised to find content easier to fulfill in particular categories than you expected?  I didn’t think I would have much for “Music”, “Fashion”, or “Photography” and I thought I would have to rely on secondary words to get around them.  To my surprise I ended up with books containing “Beethoven”,”Violin”, and “Didgeridoo” in their titles!  In “Literature” I surpassed my expectations by coming up with such direct examples as “Library” and “Languages”.  I imagine everyone is doing well with “Fashion”.

I am thrilled, like I have been in preceding years, that you are continuing to add content to categories you have already fulfilled once.  That’s the other reason I eliminated rules about reaching any specified quantity:  so everyone is a finisher but especially, so that you keep on counting!  When we’re through our quiet year, I will increase the chitchat and game-playing occasions.  We don’t want you to finish a minimum and disappear.

If you have struggled with any category please let me know.  Here is a clarification that will be helpful.  For the following themes, a directly related word does not need to squeeze into a title:  “Music”, “Photography”, “Canadian”.  If you read a photography book, it’s all right to submit any title it might have.  The same goes for music and Canadiana, which can for example, be simply authored by musicians or Canadians.  Does this remove a hurdle?

Posted in Book / Novel / Literature, Canadian | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A Winter Birthday Reflection!

Happy November and in three days’ time:  happy birthday to me, Carolyn!
This year 2016 has been good.  Legends like Doris Roberts (who isn’t mentioned enough), David Bowie, Glen Fry, and Leonard Cohen have departed but personally:  like a summer without last year’s horrendous racket from neighbours, has been a gift and relief.  Mom is healing from last year’s bypass surgery.  I met my infant nephew last month, visiting from Ontario.  Our weather was extraordinary all year.  A good early spring, plentiful berries and garden produce (our thyme, coriander, and a few carrots still need to be picked), and regular rain.  In a forest, that is a Godsend.  With a town in Alberta flattened by a forest fire, the way Slave Lake was a few years before and a friend mentioning that North Carolina, USA is in danger;  every rainfall made me relieved, never grumbling.  Winter is ushering in without snow and with only a few nights of frost all this way into November!

Freezing means a temperature dipping below 0 Celcius;  the minimum threshhold before sensitive plants would freeze.  To keep our beautiful beaming plants living longer, my spouse & I bring hanging pots and flower boxes inside and cover sections of our flowerbeds with plants that are still going with this sporadic assistance.  It has worked again this year and for those who can guess the triumph of what this means:  we have living hanging plants and flowerbeds, during November in southern Manitoba!  I love them and it makes me smile.  We put the hanging pots and flowerboxes back out and uncover those dear flowerbeds, when the forecast indicates it won’t freeze for two nights in a row.  Since I love helping everything live as long as it can and the brightness of our flowers and landscape lift my soul, we will repeat this sunset work until winter has arrived to the point of there being no more temperatures above 0 Celcius even in the day.

Most have finished growing and are showing the flower petals they still have.  I used to wonder what it would be like to live somewhere that doesn’t take cold breaks for a few months;  to see how long flowers and garden plants would keep on going if there was no cold.  Since last year we have received the blessing of getting a good look at what that’s like and I am happy about that!  Many are fniished but some do seem to keep on propelling themselves in the absence of impediments.  This might be my last warm day, so I am enjoying it and giving everything a good drink of water.  We will be above 0 Celcius all through this week but those degrees are smaller and low overnight temperatures more frequent.  We will enjoy the flowerbeds as long as we can, which are additionally protected by the warmth of our house and library building.  If you know me at all:  you bet our hanging baskets and flower boxes will come into the house and library.

I am having birthday visitors this Saturday and Sunday so I will arrange them neatly if they are inside on those days.  I should share something else that is remarkable and special:  there is a flock of Goldfinches that arrived last week and which is still flitting around!  If our region’s winter birds, like the Pine Grosbeaks, arrive;  it will be a great rarity for these birds to meet!  The first snow fell after my birthday at midnight, on November 18th itself last year.  Let’s see if this is my first non-Caribbean birthday without snow.

