Thursday, February 21, 2013

February's ARC

We're having record breaking snow here, so it is good that I picked the right book to read this month.  Dear Darcy at Art and Sole is once again preparing for her monthly Artist Reading Club and my entry this month is

This is what the book looks like if you buy it through Barnes and Noble.

  • ISBN-13: 9780446508735
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Series: Regan Reilly Series, #3
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.87 (h) x 1.00 (d)

The specifics of the book are above, but this is a bit misleading, since my publication edition is dated 1995

and published by Time Warner.  My book is also a hardback with a nice dust jacket. This is what my book looks like, and although the cover is decidedly different, the plot is not.

This is the first book I've read by Carol Higgins Clark and I have never read anything by her mother,  Mary Higgins Clark, either.

The plot revolves around Regan Reilly, a private investigator who lives in Los Angeles, but joins her parents, a mystery writing mother, Nora, and funeral director father, Luke, along with some friends, Kendra and Sam Woods, who travel to Aspen, Colorado on a skiing vacation.

Although Regan secretly wishes for a bit of romance on the slopes, there is no hint of a gratuitous sex scene, something I found a bit refreshing.  And speaking of slopes, this book was supposed to be about skiing, but there was not very much of that.  Instead, there were several thefts of priceless and not-so-priceless paintings, including some stolen from Kendra and Sam, whose caretaker, Eben, is also missing.

Everyone except Regan believes Eben is guilty, but Regan refuses to accept this.  After all, she was the one who introduced Eben to Louis, a friend who moved to Aspen and purchased a restaurant where a famous painting would soon be on display.  Add to that, the fact that Louis recommended Eben to Kendra and Sam, and you have an inkling why Regan felt she had to get involved.

Confused?  I guess that is my fault.  I wanted this to be a great mystery, a real page turner, but it left me a bit icy (yes, pun intended).  Although I really enjoyed the bit of history of Aspen I was introduced to by way of Geraldine Spoonfellow, the quirky septuagenarian who is giving a priceless painting to the town and allowing Louis to show in his restaurant, I found her antics a bit confusing and awkward at times, thanks to Clark's writings.

Then there is Ida, the mother of another character, who vacations in Aspen once a year and spends time there working at a dry cleaning establishment, just like she normally works in her home town back east.  Now who goes to Aspen on vacation and works in a dry cleaning establishment?  Well, Ida does, it seems, and she finds a critical clue in the coat pocket left by one of the thieves. From then on, Ida plays a crucial role in taking down the thieves.

I'm not sure how much of this book I'm supposed to expose, but if I were a reviewer, I would give it maybe a two (out of five).  Although I didn't put Geraldine's secret together until it was nearly time for the reveal, I did correctly guess the other art thief long before his identity became apparent.

What was originally known by the reader was that Eben had been captured by two art thieves, one of whom Eben had been with in prison.  What wasn't known was the third art thief, whose identity was revealed in the final pages of the book.  Although I can't recommend this book, I won't give the final showdown away.

So, you ask, what did I like about this book?  I liked that it was quick to read.  It took me less than four hours, and I am NOT a fast reader.  Just ask anyone who ever went to school with me, or whose blog I visit.  I read each and every word.

I also liked the scenes between Ida (the dry cleaning sleuth) and Regan.  They were honest and informative, far more so than anything Clark wrote about the ski slopes.

I didn't like the cheesy dialogue, or the attempt at humor Clark imparts on her readers.  And even though it was a quick read, it was not fulfilling.  I thought there was too much fluff for the book to be a best seller.  As with many books of this type, both the central and supporting characters are used to invoke comic relief.

Mystery writers would probably call this genre a "cozy."  According to Wikipedia,
Cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as "cozies," are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. The term was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

So this cozy deserved a cozy.  A cozy in the form of a wall hanging, that is!

I decided to make a cozy art quilt collage.  I began by gluing real poinsettia leaves to a piece of fabric I scrunched together at one point.  I also used some of my hand dyed fabric to represent the mantle of a ski lodge on which the poinsettia plant would sit.  Poinsettias were often referenced at the ski lodge and in Louis's restaurant, as well as the homes of the Reilley's and the Woods'.  To balance this, I added the bit of dark blue above the mantle to represent the icy weather conditions.

Using a chocolate wrapper as inspiration, I created a snowflake, only my second ever, and very appropriate for today.  I know it left much to be desired, but this is an art quilt, not a work of art.

