667 Followers
249 Following
jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Customized blog pages: Changing the colors of the tiny like/comment/reblog icons at the bottom of your blog posts.

Disclaimer: This one is not easy - well there's an easy way and there's a hard way.  I don't recommend the hard way unless you really want these icons changed.

 

If you use a custom background that's dark, those tiny icons at the bottom of each post indicating how many likes, comments and reblogs a post has are likely invisible.  Here's how to make them visible. 

 

Heads up: this is gonna be a LONG post.  I'm taking a shortcut here and there by tagging previous posts, but it's still an involved process.

 

The Easy Way:

 

This is going to put a semi-transparent box behind the reblog / comments / likes icons that runs the width of the post, but is separate.  It's arguably not the most attractive option but it is the option that is the easiest.

 

1. Go to Settings / Blog / Customise / Edit HTML.

 

2. Using the instructions for  Customized blog pages: how to create a background for comments and how to change the font color of side links - follow steps #1 and #2.  

 

Note: If you've done that tutorial before and want this background to be different, follow those directions, but change the name of the style you're creating from .commentsbg to .tinyicons or whatever you'd like.  It's just the same general steps.

 

3.  Now search for the section of the HTML that looks like this:

 

 

Don't count on your line numbers being the same as mine, but they should be in the same ballpark.  The string/tag that is in line 301 above - put that exact same line in your HTML, just below where it says div class = "post-info".

 

Note:  If you've used a different name for your style in Step 2, make sure you use that name instead of "commentsbg".

 

When you type that div tag in, the system is going to automagically create an end tag right next to it.  Either delete that end tag or cut it - you need to move it down to where I have mine, after that last % endif %.  In the screenshot, it's at line 314; yours may vary.

 

 

4.  Click the Save button.

 

Tiny icons visible.

 

 

The Hard Way

 

This involves editing or re-creating those tiny icons.  They're transparent, which makes editing their color, frankly, something of a pain in the ass (one word: anti-aliasing).  I'm not going to get into how to do that here; I'm just going to take it as read that if you've come this far and want to keep going you either already know how to do it or are willing to figure it out.  This is, in fact, the whole reason why this is The Hard Way.

 

1.  Once you've re-created or edited the tiny icons to your satisfaction, create a new post* in BookLikes - trust me on this.  Make it a text post; call it whatever you want, doesn't matter.  (I titled mine "Blog image stuff" so I could find it.)  In the body of the post, upload your new image.

 

*(or, if you've already done this because you've used the Customized blog pages: Changing the Follower/Following 'buttons' at the top of the page. you can just edit that post and stick the images in there.)

 

2. Tick the back to edit after saving changes box, then click "Save as Draft" (alternatively, you can save it with a really old post date so people don't see random weird posts from you in their newsfeed).  

 

3.  After the post saves and reloads the edit post page, click "Preview".  This will show you the post in a new tab. 

 

4. From that preview, right click on one of your new icon images (the reblog one would be the best to start with, since it comes first in Step 5) and either:

A. Choose Copy Image Address, or

B. Choose Open Image in New Tab, then click on that tab and copy the URL in the address box.

 

5. From the Dashboard menu: Settings/Blog/Customise/Edit HTML.  Once you're in the Edit HTML split-window, look for the section of code that starts like this:

 

6. In line 302 on the screenshot, you need to replace the part of img class="set-middle" that starts with {{ blog.templateURL.  Highlight everything in that line between the quotes (").  Start with {{ and highlight through .png. Once it's highlighted, paste in that URL you copied in step 4.

 

You need to repeat Step 4 and Step 6 two more times:

Once for the likes icon: copy the URL for your likes icon then paste it in the img tag that comes directly after {% if post.likeCount %} - making sure to paste it in carefully between the quotes like you did the first time.

 

Finally for the comments icon: copy the URL for your comments icon then paste it in the img tag that comes directly after

{% if post.commentCount and blog.commentsBooklikes %} - making sure to paste it in carefully between the quotes like you did the first time.

 

This is what mine looked like when I was done (Note: I did not change my reblog icon because it's a pain and nobody reblogs my posts anyway.)