To cherish my birth month inside home as well, I am reading books I am enthralled to choose.  I give many genres a chance including classics but November is my dear month, a time to treat myself to the kind of writing I love best.  I also love making CDs of uptempo, fun music that create a lively atmosphere for visiting friends…  or just dancing around for exercise at home!  I don’t make time to walk but dancing, we can do.  Britney Spears and Garbage have new albums and my two-year party downloading project has led me to great new artists.  Films I am looking forward to seeing in the city are Tom Hanks’s “Inferno” and Eddie Redmayne’s “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them”.

I am excited to see which albums and blu-rays Ron wraps for my Friday birthday and Christmas!  Sometimes he labels presents from our cats, even those no longer here;  which is poignant by allowing them to still feel near through our special events.  I thought it would be fun to share this personal update.  I would love to hear from all of you:  what you think of our dedicated gardening and birdwatching, or things you treasure as winter nears.  Happy winter from a November girl!

Posted in Animals Or Pets, Canadian, Gardening / Plants / Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Checking On My Kind Of Mystery

I hope fellow Canadians had a happy Thanksgiving!  Today is what we and perhaps the Americans too, call “gate night”.  Pranksters, at least in the city, used to throw eggs and be mischievous, so this was a day to be watchful.  Happy Hallowe’en tomorrow!  Country children tend to go elsewhere but we have candy ready in case our few rural children come by.  We decorate, play the right music, and love the Hallowe’en theme in TV shows too.  “The Big Bang Theory” didn’t go that route this year and “Modern Family” focused on heart rather than spookiness but we always enjoy their contribution.  I hadn’t seen “The Simpsons” in a couple of years but Ron & I tuned in for their five-hundredth episode and that show always does Hallowe’en up big.

We grow gardens, so starting today:  it is our lovely pumpkins’ time to be on display and shine!  We aren’t going to carve this year:  they look lovely as-is.  We wouldn’t want to waste a scrap anyway.  When they are through showing how pretty they are, I do some of my best cooking and baking with pumpkin!  Ask me for recipes making Pumpkin Curry Soup, Pumpkin Loaf, and occasionally Pumpkin Cookies.  Hehehe.  My reading turns to eerie and mysterious topics – if it wasn’t there already!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

** MY KIND OF MYSTERY **

This was my most frequented group but “Gentle Spectrums” caught up.  Mystery queens Bev, Sue, Erin and others make me smile by keeping the review page humming all of the time.  I watch all of your entries coming in and love it!  There are a lot of specialized mystery groups on the internet, so I was pleased to come up with something broad and easy but which offers a different spin.  My theme incorporates everything you read connected with mystery;  not just novels!  It has come in handy, I am happy to continue observing.  I see links to author biographies and “how to write” books.  At a sale, I came across a book about Agatha Christie’s cover art.  That book would have no where else to go, barring highly general “non-fiction” themes.  No matter how many challenges pop up pertaining to mystery, I am glad to be one stop for all types to join me.

Congratulations to Bev for digesting 100!  I am at 78 mysteries because I branch out to a nice variety.  Is everyone reading as many as they usually do?  I am on par but children’s literature is helping me fill the 150 quota I have targeted again this year!  {GRIN}

I am eccentric about release order, which is what keeps us at book sales.  We can’t read what we own until we score a series’s predecessors.  Do you find yourself stuck with a stockpile you can’t read because it belongs further downa series?  Ron & I have travelled out of town for a few good charity sales!  No matter if they are standalone works, like Canada’s wonderful Simone St. James, or whether an author produces various series.  I like reading older books first.

With Agatha Christie, who published nearly all of her work before my time, I am having fun reading each book as it was released, as if I were a part of those decades’ reading audiences who were anticipating them.  I avoid noting which series each belongs to and like the surprise of reuniting with Hercule Poirot etc.  My spouse, Ron told me yesterday that “Murder On The Orient Express” is being remade into a current movie and I gasped.  I can’t see it until I’ve reached that point  in Agatha’s publishing career and I recall that it is quite a distance away!  If I don’t watch it as a new release, so be it.  I’m only concerned with being front in  line for Star Trek, Harry Potter, Star Wars, or Tom Hanks’s “Da Vinci Code” films.  “Inferno”, here we come!

