Search This Blog


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Monday & Wednesday - REVIEWS: mini-style book reviews. 

Toby Neal is the author of the Lei Crime series, two spin-offs of the series, and a stand-alone romance novel. In her spare time, she is working on her memoir and developing a new YA mystery series. She and her photographer husband live on Maui. 

Toby’s latest Lei Crime novel includes two major plot lines, the endangerment of endemic Hawaiian birds that leads to murder, and the potential marriage of the series’ protagonist. With such a significant personal plot line, a ‘runaway bride’ scenario, it seemed inevitable that the mystery plot would suffer. It was an unnecessary concern. Neal weaves the tension of plot and subplot (reader’s choice as to which is which) into a seamless story that never hiccups. 

One suspenseful part of the novel involves the hunt for a killer intent on ending the despicable act of poaching endemic birds by delivering a unique brand of vigilante justice. Controlled narrative pace, excellent description, and rare location in a well-developed mystery add up to a five-star read. 

Anyone who has had an opportunity to see the colorful birds of Hawaii will appreciate the emotional attraction of a storyline that deals with the endangerment of endemic birds. History tells of Polynesians who used red and yellow bird feathers to construct capes, ‘Ahu’ula, for Hawaiian royalty. Even then, bird catchers were forbidden to take the life of the birds, including the red-feathered ‘i’iwi and the yellow-feathered Hawaiian honeycreeper. To catch a glimpse of exotic Hawaiian birds, SHATTERED PALMS takes the reader to a site on Maui that many visitors, residents, and even kama’aina have never experienced. That alone is worth the “price of admission.” 

Because of the local expression, “can-can. no can, no can.” my bucket list now includes a visit to the Hosmer’s Grove trail and overlook at Haleakala National Park.
Check out Shattered Palms at, along with the other Lei Crime novels in the series:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for MONROE, MARSALIS, and MY WAY AtoZChallenge

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Tuesday & Friday - BLUES: Art, Movies, Music, & Police


Father of BLUEgrass Music;
Jazz in the Bittersweet BLUES W. MARSALIS;
and Ol’ BLUE Eyes

Sometimes the music is just too big to write about. It’s that way with Bill Monroe, considered the Father of Bluegrass music; and Wynton Marsalis with his Jazz in the Bittersweet Blues; and Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, doing things “My Way.” 

It was always entertaining to watch shows with Frank Sinatra on stage joking around with his buddies, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin. Imagine Ol’ Blue Eyes teaming up with Wynton and Bill to sing a medley of tunes, the three of them bobbing and weaving through the rhythms of bluegrass, crooning nightclub melodies, and hitting the high notes of sweet jazz. 


Frank gets the red ribbon for his live performance in Australia with the Red Norvo Quintet in 1959 and for his rendition of Red Roses (for a Blue Lady.)


Wynton earns the white ribbon for opening the White House Music Series hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.



But Bill wins the blue ribbon. He is the Father of Bluegrass; his band was named the Blue Grass Boys; his record label was Bluebird; and he sang such songs as Mule Skinner Blues, Blue Grass Breakdown, and Blue Moon Over Kentucky. He even founded the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. When it came to doing things “My Way” Frank Sinatra had nothing over Bill Monroe.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for LOVE! LAUGH! PANIC! AtoZChallenge Review

The theme of my 2014 A-to-Z Blog Challenge is BLUES, PUPUS, and REVIEWS.
Monday & Wednesday - REVIEWS: mini-style book reviews

The full title of this book is Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with My Mother by Rosemary Mild. A memoir is not my standard reading fare. And when the memoir is about a mother/daughter relationship, you might expect something on the order of a Joan Crawford tell-all. Not so with this story.
The author narrates with a subtle touch of humor. With panache, she applies fine layers of self-effacing detail until a full portrait of life with her mother emerges. Occasional personal revelations that the reader can relate to bring a quick smile or an outright belly laugh. If you have been raised by a hands-on mother (Jewish, Catholic, or otherwise) you may experience several “a-ha” moments as you recall similar experiences in your own life.
Trials in the yo-yo life of a perennial dieter, and insight into the debilitating illness of a parent, are interwoven with lighter tales of college angst and pleasures. The memoir is loaded with love. There are plenty of situations to encourage laughter. And often lurking in the shadows is an undercurrent of panic.