 

 

 

7. Click Save

 

You can view your blog page and check out how those new/edited icons look, but below are the instructions for changing the color of the little numbers next to them.

 

Changing the tiny numbers' color

This is done in the Custom CSS box under Dashboard/Settings/Blog/Customise, at the bottom of the left side of the Customise Theme area.

 

1.  In the Custom CSS input box, scroll to the bottom of any text that might be there, add a blank line or two, and paste the following:

 

div.post-info {
padding-top: 20px;
font-size: 10px;
font-family: "Helvetica Neue", Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, sans-serif;
font-weight: bold;
color: #FFFFFF;
}

 

If you leave that as-is, your text will be white.  If you want another color, change the hex code (FFFFFF) on this line:

 

color: #FFFFFF;

 

to the hex code that represents the color you want. See HTML Color Picker - W3Schools for a list of hex codes/colors.  Make sure the ; (semi-colon) stays at the end of the line.

 

Click Save and now you can see your reblogs, likes and comments.

 

Party on.



Customized blog pages: Changing the Follower/Following 'buttons' at the top of the page.

Some of the blog templates here on BookLikes have a Followers / Following count at the top of the personal blog page; these use images that give them a button-like look and when you customise your header, it's obvious because it goes from looking like this:

 

to this:

 

Up until recently, I'd thought there wasn't really a good way of changing this, and I've been lazy; it was just my own blog and as the Aussies say I couldn't be stuffed.

 

Then someone else asked if it could be done, giving me the motivation I needed to sort it out.  So, here are the instructions for changing those images so they blend in with your custom header.

 

Note: This only applies to those templates that use images - specifically and certainly the "Smart Casual" theme (that's the one I used as the basis for my personal blog, so that's the one I know it works with).  You may or may not succeed with these instructions if you use a different template.

 

There are a lot of steps to this, but they're easy.  Here we go:

 

Step-by-step:

1.  Visit your own blog and if you have the F/F numbers at the top, in your header, try to click and drag them.  Don't double click; click/hold and drag: if an image or file icon starts following your mouse around, you have an image behind your F/F numbers.  Drag that to your desktop - you can use it to copy the dimensions of the file (mine were ~60x61 pixels).

 

2.  Create the new image (using the old images pixel dimensions) that you want to use in whatever image editor you're comfortable with.  Save it as a .jpg, .gif, or I'm pretty sure you can use .png if you want.  If you don't know the difference between these, just save it as a .jpg.

 

3.  Once you're finished, create a new post in BookLikes - trust me on this.  Make it a text post; call it whatever you want, doesn't matter.  (I titled mine "Blog image stuff" so I could find it.)  In the body of the post, upload your new image.

 

4. Tick the back to edit after saving changes box, then click "Save as Draft" (alternatively, you can save it with a really old post date so people don't see random weird posts from you in their newsfeed).  

 

5.  After the post saves and reloads the edit post page, click "Preview".  This will show you the post in a new tab.  

 

6.  You have two ways of doing this step:  A. You can right click on the image and choose "Copy Image Address", or if you don't see anything that looks like that in your contextual menu, you can B. right click on the image, choose "Load image in a new tab" and then go to that tab and copy the URL address that is in that tab's menu bar.

 

7.  Once you've done that you need to paste that address somewhere: I used my TextEdit program, but whatever notes or wp you have is fine; you just need to keep it handy somewhere, because you're going to have to do another copy/paste before you're ready to use that URL.  The other option is to go back and repeat step 6 when you're ready for it, which also works too.

 

8.  Now you're actually ready to change your template.  Go to the Dashboard menu and go to Settings.  Click on the Blog tab and then scroll down to Theme: customise and click customise.  Now you're in that split page with a preview of your page on the right and a black bar of settings down the left.

 

9.  Scroll down to the Custom CSS input box all the way at the bottom.  If you have text in this box already, make sure you get your cursor placed at the end of it and add a line or two of spacing to be safe; this box can be hard to work with because it's so small.

 

10.  Copy the following and the paste it exactly into your Custom CSS box:

 

div.header-followers a,
div.header-followings a {
  padding: 11px 0px 27px;

  display: block;
  background: url("img/follow.jpg") top center no-repeat;
  font-size: 26px;

  color: #FFFFFF;

  text-align: center;
}

 

Make sure you get it all - including that last } bracket or else it won't work.

