Day: July 9, 2017

Review: At the Drop of a Hat

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At the Drop of a Hat3 out of 5 stars to At the Drop of a Hat, the third book in the “Hat Shop” cozy mystery series, written in 2015 by Jenn McKinlay. Another good book by this lovely author… serves as a model cozy with light humor, romance and mystery.



Why This Book


I’d purchased a few of these paperbacks on Amazon earlier this year, wanting to have a few cozy mysteries to include in between my NetGalley Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) books. Jenn McKinlay is a fun writer and the books take place in my favorite place, England. I had just finished the second book in this series last week and wasn’t ready to give up the characters, so I read this one back-to-back.



Plot, Characters & Setting


Cousins Scarlett (American) and Vivian (British) are at it again in this whodunit caper set in London. A young bride-to-be, Ariana, wanders into their hat store, asking for her mother’s hat to be repaired so that she can wear it on her own wedding day. Vivian recognizes the hat as one their late grandmother made years ago, suddenly feeling nostalgic and eager to help Ariana. Once she has the repair costs, Scarlett tries to contact Ariana, but she can’t reach her. Scarlett heads to Ariana’s office, where she is an assistant to a difficult and womanizing barrister (attorney). When she arrives, Scarlett finds Ariana screaming while standing over the dead body of the attorney, who either fell or was pushed off the roof of his building. Scarlett and Vivian want to help Ariana, as they don’t believe she is guilty. Harrison, Scarlett’s pseudo love-interest tries to stop her, but agrees to help find the real culprit. Scarlett and gang (including her assistant hat maker Fee, and her best friends, gay couple Andre and Nick) try to avoid being caught by the cops while checking out the attorney’s background. Between former girlfriends and models who hated him and the shady men he was in debt to, the attorney had no chance! But which one off’d him? Scarlett figures it out and uses herself as bait to catch the criminal, and this time, the answers are a layer deeper than she realizes. Add in some romance with Harrison, some questions about Vivian’s lack of a boyfriend and a bet between all the friends, this book has its normal dose of humor.



Approach & Style


I read the paperback version, which was about 280 pages, broken up into 27 chapters. Each one is short and a quick-read. The book is told from Scarlett’s point of view in the first-person perspective. She’s funny and direct, which is a good contrast against her reserved British friends.



Strengths


Scarlett is a great character. Her personality is spunky. Her dialogue with Harrison is on point. She has a lot of charm. You care about what happens to her. I like the supporting cast with the best friends Nick and Andre, and learning about their life together as a couple is fun. The references to Scarlett’s grandmother Mim are always enjoyable, too. The plot in this book had lots of potential. The police are often helpful and open to Scarlet’s help, rather than the usual angry and pushy when the main character tries to get involved. I look forward to seeing this series grow stronger.



Concerns


While its intended to be a light and fun cozy with some humor and romance, the point is that it’s a mystery… and I would expect a certain amount of complexity in the plot with multiple suspects. This one was very simple and had a short list of suspects. Several potential people were considered, but it was over 50% into the book before Scarlet even did any research. And when she did, she only looked at two people. It needed at least another 50 pages with some investigation and research into the victim’s past and the people he spent most of his time with. It makes me a little concerned, but I do enjoy the characters and the setting. So if you think of it more as a light romance and humor book with some mystery thrown in, then you might be totally fine with it.



Final Thoughts


McKinlay is my new Evanovich. She’s a great character-writer, and I love all the antics and banter. It’s worth sampling one of her books, purely from that perspective. The series focus on the hat industry is kinda cool and provides a lot of backdrop to meet new characters and people to kill off for the mysteries. Hope you enjoy them.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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365 Challenge: Day 119 – Fort Myers, Florida

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Fort Myers, Florida: a gateway to the southwest Florida region and the city of my birth

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Sunday posts, the end of each week, have become a theme on This-Is-My-Truth-Now, organized by groups of five (5). In the first set of five, we explored my primary ethnicity groups and nationalities. In the second set of five, we had the AtoZ Challenges for various favorite things in our lives. In the third set of five, we discovered all the colors (excluding black and white) that have an important meaning to me. And so… I’m continuing the trend of the seventh day, ending the week on Sunday, as a list (we know I love them) that provides more in depth knowledge about me. This is our fourth grouping, covering weeks #16 thru #20 of the 365 Daily Challenge, and the topics will be: the 5 Places I’ve lived!