Next, I auditioned all the pieces and chose the spots for each of these  pieces.  Then I backed each piece, except the large background, using wonder under.

Sadly, when I did, all the gel medium I applied to the outside of the poinsettia leaves came off on my iron and the leaves turned dark and brittle in spots.  Too late to turn back,

I sewed all the pieces to the substrate, then added the backing.  Both the front and back fabrics were made from old bed sheets.  I've mentioned before how inexpensive it is to purchase old bed sheets at thrift stores or garage sales, or to pluck from your own linen closet once the sheet has outlived its life expectancy.  Far cheaper in fact, than buying even one yard of good muslin!

This is what the art quilt looks like when I scanned it.  The main part of this piece is about 8 inches by 10 inches.  And since Darcy has been so good to me, I plan to send it to her as my way of thanking her for adding my name to the list each month.  She didn't have to do that, and I appreciate her.  As soon as I have Darcy's address, it will be on its way to her.

I also want to thank those of you who visited me last month, even though I was unable to do the same.  I'll be around to visit this month, though.  It's a promise!

Now it goes without saying, please see what the other ARC members have to say this month.

37 thoughtful remarks:

Halle said...

Nice art quilt..even though it didn't turn out as you had expected.
Hope your computer woes are nearly over. I've been "away" from the computer quite a bit myself.

Jay said...

sounds like a decent book to read when there 12 feet of snow

Leialoha said...

Love this art quilt...especially with the petals...I think it adds so much organic texture to the fabric...and the snow flake sparkle is a beautiful contrast.

Shirley said...

Your book doesn't sound like it was a page turner that gripped you which I think a 'mystery' should do. Thanks for a great review. Loving your book inspired Art Quilt. The colours really do say snowy chilly ski slopes.

Marksgran said...

Hi, I've not commented before but I have 'seen' you over at Voodoo Vixens blog! I just wanted to say to you not to judge Mary Higgins Clark by her daughter! Carol's books are awful compared to Mary's. I've only read two of Carols and they were thin on plot to say the least (I didn't even finish one of them it was so bad), Mary's books are much much better, although some are better than others but read some of her early works and I'm sure you'll be much more 'fulfilled' lol. Hope you don't mind me sayin! x ps quilt looks lovely!

San @ Made in Hem said...

Oh, I ♥ your Art-quilt! I'm always a bit scared of them but would love to make one... This doesn't seem all that complicated. I think I can manage. Thanks for showing how you made it!!! ♥
I'm sorry your book wasn't all that great... Hopefully next month is better! :)

Sarah said...

I've never heard of the genre of "cozy mysteries", but your book defnitely seems to fit that description, a pity you found it a bit disappointing

as for your art quilt, I think your leaves look more wintry following the little ironing mishap, so that worked out well :) and how generous of you to send it on to Darcy

Gina said...

Perfect review, shame you didn't enjoy it as much as you hoped, but your art quilt is fabulous, haven't worked in fabric like that, sounds great fun :D XXX

Stephanie Corder said...

I love the way your quiltlet turned out and how you kept adjusting it even when things didn't turn out the way you planned with the Poinsettia (I actually like the way it looks with that slightly crumbly effect!) And Darcy is one lucky lady to get such a beautiful piece.
So glad you're back! I'm *trying* to be back too, when life doesn't get in the way!

see you there! said...

It sounds like the best thing to come out of the book is the inspiration for the quilt. I do think the art represents the setting for the story.


Craftymoose Crafts said...

You did a fine job of representing this disappointing book into an expression of art. I have read one or maybe two of CHC's books, but I think they pale in comparison to MHC's books.

BJ said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and my A to Z adventures, been busy with it and harbouring a nasty cold on top, feel quite poorly too. Still showing off my altered book to people, I love it.

Darcy said...

Great review, I had never heard the term 'cozy' applied to a book before. Shame the book was not 'more' but it definately inspired you to make a lovely piece of art. x

lorig said...

I have not read anything by either Carol or Mary and based on this review will not likely start with Carol's work. I do enjoy mysteries and even cozy mysteries though I had never heard that term before. The art quilt is wonderful.

Marilyn Rock said...

Very pretty collage quilt Elizabeth! Stay safe and warm with the snow. xxoo

Jenny said...

Beautiful wall hanging Elizabeth... lovely layering... and the book sounds a little disappointing... good that it was a short read then...