 

11.  Once you've got that pasted in (and made sure you haven't accidentally pasted it into the middle of something else), you need to make at least one change to it.  This is where you'll have to either go to the URL you saved in your notepad/wp and re-copy it, or repeat step 6 above.  You need the whole URL, http:// and all.  Once you've re-copied, it you need to replace "img/follow.jpg" with it.  So this line:

 

background: url("img/follow.jpg") top center no-repeat;

 

is going to look something like:

 

background: url("http://booklikes.com/upload/post/b/f/bf4e1ea963200d00c31ff039b30a7bcc.jpg") top center no-repeat;

 

Yes, that's much uglier, and no, yours won't look exactly like that - if you use that link above you're going to be stuck with my bright red and white buttons.  You're welcome to use them, but they'll probably clash.

 

If that's all you want to do, scroll back up and click the Save button, load your blog page and ooh and ahh over your new F/F buttons.

 

If you want to do a couple more tweaks, read on:

 

 

If you want to change the colour of the Follower/Following numbers:

 

Go back to customise theme and scroll back down to the Custom CSS input box and find that block of text we pasted in there (repeated here):

 

div.header-followers a,
div.header-followings a {
  padding: 11px 0px 27px; 

  display: block;
  background: url("img/follow.jpg") top center no-repeat;
  font-size: 26px; 

  color: #FFFFFF; 

  text-align: center;
}

 

Changing the color is as easy as changing the hexadecimal code in this line:

 

color: #FFFFFF;

 

to the color code of your choice, taking care to keep the # and the ; in place.  If either of those are missing it won't work.  A handy hex code color chart can be found here: HTML Color Picker - W3Schools.

 

You can take this further and change the font-size:

font-size: 26px;

 

smaller or larger.

 

You could change the font face by adding:

font-family: add your fonts here, each one separated by a comma ;

 

but these might give you some funky results and unless your confident or daring, I'd leave these alone.  Especially the font-family:  fonts only work on other people's computers if those fonts are installed and each font displays differently, so font A might display larger and take up more room than font B at the same size.

 

 

The last thing I'll include here is how to change the size and color of the text under the buttons that actually says "Followers" and "Following" (or whatever you might have changed those to say previously).

 

This also is done in the customise theme section, in the Custom CSS input box.  Go back to the box, scroll to the bottom of the text that's already there, put a safety space or two at the bottom and paste the following in (yep, it looks very similar, but it's not the same at all):

 

div.header-followers,
div.header-followings {
  top: 55px;
  font-size: 16px;
  color: #FFFFFF;
  text-align: center;
  }

 

Again, paste it exactly and don't leave off that trailing }.

 

The only bits here that are safe to change unless you're well-versed in CSS are the font-size and color.  These work the same way as the ones we've just talked about: change the "16" in

font-size: 16px;

to a larger or smaller number, and change the hex code in

color: #FFFFFF;

to a different hex code to change the color. 

 

Please make sure that stupid semi-colon remains at the end of those lines.  Without that ; you don't exist to the stylesheet gods.

 

Once you think you have it the way you like it, click Save and go check it out.  Wash, rinse and repeat until you're pleased with the results.

 

Happy days!



Halloween Book Bingo Update #6 - 21 books read/squares filled 5th BINGO!

Got myself another bingo today - right down the left hand side:

 

Make sure you get my good side....

 

Books read (an * marks the titles that make up the BINGO):

 

*Read by Candlelight or Flashlight:  The Circular Staircase

Magical Realism:  Lost Lake

Witches:  Equal Rites (Discworld / Witches)

Genre: Horror:  Ammie, Come Home

Black Cat: The Black Cat Knocks on Wood (Bad Luck Cat Mystery, #2)

 

*Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun:  Sorcerer to the Crown

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses: A Deadly Tail 

YA Horror:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

 

*Grave or Graveyard:  Southern Ghost (Death on Demand, #8)

Genre: Mystery:  Plantation Shudders (Cajun Country mystery, #1)