I am happy the mysteries I have delved into has checked-marked a lot of boxes. I have read new ouevres I loved and dispensed with some I disliked. Of particular note is getting around to names that long sat on our bookshelves. We collect used books in bulk but of  course, with a personal library vast enough to need its own building, we take years to select one from any author. It isn’t unheard of to own books 20 years before I get to them; half my age! Part of the delay is not owning volumes that precede what Ron & I have.

I focused on rectifying bits & pieces, enabling me to read more of our collection.  You know when you buy a book on sale and find it is volume 5?  I prioritized several first volumes and found them.  I will no longer buy a newly-discovered item unless it is volume 1 either.  Another rewarding experience was to persevere with less-tantalizing novels; volumes purchased on sale around ten years ago, when I did not know adult mysteries were moulded into series.  They were chosen as novels that looked interesting. Having rechecked my Patricia Cornwell pieces, she did not appear to be my cup of tea. I’m not into police fiction. To my surprise, I enjoyed her writing!  I am adverse to some of the subjects but good writing wins half the battle for my appreciation. It is not the long-running “Kay Scarpetta” series that I favoured but rather, Patricia’s trilogy.  How do you select your reading?

Something else I am taking delight in, is reading some new purchases soon after bringing them home.  Our home is so full, we need to read whichever book we fancy next and keep going.  It doesn’t matter if each selection is fresh from a store or if its presence has etched a groove in its spot.  Review freebies must save money, if there are any publishers who send physical books to Canadians who stick to the real thing.  However I like the way I am reading with utter freedom. New releases are an unusual treat.  I have tackled all angles lately.  Have you been surprised by authors you braced yourself to get over with?

This has been a year steering away from “cozy mysteries”. There are authors I love who fall under that label but I lose my taste for this watered-down offshoot of grown-up standard mysteries, the more I read the standard mystery. I am 43. If a sex scene is written-in, I don’t want it hinted at: portray the scene!  How many times can we stand the “found a body, I have to be the one to solve the case” formula?  The more I turn to beautiful writing and complex stories and mysteries, the less I can stomach trivial plots and settings.  I have to laugh because when I greatly enjoy a novel billed as “a cozy”, I usually consider it “Too good to be a cozy”!

On my to-do list is a look at old authors like Ellery Queen, Patricia Wentworth, and Ngaio Marsh.  I did not like Margery Allingham’s nor Dorothy Sayers’s first but will revisit them.  Goodness knows I collected a boatload of their work.  Having grown up on gothic mysteries, I joke with Ron that anything beginning in the 1970s used to be on the new side for me!  I love knowing current authors as well.  Quirky, serious, old, new:  my literary trail is complete.  That’s my update!  How have your goals shaped up?

Posted in Book / Novel / Literature, Spirits / Ghosts / Haunted, Tradition / Legend | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Checking On Ethereal!

Hello, at the beginning of October!  I am checking on Ethereal reading.  Because we run from February, I didn’t rush with the first post.  Suddenly, summer was here.  You must have vacationed and preferred the outdoors, isn’t that right?  We are Canadian prairie gardeners who savour our produce and constantly-blooming flowers!  I checked WordPress and Goodreads daily for comments, questions, or chat from all my dear subscribers.  I reply to activity that pops up.

Thanks to e-mails from Sue and Bev about not seeing comment boxes among the review pages, I belatedly discovered there are none!  I don’t know why that technical omission occurred.  If it hampered conversation, I am sorry.  There are comment boxes in the original challenge posts.  I wrote general articles that welcomed discussion:  about gardening and properly identifying the “cozy mystery”.  My articles and goings-on are open to all.

