Author of the Sparrow Falls Mystery series of cozy novels.
Reader and reviewer of good books and ebooks.
Blogger, mostly on classic mystery books & film (both modern & old),
with some occasional silliness thrown in.
Rescuer of wee animals (mainly cats).
Twitter-er - be sure to follow me there! @sparrowfallsmys
Please visit my Pinterest pages for Lovely Old Houses that inspired the Sparrow Falls Mystery series, and also Marvelous Mystery Book Covers.
New Youtube channel coming soon!
Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear by Sharon Dunn gets five stars from this reviewer for two aspects of a genuinely good novel: a solid mystery in the classic tradition, and humorous elements that really are laugh out loud funny. Clues and red herrings are skillfully placed, providing a fun challenge to those genteel readers who enjoy piecing together the puzzle, and I am happy to say that this book does not follow a typical “ACME Mystery Writing Formula” that is easily spotted and used by far too many cozy writers today.
Best of all, there really is a six-foot teddy bear in the book! Thus, not long into the story, the genteel reader begins to encounter such delightfully zany sentences as The bear nodded at her, crossed his legs, and picked up a newspaper. The characters are people we would love to spend time with, inside the book and out. The Bargain Hunters Network, as they call themselves, are four genuinely nice ladies with real quirks and endearing traits that may remind you of someone you’ve known in the past, or the kind of friends you have today.
There are a couple of smaller storylines on the side, but these do not distract from the mystery at all. Kindra, youngest of the bargain hunting gal pals, has an interesting romance with a fascinating character, and the conclusion of this part of the book provides for some interesting insight into what real love is, or at least what it should be. Spunky senior citizen Arleta does some soul searching and comes to a surprising, but satisfying, conclusion on the direction her life has taken. Ginger, the real heroine of the bargain hunter novels, has many hilarious misadventures, a few heartbreaking ones, and finally discovers that her priorities may need some slight readjustments. These sidelines are brief but enjoyable, and add to the cozy friendship feeling of the novel.
Sharon Dunn has written two other novels in the Bargain Hunters Mystery Series, and this reviewer hopes to read many more. Her most recent series is the Ruby Taylor Mystery Series.
This simply fascinating video series on the Youtube features the grandson of Everyone’s Favorite Writer discussing her life, her books, her inspirations and more. Here he shares a wee bit about the creation of Hercule Poirot. The most interesting part of the video, IMHO, is the fact that even Agatha received rejections! Unbelievable! And we also learn, genteel readers, that rejection letters have not changed a bit in nearly one hundred years.
One hobby (or perhaps bad habit?) I have never outgrown is collecting old, out-of-print books, mostly paperbacks, because they tend to be the ones I can afford. A dime for a great used book? Count me in! And now I have stumbled upon something that, at first, I believed would help me lose this obsession – but instead, alas, it has only added to my addiction. The “something” is Pinterest, where I previously only surfed the pages of others, but have now jumped into the fray and begun posting my own collection of lovely paperback book covers. My page is titled Marvelous Mystery Book Covers. It features mainly vintage books or out-of-print Agatha Christies, which are my favorite used books to find. I have stacks and stacks of them. And yes, I have read them all at least once! See even more book covers, and other items of interest such as pictures of my cats, on my new Instagram: donna.reads.and.writes
The homes and places of Sparrow Falls often play an important part in the mystery. While writing the first novel, A Distant Murder, and developing my characters and settings, my mind kept returning to people and places from my childhood. The description of Ms. Tilda’s Victorian cottage in chapter five very closely resembles our next-door-neighbor’s house, a sweet (yet rather snoopy!) little old lady whose tiny cottage overflowed with a gracious sort of beauty from another era:
(The house) was a quaint, bright, fairytale cottage and neat as a pin. There were crocheted doilies on the furniture and roses on the teacups. Knick knacks were placed everywhere and in random fashion; countless tiny figurines of playful animals or sweet-tempered children, curious souvenirs from places long forgotten, photographs in swirling brass frames, and flowers. In vases, in clay pots, in chipped cups or mismatched glasses, in anything that could still hold water, Tilda MacArdan placed a flower.
Sparkling Cyanide (aka Remembered Death) by Agatha Christie
*spoiler free guarantee*
Six people gather at a swanky 40’s era nightclub to celebrate the birthday of the title character, the beautiful but self-absorbed Rosemary Barton, who gracefully lifts her champagne glass for a birthday toast at midnight and drops dead on the expensive silk tablecloth the very next minute.
This novel was originally the Hercule Poirot short story Yellow Iris, with similar settings and characters but a completely different ending. Poirot doesn’t appear in the novel. I have a particular fondness for both versions of the story, and the novel is notable in that it presents a different form of storytelling than the typical mystery. In Part One, the six characters who were present when Rosemary died each tell their story of what happened that fateful night and the months preceding it. In this way the genteel reader is given insight into the lives and minds of the suspects and may, perhaps, begin piecing together the jigsaw puzzle toward the eventual conclusion of the mystery. The remaining two parts of the novel revert to the usual straightforward style of a murder mystery, telling us “what happens next” and keeping us turning pages until the satisfactory conclusion is reached, in deft Agatha Christie style.
Welcome to my new site for updates on the Sparrow Falls Mystery series, upbeat reviews of clean books, and lots and lots of pretty pictures of cozy things like flowers…lovely old houses….tiny villages….cats….and more cats….in short, everything that a cozy mystery fan will enjoy – when she isn’t reading a novel, that is! Now, my first puzzle to figure out is how to add TAGS to the list on the left so that you, genteel reader, may easily find any and all topics pertaining to similar blog posts, that I haven’t written yet because I’m just setting up this blog at this very minute, so let’s see, hmmm, let me scroll around a bit and get back to y’all on that. And does this thing have emoticons???? 😀
BTW, I searched the web, high and low, and chose WordPress for two reasons. One, it has a great reputation, especially among writers and wordsmiths. Two, I looked at the themes and thought this one was the prettiest theme I ever did see! It really will make a lovely blog, don’t you agree?