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Two Short Story Murder Mysteries for Halloween

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Oct 07, 2015

As we inch closer and closer to the spookiest time of year, New Englanders are beginning to get in the mood for scary costumes, carved pumpkins and other fun entities that tie in with the theme of October.  For me, I love twisting my creative writing around stories that revolve around mystery and mayhem, a pretty big change from my genre of children’s fantasy poetry.  As a native Bostonian, I particularly enjoy developing storylines that use the stunning picturesque images that are synonymous with autumn in New England.  If you’re a mystery book reader, you’ll know what I’m getting at because there’s no shortage of these titles.  Why is it that the industry doesn’t become over saturated with “who done it’s” based on this area?  The reason is because they’re rich with colorful detail and authentic spooky charm!  We are invested more when we read something that connects us to a story having relatable aspects such as background, characters or familiar settings. Just take a look at Stephen King who has successfully seduced his fans by cleverly by incorporating many distinguishing features of Maine within his thrillers.  


New England is a place full of mysterious potential and possesses a long history of fascinating folklore, some true and some made up.  Plots can be manufactured from actual facts or completely concocted from our imaginations.  Recently, I’ve written two short stories that are based on people, places and things that are identifiable with the cultural aspects of New England.  Take a peek if you’re looking for a little fright this season!


A Deadly Game of Jigsaw

Beth has just lost her job as a Manhattan columnist and has no choice but to return to the home of her grandmother, Lily, where she spent her summers as a child.

Becoming re-accustomed to the pace of the quaint New England town proves difficult at first until an ancient puzzle piece is found in her room. Scripted in Latin with the word “Letum” meaning death, the plot thickens when an intruder breaks into the mansion, assaulting Lily and leaving behind another peculiar clue. With time running out, the women begin their hunt to track down the person behind the mystery and be the first to win at the deadly game of jigsaw.


A Flower To Die By


It’s Valentine’s Day once again in the city of Boston and florists are gearing up for a busy holiday that is until the owner of Delicately Yours Flower Shop, Reuben Crench, is found dead in the ice chest.  As the case unravels, the victim is discovered to have ingested a large amount of digitalis, ironically traced to his own shipment of flowers.  Detective Mike Hinkley has his work cut out for him with a long list of suspects including disgruntled employees, a competing local floral business, an angry wholesaler and a cheating husband. Will he be able to find the killer in time to save Valentine’s Day?                                     

Download it free here.

Tags: Author, Books, Suzie Canale, Libraries

Three Good Reads About Flowers 

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Sep 14, 2015

September is a time when the kids go back to school, the air turns cool and nights are starting to darken early again.  It’s also the time when we pick up those books that we were too busy to read over the summer, which have been piling up in our bookshelves.  For me, the first titles I’ll be perusing are those thematic after my favorite hobbies such as cooking, painting and flower arranging of course!  The literary industry is bursting at the seams with compilations teaching you the basics from filling a vase with water to designing beautiful floral pieces using the hottest cut stem varieties.  There are even books that teach you about the in’s and out’s of the floral business including product transportation, market branding and price variations (for those of you eager to dive deeper in the subject matter).  Here are a few of my favorites that I hope find their way to your library or nightstand tables!



As if the cover wasn’t reason enough alone to pick it up off the shelf, this stunning picture book showcases spectacular images of both rare and traditional flowers.  Written by Carolyne Roehm, the photographer captures the seasonal changes of gardens and their magnificent characteristics of shade and texture!  The book release date was November 6, 2012 and can be found on websites such as Barnes and Nobles and

Flower Arranging: The Complete Guide for Beginners

You might think you have to be an expert to be a flower arranger but that’s simple not true! Judith Blacklock takes you through a step-by-step guide to explain how to successfully manipulate design with cut flowers.  Using a multitude of different textures, sizes and color, readers will be impressed by the simplistic approach as well as the creative options available to flower lovers!

