Thursday, April 28, 2016

Announcing Step Into A Storybook

The sign post I made my very own self--circa 2014.
I always wanted to run my own bookstore, and since I now have an online bookstore with Amazon,
I decided it was time
for a change.

If I had a brick and mortar store I'd call it
Step Into A Storybook
because I'd have imagination stations for  children's classics from
Mr. McGregor's Garden
to Narnia
to Hogwart's Castle.

I'd have a giant teddy bear where kids could curl up and read in his lap.

I'd have a storytime with Grandma or Grandpa every Saturday morning.
So Welcome!
I hope you enjoy your visit when you
Step Into A Storybook!

Like us on Facebook

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

McScruff: TOP SECRET Agent by Grandma Beans

Chapter 1

            A pair of black binoculars under a brown fedora peeked around the corner of City Mercantile. Scruffy was not the biggest dog ever, but today he wore his lucky trench coat. He practiced agility and stealth by tippy-toeing through crunchy autumn leaves.
            “Special Agent McScruff reporting in,” Scruffy whispered into his wrist communicator. It was really a patch of black fur. “Come on back to me, H. Q.—over.”
            Scruffy loved being a spy. Last month he ordered a spy kit from Amazon. It came complete with disguises, observation equipment, and three kinds of decoders. Yep, Scruffy had everything a good spy needed; everything but friends.
            He had two best friends in the whole world. Well, at least they used to be best friends. Belle, the Beagle lived next door on the right, and Trusty, the Jack Russell terrier lived to the left.

      The three of them spent the entire summer playing at the abandoned farm—together. Now, neither of them had time to play with him. They were always going somewhere or just too busy.
It seemed to Scruffy that Belle and Trusty were always busy at the same time. Maybe they were playing without him. Maybe they were busy. Either way
Scruffy had to make up his own adventures. Today he is a super hero spy.
            “Informant Blab is making his way through this morning’s garbage. Check.” Scruffy snuck across the alley and hid behind the dumpster at City Bank and Trust. His toes made squeaky sounds. He tightened his overcoat. He put his binoculars away and got out sunglasses with a nose and mustache.
            “All quiet at the bank.” Hmm, Scruffy thought. “Maybe too quiet.”
            Just then, two Doberman Pincers backed out of the bank’s front door. They wore black hats and dark glasses. They held guns and bags of money.
            “H. Q. we have a situation, at the bank.” Scruffy ran up behind the bank robbers jumping in the air. He kicked one of the robbers in the chest. He karate chopped the other one just seconds before the police arrived.
            Scruffy grabbed the two dogs by their collars. He tossed them into the dog catcher’s truck. “Here you go officers.” He dusted off his paws.
            “Yay for McScruff. He’s done it again,” the German Shepherds said.
Next, he tried the City Library. Nothing.
            KA-BOOM! The library burst into flames. Scruffy didn’t think twice. With one paw over his mouth and nose he ran into the raging inferno. His super sensitive ears perked up.
            He heard three, no four, whimpering puppies. He ran through smoke and flame and found all four puppies. He rushed them outside as the fire department drove up.
            “McScruff saves the day again,” the Dalmatians shouted. “Hooray for McScruff.”
Next to the library was a park with a playground. He could usually find something to chase; a bug, a stray ball, his tail, or Belle and Trusty, but not today.
            “Wait a minute!” Scruffy dove into the tall hedge that surrounded the City Center Plaza. All the city streets led from the Plaza out like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. A large, marble fountain bubbled and sprayed in the middle of the Plaza.
            Thorns in the hedge scratched and poked at Scruffy. Good thing he wore his trench coat. Fountain mist sprayed the right side of his face. Scruffy didn’t like to get wet. His idea of a bath was rolling around in a pile of dirt.
            The tip of his hat surfaced above the hedge. He aimed his binoculars at the front window of The Perky Pooch Pet Salon and Day Spa.
            “H. Q., this is Special agent McScruff. There’s a lot of activity at the Perky Pooch, this morning—over.”
            He leaned out of the hedge just a little to get a better view through the large front window. A little more. . . just a little bit more. . . and he toppled over the hedge onto the sidewalk across from the salon.
            Scruffy heard giggles coming from inside. Some of the dogs pointed at him. He quickly picked up his hat and binoculars and made a spectacular bow like he meant to do that.
            “Yup, dogs go in, but don’t come out. Something is definitely going on at the Perky Pooch.” Scruffy disappeared behind the hedge. He sat on the marble bench that surrounded the fountain. He pulled out his old newspaper with eye holes cut in it and pretended to read while watching The Perky Pooch.
            He hid behind one of the trees and looked in his mirror when a major bling caught his eye. He hopped inside the mailbox at the curb for a closer look. Squueeeaakk, his binoculars peered out from the trap door at the top of the box.
           Sitting at a wrought iron table outside the City Café was the fanciest animal Scruffy had ever seen. His fur looked like plush red velvet dipped in silver. He threw his head back in laughter at something his lunch companion said. He twisted the largest, curliest black mustache with his left hand.
          “That’s the most ridiculous disguise I’ve ever seen,” thought Scruffy. “At least mine is believable.”
          “Hold on—who’s his companion? It can’t be. That’s Belle. What’s she doing with this character? So this is why she couldn’t play today. I bet he smells like bacon, too.”
           This must be the fox she’s always talking about. Belle said he was a fox, but Scruffy thought she meant he was cute. He’s a real, red-tailed fox. He probably glows in the dark—a real mister fancy pants with his starched collar and cuffs.
          “H. Q., this Special Agent McScruff requesting a background check on one red-tailed fox. He's about four feet tall, wearing gold cufflinks and a laughable mustache—over.”
           Scruffy tried to move the mailbox closer for a better look when he realized he was stuck and stuck good. He pushed his arms side to side, but the box didn’t give. He began to teeter. He held his breath for fear of tipping over. If he fell, Belle would see him and think he was spying on her. She’d never play with him again.
           Scruffy pushed in the opposite direction. He teetered and he tottered like a red, white, and blue robot without legs. He lost his balance and fell over with a loud crash. People eating their lunches at the City Café jumped at the sound and their mouths dropped open. They laughed and pointed at him.
          The fox laughed at him, twisting one end of his mustache. Belle didn’t laugh. She turned her head and shaded her eyes. Scruffy almost wished she had laughed instead. He wiggled out of the top of the box. He hurt more than arms and legs.
           Luckily, his disguise was still intact so maybe no one else knew who he was. He grinned at the lunch crowd, set the mailbox upright, and stuffed some stray letters back in the box. He dove back into the hedge and made a most humble get-a-way.
         “Yep, that mustache is a fake, like the rest of his getup.” Scruffy packed up his gear and went home.