Free Square: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost

Gothic:  Touch Not the Cat

Creepy CrawlyThe Adventure of the Speckled Band

 

*"Fall" into a Good Book:  Stiff Competition (Mattie Winston, #7)

Locked Room Mystery:  (Selected stories from) The Locked-Room Mysteries

Dark and Stormy Night: A Dark and Stormy Murder

Set in New England:  Clock and Dagger (Clock Shop Mystery, #2)

 

*Vampires vs. Werewolves: Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

Supernatural: Science of the Magical

Classic Horror:  (Selected reading from) The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe 
Pumpkin:  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

 



Stiff Competition (Mattie Winston, #7)

Stiff Competition - Annelise Ryan

I've almost always liked this series, even when it was sometimes painful in the beginning watching Mattie get herself into humiliating situations, but as the series progressed, so has Mattie (I'm pretending Lucky Stiff didn't happen).

 

Far and away, I think, this is the best book in terms of character development: short of one horribly silly moment of insecurity when she makes a decision that even high school me would have thought was stupid, Mattie is calm, rational, confident and incredibly capable. This is a woman who has (mostly) found her stride.  Hurley's much more centered too, although we don't see a lot of him in the middle of the book, he's in the centre of one of the plots.  There's some drama with Hurley's daughter, but I'm pretty sure it's the final drama.

 

The main mystery plot was...ok.  I definitely didn't guess it, and some of the crimes were inspired, but the denouement felt sort of forced.  Counterbalancing this though is the fact that at no time does Mattie do anything TSTL and we have a great ending that doesn't involve Mattie in mortal peril.  

 

The sub-plot concerning Hurley's daughter was the winner here; this was a great plot and it was well-paced with a terrific climax.  This one easily made up for any perceived short-comings I might have found in the murder mystery itself.

 

Thoroughly enjoyed this one and I hope there's another one.

 

This is my Fall into a Good Book book for Halloween Book Bingo.



Halloween Book Bingo Update #5 - 20 books read/squares filled 4th BINGO!

Cruising along rather steadily, although I'm going to have to re-evaluate a couple of squares I have left since I didn't find the books I'd hoped to this weekend.

 

 

Books read (an * marks the titles that make up the BINGO):

 

Read by Candlelight or Flashlight:  The Circular Staircase

*Magical Realism:  Lost Lake

Witches:  Equal Rites (Discworld / Witches)

Genre: Horror:  Ammie, Come Home

Black Cat: The Black Cat Knocks on Wood (Bad Luck Cat Mystery, #2)

 

Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun:  Sorcerer to the Crown

*Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses: A Deadly Tail 

YA Horror:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

 

Grave or Graveyard:  Southern Ghost (Death on Demand, #8)

*Genre: Mystery:  Plantation Shudders (Cajun Country mystery, #1)

Free Square: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost

Gothic:  Touch Not the Cat

Creepy CrawlyThe Adventure of the Speckled Band

 

*Locked Room Mystery:  (Selected stories from) The Locked-Room Mysteries

Dark and Stormy Night: A Dark and Stormy Murder

Set in New England:  Clock and Dagger (Clock Shop Mystery, #2)

 

Vampires vs. Werewolves: Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

 

*Supernatural: Science of the Magical

Classic Horror:  (Selected reading from) The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe 
Pumpkin:  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

 

 



The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving, Tom Mison

I read this at the beginning of September for my Pumpkin square on Halloween Book Bingo, but held back because it's a re-read, and I was hoping to find something new that fit, but after a rather lacklustre visit to my favourite book shop this weekend netted me nothing that fit (I was really hoping for a Ray Bradbury), I'm going to go ahead and mark this one read with Sleepy Hollow.

 

My original review is here. It pretty much still applies after this second listen: it was easier to follow, but I still found it pretty wordy.

 

Pumpkin square for Halloween Book Bingo.



A Deadly Tail (Whiskey, Tango & Foxtrot Mystery, #4)

A Deadly Tail - Dixie Lyle

I say this every time I read one of the books in this series, but I don't generally like books with talking animals.  This series continues to be the exception that proves the rule.  Partly because this is the kind of world I want to live in, where animal-human relationships continue beyond death, and partly because the author just makes it work, somehow (maybe because the only animals the MC can speak with are the ghost ones).

