Mystery Movies Based on Books

Mystery Books Made Into MoviesWhen a movie comes out based on a bestselling mystery book, do you read the book first? Or do you watch the movie first? Or do you not read the book? Do you never watch the movie, thinking it’ll never be as good as the book? I’ve never been one to watch mystery movies based on books.  One instance where I think the TV movie is superior to the book is “Nemesis,” based on Agatha Christie’s book of the same name. The TV movie to which I’m referring was part of BBC’s series of Agatha Christie stories starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. They aired in the mid 1980s through the early 1990s.

Has anyone watched the movies based on Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson? Or read the books? How about the movie Presumed Innocent based on the book by Scott Turow?

I’ve neither seen the movies nor read the books I’ve mentioned above, so I might set myself a project for the coming summer of watching movies based on mystery books. Plus, I’ll read the books. This would be a monumental project, since I have tons of reading already scheduled and other books beckoning me.

I’ve seen the old, black-and-white Perry Mason TV series. But I have never read any of the books by Erle Stanley Gardner. Not reading the books, either before or after, did not lessen my enjoyment of watching the series and, later, some of the movies in which Raymond Burr reprised his role as the Los Angeles attorney.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments about whatever books-to-movies you’ve read and/or watched?

The Rembrandt Decision

The Rembrandt DecisionAt the outset of The Rembrandt Decision, by Seeley James, number 12 in his Pia Sabel mystery series, Phil Jacobsen, the murder victim, and how he died, is known. Why he was killed and by whom takes longer to unveil. Although James plays it close to his authorly vest with subtle clues, who committed the crime becomes increasingly obvious. The why of things takes most of the book to uncover.

Christine Jacobsen, one of the three narrators in this who-done-it, attempts to steamroll the investigation towards Al Devino, a relation, and also part of an organized crime family that wants to invade Deeping, Maine, a small, fictional town where everyone knows almost everyone else. Why doth she protest too much about Devino being the culprit? What further complicates the investigation is that her adopted son, Scott Jacobson, is the town’s police chief. Christine thinks Scott is still a small boy (she continues to call him Scotty) and that she can control him as well as the investigation.

Pia Sabel, of Sabel Security, is in town to investigate if Deeping is a good place to locate Sabel Research Center, a new wing of her conglomerate. Once Sabel offers to assist Scott with his investigation, Christine continually denounces Sabel’s help. Christine declares that Sabel will uncover the town’s “secrets,” even though no one else agrees or even mentions secrets. Christine originally provided the impetus for Sabel’s invitation to view the town, but once Sabel and Scott begin working together, Christine wants her to move on as quickly as possible. Why? What harm can Sabel cause the town by accelerating the pace of the investigation? Or more importantly, cause harm to whom?

Readers learn about Pia Sabel through the other two narrators: Isaiah Reddick, one of her advisors, and Scott Jacobsen, the police chief. Sabel comes across as extremely smart and observant. Very smart, Sabel seems to know something about almost everything. She can be likeable, but also an obnoxious know-it-all.

Although I enjoyed The Rembrandt Decision, it was slow moving for the first two-thirds of the story. For example, a long-winded conversation between Scott and Pia details adoption. This interaction helps Scott grow as a person/character. However, the mystery plot comes to a screeching halt. Similarly, an interaction between Scott, Isaiah and Kubari Eady (who are both Black), underscores white supremacy and how white police handle dealings with minorities. Rather heavy-handed. A third subtext involving unhoused/homeless people. The impression is that those unfortunate enough to have no place to live are either mentally ill or alcoholic, or both. These subtexts could have been treated differently and more succinctly.

The Rembrandt Decision may not be a favorite of mine, but I’ll read others in this series. I’ll also read James’s second series about Jacob Stearne.

This is a repost of a previous review.
Originally posted on 4/3/23

The Rembrandt Decision
By Seeley James
© 2022
Machined Media

Out of Time

Out of TimeIf you like mysteries with an international and luxurious undertone, Out of Time, by Cathi Stoler, is your cup of tea. Or should I say champagne? Marina DiPietro and Nick Donahue are hired to find out who wants to kill or maim Devil Wind, a Kentucky Derby hopeful owned by Adnan bin Haddad, a billionaire from Dubai. Out of Time takes the reader traveling. From New York City to Kentucky horse country to Dubai—even to the Burj Khalifa, an ultra-luxury hotel on its own island.

Donahue is a professional gambler specializing in blackjack. DiPietro, a former MI6 operative, now owns her own private investigator agency in New York City. They solve crimes together and are a couple.

Bin Haddad tells DiPietro and Donahue that he must pay a king’s ransom to protect Devil Wind. Could the trainer or one of the others who care for the horse be in league with the blackmailers? Who is attempting this coercion?