The Flower Recipe Book

This fabulously chic guide takes readers down the path of floral design in a quirky yet fun manner!  All the arrangements are shown as a cooking recipe where the floral supplies (including the actually stems) are all part of a recipe.  Written by Alethea Harampolis, the concepts are directly taken by the top designers in the country of Choo Studios.  Enjoy and get cooking with flowers
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Tags: Floral Design, Books, Flowers

A Summer Book Recommendation for a Real Plant Lover

Posted by Suzie Canale on Tue, Aug 11, 2015

It’s summertime and this season tends to be the time when we put a little extra “oomph” into reading more.  Although our schedules slow down and we’re apt to take some vacation time, it’s the perfect opportunity to stimulate our minds with material that we can enjoy and learn from!  Mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, historical, sports and a thousand other genres pique the curiosity of avid book lovers which all offer the gift of both educating, entertaining and exciting whoever browses through their pages.  Ordinarily, I’m a James Patterson or Elin Hilderbrand fan but lately I’ve been experimenting with dramatic fiction including the titles, “Lost in the Sun”, “Fangirl”, “Eleanor and Park “ and my recent conquest, “Sure Signs of Crazy”.  This last one I really enjoyed (although the others are fantastic too), because for one thing, it was incredibly well written (author’s name is Karen Harrington) and second, the main character’s best friend just so happens to be a plant!  If you’re confused I’ll fill you in a bit…

Sure Signs of Crazy” is a story about a twelve-year-old girl named Sarah who struggles with the tragic truth of having a mentally insane mother.  Ten years ago, she was institutionalized for murdering Sarah’s twin brother at the age of just two by drowning him in the kitchen sink.  The main character survives the incident but is now left with an alcoholic father who is vacant at best and incapable of realizing his daughter’s need to come of age.  That all changes during the summer going into seventh grade when our heroine takes control and forces her family to cope with the past and move on.  Now this might seem a little depressing but here’s the interesting part…

Having incredible writing skills (Sarah pens letters to Atticus Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird” for a school assignment which ends up being therapeutic to her deeper understanding), she lacks ease with verbal communication and naturally befriends a plant.  Now you’d think the plant would just sit there and wilt but the author brilliantly personifies it to have opinions, likes and dislikes.  Harrington introduces situations where the plant is exposed to alcohol and feared to become “sick” as well as neglected and “lonely”, all things we know a pe plant was a real person.  My favorite example of this is seen when Sarah attempts to run away but is fearful of the needs of her plant.  She decides to dig a hole in the ground for her friend and describes this procedure where she clearly identifies with the plant as having human physical features:

“I placed her into the hole and pressed the old dirt around her waist.  I kneel at her new spot and try not to cry.  Tell her all the cool things she will be able to see from this view.”  (page 225-226)

As the book continues, she begins to open up to more person to person connections including her neighbors, grandmother, father and even her mother.  We learn through unpeeling the layers surrounding the little girl’s life that she is not the meek character from the beginning and in fact is a strong young woman who the world eagerly awaits to read her own words.  The reader is probed into believing that her friendship with the plant is at least partly responsible for this breakthrough.

Try “Sure Signs of Cralant is incapable of feeling.   In several passages the plant disagrees with Sarah and at other times, requests its caretaker to turn it around for appropriate sun as” for a fun yet intriguing read this summer!

Tags: Books, #EXFL, Plants, Summer

Best Valentine’s Day Children’s Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sun, Feb 01, 2015

Children have amazing little minds because they often learn the first key components of a new concept through words and images found in picture books.  For my five-year-old son, it was books where he learned all about Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween including the colors and traditions associated with these holidays.  Now that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I’ve made a conscience effort to search far and wide for the best picture books, which explain this time for red and pink hearts.  I look for stories that have a clear story, are simple enough to apply to things he actually sees around him and ones that contain illustrations which legitimately reflect common images related to Valentine’s Day.  Incredibly enough, more and more authors are choosing to write about February 14th making it easier for us parents to select the right material appropriate for our children.  After carefully reading the selection available in my local library I came up with these beautiful children’s books that are perfectly paired with the spirit of Valentine’s Day. 


Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse

By Laura Joffe Numeroff

From the author of, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” is the Valentine’s Day inspired board book, “Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse”.  Geared towards toddlers and early reading youngsters, mouse begins to make his valentines for friends and then explains the reasons why he loves them each.  The story is very simplistic to understand and contains bold illustrations that are easy to follow along with the story. 


Llama Llama I Love You

Anna Dewdney


Another hit series writer, Anna Dewdney, writes and illustrates this lovely holiday accompaniment to her other “Llama Llama” books with a fresh and sweet story about giving hugs and hearts for Valentine’s Day.  Published as a board book, this is great for the young readers who are learning to sound out words and also a great gift for the teeny weenie reader who may have destructible hands. 


The Land of Chocolate Cosmos

Suzie Canale

“The Land of Chocolate Cosmos” is filled with a delicious “chocolate” theme, which we all know is symbolic of Valentine’s Day.  Written with a sweet message regarding the importance of recycling, kids will drool over the scrumptious images illustrated by Kevin Coffey while learning a valuable lesson about preserving our natural resources.   This is a wonderful book for kindergarteners through 2nd grade.

suzie_c Suzie and Ryan Canale, Boston 2014

In addition The Land of Chocolate Cosmos, Suzie has published three other children's books. They are available to purchase at Exotic Flowers in Boston or available at The Westwood Public Library.

Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Kids, #EXFL, Valentines Day

How To Survive A Snow Day

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jan 26, 2015

The snow is piling up outside and inch-by-inch the outlook doesn’t look so hot.  Your family is crowded around the television listening intently to see whether or not school will be closed for the day.  Kids are getting excited while mom and dad shake their heads in fear of the fatal news and then it happens…school is officially closed due to inclement weather.  You start to panic as your children cheer “Snow Day!” with zeal and you wonder how you will make it through a twenty-four hour period trapped in the house?  It’s a familiar situation for many Bostonian families as the winter is flung into full gear.  Blizzards, ice storms and frigid temperatures are all part of the New England package but don’t fret yet.  There are a few sure fire tips to surviving these messy predicaments that will allow you and your children a comfortable, stress free and (dare I say), fun snow day together!



I don’t care what other experts say, food is key to surviving a snow day so make sure that you’ve made a trip to your grocery store before the storm hits.  Stock up on munchies like chips and ice cream, something that is a special treat that you don’t ordinarily buy on a regular basis.  Water, fruits and veggies of course are a staple, but make sure that you have some fun nibbles.  Foods that make the house smell good are also a great idea like pot roasts, Crockpot dishes and marinara sauces.  Baked goods like cupcakes and cookies that you can make together are also smart choices and will help to entertain the troops if boredom sets in.



Never underestimate the power of playing games to whisk away the hours while still spending quality time together.  My favorites are Clue, Sorry, Monopoly, Parcheesi and Scrabble.  A deck of cards can come in handy, too and will supply your family with entertaining tournaments of war, go fish, rummy and old maid so always have a deck on hand. 



Along with making a stop to your grocery, don’t forget to drop by your local library for a great selection of DVD’s.  Movies are a wonderful way to pass the time and you’ll be happy with the cost since it’s free.  Trilogies are smart since you can watch one right after the other like Home Alone, Star Wars and Jurassic Park.  Pop up some popcorn and enjoy a great show!


Arts and Crafts

Grabbing a few projects for the kiddos is another fabulous way to get through a snowstorm and can be very inexpensive if you have the right supplies.  Empty egg cartons, pipe cleaners, tissue, construction paper, crayons and paints are a simple way to bulk up your arts and craft inventory.  Browse Pinterst from some great ideas or just let the creativity flow with some fun winter themes like making snowflakes or glitter snowmen!

RICKY_AND_SUZIE_CANALE Suzie, Lance, Rick & Ryan Canale, Westwood, MA 

Suzie works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library. She can help supply you with books and movies to combat any winter storm.