 

Book number 3 got a little outrageous, mythology-wise, but this book was more of the standard murder mystery; Lyle didn't try to outdo herself here and it works better because of it.  There's a very good, very clever mystery and a hilarious and ultimately very touching sub-plot revolving around Tango's attempts to write and direct a play using all the ghost animals in the graveyard.  The suspects aren't as fleshed out as they could have been, but there was so much going on I only noticed in retrospect.

 

I"m always surprised anew when I read one of these books because Kyle does, I think, an incredibly good job of writing mysteries that include genteel drunkenness, recreational drug use, a honey badger with seriously creepy, murderous intent and incredibly disturbing eating habits, hilarious if subtle sexual innuendo and the occasional swear word but still manages to make it very cozy.  The MC frequently breaks the fourth wall and comments to the reader and that works too, although I really enjoy her voice, so that might make me biased.

 

These books always leave me pleasantly surprised after I read them, so I'll definitely look for the next one.

 

I'm using this book for my Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses square in Halloween Book Bingo.  (It also qualifies for the Graveyard square).



Science of the Magical

Science of the Magical: From the Holy Grail to Love Potions to Superpowers - Matt Kaplan

This engaging scientific inquiry provides a definitive look into the elements of mystical places and magical objects—from the philosopher’s stone, to love potions to the oracles—from ancient history, mythology, and contemporary culture.

 

I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't quite it, I guess.  I don't think it's the book's fault though; the writing was engaging and it's just what it says on the label: a look at all the ways our superstitions, myths, heroes and superheroes are so often rooted in science.  

 

Kaplan did his research (all of which is excellently documented in a Notes section at back) and when he speculates, he says he's speculating.  Some of the information is downright fascinating too (I had no idea ravens and wolves are so linked in nature).  If I was disappointed by anything in the book it's the casual assumption that you have to separate faith from science, but this is such a common misconception anymore I've come to expect it.

 

So, the book is good; I just didn't get sucked in the way I thought I would when I saw a book about two of my favourite subjects.  Was worth reading though.

 

I'm going a little off the beaten path and using this book for my Supernatural square in Halloween Book Bingo.



Magic Binds (Kate Daniels, #9)

Magic Binds - Ilona Andrews

Well.  That was a pretty big bucket of awesome.  I don't even know where to begin.

 

Things I liked about this book:

 

Kate.  She's always great but this time she's forced to confront herself; to analyse what she's doing and own it without being able to snark her way out of it.  It was interesting.  It was also, at times, frightening.  I generally don't like team writing because it's so often obvious where one writer ends and another begins.  So not so here.  Kate's descents into her scary place were so subtle and seamless.  It was brilliant, really.  I'd be reading along thinking Kate is being normal, normal, normal, wtf did she just say??

 

Christopher.  Well, talk about two sides of the same coin.  Again, brilliant.  Also: yeee-ikes.

 

Erra.  God help me I like her.  She's vicious and I definitely wouldn't want her at my holiday dinners, but I enjoy her moral consistency.  Her wit, too, and when she slapped Kate upside the head, I laughed.

 

Roland.  God forgive me, but I find him fascinating.  His rationalisations remain almost flawlessly logical (he argued himself into a corner on that balcony though) and it's obvious the authors have put a lot of philosophical and theological thought and research into the writing.  Roland isn't just about power and he's a beautifully cautionary tale of how morally corrupt good intentions can become.

 

Roman.  Didn't like him before, but I love him now and his family dynamic is hilarious.  So was that swamp scene with him and Aspid.

 

Curran, Julie and Derek were all themselves in this book, but they didn't have much of the spotlight this time around; this was truly about Kate.  Although the Andrews certainly left me hanging about with saber-toothed tiger...

 

What I didn't like.

 

Nothing.  I disliked nothing about this book.  I was disgusted by Jim and I'm not sure Adora was all that necessary but what do I know about the plotting of a fantastic UF series?  Nothing.

 

Bring on book 10...

 

 

This is my book for 2016 Halloween Book Bingo's Vampires vs. Werewolves square.



Happy Anniversary to me!

