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Monthly Archives: April 2018

The Most Magnificent Thing–experimentation

The Most Magnificent Thing

by Ashley Spires

The Most Magnificent ThingThe first thing you will notice about The Most Magnificent Thing is the quirky art style. The main character, a little girl, is drawn with a large head and body and pencil thin arms and legs. Her “best friend in the whole wide world” is her dog, drawn in the same style without any softness. The background is mainly black and white line drawing. This is not an art style that typically attracts me to a picture book, but it is the perfect backdrop for this story.

The main character is described as a “regular girl” and remains unnamed. This is the story of how she makes the most magnificent thing ever. Her project turns out to not be as easy as she anticipates, but she perseveres through various versions to the point of total frustration. She works through her anger, redirects her experimentation, building on her past failures, and in the end is satisfied with the results.

I really enjoyed reading this story and wished I had a child with me to share the experience. The Most Magnificent Thing opens up a wealth of opportunities for discussions about creativity, experimentation, success, failure, and persistence. It would be fun to read to a classroom or an individual child.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction 

Notes: Ages—3-7 years

Grade Level—Preschool-2

Publication:   April 1, 2014—Kids Can Press

False Pride–follow the money

False Pride

by Veronica Heley

False PrideDo you like mysteries with very complicated plots? If so, then you’ll want to read Veronica Heley’s  False Pride. Bad things happen faster than the police can keep up with them, and Bea Abbot, owner of the Abbot Agency, an employment service, finds herself in the middle of events surrounding the mysterious and secretive Rycroft family. Is this a power play or could the motive be greed or maybe revenge? Is one person behind all the crimes? Bea is forced to unite forces with her ex-husband Piers as he too is unintentionally pulled into a slew of deadly happenings.

While Bea is trying to survive threats, violence, and home invasions, she also has to deal from afar with the willfulness of her precocious ward Bernice. Romance is in the air for some of the characters, but these personal affairs take a back seat to a series of crimes so involved that the main characters unite to create a timeline to try to piece together the information they have acquired in order to discover who is behind these robberies and deaths.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #12 in the Bea Abbot Agency Mystery Series, but works well as a standalone

Publication:   April 1, 2018—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Magda reacted to difficult situations like cardboard in a downpour.

Piers managed to lever off the damaged hinges. They came away with a screech of tortured wood. It was a big, heavy door. The early Victorians had built to last. She wasn’t so sure that she would.

Bea reflected that there was no use getting at Piers for flirting. He didn’t mean it. It was something in the water. Charisma. Call it what you like. He didn’t do it on purpose.

Natural Thorn Killer–flower power in Portland

Natural Thorn Killer

by Kate Dyer-Seeley

Natural Thorn KillerKate Dyer-Seeley, author of the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series, continues to share her love of that area in her new series, Rose City Mysteries. In the first book of the series, Natural Thorn Killer, Britta leaves her deadbeat husband, freezing Minnesota winters, and several unimaginative jobs to return to Portland, Oregon, to the nurturing and creative home of her childhood and the aunt who raised her. Both women are artists with flowers and woven into the book are tips on creating floral arrangements and maintaining their beauty, a personal view of the Riverplace Village area of Portland which is “like its own little city within the city,” and Scandinavian traditions and language. Her aunt Elin owns Blomma, the only flower shop-wine bar in Portland.

Natural Thorn Killer is packed with personal exchanges, a potential romance with a cute detective, interesting characters, outstanding descriptions of food, flowers, and wine, and a taste of Portland culture. At the heart of the book and woven throughout, the main focus of this book is the mystery. Britta discovers a body in her aunt’s flower shop, and life becomes very complicated. She readily shares her findings and insights with the close-lipped detective and mutual respect develops as the story progresses.

I liked the characters in this book and learned a lot about flowers and Portland. I am looking forward to the next book in this series, Violet Tendencies, and anticipate this will be another successful series for this author.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #1 in the Rose City Mystery Series

  2. There are lots of floral tips in a section in the back of the book.

Publication:   March 27, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

Usually the flowers guide me. It’s as if they tell me when they know the arrangement is complete. I liked the subtle pink tones and texture. The antique silver bowl gave the arrangement a nostalgic vibe, while the white strawberries made it feel springlike.

I was excited about the now, yet if I didn’t do some serious self-reflection I was worried that I would be doomed to repeat my past.

My instructor at the Floral Institute had shared a study that noted people who stopped to smell the roses were happier and reported being more satisfied with life. The simple act of taking a minute to appreciate a flower’s sweet scent or cheerful bloom had a direct impact on health and well-being.

Happy Easter–from the mountains of Michoacan, Mexico

Today we celebrate new life in a resurrected Jesus Christ!

Photos taken towards the end of February:

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