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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Town is on fire - Updated

This is the view from a shopping mall in the North of my town, taken a few hours ago. 

32,000 people evacuated thus far.  I am still several miles away from the fire, but I have many friends that had very little notice to scramble and leave their homes.  The fire reached the top of a mountain crest and was whipped up by 60 mile/hour winds right down into town.  Neighborhoods are blazing.  The really sad thing is that this fire may have been intentionally set.  The fire fighters are working so hard, but can't get this fire contained at all.

I share this to let you know I will post when I can, but honestly, everything is a bit disjointed and scattered for everyone in town.  It feels like being in a dream.  The smoke is like a heavy fog in parts of town.  Ash is falling like snow.  Keep Colorado Springs, Colorado in your thoughts.  We need rain desperatly.  

Fire is continuing to burn.  It will be another long night, the evacuation area slowly grows.  I have not been evacuated, but it is getting uncomfortably closer.

I want to share a couple of photos with you.

The morning after.
This first one is of the neighborhood that burned yesterday.  I used to live very close to here only a few years ago.

This next one is of firefighters saving a fawn in the midst of everything.  Our firefighters are working around the clock in record heat and they still show such humanity.  You can see where the the fawn's legs have been bandaged up.

We keep hoping for significant rain, but no joy thus far.  I am hoping I don't have to evacuate tonight.

The fire has moved from my immediate area, but there are still many sections of town under evacuation.  Last night the bulk of the fire appeared to have moved back into Queens Canyon.  Now small mountain communities up I-24 are being evacuated and farther north like Monument are under pre-evacuation.  The hard part is how unpredictable this fire is.

Latest UPDATE: 
The 17,659-acre fire remains at 55% containment. More than 1,500 firefighters are working.  It has remained in the hills away from homes for several days now.  Damage totals are 346 homes destroyed and 24 homes damaged.  We have FBI here investigating how the fire started.  Two bodies have been discovered in the ashes, so now it is murder if somebody intentionally set the fire. 

Friday, President Obama was here to survey the fire and the damage.  We are trying to heal as a community.  There are several fund raisers planned to help those who lost their homes.  One creative fund-raiser that sprung from a few business people collaborating is Wildfire Teeshirts (click here.)  Many people have submitted designs for the effort.

As an interesting side-note to this, one official has become a city celebrity and a facebook fan page was begun for her.  She is Jerri Marr, forest supervisor for the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands.  Check-out the outpouring of love for her (click here.)  

Another interesting phenomenon is how people from around the world were watching our local 24 hour news coverage of the fire via internet live feeds.  People from around the world have sent their sympathies and good wishes!

Thank you all for your compassion and keeping us in your thoughts.

Thank you

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Which book would you take?

If you are looking for the Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Blog hop, that is below this post.

Here in Colorado we are experiencing multiple wildfires burning in different spots simultaneously.  This last weekend several friends had to evacuate their homes, they are back safe today.  

But it raises a question.  If you had to pack for a probable evacuation, would you pack a book?  Which book would it be?  A classic or a simply a favorite, maybe a book with sentimental value?  

What is the first answer that popped into you head?

Now for a recipe that keeps the house cool (record high temperatures here too) by using a slow cooker.  I have not tried this myself, but I stumbled across it and thought I would share it.  I hope to make this soon.

Slow Cooker Cherry Cobbler

    1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup butter, melted
    1/2 cup milk
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Cinnamon to taste


    Coat the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Pour in the cherry pie filling. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the melted butter, milk, and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Spread evenly over the cherry pie filling. Cover, and cook on High for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review - The Deathly Portent

If you are looking for the Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Blog hop, that is below this post.
This week we review a historical amateur sleuth novel set in 1790's England.   What do you get when you throw a young women who has psychic visions, a newly arrived parson, a murdered blacksmith all in superstitious small town?  Read on to find out.