Today, three years ago, I joined BookLkes as part of a mass exodus from GoodReads, searching for a place that allowed for a more reader-oriented atmosphere.

 

Let me tell you though, I signed up with the most pessimistic of attitudes:  I was not a blogger; I just wanted to track my reading, connect with people who enjoyed the same books and find new ones.  Still, I figured I wouldn't blog, I'd just post my reviews and lurk.

 

An odd thing happened: I fell in love with this place.  Hard.  At first it was the enthusiasm of the BookLikes team (*ahem*), and I was embarrassingly giddy about Thursday treats (may they not RIP, but haunt the BL team forever).  But I was still feeling pretty pessimistic; how long can anyone remain engaged when the only discussions take place in post comments?  

 

Then we got groups and we were all ecstatic... and kept discussing everything in the comments of posts.  And I loved this place because I was part of such an incredible community: this place has no egos, just really fabulous people who love to read and talk about books.

 

I was motivated to write this post because I was telling my husband recently, when BookLikes was down for hours (again) because everyone in Poland was freaking asleep, that even though most of us are also on GoodReads and/or LT, and we're all friends on those places, it's not the same at all.   I have no idea why this is, but I thought I'd take a moment to say that, in spite of all the BL bs we've all suffered through for the last few months I still love this place devotedly and it's because of all of you.

 

By even the most optimistic of statistics, I'm on the backside of life and this is the first time I've ever had anyone to talk about books with and it's pretty effing great.  Thank you, all of you.  My husband also thanks you; because of BL, he's spared my book review monologues.   ;-)

 

And because it's my party post, I wanted to celebrate!  So... I went through my friends list, chose people I've been following the longest and are active, and used the random number picker to choose three people (1 for each year):

 

Book Cupidity (a/k/a Grave Cupidity)

Bookstooge's Reviews On the Road and 

Whiskey in the Graveyard Likes to Haunt 

 

To you guys I'd like to gift you the book of your choice, up to $15US.  I wish I could buy every one of my friends a book to say Thanks for 3 awesome years, but honestly, if I had that kind of money, I'd be using it to build a better BookLikes; one that, you know, doesn't crash and communicates with its users.  ;)

 

If y'all PM me at your earliest convenience with your choice of book (or books if you catch a sale!), and your addresses (which I swear I do not keep), I'll get them ordered and sent. If you'd rather have ebooks, let me know and we'll figure it out.  If you're edition obsessed like I am, include an ISBN.  

 

Please God may BookLikes live long and prosper!!!

 



Halloween Book Bingo Update #4 - 16 books read/squares filled 3rd BINGO!

I finished my Grave or Graveyard book last night without realising it got me my third Bingo! (straight through the middle again).  :)

 

Easter doing her best impression of Wasabi... can't quite pull of the grumpy.

 

Read by Candlelight or Flashlight:  The Circular Staircase

Magical Realism:  Lost Lake

Witches:  Equal Rites (Discworld / Witches)

Genre: Horror:  Ammie, Come Home

Black Cat: The Black Cat Knocks on Wood (Bad Luck Cat Mystery, #2)

 

Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun:  Sorcerer to the Crown

YA Horror:  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

 

*Grave or Graveyard:  Southern Ghost (Death on Demand, #8)

*Genre: Mystery:  Plantation Shudders (Cajun Country mystery, #1)

*Free Square: Mrs. Zant and the Ghost

*Gothic:  Touch Not the Cat

*Creepy CrawlyThe Adventure of the Speckled Band

 

Locked Room Mystery:  (Selected stories from) The Locked-Room Mysteries

Dark and Stormy Night: A Dark and Stormy Murder

Set in New England:  Clock and Dagger (Clock Shop Mystery, #2)

 

Classic Horror:  (Selected reading from) The Complete Tales of Edgar Allan Poe

 

I've also actually completed my Pumpkin square, with a re-read of Sleepy Hollow, but I've not yet posted about it, in hopes that I'll find something else with a pumpkin on the cover or in the story when I hit my favourite book store in Sydney this weekend.

 

    



Southern Ghost (Death on Demand, #8)

Southern Ghost - Carolyn G. Hart

This was a re-read for me, but the last time I read it was before I kept track of dates or wrote any reviews, so long enough that it almost felt like a new read.