Tags: Movies, Books, Childrens Book, Kids, cooking, January, winter, February

Recycled Storybook Paper Roses

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jan 23, 2015

I have always loved flowers from a very young age.  I’m not sure when this affair began, but my first baby pictures were always images of me crawling in my mother’s gardens and there’s one when I’m around 1 ½ years old where I’m playing with yellow daisies that lined my grandparents driveway.  It seems that my connection to the piece of the world that “grows” has been a long-standing relationship, one that seems to have blossomed throughout my entire life.  Because of this adoration, I have utilized this in several areas including three children’s tales I’ve written where all contain themes of flowers.  I also cook with flowers, decorate with flowers and often draw my favorites using charcoal.  They are everywhere around me.  Recently, another opportunity arose to express floral appreciation, one that combined two other preferred hobbies, crafting and books!

story book roses

If you have kids, you’re going to really get into this art project that was shown to me by a children’s librarian.  Using pages from books that were going to be recycled (which is environmentally responsible), I could actually make roses by following only a few easy steps.  Perfect for tiny fingers, this craft is simple to do because the materials needed are inexpensive and commonly found around the house.  There’s also little mess and teaches fantastic hand-eye coordination skills.  The snowy weather is soon approaching, so read on for this perfect indoor winter art project for kids and adults!



  1. 3 pages of recycled book pages (try to find ones that have bold writing, titles, numbers and pictures.  It will make your flower more interesting looking.)
  2. 1 black/brown pipe cleaner
  3. 3 green pipe cleaners



  1. Cut out shapes from the book pages that resemble petals.  Make them different sizes, using the smaller ones first for the inner bud. 
  2. Take the black/brown pipe cleaner and wrap a petal around it, making sure that it curls completely around the stem.  Add more petals as you pinch the stem and the surrounding petals. Continue until they are all wrapped around forming a rose shaped head. 
  3. Use one of the green pipe cleaners to secure the head around the stem by tightly coiling in a circle shape.
  4. Form leaves and intertwine the last two green pipe cleaners around the stem to complete the rose.


suzie-1 Suzie works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library.

Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Roses, Kids

The Three Best Childrens Christmas Books

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Dec 19, 2014

The Christmas season is embodied by a rich sense of love, comfort and joy which we gleefully show within our decorations, celebrations and feasts with one another.  Children in particular make this time of year especially wonderful, as they expel the enchanting spirit of “still believing”.  As parents, our own spirits are lifted because of our little one’s excitement and we relish in the fun of making every child’s wish come true.   Over time, many authors have captured these beloved aspects of Christmas by writing stories and illustrating images that not only teach the traditional customs of hanging up the lights, baking the cookies and singing the hymns to carols, but also bringing new and whimsical storylines to broaden our imaginations.  I have become a long time lover of Christmas books because of the bold coloring drawn throughout the illustrations and the beautiful magic and that is present within the pages.  My favorites are expansive, I will admit, but I’ve managed to narrow the list down to three.  Take a look and see if you can find any of your more favored holiday tales to that you read to your kids during this captivating time of year!

Twas the Night Before Christmas


Clement Clarke Moore is the distinguished poet who wrote the infamous story about the arrival of Saint Nick on Christmas Eve.  Written in 1822, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (also entitled “A Visit From Saint Nick”) was first published in the New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823 with no accreditation to Moore, a requested condition on his behalf for having the piece featured.  Becoming a huge success, the author did not reveal his ownership of the poem until it was included in a later collection of short stories in 1844.  Over 1500 years later, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” has become a time read tradition for many of us to read on Christmas Eve where we listen to the fine words describing a special visit from Santa Claus. 


How the Grinch Stole Christmas


“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”

These were the famous words penned by Dr. Seuss which his iconic character, The Grinch, mutters as he figures out the true meaning of Christmas.   First published in December of 1957 where the stories goal was to teach children about what is really important to celebrate, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” has remained the highest requested book in bookstores and libraries during the Christmas season.  There is no denying the remarkable imagination that the author used when creating the land of Wooville, depicting a story of a mean and scary green creature who looms on the mountain tops plotting the ruination of Christmas for good.  Readers are taken through a wonderful adventure that focuses on friendship and togetherness while learning the invaluable lesson of the holiday spirit. 