Author:  Elizabeth Bailey

Copyright:  April 2012 (Signet) 384 pgs

Series:  2nd in  Lady Fan Mystery

Sensuality:  mild references

Mystery Sub-genre:  Historical Amateur Sleuth, Cozy

Main Character:  Lady Ottilia Fanshawe

Setting:  1790 England, village of Witherley

Obtained Through: publisher for an honest review

Lord Francis Franshawe and his new bride Ottilia have a broken down carriage on the way home from visiting Ottilia's elderly godmother. Ottilia's insatiable curiosity comes into the picture when they learn the nearby town of Witherley's blacksmith, Duggleby, died during the storm the previous night from a suspicious roof cave-in. Ottilia manages to finagle staying in the village while there carriage is off finding a blacksmith to repair it.  Lord Francis Franshawe notices that a roof cross beam had been cut and Ottilia manages to slip in and examine the corpse, discovering he had been hit in the head, likely with a hammer. 

But what ensures that the newlyweds stay in town and investigate is that the villagers have been whipped into a frenzy, believing that Mrs. Cassie Dale is a witch and killed Duggleby.  Ottilia suspects that the real killer is very cunning and waited until Cassie had one of her visions to strike.  Ottilia must discover who the killer is before Cassie is burned as a witch

Ottilia is shrewd and a bit playful.  She has a whip-sharp mind that she loves to exercise in outsmarting killers.  She also is quick to manipulate the situation to her benefit, rather than just go against conventions.  Lord Francis is a refreshing male who is proud of his wife's mental prowess while fiercely protective.  He proves himself an able sidekick.  A great supporting cast member is the newly arrived parson who is not going to let the town's residents kill an innocent girl (even if she has visions).  He proves to have a lion's heart in facing this village of strangers that are to be his congregation.  He is delightfully portrayed as he faces his own struggles.

The town of Witherley is effective brought to life with its wealthy patron, competing bars, and more than a few secrets.  The mob mentality is believable rendered to the page.  The dialogue of the villagers was difficult at times as the strong Cockney-like accent is brought to the page.

The plot keeps moving throughout, delivering some surprises that had me gasping.  It maybe a small town, but the killer is smart, wily, and dangerous.  However improbably it might be that a random carriage breakdown would result in a murder investigation from strangers, the premise works adequately for this tale.  What does seem a little too convenient is how easily Ottilia is able to go about town and question people.  The situation seems too quickly accepted that an outsider is question the villagers.

The confrontation with the killer delivered a good scene with a few surprises.  The wrap up finished everything neatly.  Overall I found this book a fun and thoroughly enjoyable historical mystery and I am kicking myself that I didn't read the first one now.

Now for a summer recipe: Blackberry Crisp

4 cups fresh blackberries, washed, drained well
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats
pinch of salt
1/2 stick softened butter (4 tbsp)


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Hop 2012

We are celebrating Midsummer here at Mysteries and My Musings with a giveaway!  Shakespeare even wrote about it - when we have the longest daylight hours and shortest night.  I love summer, don't you?

If you are joining us as part of the
Midsummer's Eve Giveaway Blog hop, look around and stay for awhile.  We celebrate everything mystery and suspense here - no doubt you can find something of interest!

GIVEAWAY PRIZES:   4 gift packs of 2 titles each
>>>>Now closed to entries<<<<

Prize pack 1 - Let Them Eat Stake by Sarah Zettel and Grace Among Thieves by Julie Hyzy

 Prize pack 2 - The Scarlett Pepper by Dorothy St. James and Adrift on St. John by Rebecca M. Hale

Prize pack 3 - The Probability of Murder by Ada Madison and Adrift on St. John by Rebecca M. Hale

Prize pack 4 - Sketch a Falling Star by Sharon Pope and Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay

Additional prize of three (3) individual copies of As The Crow Flies by Craig Johnson - Wahoo!

Entry for giveaway lasts until June 26 6:00 p.m. (MST).

I will be shipping the books to the winners.

How to enter:

*** First, you must be a member (follower) of this blog.***

All entries are to be in the comments for this post.

I will accept entries for this giveaway Wednesday June 20 beginning at midnight (MST) through to 6:00 p.m (MST) on Tuesday June 26.  
I shall notify the winner via the email address you provide to get your mailing address and have the prize sent directly to you.

IF you are a member of this blog, you only need to leave a comment with your correct email.