 

Carolyn Hart is probably the only author currently publishing that comes close to the Grande Dames of Mystery: Christie, Sayers, Mertz, Rinehart, etc.  Her plots are always intricate, her writing excellent, if sometimes excessive, and her characters well developed and complex, with the possible exception of her two protagonists: Max and Annie are always happy and always in love.  Perhaps Hart is too emotionally invested in the Darlings, or perhaps she chooses to retain that vintage-mystery formula of the perfect marriage as a contrast and balance to the dysfunction of all the suspects.  Either way, the stories usually trump the irritation of perfection.

 

Southern Ghost feels like Hart's homage to the gothic mysteries of the early 20th century: old house, old family, deep secrets, and ghosts walking the bluffs.  Dark and stormy nights, power outages, and old sins casting long shadows.  In typical cozy fashion, justice prevails and there's a happy ending, but nobody comes out of this one (save Max and Annie, of course) unscathed; everybody loses as all the skeletons are flushed out of the closets and the bodies pile up.  This is a cozy, but not the modern, saccharine interpretation.

 

This is the 8th in the series, but with the exception of references to off-stage recurring characters, there's no reason why this book could not be read as a stand-alone.  To anyone considering giving cozies a try, I recommend trying Hart's Death on Demand series to see cozies at their best.

 

I'm using this book as my Grave or Graveyard square in Halloween Book Bingo (the cover, of course, but the initial crime takes place in a graveyard too.)  



Touch Not the Cat

Touch Not the Cat - Mary Stewart

Bryony Ashley knows that her family's grand estate is both hell and paradise -- once elegant and beautiful, yet mired in debt and shrouded in shadow. Devastated by her father's sudden death abroad, she is nonetheless relieved to learn the responsibility of running Ashley Court has fallen to a cousin. Still, her father's final, dire warning about a terrible danger haunts her days and her dreams.

 

This book would have been so much better had Byrony not constantly referred to the man she has had a telepathic connection to all her life - but has never met - as lover.  Blech!  My lover this, My lover that, Where is my lover?  Even if the phrase itself was still 'hip' (and thank god it's not) it would still have been really over done.  Throw in that she's a virgin and she thinks her lover is one of her cousins (again, I say blech!), and the book ends up with an air of dated, cheesy, melodrama, which is a shame, because it's a cracking good story.

 

I'm not going to say much beyond that because I think anything else I'd talk about could dim the fun of the story somewhat.  It's gothic and oozes mystery and there's a castle and a library and a garden maze.  There's even a dark and stormy night where everything comes to a climax (pun may or may not be intended). If only Stewart's editor had nixed the lover crap it would have been an easy 4/4.5 star read.

 

I'm using Touch Not the Cat as my book for the Gothic square in Halloween Book Bingo.

 



Gotta love a church book sale.

The church down the street must have had such a good result from their last book sale a few months ago that they had another one this weekend.  There are a couple of gems in my stack (hello Aaronovitch!) but the great thing about these sales is that they sell them cheap enough that if I've bought any lemons, I haven't spent more than it would have cost me to park in front of my local bookstore, so it's easy to justify the risk.   ;-)

 



Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope

Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope  - Berkeley Breathed

It's Bloom County:  you either get the humour or you don't.  I've been a huge fan of Breathed's work since the 80's and when he quit if felt like a friend died.  His come-back has been a driving force behind my putting up with Facebook's daily crap and most days the only reason I open FB at all.

 

Episode XI:  A New Hope is a collection of the new FB only strips and they are wonderful.  I rarely never laugh out loud the way I do when one of Breathed's strips hits me just right.  I howled at a few of these and conversely, there were a couple of strips that teared me up.  

 

Breathed is a genius at holding up a mirror for all of us and allows me to laugh at the stuff that normally makes me want to hide under my bed.  

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for bring Opus and the gang back.

 

Strip used strictly for the purposes of this review as outlined in the copyright page of the book - please do not re-distribute.



People with kids, any recommendations?

My sister-in-law is looking for "kids book about potions? Witches mixing spells or science experiments gone wrong"

 

Can anyone recommend anything?