I am sorry I could not do a mid-year prize activity.  Because it’s a hard financial year and we are only about five per group:  would you mind if I held one year-end draw for all four reading challenges?  It so happens many are in my other groups.  Now:  a summary!
~~~~~~~~

** ETHEREAL! **

This group is dear because there used to be no place for all paranormal, spiritual, and mystical flavour.  There used to be none geared for adults, nor catering to ghosts.  I made a place for all magical, fantasy, and mystical content. More people need to hear about us.  I am eager to browse book possibilities in this category but don’t know if anyone besides me has used this group’s review page yet.  If you haven’t linked-up so far, I look forward to it.  If you are a non-reviewer who needs someplace to list your titles, the original sign-up post is fine.  I’ll see if the missing comment boxes can be reversed.  There is ample time to discuss our themes in more detail but I owed a catch-up summary.

The special news in this category, which I blogged about months previously, is that a decades-long search for exciting ghost literature is requited!  Since I became an adult I found non-cozy, non-horror ghost stories nearly non-existent, with a 30 year-old protagonist.  One part of the solution is that I do need to peek into the horror label to find these treats, which are not horrific but indeed the magical spiritual encounters I have sought.  The other answer is that too many authors really did think the fun stuff belonged to “young adults” but many more authors our sating our hunger for grown-up material of our favourite kind.  Wendy Webb, Karen White, and Mary Ellen Taylor are excellent.

My new favourite is Amanda Stevens!  Used copies of her graveyard architect series cannot go on sale fast enough!  Do you know of her?  They are the perfect books:  everything I have sought in adult mysteries!  Her heroine explores mysterious puzzles more than chasing a criminal, which is precisely MY KIND OF MYSTERY!  They ooze enchantment and suspense from the first page and are five-star calibre.  I love them so much (and they go on sale so slowly) that I tried to space out the two I obtained…  only to discover a mere two or three months went between them!  I found a standalone novel at a charity sale, called “The Doll-Maker” and wonder how little time will stretch before I open that story.  Who are your five-star authors?

The most surprising update is that last week, I reencountered a workplace friend who cherished knowing me years ago and hadn’t forgotten me either!  She was determined to be an authoress when I knew her and has succeeded. When sharing my relief that authors of grown-up ghost literature are beginning to emerge, she revealed that she is such a writer and has such a book slated for publication this January!  Keep your eye on J.H. Moncrieff!  I could not be happier to end that drought.  Today I find probably thirty titles from which to choose.  Next month, I hope to receive Amazon Canada gift certificates for my birthday!  :)

If you would like to reach me via e-mail, please be advised of a change:  RIEDELFascination[at]gmail[dot]com.

I feel gratitude, pleasure, and camaraderie for all of you reading this blog and commenting on my reviews.  Thank you for sharing a wonderful outlet of expression and acquainting me.  To my WordPress peers not involved in literature:  I will post general articles soon!

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Checking On Celtic Coasts!

Hello at the beginning of October!  It is time to check on the participants of my challenge quartet.  Because we run from February, I didn’t rush with the first post in the spring.  I thought I’d give folks a few months with their reading material but before I knew it, it was summer.  Then I thought people must be on vacation or focusing on the outdoors.  We are definitely gardeners and prairie Canadians who savour greenery and the heat.  Now that we are picking most of our produce but still blessed with constantly-blooming flowers….  it seems a surprise to find ourselves in the tenth month of the year!

Please know I have checked WordPress and Goodreads daily for comments, questions, or chat from participants and all of my dear subscribers.  I reply to any activity that pops up.  Thanks to e-mails from Sue and Bev about not seeing a comment box among the four review pages, I belatedly discovered that there are none!  I don’t know why that technical omission occurred nor how to fix it.  If that hampered conversation I am sorry.  There are comment boxes in the original challenge posts and I wrote a few general articles that welcomed discussion:  for example about gardening and properly identifying the “cozy mystery”.  I don’t label my articles as challenge discussions because we are so few that if the majority don’t jump in on them or other activities, no one does.  My general subscribers would think they didn’t qualify for the discussion so I leave my articles and activities open to all.  Let’s see if we reel in more members this winter.