BECOME a member of this blog if you aren't already and enjoy the celebration of all things mystery and suspense.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Bookstore's Future, e-Books, and Indie Publishing

This last Saturday was "Save the Bookstores" Day.  I hope you had a chance to visit and support your local bookstore and help them out.  As we see brick-and-mortar bookstores closing around the country in these difficult economic times, we don't want to see what was once a common sight of bookstores easily found anywhere from a mall to small towns fade away.  

The has an article by Terri Giuliano Long dated May 16, 2012 regarding this, titled "Sticks & Stones: The Changing Politics of the Self-Publishing Stigma."  The article gives a villain to blame for local bookstores closing, the burgeoning self-publishing industry.  But the other side to this is that more books are easily accessible at bargain prices.

"As well-educated and experienced writers—emerging authors who’ve honed their craft as well as established and traditionally published authors—increasingly opt to go the indie route, the bar is rising. As with indie musicians and filmmakers, indie authors bring new life to an evolving industry. Today, readers have access to a wealth of funny, poignant, brilliant voices of talented new authors from around the globe—voices that, just a few years ago, might have been silenced by the old guard."

The article also explains how a feud is forming between traditionally published authors and indie published authors.  There are some rising tempers over the issue.

I also found an article, "The 'Golden Age' of Bookstores: A Myth?"  by Kristina Chew June 12, 2012, on the website that gives a different aspect of the saga. 

"It’s become commonplace to bemoan the demise of bookstores in this age of and downloadable e-books. But The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal points out that, back in 1931, there were only 500 real bookstores in the US in 1931 and that the “golden age” of bookstores in the US may not have been such at all. 

...the big box bookstore — are a very recent phenomenon and one (as evinced in the bankruptcy of Borders) with a seemingly short existence.  It could be argued that books are more accessible than ever, provided you have Internet access and some kind of e-reader device. What the paperback and now the e-book eras have ushered in is another phenomenon, of more and more people being able to own books."

The Kristina Chew article says that a very small percentage of people could afford books, nor had access to places which carried many books, until the advent of the paperback.  The paperback made books affordable and more likely to be available where everyday consumers could buy them.  The e-book revolution is now opening up availability of more books by removing the gatekeepers who decided what would be published.   

I must confess, I have a Nook... okay two.  But I still love having a physical book.  You can't get an e-book autographed, write in the margins, nor recycle them at a used book store for somebody else to love them - while getting money for them.  I love that, other than water or fire damage, I will still have my book and don't have to worry about an electronic device dying or loosing data with newer versions of software etc.  I am hoping we can maintain both going forward.   

What do you think dear reader?  Is indie publishing busting things wide open a good thing?  Is the inexpensive e-book a blessing by making reading even more affordable?

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Monday, June 11, 2012

“Save the Bookstores Day” on June 16th!

Literary agent Kelly Sonnack began "Save the Bookstores Day" as a way to show brick & mortar stores that they still matter. Join me in supporting them. 

Let's show our local stores that we love them in our communities! Social media is used to spread the word of this campaign, so check out the Facebook invite (click here). 

Perhaps families could create special activities around the day.  Make it a girlfriends outing.  I am compiling my list of which books and magazines I will be purchasing to support my local independent store.  You can search for your a local independent store (click here.)

Enjoy "Save the Bookstores" Day!

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review - A Fitting End

The review this week is the second in a new series.  I had reviewed the debut book, Pleating for Mercy (click here) so I was particularly interested in newest edition in the series.  I realized that some of the elements of the TV series GCB can be found in this Texas-based series too.

Author:  Melissa Bourbon

Copyright:  February 2012 (Signet) 320 pgs

Series:  2nd in  Magical Dressmaking Mysteries

Sensuality:  mild romance

Mystery Sub-genre:  Cozy paranormal mystery

Main Character:  Harlow Jane Cassidy, Manhattan fashion designer who has moved back to her small hometown

Setting:  modern day, Bliss Texas

Obtained Through:  Publisher for an honest review

The murder of a Casanova Golf Pro with Harlow's scissors at the local country club, disrupts the town's tradional annual 'Margaret Moffette Lea Pageant and Ball, where the debutants are displayed in period costumes.   Zinnia, Senator Jebediah James' wife, has been Harlow's patron and best word-of-mouth advertising has been held by the police in connection to the murder.  Harlow jumps in to help the pageant go on as scheduled, but she feels strongly that she must help Zinnia clear her good name.

