Visit Book Review of A Fatal Fiction by Kaitlyn Dunnett on Mystery Book Reviews by Penny Mason

Kaitlyn Dunnett, author of the Liss MacCrimmon series, which I must admit I miss, has captured my interest with her new series, Deadly Edits (A Fatal Fiction is the third installment).

See Mystery Book Reviews by Penny Mason blog for a teaser of this entertaining work of cozy fiction.

Book Review of Drive Thru Dreams by Adam Chandler

This tale of the history of the fast food industry was quite entertaining and enormously informative.

Among other fascinating facts, I learned that Ray Kroc was quite the tough guy. The McDonalds Brothers got ripped off, though thier name will go down in history.

The Colonel was a true fast food pioneer, but he toiled endlessly to reach the top, then, when the interstate highway system was constructed, the chain’s locations on small town main streets suffered, necessitating a revamp, financially and logistically.

By that time the Colonel was in his sixties, yet he tirelessly took to the road in his own car once more, plugging franchise opportunities to small-time restaurant owners.

When he sold the chain, the man who started it all was taken advantage of in the end.

The overall fast food story follows the course of most American business over the past half century.

Companies pulled to success by the bootstraps of creative, determined, individuals, have been taken advantage of by corporate interests who, today, reap immense profits with only pennies going to those whos dole out bags of hamburgers, cups of Coke or Pepsi, or the new innovative menu variations that cater to the changing culture of fast food consumers.

But what would we do without our fast food in today’s hustle culture? We baby boomers can reminisce all we want about leisurely family dinners prepared by our mothers, where each of the day’s events were discussed in depth, wise advice given us by our parents, as we anticipated the dessert course, served on decorative plates.

The reality is, try as we might, not many families have work schedules that permit formerly  common civilized rituals.

So, should we praise Ray Kroc and pass the Big Macs?

I wouldn’t go that far, but I do recommend reading Drive Thru Dreams. It’s a documentary style book but it won’t bore you. Expecting to scan it as I do most non-ficion publications, I drooled over the interesting details on every page.





Book Review of Women at the Wheel A Century of Buying, Driving, and Fixing Cars By Katherine J. Parkin

I knew men were quite sexist concerning women drivers, doubting their ability to take the wheel, check their own oil, or make a simple repair. But I never realized the entire extent to which they went to use sex to sell cars.

This book is quite an eye opener. Rather amusing actually, as, thankfully, attitudes have changed greatly over the past few decades.

Some of the ads were a bit surprising to me. At a time when married couples couldn’t be shown in bed together, fully covered, blatantly risque innuendo was used in automobile ads.

A 1941 ad shows a girl in a short cabana coat, mentioning her car is “Faultlessly lubricated with Valvoline . . .”

A 1961 ad for a Lotus begins by saying “He found it appalling to just go out and buy it! So it was practically a marriage . . .” Speaking of purchasing the car, not an illicit affair.

A 1973 Subaru ad compare the car to “a spirited woman who yearns to be tamed.

Here’s another surprising type of ad that would never appear today, but was published as late as 1971 – for shock absorbers. The text mentions that “a car with worn out shocks can be as dangerous as a child with a loaded gun”. A little girl with an actual pistol is portrayed cradling it with the barrel pointed at her face.

If you’ve ever wondered what it was that drove Thelma and Louise over a cliff, you need to read this book,” says author Ruth Schwartz Cowan, calling the book, “a fascinating work of historical scholarship”.

From women learning to drive to all girl car repair shops, this work of non-fiction details the rise of female drivers in a fun, entertaining manner.


Book Review of Emeralds and Envy by Angela McRae

I’m ready to head to Roseland, Georgia to hit the garage sales with Emma  Madison. Emma debuts as a jewelry designer and amateur sleuth in this first book of what I hope will be a long-running cozy mystery series by Angela McRae.

Emeralds and Envy is a story of a jewelry artist who comes up with unique creations by combining vintage jewelry components with modern craft store beads and baubles and original accents.

Roseland is an interesting town featuring an eclectic mix of shops and eateries.

Other than her friend Jen, who is still employed in the newspaper business (Emma was formerly a reporter), Emma’s friends are other artists and vintage merchants who appreciate modern takes on classic style – a concept I wholeheartedly support in my own life and writing projects. (I actually dabbled in discovering and reselling mid-twentieth-century jewelry for a time, so appreciate many of the authentic details.)

Love the fact that Emma’s cat is named after a famous jewelry designer.

The plot follows the proper form for a cozy mystery. I was hooked from the first page and the writing flowed consistently throughout. The red herrings had me stumped. I was completely unsure of the identity of the murderer until the reveal, during a scene which had me on the edge of my seat.

There’s a hint of a possible budding romance, or at least a fond friendship, for Emma, with an attractive male artist. Perhaps that background plot might continue in a next edition of the “Junkin’ Jewelry Mysteries” along with more details about the feline Miriam Haskell?

Andrea McRae is a skilled writer whose voice is perfect for this lighthearted, entertaining, classic cozy.

Emeralds and Envy is great read for any season, I much enjoyed my stolen moments in the springtime sunshine with this one.

Movie Review of A Kiss Before Dying – Robert Wagner . . . 1956

Wow, what a thought provoking plot, in view of the mystery of Natalie Wood’s death a couple of decades later.

Was A Kiss Before Dying a prequel to Roberts later life drama, or simply a trigger for the paparazzi to attack him in pursuit of magazine sales? (You are welcome to share your opinion in the comments section if you like.)

I’ve always wanted to believe the latter, Robert seems such a noble man in Hart to Hart, the show I most associate with him. But this early days role of his shows a sinister side he plays well, the sociopath whom everyone trusts until it’s too late.

Wagner plays character Bud Curliss, a young man obsessed with attaining wealth even if it requires a murder, when plans to achieve it through marriage go awry.

The deceased’s sister stays on the case long after it’s closed by police. The conclusion of her search is quite shockingly appropriate.

This 1956 film is a showcase of classy décor and fabulous fashion of the 1950’s that fans of vintage will cherish. I’d watch it again, just to see the properly fitted, cleverly designed dresses of the ladies, and the well-fitting suits of the gents.

Love the creative camera shots too! The filmmakers of the day did so much without all the digital video tricks of today that seem to stifle original thinking.

*****5 Star Film

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Movie Review: Charade


via Daily Prompt: Suddenly


He touched me . . . and suddenly nothing is the same. The 1960’s song by Barbra Streisand has played in my head all morning since seeing the word prompt for today.

When Cary Grant first touched Audrey Hepburn during the “pass the orange” crowd caper in the movie Charade, nothing was the same between the two for the rest of the film. Soon after the quote I really love occured: Cary (Peter in the film) asks Audrey (Reggie in the film) what’s wrong with him, and she answers poignantly: “Nothing”. Thus the romance begins.

Reggie’s husband was mysteriously killed and the CIA informs her that she must turn in the quarter of a million dollars her husband had stolen. She knows nothing about the theft or the location of the money, but a gang of crooks who want it too pursue and threaten her.

The style and grace of Cary and Audrey are spotlighted as they dash through scenes of danger with charm and humor in this captivating classic – Charade. 

The movie moves quickly, the sensational, surprising ending comes suddenly.

P.S. You won’t want to miss comedian Cary taking a shower — fully clothed in his “drip dry suit”!

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