Finances are tough this year, so I am sorry I could not do a mid-year prize activity as I had hoped.  I found participation low even the years in which more people had joined but again, this is something that a burst in numbers would eliminate.  Because it’s a hard-up year financially and we are also only about five per group:  would you mind if I held one year-end draw for all four reading challenges?  If that would disappoint you, please speak up but it so happens that many of you are in more than one group.  Now:  a short summary!
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** CELTIC COASTS **

This is a new group I was excited to unveil this year and I am happy that a couple of new people came aboard and loyal returning challengers were thrilled with it too.  There is often a Scottish one going by one hostess or another but we needed something to cover all the Celtic countries.  Coincidentally I finally have fiction set in Wales, pleased it has somewhere to go.  I probably have as much Irish material as I do Scottish and am overdue to treat myself to Maeve Binchy again.  Having lost her recently at only my Mom’s age, I savour her with reverence.  She is my rarity;  general fiction without belonging to the paranormal or mystery.

For our reading challenges:  do you prefer that I set target levels, or do you like them open and unlimited?  I removed them, except where I had already created fun diagrams, because I don’t want a scenario in which a member laments that they “didn’t finish”.  Our groups are creative places to share everything you DO finish!  :-)  How are you enjoying this new outlet?  Is it steering you towards Celtic authors and settings?  I always read something Celtic but have checked-off several new names this year.

It was a shame to dislike the first Ellis Peters novel but perhaps she grew less wordy in the next novel?  I have gathered a plethora of them!  I need to take the second Marion C. Beaton plunge.  I loathed “Death Of A Gossip” but was reassured her others are far, far better.  Thank goodness.  I’ll rip off that band-aid soon.  I also have a ton of her two series, even first-edition hardcovers.  Egads!

Three positive surprises were:  “Secrets Of The Lighthouse” by Santa Montefiore, “The Ghost & Mrs. Muir” by Josephine Aimee Campbell Leslie, and “Jewels Of The Sun” by Nora Roberts, surprisingly.  I don’t read romance!  It was the paranormal elements of all three that drew me.  Santa’s and Nora’s highly enjoyable stories depict Ireland and the late Josephine Aimee Campbell Leslie is Irish.  I seem to be tripping over an abundance of new Celtic-oriented authors and I am enjoying these journeys.

If you would like to reach me via e-mail, please be advised of a change:  RIEDELFascination[at]gmail[dot]com.

I feel gratitude, pleasure, and camaraderie for all of you in my groups, reading this blog, and commenting on my reviews.  Thank you for giving me a wonderful outlet of expression and for acquainting you.  To my WordPress peers not involved in literature:  I will post general articles soon!

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About gardening, from Manitoba!

Hello from the sunny spring of Manitoba!  How are you?

I enjoy thinking my readers are likely gardening now as Ron & I are.  To share a little about that with you:  we live in what is called “Hardiness Zone 3”.  It is a frost date scale that I’m unsure growers in tropical countries pay attention to:  do they?  The larger the digit, the warmer your region, thus we sit near the bottom.  However that has nothing to do with profusion of growth.  It is green all around us, trees nearly finished leafing, grass and dandelions already in their glory and perennial flowers and plants already flourishing.  Our last, telling bird arrivals have returned home too:  gold finches, hummingbirds, and Baltimore orioles.  When they are with us, by gosh:  it is summer!  I can thank Orioles at our window, for the last exceptionally beautiful photographs of our cat Love, with his brother Conan.

We can grow anything from spring to summer;  even through autumn, to a late winter arrival, as “annual plants”.  Soil affects pickier plants but is of little issue because standard soil can certainly be added and the right moisture maintained:  consistently moist, or dry and well-drained.  Our natural environment is prairie forestland and marshland, with semi clay and sand;  quite neutral and easy for garden plants.  The only vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers we could not grow would be those requiring longer growth spans than Manitoba’s period of warm weather has.  Otherwise the hardiness zone chart is for telling us that certain flowers and plants which might re-grow each year in other lands (hence “perennial”), are seasonal, annual beauties for us.