Last week was the city I currently live in (NYC), and so it makes sense that this week would be all about the city where I first lived — where I was born: Fort Myers, Florida. But before we get into those details, a few interesting facts about this lovely place:

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  • Fort Myers was one of the first forts built on the Caloosahatchee River to protect the European-American settlers against the Native Americans during the American Indian Wars in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
  • It was founded as a community at the end of the Civil War in 1866 and was formally incorporated as a city in 1885.
  • It is most famously known as one of the places where Thomas Alva Edison and Henry Ford lived for many winters, escaping the cold snow in the north.
  • For more information, you can check Wikipedia.

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So how does a guy like me get from Fort Myers, Florida to NYC… let’s roll back the clock to a few generations before I was actually born. My paternal grandparents were born and raised in NYC, as were many of their ancestors before them. They moved from NYC to Long Island, New York when my father was 13-years old and resided there until about 1970. All three of their kids were done with high school and moving on with their own lives and into their own homes. My grandparents wanted to live in a warmer temperature and visited some friends in Florida. While down there, they were driving around and found a beautiful piece of property in Fort Myers and a potential new business to own. Next thing… they moved to Florida and opened a bar in the early 1970s.

Shortly afterwards, my father and mother met and got married. They visited my grandparents after their honeymoon in the Bahamas, deciding they too loved Florida. They bought a piece of property on a canal and planned to have a house built in the future. Given some things going on in NY with my mom’s side of the family, my parents decided to move to Fort Myers sooner than they’d originally planned, found out that my mom was pregnant with me and committed to the change. They lived with my grandparents in their Florida home for a while and then right about the time their new house was built, I was born. {Aside: Silent pause for a riveting round of applause}

I have very few memories of my time in Florida, as I only lived there for about two years. What I do remember are two key things, both of which involve the canal that ran through our backyard. First, we always had a family of ducks who would swim in the water and nest in the yard. I have pictures of me following a family of ducks around, barely a year old, walking all over the place with them. I’m surprised the ducks didn’t bite me, but animals have always been drawn to me. The picture is not scanned, and I don’t have a scanner, so I can’t add it here. But you can imagine it! Or look at a similar one I found.

Second, we also had several alligators that would swim up and crawl out of the canal in the backyard. My father had a German Shepard dog, Lady, who I spent every waking moment with while I was very young. Lady would protect me from anyone and everyone, curling up under my crib, sitting next to me on the couch.  Well… she was not letting any alligator get near me. Luckily, they were smaller alligators and Lady could keep them at bay. But we also have a few pictures of Lady chasing alligators, me standing a few feet away from them, and my dad laughing about the whole thing. He knew Lady would protect me, so they weren’t too worried. And she seemed to enjoy her playtime with the gatas, as I would call them. Oh… the things you do as a child. Nowadays, I wouldn’t step foot near one of those suckers! Well, maybe I’d ride one for fun.

By the time I was two-years old, we left Florida and moved back to Long Island, as my maternal grandmother passed away. My mom had younger siblings to take care of, as well as be with her father through the initial mourning period. And that’s the extent of my stint in Fort Myers. I once drove by/through it in the mid-2000s when I visited Florida on a short vacation. We drove from somewhere further north through the outskirts on our way to the Keys; however, I wasn’t sure of the exact address and we were really pressed for time. So I never really made it back to see the area where I was born. And now… well… if the temperature reaches 60 degrees, I turn into an awful human being that no one wants to be around. So little chances of me ever moving back there, it would seem. Maybe if I start running ice through my veins instead of blood, then I might be cooled off enough.

How about you? Anyone else from south Florida? Anyone else born and raised in very different parts of the country? Stay tuned next Sunday for the third location I’ve lived, which if you guess Long Island, you guessed correctly!

 

 

 

RECOMMENDED BLOGGER

  • Today’s 365 Daily Challenge recommended blogger to know is Kristin @ ASimplyEnchantedLife. Kristin and I met about 3 months ago through WordPress and Goodreads. I don’t recall which one came first, but you must absolutely check out her website. The color scheme, fonts and pictures are always beautiful, and you leave feeling tranquil and refreshed. Kristin’s site has lots of content, but primarily focuses on book reviews and faith & family lifestyle ideas. We may not read too many books in common, but we’ve found a few and always connect on good characters and beautiful settings. I’m very intrigued by all the Amish fiction she reads, as it has such a fantastic sound to it… but what makes Kristin someone to know is how wonderful of a person she has been in the little time we’ve known one another. With 6 young girls to take care, this mom knows how to keep things running… I honestly don’t know how she finds the time to keep up with her own posts and blog, let alone comment and chat with me about my posts (which we all know are plentiful), and I’m sure lots of other people, too. Please stop by and check out the spectacular layout and design on her site… and you’ll stay for a while searching for all the great content.

 

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay and I live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.