But is that the real problem? Suddenly things get dicier. Bin Haddad is told that Samira, the sister of his trainer, and the daughter of an employee at one of his other businesses, has been kidnapped by Salifi terrorists, a splinter group of ISIS. And they want more than the stated ransom money for Devil Wind. A secret device made by ABH Technologies is now demanded for the safe return of Samira.

Can DiPietro and Donahue coordinate their efforts and solve these seemingly disparate problems? Can they keep the horse and the young woman safe?

Enjoyable Read

Out of Time is an enjoyable read with likeable protagonists. Sometimes this felt like two different plotlines, but Stoler manages to pull them together at the end. Although this is billed as a Nick Donahue adventure, he seemed to take a back seat to Marina DiPietro in this book. I look forward to future additions to this series.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Out of Time
by Cathi Stoler
© 2024
Level Best Books

Nick of Time

Nick of TimeIn Nick of Time, by Cathi Soler, Marina Pietro seduces Nick Donahue, a professional gambler, who’s in Venice to hit the casinos. Who is she and why does she want Nick’s help? Does she really work at Eurotec International, a global insurance company? Or is she really something else entirely? How and why does the deal Nick strikes with Marina to capture jewel thieves go so wrong and get him kidnapped and brutalized? And what do bankers at SuisseBank Ltd. have to do with anything? Are they crooked, too?

Nigel Phillips, a friend of both Nick and Marina, slips and slides in and out of the story. He works for the British government; exactly how is not specified, but most likely in intelligence (MI6). Luckily for both Nick and Marina, Nigel can extricate them from some dicey situations. The opaqueness around Nigel tends to bring Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s brother) to mind.

Nick of Time is a quick and enjoyable read. I enjoyed the characters but feel that Stoler could have provided a smidgen more background to each of the main characters. Also, when Nick goes undercover to a casino in Monte Carlo to catch one of the dicey bankers, the alias he’s given is Roger Moore. Really? Maybe a bit more imaginative thought would have been in order there. But overall, a pleasant, enjoyable, fast-paced read.

I received an advance review copy for free, and this is my honest review of the book.

Nick of Time
by Cathi Stoler
© 2023
Level Best Books

Keeping the Kids Entertained

Keeping the Kids Entertained: At-Home Interactive and Educational Activities

keeping the kids entertainedWhen being outdoors is not an option, turning your home into a vibrant playground of knowledge and creativity. This is a wonderful way to engage with your children. The essence of indoor activities is not just to entertain but to imbue your child’s day with moments of learning, creativity, and emotional growth. By choosing activities that promote both fun and educational value, you pave the way for a well-rounded development within the four walls of your home. This article offers a diverse set of activities designed to keep your child’s mind active and their heart joyful, ensuring each moment spent indoors is as enriching as it is entertaining.

Culinary Creations

Cooking together not only introduces children to the basics of nutrition and food preparation but also incorporates lessons in math and science through measurements and reactions. It’s a hands-on experience that stimulates all senses, fostering a deep appreciation for the art of making meals. As you collaborate in the kitchen, you’re not just making food. You’re crafting memories and skills that will nourish their minds and bodies for years to come.


Encouraging your children to start journaling offers them a private canvas to express their thoughts, creativity, and daily experiences. This activity strengthens their writing skills. It also helps in emotional expression and nurtures their capacity for self-reflection. As they chronicle their adventures and feelings, they develop a habit that enhances mindfulness and emotional well-being, laying the groundwork for lifelong introspection and self-expression.

Artistic Adventures

Create artwork with your children and capture the essence of their creativity by digitizing their masterpieces. Embrace the convenience of a mobile scanning app. Use this to scan a document or any piece of art your child creates. This innovative approach lets you swiftly and effortlessly transform any artwork captured by your device’s camera into a PDF, preserving their creative journey in a modern format.

Dramatic Discoveries

Dramatic play is a powerful tool in a child’s emotional and creative development. Exploring various roles and scenarios fosters empathy, problem-solving skills, and a deeper understanding of the world around them. This form of play is a free expression of creativity, enabling them to experiment with narrative and character, which is essential for developing storytelling skills and emotional intelligence.


Role-playing extends the canvas of dramatic play by specifically focusing on the adoption of characters and navigating through created scenarios. In addition, it not only sparks imagination, but also enhances social skills as children learn to communicate and collaborate within their imagined contexts. Through role-playing, they gain insights into different perspectives. That, in turn, boosts their empathy and problem-solving abilities in a fun and engaging way.