Jenny ♥

Janet said...

I think your choice of an art quilt very original to depict this book. Shame it was only a 2 out of 5 story but your artwork certainly elevates s it from being banal.

Janet xx

~*~Patty S said...

It is is always interesting and fun to along on your creative adventures Elizabeth and get to enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Hope you are doing OK in all of that snow and that your computer problems will be completely solved...

What a lovely surprise to see you'd come to my Magpie's Nest to visit ... I've missed you!

The scuffed beads you asked about were centers for the string of embroidered daisies. In real life they stick out quite a bit, just not in the one photo I decided to post.

Happy Weekend to you

Jez said...

Even though it was an accident the leaves look good, and perhaps represent your failing interest as the book progressed. My March book is awful and it's so hard to think of artwork when you don't like a book. So I think you met the challenge marvellously with your quilt.

Stefi J said...

I didn't realise Mary Higgins Clark had a writer daughter. I've read a few MHC ( but now i'm wondering if i've read a mix of the two and not twigged the differnt first names)

I've also never heard the term cozy applied to a book either. the art looks fab as well

Stefi J said...

I didn't realise Mary Higgins Clark had a writer daughter. I've read a few MHC ( but now i'm wondering if i've read a mix of the two and not twigged the differnt first names)

I've also never heard the term cozy applied to a book either. the art looks fab as well

Jen said...

Nice piece of art work. Your review makes me think I won't add this book to my reading list. Well done you for finding the inspiration in it for your quilt.
Jen x

NatashaMay said...

The quilt is looking great. And I too hat it when I figure things out way before the characters do. It just makes them look stupid. :)

abby j said...

Sorry you didn't enjoy your cozy mystery...but your art quilt certainly doesn't reflect that!! Thanks for the honesty and the beautiful art!!

laurie said...

I have never heard of a "cozy" - interesting book trivia. Your art quilt seems to embody many aspects of the story you read. Great review. :-)

Virginia said...

Mmmm not a book for me by the looks of it however I am loving that art quilt - simply beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Nicely done.Darcy will be pleased.

XX Rachel XX

Tracey Fletcher King said...

I remember reading Mary Higgins Clark back when I was a teenager and being quite obsessed with them... but not sure this one is for me, though I liked your review... gave me a good idea about it... like your quilt though... that is as special as I would expect of your stitching...xx

Liverpool Lou (Anne) said...

Hi Elizabeth, I did pop by not so long ago but I'm having problems quite often in the evenings doing anything online pages taking for ever to load then error message saying page isn't available. I think it's due to the telephone exchange hereabouts as I live in a small town and don't think the exchange has been updated :-(
Love the little 'cozy' (cosy to me) quilt. I did mention in another post that Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favourite authors but the only thing I've partially read of Carol's is a short story she wrote with her mother, titled Santa Cruise. I didn't get very far as it wasn't to my taste; totally different to Mary Higgins Clark's own style - I would recommend her.
Anne x

Just Words said...

Beautiful wall hanging. I'd never heard the term "cosy mystery" either. Nor have I read anything by this author. Thanks for the thoughtful review and the information. Michelle V.

SusieJ said...

Loving the art quilt....gorgeous work.
Thanks for the honest book this month was a "cozy" too.
I've tried this writer (and her mother) and was't impressed either.
Hugs xx

Gina Shillitani said...

I'm sorry you didn't like your book! I used to read Mary Higgins Clark years ago but then her books became boring to me so I stopped reading them. I love your art quilt! What a clever idea!!!!

Teri said...

Good review, I appreciate an honest opinion. And what a cool idea to do a fabric collage!

Kerry said...

I've not read either mother or daughter but I do love mysteries so I may have to give them a try. Thanks for being honest in your review. It always helps in making a choice. Loving the artwork.

Carmen said...

I've read a couple of Mary Higgins Clark books and find they are a bit hit and miss too. (My Mum had a stack of them from a charity shop spree!) So maybe some of Carol HC's other books are better too... and maybe not :)

Love your quilt and I like the weathered look of the leaves :) What a lovely thing to do in sending it on to Darcy.

Alison xx said...

I love your quilt art. I too like the leaves. The term cozy mysteries, is such a good description to know. A xx

Maz said...

Although I've read a few Mary Higgins Clark books (and enjoyed them I seem to remember), I've never read any by Carol - and I don't think I will be! Your art quilt is great though and I like how the leaves turned out in the end. x