This book is all about the web of secrets spun in people's lives.  Harlow is a descendent from Butch Cassidy and all the Cassidy women possess a special gift of some kind.  For Harlow, she can sew up the perfect dress that helps a person tangibly in their life.  But the Cassidy women try to keep their little gift/curse a secret.  But she is finding there are more Cassidy family secrets than she cares for.  As Harlow investigates the town's Casanova, she finds many secrets such as illegitimate children in the pedigreed families.  But there is one secret among them all that got the promiscuous golf pro killed.

I like Harlow, but she seems even busier in this book, which makes it hard to really get to know her much.  What does shine forth is her compassion for others.  Her mother seems even more flighty this time around which I am finding a bit annoying.  The potential love interest, Will Flores, is well portrayed. He is a compliment to Harlow thus far with just enough male flaws (come on, you know what I mean ;-) to make him realistic.  I think the author portrays the teens in the story particularly well.

The plot was not as obvious as you might imagine. The pacing maintained a sense of urgency when two elderly seamstresses are in danger, which also added complications to the storyline.  The sense of place was acutely present in every sentence, from dialect to the tradition of the pageant.  

The confrontation with the killer was tense and a little bit of a nail biter, but I have to admit that the killer's identity seemed to come from left field.  I liked that I did not anticipate who the killer was, but I also felt like there were no clues to indicate this person either - not even a teensy hint.  Which made me question if that was a cheat or just good writing.  Hmmmm.  Any thoughts readers?

Overall, I like the main character, the plot kept me reading and engaged, the setting was fully integrated, and the revealing of the killer was dramatic - so it met all my main criteria strongly.  The wrap-up successfully has me anxious for next book in the series.  I have been really burned out on books set in small southern towns lately, but this one is my only exception.  If you don't care for paranormal books, this book is primarily a cozy with only moderate paranormal touches.  


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Monday, June 4, 2012

Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival - June 2012

It is the first Monday of the month - time for another highly anticipated Blog Carnival.  Please help get the newsletter for the blog carnival more subscribers.  If a blog reviews mystery/suspense/thrillers occasionally then I would like to feature them.  I send the newsletter out once a month announcing the deadline for submitting to this blog carnival.  Multiple entries from a blog are welcome.  Now on to this month's blog carnival.  Click on the title or author's name to go to that link.

Police Procedural / PI Book Review

Booking Mama reviewed Guilt by Degrees by Marcia Clark 

Rivers I Have Known reviewed The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.  A review of the first book of the very famous Precious Ramotswe series.

Amateur Sleuth / Cozy book Review

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris, a historical amateur sleuth

Socrates' Book Reviews gives us Murder Buys a T-shirt by Christy Fifield

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed Wild Wild Death by Casey Daniels

Five Alarm Book Reviews gives us Welcome to Last Chance by Hope Ramsey

King's River Live Magazine reviewed Journey to Die For by Radine Trees Nehring

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed The Big Kitty by Claire Donally

Socrates' Book Reviews gives us Copycat Killing by Sofie Kelly

Lesa's Book Critiques reviewed A Simple Murder by Eleanor Kuhns

Five Alarm Book Reviews gives us Die Buying by Laura DiSilverio

Mysteries and My Musings reviewed A Fatal Fleece by Sally Goldenbaum, a Seaside Knitters mystery

Thriller/Suspense Fiction Book Review

Booking Mama reviewed Sacrilege by S.J. Parris

Tea Time with Marce reviewed the classic Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

S. Krishna's Books reviewed The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose

Booking Mama reviewed The 500 by Matthew Quirk

Author Interview

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A huge "Thank You" to all the wonderful bloggers out there who contributed to the carnival.  Keep them coming.

Let's make next month's Carnival even better. For more information on the specifics of the Carnival and how to submit your posts go here.
Submit your blog entry for next month's Carnival here: (

Spread the word far and wide!!!

Post a widget on your blog for this carnival here (

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