It also suggests when we might begin sowing.  If you consult this chart, you’ll see that these details come down to a region’s last frost date.  Ours is May 25th and has only just passed two days ago.  However this year has yielded an early, very warm spring for us, so we said “what the heck” and got started!  I am ecstatic that we are done all four of the food gardens we plant and are also finished planting three of our five flowerbeds!  There is a “flower hill” Ron & I created in our east field meeting the forest, which we switched to perennial flowers last year.  I already have the pleasure of seeing them rise but have soil to add, a little more weeding to do, an annual flowers to sprinkle on it.  Then there is a fresh, special, different tableau every year.

Lastly, I am half-finished the profusion of hanging baskets and flowerboxes I lavish upon both of our small dwellings;  our main house and our library / workshop a few steps away.  In Canada, there is an essential campaign urging people who haven’t so far grown a forest of flowers like we do, to do so now in order to restore our population of bees.  Food doesn’t grow without them and I imagine the United States should or does have a similar campaign.  If you can grow or put a few flowers out even in pots, this is the year to help North American bees surge.  I have found that sunflowers attract them like nobody’s business but all flowers get visited.

The one downside to my homeland, which has no dangerous reptiles, amphibians, or insects and receives no warm weather wind storms except a highly rare tornado, is our frost.  I am prepared to let my plants dry up and rest if winter is here for good.  A great grief and frustration is that I have seen half of November continue without snow cover but a few nights of frost can spoil things:  brief dips below 0 degrees Celsius.  These are a danger in September, even if the daytime highs are well above zero for a couple more months.  Can we whisk hanging plants inside and cover the outdoor gardens with blankets;  the food ones at least that are still growing?  You bet:  with everything we have!  Sheets, quilts, towels….  I have even grabbed pillowcases, hand towels and facecloths to fill gaps in.  Of course, they shouldn’t go more than about three days without peeking at the sun so if it is safe, or if it has been that long:  I uncover all of them.  If overnight frost is a threat, we protect our plants again.

I don’t excuse anyone or anything perishing before their time if there is anything I can do about it!  You certainly saw that when we were anguished to lose our four year-old white kitty, “Love”, on July 31, 2014.  I will be very sorry to acknowledge that I have missed him for two years.  But his remains are well-honoured and you can guess how.  Perhaps we might even grin about it:  flowers!  To honour our gorgeous cat, one of our sons and to make his resting place the least sad possible, we have made a flowerbed of it too.  At least 100 Marigolds bloomed upon it last year, which is special because it is his young Mother’s name.  He also has an orange Sister named Petal, so a token of her is always present too.  His Brother, Conan O’Brien is also, obviously orange!  Not least is his twin sister Angel Petunia, a white tabby like Love.  How our pure orange Marigold had two white children, I don’t know.

Our two elder kitties are happy and well.  McCartney Hendrix is fifteen years-old, until he welcomes his birthday next month and Spirit Penny is eleven until July.  Me?  I am forty-three years-old and about to pick up my first prescription glasses!  It is only small print reading that has gotten away from me:  this still amounts to excellent vision, doesn’t it?  It is alien to me and the optometrist I consulted was neither sensitive, reassuring, nor clearly informative the way I needed.  However I have heard that vision can literally be corrected and restored.  I think the function of glasses is not merely a magnifying glass to boost what you see.  I think they make sure that our vision strength does not dip anymore and might indeed restore what you had;  even if I have additionally heard that this does not pan out for everyone.