Building Blocks of Imagination

Engaging with building toys offers a hands-on experience with principles of design, engineering, and physics. It promotes spatial awareness, problem-solving, and fine-motor skills, laying a foundation for critical thinking and creativity. Whether constructing simple designs or complex structures, children learn the joy of creating something tangible from their imagination, reinforcing the concept that they can build their dreams into reality.

Trivia Triumphs

Organizing trivia games tailored to your child’s interests and knowledge level and is a stimulating way to infuse learning with fun. This activity not only enriches their understanding of various subjects but also promotes a healthy competitive spirit. Trivia games encourage children to retain information, think quickly, and enjoy the thrill of applying their knowledge in a playful setting.

By crafting a home environment that encourages growth, creativity, and learning, you provide your children with invaluable tools for their development. Each activity suggested here is more than just a pastime; it’s a steppingstone toward cultivating a well-rounded individual who finds joy in learning and expresses themselves creatively. These indoor activities unlock the potential within your child. And ensure that they are well-prepared to explore the world with confidence, curiosity, and a deep love for discovery.

Thanks to Leslie Campos of for another interesting and insightful article.
Dive into the world of indie mysteries and fuel your passion for reading with more book reviews from me in the coming weeks.

Great Love Story

Only Twice, a great love storyOnly Twice by Garrett James is a delightful ode to love that highlights one man’s life and how the simple act of telling one’s story can change another person’s life. The conventional viewpoint is that true love only happens once in a person’s life. But is that really true? Only Twice, a great love story, will convince you otherwise.

By chance, Jon drops down onto a barstool next to Matt Hansen, an older man, who was quietly nursing his whiskey. As Jon downs shots of tequila one after another, Matt looks at him and asks, “One of those days?” Little did either of them know that the outcome of that question would be lifechanging. Jon’s emotional reply of, “It’s been one of those lives,” encourages Matt to tell Jon the story of his life.

War, love, death, and a child, all hit Matt at once and suck him into a maelstrom of emotions that he tamps down to care for his child alone. Would love find Matt, again? Jon is irresistibly drawn into this tale of woe and lost love. But Matt disagrees and tells him it’s not about the losses you have in life. It’s about the love you get and receive. Would Matt’s story turn Jon’s life around?

Check out this tale of love lost and found again at And check out As Long as I Breathe by the same author at his website, (I reviewed this book here.)

As Long as I Breathe

Rarely will you find a love story that will appeal equally to men and women. As Long as I Breathe by Garret James is such a love story. James has brought to life characters that both men and women can enjoy, cheer on, and visualize as themselves in that situation.

Stephanie (Steph) Morgan is caught in an abusive love relationship. Even so, she shows herself to be strong and capable in her role as a single mom who has two jobs to care for Lilianna Rose (Lily), her seven-year-old daughter. She has the stamina to carry on after her fiancé, Matt Peterson, is killed while on duty as a police officer.

Mason Cain seems to be what the outside world wants him to be—a tough, tattooed ex-con who’s led a tough life. No one, except his new acquaintance and neighbor, Steph, has the privilege of seeing his true inner self. As Mason and Steph become better acquainted and closer, Mason’s tender heart comes to the fore. What will they both go through as their love blossoms and deepens, and the jealous, abusive boyfriend goes haywire?

Even the secondary characters are interesting in their own right. Lily is a smart, rambunctious, but well-mannered seven-year-old. Nicholas Canon, a DCI agent, investigates Matt Peterson’s mysterious death.  He’s also a strong and steady influence on Steph and her sister Beth. Can he bring closure to the matter of Matt Peterson’s mysterious death? Wayne and Jo, an older couple whom Mason and Steph meet while they’re on a short vacation, are fun loving and a great influence on Lily.

Well-written adventure

This adventure grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the final page is turned. Well-written characters and a finely tuned, well-paced story will entice you to read about and enter the world of Mason and Steph. And come to the end of the story wanting more.

The book and ebook are out now at

The author has said he sees As Long as I Breathe as the first book in a series. Do you want to read more about Steph, Mason, and some of the other fabulous characters, again? If so, leave the author a message at While there, read about his other book, Only Twice. Also, leaving a review online will persuade the author to continue writing more of this story arc.

To view a video based on this review, visit my YouTube channel.


CreativityFrom Spark to Flame: Building Your Creative Confidence

Creativity is the lifeblood of innovation, driving progress in every field from art to technology. Yet, even the most imaginative minds can encounter periods of stagnation. The key to overcoming these blocks lies in actively pursuing inspiration and cultivating an environment conducive to creative thought.

Refresh Your Space, Refresh Your Mind

The influence of your environment on your ability to think creatively cannot be overstated. A monotonous or cluttered space can stifle imagination, while a refreshing setting can catalyze innovative ideas.

