education pathways

Easter Pictures (Fotos de semana Santa)

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It only took TWO WEEKS (24/7) to synchronize all of my pictures with iCloud, but it did work as far as I can tell. While that was happening, I was afraid to touch my pictures. Now I am ready to share some more of Mexico, starting with this past weekend. A few of these pictures were taken previously, but I did take all of them in Mexico.

Saturday Night Empanadas–perfect with a game of Scrabble!

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Delicious Empanadas–Poblano and cheese; Beef and so much more!

The cross is a symbol of Jesus’ death, but Easter celebrates His resurrection!

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Cross in front of a house in my neighborhood

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Cropped, the stonework in the plaza of Erongarícuaro makes a beautiful cross

Perfect Blooms Just in Time for Easter

As Dark as My Fur–a disappointment for this reader

As Dark as My Fur

by Clea Simon

As Dark as My FurI looked forward to the novelty of a mystery narrated by a cat in As Dark as My Fur. I had read positive reviews and thought the cat’s perspective might add interest as well as a touch of humor. It didn’t contribute any amusement, but that was the author’s choice and is acceptable. The cat is, in fact, a man who has been murdered and reincarnated as a cat with only partial memories of his prior life.

The author, Clea Simon, has a remarkable command of the English language, excellent powers of description, and insightful views into the frustrations of being a cat. Unfortunately, she calls upon the latter strength over and over again at the expense of the plot. The average reader can easily grasp the difficulties of trying to communicate with a human from a cat’s body. The author belabors the point in every chapter. I easily put the book aside multiple times with no sense of loss. Finally, at the end of chapter thirty-one (88% through the book), the author inserted a hook that made me want to finish reading the book. Simultaneously, the plot pace picked up and I completed it. I was disappointed that the active mystery has resolution, but the main villain is not revealed.

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

Rating: 2/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: Blackie and Care #2

Publication:   April 1, 2017—Severn House

Memorable Lines:

Silence elicits speech.

As I have noted, I am a cat. And while I may be frustrated by my inability to communicate directly, at least with the girl with whom I have forged a bond, I do enjoy my superior senses.

There is joy to be found in a bright morning, in the company of one who may be trusted.

Tightening the Threads–family secrets abound

Tightening the Threads

by Lea Wait

Tightening the ThreadsTightening the Threads is a very good cozy mystery, set in Maine and focusing on family relationships Most of the characters in the story are the product of dysfunctional to nonexistent relationships with their parents. Some emerge from childhood with pain and an inability to have meaningful connections. Others find solace and stability with extended family or build strong bonds with friends.

There are mysteries to be solved that tie into the relationship issues; these crimes center around the patriarch Ted Lawrence, son of famous artist Robert Lawrence. The novel shows us once more that money and fame do not necessarily insure happiness or wisdom.

This author obviously has an interest in needlework in general and needlepoint in particular as evidenced by her main characters belonging to a group called the Mainely Needlepointers. She displays her historical interest by starting each chapter with a quote from a child’s sampler as well as a description of the sampler and information about the creator as available. I enjoyed this book and am definitely interested in reading more by author Lea Wait.

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

Rating: 4/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #5 in the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery Series, but works as a standalone.

Publication:   March 28, 2017–Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

During the ten years I’d lived in the almost perpetually neutral shades of Arizona, I’d missed seeing Maine hills glowing with gold and scarlet and orange in late September.

“Love you, too. As always, for always.”

“I think all families have mysteries, and secrets, and stories. I don’t think they’re all meant to be uncovered.”

Families weren’t simple. They weren’t like television show casts where everyone supported everyone else and laughed over dinner.

When the Grits Hit the Fan–cozy mystery with a touch of thriller

When the Grits Hit the Fan

by Maddie Day

When the Grits Hit the FanThere is a little initial background, setting the scene for small town Indiana with a country store/café, Pans ‘N Pancakes, that appeals to both tourists and locals. We meet many of the characters as described through the eyes of owner Robbie Jordan. Only a few chapters into When the Grits Hit the Fan, a crime is discovered. The storyline moves along well, as any good cozy mystery should, until about one-third of the way into the book. Then, hold on to your hat! The plot becomes twisted and tangled, the tension increases exponentially, and you won’t want to put this book down.

If you are a “foodie,” you will enjoy the culinary descriptions, but they at no time overpower the mystery. Recipes are a bonus at the end of the book, including one shared by Georgeanne Ross, the Original Grit Girl, whose ground corn products are highly sought out by chefs and restauranteurs across the country.

Interesting characters and setting, suspense, a little romance, food, and Indiana dialogue combine into a cozy mystery you won’t want to miss!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com 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: This is the third book in the Country Store Mystery Series, but it worked well for me as a standalone. I am looking forward to the next book in the series, Biscuits and Slashed Browns, but I was unable to locate the anticipated publication date.

Publication:  March 28, 2017–Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

A lot of people my age mostly read on their tablets, but I liked the heft of a real book in my hands, another way I was an anachronism in my generation. The smell of the paper, the crack of the binding, even the cover art–all of it appealed to me.

As usually happened, the repetitive motion of physical work, whether removing rubble or preparing biscuit dough, freed up my mind to work through problems.

My California upbringing had not included the simple mesmerizing joy of watching white stuff fall from the sky. Whether a steady straight-down storm like this one or a howling blizzard, I never tired of gazing at it. And I’d seen all forms in my four years in Indiana. I put on the outside lights so the flakes glistened in the illumination like fairies dancing. A gust of wind made them twirl and swirl before returning to their steady descent.

Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder–a cozy teachers will love

Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder

by Sara Rosett

Mother's DayMother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder is a thematic shoe-in for me, and it surpassed my expectations. The setting is Georgia, but the author grew up in and currently lives in Texas. The action occurs at an elementary school which is the unlikely scene of a murder. Except for the murder and mayhem, this could have been the elementary school I taught at for a few years in Leander, Texas. The details are perfect for a middle class school where parent participation is high, students wear an assigned color T-shirt for field day, and the Teacher Appreciation Week is five days of food, small gifts, and recognition for hard-working, appreciated teachers.

The main character is Ellie Avery, an Air Force wife, mother of two children, part-time organizing consultant, and very active volunteer at her children’s neighborhood school. The amiable Ellie finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She tries not to actively involve herself, but others look to her for help because of previous associations with a murder. Later, someone takes the threat to her doorstep, potentially endangering Ellie and her children.

This mystery is a fun, “don’t put me down” kind of read. The plot has twists and turns that keep the reader engaged and wanting more. The characters are interesting and there is a subplot concerning a competing organizer in town which enhances the appeal. If you like cozy mysteries, you will love Mother’s Day, Muffins, and Murder.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com 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. #10 in the Ellie Avery Mystery Series, also called the Mom Zone Series. I enjoyed it as a standalone.

2. The book also includes “Organizing Tips for PTA Moms” placed at the end of some chapters so as not to be intrusive into the storyline. They are practical and are approved by this former teacher who also volunteered with my school’s Parent/Teacher Organization.

Publication:  March 28, 2017–Kensington Books

Memorable Lines: 

“Yes, that is my favorite way to relax, supervising twenty-two eight-year-olds hyped up on sugar at eight in the morning.”

I wished the rest of the school year could be more like the end of the year. The end of the year–when the standardized tests were over–was when the kids got to do all the fun stuff, instead of studying for the standardized tests. Why couldn’t the kids do more hands-on activities like this throughout the year?

We rush through our days so quickly and have so many little rituals that we do, day in and day out, but then a moment like that last day of school comes along. It’s a milestone that makes a definite break in the continuum and emphasizes that one phase is ending and another beginning.

Double Up–witty cozy

Double Up

by Gretchen Archer

double upDavis Way is a former security officer and investigator for Bellissimo Casino and is currently a stay-at-home mom for twin baby girls. Blitz, Inc. buys up land in the same town for a competing casino and Davis’ home and livelihood are in jeopardy. To make it worse, Davis is convinced that it is her fault that the Bellissimo Casino is about to go under.

There are many humorous aspects to this story–both in situations and in characters. As always with books from the Davis Way Crime Caper Series, this cozy mystery is very witty with Archer frequently popping dialogue with one liners that Davis thinks, contrasting them with what she actually says. The plot moves quickly especially during the second half as extreme action kicks in. Think: explosions, auto theft, murder, decaying seafood, and dumpster diving. Two really quirky characters emerge: Bea, Davis’ ex-ex-mother-in-law, who is lacking in basic hygiene and good taste and takes physical action in her determination to set things right and “the House” which responds to voice suggestions by controlling Davis’ huge suite in a very frustrating way. All of this (and more) adds up to a fun book worth reading.

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

Rating: 5/5

Category: Humor, Mystery

Notes: #6 in Davis Way Crime Caper Series, but works as a standalone

Publication:   March 21, 2017–Henery Press

Memorable Lines:

[Bea to Davis] “That’s one thing I like about Don Juan.” She took me into her confidence like I was her best girlfriend. “No back talking. ‘Course I don’t speak Italyish, so he could be back talking my ears off and I wouldn’t know it.”

If I’d been doing my job, I could have stopped it. Or at least slowed it down. At the bare minimum, we could have been prepared. To say I felt responsible was to say there were stars in the sky, the desert was hot, and Bill Gates had a little money in the bank.

Our daughters, who’d never known anything other than computer-generated, gender-neutral, max-volume broadcasts interrupting our lives via seventy hidden speakers followed by their parents yelling back, didn’t think a thing of it. One day they’d realize they lived in the world’s only home that spontaneously shrieked and yelled and demanded an explanation, but for now, they mostly hollered along. (“Aaagaah!” and “Gaahaah!”)

If Not for You–gentle romance

If Not for You 

by Debbie Macomber

If Not for YouIf Not for You is part of the New Beginnings series by Debbie Macomber. These are books related more by theme than by characters, although there is some overlap of characters. Each could definitely be read as a standalone. I am not a fan of the romance genre, but I do enjoy reading one occasionally. I like Macomber’s romances because she manages to talk about relationships without taking the reader into the bedroom with detailed descriptions. If Not for You begins with a blind date between Beth, a young socialite struggling to escape a controlling mother, and Sam, a bearded, long-haired, tattooed mechanic. The date doesn’t go well, the evening ends in physical disaster, and a romance begins.

If Not for You details the ups and downs of Sam and Beth’s relationship as well as their respective backgrounds which brought them to this point. Other characters in the story have romantic issues as well. Beth has a tendency to want to “fix” other peoples’ affairs. Her efforts sometimes backfire despite her good intentions.

This romance is set in Portland and in Chicago. The characters are interesting and likable. Most of the story is predictable, but there are surprises along the way and I think fans of the gentle romance genre will enjoy it.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Random House (Ballantine) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Romance

Publication:   March 21, 2017–Random House (Ballantine)

Memorable Lines:

…the look in his eyes that said more than an entire library of books.

My mother will find a way of making sure the entire facility knows she’s arrived. She’ll make more of a production than Hannibal crossing the Alps.

My husband would have disapproved, but he’s been gone three years so I do what I want these days. That’s one of the compensations of being a widow.

…when we fail to be kind and loving, then we fail to be wise.

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