June will be special doubly:  for McCartney and Father’s day and because it will mark a full year of survival since Mom had bypass surgery!  She thought that she would live many years longer if she got through this year and she is doing that.  My parents had a very nice Mother’s day here, with our vegetarian home-cooked food and our vista of spring.  I believe that we are going to be treated to a year in which our plants will not perish without all the time they need to grow and bloom.  It had been my dream to see all of them finish growing and we succeeded last October and November, with a late winter and our blankets against cold nights.  This year we have an exceptionally good head start.  I will sign off to finish those flower baskets and boxes, hoping you enjoy my update and wishing all of you a joyous spring!

A post about this year’s four reading groups will be coming.  I enjoy sharing our progress and reassuring members we remain active.  On a separate subject:  I express sad condolences to the numerous citizens of Fort McMurray, Alberta for losing their homes to an awful forest fire!  I pray your entire families of people and animals are safe but personal possessions and sanctuaries are no small things.  I imagine plants are the last things on your minds.  If seeds were wanted, my prairie cousins need only ask.  Caddy Lake and Westhawk Lake, Manitoba:  I am sorry you were threatened by a serious and frightfully close fire.  I am glad to hear your homes, cottages, and you are safe.  Prayers, healing, and relief to all of our rattled Canadians.

Do you garden?  I started with apartment plants.  My parents gardened, which they are reprising shortly.  Mom’s living room is full of plants and we exchange.  We kept African violet shoots for at least thirty years, from her Mother!  I will write again to converse about what we are growing.  Food prices are a concern, thus we are glad we circumvent that for at least half of each year and share our produce with family.  Yours sincerely, Carolyn.

 

*  I am eager to get this new post out but will add pictures soon.  Early bird visitors, please return to view them.  :)

Posted in Canadian, Cats, Gardening / Plants / Flowers | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Definition Of The Broad “Cozy Genre”.

My blog celebrates its fifth anniversary!  Please enjoy the kitty photographs I share relating to the formation of RIEDEL Fascination.  My blog’s foremost purpose is to furnish a writer with a public place to write and invite conversations.  One of my first articles was an essay on the gothic mystery;  the standalone dominant fiction genre from the 1940s to 1990, replaced by “cozy mystery series”, in terms of mass-production.  Thankfully there are still “standard” and “gothic mysteries“.  I recommend starting with that article because it covers a lot of ground on the path today’s genre has taken, of which readers are likely unaware.

The natural segue leads me to an essay on “the cozy mystery”, in which my readership is as unpredicable as my bowling.  I am among the throngs owning these career-themed products, however I am not often enamoured by their quality.  I propose that “the cozy mystery” is derived of two types.  First, let’s settle the vagueness of its core!  I have never seen a more mislabelled genre, with authors like Agatha Christie lumped into it who do not belong, (not the Hercule Poirot suite) and any mystery with a pretty cover painted with the same brush.  A genre is defined by content.  I strongly recommend that we forget “Wikipedia” and the commonly-quoted “cozy” website, in favour of a fundamental definition we readers and reviewers agree upon!  If this core criteria matches your gauge of these books, we could clarify its definition once and for all and quote *this article*.

WHITTLED DOWN TO BASICS:  “cozy” refers to mysteries that aren’t gory or violent.  If they contain a murder (a crime is not necessary, nor synonymous with a mystery), we do not witness it.  A character encounters the aftermath.  Sexuality, unfortunately for adult readers, is watered-down and hinted at more than it is demonstrated.  This genre comes in the form of series that highlight a career:  a psychic, book collector, baker….  Plots are normally simple.  The usual blueprint is a body and a protagonist who does not rely on police to discover why.

Tone is as light as plot singularity.  Few of these series generate suspense;  these novels aren’t scary.  To the contrary they are pervaded by jocularity.  These things comprise the skeletal definition of a “cozy mystery”.  I loathe this diminutive term but imagine this title is going to stick.  I add lastly that novels of a “Nancy Drew” and “Hardy Boys” nature do not belong, with a youth demographic.  “Cozy mysteries” are for all intents and purposes, an adult genre.

