The Skeletons of Birkbury by Diana J. Febry

A few weeks ago I posted a review of Bells on her Toes where I stated that my only disappointment was that I hadn’t read The Skeletons of Birkbury first. And Voila! Due to the wonders of the internet and kind authors, I have a new review for you…

This is one of those times where I’m just going to say we really shouldn’t judge the book by it’s cover. I mean look at the skeleton hand tree- that’s creepy and weird right? I didn’t even notice it at first glance. I just thought it was a really weird tree, but no, it’s a creepy weird tree. But I have great news for those of us who spend the Halloween season looking at our toes to avoid having to look at creepy weird decorations.

This book is neither creepy or weird.

In fact because it was so non-creepy, and quite the opposite of weird, I would say that you really should read it.

Once again Febry has written a story with enough suspense and drama that it will cause you to hold up your hand to your husband saying “Shhh- just hold on a second” while you finish a section. And, once again, she has done it with fascinating characters and investigations rather than insane murderers and gory scenes.

Would I recommend it?  Yes, the book is completely lacking in skeleton hand trees and instead packed with a web of fantastic people and what makes them tick. Once again- my kind of mystery!

(If we are going to be all technical about things this book comes before Bells on her Toes so my “Once again…”‘s should have said something like, “Before she wrote that other really great book that I read first, she wrote this one which I should have read first and…” But that was too wordy – even for me. )

This honest review was given in return for a free copy of the book from its author.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

Clara had just gotten her hair cut.

If you don’t know Clara you should pop over and read That Girl… to familiarize yourself with my fantastic middle daughter who’s known more for her death defying tricks than her fashion conscious lifestyle. 

She waltzed out of the hair salon with her newly cut, styled and glittered hair and as she buckled up in the truck I looked back at her and said, “Clara, I like your braids!”


“Yeah,” she said with a toss of her head, “they’re French.”

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

When I read Divergent I could understand why the books have gained such a following. But I also knew that while I enjoyed both the characters and the writing, I didn’t love the plot. No, actually it wasn’t the plot, it was the gimmick that was the crux of the plot. No… Awww heck. I try not to ever give much for details on a book but I give up. It was the serum induced sleepwalking, zombie soldier thing. I’m just not into mass serum induced invasions. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with it, it’s just not my thing. Maybe you’re cool with sleepwalking soldiers, and in that case I think you’ll probably really enjoy the book.

When I read Insurgent I had come to terms with the whole, we inject people with serums to get them to do crazy stuff, thing and thoroughly enjoyed the story.

Then I read Allegiant and found I was wearing cranky pants.

Because, suddenly, in the third book, we’ve introduced chapters from a second point of view. So, already I feel like perhaps this is a precursor to a plot twist that wasn’t thought out very well. Why now? Why wasn’t this alternate view scattered throughout the series? Then I read more and became glad it was contained in the last book. Because adding it in was irritating and odd but what was awful was that the two characters didn’t have distinct “voices.”

I love switching between points of view in a novel. I love “hearing” the inner workings of a new mind, getting new views, more insights. This was more like getting new eyes on the same mind. To the point where if there wasn’t enough character dialogue with names involved, I’d have to recheck who was narrating.  After flying through the first two books in days, I found this maddening to the point that it took me over a week to read the third book!

And the plot, which I had respected but hadn’t loved (it’s just that serum thing…), got… loose? Thin? Stretched? Simplified?

The world blossomed in Allegiant! The last book opened up back stories, future possibilities, more characters and character insights, it pushed characters to their limits and it filled in blanks from the first books but, judging by the first two books, I don’t think the author did it the justice that she could have.

It was disappointing.

Would I recommend it? No! Because the last one was so annoying it ruined everything!


Hold on.

Let me just give these cranky pants back to my brother (they are obviously his) and think on this some more.

I think that if you’re ok with serum induced, sleepwalking, zombie soldiers you should for sure read the first two. I really liked the characters and watching what happened to them as their world pushed them. And then, because you can’t just leave it hanging, you should take a big breath, brace yourself, focus on the people and how they react under pressure and read the last one.

But don’t say I didn’t warn you.


The Three Year Old Way

So far as I can, tell the main difference between two year olds and three year olds is that three year olds talk more.

A lot more.

Let’s say you were driving in a car with a two year old and she demanded water but there wasn’t any. You would tell her that there was no water and then there would be a high probability that pouting and screaming would follow. It would be loud, dramatic, completely unreasonable and involve lots of foot flailing on the two year olds part and teeth gritting on the mother’s part and then it would be done.

That’s the two year old way.

However, if you were driving in a car with a three year old and she demanded water but there wasn’t any, it might go something like this…

Jane: “I’m thirsty.”

Me: “Sorry, I don’t have any water.”

Jane: “Can I have some water please.”

Me: “No Jane, I don’t have any water.”

Jane: “PLEASE, can I have some water.”

Me: “Jane. I don’t have anything to drink in the car or I would give you some but I don’t have anything.”

Jane: “Mom, I’m thirsty!”

Me: “I know.”

Jane: “Can I have some Diet Coke.”

Me: “I don’t even have any Diet Coke. I don’t have anything to drink. See?” (As I hand back all available empty liquid containers so she can see for herself.)


Me: “When we get home you can have some, sure.”

Jane: (crying) “Please can I have some water.”

Me: “As soon as we get home.”

Jane: “Mom? Can we go to the gas station?”

Me: “Well there aren’t any gas stations here and anyways I forgot my wallet so I don’t have any money with me to  buy anything to drink.”

Jane: “Please can we go to the gas station?”

Me: “All there is between here and home is cornfields and I don’t have any money to buy anything. So, we’ll get water at home.”

Jane: “I’m THIRSTY!!!”

Me:  …..

Jane: “Please can I have water.”

Me: ….

Jane: “MOM! I NEED WATER!!!!!”

Me:  “Seriously, I have nothing! I can’t get anything, we’ll be home soon, you just have to wait!”

Jane: “PLEASE!!!!!!”


Thirty minutes of this continual and terrible conversation later you’d be twenty minutes past the point where your sanity chose to jump into a snowy ditch and abandon you but you’d be home, getting the kid an *&#% drink of water.

That’s the three year old way.

And they call it the terrible twos…



Dead Bees On Snow!

I was out walking the dogs on a bright sunny afternoon, enjoying the relative warmth after our recent cold snap, when I checked on the beehives.  Even from a distance, I could tell that the ground around the hives was littered with dead bees and I smiled as I went to take a closer look.dead bees in the snow

I smiled, not because I’m the world’s meanest beekeeper, but because I know that dead bees on snow are a sign that the hives are still alive and well.

The bees, unable to fly out at all when it gets very cold, wait for warm winter days when they can take short flights outside as they clean out their hive. When the snow around the hive is littered with droppings and dead bees it may look like a massacre but it’s actually a very good sign.

Sure enough, when I looked a little closer, someone was looking back at me!bee peeking out of hive in winter

There is still a lot of winter left but I’m crossing my fingers and hoping to keep seeing dead bees on snow through the rest of it!