Consider introducing vibrant colors, varied textures, or soothing scents to rejuvenate your workspace. Sometimes, a change of scenery is all it takes to gain a fresh perspective. A day spent working in a bustling café, a serene park, or a different city can provide new stimuli and spark unique ideas.

Crafting a Stellar Resume for Creativity

A meticulously crafted resume is paramount in the journey toward a more creatively fulfilling career. To understand how to write a resume that truly reflects your creative prowess; it’s essential to customize it for each opportunity. Tailor the skills section with keywords matching the employer’s needs, highlighting your most relevant projects and achievements in your professional history and educational background. A resume that resonates with your creative identity can open doors to roles where your imagination can flourish.

Collective Genius: The Power of Collaboration

Creativity thrives in the exchange of ideas. Collaborating with colleagues or friends brings together diverse perspectives, catalyzing innovation. This synergy can arise from structured brainstorming sessions or spontaneous discussions, with each participant contributing unique insights. These collaborative opportunities can lead to unconventional solutions and inspire creative breakthroughs that would be unattainable in isolation.

The Creativity Journal: A Repository of Inspiration

Maintaining a creativity journal is a powerful strategy for nurturing your innovative capabilities. By recording thoughts, observations, and bursts of inspiration, you create a personal repository of ideas that can fuel future projects. This habit captures fleeting inspirations and enables you to discern patterns in your creative thinking, paving the way for deeper insights and more impactful ideas.

Broadening Horizons Through Diverse Interests

Pursuing various hobbies and interests can significantly enhance your creative output. Engaging in activities outside your norm exposes you to new ideas and experiences, enriching your creative palette. From learning a musical instrument to exploring a new sport or academic field, these experiences stimulate your brain, fostering creativity and innovation in your primary pursuits.

The Artistic Influence: Expanding Your Creative Vision

Delving into different art forms profoundly impacts your creativity. Each discipline, whether it’s visual arts, literature, or music, offers unique perspectives and modes of expression, challenging you to explore new ideas. Immersing yourself in the works of diverse cultures and genres broadens your understanding of creativity and can inspire your own innovative thinking.

Playfulness: A Gateway to Creativity

Incorporating elements of play into your routine breaks down mental barriers and opens new pathways for creative thought. Play encourages experimentation and risk-taking, which are essential for creativity. Whether through games, improvisational activities, or imaginative exploration, playful engagement can lead to unconventional problem-solving and groundbreaking ideas.

Mindfulness: Cultivating a Fertile Mind for Creativity

Practicing mindfulness can significantly enhance your creative capacity. Meditation, deep breathing, and mindful observation help reduce stress and clear mental clutter, creating the ideal conditions for creativity to thrive. A regular mindfulness practice sharpens focus and fosters a state of calm, enabling you to access and develop your creative ideas more freely.

Final Thoughts

The path to reinvigorating your creativity is personal and dynamic, requiring a commitment to self-discovery and experimentation. You can unlock the full spectrum of your creative potential by transforming your environment, embracing collaboration, documenting inspirations, expanding your interests, engaging with art, incorporating play, and practicing mindfulness. Remember, creativity is not a static trait but a constantly evolving process. Continue challenging yourself, seeking new experiences, and allowing your creative spirit to grow and thrive.

Thanks again to Leslie Campos of for providing an enlightening guest post.

Image by wayhomestudio on Freepik

Garrett James

If you’d like to read some excellent fiction, check out Garrett James at His writing style is superb, honest and enjoyable.

He and I worked together on two of his books. It was a joy to copyedit and proofread Garrett’s work.

Only TwiceOnly Twice is one man’s coming-of-age story as well as a truly amazing story of love striking one man’s heart twice. This book can be purchased immediately at

Garret’s other book, his debut novel, is As Long as I Breathe. This engaging story is one of love, jealousy, abuse and tenderness. Can a man who’s been viewed as a bad guy and ex-con for most of his life be the one who saves a beautiful, loving woman from an abusive relationship? Can he use his anger, the “beast” inside himself, to show love to this woman and her young daughter? As Long as I Breathe is still going through a revision process and will be available for purchase sometime later this spring.

Based on conversations with Garrett, I foresee a good number of great reads forthcoming over the next several years. So, stay tuned for more from Garrett James. He and I will be working together for a long time to come.

Rebuilding My Website

As you may know, my website and blog weren’t functioning correctly in the past week or so. Since I am not that tech savvy, I had to totally take down my site and rebuild it. Consequently, my previous book review posts are a thing of the past. However, over the next few months I may repost some of them as I have good, old-fashioned printed copies of my previous reviews.

In the meantime, stay tuned for new reviews that hopefully will come with more frequency that I’ve been able to accomplish in the past few months.