SECONDARILY:  I have observed an expanded trait, submitted separately from the basic definition.  In the majority of cases, unfortunately there is also a spareness of quality.  There are exceptions I treasure and then hesitate to put in this category!  However the fact is, “cozy mysteries” do not tend to be the domain of the masterful writer.  This is why an avalanche of these novels tumbles forth every week, including the endless appearance of new authors;  or re-named ones who abound with ideas for yet another series.  If you can think of a new career theme, like a florist, and contrive a reason why an ordinary person would discover a corpse and enlist themselves to investigate its presence:  you have yourself “a cozy mystery”.  Quality writing, fascinating dialogue, brilliant plotting seldom factor into these carbon-copied productions and readers know that.  They simply love to knit, for example and are in it for the hobby.  If we possess the discernment between a masterful author and a trundled-out story, there is nothing wrong with that.

My favourite authors, in this genre, exemplify a gratefully-appreciated pallet of exceptions!  JULIET BLACKWELL pens a witch series containing the most creative mystery of all:  stories that do not feature a crime!  Some characters were villainous for other reasons;  dilemmas of a paranormal nature for instance.  Canada’s LYN HAMILTON too, did not always depict crimes and even when they occurred, her premises focused on archaeological legend and mystique.  In subject matter, Canada’s CHARLOTTE MACLEOD is admittedly as “cozy” as it gets.  It is her creative situations and literary skill that set her apart.  She is one of those authors with such an elevated calibre of eloquence;  it dawns on us that our vocabularies aren’t as vast!  Her way with words enthralls me by itself.  I get very pissed off if anyone automatically dismisses an author’s writing as “fluff”, because a lighter atmosphere places their premise under this heading.  Writing talent needs to be considered with open eyes, on an author by author basis.  CHARLOTTE’s writing is exceptional.  JULIET’s subject matter can be dark.  Neither of them are “fluff”.

For this reason, it has occurred to me that “the cozy genre” comes in two forms.
An author or series might receive this categorization because their mysteries aren’t very complex, their subject matter indeed light, and writing prowess not very high.  It is another “found a body” mystery, with a career backdrop slid into place, like a hastily-changed theatre production.  Same scenario, different coffee shop, right!?

ALTERNATIVELY, we have seen that it is possible for a superb author, with more compelling subject matter, to fit this genre because sexuality, gore, and violence are toned-down.

When there is a skilful author, heavy subject matter, and impressive plot complexity:  I call it a “STANDARS MYSTERY“.  Depending on its style and not necessarily age, it might also be defined:  a “CLASSIC MYSTERY“.  This is where I feel Agatha Christie’s “Hercule Poirot” series belongs.  The detective’s personality might be amusing and infinitely familiar to us but Agatha’s vocabulary was astounding.  Her plots wove in unprecedented directions, some of the situations gruesome, and characters have perished on-stage.  This series should most certainly not be called “light” or “simple”.  Does this make better sense, after defining genres at the bare bones level?

I caution against this mistake with pretty covers.  A cute cover does not equal “a cozy mystery”.  CLEA SIMON is a stark example because her chief topic is cats:  a loveable topic to me without question.  Her subject matter however, is too dark for this label.  The opener of one series contained a a threat of sexual assault.  Her character was also in danger of ingesting drugs at a night club.  This novel discussed the mistaken stigma of hoarding and execution of stray animals was threatened!  THERE IS NOT ONE “COZY” THING ABOUT ANY OF THIS.  Unfortunately, most people would categorize Clea’s series this way.

There is the fundamental definition of this genre and its two forks:  quality authorship with light subject matter, or simple writing altogether.  I hope I have guided readers on how to gauge content on an author by author basis.  “Cozy” writing cannot automatically be called “fluff”, no more than all series with eyecatching covers can be compounded into this genre.  Please always consider that there are “gothic“, “standard“, and “classic” mysteries too.

For fun:  which series or authors have you found mislabelled?  DAVID HANDLER is another.  The crime backgrounds are horrible and dialogue is adult.  JASMINE GALENORN’S ghost mysteries are dark and sexuality, hardcore.  Not our usual tea shop owner!

All of my reviews are in the menu called “Mine“, above.  If we have read the same books, I would love to see your reviews.  Mystery and other readers are certainly invited to my four groups:  like My Kind Of Mystery!

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