I welcome your constructive comments!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Death on Telegraph Hill: A Sarah Wilson Mystery by Shirley Tallman

Hmm, what do I think of this book? It was a little slow at first but it is everything I enjoy in a book--historical fiction, it takes place in 1882 San Francisco, and mystery--a definite who-dun-it.

Death on Telegraph Hill
A Sarah Woolson Mystery
by Shirley Tallman

The fiercely independent Sarah Woolson is a rare find in 1882 San Francisco--a female attorney with her own law practice. Defying a woman's proper role in society, Sarah is more likely to found in the courtroom that in the drawing room. She is used to murder and mayhem, and will go to any lengths to stand up for what's right--especially when family is involved.
After enjoying an evening listening to the young Oscar Wilde, Sarah and her aspiring novelist brother, Samuel are making their way home with only a single lantern to light their way through the darkness. Suddenly, the sound of a gunshot shatters the quiet night, a bullet striking Samuel. Who could possibly want to hurt him? Was he even the intended target?
Of course, Sarah sets out on an investigation which leads to more questions and more murders.

This book definitely gives you the taste of 19th century
San Francisco without being cumbersome. It feels like I'm right there with them, but in a way I can take life at that time almost for granted, the muddy streets, horse and carriage, and having to climb a lot of stairs, that's just the way things were. I even feel frustrated for Sarah and the prejudices she has to go through to do her job.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Hawkwood: A Regency Crime Thriller by James McGee

The first historical thriller in the
investigator Matthew Hawkwood series,
hunter of thieves, spies, and murderers
in the streets of Regency London.

The year is 1811, and Bow Street Runner
Matthew Hawkwood is ordered by
Chief Magistrate James Read to investigate the double murder
of a coachman and a naval courier on the Kent Road.
Hawkwood is initially puzzled as to why Read is
so concerned by this relatively mundane case, but as his investigation unfolds, another body is discovered and a higher agenda begins to emerge―an attempt by the Emperor Napoleon to bring about a crushing military and psychological blow to Britain, the means of which would bring terror to the seas for years to come...

Hawkwood: A Regency Crime Thriller
by James McGee

I love historical fiction. I love learning about the past by living it through well-written books.
In this book I found the historical aspects to be very accurate, maybe a little too accurate. The author has very strong descriptions, a little heavy-handed in the graphics department, but it definitely put me in the time and place and it is fascinating.
Maybe my imagination is a little too active. I have a difficult time reading or watching squalor. I can smell it. I can feel bacteria growing. Every step through the pages feels like my shoes are becoming contaminated.
Have you ever walked through a pawn shop and felt a layer of dirt form on your skin just from walking through the store?
I couldn't make it through the newest version of Les Miserables.
It was too real.
That was the problem with this book.
It was too real, too graphic in scene and violence for my tastes.
But if you're into that sort of thing
I think you'll find it fascinating as well!
Definitely not for kids.