Dream Snow


Eric Carle out does himself in this picture perfect wonderland created out of the idea of dreaming of snow.  Set during the wintery Christmas season, a man closely illustrated to resemble Santa Claus, drifts off to sleep where he imagines his farm covered in a blanket of snow.  When he is awakened, he sees that snowflakes are falling and he decides to go to his barn to decorate his Christmas tree.  The particularly beautiful and unique design of this story includes snowflakes placed on clear pages throughout the book, where when lifted, children can see five farm animals hidden.  Another lovely aspect is the button towards the end of the story that plays a sweet musical jingle when pushed. Eric Carle outdoes himself in this holiday classic where the images are bold and the storyline is splendidly simple Christmas tale.


Suzie lives in Westwood, Mass with her family. She has not only published four childrens books, but works in the children's department at the Westwood Public Library.

Suzie & Ryan Canale

Newbury Street, Boston 2014

Tags: Books, Childrens Book, Christmas, Holiday Memories, Holidays, Kids

Boston You're My Home - New Children's Book Benefits The One Fund

Posted by Rick Canale on Mon, Mar 10, 2014

Boston You're My Home

At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we believe in the importance of reading to children and reading with children. Heck we believe that reading is one of the pillars of civilization. At Exotic Flowers, we share books, poetry and even have a favorite author. Yes, Suzie Canale is my amazing wife. She also writes amazing stories.

Her newest children's book, Boston, You're My Home is the story of a young girl named Sweet Caroline who is nervous about her family moving to the city. Worried about the unknown, her mother and father attempt to soothe her fears by telling her a bedtime tale inspired by Boston's strengths. Including everything from scholarly education to delectable seafood, Caroline slowly begins to learn about the wonderful benefits of calling Boston her new home. Suzie will be donating 100% percent of her royalties for this book to benefit The One Fund. 

Tags: Suzie Hearl Canale, Land of Chocolate Cosmos, Books, Childrens Book, Boston, Suzie Canale

Children's Book Drive at Gillette Stadium Sunday September 22, 2013

Posted by Rick Canale on Thu, Sep 19, 2013

the beantown tales

Hey PATRIOTS fans! The Pats are asking for donations of children's books to bring to this Sunday's game and they will personally deliver them to needy children of Massachusetts! Exotic Flowers of Boston will give a FREE Beantown Tale book to those who show their game day ticket from now until Saturday to donate to this great cause! Just show your ticket at our store at 609 American Legion Hwy in Roslindale, MA and you'll get a free copy to give:)

At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we know the value of reading to children and for kids to have their very own books. 

Tags: Candy Roses, Chocolate Cosmos, Patriot Place, Books, Childrens Book, Popcorn Hydrangea

Boston's Favorite Children's Book Author Does It Again

Posted by Rick Canale on Fri, Jun 28, 2013

children%27s book reviews resized 600

At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we are avid readers. We especially love children's books. We know that reading to children fostersSo be a lifetime love affair with books. Our favorite author, Suzie Canale is at it again. As a premier children's book author, Suzie has shared her amazing children's book with us.

Now Suzie is working with fellow authors Chad Pio and Greg Tetreault to bring a valuable review site on children's books. 'Three Lights in the Attic Book Review' hopes to provide parents with a little direction in choosing the best books for their children. The site is written with positive reviews and great suggestions. While the authors do accept many submissions, the review's " goal is to endorse some great reads we three authors have found along our way, while giving age-appropriate guidelines, topics discussed and full descriptions of the stories."

This summer you will be heading to your local bookstore to build your children's book library. Make sure that you check this review site for some great tips on some amazing children's books. And if you like the reviews, keep in mind that you can purchase any of the reviewers books from Exotic Flowers in Boston.


Tags: Author, Books, Childrens Book, Suzie Canale

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