I am preparing for my second attempt at NaNoWriMo. November has been deemed National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to write a novel (estimated at about 50,000 words) in 30 days. Last year I persisted for eight days before I gave up. I didn’t get very far because I was just free-writing, but this year, I’m determined to finish. I am ramping up with a story outline and character ideas.

I'm using RocketBook to help organize all my ideas.

I’m using RocketBook to help organize all my ideas. This was my first brainstorm of what to write about in November.

I have always loved to write stories since I was a child. In third grade I wrote a story that was chosen to be performed by the local theatrical troupe visiting my elementary school. It was based on the board game Candy Land, imagining a world where the characters came to life. I was thrilled to watch my story performed. That was just the beginning of love for writing and creating stories.

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You will feel sick reading this book. It will make you frustrated, melancholy, curious. I suffered nightmares and stomach aches.

Renting it from the library gave me only 21 days to cover the extensive 509 pages, which meant I was reading this book every moment I had free. The details surrounding the incident (how victims were killed, bodies left behind by the police, a teacher left for dead) left me feeling nauseous and appalled. Reading words from the killer themselves brought them back to life. Columbine by Dave Cullen is an enlightening, yet, stomach churning examination of the events leading up to, during, and following the Columbine High School Massacre of 1999.

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Borrowing e-books using OverDrive couldn’t be easier, except for when my e-book reader of choice, the NOOK, suddenly stopped opening the books. The joy of getting an email that the e-book I’ve been waiting for had finally been checked out to me was followed by disappointment that I couldn’t read it on my NOOK.

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Dora rates this book “one paw.”

After the success of their first murder investigation, Charlotte’s Angels are back in Buy A Whisker, book two in the Second Chance Cat Mystery series by Sofie Ryan. The senior ladies: Charlotte, Liz, and Rose, (and their friend Alfred, an old timer hacker) are ready to expose the truth with their investigation services operation –headquartered in the Second Chance shop, of course.

The Second Chance shop, owned and operated by North Harbour, Maine resident Sarah Grayson, features repurposed goods. The unique shop attracts many tour bus customers, but Sarah knows business could be better. With the prospect of a new development in the works, the tourist town is overjoyed by the possibilities of bringing in new customers and updating it’s image. Everything is in place for the development to go through except for one business owner’s approval.

Local bakery owner Lily Carter refuses to sell her property, inherited from her grandfather. She declined the developer’s offer, which has resulted in outrage from the town in the form of petty pranks, threats, and pleas for her to change her mind and accept the deal. When Lily is found dead on the basement stairs of her bakery, it isn’t surprising that the police think there has been a homicide.

The suspect list is long: it could have been any shop owner depending on the development or money they would receive from selling their property. Is it possible it was the developer himself? Or maybe a newcomer? When one of the Angels, Liz, is moved to the top of the suspect list, the Angels set out to find the real killer. Sarah is depending on Elvis, her feline with lie-detecting abilities, to help her solve the mystery before her friends put themselves in danger.

Overall, this installment was much better than the first in the series. I am in love with Elvis and have finally warmed up to Sarah and her Second Chance crew. Elvis’s personality reminds me so much of my own all-black feline, Dora. While Sarah finds herself arguing with Elvis over her seat, I find myself having the same arguments with Dora. Finally, I give in and share the seat with him.

There is not much of Sarah’s grandmother, Isabel, in the story, even though all the ladies that work with her are her Grandmother’s friends and Isabel supposedly lives the on the upper floor of her house. Maybe that’s the gag? We do learn more about the other ladies: Charlotte, Liz, and  Rose, who reminds me of Betty White.

I’m still not sure about some of the minor characters. There are brief moments where the dialogue goes from cozy to cheesy and I have to put the book down, close my eyes and let out a deep breath, particularly around Sarah’s friendship with her teenage crush, Nick. I’ve never accidentally fallen into the arms of a male friend and if I did, I probably wouldn’t stare into his eyes. As for her work companion Mac, I would prefer to read a little less about his muscles and more about his mysterious past.

I bought this copy at my local library’s book sale, but am delighted to see the rest of the series is available on my library’s OverDrive app.

Cost: Approximately $0.05

Drink of Choice: Flat White with Soy

It’s amazing how one dollar and a paper bag could bring me so much delight. And not just me, but everyone else scrambling in the small room. People squeezed through the aisles and hands fluttered over the tables. It was the Friends of San Dimas Library Buck-a-Bag Day book sale.

For $1, readers were provided with a paper bag to fill with as many books as they could fit or wanted. Joey and I got a total of 12 books: seven that I was interested in and five more that Joey picked out for himself.

One bag of books was about our limit since I had to haul all the books back home in my bike basket.

One bag of books was about our limit since I had to haul all the books back home in my bike basket.

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Earlier this year I reviewed In a Dark, Dark Wood, a story about a hen party (British slang for bachelorette party) gone wrong. The setting: an isolated cottage in the woods. The main character carpools with the one girl she knows besides the bride to someone’s vacation home for a weekend of pre-wedding shenanigans.

When I received news that the bachelorette party for my dear friend and sister-in-law, Candice, was planned for weekend away at a friend’s beach house and the only girl I really knew besides the bride is the one I would be carpooling with, it put me on alert. I joked with my husband, “I’m either going to be murdered, murder someone or solve a murder. I don’t know which yet, we’ll find out on Sunday when I return home –or not!”

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Even though you know that it’s her destiny to make the trip to California, your heart aches knowing that she has to make this journey. It yells out to her, “No! Don’t do it, Eliza. Think of your future!” but you know she must go and there is nothing you can do to stop her. So you prepare yourself for a tear jerker — the story of a Chilean girl who follows her lover to California during the peak of the Gold Rush.

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