Tuesday, February 4, 2014

And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris

And Then You Dye by Monica Ferris
Betsy Devonshire, full-time owner of the Crewel World needlework shop and part-time sleuth, has hooked more than a few crooks in the USA Today bestselling Needlecraft Mysteries. Now Betsy learns the hard way that a murder is still murder, any way you color it…

Betsy is a natural-born yarnsmith—so it’s only fitting that some of her favorite items to stock come from the dye-works of Hailey Brent. Hailey makes hand-dyed knitting wool, silk, soy, and corn yarns. She uses only natural vegetable dyes, creating soft and beautiful colors. Which means her yarns are expensive, but well worth

Unfortunately, someone thinks they’re worth killing for.

When Hailey’s body is discovered shot dead in her workshop, Betsy discovers that there was a lot about Hailey she would have never guessed. Like her penchant for stealing other’s property for her own use. Her use of dangerous additives to create her so-called all-natural fibers. And a scheming mind that had made her more than one enemy.

Now, Betsy must wring the truth from a bevy of colorful suspects. Because the truth just might mean the difference between living—and dyeing…
Leona's Review:
This is the  first book I have read by Monica Ferris; it was recommended to me by a friend. One of the main characters, Ruth Ladwig, has been a good friend of mine for years and she has taught me most of what I know of dyes.
Hailey Brent has been shot to death in her basement where she used to dye fabrics. Mike Malloy is the police detective in charge of the case. Betsy Devonshire, an amateur sleuth, is helping him on the case. The book has lots of activities happening but I feel it helped with the story. Lots of characters, who are defined, so no real confusion when new characters are brought into the book. I have read some reviews and see some of the characters have been in other books but the introductions of the characters made it a stand alone book.
The reader learns about dyes, needlework threads, needlework, plants, coin collecting and places in Minnesota. Betsy lives and has her needlework shop, Crewel World, in Excelsior, Minnesota. It was fun to read about places I knew. The book is great for those who do needlework and love to learn. Monica Ferris has added men who do needlework in the story. Reminded me of Rosey Grier who did needlework. It makes me want to pick up my embroidery and start a new project.
The book does not spend all the time on the murder so we see new characters and even what they feel. Description of food, scenery and clothing help make this book. As always, it is so nice to have a cat or pet in any story. There is a cross stitch pattern in the back oft the book.
I am giving  "And Then You Dye" a 4 star. I checked out this book from my library. I look foward to reading other works by Monica Ferris and I am glad my friend introduced me to this author. A great cozy mystery that is a fast read.
Readers may find Monica Ferris at
Leona Olson

Monday, February 3, 2014

Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard

Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard
A strange meteorite.
A deadly enchantment.
And only Merlin can destroy it.

A meteorite brings a mysterious black stone whose sinister power ensnares everyone except Merlin, the blind son of a swordsmith. Soon, all of Britain will be under its power, and he must destroy the stone—or die trying.
Merlin's Greatest Weakness Could Become His Greatest Strength

When a meteorite crashes near a small village in fifth-century Britain, it brings with it a mysterious black stone that bewitches anyone who comes in contact with its glow---a power the druids hope to use to destroy King Uthur's kingdom. The only person who seems immune is a young, shy, half-blind swordsmith's son named Merlin.

As his family, village, and even the young Arthur, are placed in danger, Merlin must face his fears and his blindness to take hold of the role ordained for him. But when he is surrounded by adversaries, how will he save the girl he cherishes and rid Britain of this deadly evil ... without losing his life?

Book includes location map and detailed character index.
Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard
The book is dedicated: In loving memory of my mother, with thanksgiving for her life and love. Psalm 65 (page 5)
Leona's Review:
This book is about Merlin as a young man. An attack by a wolf has left him scarred and almost blind; Merlin sees blurred objects.
I have always had an interest in Merllin and Arthur. Most books I have read have Merlin as an old man. Arthur is under the age of 2 years old in this book and does not appear until about half-way into the book.
Merlin is the son of a blacksmith, Owain; his mother is dead. He has a stepmother, Monda, and a half-sister, Ganieda.

The leader of the druids, Morganthu, wants the people in the village to back to the old ways and destroy King Uther, the High King of the Britions and the father of Arthur. 
My feelings from the book the story is about good and evil. There is a stone that must be destroyed and it is the destiny of Merlin is to destroy it. The Druid Stone has power: "In the Druid Stone you will fulfill your deepest desires" says Morganthu to Tregeagle, the tax collector.(page 159).
The Stone is "a strange stone that was found by Morganthu at the edge of Lake Dosmurtanlin" (page 431 of the glossary). The Stone is almost an important character of the book.
This book is complicated in so many ways but such a wealth of information. I liked the forging of a sword for King Uther and the descriptions of how the blade is made. (page 203). The prayers and ballads added to the book and helped bring it into the time era.
I have copied the first few lines of a ballad on page 185:
"She struck the strings, smiled at the hustling men, and closed her eyes. A small portion of the power of the bards claimed her and she sang:
They arose- skillful warriors,
From Kembry- Gwyneth Dyn of old.
The young chieftain, Red Brychaid's son,
With his steel blade, ready and bold. "
Some main characters are Merlin; Owain; Natalenya, who Merlin loves; Garth, who lives at the abby and a character I really liked; Dybris, a monk; Uther, the High King.
The letter "V" is used in place of the letter "U" in the titles of the chapters. I liked this feature as it again brought the reader into the time era.
There is violence if the book as expected in the days of swords.
There are two maps (page 419 and 420), a pronunciation guide (page 421) and a glossary of the characters and places in the book (page 422-432). The glossary was so appreciated by this reader. Acknowledgements (page 416)
There are three parts: Part One: Guile's Dust (page 13); Part Two: Shackle's Power (page 109) and Part Three: Blade's Edge (page 223)
Part One:Guile's Dust
Birthed as flame, the Dragon Star falling;
Wrapped in water, the deaf one calling;
Circled in shadow, the bound one weeping;
Maliced evil the banks entombing;
Hidden on hill, there the deep lake lies.
Part Two:
Swift as the moon the white stag running,
Fleet as the owl the hunter hunting,
Sharp as the claw the swift spear striking,
Red as the sun the fresh life flowing,
Leaved in green, there all Britain dies.
Part Three:
Hammered with muscle and bone soon breaking,
Swathed in hellfire the black void quaking,
Pierced by hard light the demons shaking,
Quenched in blood the temper awaking,
Smoke and death, there the bright sword lies.
I received a complimetary copy to read and review from The opinions are my own
I give this a 5 star and recommend it to readers interested in this time period of the Year of Our Lord 407 (page 7) and Merlin.
Leona Olson