Tag Archives: scrapbooking

Joanna Campbell Slan’s Photo, Snap, Shot

Today’s long overdue post focuses on Photo, Snap, Shot by Joanna Campbell Slan (author site at http://www.joannacampbellslan.com/). Photo, Snap, Shot is the third in the Kiki Lowenstein scrapbooking series (series site at http://www.joannacampbellslan.com/kikilowenstein.php). An excerpt of this book is available at http://www.youpublish.com/files/29654/Photo,-Snap,-Shot.

Product description: Old money and tradition are the hallmarks of the St. Louis prep school that Kiki Lowenstein’s daughter Anya attends. But the elite academy is stamped with scandal when Anya finds the dead body of teacher Sissy Gilchrist in its elegant theatre. Even worse, Anya might have seen the killer.

Pegged as a shameless flirt and a lousy teacher, Sissy would’ve made everyone’s “least popular” scrapbook page. Especially for those who were seeing red over Sissy’s mixed-race romance with a colleague. Fearing her daughter is in danger, Kiki sifts through the school community’s many shocking secrets to pin down the murderer, while doing all she can to avoid starring in her own memorial album.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure that I could relate to a character named Kiki Lowenstein. I didn’t read this book when I first received it, which is very unusual for me. I love scrapbo0king, but I was really unsure what to expect. Those preconceived reader notions are important here because that made this book an even more interesting read; it turns out that Kiki has a similar problem in it. She clearly has a chip on her shoulder when it comes to the “Old Money” people of St. Louis. Kiki’s cast of suspects reads like the who’s who of the society pages, making Kiki herself very uncomfortable as she has to confront her own prejudices. As Kiki pulls her shoulders back and tackles that chip, we explore each woman (as a suspect or potential friend) as Kiki comes to know her and learn that she is more than an archetype. As Kiki grew into a more open and accepting person, I grew as a reader; I learned to relate to a character that I had perceived (unjustly?) as very, very different than I.

And while I don’t want to give too much away for future readers, I do want to explore the plot just a bit. This mystery focuses on a dead body that Kiki’s daughter Anya discovers. Kiki is determined to protect her daughter so she spends her spare moments between work at a scrapbook shop and running her daughter to golf practice getting to know the elite society of St. Louis so that she can solve the crime and keep the focus away from her daughter. What she uncovers, though, is a deeply embedded racism that affects everyone tied to the private school where the murder victim taught and Anya attends. This exposure of the institutional racism in elite society and in private schooling is another thing that makes this book more than just a “cozy,” makes us grow instead of just read.

I enjoyed this book. The scrapbooking tips built into the story were fun, and it was nice to read about a hobby I enjoy. I hope to read the others in the series. I was lucky enough to receive this book as a gift from the author for review purposes, but the review is honest, and I do recommend the book. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Happy Reading!

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Photo Finished by Laura Childs (finally!)

While reviewing my account recently, I saw that the Sony eReader Bookstore had finally fixed Laura Child’s Photo Finished (depite not having notified me). So, I immediately downloaded it and put it in my Unread file. Last week, I got to read it, and I really enjoyed it. Readers of my blog might remember that I did not particularly like the first in this series, despite my high expectations since I love scrapbooking and Laura Childs is a best selling author. So, when this book wasn’t available and I had received my refund, I really put it out of my mind, not expecting much. It has simply been a book I picked up for the Cozy Mystery Challenge.

I tell you all this as a preface to, wait for it, I LOVED Photo Finished. I was very glad I eventually returned to it. And, I am very glad I read it.

Photo Finished  is the second in the Scrapbooking Mystery series. The author’s website describes the books as follows: What could be more fun than an all-night crop at Carmela’s scrapbooking shop?  As ideas on rubber stamping, hand-tinting photos, and decorating album covers are shared, scrapbookers also help themselves to hurricane rum drinks, jambalaya, and homemade praline pie.  Spirits run high and the soft New Orleans night buzzes with excitement.  But when Bartholomew Hayward, the shady antique dealer from next door, is found sprawled in the back alley with a scissors jammed in his neck, it looks like the work of a very crafty killer.

This book did not do what I really didn’t like in the first, which is focus more on New Orleans and Mardi Gras rather than scrapbooking. It did still focus a lot on food, and it includes several recipes in the back, but since I like food mysteries, that didn’t put me off as much as did in book one. Instead, this book really focused on the scrapbookers and the murder mystery. It was a super quick read with many funny moments. I will actively read the next one!

Happy Reading!

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Filed under Cozy Mystery, Cozy Mystery Challenge 2010

Keepsake Crimes by Laura Childs

Cover of Keepsake CrimesFor my first book of the Cozy Mystery Challenge, I chose Keepsake Crimes (2003) by Laura Childs. I picked this book from the Cozy Mystery website which organizes mysteries by themes. I was very interested in a scrapbooking theme since scrapbooking is a hobby of mine.

This was the first book in a series of seven so far. It focuses on Carmela Bertrand whose estranged husband Shamus is evidently suspected of murder. Carmela owns her own scrapbooking store, Memory Mine, where we meet her merry band of friends, including an interesting BFF Ava.

The setting of the book is New Orleans during Mardi Gras. And, that for me, was the biggest problem of the book. I picked it up for its “scrapbook theme” and found that the details about New Orleans and Mardi Gras would have really qualified that (New Orleans / Mardi Gras) as the theme. I just wasn’t quite as interested in the parade and mask making details as I was the scrapbooking. And, while I love cooking themed cozies like those by Joanne Fluke, I didn’t expect the recipe details or the recipes included in the back of the book. It just seemed like way too much. I wanted one (scrapbooking) without the other.

The other real issue that I had with the book is that I didn’t find much mystery. Yes, Shamus is suspected of murder, but Carmela does not investigating / solving except for one scene when she follows a man to a hotel and finds out that he is having an affair with the deceased’s wife.

Having gotten the bad out of the way, I did find that I liked Carmela more toward the end of the book after seeing her worry about her dress / looks compared to a friend and tangle with her emotions about the maybe-to-be ex hubby. Those moments left her feeling younger and more easy to relate to.

I am going to try the next in the series Photo Finished before I give it up. I did read one scrapbooking technique about weaving that I had not seen before and would like to try. If it is as eloquent as Carmela claims, that will have made the read worth it alone.

Happy Reading!

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Filed under Cozy Mystery, Cozy Mystery Challenge 2010, Reading for Fun